Foodie fun this weekend at Chequers Fest

If you’re looking for a fun, foodie event this weekend you can’t go far wrong with Chequers Fest, at The Chequers in Eversley Cross,  this Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st August.

Okay, so this is a little outside of Winchester but I have reason to believe it’s going to be great, so thought I’d share the news. The whole of the lovely village pub The Chequers will be given over to two days of fantastic live music, bars and artisan food and drink.

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I’m told that the focus for this year’s festival is Great British Produce, with a wonderful array of great home produced things to eat and drink on offer, as well as plenty of opportunities to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

The pub’s invited some great producers to be there for the festival, with plenty of delicious things to nibble and quaff and lots of free tasters on offer (who doesn’t love free tasters!?). There’s a chance to try some fabulous oysters from the Oyster Bar and some delicious regional cheeses.

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You can get creative and make your own sausages and fairy cakes in a series of foodie workshops for all the family. Then relax over a glass or two of local ale or something chilled from the bar. There will be live music from Off The Record from 2pm to 4pm on the day as well. Sunday is the day for dancing, cocktails and more delectable food. There’ll be a tasty hog roast available as well as the pub’s usual summer menu.

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“Once again we’ll be having some great British produce on offer at the festival and putting on an amazing day dedicated to the good stuff,” says Jordan Marr, general manager of The Chequers.

“We love serving the good stuff here in the pub and this is our way of sharing the best of it with you as well as bringing great live entertainment and fun for everyone over the weekend. Come along and enjoy it all and of course have a brilliant day out,” he adds.

Tickets for Chequers Fest cost £10 for adults and are valid for both days. Under 12’s go free.  As the festival takes over the entire pub for the weekend, entry to The Chequers is only possible with a ticket. Chequers Fest takes place from 12 noon to 4pm on Saturday 20th August and from 12pm to 8pm on Sunday 21st August. The Chequers, Eversley Cross, Hampshire, RG27 0NS. To book tickets or find out more  go to www.thechequerseversleycross.co.uk or call 01184 027065.

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Something special is coming to the Spinnaker Tower

I’m very pleased to be sharing some exciting Hampshire foodie news on FoodTeaLife today. A pop-up restaurant is coming soon to the Emirates Spinnaker Tower and it really is set to be something special.

I was lucky enough to be invited to preview the pop-up experience high above the ground and sample the some of the dishes. I was pleased to learn that locally sourced produce takes centre stage on the fabulous seven course menu from award-winning chef Stephanie Moon. There was fresh fish and seafood from Johnson’s Enterprises and trout from Chalkstream Foods as well as meat from Southsea butchers, Buckwells. Even the desserts featured local suppliers including ice creams and sorbets from the fabulous Minghella’s on the Isle of Wight and delicious Fordingbridge Fudge too.

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Talented Chef Stephanie Moon at the Emirates Spinnaker Tower (image courtesy of Stefan Venter and Emirates Spinnaker Tower) 

Chef Stephanie Moon had very high praise for Hampshire’s local suppliers too. Describing the seabass from Johnson’s Enterprises, she spoke with passion about its freshness and how it just shone!

It was lovely having the chance to chat to Stephanie, who hails from Yorkshire and represented the North East in the BBC’s Great British Menu. I couldn’t resist asking her for her thoughts on the hotly debated issue that is #foodporn (taking photos of your food in restaurants). She gave a perfect answer saying, “I’m honoured if someone wants to take a photograph of my food but I’m equally as honoured if they just want to dive in and get stuck into eating it”.

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Chef Stephanie Moon praising Hampshire’s produce

Stephanie has an impressive career to date including The Dorchester and 5 star hotel Park Hyatt in Sydney, so it was real privilege and pleasure to sample her food. You can see her full menu for the pop-up venture here – but I thought I’d share some of my favourites from the night below too…

Canapé: Cauliflower, summer truffle oil and sweetcorn “eggs” with brioche soldiers

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This was just one the delightful canapés on offer – I loved dipping the little brioche soldier!

Starter: Seared scallop, Isle of Wight crab, Solent seabass, butter lettuce, tomato, fresh peas, borage, wood sorrel 

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Everything about this was just perfect – the presentation, the flavours – it was exquisite! 

Main course: Hampshire South Downs lamb cutlet, sticky braised lamb, bon bon

Carrot anise puree, fèves, courgette, potato terrine 

– This I dived straight into and didn’t photograph, luckily  I was sent this beautiful photo of the dish…

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Image courtesy of Stefan Venter and Emirates Spinnaker Tower

To finish: Fordingbridge sea salted caramel fudge, Lavender fields chocolate fancies, Fresh cherry crackle, Pimms’ lollipops with sherbet dib dab – these all came after the main dessert like little petit fours and were simply irresistible!

