You may or may not know that my family have always and forever been in the hotel and restaurant business. This probably goes quite far in explaining why I now seem to manage to make a living by talking about everything we eat. Anyway, many moons ago, The Three Horseshoes at Madingley was run, managed, designed, and owned by maman and papa. They since sold it, but it has now boomeranged back into their hands, and they are working night and day to transform what has become a slightly out of control, dilapidated space, back to its former glory. Unsurprisingly, they are doing a magical job.
Last Wednesday lunchtime, the sun came out and we all filled a colorful picnic bench in the green garden behind the thatched roof restaurant. We had yoga in the evening, so no drinking was allowed, but we made up for it imbibing our annual allowance of San Pellegrino in one fell swoop. To accompany the water were squares of rosemary focaccia, dipped in zingy olive oil, and citrusy, nutty Sicilian Nocellara olives.
We then all shared one of the most simple yet flavor-packed dishes I've eaten in a long time: A tin of swanky sardines served with toasted sourdough and a spoonful of paprika. The idea is that you recreate the classic, ever-reliable, well-loved meal of sardines on toast. Sometimes simplicity is best, and you really can't go wrong by starting your meal like this.
We then ordered a large portion of the menu, and the typical Hoskins-family rigorous tasting of everybody else's plate of food commenced. An elegant crab brik (spelling mistake intentional) was crunchy and crisp on the outside, and revealed a perfectly spiced, seafood interior.
Peaches and prosciutto was as perfect a summer lunch as you are currently imagining. Grilled sweet peaches, salty prosciutto, and purple basil created a real taste of Italian summer enjoyed in a British garden.
Corn and baby mushroom tagliatelle was doused in a beautiful amount of butter, coated with herbs, and scattered with soft cheese. The combination of crunchy summer corn, al dente strands of pasta, salty cheese, fresh herbs, woody mushrooms, and rich butter combined a range of flavors and textures to create an incredibly addictive and more-ish meal.
Giant couscous salad with fresh peas, broad beans, pea shoots, sunflower seeds, parsley, mint, and edible flowers was as tasty as it was pretty: Instagram fodder with plenty of flavor supporting it.
We finished our leisurely weekday lunch sitting in the deck chairs sipping on espresso and trying to resist eating too many of these gorgeous, giant, dark chocolate truffles. If only every Wednesday afternoon could be spent this way.
The Three Horseshoes, High Street, Madingley, Cambridge, CB23 8AB