Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Fairtrade chocolate wine matching

The Fairtrade Foundation sent me some delicious chocolate - Swiss produced organic bars from Chocolate and Love. They also sent some lovely sounding recipe cards, but of course I had to do something different!

(Images to follow - technology is not being my friend here in Italy!)

First of all, I knew that there is a Fairtrade shop in Leicester - Just Fairtrade on St Martin's Square, which I had not really visited much previously other than to pick up the odd gift, so I popped in there to say hello. It is by far the most colourful shop in town, a veritable treasure trove of clothes, gifts, toys, jewellery and food from all around the world, all ethically sourced.

It is a great place to find a unique gift, I saw jewellery boxes that had been made in India from old keys, lovely clothes with vibrant colours and unusual styles as well as, of course, lots of delicious Fairtrade sweets and chocolate! The team there are really welcoming and happy to talk you through their products and give you more information about shopping in a sustainable  way.

On to the chocolate and with the balance of sweet, salty, earthy and crisp in the salted caramel chocolate you'll be pleased to hear that bubbles are a great idea - nothing too dry, so you can look to the Italian sparkling wines for solace. At the time of writing, Aldi has a bottle of Asti Spumante at just £5.39 which would do the job admirably, with the bubbles caressing that rich chocolate flavour as the chocolate melts in your mouth and the light sweetness complimenting the rich tapestry of tastes in the chocolate.

The higher percentage dark chocolate needs something more powerful to complement its rich, earthy and bold flavours - so I would look to something in a Bordeaux red with great luscious savoury tannins. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape makes a great bedfellow with dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. The smoky spiciness of Chateau Meaume 2013, £9.99 when you buy 6 bottles at Majestic should hit the spot as well as giving an interesting flavour mixture that is both intriguing and satisfying.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Incredible Pies

I have been fortunate enough to get to know the lovely folk at Incredible Pies of Melton Mowbray over the last few months. Despite their Melton pedigree, they actually make sweet pies - all conceived one Christmas time when they spotted a gap in the market for a hand crafted mince pie with beautiful pastry that is filled right to the top.

Of course, there is not a mince pie to be seen just yet, but instead we were treated to their strawberry pies with a crumble topping and cherry pie. I adore anything cherry and I was really pleased to see that this pie was made with sour cherries so it was full of fruit flavour without being overly sweet. The pastry was also just the right thickness - firm and crisp enough to hold all of the filling, which went alllll the way to the top - but not so thick that it was unpleasant to eat. Well balanced and scrumptious, with one pie definitely being an extremely satisfying size.

Very good with a glass of blackberry wine from Rothley Wines!

The strawberry crumble pie is made with Camarosa strawberries and again is absolutely packed to the rafters with fruit. The crumble topping adds great texture and also more sweetness, so this is a much more straight up sweet experience than the cherry pie which I found more subtle. However, this is not a criticism - sweet pies should be sweet right?

You can catch Incredible Pies at a range of farmer's markets and food fairs around the country, but in particular they will be bringing their pies to the Leicester Foodie Showcase which is being held at James Cafe Bistro on 30th September and is free to enter! Unmissable.

Also, I hear a rumour that Incredible Pies will soon become a regular feature on the menu at the Black Horse in Aylestone - so yet another reason to go to that awesome pub!

Thanks to Incredible Pies for giving us some of the wares to sample :)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Podcast Review: Love + Radio

It's that time where I hand over the blog to Ginny Copley again for another podcast review. If you missed the first review, or you're unsure what podcasts are and how to listen to them, check back to the first post with its 'How to Listen' guide! Take it away Ginny!

What is it? In-depth portraits that intrigue, surprise and sometimes just blow your mind!
‘An eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime’.
However, for me this is also one of the most hit and miss podcasts. I regularly give up on episodes, and yet there are also the most incredible listening experiences in this collection, that just grab your brain. I will point you in the direction of those nuggets of gold.

