Dingheen in Hockley for Dumplings and a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup

Dingheen in Hockley

Dingheen, down Hockley way, has been on my radar for quite a few weeks now. I have perused the menu in the window on several occasions, nose pressed up against the window trying not to drool. Although the menu is mostly is Chinese, that as a good sign of somewhere likely to be selling real authentic Chinese fare, and somewhere I want to be eating. To back that hope up whenever I have walked by it has been full of the local Chinese community crouched around tables laden with communal dishes of food.

I have been looking for a place like this in Nottingham for the last couple of years since my return to these fair shores. I have been in dire need of somewhere to supply me with Chinese Soup and Dumplings, regular readers of my other blogs at The El Stop Food Hunt Project” and at MyFoodHunt” may recognise my predilection for these two dishes. Most recently I was able to travel back over to China to Shenzhen and was satiated with both some Hot and Sour Soup and a dish of dumplings (Read about that trip here).

I had already spotted them both on the Dingheen menu and was hopeful that on this visit I was about to make my dumpling dreams come true.

 So it was with a hopeful gait that I made this shorter trip over to Hockley.

So lets get down to it

Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup

Schezuan Hot and Sour Soup at Dingheen

First up was a bowl of the Szechuan Hot and Sour Soup which was featuring on the menu for just £3 (bargain). This is my ‘Go-to’ Chinese soup dish and I absolutely love it. It has assisted my recovery on many an occasion in places far and wide, from Wuhan to Beijing, over to Hong Kong and neighbouring Shenzhen, back to China Town in New York, and down South of the Loop at Cermak in Chicago. Particular faves have been at The Excellent Dumpling House in New York, yes that is it’s real name, or up in Flushing Queens, where you can get fantastic and authentic dumplings at the Golden Mall on Main Street 

Here a Dingheen I was not to be disappointed, it was another excellent bowlful,  hot in temperature and a little hot in taste, the perfect soup for a late Autumn day. It was thick and gloopy in a good way, filled with shredded carrot, dried mushrooms, juicy lumps of silken tofu floated in and amongst a sauce filled with plentiful slivers and thin slices of chicken and pork. Hints of the reason for the spice was not subtle, with bits of red and green chilli floating all around.

This was a great start to my visit, half way through my nose was starting to run a little as the spices did their work and as the steam rose from the bowl like a soup sauna and my glasses started to fog up a little. As I continued to slurp my way through the bowl I could half see into the kitchen where I could see and hear my dumpling being made. The clatter of those pans, all just for me, was a happy sound. As I made it halfway down the bowl my dumplings came out through the hatch and onto my table. So I paused briefly to sample a few.

 Pan Fried Pork Dumplings

fried dumplings at Dingheen

 

For just £4 I was treated to a plateful of eight fried pork dumplings. Each was filled with moist and crumbly pork mixed with Chinese leaves. The casing was light, silken, juicy and crispy where it had caught the pan. It was a joy to lift each morsel from the plate with my chopsticks. The dumpling paused for a brief moment to be bathed in the Chinese vinegar based Dipping Sauce enroute to their final resting place in my mouth. Dream time on the lips.

chinese vinegar dipping sauce

I was very happy to find somewhere unpretentious and casual in Nottingham to get my hands on a plate of simple dumplings. In recent times I have had to resort to cooking my own, which was an excellent thing to be fair (read more here) but you know although I love to cook, it does get in the way of MyFoodHunt trips out and about in this fair city of ours and beyond

Inside Dingheen

One thing that has amused me is that on the menu they tell us that “At Ding Heen, there are no Sweet & Sour Pork Balls, Lemon Chicken, or Beef with Mushroom to name just three British Favourites“. Ok so I hear what they are trying to say, but they are not the British favourites, or are they? they continue….”However we do realise that you may want to play it safe and stick to the European-inspired Chinese dishes that are your firm favourites, and of course we’d be delighted to prepare them for you”… I hope that is true as I walked in one night late on and was mocked by a small group of Chinese suggesting that I was just there for some ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’ or ‘Egg Fried Rice’. To be ‘unfair’ back though I would suggest that maybe they should hit the streets in their own country sometime. I was working at Wuhan University back in the late 1990′s and we often bought bowls of egg fried rice with pork at Lunchtime for 1 RMB (about 7p at the time), Sweet and Sour was not with Chicken but with Pork and was called “Tang Cu Li Ji” or ‘Sweet and sour pork’. I found it to be too sweet though as did my Chinese work colleagues, but even so it was way better though than the often ‘delicious in the mind’rubbish‘ that they serve up here in the west. To fair though China is a massive country and this particular dish is popular in Zhejiang, Sichuan and Shandong and maybe the guys who I bantered with were more used to the blander Cantonese efforts.

Apart from the soup and dumplings which I have now ‘ticked on the list’ there are a couple more dishes that I feel the need to try. One that brings back memories of old times in Wuhan is the sound of the ‘Ma-Poh Tofu with Pork’ for £7.50 and just because I kind of like it, I might try the ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ also for £7.50.

Dingheen is located at 7 Heathcoat Street just steps away from Hockley and about 5-10 minutes walk away from the Lace Market Tram Stop and the Old Market Square

 

Ding Heen on Urbanspoon

“PILOT – Poultry and Prosecco” – Nice bit of Rotisserie Chicken for Lunch

Pilot in Hockley

Pilot at Goose Gate in Hockley occupies the old Nash Interiors shop and is a welcome addition to the independent restaurant sector in Nottingham. I had read a little about the place prior to my visit and although my mind was open I was a little confused by the menu. The extended name is Pilot-Poultry and Prosecco and apparently they are the only place in the country to sell Prosecco on draught. I wasn’t previously aware that the Prosecco crowd were fervent Rotisserie Chicken aficionados but maybe there is a movement that I have missed, after all down in London they quaff Champagne with their Hot dogs at Bubbledogs. I decided that we would just gloss over that whole theme and move on to the menu, but then I saw that they also served Pizza, so it was now Poultry and Prosecco and Pizza. 

