FOOD lovers are in for an Easter treat when the Cowgate hosts the Capital’s newest festival this spring.
The Old Town Street Food Festival, held in The Three Sisters courtyard, will feature pop-up eateries Smokey The Bandit, Pink Taco and Big Al’s Chicken Shack.
DJs and bands will also be on the menu to create a party atmosphere, with acts lined up including Model Aeroplane, Tijuana Bibles, Kids On Bridges and The Duke Detroit.
Held over three spring holidays – Easter Sunday on April 20, May 4 and May 25 – the host venue will also provide its own craft ale and cocktail bar on the top floor of the courtyard’s double-decker bus.
The bus itself has already been painted with an Old Town landscape by graffiti artists and, on its lower deck, will house vintage purveyors We Love To Boogie.
General manager of The Three Sisters and one of three organisers, Donal Hurrell, said the event would act as a “mini T in the Park”.
Mr Hurrell, 30, said: “We are beyond excited to be asked to host the first ever Old Town Street Food Festival.
“I think Edinburgh is crying out for this type of event. As far as I am aware, no-one else is really doing anything like it in Edinburgh.
“There is so much happening between the multi-staged music festival, vintage fair, ale festival, all of which could be a successful event on their own. I think adding these to a street food festival makes for a really fun and exciting event.”
Fellow organisers Graham Suttle, 34, and Stuart MacKinlay, 35, said the festival would prove to be a “real exploration of street food across Scotland” with “some really strong operators” set to feature.
Mr Suttle said: “We are discovering some fantastic, world-class street food guys who are really going to town on it.
“It’s exciting and it’s one of those trends that’s allowed people with a real passion but not necessarily the capital required to get moving and that’s a big barrier for people.
“We are getting the cream of the crop – it’s all about the flavour and it gives the customer something that they might not have got somewhere else.
“We are bringing some pretty exciting stuff to the forefront and pretty interesting things – we have great hopes it’s going to be a big success.”
“The quality of the stuff you could easily get served on a plate in a restaurant.”
On the menu
SMOKEY The Bandit, Pink Taco and Big Al’s Chicken Shack will serve menus featuring handmade burgers, pulled pork in a brioche bun with vinegar slaw, mac and cheese, real American hotdogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, burritos and chicken.
To wash it down, there will be seven different bars, including a Real Ale pop-up bar, craft beers and specialist lagers and ciders.
Build it and they will come. That was and still is the hope for those who built and paid for Camden’s baseball stadium, Campbell’s Field, along the Delaware River. The ballpark is home to the Camden Riversharks, an independent professional baseball team whose players rank one notch below the majors.
Opening day in 2001 was a hit with a packed stadium and great fanfare for the future of the city’s waterfront.
But since 2004, loan payments have fallen behind and in December Santander Bank filed a lawsuit against Camden Baseball, which owns the team, and Cooper’s Ferry Development Association Baseball Properties, saying they have missed too many loan payments. But in response late Feburary, lawyers for both Camden Baseball and CFDA Baseball asked that the suit be thrown out, arguing that it’s not their problem anymore.
Camden Baseball is blaming Santander for waiting too long to pursue remedies. Team owners further note that the bank accepted a $200,000 payment last year despite rejecting an offer to restructure the loan payments.
As for CFDA Baseball, it’s a little more complicated. The entity was created in the early 2000s by Camden’s Cooper’s Ferry Development Association (now called “Cooper’s Ferry Partnership” or “CFP”) solely to facilitate the development of the stadium. It exists only on paper, and CFP President David Foster says his organization has no financial or legal obligations related to it. CFP is not named in the lawsuit and according to Foster isn’t on the hook for the loans either.
Nonetheless, Foster says Cooper’s Ferry is doing whatever it can to get this situation resolved. “Cooper’s Ferry is working with all of the parties involved in the financing, ownership and operation of the baseball stadium to resolve the current situation in a way that ensures a long-term future for minor league baseball on the Camden Waterfront,” he said.
Santander’s attorneys say that because Camden Baseball took on full financial responsibility by agreeing to guarantee the loan received by CFDA, which transferred the stadium title to Rutgers University in 2000, Camden Baseball needed to pay $4.6 million on December 3, 2013, to bring the account current.
Under the terms of the agreement, bank attorneys say Camden Baseball is to make its lease payments, which amount to the same as the loan payments, directly to the bank in order to skip the middle man, or stadium owner.
Said owner, Rutgers University, says although it holds the title to the stadium, the loan payments are not the school’s responsibility. “The lease provides Rutgers some access to the stadium for events and for the use by the Rutgers University, Camden Division III baseball team. In addition there are some agreements for ticket packages, field maintenance, etc. but no obligations to meet the debt service,” Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Larry Gaines said in an email response.
Santander in its court filings is threatening to seize the stadium if loan obligations aren’t met.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 7 in U.S. District Court in Trenton.
The future of the Camden Riversharks?
Regardless of who has to pay back the loans, we’re left with an important question: Is the era of professional baseball in Camden over?
Ticket sales were used to help payback the bank’s loans but after the fanfare of the stadium’s grand opening in 2001 attendance has dropped and the team itself isn’t that good.
The Riversharks have only had five winning seasons out of 13. Last season, it averaged 3,462 seats sold per game in a stadium with capacity for 6,425, according to the Atlantic League of which it’s part. Of the Riversharks’ league rivals, only the Bridgeport Bluefish sold fewer tickets during the 2013-14 season but its stadium seats 1,125 fewer fans than does Campbell’s Field.
Not part of MLB system Another challenge for the Riversharks is that it’s not in Major League Baseball’s farm team network. The Riversharks form part of an independent league whose professional players are ready to be called up to the majors at any time but whose teams aren’t affiliated directly with MLB the way minor-league teams are. Because there’s no chance of catching a Jose Conseco or a Derek Jeter cooling off with his farm team for a few weeks while they nurse an injury, attendance at independent league games can be sparse, though some teams do cultivate devoted followings. In Camden, however, not so much.
