Winter in county town
The Shrewsbury Winter Festival is returning to the town’s Quarry this December for a second time. The event attracted more than 10,000 visitors in 2015 and promises to be the perfect start to the festive season, with a great mix of food and drink, crafts and seasonal cheer. Over 150 food, drink and craft exhibitors will be selling their wares, serving mulled wines and hot chocolate, and toasting marshmallows, while local choirs will be getting revellers in the mood with carols, including a daily sing-a-long at 3pm. Free elf workshops will be creating crafts with the kids and there will also be circus workshops, shows and a big top. Admission is £12 for families, £6 for adults and £1 for children, with organisers teaming up with Monks estate agents and donating to The Ark to raise money for the town’s needy. For details and advance tickets visit shrewsburychristmas.co.uk.
Festive foodie heaven
Ludlow Food Centre is preparing for a sparkling festive season featuring a lively schedule of food-focused events. On Dine and Disco nights throughout December, the Food Centre will host a two-course seasonally-themed carvery before diners dance the night away to the resident DJ – the discos take place on 3, 9, and 17 December. There are also late-night shopping nights on 15, 21, 22 and 23 of the month, while Ludlow Food Centre’s acclaimed butchery department will celebrate British Game Week with a feast of fare from 21 to 27 November. Visit ludlowfoodcentre.co.uk to see the full schedule.
Pop-ups rock county
In big cities, pop-up restaurants have been, well, popping up for some time now. These eclectic enterprises involve a chef taking over a restaurant or someone’s home for an evening to create a one-off experience that can be bespoke… or can deliver a complete surprise to diners. Shropshire’s latest pop-ups are presented by Nadia Lord, former chef at the highly rated Da Vinci restaurant in Ironbridge. Nadia’s been popping up regularly at Lightmoor’s Home, 86’d and the Library House in Ironbridge, and Bakers of Tower Street in Ludlow, presenting her imaginative and completely homemade Italian, Malaysian and Bengali cuisine to approving diners. Email Nadia for details at [email protected]
Nadia also runs Socca, a vegetarian and vegan caterer, and most recently, she’s been busy presenting workshops at Ludlow Food Festival.
“It’s been the final week of the season, culminating in my Tuscan workshop in the Castle,” says Nadia. “It was a fabulous experience – there was a wonderful reaction with foot stamping by the unlikeliest of diners... my one-minute ‘rock star moment’!”
The Shrewsbury Chocolate Festival will be taking place on 12 and 13 November at St Mary’s Church in the town centre. The church offers a huge space for visitors to mull around exploring the delicious wares – and there will also be demos and children’s activities. The festival will be promoting a wonderful array of chocolatiers from Shropshire as well as introducing talented chocolatiers from further afield. There will be gluten-free, vegan, raw and single origin chocolate to purchase, too.
Organiser Julia Wenlock says, “We’re passionate about introducing high quality handmade chocolate which has a story. We have lots of exciting chocolatiers and bean-to-bar makers based across the UK who care about where the chocolate or beans they use come from. All our chocolatiers believe cocoa farmers should be paid a proper wage, and that they live and work in safe conditions.” Visit shrewsburychocolatefestival.co.uk for details.
Festive food fair
A food and craft festival at Green Fields in Donnington will bring together over 60 local food producers along with a huge range of Christmas gift ideas. Halfpenny Green, Hobsons and Coopers Sausage Rolls are just some of the local producers who’ll be at the market. Green Fields’ Natalie Walker says, “This is set to be our biggest ever festival, with wine, beer, cheese, cakes, and hot food, as well as live music, and the Exotic Zoo, a bouncy castle and a face painter for the children. Our famous hog roast will be available too!”
The event takes place on the weekend of 3 and 4 December from 10am until 4pm – visit greenfieldsonline.co.uk for details.
Amjad flies the flag
A chef from one of Bridgnorth’s best-loved restaurants was flying the flag for the town – and the country – at a recent culinary extravaganza in India’s ‘silicon city’, Bangalore. Eurasia’s executive chef Amjad Ali cooked up some of his trademark fusion dishes to offer guests at the event organised by Curry Life magazine. The Taste of Britain Festival brought together some of the UK’s leading chefs, led by Great British Menu star and Michelin-starred chef Mark Poynton, to demonstrate their skills in creating dishes that meld Indian spice and European and British flavour.
Amjad cooked up a lamb biryani, a bold chilli fish dish and a chicken tikka with an unusual addition – oregano. He says of the experience, “This was such an inspiring event. We were able to showcase our best dishes and also pick up ideas from some of the UK’s best chefs. I’m now looking forward to creating fresh new dishes for Eurasia’s menu.”
College gleans more awards
After winning an AA Rosette in June, the catering team at Origins restaurant at Shrewsbury College can now add ‘Gold Accreditation’ and ‘Centre of Excellence’ status to their list of awards.
“We’re delighted!” says Dan Gibbons, chef lecturer at the college. “We’re very aware that the ‘People First’ Gold Awards are only awarded to colleges and providers who achieve the best in their class and demonstrate a progressive and sustainable commitment to matching learners’ skills with employers’ needs. This is something we are very focused on, so this recognition is very encouraging indeed.
“The ‘Centre of Excellence’ badge is given to colleges that excel in the delivery of specific skills, which in turn increase employers’ confidence that their needs will be met in specialist areas. It recognises clear development pathways and direct links to industry.”
Weston Park’s head chef, Guy Day is presenting a session that will give amateur cooks insider tips about creating a festive feast. Based around a theme, Guy will demonstrate dishes, offer practical advice, and reveal the odd chef’s cheat here and there. Sessions include samples of Guy’s cooking, and he’ll also be able to answer any burning culinary questions. Following the demo, a three-course lunch inspired by the theme is served in the Granary Grill. The session runs on 22, 23 and 24 November from 11am and is £25 per person, including coffee, tastings, a recipe booklet and a three-course lunch. For details and to book, call 01952 852106 or email [email protected]