Friday, 30 August 2013

Sainsbury's Magazine Cookbook

I love Sainsbury’s Magazine.  With lots of recipes and foodie articles it’s such a fabulous read and a great source to refer back to.  Personally, I can’t believe it was 20 years ago that it was first launched – time really has flown.  So much has changed on the culinary scene and the evolution of trends and dietary demands have all been documented in the magazine, keeping readers abreast of what’s new.

Sainsbury's Magazine Cookbook

To celebrate Sainsbury’s Magazine’s 20th Birthday, a cookbook has been launched highlighting their continued success and showcasing a selection of over 100 recipes from over the years.
The front cover of the cookbook is similar to that of one of the magazine covers which instantly gives you the synergy between the two.  Opening the book, you see a fold-out flap which gives you a timeline of the magazine’s history and all the chefs, (many of whom are now famous household names), that have been involved in contributing to the magazine over the years – including, a very fresh faced Jamie Oliver!
The recipes are split into sections (eg: Starters, Main Courses, Side Dishes etc) for easy identification along with a listed index at the back.  Each recipe is accompanied by a photograph which helps to illustrate the dish.  At the bottom of most of the recipes is a little ‘Kitchen Secret’ box which provides a hint to either help with cooking the dish itself or information about the ingredients involved – always a welcomed thing!
Many of the recipes are from celebrity chefs that have been historically featured in the magazine.  Chefs ranging from Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Raymond Blanc to the latest chefs that have joined the food entourage including Rachel Khoo and Lorraine Pascale.
Although the book isn’t a sole vegetarian book, there are plenty of vegetarian recipes featured and there are plenty of meat recipes that could be adapted with either the omission of meat or use of meat substitutes.   Some of my favourite recipes which I’m looking forward to trying are:  Aubergines with Buttermilk Sauce, Sri Lankan Cashew Nut Curry and Leek, Butternut & Sage Gratin.

Here's the recipe for Leek, Butternut & Sage Gratin - which looks like a fabulous hearty side dish to accompany an autumnal meal.

Leek, Butternut & Sage Gratin Recipe

Serves 4-6

1 kg Butternut Squash (peeled, halved and deseeded)
25g Butter
2 tbsp Olive Oil
3 Large Leeks (trimmed and thickly sliced)
2 tsp coarsely chopped Fresh Sage Leaves (plus 8-10 small whole leaves)
1 x 300ml carton of Double Cream
2 slices of day-old White Bread (crusts removed, made into coarse crumbs)

  • Cut the squash into 2cm thick slices.  
  • Heat the butter and half the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the squash and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the leeks and turn the vegetables in the juices.  
  • Cook for a few minutes more, then add a pinch of salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Uncover, turn up the heat a little and cook, turning the vegetables, until they are tender and starting to brown.
  • Take off the heat, stir in the chopped sage and season.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 200oC, fan 180oC, gas mark 6.
  • Arrange the vegetables in a 1.2 litre ovenproof dish that has been lightly buttered.
  • Stir 2 tablespoons of cold water into the cream, then spoon over the vegetables.
  • Heat the remaining butter and oil in the cleaned frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and fry until golden. 
  • Stir in the whole sage leaves and season.
  • Bake the gratin for 35-40 minutes.
  • Scatter over the sage crumbs, then cook for a further 10-15 minutes until browned and bubbling.
  • Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: Recipe extracted from Sainsbury's Magazine Cookbook.

The cookbook is the perfect purchase for those who love cooking and enjoy creating recipes endorsed by celebrity chefs.   The book is an excellent tribute to the magazine’s popularity and a great collation of the crème de la crème of 2 decades worth of recipes.   As the book marks the last 20 years, here’s to the next 20 and beyond for Sainsbury’s Magazine!
You can purchase the cookbook from larger Sainsbury's stores for £6.00.  For details see link.
Disclosure:  This post was written following kind receipt of a complementary copy of:   - Sainsbury's Magazine Cookbook.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Digbeth Dining Club

Friday night dinner in our household is usually a chip shop supper (minus the fish for me though), ending our working week with a smidgen of gluttony smothered in tomato ketchup and framed by pickled gherkins and onions on the plate.  Mmmm.......
However, we have been meaning to break this tradition for months in exchange for a visit to Digbeth Dining Club in Birmingham but for one reason or another the timings haven’t worked out.  But recently, we found a window of opportunity to go and taking a sabbatical from the chip shop, we made our way to Digbeth.

