Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Category: What’s New

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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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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Gift ideas for a foodie Father’s Day

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s…

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s Day ideas across the Staffordshire food and drink scene so you can sit back, relax and simply enjoy some time with dad over a good meal (at an appropriate distance, of course)… without worrying about which pair of novelty slippers he’d like best.

Denstone Hall Farm Shop Father's Day Hamper

Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe
If your dad is a lover of local Staffordshire produce, then this is the gift for him. The team at Denstone Hall Farm & Shop have released their ‘Staffordshire Father’s Day’ hamper, packed with local, homemade and artisan produce all sourced from Staffordshire. Expect Staffordshire Cheese Co., homemade pork pies and Cottage Delight treats. Order here: https://bit.ly/3egqo3q or email orders@denstonehall.co.uk

 

Candid Beer gift set

Candid Beer
Is it even Father’s Day without beer? Candid Beer, Stafford, have constructed the perfect gift this Father’s Day for craft beer lovers. Treat dad to a canister of four 440ml beers and a special Candid Beer glass. Choose from pale, dark, lager or mixed beers. Shop here: https://bit.ly/30Hke8M

Misco's box of chocolates

Misco’s Chocolate and Truffles
If your dad has a sweet tooth, he would love some delicious chocolatey treats from Misco’s Chocolates and Truffles, Leek. Their shop is now open (yessss!), so call in on Thursday, Friday or Saturday to pick up your dad’s favourite homemade chocolates and earn some brownie points this Father’s Day.

Dunwood Farm meat box

Dunwood Farm
Treat the King of the BBQ to a quality meat box from Dunwood Farm. Whether your dad is the chef or if you’re treating him to a day off and cooking for him, he will love the incredible quality of Dunwood’s high welfare meat. Head over to the online shop here: https://bit.ly/2MWbdAG or pop into The Village Butchers, Ipstones, to pick up your meat box.

Three Horseshoes Inn
Al fresco steak night, a bottle of wine and breathtaking views of the Peak District? Yes please! Although The Three Horseshoes Inn isn’t quite open yet, you can still treat your dad to their quality steak at a future date. The Three Horseshoes are offering a Steak Night for Two with a Bottle of Wine gift voucher, so you can treat dad a little later in the year. Head over to their online shop to purchase: https://bit.ly/2UILHmv

Bank Coffeehouse Alrewas afternoon tea

The Bank Coffeehouse
Nothing is better than a quintessential Afternoon Tea in the sun, especially with the ones you love. The Bank Coffeehouse are offering a Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea this Father’s Day. Enjoy a selection of sandwiches with salad, a fruit scone with homemade jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes and a bottle of Spilsbury & Jones craft beer. You can also have the choice to swap out the sandwiches, scone or cake for a Peter Coates pork pie on request. Delivery in Alrewas or you can collect. Call or text 07722 891696 or email Reilly-jane@sky.com to order.

Clive’s Wines
The lovely team at Clive’s Wines have crafted the perfect hampers for Father’s Day this year! Choose from five different hampers, including the Cider Curry Set and the Personalised Wine Gift Set set to name a couple. Head over to their website to find the perfect gift for your dad: https://bit.ly/37HTOp3

World of Wedgwood cheese scones, chilli jam, Dovedale blue butter

World of Wedgwood
Head Chef Richard has been busy behind the scenes at World of Wedgwood, cooking up the ultimate treat for dad this Father’s Day… savoury scones with homemade chilli jam and Dovedale blue butter. If you want to flex your culinary skills and impress dad with a homemade treat, this is the recipe for you: https://bit.ly/3cZuETz

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What’s in season?

By now you will have felt that change in the air that means warmer weather is on the way. The days are getting longer and you’re finding yourself craving lighter…

By now you will have felt that change in the air that means warmer weather is on the way. The days are getting longer and you’re finding yourself craving lighter foods and fresher flavours.

From spring, as the first new shoots of wild garlic appear, through the long bright days of summer, our hedgerows, valleys, fields and farms are at their most productive and there are rich pickings for the keen foodie. In this issue, we’re highlighting one of the most versatile harbingers of the English summer and a statuesque Mediterranean native.

