Colorado Craft Beer Festival at the Canal House – Beer and a Burger

Colorado Craft Beer Week

 

 

On Friday we popped over to the Canal House to sample a couple of beers as part of the Colorado Craft Beer Week. They were featuring beers from the Odell Brewing Company, Left hand, and Oskar Blues. This was good news to me as some of new favourite beers are from the Odell Brewing Company.

90 Shilling by Odell Brewing Co.

90 Shilling Odell Brewey

My Colorado Craft Beer of choice was a bottle of the 90 Shilling from the Odell Brewing Co. They describe it thus; “We introduced 90 Shilling, our flagship beer, at our opening party in 1989. For a while, we’d been wondering what would happen if we lightened up the traditional Scottish ale? The result is an irresistibly smooth and delicious medium-bodied amber ale. The name 90 Shilling comes from the Scottish method of taxing beer. Only the highest quality beers were taxed 90 Shillings. A shilling was a British coin used from 1549 to 1982. We think you’ll find this original ale brilliantly refreshing, and worth every shilling.”

I used to drink quite a bit of the 70, 80, and 90 Shilling beers when I lived up in Aberdeen and this beer does bring back some good memories of those days when we supped a pint or too of heavy after a game of footy down the park. You do get a quite nutty flavour and a nice crisp finish. I am good at drinking the beer and paying for the beer but not so good at the descriptions. Other people have said that it has a bit of a caramel smell and flavour. I am not so sure.

Loose Leaf Beer Odells 5 Barrel Amber Ale from Odell

Other Odells beer I have had recently in Nottingham included the rather good 5 Barrel Pale Ale which is described as having a ‘distinctive hop character‘  with ‘a fresh, lively flavour and aroma’, and the tasty Loose Leaf which was Named one of the Top New Brews of 2013 by Modern Brewery Age! “Layers of flavor, it’s fruity then it dries out then there is more fruit, and it leaves you with a nice taste,” said craft beer retailer Renzo Kian-Kubota. “I think it might be the easiest beer to drink that I’ve ever had.”

Well the beer is sorted so we just needed a little bit of food to help keep us going as we supped.

A spot of Food?

Food at Canalhouse sign T

here were a few specials on for the Colorado Craft Beer week and we were torn between trying on of their Elk Burgers  for £9.95 or one of their Buffalo Steaks for £14.95. In the end it came down to a decision on the price point as that Colorado beer is not cheap! So we ordered the a couple of the Elk Burgers and took our seats with our Craft Beers next to the Canal Dock inside the main entrance

Elk Burger

Elk Burger at the Canal House

I was very happy with my Elk Burger, it has a really nice flavour a little gamey and also a little bit on the sweet side. It is a bit like the Venison burgers that they sometimes sell here at the Canal House (It is a very similar meat so probably is the same burger). The toppings on this Jparticular sandwich are on point as well. A nice melted layer of Pepper jack cheese, and a slice of bacon. Now if I was being picky I might have liked to have had some crisp and crunchy American style bacon instead (a nice slice of streaky perhaps).

It is a rather good meaty burger, I hope that they are still selling this even after the Colorado Craft Beer week

 My Elk Burger with Fries and Side Salad

Elk Burger at the Canal House Now what I do like about all the Burgers and Sandwiches that they sell here at the Canal House is that they do give you a good decent simple salad on the plate. It is the sort of salad that I quite like to eat, a few assorted crisp bits of various types of lettuce, some tomato, and a bit of cucumber. Nothing flash, nothing fancy, and nothing scary, nice and simple! On the chips front they do well too, with just the right amount, not too many and not too few, and they actually taste nice as well. Colorado Craft Beer Week Now you might think that this was just a gimmick from the Canal House to sell some beers, but it is actually IS Colorado Craft Beer Week in Fort Collins Colorado. Now this is the kind of link up that I like on the beer front. Someone is paying attention to the World Beer Scene and I am liking that. Oh yes I most certainly am!

I am looking forwards to seeing what is next on the agenda!

Canal House

The Canal house is at 48-52 Canal Street and is is easy walk from the Station Street Tram Stop (which is closest), you could also walk back from the Old Market Square stop quite easily as well. They are also on Facebook and Twitter

Colorado Craft Beer Week

Jerk Chicken with rice and peas at Jamaican Ways

Jamaican Ways

This is not my first visit to Jamaican Ways but it is the first time I have chosen to eat inside. I have blogged about sampling their food on a couple of occasions before. I wrote about that experience on the blog back in October last year when I got take out a few times that month;, you check out what I found on those visits here; “The Jamaican Ways cafe – Excellent Caribbean fare”

It was enough to bring us back here today just for a little lunch time treat, but what we were to choose was up in the air until we walked in

Jamaican Ways Food Food at Jamaican Ways

I love the counters at Jamaican Ways it always has these great big trays of food that looks to be so visually desirable, and usually that vision transitions into reality when you get to eat the food. There was a lot of chicken on offer, the Jerk Chicken on and off the bone, a Caribbean Chicken Curry and a BBQ Chicken dish. In the end it came down to the spice level, we wanted spice and were advised to take the Jerk Chicken, so we did just that! Always listen to the man is what I say!

