Stirchley Community Market is Born!

Stirchley Community Market LogoLoaf, Stirchley Happenings, South Birmingham Food Co-op and Birmingham Town Centre Partnerships are proud to bring you Stirchley’s first ever community market in the summer of 2010.

Stirchley Community Market, which launches on Tuesday the 27th July with it’s first market outside Stirchley United Working Mens Club on the Pershore Road from 4-8pm, will feature stalls selling wholefoods, bread, hot curry, wood-fired pizza, artisan preserves, cupcakes, local fruit and vegetables, and local arts and crafts. The market will give the local community, as well as commuters on their way home from work, an opportunity to find out what Stirchley has to offer, meet some excellent food producers and craft makers from within Birmingham, and pick up some tasty groceries for their weekly shop.

Loaf will be there selling wood-fired pizza’s straight out of our mobile pizza oven, and artisan bread.

The market has a dedicated wordpress blog, which will be updated with stall holder info and other details as the first market approaches – check it out at stirchleycommunitymarket.wordpress.com

Soul Food Project has arrived!

A few weeks ago I met up with 3 enthusiastic local foodies, and clearly good mates, at their ‘office’, the corner table in the Hare and Hounds Kings Heath. They told me of the plan they were hatching to launch an exciting new food venture in Kings Heath, bringing more great local food to this burgeoning foodie suburb of South Birmingham. Although I sadly haven’t got the capacity to supply them with bread for their new venture, and haven’t yet eaten there, I wanted to share with you this excerpt from their Facebook Page:

Soul Food Project has arrived to spice up and inject some fun into the Birmingham food scene. The kitchen is based in one of Birmingham’s busiest and most important independent pubs…the Hare and Hounds.

The Project is the brainchild of 3 Birmingham friends, Carl Finn, Matt Beck and Alex Morrall, who have between them over 10 years experience in the catering, service and promotion industry. The idea was formed over several bottles of Brooklyn Lager and a consensus that the standard of food served in pubs was in need of an overhaul of soul.

What makes Soul Food Project different to other pub food?

Well SFP takes influence from the diverse food landscape of America so…..
– Think smoked paprika and chilli infused Southern Fried Chicken,
– Think Sunburst salads,
– Think crayfish, chicken and chorizo Jambalaya from New Orleans,
– Think the best burgers in Brum
– Think Waffles and Rocky Road for the weekend.
and so much more..

Food is sourced locally where possible and each ingredient is treated with care and passion. The kitchen is open to ideas, suggestions and feedback and also plans to host live music, gastro evenings and much more….Watch this space.

It’s time to put some soul in your bowl!!!

Sould Food Project is serving at the Hare Hounds from 12-8 on Tuesdays-Saturdays, and 12-5 on Sundays. I’ve just noticed on their facebook page too that they now do waffle Wednesdays – 2 waffles for a fiver – bargain!

See you down there soon, T.

Ragley Pork and Pure UBU Sausages – the verdict

IMG_5452Running a food website has it’s perks, as I found out this week after a call from a PR company representing Purity Brewing Co and Ragley Estate Meats, inviting me to sample a brand new sausage made by Ragley Estate Meats, using Purity’s Pure UBU ale. Now, I’m not one to refuse free food so I was excited to try this exclusive Warwickshire collaboration. I’m also though, not one to have my food messed around with too much – I don’t like sun dried tomatoes in my bread, herbs in my tinned tomatoes, or chilli in my cheese (and definitely not my chocolate), so would I approve of beer in my sausages? Maybe more importantly, how the heck do they get beer into sausages? I was informed that the beer is heated, and the steam from the beer infuses the meat. Phew, that’s that question sorted then.

So, what to cook to allow me to properly test these sausages? It had to be simple to allow the sausages to be the main event – bangers and mash seemed the obvious choice. However when you’ve got posh sausages, I think it’s worth poshing it up a bit, so I put an Italian twist on bangers and mash and went for potato gnocchi with sausages and a Pure UBU gravy. Here’s the recipe (serves 2):

For the gnocchi

400g cooked and thoroughly mashed or riced potatoes (waxy varieties are good, I used Balfour and added a bay leaf and salt to the cooking water)
100g ’00’ pasta flour (plain flour will do)
1 egg – whisked

IMG_5462Ensuring the potatoes have cooled from cooking, combine all the ingredients and knead lightly for a minute. Divide into three and roll each out with your hands on a heavily floured work surface into a long sausage that is about 12mm thick. Then, using a knife divide into half inch chunks, and put aside on a floured plate until you need them.

