Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Author: Katy

All the Tryanuary inspiration you need

As your enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions, post-Christmas diets and Dryanuary slowly begin to fizzle away, it could be time for a new approach to get you through January. We’re…

As your enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions, post-Christmas diets and Dryanuary slowly begin to fizzle away, it could be time for a new approach to get you through January. We’re not saying cutting back on your alcohol intake is a bad idea, but why not try something new and a bit special if you can, rather than (pardon the pun) going completely cold turkey?

Tryanuary is the perfect time to explore unusual flavours and discover your new favourite tipple. We’ve been chatting to the beer and wine experts of Staffordshire – our trusty independent bottle shop owners – to find out their not-to-be-missed favourites for you to try this January…

Torrside Cascadian Dark AleTorrside Brewery – Late to the Party Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA), 5.5%
“In the spirit of Tryanuary, I recommend trying this Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA) from Torrside Brewery. This oxymoronic style combines the malt-driven colour and dark, roasty flavours of darker beers, with the aromas and flavours expected in an IPA – in this case, citrus and piney notes from the New Zealand Southern Cross hops. #BIPAComeback.”

Phil at Otter’s Tears
24 Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3EG

A Growers Touch – Durif, 14%
“Your favourite wine must’ve been new to you at some point, but there’s a whole world of wines to try, so let’s get adventurous! How about trying a Durif? A great mix of blackberry, blueberry and mulberry, this wine is rich and powerful – perfect for drinking with a slow cooked lamb or beef pie.”

Dave at Wolseley Wine Loft
Upper Floor, Willey Barn, Stafford, ST17 0XS

Big Drop x Fyne Ales Jam Session raspberry gose

Big Drop Brewing Co. x Fyne Ales – Jam Session Raspberry Gose, 0.5%
“Here at Candid, we’re really enjoying this alcohol-free raspberry sour beer from Big Drop Brewing Co. in collaboration with Fyne Ales. It’s super refreshing, with a nicely balanced earthy tartness, and a mouthfeel that masks its 0.5% ABV. The perfect drop for both Dry January and Tryanuary!”

Mark at Candid Beer
Units 4 & 5, Woodings Yard, Bailey Street, Stafford, ST17 4BG

Saucony Creek – The Bronco Double Dry Hopped NEIPA, 7.8%
“A strong double lactose IPA, The Bronco is brewed by Saucony Creek, based in Kutztown, Pennsylvania – a brewery founded by former X-Games competitor Matt Lindenmuth. Rolled oats and heaps of lactose give this strong IPA a luxuriously smooth mouthfeel and creamy sweetness that balances the Mosaic hops.”

Chris and Robin at Brews of the World
159 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent, DE14 1BN

Midnight Frost Vidal Icewine bottle

Pillitteri Estates Winery – Midnight Frost Vidal Icewine, 11%
“Try this delicious ice wine from one of Canada’s top producers. The grapes are harvested at -8 degrees Celsius, leaving a tiny amount of amazingly sweet juice. Mouthcoating lychee, pineapple and peach are underscored by brilliant freshness. A must-try dessert wine for 2020. Cheers!”

Kieran at Three Pillars
6 High Street, Eccleshall, Staffordshire, ST21 6BZ

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Celebrating Burns Night around Staffordshire

Burns Night is on the horizon, and that means it’s time to dig out the tartan and raise a wee dram to the iconic Scottish poet that was Robert Burns….

Burns Night is on the horizon, and that means it’s time to dig out the tartan and raise a wee dram to the iconic Scottish poet that was Robert Burns.

As The Bard of Ayrshire’s 261st birthday fast approaches, we’ve scouted out the best places to get your fix of haggis, neeps and tatties – as well as plenty more dishes inspired by traditional Scottish fare – across Staffordshire this January. Slàinte Mhath!

Little Seeds, Stone
Thursday 23 January, 18:00-20:30

Little Seeds are offering a delectable five course tasting menu to honour the legendary Bard. Expect dishes such as warming cock-a-leekie broth with Scottish soda bread and whisky cured salmon, pickled cucumber & lemon creme fraiche to get you in the Scottish spirit. And we couldn’t forget the star of the show: the ‘Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race’ (also known as haggis) will also be on the menu!

Priced at £35 per person, £10pp deposit required. Add drinks pairing for £25pp. Booking essential.

Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe, Denstone
Saturday 25 January, 18:30 onwards

You’re in for a real treat at Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe on Burns Night. With four starters, four mains and four desserts on the menu, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting your perfect Burns Supper. We’re especially excited for the starter of Gamekeeper’s bon bons, carrot & cardamom purée and pink peppercorn cream sauce, and of course, haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky cream sauce.

Must book in advance.

Darwin’s Restaurant at The George Hotel, Lichfield
Saturday 25 January, 19:00-23:00

Burns Night is coming to Lichfield! Visit Darwin’s Restaurant at the George Hotel and enjoy a traditional Scottish four course dinner with a tot of whiskey. Expect dishes such as cullen skink to start, Scottish salmon, chateaux neeps & tatties with creamed leeks for the main, and to end the evening, Scottish oat biscuit apple crumble and custard.

Priced at £35 per person. Menu options are required at the time of booking.

No. 26 Bar & Dining at Aston Marina, Stone
Saturday 25 January, 17:00-21:00

No. 26 at Aston Marina are also honouring ol’ Rabbie Burns, serving a mouthwatering three course meal of all our Scottish favourites. To start, Oak smoked Scottish salmon fillet with cucumber jelly, crayfish & capers, followed by Haggis-stuffed chicken breast, oxtail croquette, neeps & tatties and rich Balmoral sauce. And what’s Burns Night without a whiskey-soaked raspberry and Scottish oat cranachan to finish?

Three courses: £25. Three courses with whiskies: £35.

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Where to eat out this Veganuary

Now that we’ve said farewell to mounds of turkey and pigs-in-blankets and the cheese boards have been put away, lots of us are trying to forge habits for 2020 that…

Now that we’ve said farewell to mounds of turkey and pigs-in-blankets and the cheese boards have been put away, lots of us are trying to forge habits for 2020 that will be kinder on the environment and our bodies…

Yes, Veganuary is back, and we’ve been scouring Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire for the most delicious vegan meals to give you the kind of meat-free indulgence you need this January. Hopefully you’ll agree this is proof that vegan food isn’t all about bland salads and nut roast.

There’s a different spot to try for each week in January to keep you motivated – tag #staffordshiresauce on social media to let us know how you get on!

Week 1: The Roebuck, Leek

Now the warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas has disappeared, we’ve been left with a cold January chill. Enjoy some heat with the Spicy Bean Burger at The Roebuck in Leek. Served in a Live Love Loaf bun, the spicy bean burger comes with iceberg lettuce, tomato & red onion and is served with skin on fries and relish. Who knew vegan food could be so flavoursome, eh?

Week 2: An Apple a Day, Stone

If you’re looking for a clean, light lunch, head over to An Apple a Day on Stone High Street. Everything on the menu has vegan alternatives and a selection of breads so you can personalise your perfect sandwich. Our favourite is We’ve Got the Beet!, which features beetroot, carrot, hummus and avocado. And if you want to give your body a little extra lovin’ after all those Christmas choccies, try one of their delicious homemade juices. We’re obsessed with the Russet Reboot – a blend of beetroot, red cabbage, carrot, lime and apple.

Week 3: The Slamwich Club, Hanley

If you’re a fan of pork and are missing the pigs-in-blankets already, you’ll love The Slamwich Club’s Not-So-Porkie-Pig Slamwich. Enjoy BBQ jackfruit, vegan cheese, potato and onion rosti, vegan sausage and rawslaw between two pieces of locally sourced artisan bread. Plus, you can get 3 for 2 on sides! We adore the Rings of Fire (crispy peri-peri battered onion rings), Polenta-ee of Fries (herby polenta bites with truffle mayo) and Caulipower (tempura cauliflower bites served with jalapeño mayo – pictured). Free onion rings, you say?! Yes please.

Week 4: UVC, Lichfield

If you’re looking for a great restaurant which serves only vegan food look no further than Lichfield’s Ultimate Vegan Cafe. We love the Nofish cakes, made with smoked tofu, potatoes and seaweed, carefully wrapped in breadcrumbs and served with salad. If you’re particularly hungry, we would recommend the Ultimate Moving Mountain Burger, served with chips, slaw, salad and topped with onion rings… it’s a beast! Plus they’re offering 10% off all main dishes during January.

