Suspended Coffee Sheffield

Help people in need get a free hot drink

This week you may have read about the concept of Suspended Coffee. Richard Hennessy explains a bit more about it and why he is trying to get this up and running in Sheffield:

The idea is that independent coffee shops in Sheffield allow people to buy a suspended coffee which is either kept ready waiting for them in the shop or a voucher is given which you then pass to a homeless person.

This way the homeless person gets a drink when they want one, people can give something to a homeless person if they are in a rush and don’t want to give money, the local coffee shops sell the tea/coffee (Americano) at £1 so they make a little money (but not an extortionate amount) and more money is invested back into the local economy.

It is an idea that came out of Italy originally I believe but it is taking hold around the world and I am trying to give the idea a foot hold in Sheffield.

Giving a coffee (or tea!) to someone means so much more than just warming them up…it shows you give a monkeys which could make a big difference. Handing over a voucher for a brew or a sarnie is also a great opportunity to start a conversation with a homeless person. Ask a couple of questions and you might gain a deeper understanding of some of the issues affecting the homeless/poor.

Piccolo Sandwich bar on London Road has already pledged their support for the scheme. Could you approach your local coffee shop do the same?

You can get in touch with Richard or find out the latest on Suspended Coffee Sheffield via their Facebook page and @suspendedsheff on Twitter.

Pinstone Street, the home of Sheffield’s independent fast food

The one good thing to come out of the Sevenstone delay?

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

Fanoush Falafel and the Street Food Chef

As we wait to find out what the latest talks between the council and Hammerson mean for Sheffield’s Sevenstone retail quarter, an independent food revolution is quietly happening in town.

Pinstone Street is one of the key roads on the edge of the proposed development. In anticipation of demolition and construction work beginning many of the old shops closed down or moved to alternative locations, leaving a depressing row of empty units.

Not for long though. The good news is that a growing number of tasty food outlets have moved in and are breathing life into the vacant shops on Pinstone Street.

The award-winning Street Food Chef arrived first, serving up Mexican street food from tacos, burritos to empanadas. Their breakfast burritos are delicious.

Flurt frozen yoghurt in Sheffield

Flurt frozen yoghurt on PInstone Street

Then Flurt opened a few doors up, offering fat-free frozen yoghurt. A perfect pudding if you’ve got room after your lunchtime burrito.

And this morning Claire from Feast and Glory revealed that Fanoush Falafel is opening next door to the Street Food Chef. Fanoush already have a shop on London Road so it is great to see them opening in town.

What all three of these outlets have in common is that they are independent businesses, offering an alternative to the food chains that you can find in any city. The food is fast, tasty and relatively healthy. They’re definitely worth supporting.

It’s ironic that without Sevenstone these great food outlets may not have opened at all on Pinstone Street. Perhaps the growth of these businesses points to the approach we should take for a city centre retail quarter: if you create favourable terms for people to take on shops in good locations then local, independent businesses can flourish, even alongside the big chains. The city centre needs both.

Make the most of these foodie gems while you can, as a green light for Sevenstone could mean the end of these independent food outlets in prime city centre locations.

Five festivals not to miss this autumn in Sheffield

I love the summer in Sheffield but apart from during big events like Tramlines, the city can seem quiet during July and August. Then the holidays come to an end, the students return and before you know it, Sheffield has become home to a run of festivals stretching well into November. Here’s a round up of what’s going on:

Sheffield Food Festival

14-16 Septembersheffieldfoodfestival.org

This three-day festival has moved from July and is now slimmed down from a full week in 2011. There is still lots going on this year, with a themed menu of city centre events for all the family including demonstrations, tastings, workshops and of course an opportunity to gorge on lots of delicious local food and drink.

Don’t miss: The Sheffield Breweries Co-operative (Peace Gardens, Friday 14-Sunday 16 September) Your chance to meet the brewers and drink the beer from nine of our local breweries in a Peace Gardens marquee. Have all our best-loved Sheffield beers ever been available under one roof before?

