Archive for the ‘Guildford’ Category

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.

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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.

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.

Afternoon in Guildford

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.

As always excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage.

Surrey Hills Coffee has closed. No surprise, it was only a matter of time. They have not though closed down, they are reopening in Jeffries Passage. I cannot though see being any more successful as the coffee not good and there are better places for coffee in Guildford.

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.

Between Bamboo Shoots and Krema, Tourist Information Office to obtain contact for farmers market, long overdue is a coffee stall.

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 really 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.

Contrast with free pizza in Winchester on Wednesday, a queue down the street.

Free or half price is an excellent idea. Better than any advertising, puts new staff through their paces, if people like, they will come again, tell their friends write good reviews.

On leaving, I wandered through Tunsgate Quarter. The only good thing I can say about it, useful short cut. Mainly empty units, those occupied are occupied by chains. Very unusual these days for a developer to build without guaranteed tenants, guaranteed rents, as the units will remain empty.

What we now need to see is the independent businesses on Tungate compensated for loss of business during road works. The least the Council can do is give a business rates holiday and once the work finished hold an event in Tungsgate. For example during the summer, turn one of the farmers markets into a street food market and let the stalls flow into Tunsgate.

And why oh why do Experience Guildford and the Tourist Information Office keep tweeting promoting chains? They are not there to give them free PR. So far I have had two tweets for Cozy Club alone, a crap chain.

Chains destroy a locality, destroy the sense of place, drain money out of a local economy. It is independent businesses that give character, a sense of place, recycle money within the local economy.

Contrast North Laine in Brighton with Tunsgate Quarter, one full of people, the other fake and empty.

Two tweets for Cozy Club, not single tweet for Krema, an excellent indie coffee shop that has opened in Tunsgate, something Guildford should be proud of, worth a trip to Guildford for.

Then when these chains go bust, which is now happening with regular monotony, or some one at head office decides not making enough, the stores close, leaving gaping holes in our High Streets never to be filled.

Afternoon in Guildford

May 11, 2018

Cool but pleasant afternoon in Guildford.

Excellent cappuccino off FCB kiosk on Platform 2 Guildford Station. Soon they will have cold brew.

A world of difference fruit and vegetables on the market stalls in Guildford to what passes as a sorry spectacle in Lincoln. High quality, fresh, at reasonable price.

As always excellent lunch, honey crunch chicken and brown rice at Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage.

The Thai restaurant which sadly closed many months ago is to re-open as an Indian restaurant. Am I impressed where the chef has worked, that he has met Jamie Oliver, that if will be Indian food aimed at Guildford folk? Absolutely no way, indeed it has the opposite effect.

A new coffee shop, Krema Artisan Coffee House has opened at the end of Tunsgate next to Ben’s Records. Not to be confused with Tunsgate Quarter.

It is long overdue for Guildford o have a top quality coffee shop. Now it has.

I am shocked work on Tungate still not finished. Excellent it will be a pedestrianised street. Let us hope Krema can have tables and chairs in the street.

 

I took a wander through Tunsgate Quarter. Incredible that today a developer opens a shopping centre with no guaranteed tenants. Must have either deep pockets or naive bank.

Does Guildford really need another grotty shopping centre with grotty chains draining money out of the local economy? No way.

Is it meant to be a joke? A Nespresso coffee shop.

I learnt from La Casita that several chain eateries have pulled out or will pull out of Guildford. No great loss.

I also learnt Surrey Hills Coffee to close when their lease expires. This comes as no surprise. When ever I pass by it is empty. They took over an excellent coffee shop and destroyed it.

Krema Artisan Coffee Shop

May 11, 2018

A few weeks ago, Krema opened a coffee shop at the end of Tunsgate next to Ben’s Record Shop.

Open and airy ambience.

Tables made from recycled wood, as is the counter, wood from old ships, topped with marble.

I was late in the afternoon, not too busy, and was worried I would find about to close.

Word is getting around, a coffee shop worth visiting.

An excellent cappuccino.

Coffee is sourced from Horsham Coffee Roasters, an espresso blend and a choice of single origin for pour over. For the summer there will be cold brew.

A large picture window overlooking the Castle grounds.

At the moment road works outside. Roadworks that are taking far too long, and little progress from six months ago. But to be fair, the work competed an excellent job and it will create a pedestrian street when complete.

Let us hope Guildford Council follow the example of North Laine in Brighton and allow seating in the street.

John the owner has done an excellent job of which he can be justifiably proud.

This is an example of what indie coffee shops should be like, high quality, professional and consistency in delivery and service.

Krema have jumped straight to No 1 coffee shop in Guildford. The only coffee outlet anywhere near is FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (but it depends on who is serving).