Boneless Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

In the end I went for the Boneless Jerk Chicken with a side of rice and peas. I have had this from here before on the bone and that was really good. Off the bone it is just as good but you don’t get that crispy skin covered in the baked Jerk Sauce. Everything else though is the same and you have that added benefit of not having to fight with the bones.

For your money you get a very decent portion of chicken indeed, it is like half a chicken taken of the bone. Spice wise is was a light punch to the palate, it was deceptively spicy.

The first mouthful of chicken I was thinking hey where is heat? but then halfway through the second mouthful it hit me, wow nice and warming. For my preferences the spice level is bang on the money, just enough to make your mouth ting but not so much that it was painful.

As for the rice and peas, you get a lot on the plate and it helps to counter the spice heat from the jerk sauce. It might have been a big portion, but it was very easy to eat. As Jamaican Comfort food goes this plateful of the Jerk Chicken with the Rice and Peas most certainly hit the spot.

This was a very successful and a very filling lunchtime sojourn. You have to visit this place, the food is great, the welcome is friendly and they have not disappointed me in all my visits.

Jamaican Ways

Jamaican Ways is Located at 107 Hartley Road in Radford.

Check them out

 

The Trent Fish Bar – Fish and Chips for Lunch? Why Not

The Trent Fish Bar

I am back on my mission to eat at random Fish and Chip shops in the county and so today I drove over to the Meadows as I knew there was a Fish and Chip shop on Turney Street. This place is the Trent Fish Bar and it sits on the corner of Bunbury Street and Turney Street on the main road through to the embankment just opposite the bus garage.

The plan was to get a bag of Haddock and Chips and then walk over to the embankment to sit on the steps to devour. I know this is becoming a bit of a theme. It is and will continue to be, perhaps we should start some sort of arrangement to meet up by the river once a week, rain or shine for a Fish and Chip lunch?

Fish and Chips Fish Chips and Mushy Peas

I was kind of lucky and unlucky when I walked into the Trent Fish Bar. I asked for Haddock and Chips, but there was no Haddock ready (that’s the bad luck) but they cooked me a portion so I ended up getting my Fish AND my chips straight from the fryer and onto and into my paper. Freshly cooked to order? (Good luck or what). Yep that was how I rolled when I visited today.

Now you cannot tell from the picture, but I am not joking when I say that my piece of fish was about a foot long. I have never had such a big piece of fish from a takeaway. This was way, and I mean way, too much food to eat at lunch and if I am honest I am not sure that I could eat it for dinner either. I would like to have tried and I would have kept eating more and more but it was the kind of sized meal that just defeats the solo diner.

Was it any good though? I hear you ask. Well yes it was, perhaps not that pretty but nonetheless  a nice treat. The fish was bountiful, very good batter, flaky fish, not sure if it was fresh or frozen, but it was worth the wait anyhow. The Chips did not look that good but they were actually very good. I would have liked more salt and vinegar but that was my fault for not taking  control at the counter. The mushy peas were vibrant and deep green, I liked them too. I was essentially stuffed, and how much did this all cost?  Well Fish and Chips were priced at about £5.80 with mushy peas and a coke it was around £7. To be honest next time I would have the mini fish and chips special for £3.80. I saw the mini-fish and it looked like a normal sized piece of fish to me!

Yes this place is worth adding to your list, especially if you are down by the River Trent taking a stroll and feel VERY peckish

The Trent Fish bar is located at 82 Turney St. It is about 5 minutes walk away from the embankment on the City side of the river. I would suggest that you should order a mini fish and chips if you are on your own as the full portion is massive!

Other Stuff they sell

Trent Fish Bar menu

 

Five Guys in Nottingham – A Bacon CheeseBurger Please with some Fries

Five Guys Nottingham

Anticipation could not truly express my feelings this morning when finally the day I have been waiting for had arrived with Five Guys opening it’s doors on Long Row in Nottingham. I have eaten at various Five Guy’s Burger Restaurant’s numerous times over the years mostly in Chicago while travelling up and down the Elevated Rail tracks hunting for food. As soon as I knew that a branch was coming to our fair city of Nottingham I had been all a quiver awaiting, dreaming of their burgers and basically salivating at the prospect.

Five Guys Menu

Five Guys Menu

The menu at Five Guys is deceptively simple on the Burger Front, all you need to choose is whether to have a Hamburger, a Cheeseburger, a Bacon Burger, or a Bacon Cheeseburger. No fancy clever names are needed here, if you want to Jazz up your sandwich then you get to add as many toppings as you like from choices such as ‘mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup and mustard’ to name just a few possibilities.

