Archive for January, 2019

Cold afternoon in Nottingham

January 30, 2019

A spur of the moment decision, a trip to Nottingham.

Today it was zig-zag back and forth.

I would usually stop off first 200 Degrees Nottingham Station and grab something to eat. And yes I was hungry, but it was packed and I had first to visit Cartwheel Coffee.

On my last visit, I had spotted Drift issue 4 Stockholm edition, impossible to find. I wished to see if would sell to me or swap for a later edition of Drift.

The owner kindly gave it to me. I thanked him, and said I would later drop off a copy of Ambrosia, sister magazine of Drift, with which he was not familiar.

They were in the middle of a coffee cupping session. I asked could I join them. I was welcomed and interesting conversation ensued.

I could have stayed for lunch, but very busy.

Back to 200 Degrees for lunch. Still very busy but this time I managed to find a table, the only unoccupied table.

Looked in Hotel Chocolat. Smoke and mirrors, appalling level of overpackaging, obscene use of plastic.

It was then to Ideas on Paper in Cobden Court.

I was shocked what had been done to Wired. Garish and ugly. Make it look cheap and tacky, like a disgusting junk food outlet. A big mistake.

I looked in where I had been told a zero waste shop. Not open today.

Luckily Ideas on Paper open.

I picked up two issues of Ambrosia. No idea why I picked up the latest, as I already have. Not thinking straight.

I did that last time I found Ideas on Paper open, latest issue of Ambrosia, only to find I already had.

I would have liked to have popped in the chocolate shop, but no time.

Back to Cartwheel Coffee. Dropped off a copy of Ambrosia, picked up Drift.

Excellent cappuccino.

Caught 1529 train. An earlier train thain I would have wished, but turning very very cold.

Lincoln Central Market

January 28, 2019

Lincoln Central Market is disgusting, shabby and drab.

The couple of excellent stalls, spice stall, wholefood stall, have gone.

Well done Steve the fruit and veg stall guy for speaking out.

More traders need to speak out, they do so privately but fear to speak publicly.

The City Council jobsworth is talking nonsense.

‘The council prides itself on having a great relationship our traders’, if this is a great relationship, I hate to think what a bad relationship looks like.

I have yet to speak with a single trader who is happy with the way the Central Market is run.

If the Council unaware traders not happy, why did they order the banner be taken down at the fruit and veg stall?

No rent increase. Considering the atrocious state of Central Market, the near zero footfall, the traders should be seeing a rent decrease.

I have never seen anything in the bus station promoting the market. I have seen promoting Greggs.

But in its present dire state, there would be little point in promoting the market as it would be counterproductive and show Lincoln in a bad light.

Lincoln is a market town in the middle of an agricultural county, and yet lacks a market.

Nor does Lincoln have a farmers market in the town centre, not if class one stall, two if lucky, maybe half a dozen stalls if very very lucky, as a farmers market.

The one and only stall has relocated to beside the River Witham, but no one knows, no information in the High Street, no information at its current location of the relocation.

People looking for the farmers market in the High Street assume it has finally collapsed.

On a Friday, one stall representing the farmers market, plus a cake and bread stall and a fruit and vegetable stall.

On a Saturday the fruit and vegetable stall and Curry Jacks a curry stall.

York has a market and a street food market.

Chichester a small market town and yet has a thriving market and farmers market.

Guildford has a thriving Friday and Saturday weekly market with three excellent fruit and vegetable stalls, that if in Lincoln would stretch the length of Sincil Street, once a month a farmers market, that if in Lincoln would stretch from St Mary’s Street up through The Stonebow.

Mercado Municipal en Puerto de la Cruz en Tenerife, ground floor little shops, including an excellent little bookshop, first floor fruit and vegetable stalls, a deli cum wine stall, a deli cum little restaurant, a fishmonger. On a Saturday, many stalls selling everything, the fishmonger serving cooked seafood with champagne, the delis also serving up food.

Lincoln Central Market needs gutting, most of the traders kicked out, then revamped with the emphasis on quality independent traders.

