Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Free school meals during half term in Staffordshire

Across the county, charities, pubs, restaurants, cafés and many more organisations are all pulling together to help families in crisis this half term. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted vast…

Across the county, charities, pubs, restaurants, cafés and many more organisations are all pulling together to help families in crisis this half term.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted vast swathes of the population mentally, financially and physically, but the most vulnerable people in our communities face more of a struggle than ever to keep food on the table for their children. Now that school is out for October half term, families who usually rely on free school meals to make sure their children don’t go hungry during school hours are left to their own devices, which is a monumental difficulty for those who have lost all or some of their income due to COVID-19.

We believe that no child should go hungry and no family should struggle to feed their children when their usual line of support is temporarily halted.

Below is a directory of generous Staffordshire businesses who are offering free school meals or other forms of assistance to children and families during half term.

Trentham Bakehouse, Trentham
NØRTH Kitchen + Bar, Hanley
Klay Pizzeria & Bar, Hanley
The Glost House, Longton
The Rabbit Hole Tea Room, Hanley
The White Hart Tearoom & B&B, Leek
Cup A Cha, Stafford
Kaffeine of Penkridge, Stafford
55 Bar, Lichfield
Ultimate Vegan Cafe, Lichfield
The Olde House Tearooms, Kinver
Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID, Stoke-on-Trent
24 Market Street, Lichfield
Zest, Hanley

In addition, plenty of Staffordshire businesses and charities are urgently appealing for the support of the public. The Slamwich Club have launched ‘The Social Slam’ scheme to help support children and families of Stoke-on-Trent with meals during hard times – you can read about their initiative and donate by clicking here.

The Corner have teamed up with The Robin Hood to make 120 packed lunches to send to Men Unite, which will be distributed to their local food bank. Find out more here.

Affordable Food Stoke are accepting food donations which will directly make their way to those who need it this half term. To donate and find out more, click here.

If you think you can help vulnerable families this half term, please head over to the Alice Charity website to donate. The Alice Charity are a fantastic charity with the sole purpose of helping vulnerable families in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

If we have missed anybody from the list, please send us a message on either Facebook or Instagram and we will gladly add them to the article to spread the word.

#endchildfoodpoverty

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Halloween and autumnal activities in Staffordshire

Trying to keep the Halloween ‘spirit’ alive this year is pretty challenging, but it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve been busy scouring the county to find the best Halloween…

Trying to keep the Halloween ‘spirit’ alive this year is pretty challenging, but it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve been busy scouring the county to find the best Halloween and autumnal themed activities for you and your family to enjoy whilst staying safe. Here are our top picks.

 

Rock House Trail at Kinver Edge

This 4 mile walk boasts breathtaking views of both Staffordshire and Worcestershire. The gentle and accessible trail incorporates two different rock house complexes that visitors can explore. It is the perfect place to tell spooky ghost stories about the weathered carvings in the red sandstone to really set that Halloween mood!

Photo: National Trust. Nanny’s Rock at Kinver Edge.

 

Canalside Farm’s Annual Pumpkin Festival

Canalside’s Pumpkin Festival is back! It will be running every weekend in October and in half term from 10:00-15:00 up until 31st October 2020. Tickets must be purchased in advance on their website for just £2 per person (under 3s go free). Tickets will be released on the Wednesday for the following weekend, so regularly check the website and keep your eyes peeled to avoid disappointment.

Photo: Amanda White Photography. Canalside Farm’s Annual Pumpkin Festival.

 

World of Wedgwood’s Halloween Pottery Painting and Autumn Activities

World of Wedgwood are hosting Halloween Pottery Painting and Autumn Activities this half term. Visitors can paint their own Halloween themed pottery, enjoy an autumnal stroll through the Hem Heath woodland or even indulge with a luxurious afternoon tea in the Wedgwood Tea Room.

Photo: World of Wedgwood. Halloween Pottery Painting and Autumn Activities.

