Scottish bar puts its vote on its sleeve

Publicans Jim and Suzanne McLaughlin are so keen to see a Yes vote on September 18 they’ve changed the name of their pub from Vespbar – to Yesbar.

And they’re confident the champagne corks will be popping in wee sma’ hours when Scotland decides its destiny.

Their confidence was boosted when within 24 hours of renaming their pub, it had become an internet sensation. They even had a visit from Hollywood actor Alan Cumming, star of The Good Wife and Cabaret, when he called in for a refresher and a chat.

"It’s been amazing" says Suzanne. "Twitter and Facebook went mad almost as soon as the new Yesbar signs went up. And since then people have been coming in droves to have a drink and congratulate us on the name change."

Jim, mine host of the popular retro bar in Glasgow’s Drury Street, says: ‘I’ve never really been very political before because, like a lot of people, I felt that my vote didn’t really count because most of the time in Scotland we end up with governments at Westminster that we haven’t voted for.

"But the referendum is different. This time every vote will count and that has got me buzzing with excitement. I’ve never been surer that a Yes this is an opportunity we simply cannot afford to pass up.

"So we wondered what we could do to show our support. And what better way than to change our name to Yesbar!"

Jim, who has run the city centre bar for the past three years, adds: "One of the great things about being in the pub trade is that you get to hear all the chatter. We tend to attract a younger clientele and there’s no doubt that people have become really engaged in the independence debate.

"Like me, they’ve made the effort to find out the facts. And like me, once they’ve done that they move to Yes."

Suzanne, who used to work for the Scottish Labour Party, says: "People need to understand that what we are doing on September 18 is not voting for a government. We are not voting for the SNP, Alex Salmond or any other party or politicians. What we are voting for is the chance to make our own decisions and to know that when we do come to elect a government we will as a nation be guaranteed to get the government we vote for."

The couple have not yet decided whether to revert to Vespbar after the referendum vote.

Jim says: "If it’s a Yes, and we’re confident it will be, maybe we’ll just keep the Yesbar name. It has a certain ring to it!"

Sheffield restaurant expands

Restaurant and Latin bar Cubana is toasting expansion success with a move into 5,800 sq ft premises in Leopold Square, Sheffield.

The tapas bar which serves up Spanish and South America cuisine, live music and dance classes, commissioned award winning lawyers hlw Keeble Hawson to acquire the lease of its new two floor premises, formerly occupied by Platillos.

Offering 120 covers, the commercial property triples the capacity of its former Trippet Lane premises where it has operated from since 2000 - hosting regular visits by legendary Cuban outfit, Buena Vista Social Club.

Owners Adrian Bagnoli and Brad Charlesworth and their team including head chef Fabian Cruz, have recreated the rustic style and authentic Cuban ambiance of their previous premises – and have exciting plans to bring in some of the UK’s top Latino bands for special one off events.

Adrian, a well-known Sheffield entrepreneur who co-founded Sheffield’s Viva Salsa! night club in the mid-1990s says: “The move to Leopold Square comes at a formative time in the business as we expand not just our square footage, but our offering - with the addition of a private function room, more DJ nights and dance classes.

“hlw Keeble Hawson did a great job in ensuring our lease progressed smoothly and on time and we enjoyed working with the firm on this momentous milestone.”

Craig Law, commercial property partner at hlw Keeble Hawson - one of the region’s biggest law firms with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster, says: “Cubana’s presence in Leopold Square will further enhance the area’s buzz and dynamism. The expansion marks a dynamic success story for the business as it goes from strength to strength.”

Ranked in the top 10 in Experian’s table of the most active advisers in Yorkshire’s mergers and acquisitions market during 2013, hlw Keeble Hawson is also included in Experian’s top 5 of most active legal advisers in Q1 of 2014.

The Saucy Fish Co. wins best fish award

The Saucy Fish Co. has won ‘Best Fish’ Award in Healthy Food Guide Food & Drink Awards 2014 for its bestselling Salmon with Chilli Lime and Ginger Sauce product – offering the best taste and nutritional value in its category.

The annual awards from the top consumer healthy food magazine recognise stand out nutritious products in the food and drink sector, as voted for by readers and a panel of food experts and dieticians.

