A pie of his own

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Just a quick one, as I begin to look at Father’s Day. If Dad is pork pie fan, then how about one of his own?

 

Give dad his very own pork pie. Perfect gift for a food lover dad

This one is from Fortnum and Mason, hand-raised and made with Lincolnshire pork, so tasty as well as looking good I imagine. You could also expand the message to be even more personal with Michael Kirk, who are well renowned for both their pies, and sausages.

I imagine if Dad’s a pie lover, one of these will make his day.

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Looking for something different next weekend? The Great British Mustard Bash perhaps

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The Great British Mustard Bash

 

Sundays can be very quiet days, very dull days, reminiscent of those wet days of childhood filled with endless time and maths homework. So, if you’re looking for something to spice up next Sunday, then how about The Great British Mustard Bash?

Being held at Scalford Hall just outside of Melton Mowbray, once the home of Colonel Colman, this condiment of kings finally gets a celebration all of its own. Of course, being in the Melton Mowbray area, then there’ll be plenty of pork pie and Stilton to go with your mustard, not to mention sausages and some beer to wash it down with.

If you wanted to make a weekend of it, then you could stay somewhere like The Red House at Nether Broughton which would be a good option if you didn’t want to break the bank. Of course, if you do want to break the bank, or have a bank to break then there’s always Hambleton Hall or Stapleford Park.

Not eaten enough? Where to recommend out of the many fabulous places here on my local patch? Well, there’s the Tobie Norris in Stamford or The Lord Nelson at Oakham, for comfort food and great pizzas. The Olive Branch at Clipsham definitely one of our top tables, or if you want to go retro fast food, then go for the OK Diner just outside of Stamford.  For sure, you’re not going to starve round here!

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What would you buy a pork pie lover for Valentine’s Day?

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What gift would you buy a pork pie lover on Valentine's Day?

 

You might have noticed, I do write about pork pies a reasonable amount, but living this close to Melton Mowbray it shouldn’t really be that surprising. And most of the household is quite partial to a pork pie or two, but I can’t say it would necessarily be something I’d have thought of buying for a Valentine’s Day gift. But as a few people have been looking, then here’s some thoughts for you:

* Whilst heresy round here, my favourite pork pie is not a Melton Mowbray one. Bray’s Cottage Pork Pies have won Gold at the Great Taste Awards, and me over to eating pork pies, so some achievement! For a serious pork pie lover then a three pound pie might do the trick or a lot of smaller ones, take your pick! The addition of onion marmalade makes these a bit different, and the chilli version peps up any lunch box. You can even order a tiered version for your wedding, or a very big party!

* If they really, really love pork pies, then how about sending them on a course to learn how to make one? It’s one of the dishes you’d learn at the Nick Nairn Cook School on the More Meaty Dishes course, and you get to take it home. And the local scenery would be pretty spectacular too! For pies almost as an art form, then you need to explore our food past with the Pie Making and Pastry course from Historic Food. These are raised pies and a half!

* For something a bit fancy, and a bit different, then try the Poachers Pie from Fortnum & Mason. The pork is topped with a lid of delicious Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, and then little sweet onions. This is a bit like a Ploughmans in pie format. Go large for a very impressive pie!

* The second highest rated pie in this house is Mrs King’s Melton Mowbray. They’ve won so many awards it’s almost boring to mention them, but the taste makes it worthwhile. If you want to extend beyond the Melton Mowbray, then there’s the Pork & Blue Stilton, a Game Pie and even a Pork, Chicken, Apricot and Herb Stuffing one. Plenty to go at!

* Want to go personal? Then try Michael Kirk who offer personalised pork pies. You give them the message, they’ll do the rest. Beats a message on a chocolate heart if they’re a savoury person not sweet.

Definitely be a gift with a difference, something they probably won’t be expecting to unwrap on Valentine’s Day!

Great shot of Mrs King’s Pork Pies at Borough Market by Salim Virji on Flickr.

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Eat, Drink, Shop Locally Like Never Before

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I know, eating local is nothing new, it was all the rage last year. And, lets face it, 2008 and 2009 were incredibly tough years for everyone and just when we thought there was light at the end of the tunnel the snow came. We all wanted to hibernate. Nice and warm, but bad for business.

 

Melton Mowbray, ruler of rural food

 

So now the snow and ice are leaving us, this is my plea for you to get out there and support your local food and drink businesses: everyone from the producers to the retailers, the farmer’s markets to the restaurants. Many will have had the best part of nearly 3 bad weeks, which is not the best start for the new year. Never mind food trends, they need you right now. Here’s my shameless plug for the local businesses that will be getting my cash over the next few weeks:

1. Red Lion Inn- these guys don’t really need the plug (they were on the Hairy Biker’s and Olive Magazine called the team in charge the dream team) but they deserve all the praise, and the rewards. Early doors dinner is just £16.50 for 3 courses, and this week included a spectacular smoked haddock risotto with poached egg, pan fried sea bream with chorizo and mash and braised blade of beef.

2. Caffe & Deli Italia– probably the best proper cappuccino going in Melton Mowbray, not to mention a great deli. This is a great independent business, a family business. Skip the chains, head here.

