Afternoon in Farnham

June 23, 2018

A warm day following a cool start.

A bowl of leak and potato soup in Okomoko. It was not very good, neither was the wholemeal bread.  I am at a loss why they are serving winter soup on a hot summer’s day.  Try tomato, pea or asparagus.

I did not try a coffee. Surrey Hills Coffee is not great, and a cappuccino with fake milk looks and tastes disgusting.

If not wish to use milk, then serve V60 pour over or cold brew with quality single origin coffee, for example from Chimney Fire Coffee.

At £3.20 a ludicrous price for a cappuccino, especially when consider not quality coffee, fake milk, and Krema a speciality coffee shop nearby serving excellent coffee.

Bags of coffee on sale, but I again recommend Krema, where not only serving, but also has Horsham Coffee on sale.

Nor did I fancy a vegan cake.

I had looked forward to cold brew in Krema, only sold out, once tried it is proving very popular.

Next week Farnham Carnival. Unfortunately clashes with street food market in Godalming.

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Hidden Curiosities Gin

June 22, 2018

In The Keep, Hidden Curiosities Gin set up a gin pop up shop and free tasting.

Curious I decided to pop along.

Not in the Gin Alley, oops Gin Parlour upstairs at The Keep, an area had been set aside downstairs.

I am no fan of gin, cannot stand the smell let alone the taste, but was curious, this was craft gin.

For some perverse reason, gin has become the in drink.

Did I wish to try?

The aroma was quite pleasant, not at all like that normally associated with gin. To drink, like drinking firewater, lacking the maturity of a good brandy. I could see why it is usually drunk diluted. It also has potential for cocktails with cold brew coffee.

A long chat with Jenny, she is also a fashion designer, who had designed the gin.

We have craft beer, speciality coffee and now craft gin.

Chatting with Jenny as passionate about craft gin, as brewers are about craft beer, or roasters and baristas about single origin, direct trade speciality coffee. And equally passionate  about slow fashion.

She does not distil the gin, this is done using spare capacity at a distillery, but it is carried out to her recipe with her overseeing the distillation.

Twenty botanicals are added.

Botanicals? This sound like alchemy, or maybe something out of a  steam punk novel. Why botanicals, why not simply call herbs?

Because more than herbs are added, spices and berries are added, and this is what gives the interesting aroma, not what could be described as the crude unpleasant smell of gin.

And the gin itself then forms the foundations for something else, it could be as simple as a gin and tonic or maybe an exotic cocktail using cold brew coffee.

It was only later I thought of last year at Union Summer Festival, Martin Hudak had won World Champion Barista for Coffee in Good Spirits and later at The Underdog in Athens a V60 from Manos Mamatis, the No 2, and also in The Underdog three previous winners of Coffee in Good Spirits.

Maybe something for Robustos to consider, a speciality coffee shop with excellent wines, whiskey and of course coffee.

Or The Square in Winchester.

Something I had not seen before, copper straws.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 22, 2018

Strange weather, starts cool, turns hot.

As I walk up North Street by the market, arrogant idiot parks in No Parking to do his shopping on the market. When it is pointed out No Parking, he ask where am I to park when shopping? Maybe car park as everyone else.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots, honey crunch chicken with brown rice, then back to market, but too late, strawberries gone. From another stall, two boxes of strawberries, two pineapples, £3-00.

Work on Tunsgate progressing backwards, now digging up that previously laid.

In Krema, excellent cold brew coffee. I resist the temptation to have another.

I give one box of strawberries, one pineapple, to Krema.

Walking down to The Keep, I see the work on Tunsgate is extending half way down the road.

In The Keep, Hidden Curiosities Gin have set up a gin pop up shop and free tasting.

I am no fan of gin, cannot stand the smell let alone the taste, but was curious, this was craft gin.

For some perverse reason, gin has become the in drink.

Did I wish to try?

The aroma was quite pleasant, not at all like that normally associated with gin. To drink, like drinking firewater, lacking the maturity of a good brandy. I could see why it is usually drunk diluted. It also has potential for cocktails with cold brew coffee.

