Pubs and pizzas

June 10, 2013

Further to last week’s post about the launch of It’s better down the pub, it’s good to see Everards has opened its third Project Artisan pub:  The Stamford Arms in Groby. The scheme links up pubs with small scale food producers  to the benefit of both. The refurbished Stamford has a stone-baked pizza oven and a new deli, working with very local artisan producers. Deli food is available to buy and take home, but also features in dishes on the pub’s main menu.  If you want to read a tale about how projects like this can revive pubs  – see this  inspiring piece from Matt Wright of the Great Food Club – Project Artisan and Project William. (While you are on there, you might like to watch a beautiful little film about local bread made by Britain’s Best Bakery – Hambleton – made for Great Food by Nutmeg 3d.)

While on the subject of pizzas, which we kind of were, Leicester’s  Queen’s Rd looks to be getting a new Italian restaurant. Don’t know any more about it yet [Edit 15 June – It’s Leone’s, relocating from further up Queen’s Rd)  but it will be adjacent to tapas bar Barceloneta in what is now Sansome’s bar.  It’s a regular topic for Clarendon Park’s chattering classes why no-one has ever created a bar or restaurant in this space that the community has taken to its heart.  There’s always scope for a good restaurant on Queen’s Rd and hopefully this will be a good independent operator. That said, I went to Pizza Express, (Kings St branch)at the weekend and was pretty pleased. My chicken and pesto pizza from their romana range was great, big and inviting, but thin and crispy.  And well done to them for catering properly for coeliacs. I know some people are convinced wheat allergy is some kind of middle-class fad  but to see my friend – who would be seriously poorly with one bite of regular bread –  tucking into the very rare treat of a pizza and a beer was a real pleasure.

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Albero etc

February 8, 2012

Sorry I’ve not posted much this year yet – cold weather, illness and generally grouchiness has kept me in by the fireside. However there’s a few points to share with you now.

Not too much to say about Leicester restaurants right now but going further afield I’m hearing  great things about a Northampton venue called  Albero.  It’s billed as a Mediterranean restaurant and is linked to and sited at Northampton College,  though it is not one of these training venues. Rather it  “showcases the College’s success stories, employing staff who have graduated from its own study programmes and are now enjoying successful careers”.  Head chef Liam Goodwill fits that billing, having trained at the college and gone on to spend four years as sous at the Horse and Trumpet in Medbourne and then head chef at the Pheasant in Keyston.  Prices appear reasonable and the current menu reads rather beautifully    –  how about roast ling with potato and cauliflower linguine, caviar and frozen horseradish, or confit pork belly and braised cheek with smoked paprika chickpeas, patatas bravas and quince aioli.  All dishes seem to be available in starter and main sizes which seems like a good diner-focused initiative.  I believe there might be a forthcoming review in Great Food , but all reports welcome in the meantime.

Back in Leicester, Canas Y Tapas in Highcross has gone, and in its place is coming…Pizza Express. Nothing against their pizzas but a third city centre branch was not exactly top of my wishlist.

As mentioned a few days back,  I was in Melton last night for the recording of Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet. It was a jolly affair with lots of pork pie and stilton related joshing.  My question was one of those selected so if you’ve really nothing better to do at 3pm on 21 February tune in and hear me asking a question about what makes a great piece of beef (assuming I make the final cut that is).

I noticed some publicity today for a free workshop and grant scheme for start-up food businesses in Leicester.  If you’re thinking of setting up your own little company there’s a free two day workshop, starting off with stuff like hygiene, business plans and sources of support, followed by a test trading day to try out your plans.  There’s the chance to apply for small grant (£250) to help get you under way.  Have a look here if you’re interested  – www.thefoodworkshop.co.uk .

Aldi bourbon.And one final suggestion.  You all seem like the kind of people who are not too proud to go down to Aldi on occasions. I swerve quickly around the meat and veg  in there but am a big fan of their chocolate and – some of  – the cheap biscuits.  I’d be amazed if their wonderful Memento-branded half coated fruit and nut cookies aren’t being sold for over twice the price in a different wrapping somewhere in a Market Harborough deli. But my latest find (thank you James Preston) is a Kentucky bourbon called Clarke’s selling at £10.99.  A bit of googling suggests this is a  brand created just for the European market. No indication of the actual distillers, and while it’s not remarkable it is perfectly acceptable and I reckon again it would match bottles selling for twice the price in a blind tasting. If bourbon is your thing, give it a try and see what you think.

 

* Oh and a quick PS – this blog had its 20,000th visitor about 20 minutes ago. Thank you whoever you are.

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