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Who could say no to these delights? Beautiful image courtesy of Stefan Venter and Emirates Spinnaker Tower

Although I’ve picked out some personal highlights – I can honestly say that every dish was delicious and cooked to perfection. I felt the menu was just the right blend of creative and comforting. The dishes had the wow factor and were beautifully presented, whilst still being simple enough to let the quality and fantastic flavours of the local produce shine through.

Being high above the ground, close to the top of the 170 metre Spinnaker Tower was pretty spectacular too. Arriving at 6.30 meant we got to see the sun going down and watch as night fell all around and lights started to twinkle below. I’m certain it will make a magical occasion – perfect for a special celebration. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

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Views from the Spinnaker Tower as the sun went down 

Sky Dining with Stephanie Moon will be hosted on Friday evenings from Friday 22 July to Friday 12 August 2016. You can find out more and book your table here. 

 

10 Amazing Dishes To Try In Winchester

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I’ve certainly been lucky enough to eat some absolutely amazing meals in Winchester. We have some brilliant restaurants serving exciting, original food made with wonderful ingredients…but enough about how much I love Winchester! If I had to pick my top dishes to enjoy in this great city, this list is where I’d start.

Of course many menus change seasonally and there are always daily specials in certain restaurants – so I can’t promise you’ll definitely be able to find all of these dishes but I know some are still very much menu mainstays. So here’s my top ten in no particular order…

(also sorry, I was too busy enjoying each dish to take photos of all of them!)

1)  Kyoto Kitchen – Winchester Roll

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This is apparently the world’s first sushi roll made with wasabi leaf rather than seaweed and uses locally grown wasabi from Europe’s only wasabi farm, right here in Winchester! So it’s a dish with a great story that’s gained it plenty of attention. It’s also absolutely delicious! The wasabi leaf is perfect addition to this fresh, light and delicate sushi roll.

2) Bugle Inn (Twyford) – Beetroot Cured Salmon

This comes a homemade with smoked mackerel, horseradish & crab pate, crispy whitebait, shallot & beetroot salad, sauce tartar, Parmesan toasts and an aioli dip. It’s just a perfect platter for anyone who loves fish, simply delicious with lots of different things to pick and try. I can’t get enough of it! I should add that many of the Bugle’s other dishes are equally as fabulous, the food is always great.

3) Rimjhim Winchester – Modu Murg

I don’t really do hugely spicy curries so this dish from Rimjhim is just heavenly. If you’re someone who would normally have korma, you must try the modu murg. It’s a creamy coconut and honey chicken dish and comes with crispy parsnip strips on top. Even if you prefer something hotter, I highly recommend trying this dish – everyone I know who likes a spicy curry also enjoys this dish.

4) Bangkok Brasserie – Colin Firth’s Thai Mango Chicken (Gaeng Kari Mamuang) 

While we’re on the subject of curries, this Thai delight from Bangkok Brasserie needs a mention. It’s a a traditional mild yellow curry with added mango that was apparently created especially created for actor and Winchester man Colin Firth. Well, Colin’s got great taste is all I can say. It’s a truly delicious dish, the sauce will have you wanting to dip everything in it. What’s more it’s a sponsored dish with 85p from each dish sold going to charity – so you feel even better about ordering it!

5) Gandhi – Gandhi Special

I promise this is the last curry dish on the list! I don’t think the top ten would be complete without a mention for the flavoursome yet deliciously mild Gandhi Special. This dish is chicken cooked with almond, coconut, sultana and cashew nuts in a special sauce with spices and yoghurt and it comes served with an omelette. It’s a must try if you haven’t had it!

6) Pi Woodfired – Smoked bacon, goats cheese, caramelised onion & asparagus

A relatively new restaurant for Winchester but undeniably good! I haven’t had a chance to work my way through the menu yet but I have to say the bacon and goats cheese pizza was divine. All their dishes look fantastic and I can’t wait to try more!

7) Fish Tale Bar & Grill – Lobster Burger (or the Lobster Surf and Turf)

The lobsimag0903ter burger is amazing, what an invention! It features a brioche bun and tempura lobster, it’s a real feast. I love the varied menu at Fish Tale and try to order something different each time I go but the burger is incredibly tempting I must admit. The surf and turf gets a mention too as my dining companion loves this dish and very often goes for it.

8) Sakura Japanese Restaurant – Teppanyaki Lobster

Sticking with the subject of lobster, here’s another great way to enjoy it, fresh from the teppanyaki grill and cooked in a delicious sauce. You can sit around the grill and watch (and take part) in the cooking fun and theatrics or sit quietly at a separate table – either way it’s a lovely dish.