Rotisserie Menu

Rotisserie menu at Pilot

We just glossed past that for a moment as we were hungry for some of that Poultry, it was time to check out the ‘Rotisserie section’ of the menu and eat some Chicken. I was liking the simple look of all four chicken options on the menu. House (basically just plain Rotisserie chicken with a choice of dips), Lemon, Bourbon, and Jerk (I believe each name is enough to give the idea of what they might taste like). We decided to get two different half chicken plates, I fancied something a little spicy so opted for the Jerk and to counter that we chose the Lemon as we thought it might cool us down if the Jerk was too spicy.

The ‘Jerk’ Chicken

Jerk Chicken at Pilot

My choice was the ‘Jerk’ Chicken which was billed on the menu thus “Scotch Bonnet Chilli, Allspice, Coriander, Lime & Thyme”. It arrived all chopped up neatly in a bowl, visually it was a most appetising plateful. The chicken was covered in a dark brown glaze, runny ‘gentle Jerk’ sauce, thin strips of red chilli and some unknown micro-greens. The menu online tells us that their “Rotisserie chicken is jointed, glazed & finished in the wood fired oven.” which accounts for the presentation and to be honest made for a much better and easier sharing experience.

The Jerk sauce was relatively mild which is probably OK for most as it leads to a more enjoyable eating experience, if you came looking for some serious Caribbean style heat hit then you might be a little disappointed. I was quite happy though I liked it and found it to be quite a pleasurable plateful.  Heat apart the sauce was really well balanced and together with the moist chicken gave me a plateful that I would happily recommend and come back to eat again.

The ‘Lemon’ Chicken

The Lemon Chicken at Pilot Hockley

My Companion chose the ‘Lemon’ chicken from the menu which is described as ‘Lemon, Fennel, Rosemary, Honey & Balsamic’. It probably would not surprise you to hear that the overall taste was sweet and citrusy. I quite liked the pieces that I ate and considering that I was eating those while chowing down on, in comparison, a spicier dish I was pleasantly surprised to find that the flavour stood up all by itself alongside that spicy chicken.

Sides

Roast Corn

Chilli Corn on the Cob at Pilot

Tatos

Tatos at Pilot

We added a couple of sides one from the ‘specials menu’ and one from ‘regular menu’ The Tato’s described on the menu as “Crispy Spice Potatoes – Seasonal Mayo” turned out to be more or less what we thought they would be, ‘chunky chips with a pot of mayo’ and the Side of Roast Corn with Chilli & Lime Butter’ was essentially fancy corn on the cob. Ok so maybe I seem to belittle them both but I know that is what you will be thinking that they look like from the photographs.

We liked both, the Corn was really good with a decent hot of Chilli countered with a tang of citrus from that Lime. The Chips were a mix of the solid crunchy chips and crispy potato skins mixed into the chip stack. The garlicky mayo actually worked really well with my spicier chicken and although simple was quite an effective player on my plate.

So all in all this was a really most enjoyable lunch, the chicken was moist and flavourful, the sides played there part and the price point (around £15 each) although on the edge of expensive for essentially chicken and chips was reasonable for the quality of the food that we ate.

So what about the rest of that menu?

Specials menu

Speicals Menu

As for the ‘eclectic menu’ that includes Pizza as well, even though I am not sure that it works as a concept in my mind I am pretty sure that I may well return to try one. I liked the sound of the ‘Rabbit Sausicon’ pizza on the specials menu and on the regular menu I understand that the one to try for the curious mind is the ‘Lahmacun pizz’a which is topped with “Lamb mince, Ras el hanout, pomegranate, Greek yogurt, and parsley salad.” I think someone in the kitchen is having a lot of fun with the menu.

Another dish that we saw on another diner’s plate was the Cubano sandwich or to give the correct name the ‘Grande Cubano’ described as ‘Our signature sandwich smothered in Montery Jack Cheese’. You can get one of these filled with Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, or Rotisserie Chicken for £9 and from what I saw they are huge and would feed at least two people. It looked good but is really an ode to the Cuban Sandwich or Cuban which is traditionally made with ham,  roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Still it did look good so maybe I should stop being picky

Pilot in Hockley

 

Pilot is located at 17-19 Carlton Street in Hockley you can find out more about what they are up to on a daily basis if you follow them on Twitter @pilothockley and on Facebook.

They are open Tuesday to Saturday so be warned, ‘no chicken for you’ on Sunday or Monday.

We really did like the chicken

 

 

Fish and Chips at The Street Kitchen Restaurant in Wheatcrofts Garden Centre

The Street Kitchen Resturant

The Street Kitchen Restaurant at the Wheatcroft Garden Centre, on the edge of Edwalton, has been open for about a month now. It is quite an improvement on the old café, it seems to be brighter and more welcoming and so much more spacious. Whereas the old café felt like a cross between a school canteen and a late lunch at an old folks home, the new space feels upscale and more family friendly. I liked it already. I had already had good reports from family and friends who had eaten here, hearing tales of a “vintage van serving freshly cooked Fish and Chips”, and another vintage van that was selling ‘Lasagne and Meat Pies’. This was already sounding like my kind of place. To whet my own appetite I was advance mentally dining vicariously devouring tales of the “Really good Fish and Chips cooked in Beef Dripping” and a lunchtime tale of a “Massive Steak and Ale pie served with new potatoes and cabbage for just under a tenner”

Fish abd Chip van at Wheatcrofts

Based on what I had heard I planned a team outing which I called ‘Fish and Chips Friday at the Croft’. Without much persuasion as the imaginary lunch bell rang, I shepherded the gang down the well worn remnants of the old Landmere Lane to the garden centre, through the bedding plants and into the new café area until we found ourselves standing in line at the hatch of the blue vintage Fish and Chip Van. It was only just after 12 and already there was quite a queue, the young lady at the hatch warned us that it would be about 5 minutes for the fish as she was cooking them to order. That was fine with us so we ordered 5 platefuls. As we waited the queue lengthened behind us, and I was glad that we had come just as they opened.

