Archive for the ‘Sheffield’ Category

Reclaim the Streets

May 16, 2020

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

The first businesses to reopen coffee shops, tables outside, social distancing maintained,  dwell time relatively short.

To achieve this, coffee shops need to be able to spread out into the streets, out into the squares, the norm in Athens, indeed the norm across Europe, when one coffee shop in Lincoln requested this they received an emphatic no from Lincolnshire County Council, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Kick starting the local economy, improving the ambience, worthless council jobsworths don’t give a damn.

Our High Streets were dying before the covid-19 pandemic. The loss of Big Business, corporate chains, from the High Street is no great loss, it was destroying the High Street. If we are to recover it will be through small local independent businesses.  That is why we must allow indie coffee shops, and only indie coffee shops not chains, next restaurants, to expand into the streets. Not pubs and bars as we do not want drunks on the streets.

Local businesses spreading into public space helps everyone, safeguarding staff and clientele through social distancing, improves the ambience of the locality, especially if No Smoking, and for many local businesses it will mean life or death, the difference whether they survive or not.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has recognised people are going to be reluctant to use public transport  therefore we have to encourage walking and cycling if we do not wish traffic levels to rise. But if wishes to improve cycling and walking, must also make our city centres more attractive by encouraging local councils to facilitate indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread out into our streets.

Deliveries to the pedestrianised areas,  park on the periphery and deliver by handcart or trolley.

Sheffield, an unusual city in that prior to the covid-19 pandemic a city on the up, a marked contrast to most decaying cities. And why? Independent businesses everywhere.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme recently featured Sheffield, the focus on how indie food businesses were bringing life back to Sheffield. With the exception of Marmadukes I would not agree with their choice of examples, but the gist yes. I could list several examples, South Street Kitchen, Marmadukes, Steam YardSheffield Cheese Masters, Bullion bean to bar craft chocolate, ShuJu Taiwanese pop-up kitchen at Union St.

Mention also needs to be made of Now Then, an indie magazine that features local culture and indie businesses, interesting articles and art, well worth seeking out.

Through reclaiming the streets, we are operating at the interface between business, environment and society, a component part of Doughnut Economics, where the local economy is designed to be regenerative and distributive, with people and the environment at its heart.  We kick cars out of our town centres, we plant trees, we improve the ambience, we create a space where local businesses and communities can thrive, breathe clean air, or simply relax with a  good coffee, read a book, sit and watch the world go by.

One of my favourite places to sit and relax, Little Tree, a bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop, not far from The Acropolis.

In Exarchia, an anarchist district of Athens, they set up road blocks, boxes with plants,  created traffic free zones. The city authorities also act, they are extending the pedestrianised areas around The Acropolis.

Lunch at Marmadukes

February 7, 2020

Most towns have two or three places worth eating.

For Sheffield, South Street Kitchen,  ShuJu Kitchen Taiwanese pop up kitchen at Union St and Marmadukes opposite Sheffield Cathedral.

South Street Kitchen coffee, cakes and vegetarian food at the foot of the Park Hill Flats, cross the tram lines out the back of Sheffield Railway Station and follow the path leading up the slope. Stunning views over Sheffield city centre.

Union St, not far from Winter Garden, a pop up kitchen, each day different. For ShuJu Kitchen advisable to check as may otherwise be disappointed.

Marmadukes, old Georgian town house opposite Sheffield Cathedral, excellent lunch and coffee.

Union St no Shuju Kitchen, therefore Marmadukes it was, head straight down the street, past Sheffield Town Hall, turn into side street Norfolk Row where Marmadukes is located in a beautiful old Georgian town house opposite Sheffield Cathedral.

Excellent burger and chips. Very filling. I struggled to finish.

Followed by an excellent cappuccino.

Marmadukes have recently opened a second coffee shop in Cambridge Street (near John Lewis).

Marmadukes is featured in Coffee Shop North.  Available to browse but not to buy.

Saw Grinders Union

February 6, 2020

Saw Grinders Union a coffee shop and bar located in Globe Works on Kelham Island.

A few minutes walk from Cutlery Works, if know the way.

