Colors: Green Color
Colors: Green Color

Simple Simon goes into National Pie Week with all Gunns blazing this year. The Biggar pie makers based in The Scottish Borders, Simple Simon's Perfect Pies, have teamed up with nearby Campbell's Brewery in Peebles to create a brand new, limited edition Steak and Ale Pie using one of Gunner's exceptional craft ales.

The award winning pie makers use only the best, locally sourced produce for their pies, so it's no surprise they chose to collaborate with the brewery to celebrate National Pie Week which runs from March 5th - 11th this year.

Fiona Anderson, owner of Simple Simon's Perfect Pies is thrilled about the collaboration, 'We had such a great time working to perfect our Simple Simon Steak and Gunner Ale Pie. We went to Campbell's Brewery in Peebles to sample the beers to find the one that would meld well and then had to get the bus home!'

The delicious new pie consists of slow cooked Scotch Assured Beef soaked in Gunner Ale overnight, until the meat is supremely tender and brimming with flavour. The recipe went through several changed until both parties agreed on the final product.

Simple Simon's Perfect Pies are passionate about collaboration, naming it an excellent way to combine resources, come up with innovative ideas and reinforce important messages about provenance and local sourcing.

East of Scotland is set to become the most talked about UK destination of 2018, when the first V&A museum anywhere in the world outside London opens in Dundee. Stretching along the gentle banks of the Tay to the foothills of the Highlands, taking in the neighbouring regions of Dundee, Angus, Fife, Perth & Kinross – this is an area collectively rich in identity and culture, history and heritage and outstanding scenery.

In less than 5 hours by train, 2 hours by plane from London, visitors can look forward to experiencing a stimulating clash of culture meets countryside, from buzzing cultural cities to revitalising beautiful beaches and serene silent glens.

Get a taste for the region's food and drink …

Dining differently in Dundee: You won't find an identikit high street in Dundee. The thriving, contemporary food and drink scene is largely made up of independent home-grown businesses, from cultured cafes that double up as art and design boutiques to Michelin recommended fine dining and pop-up street food markets. A new beer brewery and award winning gin distillery are the latest additions to the city's food and drink offer.

The Unique Arbroath Smokie : The Arbroath Smokie is one of Scotland's best loved traditional fish delicacies. Taking its name from a fishing town in Angus it has been on the menu for a thousand years. Arbroath Smokies are hot-smoked, making them ready to eat straight from the smoker. A culinary delight exclusive to Arbroath, the Smokie is protected under European Law as a 'Protected Geographical Location' with the same regard as that maintained for Parma Ham and Champagne.

Fife – a food lover's paradise: Blessed with a fabulous natural larder, Fife offers an entire menu from coastline to countryside and boasts two Michelin star restaurants: The Cellar and The Peat Inn. Visit and you'll enjoy a feast of award-winning food and drink including Anster cheese and of course freshly caught seafood from the East Neuk. Lindores Abbey Distillery & Visitor Centre have opened on the site of the first record of whisky distillation - 1494.

A leading Wolverhampton restaurant has served up a trio of awards to round off its 35th birthday celebrations.

 

Bilash, which offers a combination of traditional and contemporary Bangladeshi cuisine, has been listed in the Michelin and AA Food Guides for the 15th consecutive year, whilst it has also been named by Harden’s as one of the UK’s Top Restaurants.

 

It comes hot on the heels of a £100,000 investment in renovating the Cheapside venue and creating a whole host of new dishes for local diners and those that have travelled from as far afield as Bournemouth, London and York.

 

“There’s no better accolade than to be listed in one of these publications, let alone all three of them,” explained Mohammed Khan, who runs the business with his father Sitab.

 

“We never know when they come and there’s no advertising or free meals as part of the deal…it’s a completely unbiased review of the food, the service and the atmosphere. I’m delighted we scored so highly in every possible area.”

 

He continued: “They really help to attract new custom and we know people that have travelled all the way to Wolverhampton to try our cuisine for themselves.”

 

Bilash, which employs 16 people at its Cheapside restaurant, seats 50 diners downstairs and a further 30 upstairs, which can be used for private dining or corporate functions.