9) Rick Stein Winchester – Fish and Shellfish Soup with Rouille and Parmesan 

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This is a heavenly dish (which I have reviewed previously) – it’s a taste of Mediterranean summer holidays and I love adding the cheese and garlicky rouille to the soup. I love the whole menu (and the cocktails!) at Rick Stein’s but this starter is probably my absolute favourite.

10) The Avenue Restaurant at Lainston House – Coconut Parfait

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Aha, a delcious dessert makes it’s way on the list. I’m sure desserts of Winchester could be a whole other post – but this one is so good it deserves a mention in the overall top ten I think! I do love coconut, so this is a real winner with me – it comes with a chocolate mousse, caramel, banana and passion fruit – full of flavour! I’m hungry just thinking about it!

So there you have it, some of my favourite meals in Winchester. There are many more I could have mentioned and many other restaurants serving amazing dishes – but ten felt like a good place to stop. Have you tried any of these dishes? I would absolutely love to hear some recommendations from any FoodTeaLife readers for dishes I should try. Leave a comment or tweet me @franini_daze with your suggestions!

xXx

Foodie event! Thyme & Tides Food Festival

Hampshire foodies, here’s an event you won’t want to miss – the Thyme & Tides Food Festival at Stockbridge Town Hall, Saturday 18th April. 

Iain and Sally Hemming, owners of Thyme & Tides who will be putting on a food festival on 18th April

Iain and Sally Hemming, owners of Thyme & Tides who will be putting on a food festival on 18th April

For anyone who hasn’t been, Thyme & Tides is a lovely deli, bistro and fishmonger in Stockbridge. The food festival is in celebration of Thyme & Tides’ fifth birthday and will feature special guest appearances from BBC’s Nigel Barden and Valentine Warner as well as demonstrations from foodie experts showcasing their skills with bread-making, gin, wine, cheese and much more. I’m told there will be plenty to try and buy with around 20 of Thyme & Tides top suppliers inviting guest to enjoy their wares! These include Olives et Al, Ballancourt French pates and terrines, Hennart French cheeses , Purbeck Ice cream and ciders, Isle of Wight Tomato Stall and Utta Nutta Peanut Butter and more.

Upstairs I’m told there will be a demonstration theatre where you can hear from Valentine Warner and Nigel Barden, BBC Radio 2’s food and drink critic and broadcaster. They will be joined by Darren Bland of Hoxton Bake House, James Robinson of Spanish food experts Brindisa, Mark Dawson of Langley’s Gin and Tom Badcock of The Cheese Cellar.

Best of all, entrance to the main event is free and tickets for the food demonstrations are just £2.50 for adults, kids go free. A proportion of all ticket sales will be donated to the Alex Lewis Trust too. Sounds like a fab foodie day out to me!

Doors open at 10am, until 5pm. The event, which is supported by Hildon Water, will take place at Stockbridge Town Hall, High Street, Stockbridge SO20 6HE. You can find out more at: www.thymeandtidesdeli.co.uk, call 01264 810101 or join me and follow the event on twitter @foodfeaststockb.

WIN! Tickets to Wine Festival Winchester

Local FoodTeaLife readers may have heard the buzz about Wine Festival Winchester, the exciting new initiative by BBC1 wine experts Susie & Peter taking place right here in Winchester. Tickets are selling fast – but lucky for you I’ve got two tickets to give away worth £25 each! Read on to find out more…

Team behind Wine Festival Wichester

The team behind Wine Festival Winchester – BBC1’s wine experts Susie & Peter

The event, which is being held in Winchester Guildhall from 21-23 November, will feature hundreds of wines from around the world, all free to taste as part of the entry price. There will be local food, music, masterclasses featuring cheese and chocolate, prize draws and a free wine glass worth £12.50 for all visitors.

I particularly like the fact that so many of my favourite local producers and retailers are involved too. There are six Hampshire sparkling wine producers, including Hattingley Valley, Hambledon and Jenkyn Place, alongside local retailers Toscanaccio, Stone Vine & Sun, The Naked Grape, Caviste, Berry Bros. & Rudd and Wine Utopia.

Here’s the interesting bit that makes Wine Festival Winchester a little different – in order to help you find wines you like at the festival, Susie and Peter have devised a colour-coded system called ‘Follow Your Taste’. Wine is broken down into six flavour styles and bottles at the event will have coloured neck tags to indicate their style. Sounds like a great idea to me and takes away some of intimidation that can surround wine tasting.