You have plenty of time to contemplate your choices as you stand in line waiting patiently to order. There were plenty of people in Nottingham eager to try the burgers on opening day. I had seen on twitter that they were queuing out of the door during the day and so as I headed there on the bus after work I thought that it would have quietened down. I was almost wrong, the end of the line that I joined was just outside the door on the pavement, perhaps just a couple less waiting. No-one seemed that bothered though having to wait as the line moved pretty quickly. If you wanted something to munch on while you waited you could help yourself to a scoop of monkey nuts in their shells (just like you can in every stateside Five Guys I had been too).

Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger

I played it really simple and just ordered my burger with cheese and bacon, there was to be no extra fluff on my burger this day. I will tell you that honestly you don’t need it here. The meat is so tasty that it doesn’t need ketchup or mustard to make it taste any better, in my mind they just get in the way. The bacon is so good, really crispy and chewy, just like you get in the states. The cheese is just a dream, a molten blanket laying in top of the burger patty. The sesame seeded bun is also just a simple affair lightly toasted on the inside it is a perfect holder for this sandwich. Cheeseburger and a Coke

A warning though on the size front, there are some American sized portions in play here, so a small fries is like a large fries, and a regular burger is actually two large burger patties. I imagine that they don’t expect some great big strapping lad to walk in and order a ‘little hamburger’ with some ‘little fries’. I was fully aware of the danger ahead but sauntered swiftly through that changing the word little to small when ordering my fries, but I still went for the regular burger size. Why go XL when regular already is? Love you guys.

5 Guys Cheeseburger As slice of 5 guys burger

There were a lot of fries, in fact there was a pot of fries in the bag, but there were at least as many again in the bottom of the bag. It was as though someone just thought they would give me another big scoopful as a bonus. The chips are excellent, cut fresh to order from the whole potato and fried in peanut oil. Several boards on the walls tell you were the potatoes had come from, ours where from Kroes Farm in Dronten in Holland. Five Guys Location

I know that I will be back here again pretty soon, I will not be able to stay away. I know that these burgers are billed as Fast Food but they are cooked from never frozen meat and they can give many a so called gourmet burger on sale in the city a run for their money. Speaking of money it is not that cheap here. My Bacon Cheeseburger was £8.50, throw in some fries and a coke and you are staring down the barrel at the best part of £14. Having said that though this branch of Five Guys is in a perfect spot for foot traffic right in the midst of the Old Market Square and I have a feeling that it will do rather well here in it’s latest home.

Rock and Roll Burgers at the Lion in Basford – Awesome and Messy in a good way

The Lion at Basford

The Lion at Basford is one of the pubs along the Nottingham Tram Line that should be on your list of pubs to visit. It has a lot going for it; a fantastic selection of beers and real ales, a lot of regular good music, and for a writer of a food blog and self confessed glutton, some pretty good food.

The primary reason for our visit here today is to sample the offerings from the Rock ‘N’ Roll Burger Company, but we are also here for the beer too. They offer around 10 different beers on tap at any one time including a lot of local beers including those from the Blue Monkey, Castle Rock, Oakham, Navigation, Shipstones, and the Nottingham Brewery. You should also look out for the offerings from the closest brewery, The Black Iris Brewery which is no more than 100 yards from the back door! I am loving the beer local scene right now!

It is so easy to get here from the city, you just have to jump onto the tram and ride it up to the Shipstone Street Tram Stop. Once there just look to your right and you can see the back door to the place just 1 minute away up the rise.

Rock N Roll Burger Company

So foodwise, as noted above, it is the home of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Burger Company. I have had my eye on this place for months now so tonight was the night and we were riding that tram from the City over to Basford specifically to sample their fare. I had been reading the menu online for weeks and had in mind what I would be eating but I was open to be swayed if I saw something special.

The menu starts well “All burgers are served with salad in a sweet and buttery brioche bun with fries and homemade slaw on the side, topped with beer battered onion rings”. We have not even started to talk about the burgers themselves yet and it all sounds mouth-wateringly delicious, Yum!

The menu itself is in the form of a playbill for a Rock ‘N’ Roll gig with each burgers themed on a famous singer or music style. You need to read between the lines to find the burger topping of your choice. As always I found so many things that I wanted to eat, but in keeping with recent blog tradition I will tell you about what we did eat before I tempt you with other items on the menu that we could have eaten. Tweet me if you fancy coming with me to eat some of those other dishes by the way :-) @myfoodhunt I am always just a tweet away from the next myfoodhunt outing.

We ate this —–>

“Wake Up Little Susie”

Wake up Little Susie Burger at the Lion

My Choice was the burger called ‘Wake up Little Susie’. It is billed on the burger playbill just like this;

wake up little susie

I could not resist ordering this particular burger topping combination as I am a total slut for a fried egg on top of my burger patty. I thought that the highlight was going to be that fried egg complete with a runny yolk, but the star was actually that whole grilled Portobello mushroom. I hate to admit it, but the combination of that meaty mushroom with the egg was so good that I would eat that alone without the burger.