Morrisons Café takeaway coffee cups

June 21, 2018

Takeaway coffee cups in Morrisons Café illustrate why we have a problem and why we need a latte levy.

The cup a composite structure, a cardboard surround wrapped around a who knows what inner core forming an integral whole.

The cup showed the outer is card and can be recycled but how? It would have to be separated from the inner.

Questions to Morrisons lead nowhere.

Why are there takeaway cups in Morrisons Café when there are ceramic mugs? It would not seem very likely anyone would pop in for a takeaway coffee. Maybe shoppers wander around the store with a coffee in hand. But in that case use compostable cups with a bin provided in which to deposit the cups.

What this highlights yet again is the need for a latte levy.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 20, 2018

A pleasant afternoon in Winchester.

Missed a bus, missed a train.

Looked in Alton Station Cafe. Tonight for bikers night, chicken casserole.

Driver of 1415 No 64 bus Alton to Winchester running several minutes late, driving like a lunatic, exceeding speed limit, hit curb and smashed bus at Four Marks.

Alight and walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Sicilian guys still serving crap from their stall. It is tragic, they used to serve excellent pasta from their stall, worth a trip to Winchester for.

Flat Whites stall no food, all gone. Different guest coffee to last week.

I decide to check out the food at The Square. Spoilt for choice. Sourdough toast with grilled mushrooms.

The people sat outside, relaxing with a coffee, chatting with friends, I am very much reminded of Tailor Made in Athens.

Shocked to learn it is already five o’clock.

I head off to Flat Whites coffee shop. Too late, closed. I drop off a couple of copies of Caffeine. As last week, I recommend, do not subscribe to Caffeine, instead subscribe to Standart.

Back to The Square, but first check out Coffee Lab. I am shocked to find now closes at three. Coffee Lab Academy, as last week, chairs piled up, there were still people sitting there. It has gone rapidly down hill with no Laura in charge.

A cappuccino at The Square. Different barista and not as good as last week. Very large slice of walnut and coffee cake. Best I have ever had.

At Alton Station, same problem as last year, an ice cream van illegally parked in the car park, obstructing access, engine running, serving ice cream.

As last week, no special left at Alton Station Cafe.

As I board train, steam  train leaving.

Lunch at Pho

June 18, 2018

Lunch at Pho, Vietnamese street food restaurant. Last day half price.

What a difference a few days make, no queue, upstairs empty.

Different staff to last Friday, lack of consistency, I would not say rude, but curt and not very friendly.

As I walk in, I notice a couple of tables people querying their bill. I think no more of it, until I receive my bill. They have sneaked on the bill 10% service charge, 10% of full price. This is not acceptable. No mention of this when I walked in, it was not added Friday. The price on the menu should be the price. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and undermines any goodwill they have generated with 50% off opening offer.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 18, 2018

Strange weather. One day cold, next day hot. Weekend was cold, especially Sunday, this morning at eleven it was cool, by midday warm, afternoon hot.

FCB coffee kiosk open, a coffee and a chat.

Lunch at Pho, Vietnamese street food restaurant. Last day half price.

What a difference a few days make, no queue, upstairs empty. Different staff to last Friday, I would not say rude, but curt and not very friendly. As I walk in, I notice a couple of tables people querying their bill. I think no more of it, until I receive my bill. They have sneaked on the bill 10% service charge, 10% of full price. This is not acceptable. No mention of this when I walked in, it was not added Friday. The price on the menu should be the price paid. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and undermines any goodwill they have generated with 50% off opening offer.

Coffee at Krema. I start with cappuccino, then cold brew. A mistake, I should have stuck to cold brew.

Krema should have view of Guildford Castle, instead roadworks.

How long is it going to take to finish Tunsgate? The workman knocked off before four. The very least the traders in Tunsgate should get Business Rate relief for the duration of the work.

The completed work is being dug up to add drains.

No response from local council. The jobsworth forget at their peril they are paid for and accountable to local people

Lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori

June 16, 2018

Late lunch at Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori where once I used to eat regularly.

The food was good, the service terrible.

A long wait, I went to the cake counter and ordered.