Elderflower

The elder is a large deciduous shrub which prefers to grow in untended hedgerows, sheltered from the wind and bathed by the sun. Its masses of frothy white, fragrant flowers are hard to miss in late spring and early summer if you’re walking, riding or driving around the English countryside. By late August their juicy, black-purple berries are ripe, and the birds will happily tuck in.

One of the classic wild foods of late May and early June, the sweetly scented flower heads are best picked on a bright, sunny morning when they first open. Once picked, elderflowers must be used or preserved quickly before they turn brown. Although uncooked elderberries are mildly poisonous, both the flowers and the berries have long been put to use in the kitchen. First and foremost, the flowers have been used for cordial and the berries for wine, but traditional medicine uses extracts of both as a remedy for coughs, colds and fever.

The flower heads are delightful simply dipped in a light batter and fried until crisp. Elderflower’s delicate flavour is perfectly suited to light desserts like fools or jellies, pairing particularly well with tart gooseberries, lemon or rhubarb. It also works well in summery cakes, tarts and trifles. Making your own cordial is easy enough to do, by infusing freshly gathered elderflowers with lemons, sugar, water and citric acid. Ideal for summer entertaining, it makes a sophisticated alternative to alcohol or, indeed, a refreshing addition to cocktails. To really get the party started, you can also infuse spirits like gin or vodka with elderflower.

Get yours from…

Forage for it
Because they have such a short shelf-life once picked, you’ll be hard pressed to find elderflowers for sale anywhere. If you’re happy to follow the countryside code and use your common sense, you can forage for your own on a sunny morning in late May or early June. Elder can often be found thriving alongside canal tow paths and old railway lines, of which there are many across the county. Make sure you get the landowners’ permission if you’re picking from fields or woodland edges and corners and only use foraged ingredients if you’re certain you’ve identified them correctly.

Elderflower - Sambucus nigra

Globe artichoke

The globe artichoke is one of the largest members of the thistle family and, somewhat confusingly, no relation of the potato-like Jerusalem artichoke. Introduced to England by the Dutch, artichokes were said to have been grown in Henry VIII’s garden at New Hall – also known as Beaulieu – in the 16th century. With one of the highest levels of antioxidant capacity of any vegetable, glboe artichokes are at their best from June all the way through to November.

The part of the plant you can eat is the flower bud before the flower comes into bloom. It’s the tender ends of the leaves and the fleshy base – the ‘heart’ – that are edible, unlike the tough outer leaves and furry choke. In smaller artichokes the leaves are more tender, but larger specimens tend to have bigger hearts. It’s best to choose those with tightly packed leaves showing a slight bloom. Some varieties have beautiful purple leaves, while others are a crisp green.

Eating globe artichoke has to be one of the simple pleasures of summer. All you need to do is boil or steam the whole flower head before pulling off the leaves and dipping them – they’re delicious with vinaigrette, hollandaise, garlic butter, mayonnaise or aioli. Draw the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender flesh and discard anything that’s tough. They can also be barbecued or grilled. Just slice in half lengthways, remove the fluffy choke, brush with olive oil and grill until tender.

Stuffed artichoke recipes are really popular, too. Start by boiling and then pulling out the central leaves and choke. In Italy, its common to stuff them with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, parsley, grated cheese, and prosciutto or sausage. Throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, and Armenia, ground lamb is a favourite filling. Then it’s simply a case of drizzling with olive oil and baking in the oven.

Get yours from…

Gerald Harrison Greengrocer
8 Market Place, Leek, ST13 8HH

A family run greengrocer for the past 45 years and counting, you’ll find Gerald Harrison’s right next door to the Market Place entrance to Leek’s historic Buttermarket. This traditional grocers is open from 7:30 every morning with the exception of Sundays (unless the Totally Locally Sunday Supplement is on), offering a huge range of fresh seasonal fruit and veg from across the UK and Europe. That includes globe artichoke when the timing’s right. Plus using your local greengrocer is one way to avoid all that unnecessary plastic you end up taking home from the supermarket – just make sure you’re prepared with your bag or basket.

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COVID-19: Local food banks need our help

This article is a little different from our usual content, but we feel that during these uncertain and difficult times it’s absolutely vital that we all pull together and help…

This article is a little different from our usual content, but we feel that during these uncertain and difficult times it’s absolutely vital that we all pull together and help each other as much as we possibly can.

