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!


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
United Kingdom
You can follow the also on Twitter and on Facebook

“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!

Oscars Restaurant at the Beeches Hotel – A decent little bit of Bar Food

Oscars Resturant at the Beeches Hotel

Oscar’s Bar and Resturant is located inside The Beeches Hotel on Wilford Lane in West Bridgford. I have had a long standing relationship with this hotel as it was part of my childhood as I grew up living just over the road. Back then it was called Monroe’s Hotel, owned and run by the Monroe family. I can remember it being much smaller and that when each house came up for sale alongside they were purchased and the hotel expanded little by little. I don’t really remember when it became the Beeches Hotel, but I do remember many a friends and family meal that we have had in the Restaurant and in the Bar over the last 10 years.

The food has always been good, sometimes a little bit pricey, but it was always a good meal. On their website it said Attentive, friendly staff, excellent food and an inviting and informal atmosphere combine to make Oscar’s Restaurant a truly enjoyable experience

Well that was kind of how I remembered it and as I hadn’t been in for a couple of years I was keen to come back and just try something, perhaps just a pint and something simple off their bar menu.

There was plenty to choose from on the menu and also on the daily specials board where a ‘Curry of the day’, ‘Chefs choice of the day’ and a ‘Pie of the day’ were on offer. I just wanted something light though so I was looking for bar food.

 Gammon, Egg and Chips

Gammon Egg and Chips at  Oscars


I had the Gammon, Egg and Chips which was to be fair a decent sized plateful. The piece of Gammon steak was big, large enough to fill half of the square plate. It was well cooked with a nice char and it was salty just as I like. The fries were those really thin skinny ones, so not my favourite style (I like chunky chips) but there wasn’t anything wrong with them. They had managed to cook the frozen peas properly which based on what I have seen at many a place is actually quite a feat. The fried egg was alright as well, I would have liked the yolk to have been a bit runnier but I am kind of searching for fault now. It is a good plate of food, it is basically just bar food done well and I have no problem at all with that. Even now looking back at the picture I am thinking that I could come back over the road and eat this again. That has to be a good thing does it not?


Burger at Oscars

My companion had the Basic Burger, which I thought looked pretty good. I liked the look of the seeded bun and the lettuce was that nice crispy leaf type that I usually buy in a bag from the supermarket when I am trying to make my steak healthy. I thought that it looked really nice and since this meal I have talked with a few work colleagues who have stayed at the hotel and they said that the burger was really good.

Burger Platter at Oscars

He wasn’t as keen but then again that might have been because the whole thing came on one of those stupid wooden boards that everyone seems to serve the food on now. This one made the burger look quite small, please someone start a campaign for plates :-)  There was also a bowl of coleslaw that stayed in the bowl all the way from the kitchen and back to the kitchen, and a bowl of thin fries which he likes a lot, so on this occasion my companion won the chip raffle.

Oscars Chalk Board

Overall I was happy with my return to Oscars and with the quality of my bar food. I still felt that it was all a couple of quid overpriced, but then again this is a hotel so I suppose that they have a captive audience and perhaps can get away with that price point. In the end I don’t mind really my Gammon and Eggs were worth it even without a slice of tinned pineapple. To be honest if there was a slice of pineapple I would have been writing in for a discount (just kidding folks).

I keep on seeing the chalkboard at the weekend outside on which is scribbled ‘Fancy a Sunday Roast’, quite often I do so maybe I will come back and try one.

The Beeches Hotel is on Wilford Lane in West Bridgford on the corner with Bruce Drive. It is opposite the Railway Club just past Rivermead Flats. Regular buses stop here from the city including the 1, 2, 3, and 4 heading out to South Notts



Entering the Wildwood Resturant to track down a Wild Boar and Chorizo Burger

Wildwoood In Nottingham Wildwood in Nottingham is located just up from the Old Market Square on King Street. It sits nicely in amongst a number of other restaurants near to the Brian Clough statue in the ‘Leisure Quarter’ in what is becoming known as ‘Nottingham’s Restaurant Triangle’. It is just over the road from the recently opened Bills restaurant and across from the ‘soon to open’ Georges restaurant. Barburrito lies just up the road selling Tex mex wraps and Tropeiro sits nearby on the corners serving up Brazilian BBQ.

So what food does ‘Wildwood’ offer to the diner? I wasn’t sure at all when I first saw the place. As I peered in through the window I could see the flames from a large pizza oven at the back, but then on the boards I could see burgers and pasta dishes.

