Table Talk – Friday 7 December

I’ve held off until now, but now we are safely into December I will be mentioning Christmas a lot in my posts this month. So get your fat pants ready!

Brothers cider

Helping to spread some Christmas cheer, the Bitters N’ Twisted venues in Birmingham (Rose Villa Tavern, Bodega, Buffalo & Rye, Jekyll and Hyde, Island Bar, The Victoria) will be selling Brothers Mulled Cider with 50p donated to Acorns Children’s Hospice for each cup purchased.

The Old Mill Leek

If you like your meat slowly smoked then head over to The Old Mill in Leek, which serves barbecued food alongside craft ales in a refurbished grade II listed mill in Haywood Street. This is the first restaurant and bar for owners Nathan Walwyn and Bernadeta Bridgwood who have beef brisket, pulled pork and ribs on the menu.

The Market Hall Shrewsbury

‘Britain’s Favourite Market 2018’ The Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury will be open until 9pm on Wednesday 12th December for some late night festive shopping. All the eateries will be open as well as some pop-ups featuring cocktails, wines and craft ales. Shoppers can also enjoy live music, mulled wine and mince pies.


Table Talk Friday 30th November

Cheers to a boozy Table Talk this week with a new blend of gin, a crowd funding campaign from a local cider maker and English sparkling wine to celebrate Lichfield’s latest restaurant opening.

Nelson's Timur Gin

A Shropshire gin distillery has launched a new blend featuring Timur Pepper as one of its botanicals. Timur has a unique aroma, which is not hot or pungent like a pepper but has slight grapefruit overtones and creates a tingly feeling in the mouth. Nelson’s Timur Gin uses a Nepalese variety of the Sichuan pepper which is said to have a citrusy grapefruit flavour that pairs well with both savoury and sweet dishes. RRP £40.

Napton Cidery

The Olivier family founded Napton Cidery in February 2016 and have now launched a crowd funding campaign to help them develop the business. From their cider mill in Southam, near Leamington Spa, the company have made more than a dozen flavours of cider as well as apple brandy, vinegar and apple juice. The family aim to raise £120,000 to finance new fruit ciders, a new online shop and dedicated marketing resource, check out their crowdcube page here

Mackerel dish The Larder Lichfield

Brand new for Lichfield, Larder is a new restaurant opening in Lichfield. Chef Ryan Shilton (formerly at the three-rosette Four Seasons at Swinfen Hall Hotel) is promising “all flavour no pomp” in his Bore Street fine dining venue. Read the first review by Staffordshire’s Sauce magazine.

Table Talk – Friday 27th July

So many delicious things to eat in this week’s Table Talk, from a new deli in Leamington to a Greek-Cypriot pop-up in Birmingham and sizzling sausages in Shrewsbury.Tuck in!

Sampling at Fred & Virginia deli Leamington Spa

Congratulations to mother and daughter team Jacquie Smallwood and Lauren Castle, who opened the doors to their new deli in Leamington yesterday. Fred & Virginia on Regent Street offers fresh food for breakfast and takeaway lunches as well as pantry items, ready meals, soups, bread and cakes. It will also stock a selection of luxury hampers and gifts. The plant-based deli also plans to hold meet the producer events for sampling artisan produce.

Tim Phedon

Recreate that holiday vibe in the heart of Birmingham, with chef Tim Phedon who is launching his inaugural Greek Cypriot themed pop-up restaurant, Yiayia Mama. On Friday 3rd August Tim will create authentic dishes from the villages of his grandparents in Cyprus, mixed in with creative reinterpretations of some classic recipes. Menus will be themed around mezze, and all dishes – from bread and dips to a Cypriot custard filo pie for dessert –  will be homemade.

sausages and cider Shropshire Live

For a sizzling banger, head over to Shrewsbury on Saturday (28th) for the new Sausage and Cider Festival. The team behind the Shrewsbury Food Festival and Shropshire Oktoberfest  is staging this one day celebration in the Buttermarket. Entry is £5.

A rosy future for cider

When we watch chefs on TV they often have a bottle of wine on hand to splosh into their dishes. In the search for creativity and enhanced flavours, beer and cider are also being used as ingredients.

cider apples

West Country chef and cider advocate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall explains why he uses cider in his cooking;  “Good cider apples have sweetness and acidity, as well as a spectrum of wonderful flavours ranging from the tannic to the perfumed. Crush the fruit and ferment its juice, and those flavours gain a whole new boozy, toasty, sweet-sharp dimension. Using cider in cooking is a bit like using fruit and wine and perhaps a little vinegar and a pinch of sugar all at the same time. No wonder it can bring a dish alive.”

Local cider maker Aston Manor share the love for this ingredient and have collaborated with Birmingham chefs to put some fizz into new dishes using cider.

Back in December I reported on their collaborations with Pushkar, who created the deliciously slow-roasted ‘Drunken Duck Batak’ with Malvern Oak cider. The bakers at Yorks Bakery Café also made a Toffee Apple Cider Cake with Kingstone Press cider.


Aston Manor’s latest partnership is with Fleet Street Kitchen. When head chef Steve Wakefield was invited to create a dish using Kingstone Press cider,he came up with a fabulous cider marinated lamb cutlets, on a rosemary rosti with apple jus and cider sauce.

As the UK’s largest independent cider maker, Aston Manor has more than 300 acres of orchards in Malvern. This year they are planting 1,000 acres of new orchards to add 350,000 more trees.  Managing Director Gordon Johncox said: “In our thirtieth year this is a planting scheme on an enormous scale. This both signals and supports our intention to work with growers to source the best fruit to be able to make top quality cider.”

Look out for more of their anniversary celebrations throughout the year, including the inaugural #FutureFoodies event in June.

Aston Manor pairs up with Birmingham foodies

Pushkar curry






Did you know that half of all of the apples grown in the UK are used by cider makers? The industry has planted 8,000 acres of new orchards, over four million trees, to quench our thirst for cider as sales continue to increase.

As well as drinking cider on its own, the UK has a long tradition of pairing cider with food, dating back to the 17h century when it was the tipple of choice for aristocrats. With so many different UK orchards and producers it is a very accessible drink.

In Birmingham this Christmas, you can try some new cider-based treats that Aston Manor has created with Pushkar, Nuvo and Yorks Bakery Café.

Pushkar has taken the cider maker’s Malvern Oak and created the deliciously slow-roasted ‘Drunken Duck Batak .  Nuvo has mixed Press 81 with spirits to blend the ‘Licor 81’ cocktail. For those with a sweet tooth, the bakers at Yorks Bakery Café have made a Toffee Apple Cider Cake with Kingstone Press cider. You can also sample them at the Brindleyplace Presents Christmas  event on 4th December,   BIG Christmas Party and Acorn’s Santas on the Run event on 8th December.