If you go shopping for boilers in Nottingham today, you're in for a helluva surprise...
Because on a street somewhere in the Hockley district of the city, there's an unassuming shop front that conceals a Narnia-like secret antechamber with a special surprise entrance opening into a table-service cocktail speakeasy in full swing - and that isn't even the best bit...
Because behind all this fun and ingenious subterfuge there are master-drinksmiths at work, and if you're lucky enough to get a seat at the bar, you'll be treated to a hocus-pocus cocktail magic show with clouds of mint-fragranced dry ice, mugs of tropical tiki delights and familiar old favourites flipped on their side, served with twists and blown inside out.
Meanwhile, an instruction-manual-like drinks menu suggests saucy innovative temptations such as the Not-Quite-Right White Russian, the Cinema Paradiso, the Edison Medicine and- hold onto your hats and umbrellas- for the Mary Poppins Hurricane (Beer is also available.)
If the current fashionable surge in popularity for cocktails is all starting to feel a bit samey, this secret little hideaway will refresh your palette fabulously with lashings of fun, delectable concoctions and cups running over with ingenious quirkiness, so follow our clues and find your way to sample the hottest and coolest new covert liquors and tipples in town. Happy hunting, confidential cocktail fans...
Chino Latino Modern Pan-Asian Cuisine and Latin Bar is celebrating its 10th anniversary with special offer discounts and a prize draw for its diners.
With a distinctive menu that draws upon flavours from China, South East Asia and modern Japan, Chino Latino has just been awarded its first AA rosette and throughout 2013 the restaurant will be offering 10% off food bills on the tenth of every month, starting from 10th May 2013. All diners enjoying this offer will also be entered into a prize draw to win a 'Chino Latino Pass' which will entitle them to a complimentary three course meal in each of the Chino Latino restaurants across Europe over a 12 month period.
Following the restaurant's 10th birthday fiesta which featured the venue's sushi and sashimi together with signature Latin cocktails, Tom Waldron-Lynch, General Manager at Park Plaza Nottingham said, "I am proud to be part of Chino Latino's long-standing success and enjoyed celebrating its tenth year anniversary with close friends and colleagues showcasing what we do best. My team put on a great night and I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did. We look forward to welcoming you all back to continue for many more years and parties to come."
Offering ten different types of bagels baked from scratch in its own bakery, rapidly expanding food chain Bagel Nash is now open on Wheelergate in Nottingham city centre.
Founded in Leeds in 1987, the company has 14 stores around the country and the Nottingham store is the chain's flagship branch in the Midlands and the largest outside Leeds.
Bagel Nash offers a wide variety of fillings prepared for order in store including Breakfast Bagels, Hot Salt Beef and Cheddar Club and the company prides itself on the quality of its fresh coffee, having spent years researching and perfecting the taste of their Rainforest Alliance coffee.
"We are very excited about opening our 15th bagel and coffee shop in Nottingham," said retail operations director Sara Hildreth. "As a small British company, we specifically chose Nottingham because it's such a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, full of great people who are looking for good quality, fresh and convenient food."
It was an intriguing dinner invitation with a delectable twist; come to the renowned restaurant The Living Room along with a group of other Nottingham writers and foodie bloggers to taste samples of the new Autumn/Winter menu- whilst completely blindfolded!
The premise was to blindly guess the ingredients of a plentiful succession of taster-sized treats by taste and smell alone, but with the Living Room's adventurous and highly flavoursome dishes this proved to be a rather difficult, though also perplexingly delicious challenge. With blindfolds on, our hands were guided to ladle-style Chinese spoons heaped with mysterious food samples and amidst much blind banter and giggling we all duly made both educated and wild and crazy guesses, including our own confidential totally random stab in the dark at vension in the Shepherd's Pie (score!)
Highlights of this mini-sized sampling of the Living Room winter menu included the Moroccan Spiced Lamb (pictured) a lovely moist duck in a plum chutney, a beautifully flavoured sea bass and the scrummy desserts passionfruit and coconut creme brule (pictured) with the both crunchy and creamy Basil grande.
With our delightful dining companions Experience Nottinghamshire http://www.experiencenottinghamshire.com/ and the appetizingly-named LeftLion food blog Noshingham http://www.noshingham.co.uk/ the evening's winner who identified the most ingredients was former star of a Nottingham episode of Come Dine With Me, Alex Foster http://alexfoster.me.uk/ who deservedly won the extremely cute Dining In The Dark Champion Cup, and at the end of the evening we were also informed that our collective Nottingham blogger scores had also beaten Manchester's team scores- woo to the hoo!
Tasty, quirky, messy and fun, strangely bonding and just a little bit kinky, this was a gastronomic night of culinary eye-openers and we confidentially highly recommend a dining experience at The Living Room- with blindfolds optional. Mmmm!
The breathless wait and hunger-pangs of anticipation are almost over for Nottingham cake lovers as the lusciously-legendary Patisserie Valerie opens its doors for the first time in The Exchange on Saturday August 11.
