It’s Not Jimmy’s, It’s Mine!

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I will never forget the first Jimmy’s I had. I bought it in a deli behind Ladbroke Grove on one of our first sunny days of the year. Before then I wasn’t necessarily convinced that iced coffee was a drink for me; sticking to piping hot espressos and frothy cappuccinos to perk me up. Well I was wrong. Since this very day in the middle of May, I have never looked back. It was also on this momentous occasion that I posted an alluring shot of my iced coffee on a bright turquoise bench in my friends garden….@jimmyicedcoffee ‘liked’ the picture and the rest is history.

What Jim Cregan has created is something cool,  fun and something so delicious that it is genuinely sad when you reach you the bottom. Iced coffee never tasted so good.

I grabbed Jim for a quick Q&A, to  give us a little insight into his world…

I am going straight in for the kill, which Country do you think produces the best coffee?

I think Costa Rica produces the best coffee.  I’ll put this down to ignorance of not exploring enough countries and their own coffees but when I went to Costa Rica, I distinctly remember having cup after cup of consistently incredible coffee.  That isn’t to say our Honduran coffee isn’t bad, as it’s EPIC.  I guess it’s also down to enjoying it in the place of origin, sat on plastic chairs in a road side cafe, without a care in the world after a great surf. That all adds to making a cup of coffee taste that extra bit better.
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Lying in the grass, on a hot & sunny day, I would reach for an Original Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. What is your ideal coffee-scenario?

My ideal coffee scenario is this; waking up knowing I’ve got enough time to brew an epic Iced Coffee at home using my Aeropress and cook up some scrambled eggs to enjoy with my wife whilst listening to some crazy music on BBC 6 Music. It’s super simple as everything should be, and so fulfilling for my belly and my brain.
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How long has it taken you to grow this wonderful brand from the very first seed of inspiration, to the Iced Coffee Empire it is fast becoming? 

Firstly, thanks for calling it a wonderful brand! The seed was sewn in Australia in 2008 when I first found ready to drink Iced Coffee. It wasn’t ‘watered’ until November 2010 when it turned into a weed and grew like mad. I guess the brand is me and my outlook on stuff which has always been there, it’s just needed to become a tangible object to make it come to life for others to enjoy. Does that even make sense?

Tell us about your involvement with the ‘This is Africa Initiative’? 

‘This is Africa’ is an epic little initiative run by a friend of mine, Lucy Devall.  She runs a heap of school enterprise campaigns here in the UK and in Africa, encouraging young people to actively think about being entrepreneurial.  She asked if we could be involved as a case study for the students as it fits well within their community and their climate. She figured that as Africa produces amazing Coffee and the sun shines a great deal, Iced Coffee could be produced for two reasons. One, the sunshine puts you in the mood for Iced Coffee and two, Solar energy could be used to power fridges, making it a viable business proposition. We proved to be a useful case study and it made the students broaden their ideas on enterprise, which is ace. In the future, I’d love to go out and do more, but for now it seems like we’ve managed to help out in a way that’s different and I like that a lot.
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Do you have a favorite café in the UK and what makes that place so special?

My favourite cafe…that’s a tough one as there are a great deal of them across the length and breadth of the UK. Right now, I would have to go with ‘Boscanova’ in Boscombe, funnily enough. It’s ace. There are some of the UK’s greatest baristas in there who literally love coffee to death.  Their breakfasts are off the chart and the chefs are like mechanical maniacs.  It’s always rammed, always playing the best music and if you get in before 9am, you can do 2-4-1 early bird brekkies. They love messing around with different types of coffee without being all ‘London’ about the whole thing and are so happy to explain all the processes involved without making you feel like a douche.  It’s perfect on a hangover, then a stroll down the beach. Simple.
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Where do you see Jimmy’s Iced Coffee in 5 years time? 

Wow. Big question.  In 5 years, the Jimmy’s brand will have a great presence in at least 5 countries across this fine globe in number of guises from Iced Coffee to the best portable BBQ you’ve ever seen.

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Your view right now… 

My view right now is the length of my office out into the car park at our Industrial Estate named ‘Beaver’ for some ridiculous reason. It’s not all that glam, but it’s amazing what a few plants and some optimism can do to your work space.

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Your next adventure is… 

My next adventure is the birth of my first nipper and man what an adventure it’s going to be. My wife is already experiencing contractions, so it won’t be long now, maybe a week!  It’s made me reflect on my life heaps and how much my folks have looked after me.  What a mission I’ve been on, even at 32.

And finally, what are you listening to in your (perfectly adorned) truck on a Jimmy’s road trip? 