3. The Melton Cheeseboard– we’re blessed around here with great cheese makers, and also with a great cheese shop in Melton Mowbray. If you love cheese, you’ll love it in here. If you’re avoiding cheese, you will need to avoid here! With Stilton from Long Clawson and Quenby and Sparkenhoe Red Leicester, you can be busy supporting several local producers at once.

4. Brockleby’s Farm Shop – perfect for devotees of Melton Mowbray pork pies, Ian Jalland and the team produce the only organic pork pie produced in the borough of Melton, and mighty fine it is too. The farm shop also carries meat from their rare breeds, and a full range of everything that you’re going to need for some great dining at home.

5. The Malt House Deli– if I’m working at home during the week, then I tend to sneak out for breakfast at The Malt House. You can get a full English, but I tend to go for a sausage butty, made with good Lincolnshire sausages. A small but good selection of victuals, and a really good selection of breads, including a very good spelt one.

6. Crossroads Farm Shop- this is my nearest farm shop, and does fantastic pork. Have a look at the pigs in the farmyard, and then pop inside to see what they’ve got. We had a brilliant joint of pork from them to make porchetta at New Year, and Best Foodie Friend had an amazing gammon joint. Cracking bacon too!

7. Colston Bassett Dairy- talk about cutting food miles! During the week and on Saturday morning you can buy your Stilton direct from Colston Bassett Dairy, from the shop on site. Just don’t come at lunchtime, it’ll be closed. If that’s the case, then pop just down the road to Colston Bassett Store, as they carry it too. You might even be able to get into the coffee shop for lunch. Failing that, you could always head over to The Martin’s Arms. Not cheap, but will be one heck of a good lunch.

These are my local food haunts and whilst I’d love everyone to visit them, first and foremost get out and find the equivalents in your area. It’s not just a gift to you and your family, but to them and their families, their employees, their suppliers, their families….and so the circle goes on. Money spent locally continues to do good locally. This is not about being parochial, but thinking about how you spend your money. And maybe think about spending just a little less this week and sending it to the Haiti appeal.

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The Saturday Session – recipes for local food greatness

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We’ve just made it back from the East Midlands Food & Drink Festival, being held this weekend at Brooksby Hall near Melton Mowbray. Lets face it, when the local foodstuffs are pork pies and Stilton, you know you’re going to be onto a good thing!

Melton Mowbray, ruler of rural food

This is the third time we’ve been, and I would say this year was the quietest one we’ve been to. It’s also lacking the big name celeb chefs of previous years. No disrespect to Alan Coxon, but he’s not exactly James Martin or Lesley Walters.  That said, there were still some great producers here, and we’ve come home with some great stuff for dinner tonight and beyond.

So, here’s what caught our eye, our purses and our tastebuds:

1. Leicestershire Food & Drink by Rupert Matthews – had a good chat with Rupert about his book, newly published, and the calorific dangers of living in this area. His London 3 piece suit didn’t last long in the onslaught of pork pies and Stilton, all in the name of research of course!

2. Bedazzled Cupcakes- these were MGG’s pudding of choice from everything at the show. She went for the fudge one, I’d have been tempted by the Oreo one.(UPDATE, sadly no longer trading). I’m always happy to see Peppercorn Catering though, as they always have a good, and tasty, selection of gluten and dairy free options for free indulgence by the sensitive amongst us.

3. The Tiffin Food Company- from award winning restaurant The Tiffin in Leicester come some very tasty Indian ready meals, sauces and marinades. We sampled the Chicken Bhuna, which was a little on the hot side for me (I’m a wimp). Looking forward to trying the Classic Curry sauce tonight. (UPDATE, sadly no longer trading)

4. Bobby’s– the legendary Leicester Indian vegetarian restaurant is also providing part of tonight’s dinner. Thrilled to see them there dishing out a buffet of great veggie food. We’ll be having Chilli Paneer, plus a veg samosa and onion bahji. To our shame and regret, we haven’t yet eaten at the restaurant (come on, we’ve only been here 6 years) but thought we should put that right any time soon.

5. W E Botterill & Son– these are just up the road from us, and when we have turkey at Christmas then we order it from them. Which meant we stood there debating what we’re having for Christmas dinner this year! And goose is sort of edging in there! Don’t go to Croxton in the first week in December though. An eerie silence will lay over the village, as all the geese will be hanging upside down by then.

6. Fire Foods – funnily enough had connected with Fire Foods on Twitter this morning. We have arrived home with a jar of the Crunchy Chilli Peanut Butter, which you think is just like normal peanut butter…and then the heat kicks in! Perfect instant satay, or for something a bit different on your toast in the morning.  I didn’t love the marmalade, it was just too much heat for me but, as I say, I’m a wimp.

Lots of other favourites from the area there too, including Brockelbys, Mrs King’s Pork Pies, Dickinson & Morris, Riverford and Picks, all providing great meat eating opportunities! So, if you’re in the area and short of something to do, not to mention need to do your weekly shop or just want to support proper food producers, then I would say it was £6 well spent. And kids get in free, though will probably cost you a lot in grazing money!

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