This a phenomenal combination to put on top of your burger, but there is just one problem, you need a bigger and stronger burger bun to contain all that goodness. Structurally it was tricky to eat, it is was too big to put in your mouth and falls apart as you eat it and back into the bowl. Just like many other ‘massive burgers’ being sold in this city of ours. So hey ho that is how it rolls.

Now I don’t mind so much as I can eat a messy burger with the best of them, but having said that, I do like to be able to get a bite of all the components with each bite of my burger. Just while holding that sandwich in my hand. So I think what I am saying is give me an even bigger bread bun that can hold all that lovely stuff without breaking apart under the stress of feeding us hungry burger munching bar hopping dudes!

There is no place for a burger on my plate that I have to use a knife and fork to eat, but there is however a place for a burger on my plate topped with Fried Egg, Bacon, and Mushroom. When it comes to my burgers I will forgive all for the perfect combination of topping.

The Johnny Cash Burger

The Johnny Cash Burger at the Lion

My erstwhile dining and beer supping companion Martin opted for the “Johnny Cash” Burger which did in theory based on the menu appear to be a more sensible choice.

Johnny cash

This was essentially your traditional bacon cheeseburger all dressed up with a fancy name. It looked every bit the show star though when it arrived on it’s plate (or plastic basket). It was a far more manageable affair and if I was not such a ‘fried egg slut’ I would have had this, only my eyes were bigger than my stomach once more and I just had to order a burger with a whole load more.

Other stuff I fancy eating

Hound Dogs

Even though I had spent time planning this trip and had been checking out the menu, I had failed to see their latest offerings “The Hound Dogs” a whole selection of 12″ Pork Sausages in buns. This was tempting but I really had my sights on a burger and anyway I am not so sure about this (yet). I like (actually love) a good hot dog,I know my hot dogs, random encased meats, all beef Franks and the like. So if this is a really good ‘sausage sandwich in a bap’ then I am on board. Can we call is a sausage bap instead? saw a couple being eaten and they looked like pretty decent ‘sausage sandwiches in a bun’. I might come back for one, but there are a few other sandwiches I would like to try instead.

pulled pork

Although I am generally pretty rude about pulled pork offerings I do really like the way that they describe the pulled pork burger “The King” here at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Burger Co. I am assuming that this is just a big bun filled with pulled pork and it sounds good . Cajun spices? Yep that’s for me, ‘fried onions, cheddar cheese, smoky BBQ sauce’ on paper this sounds awesome, will have to try this on a plate.

Tamla

The Tamla Motown sounds like my kind of burger ‘A burger with soul’? I hear you sister, ‘Venison Pattie topped with Melted Blue Cheese’? I am intrigued. I have to try this too. I love a Venison Burger!

bluegrass

The last item on the Menu that I feel I need to try is the “The Bluegrass Burger” as I love my Cajun southern style food. It says that there is a taste of the Bayou and after all my trips to NOLA Lousiana I hope that this could live up to expectations. I would give this a go when I am in the mood for a chicken sandwich.

Nottingham Tram

I love eating and drinking at the Lion at Basford. The food was good and the beers excellent. To get here ride that Tram up to Shipstones Street. The official address is at 44 Moseley Street New Basford, but you can also walk in the back door from Shipstones Street.

Beer wise I have to quote them from the website;

“The real success of the Lion however comes from the exposure that is given to local and regional micro breweries. In the past 12 months over 500 different ales from micros have been on sale. These include many local to Nottingham including Nottingham Brewery, Mallard, Magpie, Milestone, Springhead and Castlerock. Kelham Island, Abbeydale and Ossett from Yorkshire have always proved popular. As have those from further south like Hook Norton, Crouch Vale, Exmoor, and many others.”

I like the beer and the burgers, in no particular order!

You can follow them on Twitter and Check them out also on their Facebook page

Dancing Dragon at Canning Circus – Spicy Sichuan Fare.

Dancing Dragon

The Dancing Dragon Chinese Restaurant, specialising in dishes from Chongqing, up at Canning Circus is another one of the City’s restaurants serving up authentic Sichuan food. I have walked past this place on a few occasions on my way back from some of those excellent pubs in the circus and had also been curious to see what lay on the table behind the doors. I was even more curious when I could find virtually no significant web footprint, perhaps this visit will change that?

So what about this place then and that Chongqing cuisine? This type of cooking is another one of the renowned Sichuan cooking styles which they say is noted for its ‘distinctive spicy and pungent flavours’. I am in the mood for this sort of fare at the moment, last week I was over in Hockley in Shanghai Shanghai enjoying some Sichuan dishes from Chengdu so this week I had to find some more.

Apparently the main difference from Chengdu cuisine, is that Chongqing dishes are said to be spicier and stronger in taste. I was to be finding  out if that was true then pretty quickly.