As we stood my tummy rumbled as I read the description on the chalkboard; “Freshly Hand Battered Cod in our own Local Beer Batter with fresh cut chips, Homemade Mushy Peas and Tartare Sauce” for £10.95. Sounds good if a little on the expensive side. My wallet was marginally appeased and overruled by my gluttonous brain as I read the subtext beneath the description of the plate “Fried Traditionally in Tasty Beef Dripping”… ooh this could be good

Fish and Chips from Harry Wheatcrofts

Five minutes later we were walking out with our plates of Fish and Chips to sit on the outside patio under the rays of some unseasonable November sunshine. We found seats at a large wooden table and all tucked into our plates. The plates were piled high with those fresh cut chips and huge piece of Cod coated in a lovely looking golden batter. The beer batter was light and crisp, excellent to be more gushing with my praise. The cod was also fantastically cooked, juicy, moist, flaky and light, untainted by fryer fat and dripping with the sense of the sea from whence it had come.

Now I am a great fan of two other excellent Nottingham based Fish and Chip emporiums namely Cod and Scallops in Wollaton and the George’s Traditional restaurants, but I have to say that ‘this fish on this particular day‘ totally trumped them both. Now I know that is quite a bold statement, but it feels justified in the moment. That fish really is and was that good!

Lets talk about the rest of the plate. I quite liked the chips although I found them just a bit too crisp and crunchy and maybe even a bit too thick. I do like my chip shop chips a little, well can I say this? soggier. I like to douse them in vinegar and these took a lot and still kept their crispness. OK so they won. I will say though that there were way too many chips on the plate, and sadly I just could not eat them all, such sacrilege to admit that failure. The mushy peas are good too, perhaps a little too creamy and in need of salt and pepper, but probably gauged just right for their audience here at the Garden Centre. One of our table who was not a member of the global mushy peas society said that he quite enjoyed them so they must have something about them.

You know what, this is a dang good plate of Fish and Chips, as I said earlier I love the beer battered Cod fried in the beef dripping, and I would walk all the way back down the lane just to eat that. I will say though that I think it is a bit overpriced. You can get excellent Fish Chips and Mushy Peas from Georges Traditional for well under a tenner, and the same from The Cods Scallops for less as well. Now it may be good, and maybe the Garden Centre crowd will pay this much, but I have to be honest and say that I am not opening the wallet this far too often even though it is probably the best beer battered fish I ate this year.

It is good though!

 The Street Kitchen Restaurant is located at the Wheatcroft Garden Centre which is on Landmere Lane in Edwalton, Nottinghamshire.

Hambletons Bakery Shop in West Bridgford

Hambleton Bakery

The Hambleton Bakery shop on Melton Road in West Bridgford is just one of five retail outlets for The Hambleton Bakery. The other four are based in Exton, Oakham, Market Harborough, and Stamford. The bakery was first opened in 2008 to supply Hambleton Hall and Hart’s Nottingham, and it has grown steadily ever since. On their website they talk a lot about the ‘taste’ saying that “Initially the aim was to rediscover the taste of good bread. Not the taste of sugar, malt, cheese, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes, poppy seeds etc etc, but the magical flavour that can be conjured from unadulterated organic flour, salt and water using the slow, traditional processes that made the bread that fed our ancestors.”

When I first walked in I thought that it was an ‘actual’ bakery and was looking forward to that freshly baked bread smell. It turned out that it was just a shop outlet, which was a slight disappointment, but I still figured that it was fair to give them a whirl, so I popped in on occasion to try out some of their offerings.

What did we eat?

The Rutland Pippin

The Pippin

The Rutland Pippin is one of their famed flagship items, originally I understand that it was developed during the ITV show Britain’s Best Bakery (which they won!). in the show they had to create a product representing their region’s best ingredients and the result was this, the Rutland Pippin, described as “a crusty dough filled with ham hock, sausagemeat, Colston Bassett Stilton and a handmade Bramley apple puree.”

Half a Pippin

When you cut into the ‘Pippin’ you are faced with that crusty dough filled with ham hock, sausage meat, the Colston Bassett Stilton Cheese and a handmade Bramley apple puree. Now I think that this must have been a clever concoction using the ingredients. Do I like it? You know what I am not sure, but then you see I am not a massive blue cheese fan. I wish I was as everyone raves about that Colston Basset Stilton. I liked the sausage meat and the ham and although I found the apple puree a bit much and the cheese overpowering, I cannot dismiss this savoury item as it clearly has merits amongst and for those with a different palate than mine.

Ploughmans Parcel

Another one of the savoury items being sold at the Hambleton Bakery shop is the Ploughman’s Parcel.

This is described as a ‘savoury focaccia dough filled with Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, Fresh Apples, Celery and homemade Chutney topped with seeds.’

On the face of it that sounds like it might be OK but it isn’t a combination that I would necessarily have put together.

Half a Parcel

I liked the outside of the parcel especially the seeds, but sadly I didn’t like the filling at all and I abandoned eating this savoury item after a couple of bites. It just wasn’t my ‘cup of tea’ but it might be yours. I will be honest and say that I don’t think I understand the flavour combinations of some of these savoury items. Luckily they do serve things that I do get.

Sausage Roll

Sausage Roll

I find that I often gravitate towards a good looking home made sausage roll and so I was most certainly going to be trying the ones that they make for the Hambleton Bakery Shop. I quite liked the sausage itself. Just take a look at the picture, you can see the flecks of herb in amongst the meat. I like my sausage meat a little looser, but this is still a fair offering filling wise. and the pastry was fair enough, perhaps a bit too soggy in the middle this time, well when I say middle I mean that lopsided section alongside the meat. I can see Mr Hollywood pulling that bit out as he munched though the rest of the roll with flecks of golden pastry adhered to his cheeks.