Down a muddy alley running alongside the River Don, twists and turns down the deserted cobbled backstreets of Kelham Island.

On offer Extract Coffee. I have never been impressed with Extract, I chose one of the guest coffees, an espresso roast from Workshop as a cappuccino. The other guest coffee was Grumpy Mule.

My cappuccino not great somewhat weak and insipid.

Saw Grinders Union only been open a few months, still finding their way.

Knowledgeable barista, knew her coffee and coffee shops. Previously had worked in Australia and Upshot Coffee.

She asked of my favourite coffee shops in Sheffield. Marmadukes and Steam Yard, also Upshot Coffee.

I suggested she visit Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle in Lincoln,  The Perky Peacock and Kiosk in York.  I could have added Cartwheel Coffee, Outpost Coffee and The Specialty Coffee Shop in Nottingham.

She then kindly walked outside with me and pointed me the way to catch the tram back into the city centre and to the train station.

Bullion bean to bar craft chocolate

February 6, 2020

What was I expecting? Coffee shop, large glass windows, beyond busy making chocolate?

I had trekked out from Sheffield city centre to Kelham Island, a desolate area of abandoned Victorian buildings, or at least caught a bus, choice of No 7 or No 8, driver not very helpful, had passed by where I needed to alight, with the eventual help of a lady at a flea market in one of the abandoned buildings, found Cutlery Works, in the far corner, a dim and dingy corner, Bullion, no one around, a sign instructing ding a bell. I decided to take a wander around the two floors of Cutlery Works, claimed to be the largest food hall in the North.

After a not very good coffee from Foundry Coffee Roasters, I returned to find now someone around.

A little crowd-funded coffee shop, not much larger than a kiosk, a seating area, and beyond, where bullion bean-to bar chocolate made.

I had encountered Bullion at Steam Yard, I was now at their chocolate making facility.

Three bars of chocolate, No 1, No 2, No 3. wrapped to look like bars of gold.

I thought Bullion, gold bars, expensive. No, though could be, cacao beans were used by the Mayans as currency, such did they value chocolate, which they consumed, not as bars or as chocolate, a hot spicy drink for their elite. Gold bars as currency.

Christopher Columbus encountered cacao beans on his fourth voyage, where he found to be used as currency.

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, a seventeenth century writer and historian, gave an account of what the cacao beans would buy among the Nicaroa people.

  • one rabbit – ten beans
  • eight pieces of a local fruit munoncapot – four beans
  • the company of a lady – ten beans
  • a slave – one hundred beans

When Spanish Conquistadors raided closely guarded treasure houses they found not gold, sacks of cacao beans.

Chocolate was a gift from the gods. Mesoamerican cultures transformed cacao beans into a mystical drink that was a portal to other worlds and dimensions.

Chocolate maker Max introduced himself. Offered samples of No 2 and No 3 to try and apologised no No 1.

Taste was that of fruits, not added flavourings  God forbid, the natural favours notes of chocolate, each different.

I would have had a coffee, but no barista. I regretted my coffee at Foundry Coffee Roasters, as Bullion were sourcing top quality coffee from Caravan.

On offer various chocolate themed cakes.

I was looking forward to a cookie, but had sold out.

Currently experimenting with coffee infused chocolate. If chocolate good but not good enough to stand on its own merits.

The coffee beans ground very fine in an EK43 coffee grinder, then ground again with the chocolate.

I tasted. It changed the flavour profile of the chocolate, though not noticeable coffee.

Coffee grounds have their uses, add to compost heaps, add to cakes. I suggested try adding coffee grounds. Max was not sure due to water content.

I also suggested embed coffee beans on the top of the bar of chocolate to give a crunch and interesting texture when biting into the bar.

Another possibility chocolate coated coffee beans.

Food for thought.

Bean-to-bar chocolate is following in the footsteps of coffee. Direct trade, working with growers, fairer prices for quality, not the Fair Trade scam, transparency and traceability, care with fermentation to bring out the intrinsic flavours, roast profile to safeguard the intrinsic flavours.