Look to Trinity Market in Hull Old Town. Light and airy, quality food stalls, indie specialty coffee, craft beer, bench seats to sit either inside or out. Then contrast with the disgrace that is Lincoln Central Market.

One of the ironies, at a time when we should be moving to eliminate plastic, when Tesco is looking to close its fresh produce, when we should be supporting markets, local shops, zero waste stores like Hisbe, Lincoln instead of moving ahead by supporting its local markets, is doing its best to kill them.

Trashing of Sincil Street has not helped.

Sincil Street was once a busy street of thriving indie businesses. Now look at it. Most of the businesses destroyed, buildings destroyed, new build with large plate glass windows, large size units, neither matches the Victorian street scene, nor of suitable size for the small family businesses that have been kicked out, let alone afford the rent.

Moving in, rubbish chains that find in every ghastly shopping centre up and down the country.

I have yet to meet a single person who is happy with the trashing of Sincil Street.

Look to North Laine in Brighton, three long streets, each one longer than Sincil Street, side streets, similar street scene, except it is busy, full of indie businesses not a chain in sight and very rare to see empty shops, and if empty do not remain empty for long.

Instead of building on Sincil Street and highlighting it was different to the High Street, it was trashed.

How it could be.  The Central Market used for start ups, as they grow, expand into an empty shop in Sincil Street.

Lincoln lacks a wholefood store. If Gaia Wholefoods was still in Central Market, and successful, it could have relocated to Sincil Street.  Not possible as pulled out due to lack of footfall, and even were it still there and successful, no longer anywhere in Sincil Street to relocate to.

That is how shortsighted Lincoln City Council, not only killing existing local businesses, but killing off the growth potential of any future new businesses.

The difference between Hull Old Town and Brighton where they value their cultural heritage and Lincoln, is a lack of vision, useless jobsworths who are clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning, clueless on how local economies function, on the need to recycle money within a local economy, lack of support for local businesses, but only too happy to fall over backwards to facilitate greedy developers and corporate chains.

It is quirky indie businesses, markets, that make a town, give a sense of place.

The City Council in cahoots with the Co-op have done an excellent job destroying Sincil Street, Cornhill and the Central Market.

Lincoln would make an excellent case study in bad planning.

It is not only Sincil Street, Cornhill and Central Market, ugly tower blocks ruining a historic skyline, accomodation for students, temporary residents at best, homeless living on the streets.

Lincoln Co-op a disaster as a retailer, but by historic accident owns large parts of the town centre, and abuse their position to destroy local businesses.

Sincil Street, the frontage of the buildings should have been restored to Victoran frontage, no garish signs.

Central Market the foodie area cf Trinity Market Hull Old Town.

Sincil Street a mix of retail, bakeries, little restaurants, boutiques, bookshops, music shops, coffee shops cf North Laine Brighton.

I have no problem coffee shops, but these have to be high quality indie coffee shops eg Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle, Base Camp, no chains

No corporate chains.

Corporate chains destroy towns, lead to sense of isolation, sameness, drain money out of the local economy, then go bust or a head office spreadsheet exercise leads to store closure, leading to boarded-up shops never to be filled, desolation.

This has happened to too many town centres, Aldershot the classic example, stores pulling out weekly, the few remaining waiting for lease to expire, main street shop after shop down the street boarded-up, junkies and losers lost on the streets.

it is not only the market area the Council has trashed.

Up until the late 1960s early 1970s, Brayford Pool was lined with mills and warehouses.  These could have been renovated. Ground floor indie businesses, workshops, indie coffee shops, first floor studio and office space, top floors flats and apartments. A pleasant urban park leading off the High Street, accessed down the side of Stokes on High Bridge.

Instead what do we have, a desolate wasteland, an ugly urban eyesore.

Yet another example of City Hall jobsworths completely clueless on what constitutes good town centre planning.

Shanti

January 26, 2019

I tend to avoid any town on a Saturday.