Digbeth has reincarnated itself over recent years becoming very much the ‘the place to go’ in Birmingham.  Although old news now yet ever evolving, the Custard Factory remains a haven for fashion designers, artists, media businesses and latching on to current trends, there are also numerous vintage goods traders.  The former Bird’s Custard factory is also home to a number of cafes, eateries, bars and hosts a number of the city’s events.  Keeping in the theme of food, round the corner from The Custard Factory is the Spotlight Nightclub which is the venue for the Digbeth Dining Club.

Dining area for Digbeth Dining Club
DJs on the Decks

A nightclub for a dining club may seem a bizarre concept at first but the reality is that it lends itself really well.  The indoor area has a well stocked bar with speciality cocktails and plenty of seating areas, low atmospheric lighting and with DJ decks in-situ to provide chilled out tunes whilst you eat.  

Cocktails Du Jour!

The outside area is where all the food vendors trade and you can either eat inside the club or on the benches by the vendors (if the weather is kind).

Soupremes - Caribbean Food

The 3-4 vendors present change each week which keeps it fresh for visitors enabling them to have the chance to try different foods and of course it allows for vendors to rotate and trade fairly.  There is usually a split between vendors offering savoury foods and those offering sweet choices, which of course allows you to have a 2 course meal in effect.

The Mexican Bean Van

On the menu when we went there was The Mexican Bean -  offering nachos, tacos, chilli con carne etc, Manila Munchies – selling Filipino style noodles, Soupreme – providing hot Caribbean fair, Matilda’s Bakehouse – which makes hand-made oven cooked pizzas.  Then to cover those wanting desserts, Platinum Pancakes created a range of sweet style crepes.
Matilda's Bakehouse 

The Manila Munchies Team

I enjoyed the mild vegetarian noodles from Manila Munchies which were totally delicious! They also offer meat dishes and spicier options too.   My husband had the nachos from The Mexican Bean which he said were moreish and filling.  I then followed my noodles up by a crepe from Platinum Pancakes.  Using their menu as a guide, I decided to get creative and take the Chocolate & Mint option and add on peaches which I have to say was really enjoyable.

Chocolate, Mint & Peach Crepe from Platinum Pancakes

This type of dining club is much less formal than a dining club per se with the emphasis on the speed and convenience of street food with the benefits of casual dining facilities.  The trend for street food has excelled in recent times with people’s demand for accessibility, variety and modest cost.  
Earlier on in the year, I wrote about the increased interest in street food for Cook Vegetarian magazine and the trend just keeps on rising.  Birmingham also offers street food events such as Brum Yum Yum’s – kings hEATh as well as the varying farmers’ markets and these offer the street food phenomenon on a larger scale which have been extremely popular with shoppers, families and those wishing to socialise during the day.  With Digbeth Dining Club, it offers a more intimate environment with almost that ‘night out’ feel, and although the food is available instantly, the set-up is such that invites you to elongate your evening and make it much more of a social scenario.
Taking a look around, the demographic was mixed both age-wise and true to Digbeth Dining Club’s statement, there were people there having a post-work drink/food with colleagues, residents from nearby apartments down for their supper (I was told the locals love it) and also those dressed up for a night out using the club to meet up for food first before moving on for revelry.
The latter is where we fitted into and being mindful of our plans, taking the final bite of my pancake, feeling fed and watered and relaxed, we were ready to carry the evening on.  And going forward, if we ever want to take a vacation from the chip shop again, we know exactly where to come!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Vegetarian Dining at La Scala