 

The latter is a growing market for the family-owned restaurant with local businesses keen to impress customers and suppliers with a visit, whilst the Grand Theatre regularly take group bookings for show performers.

 

“Turnover was up 10% in 2017 and we had to take on more staff to cope with demand from diners,” added Mohammed.

 

“This year is going to be equally exciting, with lots of events planned including a Mother’s Day weekend special menu and our biggest ever seafood week celebration.

 

“We are also putting on a week of complimentary dining as a thank you to all our loyal customers, who have supported the Bilash for the last 36 years. The menu will consist of a gourmet 3-course dinner and will be charged at a flat fee of £20 per head with all the proceeds going to an Orphan Village in Bangladesh to provide water and education.”

Yeast freak you out? Not sure how to knead? The idea of free form baking just too nerve wracking to be considered? And how do you know when the flaming thing is actually done? All your questions answered in four short and gorgeous videos.....

Jane Mason, author of three books about bread, set up Virtuous Bread nearly 10 years ago - in fact at the same time the Real Bread Campaign was established - to make it fun and easy for people to make, buy, and learn about good bread. Since then the bread landscape has changed immeasurably and those of us who have been at it for the past decade are delighted to have played a part in "moving the needle" on the sliced bread in a plastic bag market.

People are still a bit freaked out, though, by yeast and indeed by the whole baking process. To that end, Jane made a series of four lovely videos (short too!) on the bread baking process.

Restaurant The White Room by Jacob Jan Boerma was awarded its first Michelin star during the annual Michelin Gala in Amsterdam.  The signature restaurant of 3* Michelin chef Jacob Jan Boerma, which is led by Chef de Cuisine Arturo Dalhuisen, only opened its doors one and a half years ago in the NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky.

Since then, the venue, food and team have received praise from critics and culinary aficionado's alike. After being named “best newcomer” by Lekker500 by securing the sixty-second place on this renowned list and receiving 16 points by Gault&Millau earlier this year, the work of Dalhuisen and his team is now officially recognized by Michelin, with a prominent place in the Michelin Guide 2018.

The 33-year old Arturo Dalhuisen, former right hand of Boerma, leads the kitchen of The White Room: “I'm so very grateful! Grateful because Jacob Jan Boerma trusted me to lead the kitchen of The White Room, and even more grateful that Michelin has rewarded the work of our team with this important gastronomical award. Of course, we have fantasized about this star, but it has never been our motivation. We want to create a unique experience for our guests. I'm convinced that only that way, one can achieve perfection.”

A Welsh fruit grower has broken the record for picking the earliest ever British strawberries and getting them on supermarket shelves.

Tesco's Bridgend Extra store will begin selling the first strawberries of the season, which were grown by Springfield Nursery, based near Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.

Tesco strawberry buyer Jordan Blandford said:

“Hats off to Springfield who have achieved this fantastic coup with their expertise and innovation. There is always a lot of excitement about the first British strawberries being picked because their arrival means the start of spring is not too far away.

This is brilliant news for customers as British strawberries are considered to be among the best in the world, thanks to our great growing conditions.”

This year's production at Springfield will result in around 500 tonnes of strawberries, or the equivalent of about a million punnets, and the supply of Welsh strawberries will last until late autumn.

The strawberry variety being grown is called Favori and has been chosen for its superb eating quality and flavour. It has a vivid colour and produces large berries that are not too crunchy.

Tesco is also set to begin selling strawberries grown in Essex from this weekend.

Tesco's Jordan Blandford added:

“From the first week of March we will also have strawberries grown in Lancashire, with Berkshire and Kent following after that.”

The Rajdani near Sevenoaks, which was named the Best Indian Restaurant in the South East at the Asian Curry Awards last year, has been shortlisted for the Asian Restaurant Awards, which are being held next month.

The popular West Kingsdown venue is joined on the shortlist by three other Kent Curry houses: Taj Cuisine in Chatham, Everest Inn in Ashford and Sundar Rachana in Rainham. The winners will be revealed at a special ceremony at the Manchester Hilton on Monday 5th March.

