There is much more to British food and drink than the big brands on supermarket shelves, and we think this is something to celebrate. Find out who’s serving up the best street food, where the best game or dairy products can be found, and who is brewing up special ales. No good food and drink resource would be complete without a news feed, so we have that too. Click onto the blog for the latest news from the hospitality industry, and food and drink awards and events throughout the UK. You had better be hungry, because it’s bound to be tasty!
The multi tiered and elaborately decorated fruit cake is the traditional feature of a wedding celebration, and has been for decades. Now, however, those in the industry are reporting a burgeoning trend for an altogether different type of wedding cake, one that is entirely made from cheese.
Hundreds of wedding albums are graces with photos of a happy couple, posing and smiling while cutting into the towering wedding cake covered in rich icing. More couples now than ever are, however, opting for a completely new meaning to the phrase cheese cake by having whole cheeses stacked on top of each other to create a wedding cake with a difference.
This kind of cake is relatively new with the first cheese wedding cakes selling back in 2004 but now, the British Cheese Board have said that there has been a steady and growing demand for a cheesy centrepiece, with many couples opting for the savoury option over the sweet. Cake experts are saying they aren’t surprised by this trend as have pointed out there are several bonuses from having a wedding cake made from cheese.
The British Cheese Board’s secretary, Nigel White, has said that cheese wedding cakes offer a cost effective, novel and delicious alternative to those traditional sponge or fruit cakes which are note everybody’s cup of tea. Even though the cheese centrepiece will cost roughly the same as its fruit counterpart it is cost effective in that if you cut the cake immediately following the wedding breakfast it can then be served up for the cheese course.
The different colours of cheese available means that you can tailor make the cake to fit in with your colour scheme and at the same time add to the décor. Popular choices are the brightly coloured and nutty Red Leicester, the white and green Cornish Yarg that is nettle wrapped, the Blacksticks Blue which is speckles and the perfect choice for a wedding day, Godminster Cheddar which comes in heart shaped red wax.
It has been announced that the London International Wine Fair is set to return to Kensington Olympia next year, and will come with cheaper rates in a move the organisers hope will attract back the exhibitors who have turned their backs on the event in recent years.
The fair used to be held at Olympia but in 2002 move to the Excel in East London as the increase in the number of exhibitors meant that it was no longer big enough. In recent years, however, many big names have pulled out making various complaints, ranging from the Excel lacking the ‘buzz’ of Olympia and the fact that the fair was failing to put enough focus on the UK wine market.
Brintex, who organise the event, listened to the criticism have renamed the event as the London Wine Fair 2013 in order to highlight how they have repositioned it to be a national wine fair aimed at the UK market. The Kensignton Olympia has also been extended, and Brintex say that they will be taking up more space in 2014 than they will at the Excel this year.
In 2014, the price of a stand will drop by between 20 and 25%, and there will also be new stall restrictions put in place, meaning that there will be no banners, no stands of double height and a maximised floor space.
Ross Carter, the director of the fair, believes that exhibitors will be spending 50-60% less to appear at the fair than they have in recent years. He also said that these changes had been put in place after they held extensive talks with some of the leading exhibitors, both past and present.
Independent exhibitors are also being targeted by the offer of more bursaries. Brintex are to triple their budget for bursaries, with money they will strip from the international advertising, and use it to offer the independents more travel and accommodation bursaries.
The House of Commons has invited Derbyshire’s food and drink producers to celebrate Derbyshire Day. The event, facilitated by Nigel Mills, MP for Amber Valley and Heather Wheeler, Mp for South Derbyshire, will be held on Tuesday, April 16th.
The Commons Speaker John Bercow, Commons Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans, Food Minister David Heath, and the Chancellor, George Osborne are some of the notable parliamentarians who will grace the event.
According to George Osborne, Derbyshire food is notable, with many businesses taking part in its production, from Chatsworth Farm Shop all the way down to the local farmers. The House of Commons will be pleased to see the county displaying its finest produce.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, who also joined in the celebrations, said that he was pleased to attend the event, hosted in the Houses of Parliament, as a way of increasing the region’s profile, thereby increasing tourism in the area.
He went on to say that Derbyshire is renowned for popular brands such as Chatsworth and Thornton’s, and also notable producers such as Hartington Creamery and Bluebell Dairy, whose produce he thoroughly enjoyed sampling. He congratulated the local MPs for organizing the auspicious event, and also the producers for showcasing the best of British food and drink products.