Where to start? Try the episode ‘No Bad News’ from Season 5 which tells the amazing story of American hypnotist Larry Garrett. Since the 1980s Garrett had given up reading and watching news. He didn’t want the worry and negativity clouding his thoughts and focus on his clients when carrying out hypnosis. So when, in 2001, he received an invitation to Iraq to hypnotise a mystery client, Larry wasn’t particularly clued up on the political situation and he said ‘yes’. What follows is an incredible account of a trip to Baghdad leading into Saddam Hussein’s closest circle.
And if you like that one…. then meet Tim Friede and his slithery pets in the episode ‘Snakes!!!!’ Tim lives by his own rules and likes to push limits. He purposefully gets bitten by his snakes – some of the most venomous in the world. Why? Well luckily for us, he has survived to tell the tale. Season 5 also has ‘How to argue’ which discusses how to successfully have a critical conversation with someone who holds very different views to your own. This episode features Daryl Davis, a black musician, who befriends members of the KKK. And sometimes, he gets them to change their minds.
In a nutshell… Real life stories of unusual characters - unfolding and meandering to take you to places you don’t usually go to.
Don’t listen if… You prefer to have your stories and characters a bit more neatly presented and edited.

Where to listen? Loveandradio.org, Stitcher, itunes

Friday, 25 August 2017

La Cascinassa - down on the farm

This is the final post inspired by our recent visit to Italy back in June. I know, I can really squeeze the material out of one visit, right? So we went to the Gelato Artigianale Festival in Agugliano, but also took the opportunity to visit some other places - meeting wonderful gelatieri, and experiencing beautiful wines at La Campore. And just up the road from that vineyard, there is a farm. A very beautiful farm. You may remember that we actually met the farmer for the first time in Turin last September and so we couldn't miss the chance to go and see it for ourselves.

It's just a smidge on the picturesque side

La Cascinassa is absolutely beautiful, nestled like seemingly everything in Piedmont in a cosy valley in view of the majestic Alps. The incredible brother and sister team are dedicated to responsible, sustainable farming and use every opportunity to make fantastic produce and capitalise on the natural resources of their area - using the natural cycles of the land and their animals to create wonderful results.

You may be reading this thinking, "this post is just an excuse for her to post a gratuitous number of animal pictures isn't it?" And of course you'd be right. We watched these majestic white cows being fed, meeting the milking herd, the new calves and even the shed of beautiful, muscular bulls. They all have their own role to play on the farm and special feed mixes are created using foraged fodder and carefully balanced feeds depending on the requirements of each cow. All of them have their own name, written on their ear tag. I fell in love with them all, naturally.

Can this just be my job? Feeding lovely forage to lovely placid cows?

The Razza Piemontese is notable for it's grey white colouring in adulthood and a particular gene which causes them to grow more muscle producing the celebrated meat which makes the famous Carne Cruda dish, a delicious and simple raw plate which gets its unsurpassed flavour and texture from these very special cows because of their unparalleled lean to fat ration. They are also prized for their milk which makes fantastic cheese.

As well as the cows, we met chickens, goats and pigs, all of which I got up close and personal with. The goats are milked again to produce superb cheese and all of La Cascinassa's cheeses are notable for the different lengths of aging applied which allow you to compare the fresh product to one that is several months old.

They do exquisite catering using the produce of the farm and after our tour we viewed the newly refurbished classroom and hire space used for events and teaching children about where their food comes from. It's something that we have to some degree in this country, of course the wonderful Gorse Hill City Farm is just down the road from where I write, but it felt like this was something very special indeed, a real nose-to-tail approach with a focus on sustainability and respect for natural processes. It was also my first close encounter with a Harlequin Peacock - an absolutely beautiful specimen who decided to display near-continuously for us and who made an extremely odd, loud and downright hilarious noise.

