Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

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% ABV

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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Midlands’ best restaurant launches Versus Supper Clubs

The Boat Inn at Muckley Corner, Lichfield, took Best Fine Dining Restaurant at The Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards 2019, while head chef Liam Dillon walked away with Best Chef for…

The Boat Inn at Muckley Corner, Lichfield, took Best Fine Dining Restaurant at The Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards 2019, while head chef Liam Dillon walked away with Best Chef for the second consecutive year.

Liam DillonThe fourth Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards was hosted at Villa Park on Monday 24 June, and saw the movers and shakers of the food, drink and hospitality industry from across Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands come together for an evening of celebration. Liam Dillon and his restaurant were flying the flag for Staffordshire as the only representatives of the county to walk away with awards on the night.

Liam has recently launched his new Versus Supper Club series which will see guest chefs go head-to-head against him in The Boat’s open kitchen. The next event is an evening with Kray Treadwell – former head chef of Michelin-starred The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds who was recently part of Great British Menu 2019 – on Monday 15 July.

The chefs create rival six-course menus and guests get a score card to track whose dishes are their favourite with the winner revealed at the end of the night. Tickets for each supper club are £75 per person, with a donation from each sale going to the guest chef’s chosen charity.

The Versus Supper Club line-up for the next six months looks like this:

Kray Treadwell – Monday 15 July

Bruce Cheyne, head chef at Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield – Monday 12 August

Tom Shepherd, head chef of Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham – Monday 23 September

Will Holland, executive head chef at The Atlantic, Jersey – Monday 7 October

Matt Cheal, head chef of Cheal’s of Henley – Monday 18 November

Louisa Ellis, MasterChef finalist and private chef – Monday 9 December

 To book tickets for any of these events, go to: theboatinnlichfield.com

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The Meynell Ingram Arms

We traversed the country lanes of rural East Staffordshire to find a friendly welcome in Hoar Cross at The Meynell Ingram. The historic Staffordshire pub had been closed for over…

We traversed the country lanes of rural East Staffordshire to find a friendly welcome in Hoar Cross at The Meynell Ingram.

The historic Staffordshire pub had been closed for over five years, reopening on 10 May. The building has been cleverly reconfigured by Berkeley Inns, who acquired it in November 2018. Now there are a series of distinct spaces around a central courtyard complete with parasols, heaters and a ‘living wall’ of plants.

Main restaurant Meynell IngramThe traditional country pub remains very much at its heart, but beyond that there’s a modern and elegant restaurant dining area, complete with immense bifold doors which let light stream in from the courtyard. There’s space for private dining in the Mirror Room. On the third side of the courtyard, Sam’s Bar is a relaxed space with flatscreens showing sports, a second bar, and a pizza oven. The outdoor space here will really come into its own this summer, with not only the enclosed courtyard to enjoy, but beautifully planted gardens and patios to the side and rear of the pub.

Tom Cross has moved over from The Cow at Dalbury to take up the position of general manager at The Meynell, where he leads a team of professional and personable front of house staff clad in red and black plaid. Behind the scenes in the kitchen, the brigade is headed up by Colin Ansell, who joins the Meynell from a 10 year stint as head chef at Pascal’s at The Old Vicarage.

The bistro-style à la carte menu caters to many different tastes, featuring pub classics with a fine dining twist to Mediterranean inspired dishes. There are nibbles and sharing platters if you’re looking for something lighter, and freshly baked pizza for those long summer evenings.

To start, we opt for the steak tartare made with Staffordshire beef, which holds its own comfortably, and the heritage tomato with goat’s cheese, prosciutto, avocado and sourdough croutons – perfectly balanced in terms of acidity, creaminess and crunch.

Steak tartare

In the spirit of adapting with the seasons, we order the Thai beef salad bowl and ras el hanout spiced chump of lamb for the main course. The salad is packed with fresh veg – bean sprouts, spring onions, shallots, cucumber – and fresh flavours from the basil, mint, coriander, lime and soy-sesame dressing. It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish that’s still light and summery. The tender pink lamb has a delicious spicy crust and the couscous is laced with tiny pieces of sweet apricot and flavoursome herbs. The zingy tzatziki lifts the rich meat with its sourness.

If it’s sumptuous desserts you’re into, you won’t be disappointed here. The raspberry crème brûlée, served with the pastry chef’s beautifully short shortbread, is a delight, but we’re slightly over-faced by the decadent Meynell Mess – a bowl of ice cream, fudge, brownie, seasonal fruit, coulis and marshmallow that is definitely made for sharing!

Berkeley Inns Ltd currently operate four other rural and semi-rural pubs in Derbyshire. This is the group’s first foray into Staffordshire, and if our experience is anything to go by it looks set to be a fantastic success.