On a perfectly adorned road trip, I’m listening to a mix of Nas, Pearl Jam, Snoop, Black Seeds, Russ Chimes, Beirut, Fat Freddy’s Drop, stuff like that.

Amazing. Thank you Jim! 

On that note it is time to sit back with an ice cold glass of the good stuff and enjoy this…

(Stockists include: Waitrose, Selfridges & Co., Whole Foods, Budgens, WHSmith, RoadChef and many more!)

www.jimmysicedcoffee.com 

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My Spain…

Back into the swing of things here in London and with Summer finally here, my holiday blues are subsiding. Leaving Spain for me however, is always hard…

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Arcos De La Fronterra is a little Spanish town near Jerez, that I can happily call my second home. If you want to discover typical Andalusian culture then this is a good place to start. It is surrounded by olive groves but towering high above the surprisingly lush landscape are elaborate churches, family run tapas bars and Moorish inspired homes and dwellings built into the rocks. There is a wonderful little vineyard called Bodegas Marascal, right next to Arcos town which is a simple hobby to its owner Marco (& a real treat for those locals who get to taste the wines!) We visited last year and got to see this working vineyard in action, followed by a thorough tasting whilst snacking on cold meats and cheese.

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Just by the reservoir 10 minutes from Arcos is a town called Bornos and this is where I experienced Caraquoles for the first time. ‘Caracoles guisados en caldo’ (snails stewed in broth!) is an apertivo typico for the Province of Cadiz. I spotted the gentleman on the table next to me devouring this peculiar looking delicacy as we sat outside a Tapas bar a couple of weeks ago. My only experience of Snails before now, has been stabbing at big, garlic escargot in piping hot ceramic dishes ‘the French way’. Drinking down the grey liquid then carefully picking at the little caracquoles with my teeth was a new venture. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised and washed down with a chilled glass of Cruz Campo, I can see why this herbacious and well seasoned broth is popular despite its daunting appearance.

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(top tip: avoid the black sack at the base of the snail….!)

On June 23rd, we celebrated Midsummer in honour of San Juan (St. John the Baptist). Led by a group of Spanish friends it was a day of good food and very good wine as well some fantastic ‘Spanglish’ conversation- we were really stuck on the word ‘Host’ and this escalated into a rather hilarious game of language-charades. Needless to say, the Spanish dictionary was coming in handy. At 12am the fireworks started and out came a banquet of sweet treats; traditional Spanish cakes and desserts.

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The sun setting over Arcos de la Fronterra

It is a celebration particularly prominent to some of the coastal towns of Spain (Alicante for instance consider it their most important Fiesta) and they spend their day preparing huge bonfires, which become the focal point of the night when revellers jump over them to “purify and cleanse the soul”. We kept it a little more low key but toasted to the shortest night of year with copious amounts of Cava, whilst releasing lanterns into the sky.

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Cucumber & Mint Salad: Light, fresh salads are essential lunches for scorching hot days

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I take my Cruz Campo with a slice of lemon!

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The train from Jerez to Seville is very simple and well worthwhile. It takes just over an hour and gets you right into Seville about a 15-20 minute walk from the centre. Seville won my heart over the first time I visited on a lone expedition 4 years ago. With very little planning I jumped on a bus from Algerciras on the southern coast (next to Gibraltar) and made a journey with nothing but a map and a camera. I have returned every year since with friends to show them this magical place.

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A visit to the Alcázar is a must when visiting Seville. This Royal Palace, encased by the most enchanting of gardens, is still in use and houses the Spanish Royal Family when they are on trips to the city. Peacocks strut in between cooling water features & ancient foliage whilst tourists stagger around in awe of the Palace’s fine detail, inside and out. Good food and drink isn’t hard to come by down the many cobbled streets surrounding the Alcázar and horse pulled carriages wait patiently at the Cathedral to lead you further afield.

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To really, really experience the true heart & soul of Spanish life however, you must find and witness the passion of its Flamenco. Last year my boyfriend and I were near hypnotised behind the big wooden door of Tablao El Arenal; sweat was flying, heeled boots were clicking and hands were clapping during this deeply emotive performance, that has stayed with me ever since…

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Now, tucked away in the Sierra Morena mountains just outside of Seville, is another little piece of heaven. This year Isaac and I were lucky enough to spend the night in the perfectly rustic ‘Trasierra‘ (owned by Charlotte Scott) which is the ultimate escape.