One of Saucy Fish’s flagship products, Salmon Chilli Lime and Ginger is only 195 calories per serving, packed full of Omega 3 and is now sold in the USA and Australia.

This is the second consumer award for this product, after being awarded Gold for Best Ready Meal in Health & Fitness and Women’s Fitness magazines last year, beating off stiff competition from brands including Innocent and Kirsty’s.

Simon Smith, Head of Brand at The Saucy Fish Co. says: “It’s fantastic to receive recognition from health food industry experts. We all know fish plays an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and this award, in a competitive category with many nutritious products – really demonstrates the taste and quality of our products are second to none.”

The Saucy Fish Co.’s Salmon with Chilli Lime and Ginger costs £4.50 and is available at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado and Co-op stores nationwide.

The wider fish and sauce range includes:

• Tilapia with Mango & Chilli Dressing
• Sea Bream with Sunblush Tomato Dressing
• Seasoned Tuna with Soy & Sweet Chilli
• Salmon with Sunblush Tomato Dressing
• Salmon with Watercress and Rocket Sauce
• Sea Bass with Beurre Blanc
• Salmon with Chilli Lime and Ginger Dressing

Celebrating ten years ‘Inn’ service

Innserve, a UK drinks dispense service provider, is celebrating ten years as an independent company.

Based in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, Innserve employs over 550 people country wide and offers a full range of support services to well-known national and international brands in the drinks industry including Heineken, Carlsberg, C&C and Britvic.

Since launching in 2004, Innserve technicians have completed over 3 million visits to licensed and non-licensed premises, whilst the company’s Customer Service Centre currently receives over 700,000 calls a year.

Innserve also provides event and venue drinks dispense services. The company set up the bar services at the recently opened First Direct Arena in Leeds and provides technician support for bars at music festivals throughout the UK, including the Isle of Wight Festival and Edinburgh Festival.

Tom Bryan, director of strategy at Innserve, says, “Since being established in 2004, Innserve has continued to develop its services and knowledge base to now provide a comprehensive drinks dispense suite of packaged or individual services, delivering real value to its customers.

"We are proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary as the largest independent drinks dispense service provider in the UK and look forward to helping existing and future customers exceed their objectives in the coming years”.

Tom adds, “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all our employees for their hard work and dedication. It is thanks to them that we have reached this memorable milestone.”

European food suppliers reeling from Russian embargo

In reactions to US and EU sanctions against certain Russian goods, the Russian Government in Moscow has imposed a one year trade embargo on a number of specific farm and food products. The effects of which many suppliers across the EU are feeling most keenly.

With the Russian market accounting for a significant percentage of exports, the sudden ban has left many companies in situations where they have a large amount of stock that now needs to be sold to someone else before it rots. What’s worse is that suppliers are unlikely to be able to claim anything back from the Russian companies who have terminated their contracts – because it was due to forces outside those companies’ control.

For many however the loss of long term clients will be the worst aspect. Although the embargo is only planned to be in place for a single year, there is no guarantee the situation won’t worsen. What’s more even after the embargo is over the companies who have lost customers might face stiff competition from other suppliers. In the meantime Russia will no doubt be seeking more goods from Asian or African nations, which could end up replacing EU goods on a long term basis.

What is apparent though is that EU food suppliers affected by the embargo will need to step up their trade relations within the EU and to other continents they might not have entered before. The emphasis for the coming future might come back to “buying local.”

Contract catering firm scoops gold

East-Anglian contract catering firm Edwards & Blake are delighted to have won a Gold Food for Life Catering Mark Award for their catering at Neatherd High School, Dereham, Norfolk.

The Soil Association’s Gold Food for Life Catering Mark Award is presented to caterers who demonstrate they meet the high standards of provenance, quality and preparation and provide food that encourages pupils to eat healthy, fresh food on site.

By being an accredited Catering Mark holder, Edwards & Blake has made a key contribution to Neatherd High School becoming one of only four secondary schools in England to achieve the wider Food for Life Partnership Gold award, which acknowledges provision of quality food as well as cooking, growing and farm-linked education to pupils and the wider community.