The Meynell Ingram Arms
Abbots Bromley Road, Hoar Cross, DE13 8RB
meynellingram.co.uk

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June beers with Brews of the World

Chris McCormack and Robin Ludlow opened Brews of the World on Station Street in Burton-on-Trent almost two years ago now. You can find out more about their backstory and the…

Chris McCormack and Robin Ludlow opened Brews of the World on Station Street in Burton-on-Trent almost two years ago now. You can find out more about their backstory and the variety of beers they stock in the latest edition of Sauce magazine.

Here are Chris and Robin’s top picks for June drinking, all available now at Brews of the World.

Rauchbier Weizen, Aecht Schlenkerla, 5.2%

One of the legendary Rauchbier (‘smoked beer’) range from Schlenkerla, who are based in the town of Bamberg in Franconia. Allegedly named after a former brewer whose gangling gait may (or may not) have been due to over-consumption of his own products, Schlenkerla Weizen is brewed with unsmoked wheat malt, barley malt which has been smoked over beech woodchips and top-fermenting yeast (as opposed to lagers which are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast).

Unfiltered and naturally hazy, this fine beer has spicy notes of cloves and banana – as expected from a Bavarian-style wheat beer – coupled with warm, smoky notes reminiscent of smoked cheese or bacon. At 5.2% ABV, it’s ideal if this is your first foray into German Rauchbier.

Ideal food pairings: seafood, chicken and pork, barbecue food.

Organic Chocolate Stout, Samuel Smith Old Brewery
, 5%

Samuel Smith's Chocolate Stout

Many so-called ‘chocolate’ beers don’t contain any actual cocoa, but make a spurious claim to the name through their use of chocolate malt – barley roasted to a dark colour which can offer similar flavour notes. Always read the label.

Having said that, there are a growing number of chocolate beers that live up to their billing. The cream of the crop is arguably Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout from Tadcaster in North Yorkshire – often referred to in brewing circles as ‘The Burton of the North’ due to the local water (‘liquor’ in brewing parlance) being similar in composition with regards to mineral content, making for great pale ales.

It clearly makes for decent dark beers too, judging by this smooth, rich, chocolatey offering with organic cocoa, sugar, hops and barley. It’s syrupy and sweet with a deep chocolatey finish.

Ideal food pairings: ice cream, cake, anything sweet.  Some of our customers mix this in a glass with Sam Smith’s Organic Cherry Beer (also available from us); and claim it tastes like Black Forest Gateau…

Duchesse de Bourgogne Flemish Red AleDuchesse de Bourgogne Flemish Red Ale, Brouwerij Verhaeghe,
 6.2%

This red ale from Flanders – the Dutch (or Flemish) speaking north of Belgium – is a throwback to an older style of brewing which was once much more widespread and shares its roots with other ales, including British porters. A blend of two ales brewed with Lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces, Duchesse de Bourgogne is then aged in oak casks.

Known as the Burgundy of Belgium and named after Mary of Burgundy, who lived between 1457 and 1482 and is depicted on the label, this Belgian classic cannot fail to remind you of balsamic vinegar; you’ll also get cherries, tart sourness and berry sweetness.

Ideal food pairings: white chocolate, caramel, strawberries and blue cheese.

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

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New dog-friendly café opens at Armitage

The new café and boutique bed and breakfast at Tuppenhurst Barn is in a beautiful rural setting within easy reach of Lichfield, Rugeley and Cannock. It opens on 22 June….

The new café and boutique bed and breakfast at Tuppenhurst Barn is in a beautiful rural setting within easy reach of Lichfield, Rugeley and Cannock. It opens on 22 June.

24 year old Melissa Bettson’s family have lived at Tuppenhurst Farm for more than 100 years, but since her father passed away their 500 acres of land has been let to other families who farm sheep and arable crops there. After graduating with a degree in Equine Business Management – and recovering from a spine injury – Melissa moved back home from Gloucester two years ago.

Wanting to make her own mark on the place and keep the family farm sustainable, she decided to transform a disused 17th century barn into a café and luxury B&B. £1 million has been invested in the project, which has seen parts of the listed building dismantled and rebuilt brick by brick. Four dog-friendly ensuite bedrooms have been created, including an accessible room on the ground floor.

The light and airy café will be open to the public from 9:00-17:00, seven days a week, from Saturday 22 June. Serving hot and cold drinks including Lichfield Tea and Iron & Fire coffee, as well as cakes from local baker Crumb & Burrow, the café also offers breakfasts and light lunches. 

With the canal just a couple of minutes away, it’s a lovely spot to have some refreshments after your walk. And your faithful friend doesn’t have to miss out – plant-based dog treats from Melissa’s other business, Bear’s Bites, are available and so is a ‘Doggie Breakfast’ of bacon and scrambled eggs.

If you’re particularly into old engines, there’s also a museum on the farm housing some very rare specimens that you can take a look at. And if you’re into horse-riding, Melissa has created a professional equestrian arena available to hire on an hourly basis.

Tuppenhurst Farm
Tuppenhurst Lane, Rugeley, WS15 4HJ
www.tuppenhurstfarm.co.uk

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