Hot Pot sign at Dancing Dragon

One of the clues for the possibility of some decent regional Chinese food is the chalk board outside advertising an ‘Authentic Chinese Food Hotpot’. It is said that Chongqing is the birth place of the hot pot in China. This is a great dish to order if there are a group of you around the table. For the Westerner, I imagine that the closest thing to compare is like sitting around a fondue pot. I have only had the Hotpot once in China and we had a pot of boiling spicy broth which we filled with all sorts of random bits of meat (lots of offal and leftover bits) and vegetables (most of which I did not recognise). It was a lot of fun but murder on the Western stomach. Sadly I was on my own this visit so I was to forgo the opportunity for a hot pot and took a look at the menu to see if I could find some other food memories to revive and perhaps a new one to share.

Chalkboard at Dancing Dragon

It was pretty clear early on that this was a locals place, I was basing that on the fact that the dining area was packed out with families from the local Chinese community when I dined here this week and that most of the signs and menus were in Chinese. As I pushed open and my way in through the solid wooden door and peered into the dining room I could sniff out the chance of a good authentic meal somewhere in my near future. I was greeted warmly but shuffled past all the families dining to a nice quiet table in the corner by the TV and the big red Chinese Flag.

I spent ages looking through the menu, as I was left to my own devices with a bowl of free prawn crackers, I spotted loads that I could have ordered but I will spare you that story just for a moment and tell you about what it was that I did choose to eat.

Checking the menu out

Dancing Dragon Menu items

I didn’t recognise the name of this dish from the translation ‘Poached sliced pork in hot chilli sauce’ but I did recognise the dish when I saw the picture so I ordered it. I was asked tentatively by the young enthusiastic waitress if I wanted the chilli spice to be less, but I politely declined and said no I would have it as the chef normally did it. To be fair she didn’t really understand but got the idea I was happy to take on the Sichuan Spice Levels. Lets see if that was a mistake?

‘Poached sliced pork in hot chilli sauce’

Spicy Braised Pork in Chilli Sauce at Dancing Dragon

‘Man Alive’ it was quite a spicy beast! It wasn’t so hot though that it became unpleasant. One of the beauties of Sichuan cooking is their ability to marry up mouth numbing chillies with other flavours and sensations so that you can still enjoy eating the dish. The bowlful that they provided could have easily fed several people and if combined with a few more dishes it would have been plenty for the table.

There was a lot of that poached sliced pork in the bowl all surrounded by a lot of red chilli and a lot of Sichuan peppercorns. As you dug down into the depths of the bowl you found a mound of submerged beansprouts and some other Chinese vegetables. The beansprouts added a nice little bit of crunch and a little bit of respite from the chilli heat.

I thoroughly enjoyed this dish and it was every bit as flavoursome and spicy as many a dish I ate in that region of China. It is perhaps not one for the faint hearted but certainly one to try out if you like it hot or are feeling adventurous.

Pak Choi with Garlic

Pak Choi with garlic

I added a plate of Sauteed baby pak choi with chopped garlic as I had thought that having some greens would help with that spice. To be honest this choice was a bit of a mistake. I had forgotten how astringent the pak choi can be, so I was not enjoying eating a whole plateful (I didn’t I left most of it), it was the right idea though, but the wrong choice this time

So the other stuff that I wanted to eat

Chongqing deep fried chicken with dry hot chilli

Sichuan deep fried chicken menu item at Dancing Dragon

 

Chongqing deep fried chicken with dry hot chilli or lazi ji as the call it when it is at home was a dish that I ‘almost’ ordered ahead of the pork dish that I did order. It was really really close! This is a great dish to eat if you have decent chopstick skills as you can just pluck out the pieces of chicken from the plate avoiding too much chilli. If you try and eat this with a fork, be warned you will be doomed with a massive mouthful fo chilli fire. A gamble worth taking? Hell yes!

Dancing Dragon Boiling Fish Fillets in Hot Chilli Oil

Spicy Dragon Boiling Fish at Dancing Dragon

 

This was another dish that I have been hunting for quite some while.

Sometimes you just have to take the English Translation at Face Value More traditionally known as Shuizhu Yu this is a quite amazing dish of tender fish fillets that have been marinated and brined, coated in cornstarch, and bathed in a bowl of hot broth upon which floats a thick layer of chili oil flavored with dried chilies and sichuan peppercorns. I have heard this described as a volcano of a dish. I know that the picture might look a little scary but, as I hinted at on the previous dish, the way to eat this is just to pick out the pieces of fish with your chopsticks and let that little layer of sauce coating them be your hit of spice.

Spicy Pork at Dancing Dragon

All in all I liked my first visit to the Dancing Dragon, I can honestly say that she was breathing fire through her food onto my plate and there was enough left on the menu that would bring me back. Next time I would bring company so that I could get to try more of their dishes.

If you want to find this place, just head up Derby Road towards Canning Circus and you will find it at number 101.

