Breakfast in Ludlow

If your idea of the perfect breakfast is two Weetabix then going on holiday is the ideal time to experiment with the local’s idea of breakfast. If you’re in Vietnam for instance, you can expect Pork Porridge. Which might not be your first choice, but it works for them. They most likely take a pretty dim view of The Full English themselves. In Sweden you’ll find yourself with a pancake (Pannkakor) and in Japan you’ll have to get your head around eating tofu shortly after waking up. The Italians on the other hand, don’t really bother with breakfast at all. Cappuccino e cornetto’ (Cappucino and a Croissant) is typical – probably because they’re saving themselves for a long Italian lunch. Without siesta’s in place, the best we can hope for in England is a big breakfast or brunch. So if time is on your side, you can really make a meal of it.

Sadly, we can’t bring breakfast to your house with a rose on a tray, but now that we’re providing breakfast for guests staying at the Town House rooms, we’ve extended our breakfast menu. Forget the Full English. We’re doing breakfast in style inspired by Spain and Turkey. So here’s the story behind some of the treats on our breakfast menu.

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Turkish Eggs from Changa Restaurant, Istanbul.

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The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire enjoyed their Turkish Eggs in the morning, but slightly more recently, this dish hails from the famous Changa restaurant in Istanbul, Also known as çılbır, whipped yoghurt and chilli flavoured butter are topped with two poached eggs for a mouth watering breakfast Turkish style. If you’re heading to Istanbul, check out the Changa for the ultimate in Turkish cuisine. See the link here.

Huevos Rotos with Morcilla Sausage

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Otherwise known as ‘broken eggs’ (scrambled) Huevos Rotos is normally eaten by the Spanish for lunch but makes a hearty breakfast too.  Typically served on fried potato, popular optional additions are chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), pimientos (green peppers), or jamón Serrano. A seriously good way to start the day.

Pan Con Tomate

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Quite simply translated as ‘bread with tomatoes’, this national dish of Catalonia is often eaten at breakfast. Our Pan Con Tomate is made with local sourdough bread, toasted and topped with garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and sea salt. Light but filling, it’s almost as good as our smashed avocado on toast, with roast tomatoes, lemon and olive oil. And the best news? It’s breakfast without a heart attack.

Bakers Bread Bag

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A little known fact about Breakfast at Tiffany’s is that Audrey Hepburn hated Danish Pastries. She should have tried one of our bread bags instead….toast, pastries (not Danish, but Italian), conserves and Barry’s Marmalade. Who’s Barry? One of our regulars. See Barry on our outside table if you want to ask him the secret behind his marmalade! And keeping it local, here’s the man who brings us our eggs  next to Martyn who cooks up the delicious breakfasts when he isn’t horsing around!

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Breakfast is served every day from 8 – 11.

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Two Cook Books That Won’t Spoil The Broth

The Recipe for Happiness

January feels like the cruellest month, so if you’re wondering why you don’t live in Tuscany, then you’re not alone. All things considered, it’s a good time to stay in the kitchen and hunker down with some great food. However, if you’re not too sure where to start with Italian cooking and you need instruction and inspiration, then we thought we’d take a look at two Italian recipe books that we can’t recommend highly enough. And the first of these is the Italian Bible of Cooking, The Silver Spoon.

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Also handy as a doorstop or weapon for temperamental chefs, this giant tome is the most successful and well regarded Italian recipe book ever. First published in 1950, cooking experts were sent forth to collect and update thousands of traditional Italian recipes. The result is a comprehensive and simple book with over 2,000 recipes for every skill level and taste. And the new edition also features an introduction covering traditional Italian meals and food traditions of the regions, along with how to set an Italian table.

The second book, and one regarded as seminal by many chefs, is Elizabeth David’s Italian Food.

