Spotlight: Seven Hills Bakery

February 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Features, Made Locally | Leave a comment
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bread

Specializing in sourdough and long-fermented artisan bread, Seven Hills Bakery’s menu makes for mouth-watering reading (Apricot and Hazelnut loafs, Mixed Seed Sourdough made with sunflower, sesame, poppy and millet, Linseed Sharrow with buttermilk…) and it’s not unusual to see people queuing outside their shop in Sharrow Vale road and at their stall when they pitch up at Sharrow Vale market.

I spoke to baker and co-founder of Seven Hills Bakery, Matina Mitchell, to find out the secret to making bread that the people of Sheffield are willing to queue for, and what 2013 holds for the bakery.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, pre-Seven Hills Bakery?

Matina: I worked in the NHS in Wales as a planner and for local authorities. However I have baked bread at home since I was a student and got more and more interested in it. Three months in Berlin in an organic bakery convinced me that I wanted to make bread professionally, but also underlined that there was a big difference between baking at home and for a market.

What was the inspiration behind Seven Hills Bakery?

Matina: I have wanted to open a bakery for several years but knew that I couldn’t do it alone. How to meet the right people to bake bread with and start a small business? I met Laura and John at the School of Artisan Food and we decided that we should set up together. We’d had an amazing experience as students selling Welbeck bread at Nether Edge Market and after some research decided that Sheffield was ready for a new artisan bakery! After a year John decided to move on to do other things, so Laura and I have been the two partners since last October.

I’ve seen people queuing outside your shop before – what’s the secret to baking bread that people are willing to queue for?

Matina: You’ll have to ask our customers! But we strive to produce consistently high quality bread and cakes with first class ingredients. Maybe the secret is to make what you like to eat yourself!

Where do you get the inspiration for your recipes?

Matina: We read a lot of bread books and eat a lot of different artisan bakers’ breads! We take recipes but work on them ourselves and tweak things until we are happy with the taste and the consistency of the end product.

You make your bread using locally grown and milled flours, and much of your equipment was made my local tradesman. Why is it so important, that people support local businesses?

Matina: There is good evidence that money spent locally in locally based businesses revolves round the local economy more times than if the money is spent with a big multinational and therefore leaves the area. But there is also something very satisfying about having equipment that is made by people working in local firms. Tins and trays made by Invicta, moulding table made by Andrew Marsh. We currently use both the Yorkshire Organic Millers (YOM) based on the edge of the North York Moors and Shipton Mill (further away on the Severn estuary) for our organic flours. YOM produce stone ground flours from grain grown locally and we use the wholewheat in many of our loaves.

And finally, what are your plans for 2013?

Matina: We are hoping to extend our range of bread and cakes and start making pastries e.g croissants. We also got planning permission to open a cafe at the back of our shop in Sharrow Vale Road and we are working on getting that up and running in the next months.

You can find out more about Seven Hills Bakery at www.sevenhillsbakery.co.uk

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Spotlight: Foundry Coffee Roasters

December 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Features | Leave a comment
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foundry coffee

The great thing about Twitter is that it makes it easy to connect with local producers, cafes, restaurants and general foodie enthusiasts, which was how I came across Foundry Coffee Roasters a couple of months ago. After trying some of their locally-roasted beans, I’m happy to confirm that not only are they some of the friendliest people currently inhabiting the twittersphere, but their beans produce a cracking cup of coffee (you can read a short writeup here.)

To find out more about what makes the Foundry Coffee Roasters crew tick, I caught up with chief roaster Lee Newell to talk about the Third Wave, converting barbecues into coffee roasters and, of course, how to make the perfect cuppa.

Can you give us a quick intro to Foundry Coffee Roasters (FCR) How did FCR get started?

Lee: I’ve been engaged in a joyous search for great coffee for a good few years now. Sadly, there’s so little of the good stuff around that I have found myself spending a small fortune ordering beans from various artisan roasters on the web.