Shirley Edwards, Managing Director of Edwards & Blake says: “We pride ourselves on offering extremely high standards to every school we work with, sourcing all produce as locally as possible and ensuring that a freshly-prepared, healthy meal is available to all pupils who take school meals. We have worked closely with Neatherd High School to develop menus and food that will encourage pupils to eat well and enjoy their food and we are delighted that we have both reached the ‘Gold’ standard”.

Rob Sexton, Chief Executive of Soil Association Certification, says: "The Gold Catering Mark is a fantastic achievement on this scale so it’s brilliant to see Edwards & Blake gaining recognition for serving great fresh meals made with seasonal, local and organic ingredients. Serving menus to Gold Catering Mark standards can significantly reduce carbon emissions and supports local businesses so this is a win-win for planet-friendly food and the local economy. Edwards & Blake is leading the way in the drive to improve food culture in the UK.”

Owned and managed by Shirley Edwards and Caroline Blake, the company is based in Swaffham in Norfolk. It looks after over 85 contracts and has over 500 staff. Edwards and Blake has a turnover of over £14m.

Chef urges growers to donate roots and shoots

Chef Tim Bilton of The Spiced Pear Hepworth has teamed up with the National Allotment Society, and is asking Yorkshire’s veg growers to donate their homegrown roots and shoots this month – so he can cook up a community feast for Harvest Festival on September 8th.

The Spiced Pear has teamed up with National Allotment Society to host the party in their 4 acre kitchen garden and restaurant, which will centre on a fabulous feast cooked up by Tim for all the contributing gardeners and locals.

The Yorkshire chef will create a feast made from fruit and veg grown on all 100 Kirklees sites – that’s over 1000 allotment plots in total!

Tim’s grow-your-own ethos was inspired by his training under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and since opening The Spiced Pear a year ago, his smallholding and garden has been his top priority.

“Local produce and growing-your-own has always been a personal passion of mine and I have loved working on my plot at The Spiced Pear," says Tim.

"I want to celebrate and promote the joys of growing your own and spread the allotment agenda! So, whether you want to show off your ravishing radishes, beautiful broad beans or stunning celeriac – we’d be delighted if you got involved and came to our party."

Di Appleyard from NAS, says: “We are very excited to have teamed up with Tim to emphasise the satisfaction of growing and eating your own tasty produce and promote the National Allotments Society; raising awareness of the social, cultural and health benefits that allotments provide helps the Society to get our message over to policy makers and government at all levels and protect sites for future generations to enjoy.”

If you’d like to donate your veg, get in touch with Tim at 01484 683 775 or drop it off at The Spiced Pear, Hepworth.

Classic Cuisine launches festive favourites

The festive period is a busy time for caterers and food outlets and that is why Classic Cuisine have gone to great lengths to...

Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker crowned Champion Beer of Britain

Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker has been crowned the 'Best Beer' in Britain at the Great British Beer Festival, Olympia, London.

The West Yorkshire brewed real ale was judged the Supreme Champion over a host of other finalists in 7 different beer categories (Bitters, Best Bitters, Strong Bitters, Golden Ales, Milds, Winter Beers, and the Speciality class), including beers from both small microbrewers and large regional brewers.

Nik Antona, Champion Beer of Britain Director, spoke in praise of today's winner, saying: “It is fantastic to announce Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker as the Champion Beer of Britain 2014. This full flavoured bitter is a modern classic that is as impressive today as the day it was first brewed.”

Head Brewer Peter Eells says: “I’m speechless. We work very hard to produce great beers and we really believe this is the best beer we can brew – so to have it acknowledged in such an important competition is absolutely fantastic.”

Managing Director Charles Dent adds: “We’re absolutely delighted. It’s our favourite, it’s the brewers favourite, it’s the beer that you drink if you’re drinking with us and it’s named after one of our favourites pubs – The Boltmakers.”

This year's Silver went to Oakham Citra, whilst the Bronze award went to Salopian, Darwin’s Origin.

All three of the beers are available at the Great British Beer Festival this week.

