Archive for February, 2022

Eating out in Sheffield

February 26, 2022

Wicked Leeks published by Riverford superficially looks interesting, but too often articles by writers who are not knowledgeable on the subject. The worst are the lifestyle features, the column-filling garbage we find in Sunday supplements.

In a recent Wicked Leeks an article on eating out in Sheffield under the general heading of Sustainable Cities, clearly written by someone who knew nothing of Sheffield, for example South Street Kitchen not featured, nor any of the places I would recommend in Sheffield. [see Out for a bite to eat in Sheffield]

Eating out is a big part of city life. It’s part of being social and entertained, yet increasingly as ethical consumers, we also want it to fit with our beliefs and opinions. And the eating out industry is having to respond.

McDonald’s! Are we being serious, McDonald’s? Sustainable eating and McDonald’s an oxymoron. And no, ultra-processed fake meat from Big Businesses is not sustainable. Neither does a global corporation extracting wealth lead to sustainable cities.

Social enterprise cafes, yes, recover food that would otherwise go to waste, turn into delicious meals, far better than the humiliation of food banks which should not exist.

Deliveroo, serfs working for an app, worker exploitation. You got to be joking.

A sad reflection of Wicked Leeks this nonsense was published.

Look around Sheffield, do not have to look too hard or too far, to find many examples of local indie business serving excellent food and coffee, using wherever possible local produce and supporting other local businesses.

A few examples off the top of my head well worth visiting.

South Street Kitchen, over the tracks at Sheffield Station, up the slope, bottom of the flats, stunning view over Sheffield city centre, serving their take on on Middle Eastern cuisine

As a local independent community café we have a strong focus on supporting other local Sheffield and Yorkshire businesses, keeping our food fresh and seasonal, and reducing our carbon footprint. Which is why we couldn’t be happier to be working closely once again with the incredible team at Wortley Hall Farm’s walled garden.

Friday and Saturday evening, a meal based on produce from Wortley Hall Farm.

ShuJu Kitchen, not far from the Winter Garden, Union St, a co-working space, pop up kitchen serving excellent freshly prepared Taiwanese food.

Marmadukes, near the Crucible, local sourced ingredients, excellent food, excellent coffee.

Steam Yard, excellent coffee.

Bullion, Cutlery Works Kelham Island, bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

Sheffield Cheese Masters, Kelham Island, delicious cheese, milk sourced from a local farm.

What makes an egg ethical?

February 24, 2022

And how to make pancakes.

Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, a lot of eggs.

Where should we buy our eggs?

I recall a market stall once telling me, how old the ‘fresh eggs’ were in supermarkets. Days before they even reached the supermarket shelves. His eggs were fresh, what was not sold on his stall today, would be sold later in the week.

If you want fresh eggs, buy from a local supplier, buy from a farm shop, inquire of the conditions for the chickens, are they battery housed, free range (worse than greenwash), organic or Soil Association, or better still the standards Riverford demand?

  • do not buy – battery or free range
  • do buy – organic

Be wary of ultra-processed vegan fake eggs.

What Riverford have to say (e-mail comms) gleaned in turn from Ethical Consumer, I reproduce below. [see Eggs: Ethical and environmental rankings for 43 brands of eggs and vegan egg alternatives]

Note: I buy but do not eat, from Redhill Farm shop, from where I buy excellent ham, Lincolnshire sausages.

what makes an ethical egg?

Soil Association-certified organic guarantees a higher standard of animal welfare than any other farming system, including free range (more on that below).

Ethical Consumer’s analysis takes this into account, but also looks beyond the farming system. We score highly across all aspects of their analysis – environmental, animals, people, and politics – with the best scores in areas such as pollution and toxins, animal testing, workers’ rights, and more. We also gain full marks for our company ethos.

freedom to roam

Many ‘free-range’ birds actually spend little time outside. There’s no requirement about the number of exits from sheds, even when they contain many thousands of birds. When they do roam outside, the pasture is rested for just two months between flocks.

Organic hens, on the other hand, must have continuous and easy daytime access to an outdoor range, covered in suitable vegetation. Their pasture is rested for 9 months between flocks, allowing vegetation to grow and prevent disease building up in the soil.

a hen’s life

To stop stressed birds pecking each other, caged and free range systems permit the front third of hens’ beaks to be removed (called beak trimming). Organic never allows this. Instead, stress is avoided in the first place, by giving the birds as natural and enjoyable a life as possible.