A couple of years ago, I decided to embark on a project to convert a barbecue into my own personal roaster (not quite as crazy as it sounds, loads of people in the US have done the same thing.) The idea was that I would source small quantities of green beans and roast them in my back garden, mainly for myself but also for a few friends. As I was designing the roaster, I started to read about the theory of coffee roasting and I got completely hooked. The combination of art, craft and science involved really appealed to me and it all became a bit of an obsession. I soon realised that if I was ever to move beyond the theoretical, I needed a real-life (and probably not hand-made) coffee roaster. A few conversations with a few like-minded friends and we decided to give it a go!

What do you feel makes FCR special?

Lee: It’s our absolute commitment to quality and the respect that we have for this wonderful ingredient. There is so much time, energy and care put into growing, processing, roasting and serving these very high quality beans, and we love being a part of that process. I also really love Sheffield. Growing up in a city with such a rich heritage of skilled and dedicated craftsmanship has definitely had a big impact on me and I’m driven by that same passion for transforming raw materials into something really special. That’s why we chose our name; we’re proud of our heritage and we want to bring the values associated with the steel and cutlery industry to our coffee roasting.

Your ‘Third Wave’ blog has a lot to say about how people’s attitudes towards coffee have evolved over the years. How do you see the coffee scene in 2012 – particularly the Sheffield coffee scene?

Lee: I think Sheffield is teetering on the brink of embracing the ‘third wave.’ It’s a pretentious sounding term but really it just means taking the next logical step, past the Starbucks/Costa thing and into a new coffee world where the beans are much higher quality, they’re only ever served fresh, and the drink is always delivered by someone who really understands how to get the very best out of the bean. Although there are one or two decent cafes in Sheffield, there are nowhere near enough and we are a bit behind other large cities in the UK in this respect.

This makes Sheffield a really exciting place to be right now. We are really looking forward to working with those local cafes who really want to focus on high quality drinks made with locally roasted beans. Coffee is often likened to wine in terms of the importance of varieties, the growing conditions and processing methods; but unfortunately it can, like the wine world, also feel intimidating for the newcomer. As a nation we are used to drinking over-roasted, poor quality beans in huge cups of badly heated milk and so what we offer is very different. It’s so rewarding when people taste good coffee for the first time, it’s a revelation but we also need to be mindful of the fact that it can feel risky for a cafe to move away from the traditional drinks that people have become accustomed to.

You opened in March this year, what has been the highlight of the past few months?

Lee: The last 9 months have been pretty full on for us. Our place in Nether Edge is fantastic but installing the roaster was really complicated. Getting everything working properly and dropping the first beans into the cooling tray was the first really exciting moment for me. A roasting course in London and an advanced barista course recently have also been highlights. Personally I love the fact that I learn something new every day. The coffee community is very warm and friendly for the most part and we’ve been lucky to get some really valuable help and advice along the way.

At your blog, you’ve written about how you enjoy introducing people to good coffee for the first time. What advice do you have, for people who are moving to beans from ground coffee, on how to make the perfect cuppa?

Lee: You can make good coffee in a cafetiere so you don’t need really expensive equipment. There are other inexpensive brewing methods, check out the Aeropress or the Hario V60, both of which can be had for less than £20. Anyone can dramatically improve the taste of their coffee by only ever grinding the beans immediately before brewing. Air is the enemy of freshness and ground coffee starts going stale within minutes so grinding regularly, especially for artisan roasted beans, is essential. If you’re going to invest any money, invest most of it in a grinder.

We’ve put a few brewing guides on our blog to help people get started but the real fun is in
tweaking things to get your coffee exactly as you like it. A couple of quick tips:

  • Use water that has boiled and then been stood for a minute or so.
  • A ratio of 30g of coffee to 500ml of water is a good place to start for most methods.
  • Store your beans in the bag with a rubber band around it and don’t put them in the fridge or freezer.

Finally, what are your plans for Foundry Coffee in 2013?