For the sausages

I used 3 sausages for 2 people, but feel free to have more or less. Fry them in a little oil on a low heat for 15-20 minutes until just cooked through.

For the gravy and assembly

30g unsalted butter
60g Pure UBU ale
1 small handful of good grated parmesan (I used 22-month aged)
Salt and Pepper
Ground elder – 1 tablespoon, finely chopped (replace for chives or parsley if you like)
Edible wildflowers to garnish (I used dandelion and lesser celandine)

When the sausages are cooked, remove to a board to rest for a couple of minutes, then slice diagonally into nice chunks. Heat a large pan of water to a rolling boil for the gnocchi. Warm up the beer to just below boiling point in a pan. Prepare to get a bit manic, the next few things need to all happen within about 3 minutes flat! Scrape the frying pan used for the sausages clean and add to it the unsalted butter on a medium heat until it’s foaming. Add to this the warmed beer, and allow the bubbling to emulsify it. Quickly add the gnocchi to the boiling water. Return to the sauce and add the parmesan and stir to distribute throughout the gravy, and season with salt, pepper, and chopped ground elder. Turn down to a low heat. After the gnocchi has had about 2 minutes, it will float to the surface – it is done, drain the water off through a sieve. Now divide the gnocchi and the sausage chunks between two plates, spoon over the sauce and garnish with wildflowers or more chopped herbs, and freshly ground black pepper. Bon Appetit!

IMG_5463

The Verdict

The dish was fabulous, the gnocchi was perfectly tender and tasty and the gravy was malty with a hint of bitterness, offset by the freshness of the ground elder. As for the sausages, they were very good – clearly a high pork content (66% according to the packet), very well seasoned, and a deep, rich character from the malt and hops of the beer. Had I not known there was ale in there, I’m not sure I would have been able to detect it, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Overall, it’s a good product, and if you can buy it locally, it’s a good choice for a rich, tasty pork sausage to put centre stage in a posh sausage dish. If you’d like to try for yourself, they’re being formerly launched tomorrow, Saturday 24th April, at Alcester Food Festival. Sadly I can’t be there, although I was asked to do a stall, but if you’re in the neighbourhood, check it out, it should be a great day.

Ragley Pork and Pure UBU Sausages – the verdict

IMG_5452Running a food website has it’s perks, as I found out this week after a call from a PR company representing Purity Brewing Co and Ragley Estate Meats, inviting me to sample a brand new sausage made by Ragley Estate Meats, using Purity’s Pure UBU ale. Now, I’m not one to refuse free food so I was excited to try this exclusive Warwickshire collaboration. I’m also though, not one to have my food messed around with too much – I don’t like sun dried tomatoes in my bread, herbs in my tinned tomatoes, or chilli in my cheese (and definitely not my chocolate), so would I approve of beer in my sausages? Maybe more importantly, how the heck do they get beer into sausages? I was informed that the beer is heated, and the steam from the beer infuses the meat. Phew, that’s that question sorted then.

So, what to cook to allow me to properly test these sausages? It had to be simple to allow the sausages to be the main event – bangers and mash seemed the obvious choice. However when you’ve got posh sausages, I think it’s worth poshing it up a bit, so I put an Italian twist on bangers and mash and went for potato gnocchi with sausages and a Pure UBU gravy. Here’s the recipe (serves 2):

For the gnocchi

400g cooked and thoroughly mashed or riced potatoes (waxy varieties are good, I used Balfour and added a bay leaf and salt to the cooking water)
100g ’00’ pasta flour (plain flour will do)
1 egg – whisked

IMG_5462Ensuring the potatoes have cooled from cooking, combine all the ingredients and knead lightly for a minute. Divide into three and roll each out with your hands on a heavily floured work surface into a long sausage that is about 12mm thick. Then, using a knife divide into half inch chunks, and put aside on a floured plate until you need them.

For the sausages

I used 3 sausages for 2 people, but feel free to have more or less. Fry them in a little oil on a low heat for 15-20 minutes until just cooked through.

