Footloose gets foodies walking

Footloose Food Walks is launching with day walks in Lancashire and Yorkshire at Easter and a weekend break in May in Morecambe.

The Manchester-based company, has been in touch to pass on details about its food and drink day, weekend and tailor-made guided walks with a difference.

The idea is to take the hassle out of discovering and meeting the most interesting and passionate local food producers. They devise gentle walks, arrange behind the scenes tours and tastings, and provide lunches or dinners of the local produce.

The new programme includes: a day walk on April 5th visiting an award winning corn fed duck farm and a traditional Lancashire cheese maker in beautiful rural Lancashire; a day on April 11th in the Colne Valley near Huddersfield to visit artisan breadmakers, a micro brewer and organic vegetable growers as well as a weekend, May 11th to 13th, to sample from the tremendous variety of excellent local food producers in and around Morecambe Bay and including a guided walk across Morecambe Bay itself.

Yvonne Hosker, co-director of Footloose Food Walks says:“All our events are informal and friendly. We walk in small groups on gentle paths and lanes to meet and sample from the small local producers we’ve hand picked. In between we sit down to a fabulous lunch of the locally made food and drink.”

“Footloose Food Walks combines our love of walking and guiding walks with eating and drinking locally made food.” says Heidi Schaefer co-director of Footloose Food Walks. “We think it is a great chance not only to walk and taste great food but also to meet the people that produce it.”

* Find more food events at the noticeboard here and feel free to post your own and I’ll feature some of them here on the blog too.

Introducing the food noticeboard

foodiesarahnoticeboardI’ve recently started a new service for this blog using the noticeboard platform which means people can share food related offers and deals, events or news.

I felt that this blog didn’t offer much scope to include offers or an easy way for other people to share things so I thought the noticeboard could answer both problems – plus, as regular followers will know,  I’m always looking to try out something new!

In these days of squeezed spending we all appreciate a deal, so I’m hoping that using in this way will give people a chance to spot and share bargains – whether a restaurant offer or simply anything cooking related like a cookbook share.

You can see it here,, and I’ve explained a little more about the reasons for starting this at the n0tice blog today.

Please do let me know if you’ve anything to share there.

Disclosure: I am part of the team behind the platform.

The Mere Golf Resort & Spa official re-opening

As part of its £15 million investment, The Mere Golf Resort & Spa tells me it has expanded its food and beverage team and is officially re-opening this week.

The Mere’s food and beverage team now consists of 19 chefs working under Executive Chef, Paul Jobling, alongside seven kitchen porters, and 50 front of house staff. With two new kitchens and an additional £50,000 investment in kitchen equipment.

New recruits include Franck Armouet as Head Sommelier and Ben Lowe as Food Services Manager overseeing the new ‘Browns at The Mere’ brasserie.

Franck Armouet’s last position was Head Sommelier at the prestigious Whatley Manor, a 5-star Relais and Chateaux venue. Prior to that, he was Senior Sommelier at 5-star Ashdown Park, Assistant Head Sommelier at Gary Rhodes Tower 42 in London, and trained as a sommelier at The Goring in London.

Ben Lowe comes from the Grill on the Edge, in Alderley, Cheshire, where he was Restaurant Manager. Previous positions include Chef De Rang at The Hale Grill in Hale, Cheshire, General Manager at The Orangery, also in Hale, as well as Duty Manager at Tiger Tiger in Manchester.

“Bringing in new skills and experience to our food and beverage team is part of our commitment to delivering the first class dining experience that customers expect from one of the North West’s premier resorts. We’re delighted to have such a high calibre team in place prior to our re-launch,” comments Graeme Nesbitt, The Mere’s Resort General Manager.

“Our mission is to put our flagship restaurant, Browns at The Mere, on the map when visitors to the North West are choosing where to dine out. We’re also committed to providing the freshest seasonal ingredients on our menu wherever possible, sourced through our network of local suppliers. It’s important to us to support local food suppliers, so they get to benefit from our success,” comments Paul Jobling, Executive Chef at The Mere.

