Frydays – the Forest & Valley’s best Fish and Chip Shop.


Frydays, Bream

Lockdown has presented us all with challenges hasn’t it. Some are of the gravest nature and filled with sadness and some are frivolous with everything else in-between. To be denied of something seems, more than anything else to create a craving. This is true as much in food and drink as life.

In a prime position on the quayside of Viareggio in Tuscan, Italy home to the manufacture and birth of the world’s most expensive superyachts there is a boutique shop with a Union flag in the window. There is, in this global mega centre for billionaires and the rich and famous, a place where you can buy Marmite, HP sauce and any other brand of British you care to mention. Even the rich it seems get the hankering for the simple thing in life once they are no longer at our fingertips.

And so, it is with lockdown easing that I had the irresistible urge to risk everything and venture out into our new scary world. Essential, means essential and in my case, it was the first fish and chips I’d had for a few months. Once that idea was in my head, nothing, could distract me from it.

The fading seaside towns of the UK are all blessed with these humble fast food shops. Once derided as food of the poor and working classes as well as desperately bad for you – Quinoa does nothing for my wellbeing I’m afraid – who hasn’t enjoyed the gastronomy of fish and chips with the scent of the sea in your nostrils and a force nine blowing straight through your outer clothing?

In wonderful news science changed yet again one week and we all found out that when cooked properly in bubbling hot fat that didn’t soak into the fish and potatoes, our beloved Friday night special was in fact good for you!

But where does this tradition come from? A staple of the working class, British Fish & Chips has become woven into the fabric of society, relatively inexpensive, hearty, good for you and now, traditionally classless. Even the staff in my favourite French seafood restaurant (see blog below) have fish and chips when they come to Britain. Be it myth or legend, since a Catholic Pope decreed “Fish on a Friday” and the meat free days started piling up in the Christian calendar, fish, a cold-blooded creature not regarded as “meat”, hit the culinary headlines. There are myriad tales of fish as a celebratory food even in Viking times and so maybe the Pontiff just rebranded an existing tradition. Catholicism hasn’t always had so much good news in its emanations but I’m calling this their masterpiece!

Our absolute favourite Fish and Chip shop anywhere in the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley is Frydays. This smashing little “friary” tucked away on High Beech Road in Bream is brilliant example of all that’s good about traditional British food. Great fish, properly cooked paired with fab chips given the same treatment. Pete and his staff provide great service from behind the stainless altar to a Friday tradition and recently have made great leaps forward in making their service sustainable. Bring your own bag because one use plastic bags are no longer available here. The staff have moved over wherever possible to sustainable packaging and done away with the styro trays.

In response to Covid and keeping everyone safe it is currently necessary to pre-order by phone (number below) and collect your order at a specific time. There is a short wait outside (dress for the weather) whilst your order is prepared so that it’s all fresh out of the fryer rather than waiting in the paper wrapper. There is plenty of room for social distancing but the staff need a Tannoy so you can hear your name being called.

I’m often asked about good fish and chips because, living locally or holidaying, it’s a treat, and I always have no hesitation in recommending Fryday’s. I’ve lost count of the times a resident says “have you tried….”. the answer is generally yes as I’ve been on a mission since we moved here all those donkeys years ago but if not, I will make an effort to try a new place. And there are some great alternatives in the area, but believe me Fryday’s is worth the extra effort to try even if you are not staying in or around Bream itself.

I am a traditionalist. My order rarely changes – fish, chips and peas week in week out. I love the food, the quality never wains and I love the tradition. I love the familiarity of having the thing I like best over and over again. It isn’t always necessary to try something different. Where tradition holds sway, I feel it much more appropriate to be traditional. There is a wide variety of other stuff on the menu to serve all tastes but to be honest, I couldn’t tell you much about them! Occasionally on a full moon day I might knock myself out and have a fishcake as well.