For the gravy and assembly

30g unsalted butter
60g Pure UBU ale
1 small handful of good grated parmesan (I used 22-month aged)
Salt and Pepper
Ground elder – 1 tablespoon, finely chopped (replace for chives or parsley if you like)
Edible wildflowers to garnish (I used dandelion and lesser celandine)

When the sausages are cooked, remove to a board to rest for a couple of minutes, then slice diagonally into nice chunks. Heat a large pan of water to a rolling boil for the gnocchi. Warm up the beer to just below boiling point in a pan. Prepare to get a bit manic, the next few things need to all happen within about 3 minutes flat! Scrape the frying pan used for the sausages clean and add to it the unsalted butter on a medium heat until it’s foaming. Add to this the warmed beer, and allow the bubbling to emulsify it. Quickly add the gnocchi to the boiling water. Return to the sauce and add the parmesan and stir to distribute throughout the gravy, and season with salt, pepper, and chopped ground elder. Turn down to a low heat. After the gnocchi has had about 2 minutes, it will float to the surface – it is done, drain the water off through a sieve. Now divide the gnocchi and the sausage chunks between two plates, spoon over the sauce and garnish with wildflowers or more chopped herbs, and freshly ground black pepper. Bon Appetit!

IMG_5463

The Verdict

The dish was fabulous, the gnocchi was perfectly tender and tasty and the gravy was malty with a hint of bitterness, offset by the freshness of the ground elder. As for the sausages, they were very good – clearly a high pork content (66% according to the packet), very well seasoned, and a deep, rich character from the malt and hops of the beer. Had I not known there was ale in there, I’m not sure I would have been able to detect it, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Overall, it’s a good product, and if you can buy it locally, it’s a good choice for a rich, tasty pork sausage to put centre stage in a posh sausage dish. If you’d like to try for yourself, they’re being formerly launched tomorrow, Saturday 24th April, at Alcester Food Festival. Sadly I can’t be there, although I was asked to do a stall, but if you’re in the neighbourhood, check it out, it should be a great day.

In Our Backyard art exhibition

Received this news from local artist and foodie Eleanor Hoad yesterday, so thought I’d share it with you in full. We should do more food swapping events in Birmingham shouldn’t we, what do you think?

The ‘In Our Backyard’ exhibition at BMAG is the culmination of a year-long residency taking place within 4 constituencies around Birmingham. Community groups within the constituencies of Perry Barr, Erdington, Ladywood and Hodge Hill have worked closely with 4 artists in a series of art activities and projects that will be showcased in this exhibition and throughout the museum.

In Erdington, Eleanor Hoad’s ‘Prepare’ residency explored ways in which we can feed ourselves in the city and celebrate our local harvests. Inspired by urban Permaculture and traditional celebrations around growing food, Eleanor created a fruit harvesting, processing and distributing scheme using unwanted local fruit.

This Saturday come along to see the exhibition and take part in the Prepare Swapshop with Eleanor Hoad Saturday 24th April 2010, 11am – 4pm in the Learning Zone

A drop in swapshop with Eleanor Hoad, artist from the In Our Backyard exhibition, showing in the Community Gallery. Bring along to swap: fruit recipes old and new, jars of homemade pickle, jam or chutney, seeds saved from your own plants or leftovers in a packet and empty plastic vegetable trays to plant your own mini herb bed. Make your own decorated paper bag to take your swaps home.

The Community Gallery showcases the talent of our communities and provides an insight into our rich local neighbourhoods through an exciting programme of exhibitions and events. Displays are created in collaboration with community groups, inviting new audiences and visitors to interact and explore artworks and subject matter.

In Our Backyard runs from 10th April to the 4th July.

The Community Gallery
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square
Birmingham B3 3DH
0121 303 2834

www.bmag.org.uk

Will the ash cloud turn us onto local food?

There’s an interesting article on the Guardian’s word of mouth blog today about how the consequences of the current volcanic ash cloud on our food supply might turn more people onto local food. I’m not sure it’s going to have such a dramatic effect, but one of the silver linings on the cloud – along with tonnes of carbon dioxide being saved and Chris Moyles being stranded abroad – is that it will at least show us how fragile our current global food system is, and perhaps make those in power take the localisation agenda a bit more seriously, who knows. Anyway, to read the whole article click the image below, and to find out where to buy local food in Birmingham, check out our local food directory

guardian volcano article

Birmingham Post calls for more local food – hurrah!

In this weeks Birmingham Post, food critic Richard Mccomb has a good old rant about the lack of local food available in Birmingham shops, especially the City Centre. We agree, go on Richard, you tell em’! Read it here

Loaf Needs YOU!

cabbageLoaf has recently got through to the second stage of an application to the National Lottery Local Food Grants scheme, for our application to fund a local food campaign in Birmingham. This is great news, but we haven’t got the cash yet, there’s a lot of work to do before that happens.