Apart from promoting the flourishing food and drink industry in Derbyshire, the event also promoted the delightful tourist attraction in the county. Visit England and the local tourist board were highlighted the places and attractions that made the county a great place to visit.
Hundreds of MPs and parliamentary staff, who visited the event, on a day that was designed to get the legislators to discuss the merits of the county, got a chance to sample some of the wine, chocolate, cheese, pies, and other notable local delicacies made in the county.
There is a campaign to find the best food outlets in Northamptonshire for 2013-14. The Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards have invited the public to submit their nominations. The awards will include best Community Pub, Local Food Hero and Independent Café or Tea Room. The awards, 13 in total, will serve to reward excellence within the restaurants and cafés of the county.
Rachel Mallows, of The Mallows Company, and also the award’s director, said that all restaurants, chefs and pubs are welcome to participate in the event. She is excited by the fact that local foodies will be involved helping the officials in making the final decision on who gets to win.
Anyone who thinks that their favourite pub or restaurant deserves a chance to win an award should put their name forward. People may also nominate their favourite butchers, farm shops, which have given them unsurpassed quality in their products.
Without the support of the public, local businesses in the food industry stand to lose a chance at being recognised for their quality, and also the ensuing success that an award can bring to the business.
Last year’s Community Pub of The Year award winners, The George, Tiffield, Russell, and Jane Proctor were excited about being recognised by the public. According to Russell, the award not only boosted morale for him and Jane, but also encouraged their staff members especially since the industry has not been performing very well over the last few years.
He went on to say that it was great to have their customers support them in the manner that they did. First by putting them up for nomination, and then finally voting for them to win the trophy, which is proudly displayed on the bar, to serve as a reminder of why the staff put in the long hours of hard work. Visit www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk to place your nomination.
This September will bring with it a new food festival in Weston Super Mare known as the Weston Super Food Festival. Its organiser has stated that the festival has already grown into a much larger affair then she ever could have imagined when she first started to plan it.
Sally Packer has organized quite a few festivals over the last few decades, and launched her very first food decade about eight years ago in Bristol. Since then she has gained quite a bit of experience with food festivals and is ready to bring a new festival to Weston.
The weekend that is backed by local newspaper The Mercury will have a variety of outdoor and indoor stalls and will offer cookery workshops for the adults and food activities for the children. The Weston Super Food Festival is a non-profit organisation and a social enterprise that aims to help support the local food economy by reaching out to local and small food producers.
Packer explained that she has been tossing around the idea of launching a food festival in Weston for quite awhile because the area has some excellent coffee shops, good restaurants, and some very nice local producers. Her goal is to get more people to purchase more locally source food products and the aim is to help support local producers and local culture.
The official sponsors of the event will be The Mercury by printing previews, holding competitions, and asking readers to send in their best recipes and food photos via the iWitness platform. Packer started organising crafts, art, and design festivals but she explained that she has always loved food and been interested in nutrition which eventually led her towards hosting food festivals and they grew so quickly that she had to focus solely on food festivals.
Amateur alchemists ideas to be put into action by professional brewers to create a brand new beer.
Best of British Beer Britain’s untapped brewing community
Best of British Beer a specialist online retailer, has has got together with Lymestone Brewery who happen to be their neighbours in order to bring together a new and totally original concept that can now offer their customers the opportunity to become ‘virtual brewers’ and though the wonders of modern technology actually take part in the creation of a brand new beer.
For an initial membership investment of just GBP £10, redeemable against the finished beers, all virtual brewers will have the opportunity to decide exactly how the finished product will taste. When the beers are produced, they will be labelled featuring the name of every person who became a member and bought a share, before being sold via the Best of British Beer website.
“There is currently a huge resurgence in the world of micro-brewed beers and the UK boasts over 1000 privately owned breweries – the highest level since World War II,” explained Will Sherwin, Managing Director of Best of British Beer. “There is a trend for people turning their backs on bland, mass-produced imported lagers in favour of more local ales with quality ingredients made in the traditional way. To go one step further and be a part of the brewing process will definitely appeal to the discerning customer.
“Ultimately we want to produce a beer than can be entered into beer festival competitions and hopefully be recognised as an award winner.”