The town was busy, it seemed even busier than when shoppers out Christmas shopping or the January Sales.

Everywhere was packed.

I had intended to eat at Shanti around one, arrived at two.

It too was busy, two spare seats at a table for four.

I was asked to come back in forty-five minutes.

I took a walk up The Strait, Steep Hill and into Bailgate.

I noticed yet another business on Steep Hill closing. No surprise, one of the junk shops that is rarely open,

On the way back down, a chat with Fools on the Hill, fools with a table urging people to support a Second Referendum, only they lack the integrity and honesty to call it a Second Referendum and call it a People’s Vote.  No surprise, entirely clueless the EU and having a hard time gaining any support.

No change at Shanti, but the couple on the table for four about to leave.

To my annoyance told we have to check our bookings.

It was then, ask a group of Indians on a table to move up to create space for me.

Begs the question, why not put me on table where there was room when I first walked in?

Half an hour before a couple of rostis served with a small portion of salad. I was asked vegetarian cheese or vegan cheese? In other words real cheese or fake cheese, fake cheese which actually cannot be called cheese.

A vegetarian cum vegan fake Indian restaurant.

I was looking forward to eating at Shanti, I was very disappointed.

I found it to be very cramped and claustrophobic.

The food was ok not great. Not sure what was dumped on top. It tasted like jam.

I have had a far better dosa off a stall at the Guildford farmers market, and far far better Indian food elsewhere. I have also eaten at far better vegetarian restaurants.

The irony was, I passed Curry Jacks by the river. I would but the fact a cold location, been better off trying their food.

Curry Jacks once a month an evening of their food at Coffee Aroma.

Fools on the Hill

January 26, 2019

A stall calling for a Second Referendum on Castle Hill.

Fools with a table urging people to support a Second Referendum, only they lack the integrity and honesty to call it a Second Referendum and call it a People’s Vote.

Already at rock bottom, the trust in politicians would sink even lower, lead to riots in the streets, hand to Fascists on a plate.

No surprise, entirely clueless the EU and having a hard time gaining any support and deservedly so.

The EU a cartel for Big Business, a democracy free zone, was created by the US, by the New Dealers post WWII.

Towards the end of WWII, what sent the fear of God into the New Dealers was not WWIII, it was a return to the Great Depression.

Europe lay in ruins, the currencies worthless.

US had a choice, Monet and his cronies or Communists. Monet was seen as lesser of two evils.

Monet had contempt for democracy. Contempt that is writ into the EU.

Europe was designed to transfer wealth from southern Europe to Germany. There is no mechanism for recycling the surplus.

Neo-liberalism and austerity is writ in stone of EU Treaties.

It has been obvious for the last couple of years that the EU is about to implode, sooner rather than later.

Rise of fascism across Europe, Fascist governments in Poland and Hungary, political prisoners in Spain, Greece destroyed and turned into a debt colony as a warning to other vassal states.

EU is playing one country off against another, Germany against Greece, Ireland against UK. EU dictating to Italy, cannot fix crumbling infrastructure.

When the end comes, it is likely to turn very very nasty.

Therefore we must plan now to replace with something better, cooperation not empire. A network of cooperating democratic soverign states.

At local level, follow example of Spain and Madrid, ordinary citizens seize control of local Town Halls, open to public participation, network across Europe.

At local level, create a network of commons, open coops, autonomous markets, local currencies, use FairCoin too. Again, network across Europe.

An article in fake-Left Guardian intellectuals not happy with direction of EU is usual pro-EU drivel. They still do not get it why there is a rise across Europe of fascism, that it is a direct response to EU and dictatorship by elites. There is nothing democratic about EU, a cartel for Big Business, a democracy free-zone. It is about saving EU not dismantling EU and creating a better Europe.

I came across the same Guardian parroted nonsense with this tiny gathering of fools trying to force a second EU Referendum because they cannot accept that UK voted to Leave.

We are Leaving.

Where though I would agree, two years wasted whilst politicians play their infantile games, and extending the cut-off date for Brexit will not help.

