Drinks · England · Travels

Guildford: Good food with good people


The last time I was in Guildford, it felt like I was home. I went there to visit Rachel and Erick, people who moved to the little town in Surrey from Anchorage, and whom I’d always wanted to get to know better. The last time I visited had been in July, it was hot, and I spent my time on the river, walking and writing in my journal. This time it was the end of April, and the town, the friends, and the river, all welcomed me back with open arms.

Rachel and Erick are classically good looking, like those people in the old black and white movies. They are actors, and Rachel is also an accomplished model and visual artist. She and I share a love for vintage fashion, musicals, singing, dancing, travel, tea, food, and sitting on a couch with a snuggly blanket. Erick is sweet spirited, very smart, and a great dancer, although I admit that I don’t know him as well. Needless to say, I love this amazing couple!

Rachel cooks from recipes. She searches them out and perfects them, and it certainly pays off. She also has a way with portioning which I consider to be pure magic. I would look at my plate skeptically, and it would always be the exact amount I needed. I aspire to such skills with portioning.

I took a lot of her recipes with me, and even bought a book she has. Here are a few of the delicious highlights, along with the book:

Tea Bread! But I can’t remember what kind!
The Perfect Afternoon Tea Recipe Book.

I failed to take a picture of her butternut squash soup and potato bread, but I can assure you that I absolutely enjoyed it. Now that I’m back home, I think about her food often. I will have to start making some of the recipes I brought back.

We, of course, went shopping at the local farmers market on the high street. Guildford isn’t a big place, and the market reflects that, but just like the town it comes from, it is charming and packed full of treasure. We got cheese and veggies, while I looked around wishing I could have it all.

Olives, nuts, & dried fruit.

In addition to accompanying the love birds on their weekly shop, we spent St George’s Day at the Spring Wine Fair in Shalford, hosted by The Guildford Wine Company, and boasting all English wines. Due to the cool climate, that similar to Champagne, most of the wines we tried were light bodied, sparkling, whites. We saw a lot of wines blended with the normal Champagne trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. We also saw Pinot Gris, Seyval, Sauvignon Blanc, Bacchus, Rondo, Triomphe d’Alsace, Auxerrois, Dornfelder. So, it’s very clear that England has a burgeoning viticulture industry, and I had fun helping it along. I will say that a lot of the wines weren’t to my liking, but there were one or two that I could have had a good time with on a hot summer day.

There was also a fellow there who was selling his mead. Now, I’ve been really spoiled with the Alaskan company Celestial Meads; I’ve even taken a class on how to judge the delicious fermented honey. Chalice Mead was unlike anything I’d had before, and that wasn’t a bad thing. It was heavy and sweet, more of a sipping beverage than the traditional meads I’ve had. I wished I could swirl it around in a snifter to get the full experience. The brewer, whose name I’ve so rudely forgotten, seems to make small batches, and comes up with fun new flavours. I definitely recommend giving Chalice Mead a go.

The walk to Shalford was along the River Wey. The beautiful river, spotted with locks, boats, ducks, and rowers, and lined with sheep and cows, quaint, yet prohibitively expensive, little cottages, and people enjoying its beauty, has become one my favorite places to be. It’s one of the places in the world where I feel at peace. The wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds seem to agree. Of course, I didn’t take many photos, but I did snap the sheep. I also got a movie feeding the ducks! Erick loves to care for things, and his orchids thrive; without a pet, duck feeding becomes a sort of sport.

I cannot wait to return to Guildford once again. It really is a special place; it’s no wonder Lewis Carrol, who is buried there, was inspired to write Through the Looking-Glass. Who knows if I’ll come back when it’s warm and sunny, or when I have to wear my woolies? All I know is that Guildford, the River Wey, and Erick and Rachel will welcome be back, once again, with open arms.

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