Festival of the Mind

20-30 September | sheffield.ac.uk/fotm

This new festival hosted by the University of Sheffield could prove to be one of the stand-out events of the year (I should mention that I have some involvement with it though so I am probably a bit biased.) Sheffield’s creative community and academics from the University are coming together to put on over 50 events. There are some intriguing and wonderful collaborations, including Do It Thissen, a celebration of Sheffield’s post-punk music scene, 50 Ideas for Sheffield and virtual art gallery Computer Love.

Don’t miss: The Arrivals Zone. The brilliant Sheffield Publicity Department hosts a dream tourist information kiosk outside the train station in Sheaf square. Expect more than just leaflets about our galleries and museums.

The Last Laugh Comedy Festival

2-30 October | lastlaughcomedyfestival.co.uk

Toby Foster is going solo with this year’s comedy festival and it is now known as the Last Laugh Comedy Festival instead of Grin Up North. You probably won’t notice too much difference though: it’s the usual programme of comedy, from performances fresh from Edinburgh to full-blown arena shows.

Don’t miss: My friend who went to Edinburgh this year recommends Pappy’s sketch troupe, nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award this year (12 October, The Greystones) and the excellent storytelling standup Elis James who is charming, engaging and above all, hilarious (19 October, The Lescar).

Octoberfest

11-13 October | bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/200811octoberfest.html

South Yorkshire seems to be getting its fair share of BBC events this year, what with The One Show in a very wet Endcliffe park last month, Richard Hawley’s Magna show on 6 Music this weekend and now Radio Five Live is popping over the Pennines for a weekend of events and live broadcasts. Radio Sheffield is involved and the press release says we can expect ‘an eclectic mix of news and sport programming, audience debates and interactive activities in venues across the city’.

Don’t miss: A live audience broadcast of Fighting Talk.

Off the Shelf

13 October-3 November | offtheshelf.org.uk

At 21 years old, is this the oldest festival in Sheffield that is still running? This festival of words includes the usual mix of more well-known faces (Richard Wilson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Stuart Maconie, Peter Hook and Simon Armitage) and topics closer to home (Tracing the Sheffield Jungle, A Sheffield A-Z, Sheffield Stories, Big Sky – Stories from the Edge).

Don’t miss: Praise or Grumble with SRSB. Did you know the radio football phone-in was invented in Sheffield? Or more accurately, by legendary former Radio Sheffield sports editor Bob Jackson, as he lay sunbathing one summer in Cyprus? The Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind’s Mappin Writers host this event with Bob as guest speaker (Saturday 27 October, 2pm, 5 Mappin Street).

And there’s more

There are also some other festivals taking place over the next couple of months in Sheffield including the fourth Celluloid Screams horror film weekend at the Showroom (26-28 October) and the MADE Entrepreneur Festival (19-21 September).

Although there isn’t too much overlap between the festivals I’ve mentioned, they do seem to be tightly packed over a few weeks. Would it be better to move one or two of them to the spring instead?

Our Cow Molly and Sheffield Honey Company video

Welcome to Sheffield, land of milk and honey

This film from @russellcavanagh takes you behind the scenes at The Sheffield Honey Company and Our Cow Molly milk and ice cream.

Watch it to find out the important role that our local, independent food businesses play in Sheffield’s economy and community.

You’ll also see Eddie from Our Cow Molly explain just how fresh their milk is – and why he turned down an offer from Spar to stock their ice cream.

Eat Sheffield 2011 award winners

This year’s results

Last night the 2011 Eat Sheffield awards took place in the Winter garden and St Paul’s Mercure hotel. The winners were:

The Eat Sheffield Restaurant of the Year
The Devonshire Arms

Green and sustainable award
Silversmiths

Newcomer
The Wig and Pen

Our Cow Molly milk bottle

Our Cow Molly milk

Sheffield food hero
Ed Andrews from Our Cow Molly

Food outlet
Street Food Chef

Family outing
Endcliffe park cafe

Traditional pub
The York

Gasto pub
The Devonshire Arms

Asian/oriental
Hui Wei

Indian
Aagrah

Italian
Nonnas

European
La Mama

British
Silversmiths

Cafe
Fusion

What do you think, are these winners deserving of their awards? Or was your favourite restaurant, pub or cafe overlooked?

There’s more about the Eat Sheffield awards in this news release from Sheffield Hallam university and you can see some more pictures from last night on the @eatSheffield Twitter feed.