Meeting Head Chef Stuart McDonald at the recent #FutureFoodies event, we spoke at length about La Scala, the restaurant he works at in Sutton Coldfield, just north of the centre of Birmingham, and their passion for ensuring that vegetarians are looked after and catered for.  Always music to my ears when restaurants recognise the importance of ensuring vegetarian guests have a bounty of choices just as much as meat-eating guests do.  When invited to visit La Scala, I was immediately keen to sample their menu and their dedication towards catering for vegetarians.
Located on the A5127 on Maney Corner just before the main centre of Sutton Coldfield (if coming from Birmingham), the restaurant sits within a parade of shops which comes with free parking (always a bonus) and although in a very convenient spot, it is just enough away from the main bustle of the town if you want to enjoy the benefits of a quieter location.

Upon entering the restaurant, you notice the contemporary, opulent décor with a mixture padded seated booths and spacious tables filling the main restaurant area.  There is also a set-back private dining area for larger parties which offers privacy but yet still allows for experiencing the atmosphere from the restaurant.

Shown to our seats, we then met with the Owner, Alfredo, a very charming man whose passion for Italian food stems from being born and raised in Tuscany Italy before moving to England as a young man.  Although trained as a French chef essentially, the pull towards his Italian roots has remained strong and hence his decision to open La Scala, bringing to the forefront his love for Tuscan food, which I am assured leans more towards traditional Italian food as is served in the homeland.  

Alfredo's Italian pride was illustrated in his description of eating in Italy - big, long tables are ladened with roast meats and pastas (not covered in too much sauce I'm told!) with vegetables being served as a separate entity - never mixed with other dishes as they are in other countries.  Interestingly, in Tuscany, salads are served but are eaten separately after a main course dish - a classic example of cultural differences.  

Working with Stuart on ideas, Alfredo draws from his experience and uses the simplicity of rustic, peasant style Italian vegetarian dishes as inspiration for the restaurant's menu.   
Serving Italian cuisine, the knee-jerk reaction for veggie fodder is some kind of pasta or pizza based meal but at La Scala, on top of these options, the kitchen team can rustle up a variety of things to please their vegetarian clientele at a moment's notice.  Alternatively, they can go through options with diners at the time of booking to ensure they do their utmost to maximise the enjoyment for any vegetarians and vegans that will be visiting.  As an independent restaurant, they are able to be as flexible as is required.   Even vegetarian parmasen is available upon request.
Stuart suggested that we try some items from the a la carte menu and some dishes that he has made using his vegetarian creativity.

Asparagi alla Griglia
For our starters, my husband chose the Asparagi alla Griglia which although the menu states it contains parma ham, this was removed to make it 100% vegetarian.  The asparagus tips were dressed with lemon, pepper and a cherry tomato salad. The vegetarian parmasen melted beautifully into the asparagus adding a creaminess contrasting the tangy lemon.

I had Tomino which was a brie cheese parcel, wrapped in breadcrumbs and herbs.  This was served with a plum cherry tomato & balsamic marmalade, dressed with a roasted pepper and lemon coulis.  Cutting into the Tomino the oozy, hot molten brie came into its own and begged to be paired up with the marmalade which was a marriage made in culinary heaven. The ying of the cheese with the yang from the marmalade worked amazingly well.  There were little toasted bread wedges on the side to mop everything up to ensure you don't waste a single bit!
Cannelloni Spinaci e Ricotta
For our main courses, my husband chose the Cannelloni Spinaci e Ricotta from the menu which were cannelloni pasta tubes filled with spinach and ricotta and baked with béchamel & tomato sauce. The Neapolitan tomato sauce was absolutely delicious (we asked for the recipe afterwards, to no avail)!  A gloriously hearty meal which was boosted by the vegetables.

