Vintage, Sourdough and May

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Vintage at The Classic Car Boot Sale

Twice a year at King’s Cross there is Hemingway Design’s Classic Car Boot Sale https://www.classiccarbootsale.co.uk

Forget what you think you know about car boot sales.  All traders are hand-picked by the Hemingway team and you will find some of the tastiest food around all served out of vintage vehicles.  I was tempted to annihilate your inbox with atmospheric photos from The Classic Car Boot’s Facebook account (photo credit to Mykola Romanovsky http://www.romanovsky.photography) from last month but encourage you to visit and peruse at your leisure. It is a real feast for the eyes and will have you translating each face for meaning and looking for hidden treasures amongst the classic cars and London brick.
Of course we were there serving up the hot coffees for all the cold punters as it was a chilly weekend in London Town but that didn’t stop the cars, dancing, cycling and amazing vintage outfits from coming out of the woodwork.
Always a pleasure and looking forward to next year.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Craft of Sourdough

I’ve developed a liking for sourdough bread and was keen to find out the science and learn some tips about how to bake the best loaf.  So, I booked myself on the half day course at the wonderful School of Artisan Food https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org  in Nottinghamshire’s Welbeck estate.  It’s a beautiful place, located in Sherwood forest, you feel inspired to join the impressive ranks of artisan food alumni just driving up the long drive to the school.
You may recognise it’s founder, Alison Swan Parente, from the BBC two series, Top of the Shop (https://www.schoolofartisanfood.org/page/top-of-the-shop) who began the school from very noble and admirable intentions – baking and making can change lives.  The School is a registered charity and, as a not-for-profit institution, is committed to providing the widest possible access to its facilities.  This was my third time and each time I come back inspired and determined to be braver in the my business and my kitchen.

I was lucky enough to be taught my David who had been made redundant and got through tough times by baking bread which then developed to him being a teacher at the school.  He’s enthusiasm for the benefits of bread making are contagious and his knowledge enlightening – and like a true educator you can ask him anything.

My own adventures in starting a culture have been mixed.  First few days I meticulously added more flour and hand warm water, tucking it safely away in my airing cupboard to then forget about it when we had friends up for the bank holiday weekend and discover it had exploded.  Not to be deterred by the failure of my first attempt I plan to start another in the high hopes that the next levain will become something of legend I can pass down to my children (so far they seem unimpressed by the idea).

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

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The Story of May and my Rhubarb loaf.

The Story of our May (our coffee camper).

Let me introduce you to May, our beautiful 1965 Volkswagen Coffee Panel Bus. A LHD, ’65 European import sliding door panel van with 1600 twin carb engine, slightly lowered, IRS rear set up & with EMPI wide 5 wheels (in the VW world this kind of detail is important).
She began life in Wolfsburg, Germany as a bread delivery vehicle for the local byckerei (German bakery). She then became a family camper in Poland, before being shipped over to England in 2005 to reside in Malvern. There she was restored by a VW enthusiast and spent several years as a show car. Her  transformation to the charming, helpful van she is today started in 2013 and included a 70 inch roof cut, full roll cage skeleton with top side hinges & gas struts to open & close the roof. Still fire engine red at this point, she was then wrapped in chocolate brown & cream vinyl and branded The Split Screen Bakery by Kate and Ash, who now run The Steamhouse Cafe (http://steamhousebagels.co.uk) in Leamington Spa.  May then came to us in Nottingham via Kate and Dan from Sleaford.   I rebranded her and started the business The Split Screen Coffee Company.  When I jump into the driver’s seat I always have a little smile; the padded bench seat, the steering wheel you can slouch over, the pinch and slide windows… all so appealing, all so tactile.  It is the most personified object I own –  May and I are a team.

However,  May’s comfortable is where the list of creature comforts ends.  No heating on cold days, no air con on hot.  She leaks on raining days, and on snowy days I discovered this winter, the seat belt has only one setting which is tight and then very tight when I’m layered up and even that lovely leather bench seat I keep banging on about has an evil side – think hot days, long drive and bare skin.