Week 5: The Orange Tree, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Craving a curry to get you through thee longest month of the year? Say no more. Head to The Orange Tree and enjoy sweet potato fritters with katsu curry sauce, baby gem & radish salad and steamed coconut rice. The oriental flavours will have you dreaming about warmer days and will definitely have you cruising through the final week of Veganuary.

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Michelin unites local businesses for a good cause

Sauce caught up with Mike Lawton, Head of Global Marketing and Communications – Brand Licensing, at Michelin to find out more about the company’s 2019 charity dinner in aid of…

Sauce caught up with Mike Lawton, Head of Global Marketing and Communications – Brand Licensing, at Michelin to find out more about the company’s 2019 charity dinner in aid of Dougie Mac. Click here to watch our behind-the-scenes video.

The sell-out event took place on Monday 21 October at World of Wedgwood in Barlaston, following on from the success of the first dinner back in October 2018. You can read more about the origins of the Michelin charity dinner in the Autumn 2019 edition of Sauce magazine, but we chatted with Mike to find out more about the success of the most recent event.

Rob Palmer smoked eel dish

Through ticket sales, along with the auction and raffle on the night, the event raised more than £60,000 to support Dougie Mac’s work providing end of life care across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. It was made possible by Michelin (whose employees chose Dougie Mac as the Stoke site’s charity of the year and volunteered to provide table service on the evening), World of Wedgwood (who provided the venue), J&J Wines (who supplied the wine pairing), and the two visiting chefs and their teams.

In the kitchen at World of Wedgwood this year were John Williams MBE, executive chef at The Ritz London, and Rob Palmer, head chef of Peel’s Restaurant at Hampton Manor – both Michelin starred chefs.

“It was a fantastic honour to bring such names up to Stoke-on-Trent in support of the charity,” says Mike. “Frankly, the two chefs and their teams were amazing. Of course I was expecting to see Rob Palmer and John Williams when I arrived, but I wasn’t expecting that John would have brought Spencer Metzger along too.”

Chef John Williams MBE

Spencer won the prestigious and highly competitive Roux Scholarship this year. Past winners in the scholarship’s 35 year history have included Andrew Fairlie, Sat Bains and Simon Hulstone, along with many others who have gone on to create starred restaurants in their own right. Also in the kitchen from Peel’s was Monty Stonehewer, a contestant on the current series of MasterChef: The Professionals. As Mike explains, the amazing level of talent working in unison in the kitchen was a key factor contributing to a fantastic evening of food and fundraising.

“I believe Dougie Mac were truly thrilled with the evening,” he expands. “The people that I spoke to said it was one of the best fundraising events they’ve attended and the results would suggest that as well. We’ve not had one single negative comment. There’s nothing more pleasing than seeing lots of happy, smiling faces at the end of the night and having achieved a fantastic objective for the hospice.”

Beef tournedos by John Williams MBE

Having proved such a success last year, this year’s dinner had sold out a month beforehand. The lucky guests enjoyed snacks and canapés, followed by five mouthwatering courses including a lobster, carrot and lemon verbena starter from John and a smoked eel, kohlrabi and sea herb dish by Rob.

“The feedback from the chefs was tremendous,” says Mike. “I’ve had some lovely emails from John, Rob and their teams. Their experience and skills made it a really successful and unique event. World of Wedgwood were delighted to be a part of it too. Their involvement in donating the use of the dining room, kitchen and all the beautiful tabletop items is pivotal in putting on the event. It depends on a lot of factors, but if everything lines up correctly, there’s no reason we couldn’t do it again next year. And yes, I have already been asked about next year!”

Michelin UK employees

Mike’s colleagues at the Michelin Guide have also been delighted with the positive outcome of the event. So delighted, in fact, that the model is set to be shared so it can be rolled out across the world in the 38 countries where the Michelin Guide currently exists.

“It’s hard work because there are 150 people to serve, but the Michelin and World of Wedgwood employees who took part really enjoyed it. It was great to see Craig and the front of house team from Hampton Manor training them and giving them the confidence to deliver the food in such a great way. You’ve only got to look at some of the pictures to see how engaged everyone was.

“Last year we had around 20 volunteers; this year we had 37. That tells you the kind of reputation the event has got after such a short time. We had some employees from World of Wedgwood volunteer to take part too, so it was a great coming-together.”