I came away with a beautiful presentation box, into which exactly fitted three bars of chocolate and a bookmark with information on the chocolates. No number 1, but I was given a small sampler bar as recompense. I could have popped to Steam Yard but no time. Luckily I found I had No 1 from a recent visit to Steam Yard.

On the bookmark, details of the different chocolates.

There are as many wines as people, as many coffees as people, as many cacao as people.

We are used to seeing the name of the chateau or vineyard the year on a wine label. We are seeing the same with specialty coffee, starting to see with bean-to bar chocolate, the name of the farm, the grower, the variety, how processed, altitude, region.

Coffee has more flavour notes than red wine, chocolate more than coffee.

In the early 18th century,  in his Conversations with Eckermann,  Goethe said: ‘One cannot develop taste from what is of average quality but only from the very best’.

Taste is dictated by culture, some may think Cadbury’s make chocolate, to eat at McDonald’s is haute cuisine or that tax-dodging Starbucks serves coffee.

Paulo Coelho discusses with reference to fashion in The Winner Stands Alone, we all wish to belong to a tribe, dress in the uniform of the tribe, all look alike.

In Clear Bright Future, Paul Mason contrasts the diktat of  fashinistas with the individuals of the 1960s who led not followed.

Bourdieu calls this phenomena habitus, the influence upon us of our surrounding culture.

When the beans are roasted, be coffee or cacao, the roast profile is determined by the desire to bring out the intrinsic flavours of the beans. Which in turn are determined by the grower, the terroir.

The merit of a bar of chocolate is no more determined by how bitter, how dark, the percentage of cocoa mass,  than the merit of a bottle wine the alcohol content or a cup of coffee how bitter or strong.

The role of the barista source the best beans to deliver an excellent cup of coffee, that of the bean-to-bar chocolate maker source the best beans to deliver an exquisite bar of chocolate, no additives, no emulsifiers, only cocoa mass, cocoa butter sugar and maybe a little vanilla.

If do not wish to trek out to Kelham Island, then visit Steam Yard, excellent coffee and not only Bullion on sale but also Bare Bones.

Nearby Tamper Westfield Terrace on my last visit also had on sale Bullion, though I do not recall the complete range.

Both coffee shops serve excellent coffee.

Bullion is featured in From Bean to Bar, a whimsical tour of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Great Britain.

Foundry Coffee Roasters

February 6, 2020

Wandering around Cutlery Works at Kelham Island I stopped and had a coffee at Foundry Coffee Roasters to see what their coffee was like.

Two bored looking people behind a long counter,  otherwise engaged on either laptop or smart phone.

I ordered a cappuccino. It was not good.

Cutlery Works

February 6, 2020

Cutlery Works, a bus ride away from Sheffield city centre on Kelham Island, occupies two floors, claims to be the largest food hall in the North. Whether claim true or not I do not know.

Imagine the worst street food collected together in one building? OK, not that bad but get my drift. At least no hot dogs, kebabs or German sausages. Pies, a couple of bars, Vietnamese, a coffee roastery, pizza and a chocolate maker.

It was all but deserted as I had a wander around, but the smell of cooking lingered, not pleasant and I hate to think what it is like when busy and all the stalls cooking.

I had eaten earlier at Marmadukes and was pleased that I had from the choice on offer.

No atmosphere, lacking in ambience. Made worse by widescreen TV screens dotted around.

I tried a coffee from Foundry Coffee Roasters. It was not great, not worth trekking out from Sheffield city centre for.

Only business worth making a trip out from Sheffield city centre, Bullion bean to bar artisan craft chocolate.

Not acceptable, card only, do not take cash. This is discrimination. Hands money to banks, enables tracking, more data collected. Not the choice of the individual businesses. Imposed on the businesses by the management of Cutlery Works. They collect rent as a cut from turnover, hence card payment only to enable the management to keep track of all the businesses. This should be seen for what it is, sharp businesses practice.

Nor acceptable wifi that not only is not secure, is a crude scam to obtain and abuse personal data. Visitors who use the wifi will then start receiving junk e-mail.

There are better places to eat in Sheffield city centre, South Street Kitchen, ShuJu Kitchen pop up Taiwanese kitchen at Union St, Marmadukes.