The Organ Grinder aka The Blue Monkey Pub – this is mostly about a great pub and beer

The Organ Grinder at Canning Circus

The Organ Grinder just on the edge of Canning Circus is an amazing pub serving that rather excellent beer from the Blue Monkey Brewery. It is so synonyms with that Brewery that we often say we are going to meet at ‘the Blue Monkey’. Now I know that this is essentially a food blog, but I know that most of you might have spotted by now that I am quite partial to a pint of the good stuff so on occasion I do like to champion some of those really good pubs that I frequent on a semi-regular basis.

Blue Monkey Beers on the Chalkboard at the Organ Grinder

Chalkboard at the Organ Grinder Blue Monkey Beer

OMG this is a chalkboard that I would like to take home and add as some sort of artwork at my house. I have yet to find a beer from the Blue Monkey Brewery that I do not like. I even like their darker beers such as 99 Red Baboons which is  a ‘dark, malty and fruity ale with a hoppy twist’. It is described as “An unusual combination of fruity hoppyness with a dark, malty side.  This beer is distinctly difficult to categorise – is it sort of a porter or maybe a mild?  You decide!” I tried and I cannot!

If I have to give my top three from the chalkboard then it would have to be BG Sips, followed by Marmoset, and then the rather excellent Infinity.

All three are terrific beers, but if you wanted to be here for a session then the somewhat lighter BG Sips would be the one to sample several times over a couple of hours. They describe it as “A pale and intensely hoppy beer with enticing tropical fruit aromas“. It is not that Fruity though so have no fear if you take my advice and order one.

Marmoset at just 3.6% is also a light enough beer to take a few jars of as well, described as a “A pale malt, bittered with magnum & flavoured with citra hops. A highly hopped citrusy session beer with a deliciously dry finish” it is one to take notice of.

The Infinity a beast of a beer, is described as “An infinitely satisfying pale ale, brewed with Citra hops from the USA for a punchy hop presence.” I think that it is that American styling that draws me towards this beer time and time again

Food ?

Organ Grinder Food

I have not seen too much in the way of food here at the Organ Grinder. Menu items I have seen in the past have been basically along the lines of your pork pie, sausage roll, and a scotch egg. To be perfectly honest you cannot go too far wrong just sticking with a plan of supping anyone of their beers. Food? Overrated, it is not like anyone would spent half of their life writing about it, is it?

Out back at the Oragn Grinder

One last bonus that we found last week at the Organ Grinder was their outside deck area. OK so it was a bit cold when we ventured out there, but this space is going to be mobbed when the warmer weather arrives. It is always so busy inside especially on a Friday evening that finding the area has just opened up the possibilities for a great night out. I look forward to sampling many a beer out here in the summer sunshine.

Organ Grinder outside

If it rains there is a covered area just past the door and another covered area more commonly known as the bar.

I am backing the sun this year though so let it be the summer of the Blue Monkey beer on the Organ Grinder Patio.

You can find the Organ Grinder at number 21 Alfreton Road, Nottingham. NG7 3JE basically we are talking Canning Circus.

A little tip is that you can ride the bus just one stop from the city for just £1.10.

Trust me it is better than traipsing all the way up the hill. I often do traipse though.

Bridgford Restaurant and Fish Bar – Fish and Chips for Lunch? Why Not

Bridgford Fish and Chips

I think that it is about time that some of the smaller and independent Fish and Chips shops in the county started to get a mention. So I am going to start checking them out to see if I can find some hidden gems. First stop is the Bridgford Restaurant & Fish Bar on Radcliffe Road in West Bridgford. This place has been here as long as I can remember, I have some distant memories of my Grandma taking me here when I was about 7yrs old in the Summer Holiday. Back then just as today I was to get myself a portion of Fish and Chips and take it down the riverbank to eat on the steps in the sunshine. Only difference was that it was a bit murky when I did that this week.

Mini Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

I snagged myself a portion of their Mini Fish and Chips for just £2.99 but you know what this was not what I would call ‘mini’ in any sense of the word. When I unwrapped my lovely paper package down by the Trent I found that it was a pretty decent sized piece of battered Haddock lying in my tray.

On reflection the Fish part of this meal was quite good, the batter was nice and crisp but perhaps a little lacking in flavour. The haddock inside was quite tasty, not dry but not quite as moist and juicy as I would like. For the price though it was pretty good value, I think that when the fryer is in full swing in the evening that the Fish is better. The chips were acceptable, I have had better but also I have had worse. With a lot of salt and vinegar they did the job of filling me up.

Fish and Chips Specials Board

Located at 39 Radcliffe Road the Bridgford Restaurant & Fish Bar is just around the corner from the City Ground and over the road from Trent Bridge Cricket Ground.

You can get a bag of Fish and Chips and walk down to the banks of the river to dine alfresco easily and that is what I would recommend.

Shanghai Shanghai – Excellent and Authentic Sichuan Food in Hockley

Shanghai Shanghai in Hockley

Shanghai Shanghai in Nottingham lies just down the hill in Hockley at 15 Goose Gate. It is a small and simple space serving up seriously authentic Sichuan cuisine. I have walked by many times and seen that it was filled with members of the local Chinese community which is always a good sign.