Ripieni de Zucchini
I had the Ripieni de Zucchini which was prepared by the kitchen especially for me.  In essence, they are courgette boats, with the flesh hollowed out and mixed with red onion, thyme, marjoram, herbs, breadcrumbs and garlic to make a stuffing, returning it back to the courgette boat and then baked.  Drizzled on the boats was the Neapolitan sauce and it was served with saffron infused Milanese rice and vegetarian parmasen.  A fabulous courgette dish which when dressed with the herbs and onions takes it to another level.  The rice was soft, delicious and shone golden yellow courtesy of the saffron.

Side Orders of Vegetables

We shared a selection of Italian vegetables - Broccoli in Pepper Sauce, Glazed Carrots and Glazed Potatoes.
For desserts we had a mixed variety of dolce to try.  Alfredo described how desserts in Italy are mainly reserved for Sundays or special occasions as opposed to following every main course on a daily basis.  However, we could count this as a special occasion!


The Tiramisu, made on-site, was rich, dense and certainly lived up to its translation of 'pick me up'!

Lemon Torte

Next to try was the Lemon Torte with slithers of orange zest caramelised in rum and brandy on a biscuit base.  With every bite, you get a citrus sharp hit of real lemons which wakes up your taste buds.

Ricotta Baked CheeseCake

The Ricotta Baked Cheesecake, before seeing it, I had visions of the New York cheesecakes us Brits are more familiar with but this looked and tasted like a cross between Italian pannettone/panforte.  Baked with an Italian sweet pastry bottom, Alfredo described this as more of a cheesecake favoured by the Jewish community as well as the Italian one.  Ricotta lends itself wonderfully to sweet dishes as well as savoury and the secret to this cheesecake is that it needs to be left for a while to settle once taken out of the oven before eating.  A delightfully light cheesecake, a great opportunity to try this at La Scala (as not on all Italian restaurant menus), served with ice cream and fruit coulis.

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream

We also had a portion of vegan chocolate ice cream which is available upon request.  Although not made on-site, it had a nice taste as made from soya as opposed to dairy milk which is used in conventional ice cream.
With everything made on site, including the Italian breads and some of the pastas, its easy to see why La Scala has a loyal following with their attention to detail prevailing.  In addition to their a la carte menu, they offer a fixed price menu (with flexibility for vegetarians) mid- week (Wednesdays & Thursdays) which is £17.95 per head for 3 courses including a glass of house wine.  The restaurant (now in-situ for over 2½ years) also plays host to the business community by offering a function room with conference facilities.  
Although a lot of emphasis has been put on vegetarians, vegans too are catered for with the same approach.  Stuart and team have many vegans ideas/suggestions and can put them into action (especially with notice) to suit all palettes, again, one of the benefits of being independently owned.  

Steering away from just pasta or just risottos, options change to complement the seasons such the imminent introduction of Caponata (aubergine stew) and with Autumn beckoning, pumpkin will feature on the menu in October.  The vegetarian and vegan demographics are very much respected and La Scala are eager to ensure that a pleasurable dining experience is had by all.

In addition, those requiring gluten free food will not be disappointed as gluten free pasta is available upon request.  Also, as the kitchen don't flour a lot of ingredients, this creates more available choice for gluten observers. 
If you can’t go to Tuscany, then instead go and sample the region’s highlights at La Scala. With plenty vegetarian variations waiting for you, at your request of course.
La Scala Restaurant
2 Maney House
Maney House Corner
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B72 1QL 


Disclosure:  This post was written following a kind invitation from La Scala Restaurant  to  experience their menu.   This review was conducted with honesty, without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Veggie Afternoon Tea at Hotel La Tour

There is something quite adorable and quintessentially English about afternoon tea, especially in summer.   And it isn't just the quaint countryside retreats that offer such delights, you can partake in the ritual closer to home via Birmingham’s 4 star Hotel La Tour’s summer afternoon tea.
Hotel La Tour offers afternoon tea all year with seasonal variants and for this time of year, the Summer version is in full swing.  A fan of afternoon tea as I am, I was delighted to be invited to sample the vegetarian option of the Summer version.  Held in their Aalto Restaurant, in opulent surroundings, the restaurant and the hotel itself offer a sophisticated retreat from the hustle of the city and offers a peaceful haven to unwind coupled with the opportunity to enjoy quality food. 
Upon ordering my afternoon tea, my requests for no butter on my sandwiches (not a veggie thing, just a long standing personal preference) and the inclusion of vegetarian desserts only were noted and my dietary queries were relayed to the chef without quibble.  

