Tag Archive: Latest

  • Burleighs Gin crowdfunding campaign hits £100k target in first week

    But there’s still time to invest…

    Burleighs Gin of Leicestershire has hit its initial crowd-funding target of £100,000 in a single week. However, the distillery is still calling on food and drink lovers to invest after extending the campaign to October 7.

    Burleighs is currently valued at £2.3 million and has so far received more than 120 investments via its Seedrs crowdfunding page, varying from £10 to £50,000+.

    Burleighs plans to diversify its portfolio with the invested funds. Development plans include introducing a non-alcoholic gin and a ready-to-drink gin & tonic.

    Commercial director Sam Watson is delighted by the success of the campaign. He said: “Despite the impact of Covid, 2020 has been a year of great progression for Burleighs Gin. The success of our crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs will now allow us to further drive our growth.”

    Distilled in rural Leicestershire, Burleighs has successfully established itself in the competitive gin market over the last five years with a unique collaborative strategy. Current partners include Leicester City FC, Leicester Tigers RFC and the Marilyn Monroe estate.

    Its latest collaboration is with the Royal British Legion, resulting in the official Poppy Gin. A limited number of bottles can be bought here.

    Burleighs crowdfunding campaign can be viewed here.

  • Crystal Clear Compliance helps food & drink businesses get Covid-secure

    Sponsored post

    Crystal Clear Compliance of Great Easton near Market Harborough works with pubs, restaurants and food shops to help them survive and thrive. Founder Lucy Walsh and her team help independent businesses deal with new post-Covid health & safety and environmental regulations.

    The government requires every business to complete a Covid risk assessment. Crystal Clear Compliance guides you through the process while offering help in other areas.

    Lucy Walsh

    Lucy will help businesses put other health & safety documentation in place too, plus set up suitable insurance policies and perform risk assessments.

    She says: “As people return to work, their roles may have changed, or layouts may have altered. This means risk assessments should be reviewed and updated. We will help them prepare for life in this ‘new normal’.”

    To get in touch with Crystal Clear Compliance, call 07748 860076 or 01536 770249, or email lwalsh@crystalclearcompliance.co.uk.

  • Have you tried Cocoa Amore’s stunning Noir range?

    Sponsored post

    Since the beginning of lockdown, Leicestershire’s Cocoa Amore have been rolling out their brand new ‘Noir’ range in sleek black cardboard packaging. The range features a fantastic spectrum of chocolatey treats, from boxes of chocolates, to tins of fondant truffles, to exciting new filled bars.

    For the first time, Cocoa Amore have made their range available for other retailers to sell (so you may have seen them around in your local shops!). To make it easier for you to find Cocoa Amore chocolate, they have added a ‘stockists’ page on their website. Keep an eye out for new ones online and posts through their social media channels


    If you’re yet to discover Cocoa Amore’s NEW Noir Range, take a look…


  • Melton Mowbray’s Round Corner wins three golds at World Beer Awards

    Round Corner Brewing of Melton Mowbray – just two years old and Great Food Club’s current Drink Producer of the Year – has bagged three gold medals at the prestigious 2020 World Beer Awards. The winning performance means it is once again one of the UK’s most accoladed breweries at the awards. Expert panellists awarded the medals after a blind-judging process involving more than 2,200 beers from over 50 countries.

    Hopping Spree, Round Corner’s signature West Coast IPA (6.6% ABV), was one of the winners. The beer also won gold at last year’s European Beer Challenge. Hopping Spree is inspired by the legendary rabble-rousing adventures of the Marquis of Waterford – originator of the phrase “paint the town red” after a big night out in Melton Mowbray!

    Society for the Encouragement of Virtue, Round Corner’s 9.6% ABV rum-barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout, was recognised as the UK’s best Imperial Stout. This beer gains its unmistakable profile from the plantation rum barrels in which it is aged. Society for the Encouragement of Virtue also won Best Label Design.

    Brewer Scott Sharp-Heward said: “These wins make us so proud – decades of brewing knowledge went into crafting these amazing beers.”

    Co-founder Combie Cryan said: “We want to weave as much of the amazing feeling and history of Melton Mowbray and its surrounds as we can into our beers. We’re proud that it’s being noticed.”

    Head brewer & co-founder Colin Paige commented: “Round Corner is a philosophy. It’s about innovation but rooted in a deep belief that real craft beer is about the relentless pursuit of perfection, not jumping on the fad bandwagon.”

    Colin Paige (left) and Combie Cryan, founders of Round Corner Brewing

    About Round Corner Brewery

    Round Corner Brewing is based at a bespoke brewery in the heart of Melton Mowbray’s 1,000-year-old agricultural market. It aims to brew outstanding beers in keeping with the celebrated gastronomy of the region, which is famous for its Stilton and Melton Mowbray pork pies.

  • Melton Mowbray’s Cidentro Cider House stars on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch

    Melton Mowbray cider-maker Cidentro appeared on live TV on August 30 on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.

    From a live video link in Devon, cider expert Gabe Cook – known as The Ciderologist – chose three ciders.

    He talked about each – Wild Disco by Nightingale Cider, Table Cider by Little Pomona and Rosé Cider by Cidentro. About Cidentro he said: “This is Cidentro’s rosé-style cider from Leicestershire. Again, not necessarily a classic cider-making area but showcasing how there is this real diversity.”

    Gabe told viewers about the new campaign #DiscoverCider which aims to highlight the diversity in cider styles and show that there’s a cider for everyone.

    Tasting in the Sunday Brunch studio were presenters Tim and Simon, together with their guest star Joel Dommett.

    Hiranthi Cook, founder of Cidentro, said: “Thanks to Gabe, Tim and Simon for having us on the show, it was tremendous fun and we were truly honoured.”

    Cidentro’s Rosé is a dry, lightly sparkling, 8.0% ABV rosé cider created from a unique blend of English cider and English pinot noir wine. It’s ideal as an aperitif and pairs beautifully with food. A 75cl bottle costs £9.50. You can order here.

  • The School of Artisan Food at Welbeck reopens to students

    It’s back to school to celebrate Sourdough September!

    The School of Artisan Food at the heart of Nottinghamshire’s Welbeck Estate has reopened and welcomed back students for the first time since lockdown.

    A new programme of culinary and baking courses has been launched, as well as activities to celebrate Sourdough September.

    “We are delighted to welcome people back to The School of Artisan Food,” said director Simon Pittman. “During the last few months we have hosted various online courses but we are thrilled to see people back in our building here in Welbeck.

    The School of Artisan Food has very spacious teaching areas

    “One thing we’re not short of here is space. As we’re based in a huge building we’re able to host courses in a safe environment where people can feel comfortable. Our training rooms are large, plus we’re able to open up our doors and spill out into our spacious courtyard.”

    Over the summer the team worked behind the scenes to ensure it was ready for the reopening and received Visit England’s ‘Good to Go’ accreditation.