 

The National Forest Adventure Farm ‘Moonlight Harvest’ event

The National Forest Adventure Farm are hosting their new evening event ‘Moonlight Harvest’. Visitors can pick a pumpkin under the night sky, enjoy live performers, live music and funfair rides, take a torchlight stroll through the maize and can warm up with hot food and drinks from their licensed bar. The event is running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday up until 31st October.

Photo: The National Forest Adventure Farm. Moonlight Harvest event.

 

Tittesworth Water Circular Walk

Visitors to Tittesworth Water can enjoy a circular walk around the Tittesworth reservoir and experience the beautiful changing autumnal landscape. The walk also takes visitors past their conservation area which is ideal for bird spotting. The walk is around 4.5 miles long, and afterwards, you can reward yourself by enjoying a bite to eat at The Waterview restaurant, or head over to The Lazy Trout pub which is just a stones throw away.

Photo: Tittesworth Water.

 

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Gallagher’s Deli & Kitchen opening in Leek

After launching Gallagher’s Home Kitchen back in March 2020, founders Jess and Chris Gallagher have now set up Gallagher’s Deli & Kitchen in the heart of Leek, which is due…

After launching Gallagher’s Home Kitchen back in March 2020, founders Jess and Chris Gallagher have now set up Gallagher’s Deli & Kitchen in the heart of Leek, which is due to open this week!

Gallagher’s Home Kitchen was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after both were due to start new jobs in the hospitality industry at the end of March. Both Jessica and Chris have an extensive background in the hospitality and food and drink industry and decided to launch their own homemade food service, to bring impeccable restaurant quality food to their customers in Cheddleton and the surrounding areas, in the comfort of their own homes.

After rocketing to success with Gallagher’s Home Kitchen, the husband-and-wife team have taken the next steps and have secured a premises at 58 St. Edward Street, Leek. Situated in a charming Grade II listed building, Jessica and Chris will be serving breakfast, lunch and hot drinks to the people of Leek, as well as supporting local artisanal producers by stocking their products in-house, such as LemonAid, ChariTEA and Bear Kombucha.

Jessica and Chris said “The aim is to create a modern British ‘grab & go’ deli, with a breakfast & lunch offering that is fresh, wholesome, and delicious. Everything will be prepared in house daily, ready for you to pick-up and enjoy in the office, at home, on site, on the school run, or even strolling about town! We are using great-quality, fresh ingredients from expert local suppliers, all coupled with sustainable plant-based packaging to create all our goods.

Running alongside, we will also be providing great coffee and stocking a wide range of fantastic deli-style items from some incredible artisan producers who are predominantly based in our very own Staffordshire; something we’re super passionate and excited about!”

Gallagher’s Deli & Kitchen will be using Courtyard Coffee as their main coffee supplier, a small batch coffee roaster based in Eccleshall, who we had the pleasure of interviewing back in April 2020. You can read the interview here.

Although their daily home delivery service has come to an end to make way for their new venture, Gallagher’s Deli & Kitchen have not lost sight of their original roots, and will also be offering their brand new Monthly Supper Club service for their faithful GHK supporters. They will be running a collection/delivery service on the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of every month, so you can still get your fix at home. You can read our original review about Gallagher’s Home Kitchen here.

“It’s huge thanks to our faithful GHK supporters over the past 6 months, that we are lucky enough to be in this position, and so we are thrilled to also be continuing with a Monthly Supper Club starting early November!

We believe in contributing to a sense of community, whilst encouraging local independent shopping within our stunning market town, especially in these strange times.”

The grab-and-go delicatessen will certainly be a welcome addition to the stunning market town, and will officially be opening on Thursday 15th October 2020.

 

Gallagher’s Deli & Kitchen
58 St. Edward Street, Leek, ST13 5DL
gallaghersdeli.com

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#cancelthecurfew

Dear Prime Minister, This is a letter from the hospitality industry with a stark message. Our industry is dying and the 10pm curfew may be the final nail in the…

Dear Prime Minister,

This is a letter from the hospitality industry with a stark message. Our industry is dying and the 10pm curfew may be the final nail in the coffin.

Up and down the country, our pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, music venues, theatres, event spaces and all other businesses that fall under the hospitality industry’s umbrella are teetering on the edge. Some are suffering death by a thousand cuts, while others have been ignored and left to starve.

