At the minute, the effects of lockdown on the hospitality sector means that it is more important than ever to do our bit to support local restaurants when we can.
Plus there is the added joy of breaking the monotony of our home cooking, with a meal lovingly created by someone else.
So my latest local gastronomic adventure saw me heading to Peebles to sample the wares of Coltman's deli.
Like so many, they are surviving as best they can while keenly waiting for any positive signs from the First Minister's briefings. All the time crossing their fingers in the hope that they will be allowed to reopen in some shape or form sooner rather than later.
Coltman’s Kitchen, Deli and Bar, is run by chef Kenny and his wife Karen Coltman. They are providing a takeaway collection on Fridays for pre-ordered evening meals. You phone or email your order by 5pm on Tuesday for collection at the end of that week. They also have a limited lunch offering during the week.
The first slight hiccup came when I didn't fancy anything on their the menu. However the fella on the other hand was positively cock a hoop. A couple of his favourite meats made the list, confit of duck, served with orange segments, pomegranate seeds and pea shoots, sesame seed and dressing. Followed by the main course of slow braised lamb neck fillet, with apricot and squash tagine, made with spiced couscous and yogurt raita. Then another all-time favourites for dessert, pear and dark chocolate tart with a dollop of mint ice-cream.
Not only did I have to drive to collect his grub but I had to sit in the corner like Little Jack Horner, watching the fella demolish his dinner. The first forkful elicited an utterance of “bloody delicious” so I knew he was onto a winner.
I confess the aromas were enough to send my saliva glands into overload and I might have been staring at his food a little bit too intently. I sampled the salad part of his starter, fresh light and dressed to perfection. The lamb portion was massive, precariously balanced on top of the spicy fruit-packed couscous. He very generously allowed me to sample the pear and dark chocolate dessert. He’s not one for sharing at the best of times, but he is even less inclined when he is hungry so I felt blessed.
The verdict was rich, dark and smooth just like I imagined my dream man to be, that is before I met the man of my dreams, ie the fella.
The alternatives dishes were starter of charred mackerel, confit cucumber, with dill creme fraiche, or a main course of fillet of cod, salsify, smoked pancetta and woodland mushrooms or orange and syrup pudding served with vanilla custard.
The set dinner cost £30 for three courses and £25 for two.
My food reward would come a couple of days later from the same venue with a vegetarian afternoon tea, which I admit was an exercise in extreme delayed gratification.
I could barely contain my excitement by the time the appointed day arrived. I diligently queued outside the elegant shop frontage, waiting patiently like the urchin Oliver to be handed ‘my food glorious food.’ The afternoon tea was secreted in a plain white box with a content list and artistically arranged bow fixed to the top. Classy.
As soon as I got home, the kettle was on to sample each of the two eteaket teas on offer - Isle of Harris Gin tea, plus Apple and Cranberry both slurped out of a china mug, well I do have standards you know.
Although sorely tempted by the sweet treats, I sampled the savoury items first. A miniature tomato and feta cheese quiche tartlet vanished in one bite, followed by the next flavour, broccoli and blue cheese which I much preferred.
The finger sandwiches followed, both brown and white bread, one filled with brie and red onion chutney, another with red pepper hummus-spread bread topped with grilled vegetables. The final two the firm afternoon tea classics: egg and watercress and cucumber slices, cream cheese and dill.
Next two scones, towering twice as high as they are round. One plain, one thoroughly fruity, ideal for tearing in half and smothering with clotted cream and jam before they too also disappeared without a trace.
Delicate dainties included a miniature pot of lemon posset, a gateau Opera cake, which is made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee French butter cream, and finally a strawberry tart drizzled with chocolate.
I should have been cruel and made the fella watch me eat my treat, but I was feeling generous and bought him his own meat-filled version (both afternoon teas were each £30.)
The platter might not have been licked clean, but we did leave only crumbs, plus we were doing our bit to help out a local business.
Dinner for one, plus afternoon tea for two
£63.90 without drinks