Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eton Has the X-Mas Factor

Christmas preparations are coming to fruition here in Eton with lots of events planned for the next eight weeks. Starting now, you can enter a competition to be part of the action and join Katie Melua to switch on the Christmas Lights on our beautiful historic High Street. Simply pop into participating shops on the High Street to complete an entry form. If you can’t make it to Eton by 11th November (when the competition closes), you can enter by email via our web site or send your name, address and telephone number to Tastes, 92 High Street, Eton, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 6AF.*

Here is a calendar of some of the events planned for next month:

Thursday 11th November – The draw to decide who switches on the Christmas Lights will take place at the Barker Gallery, High Street, Eton.

Saturday 13th November – The illuminations begin with an evening of events. Starting with carols in the Eton College Chapel at 5pm, followed by a lantern procession with Father Christmas, the Irish Guards, and local choirs, and culminating in the illumination ceremony.

Saturday 20th November – The Eton Window Display competition begins. You can be the judge of the best-dressed Christmas Window. Entry forms will be available from local shops from 11am.

Thursday 25th November – Carols on the Bridge from 6pm and Late Night Shopping on Eton High Street. Late Night Shopping will continue every Thursday in December.

Saturday 27th November – Reindeer Hunt. Starting at 11am on the bridge, see if you can find all the reindeers displayed in Eton.

*By entering the Christmas Lights Switch On Prize Draw you agree to be contacted by the Eton Traders Association or its members about future events.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I know what I did last summer

Copas Turkeys, copyright Copas.While everyone else was planning for the BBQ summer, I was planning for Christmas; specifically what we were going to be stocking at Tastes. And while the BBQ summer didn't turn out to be as long or as summery as we'd hoped, I think Christmas is still on the cards.

One thing I learnt a lot about is turkey (the bird, not the place).
Did you know turkeys have a reputation for being dry and needing basting just because we eat immature birds with no fat?
Or that turkeys are game birds whose flavour and texture improves when they are left to hang?
Or that frozen birds are usually injected with water, which does nothing to improve the meat, but does make them heavier (and therefore more expensive)?
Or that "free-range" turkeys might only be outdoors for a few weeks towards the end of their lives?

Everything I've learnt points towards Copas turkeys being best for flavour, animal welfare and the environment, and those are the turkeys we will be selling this year.

The Copas family have been producing luxury turkeys in Cookham, Berkshire (less than 10 miles from Tastes) every year since 1957, when Tom Copas left school & raised his first flock for Christmas.

Nowadays Tom's three daughters & son are more involved in the family business on a day-to-day basis than he is, however the same care and artisan methods are still used and their turkeys have been acclaimed by TV celebrity chefs and discerning foodies alike; "fantastic" (The Hairy Bikers), "a king amongst turkeys" (Tom Parker-Bowles), "seriously pampered" (Daily Mail), "super & flavoursome" (Lydia Slater).

This year they have already scooped a national award for Health & Welfare in Poultry (Pig & Poultry Marketing Magazine Awards 2010), their Free Range Organic turkeys have been commended in the Organic Food Awards and their Free Range Bronze turkeys have been awarded Two Gold Stars in the Great Taste Awards. In the past, Rick Stein has listed the Copas family as one of his Food Heroes, Farmers Weekly named them Poultry Producer of the Year & their turkeys were short listed in the Daily Telegraph Best UK Food awards.

All Copas Turkey flocks are made up of naturally slow-growing breeds sourced from British hatcheries. Over twenty-five different varieties of traditional breeds have been selected for Christmas 2010 to provide both natural diversity and achieve a full range of beautifully finished adult birds, in all weight categories.

Turkeys are raised on a high quality cereal-based diet, rich in oats and free of growth promoters. Fully mature turkeys have the benefit of a deliciously dense meat, along with a natural fat layer under the skin which helps retain moisture whilst cooking - succulence without the need for basting!

In December, turkeys are dry-plucked by hand and hung like a game bird for two weeks in the old-fashioned way. This enables the rich, traditional flavours to develop fully, ensuring the finest taste and texture for Christmas day.

Each Copas turkey comes in its own carry-home box, complete with everything required to cook both the turkey (cooking instructions & a handy pop-up cooking timer) & the gravy (giblets, fresh rosemary & a traditional recipe) perfectly - no matter what your culinary experience.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chocolate Week

This week is chocolate week and what better time for us to start stocking "probably the best Chocolate in the world".

Ben Tre chocolate took an amazing 3 gold stars (the highest accolade) at the Great Taste Awards this year. The cocoa is grown by a co-operative in southern Vietnam, the unrefined sugar is grown on a family-owned plantation in Peru and the transformation from bean to chocolate takes place at an old-style third generation chocolatier in Avignon, France, using a recipe created by artisan chocolatier Marc Demarquette. It is pretty special chocolate!

To celebrate the success of this 2010 vintage bean, two limited edition bars have been produced. A dark chocolate bar (70%, and dairy free) and a milk chocolate bar (40%). The bars have a wonderful aroma, are richly flavoured and slightly spicy, melt slowly and leave a smooth after taste. And not only that, but they are raising money for Action Against Hunger as well! Action Against Hunger is an international organisation that specialises in feeding starving children. £1 from every bar sold goes to help Action Against Hunger continue their valuable work.

“This chocolate bar benefits everyone from the sustainable, small-scale producers in Vietnam to the five million people Action Against Hunger supports each year. We encourage all food lovers to make a difference by purchasing this very special product,” said Heidi Drummond from Action Against Hunger.

Friday, October 08, 2010

I can mention Thanks Giving though?

I'm not going to mention Christmas again for a while, but I do need to talk about Thanks Giving. I am very pleased to say that this year we will have Libby's Canned Pumpkin in stock. I have been promised that it is on a boat at this very moment and should arrive here next week! And to further delight our North American customers, we will have some Turkeys available for Thanks Giving as well. I am mentioning it now, as the Turkeys will only be available if ordered before the end of October. They will come from the same flock as our Christmas Turkeys; those pampered, free-range, birds currently frolicking in the cherry orchards and grass meadows over in Cookham. If you’d like to order a locally reared, Two Gold Star Great Taste Award winning, Thanks Giving bird, please get in touch.