    During that time, they were able to devise a new programme of courses, including events to coincide with this year’s national Sourdough September festival. The School of Artisan Food will be hosting a Sourdough Demonstration evening and a two-day Introduction to Sourdough course from a renowned international baker.

    Sourdough September was originally launched by the Real Bread Campaign to encourage more people to buy genuine sourdough from independent bakeries and to have a go at making their own.

    The School’s expert baker, David Carter, will be sharing his expertise during a Sourdough Demonstration evening on September 15. There will be the chance to taste some freshly baked sourdough bread and take away a portion of sourdough starter to practice bread baking at home.

    David said: “I look forward to welcoming everyone to the School and sharing our passion for real bread. As a process, a lot of mystique has a grown up around sourdough. While there is advice online, there is no substitute for a step-by-step myth-busting practical session.”

    During the event he will go through the entire sourdough process. The evening takes place at the School in Lower Motor Yard within Welbeck from 6pm until 8.30pm. Tickets, £20, can be booked here.

    For those looking to extend their practical sourdough skills, there will be a two-day hands-on ‘Introduction to Sourdough’ course led by the internationally renowned baker and author, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Taking place over the weekend of September 19-20, the course offers the chance to learn all about sourdough baking from fermentation and mixing to proving and baking from one of the very best. More details can be found here.

    Other courses coming up range from baking, pizza-making, and beer and cheese tasting to foraging, how to prepare and cook fish, and preparing venison and game.

  • Leicestershire pub walk: Peatling Magna to Claybrooke Parva via The Crab & Cow at Leire – a great walk made even better!

    By Bobby Twidale

    Late in July, with lockdown restrictions sufficiently lifted, we set off to walk from Peatling Magna to Claybrooke Parva, along the footpaths that make up this section of the Leicestershire Round footpath.

    Having already completed the Rutland Round in early June and now a good way through the Leicestershire Round, this particular section was auspicious in that it would be only the second occasion that we were assured of being able to sit down for lunch in the 150 or so miles we had thus-far covered; levels of anticipation were naturally high.

    A basic map of the Leicestershire Round

    Covering a total of around nine miles, we would be stopping off at the Crab & Cow in Leire, a couple of miles before our final stop for the day. We were a team of three, one of whom was a well-mannered Labrador, Buzz, who was welcome to join us for lunch, sitting in the outside dining area.

    Buzz the Labrador

    Typical of the previous stages of the Leicestershire Round, our walk took us through some beautiful rural countryside and was for the most part well-organised and clearly signposted. However, also typical was a varying quality in the accessibility of some stretches of the path with a mix of hand-gates, kissing gates, stiles with dog gates and those without. When walking with a 34-kilo dog who needs lifting over a series of high stiles, you certainly earn your lunch! Although we always keep an Ordnance Survey map in the bottom of our rucksack as a back-up, we were using the Leicestershire Footpath Association’s guide to the route and found it helpful and informative. Many of the fields also contained livestock. Buzz lives on a farm and so is uninterested in a field of sheep but nonetheless, we always follow the countryside code, keeping him under close control. The only caveat to this is that cows with calves can be extremely protective of their young; if we are chased, we follow National Farmers’ Union advice and release the dog as he is much faster than us and can get himself out of trouble.

    Our route took us across open fields out of Peatling Magna and on to a hedged track, heading for Willoughby Waterleys. We then headed downhill and over a stream before climbing up towards the village, passing the lovely Norman church onto the main street. There are several impressive houses in the village that are worth a pause and an inn (The General Elliott) named after George Augustus Eliott (1717-1790), former Governor of Gibraltar.

    The next stage took us for a short while along the main Ashby-Willoughby road which had less traffic than we expected before turning through the Holy Farm Fishery with its two non-dog-friendly stiles. The lakes were busy with fishing enthusiasts enjoying the opportunity to be angling again, post lockdown. From here, you head towards the M1. You hear it long before you see it, something that always prompts a discussion about how often noise pollution sadly impacts the countryside we walk through. After crossing over the motorway, we were glad to head away from the noise and across the fields to Dunton Bassett. We passed young cattle on the way but happily they were merely curious!

    Out of Dunton Bassett, we took the bridleway past Stemborough Mill, en route to Frolesworth. The path passes alongside a stream and fishponds. The brambles were alive with butterflies and we bumped into two little boys heading with their fishing nets and grandma for the ponds where they told us they had caught crayfish the week before. The route into the village follows a well-trodden path with a series of stiles, all happily with dog-gates. In Frolesworth, we paused to admire the alms-houses before heading out of the village in the direction of Leire and lunch.

    The Crab & Cow is a modern and relaxed pub-restaurant, with a lovely chilled ambience, open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Friday and all day at the weekend. It consistently rates highly for food, service and value and serves a range of dishes from lunchtime sandwiches, through a good steak menu to a nice range of seafood. Tuesday night is pie night, Wednesday Italian night and Thursday steak night, with Sunday lunch served between 12 and 5pm. My walking partner and I have different palates; she definitely has a sweet tooth and always saves room for dessert. I have a fairly small appetite and so we both opted to have a starter-sized meal. The service was attentive and friendly but laid-back enough to not be overwhelming and Buzz was made very welcome. The Covid-related formalities were carried out efficiently but without spoiling our enjoyment of the experience.

    I chose spiced beetroot arancini with whipped goats’ cheese and grilled artichokes and Gillian went for the fish finger sandwich. We were most impressed. The arancini were delicately spiced and the goats’ cheese mild and light – a really nice balance. I thoroughly enjoyed the dish. Gillian’s meal was more substantial, and she couldn’t finish all of the chips, even though they were excellent (Buzz was very happy about that). The fish fingers were hand-made with the perfect balance of crispy breadcrumb coating and light, soft fish. Very nice. The waitress who served us was also patient about Gillian’s lengthy explanation of which dressing she would like and how it should be served. Ticks all round for this course.

    After a lengthy deliberation, Gillian opted for an iced coffee parfait, served with caramelised bananas and sable biscuits for dessert. Although delicious, the parfait was not coffee flavoured. This was quickly improved by the coffee sauce chef sent out shortly afterwards. A quick internet search at home revealed that this week’s menu has iced honey parfait on the dessert menu, and I suspect this is what Gillian was served. An easy mistake to make and either way, she had polished it off so quickly I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of the untouched dish. No harm done then.

    Lunch finished, we set off for the final stop of our walk, Claybrooke Parva. It is at this point that I usually congratulate Gillian, chief navigator, on her good planning by positioning lunch not too far from our final destination and today was no exception. The last section of the walk was very pretty and included some beautiful scenery, a rather magnificent sweet chestnut tree with a twisted trunk and coffee from a flask on the extensive green lawns in front of the church at Claybrooke Parva, but a little sleep would have been rather nice!

    A very nice walk and a lunch that was definitely worth the lockdown wait.

  • The Engine Yard at Belvoir is back open for breakfasts, gin, pizza, ice creams and more!

    A sponsored post from The Engine Yard

    The Fuel Tank café/restaurant and Balloon Bar at Belvoir Castle’s Engine Yard are back open – and so are all the other independent shops that make up this rural food & shopping hub.