Well that tiny bit of research standing in the doorway was to prove to be spot on.

Their website said “Whether you choose from the grill section, stone-baked pizza or our freshly prepared pastas, our passion for high quality dishes is the main focus across all of our restaurants”.

So a bit of everything then.

Daily Specials Menu

Wildwood Specials Menu I did briefly peruse the specials menu which I thought would have been good if it was a 3 course for £15 type of menu,  and I was almost tempted by the Goats Cheese and Chorizo Pizza for £9.10. Then almost again by the Mussels, but a quick glance at the main menu and the burger section completed side-tracked my attention towards some sort of meat filled sandwich. They did have a tempting meat ball starter and even a spicy meat calzone pizza filled with chicken, bolognase, meatballs, mushroom and chilli. I very nearly had the Wild Boar Salami and Burrato Cheese Pizza, but it was not to be, my heart was already heading in one direction and there was no turning back although that Wild Boar was to get a look in.

Wild Boar and Chorizo Burger

Wildwood Burger Plate I was easily tempted into ordering one of the Wildwood Burgers to be more specific I was to found myself salivating over the prospect of getting my chomps into the ‘Wild Boar and Chorizo Burger’. This came with jalapenos, mayonnaise, relish and a pot of fries. When I had ordered I hadn’t realised that the jalapenos, mayonnaise, and relish were all going to come on the side, but I was very happy that they did. This gave you the chance to customise the heat of the burger by slipping in as much or as little chilli as you so desired. I ended up eating half with jalapeno and half without (just because I could). The fries came in one of those metal pots and although they were quite plain, I did like that they came with a generous sprinkle of sea salt on the top and a little rosemary leaf. Close up of Wild Boar and Chorizo Burger Lets get a little closer and have a look at this beautiful burger. It was well presented on the tray, the meat patty was well marked almost branded with a blackened criss-cross char. The burger itself was a little too big for the toasted bun overlapping the edge all the way around. This was to lead to a very meaty mouthful with each bite. There were a few crispy onion rings on the top as well providing a small sweet tang. Burger half at Wildwood Lets get inside this beast! Ok so now we are getting down and dirty with this burger. The meat patty of the Wild Boar and Chorizo was really juicy. The chorizo sausage was not too spicy and was almost crumbled into the Wild Boar meat so you got a really well made burger. The meat kind of melted in your mouth on each bite. The bottom layer of the burger had a thin layer of lettuce, tomato, and mayo between burger and bun adding a nice creamy and juicy element to the burger sandwich. This was I have to say an excellent burger sandwich. Everything about it was working for me, the patty was fresh and well formed from the Wild Boar meat and the Chorizo sausage. The accompanying elements were just that, little side notes that didn’t try to upstage the burger. They were there to add that little bit extra to elevate the flavours of the meats and they did that very well.

Do I have any complaints or suggestions? Well to be honest no I don’t and that is a pretty good thing these days. My only request would be that I would have liked a larger burger, but that is just me being greedy and has nothing to do with the fairly sized portion on my tray.

I think I will be back (for another one)

Wildwood in Nottingham is located at 18 King Street and if you want to see a little more before you walk in through the doors you can check them out on Facebook and Twitter


Goose Fair in Nottingham – Sampling a few fairground and street food snacks

Goose Fair Profile

Food at Goose Fair Martin at Goose Fair

From a distance Goose Fair assaults your senses with a blanket of noise and a sea of light, once inside, walking along the paths between the food stalls and the rides, your senses are assaulted by the smells and sights of the food. As you duck to avoid bags of pink candyfloss or other sugary sweet snacks hanging from the eaves of the stalls, you can see the hotdogs and burgers grilling, the onions are frying, and kebabs are turning on the coals. Pots of mushy peas bubble away and hot steaming sugary donuts are pulled from the fryers. It is difficult to know where to start the eating and also where to stop.

Mushy peas Sign Mushy Peas Signs

So you may have guessed this blog post is  about some down and dirty trek looking for Fairground Food and other assorted Carnival Snacks. It could be an entire post about Mushy peas of which the fair is flooded with stall after stall offering this most yummy and delicious of all green pea based snacks. Light controversy will abound if you start a conversation regarding this little feast. I recalled and located a nice little story about Mushy Peas at the fair that I saw a number of years back in the Evening Post by Erik Peterson.

