Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Chef Matt Davies back in the kitchen

Wednesday night saw Chef Matt Davies return to the kitchen (those of you that don’t know his story pick you can find out all about it in the Spring issue)….

Wednesday night saw Chef Matt Davies return to the kitchen (those of you that don’t know his story pick you can find out all about it in the Spring issue).

The venue was The Boat Inn for a special charity dinner, in support of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Hospitality Action. With a menu featuring some of Chef Matt’s favourite dishes including fish ravioli and crab bisque, pork, apple and leek and texture of chocolate it didn’t disappoint to wow the guest.

Both the kitchen and front of house had familiar faces for Matt, with staff he has trained since they first entered the industry and now are talented chef’s in their own right.

The night which was a sell out was a resounding success, raising over a thousand pounds for each of the two chosen charities.

 

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September beers with Candid Beer

Mark and Jess Bamping opened the doors to Candid Beer in Stafford’s Woodings Yard on Good Friday 2019 after years of dreaming, planning and hard work. You can find out…

Mark and Jess Bamping opened the doors to Candid Beer in Stafford’s Woodings Yard on Good Friday 2019 after years of dreaming, planning and hard work. You can find out what Candid’s all about in our interview with Mark in the Autumn 2019 issue of Sauce Magazine, but for here are his top beer recommendations for September…

I recently discovered Lab Culture Brewery in Redditch, and instantly loved the ethos and story that underpins their fantastic beers. ‘Waste with Taste’ is probably one of the more unusual beer descriptors out there, but ultimately that’s what makes Lab Culture a truly unique brewery.

Based on a vertical farm, Lab Culture Brewery uses the excess heat created by the farm to heat and power the brewery. So their green credentials are well up there with some of the better known brewers with an environmentally conscious approach to the brewing process, such as Adnams and, more locally, Freedom. We currently have three of Lab Culture’s beers in stock at Candid Beer, and customer feedback has been really positive. Given their innovative and scientific approach to brewing, many of their beers are named after scientists, with a beer-y twist.

Lab Culture Brewery

Gregor Mendale | Pale Ale | 4.2%

This is the first beer that Lab Culture produced and forms part of their core range. It’s an American style pale ale with a hazy appearance and boasts a super smooth mouthfeel. Although the can doesn’t include details of the hop varieties used, it’s safe to assume it features a typical New World hop bill producing notes of citrus fruits, pineapple, and a hint of pine.

Alefred Nobel | Session Rye IPA | 3.6%

Rye beers are not to everyone’s taste, nor are they everyone’s ‘go to’ style. However, I’d encourage everyone to give rye beers a chance, and particularly this cracker from Lab Culture. It has the characteristic nutty and spicy undertones expected in this style of beer, and this is nicely balanced with fresh grapefruit and pine flavours. As a lower strength beer, it’s the sort of drink you could enjoy over and over.

Speciality Brew No. 002 | Lime & Basil Saison | 4%

As the name suggests, this particular beer falls outside Lab Culture’s core range. Personally, I’m a sucker for a saison – a refreshing Belgian-style farmhouse ale. Typically, saisons are characterised by their high carbonation, dry spicy finish and bready sweetness. This saison certainly features those qualities, and the addition of the lime and basil gives this beer an additional tartness and sweetness that is really refreshing. 

Candid Beer
Units 4 & 5, Woodings Yard, Bailey Street, Stafford, ST17 4BG
candidbeer.co.uk

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Born and bred in Staffordshire

Staffordshire Gin has a bold new brand identity and a website to match. Sauce gets the lowdown from cofounder Jay Davies.  Originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Jay moved to London at 18…

Staffordshire Gin has a bold new brand identity and a website to match. Sauce gets the lowdown from cofounder Jay Davies. 

Originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Jay moved to London at 18 before travelling around the world, largely led by his tastebuds. He returned to Staffordshire after 17 years to raise his children in the area: “We came back and laid down our roots. People always come back.” They set up the Staffordshire Gin Company just over a year ago.