    The Fuel Tank is now serving breakfasts from Friday to Sunday, 10am-11.30am. If you’re after a Full English or a breakfast roll look no further!

    The breakfast menu

    There’s also a tempting lunch menu, including a range of delicious Belvoir Woodfired Pizzas.

    Next door to The Fuel Tank, you’ll find The Balloon Bar, which is now open Friday to Sunday, with alfresco Balloon Bar gigs back on each Friday from 7pm.

    While there, you might want to try a Belvoir gin & tonic! Belvoir Gin is a unique new creation, offering flavours of dry, piney juniper, woody nuttiness, zesty orange, floral chamomile and subtle sweet vanilla.

    There’s much more going on at The Engine Yard too. For example, Cocoa Amore serves its incredible ice creams from Friday to Sunday – choose your flavours, toppings and sauces.

    A Cocoa Amore ice cream

    So, whether you want to browse its range of independent shops, grab a coffee & cake or spend the afternoon relaxing over a delicious lunch, The Engine Yard – with plenty of outdoor seating – is the perfect place to unwind and catch up with friends.

    Business opportunity: The Engine Yard is seeking a bakery and a farm shop to add to its unique mix of independent artisan operators. To find out more, email rachel@silverpearcommunications.co.uk

  • Happy 40th birthday, Hambleton Hall! We propose a toast!

    But which of the 10,000 bottles in its wine cellar should you choose?

    A 40th birthday demands a celebration, but the pandemic has scuppered party plans for many of us this year, including Hambleton Hall near Oakham. Special events might be on ice but guests can still enjoy the Michelin-starred restaurant, the boutique rooms and the magnificent surroundings overlooking Rutland Water.

    You’re assured a superb view at Hambleton Hall!

    The current situation has challenged many restaurants and hotels  – Hambleton Hall has risen to the challenge and prospered. The kitchens produced takeaway meals during lockdown, but is now open for business, with the expected changes to allow social distancing. When we visited in July, the restaurant was fully booked for every service for the next three months and there were no signs of that slowing. But why would it? After 40 years in the business, they are experts in hospitality.

    The Michelin star is the longest retained single star in the UK because the food and wine are exceptional. The rooms are highly sought after because the location on the Hambleton peninsula, surrounded by Rutland Water, is stunning. But the hotel offers more than a meal fit for a gourmand and a room fit for royalty. It is run by a team of highly professional, approachable and passionate experts who love what they do, and that is what adds the magic. The core team have 125 years of service to Hambleton between them, including restaurant director Graeme (36 years), chef Aaron (28 years), sommelier Dominique Baduel (21 years), general manager Chris Hurst (17 years), marketing manager Carolyn Turner (17 years) and housekeeper Ewa Biolonos (six years), so they know what they are doing!

    Sommelier Dominique Baduel (left)

    Much has been written about the food and the setting of Hambleton Hall, but on our visit we were particularly interested in the wine.

    Compiling a restaurant wine list requires a number of skills. Your wine knowledge and palate must be exceptional, that much is obvious. But you must also be a fortune teller – knowing what is going to be in demand in future years, so you can buy young wines and mature them in the cellar to ensure availability. Your organisation skills must be exemplary, to manage the stock levels, rotations and maturation dates. You need a capacious memory, not only for the contents of the cellar and the whereabouts of the individual wines but also for each wine on the list (and each vintage of each wine) which needs to be described and matched with an array of ever-changing dishes. And you must be a mind reader and detective, able to translate the unspoken word into a wine choice that perfectly matches the customers’ taste and budget.

    The gardens – with Rutland Water behind the trees

    At Hambleton Hall, sommelier Dominique Baduel and owner Tim Hart manage everything vinous, sharing the wine buying between them but with Dominique leading the way in the restaurant. He has an exceptional knowledge of, and passion for, wine  – which guests are advised to tap into if they want to get the most out of the extensive wine list.

    Tim Hart, founder of Hambleton Hall & Hambleton Bakery, and a man who knows his wine!

    There are recognised wine names on the list, but Tim and Dominique seek out smaller, less well-known producers, so many will be unfamiliar. That can make it tempting to stick to what you know – but you will be missing out. Our advice is to ask Dominique for recommendations, whatever your own level of knowledge, because no-one knows the wines like him.

    The dining room

    We diners can be reticent about asking for the sommelier’s help, fearful that we will be pushed to spend more than we want, or sneered at if we choose one of the lower-cost wines. While sommeliers in the grand restaurants in France are often on commission and so will steer diners to more expensive wines, Dominique is not. His only interest is to provide the most appropriate wine for each diner and for them to love what they drink.

    He is happy to find wines at a specific price point – and he assured us that specifying your budget is both acceptable and helpful. But if you don’t want to share that information in front of your guests, he can work out what is suitable for you. Or you can use the coded language they share on the website – “we usually drink Beaujolais” or “I was thinking of something along these lines” while pointing firmly to the right-hand column!

    Although the cellar is carefully curated and managed with a long-term view now, that wasn’t how it began. Tim Hart inherited his father’s wine cellar and the contents became the inaugural Hambleton Hall wine list on the opening day in 1980. It makes fascinating reading. Unsurprisingly Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone dominated the list. Everything was sold by the bottle, and the list started with House red, House white burgundy and  “Our other House White from St. Pourcain” – all at around £6 a bottle. If you were celebrating a 40th birthday on the opening night in July 1980, you might have splashed out on a 1975 Bollinger for £21, followed by 1949 Lafite Rothschild at £100 and rounded the meal off with a bottle (!) of 1945 Constantino or 1963 Fonseca. These wines are now long gone, but the list has developed and grown over the years and today there are over 300 wines listed and 10,000 bottles in the cellars, from 1st Growth Bordeaux to English White.

    Head chef Aaron Patterson started at Hambleton Hall in 1984

    Dominique leads the list with ‘Wines of the Moment’, a selection of wines which are currently drinking well and worthy of diners’ attention. The use of a Coravin (which extracts a glass of wine and replaces it with argon gas to prevent any change to the maturation process) allows Dominique to offer a number of wines by the glass, giving diners the opportunity to try exceptional wines without being tied to a whole bottle.

    The list is categorised by price, so is easy to navigate within your budget, but the sheer number and diversity of wines means Dominique’s expert opinion is highly recommended for most people.

    On our visit he served a 2012 Rheingau Riesling from August Kesseler – not a wine we would have naturally chosen, but a perfect accompaniment to the dishes we ate.

    Hambleton Hall is a very special place, used to hosting celebrations on behalf of its guests. This year it reached its own 40th birthday and deserves a party of its own. While it may not be possible at the moment, we have no doubt that it will see many more birthdays. Until then, we raise our glass to Hambleton Hall… and could Dominique please recommend something appropriate to fill it?

    One of the many beautiful dishes served at Hambleton Hall
  • Cidentro Cider House of Melton Mowbray receives national acclaim

    New Leicestershire cider producer Cidentro Cider House of Melton Mowbray has attracted national acclaim in The Guardian newspaper. Food writer Fiona Beckett chose Cidentro’s Still Cider (7%ABV) as a must-try product in her article about a new campaign called Cider is Wine.