40% of all UK antibiotics are given to farm animals, often used routinely to prevent illness in poor conditions. Organic only allows antibiotics to treat animals if they do get ill.

more inside space

Free range flocks can see a maximum of 16,000 hens. Organic flocks can be no larger than 3,000 hens.

When it comes to indoor space, free-range standards allow up to nine hens per m², whereas organic is restricted to six hens per m².

We go even further than the Soil Association’s rigorous welfare standards. Living in small flocks and ranging on clean, rich pasture, with tree cover, shelters, hay bales and sandpits providing a safe, interesting environment.

Riverford hens are cared for by the Janaway family

The hens at Upper Norton Farm have a better quality of life; they spend 365 days a year pottering freely on clean organic pasture, with grass and clover to forage in, trees, shelters, and sand pits for scratching.

The hens are encouraged to leave their spacious houses each morning and engage in natural behaviours. They get plenty of human interaction, being checked on and chatted to throughout the day.

Everything they’re fed is 100% organic. Because their feed doesn’t contain any additives or artificial colouring agents, the colour of the hens’ egg yolks is natural and can vary; whether golden or paler hued, the rich flavour is just the same.

Riverford egg boxes are mixed sizes and colours. By accepting mixed boxes that include smaller eggs laid by younger hens, and the larger, paler hens laid by older ones, not only prevents waste – also allows the hens to enjoy longer lives.

Jamie Oliver pancakes

Juliet and Romeo sloe gin and green smoothie improvisation

February 20, 2022

Juliet and Romeo: a gin cocktail for the gin haters out there. — Anders Erickson

Juliet and Romeo, a gin cocktail created in 2007 by Toby Maloney for the grand opening of The Violet Hour in Chicago.

  • three slices of cucumber
  • a pinch of salt
  • sprig of mint
  • 60 ml London dry gin
  • 20 ml fresh lime juice
  • 20 ml simple sugar syrup

In the small shaker tin, three slices of cucumber, sprig of mint. Muddle, then add ice.

in large tin gin, lime juice, sugar syrup. Shake.

Pour into Champagne coupe.

I lacked dry gin, lime juice, therefore improvise.

  • 60 ml sloe gin
  • 20 ml green smoothie (apple, pear, kiwi, spinach, lime)
  • 10 ml organic agave syrup

Shake and serve in champagne coupe. Garnish with a leaf of mint.

My thinking sloe gin has added sugar, cut down on the agave syrup.

This may have worked with colourless gin, or if sloe gin a cocktail that retains the colour.

Colour and visual appearance not good. Looked like mud. Flavour well balanced. How it compares with the original Juliet and Romeo I do not know.

Deserted farmers market

February 19, 2022

Aftermath of Storm Eunice it poured. Roads awash with water. Not a day to go out, and yet city centre busy.

Walk and Ride to Lincoln Cathedral then to Castle Hill to find farmers market all but packed up. It was lunchtime.

Lunchtime Lincoln famers market packed up early. Only stall there cheese stall. Not an entirely wasted journey.

Midday it poured down. Not a day to be out. All the more surprising the city centre busy. Bailgate and Steep Hill people milling around.

I only went out for the farmers market. All the more annoying to find nothing

Last month very few stalls, many had not bothered to turn up.

Steep Hill and Bailgate the busiest I have seen since Christmas and New Year.

Walk down Steep Hill. What was the Russian doll shop now an eyesore. Completely out of character for Steep Hill.

Popped in Steep Hill Wines. I had not noticed before the cellar. Old Roman Guard Room. In the back room more wine, plus a few cans of craft beer from a York brewery. I recommended stock Neon Raptor.

I was curious what coffee The Curiousity Shop. Stokes. I noticed tucked around the corner an espresso machine. I wanted to ask about the Steam Punk paraphernalia that has gone from the window. But too busy. I did not stop.

Cappuccino at Madame Waffle. Coffee best as espresso.

Service in M&S appalling. It gets worse each visit. Store busy. No tills manned. When asked, staff refuse to man tills

Look in Oxfam Bookshop. Nothing I want

I stay and chat with staff about coffee and chocolate until shop closed.

I look in nearby shop Flying Tiger that I had looked in a couple of days ago, walked out, too busy. Stock over 90% crap, but a few interesting items.

— to be continued-

Cottage pie

February 18, 2022

Basic ingredients: minced beef, vegetables, mashed potatoes.

Sliced onion, two small carrots, garlic clove, in a pan of hot oil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove for later when turning brown.