“Some teams are hugely successful,” said Bob Wirz, author of the weekly newsletter “Independent Baseball Insider.” “Camden brings up the back end.”
Camden’s bad reputation Perhaps Campbell’s Field’s placement in the nation’s most violent city scares away some would-be fans, though its location in the waterfront entertainment district ensures it’s well-patrolled and far away from the city’s danger spots. But it may be that baseball enthusiasts just don’t find the experience to be worth the money.
For the past two years, Medford resident Shauna McMunn has bought discounted tickets but would hesitate to pay full price.
“It’s never crowded, the amenities are kind of sad and the food seems way overpriced,” she says. As for the pre- and post-game entertainment, she calls it laughably amateur, even pathetic.
“I know that minor-league baseball is supposed to have the small-town community feel to it but I have been to other stadiums that seem to do it better,” she said in an email. “It’s more like the crowd is laughing at the entertainment versus because of the entertainment.”
For his part, Jonathan Latko, president of the neighborhood association that includes the waterfront stadium area, hopes the Riversharks remain and calls them a “force for positive” for the neighborhood and city.
“They provide family-friendly entertainment, food, community outreach, fireworks, jobs, parking revenue, and bring family-oriented crowds in from the region,” he says.
It can be argued that the lack of interest isn’t for lack of trying by the front office. Players have been spotted occasionally roaming the neighborhood offering free tickets to passersby, and marketing officials plan weekly promotions and other events, like onsite beer festivals, to coincide with games. But beer fest attendance proved low in recent years, and it does not appear on the 2014 schedule. Latko says he’s been assured of the team’s return. “I was told there will be baseball this season,” he said, while declining to identify who said so. The Riversharks are scheduled to play their home-opener Friday, May 2.
Ed. note: Tara Nurin lives in Camden’s Cooper Grant neighborhood, where Campbell’s Field is located.
The Vendy Awards, produced by New York’s Street Vendor Project, will bring together nine food trucks and street food vendors for a competition and mini-festival.
The participating vendors are Crepes a la Cart, Empanada Intifada, Food Drunk Food Truck, Foodie Call, Frencheeze Food Truck, La Cocinita, Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls, Miss Linda the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady and The NOLA Truck.
The crowds will vote for a People’s Choice. A panel of judges, which includes food historian Rien Fertel, Liz Williams of the Southern Food Beverage Museum and councilwoman Stacy Head, will award a Vendy Cup to their favorite.
Last year, Foodie Call took home both the Vendy Cup and the People’s Choice award.
The Vendy awards are designed to promote awareness of all food trucks. The awards started in New York ten years ago. They also take place in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago.
General admission tickets are only $6, which includes one drink but no food. Package tickets ranging from $24–$36 include samples from all nine vendors, the right to vote for the People’s Choice award and varying numbers of drinks.
The Vendy Awards will be held at the French Market in the French Quarter. Enter on Barracks Street between French Market Place and North Peters Street. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.vendyawards.streetvendor.org/neworleans.
As opening day fever sweeps across the country this week, it’s officially OK to start using the word “summer” again in regular conversation — as in baseball’s boys of summer, who took to the field after the bitterest winter in recent memory. But who’s to say America’s pastime is the game itself and not the forum for open-air, public socializing … and, you know, all that beer drinking.
Well, those won’t be baseball scorecards being filled out at Oldsmobile Park this Saturday, and that won’t be cheap light beer in those plastic cups. At the first-ever Beerfest at the Ballpark, craft beer fans will keep track of the specialty brews on tasting sheets as they work their way through over 150 Michigan stouts, ales, IPAs and ciders.
“The domestic beers are really 29 flavors of bland,” said Paul Starr, creator of I’m a Beer Hound, an online craft beer club/database. “There’s just such a variety in craft beer that’s not there in the (macrobrews).”
Starr has teamed up with the Lansing Lugnuts to host the event, which leads off the first part of a hit-and-run pair of downtown beer festivals. (The two-day Lansing Microbrew and Music Festival bows two weeks later, April 18-19.) At the Beerfest, 33 breweries from around the state will take over the Lugnuts infield from 1-6 p.m. spreading the Michigan craft beer love. Attendees will get a special 3-oz. tasting glass and 10 tickets to spend on samples as they wander through the field of taps. The seating bowl is open for lounging, giving attendees perfect backstop views of all the activity.
“People will be standing in line for a beer and talking to the brewer with the baseball diamond as the backdrop,” said Nick Grueser, Lugnuts general manager. “It adds a whole new element to a festival like this.”
Local rookie microbrewers BAD Brewing Co. and EagleMonk Brewery will be on deck, as well as heavy hitters like Founders Brewing Co., Short’s Brewing Co. and Bell’s Brewery. Latitude 42, North Peak and Schmohz are also oiling up their gloves for the debut event.
“It’s the largest Michigan beer festival in Lansing,” Starr said. “We have a lot to offer and a lot of selections that haven’t been in Lansing. It gives people a chance to try a lot of Michigan beers that are three and a half hours away that they wouldn’t be able to try.”
If the peanuts and Cracker Jacks aren’t enough to tide you over, local food vendors will dish out barbeque ribs, pub burgers and overloaded hotdogs.
“It just makes sense to pair beer and food together,” Starr said. What makes even more sense is putting bacon on a stick, which will be available. Dreams really do come true.
Grueser said he sees this as an economic benefit for Lansing. He said that this event is “energizing” for the Lugnuts, who are aggressively trying to get more active in events outside of baseball.
“We’re trying to build some energy with new and exciting events to do downtown,” Grueser said. “More people will be downtown and they’ll spill into the restaurants and bars.”