    The producers featured in Fiona’s piece – including Cidentro – all use 100% freshly pressed apple juice to make their ciders, just as wine-makers use 100% freshly pressed grapes. Some commercial supermarket ‘ciders’ use as little as 35% concentrated apple juice.

    Hiranthi Cook, co-founder of Cidentro, said: “We are absolutely chuffed to bits to be featured in The Guardian’s Feast Magazine. It’s such an interesting article that gives credence to ciders made with 100% freshly pressed apples. It’s also great that Fiona is recognising the Cider is Wine campaign.”

    Hiranthi Cook with wine writer Oz Clarke

    Hiranthi and her husband Matthew launched Cidentro Cider House after moving to Melton Mowbray from Hertfordshire. They planted 540 apple trees which produce seven varieties of apple including ‘Lord Derby’, ‘Black Dabinett’, ‘Katy’ and ‘Michelin’. Hiranthi has trained in the art of cider making for the past three years.

    Cidentro’s young orchard near Melton Mowbray. Seven varieties of apple are grown here – Sops in Wine, Katy, Kingston Black, Lord Derby, Browns, Michelin and Black Dabinett.

    Cidentro currently offers three types of cider – a still, a lightly sparkling and a delicious rosé – which you can order online here.

    ‘Browns’ apples
  • Sunny or grey, Burleighs’ summer specials will hit the spot!

    Enjoy your picnic in style with a Burleighs Gin Hamper and take advantage of a sublime summer miniatures offer

    Sponsored post

    There is still time to enjoy the summer – and what better way to enjoy the sun than with a Great British gin picnic? Burleighs Distiller’s Cut Gin is the perfect summer tipple to enjoy with friends – refreshing and light with a delectable, floral finish. A limited number of hampers are available and include a special-edition Burleighs Gin picnic blanket.

    Each hamper includes:

    • Off-white picnic hamper
    • 1 x limited edition Burleighs Gin picnic blanket
    • 1 x 70cl Burleighs Distiller’s Cut Gin
    • 2 x Burleighs Copa de Balon
    • 4 x 200ml Fever-Tree tonic

    Order yours here.

    Burleighs Summer Miniature Offer

    Here’s another Burleighs offer to make you smile.

    Buy a bottle of Burleighs Signature Gin and receive a Pink Edition miniature FREE. Or, buy a bottle of Burleighs Pink Edition Gin and get a Signature miniature FREE. Offer valid during the month of August.

    Shop here.

  • Discover chocolate’s terroir with Cocoa Amore’s set of eight Single Origin bars

    Sponsored post

    Cocoa is much like wine or whiskey in that its flavour is intrinsically linked to where it is grown. Factors that alter its flavour include climate, soil and local geography.

    Cocoa Amore’s Single Origin range allows you to discover these fascinating flavour nuances for yourself. The set includes eight 30g chocolate bars from around the world. Wrapped in gold foil, paper sleeve and beautifully presented in a sleek noir box, the pack also includes a map of the Cocoa Belt with tasting notes.

    Each set includes a map of the Cocoa Belt with tasting notes

    The term ‘Single Origin’ means the cocoa has been harvested from one specific region rather than being a blend of beans from different areas. This allows the delicate notes of each bean to shine through. Each bar featured in this set has a unique, distinctive flavour. It is less about the percentage of cocoa content and more about the growing location. It really is a fascinating voyage of discovery and makes a fantastic gift.

    The Single Origin Set includes:

    Mexico 66% Dark Chocolate: Smooth in texture, with rich, warm spice and citrusy notes.

    Mapale, Colombia 80% Dark Chocolate: Pronounced bitterness with mild, green notes.

    Tumaco, Colombia 65% Dark Chocolate: Delightfully balanced with a bittersweet, fruity flavour.

    San Martin, Peru 72% Dark Chocolate: Rich, creamy, slightly acidic, fruity banana notes.

    Brazil 66% Dark Chocolate: Deep, smokey, tobacco notes. Fresh hints of tropical fruit.

    Sao Tomé 70% Dark Chocolate: Rich, slight bitterness and coffee acidity.

    Madagascar 100% Dark Chocolate: Intense, deep cocoa flavour with red-berry acidity.

    Java 32% Milk Chocolate: Sweet, creamy, buttery, caramel notes.

    Price: £19.50


  • How Orbis in Oakham came from nowhere to reach No. 1 – despite lockdown

    Orbis in Oakham is a restaurant that takes its name from the Latin orbis terrarum, which means ‘circle of lands’. It lives up to its title by serving international cuisine in the form of small plates, sharing dishes and cocktails.

    Orbis opened on January 25, 2020. Within two months it was plunged into lockdown. But owner Jonathan Spencer – who previously ran two pubs in Lincolnshire – and his team responded magnificently.

    Launching an eye-catching, slick delivery & takeaway service overnight – christened ‘Orbisoo’ – they brought their food to doorsteps throughout the height of the crisis. In so doing – and thanks to head chef Sam McDonald and the team – they built a loyal following. Indeed, Orbis – a gluten-free restaurant – is now No. 1 on TripAdvisor for Rutland. On July 17 it made its 4,000th delivery, some of which have been free meals to vulnerable members of the community.

    “To be honest, at the start of lockdown my main aim was to keep the rent paid and the staff employed,” says Jonathan. “We have managed to do that. In fact, we’ve actually increased turnover by around 20% even though we were already at full capacity when lockdown began.”

    From August 12, Orbis will be serving food on plates again. Although they may well continue their successful delivery service
    Head chef Sam McDonald

    That said, the Orbis team are looking forward to reopening on August 12 when they will take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme. “I can’t wait,” says Jonathan. “I didn’t get into this trade to send my food in cardboard boxes!”

    To book a table at Orbis, click here.

  • Sponsored post: The story behind Price & Fretwell’s award-winning Church Hill Farm chicken

    Derbyshire catering butcher Price & Fretwell is renowned for its award-winning beef – but its Church Hill Farm chicken is highly prized, too.

    Price & Fretwell is the East Midlands’ exclusive supplier of Church Hill Farm chicken, which comes from the Yorkshire Wolds. Church Hill Farm chicken has won both a Great Taste Award and a Deliciouslyorkshire Taste Award. As such, it is chosen by several top quality pubs and restaurants including The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland, The Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, and The Stag & Hounds in Burrough on the Hill, Leicestershire.

    Church Hill Farm chicken is grain-fed and reared in light, airy barns with bales to perch on. It is fed on a nutritious diet of Yorkshire wheat.

    Nathan Price, co-director at Price & Fretwell, says: “Every pub, café or restaurant that buys our chicken can use the name ‘Church Hill Farm’ and its prestigious awards on their menus to showcase its quality, locality and sustainability. We can supply a variety of different cuts of Church Hill Farm chicken from whole birds to fillets, legs and wings.”