Add a little more oil. Add mince beef, season with salt and pepper. Cook until brown.

Return vegetables.

Add red wine. Simmer.

Add stock. Simmer.

Add tomato puree.

Add a pinch of herbes de Provence.

Add leek, peas.

Empty contents of pan into an oven proof dish.

Top with mashed potato. Fluff up the potato with a fork. Season with salt and pepper.

Cornish kern cheese added on top.

Fan oven 200C for 35 minutes. Remove lid last ten minutes to brown the potatoes.

Serve on a plate.

Delicious and very tasty.

Slight cheat, M&S mashed potato for the topping. Disadvantage fairly solid and difficult to fluff up with a fork. Almost have to slice it out of the pot.

Leek was green end of a leek sitting in the fridge.

Mince beef from Redhill farm shop, grass-grazed, aged 30 days. No problems with the quality, what I did not like, the mince remained in clumps in the hot pan. Why, I do not know.

  • cottage pie – beef
  • shepherd’s pie – lamb

What is left, allow to cool, pop in the fridge. Re-heat a few days later, fan oven 175C for 35 minutes, remove lid last ten minutes.

Loosely based on Gordon Ramsey youtube video for shepherd’s pie.

Espresso martini at The Curiosity Shop

February 17, 2022

I have passed by The Curiosity Shop at the top end of Lincoln High Street, but never passed through the door. Closing in two days time on Saturday. It was Thursday, two days before it closed, and it was raining,  I thought I would take a look inside.

A cocktail bar, the interior belies the frontage.

An espresso martini. How made, espresso?

OK I will have one, and the barman kindly talked me through.

Slightly baffled, no sign of an espresso machine.

A bottle is produced. Contents? Espresso.

Freshly made this morning. It is late afternoon. I am horrified.

A bottle of vodka. Absolut Vanilla. Vanilla flavoured cheap vodka. Yuk.

Coffee liquor. Mr Black? No, far too expensive.

Champagne coupe. Not chilled. No ice.

A good job of shaking.

Injury. £7-50. Ouch.

The taste? Overpowering flavour of vanilla. It was not good.

A sign outside said coffee, though no sign of an espresso machine. The coffee, I do not know, did not ask, but if poor quality coffee, would explain the vanilla flavoured vodka to mask the taste of poor quality coffee, cf syrups in greasy spoon cafes and corporate coffee chains, or chocolate dumped on a cappuccino for the same reason, to hide the bad state of bad coffee.

Grind warn of the experience of poor quality espresso martini. That was my experience of The Curiosity Shop.

We’d had Espresso Martinis before they’re a classic but back then we didn’t realize how many corners were being cut in making them, even in the best places. You see, keeping a proper coffee machine clean and running is a lot of work, and even with the best intentions, standards can slip. After Espresso Martinis were invented in the ’90s, bars first tried using bottled espresso – a pretty miserable fate for coffee. Before long, all sorts of grisly concoctions of E-number flavourings and preservatives were being used. So by the time 2011 came around, even the places we had trusted for a good drink were serving something a far throw from what we imagine genius bartender Dick Bradsell had invented all those years ago. But we didn’t know any of that yet.

The barman was helpful, explained what he was doing, and then wrote out his recipe.

  • 25 ml vodka Absolut Vanilla
  • 25 ml coffee liquor Kahlúa
  • 50 ml espresso

He may have added a little sugar syrup, though Kahlúa coffee liquor is sweet and sugar syrup not necessary (unless again trying to mask bad coffee).

When he created an espresso martini, Dick Bradsell used Kahlúa but that was what was available, the world has moved on, would use Mr Black or a liquor of similar quality.

Note difference in price on Amazon 70 cl

  • Kahlúa – £12-00
  • Mr Black – £29-52

Contrast with The Grind espresso martini as served in their coffee shops and featured in the Grind book.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 20 ml simple sugar syrup
  • 25 ml espresso Grind house blend

I have changed sugar syrup to agave syrup.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 13 ml organic agave syrup
  • 25 ml espresso Grind house blend

A couple of days layer, Saturday afternoon, last day, they have to be out by Thursday.

I was going to inquire of the Steampunk paraphernalia in the window, but sadly the windows already stripped. As I walked in I noticed an espresso machine tucked around the corner. Very busy, noisy, but not packed. More staff, who were wearing facemasks. I asked of the coffee. Stokes, a local roastery. It could have been worse, Lincoln Tea and Coffee, vile undrinkable coffee, black oily over-roasted broken beans or catering supply coffee. Did I wish for a coffee? No thanks. I then left and walked down to Madame Waffle for a coffee, as I did two days before.