My hope is that the little funding that we’ve applied for will kickstart a social movement around local food in Birmingham. I’m convinced there is people out there who care about food, and want to do something about it. If that’s you then I’d love you to be more involved – I want to get together a campaign group who will bring drive, enthusiasm, and action to help kickstart this campaign. If you want to get involved please send me an email to tom@loafonline.co.uk. I envisage meeting up once every month or two to share ideas, plan stuff, and of course, eat and drink local refreshments! When there’s a few people involved I will set a meeting date for end of November / beginning of December. If you don’t want to come to a meeting but want to support the campaign in another way, get in touch too!

Jewellery Quarter Farmers Market – 19th September, 9-3

24 carrots?
24 carrots?

If you’re around in Birmingham this weekend, be sure to take a detour and spend some of your hard earned cash with the great local producers at the Jewellery Quarter Farmers Market – 24 Carrots. It’s only the second market since starting out and the site is already up to capacity. It coincides with British Food Fortnight,  occurring during the Harvest Festival. They say on their website:

24Carrots is adopting British Food Fortnight as it’s theme for the second market! There will be a guest appearance by local resident OJ (Kerrang & TV) from 10am and live acoustic sets from 12-3pm from a number great local artists!

Definitely pay a visit to Loaf favourites Beez Neez Honey (lime flower is very good), Kiss Me Cupcakes, and The Tunnel Brewery. And whilst you’re there, pop by the community stall and say hi from Loaf, as sadly we can’t make it until October 17th. But there is a free cupcake awaiting us, so it’ll be worth the wait!

Jewellery Quarter Farmers Market – 19th September, 9-3

24 carrots?
24 carrots?

If you’re around in Birmingham this weekend, be sure to take a detour and spend some of your hard earned cash with the great local producers at the Jewellery Quarter Farmers Market – 24 Carrots. It’s only the second market since starting out and the site is already up to capacity. It coincides with British Food Fortnight,  occurring during the Harvest Festival. They say on their website:

24Carrots is adopting British Food Fortnight as it’s theme for the second market! There will be a guest appearance by local resident OJ (Kerrang & TV) from 10am and live acoustic sets from 12-3pm from a number great local artists!

Definitely pay a visit to Loaf favourites Beez Neez Honey (lime flower is very good), Kiss Me Cupcakes, and The Tunnel Brewery. And whilst you’re there, pop by the community stall and say hi from Loaf, as sadly we can’t make it until October 17th. But there is a free cupcake awaiting us, so it’ll be worth the wait!

Local Food Labelling – what you thought

Thanks to everyone who voted in the local food labelling survey over the last few weeks. 90% (28/31) of you thought that it would be either quite or very useful to have a labelling scheme for food in independent shops and restaurants that indicated when it was locally produced. Loaf has put in an application to the Lottery’s Local Food Grants scheme to get such a scheme off the ground. It’s gonna take about 6 weeks until we here anything, but we’ll keep you posted with all the details if we’re successful.

Local Food Labelling – what you thought

Thanks to everyone who voted in the local food labelling survey over the last few weeks. 90% (28/31) of you thought that it would be either quite or very useful to have a labelling scheme for food in independent shops and restaurants that indicated when it was locally produced. Loaf has put in an application to the Lottery’s Local Food Grants scheme to get such a scheme off the ground. It’s gonna take about 6 weeks until we here anything, but we’ll keep you posted with all the details if we’re successful.

Taste of Birmingham 9-12 July 2009

taste birminghamTaste of Birmingham food festival starts tonight in Canon Hill Park, and runs until Sunday. It’s supposed to be a celebration of Birmingham and the region’s food culture, with 17 local restaurants taking part, and a host of food producers from the region exhibiting. Loaf will be there for the opening session tonight, and is equally hopeful and sceptical about what awaits. We’ll be on the hunt for local ingredients among other bits – a bit of research for the soon to be launched local food directory!

In previous years the cost has been somewhat prohibitive, but this year it’s much more reasonable (£10 advanced tickets), and is being launched by local agency Marketing Birmingham, so hopefully will be more in-tune with the local scene, and we’ll have less of the helicopter-travelling slebchef nonsense.

Expect a full review in the next couple of days, and some twitter action from the fest tonight – another reason to follow @loafonline on twitter! If anyone else will be twittering from the event tonight, leave you’re twitter name in the comments below.