We should have had open public meetings to decide where UK post-Brexit, to draw up a consensus.

The Bad Deal dumped on Theresa May by EU was not acceptable and no amount of tinkering is going to change that.

Parliament has to take control, agree a Consensus which is taken to the EU. If EU will not accept, then Leave with No Deal.

If Consensus not possible, then draw up a range of options that are put to a Referendum.

Minimum

  • delete Irish Clause
  • same trade as today
  • membership of EIII, ESA, Erasmas, Europol
  • open skies to British aviation

We will not tolerate dictats from the Irish. If need be, a border.

EU vassal states need to take control, or are they going to sit idly by whist EU destroys their economies?

 

Crystal merchant atop a hill

January 24, 2019

The crystal merchant knew all there was to know about crystal, from where to buy, the quality, at what price to sell.

He used to be busy, but times had changed, few people climbed the hill, the crystal on display was collecting dust, but after 30 years it was too late to change, crystal was all he knew.

One day, just as he was about to shut up shop to go for his lunch, he saw a boy looking at his display. He had sufficient experience to appraise the boy to know he had no money and was not going to buy anything. He nevertheless delayed closing his shop until the boy walked on.

The boy walked in, offered to clean the dusty crystal on display if the merchant bought his lunch.

The merchant agreed, as the boy was cleaning the crystal two customers walked in.

Over lunch, the merchant told the boy he had no need to clean the crystal, he would have taken him for lunch, it was an obligation in the Koran.

The merchant seeing that he has already sold crystal that day, saw the arrival of the boy as a good omen and asked the boy if he wished to work for him.

The boy agreed, he would work for the day as he wished to raise enough money to travel to the Pyramids in Egypt.

The boy was crestfallen to learn the Pyramids were far away and he would have to work for at least a year to raise the money to travel that far.

He abandoned his dream.

He would work long enough to buy a ticket back home and buy sheep, he was a shepherd and sheep was all he knew.

The boy cleaned the stock, was good with the customers, and businesses once again picked up.

 

Two months on, the boy asked could he build a cabinet at the bottom of the hill to display the crystal, as this would tempt visitors to climb the hill to the shop.

The merchant was reluctant, business was picking up, the crystal would get broken, and anyway he did not like change.

But he saw the boy was correct and agreed.

One day the boy overheard from those who climbed the hill how tired and thirsty they were and would it not be a nice idea a drink of tea.

The boy suggested to the merchant they should serve tea in crystal.

The merchant was reluctant, more change, and what did he know about tea, but he agreed.

Business again picked up, word got around, tea was being served in crystal. Many of the men said how their wives would love to serve tea in crystal and bought crystal as a gift for their wives.

In less than a year, the boy bid farewell to the crystal merchant, he had saved enough money to buy a ticket, buy 120 sheep, knew about crystal, could speak Arabic, obtain an import licence for Spain.

The crystal merchant reminded him of his dream, that a caravan was about to depart, that he should follow his dream, that was his destiny.

Steep Hill follows the route of an old Roman Road, it used to be lined with shops, many people walking up the hill to the Castle and Cathedral, stopping part way en route to visit one of the many tea shops.

Now there are few visitors, a bus carries visitors to the top of the hill, many shops have closed, when there are holidays the tea and coffee shops are closed, we too deserve a break they say, then reopen when few visitors are around and bemoan their lack of customers.

There are few businesses of quality, little to draw people back.

At the top of the hill there used to be a tea shop, it closed, premises gutted. Now a cheese shop and coffee shop, the cheese shop selling plastic-wrapped adulterated fake cheddar cheese, the coffee shop serving undrinkable coffee.

The story of the crystal merchant and the boy is taken from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. The boy is the shepherd boy Santiago who follows his dreams.

The illustration by Jesús Cisneros from the illustrated Folio Society edition of The Alchemist.

Steep Hill is the tale of a real street in terminal decline.