Sweet Stuff

Treacle Tart

Treacle Tart

On the sweet side I do like their Treacle Tart mainly because it is not ‘too‘ sweet. It reminded me of the treacle tart that we used to get for school dinners back in the 70′s. I like pretty much everything about this tart, and it goes very nicely with a dollop of ice cream alongside. I know it sounds strange when I say ‘not too sweet’ as it is a sweet pudding in theory, but this is kind of perfect, I think that the key is probably the addition or rather use of the lemon that cuts through any potential sweetness from the syrup in the tart. But I am just guessing that is the way that they made this. Its is good though!

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart

Something that cannot be resisted is their Lemon Tart. There is not too much to say about it, except that as expected it is nice and lemony, and it is has a nice tangy and tart taste on each bite. All encased in good flaky pasty. I always loved a good Tart Lemon Tart, but I don’t eat too many, mainly as I would just keep on eating them if the chance arose. Luckily I have the sense to wait until I see a good one, and I will tell you that the Hambleton Bakery does serve a good one!

Bread

Basic Loaf

Although I do prefer to bake my own bread their Basic White Loaf was quite acceptable and is just one of the more simpler offerings at the shop. Described as “a perfect sandwich loaf made the way the old masters used to make it with long fermentation. It has a springy texture unlike modern bread and is excellent toasted”. Unsurprisingly they also sell some more adventurous breads including a Borodinsky which is a ‘kind of’ Russian rye bread with added malt and coriander seeds, and a Date and Walnut bread which they tell us is ‘a sourdough infused with walnuts and stoned dates.’ topped with ‘pumpkin and sunflower seeds to finish it off.’

I have had mixed moments with the Shop, I like the bread, the sweeter items (which is unusual for me), and some of the savoury items. Some are just too ‘grown up’ for me. It is also conveniently located on that strip of excellent food outlets on Melton Road in West Bridgford. If Central Avenue is becoming ‘restaurant row’ then Melton road could be the place for the artisans and the local foodies.

As I said earlier, what I do miss though is that smell of freshly baked bread when you walk in through the door although that is probably because It is a bakery shop not a bakery.

The Hambleton Bakery Shop in West Bridgford is located at 101 Melton Road and is worth stopping at just to see what you think of what they have to offer.

Jim’s Smokehouse – American Low ‘n’ Slow BBQ in erm Hockley

photo_1 (7) - Copy

Jim’s Smokehouse at the foot of Hockley is a recent addition to the restaurant scene in Nottingham. It is the latest venture by Prashant “PJ” Jaiswal who previously ran the Red Hot Buffet shack, and Rakono both at the same location. (I will be honest and say that I was never keen on either of those two places, great for office outings where no-one can decide what they want, but a nightmare for the digestion when faced with a plate mixed with random selections of Chinese, Indian, or Italian cuisine).

So it was then with a ‘tingle of excitement’ tinged with a ‘little scepticism’ that I ventured over to try out this latest venture where he is now running a smokehouse complete with an a imported smoker from the states offering up “American Low ‘n’ Slow BBQ“.

Jims Smokehouse Menu

OK so we are seated and perusing the menu and things are looking promising. I have a bottle of Goose Island IPA and I can see a lot of BBQ description at the top of the page. “From the Smokers – dry-rubbed and marinated overnight and smoked for up to 12 hours”. They seem to have a wide range of styles from several of the renowned BBQ regions of the States; St Louis Ribs, Carolina Pulled Pork, and Texas Beef Briskets. I was just hoping that they were cooked in the regional way and not just names stuck next to meat. To be honest I was surprised not to see an ode to The  Memphis or Kansas City style BBQ on there, but then again perhaps this is a case of  not running before you can walk.

Jims Smokehouse Combo Options

I tried to stop thinking about all the excellent BBQ I had eaten in the States and remember that I was in a theme restaurant in Nottingham. I figured that the best way to work out if this place has any legs was to try one of their combo platters. I would have liked a ‘slab of ribs’ but really knew I just had to try the pulled pork and maybe the chicken, and maybe the brisket. Heck why did I come on my own? I need to try everything, not just for quality control purposes but also to appease my personal ‘God of Glutton’. So I worked out my options and ordered the “1/2 Chicken, Carolina Pulled Pork, and Rib Tips” Combo for ‘gulp‘ £15.95

Chicken, Pulled Pork, and Rib Tip Platter

Fifteen or so minutes later this tray of meat arrived at my table. Yes I agree it does look a bit of a mess (I am trying to block out the image of the flaccid fries in a tin mug). Having said that I am not sure that BBQ platters typically have Feng Shui so I (momentarily) forgave, until I eat.  Sometimes when I venture out on these myfoodhunt trips I kind of write up from memory and don’t always get the ‘review in the moment’, today I tried harder for you and jotted down a few thoughts as I was eating.

Now I usually love Rib Tips and sometimes I think these are the best bits, not as good as burnt ends but still tasty. For reference the rib tips are the short, meaty sections of rib attached to the lower end of the spare ribs, often these are the bits cut off the spare ribs when you are squaring up the rib like when preparing a St Louis Style Rib Cut. At the time I noted that the ‘Rib Tips smelt smoky but didn’t taste smoky and are a bit dry’. Looking back they were also a bit chewy, well actually a lot chewy. If they had been cut of a 12 hour smoked rib rack I would have expected them to be falling off the bones and be juicy and tender.

Ok so the chicken, this did look the best on the tray visually and I found it also to be a bit of a ‘hit and miss’ piece of BBQ. I noted that “chicken is on the verge of being dry but has a nice taste and the thick spicy BBQ sauce coating brushed onto the chicken transforms and elevates the whole thing”. Looking back I kind of enjoyed the chicken the most on the plate.