As an industry we directly employ around 10% of the working population and contribute £39billion in direct tax revenue. That doesn’t take into account the contribution from industries that rely on us, from brewers and distillers to farmers and wholesalers. If nothing changes then hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs, thousands of businesses will close their doors forever, billions of pounds of tax income will be lost, and the hospitality industry will never be the same again.
We have borne the brunt of the measures announced over the past fortnight. We are vilified as breeding grounds for the virus, yet Public Health England’s own figures show this is not true. In fact, the latest figures show that we have one of the lowest infection rates outside of the home.

We are doing our utmost to make our venues safe for our staff and customers, acting on each new set of guidelines as they are announced, regardless of the notice we are given. However, the measures announced over the past week are the end of the hospitality industry as we know it.

The 10pm curfew has been heralded as a measure that will help to drive down the infection rate across the country. This is patently not true when you look at the figures.

The figures for what it will cost the hospitality industry and the night-time economy are stark. It is estimated that it will cost £5.5million a day in Central London alone, and venues are reporting a 63% drop in revenue since the curfew was imposed. Thousands of venues rely on post 10pm trade, with many taking over 60% of their revenue in that time, some even more than that. These are not “non- viable businesses”, these are venues that have reopened safely since 4th July.

In fact, restaurants, pubs, bars, and everyone in between have spent thousands to become COVID- Secure. To open safely many have taken on debt despite the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over them. Prior to COVID-19 we were regularly checked by Environmental Health Officers and local authorities to ensure we were meeting rigorous standards. Since COVID, these standards have become more stringent, leading to a position where we are one of the most tightly controlled and regulated environments accessible to the general public.
A 10pm curfew drives the public from the safe environment of our venues and into areas with no regulations. From 10pm people flood the streets as seen over the weekend, overwhelming public transport and taxis, and begin to filter back to their living rooms and kitchens for “one more drink”.

We are not asking for unlimited handouts. We are asking to open our doors. To be allowed to do what we do best whilst keeping our staff and customers safe. We are asking for your permission to keep the hospitality industry alive.
Stop blaming hospitality, let us serve. #CANCELTHECURFEW

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Pumpkin Festival will go ahead at Canalside Farm

With the misty mornings and dark nights creeping in, autumn is certainly lingering just around the corner. What better way to see the new season in than heading out to…

With the misty mornings and dark nights creeping in, autumn is certainly lingering just around the corner. What better way to see the new season in than heading out to pick pumpkins with the family.

Canalside Farm, Stafford, are pleased to announce that their annual Pumpkin Festival is ploughing ahead this year – autumnal pun intended. The festival, which has been running for the last three years, has proved to be the highlight of the farm’s calendar and the owners were both excited and relieved to be able to proceed.

Co-owner of the farm, Anna Barton said:

“In order for the pumpkins to be ready for October, we had to plant them in June, so we had to take a huge leap of faith, as at that time, we were still in lockdown and weren’t sure if we’d be able to go ahead. So we are over the moon that with a little re-organising and careful planning to ensure everyone’s safety, we will be able to run the festival this October.”

Keeping customers safe during their experience is the highest priority at Canalside, and therefore the team have implemented pre-booked timed tickets this year to manage visitor numbers.

Anna explains:

“Normally our festival runs across the week of half-term and is very busy, but this year it will run across every weekend in October as well as half-term, so that the visitor numbers will be spread out. People will only be able to enter via timed tickets, which have to be pre-booked on our website, so we can keep a tight handle on the number of people that enter. All of the activities will be held outside at our pumpkin field, making it easy to social distance and our staff will be on hand at all times, to manage things.

Although we’ve been operating our PYO for over 35 years, we only started growing pumpkins in 2017. We were delighted by the reaction we had in our first year, so planted even more pumpkins and are hoping for around 10,000 this year! Children love the ‘Pumpkin Patch’ and it allows them to see first-hand how this spectacular fruit is grown (yes pumpkins are a fruit not a vegetable!) They seem to really enjoy going into the field and picking their own pumpkin, and it’s a really safe, fun activity for everyone.”