“Claire introduced me to gin about eight years ago, and I surprised myself by liking it,” says Jay. “We’re always travelling to restaurants and pubs around the local area and the country in our camper van. We saw Yorkshire gin, Manchester gin and so on, but no Staffordshire gin. We thought it needed to happen, so we had a go and that’s how it started.”

Jay and his partner Claire – a graphic designer by background – now live in Silverdale, in a property that was built in 1864, which they have sensitively restored. The industrial heritage of the house and town, as well as the social history that surrounds it, were part of the inspiration for setting up the Staffordshire Gin Company.

“When we bought the house, we had a carrier bag full of keys and another two carrier bags full of history about the house, about the various people who’ve owned it since Victorian times. That set us off exploring and researching what Silverdale would have been like in the 19th century when the mines were being worked and industry was booming.”

Lord John Cadman, an engineer who revolutionised mining in the 19th century, was born in their house – hence calling their still Cadman. The locals in the village nicknamed him ‘Our Jack’, providing inspiration for a namesake cocktail: Black Violet gin, creme de cassis, lemonade and an old fashioned cherry on a stick.

A keen cook, Jay has broken many of his own food rules to find blends of botanicals that will sit well together in their collection of gins. They look for deep, woody flavours for the base notes, whereas citrus notes come through in the middle and the top notes are more floral. Ingredients are carefully combined to build a full-bodied flavour profile.

Original
Cassia bark – lemon – bay
“It is classed as London dry because it comes out of the still at 70% ABV, and is not sweetened in any way afterwards, but it has a little more to it than a standard London dry gin. Its incredibly smooth creaminess takes a lot of people by surprise.”

Black Violet
Black cardamom – sloe – violet
“The black cardamom gives a slightly mysterious and smoky flavour. It does have an edge of violet to it, but it goes deeper than parma violet. It appeals to a lot of people who find other violet gins too sweet or sickly.”

Rose Gold
Cinnamon – orange – rose
“She’s coming into her own. After two years of honing and refining the flavour, we are happy with it the way it is now. It’s based on a Old Tom style gin so it is very slightly sweetened after distillation, and it’s infused with hibiscus and saffron to get the colour.”

With the huge range of gins available these days, it can be difficult for new ones to get noticed, both by consumers and trade professionals. Jay and Claire have worked closely with the team at Provoke Marketing & Design – the team behind Sauce magazine – to rebrand Staffordshire Gin for the modern marketplace.

“I think Provoke have done a marvellous job, both in recognising the quality in our product and making it stand out,” comments Jay. “The original design we did ourselves, but we weren’t very experienced in the F&D business and we weren’t aware of all the things you need to take into account. We love the new branding and the new logo. I think the bottles look tidier, neater, bolder and contemporary. They are instantly recognisable now.”

Over the summer, you might spot Claire and Jay out and about at a range of food and drink festivals and events.

“We’re really looking forward to some of the local ones, and actually serving our drinks and chatting to people,” adds Jay. “I’m doing lots of work with the Gatehouse Theatre in Stafford, and also giving a guest lecture on gin and tonic at the University of Wolverhampton.

“By winter we’re hoping to have relocated. We’re going to move our distillery, open it to the public and do all manner of wonderful things in there. That’s all I want to say about that for now. We’ve got a cacao gin coming out in collaboration with Seed Chocolate. The response has been 100% positive, so we’re going to produce that over the summer. Plus we have a new look website and online shop in the pipeline in partnership with Provoke. So there are lots of exciting things happening.”

The new website is now live, and you can buy Staffordshire Gin online there.

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Michelin Dinner: John Williams & Rob Palmer at World of Wedgwood

Chefs John Williams MBE and Rob Palmer will be in Stoke-on-Trent this autumn for the Michelin Dinner 2019, raising money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice. Two fantastic Michelin starred chefs…

Chefs John Williams MBE and Rob Palmer will be in Stoke-on-Trent this autumn for the Michelin Dinner 2019, raising money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

Two fantastic Michelin starred chefs will prepare a 5 course tasting menu for 150 lucky guests in the stunning World of Wedgwood Tea Room at Barlaston on Monday 21 October. Coordinated by Michelin, whose UK headquarters are nearby on Campbell Road, the dinner is a fundraiser on behalf of Michelin employees’ chosen charity of the year.

