The Gaddum, Windermere

Nestled on a hillside and with fabulous views of Lake Windermere stands The Gaddum restaurant. Part of the Brockhole visitor centre in Windermere, the estate was originally owned by Manchester silk magnet, William Gaddum. He purchased the land in 1896 and commissioned architect, Dan Gibson to build him a summer residence in the Arts and Crafts style, named Brockhole House. The family eventually made it their main home.

When William died in 1945, the house was sold and turned into a convalescent home. At this time the Arts & Crafts interior of the house was ripped out. How it pains me to write that. I have a special affection for this era and its style, but thankfully the story has a happy ending. The estate was eventually sold to the Lake District Park Authority and opened in 1969, as the first National Park Visitor Centre. Today there are a wealth of activities on offer and the part of the house that accommodates the restaurant and conference facilities has been sensitively and beautifully restored to its full Arts & Craft glory.

We drove up on a sunny Saturday morning, taking our time and admiring the stunning scenery. I have clients in Windermere but rarely get chance to see anything other than their offices, so it was nice to be there as a tourist. The Gaddum had only opened two months before and when we visited it was open for lunch and afternoon tea but will soon start an evening service too. I would imagine the views of the sunsets from the house will be stunning.

We were shown to the lounge area by the delightful Henry, who brought us menus and took our drinks order. Sat on a delightfully, squashy sofa and with our mouths already watering, we tried to make our dining choices. The kitchens are under the command of South African chef, Gerald van der Walt and he brings with him a wealth of fine dining experience gained in his homeland and lately at the 2 Michelin starred L’Enclume and Rogan & Co.

We were shown to our table in the charmingly elegant, period dining room, which has William Morris wallpaper and fabric, heritage paint colours and the original fireplace, which provides a focal point for the room. On the walls are Gaddum family photos taken on the estate. The room gives a real sense of how the house would have looked and felt during the Gaddum family’s tenure. While we waited for our starters I quickly went explore the Orangery that leads off it, where diners can also be seated. It was absolutely delightful; airy and sunlit and with a grape vine suspended from the glass ceiling.

Our first courses arrived.  Mine, a Beetroot & Cumbrian Goat’s Cheese Salad with candied walnuts and sorrel, was so prettily presented, it almost seemed a shame to eat it. The beetroot on the dish had been prepared in three different ways; sweetened, roasted and pickled. Goat’s cheese and beetroot is a classic combination and two of my favourite foods but the addition of peppery radishes, a verdant nasturtium leaf puree and the sweetness and crunch of the candied walnuts elevated this dish to a whole new level.

My dining chum had chosen the Fish Cake, consisting of lightly smoked haddock with potato and Gaddum chives and served on a bed of dressed mixed leaves and homemade Tartare Sauce.  The fishcake itself is generous in size and the fish is not Day-Glo yellow, which means it has been naturally smoked and this is apparent in the subtlety of the flavour too. Simple food at its best.

Our mains were equally joyous and pleasing. With the weather having been so wonderfully warm, I had chosen the Cumbrian Shorthorn Beef and Cracked Wheat Salad with a Garlic & Chive Flower Puree. Oh, my lord, the beef was simply amazing, and I quizzed Gerald later on what he done to it.  He takes seared beef skirt and then cooks it for 20 hours at 85 degrees and then air dries it overnight. The result is like nothing I have never eaten before, both in terms of flavour and texture.  This was so good and totally my kind of ‘happy’ dish.

My pal ordered the Cumbrian Chicken Paillard with crispy chicken skin. The term paillard refers to a piece of meat that has been pounded flat and then flash fried or in this case grilled. The meat was exquisitely tender and juicy and was served on a bed of buttered kale, with a warm kohlrabi salad and cubes of sautéed butternut squash. Proper summer comfort food.

Of course, being in the Lakes I had to order Sticky Toffee pud for dessert. It’s the law. The Gaddum’s is served with chocolate soil, fig puree and creamy Lakeland ice cream. The sponge itself wasn’t as rib sticking as the Carmel original, in fact it was quite light in texture, but to be honest for a summer menu it was quite appropriate and I enjoyed it. My friend ordered the Lemon Tart, which was presented as a dome of glossy lemon set custard on a cardamom shortbread, delicately piped with Italian meringue and accompanied by strawberries, a white chocolate crumb and a lemon balm granita. She loved it and I confess I did have a bit of pudding envy.