Soup and main course delivered together. Main course I sent back, with orders not to bring back but to cook fresh. No butter for the bread.

Baffled why each serviette stuck down.

Tea is tea pigs, another small business taken in by marketing.

Coffee has changed, now supplied by Winchester Coffee Roasters. I have had twice elsewhere, not good.

I ordered a cappuccino. Then went and told them not to dump chocolate on top, as I would only have sent it back. They would have otherwise served with chocolate and not asked.

Served too hot, not good. But then from previous experience with Winchester Coffee Roasters, I was not expecting anything better.

Bottega dei Sapori need to improve their tea, their coffee and their service.

The world has moved on, will no longer get away with poor quality tea and coffee, poor service.

Visit Winchester, see what indie coffee shops Coffee Lab and Flat Whites are serving as tea and coffee, look at their delicious mouth-watering cakes.

These little indie businesses need to get their act together, otherwise they will not exist. The day before, I had a Vietnamese dish in Pho in Guildford and it was excellent.

Alton Regency Day

June 16, 2018

Strange weather, warm one day, cold the next. Yesterday warm in Guildford, today cold in Alton.

Had I not missed a bus, I would have caught an earlier train, and seen a steam train at Alton.

I would usually walk into Alton, but as a bus was about to leave, I hopped on the bus.

I had no idea what a Regency Day was, I had seen mention as I passed through on my way to Winchester earlier in the week.

At the far end of the town a pathetic farmers market already packing up and it was not yet three o’clock. And the stallholders were complaining they usually leave at two.

Then a few craft stalls, and that was it.

I saw a couple of soldiers but not as I expected to find, people in period dress, though the two soldiers were two more than I had seen at Aldershot Victoria Day the week before.

I learnt, had I been there in the morning I would have found people in period dress.

Cafe Plus I have never found open. I walked through the open door, to be told they were closed. As only a little after three o’clock I queried why they were closed. We close when we run out of food. But are you not a coffee shop, do people not pop in for afternoon coffee? We close when we run out of food.

The coffee catering supply coffee so not missing out.

It was then late lunch at little Italian coffee shop Bottega dei Sapori. Food fine, the service terrible, the coffee not good either.

I then had a little wander through Alton, but not through the water meadows.

I used to like Alton, an unspoilt little market town, but not any more. Many closed shops, too many indie places closed, the little wholefood shop, O’Connor’s Secret Garden, Brock’s Farm Shop, and now the excellent greengrocer has gone.

Alton once had an excellent food market, Hampshire farmers took over the running and destroyed it.

Wandering back through the town I saw people in period dress. With blankets and wicker baskets they appeared to be heading to a picnic.

I looked in the bookshop, at least it is still there. They were closed, but said come in.

Had I not popped in, I would have caught a steam train leaving as I approached the station.

Alton Regency Day is the start of a week of commemoration of Jane Austen, who lived at nearby Chawton.

Pho Vietnamese street food restaurant

June 15, 2018

A pleasant warm and sunny afternoon in Guildford, warmer than expected.

You must try Pho in Tunsgate I was told as I passed through the market in North Street on my way for lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage. Pho? A new Vietnamese restaurant in Tunsgate, today food half price, try it and report back.

I checked it out. Not half price, free, but they had problems, please come back at five o’clock, we will reopen half price.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage.

It was then to Krema where I spent the rest of the afternoon. Excellent cold brew coffee. I was surprised when shown how brewed, in essence a central metal filter in a jug where course ground coffee is left for 24 hours in cold water

Krema has only been open a few weeks and already very popular.

On leaving Krema, I decided to try Pho, surprisingly only a short queue. Not long to wait.

Looking at the menu, and having looked earlier, nothing I realy fancied, but found something.

A bottle of cold water brought to the table.

I have no idea what Vietnamese food is like, this is not a Vietnamese restaurant, it is a chain. Maybe in the kitchen.

Credit where credit due, and I hate to praise a chain, the food was good. And what I saw brought to adjacent tables also looked good. They must have good chefs.

No long queue formed outside. Maybe few knew half price, though these days of social media, usually spreads rapidly.