But it’s not just businesses who are getting a jolt from the event. A portion of the proceeds are going to the Old Newsboys, a charity that donates shoes to needy children. Starr said he’s excited to write a check to them at the end of the event.
“It’s a charity that does a lot of good things, but doesn’t get a lot of notoriety,” Starr said. “It’s a perfect way to help them and what they do.”
Just don’t get too cozy down there on the field. The Lugnuts need the field back right away— the first pitch for their season crosses the plate three days later. For the rest of the season, you’ll have to do your drinking the regular way: From big plastic cups up in the bleachers.
Beerfest at the Ballpark
p.m. Saturday, April 5 $35/$30 in advance Cooley Law School Stadium
505 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 485-4500, beerfestattheballpark.net
The over-ice serve for cider may have revolutionised the category when it was introduced, but it also positioned ciders as sunshine drinks. Now, to begin, the feel-good connections of this were incredible, but the past few years have seen cider making an appearance in all seasons with warm, mulled and spiced variants getting a big push during winter.
“Cider is becoming less seasonal, whilst hot and sunny summer days and enjoying a cool crisp pint of cider are perfect bedfellows cider is becoming a year round favourite,” says Geoff Bradman, head of UK sales at Westons, noting that new product developments, such as Weston Mulled Cider, have driven interest and sales in the winter months.
Scott Parker, senior buying manager – cider/HUK/non-alcoholic, Molson Coors Wholesale reminds that by design, cider is a seasonal drink so outlets do need to match the products they stock to the time of year. “Cider Festivals are becoming increasingly popular in the summer, with many high street retailers taking the opportunity to introduce new and interesting products to their range for a limited period,” says Parker.
“Products such as Rekorderlig Winter, Kopparberg Spiced Apple or Westons’ bag-in-box Mulled Twist continue to be popular with customers,” he adds.
Breaking out of summer has not been that easy though and many companies have needed to give their brands a bit of help to plant the idea of cider in winter to both pubs and consumers alike. This has taken time since it has had to start at a very grass roots level.
“I believe this year will see heavy investment across the category from many brands, and not just during the typical summer ‘cider season’,” says Anthony Mills, head of European marketing for Savanna Cider while, over at Hogan’s Cider marketing manager Sarah Edmunds says: “Our increased presence at the Birmingham Christmas Market showcased our products to a local audience and drove both brand and product recognition with our seasonal mulled cider playing a key role.”
Linsey Adams, customer marketing manager at Chilli Marketing says: “As perceptions on cider continue to change, winter serves will gain market value as cider leaves its position as just a summer drink. Expect to see consumers hungry for warm serves this winter as cider drinking continues to be an all year round occasion.”
2. Consumer engagement
It may seem obvious, but the cider brands thriving right now are the ones which maintain a direct line of communication between the brand and the people who enjoy drinking them.
Heineken category and trade marketing director on-trade Andrew Turner says: “We believe it’s important to speak to both consumers and customers to understand their needs, and work to develop new products, marketing campaigns, technology and training programmes to deliver against these.”
But it’s not just about making sure that market research is up to date, it’s also about making sure that campaigns really engage with people in the right place at the right time. “Savanna has led the way over the last 12 months with a consumer engagement tour, alongside substantial above-the-line activities such as adverts on London Underground,” says Mills.
Martin Thatcher, managing director at Thatchers Cider points out how Thatchers will be on TV again this spring and summer from the beginning of April, with a continuation of our national campaign. “In fact, we invested further just before Christmas taking air time in the run up to the festive period, a first for Thatchers. This awareness has worked very well for us, resulting in increased demand on a nationwide basis; whereas a few years ago our West Country heartland was our key focus, now we are increasing distribution in all corners of the UK, from the South East to Scotland as well as in Northern Ireland. We’ll also be attending a number of festivals this year – such as GoldCoast Oceanfest in North Devon, as we have done for a number of years,” says Thatcher.
“In terms of our marketing developments our social media had been a key focus for us and our interaction with our end consumers is growing apace,” adds Hogan’s Cider marketing manager Sarah Edmunds.
While, over at Westons, the company has boosted its brand investment in the past year with a 73% increase in marketing investment. “We have embarked on our first national TV campaign, have continued sponsorship as official cider of the England Cricket Team and developed a strong presence at key festivals and events with our range of traditional draught ciders and Wyld Wood,” says Geoff Bradman, head of UK sales at Westons.
This spring sees an escalation of the Merrydown ‘One Sip, Many a knowing grin explained’ marketing campaign which will put the brand back into the hearts and minds of consumers. This will include “radio as well as national outdoor advertising, high profile food-associated consumer PR support, and sampling at food festivals in addition to digital and in-outlet initiatives,” says Amanda Grabham, head of brand marketing for Merrydown Cider at SHS Drinks.
David Scott, director of brands and innovations, Carlsberg UK also reveals that Somersby Cider is going to receive a “heavy weight social media campaign to excite consumers throughout the summer,” showing that brand owners are busy putting the message out to consumers about the ciders available in pubs and it is just as important to continue to inform the trade at the same time so that when people ask for the brand it is already stocked.
3. Allowing the ‘sweet tooth generation’ to trade up to ‘premium craft cider’
“The polarisation of the segment continues to be felt with the constantly evolving, innovative ciders attracting new, younger drinkers into the category through sweet flavoured cider based products,” says Edmunds, explaining that “these younger drinkers then graduate to more premium and craft ciders which means that both sides of the segment continue to grow. There is plenty of variety to attract the younger drinker into the segment and what continues to happen is that the premium and craft end of the scale continues to grow and develop to meet the changing tastes of these drinkers who pre-Magners would not necessary have entered the cider category at all.”
Andrew Quinlan owner of Orchard Pig Cider says: “That search for modern cider has bought younger drinkers into the category, and older (35+) consumers are looking for that authentic experience.”
