Farmison products

Monday, 31 March 2014

Fantastic evening with Johnny Pusztai and his master butchers at JTBeedham now on video.

A short while ago I wrote a blogpost about myself and a very enjoyable gathering of other foodies/meat lovers at Johnny Pusztai's shop JT Beedham's on Mansfield Road, Sherwood near Nottingham.

Here is a flavour of the evening as filmed by the BBC. What really comes across is Johnny's passion and the passion of his staff at the shop to provide the very best in honest meat products and keep those dedicated customers coming back for more and more and both the providers and the customers appreciating the dedication and fine artistry that goes into all they do. As one of the participants in the video says "All of the staff have the highest respect for the customer and a full knowledge of what they are selling."

I went to this after a day's work and having got up at 5am because I was honoured to be invited and determined to help them celebrate what they do so well at JT Beedham's. Naturally, I couldn't leave this blogpost without mentioning that I feature in this BBC quality video throughout. At the end you get to see the back of my head! Even I don't see that bit often!

Check out my blogpost about this fantastic evening HERE.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

But is it still a meat counter?

Tesco have brought in some new ranges (fourteen in all) to bring some colour and difference to the central display to their meat counters. For those Tesco butchers who want to exist in a purely faux butchery counter environment then the new ranges may have come as a bit of a shock to the system. But then the meat counter has never been a traditional butchers in miniature. For a start there are no quartered carcasses or sides of pork to portion up. Everything comes protected and dated in cryovac bags from the distribution centres who do the original real butchering if you want to be realistic about it.

Personally I think that the new ranges offer something exciting for the customers that want something that is truly 'ready to cook'. These new ranges compliment the other traditional butcher's products; British lamb and outdoor rearing British pork chops, British beef roasting joints, various pork and lamb cuts and popular cuts like beef skirt and various quality steaks we offer as well as the finest bacon and sausage products. What do you think?

Among these choices illustrated are chicken breast en croute with cheddar cheese and bacon, puff pastry parcel filled with lean minced beef and tomato and herb sauce, diced chicken breast in a tikka marinade, chicken breast paupiettes with cheese and minted pesto, classic stuffed chicken breast supreme, pork loin steaks with apple sauce, garlic pork loin steaks, Chinese pork loin steaks. Then we have some meaty smoky barbeque pork belly ribs, meaty sweet chilli pork belly ribs.

For those who like their stir fry we offer; oriental chicken breast stir fry, chill chicken breast stir fry, chilli beef rump steak stir fry. I have tried the chilli beef rump steak stir fry and really liked it. I like the heat of chilli but not searing hot and found this offering to have just the right balance. The most popular dishes seem to be the diced lamb leg in a Moroccan style marinade and the minted lamb leg steaks. My work colleague Cherie loves the Moroccan lamb and the oriental chicken breast stir fry as do her girls.

At each Tesco meat counter there is a helpful cooking advice leaflet.

chicken breast paupiettes with cheese and minted pesto


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

An evening with Johnny Pusztai and the butchers at Beedhams.

It isn't often you get the privilege of being invited to a top quality butcher's shop for an evening of sausage making and burger making so when Johnny Pusztai rang me I cancelled my other engagements and hot footed it across Nottingham to his shop on Mansfield Road in Sherwood after a full day at work on Tesco's fish and meat counters. Once the evening of learning, making and sampling got started their were over a dozen fellow foodies tightly packed in the preparation room of his small shop.

There was a camera man from the BBC called Steve who documented the whole evening so that Johnny could have the event showing on a television screen placed in the upper corner of his counter as a promotional tool for similar future events. Each participant was asked to sign a release form to indicate they were happy to be filmed and used in the end DVD.

It was a jolly crowd of foodies, made even jollier by Johnny and Steve's (the butcher) laid back and very informative/passionate presentations of how they work in preparing the top notch ingredients that form the pork base of their sausages and the natural casings the sausage mixture is fed into.

The group was split into two groups and one lot went upstairs to learn about making beef burgers through Steve and Joel's advice and through practical observation and individual application. We were allowed to chose our own flavourings and bindings and then were shown how to press the burgers. We had a ball of ground beef each and there was a great atmosphere as we all got to mixing the ingredients. Equally, we separated a small amount and made it into a sampling patty which Joel cooked off and we all got to taste our own work as well as making four big fat yummy burgers to take home. Downstairs the other group were having a wonderful time learning about making sausages and having a go themselves. A few glasses of wine or beer made the evening very convivial as we went along.