In a slight aside and with a tipped cap to my Northern roots – I have a guilty pleasure. I do like a pickled onion with my chippy tea. Now, you may have noticed that the fascists have weighed in a stopped anyone producing proper pickled onions any more. Having surveyed many brands I find them softened to a snowflakes palate. There can be nothing less pickled onion-like than a squidgy excuse for a pickle than these soft retch inducing options where the middle always shoots out when you bite into them. As luck would have it, here in Bream and just around the corner from the chippy is a small 7-11 shop. One manufacturer, a nice old lady called Mrs Baxter still produces proper pickled onions in Scotland, the lawless north, where the food fascists can’t get to her. In a single row of merchandising like wild Celtic soldiers in line, lives the antidote to mediocrity in the pickled onion world. Just close enough to be able to order (in normal times) your fish supper and nip and get a jar or 6 – best to panic buy if you can.

Back at the chippy, the portion size is more than ample and renders that pleasurable “stuffed” feeling as a result of finishing the lot. If you have a smaller appetite or haven’t wound-up all-day Friday about the impending feast you will reward your busy and stressful week with, the smaller OAP fish are a great alternative. Here I have to admit that we buy and OAP fish as well and split it for our two terriers who, although not Catholic now also love Chippy Tea Night!

Tell the staff we sent you.


Fryday’s High Beech Rd, Bream, Lydney GL15 6JG 01594 562281


The small print. There are several “best fish and chip shop” awards around the country. Whitby alone has three separate (expensive) winners of three separate awards. You suspect therefore that there might be some sort of financial arrangement behind these gongs. We would like to assure readers that our only financial connection with Fryday’s is where we hand them money for fish and chips on a regular basis!

Mint & Mustard opens in Chepstow


Last night I went to a wake and a christening. All at the same time and at the same place.

Sadly, after many years, the Mughal Spice Indian restaurant in Chepstow is no more. The wholesome food and bonhomie of the brothers is a thing of the past. However, in its place is born an additional iteration to the very successful Mint & Mustard. The south-west based Indian food explosion has finally cracked the holy grail of the “Indian”, to offer distinctive, regional, genuine menu’s with a dash of great service and in cool surroundings. Although the new Chepstow outlet is pretty much just a lick of paint and a refresh for the old Mughal upstairs rooms at the moment, they have great ideas for the downstairs lounge. Anyone who has been to their other restaurants, particularly Penarth, will know that the decor style of this quickly expanding group is definitely upmarket and trendy with nods to all of the interior design trends and tricks of the new wave of uber-cool bars and restaurants.

Classy decoration in the upstairs dining room
Classy decoration in the upstairs dining room

As most now know, many of our beloved “Indians” have in the past been run by Bangladeshi folk. Nothing wrong in that, but since the days of the Raj, Asian food has been adapted and adopted by the British palate as only we seem to do with any world cuisine. Partly because of this restaurant menus became the anonymous high streets of the restaurant business. Homologous lists of dishes you could get from anywhere – with often differing resemblances to the stated contents.

Mint & Mustard is changing that. The reason for their success so far is simple? Of course the great levels of service are important but it’s the food. Genuine south Indian, predominantly Keralan, dishes all served up with lashings of style and presentation. Finally! An Indian restaurant that gets it all right.

Evoke Pictures Bristol Food Photographers

Kerala, known as the “Land of Spices” because of its history as a spice trading centre to the world, sits on the Arabian Sea on the tropical Malabar Coast. No wonder then that fish is one of the staple elements of the Keralan diet. But it’s also famous for its meat and vegan dishes (Hindus in the Brahmin community are vegan). Coconuts abound in Kerala and, in all its forms, it’s a significant feature of the local cuisine.

Evoke Pictures Bristol Food Photographers

Our starters of Scallop Thengapal served in their shells with an unctuous soft lemon and coconut milk sauce and the theatrical Keralan tiger prawns, deep fried in chilli and turmeric paste – delightful. A selection of mains followed which included expertly spiced chicken Kori Gassi, King Prawn Peera, chicken Dhaba Murgh with chilli, garlic and ginger and a Master Chef Mixed Grill Platter with an assortment of meat and fish tikka dishes. Accompanying sides of dals – Olan (butternut squash and cow peas) and of course Tarka dal.

