Archive for the ‘food’ Category

St Martins Coffee House

July 13, 2018

Chichester is an old Roman town, the pedestrianised centre still follows the Roman Street plan, a medieval buttercross Chichester Cross in the centre, medieval side streets, surrounded by the Roman wall.

All the more depressing that the pedestrianised centre has been ruined by a proliferation of corporate chains, independents driven out by the greed of the Church and other local landowners, interspersed with what are little more than greasy spoon cafes masquerading as tea rooms and coffee shops.

From the station I trekked South Street to the Chichester Cross and all points of the compass, north, south, east and west in the hope of finding a decent coffee shop and somewhere decent to eat. I trekked in vein. It was then the medieval streets, and there in the North East Quadrant between North Street and East Street I happened upon St Martins Coffee House.

St Martins Coffee House is a restored town house, an oasis in a desert of mediocrity.

The town house was derelict, restored over several years by the current owner and now a restaurant.

Inside ancient wooden furniture, no cheap crap. Near the entrance a piano, feel free to play. It was actually in tune. Upstairs games to play chess, Japanese Go or Scrabble.

Outside a wonderful little garden.

Simple fare, freshly prepared, ingredients wherever possible sourced locally, in season, organic. Nothing hotted up in a microwave, no use of aluminium utensils, storage glass not plastic.

I selected for my lunch Red Dragon Cake. It was a little like the bean burger I used to have in Neal’s Yard Bakery in Covent Garden. Sadly long gone, as too has Food for Thought in Neal Street. Served on a bed of salad.

Generous portion size and delicious.

This I sat and enjoyed in the delightful garden.

Cakes were vegan, which I did not try, as my experience with vegan cakes is that they have never been very pleasant. Though I admit I was tempted.

I did not though give in to temptation, as I was tempted by a fresh fruit juice and the two would not have gone well together.

I chose carrot apple orange ginger fresh juice. I asked how made and it was as I had designed for a coffee shop in Cyprus and a juice bar in Athens.

It was as I expected, excellent for a hot day.

The coffee was dark roasted Italian sourced from a large company. This I declined, as would not have been good.

I made recommendations of from where they could source their coffee, top quality local coffee roasters. The moot point, may not be certified organic, but if single origin direct trade, would have traceability and transparency back to the farm, and would be able to say what inputs if any had been used, and the likelihood is none. Also for this weather, consider cold brew. And add other coffee methods, for example V60 pour over.

I suggested visit Coffee Lab, where they would be able to try speciality coffee. I did not know until I visited, Coffee Lab now have guest coffee.

Whether historic, I do not know, although called a Coffee House, St Martins Coffee House is actually not, it is a restaurant. But would make a wonderful coffee house if sourced speciality coffee, employed a skilled barista, and this would compliment their excellent food and environment and bring people in during the afternoon when quiet.

I then myself went in search of Coffee Lab where I had an excellent cold brew and cappuccino. And as always interesting conversation.

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Godalming Street Food Market

July 7, 2018

A very hot day in Godalming.

The market stretched down Church Street as far as the Parish Church. It was though an illusion. A French market had been tacked on. A big mistake, as the French market is a travelling circus.

I was though pleased to see a French stall that I once found in Winchester, quality produce brought over from France. Not part of the travelling circus, an independent stall.

I wandered up and down, each year fewer stalls, at least fewer stalls of quality, fewer interesting stalls. Many stalls that used to come no longer do.

Gin tasting was a con, they were selling gin, and they were not even the producers.

It was good to see a Punch and Judy show. A rarity these days.

Music and dance at the Pepper pot.

Would it not be great if somewhere in Godalming served quality coffee? Sadly not.

I passed by Jory Cafe Gallery in Church Street. More a greasy spoon cafe than a coffee shop. What were the coffee beans? Would not say, may steal their secrets. Over roasted Colombian. I ordered a cappuccino. Chocolate dumped on top. I sent it back. Second cappuccino not good.

Were their takeaway coffee cups compostable? It did not say. Yes. On leaving I was handed a cup and lid to add to my compost experiment.

I popped in The Star, walked into their back garden. A mistake. Full of drunks. I took my beer out into the street. Remind me again why I prefer coffee shops to pubs.

All day I was wishing for a refreshing cold brew coffee. Chance would be a fine thing.

Disappointed Chimmney Fire Coffee did not have a stall.

Abysmal environmental standards on the market, food safety and obscene us of plastic.

The same stall as of Guildford farmers market, poultry sat on the stall with temperature in excess of 30C. Why was it not closed down? Were the butcher to put poultry on a stall outside the shop would very quickly be shut down.

Food and hot weather do not mix. In this hot weather Environmental Health should be patrolling food markets, not wait until people fall sick.

Humans have this strange ability to hold two contradictory and opposing views simultaneously. We know plastic is polluting our oceans and yet we continue to use plastic.