Our gracious hosts then treated to a sample of their meats and cheeses, all washed down with a robust locally made apple juice which was refreshing and most welcome after an afternoon in the sun. Beautiful sharp fresh cheeses contrasted with the more earthy, strong flavoured aged cheese and this was matched incredibly with fresh grissini and absolutely awe inspiring preserved meats - all made from farm stock.

It was a real privilege to visit La Cascinassa, to see their passion and commitment to their animals and their land and to see the real dedication which leads to these building blocks being made into some of the most simple, delicious food I have had the joy to sample in recent times. A thousand thanks to them for taking so much time to give us an insight into their enviable, but extremely dedicated world.

Better than the Oscar's selfie any day of the week

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Is this the most Leicestershire cocktail in Leicestershire?

We've already talked a lot about the new Leicester-inspired cocktail menu at 33cankstreet, but it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to show you the Melton Martinez - the cocktail which contains the full power of the Ploughman's lunch! No really...

The drink itself is made with Burleigh's Leicester Dry Gin (which the quick-witted amongst you will remember is rumoured to have been inspired by the spicing of a Leicestershire pork pie), Amontillado sherry, sweet Vermouth, and Maraschino liqueur infused with red onion marmalade. 

It is also garnished with a cocktail onion, a spritz of Maraschino liqueur and comes with Melton Mowbray pork pie and Stilton on the side.

The drink has a real kick to it, it certainly holds true to its Martini roots! 

Plus the onion garnish adds a little something extra... However, it has lovely balance in the flavouring - even for a punchy drink it is layered and complex. And I was surprised to find that it matches excellently with both pie and Stilton!

It's a double hitter too - so you get an additional iced serve of the cocktail in an accompanying bottle ready for when you've finished your first glass. Perfect picnic fodder, when lounging around St Martin's Square.

I can't think of anything more Leicestershire that comes in a glass. Except for possibly fox piddle, but I tend not to order that in bars.

What's your favourite place for Leicester-inspired fodder? 
Have you tried the new 33cankstreet drinks yet?

Monday, 21 August 2017

Podcast review: The Sporkful

I'm giving a bit of space over to the marvellous Ginny Copley, who wants to tell you all about some of her favourite podcasts. Look out for her reviews in the weeks to come!
So over to Ginny...

Podcasts – stop, look and listen
I love podcasts. They make me curious about things I never knew I was interested in, and fill my brain with knowledge and questions. They tell me stories that have made me laugh loudly in public and also cry (once while running on a treadmill at the gym). They have taken me to places in the world that I’ve never visited and I’ve gotten to know strangers that I’ll never meet. So yes, podcasts have enhanced my life, and because I hope that you want to have your life enhanced too, I’m collecting some of my favourites together here for your listening pleasure.

How to listen

A podcast is like a radio show that you can listen to anytime. There are different ways you can listen. The easiest is just to go to the podcast website (this is listed at the end of each of the reviews). Find the episode you want on the website and there will be a play function nearby - just press play.

However, that way of listening does mean you need to be right there with your computer and have internet access. If, instead, you want to listen any time on your phone (or other device), then you just need to download the episode. To do that, you need a podcast app. This is also easy and will take 5 minutes:

For iPhones and iPads, use the Podcasts app. You get it from the App Store (it actually comes installed on newer devices – it’s a little purple icon). In the Podcasts app, search for the podcast you’re interested in and download

For Android phones and tablets, try the Stitcher app. Get that from Google Play. Search for your podcast in Stitcher, click 'listen later' and it will download onto your phone.

Once you have the podcast downloaded onto your phone, iPad or other mobile device, you can listen anywhere, no internet access required. While walking, running, gardening, tidying up, working out at the gym, waiting in the dentists waiting room, just stick in your earphones and enter the world of your chosen podcast.

Lots of cars can connect to your phone so you can play podcasts though the car speakers - no more boring car journeys. It depends on the age of the car you are in, you may be able to do this by connecting through Bluetooth or by attaching your device using your charging cable. If you can’t do this in your car, then you could always buy a Bluetooth speaker and just play the podcast in the car.

