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We all have the favourite dishes that we go to again and again when dining out at a restaurant.
Many top chefs, for example, order the humble omelette as a way of sizing up whether a rival venue is up to scratch.
But one woman has taken her love of one particular meal to the extreme and orders it at every restaurant she visits.
Self-confessed salad-dodger, Danielle Elton, says that while she's not a fan of the leafy greens usually, she has a love for goats' cheese salad so strong that sometimes she doesn't even check what else is on offer.
Writing for 2Chill, Danielle said: "I couldn’t even pinpoint the first time I tried goats’ cheese, it’s certainly not something I ate growing up. But over the last few years, it’s something I’ve come to love. To the point that I wouldn’t even bother looking at the rest of the menu."
So what is it about the dish that she loves? Well, two things really – it's the healthy option and it's a dish she says she's never had a bad one of.
She added: "And it pairs perfectly with beetroot, one of my favourite vegetables.
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"While I don’t claim to be any kind of cheese connoisseur, there are a few simple elements that make this a standout dish – the creaminess of the cheese, an acidic element like beetroot and something crunchy.
"I’ve eaten this dish all over Essex, and as far as Tenby in Wales, and no two have ever been the same. Some had balsamic vinegar to cut through the cheese, another used pesto. One came with walnuts, another with croutons. It’s versatile."
Thankfully, if you're a goats' cheese fanatic, or just fancy seeing what all the hype is about, here are some of Danielle's suggestions.
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The Barn Cafe in Stanway
Danielle says: "This place is a total hidden gem tucked away inside a garden centre, one that I only discovered thanks to a friend taking me there for breakfast. And since that first time, I’ve been back on numerous occasions, sometimes even twice in the same week.
"As well as serving a pretty special avocado and poached eggs, it’s goats’ cheese salad is delicious. Although one of the few I’ve eaten with no beetroot, this was swapped with orange segments. There were also some homemade croutons which added the crunch."
The Continental Cafe in Maldon
Danielle says: "This is another cafe I’d class as a must-visit. I only recently discovered it after it started selling a cake box selection during the first lockdown. I’d walk along the nearby river and then end in town to pick up my cakes.
"And if the cakes were anything to go by, I knew I had to eat in once it was finally allowed to open its doors. But I couldn’t wait for inside dining to be allowed, I braved the cold weather with a seat outside.
"And deciding what to have was actually a difficult decision – it was either going to be the goats’ cheese salad or the goats’ cheese and caramelised onion sandwich. I made the right choice.
"This has got to be up there with one of the best I’ve had, that pesto really added something extra to the dish. And the pine nuts were a nice addition too."
The Generals Arms in Little Baddow
Danielle says: "This little pub is a must-visit during the summer, its garden is massive and popular with families. And it’s just a short drive from Chelmsford.
"The General’s take on the goats’ cheese salad was a pretty classic one, there were salad leaves, tomatoes, beetroot and then the warm, melt-in-the-mouth cheese. It might have been simple but it was lovely. And they were pretty generous with the goats’ cheese too."
Salty’s in Tenby
Danielle says: "I can never visit Tenby without having at least a drink at South Beach restaurant Salty’s. You just can’t beat the views with a table outside in the sun, you could almost believe you’d travelled overseas.
"On my recent trip to Wales just a few months ago, I stopped there once for a drink and then went back for a meal. And I’m nothing if not predictable, so I ordered the goats’ cheese salad. This was another pretty special take on my favourite dish, with the roasted veg a welcome addition. And the sourdough bread was nice too, it certainly helped with the amount of cheese they gave.
"Although absolutely divine, this was too much even for me. I admitted defeat about three quarters in."
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