Even though it had received rave reviews from food critics including Giles Coren, I am somewhat ashamed that given my love for this type of food, that I had not crossed it’s threshold before. Instead it took a nudge from a work colleague on a weekday night out to venture into Hockley to try out some of their dishes.

So what did we eat?

Chengdu Hot and Spicy Cold Noodles

Chengdu Hot Cold Noodles

The first dish that I ordered was a bowl of the Chengdu Hot and Spicy Cold Noodles, I thought that it might have been similar to the Reg a Mian that I so much love from Wuhan, but in the end it was quite different. A huge bowlful of thin and cold noodles filled the bowl and on top of those a fiery thick sauce had been spooned. The sauce and noodles were topped with a garnish of sliced blanched cucumber, spring onions, coriander and peanuts.

This was a pretty interesting dish, the fiery sauce was countered by the cold noodles. The garnish added a really good crunch to the dish. This was a dish that you needed to be careful and patient with, I started with a mouthful and thought this was not as spicy as I expected, but by the third mouthful my mouth was on fire and I was chugging down my beer trying to stop the pain. This was a good start to the meal.

Ma Po Dofu

Ma Po Dofu at Shanghai Shanghai in Nottingham

The second dish I ordered was the Ma Po Dofu, soft and silken cubes of tofu in a spicy red oily sauce packed with chilli and fermented red beans. This was to be the dish of the night in my opinion, I have eaten this at many a Wuhan restaurant table in Hubei and this was so reminiscent it took me right back to those meals.

Authentic is a word often overused but in this case for this dish it is the only word. Hot beyond fiery and spicy enough to make you sweat beyond sweat, the kind of pleasurable experience from the numbing yet cooling effect of the Sichuan peppercorns is hard to describe. It is like pain and anaesthetic at the same time. If you used a thermal imaging camera you would probably see the spicy chilli beads seeping out from my mouth and a few escaping from my brow too.

The name of the dish is a curiosity in itself roughly translating as Pock Marked Grandma Bean Curd, but forget the image that might conjure it tastes great. Just imagine instead an old Chinese lady huddled over her bubbling pot on a street or down an alleyway stirring away with love and passion to produce a bowlful of spicy heaven (tinged with a little fiery hell)

Deep Fried fish with Braised Tofu

Fried Fish with Deep Fried Braised Tofu

The next dish to the table was also so reminiscent of plates that I ate in China back in the late 90’s. I am not sure what the official name for this dish is but essentially you have stir fried fish in a hot spicy sauce combined with braised tofu. I love tofu cooked this way and I also loved the fish in this dish. I loved it even more as normally when I have had it before in China it can be full of small bones so can be tricky to eat. Here though at Shanghai Shanghai that was one bonus thing as this was made with fish fillet so no bones (bonus for me). This dish was put together for us off menu as my friend Paul doesn’t eat meat so the waitress suggested braised tofu with fish. If I come here again I will have to show her the picture so that we can order this again.

Now those were my choices and I was very happy with them, around the table we ordered other plates with differing degrees of adventurousness. I think everyone was happy with what they got, even if some were a bit tame for me, but also some did cast a slight feeling of envy through my mind.

Dan Dan Noodle Soup

Dan Dan Noodle Soup

This dish is one that I would have liked to have taken ownership off. Just one look at the liquid in the bowl sends alarm bells ringing in the taste buds. I have heard this to be described as a  fiercely spicy and addictive noodle dish that can burn and numb your face off at the same time.

Does that sound scary or does that make you mouth water ever so slightly just thinking about it?

Typically this dish is made with both red and green sichuan peppercorns (no-one is messing about here) and to make sure that it is packed with that expected heat it also uses “douban chili paste” (the soul of Sichuan cuisine). In this particular dish there was plenty of minced pork, sesame, pak choi, coriander, spring onion and a lot of thin noodle. As I hinted I was a little jealous of this one.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Tang Cu Li Chi

On the face of it I would not have ordered the sweet and sour pork dish, but when it arrived I could see that it was not like that awful generic stuff served up enmasse to us European that has been bastardized beyond recognition. No here at Shanghai Shanghai it was more like a dish called Tang Cu Li Chi that I ate in Wuhan. Now admittedly when I did that I was slightly mocked by my Chinese work colleagues at the time as it contained no spice and was quite tame. At that time I didn’t care as I was just finding my feet with all that really hot spicy food that they kept on serving to me, so this dish has good memories as a kind of respite to my mind and taste buds. I didn’t try it but it could find its way onto the table again.