Apart from Bullion, Cutlery Works not worth a trip to Kelham Island.

Cold early February day in Sheffield

February 6, 2020

Frost in the morning, frost on ponds en route.

In the sun, Sheffield crisp and cold but not too cold.

But, lovely and sunny, and Sheffield quite pleasant in the sun.

Northern Fail new trains badly designed.  Only two-coaches when require at least three-coach train. !3A power point hidden beneath seat, have to be a contortionist to access. No usb power points. Pillars obscure views out of the windows. Deafened by announcements. Widescreen screen in face for route announcements. Destination board obscures view out of the windows. Why not built in to coachwork as LNER Azuma trains? But at least the new trains have wifi. But why encourage the taking and posting of selfies?

East Midland Rail refusing to accept cheques from end of February.

Stunning view of power station on River Trent at Gainsborough.

Stopped at Motore Cafe coffee kiosk for a chat, but no time for a coffee.

Looked in Union St via a different route. No Now Then, no Taiwanese lunch.

Today, falafel, but what I saw did not look appetising.

I walked to Union St a different way, but no direct way. Path leading up from Sheffield Station ends at a  busy main road. Usually I walk via the Winter Garden.

To Marmadukes, past Town Hall and Peace Garden, then side street, Sheffield Cathedral one side, Mamadukes the other side.

To Marmadukes where both food and coffee always excellent.

A good selection of guest coffee on sale.

Burger for lunch, no sauce or relish. Nothing wrong with, but the burger stands on its own merits.

Followed by excellent cappuccino.

Marmadukes is always very busy. They have now opened at a second location near John Lewis but no time to check it out.

Hop on a bus to Kelham Island. Luckily two pulled in as I got to the bus stop. No 7 and No 8 go to Kelham Island.

I told the bus driver where I wished to be. He seemed clueless, and I got off further down the road.

I asked of a Flea Market the way.  And a man en route. Around the corner.

Could I find Cutlery Works? No. I was stood outside.

Cutlery Works claims to be the biggest food hall in the North. Whether true I do not know.

I was after Bullion bean to bar chocolate.

I had a wander around, two floors. Worst street food in one location. OK not that bad, no kebabs, no German assuages, nevertheless not good and the smell from all the food stalls all pervasive and not pleasant. The place was nigh on deserted. I hate to think what it is like when all the food outlets cooking.

I had thought of saving time, head to Kelham Island to eat. I was pleased I did not, and ate first at Marmadukes.

Zero atmosphere. Widescreen TVs everywhere did nothing to improve the ambience, with offers of sport.

Refusal to accept cash, credit card only, discriminatory and not acceptable. Neither acceptable use of wifi a crude scam to harvest personal data to then abuse.

I stopped and had a coffee at Foundry Coffee Roasters. Two bored looking people behind a long counter,  otherwise engaged on either laptop or smart phone.

I ordered a cappuccino. It was not good.

Back downstairs to Bullion. Long and interesting chat with Max.

I wanted Bullion 1 2 and 3. Only No 2 and No 3, apologies for no No 1.

Nearby, I would have liked to have visited Sheffield Cheese Masters, but sadly no time.

Whilst in the vicinity,  I decided to try and find Saw Grinders Union. I headed of in the wrong direction, retraced my steps, turned out I was heading in the right direction but had failed to turn down a very narrow muddy alley running alongside the River Don. Looking into the river, trees which must have come down in the recent floods.

Alley eventually turned into a street, twists and turns, cobbled streets, old derelict Victorian buildings.

Finally I fond Globe Works which house Saw Grinders Union.

No idea the name, I should have asked.

A bar and a coffee shop.

Helpful barista who knew her stuff. But, not a great choice of coffee roasteries on offer, Extract, Grumpy Mule and Workshop.

My cappuccino not great.

Helpful young lady then walked out with me and pointed out where I could catch the tram back into the town centre and hopefully train station.

By now I am panicking, already missed one train, would I make the next one?

Helpful guy at tram stop advised which tram to catch. Two due into the city centre, the second, only a couple of minute apart, went to railway station.