Throughout the evening we were treated to some super samples of various meat based products that Beedhams make. There was some belly pork prepared sous vide and marinated in a Marmite based marinade and cooked off on the griddle by Jake. Everyone was keen to try another portion and there were murmurings of the word 'delicious' as the happy participants wolfed down the very tasty and succulent pork. Johnny explained all about the origins of the pork meat and how the sous vide method worked. We also had the opportunity to try some of Beedham's speciality pork pie with black pudding layered or spliced into the finished product. Mouth watering. We were spoilt food wise and also had a choice to sample some spicy chicken wings and a gorgeous sausage cob with Johnny's wonderful pork sausage. There are pork sausages and there are Beedham's sausages! They are meaty and taste utterly wonderful and he has customers who come back again and again for his products that he is so passionate about making and promoting.

At half time each group swapped burger making for sausage making and our group had enormous fun making our own sausages. It was very hands on and a lot of saucy fun was had from the action of feeding the slippery natural sausage casings onto the tube where the sausage mix is forced through with a pressure pedal. The ladies among us all seemed to take the banter in their stride.

We all had a go at linking the sausage and a light-hearted judgement was had of our efforts. It had been years since I actually made sausage and linked and it was a super experience augmented by Johnny Pusztai and his passion team of butchers. And we got to take our sausages and burgers home after the event. It had been a long day for me getting up at 5am and coming here after work until 9.30pm but it was worth every second. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended and it was very pleasant to be among such a group of like – minded people who appreciate really good, quality meat prepared with love.

                                                  I made these bangers and burgers!

Thanks to everyone at Beedhams.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A current obsession with spinach and theatre reviewing.

I first want to apologise to my readers for not being more attendant to this, my food and drink blog. The recent lack of regular blog posts has been due to lack of time to devote to writing about food. Most of you will know that I have another blog about another of my passions; the theatre. Over the last year I have been honoured in getting some great opportunities to review plays in Derby and Nottingham at Derby Theatre and Nottingham Playhouse, plus Curve in Leicester. I have also been asked to attend some of Derby Playhouse's professional rehearsals for their very recent production of The Odyssey. How could I pass that up? I get two free press tickets for each gig and a glass of wine on press nights but no other pay generally.

All these things take up my spare time and often end up with me writing my reviews until one in the morning and then getting up again at five to go and do a day's work on the counters at Tesco. Thank goodness that the store isn't that busy at the moment. Then, I was offered (and took) a chance to appear on Kev Castle's hospital radio at The Queen's Medical Centre. That was great fun and I did talk about the Mug Of Strong Tea food blog as well as things theatrical, honest folks. Recently I got chosen by Nottingham Playhouse to be the paid writer for a review of their play, The Three Penny Opera for The Big Issue!

In the last couple of days I have written another 2000 words for a glossy amateur theatre magazine called Sardines and supplied photos for my article about the twinning events that happen every two years between Nottingham's Lace Market Theatre and two amateur theatres in the German city of Karlsruhe. Busy busy busy.

In between times I eat and learn/revise my German language skills for a visit in April by our friends from Karlsruhe. All of the above can be read on my other blog at

Spinach! Yes, I haven't been much of a spinach eater until about a month ago when I got some from work and steamed it to add a bit of greenery to my meal. It was delicious and only takes about ten minutes to steam. As well as being an accompaniment I have experimented with adding it to a curry. First steam, drain and squeeze out all the water, chop finely and stir into a curry at he last minute.

lamb rogan josh curry with spinach

Many people dislike the strong taste and soggy texture of cooked spinach so why not try experimenting with raw spinach leaves and adding a few to a salad. Young spinach leaves can be used as a substitute for lettuce; a warm salad with spinach leaves, grilled bacon, avocado and sliced mushrooms for example.

rack of lamb chops, new potatoes and spinach

So far I don't have muscles like Popeye. Interestingly, spinach has long been thought of as a particularly rich source of iron and back in the 1950s children were forced to eat it by their parents who thought it would make them fit and strong. A big influence was the cartoon character Popeye who gulped down tins of the stuff!

