“There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over-roasted crackling, as it is well called”
-Charles Lamb “A Dissertation upon Roast Pig”, 1822
My Slow Life on a Sunday begins with coffee at the Riverside, a leisurely interlude at Damson Dene and, after my chores have been completed, lunch in the Carvery at Newby Bridge. A Carvery may be spectacularly old hat, but it is close to my heart and in one sense is the very foundation of my career in hospitality. The story begins in 1991 when I became the reluctant owner of the bankrupt and moribund Hill Foot Hotel in Ulverston and wondered what to do with it. Someone suggested that I might find inspiration in the Carvery at the Clarence House Hotel in Dalton, so Margaret and I went one Monday night and we couldn’t believe it. There were 100 guests on what should have been the quietest night of the week. I shamelessly copied them and before long the Carvery at the Hill Foot had become an institution. Its success gave me the wherewithal to buy the Newby Bridge Hotel, and we carried on the tradition there. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to bump into a guest on a Sunday who has been coming to my Carvery since Hill Foot days.
I say “my Carvery”, but it really belongs to Alan Forsyth, my Head Chef. Alan used to work at Clarence House, was then poached by me, but went back to Clarence House where he was Head Chef when Paddy Burt, in her Daily Telegraph column, famously said that his food was as good as that at the Ritz in London. Alan, pictured here, came back to run my kitchen at Newby Bridge several years ago, and it is his roast pork which I enjoy every Sunday. Or, to be more accurate, the crackling which goes with the pork which is, as Charles Lamb pointed out two centuries ago, one of the great pleasures of a simple life.