The Sporkful
What is it? A podcast that tells stories about people through food.
‘We obsess about food to learn more about people’
Where to start? Try ‘Why Lefties Buy Less Soup’ which is all about the gastrophysics of food. It explores what factors, other than the actual taste of food, influence how we perceive and react to what we eat. Can the weight of your fork make you think the food is more tasty? Does classical music playing while you eat make you happier to pay more for your dinner? Would putting ice cream on a white plate make it taste sweeter? Fascinating insights into how our brains and surroundings contribute to our eating experiences. It’s not just down to our tongues and noses!
And if you like that one … Try the episode ‘What if Willy Wonka was your Dad’ where the unusual food of Roald Dahl’s books is discussed and his daughter Lucy recalls midnight feasts with her dad. Later in the episode, the chocolate cake from Matilda is recreated and eaten – including two rather unique ingredients - blood and sweat. Yum.
In a nutshell…. People, psychology, lives, food. And it’s very entertaining
Don’t listen if…. Memories and behaviour in relation to food is just not your cup of tea
Where to listen? Sporkful.com, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts  

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Knight and Garter

We headed over to the newly opened Knight & Garter this week to celebrate the launch of their Gallery Venue space. It has been quite the transformation, from Molly O'Grady's to K&G and the pub is unrecognisable with its sleek lines, elegant dining area and beautifully chosen drinks and food menus.

I had no idea that there was a downstairs space, and the refurbishment of that area is of just a high a standard as the rest of the venue. It makes the perfect room for an intimate exhibition, and can also be hired out for private events. In particular, I was interested in the various menus that are available for catering for groups - everything from sandwiches to hot meals and also beautiful canapes for just £5.95 a head which struck me as very reasonable, particularly as we had the opportunity to sample some of them for ourselves and see the quality of the ingredients used.

The exhibition opening that night was work by local artist Kirsteen Thomson, who is originally from Scotland but trained at DMU. She has been heavily influenced by the discovery of Richard III in the city and much of her recent work examines different elements of his life, both contemporary and modern.

Her style is full of colour and texture and often uses intensely complex levels of detail and symbolism to portray complicated themes and stories. As well as the Richard III theme, LCFC's recent Premier League success and the wave of blue that washed over the city is also represented in her work. For my tastes, I preferred the simpler landscape pieces, in particularly the representation of Kirby Muxloe castle which does of course have strong links with the ebb and flow of the Wars of the Roses in the time of Richard III.

It was a busy old evening at the Knight & Garter and guests were also treated to a range of samples from the menu. The arancini were definitely one of the highlights for me, but you won't go hungry down there as they seem to offer absolutely everything - the restaurant and bar offers weekend brunch, an elegant cocktail menu, a variety of light lunch options, full dinner menu with, in particular, carefully sourced meats, and of course a lovely coffee and dessert offering to round it all off.

Thanks to the Knight & Garter for inviting us along. With their outdoor terrace and friendly team I don't think I am going to be able to resist going back. Regularly.

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Midsummer Night's Dream at Curve

I was invited to Curve to see A Midsummer Night's Dream this week - an unexpected pleasure! The production is only on until 20th August, so if you fancy experiencing it for yourself then get in quickly!

It is a Curve Young Company and community production and they have done an absolutely bang up job. Every element of the performance is captivating, leaving you absolutely spellbound the whole way through.

Image by P Raith

I adore A Midsummer Night's Dream anyway, it's such a fantastic, amusing tale and the cast of 70 actors, young and old, really do it justice here in Leicester. I particularly enjoyed the impromptu musical numbers which really delighted in some super choreography and passionate energy from the dancers.

Image by P Raith

Visually, the whole thing looks stunning too - from the intricate set (with real grass!) and a floating fairy bower to the beautifully designed costumes. I loved the mixture of digital effects and physical set dressing, particularly as scene changes were so swift and professional. I think we can all agree that we would like fairy horns and wings on our shoes.

