Friday, December 04, 2015

Talking Turkey (again)

I've talked before about what makes the Copas Turkeys superior, but some new research has added another angle, so I thought it was time for a re-cap!

1. Copas turkeys are easy to cook and don't dry out thanks to the way they are produced (mature birds with a natural layer of fat and hand plunked so as not to damage the skin means there is no need for basting and faffing). They even come with cooking instructions for convention, fan and AGA cooking, and a pop up timer. Plus tips for carving, and recipes for left overs. The turkey breasts come with a baking tin!

2. Copas turkeys taste great and regularly receive Great Taste Awards. Again thanks to the way they are produced from mature birds, with that fat layer and intact skin, which means they can be game hung to allow the flavour to develop. They are simply refrigerated for Christmas and not heavily chilled, gas flushed or transported long distances.

3. Copas turkeys are reared to the highest welfare standards in mixed flocks of over 25 varieties of traditional birds and accredited to the highest standards. They are reared in spacious open barns, cherry orchards and meadows, roaming outside everyday from 6 weeks old. They eat a balanced cereal diet, rich in oats and free from animal protein or growth promoting additives.

And according to recent laboratory testing:

4. Copas turkeys are safe. At a time when public health concerns regarding poultry are increasing, it is reassuring to know Copas turkeys are safe. Year round bio-security monitoring and the latest lab results have not detected any Campylobacter in Copas Turkeys. This is achieved by providing high standards of animal husbandry to reduce disease risk, maturing the birds which naturally reduces the presence of campylobacter, game hanging which changes the pH level in the bird naturally and reduces any bacteria present in the gut, and hand plucking (rather than machine plucking under water) which ensures no water is introduced to spread bacteria. Plus, the instructions they come with will help consumers to prepare and cook their Christmas dinner safely.

Seems like a Copas Turkey ticks all the boxes, best order a Copas Turkey from Tastes Deli today!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas Light Switch On

It feels as though Autumn is making way for Winter now, there is a definite chill in the air and at the end of last week the shop was too cold for short sleeved t-shirts. Just in time really, as the Eton Christmas Light Switch on is on Thursday (19th November). Carols in college chapel from 6pm (restricted space so tickets are required which you can get from shops on the high street, like Tastes Deli), processession to Jubilee Square led by Father Christmas, his faithful reindeer and the children from the Eton Porny Primary School. More carols, mulled wine, mince pies, snow etc etc. The lights will illuminate at 7pm. Here are some photos from last year to get you in the mood.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Perfect Pasta

Yesterday Tastes Deli, in Eton, was visited by a lovely couple, stocking up on the spaghetti they brought from us a few weeks previously. It being the best spaghetti they'd found, of course. While they were here, they admitted to reading this blog. I wasn't sure there were any real people out there reading along. Very motivating for me! What better way to repay loyal readership than a blog post about their favourite spaghetti! So here it is ....

Rustichella d' abruzzo Spaghetti was one of the first things I stocked at Tastes Deli. It should have been here on our opening day, but if I remember correctly, was delayed in transit somewhere and actually arrived two days later. It rapidly became a firm favourite with our regular customers and we sold that first case within a month. It retained its space on our pasta shelf for many years, while other products came and went. Then in September 2012 the importer we used discontinued the spaghetti. I bulk bought a lot before it disappeared, but eventually my stocks ran out. It wasn't until February this year that I found a new supplier. Rustichella spaghetti returned to Tastes Deli and is selling better than ever.

Why, you may ask? It's just spaghetti. Well... this is no ordinary spaghetti. 

Rustichella spaghetti is cast from bronze dies (the pasta dough is forced through small holes on a bronze disc to create the strands). This gives it a very rough surface, ideal for absorbing sauce. It is air dried for 56 hours and made from just two ingredients: Durum Wheat Semolina and Water. It has a wonderful springy texture when cooked, which takes about 9-11 minutes.

Just recently I was given a copy of the Rustichella catalogue. Possibly the most beautiful product list I've ever received. Packed with stunning photographs and delightful illustrations. It even has waxed paper between some of the pages like an old fashioned photograph album. It's also a really interesting read, with lots of detail on the history of pasta. Did you now pasta dates back to ancient Rome and Greece and it is believed the Arabs introduced died pasta cooked in boiling water, during the conquest of Sicily? According to the catalogue this particular spaghetti was first produced in 1924, is rough-textured, yellow to white in colour with a solid consistency and slightly bran-like taste. So now you know!