After our lunch I bumped into Gerald and he asked me if I would change anything about the dishes we had had, in order to improve them. I answered honestly, no. The restaurant is gorgeous. Frankly, I want to live there.  The staff are so professional, warm and friendly. A special shout out to our waiter, Henry, who had the skills and demeanor of a man twice his age. We loved the fact that he took the time to explain every dish to us and could answer our questions without hesitation. If he decides to stay in the hospitality industry, this lad will go far. As for the food, Gerald has brought all his haute cuisine and fining dining experience to bear but with a relaxed feel and at prices that won’t break the bank and more than justify the cost of the petrol to get up to Windermere. I really hope we can go back soon. Maybe I’ll take my local clients.

We were guests of The Gaddum but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.

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Photos: © Taste Today. Do not reproduce without permission

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My Empty Nest

As you hold your newborn in your arms for the first few weeks, at the back of your mind you know that one day they will utter the fateful words, “Mum, I’m leaving home.” That helpless, mewling baby, that relied on you for everything, will one day be grown up enough to pay their own council tax bill and put out their own bins. Allegedly.

My own ‘baby’, who at 7 or 8 swore she would never, ever leave home, has just decided at the age of 23 that she is big enough to stand on her own two feet and do you know what, I agree with her. Don’t get me wrong, I have a big rock in the pit of my stomach and as I have done since the moment she was born, I am catastrophizing about all the things that could happen. But it’s time, for both of us.

I was on my own with my darling daughter, virtually from the conception and I have brought her up by myself. Well almost. I have had a fantastic support network of friends and family around me and frankly being so independent I have relished going solo. My baby turned up six weeks early and that only added to our bond and for the last 23 years we have gone everywhere and done everything together. People often comment that we are more like sisters than Mother and daughter because of our closeness but the time has come for us to both let go a little.

Lots of women I know can’t seem to function without a man in their lives but not having a male around has never stopped us doing anything. We have travelled a fair portion of the world. We’ve learnt to scuba dive and my girl learnt to ski and snowboard, so she could come with me to the Alps. We have travelled round Cornwall in a 1960’s VW bus. We have weathered ill health, both mental and physical. We have borne financial hardship and the loss of loved ones. We have built and run our other website, Taste Today with me doing the writing and Frankie doing the photography. We have lived in each other’s pockets with barely a cross word.

I left home at the same age that Frankie is now and truthfully, I never looked back, but I was fiercely self-sufficient, and I was also escaping the car crash that was my parents’ marriage. My girl has, I hope, always had stability in her life, so I wonder how she will cope with having to be self-reliant. Of course, I will always be on hand for her and a part of me hopes that she will continue to need me. We have promised that we will still see each lots, have girly days together drinking cocktails, eating great food and shopping.

 

I will miss a lot of things, not least just the fact of her presence. After all we have been together virtually every day for the last 23, nearly 24 years. I will miss her humour and her boundless creativity. I will miss her kindness and caring nature. I will miss having someone to share the events of my day with.

On the other hand, there are lots of things I am looking forward to. Not getting woken up early on a Sunday morning when she has to go to work and I don’t. Seeing a reduction in my household bills. No longer being her on-site taxi service. Getting my independence back and being able to pick and choose what I do and when I do it. Mind you, I’m sure she’ll still having me running the odd errand and my days of responsibility at home aren’t over just yet. I still have two rather unruly rescue pups that need my attention.

I love my daughter fiercely and I would lay down my life for her in a second, but my little chick is fully grown and she needs to stretch her wings and soar on her own thermals. I’m not looking at the current weeks and months with dread and fear rather as a new chapter in the life of adventures we have had so far.

The following quote, which may or may not be from Mark Twain, has been my mantra for nearly thirty years and I hope it resonates with her and the way I have brought her up.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Photos: © Is It Warm In Here? Do not reproduce without permission

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