Organised by the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which represents the country's 30,000 ethnic restaurants, the awards are open to Bangladeshi, Burmese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants and takeaways.

The full nationwide shortlisted, can be seen at www.asianrestaurantawards.org/asian-restaurant-awards-2018-shortlist

As fun as it can be to fill your boots with chocolate each Easter, why not burn off a few of those cocoa-induced calories this 2018 and book a trip to The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience?

With two attractions, one in London* and one in Manchester**, it doesn’t matter which half of the UK you hail from, and as they’re both indoors, the inevitable April showers won’t wreak havoc on your bank holiday weekend plans either.

If you were a die-hard fan of the iconic 90s show, are loving the latest instalments from Richard Ayoade or if you just enjoy a challenge, then this is the perfect activity for you. Teams of eight will be lead around the maze’s four themed zones: Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Futuristic, by a charismatic Maze Master (Tip: Befriending them early on is a wise move if you want them to impart their insider knowledge with you).

Inside each zone are different challenges; skill, physical, mental and mystery and it’s up to your team captain to decide who takes on which challenge with the ultimate goal of winning a crystal. Each crystal won means more time in the iconic dome, where the aim is to catch enough golden tickets to bag yourself a spot on the coveted leader board!

The whole experience is deliciously daft, frantic and fun. Expect to be crawling, running and even sliding your way around the maze. It’s the ultimate team experience so gather your friends or family and book your place now.

Wolves at Work has helped a major new Wolverhampton retailer successfully recruit city residents for 50 permanent jobs.

 

Food Warehouse (Iceland) will be officially opening its new flagship store at the Peel Centre, Stafford Street, on Tuesday, March 13.

 

The Wolves at Work employment programme - which is run in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, Job Change and City of Wolverhampton College – helped generate 3,500 applications, and interview 300 candidates over five days.

 

Forty-five of the 50 (90 per cent) retail assistant and night replenishment assistant roles have been filled by City of Wolverhampton residents – and of those 45, 27 were previously unemployed.

 

Food Warehouse (Iceland) Store Manager, Adam Allmark, said: “We have had great support from the Wolves at Work team.

 

“They were very positive in preparing the candidates for the process ahead – and it is the best recruitment service we’ve received.”

 

City of Wolverhampton Council, Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “The Wolves at Work team has done a great job helping Food Warehouse in its recruitment process.

 

“The programme is all about delivering jobs for local people and this is another major success story.

 

“It also highlights how £3.7 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline in the city is creating jobs.”

 

Anyone interested in local jobs or employers needing recruitment support in Wolverhampton can register at www.wolvesworkbox.com.

Up to two extra days of shelf life will be added to avocados, helping to cut down on food waste, thanks to new packaging now available at Tesco.

The new design, which will significantly improve quality for customers, has been developed after several years of trials.

It works by using a unique combination of UV light treatment and improved packaging film to extend freshness for customers – without any compromise on quality or flavour.

There has been no change to the volume of packaging used with the product.

In recent years avocados have grown in popularity, with demand at Tesco up by more than 10 per cent in the last year as it's become a breakfast staple and healthy eating sensation.

Tesco avocado expert Mike Corbett said:

“Avocados have recently soared in popularity as a healthy snacking food but frustratingly, once ripe, they can deteriorate fairly quickly.

“This fantastic new packaging will help cut down on food waste by offering customers up to an extra two days of storage time.”

The avocados will go on sale in 1300 Tesco stores and will be sold in a 'ripe and ready to eat' twin pack format, priced at £1.89.

The new packaging has been developed by Tesco supplier and fruit and vegetable importers Greencell who specialise in supplying avocados.

Other recent avocado innovations by Tesco include:

  • The 'Avozilla', which is roughly five times larger than regular varieties.
  • Snack-sized mini 'Zilla Eggs', helping to reduce food waste on the farm and at home, benefitting both suppliers and customers.
  • Convenient frozen avocado slices, to help customers reduce food waste.

Returning for the sixth consecutive year, Free From/Functional Food Expo heads north, to Stockholm – the Nordic region's capital of free from.

