Bolton to host a beer and cider festival alongside food event

The beer and cider festival, which will be located in a marquee on Corporation Street, joins the town’s Food and Drink Festival held in August.
Starring at this year’s event are The Great British Bake Off judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, and chefs James Martin and Jean Christophe-Novelli.

Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines will launch the festival. A host of top chefs will also be doing free cookery demos at Bolton Market and The Market Place Shopping Centre.

And organisers have just announced that Manchester bar Kro will be at the festival which attracts thousands of visitors each year – 94,000 in 2011.

Kro – Danish for village pub – is run by father and son team Borge and Mark Ruby who come from Denmark.

Mark said: “We will be bringing a selection of locally brewed ales to Bolton Food and Drink festival, to highlight the best that the region can offer in beers and ales.

“We will also be showcasing a selection of real ciders for guests to try and taste. This is the real deal, nothing mass produced here. We see the Bolton Food and Drink Festival as a great way to show people what great local produce is available on their doorstep.”

Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Cliff Morris, said: “It’s a good quality addition complementing the food festival nicely, and should attract even more people to Bolton. The marquee will be in an ideal location for visitors, both close to Victoria Square where the hub of the action is located, and also directly opposite The Market Place shopping centre, where there will be free demos by top chefs.”

Other attractions include a gala dinner with baker Paul Hollywood, and a speciality market in Victoria Square and surrounding streets featuring local, regional, and specialist traders.
 * Tickets for events, which run from Friday 24 August to Monday 27 August are available from The Albert Halls box office on 01204 334400 or from #boltonfoodfest on Twitter.

Mapping the Food Standards Agency reports

The latest updates to the map of food premises rated zero for hygiene standards are updated today at The Northerner blog.

I’ve started this process with five northern cities in order to reveal what lies behind those ‘scores on the doors’ as the detail isn’t revealed as a matter of course and people interested in what’s happening in the places they visit to buy take-aways, groceries etc. have to put in Freedom of Information requests if they want to find out more.

The map can be seen and interacted with here plus, if anyone wants to use it on their own website or blog, this is the code to embed it. (Simply enclose the start and end with < and > respectively) A link back so that I can track where it goes would be handy.

iframe width=”640″ height=”480″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” marginheight=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ src=”;source=s_q&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;;aq=&amp;sll=37.0625,-95.677068&amp;sspn=53.212719,77.958984&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=54.905041,-2.139587&amp;spn=0.757974,1.757813&amp;z=9&amp;output=embed“></iframe><br /><small><a href=”;source=embed&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;;aq=&amp;sll=37.0625,-95.677068&amp;sspn=53.212719,77.958984&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=54.905041,-2.139587&amp;spn=0.757974,1.757813&amp;z=9” style=”color:#0000FF;text-align:left”>View Larger Map

I’d welcome some help to open files in other council areas if anyone wants to join in (it doesn’t have to be in the north) so have made a template of the FOI request and instructions on how to do this here.

My interest in this is to open up some information which I believe the public has a right to know while exploring the capabilities of this type of mapping projects using the open journalism toolkit I’m involved in developing at

So please feel free to join in, use the code for your own projects or create your own crowdmapping initiative and let me know how you get on. Instructions on how to create and customise a map can be found here on the site.

Competition: Win 2 nights in a Manchester apartment, picnic pass and Harvey Nics hamper

ManchesterPicnicSixteen food and drink stalls have signed up for The Manchester Picnic next month and you can enter a prize draw to go along with a free pass and win two nights’ accommodation at Stay Manchester Apartments. The winners will enjoy a family apartment for up to 5 people on Friday 3 August and Saturday 4 August, a Manchester Picnic Pass so they can try a range of treats from the stalls and a luxury hamper from Harvey Nichols.

To enter the competition tweet @piccadillymcr with the hashtag #MCRPicnic or like on Facebook at TheManchesterPicnic by Monday 23 July. For more details about The Manchester Picnic and CityCo’s summer events programme visit

* More information about the event is available on the noticeboard.

Chef’s table and Michelin ambition arrive with Manchester235’s new head chef

JardaChef’s tables are something of a rarity in these parts – the idea being that some diners getting to see the inner workings of kitchen gives a different dining experience.
So it was interesting to hear from the people at casino, Manchester235 who’ve been in touch to announce that their new Head Chef, Jaromir Hlavsa (Jarda) will be serving up a chef’s tabe at its Linen restaurant.

Diners will have the opportunity to be seated in a glass room offering an intimate insight into what they describe as ‘kitchen theatrics via a viewing panel’.

Alongside his theatricals, Jardu has an ambition to put the city on the Michelin map….. at last.

“My initial focus for Linen is to take the menu back to a contemporary British style. I would also like Linen to gain at least one rosette, with my overall ambition to have our restaurant included in the Michelin Star Guide. I am really looking forward to giving the a la carte menu a real wow factor.”