En route we had interesting conversation about failing public transport system and the need for not only investment, cancellation of HS2 gravy train, but far better integration of bus, train and tram. He told me of how bad public transport in Manchester.

For example, in Sheffield can use bus pass on tram, in Nottingham cannot. In Manchester train service dreadful, within Manchester and across country east west, no common fare structure across the different bus companies.

The same is true in Lincoln and Lincolnshire. With bus pass choice of PC Coaches or Stage Coach, but if purchase a ticket, can not be used on the different buses.

Arrived at train station with ten minutes to spare.

Platform not too crowded, but ten minutes later packed. All ready to jam onto two-coach train. They must have packed onto the other coach as on my coach not packed in like sardines, though still standing room only. At Worksop train empties and can get a seat.

After 1900, Lincoln Central Bus Station deserted. Nearly all bays bar a couple, no more buses for the day. The overhead screen shows more trains than buses.

Only 2C.

Second day of New Year in Sheffield

January 3, 2020

As regular as clockwork, which is more than can be said of our rail network, rail fares increased on Thursday by 2.7%.

Equally as regular as clockwork, rail companies justify rail fare increase claiming improvement in service.

Strange how none of us notice this improvement in service.

I wait and wait and wait at ticket office to buy my return ticket to Sheffield. Increase in rail fares but same piss-poor service.

New Northern Fail train to Sheffield. New but still only two coaches on a route that requires at least three coaches.

Poor design, seats fail to align with windows, partial obstruction of windows by external indicators, large TV screen in your face, deafened each time an announcement. Yes wifi, yes 13A power socket. But power socket hidden beneath the seats and have to be a contortionist to access, and no usb power point on the 13A socket.

Arrive at Sheffield to be met by an army of ticket collectors. This is how they treat rail passengers, as criminals. The guard walks up and down the train after departing each station, checking and selling tickets.

Alighted from train, very very cold.

Walking up from Sheffield Station, no Motore Coffee kiosk. Not that I could stop as heading straight to Union St via Winter Garden for a Taiwanese lunch.

I was not sure if Union St open or if Taiwanese food, but luckily yes to both, and I had had a message in the morning from ShuJu Kitchen confirming would be there serving food.

As always excellent food. I sampled a bit of almost everything. As always excellent and generous portion size. The downside a few of the dishes cold or almost cold. This needs to be addressed. Also they need to serve on hot plates, have the ability to warm the plates.

One reason for visit to Sheffield beginning of the month, latest issue of Now Then. To my surprise a pile of Now Then December 2019 arrives.

I later learn, no Now Then January 2020. The next issue will be Now Then February 2020.

Now Then is like gold dust. Lucky if find. It puts to shame the glossy freebies found in other towns.

From Union St through Winter Garden to Millennium Gallery for an exhibition Now is The time. I was looking forward to it. A total waste of time.

To Marmadukes. Packed, very busy. Who I wished to see not there, indeed I did not recognise any of the staff.

Excellent cappuccino.

To Steam Yard.

I passed Stone the Crows, an indie businesses forced to close by business rates too high. A story that could be told across the country. A total failure of the local council to engage. The same local council that destroyed tens of thousands of trees. Is this why Labour lost the General Election. One party states, Labour councils with arrogant contempt for local people, local businesses? The same story in Lincoln. What is odd, Stone the Crows paying higher rates than comparable businesses which are corporate chains. Why? Answers please Sheffield City Council.

Steam Yard as with Marmadukes, packed, very busy. Leaving Marmadukes early meant more time at Steam Yard. Last few visits, no time to stop.

I noticed as last visit, not only Bullion bean-to-bar craft chocolate, added to their range Bare Bones bean-to-bar chocolate.

Chocolate is following in the footsteps of speciality coffee, source single origin, care taken throughout the process. Not to be confused with overpriced chocolate from Hotel Chocolat or too many chocolates that are simply buying in chocolate and moulding it.

A pile of Now Then on the windowsill next to where I was sitting.

Interesting conversation with one of the baristas. He had been to the coffee farm in Panama owned by Ninety Plus. They own two farms, one in Panama the other in Ethiopia.