Now the thing that I was most excited about was the Carolina Pulled Pork, but sadly this was the one thing that truly disappointed me. It was so dry, it almost felt like it was yesterdays meat leftover in a tray somewhere. I am sure that it wasn’t but that was the kind of texture it had. You had to add one of the table sauces to turn it into a good enjoyable bite. I don’t want to sound mean but I have eaten a lot of pulled pork and this wasn’t featuring high on the list of all those that I have ever eaten. It may have been a bad day but I wasn’t feeling any love in this offering.

Sauces at Jim's Smokehouse

Lets talk about those sauces for a moment. It is true that often it is the sauce that can elevate and transform some humble BBQ and I have been at many Rib Fests across the States where some of the additions have been true genius. But, and it is a big But, every time the Meat was always able to stand on its own two feet (or in many cases four feet) as a naked item before the sauce came in to make it ‘all pretty and ready for the BBQ Prom’.

Now here at Jim’s Smokehouse I would say that they have done fairly well with the sauces. I am not saying that they are true to the original style or recipe but they did help to transform some of the meat on my platter. At the time I wrote ‘Pulled Pork needed sauce adding to it to get it going, the South Carolina Mustard sauce was the best one to do that’. I also noted that I “Like the East Carolina ‘Hot and Tangy’ sauce on the bits of chicken that were not coated in that lovely tangy sauce that they came with”. I will say that all three sauces were too runny and needed something to thicken them out, they were tasty though I will give you that.

Meat Feast Platter

Now I still kind of want to come back and give this place another go, mostly because I have a whole group of people that want to try it. I just had to come on my own at a really unpopular time (opening on a Sunday) to test them out. If I do come back then maybe I will suggest the Grand Feast but if I do they will need to ‘up their game’ with that Pulled Pork.  While I was there a lot of people were having the burgers which sounded really good on paper and seemed to be going down really well. Should I try the ‘Wild Wild West Burger’? or is that too cheesy? It sounds good …quote “Just the way Texas cowboys would like it – pulled pork, beef brisket and cheeseburger topped with melted cheese, bacon, onion ring and bbq sauce”. But hey lets be honest I probably would only be coming here for BBQ, for a Burger I would be queuing up at Annies Burger Shack where you can feel the love in the burger.

Jim’s Smokehouse is located near the bottom of Hockley at 38 Goose Gate, you can check them out on Twitter and on Facebook

For another set of opinions check out the recent and honest reviews by Alec on Frusher on Food, and by The Friday Girl twice

 

 

The Jamaican Ways cafe – Excellent Caribbean fare

 

Jamaican Ways Sign

Jamaican Ways on Hartley Road in Radford is a Caribbean café and restaurant serving up good honest selection of Caribbean fare. As you walk in to order you are greeted by the large brightly coloured menu board offering all the standard offerings such as Jerk Chicken, Brown Stew Chicken, Mutton Curry, and Rice and Peas.

Trays of Food at Jamaican Ways

Lean in just a little closer and you can peruse the daily specials from another chalk board, when I was in that was a plate of Paprika chicken with rice. Around the side there is another counter with trays of sides and snacks such as Saltfish fritters, Ackee and Saltfish, Steamed Cabbage, and Macaroni Pie (I didn’t find that counter until I was about to pay)

It was all looking so good that I ended up coming back for a few days in a row.

What have I tried? Well lets see there was……

Jerk Chicken with ‘Rice & Peas’

Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

On the first visit I was here in the mood for some Jerk Chicken and to go with that, well what else? A side of ‘Rice and Peas’! There was a choice of having the chicken on or off the bone. I went for the on the bone option as I find that to be the tastiest and also it did look really good. The jerk sauce covered crispy skin was hiding the moist juicy chicken which practically fell of the bone. It wasn’t quite as spicy as I was expecting but still had a little kick. The jerk sauce filled with onion that was covering the chicken and the rice was kind of sweet as well as spicy which I did not expect. I had been prepared to have my tastebuds assaulted with a fire of chilli heat, but actually I quite liked this sweet and milder version of the sauce. It made the whole experience a lot more pleasurable caressing my taste buds instead.

This was a really good sized plateful a good quarter of a very large chicken, more rice and peas than one could eat in one go, and enough sauce to last to the final bite. How good was the chicken? Well I ended up picking up the bones to suck the last bits of sauce and meat from them, so perhaps that gives you the answer.

Coco Bread Sandwich with Chicken Bites and Jerk Sauce

Chicken Coco Bread sandwich

Coco Bread Sandwich

It was suggested that I should return to try one of the ‘Coco Bread Sandwiches’ after I had tweeted out about eating the Jerk Chicken and ‘Rice and Peas’ dish. Never one too shirk my responsibility I felt it was my duty to return to try one. Hunger and a Gluttonous appetite had no bearing on my decision (ahem), I was pretty glad that I did as well. There were quite a few interesting choices for fillings on offer; Ackee, Patti, Plantin, and Mutton, but in the end it came down to a straight choice between the Coley fish bites and the Chicken bites. I took the simpler option and ordered the Coco Bread Sandwich with the chicken bites plus some jerk sauce and salad. It was a really good sandwich, nice soft bread packed with filling. The chicken bites covered in the sauce were quite spicy and the heat built up as I ate the sandwich. Luckily the crunchy salad took some of that heat away. This was a very decent sandwich, well sized (You could have easily shared it between two people), and good value at £3.50. I think I would like to try some of the other fillings as well in particular the Coley Fish Bites looked good in the tray on the counter.

Macaroni Cheese

Mac and Cheese

While I was waiting for my sandwich on an earlier visit I was looking at all of the different trays of food on offer and saw what I thought was a Mac n Cheese tray. I thought to myself that it probably wasn’t so I asked what it was and found that it was indeed mac n cheese. It looked pretty good and I sensed that the owner could see the gluttony in my eyes and suggested that I should try it next time I was in. Well I had been in two days in a row so perhaps he was confident that I was about to become a regular.