The amount of plastic on the market was appalling, drinks in plastic, plastic straws, junk foods served in plastic boxes. Even sweets in plastic coffee takeaway cups.

Paella stall an exception, but that an initiative of one stall. It should not be down to one stall, standards should be set for the market, no plastic.

It is not only Godalming. Farnham Carnival, Guildford farmers market, Winchester street food market, all have abysmal environmental standards.

Nor is it only local markets. Wimbledon is handing out bottled water. To add insult to injury, French bottled water.

Has no one heard of Plastic Free July? Does any one care?

From Cook a raspberry and mint lollipop. It was excellent. I went back and had a second.

In Waitrose rCup. Waitrose had their own reusable cup at £3, now the rCup at £12. Claimed to be made from a dozen recycled coffee cups. Which makes the point, plastic is not recycled, it is down cycled. Designed by a former designer for Dyson. Maybe should stick to vacuum cleaners as not barista friendly, something fairly basic for a reusable coffee cup. Greenwash by Waitrose to distract from fresh produce in plastic.

Guildford farmers market

July 3, 2018

A very hot day for the farmers market.

Half a loaf off Celtic Bakers.

A very hot day, poultry sitting on a stall, flies and wasps crawling over their cooked sausages.

A farmers market should not only be local produce, it should also be quality.

I have pushed for some time for a coffee stall. I did not know whether to laugh or cry, Cupsmith Coffee, quality it is not. Coffee beans displayed open to the air in the heat.

One of the first things learn about coffee, respect the beans.

Yes, I wish to see coffee on the market, but quality coffee, not poor quality catering supply coffee. Invite Chimney Fire Coffee, speciality coffee roasted locally in the Surrey Hills.

It is Plastic Free July. Why low environmental standards on the market? What steps are being made to eliminate plastic?

The only steps are initiatives of the individual stall holders. It is not acceptable fresh produce in plastic.

Full marks to the paella stall, card boxes, wooden cutlery. And to the apple stall, apple juice in glass bottles.

Odd, what I thought was Secretts Farm, no longer is. I wonder how many others have not noticed? I had not noticed until it was pointed out to me.

A detour to Partisan excellent cheese shop end of Chapel Street. I recommended they stock Chimney Fire Coffee. Picked up Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese.

Hidden Curiosities Gin, why no stall, I was intrigued to see how craft gin compared with what was on the market. Silent Pool Gin, virtually no aroma, very bland to drink, 24 botanicals. Tom Cat Gin, slight aroma, rough firewater, 6 botanicals.

As always, excellent lunch from Bamboo Shoots.

Surrey Hills Coffee has relocated from Chapel Street to Jeffries Passage. I asked was it a pop up shop as gave the impression of being temporary.  Coffee was not great.

It was then to Krema, where guaranteed excellent coffee.

The roadworks in Tunsgate still not complete.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 29, 2018

A hot day, though maybe not as hot as previous days.

Walking along the River Wey to the High Street, moronic rap music blasting out from Electric Theatre disturbing the peace and tranquillity of this walk.

Walking up North Street I noticed Harris + Hoole empty. Death by a thousand cuts by Caffe Nero.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Picked up a couple of biodegradable plastic straws from Bamboo Shoots for compost trial. Nothing on the box to say what made off.

Walking past Surrey Hills Coffee as empty as when they were in Chapel Street. Posting on facebook doing well at new site when anyone walking past sees not simply makes look foolish. Looking in it looked very tacky, as though knocked up  as a temporary location, cf Canopy Coffee or Krema. They say now doing food. Do they have A3 planning consent? It takes more than a change of location, maybe a case of grass looks greener on the other side, or cheaper rent. 5-30 is hardly extended opening hours, and worse to encourage grab it and go takeaway culture. Do they really think anyone is going to pay to rent an upstairs room when many places locally to meet for free? The one bag of coffee I looked at was at least freshly roasted, compared with their old coffee shop where it could be a couple of months old. What though will it be in a couple of months time? Why do they have A-boards blocking both the High Street and Jeffries Passage? Is it really necessary an A-board outside the coffee shop? The council needs to clamp down on A-boards as a hazard for pedestrians with poor sight. When there is Krema serving excellent coffee,  it is going to take more than a change of location, like maybe decent coffee, skilled baristas.

Roadworks still ongoing in Tunsgate. Krema barricaded off. Now panic stations to complete the work. Cowboy workers cutting stone, dust everywhere, no damping down, no face masks worn.

There is to be  street party in Tunsgate next week. But how is anyone to know as no information anywhere?

Cold brew coffee in Krema.

Walking back down North Street, Harris + Hoole empty. Are their takeaway coffee cups compostable? No. Their plastic cups yes. Nothing to say they are, or what made of. If used for hot drinks they melt. One taken away for compost trial. No cold brew coffee. The gimmick nitro brew was short lived.

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.

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

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.