Henry Chevalier Guild, eighth generation of the Aspall Cyder making family, agrees observing that this is a trend he is seeing again and again “Consumers are still experimenting and trading up once entering the cider market,” says Chevalier Guild.
According to Martin Thatcher “with the shift towards premium, it has been interesting to see how new entrants to the category – male and female – are exploring new cider styles once they have been introduced via the sweeter fruit ciders, and are discovering the wealth of cider styles available from heritage producers.”
Cheryl Sheppard, head of marketing, Brothers Drinks Co. Limited says that this is happening because “the consumer pallet is becoming more sophisticated with trends towards long drinks which provide refreshment.” Sheppard points out that it is this trend that has led to Brothers’ re-launching its naturally sparkling ‘Cloudy Lemon’ cider.
“Customers have expanded their taste profiles are being more adventurous behind the bar, and outlets need to ensure they’re catering for this. Cider is an exciting and innovative category that is attracting more and more consumers, particularly young consumers who are looking for something a little bit sweeter,” says Parker, giving a wholesale perspective.
Chris Hill founder, Orpens Cider says that “as more ciders hit the market the premiumisation of the category will accelerate through more artisan, craft, and fresh pressed apple ciders becoming available on shelf. This will be perpetuated by the multiples which will be keen to drive premiumisation to increase category performance.”
Geoff Bradman, head of UK sales at Westons predicts that there will be “increasing growth of super-premium and premium mainstream draught ciders at the expense of more mainstream draught ciders,” and says that “this is a trend which has been gathering pace over the past two years and recent strong growth in both distribution and rate of sale of brands which operate in this category,” name-checking “Stowford Press” as “testament to this.”
As we all become more conscientious about the ingredients in our food and drink, a marketing trend develops giving renewed importance to the story behind where our food began, how it was made and whether it commands a premium price tag.
Glen Friel, sales and marketing director at Aston Manor Cider says: “The origin of drinks is becoming more of a concern to customers. Many enjoy drinking British products, produced by authentic, home-grown producers. Exploring the options with locally–produced products also eliminates the carbon footprint of drinks imported from half way around the world to get to the table.” Cider can tap into this trend.
“Currently, we are seeing provenance and authenticity becoming increasingly important as consumers are increasingly leaning toward specialty and craft offerings,” says Ed Shoebridge, head of customer marketing, CC Group and Andrew Quinlan of Orchard Pig Cider agrees, noting that the company has seen “growth and enthusiasm, with people gravitating to authentic and modern brands with character.”
“As the public becomes more aware of ‘real cider’ they will be more inclined to buy away from traditional bigger players,” says Ben Filby founder at the Garden Cider Company who predicts that “craft cider is set to be the next new trend.”
Aston Manor unveiled a new look for Kingstone Press Cider at the beginning of last year. In refreshing the look of the brand we are reflecting the fact that Kingstone Press is an authentic English cider with the visual cues as well as the taste to appeal to real cider drinkers.
Aspalls’ Chevalier Guild observes that “the sudden arrival in the last 12 months of a number of brewer cider brands on to the market has made things “a little murky” between the various cider categories though, so licensees need to know the difference between an authentically premium product and a premium marketing campaign. “There has been a huge effort to ‘upsell’ by many brands in to a more premium arena, whereas in truth a lot of the activity both above and below the line tends to suggest these are not terribly joined up strategies; more dash for market share than genuine category and brand build. This has actually meant there is a widening gap between genuine premium and mainstream/mainstream premium. The continuing emergence of traditional and craft ciders – mainly still, bag in box styles – has also added another dimension to the market place, and re-opened up the debate about what the definition of cider is – or what different parts of the market think it should be.”
5. Innovating with new flavours fruits
There is massive consumer demand for innovation, variety and new flavours and “the fruit cider category will continue to grow with the introduction of new fruit flavours, cross categorisation and increased competition with the category,” says Brothers’ Sheppard.
“With an explosion of new flavours and brands, 27% of value growth is currently coming from non-original variants, demonstrating the consumer need for experimentation,” agrees Turner.
“Flavour innovation has had a huge impact in terms of driving the cider category growth. Fruit-flavoured cider (ie; flavours other than apple or pear) is now the biggest and fastest-growing sector in the on-trade bottled cider category,” says Grabham, adding that “the continued strong performance of the flavoured cider sector demonstrates that there is still plenty of ‘stretch’ in the category for flavour innovation.” But what’s next?
“Given the innovation to date, in order to keep interest peaked the exploration of flavours, fruits and flowers and experimentation with botanicals will surely continue in the sweeter, entry level ciders. The challenge for craft cider makers is whether the tannic rich, full bodied craft ciders can carry the delicate flavour of fruits and flowers and, in fact, whether flavours enhance the 100% apple ciders,” ponders Edmunds.
This spring, SHS Drinks is adding to the Merrydown range with the on-trade launch of Merrydown Blackcurrant – a 4% ABV flavoured cider which is also packaged in 500ml bottles. The new addition, which is now being listed by Coors, is “a light and juicy blackcurrant cider with a fruity nose, and it spearheads our plans to develop a range of ‘hedgerow’ ciders under the Merrydown brand name,” says Grabham.
Last March, the Bulmer’s brand, owned by Heineken, introduced two new flavours: Bulmers Cider Bold Black Cherry and Bulmers Cider Pressed Red Grape while also within Heineken’s portfolio, “Strongbow Dark Fruit delivers Strongbow’s signature cut-through refreshment along with blackcurrant and blackberry juices” says Turner.
“From the end of March, Old Mout Cider will be available in three flavours: Summer Berries, Passionfruit and Apple and ‘Kiwi and Lime” says Lawson Mountstevens, managing director-on trade at Heineken who adds that the brand “meets the needs of 18-24 year old ‘discoverers’ who constantly seek out different flavours that create an impression amongst friends.”