Evoke Pictures Bristol Food Photographers

Tarka dal is such a domestic staple of Asian cuisine from Nepal to the southern tip of the continent that it’s a litmus for the quality of any Asian restaurant. If a restaurant can’t get this right, the thing they have been cooking at home and eating for years, then it doesn’t bode well. If the tarka dal is good, you can have confidence that everything is going to be just fine.   M&M’s tarka dal is great. Just the right amount of sauce, spice and texture in the lentils – a real treat.

Add to that a full house and lots of early evening atmos – and that’ll be another winner for Mint & Mustard!




Well it’s that time of year again and all thoughts are slowly turning toward the festivities (and a much needed break for some). It’s time to plan your parties and your menus and over indulge, just for a while, until you throw yourself headlong into your New Year resolutions for half a day or so. That’s right, let’s face it those few extra pounds from the Christmas feast are never going to go away!

Some of our favourite suppliers have great offers for the holiday period. Particularly at this time of year when we treat ourselves and spoil ourselves a little there’s no better time to BUY LOCAL and BUY QUALITY. Even those of us on a tight budget are thinking of a blow out so why not spend some (or all of that) money locally. It’ll help the local economy, it’ll help our great local producers and most of all the products and service is GREAT.

Let’s start with that great “British” tradition of turkey. There are lots of great alternatives but this is the time of year when we all go mad for the big bird! Home for Christmas is not something that is guaranteed. But when I’m home there is nothing I like more than my own traditional ritual. I’m a sucker for a turkey lunch at Christmas. I love preparing it, cooking it, and eating it….for days. I love the cold cuts for Boxing Day brunch, love the thinly sliced breast meat for turkey sandwiches, love the turkey curry and the finale Christmas lunch soup!!

The prelude is calling in at Taurus Crafts Christmas Market (first two weekends in December) to choose a tree, which always gets me in the mood. Although there is always lots of lovely food and drink to enjoy, it’s normally choosing the tree and the singers Taurus find that really kick-starts those Christmassy feelings.

The actual ritual starts mid-morning on Christmas Eve with a visit to Brian Baker at Close Turf Farm (on the back road from St Briavels to Lydney 01594 530277 to order).  Here I pick up the big bird ready for the following day. Brian raises his turkeys at the farm from hatchlings until they are ready for market and like all of the produce from Close Turf – absolutely top quality.

I love the feeling of pulling into the farmyard and chatting to the whole Baker family who by Christmas Eve have already been working like mad! But they are still cheerful and ready for that one last push. All their birds are plump and have that desperately fresh aroma.  Fresh and complete with their pluck, the big bird comes home to begin preparations.

Turkey chicks on the farm
Turkey chicks on the farm

Nothing fancy on the big day either, just traditionally and liberally covered with butter and good streaky bacon, with two halves of orange and some bay leaves inside and sitting on a bed of stock vegetables. Traditional veg too of course, roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnip and of course the famous Brussel sprout. I love them and cook them the way Yvette Farrell at Harts Barn Cookery School suggests (leave out the lardons if you need to). Then it’s in the oven during Bucks Fizz at the stables Christmas morning get together before home for lunch!!

Our family table is often a mix of poultry lovers, poultry hater’s and vegetarians. Which sounds complicated – but it’s not. All the veg is prepped and cooked to suit everyone (with the exception of 2-way Brussel sprouts) and the main components are cooked individually and to order. Simples!



Beurre blanc recipe


Ross on Wye really is a lovely town to wander around isn’t it? Historic buildings, the River Wye and river life as well as a very traditional and thriving High Street. What better then after a nice Herefordshire market town stroll, than a nice spot of lunch!

Wilton Court Hotel, Ross on Wye.
Wilton House Hotel, Ross on Wye.

