August 17, 2011

ScramblerSeveral months ago I welcomed the launch of a new commercially available cider made in Leicestershire.  It’s taken me a while to actually track down a bottle of Scrambler but I’m glad I did. It’s a pleasure to report that’s very good  – clean, medium dry, bright rather than over-fizzy and a respectable but not head-banging 6.5% – it wipes the floor with 90 per cent of what’s in the supermarkets.  After just one tasting I’d say it’s possibly too spick and span, maybe just lacking a little character that would put it among the very best.  I’ll try it again tonight when celebrating City’s imminent victory over the renowned cider drinkers of Bristol City. [Edit at 10.30pm: well I really asked for that didn’t I? Let’s make that “when I’m trying to cheer up after an embarassing 1-2 home defeat”.]

Cider appears to be on the upswing right now  – there’s been the big money launch of Inbev’s Cidre this summer.  But why drink that when this is available? Scrambler is made in Hallaton by the Bottle Kicking Cider Company and it’s the Hallaton-Medbourne Easter rumble that seems to be the marketing focus, rather the apples – which are apparently a blend of handpicked fruit from Leicestershire and Gloucestershire.

Having launched last Easter, the entire draught stock sold out at at the Welland Valley and Grainstore cider festivals, but the bottles are available at 50 outlets in the area. I got mine at the Case shop on Millstone Lane in the city centre.   In Leicester it’s also available at Taps bar and Entropy, while county outlets include Duncan Murray wines in Market Harborough and Wing Farm shop, or pubs such as the Nevill Arms, Medbourne or the Olive Branch in Clipsham.

The makers at Cross Farm, Hallaton, are currently preparing for the next pressing  in October – good luck to them.


The Nevill Arms

August 9, 2010

Many Leicestershire people will have rocked up at the Nevill Arms in Medbourne on a warm Sunday lunchtime, sat outside with a pint by the little stream and the ducks and declared that this, without doubt, is the life.   

This weekend was actually the first time I’ve been for a good number of years and  I hadn’t realised that the pub has now developed a thriving bed, breakfast and cafe business and also has a sizeable restaurant out the back.  We went early for a post-work Friday wind down and ended up have a very pleasant dinner.  My lamb steak wasn’t the best piece of meat I’ve had this month but it was tasty enough and taken together with a spicy ratatouille and nicely-done cous cous it formed a perfectly decent dish. Deborah’s pancetta wrapped chicken breast was excellent  and the accompanying potato cake cooked in duckfat was really first rate.  Homemade deserts were superior – a light and airy chocolate torte with some earl grey clotted cream, and a passionfruit cheesecake with a minty mango salsa. 

Nothing here was remarkable but it was solid good cooking at a fair price, served up by friendly and competent young staff.  There’s a “Riverbank”  bar menu of snacks and all in all, given the loveliness of the setting, there’s enough to keep the Nevill very much on your radar for country pubs where you might want to eat.

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