“Within the more mainstream brands, it would appear that, whilst there is no end to the options in here, the market now appears to be heading in to spirit flavoured variants. We have seen Tequila flavoured cider already and I suspect this will be but one of a raft of this style of product – I’m sure rum and whisky and bourbon will not be far behind,” says Chevalier Guild.
“There is an increasing demand for a range of cider flavours, driven by seasonal tastes, says Parker, hinting that over at Molson Coors Wholesale, there are “exciting new spirit ciders such as Perro Loco and Manzana Loco along with ciders coming from others parts of the world such Hornsbys American Cider.”
Adams reminds that “Rekorderlig has continued to build on its approach to bringing seasonality into the flavoured cider market to great success – Summer 2014 sees the launch of a brand new limited edition flavour, Rekorderlig Apple and Guava.”
Friel points out that Kingstone Press Wild Berry was launched to encourage people into the cider category and others are doing the same.
For instance, Swedish craft cider Briska, has extended its existing variant range to add Wild Strawberry and Woodland Fruits this month. “The 4% ABV cider is designed to be served over ice and joins the existing Pomegranate and Pear variants [and will be available] in 500ml bottles,” says Proof Drinks spokesperson Jed Irwin. Parker says: “We’re expecting to see a flurry of new and seasonal flavours coming to market. Although summer still feels like a long way away, consumers will soon start to see increasingly unusual and exotic flavours such as elderflower, cloudberry, passion fruit and guava.”
6. Differentiating with packaging and serve
Some say that it isn’t what you do, but the way that you do it and standing out from the crowd has become increasingly important for ciders as the category grows and grows.
Thatchers launched its limited edition cider called Thatchers 458, which it crafted from the 458 apple varieties – some of which had been gathering for over twenty years in preserved orchards, giving the cider a unique USP.
Over at Kopparberg, Calder says that “Elderflower is a big consumer trend right now, and we’re well placed to exploit it with our Elderflower Lime variant,” which has a novel serve with “a slice of cucumber, or alternatively strawberry” while its Nordic berry variant – Cloudberry – which is harvested in the autumn to make summer cider is also designed to stand out as something a bit different.
“The key is to avoid duplication,” says Grabham, revealing that “unlike most other ciders, Merrydown is made from juicy eating and culinary apples rather than bitter cider apples to produce a crisp, refreshing cider,” and also making it ideal to enjoy with food.
“As the category becomes more crowded, it is brands with a point of difference that are standing out – though always something authentic, like the unique serve of Savanna with a wedge of lemon in the neck of the bottle,” says Mills.
While, over at Orpens, Hill describes the cider’s USP as it having a natural approach to packaging: “All our labels, shelf ready packaging and outer cases are on uncoated paper stock with less varnishes and treatments (although they have been extensively tested for durability). This more natural approach is in keeping with the brand identity and aligns with our philosophy of sustainability, authenticity and realness.”
Kopparberg has what it calls “the world’s most stealable glass” after feedback showed many were going missing it ramped up production and saw it as a selling point. For Aston Manor brand Kingstone Press, having a 500ml PET bottle “offers opportunities for different occasions and venues, when PET is more appropriate than glass,” says Friel.
Last Updated on 08:00 AM 04/02/14
Paula I. Bryant
What happens to drivers on the weekend around here? It starts on Friday afternoons when normal, sane, otherwise careful drivers seem to lose it as they try to get to their destinations in a break-neck hurry.
And where do all these folks come from? When the weekend gets close, it seems people come out of the woodwork, and all of them are in a hurry.
While driving on Halifax Road and Old Halifax Road in Centerville Friday afternoon, cars and trucks were darting in and out of traffic in an attempt to pass the vehicles in front of them, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why everyone was in such a hurry.
Of course I had a list of chores I wanted to check off my weekend to-do list too, but I was surely not in that big of a hurry to get started on them. They would be there when I got to them.
I watched the vehicles flit back and forth, and one of those times a driver had to whip it back into his lane so quickly, I was certain he was about to become a hood ornament on an oncoming car.
It just got me to thinking, where is he going that he has to rip up the road like that to get there.
And almost every car out there on Friday afternoon had a driver talking on a cell phone as they scurried to their destinations.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Virginia, and Drive Smart Virginia wants to use the month to bring attention to distracted driving.
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety.
Eight out of 10 traffic crashes in Virginia are related to a distracted driving incident. In the United States in 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes caused by a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
An estimated 421,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
When behind the wheel, driving should always be the top priority and especially around here on Friday afternoons.
But how many times have you observed drivers eating and drinking, setting their GPS or radios or talking or texting on their phones?
Reading an average text message takes nearly five seconds, which means your eyes can be off the road for the entire length of a football field. Even talking on a cell phone is distracting and reduces brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
And now texting while driving is against the law, so that’s one more huge reason to put the phone down while in the driver’s seat.
As of July 1, Virginia has had a primary texting and driving law. Any driver who uses a phone to manually enter multiple letters or text in an effort to communicate with another person is guilty of texting and driving.
It’s also illegal to read any email or text message. A fine for a first offense is $125. A second or subsequent offense carries a $250 fine.
From July 1 to Dec. 31 after the law went into effect, Virginia State Troopers stopped and charged 567 drivers for violating the new law.
All of us need to slow down and take it easy when driving on the weekend, or any other time, for that matter.
There’s no place any of us are going that we need to drive recklessly and end up hurting someone…or even worse.
Do everyone a favor, slow down, buckle up and arrive alive.
Congrats Molasses Grill
Molasses Grill in Halifax has added one more claim to their fame after being included in the 283-page “Food Lovers’ Guide to Virginia” composed by Lorraine Eaton and Jim Haag and published by Globe Pequot Publishing.
