There has been a little curtain twitching in Ludwell these last weeks. Peeking is not a sport reserved for the cast of Coronation Street as we haven’t been able to stop ourselves watching the ‘goings on’ at The Grove Arms. Builders, decorators, gardeners and skips have come and gone; intriguing parcels and packages have been delivered and then this week, a removal van pulled into the car park. Purely in the interest of the Digest readers, you understand, I ventured over there this morning to get the low-down on who, what, why and when The Grove Arms will be back open for business. A whistle stop tour tells me all I need to know to guarantee I am going to be one of their first and hopefully regular customers.
From the welcome to the décor, The Grove Arms has been transformed. And none-too-soon in my opinion. I found Anne and Ben Brown with their daughter Lorna dusting, polishing and picture hanging. The cavenous dining area has been reworked into small, bright, fresh rooms and spaces to eat and drink, and cosy corners to chat and enjoy a pint of lager or real ale. Ben grew up in the licensed trade and is a previous winner of the Cask Marque award, which stands for the exceptional quality and care put into the beer served. Anne is a keen foodie and that makes them a partnership made in heaven. Lucky us.
The Brown family has moved from the Rushmore Clubhouse, where their award winning food and drink attracted many more than the golfing set. They plan an informal menu. ”Not gastro” says Anne, “but rather 4 star, British, seasonal food”. The menu will be dictated by the availability of fresh local produce, for example local prime steer beef, Cranbourne Chase cheeses - a particular favourite of Anne’s, local vegetables and seasonal summer fruits when they arrive. Anne, who will be in the kitchen two or three days a week, also makes all her own pickles; marmalades and sauces!
I asked Anne what I might enjoy from the menu and the choice sounded fabulous - I could start with the pressed ham hock terrine with homemade piccallili, followed by smoked haddock fishcakes with mild curry sauce, or field mushroom and stilton rarebit or slow roast belly of pork with apple and sage mash. Triple chocolate brownies and ice-cream to finish off - or possibly sticky toffee pudding or local seasonal fruit crumble. No, maybe the local cheese board…. A brand spanking new bean to cup coffee machine will ensure freshly ground coffee every time too. Oh I can’t wait, what a choice and it's only over the road for me! See you there! aif
Ludwell’s luxury, extravagant fridge cake for the over 18’s!
Makes approx. 20 squares or fingers - A great gift or to serve after dinner with coffee.
£10.25 when all ingredients purchased at Ludwell Stores.
(These quantities can easily be doubled or halved if required.)
150g Golden raisins
4 tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau
200g Orange-flavoured dark chocolate (Green and Blacks Maya Gold is perfect) or plain dark chocolate - the classy sort (70% cocoa)
120g Unsalted Butter - cubed
120g Hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and roughly chopped
150g Orange or lemon shortbread biscuits, roughly broken up
80g Candied orange/lemon peel, cherries, ginger or other good quality crystallized fruit - chopped 50g White chocolate for drizzling or icing sugar to dredge - optional
1. Send the kids to tidy their rooms.
2. Soak the raisins in the alcohol for as long as possible - at least an hour, or overnight for extra plump and drunken fruit.
3. Line a 20cm tin or tray with cling-film.
4. Break up the chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl with the butter.
5. Melt the two together over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl).
6. When soft, add the raisins (drained if necessary) together with the toasted hazelnuts; broken shortbread and candied peel, and stir gently until well mixed.
7. Scrape every morsel into the lined tin and spread evenly. Cover with cling film.
8. Lick the bowl and spoon clean, remembering to wipe your mouth and cheeks of all incriminating evidence.
9. Allow to set at room temperature for an hour or so.
10. Decorate by dribbling melted white chocolate over the top, or dredge with icing sugar.
11. Cut into small squares with a very sharp, wet knife.
12. Eat as much as you can before storing what’s left in an airtight container and hide in a cool place or fridge.
13. Reward the room tidying with a crisp, juicy apple.
As it’s nearly Easter, we should not be selfish as children love chocolate too - A child friendly, less extravagant version can easily be made by the children themselves by substituting the alcohol with orange juice, the shortbread with plain shortbread or any of the Moore’s biscuits sold in Ludwell stores; the chocolate with any good dark or milk chocolate (melt down their Terry’s Chocolate Orange - I dare you!) Rather than the candied peel try dried apricots, mango or other soft, ready to eat dried fruits of their choice. Enjoy.
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.
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