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Friday, 31 January 2014

Who's for curd tart?

On a walk there can be a sense of anticipation for some event to come alluded to in your guidebook, or gained from hearsay, but there is no unequivocal reason to rely on the information.

My LEJOG guide said “…there is even a snack van in the car park on the A71 six days a week”. For the most part of a day I became obsessively worried about the likelihood of its continued existence. It was there. The guy was hyper excited when I told him he was mentioned, and he mugged me for details to obtain a copy. Much badinage followed between us and other customers about him becoming famous - one of those memorable incidents.

On a Munro the SMC guide spoke of a pillar like cairn, “that could be seen from a great distance”. In the mist it remained unseen until we were within ten yards.

Prehistoric remains marked on the map are invariably disappointing requiring a double degree in archaeology and ancient history to identify anything meaningful.

Last Thursday Pete told one of the girls at Café Ambio about his wife particularly enjoying curd tart on an earlier visit with Pete. He mentioned it had not been available recently. The girl responded by offering to make some for this Thursday.

The route was planned to ensure we ended up at Ambio rather than any of our alternatives, and we were joined again by Gimmer. The curd tart was mentioned recurrently on our walk round the lanes east of Endmoor.

Pete and I had Bakewell and Gimmer a jam and buttered scone; enough said.

“What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens”. (Disraeli)

The route coming off south west at the bottom was my route up to the geocache on Scout Hill - see my post 23/1/14 - "Diversion"

Tarnhouse Tarn. This guy told us he was one of the renting syndicate - trout fishing - he was a bit cagey. He had a Labrador and a Cocker Spaniel, and he was training them to retrieve - a full on hunting, shooting, fishing type

Tarnhouse Tarn again

Another one for my Signs collection


The Crow said...

When I was a teen, one of my life goals was to visit England - London and Stonehenge specifically.

Seems I need to add Café Ambio to that list! How accommodating of the staff to have tarts ready for you.

Sir Hugh said...

Hi Martha - The point of the story was that they had failed to keep their promise and there was no curd tart.

Gayle said...

The number of times that we've walked along fantasising about the bacon/egg baps and fruit cake we'll wash down with lashings of tea at a tea room that we know to be in the next village, only to find the cafe shut that day when we get there. Always a hugely crushing blow!

AlanR said...

last week my local pub landlady asked if we would like some books as she was moving to a new flat and was just going to give them to a charity shop. She said she had hundreds. I said i would pick them up Thursday. Last night i went in armed with a 60L rucksack and came out again £2.52p lighter. no sign of the books or the landlady.

The Crow said...


My bad.

Sir Hugh said...

The Crow - hi Martha. It was me not you. I have discussed with RR and realise that I had been too obscure.

Sir Hugh said...

Gayle - ah but when it comes off it's all worth it.

Alan R - you were probably better off without the books anyway, but it's a sad reflection on human nature.

The Crow said...

I have now educated myself about English tarts (pastry sort) and know the difference between Bakewells, traditional (overnight) curd tarts and the modern well as scones, Brambury tarts, treacle tarts, muffins, and biscuits.

I'm ready.

(So sorry Pete missed out on the curd tart.)

Sir Hugh said...

The Crow - I'm proud of you. There are many more.

The Crow said...

Teach me, O Great One!

mike M said...

I wondered why you didn't have curd tarts. Glad someone was vacant before I got there, Crow, lol.

Blonde Two said...

Am I the only person in the world who doesn't know what a curd tart is?

Sir Hugh said...

Blonde Two - I've never made it myself. It's a bit complicated. Go to:

Good luck.

gimmer said...

quote 'a full-on hunting shooting and fishing type' - but, un-sterotypically, with a full-on Cumbrian accent:
maybe just a dyed in the wool countryman, perhaps?
we knew many when we lived in north-east Westmorland half a century or more ago . . . not blood-thirsty, just bred to the hill, like a hefted lamb - a g.....r, even - in their youth!