Every pound raised will help Dougie Mac to continue providing priceless end of life care, free of charge, to people across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

Starting at 6.30pm, this special event gives Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire foodies the chance to enjoy a night celebrating exceptional food as well as the power of local businesses to work together to do good.

In the kitchen on 21 October will be two Michelin-starred chefs and their brigades. John Williams MBE has been executive chef at The Ritz London for the last 15 years, winning numerous industry accolades, and readers may recognise him from the TV documentary Inside the Ritz Hotel. Also soon to be seen on Channel 4’s Great Hotel Escape is Hampton Manor, where head chef Rob Palmer won his first Michelin star in 2016 at Peel’s Restaurant.

There will be some phenomenal prizes up for grabs in a charity auction on the evening too, including some practically priceless foodie experiences.

Last year, the first dinner raised £50,000 for the Donna Louise Trust. Stoke-on-Trent born chefs Niall Keating and Simon Hulstone treated diners to dishes including duck liver parfait, smoked duck and pickled cauliflower with windfall apple purée, and beef fillet with fermented lettuces, horseradish and dill.

Stoke-on-Trent foodies won’t want to miss out on this unique event. A few tickets are still available at the time of writing. At £175 per person they include a welcome drink on arrival, 5 course tasting menu and accompanying wine flight.

Go to the Dougie Mac website to book.

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Meynell Ingram Arms welcomes new executive chef

Matthew McKinley has joined the team at The Meynell Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross as Executive Chef. The rural Staffordshire pub and restaurant reopened after extensive refurbishment in May –…

Matthew McKinley has joined the team at The Meynell Ingram Arms at Hoar Cross as Executive Chef. The rural Staffordshire pub and restaurant reopened after extensive refurbishment in May – read our review here if you haven’t already.   

Matthew began his career in some of Northern Ireland’s finest restaurants, cutting his teeth with Northern Ireland’s first Michelin starred chef, Paul Rankin, at Paul’s signature restaurant Roscoff.  He later continued to develop his skills at Mourne Seafood Bar in Belfast.

After spending time cooking in Thailand, Matthew lived in Australia for four years, developing his own style and refining his technique. He returned to Northern Ireland in 2016, where he worked as Head Chef at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, which was awarded Northern Ireland’s AA Hotel of the Year 2017 during his time there. He recently moved to the Midlands to be with his fiancé.

“I’m delighted to have Matthew joining us; his wealth of experience in leading culinary environments will be a fabulous asset for The Meynell,” said Berkeley Inns’ Managing Director Howard Thacker.

“Customers are becoming constantly more discerning and demanding of authenticity. ‘World’ food is increasingly popular, and our menus feature dishes originating from all points of the globe.

“Matthew’s worldwide experience will facilitate our ability to deliver the authenticity required within these dishes.

“I’m really excited to see Matthew developing The Meynell menu over the coming months and hope and expect our customers will be delighted with the results.”

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Sunday Homework Sessions launch at The Boat Inn

On Sunday 1 September, Liam Dillon and the team at The Boat Inn will launch an innovative new concept – Sunday Homework Sessions – where the kitchen team will be…

On Sunday 1 September, Liam Dillon and the team at The Boat Inn will launch an innovative new concept – Sunday Homework Sessions – where the kitchen team will be creating new dishes based around a different ingredient each weekend. 

A select number of guests will play the role of critics while taking part in a dining experience quite out of the ordinary. The chefs’ original dishes and flavour combinations may or may not make it onto the menu, depending on your feedback.

Every Sunday, a small number of guests will be invited to dine at the chef’s table in order to help the kitchen team with their ‘homework’, tasting new flavours and plates, and giving their honest feedback on the different dishes served.

Developing dishes without constraints or limitations is something many chefs relish the chance to do. The Sunday Homework Sessions will give them the opportunity to do just that. Each chef in the team will be challenged to dig deep and channel their inner creativity, playing with fresh ingredients in order to produce plates of food that showcase their abilities. Only those that meet the diners’ critical approval will have the chance to win a coveted place on one of The Boat’s menus.