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We drankRosé by the pool and were treated to a typically Spanish spread for lunch; fresh salads, almond gazpacho, braised sausage & lentils. Homemade cakes & mint tea are served in the afternoon, post siesta and by night, you can enjoy a three course dinner under fairy lit trees in the courtyard of the Cortijo. Sleep was easier here than I have found it to be in years, no doubt the fresh white linen sheets and rare silence of the night had something to do with that. Sounds pretty idyllic doesn’t it…

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The warm breeze is perfumed with Jasmine and around every corner, set against white washed stone are dashes of colour from the lavender and rose bushes. Come here to relax. Be barefoot and carefree. Read. Eat, drink and surrender to this rural way of life.

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There is no doubt that I am truly in love with Spain. The culture, food, drink and hospitality. The weather is glorious and it continues to fill my soul with goodness each and every time I visit. It also beholds many more little secrets and adventures which I can only hope to indulge you in on countless other occasions…

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For more information on Trasierra you can LIKE their Facebook page, check out their website or give them a Tweet @trasierra
http://trasierra.eu/
https://www.facebook.com/trasierra?fref=ts

My Foodie Week: THE Full English, Coconuts & Picklebacks…

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If you want to start the weekend with a bang, then I highly recommend the Full English at The Electric Diner. It is served from 8am All Day long and it hits the spot like nothing else. Get your hangovers down their over the weekend and try it for yourself if you don’t believe me!

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I never got the  ‘Coconut Water’ thing when the artificial looking cartons first starting to hit our newsagents & supermarkets (especially when there is a stall on the Portobello Road with the real stuff). However after much searching I have found a couple of brands that definitely do what it says on the label and i’d say are the next best thing. As Summer seems to be approaching keep rehydrated with Go Coco 100% Coconut Water (pictured above) or the equally refreshing Cocofina, Natural Coconut Water.

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Having made some rather delicious Courgette and Cinnamon Muffins last week, I was left with an abundance of grated Courgette. Making the most of the ingredients I had (1 beaten egg, a chopped green chilli, 1 grated potato, fresh parsley and seasoning) I made these fritters, which were a simple and delicious vegetarian dinner. Make sure that once you have grated your veg, you ring out the excess water (I did this buy using a clean, dry tea towel). I winged this without any recipe however here is a nice and easy one from Nigella.

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I had the rare treat of going to Nobu for dinner with a girlfriend after visiting Ronnie Wood’s latest exhibition at the Castle Fine Art Gallery on Bruton Street. We both indulged in a pre-dinner cocktail and I chose the exquisite ‘English Rose’  which my friend described as “like the breath of an Angel, having just eaten a marshmallow”- I tend to agree!

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My friend Molly had her Birthday at our fave East London hangout, The Hemmingway. The food is absolutely fantastic and this Beef Wellington, has to have been the best I have had. It was a sharing dish and came with perfectly cooked runner beans, salad and thick cut chips served on a big wooden platter. If you are looking for a quirky, cool pub with a great menu and friendly staff then head to Victoria Park Road and check it out.

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Guilt free sweetener…? Yup. You may have already heard of Stevia or Pure Via (the natural sweeteners) but until a recent trip to Holland & Barrett I had never tried Crystallised Coconut Nectar! ‘Tiana‘ is 100% raw, high in nutrients and as I have discovered, a great sugar replacement for tea or coffee.

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And finally… presenting to you The Pickleback. If you have never tried one of these then shame on you! A shot of Whiskey followed by a shot of Pickle brine…enough said!  

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Off to Camden Town…”Hell Yes!”

Last Thursday morning, I went down to the Camden Town Brewery for a tour and sampling of all their beers! Pretty great way to start the day….

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A drizzly 5 minute walk from Kentish Town tube station found us winding down the back streets of Camden, closely watching our iphone maps to see which way to turn. It seems strange to imagine a brewery existing in this part of town…aren’t they big, industrial factories, usually along the side of the motorways with great big bellowing chimneys? The only notable recollection I have of a Brewery until this day, was on the journey into Edinburgh Old Town as a child exclaiming “it’s marmite mummy!” every single time the yeasty aromas from Caledonian Brewery wafted into the car. Oh and of course Fuller’s Brewery, whose exterior I am all too familiar with as I tiresomely wait in traffic along side it each time I am heading west out of London…

Turning into the Mews in NW5 however took us by surprise- 7 small units underneath the railway station sees the cosy home of Jasper Cuppaidge’s craft beer brewery.

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There is always a risk with a ‘tour’ that it will be boring, overly informative (resulting in loss of concentration) and potentially body achingly long but to our total delight, breezing down the stairs of the reception area was Christine our guide; a perfectly groomed, energetic and knowledgable asset to the Camden Brewery’s family.