    To order Church Hill Farm chicken from Price & Fretwell, click here or call 01773 591 212.

  • How The Rustic Crust of Nottinghamshire’s home-made pizza oven grew into a gleaming 55-seater restaurant

    In 2007, Ross and Camille Oliver were the proud owners of a well-used garden pizza oven. Now they run one of the region’s most talked-about new independent restaurants…

    During a trip to Rome in 2007, Ross and Camille Oliver fell in love with real pizza. On returning to their Nottinghamshire home, they wanted to create what they’d found in Italy and built a pizza oven in their garden. The journey had begun.

    The impressive garden pizza oven, with Poppy the Landrover in the background

    For seven years, family and friends enjoyed Ross and Camille’s delicious pizzas. But the couple were addicted. They decided it was time to share their passion with a wider audience. The Rustic Crust was born.

    In 2014, Ross and Camille started serving authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas from a fabulous converted Land Rover Defender called Poppy. They placed a wood-fired oven inside Poppy and took their pop-up pizzas to local events.

    Three months later, Ross quit his job as a web designer and Camille left B&Q to pursue their dream.

    The Rustic Crust quickly built a fantastic reputation for its pizzas and friendly, professional service. It became a popular choice for corporate events and was soon catering for 50 weddings a year, earning recognition as a regional finalist in The Wedding Industry Awards.

    The couple began touring Nottinghamshire, putting on regular pop-ups in the car park of their local pub, The Brown Cow in Mansfield, as well as at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground and Sherwood Business Park in Annesley. The Rustic Crust’s many fans became known as ‘pizza stalkers’, which has become its favourite social media hashtag (naturally, you can now buy #pizzastalker T-shirts!).

    With fans queuing for up to an hour to get their pizzas and word spreading, Ross and Camille knew it was time to take the next step. They needed a permanent home.

    While plotting the next stage, Ross and Camille forged an exciting partnership with Everards. This partnership – and their hard work – eventually resulted in The Rustic Crust’s new 55-seater, family-friendly pizzeria in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire. Located in the former Co-op in Main Street, the restaurant opened on March 10, 2020. Until lockdown, they were fully booked every night and receiving raving reviews.

    Before and after!

    Ross explains: “We’d built a successful business that we wanted to take to the next level. We’d had several offers from other companies wanting to partner us, but they never felt 100% right. But then we met Everards through our local pub, The Brown Cow. We knew them as a local brewery but didn’t realise that they invest in property to house other businesses like ours.”

    The new restaurant in Farnsfield

    “Funding the building cost and renovation was our biggest challenge, so we decided to team up. Like us, Everards are an independent business and we share the same values. They purchased the building and assisted with the funding and design to our specification.”

    However, as we all know, it hasn’t been plain sailing since opening day. Just ten days after the launch party, the Government ordered restaurants to close. But Ross and Camille, ever the fighters, were determined to carry on, and the innovative pair came up with the idea of DIY pizza kits.

    During some weeks in lockdown, The Rustic Crust’s pizza stalkers put in more than 500 orders for pizza kits, which come with step-by-step instructions. The kits have been so successful that they will be available long after lockdown ends.

    Dave Pawson of Everards says: “This difficult time has proved what an innovative couple Ross and Camille really are. Their determination has been inspiring. This is why we love working with independent businesses to help them expand and see them grow into the successes they deserve to be. We are delighted to be able to help The Rustic Crust continue its journey.”

    Who knows where Ross & Camille’s pizza passion will take them next – but they’ve come a long way since building their garden pizza oven!

    A sponsored message from Everards:

    If you are looking to take the next step with your business, like Ross and Camille, why not chat to the team at Everards on 0116 201 4260? Or you can get in touch here.

  • Burleighs Gin of Leicestershire celebrates sixth birthday!

    Burleighs Gin is six years old, having distilled its first batch of gin on June 24, 2014. As a thank you to all its loyal fans, it is offering £6 discount per bottle on Signature, Distiller’s Cut & Pink Edition Gin until the end of June, using the code TURNING6. Shop here.

    Burleighs commercial director Sam Watson said: “What an incredible six years it has been, with our brand growing out of a converted milking shed in Leicestershire to become an international gin brand sold across the world.

    “Burleighs Gin would not be here without the support of each and every one of you! Every purchase you have made, every friend you have chatted to about Burleighs, every like or share on social media all plays a part and has shaped us into the gin you know and love today. Here’s to the next six years!”

  • Owen Taylor & Sons claims top haul in Q Guild of Butchers ‘Star’ Awards

    Owen Taylor & Sons Butchers in Leabrooks near Alfreton, Derbyshire, has won two ‘Best of the Best’ Diamond accolades in June’s Q Guild of Butchers 2020 Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards.

    The shop bagged double wins with its gluten-free sausage and home-made pastrami in the ‘Fresh from the Deli’ category. Both products also picked up a top-ranked three-star rating.

    Judges said Owen Taylor’s gluten-free herby sausage – made with pork sourced from Farm Assured farms – was “well-made with a good bite and texture.”

    The shop’s award-winning pastrami is made using home-cured Farm Assured beef, matured for 28 days to give greater depth of flavour. Judges said it was impressive and ticked every box.

    Carl Evans, operations manager at Owen Taylor, said: “We’re over the moon to pick up two category-leading Diamond awards in the face of such strong competition from fellow butchers nationwide. I dedicate these successes to our entire team.”

    Among several new categories in the Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards this year was the Young Butcher of the Year, open to all aged under 24. Nominees must have developed a retail product and Owen Taylor’s Lennon Callister, aged 20, was shortlisted with his stuffed pheasant with black pudding & shallots.

    Carl Evans said: “Lennon is an example to other young butchers wanting to start out in the industry, very knowledgeable and keen to learn every aspect, having already started his Level 3 Advanced Butcher Apprenticeship.”

    Owen Taylor received 18 product awards in total – the biggest haul of any entrant this year.

    Lishman’s Butchers in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, was crowned overall 2020 Smithfield ‘Star’ Awards Supreme Champion.

  • The Pickled Shop of Bulwick spreads foodie love and eyes July reopening

    The Pickled Shop of Bulwick, Northamptonshire, has launched four ‘ALL4lLOVE’ hampers. Each is filled with various delicious options, including chutney/jam from The Pickled Village, a Snowdonia cheese truckle, Fine Cheese Co crackers and a Warner’s gin miniature. Shipping is available all over the UK.

    An ALL4LOVE hamper

    “Lockdown has been a lonely or difficult time for many,” said Pickled Shop owner Camille Ortega McLean, “so I’ve been working hard to keep delivering goodies with love to homes all over the UK.”

    Operating from a makeshift set-up in her daughter’s house, Camille packs the hampers, writes cards and despatches boxes.

    A year ago, her home and shop – the bricks-and-mortar version of The Pickled Shop – were destroyed in a thatched-roof fire. Camille said: “The physical shop in Bulwick is being restored and we hope to re-open in July 2020 all being well. However, our online shop, where you can buy our ALL4lLOVE hampers, remains active. Indeed, it has been especially active during lockdown. With a bit of improvisation, we are playing our part in helping people connect. Sharing love through food has always been at the heart of my business and my family life, and now this purpose is more meaningful than ever.”