Tickets for the Sunday Homework Sessions are just £15 each and can be purchased through their website. Starting at 6pm, guests will be treated to a number of small plates throughout the evening, and each asked for their thoughts whilst trying a myriad of different combinations.

The first Sunday Homework Session will be on Sunday 1 September. Follow The Boat Inn on Instagram to see the focus ingredient revealed.

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Little Seeds 2.0 is coming soon

Popular Stone restaurant Little Seeds will shut its doors for a week at the end of August as the eatery receives a makeover to give it a fresh new look….

Popular Stone restaurant Little Seeds will shut its doors for a week at the end of August as the eatery receives a makeover to give it a fresh new look.

After opening its doors in June 2016, the restaurant has flourished in a town which is quickly becoming known as the foodie capital of Staffordshire. The team recently celebrated their third anniversary and are now gearing up to create a new dining environment to better reflect their ever evolving menu and ethos of using the best seasonal produce in the UK.

Owners Sophie and Jake describe the changes as ‘Little Seeds 2.0’. They hope to take the popular restaurant to a new level, developing an experience that all their customers can enjoy.

Alongside the fresh new look, they will be launching a new menu – ‘A Taste of Little Seeds’ – that’s been designed to provide guests with a fresh dining experience and the chance to try more of what Little Seeds can offer. The Taste menu will be running alongside their current à la carte menu on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The restaurant will be closed from Monday 26 August until Tuesday 3 September for the refresh. In the meantime, you can still view the summer menus and book your table via the Little Seeds website.

You can also follow @littleseedsstone on Instagram and Facebook to stay up-to-date with the team and news of the refurb.

Little Seeds strawberry trifle

Photos: Matthew Owen Photography

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Strong Staffordshire showing in Great Taste Awards 2019

No fewer than 40 food and drink products from Staffordshire companies made the list of winners in this year’s Great Taste Awards. The Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild…

No fewer than 40 food and drink products from Staffordshire companies made the list of winners in this year’s Great Taste Awards.

The Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink. More than 500 judges, including food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs, buyers, retailers and producers as well as specially trained food writers, blind-taste each of the entries in teams of three or four.

The one star award is for products judged to have fantastic flavour. Two stars mean the judges dubbed it above and beyond delicious, while the three star award means the product was described as ‘extraordinarily tasty’.

Out of 12,772 products sent in from more than 100 countries, 40 from the county received awards this year. Staffordshire producers featured range from long-established businesses like Packington Free Range and Cottage Delight (both with more than five products on the list of winners) to relative newcomers like Sead Foods, who achieved two stars for their sesame butter, and Trotting Potter Salts, whose pastis salt was also awarded two stars.

The Pie Life, based in Tean, won five awards for their luxury pies, including two stars for the roast lamb and mint. Suncream Dairies picked up five awards for various flavours of their Gelato Lusso range, while Mr Trotter, Jeyel’s Foods, Midland Snacks, Just Crisps, Zago and Judy’s House Foods were also recognised by the judges. 

Among independents previously featured in Sauce magazine, Seed Chocolate and The Good Life Meat Company also received accolades. Seed’s 75% Peruvian Yapatera dark chocolate won two stars, as did The Good Life Meat Company’s Organic Longhorn Bresaola.

Other winners include street food favourites The English Indian, for their mint and chilli mushy peas, and Stone-based Lee Walker Family Butchers, for their champion pork pie. Nelson’s Timur Gin was one of only three Staffordshire products to walk away with the coveted three stars. 

The Great Taste Awards 2019 will conclude on Sunday 1 September, when the Great Taste Golden Fork trophy winners for each region will be revealed, with final applause reserved for the Great Taste Supreme Champion 2019. 

You can view a list of all the winners on the Great Taste website.