So it was true, he was right this week, and I had returned specifically just to get a portion of this ‘Jamaican’ style Mac n Cheese. What would it be like? I was intrigued, which was why I had driven the 7 miles across town to get some. I love a good mac n cheese and I like mine made with several different cheeses and whenever possible I quite like a bit of bacon in the sauce. This was nothing like the ‘American’ style dishes I furtively seek out, the crisp melted cheesy topping was just like that which you get on a nice portion of cheesy mash, I liked that part. The sauce was not that cheesy and was filled with sweetcorn kernels, penne pasta, and some streaks of spinach or perhaps cabbage leaf? folded in within the sauce. It was different but yet different in a good way. I could see myself eating this as a side with a quarter piece of Jerk Chicken, pretty darn good I reckon. Even better I think that it was only around £2.50 for a slice that was about 4″ by 6″ and a good 2″ deep, I would guess about half a pound in weights worth. Great value indeed!

I had a lot of good meals this week at Jamaican Ways and can recommend a visit!

Just some of the Chicken Options to whet your appetite

Jamiacan Ways Menu selection

Where is it?

Where is Jamaian Ways

If you want to try a lot of different types of Jamaican foods and you want to get some really friendly service as well then I would recommend coming to Jamaican ways in Radford.

Just take note that it is not open on Mondays. You can find parking on the road nearby as long as you can order and eat within an hour you should be OK

Excellent Mutton Curry at the ‘unknown’ Caribbean cafe on Radford Boulevard

Chalkboard Offers

I love me some great chalk board action“. Over on Radford Boulevard in the café  that was once called ‘Lucilles’, and once the ‘Boulevard Sandwich Bar’ close to the junction with Hartley Road I saw this board at lunch offering some local foods. The fallen leaves were blowing around the base and it seemed just the right weather to pop in and get another meal to enliven the soul and keep me warm inside. Inside the music on the radio was playing and the lady chef behind the counter was dancing away. It seemed to be a good day in the café and I could tell that it was about to be a great lunchtime.

The unknown cafe

I said a couple of days ago that I was working my way through the area looking for Caribbean, Jamaican, and basically any other West Indian food that I could find, so today I was back. I had seen this place last time out and had stopped in to see what they had cooking. That day I was too early as the curries were still cooking and were not quite ready. That day it was about 11.30am, so this time I headed over a little later at lunch a little nearer to 1pm and I was in luck they were all ready.

Mutton Curry with ‘Rice and Peas’

Mutton Curry with Rice and Peas

I had a choice to make, do I choose the Jerk Chicken? (again) for comparison purposes (and also because I love it) or the Mutton Curry? (which I also love). It was a tough decision but I took a walk along the new path and ordered the Mutton Curry with a side of ‘Rice and Peas’. I was so glad that I did. On first sight it appeared that I was getting a lot of bone in my container but that was just an illusion. There were a few bits of bone in there, but mostly the tender mutton meat was falling off and into the curry gravy. Now at this point as I write I am still trying to decide if this was a curry made of ‘Mutton’ as in the or ‘Mutton’ in the Caribbean sense which is generally Goat meat. Either way it was delicious, a much milder spicing that I was expecting but that was good as it let the flavours of the meat come through. Soft, tender, and juicy with perhaps just a little of that lovely fat left in the curry gravy, basically everything that you might hope for.

Once again I have to report that there was way too much food in this portion for just one person, the Mutton Curry was more than plentiful, the ‘Rice and Peas’ a meal in themselves and way more than a mere side. I have no idea why I needed a side of salad as well. Having said that all, the thing is that I just couldn’t control myself, it was so good I just had to eat it all. I was shovelling it in like there was no tomorrow.

So where was I?

I should have asked since I was here last week someone has painted over the sign with the café name on it, so until I see the new sign this will be the Caribbean Café with no name.

The ‘Unknown café’ is at 166A Radford Boulevard Notts. I will be back for the Jerk Chicken, the name of the café and that recipe for the Mutton Curry. I will report back when I do.

Spring Lane Farm Shop near Mapperley- Great Family Run place with local produce

Spring Lane Farm Shop

The Spring Lane Farm shop is up on Spring Lane over on Mapperley Plains in Nottingham. I think that over the last year I have tried a fair amount of produce from the shop, and quite a lot of the time I have quite sadly photographed it with the intention of turning it into a blog post at some point. So today I am finally putting ‘pen to paper’ or to be more accurate ‘fingers to keyboard’

On their site they describe themselves better that I can “In our Butchery we sell our own produced Beef, local Lamb & Pork, chicken and we make our own sausages – 15 varieties. We have a bakery where we bake fresh bread, cakes, pork pies and meat pies. We sell Free Range Eggs from our own laying hens and grow Wilja Potoates on the Farm, also sold in the shop. We have a wide variety of cheeses and home cooked meats ranging from own cured Ham, home made Haslet and scotch eggs!”

This morning I was sitting down to my brunch and realised that everything on my plate had come from the Spring Lane Farm Shop. It had not been a consious decision as I was starting to cook, it was just an amalgam of a whole set of quality ingredients from the fridge and cupboard that just so happened to have come from Spring Lane Farm Shop.

So what was on that plate?

Chicken Meat Sausages

Chicken and lemon herb sausage

Smoked Back Bacon

Smoked Back Bacon

Free Range Eggs from the Farm

Spring Lane Eggs

That brunch was almost themed along that question of ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’ as I was having some chicken and lemon herb sausages, and free range farm eggs all from the shop. The sausages had been a last minute impulse buy as they were only £1.63 for a small pack of 6. They ended up being really tasty, and even though made with chicken they stayed moist and did not dry out while grilling. The eggs are always fresh and you can tell that they were laid not too long ago as the egg white stays pert and firm in the pan and doesn’t run everywhere like you often get with supermarket eggs. The bacon is always good here, I like the smoked back bacon, if I can get smoked streaky I like it more.

I like their bakery although I have not yet worked out the best time to visit to get everything I want. One thing I always try to get my hands on are the white baps topped with baked cheese. They make excellent homes for a cracking bacon sandwich! They also make pies both sweet and savoury which are well worth sampling.