Winchester Wine Festival Colour Code

Fab Idea! The ‘Follow Your Taste’ colour-coded system that will be in place at Wine Festival Winchester

The festival is supporting local charity Naomi House and launches the same weekend as Winchester’s Christmas market just round the corner – what a weekend! You can find out more about the festival by visiting the website www.thewinefestival.co.uk.

HOW TO WIN TWO FREE TICKETS:

For your chance to win two free tickets for the Sunday at Wine Festival Winchester simply tweet me: “@franini_daze I want to win tickets to @WineFestWinch

You can also email foodtealife@gmail.com. The winner will be drawn at random and notified within 28 days. Terms and conditions can be found here.

Good luck!

Festive Foodie Highlights

Well, Christmas is over but we’re still in that cosy in-between bit where it’s perfectly acceptable to eat above average levels of chocolate and/or cheese each day until New Year. I love it really, it’s like a final chance to consume all the Christmas goodies as well as enjoy any foodie gifts.

I was blessed with some beautiful gifts…many of them centred on food and tea of course! From beautiful flowering green tea to cheese accessories, gorgeous glassware, a soup set, a huge panettone and a super stocking full of all my favourite foods, I was one lucky girl this Christmas!

A few of my food themed gifts this year!

A few of my food themed gifts this year!

I did something a little different this year and spent Christmas day at the lovely Lainston House Hotel in Sparsholt, which was a lot of fun and saw plenty of food and wine consumed! Here are some of the highlights…

Lainstone House looking beautiful on Christmas Day

The driveway of Lainston House looking beautiful on Christmas Day

Potted Turbot Terrine with Caviar Dressing

A starter of Potted Turbot Terrine with Caviar Dressing

Roast turkey with chestnut and apricot stuffing and all the traditional trimmings

Roast turkey with chestnut and apricot stuffing and all the traditional trimmings

Christmas Pudding with rum custard and brandy butter

Christmas Pudding with rum custard and brandy butter

A few festive tipples later

A few festive tipples later

There were five courses of festive food in total, and whilst nothing will ever quite compare to my dad’s good old roast dinner, I have to say that Lainston House did a pretty great job of everything! We were even lucky enough to get a visit from Santa Clause himself, who gave us all a little present…

My gift from Father Christmas! Nice to see Santa giving locally sourced gifts

My gift of Hampshire Chutneys from Father Christmas! Nice to see Santa giving locally sourced gifts

After a quick cocktail in the beautiful wood-panelled cocktail lounge at Lainston House we were off to join family and friends for more food and drink! Laughter, festive viewing, turkey sandwiches and bubbles filled the rest of the day.

Boxing Day saw me heading to my family home for our traditional post Christmas meal of cold meats, pickles and homemade chips. You can’t beat it! I indulged in my usual ‘everything sandwich’ – consisting of chips, cold meat, stuffing and other leftovers, accompanied by various chutneys and pickles.

Later that day there were more bubbles and a traditional boxing day get together to attend. We were certainly all a little slow to start but as usual we soon got into the festive spirit of things with peach bellinis, champagne and lots of nibbles!

Festive fun!

Festive fun!

Now I’m looking forward to New Year’s Eve (and fitting into my clothes again!).

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, wishing you all the best for the New Year! xXx

Last weekend’s foodie highlights

Well, the title says it all really…

Last Friday night’s visit to the Chesil Rectory was a lovely last minute treat. The menu was great, just look at these yummy starters…

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Portland Crab, Secrett’s Beetroots, Avocado, Mayonnaise         

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Treacle Cured Salmon, Brixham Scallop, Pickled Ginger

And of course there’s the beautiful Cottonworth rose to enjoy when at the Chesil Rectory. This English sparkling wine is every bit as lovely as something like a Laurent Perrier Rose. It’s local too, if you haven’t tried it already, it’s a must! You can also get it from Wine Utopia in Winchester.

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On Saturday I ate at an old favorite that never disappoints, The Bugle Inn, Twyford. The tasty bacon chop on their menu at the moment is highly recommended! It comes served on a bed of bubble and squeak with a poached egg on top and some gorgeous cauliflower cheese – it was heavenly and certainly very filling! No pictures due to me being a greedy guts and scoffing it all without thinking of my blog!

You wouldn’t think I could eat more food in one weekend…but I did. To celebrate my dad’s Birthday a fabulous family party tea was put on at home. Featuring afternoon tea, triangle sandwiches, my sister’s yummy mocha cupcakes and a scone or two, it was a fine birthday feast! Here’s a snapshot…
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Definitely a few fast days need this week after a full on weekend of food, glorious food!

xXx

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