Lee: Other than the never ending search for really exciting coffee, we have a few things we’d like to focus on next year. We’re hoping to get into a few of the cafes that we really like and try to get our coffee out to a wider audience. We’ll go in and spend time with the barista, working together with them and their machine to ensure that they get the very best extraction from our beans. We are hoping to invite them down to the roastery so they get to see a bit more of the bean’s journey. I’d like to really focus on Sheffield and I’m completely confident that we will have a handful of cafes that can rival the best in the country, it’s a really exciting time.

I’m also keen to hook up with a competition barista or two; it’d be great to get our coffee in the barista championships. We’ve been using local markets to brew coffee for curious newcomers; I really love seeing people’s reaction and hope to do a lot more of that next year too.

You can find out more about Foundry Coffee Roasters at www.foundrycoffeeroasters.com

Spotlight: Real Ale Trails

December 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Features | Leave a comment
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REAL-ALE-TRAIL

Launched at Sheffield’s very own MADE Festival this year, Real Ale Trails is on a mission to introduce even more people to the wonders of Sheffield-produced real ale (not to mention that old favourite: a pie and pea supper!) by organising tours that take in some of Sheffield’s fantastic local breweries and pubs. We caught up with Real Ale Trails co-founder Austin Macauley, to find out what makes Sheffield the real ale capital of Britain and to get his recommendations on some of Sheffield’s top local pubs…

Can you give us a short intro to Real Ale Trails?

Austin: Real Ale Trails is all about building on Sheffield’s growing reputation for great pubs and local ales by making it easier for people to experience what the city has to offer. We take people around some of the best watering holes, sample lots of local ale and introduce them to people who have helped turn Sheffield into Britain’s beer capital.

What inspired you to create Real Ale Trails?

Austin: Every week there seemed to be something new happening in Sheffield – a pub brought back from the brink of closure and refurbished, new breweries opening, local ales winning awards. We just felt there was an ‘ale experience’ that could be created out of so many great pubs and breweries – and were surprised no one else was already doing it. Although things have improved, the UK still doesn’t make enough fuss about its real ale scene. If this was France the world would never stop hearing about it…

What can people expect when they join one of your tours?

Austin: A typical itinerary will involve a brewery tour, visits to 4 or 5 pubs across Sheffield, pie and peas at one of the stops, a drink at every stop along with lots of samples of local beer. Better still, it’s a trail with minimal walking – just hop on and off our mini bus at each destination. Perhaps when the weather’s better we’ll incorporate a bit more walking. It’s a great way to celebrate a birthday, unwind with colleagues on a works do, make new friends and network.

What do you think makes Sheffield such a great destination for the real ale enthusiast?

Austin: It’s the range of pubs and beers on offer. We’re fast reaching the point where it’s odd to find a pub that hasn’t got real ale on offer, and more often than you’ll find beer that’s locally brewed. There aren’t many (perhaps any) other cities that can say that. There are now something like 14 breweries in the city. It creates a snowball effect: the more people see local ale in pubs, the more they expect to see it (and demand it). All the breweries we talk to are flat out trying to keep up with demand.

As real ale enthusiasts, you must know your way around Sheffield’s pub scene! Can you recommend some little-known gems that we should be visiting?

Austin: They’re not exactly hidden gems and are known to many, but here are a few that don’t always get the plaudits they deserve: The Harlequin on Nursery Street; New Barrack Tavern on Penistone Road; The Blake Hotel in Walkley; and The Hillsborough Hotel.

And finally, what are you plans for Real Ale Trails in 2013?

Austin: Other than running as many tours as possible we’ll be adding new pubs and breweries to our growing list of destinations. We may even branch out to nearby towns and villages to see what they’ve got to offer.

You can find out more about Real Ale Trails at www.realaletrails.co.uk

Spotlight: Phoenix Catering

December 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Posted in Features | Leave a comment
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catering

Despite being fairly new to Sheffield’s food scene, I’d been hearing only good things about Phoenix Catering, particularly that they placed a real emphasis on sourcing their ingredients locally. Not only do they source their meat and salad products from Yorkshire farms, but they home-grow all the basil that’s used in their buffets and their puddings are provided by Sheffield’s very own brownie company #brownies.