Monday, 24 February 2014

A heart warming video about dealing with food waste.

It is great to know that there is compassion out there when I witness a deal of pathetic greed daily. It is difficult to elaborate without risking my job but a big 'well done' to this guy and his supporters!

Phil Lowe

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A fine day out in Leicester, it's open market and Cafe Rouge.

Yesterday I took a trip over on the train from Nottingham to Leicester in order to take advantage of a Tesco voucher that I had upgraded from £5 to £20 to use at the chain restaurant, Cafe Rouge. There is no longer a Cafe Rouge in Nottingham otherwise I would have happily gone there.

I've been on a holiday break from work so I also thought it would be a good idea to take a fun trip on the train on a day when I would normally be working. I like Leicester's open market so I took along my video camera with the intention of filming around the fruit and veg areas and the fish and meat market there. The day was very windy so I was aware of the noise that the wind makes as it blows across the microphone on my video camera. This meant that, in the main, it was best that I kept myself under cover whilst filming.

The train journey is about half an hour on the fast London bound train and as went headed towards Leicester it was possible to see the river Trent in a state of flooding with torrents of brown swirling water and fields deep in water. Thankfully the floods aren't as bad up here than they are down South.

Like most routes from a main train station into a city centre the walk across Waterloo Way and down Granby Street towards the Leicester Market and Haymarket, it was lined with old buildings and closed shops with the Mercure Hotel as the only shining beacon. The areas I passed through were decidedly grubby and uninviting. A visitor coming into Leicester this way might well have a poor impression of the city.

I had a fun time videoing around the friendly Leicester market with my video camera held just above waist height not to attract attention and I think it worked well. What do you think of the video? At one of the stalls I bought some nutty brown mushrooms to add to my chicken stew that I made yesterday.

The Cafe Rouge branch was in a shopping centre called Highcross and when I got there I discovered the shopping centre to be a very modern mall and a complete contrast to the sadly neglected, wet and windy streets, outside. Now, I'm not a big fan of Malls as such and for all their glitz I find them to be soulless places full of fashion shops and the like. I asked for directions for the Cafe Rouge restaurant and was advised that it lay on the ground floor level in amongst a collection of other pleasant eateries. I got there about 11.30 am.

If I were a secret diner then I would give them top marks for the welcome and the service as well as the food. Getting a lunch half an hour earlier than they normally serve lunch was no problem and I went for the pâté maison (smooth chicken liver, shallot and Madeira pâté with slices of baguette) and the moules marinieres (classic mussels in a white wine, garlic and cream sauce with frites) with a glass of house white. The wine was nicely chilled and smooth, so smooth I had two glasses over lunch and felt quite mellow thank you. For dessert I chose Le Pot – a dessert housed in a recycled Bonne Maman compote jar and creamy with fruits and a hint of chocolate. According to the very good website for the Cafe Rouge business they have free wifi. I was too busy enjoying the food for that.


Like a lot of people I do enjoy people watching and was interested to see a couple of faces that if you dressed them up in appropriately different historic clothing they could have easily been from another age. The two faces were of a Russian looking woman in the far corner of the restaurant and a little girl with pigtails with quite an old fashioned face. Maybe it was the wine but I found the fanciful notion that the two of them had time travelled to this particular place and time, very interesting.

                                                              Lamps in Curve Leicester

After lunch that cost a little over the £20 voucher I made my way back through the city and had a look around Curve theatre. This modern theatre has just celebrated its fifth birthday and had placed huge pictures from previous productions around its curved walls along with enthusiastic audience comments and some headlines from major newspapers. In my other guise as theatre reviewer I had been to see two shows there in the last year, Piaf and Chicago. The lanes opposite the theatre held my photographic attention for a while.

I returned to Nottingham on the train and then by bus to home where I settled down to re-watch the new series (part one) of The Two Hairy Biker's Asian Adventure. Part one is them in Hong Kong learning about authentic Chinese food. I love the guys way of presenting a food programme, it is fun and you feel you are actually learning something about another way of life and cuisine from normal people and the enthusiastic presenters.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Dreams. Where would you like to be on St Valentine's Day?