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In the early 1950’s David escaped from an England of boiled cabbage and ham to Italy (with her lover) in search of true Italian food that was neither anglicised nor ‘frenchified’. The result is a compendium of authentic and delicious Italian recipes with a strong inclination towards the rustic. As a result, her passion for real hearty, fresh, and authentic Italian food will inspire anyone who longs to recreate the abundant and unique regional dishes of Italy.

Polenta Parties and Crashing Boars

Spring has to come soon, so we’re also beating the January blues with lots of plans for the year ahead. Top of the agenda, are our pasta making evenings and polenta parties, both coming soon! Our Polenta Parties will involve a 4ft board of polenta topped with wild boar ragu, or vegetables and gorgonzola cream for vegetarians. This traditional rustic meal involves pouring soft-cooked polenta in a thin, even layer directly onto a wooden board positioned in the center of the table, topped with a meaty slow-cooked sugo, for everyone to dig in. Delizioso! And our long ‘Friendly Table’ is just the place to enjoy it.

We’ve also just taken delivery of food fresh from Italy and Spain, including unwaxed lemons and oranges, fresh goats cheese, 00 flour, Spanish black pudding with rice, and tinned tuna.

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Martyn cooked up this delicious black pudding with scrambled egg, a breakfast we heartily recommend for a cold morning!

black pudding and egg black pudding

Another delivery we’re excited about, is the arrival of the wild boar. Not seen much in Shropshire, unfortunately, historically, wild boar haven’t roamed our forests since the days of Henry VIII. In France and Italy, however, Wild Boar can be found in large numbers. There are around 150,000 in Tuscany alone.

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Considered both a nuisance and a delicacy, these Sanglier (France) or Cinghiali (Italy) eat almost anything, and, depending on their diet, taste pretty good themselves. The best boars are often cured and aged to be consumed as the great Italian prosciutto di cinghiale. Ideal for stewing after marinading, wild boar is lean, sweet and nutty. So what to do with it? As we have our own very good English apples at the time of year, then try this recipe for Wild Boar with Apples from The Silver Spoon.

Chinghiale Alle Mele

  • 1 kg wild boar, diced
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 375ml dry red wine
  • An onion, peeled and chopped
  • A clove of garlic
  • A bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 50ml of brandy
  • A carrot, peeled and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Melt half the butter in a flameproof casserole, add the meat and cook, stirring frequently until browned. Stir in the onion and carrot, sprinkle in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly for 2 – 3 minutes. The gradually stir in the wine. Add the garlic and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Transfer the casserole to the oven and cook for one hour, then stir in the brandy. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a pan, add the apples, and cook, stirring occasionally for ten minutes until golden. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, serve the meat in the cooking juices and add the apples separately.

Buon Appetito!

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Temperance, Pasta, and The Italian Job

Christmas is over, and as we gear up for another year, we’d like to thank all of our customers for their support over the festive season. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! So as we stagger into 2015, here’s a round-up of what’s happened and what’s going to happen in the weeks ahead.

First up, Louise from the Ludlow Fish House won our Panettone raffle competition so well done Louise. She also clearly has a good eye for pounds and kilos after correctly guessing the exact weight!  In total, we raised £99 for the Breast Cancer Haven in Hereford, so big thanks to all those who entered; the Haven is a fantastic cause.

To stay with the subject of good causes, our very own Jayne has decided to make the massive sacrifice of avoiding the demon drink for a whole month in aid of Cancer Research. Jayne likes a tipple but she’s doing fantastically and still smiling.  So if you’re not too broke after Christmas, please go to her Just Giving Page here and sponsor her. She’d really appreciate the support.

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Pasta Making with Martynissima

fresh pasta

So what’s happening in 2015? First up, we should mention that we’re going to be starting pasta making courses. If you’ve never made your own pasta, then find out how with us; it’s got to be more fun than watching Nigella Lawson. Almost. Apart from impressing your friends with your own pasta, one of the big advantages of making your own is that there’s lots of room to experiment. The extremely refined Italian “00” flour gives fresh pasta its silky texture, whilst the semolina adds ‘bite.’ So you can adjust the ratio of egg to flour in the dough, and the amount of semolina flour for different results.  One of the other great secrets of cooking with pasta is matching the type of pasta to the sauce. Traditionally, freshly made pasta is served in Northern Italy with cream, butter, and rich meaty sauces. So dust the cobwebs off your pasta machine and rustle up some pasta dishes the Italian way. We’ve already had a lot of interest, so if you want to join in, just call in and we’ll add you to the list! For more on pasta, check out the brilliantly named Geometry of Pasta. It’s well worth a read.

