24/12/12 - The Eating House at the Derbyshire Craft Centre

I am a terrible blogger.  Please forgive me for my lack of commitment (blame long work days, desperately trying to catch up with everyone I haven't seen for months and pretending to do uni work whilst actually devouring the first two series of Downton Abbey), and accept this little cafe review as a token of my apology.

My grandparents live in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and over my twenty years of travelling backwards and forwards to visit them, I have become very accustomed to the route.  To this day, I couldn't name half of the places we go through on the journey, but there are certain places that I recognise every time we pass by them.  The Derbyshire Craft Centre is one of them.  It's a really lovely little shop selling all sorts of knick-knacks - from greetings cards and books, to local preserves and toiletries - and located at Calver Bridge, near Baslow and ten miles north of Matlock Bath, in the heart of the Peak District (all location information taken from tourist information websites...as I said, I don't really know where it is!)  If you ever find yourself in the area, I recommend going and having a look; I always find something cute that I want to buy, and this time I was greatly tempted by some adorable Christmas decorations.  Maybe next year!  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the actual shop, but I did get some of the main focus of this post: The Eating House.

While the cafe in the craft centre isn't huge, it is definitely worth trying to squeeze a table.  The food is much more interesting than your typical coffee shop fare of toasties and various paninis, and the selection of cakes is extensive and delicious.  We used to eat here regularly when visiting my grandparents, but in more recent years we've waited until we got there to have lunch.  So this was the first time we've stopped en route in around five years.  And it was just as good as I remembered!  I apologise for the dodgy iPod photos - I hadn't been expecting to blog on this trip, so I didn't bring my camera.

Before we could tuck into all those amazing cakes, we had to start with something savoury.  I was really impressed by the range of vegetarian options, and my pescetarian family were happy tucking into a seafood sharing platter which I have to admit, looked very tasty!  I went for baked Camembert which came with some lovely warm crusty bread, red onion marmalade and a side salad.  My only qualm with this meal was the sheer amount of celery they included - a fact very easily overlooked when confronted with a beautiful gooey mass of cheese!  It was absolutely delicious; the bread was lovely and you got just the right amount for a perfect cheese:onion:bread ratio (something which is very easy to get wrong, in my opinion).  Needless to say, this went down very well, considering the fact that I basically scraped the inside of the cheese box clean with my fork!

And then it was dessert time!  After much deliberation, we each chose a different cake to sample and then the customary passing of forkfuls of food commenced.  They were all really impressive.  I had the almond cake and I have to say, it was wonderful - really light and creamy, with just the right amount of nutty flavour.  The fruit on the side was a nice touch, and the red currants added an extra tangy bite which was perfect for the rest of the sweet dish.

Clockwise from top left: white chocolate and red currant brownie, 
cranberry and mincemeat tart, raspberry and coconut tart, 
and Austrian almond cake.

I definitely recommend a look into the Derbyshire Craft Centre, even if you don't have chance to stop for lunch.  It's the perfect place for a little browse, followed by coffee and a cake.  They don't have an official website but if you give it a cheeky Google, you'll be able to find directions and more.  If you have any food recommendations, whack them down in the comments - I'm always eager to try new places!

And I hope all my beautiful readers have an absolutely wonderful festive reason, whatever it is you're doing!  I'm really looking forward to having a few relaxing, family-centric days - probably away from the Internet (shock horror).  I intend to eat my weight in roast potatoes and seasonal chocolate, watch endless amounts of festive TV, and just enjoy a little breather before wedding madness begins.  As of today, we're looking at five days and counting...so I'd better not eat too much, or I won't squeeze into my bridesmaid dress!

I'll be blogging more consistently in the New Year, so it's goodbye for now.  See you in 2013!