I LOVE Pinner Fair; well, that is to say, I love the idea of it. For the past 17 years, I have looked forward to it, knowing that I can have a guaranteed short break. In my line of work, there are always unforeseen circumstances which lead to cancelled days off, and even postponed holidays.
This year was no exception, although there had been some doubt about the future of the fair (not in my case, though, as I was convinced it would go ahead).
So, we packed our bags and headed north to the Lake District, where according to the weather map, it was going to be warm and sunny, sandwiched between the rain north of Carlisle, and that south of Manchester.
The scenery was spectacular, with weather to match. But as you might expect, I was in search of some local fare, which is in abundance in this part of the world.
From Allerdale goat's cheese through to Lakeland butter, the dairy produce of Cumbria is of special quality, though interestingly enough, cow's cheese is not one of the key products of the area.
One of the exceptions to this trend is the range of Kendal cheeses made from milk produced on the Low Sizergh Farm, near Kendal, where about 120 dairy cows supply milk for cheesemaker Chris Sandham in Lancashire.
He makes Kendal Creamy and Kendal Crumbly with red onion, all of which are mouth-wateringly delicious.
The ports of Cumbria were very active in the rum and spice trade, which has led to the popularity of these ingredients in Cumbrian cooking. You can combine rum, dried fruit and brown sugar with Cumbrian varieties of apple (such as Forty Shilling, Carlisle Codling and Keswick Codling) to make a delicious and different rum nicky.
Gingerbread, mint cake and apple tansy are puddings which are commonplace in the region. I particularly liked this one.
Cumberland Rum Nicky
Ingredients (serves four)
175g short pastry
30g preserved stem ginger, chopped
15g caster sugar
50g chopped dates
25g unsalted butter
one medium egg, beaten
one tbsp dark rum
Line a greased pie dish with the short pastry. Bake blind for 15 minutes, lining with foil and using baking beans in a moderate oven. When cooked, place the dates and ginger in the flan.
Cream the butter and sugar until almost white, and then beat in the egg and the rum. Pour this filling over the dates and ginger, then cover with the remaining pastry, egg washing to seal.
Bake for another 30 minutes, and serve warm with some crème fraîche.