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July beers with Brews of the World

Chris McCormack, co-owner of Brews of the World bottle shop and bar in Burton-on-Trent, is back with some tasty recommendations for July. If you’re stuck for ideas for something new…

Chris McCormack, co-owner of Brews of the World bottle shop and bar in Burton-on-Trent, is back with some tasty recommendations for July. If you’re stuck for ideas for something new to try after a day out on the road or with that last-minute barbecue, head to see Chris and Robin on Station Street and look out for these…

Brouwerij De Brabandere Kwaremont Belgian Pale, 6.6%

Kwaremont Pale Ale

Belgium, where the Tour de France began this year, is regarded by many as the spiritual home of both beer and cycling, especially in Flanders where the two often go hand-in-hand.  And there can be no more appropriate beverage to enjoy while watching la grande boucle this July than the cycling beer par excellence, Kwaremont pale ale.

Deep blond, malty, sweet and refreshing after a long, hot day in the saddle, this beer is perfect for the cycling aficionado in your life. Named after the Oude Kwaremont, the famous cobbled road near Oudenaarde (also known as the ‘calf biter’), its ABV at 6.6% matches the average gradient of this hill which has featured in so many classic bike races in that country over the years.

Ideal food pairings: cheese (if you can find them, Belgian goats’ cheeses such as Chevrin or Cabriolait are perfect) or paté on crackers, casseroles.


Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Wheat Beer Mix, 2.5% 

Schoefferhofer Grapefruit WeissenProbably the most refreshing drink you will enjoy this summer. Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is a half-and-half blend of their wheat beer with a grapefruit-based juice drink. Combining the classic flavours of banana, cloves and spices that you expect from a Bavarian Weiss with the tart, citrusy sweetness of grapefruit, it is incredibly light and gently sparkling.

At just 2.5% ABV it is perfect for a leisurely brunch, a barbecue or just relaxing in the garden on those all too rare hot, sunny days. It can also be incorporated into beer cocktails – anyone for a grapefruit beer bellini? Check out the Schöfferhofer website for further inspiration.

Ideal food pairings: barbecued food, smoked salmon, apple tarts or turnovers.


Tynt Meadow English Trappist Ale, 7.4%

There are only fourteen official Trappist breweries – where the brewing process is entirely undertaken by monks or nuns, within the confines of an abbey – worldwide, and now we have one on the doorstep in neighbouring Leicestershire.

The monks of Mount Saint Bernard Abbey, near Coalville, found that there was no money any more in dairy farming, so they sold their herd and took up brewing instead. Their new offering is in demand and the Abbey, where the monks also make pottery and honey, only produces enough of it to cover their expenses and charitable commitments in accordance with the Trappist ethos.

Tynt Meadow is a strong, dark brown ale, similar to a Belgian Dubbel in appearance and taste, yet unmistakably English. Aromas of liquorice, dark chocolate and rich fruit lead to notes of vine fruit, soft brown sugar, pepper and figs. Finally, smooth, warming alcohol leaves a warm and dry finish on the palate. 

Ideal food pairings: strong cheese, fruit cake, dark chocolate desserts.

Brews of the World
159 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent, DE14 1BN
facebook.com/BOTWBurton/

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Have a Just Perfect evening at BEAR Stone

If you’re a fan of fizz, get yourself down to BEAR on Stone High Street this summer for an evening with an expert. BEAR have teamed up with Julia from…

If you’re a fan of fizz, get yourself down to BEAR on Stone High Street this summer for an evening with an expert.

BEAR have teamed up with Julia from Just Perfect Wines – the prosecco and sparkling wine specialists – to host their first prosecco tasting experience on Friday 9 August, starting at 7pm and running until around 9.30-10pm.

Julia, who owns Just Perfect Wines and featured in the Autumn/Winter 2018 edition of Sauce magazine, is extremely knowledgeable and keen to share her passion for prosecco and sparkling wines. She’ll be running the evening from the cosy mezzanine in BEAR’s Stone store.

Guests will receive a glass of bubbles on arrival, and then have time to settle into the mezzanine space before tasting a series of five different proseccos. Julia will talk through the origins of each and the processes that are involved in making them. Each wine will be carefully paired with a menu of special canapés made in-house by BEAR’s kitchen team.

Bottles of all the sparkling wines sampled on the evening will also be available to buy.

Tickets are priced at £25 per person and you can book your place via Eventbrite today.

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September beers with Candid Beer

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