Canalside’s Pumpkin Festival will be running every weekend in October and in half term from 10:00-15:00 between 10 and 31 October 2020. Tickets must be purchased in advance on their website for just £2 per person (under 3s go free). Tickets will be released on the Wednesday for the following weekend, so regularly check the website and keep your eyes peeled to avoid disappointment.

 

Canalside Farm Shop and Café
Mill Lane, Great Haywood, Stafford, ST18 0RQ
canalsidefarm.co.uk 

 

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Trentham Bakehouse launches afternoon tea

We first met Curtis at Trentham Bakehouse back in February 2020, when he explained why he went from being a professional chef in high end restaurants to opening a bakery…

We first met Curtis at Trentham Bakehouse back in February 2020, when he explained why he went from being a professional chef in high end restaurants to opening a bakery in Stoke. In case you missed it, you can read our interview here.

Today we’re here to talk about the fact that Trentham Bakehouse are launching a range of very special afternoon teas, which we were lucky enough to try. Curtis and the team are offering three different options, each of which is presented in a beautiful picnic hamper complete with plates and cutlery. You have the choice of afternoon tea only, the sparkling afternoon tea with a bottle of Freixenet prosecco, or a luxury hamper which includes a bottle of yellow label Veuve Clicquot.

Picnic hamper with prosecco

Add a set of beautiful linen napkins, a big blanket and some glasses and you’ve got everything you need to head off to your favourite secluded spot and enjoy an al fresco feast this summer.  While everything comes in neatly arranged pairs, the hamper would easily be enough for a family of four or two couples to share. Unless you’re not into sharing, which would be totally understandable given the level of deliciousness we’re dealing with here, in which case you’re set for the next couple days!

Look away now if you don’t want to feast your eyes on a blow-by-blow account of this epic afternoon tea…

Let’s start with the quiche. In my experience opinions can be divided here, but this one’s oozy filling, rich with cheese and ham, could convince even the most quiche-sceptical. It has a puff pastry casing that reminds me of pastéis de nata. The sausage roll is another textbook case of perfect puff – light and flaky without being greasy – and it’s generously filled with tasty sausage meat seasoned with fresh herbs.

Picnic basket with quiche and scone

Possibly my favourite item in the whole hamper is the savoury scone. Crumbly and short, topped with an umami hit of cheese and shot through with onion seeds, it’s filled with chunky, moreishly salty bacon jam.

Out come the sandwiches next, and I would say they are more typical picnic fare than the dainty finger sandwiches you would associate with high tea – which is fine by me! The fillings in our basket are New York Deli, salmon and cream cheese, ham salad, and egg with lettuce, all served on the bakery’s own soft, floury white baps. They’re fresh and tasty with just the right filling-to-bread ratio.

Ham salad and New York Deli

It’s hard to know which sweet to tackle first, but the pineapple and passionfruit pavlova looks like a worthy contender. The only component of the afternoon tea that actually requires cutlery, it’s a kind of pastry-less twist on lemon meringue with a slice of lightly charred juicy pineapple, a squiggle of vanilla crème pâtissière and a scattering of super-tart, bright orange amazingness across the top.

Pineapple and passionfruit pavlova

The sweet scone is everything you want a scone to be: crumbly texture, strawberry jam and a vanilla crème pât, juicy raisins and a dusting of icing sugar.

Stick with me here because the rich, fudgy brownie has been turned on its head, pretty literally, and piped with a white chocolate frosting, then a chocolate sauce, then a sprinkle of even more delicious brownie crumbs. And the white chocolate and honeycomb flapjack is not like any flapjack you’ve ever had before, I promise. Then there’s a big, satisfying slice of millionaire’s shortbread with a smooth dulce de leche filling and short, crumbly base, topped off with creamy chocolate.

