Northern bakery creates Britain’s most expensive loaf – £30

Sarah Hartley

Roberts Royal LoafHow much?! Yes the Cheshire set now has a loaf to suit its tastes from Roberts bakery complete with fruity ‘jewels’ and a crust of real gold.

Each regal loaf costs the princely sum of £30 to produce – eclipsing the £21 Shepherd Loaf produced by Hobbs House Bakery in the Cotswolds, which was previously the most expensive in the country.

The limited edition bread – a sweet-tasting brioche, with Welsh butter from Castle Welsh dairy and Welsh water from Brecon Carreg – won’t be available down your local supermarket but you can enter online for a chance to win one.

MD Mike Braddock explains that the costly creation is all about some baby that’s due soon: “We believe all our bread is fit for a king – or queen – but this loaf is extra special.

“This is our way of toasting the new arrival that the whole country has been waiting for. We hope everyone who gets to try it agrees.”

Just 50 of Roberts’ royal loaves are being made to commemorate the birth of Wills and Kate’s first baby and registration is open now at to win one. Once the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s new arrival comes into the world, the first 50 names drawn at random from the entries received will each get a loaf.

All we need now is the royal cheese…………


Food in the north – not all curry and chicken parmos

Here in the north we spend less on food and drink than the English average as well as less on eating out, according to the latest Family Food Survey.

And while people in the north east, north west, Yorkshire and the Humber might eat less Indian, Chinese and Thai meals than other areas, consumption of alcohol is generally higher.

I’ve written more about this survey over at The Northerner today and the full document is also below.
Family Food 2011

The hunt to find the north’s best food and drink blog is on

The Blog North Awards opened for nominations earlier this week giving readers the chance to mark their appreciation for the hours of dedicated blogging going on across our vast region.

It’s an expansion of what was previously the Manchester Blog Awards (I’ve blogged more on that here) and there’s a dedicated food and drink section.

I’ve already singled out a few of the food blogs I enjoy following and given them a nomination – have you? The entries remain open until September 7.

If you’re not yet a signed up food blog subscriber, you can browse the ones I know about via the map here, I hope that leads to a journey of discovery. The nomination form for the awards is here.

Good luck to all nominees and, should any of my regular readers fancy giving this blog a mention, then I’d be most honoured too!

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.

Time to vote for the north’s Deli of the Year

If you’ve got a local deli you love – it’s the final public stages of the national Deli of the Year competition and your vote is needed.

So far there’s been 18 delis nominated in the north east and 17 in the north west for the competition which ultimately gets judged by some of the UK’s leading food experts.

Over the coming weeks, customers will be able to vote for their chosen deli on the online pages comments will be shown to a panel of independent judges who gather together in June and choose a short list of regional winners.  A series of mystery visits then take place and the winning deli will be announced in September at the Great Taste Awards dinner in London.

To find out more about Deli of the Year visit

Where to get a value Michelin lunch in the north

If you’re looking for some top nosh food at a reasonable price, heading for the lunch menu can be a way to sample the best menus at a more restricted cost than the full dinner menu.

The train company Trainline published a list of set lunch prices for the UK’s Michelin restaurants this week (see that here) using data from the Guardian’s data blog list of Michelin Star Restaurants so I’ve pulled out the northern ones to create the interactive map below and make it easier to compare the location and prices.

In brief, the cheapest two course lunch can be found at the Black Swan in Oldstead at £20, for three courses is L’Enclume in Cumbria for £25 and when it comes to value for money then there’s a generous four courses for £30 on offer in Merseyide at Fraiche. The priciest in the list is Burlington at the Devonshire Arms Country Hotel in North Yorkshire which costs £65 for the two courses.

* Map: Michelin value lunches in the north

* The data for the northern Michelin restaurants is here.

If you’ve eaten at any of these places, please do share your thoughts on the experience and value for money below.

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.

Mapped: Northern Food Bloggers

There’s quite a few of us now! In an attempt to keep track of some of the food blog I follow from across the north of England I’ve plotted them on a Google map which you can see here;

If you belong on this map, or any of the details are incorrect, please let me know in the comments field below.

Also, you might be interested in this Northern Food Bloggers group which has started as a sub group of the UK Food Bloggers Association.

Christmas dinner extras

One of the best things about Christmas lunch is all the extras so I thought I’d get prepared and gather together some of the recipes for all the accompaniments for the main course.

Organic food hero due in the north west

Prominent organic campaigner Guy Watson is going to be leading a debate about the whys and wherefores of organic food in Altrincham next month.

Guy, who has been tilling the organic furrow for the past twenty years and is responsible for the Riverford vegetable delivery scheme, is speaking at the event organised by Hullabaloo.

Organiser Suzi says at the event’s Facebook page; “There are so many important issues (and myths) surrounding organic farming, buying local produce, food miles and all that “stuff” that we may, or very easily may not, fully understand and also for me its about looking at these issues as a community, a community who should demand great AND good value food…so PLEASE show your support by coming along to listen and yes yes yes, to ask those difficult questions!”
Hullabaloo, Organic Café 5 Kings Court,Railway Street, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 2RD. 7:00pm – 10:00pm on Tuesday, June 9.