Rustichella spaghetti was the spaghetti of choice of Heston Blumenthal in his In Search of Perfection series (episode 7, the pasta part starts around 21 minutes in if you can find the episode). So for anyone looking for the perfect spaghetti bolognese recipe then a pack of this pasta and his recipe for sauce is a great start. Delia Smith's Ragu recipe in "Complete How to Cook" came to me very highly recommended by a customer, and I've managed to impress every time I've made it at home. It doesn't seem to be on Deli Online, but there is a similar recipe listed (it doesn't include any chicken livers which I'm sure are in the original). The spaghetti is also delicious with a simple pesto dressing, or sometimes I pour over a jar of Olive Branch Aubergine and Basil paste

I've just started a pinterest board for spaghetti recipes. I'll be trying some out over the next few weeks, but one which caught my eye immediately used cauliflower  (the romanesco cauliflowers are in season right now!). 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

National Honey Week

Last week, on facebook, I wrote a series of posts to celebrate National Honey Week. They received lots of positive feedback and knowing not everyone uses facebook, I've repeated all the posts here.

Honey facts from the British Beekeepers Association:

  • The honeybee is the only insect to produce food we eat.
  • Bees have been producing honey the same way for over one hundred and fifty million years.
  • The harvest from honey bees of honey, pollen, wax and propolis has nutritional, craft, manufacturing, and medical applications.
  • Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey, that’s 1½ times around the world!
  • Honey flavours will be different according to what the bees have been foraging on.
  • It is possible for bees to fly as far as 5 miles for food. A strong colony flies the equivalent distance of to the moon every day!
  • Bees are pollinators vital to our food chain. One third of the food we eat would not be available but for bees.
  • Bees are totally red blind. Their eyes are sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum and into ultra violet. Flowers reflect large amounts of ultra violet light and to a bee will be very bright.
  • There are over 25,000 beekeepers (like Windsor Honey) in the UK, many of whom sell their honey at local markets, shops (like Tastes Delicatessen) or from the gate all around the country.
  • Worker bees can flay as fast as 15-20mph when flying to a food source and about 12mph when returning laden down nectar, pollen, propolis or water.
  • Bees don't sleep, but during the night most bees remain motionless reserving their energies for the next day.
You can learn a lot more about bees from the British Beekeepers Association website.

The Bee Buzz Game.

This is a game in which you take turns with your friends to throw a dice and draw a bee on a piece of paper. Any number can play. To play, you need only a piece of paper, a pencil and a six-sided dice. The winner is the one who first completes drawing the bee, like the drawing here.

You throw the dice in turn and have one throw per turn. Depending on the number indicated on the dice, you can draw a part of the bee. To start your drawing you must first throw a “3” because all the other parts of a bee come off the thorax. If you have already drawn the part indicated by the dice on your turn, then you cannot draw anything. You must wait until your turn comes round again to throw the dice and maybe you will be luckier this time

How to play:
  • To start to draw get a “3” 
  • For a first “1” draw either the head or the abdomen 
  • For a second “1” draw the one you didn’t draw last time 
  • For a “2” draw the two antennae but only if you have drawn the head
  • For a “4” draw the four wings 
  • For a ”5” draw the 2 big eyes on the side of the head and the 3 little eyes on top of the head (only if you have drawn the head)
  • For a "6" draw the 6 legs
Our Local Bees.

We sell honey from local hives, each with its own unique flavour, which varies from one year to the next.  You can read about my visit to the bee hives in Windsor in a previous blog post. For up all the latest news on what is going on in the hives, have a look at the Windsor Bees & Honey blog.

Honey Week inspired Kid's Craft Activity - Bee Finger Puppets!

Finger puppets are easy to make and you can have lots of fun with them pretending to collect pollen or nectar from flowers. You can get together with your friends and make a swarm of bees.

Of course there are many different ways of making bee finger puppets. You can use different colours and materials, even paper. You can also cut up an odd glove to make the finger cosy.You might like to give the bee a more human looking face.

Here's a suggestion from the British Beekeepers Association.

Show me the Honey.

We have a wide selection of yummy honey at Tastes Delicatessen and lots of other delights which use honey to make them yummy. Here are some favourites:
Olive Branch Red Wine Vinegar with Cretan Orange Honey
Susie's Preserves Honeyed Sliced Pickled Onions
Mr Filberts Moroccan Spiced Almonds
Tracklements Spiced Honey Mustard
The Coconut Kitchen Honey, Garlic & Pepper Sauce (best sticky ribs!)
Midfields Granola range of honey baked granolas
Moore's Biscuits Oat & Honey biscuits (also happen to be wheat free)
Mighty Fine Chocolate Salted Caramel Honeycomb
Granny's Secret Orange & Honey Fruit Spread
The Bay Tree Food Company
Quaranta Soft Italian Nougat.

If you're feeling inspired to make your own delights using honey, here's a nice little recipe from the British Beekeepers Association for children to make their own honey gingernuts. Perfect for an autumnal Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Cheese Wedding Cake Reveal!

Most good weddings run late. Its a given really. But last summer I built cheese wedding cakes at many weddings that were running ahead of schedule. Usually because the period planned for drinks in the garden or photographs outside was curtailed due to inclement weather. I started increasing the contingency time I plan in for wedding cake creation!