I caught up with Phoenix Catering owner Sarah Dudhill to find out more about this fast-growing Sheffield-based catering company and, of course, to talk about the importance of supporting local businesses.

Can you give us a quick intro to Phoenix Catering?

Sarah: Phoenix Catering prepare and deliver buffet catering in Sheffield, Rotherham and Chesterfield. We mainly focus on corporate catering for events, conferences and meetings. However we also provide catering for personal celebrations and events.

How did Phoenix Catering get started?

Sarah: Previously I worked for a large coffee shop chain, dealing with existing corporate customers and increasing sales. From speaking with these customers, I found the chain wasn’t meeting their needs and neither were other suppliers.

As the chain didn’t want to make changes to satisfy customers I decided to do this for myself. I only started Phoenix Catering a few months ago, in August 2012 and it has surprised me how many customers have welcomed my ideas.

What do you feel makes Phoenix Catering stand out from other catering companies?

Sarah: My customers tell me that what makes Phoenix Catering initially stand out is the great value for money and wide variety of options they cannot get with other suppliers.

Once the customers have eaten our catering they have said the quality really stands out – the use of freshly cooked joints of meat and homemade sauces, dips, nachos, savouries, etc – instead of other businesses who buy everything premade, pre-cooked, pre-sliced. In fact the only time we buy any prepared items is when we cannot produce better ourselves, for example the brownies we use.

On your website, you say that you currently source at least 40% of your produce from Sheffield and a further 40% from within Yorkshire. Why is it so important to you, to use local suppliers?

Sarah: For Phoenix Catering it is very important to use local suppliers for many reasons, including environmental and being able to visit suppliers, see where products are made and build better relationships with them.

Using local suppliers also helps to reduce food miles and in turn reduces the carbon footprint, making food transportation more environmentally friendly. However the main reason is to support local economy, something everyone should be doing whenever possible.

Every time we buy something made locally, it effectively creates local jobs and job security and improves the local economy. The staff of these local businesses are more likely to spend their money in local shops and businesses and therefore, money is being kept in the community. If we weren’t to buy local products we could effectively be taking away local jobs and businesses and in turn, money out of the community.

And finally, what are your plans for the future?

Sarah: Phoenix Catering will build on its success in 2013. We will continue to exceed our customers’ needs and expand our business to more of Sheffield’s businesses. Phoenix Catering will also be providing packed lunches for stewards and security, for large events and festivals next year.

You can find out more about Phoenix Catering at www.cateringsheffield.com/.com/

Come Dine @ Mine

November 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Features | Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago we heard that St Luke’s were launching a new food-based funding initiative, ‘Come Dine @ Mine’ that aims to raise money for this fantastic local charity by getting people cooking for one another.

We caught up with Fran Morley, Community Fundraising Manager at St Luke’s, to find out more about Come Dine @ Mine, and how people can get involved….

Can you tell us more about Come Dine @ Mine?

Fran: Come Dine @ Mine is our exciting new initiative to encourage people to cook up a storm in the kitchen, hold their own amazing dinner party and raise money for St Luke’s all at the same time! We take the heat off you – we provide everything you need to get started (except the food!) with our specially designed CD@M pack which includes:

  • Tasty recipes from Nick, St Luke’s Head Chef
  • Top tips to get your dinner party off the ground
  • Party invitations
  • Guest place cards
  • Donation envelopes
  • Score cards

It’s so easy… Your guests enjoy a delicious home cooked meal at your house and in return they are asked to give a donation to St Luke’s. The donation represents the price they would have paid for the meal in a restaurant.

What was the inspiration for Come Dine @ Mine?

Fran: At St Luke’s we treat every patient as an individual, caring for the whole person, not just attending to their symptoms. That’s why it’s so important that we serve high quality, fresh food, chosen and prepared to suit the patient’s individual needs, with dishes and flavours they can really enjoy. With this in mind, we decided to create a fundraiser that encourages others to share our passion for serving the very best culinary delights.

