Leicester Market on form

November 22, 2015

WP_20151121_17_37_07_ProThere was some gorgeous stuff on Leicester Market today. With the rutting season pretty much over there’s some wonderful venison coming down from Bradgate Park – including this handsome  chop which looks good enough to celebrate something special such as  – ooh – going top of the Premier League maybe?

There were also some beautiful blue swimming crabs and fat scallops that will make a few more great meals somewhere in Leicester tonight.

It certainly set my culinary senses racing in advance of the Winter Food Festival which takes place at the market tomorrow (Sunday) from 11-6pm.

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Friday wrap-up

November 14, 2014

A couple of quick things the. Don’t forget it’s Leicester ‘s Winter Food and Craft Festival at the Market on Sunday. Always a good opportunity to pick up something nice for Christmas and see what’s new – full details including stallholders here.

Secondly, congratulation to Phil and Charlotte at the White Peacock who are celebrating one year at their smart New Walk restaurant this week. I had a drink with them last night and it was great to see and hear their continuing enthusiasm and desire to constantly improve.

And commiserations to Sam Owen of 34 Windsor St, who was selected for this season of Masterchef The Professionals, but exited at the first stage this week. I can’t say I know his food inside out but I guessed he would either go a long way or crash and burn.  Word on the street is that he and Marcus Waring had a frank exchange of views, but sadly none of that made it to screen.

Finally a link to a  Mercury review of a restaurant where another Masterchef professional cooks – great to see ambition but this was an up and down experience. Sorry about the Mercury website – it’s an irritating mix of pop ups another invasive stuff, I understand if you prefer to buy the paper: Lilu

After the sad failure-to-launch of Leicester’s Market Corner, it’s good to learn there is another attempt at fostering a street food scene in Leicester.

The new Market Hall has a small street food unit facing out towards the market stalls and from this Friday and Saturday (10 and 11 October) onwards there will be high quality street food traders every weekend. Initially there be three businesses there on a rotating basis, starting off with gourmet hot dogs from Harborough-based Big Daddies, and subsequently US-style barbecue from Coalville’s Miss Piggy’s (just back with a hatful of trophies from the European BBQ championships) and high-quality burgers and more from Pick’s organic farm.

"This could get messy..."  - a Big Daddy hotdog.

“This could get messy…” – a Big Daddy hotdog.

I spoke briefly to Jeff Wilson of Big Daddies who was pleased to be adding Leicester to their list of regular venues along with Birmingham’s Digbeth Dining Club and Coventry’s new arts hub Fargo. “What we do is probably best encapsulated as restaurant quality food at street vendor prices,” he claimed. “All our food is sourced in the Harborough area and is home-made  to high standards  – there’s no sweepings, no nasties. We’ll be doing our hot-dogs and a few specials such as Philly cheese steaks and we’ll be doing a currywurst to mark Oktoberfest.”

It’ll be good to have these new lunch options in the city centre and hopefully this will in due course provide a low-cost entry for more businesses offering innovation and quality to offer their wares in Leicester.

Smokehouse here to stay

April 29, 2014

Sorry about the radio silence all – hope to get my blogging mojo back soon. One quick piece of good news today  – the Smokehouse at the O Bar (which  I’ve written about enthusiastically a couple of times now) is to become a permanent fixture. “Customers have really voted with their feet, so we’ve opted to keep the Smokehouse open,” said Orange Tree Group director Ben Hings.

Congratulations then to chef Liam Watson who has developed the American barbecue concept over two periods as a pop-up. He and his new sous will also be taking their smoker out to a number of events this summer, starting with the Westival street music festival around Braunstone gate this coming weekend and the Summer Food and Drink Festival at the Leicester market on  25 may.

Walkers’ are back

September 30, 2013

LCFC legend Steve Walsh  - with a pie.

LCFC legend Steve Walsh – with a pie.

“Tim – would you like to come and have some pork pie and meet Steve Walsh?”

Oh, ok then.

I’m as vulnerable to the well-pitched PR invitation as the next completely independent food blogger, and this one had my name on it. The occasion was the relaunch of Walker’s pork pie shop in Cheapside, Leicester. The shop was originally opened by the company in 1824  – a fact spelt in large letters on the rather smart new frontage.  But they withdrew from retail some years back and the shop was run predominantly as a pork butcher’s by Fyfes.

When that company went under, Walker’s felt it was time to rescue the building.  Many generations of Leicester folk will remember queuing up there for pork pies at Christmas time – a tradition re-established last year when Walkers ran a pop-up shop from the premises.  It was so successful Walkers were encouraged to go for a full refurb and it is now a rather handsome food shop focusing on Walkers’ onw pies, sausages, breads and cooked meats, plus deli goods and hot food to take away.

It’s all rather pleasing.  With the market hall rebuild now progressing apace and Silver Arcade due to reopen next month with a restaurant (The Atrium – no further details as yet), chocolatier (Cocoa Amore) and deli among the early tenants, the area around the Western side of the Market could be developing a head of steam as a food area.

Walkers' baker Ian Heircock with a 52lb pork pie

Walkers’ baker Ian Heircock with a 52lb pork pie

Crowds gather  on Cheapside

Crowds gather on Cheapside

Breads

Breads

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.

Events

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)

A couple of reminders. Currently screening on Channel 4 is Jamie’s Great Britain and some of you will remember last summer the Essex boy was in Leicester market filming with Amita Mashru of Paddy’s Marten Inn. The episode featuring Paddy’s will now be shown on Tuesday 15th November, 9pm – not sure what footage made it in to the final cut but will be nice to see Paddy’s and the market place on national telly. The restaurant is also featured in a lovely spread in the book of the series which I assume is staying  top of the sales charts between now and Christmas.  To make sure they take advantage of the publicity the restaurant has also now got round to getting a website together so check it out at www.paddysmarteninn.co.uk .

Mushrooms at Leicester Market’s Winter Food Festival

Leicester market will also be hosting its winter food festival on Sunday 20th November 10am to 5pm. It’s been a really good event for the last couple of years and, whisper it quietly, it seems this year it could be graced by the presence of Levi Roots. Good place to think about food-related Xmas presents.

Street chefs

November 8, 2010

After last week’s Guardian focus on bargain places to eat in Leicester, there’s further media recognition for our restaurant scene this week.  Channel 5’s series Street Chefs – which  gets chefs to do live cooking in their  local market – features Leicester tomorrow, Tuesday 9 November at 7.30pm.  The format will see Tom Cockerill of Entropy and Simon Nurse of The Village in Newton Linford in a competitive cook-off with produce bought from the stalls around them.

Now I know you will be excited about what they choose to cook so if you don’t wish know, please look away now. Tom goes for Rutland trout bonne femme followed by fillet of  Longhorn beef and red Leicester rarebit, Simon for ballotine of chicken followed by local trout also with Red Leicester rarebit.  Not sure I like the sound of all this cheese  but it seems they were obliged to use it.  The show is presented by Amanda Lamb (pictured below with some, well, cheese) and judges include Aaron Patterson of Hambleton Hall, whom I can only assume Channel 5 think to be less photogenic. Shame.

I hope the market comes out of it well – let me know you think.

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