These two indie coffee shops are in another league to anything else in Guildford. They are setting the standard.

This is the second Krema, they opened their first coffee shop in Downing Street in Farnham a couple of years ago.

There is now absolutely no excuse for stallholders on the farmers market supping disgusting coffee from the chains when all they have to do is walk down Tunsgate and support a local indie coffee shop.

Krema is open until 5-30. The hours may be extended in the summer if the demand justifies it.

Guildford farmers market

December 19, 2017

A hard frost this morning.

Colombian guest coffee off FCB kiosk at Guildford Station. Not as good as yesterday. What a difference a barista makes.

Walking in the High Street, two people dressed to look like Police, but not Police. On their backs, Surrey Law Enforcement. I later did a bit of checking. As I suspected, and not acceptable, the council has its own private security force patrolling the streets.

Today an extra farmers market. A Christmas market. The farmers market at the beginning of the month a fortnight ago, was not as incorrectly reported by Guildford Tourist Information Office a Christmas market.

Why does a stall have turkeys on the stall all day? This raises serious health issues, to which the local council turns a blind eye.

The honey stall, today their last market. They will not be doing any more markets. I suggested try the Farnham Maltings Christmas Market end of November, as at least it is indoors.

There is another honey stall, but not as good.

With a friend in Maplin, she bought a pair of headphones. I asked coud be brought back if faulty. The girl serving said no. This is clear breach of Consumer Protection Legislation. She then backed down, and said yes, if faulty. It is appalling the way these shops try it on.

Excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots, honey crunch chicken.

Yesterday The Village was open. Today not. Clueless what they are doing.

I was pleased to see Surrey Hills Coffee put their coffee grounds out to be collected. I asked, did pople actually collect. They said yes.

Santander goes from bad to worse. As walk in, someone with obviously nothing better to do, can I help you? Yes, man the tills. A girl having hassle. Has lost her card, waiting three weeks and no card. Cashier, who claimed to be the manager, said address was invalid. Why not actually ask the girl to confirm whether the address correct or not, not claim the address invalid? Only when the girl created a fuss, was she then offered £50. Is this £50 every day? In which case, why not say so? In Halifax, £50 every day whilst waiting for a new card, £300 if take in passport. And why this hassle at cashier desk? Why not a desk for problems? Maybe manned by the jobsworth stood around doing nothing.

Coffee at Harris + Hoole. OK, but not great.

I asked of their KeepCups, was there a great take up? No. I suggested, target those who are picking up a coffee to take back to the office with a big discount. Everyone else, encourage to relax with a coffee in store. No, not aware that in the New Year Pret a Manger will be selling takeway coffee for 49p. Nor that 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away every year. Some people ask for two cups, one inside the other. I suggested check out Kaffeeform coffee cups, coffee cups made from recycled coffee grounds. Though the best use of coffee grounds is for the garden.

The famers market was busy, or at least there were a lot of people on the street. Probably Christmas shoppers, as a lot pf people on the street yesterday. I doubt for the farmers market due to complete lack of publicity at last market. And I noticed in contrast to the last market, everyone had a lot of stock left.

Guildford farmers market the first Tuesday of the month. There will be no market in January.

Afternoon in Guildford

December 18, 2017

A cold day, pockets of frost in the grass. Pleasant in the sun, cold and damp in the shade.

Stopped and had a cappuccino off FCB kisok, the excellent Colombian guest coffee from Dark Woods Coffee.

A couple of guitarists playing bottom of the High Street. They were good. No idea who they were. I picked up a couple of their CDs. I passed by later and had a chat. They said invest in high quality sound equipment. Pays itself back in a couple of weeks. I picked up two sets of their CDs. Christmas presents sorted. I recomended they released on bandcamp. I had never seen them before, though they said they have played in Guildford.

A friend had lost her bank card, or maybe been stolen. £150 was also missing. We went to the bank. The card had been used, thus stolen, or lost and found.

If the exact time of transaction is known, and the shop, One Stop in Aldershot, and the shop has CCTV, then should be possible to identify who used her card.

Phyllis Tuckwell in Farnham had sold out of their Christmas cards. In Quarry Street they still had. I wish they would get rid if their rude pig-ignorant shop manager. Always miserable and unpleasant. Always unpleasant loud music blaring out. I rarely visit the shop.

In nearby Oxfam shop, ugly Christmas cards, could not do worse if they tried. No surprise not sold.

I looked at The Village. Most of the units appear to have closed. Reality has finally set in.

Late lunch at Bamboo Shoots. Honey crunch chicken. As always, excellent.

On leaving Bamboo Shoots, it had turned very cold.

I head fo the station.