The Italian Job

In other news, we’ve got more products arriving from Italy next week, which we’re very excited about, so watch this space for more info. And while we’re about it, great service needs great staff and we’re always looking for more nice people to come and work with us. So please let us know if you’re interested. A sense of humour and the ability to put up with Martyn is essential!

piss off

Finally, we thought it would be nice to mention one of our stalwart Twitter followers, Don Hale, who tweeted us this picture of a Fiat 500 he saw on his travels. We love it, and think it would be useful for driving through the shop. So thanks Don. Keep those pictures of La Dolce Vita coming!

fiat 1266

 

 

Christmas All Wrapped Up

Christmas is only just around the corner, and Martyn’s baubles are making us feel very festive indeed!

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Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of snow so far, and we’re disappointed not to be able to build a snowy life size replica of Martyn outside the shop. However, white Christmas or not, if you’re stuck for gift ideas, then we’ve got plenty of delicious stocking fillers for under £10.

Try the most amazing tuna fish in the world (which has to be eaten to be believed), Amarena Cherries in a delicious syrup (an incredible sorbet or ice cream topping), Nduja (spreadable salami) which is great on toast with fried quail eggs, or Panpetato; an Italian Christmas food, which quite literally means ‘Peppered Bread,’ ideal for serving with our Kimbo coffee. Whilst anyone with a sweet tooth will love the Ricuperto or Tentazione nougat.

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The Italian Christmas favourite, Panettone, is now a traditional part of Christmas across all of Europe, and we’ve got a huge selection of beautifully wrapped Panettone her in the deli. The origins of Panettone are supposedly attributed to the love of a Milanese man for a bakers daughter. He invented the sweet bread to win her father over, and in the process made her father’s bakery famous and got the girl. So if you have trouble with the in-laws, warm their hearts with a Panettone this Christmas….it can’t do any harm.

pannetone

Last but not least, if you’re exhausted by Christmas already, then take the hard work out of it by ordering one of hampers. We’ll pack and post it, but be warned, there’s only two days until the last post so you’ll need to place your order PRONTO! In the meantime, we wish all of our customers old and new, a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS indeed.

 

The Season to be Jolly

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, but what about the drink? If you want to avoid boring your guests with another round of mince pies and sherry, then the vineyards of Tuscany should ring a welcome change. Vin Santo is not only the perfect Christmassy drink, but, if you need any other excuses, could even be considered holy; the name literally translates to Saint Wine. Rich, intense, sweet and amber coloured, it’s traditionally served with Cantucci biscuits for dipping alongside dessert. It’s also a super addition for introducing complex sweetness to dessert recipes requiring wine.

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If you find yourself in Provence for Christmas, then here’s a tip. Never ask outright for the Pastis. This will identify you as ‘les ros bif’ even more quickly than being unable to speak French. Instead, ask for ‘Ricard’ or a ‘cinquante et un’. If Christmas isn’t going to find you in the South of France, then instead come and buy a bottle from us. Great for for all your Christmas aperitifs.

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In Italy, grappa is primarily served as a digestive. Or if you want to give your coffee a kick and keep guests awake, then add a dash to your espresso to make a ‘Caffè Corretto’ (Corrected Coffee). Other Christmassy uses for grappa include flambéing your Christmas bird, or frozen grapes and chocolate along with a glass of grappa together for an alternative sorbet. Nocino di Agerola (made from green walnut-tree hulls) is nutty, sweet and strong (a bit like Martyn?) and will slip down a treat on Christmas Night. Alternatively, if you leave a glass out for Father Christmas, you’ll be first on his delivery list next year.