If you haven’t seen it firsthand, you’ve probably seen media reports on the supermarket frenzies happening across the country as people panic-buy food and other goods. Unfortunately, not everybody has the luxury of being able to stockpile food. In fact, many are unable to purchase food full stop, because they simply cannot afford everyday essentials. Thousands of people locally rely on food banks and kind donations from members of the public to keep their heads above water.

Across Staffordshire, we have numerous food bank services which people rely on every day, and it’s important to keep those donations flowing. Below are the details of each food bank and specific supplies that are presently running low. If you can help in any way possible, get in touch with the relevant food bank.

Stone Community Hub
Food is donated by the Stone Community Hub via several donation boxes around town. These boxes are located in Morrisons, Barclays Bank, Co-op Food in Walton and St. Dominic’s RC Church. In addition, you are also welcome to drop off any donations directly to The Hub. For more information, please visit their website.

  • Tinned meat
  • UHT milk
  • Small jars of coffee
  • Jam
  • Potatoes
  • Custard
  • Rice pudding
  • Fruit
  • Biscuits

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Food Bank
Donations can be made at Tesco stores in Trent Vale and Kidsgrove, Sainsbury’s in Newcastle, Morrisons in Milehouse, and Co-op Food along Butt Lane. Donations can also be made at any of The Trussell Trust food bank centres across the county. For more information about how you can help, visit the Newcastle food bank website.

  • Long life juice
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorants – both ladies and gentlemen
  • Shaving foam/gel and razors
  • Washing powder/gel
  • Washing up liquid
  • Sugar
  • Sponge puddings

Lichfield Food Bank
Lichfield Food Bank have numerous drop off points located throughout Lichfield, Wall, Shenstone, Kings Bromley, Fradley and Alrewas which can be found here.

  • Long life milk
  • Long life fruit juice
  • Coffee
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tinned tuna
  • Dry packet rice
  • Tinned peas and carrots
  • Instant mash

Stoke-on-Trent Food Bank
Your donations can be made to the Blurton Methodist Church on Magdalen Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST3 3HS from Monday to Thursday between 9:30 and 15:30.

  • Rice pudding
  • Small packs of tea bags (40)
  • Large packs tea bags (160)
  • Instant mash
  • Tinned fruit
  • UHT milk
  • Tinned steam pudding
  • Squash

Ashbourne Food Bank
Ashbourne have recently experienced an influx of new referrals as we all enter this period of uncertainty, so it is vitally important to help them out with any donations you can, no matter how big or small. Donations can be dropped off at Sainsbury’s, Boots, Ashbourne Library and both Co-op Food stores. For up to date information, visit Ashbourne Food Bank’s Facebook page.

  • Squash
  • Sandwich fillings (eg jam)
  • Hot dogs
  • Tinned meatballs
  • Dry pasta
  • Snacks
  • Breakfast bars
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Tinned meals (pie, curry, chilli)
  • Tinned fruit
  • Desserts
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • UHT milk

If you are struggling during this period of uncertainty, get in touch with the Alice Charity on 01782 627017 or visit alicecharity.com.

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Canalside declared Small Farm Shop of the Year

Canalside Farm Shop at Great Haywood has been named Small Farm Shop of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Nottingham Belfry. The national awards, which celebrate the…

Canalside Farm Shop at Great Haywood has been named Small Farm Shop of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony at the Nottingham Belfry.

The national awards, which celebrate the best of the farm retail industry, are organised by the Farm Retail Association (FRA). The ceremony took place on 3 March.

This family-run Staffordshire business has been growing produce for over 35 years, with owner Chris Barton at the helm.

“To say that we are absolutely thrilled and delighted to win this award is an understatement,” said Chris. “When you consider the standard and number of farm shops across the UK, it really is an honour just to have been shortlisted. We cannot thank our staff and customers enough for their continued loyalty and support over the last 35 years. Our farm shop has grown and changed a lot in that time, and it is only with the continued support of our customers, that we have been able to achieve what we have.”

