Tuesday, 23 March 2010

In Good Company

Rockingham Forest Blakeney Red Perry, available at the award-winning Criterion Freehouse, Leicester.... if you're quick!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

In Praise of Pork

After slumming it on 70's style comfort food all week (Egg & Chips, Yummy!), we went all gastro this evening. Posh Sausage & Mash to be precise, and they don't come much posher than the gourmet sizzlers from Dickinson & Morris.

Dickinson & Morris are of course better known for their sublime, and now regionally protected Melton Mowbray Pork Pies. The humble Pork Pie is one of my specialist subjects, and in the pursuit of pie-perfection I've eaten a good few memorable, and more than a few forgettable pies. The mass-produced supermarket offerings are almost without exception pretty nasty affairs, but Dickinson & Morris are the exception which proves that getting national exposure doesn't have to mean a dumbed-down product. Even the factory made D & M Pork Pies found in some supermarkets are satisfyingly spicy and peppery, with good quality uncured meat, and pastry which walks the fine line between too soft, and crunchily overcooked. Of course the true Pork Pie connoisseur will visit the D & M shop in Melton Mowbray for the hand raised originals.

Nestled next door to the famous pie shop in Melton Mowbray is a porky bonus in the Dickinson & Morris Sausage Shop, an absolute must-visit for fans of quality bangers. The range of sausages on offer is extensive, and unlike much of the competition, they really do taste of what they're supposed to. The Toulouse are seriously garlicky, the Chilli Bean stuffed with kidney beans and uncompromisingly spicy. I love them all, but tonight we chose their Somerset Cider & Apple Sausage as an accompaniment to a bottle of Somerset Cider from the Orchard Pig people. Now that's what I call a natural combination.

I fried off the sausages with a sliced red onion, then popped the browned bangers in the oven. The pan was de-glazed with a good slosh of Cider, and a few drops of Balsamic Vinegar with cornflour to thicken. The sticky sausage residue and caramelised onions combined with the dry cider to create a rich fruity gravy. Sweet Potato Mash and Green Cabbage completed the porky pig-out.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Leics Beer Fest - The Saturday Session

A brief visit to the cider bar yesterday. More of a social trip really, though I did find time to enjoy some very good dry ciders from Hancocks, Westcroft, and an excellent Hecks Porters Perfection. A quick bottle of Gwynt Y Ddraig Black Dragon Cider at The Pub before returning home for Wot's Occuring and a particularly dire Clacutta Cup match at the Red Lion. Phew!

So that's another Leicester Beer Festival been and gone, and it only remains for me to name-and-shame the Saturday afternoon cider bar staff, Birmingham's finest, Tania & Dave:

Friday, 12 March 2010

Leicester Beer Festival 2010

A good crowd in for the Thursday afternoon session, including quite a few cider bar regulars. Haven't these people got any work to do?

If I remember correctly, I sampled my way through 8 halves of cider and perry, the picks of the bunch being:

Burrow Hill Dry - Good tannin, dry, smooth and well balanced.

Millwhites Organic Single Orchard - Excellent Eastern Counties style cider. Not too sharp, with a lovely apple-crumble sweetness and a hint of Russety tannin. (The Millwhites Rum Cask cider was also very good)

Olivers Dabinett - Exceptionally well-balanced cider. Tom Oliver sets the standard once again.

The perrys I tried were good, but a little sweeter than I like, so without any hint of shame, I'm going for our own Blakeney Red as favourite perry of the day.

The Gorwydd Caerphilly, and Pont De La Pierre cheese I took along to accompany the ciders received a mixed response, perhaps a little too 'mature' for some. I'll take some dairylea triangles and cheesy string along next time ;) Everyone agrees that the onsite curry house delivers the goods, and we finished the day with a Paneer Tikka Massala and Chicken Curry with all the trimmings.

It will be interesting to see what cider and perrys are left when I make a brief return to the cider bar on Saturday...

A Brace of Blakeney Red Perrys

Deputy Bar Manager Paul Shirley tries to look busy

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Hey! Ho! Let's Go!

It's official, Rockingham Forest Cider is 'Open For Sales'...

The Leicester CAMRA Beer Festival kicks off tomorrow afternoon. Widely regarded as having one of the best selections of real ales available at any festival in the UK, and a cider and perry bar to match. Our early season Blakeney Red Perry is just one of around 40 different ciders and perrys available this year. I plan to prop the cider bar up throughout Thursday afternoon, and ciders which have caught my eye include the Burrow Hill Dry, Olivers Dabinett, West Lake Morgan's Sweet, and Millwhites Organic Single Orchard. I'm also keen to compare the other two Blakeney Red Perrys to our own humble offering.

We're also pleased to announce that our perry will be available at the Criterion Freehouse in Leicester during the festival weekend. Barely a stoneware jar's throw from the festival venue, cider and perry drinkers could do much worse than pay Russell and Karen a visit during their time in Leicester. See our previous blog post for details of other outlets in Leicester for real cider and perry.

Closer to home, the Blakeney Red Perry is going down very well at our 'cider-tap' the Red Lion, Middleton, alongside Gwynt Y Ddraig Haymaker for those with a slightly sweeter tooth.

On what promises to be a very busy, and highly pleasurable weekend, I hope to have enough left in the tank on Saturday to toast an England victory in this season's Calcutta Cup match!... Well, I can but hope...


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Kevin & Perry Go Large

No story. Just a pic of Red Lion licensee Kevin Barby pulling a Large measure of our Blakeney Red Perry.....

I've wanted to use that headline for ages....


Friday, 5 March 2010

Movin' On Up

I don't pretend to know how they've arrived at the figures, but our position on the latest WIKIO Beer & Wine Blog Rankings has shown a remarkable improvement of late. From a sobering 60th out of 65, we've now moved up to an intoxicating 30th out of 69 blogs! Woo-hoo! If we can just figure out how we arrived at this position, we'll celebrate properly with a bottle of something 'pear-shaped'.

We're sandwiched between the mighty Tyson's Beer Blog, and Kentish craft brewer the Beer Fly. They seem like decent folk, if a little too 'hoppy' for our taste. Coincidentally, this week marked the first 'breakthrough' win for the Red Lion 'B' skittles team, of which I play a minor supporting role. Perhaps this is the shape of things to come! If we can just wangle a WIKIO Beer, Wine & Skittles Blog Ranking, we're in with a chance of pole-position!