Orange Tree Farmers Market

September 30, 2012

Orange TreeAs mentioned a few days back, there was a mini-farmers’ market in Leicester’s splendid Orange Tree Bar yesterday to mark Leicestershire Food Fortnight. There were olives from Gusto, craft bread from Brucciani’s, great steaks and sausages from March House Farm in Great Dalby and Scrambler and Rambler cider from Hallaton’s Bottle Kicking Cider Company.

Orange TreeIt seemed a really good idea for a Saturday lunch time, not too intrusive for diners and drinkers but good exposure for the businesses. Well done to the bar for setting this up.

In other news, good to see St Martin’s Tea and Coffee moving to larger premises. It will be moving across the square in October and sharing premises with its parent business the Original Cookware Company in that large, “difficult” corner unit that once held Stone’s deli. Apparantly demand for its coffee is such that they are buying a new larger 10kg roaster. I’ll probably still be buying most of my beans from the wonderful Hasbean, but it’s great that you can buy a coffee to drink made with your choice of beans and your choice of brewing process – I had a lovely cafetiere of Sumatran Blue Lingtong yesterday.

The Phoenix

September 26, 2012

Many people love Leicester’s Phoenix cinema.  Some complain that it’s not as homely as its old Upper Brown St location, others that it’s not as lively or comfortable a social space as Nottingham’s Broadway.

I can see all points of view here but I do say I always enjoy going there and will add that they do a pretty good job with their food and drink offering. They get the “fresh, local, seasonal” thing and everything I’ve eaten has been rather good.  Today I had smoked haddock and leek soup off the specials board which was really great – lots of fish, plenty of leek and a tasty peppery stock. Proper made-in-the-kitchen stuff and all the better for not bulked out with cream or blitzed spuds.  The menu varies from brunch items such as eggs benedict (my friend’s looked very tasty) to creative sandwichs (grilled halloumi, mango chutney and rocket), salads, excellent burgers and more substantial mains  – fish and chips,curries, bangers and mash. Alright it’s not cosy, but as well as refuelling before or after a film, I’d say it is a good option for an informal working lunch or meeting friends (food is served 11am to 9pm Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm Sunday).

Phoenix cafe – (from their website)

Leicestershire Food Fortnight

September 24, 2012

Lots of Leicestershire Food Fortnight events going on right now  – you can see a map and full listing  here, but I’ll mention a few that look interesting. There’s a Best of Leicestershire Food evening at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre on 4 October, Coalville Food and Drink festival across the town centre on 29 September, a Leicestershire food tasting day at Manor Farm Shop at Catworth on 29th, and one I’ll definitely get along to on that same day  –  a farmer’s market within the Orange Tree bar on High St, Leicester.  Throughout the fortnight there’s plenty of restaurants offering special menus and various breweries and vineyards offering guided tours.

I’m afraid you’ve already missed a couple of events this past weekend featuring Leicestershire Born and Bread, but this fortnight would be still be a good time to try out Jessica’s bread  or indeed book one of her baking classes.

And of course the fortnight culminates with the East Midlands Food Festival at Melton Cattle Market on 6 and 7 October – I suspect most readers will know all about this event, if you need convincing you can find a full list of arouhd 200 exhibitors here 

Poles arrive in the Market

September 20, 2012

There seems to be something of a rule about migrant groups that their cultural presence – and for our purposes that means food shops – first appear local to where their community settles, then start to appear in the city centre, and finally you know you’ve arrived when you can get past the various barriers and set up outlets in the traditional main markets.

So it seemed significant today to discover a Polish meat stall has taken over one of the indoor stalls of Leicester’s meat and fish market. There has been what I suppose you ‘d call a traditional Polish deli on the edge of the market before but this venture seemed different, with a wonderful varied variety of meat and cheese clearly aimed at the new generation of Polish residents. One of the great things about discovering a new food culture is the evocative names – and here you can pick up the likes of juniper sausage, miner’s smoked bacon, Krakow steamed sausage and, my favourite I think, Idyllic sausage.

I bought  a couple of cured, smoked veal sausages (right) – absolutely gorgeous meaty things that tasted like like November 5th, and some lovely versatile cured pork loin. Good value too  – have a look when you are next near the market.

Rutland Food Festival

September 16, 2012

I made a late decision yesterday to drive over to Empingham for the Rutland Food Festival. A very good decision as it turned out.

For once in this rain-sodden summer it was a lovely warm sunny day. The festival had a sumptuous setting by Rutland Water, where over a hundred little sailboats were having some sort of race thing (come on, you all saw the Olympics – who had a clue what was going on?)

It was, in Rutland style, a small but classy event. Cooking presentations from leading local chefs including Brian Baker, Sean Hope and Dameon Clarke and around maybe 30 food stalls including familiar stalwarts such as Pick’s organic meats and Hambleton Bakery, newer businesses such as baked goods from Les Rosbifs restsaurant (left)  and Johannah’s Patisserie. I picked up a end of festival box from the later which included some of the best bakewell tart I’ve ever encountered. They are opening a shop next month in Oakham so look out if you’re over there. 

Other goodies I came away with included venison from Fen Farm, pain Levain from Les Rosbifs, spicy plum chutney from Rutland Preserves, spicy N’awleans  rub from Gourmet Spice Company, and a bit of punt, a bottle of Rutland table wine – a Bacchus from Abbey vineyards. A little tasting suggested an off-dry wine with a surprising amount off fruit showing through. Whether it will hold-up away from the feel-good environment of a sunny food festival I’m not sure but at £6.50 it felt like a deal. 

I ended up staying most of the day helping sign-up people for the Great Food Club, along with fellow Great Food magazine contributor Hazel Paterson and partner Glen.  Hazel’s a really creative cook and photographer, if you’re not already following her work in the magazine or  through her blog and tweets, I recommend you investigate.

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