Got to love the meat counter

Spring Lane Meats

And that Deli Counter too

Spring Lane Deli Counter

There are so many good farm shops in this county that I have to confess I do not just frequent this one, I kind of spread myself thinly amongst them, a little less thinly than the butter on that slice of toast I carved from one of their freshly baked loaves, but not enough to be eligible to buy shares in the shop. All I will say is that if we are this side of town we will pop in and more often than not spend too much money on the essentials and also non-essentials.

‘Is it too late to rustle up another bacon sandwich?’ I am pondering as I press submit

I digress (for a change)

To find the Farm Shop you basically need to know where Spring Lane is, just drive across Plains Road then Mapperley Plains past all the shops, then turn right. Or maybe put it into your sat nav to be safer.

Spring Lane Farm Shop
Spring Lane Farm, Spring Lane, Mapperley
Nottingham
NG35RQ
United Kingdom
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“Taste the Flavour of Jamaica” – was the name, ‘Jerk Chicken’ was the game

The Taste of Jamaica

The weather is staring to turn autumnal and it is about this time of the year that I start to enjoy my spicy food a lot more. So I figure that it’s time to start hunting in and around the streets of the city for some of that home style food from the Caribbean. Today I was in the mind for something from Jamaica so it seemed appropriate to walk in through a door under a sign that suggested that I should ‘Taste the Flavour of Jamaica’. It sounded more like the entrance to a food theme park than a takeaway, perhaps it was going to be a fun-ride for my mouth and taste buds?

Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas

My meal of Jerk Chicken with a side of ‘Rice and Peas’ was a somewhat mammoth feast. There was a good quarter of a rather large chicken in there, all covered in a well crisped up jerk seasoned coating. The chap behind the counter had asked me if I would like some jerk sauce on my Rice and Peas, warning me at the same time that it was going to be really spicy. I was expecting that since it is made traditionally from Scotch Bonnet chillies and so I erred on the side of caution and just asked for a little bit. I wished that I had asked for more as although it did have quite a kick, it was also quite fruity and tangy and really enhanced the flavour of the moist chicken and the rice. Now I know that next time I will probably say ‘yeh just splash it all over’ and then I will be full of regret when I burn the roof of my mouth off when the spicy sauce starts to coat the inside of my mouth, and as the back of my throat groans with the kick of the chilli heat. Perhaps I made the correct choice.

taste the flavour leaflet

I thought that this was pretty good value, not just because of the really decent or too be honest ‘much too large’ sized portion for about £8 with a drink. Now I chose off the menu board but if I had been a bit more savvy then I may well have chosen something from that specials leaflet. There were a few different combinations that you could go for. For just $5.99 you could get a Main course of Curry Goat, Curry Chicken, Brown Stew Chicken, or Oxtail with a rice dish such as Rice and Peas, and a Side, and a drink. Not bad at all. If it wasn’t for the moment that I was fixed in on having Jerk Chicken then I would have probably taken advantage of this offer and had either the Oxtail or the Curry Goat. Perhaps when I have finished my tour of the other places nearby I will do just that.

As it says on the bottom of the leaflet “Taste the Flavour of Jamaica” – a Caribbean café and takeaway is located at 130 Hartley Road in Nottingham.

There are plenty of other options in this area and I will be visiting them as well over the next few weeks too.

I will draw you a map when I am done!

 

Nottingham Beer Festival 2014 – A great day of beer and food

Beer Festival Brochure

Nottingham Beer Festival or to give the correct name “The 2014 Nottingham Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival” is one of the highlights of the Nottingham year in our calendars. It features much of which we love in this city Good Beer and some tasty Food. This year we took the day off on Friday and headed over on an early bird ticket (entry before 1pm) to sample as many of the beers that we could manage while attempting to also remain responsible members of sobriety erm I mean society. Located in the grounds of Nottingham Castle this was apparently the seventh Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival held there and the 39th Nottingham beer festival held in the City. I can remember attending the festival when it was held over at the leisure centre near Sneinton Market, it was much smaller then than now, but was just as good an experience. They say that over this weekend they will expect over 30,000 visitors so it is a good job that there were over 1200 beers to sample!

Beer to start

Nottigham Beer Festival

We started off the day by visiting a number of our local favourites including the Castle Rock brewery who had a ‘Tavern’ in the lower grounds and a stand up in the Main Tent. I particularly enjoyed a glass of their latest offering the ‘Carl Froch’ one of their ‘Nottinghamian brews’ described in the menu as a  Dark “lager style” cask ale at 4.2%. We also, as always, enjoyed glasses of Harvest Pale, Elsie Mo and ‘Hedgehog‘ one of their ‘Wildlife Beers’ described as a  - Bonfire Bitter with a reddish tint’ Castle Rock Tavern

They had a projector showing tweets that had been sent out on the day which we just had to test out

The Tweet Wall at The Castle Rock Tavern

 It was working well and kept us entertained for a while as we worked our way through the different beers on offer.

After the first few beers we were feeling a bit peckish and figured that before we went too much further it was time to sample a couple of snacks.

A bit of Food

Candied Bacon from Crafty Crow Bacon Candy From Crafty Crow

One of the first stalls in the lower food area was from the Nearby Crafty Crow pub that sits just outside the entrance to the Castle Grounds. They were offering pots of their ‘Candied Beer Bacon’ for £5. They were serving this with a somewhat runny cheese sauce. I did like the thickly cut bacon strips, I would have liked them more if they or the cheese sauce were hot, but they were still good. They sell these in the pub as part of the ‘Snacks and Sharer’ section of the menu where they are described as “The perfect marriage of bacon and beer that is so good it should come with a health warning! Thick rasher of dry cured streaky bacon, glazed with beer and served with our own cheese ‘beerchamel’ dip”

Jukebox Café

   Jukebox cafe 

Martin waiting for Bacon

One of our party found themselves in need of some pre-beer sustenance in breakfast form and they headed over to the Jukebox Café stall who were in almost the same location as last year.