Flapjack, brownie, millionaire's shortbread

Last but not least is the alluringly shiny dark chocolate eclair, scattered with fudge pieces and filled with a thick, toffee flavoured cream. The choux pastry has texture and bite to it, with very little resemblance to the sad, chewy excuses for an eclair that you’ll find in the supermarket. Absolute heaven and definitely in the running for favourite item. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know there’s another very important part of afternoon tea that I’ve not mentioned yet. But there’s no need to worry, because Curtis and the team have got that covered too, with a selection of two different Teapigs teas included in the package. Maybe bring your flask?

Trentham Bakehouse picnic

This is an indulgent treat of an afternoon tea that takes as much care with the savoury elements as with the sweet. It would make the perfect centrepiece for a birthday or a special date (if this was the accompaniment to a wedding proposal, I can’t think of anyone who would say no), especially with the addition of the lovely chilled bottle of prosecco or champagne.

Add your own finishing touches to make it personal and the Trentham Bakehouse afternoon tea hamper will be a stunning experience that I’m willing to bet you’ll be talking about for months to come. Get it booked in!

Prices start at £40. Call, email or message Trentham Bakehouse on Facebook or Instagram to place your order with at least 48 hours notice.

Trentham Bakehouse
8 Atherstone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JY
facebook.com/Trenthambakehouse
01782 657812

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Let them eat buns

After working for almost 20 years as a chef, executive chef and chef consultant, Curtis Stewart has taken on a whole new challenge in the form of Trentham Bakehouse. Originally…

After working for almost 20 years as a chef, executive chef and chef consultant, Curtis Stewart has taken on a whole new challenge in the form of Trentham Bakehouse.

Originally from Manchester, Curtis now lives in Stoke with his partner Jenna and two young children. When the previous baker at 8 Atherstone Road – Dave – retired last summer after 22 years running The Bread Basket, Curtis and Jenna stepped in to take it on. A lot of Dave’s regulars still come in for their daily bread, or a sandwich and a chat, which has helped smooth the transition. But as far as Curtis is concerned there’s still a way to go.

“We’ve rewired, we’ve taken out walls, we’ve got new flooring down and new tiles going up,” he tells Sauce. “It’s been hard because we’ve not been able to close. I’ve been working on it in the afternoons, evenings and at weekends. My day starts at 3:00, and I’ve been here until 22:00 or 23:00 most nights, which is a bit mad.”

Curtis would like to grow organically, recruiting more staff so that their production volumes and product range can increase. As of March, The Slamwich Club on Hanley’s Piccadilly were the bakery’s only trade customers, but that side of the business is set to expand too. Curtis also has plans to introduce a new sandwich menu, combining his freshly baked bread with a deli-style offering of local charcuterie and cheeses. The aim is to offer something customers can’t get from the supermarket, but he recognises it will take time.

The next step is to build seating around the front of house area – a place for people to sit and enjoy a coffee (from Staffordshire Coffee, of course) and a pain au chocolat. The process of making pains au chocolat, croissants and the buns Trentham Bakehouse is rapidly becoming Insta-famous for takes three days. Stage one starts on Tuesday, so they’re ready for the weekend. With a new pastry chef on board to assist, Curtis is hoping to offer what has only been available on a Saturday, every day of the week.

“Monday and Tuesday are normally our prep days,” he explains. “We won’t normally do a brown bake on a Monday, because we are just gearing up then. Tuesday we will add a brown bake. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we do white tin loaves and bloomers, organic rye, wholemeal, toasted wheat flake and malt barley loaves.”

However, it’s the traditional twisted buns filled with anything from cinnamon sugar to Lotus Biscoff spread that are fast becoming their bestsellers.

“I’ve been to a lot of bakeries and I think there has to be something that draws you in,” Curtis says. “The bun is very versatile, but there are loads of other things that we want to introduce as well, like duck egg custard tarts and cruffins.”

Viennoiserie will be the focus – a category of patisserie which uses a yeasted (or leavened) dough. Croissants, danishes, kouign-amann and cruffins all fall into the viennoiserie category because they are yeasted and laminated. With new ideas in the pipeline all the time, it looks to be these droolworthy pastries that will set Trentham Bakehouse apart locally.