But despite all this we are so looking forward to the start of another season and can’t wait to make the trip to London this weekend for the wonderful Classic Car Boot (http://classiccarbootsale.co.uk) in King’s Cross.  One of the coolest things happening in London this weekend and one not to be missed if you are into your vintage and classic cars.
Hope to see you there.

 

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My rhubarb loaf recipe – adapted from https://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/rhubarb-pistachio-soured-cream-cake/

‘Tis the rhubarb season.  So abundant in our allotment at the moment, there are so many ways to use rhubarb but here is the recipe I use for my hugely popular rhubarb, soured cream and pistachio loaf.

Ingredients:
150g butter (softened)
125g soured cream
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
75g of chopped pistachios
100g of thinly sliced rhubarb

Method:
1. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180C/160C fan
2. Use a hand mixer to beat together softened butter, sourced cream, eggs, flour, baking powder, bicarb, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
3. Stir in most of the pistachios with all of the rhubarb and then pour into the lined tin.
4. Scatter over remaining pistachios and bake for 50-55mins until a skewer comes out clean.  I cover with tin foil so it doesn’t browns too quickly.
5. Cool on in tin and then wire rack.

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Glampfest

Hello again you gorgeous people!

It’s been a little while since we posted here, but May has returned from a glorious Glampfest set in the picturesque God’s Own County of Yorkshire, and we felt it was well worth sharing. It was all friendship, love, the great outdoors, and food. What’s not to like?!

 

Please do have a read of this wonderful blog, which beautifully photographed and documented the occasion:

http://www.c13mpr.com/

As always, do keep an eye on our social media for up-coming events, we’re set to be busy as we roll into summer!

A Little Post…

… about The Galleries of Justice and a publicity update.

Last Saturday Jen went solo in The Vintage Bazaar at The Galleries of Justice, it was perfect weather, hazy sunshine and a cool breeze.
With stalls selling bric-a-brac from the 1920s to the 1970s there was a wealth of retro, kitsch, and vintage stuff on offer, plus a range of food and drink stalls.

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The Vintage Bazaar – Image taken from the Nottingham Post
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May at The Vintage Bazaar

The event was only for the day, so there isn’t too much more to be said – a great little gig!

In other recent news, Jen and May have gone and had themselves a quaint little photo-shoot…

 

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Photos by Amanda McConnell

Publicity and image are such a huge part of making a business heard, hence the above photos. There are more to come, so stay tuned for those 🙂

 

Prestwold Hall – 30th April, 1st May & 2nd May

We’ve worked with Great Food & Drink Festivals before, in our first gig last year at Newstead Abbey, then again later in the year at The Great Notts Show in Nottingham’s Old Market Square. Both had been a success for us, and this event at Prestwold Hall follows suit.

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May had some friends in the form of two other VW camper vans. One was dispensing gorgeous cocktails, and the other children’s entertainment – just a few possibilities the VW camper unleashes!

The event was the first of Great Food & Drink’s held at Prestwold Hall, and we were all situated in its extensive grounds. The Great Food & Drink Festival’s website boasted holding host to 100 exhibitors at the show over the three days, and given the success and number of tickets sold for the event, let’s hope it returns next year! If you missed out this time, and can’t wait that long, there is another Great Food & Drink event at Nottingham Castle on the last weekend of May.

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Cupcakes decorated by Mike’s award winning* fair hand, along with Jen’s brownies, millionaire’s shortbread, and banana bread

Almost needless to say, the Great British weather disappointed us with yet another wet bank holiday; but still people came out in their droves and many lined up for a coffee or two. Having said this, we did have some wonderful sunny intervals (hence the glorious looking weather in the snaps!).
Back to the British weather, and we had a few hiccups with our gazebo folding in on itself under the high winds, but we managed to stay  dry until the last day when we were packing up and Jen and I were doused with freezing rain water held by said broken gazebo. Mike was laughing hysterically inside the van. Of course.