 

Vegan fundamentalists spread twisted lies targeting Hisbe yet again

January 23, 2019

It is a tragedy that vegan fundamentalists have once again targeted ethical food store Hisbe.

Several days ago vegan fundamentalists occupied Hisbe, harassing staff and customers. They were subsequently banned from the store.

Now, in what appears to be an act of desperation, they have resorted to spreading lies on social media to tarnish the reputation of Hisbe.

What they claim about a bloodied pig is very easily verified or shown to be untrue. All animals have to be tracked, as any reputable butcher will be able to confirm.

Hisbe

Your information is incorrect – our pork products come from pigs raised on a farm in Mayfield, and our pig farmer has not transported pigs to Tottingworth or anywhere else today.

No idea what farm this pig is from or what retailer buys their products.

We also don’t use the phrase “Ethical Meat”, never have.

Please stop twisting our messaging and spreading misinformation.

From where is the bloodied pig from, where is it headed, whence the final destination?

Easily checked as all animals have to be tracked.

But hey, who cares about facts when vegan fundamentalists waging a vendetta against Hisbe?

I would not disagree that RSPCA Red Tractor a marketing brand, nothing more and welfare standards should be much higher.

A bit like the FairTrade scam to make Middle Class feel good, a marketing exercise nothing more.

And yes we should be concerned about a bloodied pig, question the how and why. It may have simply caught its ear.

But none of this justifies criminal harassment of Hisbe.

Hisbe is setting the standards for ethical retailing, zero waste, partnerships with quality producers.

Once again is begs the question, why are these vegan fundamentalists not targeting McDonald’s, KFC, halal kebab outlets, anywhere that is using fast growth animals, reared in inhumane conditions?

Inside Hotel Chocolat

January 21, 2019

Chocolate, the food of the gods, is from Theobroma cacao, a plant native to the Amazon Basin.

Chocolate was first used, not as we know it, a bar of chocolate, as a drink by early MesoAmerican civilisations.

The earliest known use was the Olmecs. A drinking vessel found at an Olmec archaeological site on the Gulf Coast of Veracruz, Mexico, dates chocolate’s preparation by pre-Olmec peoples as early as 1750 BC. Traces of choclote on a drinking vessel dated 1900 BC have been found on the Pacific coast of Chiapas, Mexico, a Mokaya archaeological site.

The Mayans and Aztecs used chocolate.

The Mayans had a glyph for chocolate, the Aztecs used cacao beans as a currency.

Christopher Columbus encountered cacao beans on his fourth trip to the New World. He found the natives who greeted him using the beans as currency.

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1519 encountered the Aztecs drinking chocolate at the court of Montezuma.

Bernal Diaz, who accompanied Cortés in the conquest of Mexico, wrote of this encounter which he witnessed:

From time to time they served him [Montezuma] in cups of pure gold a certain drink made from cacao. It was said that it gave one power over women, but this I never saw. I did see them bring in more than fifty large pitchers of cacao with froth in it, and he drank some of it, the women serving with great reverence.

Hernán Cortés took cocoa beans back with him on his return to Spain as a gift for the King.

Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, described its use more generally:

Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women that are accustomed to the country are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that “chili”; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.

The Spanish took chocolate back with them, it was still consumed as a drink, to which they added sweeteners and drank it hot.

It was the priests who first served hot chocolate in their monasteries.

The recent history of chocolate is that of using slave labour.

Chocolate grows as a pod, inside the beans, a cob of beans, strictly speaking seeds, surrounded by an edible fleshy fruit.

The pods are hacked off the tree with machetes, the pods hacked open with a machete, the seeds scooped out.

The seeds or beans are then fermented over several days, then laid out to dry in the sun.

Quality chocolate, and that immediately rules out Cadbury’s, now owned by Kraft, does not substitute. One of the commonest cheapest nastiest substitutes is palm oil.

If chocolate, or any product, contains palm oil, refuse to buy, complain to the retailer and ask not to stock, and complain to the manufacturer. Palm oil is bad for people and planet.

Quality chocolate use cocoa butter.