Taste test: Saffron Gin

Updated 21 March: The experts at Gabriel Boudier have been in touch to confirm that Saffron gin does contain juniper. Happy to put the record straight.

Now here’s an interesting prospect – the delicately elusive and exotically expensive spice saffron, coupled with that refreshing taste of summer, gin.

Apparently this French colonial recipe of eight natural botanicals has been rediscovered by France’s leading micro-distiller Gabriel Boudier of Dijon and is being promoted as  a Mother’s Day gift for something a bit different

Gabriel Boudier is a leading micro-distiller in Dijon France with a reputation for fine spirits since 1874.

When the producers of this gin got in touch to see if I’d like to taste it, I was intrigued. And when I got a look at the contents of the bottle it was clear this is no ordinary tipple – it’s orange in colour.

To my mind, drinks that are orange are generally reserved for children, or the sick – think squash or lucozade -or even everyone’s favoured hangover cure, Irn-Bru.

But don’t be fooled, this is a far more delicate shade of orange and just as delicate and sophisticated in flavour.

Tweeting about this taste test prompted some discussion about whether a distilled drink without juniper can rightly be called a gin.

That’s a point the wikipedia entry for gin also supports, suggesting the tipple should have a predominently ‘juniper’ flavour. As noted above, the gin does contain juniper even if the flavour isn’t dominant.

Verdict: This tipple definitely doesn’t have that dominant flavour, or aroma, but is instead an unusual and light taste, an extremely dry drink and an interesting alternative.

* You can buy it online at priced at £27.39.

New Italian opens in Granary Wharf

The promoters have been in touch with news of this new Leeds restaurant. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it for myself but this is what they say:
VINeataly is the newest addition to the burgeoning food and drink scene at the award-winning Granary Wharf development in Leeds.

The venue, which offers authentic Italian food, wine and coffee, is the second venture from the experienced team behind the award-winning Diva Italiana in Pudsey.

VINeataly, owned by founder Mattia Boldetti who orginates from Milan, recreates the atmosphere of an Enoteca Gastronomica, an authentic Italian wine bar, which specialises in fine wines and serves a varied menu from light antipasti to substantial mains and are commonly found in Italy as place for city lovers and loungers to meet, enjoy a relaxing coffee, have lunch or stay late enjoying cocktails into the night.

The bar at VINeataly is well stocked and offers a comprehensive menu of fine wines which are served using unique wine dispenser, the only one of its kind in Leeds, which allows customers to enjoy a wide range of high quality wines served by the glass and the ability to taste the wine before buying. Wine-related events are also planned by VINeataly and its partners, the first of which is in conjunction with the Worldwide Sommelier Association which will be running training courses and events from VINeataly in early 2012.

The Italian cuisine is hand made by some of the best Italian chefs in Leeds, using high quality seasonal produce selected from local Italian “artigiani” who make the foods using traditional Italian methods. Diners can also pick up an exclusive range of Italian deli products to take home from the restaurant’s deli shop.

Coffee is supplied by an artisan Italian coffee roaster Caffe Vero, selected for the quality and consistency of their coffee and, like VINeataly, a family business passionate about their product and famous for customer satisfaction in hard-to-please Italy.

Founder Mattia Boldetti explained: “We love food and wine – it’s our passion, our driving force, our way of life. It’s part of our family, and ourselves. At the heart of this is a desire to share our passion, to take people on a journey that we ourselves have loved and enjoyed, to open people’s minds to Italy’s true tastes, flavours – the real thing – and to create the perfect environment for this pleasure. We’re on a mission to guide the people of Leeds and to convert them to the ways of the Enoteca Gastronomica and help them appreciate what we do – we’re very excited about opening of VINeataly at Granary Wharf and can’t wait to share the way we feel about great food and wine”