Free From/Functional Food Expo is Europe's annual trade-only event for the free from and functional food market. The sector has grown exponentially over the last few years - and the outlook is more positive than ever, with an explosion of new brands, products and ingredients.

Over 275 producers and manufacturers will showcase their latest products and innovations. Both retail and food service buyers from across Europe will be visiting – over 4,000 are expected. In addition, the extensive conference schedule features 55 specialist key speakers.

Veganism has led the way over the last year. Partly thanks to health-conscious millennials and partly thanks to increased publicity campaigns such as Veganuary in the UK - and global websites such as veganevenhub. The US have seen a 500% increase in veganism since 2014 and the UK a 360% increase in the last ten years.

To meet this new demand, plant-based alternatives have exploded. Products with vegan claims have risen 32% during 2016-2017 in the US and 39% of Europeans are buying vegetarian options, a 26% increase over the last three years.

Dairy alternatives are also set to continue their upward trajectory. No longer consumed only by those who are lactose free or vegan, these alternatives are perceived as the healthier option. Walnut, cashew and hazelnut milks are new additions to the market.

Making up the majority of the free from sector, gluten free welcomes new flours and flour substitutes. Ancient grains, green banana, mushroom flour and algae are ones to watch. New for FFFE 2018, is an award sponsored by Association of European Coeliac Societies, (AOECS), in conjunction with International Coeliac Day on May 16th.

Functional food remains a fast-growing section. Vitamins, probiotics, nutritional and food supplements, protein and sports nutrition will be represented across the show floor.

New Year's resolutions by Brits to enjoy a healthier January have held strong, record Tesco sales of low alcohol beer, wine and spirits in 'Dry January' can reveal.

In total over the last four weeks, demand for low alcohol beer, wine and spirits has rocketed by more than 100 per cent compared with the same period last year.

This follows the introduction of a new range of low alcohol wines virtually indistinguishable in taste from its alcoholic counterparts before Christmas.

Low alcohol beer

In January, demand for low and no alcohol beers at Tesco has grown by more than 70 per cent year-on-year.

Tesco sells 14 low and no alcohol beers. Among the most popular this month have been Becks Blue and Budweiser Prohibition. Pistonhead Flat Tire, one of the recently launched no alcohol beers, is also performing well.

Low alcohol wines

Demand for low alcohol wine has grown by nearly 250 per cent in January versus last year, with some customer favourites including Tesco's own label Low Alcohol Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Tempranillo.

Low alcohol spirits

Last summer Tesco launched its first non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip Garden 'gin', which has proved popular with customers.

Tesco Beer, Wines and Spirits Category Director Rob Cooke said:

“We're seeing an increasing number of customers who want to enjoy the social aspect of having a drink without the alcohol, but still want a quality wine, beer or cocktail drinking experience.

“Due to the increasing quality of 'low and no' alcohol products there has been significant growth in this area with this January seeing our highest ever customer demand.

“We hope by offering our customers a dedicated range of low and no alcohol drinks we have helped them achieved their goals this 'Dry January'.”

From 1-23 January Tesco ran a 20 per cent off deal on all its low and no alcohol drinks range.  All low alcohol beer is still available at 20 per cent off until 12 February.

As a nation of foodies many Brits eagerly anticipate the next big trends in cuisine.

Natalie Mitchell, Head of Brand Development and Product Innovation at Waitrose, predicts the food and drink trends we'll be seeing in 2018.

The top 10 food and drink trends for 2018

Persimmons  Persimmons (often referred to as Sharon Fruit) are tipped to be on-trend in 2018. After a recent surge in popularity, Waitrose is looking to stock them in a greater number of shops to meet demand. They add a sweet taste when baked in cookies and cakes, but can also be used in salads and alongside meats too.

Plant proteins The demand for high protein foods continues and, with more of us choosing a flexitarian diet, it's no wonder there's such a buzz around new plant-based proteins. Whether with pulses, shoots, grains, seeds, soy or even algae, everyone from tiny start-up companies to big brands is looking for clever new ways to add a plant-based protein punch.

