Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Aristokratikon

October 31, 2017

Mouth watering chocolate at mouth watering prices.

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Lunch at Gail’s artisan bakery

September 23, 2017

A bowl of soup, followed by quiche, at Gail’s artisan bakery.

I had not realised how late it was, I left for the butcher, then came back for my quiche.

The soup, tomatoes, roast peppers and tarragon.

Served with two doorstops of bread I did not really need anything else. Doubly so as the quiche was not good. I was told it came with salad. The salad a few green leaves.

Curious why the coffee always bad, I asked, does anyone make the coffee? No, we have baristas.

The soup was excellent. The soup usually is, I cannot say that though about anything else at Gail’s.

Starbucks bakery (not to be confused with tax-dodging Starbucks serving undrinkable coffee), neither cakes not bread good, but very good quiche.

The quiche in Gail’s looked good, but it was not. I left it uneaten.

The salad, I was expecting a small side salad, not a handful of leaves.

The staff are pleasant, though I have never see the same staff twice.

The service poor.

The ambience poor.

Roast Sunday lunch at Butcher and Beast

September 17, 2017

I have occasionally eaten mid-week at the Butcher and Beast in Heighington, this the first time Sunday roast dinner.

Necessary to book.

As far as I could see, times staggered for each table, I assume to make it easier for serving.

Ushered into a rather grim restaurant at the bank completely lacking in character. I had always thought the gloomy back room was the restaurant. I asked to sit in the pub itself but no, reserved for regulars.

Excellent roast leg of pork with all the trimmings, as was the roast beef.  Portion size generous. The boiled potatoes though were cold.

Sitting in the restaurant it was cold due to an outside door being propped open with a plant pot.

At the tiny bar, half a dozen real ales.

The meal had arrived, rather than go and choose and my dinner get cold, I ordered their local Batemans.

I noticed from the pictures on the wall, an interest in aviation. I offered to bring in signed limited edition prints but no one came to discuss.

Heighington is a Lincolnshire village of stone cottages, not far from Lincoln. Its only tea shop closed a couple of years ago. The Post Office has also closed. There is now a tiny Post Office counter in the local Spar shop. Also hidden at the back of the Spar shop is the local butcher, one of the best in the country. It is worth a visit, for his Lincolnshire sausages.

Lincoln Castle Food and Drink Festival

September 17, 2017

Sadly yet another excuse to charge for access to Lincoln Castle, access that is normally free.

I was there when vehicles arrived Friday. A convoy in Castle Hill, others blocking nearby streets as no idea where to go. Engines left running.  From what I could see, too many vendors of junk food.

Saturday afternoon it poured with rain.

More or less the same Sunday afternoon.

By the time I arrived the Castle Grounds turned into a quagmire and stalls packing up.

Walking into one marquee, and this was inside the marquee not outside, the mud oozed over the top of my sandals.

My initial reservations of Friday were more than confirmed. A travelling circus of mainly junk food, and they had the gall to charge a ten pound entrance fee.

Stallholders, based on a complex formula, were paying several hundred pounds, some a thousand pounds, to exhibit.

A coffee vendor, a franchise. No, I did not have a coffee. I asked why waste money on a franchise? Learn about coffee by working at a speciality coffee shop, then set up with quality coffee, but do not waste money on a franchise to sell poor quality coffee.

Another coffee stall, I asked where was their coffee from. They refused to say, rivals may steal their coffee.

What complete and utter garbage.

Speciality coffee shops make a point of where their coffee is sourced from, right down to the farm, it is all about transparency and traceability.

Whilst waiting for the rain to ease off, I just made it from one end to the other before the rain came down, a man with quality cakes, and lovely painted bowls. Very much Spanish influenced.

I contrast with others, cakes from a  factory frozen.

Chunky chips, burgers. Yuk.

If to repeat a food festival, hold an annual street food market in Castle Hill, as it grows extend into Bailgate, invite quality food stalls, wood-fired pizzas, vineyards, real ale, bread, cakes.

There are sufficient good examples from around the country, and they are free, but please do not insult people who appreciate good food and coffee with a repeat of this travelling circus.

Armed police were patrolling inside and outside the Castle Grounds.  An over-the-top security presence to gain access to the Castle. And why were private security directing traffic on Castle Hill?