For Mike, that’s what the event is all about.

“Once again we’ve proved what local businesses coming together can achieve,” he concludes. “The collective activity of Michelin, World of Wedgwood and all of the other businesses that were involved is much, much greater than any of us individually could achieve on our own.

“I’d just like to say thank you to everyone for believing in the concept and for supporting us and Dougie Mac. For them, the fact that almost £60,000 could be raised in a single night is really very meaningful.”

Watch our video for a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the dinner.

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Flavours from around the world

Stoke-on-Trent based chefs Ant Snape and Jon Riviere have known each for seven years, since they met while working at Chester Racecourse. The friends are soon to open what was…

Stoke-on-Trent based chefs Ant Snape and Jon Riviere have known each for seven years, since they met while working at Chester Racecourse.

The friends are soon to open what was formerly Zest on Hanley’s Piccadilly as a casual dining bistro, but their first venture together was Trotting Potter Salts. The unusual name stems from the fact that Ant is originally from Bolton, where football club Bolton Wanderers are referred to locally as ‘the Trotters’, while Jon is a Stoke-on-Trent native.

Jon had been experimenting with flavoured and blended salts for a number of years before meeting Ant. When he mentioned it they found it was a shared hobby – Ant had made similar things to gift to family members.

Since starting Trotting Potter, they’ve found that chefs are sold on the benefits and are receiving great feedback from their customers, while the general public are yet to be fully convinced.

“I think it’s been hammered into us that salt is salt and it’s bad for you,” Ant speculates. “But like anything, it’s good for you in moderation. But as our generation has grown up, salt is what you put on your chips and that’s that.”

“I think it comes down to the food culture,” adds Jon. “For example, in the places where these salts are produced, they’re used locally. If you go to Cyprus everyone will be using the local Cypriot pyramid salt and embracing it, whereas over here the food culture is different.”

Now more of us are starting to enjoy cooking (and preserving) more seriously at home, we are learning and starting to appreciate salt’s uses and its role as a flavouring in its own right.

“We’re not claiming that our salts will make you healthy, but it’s all about making little changes,” says Jon. “If you can get a salt that is less refined, and has got a slightly different flavour, and you sprinkle it on your chicken after you’ve cooked it, you’re going to taste it more and use less.”

Ant and Jon’s extensive range of salts can be split into three categories: single origin salts, flavoured salts, and blended salts.

“Single origin salts, like the Himalayan salt, mined in Pakistan, come from one location,” explains Jon. “We’ve got some that are Hawaiian, one from Peru – that’s a single origin which can be traced back to a single source. The single origin salts each have slightly different colours, tastes and chemical make-ups.”

Black Lava is a Hawaiian sea salt, which is coated with activated charcoal – normally coconut charcoal – to give its characteristic colour. Jon recommends sprinkling it over butter and eating with bread to fully appreciate the flavours.

Red Alaea is also from Hawaii, from the same source as Black Lava, but this fine-grained version is mixed with a red clay that is local to the island, which means you’re getting different minerals as well as the stunning colour.

Persian Blue salt from Iran is speckled with beautiful blue crystals formed when it was compressed by surrounding rocks millions of years ago. Taste-wise, it is Trotting Potter’s least salty salt. Ant recommends it for drinks and cocktails: “If you’re having tequila, try this instead of harsh, bitter table salt.”

The relative saltiness of the various origins is down to their sodium content. The Persian Blue contains less sodium than, say, Atlantic sea salt from Portugal which is their saltiest tasting salt due to its high sodium content.

Inca Sun comes from Peru, near Machu Picchu, and is so named because it is reputedly still processed the same way it would have been by the ancient civilisation. A salt water stream that springs from the mountains is dammed into a series of pools where it dries it out in the sun and is later harvested.

Probably the most popular and widely recognised salt Jon and Ant stock is Himalayan salt. The majority of it is actually white, with deep red and pink veins giving the ground rock salt its recognisable pink hue, but it’s one both chefs keep in their cupboards for everyday use.

Jon and Ant also make their own flavoured salts, including a deep red Merlot salt, infused with red wine and then dehydrated. “It doesn’t really lose its colour, so I like putting it on bread rolls before baking, on roast potatoes or brushed onto the pastry of a beef Wellington,” says Jon.