“People don’t think certain things would work here in Stoke, but I think there is a lot of opportunity for small businesses,” adds Curtis. “If you’ve got a good concept there is a good chance that it will work. Because the market isn’t saturated here, there are opportunities to do something that nobody else is doing. People are always willing to pay for things if they think they’re getting value for money.”

Do you think a bakery is seasonal in the way that other places are?

“When you work with flour and yeast it is very unpredictable. You’re working with something that is alive. You see how differently the dough reacts when the seasons change. In the summer time, your window for working with it is very small; in the winter your window is very large.”

In terms of flavours, the winter has been a time of malts and ryes, but when it comes to spring time Curtis will be looking towards wild garlic and Canadian sourdoughs as well as alternative different flours, wheats and seeds. From a pastry perspective, spring and summer will be all about the mille feuilles, pavlovas, meringues – anything that is fruit-based or fruit-filled.

“The beauty of doing this is that there’s no blueprint; you can do as you want, when you want. Consistency is the only thing I’m searching for. It is the key.”

Trentham Bakehouse
8 Atherstone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JY
facebook.com/Trenthambakehouse

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Dining in: Sauce Supper Club Dine at Home

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was…

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was on 1 May that they delivered their first Dine at Home boxes in partnership with Tom Shepherd. The former head chef at one Michelin starred Adam’s Restaurant in Birmingham is planning to open his own restaurant in Lichfield later this year.

Each weekend there’s a different fine dining menu for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, with minimal effort required. This week, Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is reviewed for us by passionate Stoke-on-Trent-based foodie, Mike Lawton. Mike shares his thoughts on the food and considers whether it’s truly possible to recreate the restaurant experience at home.

The menu

Milk bread with marmite butter
.
Pulled barbecue pork fritter, wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots, watercress
.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder, tenderstem broccoli, toasted couscous, cumin yoghurt, imam bayildi, pomegranate, lamb jus
.
Chilled coconut rice pudding, Alfonso mango salsa, coconut crumble, lemongrass and lime leaf sabayon
.
Chocolate fudge

In any business environment, it’s the innovators who survive; those who make the most of the situation and are able to adapt to changes in a way that suits their skillset. I think the emergence of ‘Dine at Home’ experiences plays very well into that; opening up new channels for consumers to create experiences in their own homes is a perfect example of innovation and will no doubt be a feature of the industry in the future.

When we first spoke about doing this review, I’d already had a couple of these types of experiences, from WOOD Manchester and from Peels on Wheels at Hampton Manor. To do the same with Sauce Supper Club and Tom was a great opportunity to compare the offers of three very credible contenders.

The experience began on Friday morning at 7:30am when the package was delivered to our door. Just to receive it was intriguing: excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm delivered in a cardboard box – that doesn’t happen every day!

The first thing I have to applaud the team on is the packaging. Today it’s really important to think about sustainability and how we respect the planet’s resources. The product packaging was genuinely thoughtful, not just in terms of what was in it, but in the way it was presented, including the use of fully recyclable WoolCool insulation.

Dine at Home box constituents

At the forefront of your mind when ordering a meal like this is, can you create a restaurant experience in your own home? What can it deliver? Is it going to be the same? How authentically can an amateur re-create the skills of a chef at home? There is an inferred responsibility – you want to perform well for yourself but also to represent the chef and their team’s hard work in preparing the food.

Inside the box is the skill, the enthusiasm, the knowledge and dedication of the chef in the product. It then comes down to you to engineer that into your own experience, using your knowledge of where you’ve eaten, what you’ve observed, what you like and what you dislike.

Of course, the end result is not the same, but I would argue it can be better because you’re able to apply your own influences to that of the chef – you can give your own care, attention and creativity. When expressed in these terms this is in no way a degraded experience – it’s a different experience influenced by you. It’s a fusion of chef and customer that presents a blend of skill and experience on each plate – it’s a chance to express your personality in the solid knowledge that the food quality will be assured.  

We received the box on the Friday and decided not to cook it until the Saturday. It was unpacked and we stored it in the fridge. It kept beautifully for 24 hours – plenty of time to plan, no need to rush. Adding to the experience was that every time I opened the fridge there was a thrill of anticipation, thinking ‘Ohh, look what’s coming!’ – it played an unexpected role in making the dinner special. 