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The 4 brand new tanks outside the brewery are a sign of just how popular this brand is becoming and the ever growing demand for the product. Starting with a home brewing kit, Jasper decided to sell his own beers to customers in his pub The Horseshoe, in Hampstead back in 2010. In just 3 years the company has come to supplying hundred’s of pubs and restaurants across the UK (with a couple of accounts in Europe too).

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The brewery is certainly high-tech and I couldn’t even begin to get my head around the computer programs and terminology written up on big white boards, but the system in place is slick to say the least.

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Christine talked us through the brewing process from start to finish, walking us around the building unit by unit and allowing us to see it all happen ‘live’. We talked about, felt and tasted the different malts used at the brewery, our guide ensuring we were engaged around every corner, albeit it with puckered lips; ever tasted a grain of roasted malt?

The guys working there were just getting on with the job in a cool, laid back fashion as we cautiously stepped over pipes and hoses in our protective eye wear (and of course these were in the form of geek chic glasses- true to the quirky style of the place).

Before moving through to the ‘Fermentation’ stage we are led to a chest fridge that looks no different to a one you might find in some dude’s garage, adorned with skateboard stickers and scribblings. At this point we are given an insight into the world of Hops, the key to the bitterness, flavour and aroma of all beers. Until today I never thought there could be a passion for Hops but how wrong I was! Christine is Passionate about Hops. Opening the chest I imagined some sort of angelic chorus would be released along with a bright heavenly light…and I am sure to a beer connoisseur that would be the case. To the untrained eye however, it was a puff of cold freezer mist and the distinctive hum of a generator, unveiling stacks of plastic bags filled with several varieties ready and waiting for their time to come.

I remember there was a time at my Junior school, when I had to do a pencil drawing of the Hops flower in art class using an example in the middle of the table. I must have drawn at least 5 different angles some lightly coloured in green, some just grey and cone like…but that was the first and only time I had ever inspected or seen this plant ‘in person’.  Today, Christine let us feel these sacred hops with their pungent (and sort of illegal smelling) aromas, whilst we talked about where they were from, the difference between USA and UK hops and lingered on the topic of  the ‘Simcoe’, a unique American hybrid Hops used in their Camden Pale Ale.

I would do the plant and the Brewery an injustice to go into detail myself as there is SO MUCH you can learn, so this tour is the perfect place to further your Humulus lupulus’ education.

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After the Fermentation stage, it was through the final unit- where the bottling and packaging happens. This is where they get the barrels ready to send out to the pubs and restaurants too and so the walls were absolutely lined with their kegs, coloured stickers for each brew determining what goes where.

Whilst we were in they were getting the labels on the USA Hell’s Lager Beer, which is back by popular demand and apparently “better than ever”, so keep your eyes peeled for the red, white and blue!

With the tour finished, our increasing thirst for the stuff was at an all time high so like the pied piper, Christine led us back to the water hole….

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Let the tasting commence!

Beer taps line the white brick tiles in the perfectly minimalist bar set up here. They serve popcorn in an original looking tabletop popcorn machine (a lovely touch) and have couple of independent wines and spirits ready to serve but the main attraction is of course, the beer.
We were all accustomed to the Gentleman’s Wit beer (they add roasted lemons into the brewing process, it is very special!), so we started to work through the other guys on offer and discuss the story behind each one.
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1. Hells Lager; so ready to drink this when the sun decides to come out. This is everything I want a lager to be. Refreshing, crisp and interesting pale lager made with a Pilsner malt (4.6% ABV).

2. Pale Ale (USA);  I went into a restaurant that had this beer not long ago and made the insane decision not to order it because I wasn’t sure if Pale Ale was for me…WRONG. This is delicious. Fruity. More, more, more…American and Hop-heavy using that beloved Simcoe Hop varietal. Can’t wait to get back to the brewery to enjoy this with friends. (4.0% ABV).

3. Jopa (UK Pale Ale); did anyone see the Food Fight Club program on Channel 4 with Jamie Oliver? Well this beer is Jamie’s creation so to speak and literally stands for ‘Jamie Oliver Pale Ale’.  The brewery had to come up with this name to keep it all secret before it aired back in December. The beer is totally British and true to that style of pale ale, had a much more bitter quality than the previous…(a little more on the ABV too at 5.1%).

“Think of it like walking through a forest – spicy and earthy and fragrant and herbal – while listening to a punk rock cover of the National Anthem. That’s the vibe” – Camden Town Brewery

4. Ryeld; a limited release, Rye Mild beer. Definitively nutty on the nose and to the taste, creamy texture and with a low ABV (3.7%) perhaps the perfect lunch break treat!