Eat Sheffield awards 2011

Eat Sheffield awards 2011

Sheffield 365 project and Sheffield craft city

Upcoming Sheffield photo and craft exhibitions

Two exhibitions launch next month, one marking the end of a great photography project and the other heralding the start of a new arts and craft showcase.

The Sheffield 365 project saw photographer Luke Avery taking portraits of Sheffield people at different locations around the city on each day in 2010. You can read more about the project in this interview with Luke that I did after the project had come to an end.

You may have seen some of the photos on display in one of the empty shops on the Moor earlier on this year. The good news is that all 365 photos are to be displayed at the Workstation on Paternoster row in an exhibition next month.

The free Sheffield 365 project exhibition launches on Wednesday 4 May (6-9pm) and runs until 31 May.

And the night after, on Thursday 5 May, Sheffield craft city launches its first exhibition at PJ Taste on Glossop road. It has been set up as a rolling showcase for work from the local arts and craft scene.

The opening exhibition includes contributions from:

  • James Green, linocut and etching print specialist
  • Lianne Mellor, tea ware with a contemporary feel
  • Jessica Flinn, maker of handmade modern jewellery using traditional metalwork techniques
  • PJ taste, providing support, sustenance and creativity with locally sourced food

The artists’ work will be on show at PJ taste from the 6 May, with a launch party from 6pm on the 5 May. The event is free but ticketed.

Tickets for Sheffield craft city launch

Sheffield craft city launch

Sheffield craft city launch

Cook along with the Milestone

Live webcast at 7pm on Friday

On Friday night, chefs from the Milestone are doing a live cook-along from Meadowhall.

The idea is that you buy the ingredients for Fish pie with pipérade beforehand and then at 7pm, have a go at putting the dish together as you watch on the web at www.meadowhall.co.uk.

They’ve listed the ingredients you need on this recipe card (PDF, 1.1MB) and also the kitchen utensils (PDF, 487KB) you’ll require. You’ll be able to ask questions as you go via a web chat.

Head chef Simon Ayres will also be creating the dish for spectators and answering questons in the food court throughout the day.

Bradfield farmers’ market and the Our cow Molly farm

Bees, beers and bovines in Bradfield

North west of Sheffield lies a community which is making a bit of a name for itself with the production of local food and drink. Bradfield and neighbouring village Dungworth are home to some of the city’s best known local producers and on Saturday I popped up to Bradfield farmers’ market to catch them all as they gathered under one roof.

Bradfield farmers’ market

Bradfield village hall and green

Bradfield village hall and green

I’ve not been to Low Bradfield before, which is where the monthly market is located. The last couple of markets have coincided with snowy weather but today it is fine, which makes the drive up through the countryside on the edge of Sheffield even more pleasant. In the spring sunshine the village looks very picturesque, nestled in among the hills with a pub, village store and central green area.

The market is held in a modern village hall building. There are around fifteen exhibitors selling products such as beef, pork, milk, pies, chicken, ice cream, fruit, vegetables, beer, cheese, bread, honey, wax products, cheesecake, jams and cakes. Other items on sale include soap, bird feeders and fire wood. Refreshments are also available from a cafe.

Cheese

Cheese

At places like this, half the fun is going around each stall and enjoying the free tasters. Although that isn’t to say that all the food is overpriced.

For example, the cheese (three for a fiver) is comparable to what you might pay in a supermarket plus you can pick up a dozen eggs for £1.70. And of course you know you are getting good products as well as supporting independent producers.

The major Bradfield and Dungworth names in attendance include the Sheffield honey company, Our cow Molly ice cream, Bradfield brewery and Bradfield meats.

Sheffield honey company candles

Sheffield honey company candles

The Sheffield honey company has been around a couple of years now and as well as producing various types of honey (my favourite being the one with a vanilla pod in it) they now sell other beeswax products such as candles. You can now even buy a block of straight honeycomb which is supposed to be delicious melted on toast.

Production of the tasty Our cow Molly ice cream grew out of a dairy farm set up in 1947. In 2007, with the value of milk plummeting, they decided to diversify and the Our cow Molly brand was born. You are more likely to see it on sale in north or west Sheffield, although the Crucible and Lyceum stock it so make sure you try some as your interval snack next time you go.