Image by P Raith

There were quite a number of stand out performers. Bottom had us all gasping with laughter, and I enjoyed the performances and the dancing of Puck(s). But it was clear that the whole cast had put in an insane amount of work to making the production perfect and I for one appreciated that effort.

Thanks to Curve for inviting me along to review. A delightful summer's treat indeed!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Pop your cork: 45 St Martin's

We popped along last week to the soft launch of Leicester's latest wine bar. 45 St Martin's, on St Martin's Square, is a sleek, airy space, beautifully refurbished in the unit formerly occupied by the lovely Futurecycles (who are still around, just on Market Street now).

They are a wine bottle shop and bar, dealing in fine wines and champagnes and offering a high level of customer service in refined surroundings. There is a little bit of outdoor seating available for you to enjoy when the weather is fine, and it is an altogether pleasant place to sit and while away an evening.

The staff, although a new team, have clearly been well picked and well trained as they are all universally polite and welcoming and extremely attentive. The menu is extensive, there are many wines for you to take away, but equally the wine list for drinking at the bar is carefully chosen with a range of palates catered for.

I opted for the Californian Zinfandel on the list, because I am a sucker for that grape and always looking for one that is as good as those that I tried in Cali. I can confirm that this is probably the best I have had in the UK - it was full and rounded in the mouth and full of that fabled jamminess that for some reason doesn't seem to be often present in the Zins that are exported to this country. There certainly was a little hint of that West Coast sunshine which I find to be so elusive in imported wines from my favourite American state. Two thumbs up from me.

If you fancy something a little different, there is of course a range of fine champagnes, but also a very exotic looking list of champagne cocktails, to add a dash of refinement to your evening. I haven't tried those, but I have seen some pictures on their social media and they certainly look very beautiful! As you would expect, there is also a modest selection of beers, soft drinks and more - we found that these were very reasonably priced, so for the quality of both the wines and the other drinks over all the value for money is very good as the wines on offer are definitely worth the £5+ you will pay for a glass and the beers and soft drinks are much less.

As it was the soft launch, we were also able to enjoy a range of nibbles, which matched well with my wine and added to the experience. I don't know how often they will be doing that on a regular week but I'm pretty sure if it becomes a regular thing then that will coax me in to becoming a regular!

Initial impressions are therefore very good! Let's just hope they don't start employing bizarre dress policies like the 'no trainers' rule which suddenly appeared at their sister bar, 45 West. After all, the unpretentious and honest enjoyment of a quality wine doesn't come with a dress code.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

3 of the Best Gelatieri in Italy

As well as visiting the Gelato Artigianale Festival in Agugliano this June, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to see some of the incredible Maestro Gelatieri we met in their natural environments - their own gelaterias. They are all notably 100% hands on, creating recipes, researching ingredients and of course, serving gelato to an adoring public. This is very different to the 'celebrity chef' culture in this country, where all too often it seems like chefs slap their name on a restaurant chain and then never do anything but turn up for periodic promotional photographs.

One of the great driving forces behind the Gelato Artigianale Festival is Paolo Brunelli, whose first gelateria is situated right in the heart of Agugliano. We also travelled to Senigallia by the coast to see his other venue and of course to enjoy some of his creations.

It was a real honour to get to spend so much time with Paolo, who is one of the real innovators of the truly artisan gelato movement. He has just released a new book 'Gelateria per tutte la stagioni' - the gelateria for all seasons - which boasts 365 days' worth of ideas drawn from his enviable experience of the world of gelato and proven experience as an experimental, flavour-driven artist and artisan.

Amongst the many wonderful flavours and textures that we experienced during our visit, including Paolo's work with gelato, sorbetto, flavoured jellies and sauces and more, the stand out dish for me was the creation pictured here. This shows the sort of development that he is showcasing in his new book - gelato based creations that are full, plated, fine dining desserts.