Today I announced on Facebook a request for my friends and acquaintances to suggest what they would like to do to celebrate Valentine's Day with their loved one. It went something like this:

"Ok lovers. I want to know where you would like to have the perfect Valentines meal with your beloved. A special restaurant, a lovely French Bistro, at home, McDonalds or in a tent in the middle of nowhere! Be creative.

I'm writing a blogpost about the subject this evening so it would be great to include your answers - surnames omitted if you want. Have a loving day."

In a roundabout way here are the answers I've garnered so far. I have also asked outside of Facebook Face to Face if you like. I have kept the names private by just using the first names. Enjoy.

Lisa: "In our caravan in the middle of nowhere with an M&S meal for two."

Louise: "If I could be whisked off anywhere for a romantic meal today it would be the Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. A perfect secluded cosy hideaway on a chilly February evening."

Matt: "On the seafront Herne Bay force ten gale, sleet, rain, bag of chips between two in stale butties and no farting. Either that or Thailand."

Joanne: " I'm a simple gal Phil, but to be stereotypical - decent bottle of red - open fire - lots of food to nibble at - in a cottage or nook in the UK. Not so much a meal as whilst you're trying to talk to someone and gaze into their eyes a full on meal simply gets in the way. But definitely homely, wherever that might be. x"

Abi: "Le Mistral, a beautiful place with a great menu. I like the one in the city centre (Nottingham) but the one in Bakewell is good too."

Gary: " We love Loch Fyne. Every time I have the mussels and Annie eats everything seafood and fishy!!"

Natalia: "Perfect for me would be nice G&Ts in a North Indian/Nepalese takeaway with a few different dishes to share aboard our narrow boat with the wood burner roaring and old Jazz and Swing playing in the background. Crème Brulee for pudding and a nice whisky nightcap. C'est Bon!"

Katy: " A nice romantic picnic on the loving room floor with lots of candles and favourite foods - all prepared by someone else of course!"

I teased her about the 'loving room floor' and she laughed and said she had meant 'living room'.

Marie: " I agree with Katy - a picnic on the living room floor, candles the works and you never know where it might lead! Can't do that in a posh restaurant. Well you could but you might spend a romantic night in the cells hahaha!" "This year will be a romantic year with my dogs. Think they might have better table manners and be more attentive to me than the ex!!!"

Austin: " A real nice Italian restaurant for me. I just need to find someone to agree to come with me!"

Tomas: "My man is happy as long as I give him roses!"

Karen: "I'd choose a meal in the Cwtch restaurant St David's Pembrokeshire. Cwtch means hug or cuddle in Welsh and the food is wonderful and it's a cosy restaurant with a lovely atmosphere followed by, if the tide is favourable, a long walk along white sands beach nearby to walk off all the calories from dinner."

Dot: "Howard and I are going to Annie's Burger Shack for dinner tonight. Heard so many good things about it. I don't mind where we go as long as Howard is with me."

Mick: " We're going to French Living tonight. It's our favourite place to go now. So intimate and I know the owners."

Dan: "If I could go anywhere in the world I would go to a beautiful Italian restaurant in Meredith NH where Katy and I got married. As I can't I'll be cooking a three course meal of roasted veg bruschetta, spaghetti a la ragu,  (home made and no jar crap) followed by cheese cake."

Pete: "Samoa, Fiji or Tahiti on the beach with lobster."

Scott: "A few pints of Strongbow then a kebab."

Lisa: " I just ate at Cape in Hockley. It was delicious."

Nicola: " Can't remember the restaurant but it was in Portugal and we had the most amazing fish. I can't remember the name of the fish, it may have something to do with the great wine!"

Dawn: " Stuff that. I'd rather get me nails done. He's a waste of space."

Bianca: " I would definitely like to be on a beach in Barbados, the sun just setting and the warm sea and everything..."

Vicky: " Me? I would love to be in Mauritius on a beach with lots of lovely food and a nice man." 

And me? Well I suppose it would be somewhere continental where I didn't really understand the language except the universal language of love. (Big romantic softy I know!) And of course there would have to be nice food to nibble on as well as be with a beautiful charming lady, of course. In the meantime I'll cuddle Mr Harris the cat from next door!