 

Despite this we had a great time, being able to have some mini-respite and go around the event was fantastic. Producers of fine foods, drinks, and makers of artisan goods came from far and wide. The folks who came from furthest afield were perhaps the Cocktail Car Company, (picture above in the striking red VW) based in London. A cracking van with some top notch drinks if you ever see them!

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Aldo Zilli enjoying a double espresso after a talk he gave

Along with the edible goodies, the event also featured culinary talks with the likes of Jean-Christophe Novelli, Aldo Zilli (pictured below), and Marcus Bean.Everyone who went to see them really seemed to enjoy them, as well as our beverages upon their exit from the tent. Along with Zilli we met the usual characters we do working in this business. It’s often such a nice break when people tell you a brief of their life stories, all while waiting for a coffee.

I do apologise for the lateness of this post, but holding down four jobs does leave little time to write – even so, I said I’d try to keep up with it so I shall!

I have to say, that despite the troublesome weather, overall it was a fantastic event for us!

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Jen, May, and happy customers in the rare bank holiday sunshine

 

*Mike recently won a competition for “Best Decorated Cakes by a Parent”

The Classic Car Boot Sale – London, King’s Cross, 16th & 17th April 2016

Last weekend was The Classic Car Boot Sale, and by gum if we didn’t sit down that Saturday and Sunday.

A short summary: we went through 10 wholesale size bags of coffee beans, a wholesale size tub of hot chocolate, 10 cartons of soy milk, surely another 10 of semi-skimmed milk, Jen had to make numerous trips to fetch more water (in jugs so big we bought a trolley for the rounds), and I lost count of how many 6 pint bottles of whole milk were used.
Demand was high. We were the only people at the event serving fresh coffee, and with the chilly weather that weekend, the demand for hot drinks was ridiculous.

With a 7 o clock start, to get set up and ready for serving traders at 8, Jen and I didn’t sit down, have a break, eat, or drink until half six that evening. Needless to say a bath was in order at the end, and a sound sleep was had.
From what I did get to see of the event, there was a huge array of vintage, retro, and shabby chic clothes, accessories, and bric-a-brac to be had along with some fantastic looking (and smelling) food and drink. I’d certainly like to go to the next one, but as a punter! While I didn’t get to see all that much of what was on offer, what I did know was that the organisers and fellow traders were some of the most lovely we’ve got to work with so far.

It’s pretty difficult to keep on top of the orders when, just as you’re finishing an order for about 6 drinks, another 5 come through; and when you look up, you see a queue going on until you can’t see among the crowd, so you know respite is not in sight. All of this, while bending over a lowered coffee machine with just the two dispensers of water for the portafilters, one spout for piping hot water, and a steam wand. It’s very hot, a lot of burns happen, and there’s only the space to do a few things at once. My back is always ruined at the end of a busy day, but at least there’s the knowledge that it’s been good for business.

Jen does her best to give me as much time and space as I need when working (the arrangement is that I make the coffees, and she takes care of the money, small talk, and everything else). There’s so much bin clearing, surface and equipment cleaning, getting more stock, mixing hot chocolate and more that Jen takes on so I have the time to properly froth milk for cappuccinos. The system works, and we’re exhausted by the end.

Then at the end of business, there’s the Tetris game of getting two coolers, three flat-pack tables, six chairs, the loose products (cans of pop, bottled water etc), the flowers, the menu board, the sugar, the lids, the stirrers, the milk jug, the gazebo (in case of showers), the bags of coffee beans for sale, the cakes, the cutlery, the soap, and everything else into the confinements of the van, closing the lid and then we get to rest.

We usually get a chance before orders start coming in to get a few pictures of where we are, and of May, but this time this remains the only picture:

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Image taken by Jen, and featured photo at the top taken by Botond Istvándi

And granted, it’s not of the fair, nor our beloved van. It’s just a picture Jen managed to snap at the end of the first day as we walked back to the hotel.

Overall a hugely successful, tiring, and fulfilling trip down to London.