Belly Buster Board at the Jukebox Cafe

They were still selling the Belly Buster BreakfastBaps for £4 – a rather large bap filled with sausage, bacon, egg, and tomatoes.

 

Bacon Cooking at the Jukebox cafe

That sounded like far too much food so he just settled for a nice simple bacon and egg cob instead. Highlights (for me since I wasn’t getting to eat it) were watching the three slices of bacon cooking on the flat top grill and the lady using her cast iron grill press to make the bacon all crispy and crunchy.

Egg and bacon Cob

I was also drooling at the egg yolk dribbling from the side of the bun when it was handed over to my mate to eat.

Sampling some more Beer

Shipstones BitterShipstones Gold Star

Still down in the Lower Grounds we next found ourselves visiting the Shipstones Tavern where I was to find my favourite beer of the day. This was the new ‘Gold Star – Blonde Ale’  described on their website as ‘A smooth easy drinking blonde pale ale, brewed in keeping with a Shipstone’s beer. Using quality pale malt and is double hopped with Fuggle’s and dry hopped with Golding’s’. The tasting notes say that it is ‘A very smooth well balanced beer which is clean, crisp and has a light subtle hop finish’. Now I am just a consumer and no expert so all I can add was that this beer was so good that I went back several times and had at least 3 glasses of it during the day. Navigation Brewery Next we worked our way up through the grounds to the Main Tent where we tried a couple of beers from the local Navigation Brewery. I most enjoyed the ‘Apus’ which they describe as a “refreshing American style IPA brewed with lager malts well balanced with a full American hop - deceptively drinkable with a lasting aftertaste’. For some reason I had it in my mind that it was made by honey bees, apparently that was just some sort of subliminal thought process.

Dancing Duck Brewery

Adopt a Dancing Duck duck

 

We stopped by the Dancing Duck Brewery stand to ‘adopt a duck’ and sample some beers. I really like their brews especially the ‘Ay Up’ which they describe as ‘An eminently drinkable pale session ale’, I can attest to the fact that is most certainly true. Today though I was sampling a couple of glasses of their ‘Nice Weather for Ducks’ described as ‘A refreshing summer thirst quencher’ I found it to be a real good thirst quencher for this season too.

Totally Brewed

At the Totally Brewed stand we were trying a few different beers all with excellent sounding names, the best name of which was the ‘Papa Jangles Voodo Stout’ at 4.5% it was described as ‘Cookies & Cream and Rum & Raisin with Smokey Roast notes’. I had the Space Brewster ‘Zesty and citrusy’, a ‘pale hoppy brew’ that was right up my street.  You can also check them out on their Facebook page

 Some more Food was needed

Pickled Porker menu Pickled Porker

Some of the best sounding, best tasting and most tempting food was on sale at the Pickled Porker where there was a lot of slow cooked pork, beef, and brisket on offer. I was pretty tempted to try some of their Cider House Tapas, I would have had the ’2 for £7′ offer with the “12 hour beef brisket + spicy BBQ sauce” with some of their “Sticky Sweet BBQ Pork Ribs” if I had been hungrier and not saving room for beer.

Pulled Pork Sandwich from The Pickled Porker

So what did we eat at the Pickled Porker? This lovely pulled pork sandwich filled with juicy and tender meat all cooked low and slow in a Yorkshire cider was the meal of choice. It was declared to be delicious but was a nightmare to eat and it was a bit of a messy affair with juice dripping everywhere from chin to trousers. Well worth that minor inconvenience though! Check them out on Twitter

The Cowboy Kitchen   The Gunslinger Burger

Highs and Lows were to be found at the ‘Cowboy Kitchen were I was drawn in by the chalkboard advertising ‘The “Gunslinger” Burger. It was promising a sandwich of a ‘Double Cheeseburger, bacon, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, gherkins, nachos, and cheese’ ‘all on one bap’ for £7. The Cowboy Burger I loved the idea of it, but I wasn’t that enamoured by the reality of my sandwich, it had everything as promised but it just didn’t work for me as a burger combination and I was left a little flat.  I ended up ditching most of the toppings and just eating it as a cheeseburger with bacon. Never mind we live and learn. Exotic Game Stall at Nottingham Beer Festival Wild Boar Burger at Exotic Game This minor hiccup was rectified quite quickly when we found another  much Tastier Burger at the Exotic Game stall where we sampled on of their Wild Boar with some kind of marmalade glazed onions, very tasty indeed!

Finally back to sample more Beer

Viking Drinking Horns

Inside top tent at beer festivak

We managed to avoid purchasing one the Viking Drinking Horns on our way back up to the main tent, which was by now getting pretty busy. We worked our way around the various barrels sampling a whole lot more beer. In no particular order I supped and enjoyed beers from the Blue Monkey Stand to be exact I had the BG Sips‘A pale hoppy beer with enticing tropical Aroma’, and the Sanctuary‘A beautifully balanced traditional session bitter’. Next stop was at the Coastal Brewery from Cornwall where I had the Summer Blaze described as ‘a Deep Golden Ale’, then from the Maypole Brewery from Eakring in Notts I sampled the Wellow Gold which was described as a ‘Dangerously drinkable blond ale’ it was as described and I had to go back for a second glass. All in all there was as always so many beers to sample that you would need a team of 40 or more to work your way through a decent amount of them and you would have to some every day. I tried loads that I haven’t mentioned and I was surprised by many. One that blew my mind a little was the East Coast IPA from the Poppyland microbrewery in Cromer, a vegan beer at 7.0% described as an ‘American IPA with lots of New World hops’. It was a most warming and mildly numbing affair and was enough to almost end my session.

ShipstonesShipstones Gold Star

In the end though my highlight was that Gold Star Blonde Ale from Shipstones, it was so good that I fought my way back down through the crowds to the Shipstones tent to spend my last 3 beer tokens on a half pint.

Hoppy Days Indeed!