Then Saturday night came and my wife and I laid everything out in the containers. It was very clear what to do because each of the courses had a colour-coded dot. The instructions were well-presented, very clear and concise, and enabled you to plan ahead. We switched on the oven and the fun began.

The first step was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done; I warmed up the bread. The difference – and this is where the value of this experience lies for me – is the skill you find in the detail. Although the bread was of course delicious, it was the marmite butter that created an incredible depth of flavour and taste – unbelievable to be able to create that in something so usually “ordinary”. That was a fitting precursor for what was to come. 

Milk bread with marmite butter

Whilst we were enjoying the bread, the pork fritters went into the oven and we laid out the mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots and watercress. Each element when tasted individually was well-prepared and delicate – together it was genuinely tremendous. The fritter was very easy to warm up. I used my Thermapen to check the temperature was right inside, and it came out crisp on the outside with great flavour and depth on the inside. Paired with the little apricots and mustard mayonnaise, we didn’t want it to end. I’m sure Tom would laugh at my basic plating skills, but the dish was a great mix of textures and flavours and we both really enjoyed it. We enjoyed a white Côtes du Rhône which paired beautifully with the construction of the dish.  

The lamb was a benchmark main course in terms of the combination of flavours and textures. The North African inspiration was clear to taste and smell; it came with couscous and imam bayildi, which I hadn’t heard of before, but is a Turkish aubergine dish. It was fantastic. The smell coming from the kitchen was like walking through a souk on a warm summer evening; with aromas of spices wafting through the warm confined streets. The lamb was beautifully prepared, compressed and rolled, perfectly ready for simply placing on a baking sheet and waiting for the magic to happen.

As ever, the winning part was in the detail, in the lamb jus. Wow. That’s the bit that you can’t create at home. It was truly phenomenal. All the science, the skill, the experience, and the professionalism of the chef comes in those little pots. This was a stand-out dish for me, not only because of the construction and the ease of bringing it together, but also because it demonstrated a complexity and depth in food that I could never have made myself.

Lamb, couscous, imam bayildi, broccoli

The dessert was spectacular. It was everything I want a dessert to be: rich, sweet, a beautiful texture. I’ve eaten at Adam’s a couple of times and had this dessert in the dining room there. The rice pudding was fantastic, the vanilla judged perfectly, the mango was delicious, and then there was the sweetness of the sabayon sauce… Just a beautiful balance. For me to have created that would have taken hours and hours of work and it wouldn’t have tasted anywhere close to that good. It was an absolute pleasure to serve it up, and it wasn’t difficult! All I needed was a plate and a spoon. I can’t speak highly enough of this dessert.

Throughout the lockdown I’ve tried to make the weekends special by trying to cook something a bit special – to make Saturdays different. These experiences really cater to that, they inspire you to be creative in the safe knowledge that if anything goes awry the food will carry the evening. If you’re in the house and you can’t get out, whether for lack of childcare or other commitments, you can be sure that this is definitely not second best. What you miss in the restaurant experience, you make up for with your own enthusiasm and dedication. It’s a perfect blend of creativity; yours and the chef’s.

I genuinely think these experiences should continue to be available once the hospitality industry returns to normal. Not only because it’s a revenue stream for restaurants, but also because it extends the restaurant or chef’s brand to new audiences who may never have found it accessible before. It’s a good introduction to bring people into fine dining, and a great way to involve the whole family in preparing food. The preparation and the plating became a talking point for my wife and I, creating possibly an even more engaging experience than eating in a restaurant.

It does make you appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant and understand what you’re paying for, but at the same time this model allows consumers to enjoy and be inspired by this level of cooking. I was certainly inspired. I would do it again, and I would recommend it to anybody.

Ordering & delivery
Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is available for Friday and Saturday delivery, with prices starting from £37.50pp. Delivery is free to Lichfield and the surrounding area, with nationwide delivery now available at a charge of £24.

Order via saucesupperclub.co.uk.

