This will probably end up sounding like a pub crawl.
We booked a couple of nights in Oxford to combine a trip to see Michael’s family and to have a quick break in a different town, and try some new pubs. Michael bought the new iPhone Good Beer Guide especially (and it was pretty good). On our way to Oxford Tony entertained us to a lovely lunch (spicy turkey tortillas) and Gemma took me out to visit the sales in Bicester Village. The combination worked a treat—I bought a Le Creuset Wok as I’d been impressed by Tony’s. Michael and Hannah played “Up Words”.
In Oxford. we stayed at Ethos Hotel, off Abingdon Road. The hotel is new and all the doors have fancy electronic locks and keypads. Shame they didn’t have fancy sound insulation—we moved from our first room after 15 mins because of the couple next door who seemed set for a night of loud television and partying. The other room was great though and very comfortable. The hotels only 10 mins walk from town and we started off our trip with a visit to Jamie’s Italian restaurant. The restaurant is rather deceiving—it looks small from the outside as it’s only possible to see a small area of the seating—once inside there is a masses of room, and masses of people. It had a great atmosphere and really good waitering staff. The food was good: Michael had an antipasti plank and I had salt and pepper squid, then for mains we had some lovely pasta. Enjoyed the organic house wine (it was ‘rustic’):
Brilliant quality wine made from organic grapes, bought by us in eco-friendly tetra pak cartons and decanted for you.
RED – ORGANIC SANGIOVESE TERRE DI CHIETI ABRUZZO 2008 CIAO 12%
Nicely balanced soft raspberry fruit.
After dinner we went to the first of our pubs—I need to refer to twitter here! Had a pint of lovely Razzle Dazzle at the Far From the Madding Crowd which is now my favourite Oxford pub. Lovely beer (I really enjoyed the Loddon Razzle Dazzle). Great atmosphere and free wi-fi. Nice sofas to relax in, and a good airy feel.
Followed this with a visit to Oxford’s smallest pub, the White Horse. Cosy and small, and sandwiched between two Blackwells shops. I had a pint of White Horse Wayland’s Smithy and Michael tried the Rudolph the Red Nosed White Horse: both good beers. Followed up with a nice pint of Shotover Prospect brewed in Oxford.
Wayland Smithy 4.4%
The power of the blacksmith is legendary so this beer combines the best ingredients money can buy and the skills of the traditional brewer to create a hammering good beer. Red like the fire at its heart and balanced with buckets of aromatic hops it’s enough to give other brewers the hump.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Whitehorse 4.8%
As the snow piles up against the door and the wind whistles over the Santa sized Chimney of the pub, it’s time to find a beer of noble heart and passionate tradition.Chestnut red in colour the extravagance of this beer begins before you even raise it to your expectant lips, the explosion of flavour will transfix the tongue, warm citrus and candid peel flavours mix with the dryness of a drawn out fermentation. New season hops reach for the sweetness of the purest English malt.
Next day we visited the newly refurbished Ashmolean Museum
of Art and Archeology, opened by the Queen a dew weeks ago. The building was pretty impressive, light and airy and with fantastic modern exhibitions. Enjoyed the display of Britannia in coins and the art and architecture about the £61 million renovations. This quote from the Director in particular struck true:
because the curation of the exhibitions was great—the best I’ve seen. The displays started out to tell a story, and illustrated that with the art or exhibitions. That might be what you would expect from a good display, but here it seems to have been implemented with the story telling at heart, and it was very engaging.
Headed to another nice pub for lunch—the Kings Arms
. Michael has some very rich traditional faggots (with lots of liver in them) and I had a (traditional for me) Scampi and Chips. The Young’s beer was very nice: I got a pint of Winter Warmer ale and swapped it for Michael’s Young’s Special, which was lighter and went better with the scampi.
Had a wander along the river, past Isis Lock (linking the Oxford Canal
with the Thames) and through Jericho
, then for a rest back in the hotel (via a small coffee shop).
Had dinner at a place recommended by a colleague, Chang Mai Kitchen
, in a lovely old 1630’s building. Great locations and setting. The food was good we went for a nice spicy meal. Met with Tony at his recommended pub—the Eagle and Child Inn
which was a bit disappointing—a bit cold and tables were a real state, and they were playing music (uncharacteristically). I had a pint of Amber Ale, which was fine. We pegged it from there past the closed Lamb and Flag (disappointing) and on to the Far from the Madding Crowd, for another beer! Had to wave goodbye to Tony at the stage, but we carried on the Royal Blenheim
which was pretty quiet by the time we got there. Michael had fancied a gin martini, but he sensibly opted for a Burton Bridge Porter
and I had a lovely Everards Beacon
(and gently steered by the landlord, sitting on the wrong side of the bar).
Great trip to Oxford—bit of a pub crawl really, and very enjoyable for it. Visited Elisabeth for a cup of tea on the way home.