Fibre-rich foods  It used to be associated with bland foods from the F-Plan diet in the 80's, but thanks to lentils and other pulses shedding their dull reputation, fibre is well and truly making a comeback. In 2018, fibre will be fashionable again - this time in the form of vibrant, colourful vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as the nation looks to keep their gut health at the top of its game.

Purple foods  Ultra Violet is Pantone's Colour of the Year for 2018 - and it doesn't just stop in the world of design. Shoppers will be drawn to all shades of purple when it comes to what's on their plate. Think figs, aubergines and even purple carrots and sweet potatoes.

Indian street food Say 'namaste' to tapas-style Indian street food. Forget heavy sauces and chicken tikka masala, this trend is about leaner food which is smoked, grilled or seared. Food trucks selling puris stuffed with zingy vegetables and drizzled in chutney could become a common sight. The cuisine lends itself to hybrids, such as spiced burgers or lamb keema tacos. It's Indian food like you've never seen it.

Japanese 'dude food' The light end of the Japanese food spectrum - such as miso and noodle soup - has already had its moment in the spotlight. Now it's the return of the indulgent end. Gutsy sharing dishes favoured in the country's izakaya bars are set to become a big thing. Whether it's yakitori skewered chicken or deep-fried tofu in broth, the trend will combine the hearty 'dude food' of the southern US states with the unctuous, rich and surprising flavours of after-hours Tokyo.

Top tipples

Cognac and tonic  Plenty of people know about the boom in posh tonics. But Cognac is now getting in on gin's act with mixologists serving the French brandy with tonic.

Malt whisky  It's no longer just about aged malt whisky - blends are on the up! Sales at Waitrose have flipped, with non-age specific malts now making up 60% of sales at the supermarket. Innovative distillers like Glenfiddich are modernising the art of blending and also using flavoured casks, attracting younger customers to the world of malts.

Aperitifs  Research* shows that millennials are 57% more likely to search for aperitif ideas online than other age groups, and recent web searches for bitters have risen by 24%. Sales of Campari, Aperol, vermouth and other bitter drinks soared throughout 2017. And this trend is here to stay as Vermut, a red sherry Vermouth, which is made in Spain, is tipped to be the pre-dinner drink of 2018.

Terret This previously forgotten grape variety is back and predicted to be popular with wine lovers. Described as a halfway house between Picpoul and Muscadet, this wine was sought out by Waitrose wine buyer, Daphne Teremetz and has flavours of ripe lemon, pear and apple. Having fallen out of favour with winemakers as demand for Sauvignon Blanc increased, this unique grape is making a comeback for 2018. Daphne says, 'It's a great grape with loads of flavour and I think it will be popular with customers who like crisp, unoaked, dry styles of white wine.'

And black plastic will not be used for Waitrose meat, fish, fruit and veg by end of this year.

Waitrose has pledged to not sell any own label food in black plastic beyond 2019 - this is the earliest date a supermarket has committed to removing black plastic from its shelves.

Reducing the use of plastics is a top priority for Waitrose, which has already removed 65 per cent of black plastic from its fruit and vegetable packaging. The retailer will stop using black plastic for meat, fish, fruit and vegetables by the end of 2018.

Currently a great deal of black plastic used by supermarkets for food such as ready meals and puddings cannot be recycled as lasers used by waste processors cannot sense the colour effectively. This means they are not identified for recycling.

Tor Harris, Head of Sustainability and Responsible Sourcing at Waitrose, says:

“Tackling the use of plastics across our business is a key priority for us and we have committed that all our packaging will be widely recycled, reusable or home compostable by 2025. Our work to eliminate black plastic packaging from our shops sees us taking a step towards accomplishing this.

''Not many people realise that black plastic is tough to recycle. As a retailer dedicated to reducing the impact of plastic packaging on the environment, becoming black plastic free across all our own label products is the right thing to do.''

Peter Maddox, Director at WRAP, says:

“Plastic packaging has a vital job to preserve and protect products, particularly food. However, we all have a role to play to reduce problematic plastic packaging that cannot currently be recycled. Waitrose's commitment is a positive step and supports the aims of our new plastics initiative, which will see the entire plastics supply chain working holistically to create a system where plastic is valued and never becomes waste.”