So on an unseasonably warm day last November I turned up at a beautiful wedding which wasn't running early (and, despite the best efforts of the traffic on the M25, I was!). The room where the cheese was to be displayed in just over an hour's time was still full of very happy, chatty, dinning guests and they wouldn't be going anywhere for another three quarters of an hour at least. With the bride's approval I waited for speeches to start then crept around at the back of the room stealthily building the cheese tower while the guests were all distracted.  I'd just finished my work, gone to the corner of the room to get my camera, when the speeches stopped. As I turned back the cake was surrounded; nine people had appeared in seconds, from nowhere, all armed with cameras! It was really really lovely to see their reactions as usually I am long gone before the guests come in.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

History of 92

Tastes Delicatessen may not occupy the most spectacular building in Eton, it might not even be in the top 20, but it is unique, and I certainly feel a responsibility as its caretaker. Since deciding to open my deli at 92 High Street, Eton, I have dipped in and out of researching the history of the building. Nine years on, I've decided it is about time I pulled together all the scrappy notes I'd made and documented these details. There remain plenty of gaps, but maybe someone reading this can help fill them in.

Number 92 High Street, Eton, is situated on the western side of the street, near the bridge to Windsor. It is the end of a terrace of nine buildings and was grade II listed in 1978. At that time it was described as:

C18 refronting of earlier house. Stucco. 3 storeys, splayed bay of 3 double-hung sashes, side windows without glazing bars. Ground floor C19 shop front. Modillion cornice, parapet, old tiled roof. 

The description doesn't differ from how it might be described today and only differs slightly from the description which appeared more than one hundred years ago in the 1912 "Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire".

..built probably in the 17th century, but re-fronted in the 18th century... No. 92 is of three storeys, possibly of brick, now plastered. In front is a bay window in two storeys from the first floor, a plain cornice, and a coping which hides the roof.

The building is slightly L shaped; with the back part being wider than the section on the high street. The ground floor level at the back of the building is significantly lower than that at the front. In fact, the floor is almost as low as that of the far older building opposite (number 51), whose front door sits well below the level of the pavement. I heard somewhere that the road dipped here, causing a problem for horse drawn carriages, so was leveled. This would have been after the construction of number 51, but before the refronting of 92.

At some point it appears that a section of the ground floor of number 92 was removed to create a passage between the high street and what was Union Terrace. The passage passes through what was once a fireplace (look up and you'll see the old chimney). Judging from old maps of the area this passage pre-dates the current building next door (93).

Number 92 has been the home of many businesses over many centuries, and this is what I know about some of them.


There are no businesses listed as operating from 92 High Street in the 1830 Pigot's Directory. Both neighbours to the building were curriers and leather cutters (William Bowen at 91 and George Burgiss at 93). Perhaps no-one wanted to be between them!

1840s - John Breach - Basket Maker

In 1842 the address was still absent from the trade directories but within a few years was being used by John Breach, the basket maker.

John Breach was born in Henley on Thames in 1768.  He was married to Frances and had five children all born in Eton: James (1793), John (1795), Charles (1796), Frances (1798) and John (1799). John worked as a basket maker at various addresses in Eton from the 1800s until the 1850s, presumably using the reeds which grow locally, to create his wares.

In 1807, along with Thomas Newman, a butcher, he was a trustee of the Eton Friendly Society who met at the King's Arms on the High Street (number 79, now Ieva Poriete).

In 1830, it was John's third son, Charles, operating from 65 High Street (now Costa Coffee), who was Eton's basket maker (along with Charles Hester at 4 Brocas Street). Charles did not appear again in the later directory (1842) and John does not appear at all at this time, but in 1841 he was living at number 50 High Street, Eton, almost opposite number 92. He was a widower and shared the address with the Cook family.

According to the 1847 trade directory, John, who was by then 79 years old, was running a basket making business from 92 High Street. His neighbours at 91 (now Eton Antiques) were Wild & Sons, curriers and tanners (producing leather), replacing William Bowen. Next door, but one on the other side (94) was Mrs Amelia Hall the dress maker.  Opposite, at number 51 was the Adam and Eve which I've mentioned on this blog before. Next to that at 52 (now Warren Property) was John Wiggington the boot and shoe maker ("Bootmaker to His Majesty").  

By 1851, John Breach had moved to number 93 where he continued to work as a basket maker alongside his eldest son James. He remains listed as the basket maker in the 1852 Slater's Directory. John died in Eton in 1857.