First opened in Soho in 1926 by Belgian born Madam Valerie who came to London on a (culinarily vital) mission to introduce fine continental patisserie to the English, Patisserie Valerie cafes are known as 'havens of self-indulgence', famous for their gateaux, award-winning croissants and viennoiserie, all hand-made using traditional recipes and authentic methods. Breakfasts and lunches are also available, as are gelatos and confectionery, all served up in an atmosphere that is designed to be unique to each location.
And the Nottingham Patisserie Valerie cafe is sited in the very suitable and unique location of The Exchange, Nottingham's first shopping centre, situated within the city's historic Council House, which opened in 1929 and was originally mainly occupied by Joseph Burton who operated a delicatessen-style food centre. In the early 1980s the centre, locally known as Burtons Arcade, underwent a major refurbishment to provide seventeen retail units and now the centre has come full circle again, nearly 85 years later, with food deliciously back on the menu with the opening of Patisserie Valerie. Bon appetit, Nottingham!
Nottingham's two-Michelin starred chef Sat Bains created a special menu last week for the launch of the Midlands Slow Food UK's Chef Alliance in partnership with Highland Park Single Malt Whisky. Top chefs from Nottinghamshire and the surrounding counties attended, including Nick Gillespie of La Rock in Sandiacre in Nottingham.
Slow Food was created in the 1980s to counter the rise of Fast Food and is a non-profit and globally recognised organisation in 150 countries linking the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment together with an ethos to encourage people to choose nutritious food from sustainable local sources. The dynamic scheme works to engage Britain's chefs in actively supporting these aims by championing small scale producers and sustainably sourced quality produce.
Sat Bains created a special menu in his Nottingham restaurant using Slow Food UK's 'Forgotten Foods'- a catalogue of exceptional gastronomic produce in danger of disappearing due to current food production and distribution systems which other members of the Alliance will be encouraged to use in their own seasonal menus. To date, more than fifty of the UK's top chefs are now members of the Alliance with this number continuing to grow.
The lunch was hosted by Slow Food UK CEO Catherine Gazzoli and Scott Dickson from Highland Park single malt whisky, with Sat Bains.
Tucked away in a confidential location somewhere in Nottinghamshire, lies the deliciously hush-hush eaterie My Secret Tearoom. Its whereabouts really are so closely guarded that if we told you where it is, well, there'd be no scrumptious teatime for you (or us).
There is no telephone number to contact the tearoom, enquiries about availability can only be made through their website and only once a table for four to seven people is booked will directions to the tearoom be revealed.....
At booking, special dietary requirements are noted as are the guests' first names so that personalised place settings can be made. And then upon arrival, the delicious tea-fest commences! A typical Secret Tearoom menu comprises of sandwiches with fillings such as locally raised beef with homemade chilli jam, chicken and tarragon and perhaps Colston Bassett stilton with pear and walnut. This could be followed by brandy-soaked current, thyme and parmesan scones or feta and fresh herb loaf with savoury tartlets. Then a selection of three cakes will arrive, such as individual salted caramel and chocolate tarts, blueberry and lime drizzle cake and lavender shortbread. A number of loose leaf teas are available as are homemade cordial or lemonade and guests can also bring their own alcohol if they wish and glasses will be provided.
Close to Nottingham, but with a rural feel and with a dining room that looks out over fields, the tearoom has been running for a year in an area very popular with walkers. A special, private treat for birthdays and celebrations or just a lovely fun indulgence, guests are invited to 'donate' £15-£20 per person for their secret tearoom experience.
It's time to get Nottingham's taste buds all a-tingling with anticipation again as a host of new ingredients have been announced for this year's Nottingham Food & Drink Festival.
Now in its fourth year, the Festival will run from Wednesday 4 July to Sunday 8 July and will feature a local and regional food and drink market with over forty stalls in Nottingham's Market Square as its centrepiece. The demo theatre will return and a new beer and wine sampling area will also feature, stocked with a wide selection of wines and locally produced real ales.
The Festival is organised by We Are Nottingham and restaurants and bars around the city will also be involved offering a varied programme of events and masterclasses from blind cocktail tasting to sushi making.
This year, Nottingham performers are also being invited to take part in the festival and local singers, dancers, musicians, comedians and other performers will have a chance to showcase their skills on a special performance stage.
If you'd like to apply to appear on the performance stage, email email@example.com for more details
If you've got the post-Christmas blues and are getting withdrawal symptoms from the festive party season, here's another chance for you to dress up in those glad rags and LBDs.
Browns Bar And Brasserie opens on Park Row in Nottingham next month and is celebrating its launch with a Champagne and Cocktail opening party on Thursday 2nd February with complimentary drinks and nibbles served from 6-9pm. After opening its doors for the first time in 1973 in Brighton, Browns has gained a reputation for classic food and signature cocktails served in a stylish environment and caters for breakfast, brunch and dinner as well as afternoon tea with cakes and finger sandwiches.
To register for the opening night party, simply fill in the form at http://brownsnottingham.co.uk Everyone who registers will also automatically be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win dinner for four and a bottle of champagne.