Peas in Pots at Goose Fair  Hot peas sign

The peas that I favoured the most were these ones that were being cooked up in big steaming pots under the sign claiming to be ‘The only traditionally cooked peas on the fair”. In this weeks Nottingham Post there is a brief note about the people who makes these peas (have a look here to see that article)

Heatherhill Farm stall at Goose Fair Home Reared Meats at Heathehill farm stall

I was in the mood for some sort of a meat cob, perhaps a Roast Pork Cob, or maybe some Pulled Pork. I found what I was looking for at the Heatherhill Farm Stall where they were selling the farms ‘Home Reared Meats’. On their site they tell us that they are ‘a small family run farm nestled in the valley bottom of the Hope Valley.’ where their ‘family have been farming in and around the  Hope Valley for four generations.’ They travel to ‘food fairs, Carnivals, Game fairs and Country shows nation wide‘ and also can be found at Farmer’s markets in Derbyshire (Buxton, Bakewell, and Belper)

Pulled Pork Sign Pulled Pork at Goose Fair

I tried a cob filled with some of their Pulled Pork for £4.50. It wasn’t bad at all, a decent amount of juicy meat mixed with a nice tangy BBQ sauce. Apart from the Roast Cobs that you might expect them to have they also had an interesting offering of a pot of ‘Cheesy Beans’ (baked beans and cheese) that I could have been tempted by on another occasion.

Spee Dough Pizza Salami and pepperoni pizza at Goose Fair

I didn’t plan to eat any pizza here at the Goose Fair but as I walked along the path filled with vendors I came across the Speedough Pizza Trailer who had a wood fired oven and were offering 90 second pizza’s. The oven is built into the back of a 1963 Citroen HY and with temperatures of 450-500C they said the pizza would cook in 90 seconds. I decided to check that out and asked for one topped with Salami and Chorizo for £5.99. I think it may have taken just a little longer than that to cook in the end but not too much. It was a fair effort a nicely charred thin base that was topped with molten cheese, a scattering of salami and chorizo discs, and a sprinkling of cheese on the top as well. It was (as you would expect) seriously hot having just been pulled from that hot oven and it was a very tasty affair. The slices were a bit floppy for my liking, I was hoping for a crisp solid crunch of a base. Perhaps cooking a little longer may have achieved that desire. Still none-the-less a good effort.

Sugary Donuts

Donuts and Toffe Apples

There were plenty of places to buy a donut, we had these freshly made ones in the bag. Not as sugary as you might expect but still filling enough to line the stomach for a scary ride. To be honest I like mine with jam in.

Dutch Mini Pancakes Dutch mini pancake chalk board

After we had eaten those I was instantly in regret and wished that we had gone to the ‘Dutch Mini Pancakes’ stall instead. They we selling ‘Poffertjes’ which are small fluffy pancakes, a traditional dutch snack. They were tipping them out of the pan mould as we walked by. (Note to self don’t let the stomach and eyes decide all the time).

Johny Putsaztki Jonny Putzaski

If you have your heart set on a burger, a sausage, or even a bacon butty, then you really need to heads over to Johnny Pusztai’s Stall over by the Homemade café on the City side of the fair. Serving up all the quality products from JT Beedham & Sons in Sherwood, this is the place to be if you want a really good high quality sandwich at a good price. They are award winning for a reason and it is worth waiting a while until you find them before eating.

Pomegranite at Goose Fair Food at Pomegranate in Goose Fair

If you wanted to try something a little different from the typical fairground fair then you should look no further than the Pomegranate Stall who were serving up ‘Authentic Lebanese Cuisine’. There stand was set up to look like a buffet table in a nice restaurant. The pick of the table for me was their ‘Moorish Street Chicken Wrap’ for £7. It is a good entry level dish if you have not tried this food before, the chicken is seasoned with a Moorish spice mix of cumin, coriander, sweet paprika, turmeric, oregano, salt and pepper. Simple but tasty.

The Doghouse The Kebab King

Red Dragon Fairground Food Stall

There is plenty of fairground food at Goose Fair to cater for all tastes and for all budgets. I loved walking around amongst the crowd looking at all the vendors and sampling bits and pieces as we walked.

Mushy Peas

I suspect that most people will be hitting up those pots of mushy peas and having a hot dog or burger of some sort. Whatever you choose, eat it guilt free with all the joys of the carnival!

Nottingham Goose Fair is located on the Forest Recreation Ground next to The Forest Tram Stop covering the park and ride site and some of the surrounding fields.