Canalside has been transformed in the last 8 years, as Sauce found when we spoke to the family for our autumn/winter 2018 issue. This has included building a brand new café and complete renovation of the farm shop, with the introduction of an on-site butchery, bakery and delicatessen. Since then, both have gone from strength to strength, creating 40 new jobs and selling more than 100,000 punnets of strawberries, 20,000 home-made sausage rolls and over 110,000 cups of coffee.

“The Farm’s aim has always been to source high quality, local food and drink, from farms and producers within a 30 mile radius, whilst continuing to produce our own fruit, vegetables and bedding plants, here on the Farm,” Chris added. “The expansion of our farm shop has also enabled us to make even more of our own produce here on the Farm and the introduction of our butchery has made a big difference. Our team of qualified butchers now make all of our meat products here on the premises, supplying both our farm shop and café, meaning our customers know exactly where their food is coming from.”

The Farm Retail Awards are the only awards to be judged by fellow farm retailers and celebrate the best farm shops, farm cafés and restaurants, farmers’ markets and trade suppliers in the country. Canalside were finalists in the Farm Café/Restaurant of the Year category as well as Small Farm Shop of the Year. If you would like to pay them a visit, Canalside Farm Shop and Café are open every day from 9:00 until 17:00.

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

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All the world’s a pub

Theatre reviews might not be obvious subject matter for Sauce, but food and drink and culture are inextricably linked, perhaps nowhere more so – at least in an English context…

Theatre reviews might not be obvious subject matter for Sauce, but food and drink and culture are inextricably linked, perhaps nowhere more so – at least in an English context – than in the pub. So when we were invited to see Two at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle we jumped at the chance.

In terms of hospitality, the theatre is welcoming and homely. Downstairs you’ll find a gin and bottle lounge, open since August 2019, which offers a relaxed environment to gather pre-show. Every gin and beer is sourced from within a 30 mile radius, from the hyperlocal Weal Ales, Titanic and Staffordshire Gin to Papermill Gin and Thornbridge beers from slightly further afield.

The restaurant at the New Vic has played host to themed evenings including a Bavarian night, wine and cheese night and Latin American night. Their recent French night featuring accordion music from Sophia Hatfield went down especially well.

This summer, with the auditorium undergoing a major refurbishment project, the team are keen to let people know that the bar and restaurant are very much open for business with plenty of events in the pipeline. Keep your eyes peeled for more on that in the coming months.

In review: Two

Written by Jim Cartwright, Two is a dark comic drama set in a northern town. For her directorial debut at her home theatre, director Ruth Carney decided that a typical Potteries pub would be a natural setting for the intimate and poignant production.

The audience are drawn into the action from the moment they enter, as the Landlord serves pre-performance tasters of beer from the working bar. Set up with the help of Burslem’s Titanic Brewery, the cast are able to pull (and knock back) real pints of Steerage from the central island.

Designer Lis Evans was inspired by the nearby Hop Inn, The Victoria, The Greyhound, The Marquis of Granby and the Staff of Life in Stoke. Mock Minton tiles, heavily patterned carpet and tired wooden chairs complete the transformation to traditional local boozer.

All the dramas of life are played out in the microcosm of the pub, where the Landlord and Landlady are constantly at each others’ throats whilst warmly welcoming patrons of all ages and circumstances. Originally scripted in 1989, there are times when the play feels slightly dated as well as times when it is difficult to watch, but the language is poetic and the dissection of human relationships is as relevant as ever.

Two actors – Samantha Robinson and Jimmy Fairhurst – play all 14 characters in Two. Their mastery of pace as they dart between costumes and accents, charting the emotional highs and lows of each storyline, is truly impressive. We’re spectators to arguments, affairs, loving friendships and abusive relationships as they veer from comic karaoke to chronic loneliness, and finally to the tragedy that has split the couple’s marriage apart.

The dark joke at the heart of the play is that, while the pub is where punters come to relieve their worries and cares, the Landlady and Landlord at the literal centre of it have lost their ability to talk to each other. The destructiveness of this lack of communication feels important to talk about at a time when the suicide rate in the UK is on the rise and mental health in hospitality is under the spotlight.

Two opened at the New Vic Theatre on Friday 31 January and runs until Saturday 22 February. Tickets are on sale now, priced from £15.50, from the Box Office and can be booked online or by calling 01782 717962.

New Vic Theatre
Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0JG
newvictheatre.org.uk

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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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