    To order a Pickled Shop ALL4lLOVE hamper and get 10% off using the code ALL4LOVE10, click here.

    A Pickled Village preserve
  • ‘Customers fell in love with local during lockdown. We have to keep the flame burning’

    VIDEO: Great Dalby’s March House Farm Shop – a GFC Farm Shop of the Year Finalist 2020 – reveals how the Covid crisis has transformed their business…

    March House Farm Shop in Great Dalby near Melton Mowbray – a finalist in the Great Food Club Awards 2019/20 – has experienced its busiest ever period during lockdown. New customers flocked to the shop, moving away from the supermarket, towards local. The farm continued to rear superb beef, lamb and pork, while also launching a delivery service and online shop. Furthermore, it added several product lines including the ‘March House Farm Kitchen Range’, which the likes of the ‘Melton Wellington’ and a new Melton Mowbray pork pie, made with farm-reared pork.

    In this interview by Leisa Pickles from Find Me The Leads, Jo Rodger tells the farm shop’s lockdown story. Jo explains shows how coronavirus brought a whole new raft of customers to the shop, and how, under pressure, March House has grown into a bigger, slicker operation.

  • ‘On some days we’re cooking for more customers than we did pre-lockdown’

    VIDEO INTERVIEW: The Hammer & Pincers of Wymeswold – GFC Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year 2020 – reveal how they’ve made a success of lockdown with a positive, flexible approach…

    The Hammer & Pincers in Wymeswold, Leicestershire – Great Food Club’s Fine-Dining Restaurant of the Year 2019/20 – has responded to coronavirus with positivity and verve. So much so, that on some days it is serving more customers than it did during busy times pre-lockdown. In this interview by Leisa Pickles of Find Me The Leads, head chef and owner Daniel Jimminson (not Sandra – his wife, as per the Zoom caption!) tells us how he and the team have done it, and what they think the future holds.

    Interviewer Leisa Pickles is director of Find Me The Leads.
    Interviewee Daniel Jimminson (not Sandra!) owner & head chef at The Hammer & Pincers.

  • ‘The depth of community support we’ve received has been incredible’

    VIDEO: Melton Mowbray’s Round Corner Brewing – GFC Drink Producer of the Year 2020 – explain how they’ve survived the Covid crisis…

    Everything was going beautifully. They’d won international brewing awards (not to mention the title of Great Food Club Drink Producer of the Year 2020), their taproom was thriving and their beers were getting into more and more pubs. Then lockdown hit. Leisa Pickles talks to Combie Cryan, co-founder of Melton Mowbray’s Round Corner Brewing (established 2018), about how his business has evolved to cope with Covid-19, and finds out what the future holds for this brilliant new Leicestershire brewery.

    Interviewer Leisa Pickles is director of Find Me The Leads.
    Interviewee Combie Cryan is co-founder of Round Corner Brewing.

  • Video interview with Price & Fretwell – our Catering Butcher of the Year 2020

    Until lockdown, Derbyshire’s Price & Fretwell had been supplying scores of pubs, hotels and restaurants with award-winning meat. Business was booming. But suddenly, in March 2020, the hospitality sector – which accounted for 98% of this butcher’s sales – closed. To stay alive, Price & Fretwell dug in and began delivering to households.

    In the video below, we talk to director Nathan Price to find out how they’ve survived the Covid-19 crisis and uncover how they’re planning for the new normal. The interview is by Leisa Pickles, director at Find Me The Leads.

    Interviewer: Leisa Pickles, director, Find Me The Leads.
    Interviewee: Nathan Price, director, Price & Fretwell.

  • Farrington’s Northamptonshire rapeseed oil becomes world’s first food product certified as carbon and plastic neutral

    Farrington’s Mellow Yellow Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil – grown and produced in Hargrave near Wellingborough – has become the world’s first food product to be certified as both carbon and plastic neutral. The entire Farrington’s Mellow Yellow range of oils, salad dressings and mayonnaises are accredited.

    Farrington Oils managing director Duncan Farrington said: “This is not just a box-ticking exercise; the environment is at the heart of everything we do. We have always looked for ways to be more sustainable so it made sense to take the official steps. We will continue to improve and aim to be carbon negative – remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we produce – through sustainable farming practices where our soils lock in CO2, by planting even more trees and by creating better wildlife habitats.”

    Farrington Oils has been nurturing healthy soils, reducing waste and recording energy usage for more than 25 years, so becoming net-zero was the logical next step. Since 1987, it has planted over 8,000 trees on its farm and in 2018 installed solar panels that now generate over half of its total energy requirements.

    Andrew Bowen, CEO of One Carbon World, said: “As the first farm to take this step, Farrington Oils has made a ground-breaking commitment that will inspire other companies around the world to take action and become carbon neutral in 2020.”

    Partnering rePurpose Global, Farrington Oils funds the removal of the same amount of plastic waste from the environment as it uses in its packaging. “We are thrilled that Farrington Oils’ mission to protect our planet clicked with our work on the ground,” said Peter Wang Hjemdahl, co-founder of rePurpose Global. “We challenge every food and beverage brand to follow Farrington’s lead and take action before it is too late.”

    Through long-term soil health analysis, Duncan Farrington has tracked the carbon sequestered in his soil. In one field, Duncan has increased soil organic matter by 66% over the last 16 years. This suggests Farrington Oils is absorbing 3,780 tonnes of CO2 into its soils each year – the equivalent to offsetting flying one person around the globe 526 times.

    Duncan Farrington is calling for all companies, large and small, to change their habits to make a meaningful difference for our planet. “If a small company of 15 people in the sleepy Northamptonshire village of Hargrave can become a global leader in sustainability, I truly believe everyone can make a difference. By working together to change our habits, we can do this!”

  • Advertorial: Award-winning Price & Fretwell pivots to deliver local meat to households

    Price & Fretwell of Tibshelf, Derbyshire, was on the brink of disaster for the first time in its 30-year history when the hospitality sector closed in late March 2020. With pubs & restaurants accounting for 98% of sales, Great Food Club’s Catering Butcher of the Year 2020 was rushing towards a cliff edge more precipitous than Giddy Edge near Matlock Bath – one of Derbyshire’s most hair-raising sheer drops.

    But they make them tough in Derbyshire! Led by father-and-son team Nathan & Darren Price, Price & Fretwell pivoted to focus on household deliveries. They effectively built a new business overnight.

    “We are now delivering to more than 300 houses weekly in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland,” says Nathan.

    That number is growing fast. Click here to order and push it higher.

    The timing of lockdown was particularly tough on this East Midlands butcher. It’d been on a roll. Having won the Great Food Club accolade late last year for its “consistency, excellent products and superb customer service”, business was booming. Sales were at record levels (up 15% year on year) and Price & Fretwell was attracting new clients weekly, adding to a portfolio that already included The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Stapleford Park near Melton Mowbray, The Chubby Castor in Castor and Orbis in Oakham to name but a few.

