Well the rain came on the big day, but indominatable British spirit won the day and it appeared to be a big success. I’m talking of course about the Stoneygate Food Festival. So much rain, in fact, that the camera stayed in the bag. No pictures then, but the event is definitely worth a quick write up.

Allandale Rd/Francis St has hosted the odd itinerant French or Italian market but this was something different.  An attempt to get local producers and restaurants to highlight their produce. Fishmongers Nigel and Zoe Brady took the lead in setting it up, keen to reinforce the foodie credentials of these streets and worked hard to bring as a wide range of producers as possible. There were maybe a few holes in the offering but as a first stab this was a really good event that deserved better than pouring rain but as I suggested, it didn’t ruin it.

You could have enjoyed really good street food from local restaurants Marchee Wok (the only Chinese takeaway I ever recommend), and city restaurants such as the Goan Anjuna and Maiyango, who had beautiful breads and patisserie. Head chef Phillip Sharp was also there cooking to order and I had a fantastic dish of scallops with samphire, pickled fennel and micro greens – a glorious combination and sweet, salty and sharp.  The Brady’s sold out quickly of a huge paella dish and appeared to be doing a roaring trade in champagne too.

It wasn’t a day for hanging round too long but there were queues  at a number of stalls, I could see several stalls selling out  and there was a general good feeling of everyone being up for good food. I would have liked to have seen more bread (I know you tried Nigel), maybe some cheeses,  and a few new discoveries would have been good but I definitely had the feeling this was the first draft of a really good idea. Hope it happens again and I hope more businesses support it.


May 10, 2012

News has reached me of another of Lucy Cufflin’s local food pop-ups. After a successful couple of nights at the White Room in Stoneygate, she’s taking over Kibworth Cricket Club on 24 May.  This is a larger venue and there’s (no BYO this time – a local shop is supplying a selection of wines at £12).  The menu sounds very appealing – chicken liver parfait from the wonderful Fosse Meadows chickens, fresh pasta with pesto and British asparagus, pork belly with bourbon glaze, saute potatoes and apples, and crispy fennel with lemon and chilli, plus a trio of local berry deserts – raspberry posset, summer pudding and chambord liquer tart.  Tickets are £30 from Lucy’s Foods in Stoenygatre  or the Deli at Kibworth.

In case you were wondering about the calcotada I was getting excited about last month, it was cancelled at the last minute. Very disappointing.

Not a pop-up but of interest to those with a love of gutsy French regional food is a special cassoulet night at La Table d’Yves in Thorpe Satchville. Yves Ogrodski and his wife Elizabeth came from Provence to the UK and for six years have run this fun, authentic French restaurant in an otherwise unremarkable pub in the heart of East Leicestershire. I’ve not been for a couple of years,  but given it’s looking like we’re not having a summer I’m tempted by the hearty delights of the bean, duck, sausage combo offer on 18 May.

Finally a reminder about some local food events – the Artisan Cheese Fair  takes place at Melton’s Cattle Market this weekend, Leicester’s Summer Food festival will be at Leicester Market on 27 May,  and Stoneygate local food and drink fair is on 4 June (stalls for local producers still available, contact Zoe Brady of Brady’s Fish and Seafood Market)

Cod, cream and cider

March 1, 2012

Enjoyed a fabulous piece of cod from Brady’s fishmongers last night.   The thick end of a piece of fillet it was perfect for pan frying.  I adapted a Jason Atherton recipe and served it with winter cabbage and a cider and cream sauce.  I softened a little shallot with  a few dices of smoked streaky, added a good splosh of cider and reduced by half, a little fish stock and reduced again and then a  little cream. I blanched the cabbage and finished it for another couple of minutes in the cream sauce. The cod took maybe 3 minutes each side in a hot pan. givng it the lightest of crusts,  and I filled it out with a garlicky dauphinoise. Definitely one to repeat this, but absolutely crucial was the quality of the fish. Beautifully fresh,  it had a delicate flavour and flaked most gratifyingly.

Had a nice chat this morning with Nigel and Zoe Brady, owners of a new fishmongers on Stoneygate’s Allandale Road.  Zoe is a local, Nigel a Dubliner with a background that varies from butchery to cancer research but the couple have been planning a fish and seafood shop for a couple of years.

We’ve got a fish market in the city centre, and of course big supermarkets tend to have fish counters, but I think there has to be a place for a neighbourhood fish shop. Especially one like this that seems to do it the right way.  They get deliveries from South and East coast ports every morning at 7am, all from day boats, so the emphasis is very much on freshness, seasonality and sustainability. Nigel reckons 95 per cent of his fish is from British waters, and while they do stock North Atlantic cod and haddock they are very keen to wean people off these traditional species and inspire and educate people about alternatives.  So the relatively small and beautifully displayed stock includes dabs, at just £1 each, red gurnard fillets, gilthead bream as well as Scottish langoustines and Norfolk crab and lobster. Scallops have been flying out this week thanks it seems to a colour supplement recipe at the weekend, and also on the slab today were brill, turbot, monkfish, squid, razor clams and oysters.

They cater for a lunchtime market with hot dishes to take away – today’s dish was mussels in tomato and chilli – and home made dishes including fish pies, smoked salmon pate, taramasalata and pasta salads. Recipe cards to inspire creative use of their fish are planned and the shop is licensed so they can recommend and sell you a nice chilled bottle of Sancerre or Champagne if you’re in the market for it.

The shop is open until 6pm early in the week and until 7pm on Thursday and Fridays, making it highly convenient for picking up something for the weekend. I just picked up a few extras today such  as nam pla, smoked Cornish seasalt and a few chillies, but I’ll be back soon to try the fish.

Edit January 2013: Nigel and Zoe have relocated their business to Northamptonshire -specifically to the wonderful Beckworth Emporium near Mears Ashby.It’s worth a drive out to this huge garden centee and mega-farmshop – if you do make it and see Nigel, tell him I sent you.

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