5. Camden Ink; I would definitely call this a sexy stout. It is dark and mysterious to look at and surprisingly light to drink. Launched in December and is only available on draught for obvious quality purposes (4.4% ABV).

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6. Dopplebock; another limited beer on tap with an ABV soaring above the rest (6.7%!). Glad we tried this last, because tasting on an empty stomach already had us rosy cheeked and smiley. This is Camden’s version of the German Dopplebock classic, which is typically strong and sweet (and apparently first brewed by Friars around the 17th Century & consumed as a ‘liquid bread’). A number of flavours arise and proved popular among the group. I’m sure we’ll be back for more when we don’t have to go straight to work after!!

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Coming soon to Camden Town Brewery…

‘The Growler’

Yes, the name caused me to giggle into my Pale Ale however a growler is ‘a thing’ in the beer world and not just something crude from the Urban Dictionary!

If a refillable, takeaway beer bottle sounds good to you, then lucks in. Camden Town are just about to launch their own Growler beer bottles, which will enable us to pop in for a big helping of their finest and take home to enjoy with friends or all to ourselves (consumed in a sensible fashion of course).

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The growler dates back to the 19th Century and was a mode of transporting beers from one place to another. Apparently the sound of CO2 when the cap was unscrewed similar to a growl, hence the name… 

Further Information…

Booking a tour at the brewery is easy, just click here and choose the date, but get in there quickly because they get booked up a few weeks in advance.

Open 12pm to 11pm Thursday through Saturday, you can pop in for a lunchtime pint or gather after work to enjoy a beer and some street food. The food calendar for March is below so see what takes your fancy and check the website for future updates.

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Follow @CamdenBrewery on twitter

http://www.camdentownbrewery.com

Get Me To The Farmers’ Market….

It is Sunday morning at 9:30am, there is 15 cm of snow on the ground and it is still falling thick. Not a person to be seen on the roads nor streets but waiting tenaciously under the tarpaulins at the top of Ascot High Street, is the Farmers’ Market.

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Ascot’s Farmers’ Market runs on the 3rd Sunday of every month all year round and the produce really is the best. It is part of the Thames Valley  Farmer’s Co-Operative, which you can find information about here -their motto to bring ‘local food, to local people’.

Slipping and sliding all the way there in my inappropriate footwear was worth it, because not only do you get to sample some of their delights (homemade fudge, sausage baps, goats cheese & chilli jam), you have to admire their love of excellent produce.

These days it is easy to forget where food comes from and at the Farmers’ Market food is produced for flavour and not to feed the masses. The prices are comparable with that of supermarkets but you really can taste the difference!

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With several dedicated butchers on hand to explain the heritage of the meat (pork, beef, chicken…) you come away feeling more knowledgable and satisfied. I had a brief discussion about pork chop with a farmer from Reading, who explained about the distribution of fat and demand for leaner cuts resulting in essentially flavourless meats. Personally I would much rather eat less meat with better flavour than a huge great chunk of meat which tastes of nothing, which is why seeking out these kind of market’s is worthwhile to me.

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Huddled together, with freezing fingers and toes is just part and parcel for the farmers, who rely on our custom for their livelihood. Some of them deliver of course if you can’t wait until the next month’s outing or make the most of it on the day and stock up your freezer.

Check out their website and find out when and where your local Farmers’ Market is. I promise you won’t be disappointed because this is what food should taste like…. and not a horse in sight, not even on the race course!

Thames Valley Farmers’ Market Co-operative assesses all producers before they’re accredited to trade at our markets. This means you can be sure you’re buying food and drink from the people who’ve grown, reared, baked and made it, all to the highest standards. All our markets are FARMA certified.

What Detox…?

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Nearly every year I jump on the band wagon and try out a new January detox. Not this year…oh no! For this year, I work far too close to the Electric Donuts in Notting Hill.

These delightfully soft, melt in the mouth, luxurious flavoured treats are being snatched up by locals and travellers of far & wide, on the notorious Portobello Road. The donuts can be found in the foyer of the renowned Electric Cinema and are open Wednesday through Sunday. They have a different special each day; with the Lemon & Poppyseed, Birthday Cake and Cinnamon Stack (pictured above) being just a sample of their worthy treats.

Honestly, if you are allowed to break the rules just once during the dry month of Jan, do it by devouring one of these!

(P.S. Follow the Donuts @ElectricDonuts for live updates)