The Curiosity Shop

February 17, 2022

Popular Lincoln gin and cocktail bar The Curiosity Shop will close this weekend as it has not been able to renew its lease. — The Lincolnite

Curiosity killed the cat.

The Old Curiosity Shop located at the top of Lincoln High Street. I have never passed by and found busy, apart from on a Saturday afternoon, though not having ventured inside it could be busy inside.

The last day Saturday, not wishing to be in a busy bar, I paid a visit two days before it closed, it was raining.

The interior belies the frontage. Quite large inside.

A man spoke to me as I walked in, said it was larger than it looked. Apart from him, two girls at the bar who then disappeared, one and half barmen (one made an occasional appearance), it was deserted.

Loud music, far too loud, and out of kilter with the quirky interior. Loud music not conducive to relaxation with a drink or meeting with friends to engage in conversation.

Shoddy reporting by The Lincolnite (nothing new), why not investigate why the lease is not being renewed?

Lincolnshire Live part of failing Reach Group little better (again nothing new).

A popular venue on Lincoln High Street is set to close this weekend. The Curiosity Shop, located just at the bottom of Steep Hill.

Lazy journalism, post picture scraped from Google Maps, regurgitate what is posted on facebook. No, it cannot be on the High Street and at the bottom of Steep Hill. It is located at the top of the High Street, at the beginning of The Strait, It is NOT located at the bottom of Steep Hill.

I assume the Lincolnshire Live scribbler did not visit, did not carry out real journalism, if had, would know where located, and would have posted a picture from the visit.

Strange use of ‘popular’. If a popular venue deserted, what does an unpopular venue look like?

Not bad tenants, not causing a nuisance in the High Street, the same cannot be said of the binge drinking bars in the High Street and the drunken scum they attract. Barman confirmed, it was very rare they had trouble. I guess overpriced cocktails not somewhere the drunken scum will visit when all they want is cheap booze to get pissed.

I asked why was the lease not being renewed? Either did not know, or told to keep quiet. But at a guess did not know, sadly it is the norm for employees to be kept in the dark.

Why is the lease not being renewed? At a guess, greedy landlord has a better offer and quite happy to destroy a local business.

The word on the street is All Bar One has acquired the lease. Bad news if true, a crap corporate chain kills a local businesses.

Note: All Bar One deny they are opening in Lincoln.

Quirky bar, steam punk gear in the window, made to look like an old tavern on the interior, books stuck to the ceiling.

I decided to stay. Ordered an espresso martini. Not very good. £7-50. Ouch. The barman was helpful, talked me through the making and kindly wrote out the recipe.

As I was thinking of leaving, a pretentious group walked in. The usual clientele? I do not know, but time to leave.

I walked down to Madame Waffle for an espresso.

Lincoln between the storms

February 17, 2022

A lull between two storms

Storm Dudley hit yesterday evening. Tonight through to tomorrow Storm Eunice.

— to be continued—

The Grind espresso martini

February 16, 2022

Fourth attempt, third if ignore use of e-coffee cup as shaker.

The Grind espresso martini as served in their coffee shops and featured in the Grind book.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 20 ml simple sugar syrup
  • 25 ml espresso grind house blend

I have changed sugar syrup to agave syrup.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 13 ml organic agave syrup
  • 25 ml espresso Grind house blend

When shaken, pour large tin into small tin, then into Champagne coupe.

Garnish with three coffee beans.

Chicken thighs wrapped in streaky bacon on skewers suspended over mixed vegetables

February 15, 2022

Four chicken thighs from local butcher, ask nicely to wrap in streaky bacon. Think pigs in blankets.

Mediterranean vegetable mix from M&S or roughly slice red onion, pepper, courgette. Add sliced potatoes par-boiled for ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper, slosh of olive oil. In a roasting pan.

Suspend chicken thighs wrapped in streaky bacon on skewers over the vegetables. Fan oven 200C for an hour, turn after 30 minutes.

Two chicken thighs for lunch, save two to eat cold another day.

I usually only prepare this dish when have overripe cherry tomatoes which are added to the mix. Today a couple of canned tomatoes. Bought by mistake from M&S, I did not realise mistake until opened the can. Why does M&S stack with canned soups? I thought I was picking up tomato soup. What to do with tomatoes left?

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