 

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Strawberry, vanilla custard & baked white chocolate

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Strawberry, vanilla custard & baked white chocolate

Strawberry sorbet dessert

Private chef and MasterChef finalist Louisa Ellis brought this recipe for strawberry sorbet, vanilla custard and baked white chocolate to her residency at The George at Alstonefield in 2019.

With British strawberry season in full swing, now is the perfect time to make this light and summery dessert.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the strawberry sorbet
600g strawberry purée
120g caster sugar
50ml water
50ml lemon juice

For the vanilla custard
400ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
100g sugar
5 egg yolks

For the baked white chocolate
200g Callebaut white chocolate

For the macerated strawberries
1kg British strawberries
25ml white balsamic
25g caster sugar

Instructions

For the strawberry sorbet

  1. Bring the water, sugar and lemon juice to the boil.
  2. Pour sugar water onto strawberry purée and whisk.
  3. Leave to cool.
  4. Churn in ice cream machine for approximately 20 minutes or until set.
  5. Set in the freezer before serving.

For the vanilla custard

  1. Whisk the egg and sugar together lightly in a bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and vanilla pod to the boil.
  3. Pour hot cream over the sugar and egg removing the vanilla pod skin.
  4. Place custard mix into a deep tray/ramekin/silicone mould and bake in the oven at 110°C.
  5. Pour hot water around the dishes/moulds to create a bain-marie. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or until firm but with a slight wobble) and chill.
  6. Portion or scoop mixture as needed.

For the baked white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Line a tray with baking parchment and spread the chocolate out so that it is flat.
  3. Bake the white chocolate for 10 minutes and check to see if it is slightly golden. If the chocolate has only melted with no colour then place it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until light brown.
  4. When caramelised, cool and break into small pieces.

For the macerated strawberries

  1. Take half of the strawberries and blend into a purée with the white balsamic and 25g sugar.
  2. Strain the purée through a sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Take the unprepared strawberries and remove the stalk but keep whole.
  4. Submerge the strawberries in the purée mix overnight.
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Cured, torched mackerel

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Cured, torched mackerel

Cured torched mackerel dish

Feast with Friends chef and educator Cris Cohen shared this recipe for mackerel with carrot purée, pickled carrot and wasabi avocado in Sauce’s spring 2019 issue.

Most of the ingredients will probably be in your store cupboard, so why not add the others to your shopping list and give it a go this weekend?

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the cure
40g sea salt
40g caster sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds (ground)
2 mackerel fillets (all bones removed)

For the carrot and citrus purée
1 large carrot
Salt
100ml lime juice/ lemon juice mix or 75ml yuzu juice

For the pickled carrot
250ml water
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 heritage carrots (different colours)
2 tsp salt

For the wasabi and avocado
1 avocado
2 tsp wasabi paste
Salt
Squeeze of lime juice

Instructions

For the cure

  1. Mix together salt, sugar and fennel seeds to make cure mix.
  2. Sprinkle half of the mix onto tray. 
  3. Lay mackerel fillets skin side down and cover with remaining cure mix.
  4. Place in fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Take out of the fridge and wash mackerel gently in cold water.

For the carrot and citrus purée

  1. Peel and cut carrot into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Cook until tender in salted water.
  3. Remove a little of the cooking water.
  4. Liquidise with an immersion blender, adding a little of the cooking liquid back in if required.
  5. Add the juice until purée has punchy citrus flavour.
  6. Adjust seasoning if required.
  7. Pass through a fine sieve using the back of a spoon.
  8. Transfer into a squeezy bottle for plating up.

For the pickled carrot

  1. Warm water and put vinegar, sugar and salt in water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Thinly slice carrot on a mandolin and place into warm pickling solution.
  3. Steep in solution for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from pickling solution when ready to serve.

For the wasabi and avocado 

  1. Mash avocado on a plate using a fork.
  2. Mix in salt, wasabi to taste and lime juice.
  3. Pass through a fine sieve.

Serve with toasted rice or crispy noodles.

Notes

If you enjoyed this, follow Cris on Facebook for more tips and ideas:

facebook.com/feastwithfriends
facebook.com/feasted

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