Tag Archives: Booths

New Friends and Old

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song as much as hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world” J.R.R. Tolkein

What a lovely weekend.  Aided by the fact that I had Friday off so it was longer than normal but largely due to all the lovely people who me and @TheHungryMrs bumped into on our travels – most of them food related, which was, as always, a bit of a bonus.

Foodies Festival – Tatton Park
The weather was appalling on Friday but with the day booked off work and tickets bought in advance we were not to be deterred.  Turning up at Tatton it was a little annoying to be charged extra to park but I suspect this was more the Park coining in rather than anything else but added to that was the fact that the over eager money collectors stopped everyone just inside the gate causing a queue out on to the road – perhaps collecting the parking charge at the car park well inside the gates might lead to less congestion? 

Anyhow – since the weather was not going to put us off we were definitely not going to be stopped by this.

Now in all honesty we didn’t try a huge amount of food on offer – largely because there weren’t really samples to be had (in our experience).  That isn’t to say that all we were looking for were freebies, more that I’d have preferred to have been able to sample little bits of what was there instead of having to take full portions.  So instead we took in a couple of Masterclasses.  One from Laurence Tottingham of Aumbry and then a Bordeaux Wine session from Charles Metcalfe

Mackerel from Laurence Tottingham

Having eaten at Aumbry recently I was chuffed to hear from Laurence.  His obvious love of what he does came across superbly and the dish of smoked mackerel fillet with poached rhubarb, rye toast and mustard cream was a picture in itself.  “It’s as easy as that” he declared after creating the plate, and, while not easy I’m sure it is now less daunting to perhaps try something similar at home.

Knowledge from Charles

As for Charles and his wine, again the knowledge on show was very impressive and while not all the wines were to my liking (there was a red loaded with tannins and a very sweet white) the overall presentation was great

A food stall we did stop at was Churros Susannas.  I was heading for pancakes (I always struggle to resist) when I saw the stall.  I’m honest enough to say that I’d never tried these bread based, doughnutty offerings and when someone asks “May I take your Churros virginity?” even in a Brummie accent, I thought it’d be rude to say no.  Sprinkled in sugar and dipped in chocolate they were a lovely little afternoon treat. And a darn site easier to accommodate whilst battling with an umbrella.

Saturday – Heatons &
Peering around the curtain we were greeted with a bright light in the sky.  Rumoured to have buggered off for the year, the sun had decided to grace us with its presence.  So off we went for our first trip to Heaton Moor Market.  A much more intimate affair than Tatton – and for me, all the better for it.  Everyone seemed to know each other and were making recommendations for other stall holders and as a result within an hour we were laden with a selection of goodies from old favourites Levanter Fine Foods, an untried chutney from FatJax, bread and delicious scotch eggs from The Handmade Feast plus cakes and puddings from Pixie Bakery and Glamourpuds respectively. My no carb weekdays quickly disappearing into the mists of ancient history.

Then Northwards, to Huntleys Foods to gather ingredients for Sunday dinner and also to meet Jane at Barrica Wines.  Well even though I’m not the biggest tennis fan in the world if certain players exploits sent Jane temporarily insane enough to sell a gorgeous prosecco for just £7 a bottle I wasn’t about to miss out.  She also made a great recommendation for the wine for Sunday. Cheers Jane.

Long slow mutton
Sunday was a comparatively lazy day.  A quick dash to Booths to pick up a late night Saturday recommended Womersley Blackcurrant & Rosemary vinegar.  Then back to prepare a shoulder of mutton from Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb  to eat that evening.  If you want to know more, see here.

So all in all a fantastic weekend chatting to people who know and love their produce and their craft. Topped off by trying a meat I’ve not had before.  However, having bought a piece of meat which was clearly too big for the two of us (ooops, silly me) I am already looking forward to a mutton curry.

Thanks to you all and please keep it up




Three Wine Men – or – Tipsy at the Museum

“Wine is wonderful stuff.  But so many people are put off by the snobbery of it”
John Cleese

And who am I to argue with a Python?

It’s true though.  I enjoy drinking wine but I don’t get hung up on which wine it is.  I’m as happy drinking a chilled crisp white wine in the sun as I might be drinking a heavy red wine with a steak. And if the occasion calls for a bit of fizz a nice prosecco does the job for me.

I have never been that concerned with grape variety, geography or whether the vines grew on a south facing slope at an altitude above 1000ft, overlooking a village where the locals sang to the grapes each evening to ensure they were happy!

I appreciate that all these things make a difference (well all except the last perhaps), however they have not been something I have been conscious of while having a slurp.

So when I was fortunate enough to win a couple of tickets to Three Wine Men which clinked up at the Museum of Science  and Industry, I took along no preconceptions, no airs or graces and let’s be honest no in depth knowledge of the subject.

The Three Wine Men are Oz Clarke, Olly Smith and Tim Atkin and according to their website they:
“want to get everyone in the country tasting, experiencing and enjoying new wines and discovering different foods. Their events bring together wine and food retailers and producers to show you just how much fun your taste buds can have in a day”.

So with the sun shining off I went with Mr B, (the only person I could convice to begin drinking wine at 11am)  to see what I might learn from these three enthusiastic fellas.

What we found was a room full of people all eager to try some of the 250 wines on show, match them with food from various different outlets and possibly learn more about a product they thought they knew.  In essence what we found was a cracking way to spend 4 hours on a Saturday.

I have neither the capabilty or the space here to describe the wines we tasted (there were lots) however I will pick out some that caught my/our attention:

There was food to be had from Booths, Morrisons and ASDA.  Booths in particular showing off some really tasty offerings from Mr Trotter’s Pork Scratchings to a raspberry balsamic vinegar which had summer salad dressing written all over it.  There was experimentation with apples and cheese courtesy of The Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  And there were masterclasses to attend, the one we stopped by having been excellently presented by Andy Green (Wine Buyer for Booths) on the subject of food matching and how and why different combinations work.  Turns out I really like Sherry!!

But what of the Three Wine Men?

Tim Atkin talking sense

Well we caught glimpses of (TVs) Oz Clarke, running from table to table with a cohort of half a dozen people who appeared to be trapped in his enthusiastic whirlwind.  We managed to catch a couple of talks from Tim Atkin who was entertaining, engaging and enlightening.  I’ll come back to Tim shortly. A somehwhat reduced in bulk Olly Smith was kind enough to spend some time with us and introduced us to D Vine Wines, their enthusiasm matching Olly’s and their wine in a plastic bottle actually has some significant cost and environmental savings.  I’ll let the snobs work out if it’s a seller or not but I can see the attraction in carrying around wine in a bottle that won’t break and as Greg from D Vine said “Ten/fifteen years ago there are some people who wouldn’t have drunk wine from a screwtop bottle”.  Olly then went on to give us an insight and a couple of tips for the gewurztraminer grape, so thank you to him for that.The day was a blast. Fun, engaging and nobody made us pair of wine newbies feel in any way akward, therefore tickets have already been purchased for the return trip in December.But I will leave you with a point that Tim Atkin made, which was for me, the best point of the day.  That being this –  of all the wines in the room, regardless of opinion, of price, of whether you followed all the tasting hints and tips,  the best wine is the one you enjoyed the most.

For me that was a Brazilian White wine – the Alisios Pinot Grigio/Riesling 2011 from Bibendum Wines which think ggiven the weather I could have drunk all day long!!