1850s - Richard George - Saddler

In the 1850s, number 92 High Street, Eton was the home and business address of Richard Henry George. Richard was a saddler, born in the City of London on 14th June 1808.  He married Elizabeth White in Camden in 1834.  Richard and Elizabeth then moved to Eghan, Surrey where their children, Henry Richard (1835) and Amelia (1837), were born. The family then moved to Windsor around 1838 where daughter Priscillia (1839) and son Albert Cornelius (1840) were born. At the time of the 1841 census the family were living on Thomas Street, Windsor.  Richard and Elizabeth had another son, Randolph James, in 1844. Richard's wife Elizabeth died two years later in 1846, aged 30.

Richard moved to Eton and was living at 92 High Street in 1851 with four of his five children: Henry Richard, Priscillia, Albert and James. According to the Post Office Directories, there had been no saddlers on Eton High Street in 1844 and Richard George was the only one in 1852 and 1854.

Richard George died in Eton in 1856, aged 48.

1860s - William Hill - Butcher 

It looks as though no-one was living at number 92 at the time of the 1861 census, but in 1869 it was operating as a Butcher's Shop, run by William Hill. There were at least five other butchers on the High Street at the time (Clark at number 60, Butler at 76, Bargents at 102 and 108, and Elwood at 106). William had been a butcher on Eton High Street in 1864, presumably he was at number 92 then.

1870s - 1900s - Arthur & Frederick Halliday - Wood Carvers, Furniture Makers & Upholsterers

In a watercolour from around 1870, Louise Rayner depicted Eton College school boys outside number 92. Looking at this image, the iconic Tudor "Cockpit" looks to have changed its appearance more in the subsequent 100 years than number 92 has. 92's distinctive splayed bay front and parapet are clearly visible, although the wooden shop front looks quite different. Artist's improvement, or an image which predates the current shop front? I've seen another painting which looks to also originate from around this time but shows another shop front entirely.

In the 1877 Post Office Directory the business at 92 is listed as Arthur and Frederick Halliday, wood carvers. The Halliday's operated from the premises as carvers, art dealers, upholsterers and cabinet makers for nearly 30 years and had a presence in Eton until the 1930s. 

Arthur Halliday was born in 1846 and Alfred (known as Fred or Frederick) Halliday in 1847, in Chilton Polden, Somerset. They were the third and fourth of five sons of William Halliday, a carver, and his wife Anne. According to the book "South and West Somerset" by Nikolaus Pevsner, William Halliday was a self-taught craftsman and responsible for carving the benches at St Micheal's church, Othery and probably worked on Chilton Priory (built 1839).

Arthur Halliday married Fanny James (born 1850, Wells) on 26th July 1869 in Wells, Somerset. In 1871 Arthur and Fanny, along with, bachelor, Fred were living in Eton. In 1872 Arthur and Fanny had a son, Rowland, but three years later Fanny Halliday died, aged 25.

Frederick married Caroline (born in Wells in 1854) and moved to Windsor. Widower Arthur married Mary Jane Black (born 1859, Leicester) in Wells in 1877. They lived in Eton and had four children: Sydney (1878), Florence (1881), Ernest E (1887) and Caroline Amy (1889).

The brothers used 92 High Street Eton as their business address from the late 1870s but no-one lived at number 92 in 1881. At that time Arthur Halliday was living at 38 High Street, Eton with his second wife, Mary Jane and baby daughter Florence (born 1880, Eton). 38 is the tall thin house next to the pub, which in 1881 was the Three Tuns, now the Henry VI. Frederick and Caroline were living at 3 St Mary's Villas, Grove Road, Windsor. The Halliday's employed 9 men and 2 boys at the time, making them one of the larger employers on Eton High Street. There probably wasn't any room in 92 for them to live! The bootmaker, John Wiggington, who was operating at 52 (immediately opposite 92 and next door to 53) was also a big employer on the High Street at the time, though neither business had as many employees as the photographer and decorator further along the street.

Around 1884 Frederick and Caroline did move to Eton. They moved into number 92 and lived there for the next twenty years, with their children; Frederick George (born 1877), Mabel Edith (born 1878), Victor Nugent (born 1880), Beatrice Winifred (born 1882), Harold Henry (born 1884), Cecil Alfred (born 1885), Nora Victoria (born 1887), Elsie (born 1889) and Donald Connock (born 1898)  (by 1901 the four eldest children had moved out).

Arthur and Mary Jane, along with their children, moved from number 38 to just opposite 92, at number 53. Number 53 now houses Age Concern. I think it is no coincidence that both 92 and 53 have similarly carved features on their shop fronts and none of the other shops on the street do. I suspect Frederick and Arthur are behind them. The age of the shop fronts ties with the time the Hallidays were in residence and although I am no expert in these things, I think the quality of the workmanship is pretty impressive.  The Hallidays were some of the best in the business and I'm not sure any of the other 19th century occupiers of these buildings would have had such ornate additions made to the building.


When renovating number 92 I found a piece of carved wood beneath the floor boards which I cleaned up and hung in the shop. I've no idea what it is or where it is from, but could be another Halliday work.