The pair reviewed nearly 200 restaurants and critiqued about 100 ice cream, gourmet, wine and butcher shops as they carefully culled lists of wineries and food festivals during their trek across the state.
In 16 weeks, while holding down their day jobs, the duo finished the manuscript listing 30 must-eat-at places in Virginia with Molasses Grill coming in at #25.
About the Molasses Grill Eaton and Haag wrote:
“In the vast expanse of central Virginia, towns are like islands surrounded by rolling farmland. It’s impossible to guess where gourmets gather. That’s the case in Halifax. Across from the pillared courthouse, circa 1777, the Molasses Grill has been pleasing refined palates since 2005. That’s when chef Steven Schopen, an English chap with worldly roots, and his wife, Karen, opened this restaurant. Inside, brick walls and burnished pine lend a sense of calm, but opening the menu causes palpitations. Schopen pairs Southern staples with locally sourced ingredients and turns out house-made sausages, breads and dishes such as grilled pork tenderloin with a shellac of bourbon and molasses. Or how about fried chicken and some pimento mac and cheese? Worth the 5-mile or so detour from the straightaway.”
While Navi Mumbai has immense options for Punjabi, Mughlai, Chinese, Thai as well as Pan Asian and Italian cuisines, it doesn’t leave you with enough options for authentic Maharashtrain cuisine.
Though the numbers have increased in the past few years with a handful of restaurateurs venturing into this much-awaited territory, a quality plate of Missal Pav or Thalipeeth is still not at a walking distance for most Navi Mumbaikars. Search any well-known food outlet’s website and you will know that the whole of Navi Mumbai has just five Maharashtrian cuisine restaurants, that too, most of them catering to Konkan and Malvani cuisine. Though there are not many big players in this sector, a lot of small eating joints have tried to fill the void. Seawoods residents are lucky to have two Maharashtrian food joints in their locality. One of them is 10-year-old Annapurna, a takeaway joint that has a vast Maharashtrian vegetarian menu. From bhakris to kothimbir wadi, gavar and bharli vangi (stuffed brinjal), you get everything that is popular in a Maharashtrain household. A small joint at Vashi called Vaibhavshali also offers sumptuous Maharashtrian cuisine in the form of Thalis. Their vegetarian thalis comprise two vegetables, varan (dal), chapattis, papad and rice. Their non-vegetarian variety is extremely palatable. “We often have mutton or chicken rice plate here. They make the curry in typical Maharshtrian style with roasted coconut masala and it is extremely spicy, like it is supposed to be. Secondly, their fish fry and curries are also to die for,” says Aditi Sarvade, a resident. They have a wide variety of fried fish like mackerel, Bombay ducks and pomfrets. This place is not just popular for its food, but also for its solkadhi (which is a post-meal drink prepared from coconut milk and kokam). Sakshi Sawant, owner of Annapurna and Solkhadi (its non-vegetarian kin) says it was the regular customers at Annapurna who suggested the idea of starting an authentic Maharashtrian non-vegetarain cuisine outlet. “Solkadhi offers Malvani style fish curry, kombadi vade, dry fish, crab masala, mutton vade and bhakri, etc. In fact, something as authentic as Bombay duck bhaji (pakodas made out of the fish) are also available at this restaurant. Though we are just six months old, the response we’ve garnered is over-whelming,” says Sakshi. There are two restaurants in CBD Belapur that offer a fairly good taste of Maharashtrian cuisine like bharli vangi, amti, usal, and a range of vegetarian fare. While one of them is a fine-dining restaurant, the other one is a slightly small setting named Konkan Rassa. This restaurant has managed to attract Maharashtrians as well as non- Maharashtrians, thanks to its authentic flavours. Unlike other restaurants that offer only select Maharshtrain cuisines (especially non-vegetarian), this comes like a breath of fresh air.
Girish Kadam says that his restaurant is the only one in Navi Mumbai to offer ukdachi modak on the dessert menu. “It is something very unique. Ours is a fine-dining restaurant and we are the only ones to offer traditional ukdiche modak (steamed modak) to our guests. Very few eateries in the city have that option, that too not throughout the year. It is usually during festivals that they offer modaks,” says Kadam.
The hilltop city of Orvieto makes a delightful day trip from Rome
Situated in the province of Terni in south-west Umbria, Orvieto stands on the summit of a large outcrop of volcanic tufa rock, roughly halfway between Rome and Florence.
A trip to this charming cathedral city is always a pleasure but those arriving by public transport are in for a double treat. A funicular cable railway takes visitors up the 157-m cliff in an exhilarating, threeminute journey. Arrival in the historic Etruscan city is made all the more bizarre in that most first-time visitors immediately make for St Patrick’s Well, retracing their steps by descending its 60-m depths.
This murky marvel of engineering was commissioned by Pope Clement VII following his refuge in Orvieto during the sack of Rome in 1527. The Medici pope entrusted fellow Florentine Antonio da Sangallo the Younger with designing the well, to ensure a reliable water supply for this potentially-regular papal retreat.
The structure’s two concentric spiral staircases operate independently of each other, one for descending and the other for ascending, and are illuminated by 70 windows carved into the central shaft. Modern-day visitors can still traverse the well’s 248 steps, cut large enough to accommodate the pack donkeys once used to carry water to the surface. However it is worth noting – particularly for those with children – that the majority of the windows are knee-high and bereft of barriers.
The well has even lent itself to an Italian proverb that likens its profundity to the bottomless pockets of spendthrifts. As for its name, the Pozzo di S. Patrizio was thought to resemble the chasm used by Ireland’s patron saint at the fifth-century pilgrimage site of St Patrick’s Purgatory in north-west Ireland.