Summer Afternoon Tea 

Once arrived, to start with, there were a number of deliciously fresh finger sandwiches which included the fillings:  Cucumber & Mint, Home-made Houmous & Caramelised Onions, Cheese & Tomato and Egg.  Aside from the sandwiches,  Sourdough Bread Wedges with Houmous & Caramelised Onion dip were served.  The houmous was outstanding I have to say and really made for a tasty savoury accompaniment to the sandwiches.

Sandwich Platter

Sourdough Bread Wedges with
Houmous & Caramelised Onions

Next were the dainty scones which were freshly made on site and came in fruit flavour or plain.   Having both on the platter, they were served warm with clotted cream and strawberry jam.  Simply a must for afternoon tea!

Scones with Clotted Cream & Strawberry Jam

The layer of desserts included a home-made Blackberry Jammie Dodger Biscuit, Strawberry Macaroon, Lemon Sponge with Butter Icing and Pannacotta.  It was then confirmed that the pannacotta wasn’t suitable for strict vegetarians as it contains gelatine, so the staff substituted it for me with chocolate brownies and were eager to ensure that everything was to my satisfaction.  Otherwise the Jammie Dodger biscuit was nice and crumbly with blackberry jam in the middle, the Strawberry Macaroon melted beautifully centred with a chocolate filling, the Lemon Sponge was light and airy with the thick Butter Icing dressed with lime shavings offering a zesty contrast to the sponge.

Dessert Platter

The choice of beverages ranged from English Breakfast Tea, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Herbal Teas through to a selection of Coffees.  To add a touch of sparkle to the afternoon tea you can upgrade with Martinis, Cocktails or Champagne.
A speciality from the bar was a limited edition cocktail called ‘The Little Prince’ in honour of the recent birth of Prince George.  It was very sweet and fruity, containing London Dry Gin, Vodka, passion fruit syrup, Earl Grey syrup and a twist of lemon.

The Little Prince Cocktail

To enjoy afternoon tea at Hotel La Tour the cost per head is: £18.95 and bookings can be made via:  0121 718 8000.
*** As a special offer, Word In Veg Ways readers/followers can receive a complementary glass of fizz when booking afternoon tea before the end of August 2013.  When booking, mention this article/Word In Veg Ways to claim the offer ***.
A lovely way to spend the afternoon having tea for two or perhaps as a group, with friends or family at Hotel la Tour, the ideal way to take a break from shopping or work commitments. And if you can be joined by a Little Prince along the way, then all the better!

Disclosure:  This post was written following a kind invitation from Hotel La Tour Birmingham to  experience their Summer Afternoon Tea Menu.   This review was conducted with honesty, without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  The special offer for complementary fizz (prosecco or equivalent as suggested by Hotel La Tour), is offered at the discretion of Hotel La Tour to over 18’s only.   Ensure that Word In Veg Ways blog is mentioned at time of booking to claim the special offer.  Word In Veg Ways will not be responsible for any issues with the booking or special offer.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Veggie Cooking with Cider