Our shelves are also choc full of goodies for foodies at the moment, and we’re offering 10% off hampers worth £25 or over, packed by the lovely Jayne, and totally pine needle proof. We’ll also be adding more products and ideas to the blog right up to the big day, so check back for more inspiration.

Pictures by MoNk

Muffin’s Muffins

Muffin Magee

Muffin Magee

If you’ve not yet read local celebrity John Challis’ new book, ‘Reggie in the Frame’ then you should really get to Castle Bookshop and pick one up. Having created ‘loveable rogue’ Reggie Finch-Leigh, Challis has immortalised Ludlow and some of Shropshire’s more colourful characters in his book; albeit disguised.

Amongst these characters however, is the not-so thinly veiled character of Muffin Magee, ‘laconic bearded proprietor’ of the local deli bar. And who, if you hadn’t already guessed, is none other than our very own Martyn. So in tribute to ‘Reggie in the Frame,’ here’s a very fine recipe for Smoked Salmon Muffins from Muffin Magee.

Smoked Salmon and Dill Brunch Muffins

Makes 6 – 9 Muffins.

Ingredients

350g (12oz) plain white flour

I tblspn baking powder

225g (8oz) real mayonnaise

1 large egg beaten

75ml (3 fl oz) sunflower oil or 75g (3oz) melted butter

200 ml (7fl oz) milk

2 tblspns chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons of dried dill weed

225g (8oz) cold-smoked salmon finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cream cheese and extra smoked salmon to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/Gas Mark 6. Line a six-hole large muffin tin or a nine-hole medium muffin tin with paper muffin cases.

Sift the flour with the baking powder into a large bowl and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Make a well in the centre.

Whisk the mayonnaise, beaten egg, oil or melted butter and milk together with the dill. Carefully stir in the cold-smoked salmon or trout. Pour this mixture into the flour and lightly stir with a wooden spoon until just mixed. There should still be a few small pockets of flour. Mixing too much will make them tough.

Fill muffin cases to just under the rim. Bake for about 25 mins until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Eat warm, preferably on the day of making.

To Serve:

Eat warm, preferably on the day of baking, split and filled with cream cheese and extra smoked salmon for added luxury.

Chicchetti on the Map

Although we’re central to Ludlow town centre and within staggering distance of the railway station, some people don’t yet know where we are. So we’re on Google Maps, but even more excitingly, can now boast a 360 degree rotational view of the inside of the Deli Bar. You can see it here in staggering technicolour, and if you look carefully, you’ll see that James May is inside and Floyd outside. We do let him in sometimes……

Capers in Catalonia

As autumn finally arrived in Ludlow, we took off to Spain to visit the olive groves and food producers of Catalonia on the look out for goodies to bring back to the Chichetti Bar in time for Christmas. (Well, somebody had to). Although we failed on the raffia donkey front, we did meet a great ham man, picked and pressed our own olives, caught a catfish, and visited our talented potter.

Picking the olives…by hand

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The olive press….ready for our own arbequina olives. Pressing this way is one of the most ancient forms of processing olives. After grinding, the olive paste is spread on fibre disks, which are stacked on top of each other, then placed into the press. Traditionally the disks were made of fibres from hemp or coconut.

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 The Ham Man showing us carving Spanish style. We’re bringing back some very fine Iberico and Serrano hams .

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Lunchtime with the boys and a view of the Finca

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A centuries old tradition in the area. The potter…hard at work making traditional Catalan pottery.

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Bevan handcrafting our olive wood chopping board, time for a rest, and the Lambourghini tractor

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The lovely Jayne posing with various trees, and Martyn and Bevan with a menu they definitely don’t think is a good idea for The Chichetti Bar.

We’ll be keeping you updated on all the great stuff we’ve got as we head towards Christmas, and you can also collect a form from the shop to place orders for the festive season.

Hope to see you soon!