Once back in daylight, people can catch their breath while enjoying the wonderful views of Umbrian countryside from the nearby Fortezza Albornoz. Commissioned by Pope Innocent VI, the fortress was built in 1364 by the Spanish cardinal and papal legate Egidio Albornoz. From here it is a 15-minute stroll or five-minute bus trip into town.
The virtually traffic-free centro storico is dominated by the enormous 14th-century cathedral whose very existence is the result of a miracle. In 1263 a Bohemian priest, doubting the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation or the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, set off on a pilgrimage to Rome. While visiting a church in Bolsena, close to Orvieto, he is said to have witnessed blood dripping out of a consecrated host during Mass. The blood-soaked altar cloth (or corporal) is still housed in a silver-gilt reliquary in the cathedral today and venerated each year on the feast of Corpus Christi, which commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
In 1290 the cornerstone of the new duomo was laid but later its design was radically altered by the Sienese sculptor and architect Lorenzo Maitani, inspired by the so-called Tuscan Gothic style of Siena’s cathedral which had been completed half a century earlier. Construction continued over the subsequent three decades, overseen by multiple architects who each left their mark by incorporating the changing architectural trends.
The cathedral’s interior is characterised by black and white-striped walls and columns, and includes an ornate 16thcentury organ case with 5,585 pipes as well as a remarkable Pietà, which local sculptor Ippolito Scalza spent nine years carving from a single block of marble.
The frescoes in the vaulted ceiling of the Chapel of the Madonna di S. Bizio were begun by Fra Angelico in the mid- 15th century. The work was completed some 50 years later by Luca Signorelli, whose apocalyptic scenes feature the damned fleeing flames and being tortured by devils, and the buried bodies of the elect emerging from the ground en route to heaven.
The cathedral’s three-gabled façade features a magnificent rose window as well as statues, pilasters and mosaics with gilded backgrounds. The four stone bas-reliefs flanking the doors depict biblical scenes from the Old and New Testament and are rare examples of 14th-century sculpture.
On the cathedral’s fifth centenary in 1790, a number of the original mosaics were detached and offered as a tribute to Pope Pius VI. However the only known surviving mosaic is the Natività di Maria preserved in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The central portal is dominated by splendid bronze doors which replaced the 14th-century wooden originals in 1970. The new doors were crafted by celebrated Sicilian sculptor Emilio Greco (1913-1995), whose work is the subject of a museum located in nearby Palazzo Soliano. The building also houses part of the cathedral’s art collection, and is otherwise known as the palace of the popes. Orvieto’s longstanding papal connections date back to the tenth century and the city remained a papal possession until 1860, when it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.
Delving further back into Orvieto’s history, it was first inhabited by Etruscans from the ninth century BC until 264 BC when the territory was conquered by Romans after a two-year assault. The reason the Etruscans managed to hold out so long was due to their intricate system of tunnels, cellars, wells and escape hatches, some of which can still be visited today. Among these is the 36 m-deep Pozzo della Cava, an Etruscan well that was extended in 1527 and dug entirely by hand.
However Orvieto is far from being solely the realm of historians. Although it has only around 21,000 inhabitants the city is alive and vibrant, while its refined sense of culture tends to attract the more discerning visitor.
The well-kept streets play host to festivals all year round, including the prestigious Umbria Winter Jazz which has been taking place every December for the last 40 years, and the mediaeval-style Corpus Christi pageant which generates large crowds each summer. The elegant, neoclassical Teatro Mancinelli is particularly active and its 560 seats are regularly filled with lovers of drama, comedy, dance and music.
The numerous shops selling brightly decorated ceramics do a roaring trade, helped by the steady flow of tourists, many of whom are drawn to the colourful wooden sculptures on Via Michelangeli near the duomo. This alley is home to a workshop where five generations of Michelangeli woodworkers have enlivened their environs with a series of jolly, much-photographed timber sculptures.
Orvieto surpasses itself in terms of cuisine from its surrounding region, and it regularly hosts food festivals such as Orvieto con gusto. The city is a member of Cittaslow, the slow food movement, and is famed for its wines and local products such as caciotta and pecorino cheeses, truffles, cinghiale (wild boar), tozzetti almond biscuits and the snail shell-shaped lumachelle made from pizza dough with pancetta and cheese.
Meanwhile those with a sweet tooth can’t fail to be attracted by the aroma drifting from Cioccolateria Dolceamaro, which offers all manner of artisan chocolate delicacies including trimmings from the unexpected chocolate kebab.
▶ Pozzo di S. Patrizio, Viale S. Gallo, tel. 0763343768.
▶ Orvieto Cathedral, Piazza del Duomo.
▶ Pozzo della Cava, Via della Cava 28, tel. 0763342373,
▶ Teatro Mancinelli, Corso Cavour 122, tel. 0763340493,
▶ Umbria Winter Jazz (Dec-Jan), www.umbriajazz.com.
▶ Corpus Christi, (the date changes each year, depending on Easter).
▶ Orvieto con Gusto, food festival, April and October, www.orvietocongusto.it.
▶ L’Oste del Re, Corso Cavour 58, tel. 0763343846, www.ostedelreorvieto.com.
▶ Ristorante Maurizio, Via del Duomo 78, tel. 0763341114,
▶ Cioccolateria Dolceamaro, Corso Cavour 78, www.cioccolateriaorvieto.com.
▶ By car: Orvieto is on the A1 autostrada about half way between Rome and
Florence. Lots of parking outside city centre.
▶ By train: There are regular fast trains between Rome and Orvieto Scala. The
funicular terminus up to the old hill-top town is just across the road from the
The top spring food events in Toronto for 2014 will lure the hungry masses out of hibernation with promises of feasts, night markets and food festivals devoted to everything from medieval fantasy feasts to dim sum to chicken wings. Get an early start on festival season with these top 10 spring food events in Toronto for 2014.