And he’s no stranger to accolade – originally from Prague,  Jarda trained at a private culinary college for three years before working his way up the ranks at the Radisson Alcron Hotel, which recently became the first hotel in the Czech Republic to receive a Michelin star.

In December 2004, Jarda moved to Manchester and started as Chef de Partie at Malmaison. In 2010, he was made Head Chef and put in charge of the French-style Malmaison Brasserie. In 2011, Jarda also helped to transform the brasserie into the Smoak Bar & Grill.

* Manchester235 is inside the Great Northern warehouse on Deansgate, Manchester.

Product trial: Gift hamper from Forman and Field

The hamper revealed!

I’m a bit of a sucker for hampers, to be honest, not least because you end up with a lovely storage box for your trouble but also it’s exciting opening it up to find out what’s inside.

So when asked if I’d like to try one of their popular gift hampers, it was time to clear some space in the fridge.

It’s not a company I’ve come across before, based in London, and specialising in British food – so what’s in the box?

Packaging: Didn’t disappoint. A lovely wicker hamper stuffed with goodies carefully packed and protected. Delving in was a bit like a lucky dip….a small glass of potted lobster, a pork pie….. a box of luxury chocs……what would be unearthed next?

Contents: A great selection of luxury goods. Sometimes hampers look better than the sum of what’s inside and I’ve been disappointed in the past to encounter some really ordinary biscuits or a relish which you could buy anywhere, but this selection was very much aimed at us foodies.

The smoked salmon from H Forman and Son was especially good – thick and with their hallmark ‘London cure’ which is lighter and less salty than a traditional Scottish smokery.

The selection of cheese was also very interesting – even if the one did manage to overwhelm the fridge with its ‘fragrance’! I could be wrong, but I believe that was the Innes Log, described on the website as ‘a nutty, goaty delight’. One for adventurous cheese lovers only!

The others, a blue and two hard cheeses, were unfamiliar to me but well worth exploring and are featured in greater detail here.

Away from the meat, cheese and fish there were some sweet treats too. I loved the little pot of sharp lemon curd, the tea infused chocolate truffles and the cakes were….well, gone too soon! The chances of them reaching the seven day ‘eat before’ date needed because of the fresh ingredients in the chocolate brownie and banana cake are pretty slim.

Verdict: It was a treat in a box and, while not cheap – the smallest hamper retails at £34.95 and the most expensive a whacking £219.95 – the quality of the produce and its British pedigree would make it a great gift choice for the foodie in your life.

* The goods from the hamper gift baskets were provided free of charge for review purposes. Please note, if you wish to provide goods for review, they are accepted on the understanding that good, bad or indifferent, this blog’s product trials section says it as it finds it.

Join the take-away inspection investigation

Over on The Northerner blog today I launched the start of an investigation to reveal the full findings of the food premises rated zero duirng inspections over the past year.

You can read the findings from the first two councils to release the information (Sunderland and Carlisle) and more are on their way in the next few weeks – they are Leeds, Manchester, and Middlesbrough.

If you’d like to join in with the investigation by filing your own Freedom of Information request to your local council here’s how:

Making the Freedom of Information request

1. Go to the site (you’ll need to sign up) and click on ‘make a request’.

2. You’ll be asked to ‘select an authority’ – that’s your local council.

3. After doing a search just to double check that the information isn’t already public, click on the tab to ‘make a request’.

4. Here is a template request using the form of words I’ve already used:

Dear [name of council],

Please treat the following questions as a Freedom of Information

I would like any response to be made electronically wherever
possible in spreadsheet form.

This request aims to establish details about the food hygiene
ratings in your area.

Please could you provide the full inspection reports for those
business premises given a food hygiene rating of zero in the last

Along with the inspectors full findings, please can you detail the
date of inspection, the date of the premises’ next inspection,
name, address and action required or undertaken.

Is there any additional information held about enforcement action
or improvements undertaken?

If you are only able to release some of the information I would ask
that you release this data rather than withhold the entire set.

If you would like more clarification on this issue do not hesitate
to contact me using this site – as I would expect to be contacted
should you need any clarification.

Please can you confirm that you have received this request and I’d
like to remind you that under the freedom of information act 2000
you are bound to respond in 20 days.

Yours faithfully,

5. The whatdo theyknow website will lead you through the process and give you the date when the information has to, by law, be released to you. Please just drop me a line via the comments below or by email ( to let me know you’ve requested it.

Posting your inspection report to The Guardian’s map

– The map is generated via so, if this is your first visit you’ll need to sign-up. You can do this via your existing Facebook or Twitter accounts or by creating a user name and entering your email address.
– once logged in, go to and click on ‘post a new report’
– you will be presented with a simple form asking for the information mentioned above.