Best of British Beer has come a long way since its inception 18 months ago when husband and wife team Will and Gill Sherwin started working from their garden shed. Their fledgling business is now rapidly expanding, with the website becoming hugely popular with beer aficionados in a very short space of time.
Will is enthused by offering BoB’s customers the chance to become virtual brewers and thinks the company’s loyal customer base and prospective purchasers will be excited by the idea too. “We’ve had the idea of ‘a beer brewed by the people, for the people’ bouncing around inside our heads for a long time now, and as soon as we knew Ian and Viv from Lymestone were keen to get involved, we just had to get cracking,” he added. “We’re giving people the opportunity to choose the beer’s colour, strength, style, flavour and name. Even decisions such as label design will be made weekly via our website.”
Ian Bradford of Lymestone Brewery was just as keen to launch the project. “The brewing process can take up to 6 weeks and there are a number of key decisions to be made along the way to ensure the final product is true to the recipe,” he explained. “We produce a core range of beers and a number of seasonal specials, but the possible variations on a standard glass of beer are almost limitless and this is where we need customer input. Whether it’s a different combination of hops, the use of roasted barley or even the addition of honey and fruit to the brewing process, we need to plan the stages carefully before brewing can commence.”
Already the Pro-Am virtual brewery idea is inspiring new ideas about how beer can be produced and consumed. Some drinkers are even proposing a new model of retail, where they pay a brewer to produce their beer and a pub to ‘host’ the barrels. In this way, some believe that when they visit the pub, they are drinking their own property and could therefore be exempt from taxes.
To find out more about The Virtual Brewery, please click the link below or contact Will Sherwin at Best of British Beer.
Man vs Food is one of the most popular culinary shows on television right now, and it is has left a large impact in its wake. In fact, due to this programme and other similar shows street food has become an increasing trend with many people making it a point to eat street food on a more frequent basis.
Swansea is ready to take part in the revolution by launching a brand new street food festival. Port Tennant Chef Ryan Hodges and his girlfriend Rhain Evans who is a cookery teacher have spent their free time touring around the UK with a mobile pizza oven.
Over the last few months they have noticed that street food is gaining in popularity and this inspired them to create a street food festival in Swansea. The festival is called the Swansea Street Feasts event and will take place on April 20th on Mumbles Road across from St. Helen’s. At the moment they expect to have at least six stalls.
Hodges stated that it will not be like a traditional food festival because all of the food is ready to eat fro the moment you walk up to the vendor. He went on to explain that all of the traders are local and from the South Wales area with three actually hailing from Swansea.
Hodges went on to explain that they have been trading with their pizza mobile titled Fired Up Feasts for the past 12 months and were also a port of the Get Welsh food festival. During this time they have seen how successful Cardiff and London Street festivals have been and decided that now was the time for Swansea to have their own festival.
He added that it is a difficult market right now, but street food continues to grow in popularity and they are hoping to see success at Swansea. Depending on the success of the event they may attempt it again next year.
Comté cheese, which originates from from the Massif du Jura, is best known as the cheese that gives you an encounter with multiple and complex flavours every time you take a bite. In total there are 83 natural flavours with are grouped into 6 aromatic and distinct families; fruit, milk, plant, animal, spice and roasted. All this means that you will have no trouble pairing it with another food or a pleasing wine that breaks from the norm when it accompanies the delicious and unusual Comté.
The Massif du Jura region is celebrated for its quality produce and the artisan processes by which they are made. This makes charcuterie from this Massif the perfect accompaniment for Comté cheese. Moreover, Comté and charcuterie is also a historical pairing. Cheese was made to preserve milk and as a pressed cooked cheese, a 40 kilos Comté wheel could keep for months and feed a family throughout a harsh winter. Similarly, smoked charcuterie was a means of preserving meat for longer. This historical and regional pairing doesn’t end with Comté and Massif du Jura region saucisson sitting side by side; Saucisson made with the finest pork from PGI pigs found in the Franche-Comté is peppered with Comté cheese. It is a modern take on a classic Saucisson, while still maintaining the integrity of both products and but more than delivers on taste.
For a more delicate pairing why not combine Comté of your choice with a yellow wine jelly and topped off with a walnut. This combination is quick and easy to prepare and provides a true taste of the Massif du Jura.
Comté cheese is creamy, delicious and easily blends in to recipes and is much more than just a cheese board cheese. Comté is the ideal cheese replacement, instead of the usual choice of cheddar, in recipes to add a new twist and flavour to those well loved meals.