Lunch at Pimento tea rooms

September 9, 2017

Pimento tea rooms is somewhere that is excellent for afternoon tea, but not somewhere I can recommend to eat.

I had intended to eat at Bailgate Deli, but too late.  Having walked up Steep Hill, I retraced my steps to Pimento tea rooms and was in time for something to eat.

The lentil soup was reasonable, a meal in itself, but apart from the name, no resemblance to Thai.

I then had a spicy bean burger and salad. It was not good, dry.

Many years ago, I used to have bean burgers in Neal’s Yard Bakery. I have never had anything comparable. These were a mixture of beans, not something made to resemble a beef burger, which was what I was served at Pimento tea rooms.

I have eaten once beforeeaten once before at Pimento tea rooms. It was a disappointment then, and it has not improved.  Pimento tea rooms is sadly not in the same league as a good vegetarian restaurant.

Service not great, though staff pleasant. My soup arrived promptly, my second course did not, I had a long wait.

Last time I was here, only one girl who was able to cope. Today half a dozen who seemed unable to cope.

Quirky rooms, each one different. Since my last visit, they have added a room at ground level, and one at the top.

There used to be occasional live music. I saw nothing to indicate live music.

Fish n chips at Burton Road Chippy

September 8, 2017

Late lunch at Burton Road Chippy.

It did not help I headed off down Newport Road thinking it was Burton Road.

Street signs would help.

Burton Road Chippy No 2 fish n chip shop in the country. I was not sure if open. Closed Monday, only open lunchtime and evening during the week, all day Friday and Saturday.

For me fortunate it was open, though no one there, the restaurant was empty.

Service was poor though the girl a trainee pleasant. She did not bring bread and butter until fish n chips arrived. Had to be reminded to bring the tea.

The milk jug was tiny, filled to the brim, and no handle. Difficult to pour, with the result spilt milk.

Fish n chips was good, though  long delay before it was served. No explanation or apology for the long delay. The restaurant was empty, no other customers.

Loud moronic music was very unpleasant.

One very negative aspect. They should be ashamed they use Deliveroo, which is exploitation writ large, serfs working for an app.

Quality of fish n chips comparable with the Elite. Only main difference, larger portion size and slow service.

Very similar concept to Elite, variety of potatoes named and where sourced from, the trawler that caught the fish named.

Similar to what is becoming the norm in speciality coffee shops, traceability, transparency.

Once I asked in a fish n ship shop, was their fish fresh, how often was it delivered. They refused to tell me. I turned around and walked out.

Kings Cross Real Food Market

August 18, 2017

Outside Kings Cross Station, a food market of around maybe a dozen stalls.

Worth exploring if time, and a better option than buying food inside the station or on a train.

Bread, cakes, cheese, fruit juices, tortilla.

I had excellent tortilla, and cheese off the cheese stall, Comte and Gouda, and a cake off a cake stall.

From a fellow passenger on the Edinburgh train, she alighted at Peterborough, I learnt  there is an excellent street food market around the corner in Granary Yard.

The cheese stall told me I must visit Borough Market.

A pity not a coffee stall serving quality coffee.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots

August 1, 2017

First Tuesday of the month, farmers market in Guildford.

I was looking forward to a dosa, but when I passed by a queue, when I passed by later nothing left.

By now, mid-afternoon,  I was hungry

I set off for Canopy Coffee, but coffee shops are never good places to eat, or rarely so.

I passed by Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage, a Singapore noodle joint. I decided to have honey coated crunchy chicken.

The man asked if I remembered the Chinese girl. Yes, I was about to ask about her. She had graduated and left the country.

When we met, she shared her tea with me. I in return took her for a coffee.

We had a brief conversation about tea. He imports tea from China and India, maybe around 50 different loose leaf teas.

He knew of Imperial Teas, halfway up Steep Hill in Lincoln.

He kindly gave me a small sample of Dragon Well, a Chinese tea, explained how to brew.

I say kindly gave, £20 per 50 grams, very expensive tea.

What I had was quite spicy, I needed to remove the taste as was going to try high quality coffee at Canopy.

I tried Purbeck stem ginger ice cream. Very poor quality ice cream, if not for the ginger, it would have been even worse. I suggested he try Dylan’s ice cream. Either from the van on the farmers market or from The Village.

