Discerning readers - I should just say readers there, obviously - will be aware of your reviewer’s assistant’s long-term quest scouring dessert trolleys to discover for the greater good of all the perfect pavlova.
She defers, under her secondment as pudding consultant, to no-one on this subject. There have been occasions when the elusive plate of perfection seemed within reach, only for a slightly soggy meringue or a mushy filling of fruit to dash high expectation.
So all-consuming has this pavlova-mania become that I, in a naive bid to help out, have hit the internet. I wish I hadn’t.
One site expands the definition of pavlova, thus complicating the search no end. (Incidentally, did you know there is a ‘yet to be resolved’ dispute Down Under about whether Australians or New Zealanders invented it. Not the kind of thing your average Australian male would own up to, perhaps: “Oh no Matua, with the utmost respect mate, I’d like to suggest it was us and not you who created the pavlova,” insists Bruce.)In-depth discourse is rounded off with lip-smackingly delicious images, photo-shop enhanced like super-models ... all two hundred of them.
An incidental bonus, though, means my knowledge of the life and times of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who unwittingly started the whole thing, has gone from nothing to really quite impressive.
So is the search over? Yes it is. The perfect pavlova with a delicious pineapple filling was discovered and consumed with awe-inspiring relish ... not on this occasion , as it happens, because the pavlova plate was empty, but when we returned a couple of days later ... such is the dedication of your reviewers.
On this first visit the consultant’s coffee cake was a generous and light wedge of moist sponge, with perfect texture and plenty of taste with a thick layer of coffee cream in the middle and spread on top, where also rested half a walnut.
My lemon and lime cheesecake base oozed a biscuity juice, and the topping melted like air once I’d scooped from the fascinatingly waved design.
We’d already enjoyed luxurious looking smoked salmon and cream cheese on thick wholemeal bread triangles, and my smoked haddock chowder was packed with taste, with a runny, milky and flavoursome soup.
Two latte coffees, as we sat next to lemon balm and lavender in the walled courtyard, rounded things off nicely. The bill: £12.
Up from the gutter
Since ‘Eating out’ first enjoyed lunch of bacon butties, beer and apple pie at The Rivington, when we relied on the helpfulness of fellow bowlers to retrieve and return our yellow jack from various gutters, we are now more or less guaranteed to keep everything on the level.
It has taken quite a few bacon butties to reach this advanced level, but we’ve never shirked the hard work required attaining our sporting goal, it’s an Olympic year after all.
In a sunny interlude between bowls-preventing showers, we set things rolling before dispatching two more of such yumminess that I can’t now witness any game of bowls taking place anywhere without an image of a brown barmcake oozing mayo around slightly crispy curls of bacon jumping into the ‘to-do’ section of the brain.
The seating plan has been expanded on its idyllic viewpoint across the Rivington reservoirs, and we enjoy two pints of hand-pumped bitter ... why does beer always taste better outdoors ... as a series of fellow bowlers and bowls-watchers stroll by with enthusiastic chat, encouragement, and general well-being.
There’s even a water bowl for the dog to slake his thirst after finding a few salt and vinegar crisps on a flagstone.
Two plates of apple pie and custard round off a titanic struggle: competitive, closely fought with the rub going one way then the other.
It’s not important who won, although I felt a leaf which had fallen in the path of my bowl caused a major injustice to occur.
The bill: £14.