Recently I wrote about Birmingham's newest food event #FutureFoodies which showcased a number of the city's independent food and drink traders including Aston Manor Cider.
Aston Manor Cider is the UK’s largest independent cider maker and is 100% family owned.  The business is the only cider maker covering every occasion and every consumer with an extensive range of products.   With over 300 acres of orchard in Malvern (Worcestershire) and plans for an extra 1000 acres to be planted, they harvest apples and pears which make their award-winning ciders including their organic cider produced for Duchy Originals.
Even though Aston Manor Cider are celebrating their 30th birthday this year, they may not be instantly recognisable as a name, but their brands are more well-known which include Kingstone Press (Apple & Pear varieties) as well as Malvern Oak & Malvern Gold.
Having chatted with the Aston Manor Cider team at #FutureFoodies and experiencing the passion they have for their product and endeavours to keep their cider- making regional, talk turned to cider uses.  As well as the obvious drinking of cider, we spoke of its rise in popularity for culinary use in the same vain as wine or beer are used in recipes.
Confirming that all Aston Manor Cider products are 100% vegetarian, I was invited to try some samples to create my own veggie recipes at home.

The first cider to hit my stove was Malvern Oak.  A very dry cider in taste, I paired it with sweeter ingredients namely sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

Malvern Oak Cider

Making wedges from both vegetables, I coated them in oil and placed them in a pan ready for roasting.  Creating the cider dimension, I boiled a little of the Malvern Oak in a saucepan with cardamom seeds and halved kumquats.  I gently boiled the cider for a good 10 minutes with the seeds and pressed the kumquats down a little to ensure that their juice infused with the cider.

Steaming Cider boiling with Cardamom seeds and Kumquats

Once cooked, I discarded the kumquats and poured the cider and seeds (a little at a time to ensure they're only just coated) over the vegetables.  Then I roasted them for 40 minutes. Extremely delicious, a little spicy with a hint of apple, a perfect change from traditional roast veg.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Malvern Oak,
Cardomom Seeds & Kumquats 

Malvern Oak is available at selected Tesco’s stores and independent retailers.


Next I tried the apple and pear varieties of Kingstone Press.

Kingstone Press Apple Cider

A sweeter taste than the dry Malvern Oak, I decided to use apple Kingstone Press for preparing mushrooms to accompany my gnocchi dish.

Made from cider apple varieties grown in Malvern Worcestershire and neighbouring Herefordshire, its a dry, clean, crisp cider which is dark amber in colour.

Normally, I fry my mushrooms in oil and lemon juice but this time, I began frying them with a touch of oil, then I added a grinding of course sea salt and then a good splash of cider.  Being porous, the mushrooms absorbed the cider really well and the apple flavour was quite evident but not overpowering.

Mushrooms cooked in cider

Tasting as I cooked, when I was happy that the mushrooms were prepared to my preference,  I drained away the cider liquid and scattered the mushrooms over my cooked gnocchi and added grated cheese on top.  It was a made a lovely fruity change to the lemon mushrooms I normally make and definitely a recipe I will use again in the future.

Kingstone Press Pear Cider

I decided to adapt a Rose household favourite side dish to accommodate the pear version of Kingstone Press cider.  The dish being my hot grated Beetroot.  Heat a little oil in a saucepan, then grate vacuum packed beetroot (but not in vinegar) directly into the pan.  At this point, I normally continue with the remainder of the recipe but on this occasion I detoured and poured in a little of the pear Kingstone Press.  Not too much, just enough to coat it and to allow for evaporation.

Beetroot cooking with Kingstone Press Pear Cider

As beetroot and apple are renown culinary buddies, I wanted to use its fruity cousin the pear to alter the recipe but not change it completely.  As the beetroot was simmering with the pear cider, once it had almost evaporated, I then continued back with my original recipe and grated a peeled apple into the pan and mixed thoroughly.  Adding salt, pepper and mixed spice powder, I also added some soft brown sugar to taste.  Although some would say it turns the dish a little more calorific, on this occasion I have to say "run with it" as it helps to balance out the dynamics of the ingredients list.  With this dish, the key is to keep tasting periodically until you get your desired taste as what works for one person, may not suit another.

Beetroot Cooked in Kingstone Press Pear Cider

When served with other vegetables and perhaps a meat-free fillet as I do, it works so well, especially on a cold day when you yearn for something hearty.  The beetroot really did lap up the pear cider and gave a new spin on an old family favourite.