Overall winners-

Gold – Timothy Taylors, Boltmaker

Silver – Oakham, Citra

Bronze – Salopian, Darwin’s Origin

Mild category-

Gold – Bank Top, Dark Mild

Silver – Branscombe Vale, Mild

Bronze – Castle Rock, Black Gold

Bitters category-

Gold – Timothy Taylor, Boltmaker

Silver – Mighty Oak, Captain Bob

Joint Bronze – Flowerpots, Flowerpots Bitter & Sambrook’s Wandle Ale

Best Bitters-

Gold – Salopian, Darwin’s Origin

Silver – Red Willow, Directionless

Joint Bronze – Purity, Mad Goose & Langton, Inclined plain bitter

Golden Ales-

Gold – Oakham, Citra

Silver – Hawkshead, Cumbrian Five Hop

Bronze – Salopian, Hop Twister

Strong Bitters-

Gold – Church End, Fallen Angel

Silver – Blue Monkey, Ape Ale

Bronze –Loch Ness, HoppyNESS

Speciality Beers-

Gold – Saltaire, Triple Chocoholic

Silver – Offbeat, Way Out Wheat

Bronze – Peak Ales, Chatsworth Gold

Champion Winter Beer of Britain (from category winners announced in January 2014)-

Cairngorm, Black Gold (Stouts Category)

Dunham Massey, Dunham Porter (Porter Category)

Exe Valley, Winter Glow (Old Ales & Strong Milds)

Kinver, Over the Edge (Barley Wines & Strong Old Ales)

Champion Bottled Beer of Britain winners (Sponsored by Beer Hawk)

Gold – Marble, Chocolate Marble

Silver – St Austell, Proper Job

Bronze – Spire, Prince Igor Imperial Russian Stout

Bumper crop of gold stars for damson port from Yorkshire

Raisthorpe Manor Fine Foods proved to be good as gold as it picked up a hat-trick of gold stars for its new Damson Port, from the prestigious 2014 Great Taste Awards.

Raisthorpe Manor Damson Port is the first of its kind in the UK and the first Damson Port to win three gold stars at the awards, which are organised by the Guild of Fine Foods.

The Great Taste judges, who include Radio 2 resident foodie Nigel Barden, as well as the legendary Charles Campion and The Food Programme’s Sheila Dillon, said that Raisthorpe Manor’s port has ‘a gorgeous deep damson shade, lovely aromas of fruit skin with a hint of damson stone.’ They continued, ‘the palate is fabulous - pure, clear, simple in the sense of having great fruit clarity, yet complex from the hint of fruit stone. A wonderful balance of sweetness - just enough to carry the fruit flavours through to a glorious finish.’

According to Tortie Farrand, spokesperson at the Great Taste Awards, ‘being awarded 3-stars is a huge achievement. It means that the product has been blind tasted over and over again and that all the judges who taste it feel that the product is WOW.’ For a 3-star Gold Award, every single judge attending the session, which can be as many as 40 experts must unanimously agree that the food delivers that indescribable ‘wow’ factor.

Raisthorpe Manor’s Damson Port is the third unique product the Malton-based company has created, after coming up with the UK’s first Sloe Port and Sloe Sherry in 2010.

The port, made from locally grown damsons, was one of only 153 products out of 10,000 products entered, to win the coveted three gold stars at the 2014 awards. The exquisite drink is made from damsons collected annually, and by hand, by the Raisthorpe team from an orchard in Leavening, North Yorkshire.

Situated in Hockney country in the Yorkshire Wolds, owner Julia Medforth’s daily forage for fruit in the hedgerows on the Raisthorpe estate – and an ancient recipe from her grandmother – led her to hit upon the idea of making luscious fruit liqueurs. Today, Raisthorpe stays true to its original intentions, capturing an essence of Yorkshire in bottle.

“We pride ourselves on sourcing ingredients from the farms, fields and hedgerows in and around our 1,500 acre estate in Wharram, including sloes, damsons and raspberries. Because our product is packed full of fresh fruit, each batch can change minutely from season to season given different weather conditions, but we feel this brings the drinks alive in a way that fresh produce can only do – and we’re delighted the Great Taste judges felt the same,” says Julia. “We love the Yorkshire Wolds and our aim has always been to bottle a little of the place we love in our products.”

The Great Taste Awards are the largest and most trusted awards scheme for speciality fine food and drink, putting more than 10,000 products to the test with a panel of more than 400 experts including chefs, buyers, food writers and retailers.

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