Bringing fire and passion to its guests, Hilton London Metropole's Fiamma restaurant, which translates as flame, is embracing its Italian roots with its latest menu launch. From flame-cooked pizza to home-comfort styled antipasti and delicious seafood, the open kitchen at 225 Edgware Road is bringing the flavours of the Mediterranean to the UK capital.

With over half of Fiamma's kitchen team, and all of its pizza chefs, originating from Italy, diners are guaranteed an authentic taste of the country. The all-new menu features sumptuous starters of chargrilled squid, burrata, bruschetta three ways, and insalata di mare, transporting diners to the heart of Italy from the very first bite.

For secondo, diners can choose from hand-made pizzas, tender meat dishes, mouth-watering seafood and hearty pastas and risotto.  Highlights include herb-baked lamb rump with celeriac puree and trumpet mushrooms, spaghetti allo scoglio, lobster risotto and pizza calzone. With an equally tempting Italian wine list, the perfect glass to pair with any dish is easy to find, while those with room for dessert will find tiramisu, limoncello sorbet and creamy panna cotta among the choices.

On launching the new menu, Omer Lang, director of operations, Hilton London Metropole, said: 'We're passionate about delivering memorable, delicious dining experiences to our guests. Going back to our Italian roots ensures we can deliver true Italian fire when it comes to gastronomy. We're thrilled with the new menu and the excellent feedback received so far.”

Do you add boiling hot water to coffee? How do you make the perfect espresso? Whether you like to brew coffee at home or try a new speciality coffee, baristas have all the answers to help with your caffeine fix.

New research published by Costa Coffee to celebrate their annual global Barista of the Year competition, revealed that of those people who drink coffee, 86% of people in the Midlands do so daily. Midland coffee drinkers are habitual in their drinking habits with three quarters (76%) having one first thing on the morning, two thirds have one late morning (66%) as well as over half of coffee drinkers in the Midlands (54%) have a cup in the afternoon.

The taste of the coffee is vital for consumers as the new research reveals that the majority of coffee drinkers in the Midlands (93%) think that taste is the most important factor when choosing a coffee to drink, with under two in five (37%) saying smell.

When it comes to trying new coffees (such as a cold brew or an alcoholic brew), the survey has shown that London coffee drinkers are the most adventurous (74%), in contrast to Midlands (50%), Northern Ireland (37%) and the South West (39%) who are the least adventurous.

All the recent developments in the coffee industry, encapsulating flavours, technology and the coffee drinking experience may well be influencing the perception and perceived career opportunities that a Barista has to offer too. As interestingly, of those coffee drinkers surveyed it was found that over half of Midland coffee drinks (54%) would select being a Barista as their preferred profession, other than selecting waitressing or bartending as a profession.

The Barista of the Year competition, which takes place in London next week, highlights the important skillset of Costa’s baristas from all over the world. Luke Antinoro, Laboratory Assistant for Costa Coffee and former finalists says: “Being a barista is more than just making drinks, it’s impacting on someone’s day – making a customer feel happy. As a barista, I thoroughly enjoy learning about coffee and all the aspects of its preparation, as well as flavour trends to inspire us to create our own signature drinks. This is why the Barista of the Year competition is so important, as Costa wants to showcase their barista’s and highlight their importance in the industry. Baristas have technical knowledge, creativity and a passion for coffee which makes them all unique.”

Some barista techniques for brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home include;

  • Serving a crafted coffee in a proper porcelain cup to experience it at its best – as the cup keeps the coffee warm for longer so you can take your time drinking the coffee and savour every last drop.
  • An espresso shot only remains in its perfect state for around 15 seconds. This means that when preparing favourites such as the latte or cappuccino, the milk is always prepared first so that the coffee can be used as soon as it’s been poured.
  • When serving an Americano, baristas always serve the espresso shot on top of the water, rather than topping the espresso up with water. This is to preserve the precious crema on the surface of the Americano and ensures that it isn’t burnt by the water.
  • The barista’s top trick is with the cappuccino. They roll an espresso ring gently around the edge of the cup before pouring over the frothy milk, ensuring that with every sip of the silky drink you can taste the delicious coffee blend.