Game of Thrones Feast
Ossington butcher, Cote de Boeuf hosts a medieval feast on April 2nd and April 3rd in advance of the HBO hit’s 4th season premiere. The sold-out, $175 dinner will feature Jug Brew from Bellwoods Brewery, mead from Rosewood Estates Winery along with a dozen dishes like roasted suckling pig and sussex pond pudding.
Find Dine: Scavenger Hunt and Brunch
Discover Liberty Village in teams of two to four starting at 10am on Saturday, April 5th. Participants will compete to collect items, solve clues, answer trivia and ultimately eat a big hearty brunch. Tickets are $40 and registration is open now.
Songkran Festival Khao San Road celebrates the Thai New Year with a water gun fight in a big heated tent on Saturday, April 12th. Admission is $16 and water guns are supplied, while $6 food tickets will get you dishes supplied by a solid roster including La Carnita, Come And Get It, and Matt Blondin’s, yet-to-open Junk Bar.
Yum Cha! Dim Sum Fest
Tickets for this celebration of steamed buns and fried dumplings are selling fast even though a complete the line-up of participating vendors has yet to be announced. Admission is $10 to the festival happening at the Chinese Freemasons Association on Sunday, April 13th.
Caplansky’s Second Seder The Jewish deli on College Street will retell the story of Passover over the course of the customary feast. Expect to dine on seven courses including matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, roast beef and unleavened desserts on Tuesday, April 15th. Reservations are being accepted now for the family affair priced at $49 for adults and $24 for children.
This festival devoted to the iconic American pub food will crown the king of wings in five categories covering mild, hot, traditional BBQ and exotic styles. Taking place at Daniel’s Spectrum on Sunday, May 4th, the event promises an 11-competitor line up of wing machines like Drums N Flats, Lou Dawgs and Hooters.
Gluten Free Expo
The wheatless food fair will showcase celiac-friendly foods at the Metro Toronto Convention Center on Sunday, May 4th from 10am to 4pm. Gluten intolerant eaters will find the all-day event filled with opportunities to sample recipes, buy products and learn from experts how to keep tummies happy. Tickets are $15 at the door.
The fundraiser event for Second Harvest presented by The Daniels Corporation will take place lakeside on Sunday, June 8th at Corus Quay. Over 70 of the city’s finest chefs, vintners and brewers will partake to showcase their talents and delicious creations for a worthy cause. Tickets are on sale now for $250 each, with a tax receipt issued for $125 towards food rescue programs.
Stop Night Market
Tickets sales haven’t been announced yet, but go ahead and mark June 17th and 18th in you calendars because The Stop’s vibrant, Asian-style night market is set to return to the Honest Ed’s alley for it’s third year of street food fun.
For starters, theres this: Saturday at the marina at Mercer County Park is the Food Truck Fiesta, which pretty much is exactly what it sounds like. A bakers dozen worth of food trucks will set up shop from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.. Costs $5 to get in, and that pays for all sorts of fun, from music to pony rides for the kids and a ton of other stuff.
Cool, right? Whats not to love about food trucks? Great food cooked fresh right in front of you. Its a wonderful step in the evolution of fine cuisine, and thank goodness we live in New Jersey, because were only about a decade or two behind the food truck revolution.
And whys that?
Short answer: Because New Jersey (rhymes with trucks).
When we started, we wouldve loved to stay local, but the hurdles to go through every municipality is different, said Beata Browne, co-owner, along with her husband Adam, of the Surf and Turf Truck, and the brains behind the Food Truck Fiesta.
The Brownes Hamilton residents had plenty of experience in the food and hospitality industry. The two met in Los Angeles, and then moved to Hamilton, where Beata grew up, to be closer to family after the birth of their first child.
Fast-forward a few years. Three children. Two full-time jobs. One lunatic lifestyle.
We wanted to change, she said.
They looked into opening a restaurant, but the start-up costs were so high, and the success or failure of a restaurant is often tied to its location.
And thats where the idea for a food truck came from.
Wed just go to where the people are, Beata said.
Piece of cake, right?
More like a slice of hell.
Not to say the Surf and Turf Truck isnt successful; they are. (Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates to where theyll be daily and know this: Theyll be spending a full summer down in Manasquan with a second truck.)
But the hell comes in New Jerseys geopolitical makeup. Our state is infamous in public policy circles for our spider monkey-like clinging to home rule, which basically gives each of the 565 municipalities in New Jersey freedom to make their own laws, as long as they arent breaking other federal or state laws. In addition to layers of unnecessary bureaucracy and the ridiculous duplicating of services from town to town, it also serves to create headaches for many businesses, especially mobile businesses.
In short: If the Brownes want to sell their (incredibly delicious, I had one, really, a knockout) lobster roll sandwiches in Hamilton, they have to persuade Hamilton its a good idea. If they want to sell their fresh-made salmon burger in Trenton, they have to persuade Trenton its a good idea. (For the record, according to Beata, they wanted to set up shop downtown, near the State House. And the city said no. Brilliant move, Trenton. Turning down someone who wants to do business in the city. Just brilliant. Anyway )
Anyway, its a mess, and its why the Surf and Turf Truck heads out to Philadelphia most days.
Its big enough so we can roam around the city, Beata said.
Its a shame we cant get it together, as a state, to allow this type of business a little more freedom.
Because its a great business.
Speaking from experience my wife was co-owner of a fancypants restaurant the food trucks owners of this world (along with the smaller restaurants where the owner is in the kitchen) are the places I want to eat these days. I want that authenticity. I want no curtain between me and my food. I want to order it and see it made.
Its fresh-to-order gourmet food, Beata said.
Simple and true.
So yeah. Saturday is the day to get to experience the food truck business firsthand. Should be fun.
And again, to be clear, that lobster roll sandwich. Holy (rhymes with well, you know.)