Bradfield brewery beers

Bradfield brewery beers

Bradfield brewery beers are already all over Sheffield and can also be found further afield. I think their most popular beer is probably Farmer’s blonde, which I would recommend. They all have Farmers in the title though so are pretty easy to spot and are available in bottles and kegs as well as on draught.

Lambing season at Our cow Molly

Laden with local produce, we decide to head back to Sheffield. We’d been given stickers at the market which entitled us to a freebie from the Our cow Molly ice cream shop, so can’t resist calling in on the way home.

It is a great time of year to visit Cliff House Farm in Dungworth, the home of Our cow Molly. The weather is finally warming up and lambing season is here, which means there is plenty on view.

Our cow Molly lamb

Our cow Molly lamb

I last came to the farm for their big bonfire in November, which was great fun. On pulling up in the car park we are greeted this time by a lamb and its mother. There are also new born calves and goats to see, as well as cockerels, rabbits and of course cows.

Eddie the farmer is currently giving short tours of the lambs and their barn, and although we had just missed one, he is more than happy to take us round and talk to us about his livestock and the meat, milk and ice cream they produce.

Children are enjoying the animals and of course the prospect of finishing off our visit with an ice cream in the parlour is a treat for everyone.

Our cow Molly lambing tours: weekends in March and April, 11am and 3pm

Bradfield farmer’s market: upcoming dates

Sheffield: land of milk and honey on the culture vulture by Lucy Harper

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Eat Sheffield 2010 award winners

Independents versus chains in Sheffield

In case you have missed it, the winners of the 2010 Eat Sheffield awards are:

The Eat Sheffield Restaurant of the Year (judged category)
The Milestone

Favourite Family Friendly Food Operation
Endcliffe Park Café and Our Cow Molly Ice Cream Parlour

Favourite Gastro Pub/Bar Dining
The Milestone

Favourite Café/Deli
Fancie

Favourite Theme restaurant
Cubana

Favourite British/Modern European
Silversmiths

Favourite Italian/Mediterranean
Ego

Favourite Indian
Kashmiri Aroma

Favourite Asian/Oriental
Wagamama

Best Local Produce Menu (judged category)
Silversmiths

Sheffield Food Champion (judged category)
Amanda Perry, Fancie

Best Newcomer (judged category)
Lokanta

When I heard rumblings on Twitter last night that Wagamama had won the best Asian/Oriental category, I was a bit disappointed that the winners might be mainly chain restaurants, which would reflect badly on the city’s restaurant scene.

However, if I’m not mistaken, only two chains were crowned winners last night (Wagamama and Ego), with the rest being local, independent businesses. But thinking about it – and given that many of the awards are voted by the public – why shouldn’t a chain win an award?

Sheffield is a proudly independent city and I’d much rather we were home to stunning local restaurants in every category, but the truth is we still have some way to go. So if anything I hope the results of this poll spur on city restaurants to up their game even more and prove to the public that the food they produce really can compete with the biggest names out there.

Of course a chain like Wagamama is helped by the clout of being an international name, with no doubt a marketing budget to match. But the majority of last night’s results also confirm what we already knew, that Sheffield people love Sheffield names. So there is an opportunity there for the independent restaurants to grab.

I think a good restaurant scene in a city needs both independents and chains as part of its offering. Some people like a chain, as they know what they’re getting, can offer good food and also can be great value for money.

But we also need our independents to give Sheffield something distinctive. In turn, this keeps more money in the local economy through direct revenue for the owner and also supporting local suppliers.

What do you think – would a Eat Sheffield 2011 winners list that was 100% full of independent, local businesses be a triumph? Or would it show that we are inward looking and content to live in our Sheffield food bubble?

Fancie cupcakes: behind the scenes

Inside the Sheffield Fancie bakery

Chocolate Fancie cupcakes

Chocolate Fancie cupcakes

The other day I had the pleasure of an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Sheffield’s favourite cupcake company, Fancie.

Fancie is only a young business. In just two years it has quickly become one of the city’s most recognisable and loved names in food.

Prior to Fancie, there wasn’t much in the way of gourmet cupcakes in Sheffield. They have created a market for their product and now bake over 4,000 cupcakes a week in their modest Sheffield 7 base.

