I thought this might be a fun way to round up my food blogging adventures of 2021. It’s been a funny old year hasn’t it? Lockdowns and ever changing restrictions… but also, thankfully, some relative normality. Let’s hope for much more of that in 2022. So, what does a Derbyshire food blogger most like to eat? Here’s my top picks from my dining in Derbyshire this year, in chronological order.
Some of these meals were PR invites. I was under absolutely no obligation to include them in the list but I’ve marked them as ADs in accordance with the ASA guidelines – and so you can make you own mind up.
Halloumi Fries at Haddon Hall
Possibly bit of an odd choice to start this off, but the halloumi fries from Toastie the Difference are insanely good. Perfectly crispy, not at all greasy, their delicious saltiness is off set with pops of pomegranate seed and drizzles of mint yogurt dressing. I’m honestly salivating writing this. I hear their toasties are good too but I just can’t not order the halloumi!
I’ve always had Toastie the Difference at Haddon Hall’s artisan markets but they pop up at all sorts of events across Derbyshire or can be hired for private events.
Pretty much everything at The Tickled Trout, Barlow
I have written at length about my love for the Tickled Trout several times before. I’ve been loads, but my most memorable meals there this year were my birthday tea with family, a lovely lunch with fellow food blogger, Girl Eats Sheffield and also the very first meal I had out after lockdown. It is a consistently great gastro pub. The pizzas are delicious, as is the Vietnamese halloumi, the truffle fries and the arancini. It’s all good and if you’ve never been you should put this straight to the top of your list.
A lazy summer’s afternoon in The Coolstone courtyard
I’d been invited to The Coolstone to sample their summer menu. I met one of my best friends there and we were blessed with a perfectly sunny afternoon to while away eating and drinking. It honestly felt like being on holiday.
We sampled several dishes that afternoon and all were delicious. But the stand out dish for me that day was a fishcake with an n’duja sauce. I wouldn’t have been drawn to this on a menu – but it was wonderfully moresish. [AD – PR invite]
Aqua Garden’s pop-up restaurant
Another invite as a Derbyshire food blogger, and another exquisite meal. Everything from start to finish was utterly delicious. But particular stars were the bread course (Henderson’s butter was genius!), the gin cured salmon and a beautifully zingy lemon tart. Look out for Aqua Garden’s monthly pop-up events and also dine at home boxes. [AD – PR invite]
The Bluebell at South Wingfield
I’d not been to The Bluebell until this year and it’s now one of my favourites. The pork main dish I had on my first visit was incredible. I’ve also been back for more of a sandwich lunch which was also very nice. The desserts are great too – there’s always a cheesecake of the day and on the day I ordered it was an exquisite praline concoction. So good!
Afternoon tea at the Cavendish Hotel, Baslow
This is something that I have wanted to do forever! My friend Debs is similarly cake minded so we decided to treat ourselves for our birthdays which are not far apart. In the end I was treated my Debs and it was truly the loveliest experience! One of the absolute highlights of my foodie year.
Over the years, I’ve had various afternoon teas at big fancy London hotels and I genuinely think that the experience at the Cavendish was every bit as good. It’s obviously very different to being in London – but it totally nails that luxurious country vibe. It was sublime! And just typing this out makes me want to return. Read more here.
Birthday date night at The Horseshoes at Long Lane
My husband and I had the loveliest night away at The Cow for my birthday at the end of September. They have since opened ‘The Catch’ which brings a menu heavily influenced by the Cornish coast to rural Derbyshire. But at the time of our visit, The Cow weren’t serving meals other than breakfast so we were taken in their branded taxi to neighbouring The Horseshoes. We had a really lovely, candlelit meal. The ambiance and service were spot on, as was the food and wine.
Sunday lunch at The Cottonworks Derby
Right after that birthday weekend away I got really ill and the rest of October was pretty much written off. My first venture out of the house for a social event was meeting my friend Sarah for Sunday lunch at The Cottonworks. I’d only ever had coffee here previously and had been wanting to try the food for a while.
Well, Sunday lunch was amazing. Everything was spot on – from beautifully succulent meat to the most delicious gravy – it was honestly perfect. And if I’d taken more photos I’d have written up a full blog it was so good (and I don’t often do that based on just one visit). This is definitely somewhere I will returning to at the earliest possibility.
Lunch at Lovage by Lee Smith in Bakewell
Again, Lovage had been on my foodie radar since it opened earlier in the year. I remember watching their renovation with interest. I finally got the chance to go in December. Originally it was planned as a ladies who lunch mate date, but when my friend was unwell I took my Mum for a festive treat.
Like the Cavendish, Lovage has nailed that fine dining experience. The staff are so lovely and the food is sensational. Read my review.
Bulls Head Holymoorside by Chef Mark Aisthorpe
This was maybe the biggest surprise. I’d heard good things about the food at the Bulls Head by I had no idea how incredible it is. Mark has worked at various Michelin starred restaurants across the country and under Gordon Ramsey and Marcus Wareing so perhaps it shouldn’t have been the surprise it was, but the food I enjoyed was utterly sublime. We were lucky enough to sample lots of the dishes on the current à la carte menu in tasting menu sized portions. Highlights for me were the scallop – an immaculate combination of flavours and textures and the venison (shot by Mark himself!). Read more here. [AD – PR invite]
What have I learned as a Derbyshire food blogger?
Having reflected on some of the best food I’ve eaten in Derbyshire this year I think one thing I’ve learned is that some of the food I’ve enjoyed the most is not necessarily what I would have ordered myself from a menu. As a Derbyshire food blogger I’m incredibly privileged to receive all sorts of invites, but sometimes that means someone else is choosing your food. I would never have picked venison, but that one was of my all time favourite meals. Maybe like anything in life it’s good to gently expand one’s comfort zones.
If you run a Derbyshire restaurant and you’re interested in working with me there’s more information here.
What have been your favourite meals of 2021? Where should I try next? Let me know in the comments below.
If you’ve enjoyed this content, why not read some of my most popular Derbyshire food blog posts from this year:
- 16 Cosy Pubs
- 60+ Dog Friendly Places to Eat
- 12 Best Farm Shops
- 15 Fabulous Places for Coffee and a Walk