A post shared by Antonio De Vecchi (@arvedse) on

As you would expect, the dishes are kept simple and uncomplicated - allowing the flavours of the superb quality ingredients to shine through. This was a Fior di Latte gelato nestled on a bed of Zabaione sauce and topped with a sprinkle of freshly grated Pecorino cheese. I'm sure you can imagine the melding of flavours - sweet, creamy, salty, tangy and more - just a sublime combination. I look forward to seeing more gelatieri taking Paolo's lead and moving gelaterias more to the Fine Dining category. True artisan gelato certainly deserves to be recognised for its artisan quality and this feels to me like the next step.

The traditional way of serving gelato, not on display but in these silver lidded tubs.
Italians don't need to see it first to decide what they want!! They know what the flavours are on the 

Onwards to Matteo Carloni, a bright, bubbly and incredibly enthusiastic gelatiere who runs his two Gambrinus venues in Perugia, one right in the heart of the historic town and another much further out in the suburbs.

Matteo Carloni (centre) with Daniele Taverna and Antonio De Vecchi of Gelato Village, Leicester

Like all of the gelaterias we visited, Matteo does an exciting offshoot of gelato based products - here in Leicester, we refer to homemade gelato lollies as 'gelollies' - I'm not sure what the Italians call them! But there were also numerous gelato celebration cakes in evidence, all beautifully decorated to a standard that would be applauded by any patisserie chef. It was interesting to see so many shared ingredients that we see in Leicester too - San Biagio, Sur de Lago dark chocolate - it really inspires confidence that the gelato we see from the artisans at Gelato Village is authentic and the ingredient choices shared by those still in Italy.

Finally we stopped in the historic town of Fano, which is absolutely overrun by bicycles, because apparently there is no public transport to speak of. It is wonderful! Here we met Antonio and Paola Luzi of Gelateria Artigianale Maki, where I had a cup containing the most different flavours of gelato and sorbetto I have ever had at once in my life. Truly a cornucopia!!

They are both incredibly skilled gelato artisans and their flavours also show the creativity and flair that I am now becoming used to! 'Thai Golden Milk' was a particularly interesting and inspirational idea, particularly with the sort of flavour palettes we have available here in Leicester.

I also found it interesting to begin to be able to identify the differences between the gelatieri and their styles. While Paolo Brunelli seemed to be a fan of big, bold flavours, squeezing as much flavour as he can out of each ingredient, the Luzis struck me as having a much lighter touch, being concerned with often more complex combinations where they carefully struck a careful balance between the key notes of each ingredient. It is very much like being able to recognise the signature sound of your favourite bands and it is something I am loving finding more about!

So next time you visit Italy, do a little research in advance - make sure you know who is making real gelato and who is not. After all, you might as well give your Euros to these small independent craftspeople, rather than big chains who don't necessarily use the best, seasonal ingredients, right?

Friday, 21 July 2017

GBK - More burgers in the Burger Capital

Yes, Leicester is the Burger Capital of the country, and perhaps even the world. But the appetite must surely be there as industry giants GBK have decided to open a branch in the city, right at the heart of town outside the Clock Tower. It's a bold move - they rub shoulders there with several competing chains and of course we all know that there are fantastic burgers on offer from independent venues all over Leicester.

I have to say I went along to try out GBK having heard mixed reviews from others and not particularly expecting anything special, but I was rather taken by surprise. The newly kitted out restaurant is light and airy, with two floors of seating and the usual mixture of quirky, mismatched decor and exposed brickwork that we have now come to expect in our burger joints.

The team were welcoming and friendly, with excellent knowledge of the menu and efficient service on offer. GBK operates a counter ordering system, which makes things quick and simple - there is no waiting around for your server to take your order or present the bill. If you want to make ordering even quicker you can even download the GBK app which allows you to order online direct from your table - if you can't bear to walk the few metres to the counter. I suppose that is incredibly useful if there is a queue to avoid. The app also gives you rewards as you collect virtual stamps during visits, so look out for complimentary treats to reward your loyalty.