A pure liquorice compound is used to make their distinctive liquorice flavoured salt, which is great for making salted caramels, sprinkled over popcorn, and with chocolate desserts. Other flavoured salts in the range include raspberry and snowy coconut, perfect with rum cocktails.

The third category, blended salts, feature more added ingredients and include Trotting Potter’s pastis salt, which recently received national recognition from the Guild of Fine Food in the form of a two star Great Taste Award. Following the award announcement, with judges describing it as ‘a masterful blend of spices’, they have had a wave of interest from farm shops and delis wishing to stock their products.

“Our pastis salt is a blend of fennel seed, star anise and citrus zest, among other things, and it’s one of the first salts we actually blended,” Jon tells Sauce. “It works especially well with white fish and shellfish. Because of the crystal size I use the Portuguese sea salt for gravadlax, but if you’re making a ceviche the pastis salt will go very well as the cure.”

trottingpottersalts.com

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The Littleton Arms

The Littleton Arms is an independent restaurant, pub and 10-bed boutique hotel right in the centre of the busy market town of Penkridge. Food is served from the busy kitchen…

The Littleton Arms is an independent restaurant, pub and 10-bed boutique hotel right in the centre of the busy market town of Penkridge.

Food is served from the busy kitchen seven days a week, from 7:00 on weekdays and 8:00 at weekends, so there’s a menu for every occasion: breakfast, brunch, lunch, bar bites, and dinner.

The imposing whitewashed building dominates the crossroads at the heart of the town. Inside, the rustic character of the 17th century inn has been retained with painted panelling, exposed wooden beams and nods to its heritage, including a wall half-covered in horseshoes. There’s plenty of cosy leather and richly patinaed furniture to create a comfortable haven from the chill of the outdoors.

Sea bass with Thai red curryYou’re invited to take a tall seat in the bar area or wait to be seated in one of the dining spaces. It takes a short while, but the welcome from the staff is warm, and they’re attentive and swift to take our orders once we’ve settled at the table.

Our visit coincides with the release of the new autumn menu, devised by The Littleton Arms’ head chef Will Dean. Many of the dishes show evidence of the close working partnership between the venue and quality local suppliers. So, for example, you can enjoy a 10oz pork tomahawk steak from Perry’s Butchers in Eccleshall, which is served with mustard and spring onion mash, fine beans, bramley apple sauce and melting cheddar with a cider gravy.

Other tempting autumnal dishes on the menu include pheasant breast with streaky bacon, a leg meat and potato croquette, cauliflower cheese purée, honey roasted parsnips, quince jelly and a red wine jus. For hearty appetites there’s also the game mixed grill – a decadent combination of seared venison loin, wild boar sausage, wrapped rabbit loins, seared pigeon breast, creamed savoy cabbage, garlic mash and baby carrot, also with red wine jus.

As it’s lunchtime when we visit, delicious as these dishes sound, we lean towards slightly lighter options. The seared seabass is a generous two fillets rather than the standard single piece of fish, and it sits atop a fragrant coconut and jasmine rice in a mild Thai red curry. The sweet mango salsa with tangy charred lime cuts through the creamy sauce well to produce a satisfying plate of  food.

Goat's cheese and sundried tomato linguineMeanwhile the sundried tomato and vegan mozzarella linguine harks back to the flavours of summer, with a fresh vegan pesto coating the well-cooked pasta. It is one of the vegan options, but is listed on the main menu rather than the separate vegan menu, perhaps to give you the chance to add crispy goat’s cheese, which we gladly do, or crispy calamari. The same goes for the Persian lentil and wholegrain rice risotto with pine nuts, saffron and toasted walnuts, to which you’re invited to add chicken supreme or duck ragù.

Whether you’re drinking or not there’s no shortage of options here, from Iron & Fire coffee and low or non-alcohol beers, to rotating ales on tap. There’s also an extensive cocktail menu and a range of premium spirits behind the bar, including Sun Bear’s naturally flavoured vodka and gin, as well as other local favourites like Hearts Distillery’s London dry gin.

All in all, this is a lovely Staffordshire pub where you can have a happy encounter with some traditional, delicious and filling fare this autumn.

The Littleton Arms
St Michael’s Square, Penkridge, ST19 5AL
thelittletonarms.com

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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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