Pheasant, partridge, mallard, snipe etc

Yesterday was quite a day for me. Firstly, City went top of the league  – even if only for two hours – after a fifth win a row. Then there was a lovely sunny morning out at the East Midlands Food Festival. I came back with a bag full of bread from King’s Rd bakery,  cheese, pistachio baklava, wild roe deer steaks, goat, pheasant and one of those very heavy Woll saute pans.The venison I dry-fried in the  pan last night with great success. The pheasant may serve for Sunday lunch today  – it was boned and stuffed which the regular habuitues of Melton’s market may welll consider a bit mimsy but I’m not sure I’ve got the knife skills or the patience to do all that stuff myself.

Very pretty battenberg fudge

It was great to earwig so many conversations from people who had made exciting new discoveries –  and were taking such pleasure in it.  Great, too, to see so many people carrying and reading Great Food magazine, which had struck a deal with the organisers to give a copy – including a festival guide – to everyone at the gate.

Happy shoppers

Just for you, Tara Chakraborti

And finally, there was a nice start to the day, discovering the Leicester Mercury had produced an excellent food themed issue of their Saturday magazine and had listed me as one of thirty-odd Leicestershire food heroes. I’d responded to a request a while back to help suggest a few names for this list (most of which I’m glad to see were taken up) but hadn’t really believed I would be included too. Very honoured to be in that company anyway.



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 

Living for the weekend

October 2, 2011

Some weekends really make you feel that, despite everything, it really is worth perservering through this vale of tears. This has been one such.

It started on Friday evening with a cold drink with former colleagues in Manahttan 34, a welcome addition to the bar scene in in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter.  Then I helped win 2nd prize in a pub quiz at Leicestershire Tennis Club. An auspicious start I’m sure you’ll agree.

Saturday, with the temperature rising to extraordinary highs for the end of September,  I took a lovely drive through the Leicestershire countryside to the East Midlands Food Festival in Melton – an annual highlight that gives an opportunity to renew acquaintances and check out new businesses. My peronal highlights included refreshing blush-pink apple juice from Discovery appples, a big slab of wild boar belly, some nose-blasting horseradish and habanero relish, a plum and gooseberry pastry from a little business called the pantry in Kettleby,  and Du Pain Frier (right), a delicious piece of Mauritian streetfood  – deep fried chickpea bread with green herbs and spices and a tomato salsa.

Then it was back to Leicester and a sun-drenched, glorious 4-0 defeat of Derby County, celebrated duly with a fine pint of Landlord. And then on to Sunday, with the weather still being more like July, and a four mile hike around classic English countryside in Rutland complete with a 12th century church. We finished up fortuitously at a stylish dining pub in the shape of Braunston’s Blue Ball – the oldest pub in the county and a nice mix of cosy nooks and crannies without the clutter and tutt.

The food was really rather good too. It’s a serious restaurant and we found the starters all showed deft touches in cooking and presentation and qaulity ingredients. Home cured juniper and citrus salmon ( left top) came with a delicious, refreshing cucumber sorbet, while fat seared scallops (left middle) perched on Grasmere farm black pudding withe a lemon beurre blanc dressing and my spinach and ricotta tortellini (left below) sat on a fricasee of wild mushrooms and a fantastic parmesan crisp. High quality posh pub grub this.

Mains didn’t really come out in the picures but imagine big satisfying plates of roasted loin of venison with a lentil and herb cassoulet, honey glazed duck, topside of beef and roasted leg of lamb from nearby Launde. My lamb had a marvellous flaovur though it was slathered in a fairly undistinguished gravy, but few pubs – even ones this good  – seem to get that right in my experience.

Our deserts included a very good sticky toffee pudding, a selection of superior ice-creams which were restrained in flavour (honeycombe, ammaretto and coffee) but beautifully creamy. Sadly a  creme brulee disappointed with it grainy texture – a big cross against that but it didn’t spoil our sense of well-being.  Service had been helpful and the atmosphere was jollied along by  sounds of a great hotjazz duo drifting in from the bar to our little alcove. The Blue Ball has long been a destination pub but has had it ups and downs over the years. On this showing I wouldn’t mind going again.

And then it was home to contemplate the rain, wind and darkness that will settle on us for the next six months. A memorable weekend to help carry me through, though.

Edit: having now reread this post I feel compelled to add the following link:

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