How’s it going Leicester? Things are pretty amazing for me… No-one is more surprised than me that this month marks this blog’s 10th anniversary! The more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that as a special treat I have given the blog a facelift for it’s birthday and have finally bought a domain!
It’s been an incredible journey, writing the blog for ten years. I would never have guessed how it would have developed and evolved over the years, just the same as I have changed since my mid-twenties! Obviously, food has been a theme throughout, but in the early days I was much more occupied with writing out my recipes and culinary inventions. I’ve clearly been ahead of the game for a long time though, as one of the first things I mentioned was a boob-shaped gluten free cake, made for a friend with Coeliac disease. Why boob shaped? Well, why not?
After a slow start, my blogging pace started to pick up as I discovered a love for writing. I enjoyed recording what we had seen (and eaten) on our travels, even if we didn’t always have the money to do everything we wanted. It turned out that I was also riding the crest of the wave writing about my beloved city. After years of observing the regeneration and the trends, I declared Leicester as officially a great place to eat, drink and make merry in 2014 and things have continued to improve ever since.
Sadly, not every promising business has made it. Looking back on my May 2015 Meat Drunk post, I note with sadness that now we have lost both Grillstock and (my personal favourite) Meatcure. The low and slow meat restaurant movement is well and truly over it would seem. But plenty of places have, and it has been my pleasure to hone my writing skills, learn more about an industry I love and get to share my experiences with you lovely lot.
Wine & Beer Writer
The obsession began with posting my amazing vineyard visits when travelling abroad, like visiting the incredible Ceja Vineyards in CA, 2012. Since then my love for wine has blossomed. You’ve all watched it grow into an all consuming passion, with plenty of beer thrown in for good measure too. I first visited my local vineyard, Rothley Wine Estate, in June 2015 to write a blog post. I’ve never left since, volunteering for over three years now in the vineyard, winery and tasting room. This year I finally decided to try and formalise my enthusiastic amateur status – I now hold the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Level 1 and Level 2 qualifications, with my Level 3 exam in three weeks!
Supporting Local Business
I love a good parallel, and so it behooves me to mention that my 10 year anniversary is being shared by my good friends at the Beautiful Pubs Collective. It seems amazing to me that we have been blessed with a whole decade of these beautiful community and urban pubs, headed up by hospitality mastermind and dedicated foodie, Sam Hagger. The Beautiful Pub Collective has featured extensively on this blog over the years.
Glenstock at The Forge is a great example of how this business really works to add value to their local community. This was a small but perfectly formed festival where we were blessed with relatively good weather and some fantastic live music.
The Rutland and Derby has been a mainstay of my life in Leicester. There was that amazing year where my friends and I dominated the Monday night quiz to the point where we were crowned champions of the overall league. I’ve also featured the pub for its fantastic beer garden, one which has very few rivals on a sunny afternoon in Leicester. They were participants in my well loved Tapas Trail with the salmon steamed bun being one of the highlights of my scheme.
And of course, I was ecstatic to see the rundown Molly O’Gradys disappear from our streets and to watch the beautiful Knight and Garter slowly emerge in its place. The third pub in the group, the Knight and Garter is a real delight for foodies, noted for its Sunday Lunch and brunch offerings, as well as their regularly changing menus and experimental seasonal trials.
The Knight & Garter in 2018
I talked Sam, the co-founder of the Beautiful Pubs Collective about where the Knight and Garter finds itself at this point in 2018.
I get the most excited over weekend brunch at the Knight & Garter especially Sunday’s. Guests’ favourites include Cromer Crab & Scrambled Eggs, Smashed Avocado on Toast & of course the Full Knight Breakfast. This includes award winning sausages, dry cured Tamworth bacon, fried local duck eggs & my real favourite – our house made picante baked beans. I really love Sundays because brunch rolls through into Sunday Lunch, there’s something really satisfying about reading the paper and eating your cooked breakfast with a mimosa whilst seeing families enjoying a Sunday roast.
Sam Hagger on 10 years in Leicester
Since we’re both celebrating 10 years of being dedicated to the heart of Leicester, I asked Sam what the anniversary means to him – both for the Beautiful Pubs Collective and for Extreme Housewifery.
I’m literally still pinching myself daily that The Beautiful Pubs is celebrating 10 years since its foundation & playing such a large part in positively disrupting Leicester’s hospitality scene. Starting any business is difficulty especially when you choose to do it 10 days after the biggest UK banking collapse!It has felt like growing a family, a family that you want the best for in everything and one that personally you care deeply about everyone’s perception of. What’s amazing is that by sticking to our beliefs of trying to add value to our guests’ experience and not being just giving straight value (ie discounting) we’ve been able to evolve into not just a successful business but a business with a strong sense of social responsibility, Our School Leavers Programme and our ongoing partnership with ‘Help the Homeless Leicester’ are incredibly important to us. Our chefs at Knight & Garter prepare hot food for over 200 people in need to be served at Leicester Market each week.
Personally I really love how different each of our pubs are and that the teams are so passionately focused on their individual pubs offerings. You really could do a tour of all three in one day & have three uniquely different experiences. The only thing linking them being our high standards of produce & service values, as well as our prized Budweiser Budvar & Everards Tiger on tap.
Sam Hagger on Leicester
Since we moved into the Leicester city centre in May 2010 so much has changed and evolved, Leicester is such an amazing city and there are great reasons to visit. Over the past couple of years Leicester’s indie scene has flourished and there has never been a better time then to eat, drink & shop local.But for those who don’t get to visit the centre that much how do you know about whats going on? Well the best starting point is Leicester’s bloggers & food writers. Absolutely nothing gets past them! Laura’s blog Extreme Housewifery has always been my favourite not just because of the quality of the writing, her obvious passion for it and how much great stuff she has covered but also her commitment to improving our city centre experience. Her original Tapas Trail was a triumph with passionate food & drink goers still talking about it 3 years on.
Having taken up such a huge amount of Sam’s time, he unbelievably has also offered up a fantastic prize for Extreme Housewifery readers. You can win brunch for four at the Knight & Garter just by completing the simple steps in the Rafflecopter below. Then you can see what the fuss is about for yourself!
I stopped by the Knight & Garter in preparation for publishing this post as I’d been tipped off by the wonderful Cool as Leicester that there was a special range of winter warming hot chocolates just being released in time for Christmas. And right she was, Sam did me the honour of letting me try the Black Forest Gateaux incarnation, which mixes hot chocolate, hot milk, and Black Forest syrup which gives flavours of cherry, kirsch and a touch of almond. This was topped with squirty cream and a cherry.
Now anyone who has been paying attention will know that squirty cream is a bit of a nemesis of mine, and this is no exception. The cream melts almost immediately, spilling down the sides of the cup and, worst of all, meant my cherry garnish disappeared into oblivion and had to be rescued with my teaspoon!
However, the mini mince pie on the side more than made up for it, and the warming, syrupy sweet chocolate treat certainly warmed my cockles. Delightful! So enter the competition above and you can come and try some of the Knight & Garter’s creative creations for yourself.
Here’s to 10 more years
Thank you to everyone who has popped in to read this blog over the years. I hope you’ve enjoyed the content, and I know that my writing (and my photography!) has improved. Already I have plenty of things up my sleeve for the next decade. Things that will change my writing, and hopefully keep you coming back to reading the blog. This blog has grown into a real shaping influence in my life, including helping me to start my own business.
Right now, more than perhaps I have felt since I left college and was looking forward to university, I can sense real change in the air for me. Let’s see where we end up by 2028! Yippee!