Pass by a butcher cum fishmonger in Division Street. Peeled prawns loose, but prawns in their shells shells prepacked on a polystyrene tray shrink wrapped in plastic.

To Sheffield Station with time to spare.

Train running late. Overcrowded standing room only clapped out Northern Fail train of only two coaches. Last part of journey a gang of pre-teen and early teen girls running amok on the train. They should not have been out on their own, let alone travelling on a train on their own.

Alighting from the train, positively balmy compared with Sheffield.

Note: Northern Fail to be stripped of their rail franchise.

Cold December day in Sheffield

December 4, 2019

Train to Sheffield from Lincoln used to stop everywhere after Worksop.

During the summer it did not after Worksop or at least not everywhere, but no great advantage as would arrive at Sheffield Station several minutes early to sit outside the station for several minutes then arrive late.

Today, stopped at every single station after Worksop, then dropped to walking speed, held at signals. Finally pulled into Sheffield Station almost half an hour late.

Noticeably colder in Sheffield.

No time to stop at Motore Cafe other than for a brief chat.

Quick look in Sheffield BID, nowt of interest.

En route walked through Millennium Gallery and Winter Garden. In the Millennium Gallery an exhibition on time. Maybe for a future visit.

The unreliability of the Taiwanese pop up kitchen at Union St beggars belief. Once again not there. Changed from Wednesday to Monday. Is this temporary or permanent? I should have asked.

At least managed ed to pick up a copy of Now Then, which tends to be nigh impossible to find but well worth finding.

Why does every town centre dump a few wooden sheds in the town centre selling tat and junk food and call it a Christmas market?

Sheffield no exception, the junk food the stench turns stomach over as pass by. An example poor quality cheese.

To Marmadukes for lunch.

Excellent burger and chips, but the burger spoilt by relish side and the chips salty. Why? Excellent ground beef. Nothing wrong with the relish but let the ground beef speak for itself.

As always excellent coffee.

Also tried guest coffee from Tarasso as V60. It too excellent.

I just had, only just, time to walk to Steam Yard, grab a coffee, and dash back down to the station.

Their selection of bean to bar craft chocolate has been extended, previously only Bullion, now also Bare Bones.

No time to finish my cappuccino, reluctantly, pour into a takeaway cup.

Arrive Station with several minutes to spare.

My cappuccino now lukewarm. Rather than pour away, I wander back out of the station, hand to homeless guy. Apologise only luke warm. He tahnnks me

Many trains running late, including mine.

I flip through Now Then December issue during train journey.

I find an advertisement for Union St. It shows Taiwanese pop up kitchen as Wednesday.

Samsung A3 2016 would die half way through a day out, hence the need for a power bank.

Samsung A3 2017 which I picked up in Athens died as I reached the station. A whole day, though not used as much as would normally on a day out, fewer photos taken, less use of internet. I would, if taking proper note, charge when low when stop for a coffee.

The week before, Lifesaver 5,000 mAh power bank from a  kiosk at Waterloo Station, claimed two charges of mobile phone. Two hours ten minutes to charge phone, two lights lit down from five, assuming power bank fully charged when picked up the week before from Waterloo Station. For comparison, two hours when charged from a mains charger.  Lifesaver 2A output, usb mains charger 1A output.

Lunch and cappuccino at South Street Kitchen

September 17, 2019

I was going to have lunch at Marmadukes, but decided to have lunch at South Street Kitchen.

Very cold walking up the slope to Park Hill Flats where South Street Kitchen nestles at the foot of the flats.

Not very warm inside South Street Kitchen where for some persevere reason the door was propped open.

I ordered falafel wrap. I also added a salad as side dish.

Falafel wrap was excellent, the salad less so. Cauliflower cooked then left to go cold. I would have preferred raw cauliflower, than soggy cold cauliflower.

I ordered a cappuccino. A mistake. No better than last visit, weak and insipid.

Problem is two fold, lack of skill of barista and using poor quality Dark Woods espresso blend. The Great Taste award meaningless. Dark Woods roast excellent single origin coffee, but not espresso blends.

It is then to Marmadukes where I was guaranteed an excellent coffee.

South Street Kitchen is featured in Vegan North.

 

— to b e continued —