Other dishes on the table included a beef and peppers with noodles, fried rice with Chinese Sausage, and a Crispy Noodle and Prawn dish. All a bit tame for me but also they were enjoyed by their respective plate owners

Beef and Peppers with NoodlesFried Rice with Chinese SausageMixed Seafood with noodles

The last time I had food of this type as good as this I was over working in Shenzhen last year at a Hubei style restaurant called Wuhan after the city of the same name. Check out that story here on one of my Sister Sites MyFoodHunt “China Day 2: In Food Memory Dreamland – Finding some Hubei Food from Wuhan in Shenzhen”

There were a couple of dishes that I did not spot on the menu that I will ask for next time, in particular Huí Guō Ròu (Twice Cooked Pork),  Yuxiang sliced pork (Fish Fragrance Pork), and Ganbian Sijidou (Dry Fry Sichuan Green Beans).

I know that I am late to the party when it comes to eating at Shanghai Shanghai but I hope that I am fashionably late and that this party will be going on for as long time. I will be back to try more of their fare on another occasion for certain perhaps those dishes I didn’t find this time.

You can view an abbreviated menu on their website and also read more about them on their Twitter feed

 

Shanghai Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Lincolnshire Poacher – Great Beer, Good Food and Today a little ‘Meatball Mania’

Lincolnshire Poacher on Mansfield Road

The Lincolnshire Poacher on Mansfield Road is such a mainstay in the real pub scene of Nottingham that it is hard to remember that it has only been open for around 25 years. In former times it was known as the Old Grey Nags Head, a former Shipstones pub, that was closed in the late 1980’s, which was just about the same time that I took my first stroll up and maybe down Mansfield Road on that almost classic Nottinghamshire City Pub Crawl.

These days the Poacher is part of that rather good local group of Castle Rock Brewery pubs that feature many of their excellent beers, including my beloved Harvest Pale, and also many other beers from far and wide. I haven’t seen them serving Shipstones up here though on my travels through the pub, it would be nice to see that and doff the cap to an old favourite.

Inside the Linclonshire PoacherInside the Poacher

Inside and Outside of the Poacher there is plenty of places to find a spot to sit and sup on one of their well kept ales. It is a good old fashioned pub in that there are numerous rooms where you can escape from the crowd or congregate with your mates. Even when it is busy you can still find a little solitude or an intimate corner.

I like to drink out back in the yard where it is a good and often noisy spot to meet up and hang out with a good pint of beer. They have recently installed a number of open sided cabins with heaters during the cold and free fresh air when it is hot. They are not just for the smokers either as most are non smoking so you can still enjoy the beer garden without having to sample a bit of that free passive atmosphere.

While The Lincolnshire Poacher is mostly about the real good beer, I have to also say that they do also serve up some pretty decent pub grub as well to help soak up some of that liquid. I made a trip up the Mansfield Road this last Friday to sample some of that Fare at the start of a pub crawl back down the hill.

Excellent Food

Homemade Meatballs at the Lincolnshire Poacher Meatballs at the Lincolnshire Poacher

My choice from the blackboard hanging above the bar was for a bowlful of their Homemade Meatballs on a bed of pasta. These were hearty and solid meatballs indeed! For your modest outlay of £7.95 you were served two of these chunky round fellows bathed in a basil and tomato sauce on top of a generous pile of perfectly cooked tagliatelli.

The balls were solid, no added breadcrumbs for filler here, red and green peppers, a little onion, some cheese and perhaps a little garlic seemed to be the basis of the package. The basil from the tangy tomato sauce permeated through the dish also giving it just that little extra flavour punch.

I was a little sad when I finished this dish as I just wanted to keep eating more and more mouthfuls of those tasty meatballs. Having said that, I would not have been able to eat much more as this was a big plate and I was basically stuffed as I hit the bottom of that bowl. Good Stuff indeed!

There is a lot more on the board as well that tempted and that could easily have found it’s way into my dining plans. There was talk of Pork Faggots and Chicken Fricassee, and I almost ordered the Fish Pie for the same price as those meatballs. The description on that board was very tempting when I read that it was filled with Salmon, Haddock, and Cod in a white creamy sauce with dill all topped with mash potato served with a side of carrots. Nice!

In keeping with many good pub menus they also offer a Pie of the Day (Today it was Steak and Black Pudding), a Burger of the Day (Beef topped with Cheese), and a Sausage of the Day (Today’s was Toulouse). Almost everything was priced around that £7.95 mark, so really quite good value indeed.

All the food that I saw on nearby tables looked good and was being consumed with much gusto and was also being washed down with plenty of that excellent ale. I didn’t see any plates leaving the tables that were not empty!

Night at the Lincolshire Poacher Chalkboard at the Poacher

I really do like the Poacher and make a trip up here on a fairly regular basis, usually that is just to get a good pint of beer, but now that I have sampled their food and seen or rather tasted how good it is, I will be back up here to eat as well more regularly.

The Lincolnshire Poacher is located at 161-163 Mansfield Road and is about a 10 minute walk up the hill from the city. You don’t have to walk all the way though in one go, there are a few pubs on the way (up and down). I might just be posting that route on another day (so look out for that).