If you venture upstairs you can poke your head in the open kitchen to see the chefs at work. If you just cannot wait to fill your face there are also bins of complimentary monkey nuts available for grazing purposes, which I didn't actually notice until we left. Minus 1 food reviewer points.

Peanuts are not nuts.

So we settled in with a drink and waited for our food to arrive. The wine list represented a good selection at reasonable value and there is also an extensive selection of milkshakes on offer for those fancying something cool and thick. The Boy was a little disappointed to order a Yeastie Boys BigMouth which was a relatively tasty session IPA but turns out to have been made by Brewdog, who we are currently boycotting (because we don't like their business practices) and so he would not have ordered that if it said anywhere but in tiny print on the back of the can.

The starters arrived quickly. I went for halloumi bites, which were simply grilled halloumi pieces with a sweet kiwi and habanero sauce. This may sound like an odd combination, and it is really, but there are little hints of the company's New Zealand heritage dotted all over the menu. The halloumi did not really have a crust to it, but the quality was good and the portion size was immense so I was pretty happy with it. Nothing like stuffing one's face with hot cheese, right?

The Boy ordered the chicken bites which were spiked with fiery chilli spices and came with a chilli mayonnaise, which was absolutely delicious! The chicken was moist and the coating crispy, so this also did everything you wanted it to do. Nothing too complicated, but pretty tasty stuff so far.

A surprisingly delicious pesto

The main event is of course the burgers and there are a variety of options available to suit all tastes including four vegetarian offerings, one of which is vegan friendly. If you don't fancy a burger then you can order a salad and of course you can add toppings, avoid the bun or tinker around with pretty much anything really. I went for the Bacon Pesterella - a chicken burger topped with crisp bacon, a slab of mozzerella and a thick layer of pine nut-heavy pesto which I really enjoyed. It was so enormous that I gave up and started using a knife and fork after only 3 or 4 bites. The basil mayo, pesto and relish gave plenty of moisture and I enjoyed having the panko-fried chicken breast rather than taking it plain grilled as it added loads of crunch and the chicken itself was still moist.

On the side I went for the truffle cheese fries - standard but nicely cooked chips served with a truffle cheese sauce which is a neon homage to American cheese, with shavings of Grana Padano cheese. It is absolutely calorific fun which is totally unecessary and therefore I enjoyed massively. But I live in a household that cannot have a BBQ without having plastic cheese on hand for our burgers, so I'll let you make of that what you will. Despicable. Yum.

The Boy filled his face with The Stack. It's not just a clever name. The beef burger was topped with Red Leicester and chunks of fried chorizo, a giant onion ring, pickled onions and relish, all brought together with a smoked chilli mayo. It's a little spicy (especially with jalapenos added!) and a little bit tinged with paprika moodiness.

Removing the mahoosive onion ring makes the Stack much easier to eat!

The burger itself was cooked medium rare and came out tender and juicy and with great beef flavour. All of the meat they use is British from grass-reared cattle and this does come through in the taste. He teamed this monster with a small serve of corn on the cob which was soaked in butter and so juicy that I had to duck to avoid the squirt of juice across the table when he bit into it. Graphic, but true.

So overall, we were mightily impressed. This is a burger joint without airs and pretensions and it delivers precisely what you are expecting. I went in expecting to be unimpressed and left as a relative convert. The meat is perhaps not quite the same quality as you might expect from an independent, but the burgers are tasty and hugeeeee! Next time I might serve the starter. And the side. Or, more likely, I might just go and have the truffle cheese fries for lunch because they are just filth.

Thanks to GBK for inviting us to try their new restaurant. This review is my honest opinion of our experience, warts and all.*

* No warts were involved.
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