We choose the Wilton Court Hotel overlooking the Wye, where Helen & Richard run a very popular and extremely nice traditional hotel and restaurant. Starters looked great very appetising. A Gin cured salmon Gravlax on pickled beetroot and an Italian meat plate (see The DeanWye reminds me of Tuscany). We really enjoyed the simple classic dish from the lunch time menu of fried Sea bass on greens with boiled potatoes and a beurre blanc sauce. These classic dishes, with fresh ingredients and simplicity at their heart, to let the subtle flavours of each element come through, always work so well if, as we always say, they are done properly!

Wilton Court Hotel, Ross on Wye.
Wilton Court Hotel, Ross on Wye.

Buerre Blanc works perfectly with white fish, scallops, other shellfish and vegetable dishes

Finely chop 2 shallots, combine with 150ml white wine and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a hot pan and reduce until it’s down to a couple of tablespoons in volume. Add a tablespoon of cream and when it bubbles reduce the heat to low. Cube 250g of butter and add a couple of cubes whilst on the heat and whisk. Turn the heat off and whisk in the rest a cube at a time. Season to taste and serve.

Jamie, the Essex boy, came up with a great method to save your whisking arm. Warm a thermos flask with hot water, empty the water and throw in the shallot reduction (sieve if you want – we don’t) into the hot flask, throw in the butter and put the top on. Shake to emulsify and season. You can keep the sauce warm in the flask while you get on with the other elements of the dish and little shake just before serving. We are thinking picnic BBQ fish now……


Hillside Brewery goes from ABV to ABV


We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch of several new Hillside Brewery products last night! And what a very nice evening it was. Paul Williamson introduced three new products from his ever popular and ever growing brewery on the hill at Longhope, Gloucestershire.

Proof that Paul has Hillside Brewery written right through him.

Firstly we had the new HCL craft lager – that’s right lager – (4.3% ABV), served only slightly chilled so that all of the fabulous fruit aromas could come through. Next up, The Forest Falcon (4.6% ABV), a lovely golden ale with hints of spice and cherries. And, finally we had the introduction of Hillsides first foray into cider making with the HR8 & GL17  (6.4% ABV), a traditional cloudy farmhouse cider with a tangy, dry sharpness made from 100% apples – a real treat and one to watch for sure.

As Paul gave a presentation on the new products and chatted informally about them, family and staff from the brewery made sure that everyone’s glasses were charged to accompany the tasting notes. Here then, was a masterclass for the assembled beer aficionado’s in the production of craft ales (and now cider) from the beer geniuses up on the hill.

Paul Williamson launches new beers launch at Hillside Brewery.
Tasting and nibbles in the run up to presentations.

Also on hand to add even more interest to this very educational event was Mark Andrews from Charles Faram, hop factors, growers and merchants. Mark followed a short presentation with a lively Q&A session particularly on the new world beating experimental hops in development at the Herefordshire Farm. The Forest Falcon is the very first beer to use these hops in a commercial product!!

Paul Williamson launches new beers launch at Hillside Brewery.
Lively and informal Q&A session.

Paul Williamson finished the presentations with a quick recap of the last year at the Gloucestershire brewery (Hillside recently turned 1) before teasing the audience with the plans for the next 12 months. Plans, which included a home brewing completion where the winner will get to brew their winning recipe at Hillside! Paul and his team have already been tipped as one of the country’s top 4 new breweries to watch by a leading beer writer and this evening did nothing to dent our confidence that this is a craft producer going places.

But enough with education; Paul finished with the, all important and oft neglected, health benefits of beer drinking (in moderation) before the bread and cheese and a few more beer and cider tastings. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Tuesday evening.

Paul Williamson launches new beers launch at Hillside Brewery.
Relaxed atmosphere in the barn.

If you, or anyone you know, have been affected by reading this article and being missed off the invitation list for this launch event, make sure that you follow Paul and his endeavours via the web and their social media and I’m sure in return, you’ll get invited to the next one…..

#deanwye #craftale #craftcider