Ten local foodie ideas

By Matt Wright

1) Cook at home
Sounds simple but this is a surefire way to win over that special person. Here’s a beautifully simple but special-feeling springtime recipe from David Graveling, chef at the Jackson Stops, Stretton…

Pan-Fried Salmon with Spring Veg Risotto

* 1 salmon fillet, skin on, pin boned
* 1 portion (roughly 150g) risotto
* 100g mixed vegetables (courgettes, broad beans, sugar snap peas)
* 1 small bunch rocket leaves
* 1 small bunch watercress

a) Start by making the risotto – this can be made in advance and stored for three days in a fridge. Gently sweat a diced onion and a clove of garlic in 25g butter, once softened, add the Arborio rice and 50ml of olive oil.
b) Still on a low heat, gradually add vegetable stock, 100ml at a time, stirring from time to time. The rice will absorb the stock, then add some more stock and repeat this process. Season as required. Cook the risotto until there is still some bite in the rice (probably 25 mins) and allow to cool if made in advance. At this stage the risotto can be finished with the vegetables (see step 4 below).
c) Place a non-stick pan on a medium heat and allow to warm through. Add a splash of olive oil and place the salmon in the pan skin side down. After a minute turn the salmon over and season the skin side. Place the pan in an oven set at Gas Mark 4 (180C), this will now take roughly 8 minutes to cook.
d) Meanwhile, the risotto can be finished. Cut the courgettes into 2cm dice and half the peas at an angle. Place the risotto into a pan with 100ml of water on a medium heat, add in the vegetables and stir until the water has been absorbed. Stir in a spoonful of mascarpone and parmesan if desired, season to taste.
e) Blend together the rocket, watercress, olive oil, salt and pepper in a liquidizer, and use as a herb dressing around the dish. Garnish the dish with sun-blush tomatoes and serve with a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio.


2) Afternoon tea at Stapleford Park

Set in 500 acres of landscaped grounds and exuding country luxury like a pair of velvet-lined Hunter wellies, Stapleford Park is the perfect place for a spot of high tea. Or maybe sherry with cucumber sandwiches. Sink into the comfortable sofas, place your Earl Grey and scones on the antique table, and inhale the refined 17th century atmosphere. Afternoon tea costs from £8.50 per person.
Stapleford Park


3) Shopping and cocktails

A Sunday shopping spree at Leicester’s Highcross might go down well. But after that you should go for a cocktail at award-winning Hotel Maiyango in St Nicholas’ Place (double gold in the East Midlands Tourism awards). Great Food suggests you select a sublime Black Forest Gateaux cocktail.
Above: Maiyango head chef Phil Sharpe gets shaking.
Hotel Maiyango


4) Day trip to Stamford

Photo by Don Lambert

A day trip to one of England’s finest stone towns is laden with great-tasting possibilities. After browsing the numerous boutiques (St Mary’s Street is a good place to start), refresh with excellent coffee at Fine Food Store before enjoying a tipple at The George, an impressively ancient and comfortable hotel. You could also visit fabulous old pub the Tobie Norris, before contemplating heading home and cooking the salmon dish above.

Goodies on the blackboard at Stamford Garden Centre

But before leaving the town, venture to Stamford Garden Centre on Casterton Road. Here you’ll find bags of local produce for sale in the farm shop (the Lincoln Red beef is excellent and reared just a few miles away in Great Casterton). You can also stock up on herbs, plants and seeds so that you can start to grow your own ingredients. A well-earned cake and possibly more in the Garden Kitchen café/restaurant is also an option.
Fine Food Store
The George
Tobie Norris
Stamford Garden Centre


5) Local pub walk

There are several fantastic walks in Leicestershire & Rutland (we always publish a pub walk in Great Food magazine), including some beauties in the Vale of Belvoir around Belvoir Castle. Here’s a gentle three-mile circuit starting at the excellent Red Lion, Stathern (make sure you pop in for a drink afterwards). You’ll need your boots…

a) Turn right out of the Red Lion car park and head up Tofts Hill.
b) As the lane does a dog-leg left, follow the path that veers off to the left, with a stile by a gate. Head diagonally across the field, walking up towards the wood.
c) A fence allows access to a distinct footpath, which climbs through the wood. At a junction with a larger path, turn left, dropping down hill slightly. When the path forks, go right.
d) When you reach a crossroads of tracks, turn left.
e) Just before the track leaves the woods, follow a path left, going alongside a field but keeping inside the woods. Cross the ditch using the marked plank bridge and turn immediately left, walking along the side of a field, keeping the ditch to your left.
f) Pass through a metal gate, cross the field to your left, then pass through another gate. Here turn right to follow the track and then turn left, following the road back to the village.
g) Reaching Main Street, turn left, then left again into Red Lion Street.
The Red Lion


6) Champagne at Kilworth House Hotel

Kilworth’s Orangery

Victorian opulence and a hint of theatrical flair are in the air at Kilworth House Hotel. The snore-inducing comfort of the public rooms – where you can relax with your fizz – contrasts with invigorating light that constantly floods the starched white tablecloths and ornate tiled floor of the Orangery. Theatre and opera regularly take place at Kilworth but even if there isn’t a show on it’s worth visiting to literally and metaphorically drink in the luxurious surroundings. Baron de Beaupré Brut champagne: £40 (bottle), £10 (glass).
Kilworth House Hotel


To finish off, here are four pressie ideas from the Foodie Gift Hunter

Helen Tarver, aka The Foodie Gift Hunter

7) Cupcakes from Kandy Cupcakes

For a colourful, feminine gift, how about a box of cakes from Kandy Cupcakes? From pretty pastels to chocolate overload, there’s something for everyone, even sensitive types, as there are gluten-free and eggless options too.
Kandy Cupcakes


8. Breakfast hamper from Chantry Farm Shop

Deliver the Chantry Farm Breakfast Hamper – from Chantry Farm Shop, Melbourne – with a promise to cook the contents, even deliver them to bed on a tray. Everything’s here for a fabulous breakfast: three types of sausage, bacon and excellent marmalade, jam and honey for toast. All with great provenance.
Chantry Farm Shop


9) Tea from Rutland Tea Company

Rutland Tea Co. of Oakham imports a huge variety of leaves – from China White Peony to Aromatic Orange Blossom to Kurseong Valley Darjeeling. Such exotic tea makes a lovely, healthy present. The Sencha ‘Ginger Lemon’ pictured has the metabolism-boosting benefits of green tea alongside a delicious flavour combination. A feature on the Rutland Tea Co. appears in the May/June issue of Great Food Leicestershire & Rutland magazine.
Rutland Tea Co.


10) Selection of cheeses from Melton Cheeseboard

Melton Mowbray’s Melton Cheeseboard is one of the best specialist cheese shops in the UK. You’ll find a huge variety of cheese under its roof, from most types of Blue Stilton to Stinking Bishop and everything in between. Supplying the best local restaurants, Melton Cheeseboard is a must-visit. Ask proprietor Tim Brown to put something together.
Melton Cheeseboard

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.