And the winner is…

independent business logo - mid…Capeling & Co! A huge congratulations to Capeling & Co who have won by a trounce the inaugural Birmingham Independent Food Business of the Year award for 2010. Capeling & Co opened on the trendy York Road in Kings Heath in November 2009, offering something truly unique on Birmingham’s food landscape. Capeling & Co not only offer a fine selection of handmade artisan cheeses from across the UK and Europe, as well as other hard-to-find deli ingredients, but they deliver it with passion and style too. So much passion that they’ll even have run-ins with the British Cheese Board to ensure South Birmingham is eating the best cheddar possible. Their little shop is becoming a haven for foodies because you simply can’t get most of the things they stock without traveling outside of Birmingham. I first visited a couple of weeks after they opened, and have been a regular there ever since as both customer and supplier. They had a great 2010, building slowly, educating the public, reinvesting in the shop, venturing out to markets and events, and sourcing great cheese throughout. They topped off 2010 with a fantastic Christmas and New Year, improving the Christmas cheeseboards of half of South Birmingham seemingly, including mine!

There’s only a handful of businesses in Birmingham that take as much care about their food sourcing as Capeling & Co, and the whole point of this competition is to celebrate those great food businesses and hopefully find out about new one’s that we’re not already aware of. I hope everyone’s enjoyed reading, nominating and voting. I’m personally very excited about what 2011 holds for Birmingham’s grassroots food scene, happy new year!

After taking out duplicate votes the final scores for the top three were:

1st – Capeling and Co – 45 votes

2nd – Kitchen Garden Cafe – 21 votes

3rd – Rossiters Organic Butchers- 14 votes

Elderflower Cordial – Recipe


Well we’re only just over a week into the elderflower season here in the midlands and I have already made two batches of elderflower cordial. We drink it like water here at Loaf HQ, so I’m hoping to make up for the disappointment of last season when I’d bought all the required ingredients, only to go out for a walk  after a blisteringly hot weekend in July, and find all the flowers had turned over the weekend and begun their berry-growing stage.

For the first two batches, I’ve used Richard Maybe’s recipe from the classic wild food book Food for Free. I’ve expanded on the recipe a little and altered the quantities so it makes around 2 litres. I doubled this recipe with some school children this week and it made just under 4 litres.

Ingredients (for 2 litres of cordial):

1.15 litres of water
1.5kg granulated sugar
2 unwaxed organic lemons
15-20 elderflower heads (picked on a sunny day)
35g citric acid



Boil the water in a pan, remove from the heat, and then stir in the sugar  until dissolved. Set aside to cool to blood temperature. Meanwhile pick any bugs from the eldeflower heads and discard any that are badly infested. place them into a deep bowl, bucket or pan. Zest the lemons and add to the elderflowers, along with the remaining lemons, sliced, and the citric acid. Pour the sugar syrup over the elderflowers, lemon and citric acid, cover it, and leave to steep for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 24 hours steeping, strain the liquid through a jelly bag or muslin cloth into a large clean bowl, and from here, through a funnel into sterlised bottles.

Some thoughts

Allowing the syrup to cool to blood temperature before adding it to the elderflowers should lead to a more delicate flavour and colour than adding it when it’s just boiled. However the low temperature won’t kill the natural yeasts on the eldeflowers, so the keeping quality is lessened – the yeast may start fermenting the liquid leading to an alcoholic and fizzy liquor, and possibly exploding bottles! So if you want to store it for more than a month or two, add the liquid when it’s just boiled, or freeze the above recipe when it’s in bottles (leaving an air gap for expansion when freezing).

Next weekend – elderflower champagne!