Now I want to date the arch feature in the middle of the shop!


For more than a decade, from 1883 to 1895 the brothers were operating their business from both 92 and 53 High Street, Eton with one brother living in each building.

From 1885 until 1901 the business was listed under "Cabinet Makers and Upholsterers" as A. and F. Halliday, Eton in the London Gazette (18851887188818901891189218931894189518961897189818991900 and 1901). They also appeared as "Arthur and Frederick Halliday, Windsor" under "Carvers and Gilders" although I am not aware of any premises they used in Windsor.

According to the Slough, Eton & Windsor Observer on the 13th August 1887 a beggar was given two months hard labour for begging in Mr Halliday's shop (possibly 92 as it was Frederick who was mentioned, although it could be 53).

By 1899, they were no longer using number 53. The brothers appear to separate. In 1901 Arthur was living and working from 7 Hatchlands Road, Redhill, Surrey, where he continued to work as a wood carver, along with his son Sydney. Ten years later, in 1911, Arthur was still a wood carver, and also an antique dealer, but Sydney was no longer carving, instead working as a business assistant for his father. A quick look on google street view shows 7 Hatchlands is now a florist shop, with what looks like a little wooden carving on the shop front, similar to one of those on 53 High Street, Eton.

Meanwhile, Frederick Halliday continued as Eton's wood carver at 92 High Street and was a prominent member of the Eton community.

In 1901 The London Gazette included A & F Halliday, Upholsterers of Eton in the list of tradesmen who held warrants of appointment to His Majesty the King. They were entitled to use the royal arms and retained their royal warrant until at least 1911.

In 1902, according to the Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer, Frederick Halliday, who sat on the Eton Urban Council, signed a petition asking the charities commission to free the Maidenhead bridge which was then a toll bridge.

By 1903 the business was known as A. F. Halliday, Art Furniture Manufacturer and Wood Carver. It was operating from both 92 and 106 High Street, Eton. Number 106 had previously been the Rose, Thistle and Shamrock public house (which stood where the road Eton Court now runs).

In 1903, Frederick Halliday appeared in the Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer again, this time in a report of his appearance as a defendant in the Slough Petty Sessions. The write up is fascinating, for what it tells us about Frederick Halliday and his business and also, the times he lived in. Frederick was charged with "interfering with the comfort of passengers on the Great Western Railway" and assault. He had allegedly had too much to drink, bought a ticket from Slough to Windsor which was 1d more than he expected (it is not clear whether he or the ticket clerk was in the wrong), and when the ticket collector came for the ticket Frederick verbally abused and spat at him. Frederick could not remember the events and pleaded guilty. Much was made of his previous good character and character witnesses were offered (but sadly not needed: I would have loved to hear what they said). He was a member of the Eton Urban District Council and for years had been deputy captain of the Fire Brigade at Eton. He had been a carver to Queen Victoria and was currently carver and art furniture maker to King Edward VII and had taught many of the Royal family to carve. He was fined £1 or assault and 10s for bad language which he paid (about £165 in today's money). 


On 13th August 1904 the Slough, Eton & Windsor Observer reported an incident, involving one of Halliday's shops. Seymour Wallace Stevens was charged with stealing a sampler and a tin trunk from the home of Frederick Matthews in Datchet, seemingly at the behest of his mistress, Mrs Matthews. During the proceedings Frederick Halliday the furniture dealer was called to give evidence. The defendant had given him the sampler to sell and he still had it in his shop.

On Christmas Eve 1904 the Bucks Herald reported that Frederick Halliday, operating as an antique dealer from 92 and 106 high street, had filed for bankruptcy. He appears again on the 14th and 28th January 2005 and the liquidator completed his duties in August 1906.

Frederick retired from the Urban District Council in 1905, left Eton and moved back to Somerset with his wife, Caroline, and youngest son, Donald. In 1911 he was living at 5 Park Street, Taunton, a three-storey, mid-nineteenth century, yellow brick house on a residential street. He continued to run his own business working as a wood carver. He died in Barnes in 1929 leaving his estate to his eldest children; Frederick George Halliday and Mabel Edith Halliday.

But that wasn't the end of the Halliday's in Eton.  Frederick's eldest son, also named Frederick, was trading from his father's old premises, 106 High Street Eton, in 1907. He set up a limited company,  F.G. Halliday (1909) Limited, with a registered address of 15, Fore Street, Taunton, Somerset, and by 1915, that company was operating as an art furniture maker from both 105 and 106 High Street, Eton and beyond.

On an advertising postcard for his Taunton show room (ye olde Tudor house, 15 Fore Street) the business is described as:
containing show rooms and galleries replete with interesting examples of old world furniture, china etc. for sale at strictly commercial prices. 
F.G. Halliday (1909) ltd.antique-dealers. 
ye odds & ye ends Taunton, Minehead, Eton, Banbury & Porlock. 
Specialities: week-end cottages furnished throughout collections formed and augmented 
F. G. Halliday remained at 105 and 106 High Street, Eton until at least 1931. Both 105 and 106 were later demolished; 105 is where Eton Travel now stands, and 106 is Eton Court. F.G.Halliday (1909) Limited was dissolved in 1948 according to the London Gazette.

1910s - Samuel Roe - Upholsterer 

By 1907 number 92 High Street, Eton was occupied by Mr Samuel Roe from Cambridgeshire. He was a married man of 49 years of age and operating from the premises as an upholsterer. At the time of the 1911 census the building had 7 rooms, which were split between the business and providing a home for his family. His 45 year old wife of 21 years, Mary Ann, also from Cambridgeshire and five of their seven children lived with him:
17 year old Helena who was born in Windsor and teaching at the school.
15 year old Samuel who was born in Windsor and working alongside his father.
12 year old Thomas Lathan who was also born in Windsor and was at school.
10 year old Alice and 9 year old Edith who were both born in Eton and at school.

In a 1914 sketch by Fred Richards, for the Windsor and Eton Sketchbooks, number 92 is barely visible, hidden behind the sign for the Turks Head. Nonetheless the pencil sketch shows how the street would have looked in Samuel Roe's day.

In the 1915 Kelly's Directory of Buckinghamshire (page 104), the business is listed as Roe Samuel & Co. Furniture Dealers.

Samuel Roe left Eton between 1915 and 1924 and for the rest of his life lived at 27 College Avenue, Upton. He was living there when his youngest daughter, Edith married in 1926 (a wedding reported in the Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer on 30th July). Samuel retained the freehold to number 92 High Street and the large warehouse behind it. He died at Albert House Infirmary in Slough in 1942 (aged 80), leaving his estate of £4439 18s 1d to his sons Samuel Roe, a carpenter and Thomas Latham Roe, a plumber. Samuel's wife Mary Ann died in 1945 (aged 79).

1920s - 1960s - Ernest Martin - Furniture Dealer & Funeral Furnisher (& undertaker), Cabinet Maker & Upholsterer

You can just about see number 92 in Peter de Wint's 1924 painting of Eton High Street (its the tall white building on the right).

From the 1920s, to the 1960s, number 92 was the premises of Ernest Martin junior.

Ernest Frank Richard Martin was born in Eton in 1898, the third of four children of Ernest William Martin and Marion Brooks (from East Harling, Norfolk). Ernest's father, Ernest, was a carpenter and undertaker who was also born in Eton (1865).  As a child (1901 and 1911) Ernest junior lived with his parents and siblings at 7 Brocas Street, from where his father had worked since at least 1895.

In 1919 Ernest married Ethel Isobel Reynolds in Melksham.  From 1924 until 1963 Ernest worked as a Furniture Dealer at 92 High Street Eton, and (until 1938 at least) also as an undertaker at 11 Brocas Street.

In the 1990s, the then shop-keeper met an elderly lady who remembered a trip down Eton High Street with her mother and sister (probably in the 1930s). She was dawdling behind them and when she saw them turn into a shop she ran to catch up. She burst into number 92, and on not seeing her family, ran to where the step now is, and drew back a thick black curtain which hung there, expecting to see her mother. Instead she was confronted with a dead body. A memory which evidently remained engraved for decades.

In 1946 Ernest purchased the 92 High Street premises from the sons of Samuel Roe; Samuel Roe and Thomas Latham Roe. Presumably until then he had been their tenant. He bought the building for £1000, but not the large warehouse which stood behind it (where Wiggington Court now stands).

Ernest, Ethel and their three children, lived behind the shop and on the two floors above. Their sitting room is what is now the shop's store room.

In the early 1960s,  Ernest Martin is listed in the telephone directory as a funeral furnisher. According to his son, Ernest's main business was with Eton College, supply boys "sets" to each new college boy in some of the boarding houses (Waynefleet, Westbury and Mustians). A boys "set" consisted of a bureau bookcase, brush box, boot box, ottoman, window curtains and bed curtains.

Ernest died in Eton in 1963 and left his estate of £4499 to his widow Ethel Isobel Martin who also took over the funeral furnishing businesses. In 1964 the shop part of number 92 was used as a storage unit by Ethel and her son Peter for their antique business. Ethel lived in the rooms behind the shop, while Peter and his family lived above.

Ethel died in December 1967. The building was passed to her three children and sold for £5900 to David Stern, who also owned number 52 opposite, from which he operated his insurance and pension business.

1970s - Minitiques - Antiques 

In 1972 and 73, number 92 was an antique bric-a-brac shop called Minitiques. Previously, in 1970, Minitiques had been operating from 52a (part of the building opposite that had previously housed John Wiggington the boot maker).