Kingstone Press Pear is pale golden straw in colour and is a medium bodied cider made from a blend of different varieties of pears and is cool fermented to retain its flavour.

Both the apple and pear versions are available from Morrisons and off licenses across the UK.

The recipes provide proof that cider really does lend itself well to cooking just as much as its other alcoholic counterparts and the options for using it are endless.  It's worth checking out recipe websites for their suggestions and of course the classic Sausage Casserole is a golden partnership with cider, perfect for the coming months as autumn hovers on the horizon.  In addition, it's a dish that can use vegetarian sausages as one portion and meat sausages as another - ideal for mixed dietary dining!

Using Aston Manor Cider 's words of:  "From Orchard to Glass" my add-on to that would be also:  "To Dinner Table" and pour a glass for yourself and one for the pot.


Disclosure:  This post was written following kind receipt of samples from Aston Manor Cider to use for cooking/recipe making.  It has been confirmed that their products are 100% vegetarian (including their brewing processes). This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review. For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.  As with all alcoholic products, please drink responsibly.  To view Aston Manor Cider's CSR policy see:  

Monday, 5 August 2013

Jamie Oliver & Alex James' - "Big Feastival"

Alex James & Jamie Oliver - Live on Stage at The Big Feastival

The one thing I'm looking forward to is The Big Feastival at the end of August.  It's always great to have one last party in the diary before the summer holidays end and this fits the bill so well!

Organised by TV chef Jamie Oliver and musician Alex James (from Brit-pop band 'Blur'), this festival combines two of my favourite passions - music and of course food!

As many will know, Alex - as well as keeping up his musicality, he is now a renown cheesemonger/farmer, with The Big Feastival taking place on his farm in Kingham, Oxfordshire.

Vendors at The Big Feastival

Foodies will be delighted with the array of tasting experiences planned down 'Street Food Alley' where you can purchase the best from the British street food scene as well as taking advantage of the shopping opportunities at the artisan food stalls. 

Jamie Oliver - Food Demo at The Big Feastival

There will be celebrity chef appearances/demos at the Electrolux Big Kitchen area throughout the weekend from Gennaro Contaldo (from TV's 'Two Greedy Italians'), culinary maestro & owner of London's 'Grain Store' restaurant Bruno Loubet, star of 'The Little Paris Kitchen' Rachel Khoo, TV's Gizzi Erskine, Channel 4 Italian chefs The Chiappa Sisters, super chef Valentine Warner, Supper Club sensation Sabrina Ghayour as well as Jamie Oliver himself!

Demonstrations will also be performed by Scotland’s youngest Michelin starred chef Tom Kitchin,  former Roux Scholar and Bocuse d’Or entrant Simon Hulstone and young guns Jonray and Peter Sanchez Iglesias from Bristol’s Casamia restaurant.

Other foodie experiences include Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets Cooking Classes, the Weber BBQ Experience, The Table Sessions and  Alex James’s very own Cheese Hub.

Taking a break from the food (just for a bit), live music will be provided by Basement Jaxx, Rizzle Kicks, Lianne La Havas, Mark Owen, KT Tunstall, The Feeling, Laurence Fox, Bernhoft, Norman Jay, Cuban Brothers, The Milk and Dodgy.

If you're taking your little ones they'll be entertained by Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park and CBeebies Justin Fletcher as well as being able to take part in lots of games and workshops.

Running from Saturday 31st August - Sunday 1st September, weekend/camping tickets plus day-only tickets are now available with opportunities for VIP upgrade options. Take a look at the website for tickets, line-up and general festival information.

As a seasoned festival goer I shall be armed with sunscreen as well waterproofs, flip-flops as well as wellies - ready for all eventualities!  I can't wait to see Alex's farm, check out all the foodie activity as well as chill out to the tunes - so here's to a sunny weather forecast and a great weekend!

Hope to see you there too!


Day and Weekend Tickets are available, Under 12s are FREE.
Tickets and line-up details via: or 0844 995 9673.