And then on to Canopy Coffee, a quick look in Food for Thought. A young guy working there who I had talked about coffee a few weeks ago thanked me for recommending to him Union coffee.

Natter Cafe

July 25, 2017

There used to be on the platform at Farncome Station, a little coffee shop, Coffee Charisma. I have never found it open.

In Guildford, on the market in North Street, a stall selling coffee, Coffee Charisma.

Confused? Me too. Especially as both had identical logo.

Last time I passed through Farncombe Station, I noticed no longer Coffee Charisma, now Natter Cafe. And no, not open.

Two different businesses, both with identical names. Something had to give.

Natter Cafe also comes as two. There is also outside Farncombe Station, Natter Cafe, and that was where I was headed for a  cappuccino, break my journey on the way to Godalming for lunch, only it did not quite work out that way.

I was looking at the menu, and was then given some advice on the coffee. Try our filter coffee, V60, single origin from Uganda. I do not know why Uganda was chosen, other than a single origin. Possibly because no single origin from Brazil.

I had a look around, before settling down in the garden outside.

Very pleasantly done, both inside and out, inside art on the walls, which is periodically changed.

The V60 was not poured as I would have expected, a continuous pour, not pour to wet the coffee, pause, pour again, and repeat a couple of times.

Compare for example with a V60 Japanese iced filter coffee at Coffee Island in Covent Garden.

I also noticed, did not first cleanse the filter with hot water, which is very important.

I queried this later with the barista. He said they had done that first at the espresso machine.

I found the coffee to be too strong, possibly why I was brought milk. It would also have been better served in glass.

I requested a glass of water, used the glass

Why it was too strong I do not know. Could be the beans which I suspected were over roasted, poor quality beans, maybe too much coffee. It could even be the method by which it was poured.  Also could have been the grind, which would determine how fast or slow the hot water passed through, thus the extraction time.  A courser grind maybe would improve the coffee.

I compare with a Japanese syphon. First time, awful coffee, second time excellent, third time too strong. Why,  poor quality Indonesian coffee, speciality coffee coffee from Columbia, grind too fine, filter clogged, and over-brewed. Small differences make a difference.

Also compared unfavourably with a filter Kenyan at Karuna Coffee and the V60 Japanese iced coffee. And compared unfavourable with all twelve lots from Los Nogales Project during a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

But to be fair, though I would have expected the V60 filter to be better much better than it was, I am drawing a comparison with very high quality coffee.

I asked of the beans.

Natter Cafe have their own blend which is roasted for them, also single origin, which is also roasted for them.

All the single origins, maybe even the blend, all roasted to the same roast profile.

Not how any competent roastery would roast beans. Roasted to bring about the best from the beans, also depends upon how the beans are to be used, espresso or filter.

I decided to stay and have lunch, having been tempted by watercress soup and fish cakes served with salad. Both were excellent.

Followed by a cappuccino and a flapjack dipped in chocolate.

The cappuccino not great, large amount of froth and foam. The flapjack excellent.

On sale bags of beans and the little V60 used to make my filter coffee.

Nothing was priced. No roast date on the beans nor could I find the weight. Best by for coffee is meaningless.  A speciality coffee shop would have more information on the beans, though more than would find in a supermarket on brand coffee.

Staff very pleasant and helpful.

I was looking forward to a coffee and was gravely disappointed. On the other hand I was not expecting to eat and found the food to be excellent.

I would highly recommend for the food and ambience, but not somewhere I would go for a  coffee.

Anspach & Hobday bottled craft beer

July 21, 2017

I had never heard of Anspach & Hobday bottled craft beer until Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday introduced four bottles at a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

Four bottles of craft beer, with an explanation on each: The IPA, The Pale Ale, The Smoked Brown and The Sour Dry Hop.

The IPA and The Pale Ale hoppy and bitter, The Smoked Brown hints of smoked bacon,  I decided to give a miss.  The Sour Dry Hop I tried. Very unusual, hints of elder flower.

I suggested, as we had had coffee cupping, now time for beer cupping.

I was invited to pay their brewery in Bermondsey a visit.

It is always a good sign to see small indie businesses, promoting quality and innovation, supporting each other.