Roderick Robinson said...

Since I've also contributed to the confusion let me help clear it up.

Somehow during the course of this post lemon curd tart has shrunk to curd tart. The North is of course a different country but is curd tart tout seul available? (curd = a rich thick fruit preserve made with eggs, sugar and butter. As an example, but not part of the over-arching definition, lemon curd is cited).

Sir Hugh said...

RR - The recipe for Curd Tart (tout seul) is available via the link in my reply to Blonde Two herewith. You will need to copy and past the link into Google because it doesn't seem possible to include a proper link in a Comment. The essence of curd tart is complicated and starts by making the curds overnight. Here is the first step as written in the above mentioned recipe:

"1. Make the curd the night before. Heat the milk in a large pan. As it comes to a gentle simmer, add the lemon juice. Turn the heat to low and gently stir while the curds form. Do not stir too quickly or you will break up the curds. Once the mixture resembles watery liquid with creamy lumps in it, remove the pan from the heat and allow the curds to cool in the whey. Drain the curds overnight through a clean tea towel and save the whey for making scones, as you would buttermilk."

The milk specified is full fat Jersey.

Sir Hugh said...

All - This post has been the subject of some interchange between myself and brother RR who was a magazine editor in real life, and it has been re-written as shown below. I did not want to produce this as a full post, but for those interested in writing style and technique I reckon it will be of interest.

From RR:
"This post isn't about curd tarts it's about anticipation (often unrealised) and paras 2, 3 and 4 provide separate examples. The headline was misleading; we need to guide readers into the main theme; hence a new headline and a new theme-setting first para. Then curd tarts fit in naturally as part of the sequence. Notice how Scottish mist (leading to disappointment) reappears and allows us to use a single word (forgetfulness) to represent not getting our curd tarts. The final sentence (which can be deleted if you wish) then ties in with the first."

Revised version

The road Ahead
Anticipation is an essential - unavoidable - part of walking. The guidebook sets the mood and, as we pull on our boots, we  project ourselves forward, start guessing.
My Land’s End John o’ Groats guide, End to End, said “…there is even a snack van in the car park on the A71 six days a week”. I obsessed about that. Would it be, could it be...? It was still there. I mentioned this to the van proprietor and he got all worked up. Talked about fame and mugged me about getting a copy of End to End. Other van patrons were drawn in. Badinage rebounded.
Of one Munro the SMC guide speaks about "a pillar-like cairn that could be seen from a great distance". But how far's "a great distance"? The guide hadn't allowed for mist which, OF COURSE*, hardly ever occurs in Scotland. As it happened this particular “great distance” shrank to ten feet.
Maps tempt you with references to prehistoric remains. Imagination adds wings to your feet. Then nothing. Or, if a you like, a tiny something that only an archaeologist or a historian could interpret.
Recently curd tarts were the Holy Grail. Pete's wife had rhapsodised about these home-cooked delights at Cafe Ambio, our favourite finshing venue. Recently they'd dropped off the menu. Pete had pointed this out to the girl running the cafe and she promised to make tarts to coincide with this Thursday’s walk
I planned a route that ended up at Ambio. Gimmer joined Pete and me and curd tarts rarely left our collective consciousness as we toured the lanes east of Endmoor.
Alas, forgetfulness is as pernicious as Scottish mist. Pete and I made do with Bakewells and Gimmer a jam scone. Another of walking's essential truths: anticipation doesn't always work out.

*Should be italics. Even though it was copied and pasted as such it doesn't come across in Blogger Comments.

Roderick Robinson said...

Too late, blast it, too late. Curd tarts do exist and lemon curd tarts were never mentioned. In fact lemon curd tarts are confusing: they are not curd tarts flavoured with lemon, but conventional tarts filled with lemon curd - a yellowy, opaque jam. I shall avoid your blog in future. Far too much emphasis on sweet things. Soon I'd be needing insulin.

gimmer said...

woodsmen to their axes and cobblers to their last