Comté can also be used to enhance the most simple of condiments; by crumbling your desired Comté into butter you can add an extra flair to any dish and is the perfect way to use Comté to its final drop. Here is a video to show how it is done.
Comté spokesperson Aurélia Chimier, said: “Comté has such a wide range of flavours that it has many expected and unexpected pairings. We want to continue to showcase the many ways in which Comté can be enjoyed and show that Comté is not only reserved for the cheese board.”
There are numerous food festivals going on around the UK every year, but for some reason we hear very little about the ones that take place across the Irish sea. Forget potatoes, modern cuisine in Ireland is both flavoursome and hearty and the following festivals, with their continuing success, are testament to this.
The Annual Burren Slow Food international Festival takes place for the 6th time from the 17th-19th May. Gourmet chefs from local restaurants will be holding demonstrations using only locally sourced ingredients. There will also be a farmers market offering you the chance to try some great local produce along with a seaweed forage and the chance to sample some traditional ales from the Burren brewery.
One of the biggest festivals that takes place in Ireland is the Wexford Food and Wine Festival. This is held at 3 separate locations in the town of Wexford and runs from the 24th-26th May. Celebrity chefs will be making an appearance alongside the renowned Circle of Chefs that work within Wexford and the best food and wine from the area is on offer to all.
Love Gourmet Week is a firm favourite in the diary of Irish foodies, as it offers not only the chance to experience new taste experiences but also the opportunity to try fine dining at greatly reduced prices. Restaurants in the Shannon and Limerick region take part in this annual event which this year takes place from the 1st-9th June. The ethos is a celebration of local and organic produce and to highlight how great Irish food can be.
The Kenmare Food Carnival is exactly as the name suggests; a celebration of food with a carnival atmosphere. Taking place from the 12th-14th July, you will find heady mix of food and fun here with cookery demonstrations, taste trails, kids’ workshops, pop up restaurants, a full carnival parade and an array of retro fairground attractions such as carousels and a helter skelter.
A fine celebration in store for Jura’s 50th anniversary
This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous Jura Brewery and they have a packed programme in store this year to celebrate. There will be live music, interactive displays, whisky tasting and even story telling session at the 2013 Jura Whisky Festival, which is a well established part of the Islay Whisky Festival or Fèis Ìle.
At the back end of the 50′s. After decades of neglect, Tony Riley-Smith and Robin Fletcher, 2 local estate agents, employed the architect William Delme-Evans to lovingly rebuilt the Jura distillery. The work was completed by 1963 and it provided a much needed boost to the economy of the isolated island community, The distillery went from strength to strength and has created a range of whiskies that is both eclectic and multi award winning.
As part of the two day festival on 29 and 30 May, visitors to Jura will be able to hear about the rebirth of Jura distillery first hand and experience some of the finest malts Jura has to offer, including: Delme Evans Select, Festival Bottling 2013, Turas Mara and a rather unusual 39 ¾ year old whisky!
Master Blender Richard Paterson will be leading the tasting Master Class for this year’s unique festival bottling, a marriage showcasing the best of Jura’s heavily peated and sherry styles, containing whisky aged in a 1963 Vintage sherry butt, tying this new whisky right back to the reopening of the distillery 50 years ago.
The liquid celebration of the anniversary doesn’t stop there, as a lucky few will get to taste a whisky specifically created to recognise the work of distillery architect William Delme Evans.
Just over 500 bottles of the Delme Evans Select were released in 1988 and it completely sold out. But the distillery held some bottles back, and visitors to this year’s festival will be the last in the world to enjoy this special spirit which was created using the very stills designed by the man whose name is on the bottle.
In another first for the Jura Festival, there will be a whisky masterclass held at sea, with a 40 minute guided cruise around the small isle bay and a chance to taste the newest edition to the Jura range – Turas Mara.
Meaning “long journey”, this travel retail exclusive was inspired by a poem by island resident Jessie Scott who wrote an ode to Jura when she emigrated from the island in the 1800s. A plaque with the poem has pride of place on the beach at the point where she left the island.
Meanwhile, Paterson will also be hosting an exclusive pre-launch of the Jura 40 year old – which at the time will only be 39 ¾ years old – with festival goers getting the chance to create the tasting notes to go along with the whisky when it officially launches some time in 2014.