Photo courtesy of Nottingham
Robin Hood Beer Festival
Tickets are already on sale for this year's Nottingham Robin Hood Beer Festival which will be taking place from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th October in the grounds of Nottingham Castle.
The festival already holds the world record for offering the largest selection of real ales and this year plans to beat its own record of 848 different cask beers on sale. As well as as this huge choice of ales, the festival also offers stouts, bitters, milds, porters, ciders, perries and barley and country wines.
The festival will be open from 11am till 11pm each day and although it is possible to pay for entry at the gate, the organisers advise buying advance tickets to guarantee admission. Tickets, which cost £12.50, can be bought at Nottingham Tourism Centre in Smithy Row as well as through the festival website and will include a 2011 commemorative tankard and ten mini tokens. As no cash will be taken at the bars to help speed up the event, the mini tokens can be used as a payment system to buy drinks and for the first time this year, the festival offers visitors the option to buy their drinks in thirds as as well as half pints.
Photo courtesy of Nottingham
Robin Hood Beer Festival
The festival is also looking for caterers, in particular those offering locally sourced products and anyone who wishes to apply can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Any entertainers who wish to perform can also apply at email@example.com If you would like to volunteer to help with the festival, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Located twelve miles north of Nottingham in Ravenshead, Newstead Abbey was once home to the great and notorious romantic poet Lord Byron. The historic house with its medieval cloisters and Victorian room settings sits in 300 acres of parklands which include Japanese gardens freely roamed by peacocks, lakes, ponds and waterfalls.
The grounds are open to the public all year round and tours of the house run from April to September. This summer sees a whole range of special events to enjoy both inside the Abbey and in its grounds. On the 6th and 27th August the Abbey Ambles event gives visitors the opportunity to take a more in-depth tour of the house and explore below stairs, the kitchen and the nursery. The tour is followed by a cream tea hosted by Newstead's housekeeper Mrs Cooper who will supply traditional sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, mini desserts and speciality teas and coffee. The same menu is also available at the Abbey's weekly Afternoon Tea event which is on every Sunday and is held in the Garden Room and French Garden throughout July and August.
Other events over the summer include outdoor theatre performances of Fantastic Mr Fox on August 12 and The Pirates of Penzance August 19, a Slugs and Bugs children's event with trails through the grounds from 25-31 July and you can also join Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for their Mini Meadow Seed Pack Giveaway Event at Newstead Abbey on July 31, August 21 and September 11.
Afternoon Teas tickets cost £10 and Abbey Ambles cost £20, pre-booking is essential on 01623 455900. Full details of all events ticket prices are available on the Newstead Abbey website http://www.newsteadabbey.org.uk
Since the late 1970s Nottingham has had its own little escape to the country right here in the city. Recently celebrating its 30th anniversay, Stonebridge City Farm was set up by a dedicated group of volunteers who wanted to create a much-needed green space for education and involvement that could be accessible to everyone from the very young to the very old.
Today the farm, which is free to visit and is open every day, is home to a number of animals including cows, goats and sheep along with Stinky and Pinky the pigs, Kevin the tortoise and Charlie the Shetland pony. The gardens have vegetable and fruit areas which are interspersed with wild plants, flowers and ponds and produce vegetables and herbs which are available to buy in the farm shop and cafe, along with honey from the farm's own bee hives. There is a also a nature walk which gives the opportunity to watch a number of wild birds and butterflies.
On 24 July the farm, which can be found on Stone Bridge Road in St Anns, will be holding its annual Summer Open Day and activities include live music from Shades of Blue, a martial arts display, farmers market, craft stalls, workshops and face painting and bouncy castles.
For all you Nottingham foodies who have done the rounds of all the local restaurants and fancy something a little bit different, here is a special little eaterie to refresh your palette. Clarkies Supper Club is the only one of its kind in Nottinghamshire, a 'pop-up' restaurant run from the home of mother-and-daughter-cooking-combo Libby and Sarah.
"We've been running the Secret Supper Club for about 18 months now," says Libby, " We just love foodand thought it would be great fun to invite people into our home and cook for them!"
Popular in America, Supper Clubs are also appearing more and more in the UK due to coverage in programmes such as Restaurant In Our Living Room and are run on an occasional basis from people's homes or a venue they have access to. "We can seat up to 18 people and what makes us a little bit different is that we actually offer a choice of dishes on the night whereas at most Supper Clubs the menu is set beforehand. We know that sometimes when you go out for a meal, you change your mind about what you want to eat! In fact, we've even offered to cook our guests half-and-half dishes and once did a triple dessert just so they could sample all the food!"
With a dedication to cooking entirely from scratch using locally-sourced produce including cheeses and ales, it's very clear that this is a dining experience that is born out of a genuine and warm love for the sharing of food. "We had a lovely time at Christmas, we managed to squeeze 20 people in for that event and everybody went home with a little present of home-made cranberry sauce and Christmas cookies."
Clarkies Secret Supper Club's seventh event is on the 17th June. For the 3 course meal experience, a donation of a minimum £25 is required. For more details of the venue and menu and to contact Libby and Sarah visit their website http://www.clarkiessupperclub.com/