A week in Dorset is surely one of the best treats a girl could wish for - J and I had a superb week of walking and eating in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Lulworth Cove, past Durdle Door and then inland was our Monday walk: this is the view from one of the roller coaster uphill stretches.
We hoped that one of the highlights of the week would be our visit to The Wild Garlic at Beaminster. Last year I watched Mat win Masterchef and loved his take on seafood and the wild larder, so I'd booked a table as soon as I'd secured our holiday cottage.
After three days of hearty walking, we arrived in the town sqaure to find The Wild Garlic beaming a warm welcome. Once inside, we settled down at our beautiful oak table and guzzled on the bread which arrived with hemp oil and wasabi peas.
Choosing what to eat wasn't too difficult although I was torn for a moment between the sardines and the smoked eel salad - but the wild garlic mayo with the sardines clinched it. J went with a butternut squash salad with mixed cheeses.
It looked beautiful, served with primrose flowers and different cresses. J got a dreamy look on her face and declared it wonderful.
My sardines came with sprigs of samphire. The combination of the fish, salty greens and mayonaisse was superb. The mayo was so good I could easily have eaten a whole bucket of it. So far, so very good: this was on track to be one of the best meals I've had in the past 18 months.
Next to turn up was an unexpected amuse bouche of lightly cured brill, capers and pea shoots - absolutely lovely, and set us up for the baked brill which we'd both ordered for our mains.
'Brill city,' said our waiter, placing an enourmous platter in front of each of us. The brill was cooked perfectly - a moist and melting flesh contrasted with an insanely tasty crispy skin and the drizzle of caper and lemon butter sauce. I never thought that brill skin would be one of my favourite things to eat, but it is now. J and I went quite silent as we munched our way through the fish. A superb dish. Did we have room for a dessert? You betcha.
J went for the chocolate tart with blood orange sorbet, and about halfway through, declared that it was one of the best puddings she's ever had. I'd gone for the citrus burnt cream - yes, it's a creme brulee but I liked the insistance on the vernacular.
It was wonderful, with the hint of citrus just holding at bay the unctiousness of the cream. By this point, we were well and truly bowled over by the meal. Not just by the individual courses but by the way the meal developed so that it was impossible to say which course we'd prefered. All in all, bloody fantastic food.
It has been a great evening - the only slight criticism we could make was that the waiting staff haven't yet quite developed those super sensitive antennae that tell them when a glass of wine is missing. But they were a very friendly and welcoming bunch. And it was lovely to see the restuarant full on a weekday evening. Mat wandered out as we were leaving and J grabbed a handshake and told him how much we'd enjoyed it.
Next time I'm watching Masterchef and groaning at the voice-overs, I'll remember to be grateful that it produced such a fine winner.