Quality chocolate is from artistan chocolate makers, expensive. Quality chocolate is often bean-to-bar.

Artisan chocolate makers are following the lead of coffee, direct trade, often single origin, cocoa beans roasted to bring out the best flavour profile of the beans.

In the late 1990s Scharffen Berger led the way in San Francisco.  In 2005 sold out to  Hershey for $50 million, who closed the headquarters in San Francisco, relocated to Illinois and changed their production methods.

Others, for example Dandelion, have followed, are now the artisan chocolate makers, purists, only use cocoa solids and sugar.

Chocolate has more flavour notes than coffee, which in turn more flavours notes than red wine. If Dandelion chocolate tastes of raspberries, it is not because they have added raspberries, or God forbid raspberry flavouring, that is the inherent flavour of the chocolate.

Industrial chocolate all tastes the same. We are used to chocolate tasting of chocolate.

The first chocolate was gritty, industrialisation of the process the roasted cocoa beans were crushed into a liquid.

Industrial chocolate, the beans over-roasted, tons of sugar added, vanilla if lucky, if not artificial vanilla, vegetable oils, to make a cheap uniform product.

Industrial chocolate has close parallels with commodity coffee, cheap low quality beans, over roasted to remove any defects, provide a uniform product that requires no skill in the brewing, burnt coffee is burnt coffee, tastes of burnt coffee, hence the need for added sugar or syrups as otherwise undrinkable coffee.

Chocolate is following the lead of speciality coffee, select the highest quality beans, work closely with growers, direct trade not the Fair Trade scam, care taken at all stages to bring out the subtleties of flavour, single origin, traced back to the farmer.

For example, a bag of Honduran coffee beans from Cartwheel Coffee, country of origin, the farmer, date when roasted, Q grade of the coffee.

To be called chocolate, in the United States, 100% cocoa butter must be used, the EU allows alternative fats not exceeding 5% of the total fat content. Within the EU this permits the use of cheaper substitutes to be used for cocoa butter, for example soy emulsifiers or even worse palm oil.

Quality chocolate, bean to bar, artisan chocolate, craft chocolate, purists for example Dandelion Chocolate, cocoa solids and sugar only, pragmatists, for example Patric Chocolate and Amano Artisan Chocolate add cocoa butter and vanilla if improves taste and texture.

Channel 5, Inside Hotel Chocolate, a two-part documentary on Hotel Chocolat, a retail chain, a hotel and a couple of restaurants.

At the time the documentary was filmed 100 shops, about to open 101, cocoa plantation on St Lucia in the middle of which is located their hotel, aptly named Hotel Chocolat.

An odd documentary fronted by a Richard Branson clone Angus Thirlwell, one of the two co-founders. The impression given, documentary made by Hotel Chocolat, then given or sold to Channel Five.

When co-founder Angus Thirlwell walks into a store and talks of an affront to good retailing, ‘no crimes against good retailing’, refers to a brand, we know he has lost the plot, just another High Street chain within a ghastly shopping centre with all the other crap corporate High Street brands, if a brand, all hype and zilch content.

Location of St Lucia, following the Richard Branson Virgin model, incorporate in an overseas tax haven to avoid tax?

Part One, very much a disappointment, an interesting insight into the company, but nothing about chocolate.

A store manager (now an area manager) drops chocolates on the floor, pops back in the box. In the design lab, women with long hair not tied back.

In the tasting room, takeaway coffee cups. Do they not care about the environment? The over packaging and plastic wrapped chocolates in their stores would indicate not.

A captive audience in an office environment, absolutely no excuse for takeaway coffee cups. The cups should have been ceramic cups or mugs, at the very least anyone with a modicum of businesses acumen would have had on the table branded KeepCup or ecoffee bamboo cups, and on sale in their stores.

Good news, Hotel Chocolat will be launching a bamboo cup.

In York, customers in a shop to taste latest chocolates, to provide valuable feedback. I was appalled to learn they have to pay.

