N arrived in Wales late on Friday night, just as I was finishing work. He was weary from a long day at work and then a three hour drive. I was tired from standing working in my studio. Suffice it to say our energy levels were not at their highest.
N and I do not have an excellent track history of Valentines day. We normally avoid doing anything on the day itself as restaurants are always so expensive and I hate the idea of sitting in a restaurant full of couples, all trying desperately to achieve the perfect 'romantic' evening. I'm not sure romance works like that. So apart from one year, many moons ago, when I was working for the BBC and N surprised me by picking me up from the bus stop, we have never done the valentines thing. Last year for example, we went to the pictures and saw 'There Will Be Blood' - which admittedly may have been taking the anti-valentines stance a little far!
To compensate for last year, this year we made a plan, and booked a restaurant for lunch. But not just any restaurant. This restaurant is on my favourite stretch of coastline between my favourite two beaches Ogmore and Dunraven. I had heard such good things about it and its talented chef. We arrived at the restaurant a little early and so continued down the lane, along the beach road which plummets down to the sea.
I love this stretch of road, you do feel like you are clinging on to the land, floating above blue-grey expanse. At the bottom you park up your car and have three options: climb up the cliff for a gorgeous top-of-the-world ramble, continue up the white path to the ruins of Dunraven castle where we picnic in the summer, or clamber down over the pebbles to the beach. Short on time we decided on option three. I love a good clamber. Slipping and sliding over pebbles and shingles, picking your way carefully, gingerly, altering your course until you reach the sea.
Feeling invigorated and having worked up a bit of an appetite we made our way back to La Plie. What can I say about this place? Other than that it was amazing. It is run by an extremely young chef whose menu is adventurous and fantastically brave. Every single flavour combination just worked, every morsel we tasted was delicious. And what excellent value for money! Our three course lunch (which also included extra little appetisers) worked out at £20.00 each. I am so used to being palmed off with mediocre vegetarian options - oh how many mushroom risotto's I have consumed in my lifetime! But I started with squash three ways - a little cup of soup, a squash mousse and roasted squash seeds - yum yum yum. My main was a winter plate which was delicious and pudding, well I can hardly write about it without my mouth starting to water (and as a chef de patisserie I am super critical). I had a warm chocolate fondant (cooked to absolute perfection) with white chocolate ice cream and orange marmalade. Scrumdillyumptious! We were there for nearly three hours! What a lovely way to while away a lazy afternoon! I feel so passionately that there is such amazing talent out there, in every profession and that it should be supported and nurtured. Talking to the owner and chef, you could just tell how much he puts into the place and how much he gives of himself. I couldn't recommend it enough.
After lunch we made our way to Ogmore to walk off our dinner. It had turned into a gray hazy afternoon and the long beach just looked eerie and spectacular with little black silhouettes in the distance of walkers and their dogs. Gorgeous. This is it on a sunnier day: