SandBar Tenby

Down an alley on Upper Frog Street, neatly tucked away in what reminds me of a trendy converted London mews, is the home of the Tenby Brewing Company and their relaxed, rather funky little SandBar.

This very pleasing oasis away from the buckets and spades of the town only serves products from independent producers – craft beer and spirits from across Wales and the UK. Good on you lads!

Keg beers

It’s really promising to see new ventures like this appearing in the harbour town of Tenby. The combination of quality craft beers and classic streetfood-styled cuisine has been an astronomical success on the East Coast of America, and I see the scene having an equally meteoric growth in the UK as well.

No fuss, reasonably-priced fare that hits the spot with big flavours, and puts a smile all over your face and cheese in your lap. (Hashtag: Please eat responsibly).. I’m on holiday, it’s allowed.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat…”

The Awesome Footlong

Fear not vegetarians, their ever-improving kitchen caters for you too – surprisingly delicious Katsu curry that rivals Wagamama on flavour and texture, flows effortlessly from the kitchen.

Sandbar Tenby Katsu Curry

The highlight for me? Flights. Probably the most generous beer sampling flights I’ve ever seen (please, please don’t change that!) Choose any 3 of their keg beers in ½ pint measures for just £5. As these are mostly punchy craft IPAs, the measures are perfect for sampling and sharing. Love what you’ve sampled; the bar has it’s own shop as well…

paddles

Yes, you still need a beer menu or at least tasting notes for your great range of beers guys, but you certainly get ‘two thumbs good’ from me.

More details at: http://www.tenbybrewingco.com

Stunning art at Sandbar

Battledown & Sibling

It’s time to revisit Battledown Brewery. This local family business is going from strength to strength, and recently relocated with Sibling Distillery from their cosy little Keynsham Street sheds, to a rather more serious facility in Dowdeswell Park.

The new space brings the opportunity to rethink, re-brand and relaunch, which is exactly what they’ve done. I had the pleasure of visiting the newly installed 13 hectolitre brewery and marvelling at what, without doubt, is going to be a gem in Cheltenham’s ever improving landscape. My good friend Simon and I took in the extremely welcoming atmosphere at their recent opening event, sampling their wares, listening to live music, and tucking into their signature ploughman’s spread. Bliss.

I’m pleased to say that guided brewery tours are still on the cards, and alongside the renowned Sibling Distillery, the potential is really exciting… I hear rumours that plans are afoot to open the brewery as a licensed venue on certain nights with local food trucks…

As always, Battledown provides online ‘order and pickup’ options and they’re always amenable to catering to customer needs wherever they can.

So there must be some negatives? ..yeah, it’s further to walk from town and there’s a lack of street lights out there – get a cab!

For more information, visit;

http://www.battledownbrewery.com

https://www.siblingdistillery.com

Battledown Brewery LLP
Dowdeswell Park,
London Road,
Cheltenham, GL52 6UT

Telephone: 01242693409 or 07734834104

Alex and Simon at Battledown Brewery

Tasty Tuesday

Wowzers Whole Foods.. you need to charge more. £5 for five tasty little dishes with wine is just crazy – no wonder your 100 tickets sell out so quickly.

Whole Foods Market Cheltenham put on a special evening event every second Tuesday of the month, where each department in the store competes against each other for your votes and team kudos.

£5! What a great idea. I love being able to get the low-down from the experts behind the counter whilst sampling what they’ve created from the surrounding shelves. The store is open at the same time (handy if it just happens to be Valentines Day and you’ve got to shoot home to make dinner for your loved one…).

whole foods market tasty tuesday

My vote went to the Meat and Fish gang for their sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce, roasted butternut squash, rocket and lambs lettuce.

sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce

Delicious. See you next month!

Kindness & Co.

How very refreshing. I ventured into Cheltenham’s newest café today and had the pleasure of sampling some of their healthy delights. That’s right, we Cheltonians now have our very own health food café in town, and it puts a smile on my face just knowing that it’s there. I have to say that there aren’t many establishments that have such an impressive ethos, nor that leave you feeling that your body and soul has been refreshed and revived.

flat white at Kindness & co

I haven’t followed the ‘clean eating’ trend over the last couple of years but I have to use the word here; everything is so fresh, zingy and simply ‘clean’ on the palate. It’s a revelation.. we’re seeing a food revolution. 

I usually get a little overexcited when eating out as it doesn’t happy very often; I opt for the most colossal daddy offering on the menu, which has me waddling out of the door with regret, irrespective of how well it’s executed.

This however, is something else. I feel virtuous on a number of levels. Even the cutlery is compostable ‘vegware’. Kindness & Co know that diet and nutrition are key to optimum well-being and they’re committed to helping you live a longer, healthier and ultimately happier life.

This is no Holland & Barrett with a coffee machine. Their focus is on creating stunning dishes from natural, unprocessed, unrefined, fresh ingredients (and they also make a mean Flat White too. Turmeric Latte? No problem).

salads and fishcake

One of my favourite features at Kindness & Co is that they don’t have a separate ‘kids menu’. It’s a particular bugbear of mine; lovely gastropubs, cafés and restaurants letting themselves down with the ubiquitous and pathetic sausage chips and beans/fish fingers chips and beans blah blah vomit. Kindness & Co are taking a stand and playing their part in the fight to change the status quo. Little people are like sponges, constantly influenced by everything around them, so it’s important to expose them to what adults eat, just in smaller portions.

choosing salads at Kindness & Co Cheltenham

Yeah, the space may be small, but this is a little gemstone in the heart of Cheltenham that I see as a game-changer. It’s well worth discovering for yourself.

Mrs FoodFitForFelix 

http://www.kindness-and-co.com/

38 Clarence Street, Cheltenham, 01242 697 211

KIBOU Sushi

Refreshingly friendly and attentive service, stunningly delicious Japanese cuisine and a cosy, boutique atmosphere – KIBOU leaves me thinking one thing: How have I not been here before!

Nestled in the heart of Cheltenham, down a few steps on Regent Street, you’ll find the most lovely little hideaway. My new happy place.

Expensive? Not really. Where else can you go for freshly prepared, beautiful sushi and sashimi? YoSushi? Pah; not in the same league – barely the same game!

I’d rather have just one perfect Nigiri than a hundred subpar imitations. Add into the mix a specials board, authentic Gunkan, Futomaki, Ramen and Temaki, and you’ll start to appreciate how it took us so long to decide what to order. Thankfully we had Sapporo and Kirin beer to grease the wheels. One thing I’ll order at every possible opportunity: Soft Shelled Crab. Heaven.

Japanese style tempura crab

 

Itadakimasu indeed!

With just 22 covers, make sure you book in advance.

KIBOUsushi, 18 Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HE – 01242300161

KIBOUsushi art

 

The Big Feastival

Last week we were lucky enough to visit The Big Feastival; a music and good food extravaganza of epic proportions. The brainchild of Jamie Oliver and Alex James of Blur fame, the event is beautifully colourful, refreshingly child friendly, and remarkably chilled out.  Hosted at Alex’s Kingham farm in the stunning Cotswolds, it’s only a short drive from Cheltenham and fortuitously across the road from the local railway station.

Felix @ Festival

Featuring multiple music stages and a plethora of delectable eating establishments, it’s like heaven in a field. My lovely wife even got to sit across a kitchen table from Raymond Blanc in one of the many talks, Q&A sessions and live demonstrations that ran throughout the event. What a way to spend a weekend. Alas we didn’t get to pitch a tent to make the most of the festivities, but thankfully there’s always next year!

We were all super impressed by the setup and layout – it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. It’s certainly a great introduction to a music festival for the younglings.

Felix & Winter

There’s just so much on offer that you find yourself wanting to graze all day. We had the joy of sampling what I have to say was the finest cheese toastie I’ve ever snaffled, crafted by the one and only Henry Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery. It’s inspiring to see something so humble elevated to gourmet heights through the introduction of a little love, thought and patience.

Winter eating a toastie

Felix and the Toastie

Hobbs House at the Big Feastival

The Feastival may be expensive, but in the scheme of things, you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. The Feastival attracts big names in music and equally big names from the restaurant scene and culinary arts. The fact that it raises money for the Food Foundation charity is the icing on the cake for me.

Would I recommend it? Hell yes! Highlight of the year.

Oh, and you might even spot a few celebs…

Jamie and Alex

Check out the website for further info: www.jamieoliver.com/thebigfeastival/

The Plough at Ford

The setting was fabulous, the architecture and décor transported me back in time and warmed my soul. The service really was wonderful and the food was reasonable. Local game (mostly in season) and homemade food, honest and well-proportioned.

The Plough

I liked it. But… what’s with children’s menus being so lame? I understand that you get fussy children that are fed rubbish most of the time and that restaurants want to cater for the masses, but it breaks my heart to see fantastic local Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages chucked on a sea of baked beans and piled high with nasty looking chips. #uninspired

I couldn’t even bring myself to photograph the plate.

Kids menus are equally important, and if we start to think about building good food habits and laying the foundations for our future generations… you can see where I’m going with this.

I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France as a child, eating out most of the time and experiencing a broad range of gastronomic delights. I’m fairly convinced that my views on food were forged during that time and led to my current fascination with all things edible. I don’t recall ever seeing a ‘kids menu’. We ate what our parents ate, and never questioned it; we didn’t know any different. Snails, fish on the bone, frogs legs, clams, wild boar…

Our children are adventurous when it comes to food, and it’s all down to getting in there early and sowing the right seeds in their minds. Most people don’t like the thought of eating, say, tripe. Urgh. How many of those people have ever actually even tried it? Do you think that maybe they’ve simply been influenced by those around them?

Back to the Plough, and needless to say, our 4 and 6-year-old tried the rabbit, venison and pheasant. No fuss, no complaints.

The weather was great, allowing the children to make good use of the awesome fort in their spacious beer garden. It’ll certainly be a destination for us in the future.

www.theploughinnford.co.uk

Felix

Breaking The Law

Jailbreak.  If you like beer and you’re anywhere near Baltimore or Washington, you should pay these guys a visit. So let’s set the scene. Nestled in Laurel and founded by Kasey Turner and Justin Bonner, Jailbreak is a relaxed, inviting and generally cool little bar. Actually, it’s rather spacious.  Most importantly, it’s an awesome microbrewery producing knock-out beers. Jailbreak Laurel

I love the fact that the bar looks straight into the brewery through a huge glass wall. This place is clean, calculated and professional, yet laid back and unpretentious.

Now here’s something I found interesting: craft beers in the US are predominantly canned. Their cans are lined, keeping the beer in great condition and preventing the metallic, ‘tinny’ taste provided you drink it from a glass. Cans have a bad reputation in the UK, with consumers associating them with lower quality and ‘park-bench-drinkers’. It’s cheaper than buying beer in bottles, and without venturing into the BPA debate here, I’d say that I’m all for switching; surely it makes sense for everyone? The positives really do stack up – the beer stays fresher, as unlike bottles the cans prevent light getting to it. Shipping and environmental costs are reduced, as cans are much lighter and less bulky – we all know that cans are easier to carry… I’ve smashed plenty of bottles en-route to picnics and parties; so much safer on camping trips. Impatient? The thermodynamic properties mean your beer will chill quicker in the fridge/ice bucket.

Jailbreak Brewing Co. beer

Jailbreak’s beers are quirky and exciting. For me, it was all about the Dusk till Dawn, an imperial espresso stout packing a 10.6% punch in the face. Key Lime Pale Ale anyone? What about a basil infused Belgian style wheat beer: ‘Made Wit Basil’? Clever. Check out jailbreakbrewing.com for further info.

Right.  So this is where it gets really interesting. Jailbreak stood out for me as their bar supports local food trucks. Now, in the UK, most people would turn their noses up at this point and conjure up images of dirty burger vans and the smell of fried onions. Think again. We’re talking the real deal. Jailbreak advertises which trucks are going to be parked up outside the front door each day, and even more astonishingly awesome, you place your order and they give you a pager to let you know when to pop outside and collect it. I’ve never known a pub to allow you to bring your dinner in and eat it at the bar.

Food TruckT&J Waffles fayreNaughty Chicken Waffles

As T & J Waffles had the prime spot, we went for Chicken Waffles (When in Rome…) and sampled the salmon for good measure. Good with beer? – how couldn’t it be.

To top off this visit, we got an impromptu brewery tour. I kid you not. Could this night get any better?

Touring Jailbreak Brewing Company

You Sir, are a Legend.

view of the bar from the brewery

A privileged view of Jailbreak Brewing Co. Bar

Did we hit a few beers and pick up a few more from the fridge to keep us going?  You betcha.

6-pack of Big Punisher

Funky carrier, but I’m sure our flimsy translucent ones must be better for the environment..? Discuss.

Keep up the good work Jailbreak – I can’t wait to be back in town.

YOU

Here’s the latest offering from Jamie Oliver – a neat social media app called ‘YOU-app’.

Its USP?  Mindfulness.

The concept is an application that provides you with ‘micro-actions’ to complete each day.  They’re straightforward and easy to complete, and above all, make you feel better about yourself.  They may be small, but the effects are cumulative and empowering; guaranteed to leave you feeling virtuous.  It’s all backed up with science!

You app image

Pinterest, 2 Facebook pages, Twitter, WordPress blog… I can’t even find the time to open an Instagram account.  Am I really going to post more pictures on yet another platform?  Initially I was thinking “I’d really like to hope so, but I’ll take some convincing”…  it’s been a week, and now I’m all over it.  I write a diary every day, and I can assure you that taking a snap, adding a sentence and posting it, is far quicker.

As a technologist, futurology tells me that my list of ‘daily technologies’ is only going to grow – so I wonder which of these will be the first MySpace, and cease to exist?  I predict mergers and takeovers as the public decide with their feet and the big players become increasingly ubiquitous.

Anyway.

Everyone requires a little encouragement, and the social aspect of this app genuinely motivates.  Imagine Pinterest, but with everyone posting under a common theme, sharing beautiful images, ideas and thoughts.

In summary, do I like it?  Yes.  Has it got legs?  It has, but I suspect that mass-uptake might be slow.  Did it need to be its own standalone application?  Maybe not..  I think I’d have been on-board simply subscribing to a Facebook page, but of course, not everyone uses Facebook (yet).  If anything, it’s a shame it’s limited to mobile platforms.

Give it a go and see how you feel (remembering that change rarely just happens overnight).  The overhead on your daily life is certainly worth the gamble.

Check out you-app.com.   The application is currently available for iOS, with an Android version due for release.

Faith Restored

The hunt for real food is top of my agenda every time I visit the USA on a work trip.

It never fails to shock me just how difficult it is to get hold of food and drink that isn’t highly processed and loaded with corn syrup.  Obviously America is a big place and I shouldn’t make such sweeping statements, but I’m usually confined to the big cities.

How do the locals manage it…?  Generally, they don’t.  Enough said.

The lack of healthy options is insane – hotel fruit bowls are too often ‘just for show’, and breakfast contains enough calories for an entire day.  Whole Foods is usually my saviour; we’ll make a beeline there to pick up supplies shortly after landing.

The standard diet in America hits me hard.  My teeth actually ache from all the sugar, and after a few days of Eggs Benedict and enough beef to march an army across the globe, the desire for anything even slightly green becomes insatiable. Maybe my metabolism would adjust after a few weeks/months.  I’m certainly not willing to test the hypothesis.

And then there’s the exception to my dietary principles…  Adventure.  Anything that’s both local and new is simply irresistible. So, after the misfortune of experiencing Chick n’ Ruth’s of Man v’s Food fame, all was looking fairly bleak until Cantler’s Riverside Inn stepped into the ring…

This place is a veritable oasis.  Reassuringly understated and refreshingly unpretentious, Cantler’s of Annapolis is exactly what it is: A Crab House.  In my eyes, the simple things tend to be the best.  No fuss.

Simple dining American Style

American Rustic

Given there were a few of us sharing a bench in the casual family atmosphere, we made the most of it and sampled an array of dishes, accompanied of course by cold local beers.

Oysters Riverside at Cantlers

Of all the oysters I’ve ever eaten, I can’t believe that I’ve never had them baked before.  These little bad boys were baked with horseradish, bacon, jalapeno and cheddar.  I should have ordered more.

Side salad and Drunk’n Mussels?  Go on then.

side salad

drunk'n mussles

And now for the main event.  I probably didn’t need to order both the King Crab and the Snow Crab whilst sampling the local Blue Maryland crabs, but hey, adventure!

Snow Crab and King Crab

Steamed to perfection and served with some rather large onion rings, coleslaw, Old Bay and fried green tomatoes (we are in America after all).

The Old Bay seasoning is a local Maryland delight traditionally made with paprika, celery salt, mustard, bay leaf, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper, cloves, allspice, mace, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom.

blue swimmer crabs

It’s all fairly healthy if you can resist the drawn butter with its nutty allure.

Now here’s a new one on me that I’ll be replicating this Christmas; ketchup laced with horseradish… stunning.

 horseradish ketchup

This place even has free docking for customers arriving by boat!  Well worth a visit if you’re ever in Annapolis, hell, if you’re ever in Maryland.  Top marks.

Have a look at http://www.cantlers.com for more info.  458 Forest Beach Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21409.