Can you tell us a little more about St Luke’s Hospice, and the crucial work that you do?

Fran: St Luke’s provides dedicated specialist care and support for Sheffield people with life limiting and incurable illnesses, their families and carers – more than 5,000 people in all every year. All our services are provided completely free of charge. And we don’t just look after people at the hospice – our team of community nurses visit people all over Sheffield to provide specialist palliative care. Our focus is on adding quality to life when every day matters more than ever. But as an independent charity this means we need to raise more than £4m every year, just to keep doing what we do.

How will you personally be taking part in Come Dine @ Mine?

Fran: I am planning a special Christmas Come Dine @ Mine – but first I will need to pester our Head Chef Nick for some festive recipe ideas! At the moment I am thinking about a fancy dress theme for all of the guests, with a special prize for the best dressed, hopefully this will distract from my awful cooking.

Is there anything else we need to know about Come Dine @ Mine?

Fran: We’re currently in the planning stages for some exciting launch events, involving local food suppliers and bloggers, so watch this space for more information. If you’re a Sheffield foodie who would like to get involved, please email info@hospicesheffield.co.uk with your details and we’ll fill you in on our ideas so far.

How can people get involved in Come Dine @ Mine?

Fran: If you would like more information or to register to receive a Come Dine @ Mine pack simply call us on 0114 235 9554 or email info@hospicesheffield.co.uk with “Come Dine @ Mine” as the subject line.

We also have more information on our website www.stlukeshospice.org.uk/support_us/CDAM

Spotlight: Tamper Coffee

September 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Cafe, Features | 1 Comment

You may have noticed that I’m a bit of a fan of Tamper Coffee; Sheffield’s very own gourmet coffee shop on Westfield Terrace. If you’re not already in the know, Tamper Coffee serve up the best coffee in the city (made with super fresh Our Cow Molly milk, no less) alongside a selection of mouth-watering sweet treats, and some of the best smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels you’ve ever tasted (no exaggeration.)

After developing a full-blown addiction to Tamper Coffee’s ‘Kiwi classic’ flat white, we caught up with owner Jon Perry, to find out the story behind Sheffield’s top coffee shop.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, pre-Tamper Coffee?

Jon: I lived In Auckland New Zealand and worked within the coffee industry over there. My wife and mother are from Sheffield, so the UK was not unfamiliar to me.

What led you to open a New Zealand-influenced coffee shop, in the heart of Sheffield?

Jon: Setting up Tamper Coffee in Westfield terrace was very much unknown initially for us. Sheffield is hugely dominated by chains so to set up an independent coffee shop with a very New Zealand theme and influence was a risk, but we believed in our product and felt this type of offering was long overdue in Sheffield.

There’s no shortage of coffee shops in city centers nowadays, and Sheffield is certainly no exception – what do you feel makes Tamper Coffee stand out from the crowd?

Jon: I agree there are no shortage of chains in the inner city. Tamper is very customer focused, and we know our product well and are passionate about it. We try to create an environment where people feel comfortable and enjoy the experience.

You opened Tamper Coffee in Winter last year – how have the past ten months been for you guys? What’s been the highlight?

Jon: It’s been an enjoyable 10 months, hard work but hugely rewarding. We have enjoyed meeting with some amazing and talented individuals, but the biggest highlight is the people that come in and support us daily and weekly.

How does the ‘coffee scene’ in Sheffield and the UK, compare to New Zealand’s attitude towards the coffee shop?

Jon: There is a real cafe culture in New Zealand and the standard of coffee is very high. Independents rule because they stand for quality and consistency. Coffee shops are a very social environment to meet family and friends. The UK produces some great coffee shops and some of the best coffee, but the majority still feel coffee should be served in a oversized cup and boiling hot. The more people experience good coffee through independents, the standard will change for the better.

Learn more about Tamper Coffee at http://tampercoffee.co.uk/

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