From Public Eye 1970s
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, ABC/Thames Television made a seven-series TV detective programme called Public Eye. The show starred Alfred Burke as private eye, Frank Marker. From series 5 onwards, Marker's office was in Eton. The opening credits from the later series feature Marker walking around Eton (there was only one location I didn't recognise in the episodes I've seen). Marker's office was the shop next door to number 92 (93).

The show still has a following and I regularly meet people who have come to Eton to see Marker's office. From chatting to Marker fans I know what the shop looked like in the early 1970s: a white shop front with pink/purple door.

1980s - Eton Cottage Antiques

In the 1980s number 92 became Eton Cottage Antiques run by  Ann Johnson.

1990s - Mostly Furniture - Antiques 

From Gary Munday 1990s
Eton Cottage Antiques moved to number 60 High Street and number 92 became the new home of Gary Munday's Mostly Furniture (which, like Minitiques, had previously occupied 52a, opposite).

In 1992, according to "The Pleasures and Treasures of Britain: A Discerning Traveller's Companion" by David Kemp, number 92 is operating as one of the thirteen antique shops on Eton High Street: Mostly Furniture. Eton Cottage Antiques was still in existence at number 60.

Like John Breach, the basket maker, 150 years before, Gary moved from number 92, to the building next door, number 93.

2000s - Cat Out of the Bag - Gifts 

From Property Listing 2006
Number 92 became Cat Out of the Bag, the first in a chain of gift shops for cat lovers, owned by Kathryn (Kathy) Lambert and Michael Dunning. The shop front changed from black and white to orange.

Hazle Boyles included Cat Out of the Bag in her Nation of Shopkeepers ceramics series. The Hazle Ceramics guide still has an image of the piece from it's Windsor launch in 2004.   Cat Out of the Bag closed in 2005.

Tastes Delicatessen
And that is where Tastes Delicatessen moved in. The shop front was painted green and the interior refurbished. The retail space was extended to include what had been the store room for Cat Out of the Bag and the workshop for Mostly Furniture and the shelves packed with edible delights. I wonder what the nineteenth century basket maker, sadler, butcher and wood carver would make of the things we sell.

Jo Hurn's Watercolour
Like the businesses who were here before us, Tastes Deli has also been depicted artistically. One of our customers made me a beautiful Christmas card with a watercolour of the shop front on. This is of course my favourite.

I've also seen a 2008 illustration by Matthew Wright on a greetings cards on sale at Eton Stationers and spotted a Mandy McAllen illustration on Artists and Illustrators.

Eton high street has continued to be used as the location for British television shows. In my time here I've seen two episodes of Midsommer Murders being filmed, one at number 88, Eton Antique Bookshop and another at number 100, which was then the Barker Gallery. In that episode an elderly lady carried a large painting on her shopping trolley past number 92. I've yet to see the episode though so don't know if Tastes Deli made it into the broadcast. But I do know some of our pate was used in a scene of Downtown Abbey when that was filmed at Eton College! I'm now going to watch some old episodes of Tutti Frutti which, like Public Eye, was filmed next door. You never know, I might be able to spot number 92.

Can you add to this potted history? Do let me know.

Of course everything written above most be caveat-ed with the disclaimer that this is just what I believe to be true. I have worked through mountains of historical documents, consulted with long time residents (many thanks to Graham, Gary, John and Peter) and tried to find at least two pieces of evidence to support each claim, but it could of course be wrong. 

Monday, August 03, 2015


At Tastes Deli we sell lots of unusual and hard to find ingredients. I get to experience "The Delia Effect" first hand and see exciting trends emerging in what people are cooking and buying. Such as the sudden demand for pomegranate molasses, sumac and za'atar (thanks Yottam Ottolenghi) or marshmallow fluff (Hummingbird Bakery and their Whoopie Pies).

One of the most satisfying parts of my job is when someone comes to the shop for the very first time, driven by a desire to track down a particular item they need for a recipe but have been unable to find anywhere else. It's great to be able to say we have the elusive item and take them to it.  More often than not, a conversation ensues about the journey to find this ingredient, or the recipe(s) for which it is essential.

And so it was that I was told about the Morito App. Morito, the tapas bar of Moro, published its own cook book in 2014, along with an accompanying free app (i phone and i pad only). The app turns out to be a mini recipe e-book with enticing photography.

Queue, four happy hours cooking tapas dishes at home and far far too much food!

Peas, Gem Lettuce & Sweet Herbs.
Cous Cous with Broad Beans, Cumin & Yoghurt.
Grilled Onion, Pepper & Lentil Salad.
And my favourite: Beetroot, Almonds & Mint.
Plus some Morito flat breads which don't appear in the app, although the recipe is elsewhere online.