    Today, the business is turning over 30% of what it did pre-lockdown, but the cliff edge has been avoided. Moreover, sales are growing.

    And that’s not surprising because the quality is high. Price & Fretwell’s speciality is dry-aged beef farmed in Leicestershire and South Yorkshire, but it also offers lamb from Burghley Park Estate in Stamford, lamb from the Belvoir Estate, and chicken from Church Hill Farm.

    An Olive Branch beef dish – the award-winning Rutland pub is one of Price & Fretwell’s regular customers

    To order a Price & Fretwell household meat delivery, call the office team on 01773 591 212 (Tuesday to Friday 7am to 5pm and Saturday 7am to 12pm). Or alternatively, order online here. The butcher offers free next-day delivery for orders placed before 9pm. Orders after 9pm are processed the next day and delivered the day after that.

    Nathan says: “We’re proud to have brought our service to families and households during lockdown. It’s especially rewarding to deliver to vulnerable and isolated people. Also, we are delivering to restaurants that have remained open for takeaway including The Palfrey in Derby (Derby Restaurant of the Year 2019), The Grey Goose at Gilmorton in Leicestershire, Barnacles Restaurant & Bar Bistro in Hinckley and The Beehive Inn at Combs in the High Peak.”

    “Another silver lining has been teaming up with other local producers such as Bull Baking Co, Woodthorpe Grange Farm, Pro Chef Terrines & Patés, Positive Kitchen and Parsnips & Pears.”

    Click here to order a delivery from Price & Fretwell.

  • Advertorial: The Fuel Tank at Belvoir Castle’s Engine Yard now offering takeaway

    If you’re pining for a restorative trip into the beautiful Vale of Belvoir, you’ll be pleased to know that The Fuel Tank café/restaurant at Belvoir Castle’s Engine Yard is now offering a takeaway service.

    The current takeaway menu

    The best way to enjoy it is through their pre-ordering system. First, call 01476 247059 to place your order.

    The Fuel Tank is strongly encouraging customers to pre-book their takeaway orders. However, a walk-in option is also available. Guests should follow the directions of the restaurant co-ordinator on arrival. The number of customers entering The Fuel Tank will be strictly limited, and payment will be contactless only.

    Please note that you can’t eat or drink on the premises. However, there are plenty of scenic spots nearby.

    For more information, click here.

  • The Veg Factor shifts its Michelin Star service to home deliveries

    The Veg Factor in Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, began life in 2009, supplying fresh produce to East Midlands pubs and restaurants. Over the past decade, it’s built an enviable client list, delivering everything from Chinese artichokes to Jersey Royals to Michelin-starred restaurants such as John’s House in Mountsorrel and Hambleton Hall of Rutland, and to award-winners including The Olive Branch in Clipsham, The Wheatsheaf in Greetham, Hitchin’s Barn in Oakham, and the pubs belonging to Leicestershire’s Little Britain Pub Company.

    Hambleton Hall

    However, that all changed on March 20 when the government closed pubs and restaurants. “Overnight we lost 80% of our business,” says The Veg Factor’s sales & marketing director Carl Woolley. “Somehow, we had to rebuild the business, while continuing to fulfil our duty to supply care homes and schools.”

    The Wheatsheaf in Greetham

    The team immediately refocused to concentrate on consumer sales. “We launched a doorstep delivery service, supplying local homes with restaurant-quality produce,” says Carl.

    Every day for the past 11 years, The Veg Factor has visited London’s New Covent Garden Market to source the freshest, best-quality fruit, herbs and vegetables. And that habit is continuing despite the change of focus.

    New Covent Garden Fruit & Vegetable Market. Photo: Facebook.

    “We’ve always used Covent Garden,” says Carl. “It means we keep the quality and seasonality high. We are usually one of the East Midlands’ first suppliers to get ‘first-of-the-season produce’ such as asparagus and Jersey Royals, which means restaurants – and now households – can get them without delay. We also source from Rungis Market in Paris and from Milan, picking up delicacies such as Monk’s Beard, violet artichokes, Italian winter leaf like Castelfranco and puntarelle. However, of late this has become more difficult due to the crisis.”


    Furthermore, The Veg Factor sources from local producers “where the quality is right” – including Colston Basset Dairy, Manor Farm Yogurt, Hambleton Bakery and Vine Farm Dairy. “We are looking to work with other local producers and will pay a fair price,” says Carl.

    So, if you’re looking for a supply of Monk’s Beard or just some spuds – plus local milk, bread, pies and more – you can order and choose your delivery slot on The Veg Factor’s website. And if you live outside the delivery zone (enter your postcode on its website to check), a call-and-collect service is available. Call 01509 815815.

  • Have award-winning Redhill Farm produce delivered to your door

    Redhill Farm Free Range Pork of Lincolnshire, two-times Great Food Club Food Producer of the Year, is operating a weekly UK-wide delivery service via courier and local delivery service in person. The service was running pre-covid-19 but has taken on renewed importance during the lockdown. Its two shops – one on the farm near Gainsborough and the other in Lincoln’s Bailgate – are also open, and it is attending some farmers’ markets.

    Jane and Terry Tomlinson of Redhill Farm

    Benjamin, a Great Food Club member, emailed us to recommend Redhill Farm’s delivery service, highlighting the “wonderful, tasty lamb, sausages and pork pies”.

    The Lincolnshire farmers are also able to deliver fresh pork, dry-cure bacon and ham, haslet, ham hock black pudding and more.

    The award-winning producer is not only a former Great Food Club champion but also a BBC Good Food Top Three Best Sausage Maker and FT Top Five Best Bacon Curer. It supplies pork pies to Lord’s Cricket Ground and Wimbledon, too.

    Jane, Terry and the team deliver weekly – orders are despatched on a Thursday for next-day Friday delivery. To order, click here.

    Redhill Farm sausages
  • The Geese & Fountain morphs into a village shop, takeaway and virtual pub. But it’s not a PR stunt and all is not rosy…

    Because of their heartwarming, backs-to-the-wall response to coronavirus, there’s a danger we see pubs and other small food & drink businesses as charities, run for the good of the community. However, we should remember that they are businesses, fighting for their lives…

    The Geese & Fountain in Croxton Kerrial, Leicestershire, is working flat-out to serve the local community during lockdown. But like many pubs, it is engaged in an existential struggle.

    As this crisis evolves, there’s a danger we start to see pubs and other small food & drink businesses as charities. It’s an easy mistake to make when we hear about chefs cooking for the NHS and about pubs helping vulnerable locals. It feels like they’ve become part of the third sector, run by volunteers. It’s been an inspiring response.

    However, as we applaud, like and retweet, there’s a danger that we forget these small businesses are not running PR campaigns. This is no game. Helping the vulnerable is admirable but doesn’t pay the bills. Turning your pub into the village greengrocer makes a nice news story, but often the pub has no choice. Money must be made and bills have to be paid, despite the government assistance.

