Summer Food Festival

May 28, 2012

A lovely afternoon at Leicester’s summer food festival. Good to catch up with with people such as cider maker Rob Norton (right) of the Bottle Kicking Cider Company.  The company is going so well he’s gone full-time and has  just launched a second brew  – Rambler is a lighter, 4.9 per cent version of his Scrambler, which will shortly be appearing in local Tesco’s as well as Waitrose.

Also enjoyed watching Tom Cockerill of Entropy  doing some live cooking (below). In a profession not short of its egoitistical prima donnas, Tom is an extremely laid back character (I should say I’ve never worked a service with him, so his staff may have a different view, but I doubt it).  His unusally casual manner disguises a  very skilled and precise approach to his food. His dish was a loin of Leicestershire lamb (a gorgeous looking cut from Archers on Queen”s Roaad) that was given a wild garlic crust and a stuffing of locally foraged wild mushrooms. I held back from the unseemly scrum to taste it  but I’m sure it was fantastic.

The wild garlic had been picked that morning from Castle Gardens – where as luck would have it i was haded for a picinic after the festival. There’s plenty still there, so I picked a discreet handful which is going to enliven a risotto tonight.



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.

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