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Cumbrian breweries are thriving
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Monday, October 26, 2009 1:54 PM
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The Cumbrian microbrewery scene has been thriving, to say the least, for the past decade or so, and continues to do so, with some of our local ale producers doing well in CAMRA's (Campaign for Real Ale) recently announced yearly awards. Well done to the Great Gable Brewing Company over in Wasdale for their Champion Beer of Britain Silver Medal award for Yewbarrow in the 'Real Ale in a bottle' section. This brewery is located at the top of Wastwater in one of the most stunning settings of any pub in the Lakes - so now there are at least two very good reasons to visit; the great landscape and the great ale. Other Cumbrian brewed beers in the CAMRA finals were: Dent Rambrau (Speciality beers) Jennings Bitter (Bitters) and Cumbrian Legendary Ales Loweswater Gold (Golden Ales)
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Ambitious new food festival in Kendal
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Monday, October 26, 2009 1:42 PM
For the entire half term week (Oct 24-31), a new and very promising food event, Kendal Festival of Food, is taking place in and around Kendal. Organisers say the purpose of the event is to get people to visit local producers, taste local food and buy local products, and they seem to have managed to get almost every food producer, shop and eatery involved in the activities. There is a fabulous 20 page programme which can be downloaded. Here are some top suggestions for those who are looking for food activities:
• Low Sizergh Barn will have food tastings on during the weekdays from 10.30am to 3.30pm with some of the shop's favourite local producers offering tastings of their products.
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• The Watermill Inn and Brewery in Ings will have 16 Cumbrian beers on the bar all ...
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Don't miss Apple Day in Cumbria
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Monday, October 12, 2009 3:06 PM
Apple Day is an event across the country, and there is much to do around this date, October 21, all over Cumbria as well.

On Sunday October 18, at Acorn Bank Garden & Watermill, the National Trust organises its big yearly apple celebration, with activities for all the family. There are apple games for the children (small and big!) including bobbing, bowling and longest peel competition. There are also apple surgeries, identification and pruning demonstrations with the Northern Fruit Group and apple tasting.

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For foodies, it's a great day out ...
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Gorgeous free range Saddleback pork
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Sunday, October 04, 2009 11:52 AM
Actually, I originally came up with this recipe for some wild boar shoulder I bought from Sillfield Farm at the Westmoreland Show a few weeks ago, but it works just as well for pork – as long as it has plenty of flavour! Which of course happens when the pigs are allowed to grow at their natural rate and eat proper food. As is the case with the Free Range Rarebreed Saddleback pigs from Bridgefield Farm and whose pork is sold at Plumgarth's Farm Shop.

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I bought an 1.5 kilo boned, rolled shoulder of this delicious pork. I made a rub of olive oil, garlic, dried sage, (plenty of) crushed juniper ber ...
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New stone baked loaves from Staff of Life
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:05 AM
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Local favourite artisan baker Simon Thomas, of the Staff of Life bakery, has greatly expanded his capacity and range by converting a listed former Smokehouse in Kendal into a new bakery with a fantastic 25 tonne wood fired brick oven. The oven reaches as much as 450° C when it is first heated up, according to Simon. "We pile wood to the top of the fire box to start out and after only 3 or 4 minutes of burning we have to put more wood in again".

The impetus to set up the new bakery came when regional food and drink store chain Booths wanted to sell more Staff of Life bread than what they were already taking from Simon's exi ...
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Sharrow Bay head chef moves to Harvey Nick's – for a week
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Monday, September 21, 2009 2:45 PM
It seems Sharrow Bay has struck up a lasting culinary relationship with Knightsbridge top shop Harvey Nichols. Head chef Mark Teasdale heads south at the end of this week to show well-to-do Londoners what Cumbria can offer on a plate. This is what the press release said:

"Sharrow Bay has once again been picked to showcase its Michelin star cuisine at the prestigious Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor restaurant in Knightsbridge as part of the British Food Fortnight celebrations. Running from Friday 25th September to Thursday 1st October, Sharrow Bay Head Chef, Mark Teasdale, will be joining Fifth Floor Executive Chef, Jonas Karlsson, in the Harvey Nichols kitchens.  Using the best of Cumbrian produce, they will display their own distinctive style of cooking through a range of collaborative menus especially created for the occasion.  The menus will feature some of Sharrow's signature dishes, such as, their sell-out dessert from last year; the world famous stick ...
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September is Damson Time!
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Thursday, September 17, 2009 12:38 PM
There are few crops that do really well in the Cumbrian climate and geography, but the damsons grown in the Lyth and Winster Valleys are a notable exception. These are part of the plum family, but smaller and with a distinctive tart flavour. In September the fruit is ready for harvest, and you can buy fresh damsons straight from the farms. Damsons came to Britain with the Romans - you often find damson trees around sites of Roman camps.

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Today damsons are popularly used to make damson gin, and each farm makes it for their own use. At Cowmire Hall in Winster Valley, Victoria and Oliver Barratt produce and sell a damson gin with fruit from their own orchard. The damsons are steeped in cane sugar and then added to gin, blended specially for Cowmire Hall. This ruby ...
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Great food at Westmoreland Show
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Thursday, September 10, 2009 8:00 PM
How lucky were the organisers – the first stunningly beautiful day for yonks. Unsurprisingly, the sun brought the crowds...and it took me two and a half hours to get from Low Sizergh Barn to the show car park. Never mind, it was a great day, and the food marquee was buzzing.

Newcomer Kendal Cordials here - Mike and Helen Hindle produce a variety of cordials out of their home...I tried the Lime and it was gorgeous. Give these guys a try when you get a chance. We'll come back with more info when we have it.
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Some of the other usual suspects...Gerald Fowler of the Chilli Pepper Company, encouraging some young foodies to give his hot stuff a try. In ...
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Keep an eye out for a great new delivery service – for local food!
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:00 AM
It's been almost two years in the making, but in the next few weeks beelocal will start what promises to be a great online shopping and home delivery service for local food – out of Kendal. I met the brain behind the company, David Redmayne, at the Westmoreland Show today, and he was happy to tell me that this clearly quite complex venture is now ready to take off. David has signed on 14 local food producers (so far), who have all installed the beelocal software. This basically means that you will be able to shop online from any of these producers, all from the www.beelocal.co.uk website, and get your food delivered the very next day.
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Living in Grasmere, which isn't really near any good farm shop, we are very ex ...
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Cumbria's meat production is sustainable
Cecilia's blog By Cecilia on Thursday, September 03, 2009 12:17 PM
It's with great interest I am watching the Future of Food series currently running on BBC 2. In episode 2 George Alagiah investigated meat production and how it can be done in a sustainable way, rather than cause the depletion of natural resources, notably water and oil. A key issue is that the cattle should feed on grass rather than on grain, which could be used for human consumption.

The programme made me particularly happy to live in this region, because of course most of Cumbria's meat is produced exactly according to these principles. Take the Herdwick sheep reared at Yew Tree Farm in Coniston for example.

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These sheep are outside all year round, and do not require any extra feed – only what the rough terrain on the fells provide. Jon ...
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