    Nick Holden, landlord at The Geese & Fountain, says: “The lockdown has been difficult and unsettling for pubs, but we’ve found ways to continue to serve our community. We have furloughed or stood down all our staff, but we intend to keep paying them if we possibly can. We want them to come back to their jobs when we re-open. We’re missing our staff badly, they are like a family, and it’s hard not to be able to see them, have a joke, and work together.”

    With the help of family and locals, The Geese & Fountain has started offering take-aways and deliveries – pizzas, fish & chips, burgers, curry, Sunday lunches and other classic pub food. It has opened a window at the front of the pub for collections, turning into a village store selling milk, bread, veg boxes, flour, meat and other essentials. “We might continue with this after lockdown,” says Nick, “because our village lost its shop at Christmas.”

    Furthermore, the pub is putting on virtual pub nights on Fridays, virtual pub quizzes, online darts, and is also running ‘The Great Croxton Cook-Off’ – “a kind of ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ event,” says Nick.

    But while The Geese & Fountain’s response to coronavirus has been joyful, morale-building and smile-inducing, the future remains unknowable and, from a business perspective, precarious.

    Nick says: “We’re worried about the future. We’ve been here nearly five years, and when we moved in, the pub had been empty for a while. We invested a lot of our own money – and borrowed from family and the bank – to repair the building and re-open. But now, just when we should be starting to show a profit and re-pay our debts, we’ve been forced to close.

    “We really want to weather this storm and re-open, but we don’t know what the future holds – even though we’re grateful for the government support we’ve received so far.

    “Our biggest cost – rent – is still the biggest threat to our survival. The property is owned by Wellington Pub Company, which is owned by Britain’s second-richest family, the Reuben Brothers, and at this point, Wellington says rent still needs to be paid. However, the stark reality is that there is no money to pay with. Until a solution to this stand-off can be found, the risks for pubs like ours remain high. Either landlords need to accept that rent will not be forthcoming, insurance companies need to pay out on business interruption policies that pubs took out in good faith, or the government needs to take action to bring all sides together to work out a way forward.”

    So, next time you hear about a pub transforming into a village shop or cooking for vulnerable villagers, don’t brush it off as a PR stunt. Despite the warm glow these initiatives temporarily produce, this is an extremely testing time for pubs like The Geese & Fountain, and for many other independent hospitality businesses.

    “We’re desperately worried,” says Nick. “We will need help even after we re-open, otherwise we face the prospect of surviving the lockdown only to go out of business when we re-open. Pubs are an essential part of British society, and in small villages like ours, they are the heart of the community. If pubs cannot re-open profitably after this, those hearts will stop beating. English village life will be changed forever.”

    For more information on The Geese & Fountain, visit its Facebook page.

  • A FREE Great Food Club Handbook 2020 for food-loving friends and family

    For a limited time, we’re giving you the chance to show food-loving friends and family how much you are missing them.

    Join Great Food Club from now until the end of May and you’ll receive a money-saving membership card and a copy of our 132-page 2020 Handbook. BUT… you can also choose ONE ADDRESS to which we’ll send another FREE Great Food Club Handbook. And you can include a lockdown message of support.

    Join and choose who to send your gift to here. Simply select ‘standard’ membership and then fill in the details. As you complete the form, you’ll be asked who you’d like to send a free copy to.

    If you’re ALREADY A PAYING GFC MEMBER, you can also choose one address to which we’ll send a free book and message.

    The Great Food Club Handbook 2020

    You’re bound to know someone who’d love a copy of our Great Food Club Handbook. It’s the perfect companion for anyone in the East Midlands who loves local food & drink. It contains a wealth of information on top-quality independent producers, farm shops, delis, pubs and restaurants, including more than 750 recommendations – so you can start to plan your post-lockdown eating plans.

    Below are a few sample pages.

    To join Great Food Club and send your gift book and message, click here.

  • The Hammer & Pincers hits nail on head with sell-out luxurious lockdown takeaways

    The Hammer & Pincers in Wymeswold, Leicestershire – Great Food Club’s Fine-Dining Restaurant of the Year 2019/20 – has responded to coronavirus with positivity and verve. So much so that on some days it is serving more customers than it did during busy times pre-lockdown.

    On Easter Sunday, for example, owner Danny Jimminson and his team provided contactless takeaway lunches to 150 people. And last weekend, they launched their six-course Saturday Night Grazing Menu in takeaway form – complete with flights of wine. They sold out again, cooking for 90.

    The Hammer & Pincers is our Fine-Dining Restaurant of the Year 2019/20

    “On both Easter Sunday and last weekend, we probably could have served more people,” said Danny. “But we’re still learning what we can do. The skills we’ve honed for our outside-catering business are coming in handy.”

    The Hammer & Pincers’ lockdown takeaways – and deliveries via the ‘Hammeroo’ Delivery Bike (Wymeswold village only) – are contactless. Customers book and pay online, then drive into the car park and say their name. A member of staff brings the bagged-up meal out to a table and retires to a safe distance, or pops it into the customer’s boot if they prefer.

    Furthermore, the restaurant is conducting daily deep-cleaning of its kitchens, providing anti-viral hand sanitisers for its team and checking the temperatures of all staff, twice daily.

    The ‘Hammeroo’ bike for village deliveries

    “At first, we offered pies and casseroles, but as we’ve found our feet we’ve been able to make more of the kinds of dishes people expect from the Hammer & Pincers,” says Danny. “As time goes on, more customers are wanting an extra-special treat during lockdown, so that’s what we’re offering.”

    “Quality presentation is tricky for takeaways,” says Danny, “but the flavour is all there”

    The Hammer & Pincers’ takeaway dishes include…

    Amberjack, Turbot & Lemongrass Spiced Fish Patties, Coconut & Coriander Curry Sauce, Carrot Salad.

    And: Dry-Aged Pork Chop (from Elms Farm, Costock), Pig’s Head & New Potato Croquette, Grilled Hispi Cabbage, Celeriac Puree, Granny Smith Apple.

    Wines about to be poured for the taster menu takeaway

    The Leicestershire restaurant has launched Takeaway Tapas and Takeaway Sunday Lunches, too, receiving a large response to both.

    The Hammer & Pincers’ takeaway Sunday lunch

    Danny has also responded to lockdown by digging some raised beds in the garden, and he’s planning to build a chicken run and add some beehives.

    Meanwhile, the team are planning how to operate when restaurants are finally allowed to reopen. “There are so many unknowns that it’s virtually impossible to plan properly,” said Danny. “But one thing we’ve talked about is putting up curtains or screens between tables. Whether that could work remains to be seen, but we’ll continue to innovate as best we can.”

    He concluded: “When we’re open again, I predict we’ll be looking at offering an even more engaging and luxurious dining experience. We think people will see dining out as more of a treat than they did pre-coronavirus, so we’ll be doing everything we can to exceed their expectations.”

    Book your Hammer & Pincers takeaway here.

    An example Hammer & Pincers takeaway menu