At the hotel on St Lucia, to say the least bizarre a chef shipped out from England for a few days to design the menu. Everything on the menu infused with chocolate, even savoury dishes.

I quite like the idea of staying at a hotel on St Lucia on a cocoa plantation in the middle of a rain forest though a long way from the sea. But I would wish for authentic local dishes prepared by a local chef, not dishes dictated by a chef flown out from England, and no way every dish contaminated with chocolate or cacao, though the occasionally chocolate dessert would be fine.

What impact climate change on the plantation?

I paid a visit to a Hotel Chocolat store, a prime High Street location, lunchtime day after broadcast of Part One of the documentary.

The store was worse than I expected, hype and over packaging, bars of chocolate in plastic.

There are though plans to phase out plastic.

Would it not be better the chocolates on display, customer chooses what they want, pop in a paper bag? The norm in Athens.

I expected the shop to be heaving. It was not, I was the only customer with one young lady serving. I popped back late afternoon, store was still empty.

Contrast with what was shown in the documentary, busy stores half a dozen staff.

Although the staff were friendly and tried to be helpful, they were not knowledgeable about their core product, chocolate.

I was appalled to find bars of dark chocolate, wrapped in plastic, added soy emulsifier. The single origin, a wrap around paper, within, plastic packaging, had to withdraw to find any information on the contents. On none of the bars could I find the weight.

Contrast with dark chocolate from elsewhere, even M&S which makes no claim to be a chocolate company and guilty of excessive plastic for fresh produce, single origin dark chocolate, simple wrapped paper and no added emulsifiers.

The other big difference, the M&S single origin £2 for a bar of chocolate, Hotel Chocolat plastic wrapped cheap soy emulsifier to replace cocoa butter a couple of pence shy of £4 for a smaller bar of chocolate.

Did I wish for a VIP Card? Not really, as did not wish for junk mail. I was assured no junk mail, provides discount on expensive chocolates, and a free gift. Within days, received junk e-mail for a piece of junk I did not want, more household clutter. On leaving the store I was given a brochure for the same piece of junk.

Contrast Hotel Chocolat with the mouthwatering chocolates on display in Aristokratikon, a chocolatier in Athens.

As walk into Aristokratikon, a wonderful aroma of chocolate.

Also to be found in Athens, shops selling loose nuts, dried fruit and loose bars of chocolate or blocks of chocolate.

The same in Istanbul, mouth watering displays in the shops, including of course Turkish Delight, but not the low quality Turkish Delight found in UK.

Part Two of Inside Hotel Chocolat proved to be more interesting, the logistics how a chocolate passes from design to market. But again raised many questions.

Single origin chocolate from the St Lucia estate, the focus on the chocolatier, but if we draw a comparison with single origin speciality coffee, the fermentation, drying in the sun, roasting of the beans are all as important if not more important. It is the roasting of the beans that brings out the subtle flavour notes.

We heard nothing about these various stages a chocolate passes through.

If single origin from St Lucia is the flagship dark chocolate, why substitute soy emulsifier for cocoa butter? No bean-to-bar artisan chocolate maker would do this.

Strange the chef who designs the menu for Hotel Chocolat on St Lucia also designs their chocolate liquor.

Why start with whisky? Would not brandy or rum be a more suitable choice, or a neutral alcohol? Gin, the vile smell rules it out, on the other hand Hidden Curiosities Gin with its subtle aroma worth considering.

The tasting panel, yes experts on chocolate, but a liqueur? I would invite some one like Martin Hudak, Coffee in Good Spirits World Champion on to the panel, as he would be able to provide valuable insights.

A small business may start with a van or stall, move to a shop. Hotel Chocolat in reverse, a chain of shops, then a van.

Maybe a better idea a kiosk, something like FCB Coffee. But would also need coffee, then need a skilled barista.

There are close parallels with BrewDog. Two founders, passionate about what they do, turn that passion into a multi-million pound business.

Hopefully the full two-part documentary Inside Hotel Chocolat will be uploaded to vimeo.

When coffee shops first appeared across Europe they served not only coffee also drinking chocolate.