With the exception of the red peppers and the fresh pomegranate, all the veggies were English and every ingredient can be found at Tastes Deli! I made four portions of four of the dishes, plus two portions of the cous cous and spent just £15 on the vegetables. We ate like Kings for days afterwards!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Motoring Advice

Today, I thought I would embrace the eclectic nature of working in a deli and provide some motoring advice! I have no skills whatsoever in this area, but that doesn't seem to matter and since the garage on Eton High Street closed locals have been asking me to recommend an alternative. I've never been able to help before. But I've had a revelation and have a very small snippet of advice to give...

If you can't find a garage within walking distance of work and have to take a day off to get your car serviced or MOT'ed, then you might as well make a day of it. Pick a garage near to something fun.

That's it. I just had my MOT carried out by a garage near a canal. So I got to have myself a little picnic in the sunshine while they tested. Certainly preferable to sitting in a garage or showroom and far less stressful than trying to organise a courtesy car when most have to be returned long before I can get back in the evening. As a pedlar of picnics I'm a great believer that people should picnic more! And my own mini-picnic was the ideal opportunity for some blatant product placement for Popcorn Kitchen pop corn.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


One of the bonuses of working in Eton is our proximity to some pretty special sites; Windsor Castle, the River Thames, Brocas Meadows to name but three. In turn this means that events like today's Magna Carta River Relay pass right by the end of the street, just a few yards from Tastes Deli.  This morning the bridge and tow paths were packed with people despite the drizzle; all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the flotilla and the Gloriana.

Tastes Deli doesn't exactly have a view of the river, but I was lucky enough to be invited into the riverside garden of some friends of mine.  This is what I saw....

Skiff Sgian Dubh

Royal Shalllop Jubilant passing the Gloriana

The Lady Mayoress
Windsor Duck Tours

Royal Thamesis

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ultra Local Produce

The most local product on sale at Tastes Delicatessen at the moment are the gooseberries. Grown in Tom's "secret garden" less than 50 metres from the shop. Yes metres, not miles!

Tom harvests the fruits every year and usually distributes them among his friends and family (and his trusted deep freeze). Last year he started to supply our shop as well; to give those who he doesn't know a chance to enjoy the delicious tart berries.  Gooseberries don't seem to be available in the supermarkets and there aren't any wild bushes near here, so demand is high. Tom is picking at the moment and I have a waiting list of customers to reserve berries for when he comes in!

This year's supply started last week and already customers are returning for their second batch; having stewed them, made jam, compote and fools. There is something pleasing about being able to create a dish using a fruit picked just hours before and I'm sure the enjoyment is enhanced when you know it is unlikely to be repeated until next year.  I really enjoy hearing about the dishes our customers have created.

Today a customer popped in for spelt flour to create a cake with the gooseberries she bought yesterday. She even bought the recipe with her; from Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite. I had a quick flick through the book. Some really lovely looking dishes in there, mouthwatering and beautifully presented. The gooseberry, almond and spelt cake looks fantastic. If anyone else fancies trying it, the recipe is available online at I think I've found a week's worth of Diana Henry dinner recipes now!

Other gooseberry recipes I've heard good things about include:
Gooseberry Curd from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (while searching for that online I found 3 other good looking Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall gooseberry recipes)
Gooseberry & Vanilla Jam from BBC Good Food.
Gooseberry Fool from Nigel Slater.
Gooseberry & Elderflower Fool from the National Trust.
Gooseberry Cobbler from Delia Smith.
And Tom says just stew them with a bit of water and serve with a dollop of cream.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Infusion Society: Class of 2015

Another academic year is almost over. I'm sure the school holidays didn't come around quite so quickly when I was at school!

With the end of the year imminent, it is the end of another round of Eton College Infusion Society Meetings. Once again a great group of enthusiastic final year pupils signed up for the society and met to discuss and enjoy infusions. Here are some of our best bits...

Drew from Drury Tea and Coffee Company showing the boys how to taste tea like a professional.

John from Norfolk Cordial once again wowing the audience with his fruit infusions and stories of how it all began (and how the business is thriving post Dragon's Den).

Tea consultant Malcolm Ferris-Lay keeping the students enthralled with his tales of the tea industry while they compared darjeelings from different estates, including leaves picked from the original bushes transplanted from China to Darjeeling centuries ago.

Always one to spoil the audience, Malcolm left the boys with samples of Hampstead Tea, and the lucky master in charge of the society some of the most expensive tea in the world.

To round up the year our final guest was William Cartwright-Hignett who, as a pupil at Eton College, founded the Infusion Society back in 2000! Will got in touch with me after reading about the infusions society on this very blog! His "homecoming" included a fascinating talk about his career in tea and the technical aspects of taking a tea to the marketplace, as well as the factors which determine taste.  Of course the boys got to try his own brand of tea; Iford Manor.

We sadly didn't have enough time this year for all the speakers who wanted to attend, so have already booked some for next year, including our first female speaker, Esther Thompson who founded Tea Huggers.