A Sharrow vale road shop opened in April last year and an outlet in the Winter garden followed earlier in 2010. Two more stores are due to open this year, the first in Sheffield university’s refurbished student’s union just in time for fresher’s week.

So what is the Fancie bakery like? It you’re expecting it to be lavishly decked in the trademark pink then you’re wrong. The only clue from the outside that we’d arrived at the right place was the small http://www.fancie.co.uk in the window.

Fancie window

Fancie window

Inside there is a small office, the main preparation area and a store cupboard.

We meet the proprietor Amanda who ushers us in and starts to show us round. We’d arrived at 9:30am but the five or six people busily attending to various stages of the cupcake-making process have been working since five that morning.

The Fancie factory

The Fancie bakery

The Fancie team look as if they are nearing the end of the cooking process and the fruits of their labour are indeed on show.

Trays of cupcakes

Trays of cupcakes

Adjacent to these trays is a personalised order which is half way through being prepared. These special orders account for about 15% of the business, the rest being standard cupcakes sales.

Personalised cupcake order

Personalised cupcake order

We’re then left to explore the rest of the bakery and see how the Fancie cupcakes are made. Although the process is what you would expect, seeing the craft behind something you know well is still interesting.

First of all, the sponge mix is created and then pumped into the waiting bun cases.

Chocolate bun mix

Chocolate bun mix

There are plenty of flavours on offer, and each batch is labelled before it is baked in the oven.

Pumping and labelling the flavoured sponge mix

Pumping and labelling the flavoured sponge mix

Filled bun cases

Filled bun cases

A good cook always tests their recipes as they go along.

A cheeky test of the baked sponge

A cheeky test of the baked sponge

The cupcake filling is added: for example jam for the Victoria cupcakes or peanut butter for Snickerlicious, Fancie’s biggest seller.

The sponge filling is added

The sponge filling is added

The icing is then mixed and generously pumped onto the cupcakes to create the thick Fancie topping.

Pumping the icing

Pumping the icing

None of the icing is wasted. When all the lighter colours have been applied to cupcakes, the spare icing is mixed together and combined with cocoa to create  the chocolate icing.

The chocolate icing is made from unused light-coloured icing

The chocolate icing is made from unused light-coloured icing

The toppings are then put on. Judging by the contents of the store cupboard, they won’t be running out of coloured sprinkles soon.

Fancie store cupboard

Fancie store cupboard

Decorated cupcakes

Decorated cupcakes

The finished cupcakes are then stored in crates until the delivery van arrives to take them to outlets in Sheffield and Leeds.

Crated cupcakes

No prizes for guessing the whereabouts of the two missing cupcakes...

The hard work wasn’t quite finished there though…there was first the washing up to do.

Washing up

Washing up

After looking round we washed down our cupcakes with a cup of tea and had a chat with Amanda in the office.

I asked her about the background to Fancie and her setting up here. She was born in Cornwall and worked as a pastry chef in the Lake district before moving to Sheffield. An alarming fact was that the choice of city to move to was completely random; she literally stuck a pin in the map. So it would have been possible for another town or city to be the home of Fancie, which seems hard to imagine now.

However, Amanda’s passion for Sheffield is clearly evident and she would be the first to say that being based here is a big part of what makes Fancie the company it is.

The fast growth of her business and the numerous outlets that sell her cupcakes show that Amanda has ambitions for Fancie. But the PR trips to London to raise the company’s profile are not what motivates her and her dream isn’t to see Fancie cupcakes in every supermarket in the land.

Instead she is happy to build the company up so it doesn’t become another supplier both driven and bullied by the big supermarkets. The people enjoying her cupcakes are happy to pay for them knowing that they are made fresh, locally and by an independent producer, and she is in no hurry to ramp things up on an industrial scale.

Being considered a treat product obviously hasn’t done Fancie any harm in the current recession. And the occasional special flavours are giving people excuses to keep coming back for more: I can personally vouch for the goodness of the butterscotch one.

The success of the business hasn’t gone unnoticed, with at least two other gourmet cupcake companies springing up in Sheffield.

For now though Fancie is still the number one, and remains one of Sheffield’s culinary treasures.

Amanda in the Fancie office

Amanda in the Fancie office

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