Today we are seeing drinking chocolate served in specialty indie coffee shops. These coffee shops are also where high quality chocolate can be found.

Edgcumbes Coffee have taken this a step further. They have paired with Noble & Stace who have added roasted coffee beans to their chocolate bars, which are then on sale at Edgcumbes Coffee. They also host Noble & Stace chocolate sessions.

We need to see more craft bean-to-bar direct trade chocolate makers. Too many are buying in chocolate, melting it down, remoulding their own bars.

What is not acceptable, Waitrose passing off an inferior Hotel Chocolate clone as their own, even down to the obscene use of plastic packaging. The same Waitrose that bags fresh produce in plastic, bananas on the shelves sweating and rotting in plastic bags.

We need to see more ethical stores like Hisbe, Infinity Foods, that support and partner quality local producers.

Vulture Capitalists have taken a controlling stake in Montezuma Chocolate, like Green & Black now owned by Cadbury’s, it is no longer an independent chocolate maker.

Afternoon in Nottingham

January 15, 2019

Two-coach East Midlands train Lincoln-Nottingham-Leicester.

It could have been worse, it could have been a clapped out single coach train. At least this train was refurbished and had usb charging points. Though few use as hidden below the seats.

I took the opportunity to charge a power bank. I did not think it needed charging, other than maybe a top up. To my surprise took the entire journey to charge. Failing power bank?

A new stall outside Nottingham Station selling dosa. Too cold for street food but not impressed. Appeared to have been already made, did not look appetising, was then popped in a frying pan, hotted up, ingredients tossed on top.

I was not impressed. Not the way to make a dosa. Nothing like the quality or professionalism of Ollo Foods with a stall on Guildford farmers market.

Lunch at 200 Degrees Nottingham Station overlooking Nottingham Canal.

Tomato soup was something of a disappointment, tasted like tinned soup, but the falafal was was excellent.

200 Degrees is a small chain. Coffee mediocre at best.

Excellent cappuccino at Cartwheel Coffee.

An organic single origin from Honduras.

On sale Frank Green reusable cups. These, together with rCup, are the worst reusable cups on the market.

I suggested get shot of, stock KeepCup or ecoffee bamboo cups. But ideally encourage relax with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic, discourage takeaway.

I looked in Wired, but who I wished to see was not there.

Their own branded glass KeepCup. Large. I have never seen large before.

Guest coffee Girls Who Grind.

On my last visit I had been told by Outpost Coffee of a nearby zero waste store. I asked of the vegan stall. Cobden Chambers, but not today. I checked, no, not today. A pity, as I wanted muesli, which I had hoped to find.

Ideas on Paper not open. No information to say when open. Annoying as was the reason for my visit.

V60 from Outpost Coffee. They were busy.

I looked again Ideas on Paper. Not open.

Nottingham Station. Long walk down a long platform to waiting train.

Vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe

January 14, 2019

An act of unbelievable crass stupidity when vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe, an ethical food store.

Where next, Infinity Foods, a workers cooperative? Maybe not, Infinity Foods bake vegan cakes and where would we be without vegan cakes?

Maybe do something useful, target and shut down McDonald’s or a halal kebab shop.

Or try targeting M&S or Waitrose for wrapping fresh produce in plastic.

Steep Hill another one bites the dust

January 11, 2019

A soap shop at the top of Steep Hill is to close.

According to the Lincolnite, regurgitating what they find on facebook, a popular soap shop is to close due to lack of customers.

Er, spot the oxymoron.

I never knew there was a soap shop.

I was told adjacent to the Russian Doll shop.

I decided to investigate.

Yes, between the Russian Doll shop and a clock shop. A clock shop that is never open.

A tiny nondescript shop, easy to see why I had missed it before.

I found it to be in darkness, closed, which at least explains why no customers.

As I was looking, a lady popped out of the Russian Doll shop with a key in her hand offered to open for me.

I declined, but said I may look on my way down.

On my way down, I again found to be closed.