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Food & Drink

Honeystreet's Barge Inn makes a fresh start with its new Italian owners

Pietro & Barbara behind The Barge's barPietro & Barbara behind The Barge's barThe famous Barge Inn in Honeystreet has new owners.  Pietro Cuomo and his partner Barbara have moved from Rome to the canal-side pub - with two children and quite a lot of pets and lots of plans.  They want to turn their passion for food and wine and service into a new career.

Pietro was born in Naples and has worked for twenty years as an international lawyer in Rome focusing on corporate and commercial law.  He was a founding partner of Cugia Cuomo & Associates and has not cut his connections with the firm.  He says he might still be doing some travelling for the firm.

He and Barbara have been together in Rome for ten years - she was working as a yoga teacher and photographer.

The morning after Britain's referendum on EU membership, they decided to move to Wiltshire: "This was the moment to do it. We took advantage of the falling value of the pound sterling and the welcoming attitude to new business and investment from abroad."    

Separately they had both had experience of living and working in London and had initially drawn up a business plan for a wine bar in London.  They quickly adjusted their plan for Wiltshire.

They are very aware of The Barge's place in the community: "The place is an institution - it's very important to the area."  And they acknowledge its connections to the world of crop circles - it has been known widely as 'The Croppies' Pub'.

They had to learn pretty fast about crop circles - a quick course via Wikipedia.  And in the summer the pub will be hosting a crop circle exhibition by the Dutch crop circle enthusiast Monique Klinkenbergh.

     [Click on photos to enlarge them][Click on photos to enlarge them]

The Barge will be their home: Barbara and Pietro will live in the old barn that the previous owner had started - with traditional craftsmanship - to turn into an arts centre.  Barbara's son is working as sommelier at the Waterside Inn in Bray and her daughter will be going to school locally.  The grounds will be occupied by their two horses, seven dogs and two cats.

Things change and people will soon realise that The Barge has been saved and may change a bit too.  But the changes Barbara and Pietro have in mind will be evolutionary. And they intend to explain their direction of change - as Pietro says: "I want to give this back to the locals - to everyone - one hundred per cent.  We are an independent food and wine establishment - not part of a chain - and I guarantee that we will liaise with local people."

They will be having a variety of live music - on Saturdays and later in the middle of the week too. Music for youngsters, folk - one day they might even, says Pietro, invite a string quartet along: "Not everyone will like all the music - of course!"

They plan too to hang a variety of artworks in the bars - rotating styles - and including works from Justin Cook's Oil Gallery in Hungerford.

Their immediate aim is to 'elevate' the service and the food and the wine.  They are serving Stonehenge real ales.  And they have an impressive new wine list - with Italian 'bubbles' and a mix of well-priced wines - by no means all from Italy!  

At present the menu is a mix of traditional English pub food with some Italian additions.  It is no surprise that they favour light and tasty Neapolitan food rather than some of Italy's heavier, more bean-based cuisines.  Laurence Handyside, who has been chef at The Barge for three years, is a key member of their staff.

The first major changes will come with some refurbishment in preparation for an October reopening and a winter menu.  Plans for the future include tasting events both for food and wines.  Their supplier of wines and spirits - and advice - is the recently combined London firm of Enotria and Coe.

Meanwhile, we can again enjoy this unique spot by the canal - now with an Italian twist.  As their 'in progress' website says: "Stay tuned for further details and all our news."

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Good eating is back at No. 2 London Road - it's Dan's Restaurant

Dan Bond outside Dan'sDan Bond outside Dan'sThe latest addition to Marlborough’s vibrant restaurant scene is open for business. Dan’s Restaurant at 2 London Road opened last week and is already buzzing.

Dan Bond the owner, manager and chef was formerly at Coles, as were the rest of his staff. Originally from the Blue Mountains in Australia, Dan says ‘we are all about doing the simple things well – great food, great service and lots of things to drink.’

Everything is made in house with fresh ingredients. Dan sources local game, the best meats from Smithfield Market and a fish supplier he has used for the last seventeen years. ‘I make sure we have a really good product that we cook in the right way.’

Dan’s is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday and for dinner Tuesday to Saturday. The menu offers a wide choice with some inventive dishes such as Gin and Tonic battered prawns.

Lunchtime diners can sample sharing platters of three starters, two sides, and bread with balsamic for £28. Sunday lunch has a choice of five dishes per course at £21 for two courses and £27 for three.

The restaurant seats between 20-30 guests and can be booked for parties. Dan plans to run special event nights such as wine dinners. Other events may feature the famous Coles fishcake!

From 1989 to 2014 No 2 London Road was home to Della and Stephen Moran's restaurant, catering business and most recently totheir popular Moran's Espresso. It's certainly a venue that's used to good food and satisfied diners.

Dan quotes George Bernard Shaw on his menu – ‘There is no love sincerer than the love of food.’ Dan is doing all he can to demonstrate this.

 Dan's by night - interior & exterior (photos by Niels van Gijn)Dan's by night - interior & exterior (photos by Niels van Gijn)

Menus are available on the Dan's website.

And you can contact Dan's on 01672 512112.  

Or by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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Burbage Beer Festival celebrates two decades

Burbage Beer Festival reaches the milestone of its 20th anniversary this September, with 40 guest beers and ciders offered to thirsty punters over two nights.

The festival is held on the Red Lion Playing field, the home of the Burbage and Easton Royal Sports Club, which is situated at the bottom of East Sands, from 6.30pm until 11pm on Friday and Saturday, September 9 and 10.

Live music comes courtesy of Kennet Valley Brass and Humdinger on Friday, and a kids’ disco followed by Echo on Saturday.

A weekend pass costs £8, which includes a souvenir half-pint beer glass. Tokens can be exchanged for guest beers and ales on both Friday and Saturday.

The event is organised by Burbage and Easton Royal Cricket Club, and proceeds go towards supporting sport in the village.

A full list of guest ales and ciders, along with more information about the event, can be found at www.burbagefestival.co.uk

 

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Famous musicians peer from its windows as Marlborough's Piano Lounge prepares for 2016

You’ll have seen the windows as you walk down The Parade.  Elvis, Jimi, the Rat Pack are among famous artists featured - looking out of its upper floor windows - and on the walls inside The Piano Lounge.

Progress, towards Marlborough’s first venture into the world of good wines and beers, food and music, is steady, but not (yet) spectacular. As we were informed previously, the final stages will be completed by mid-February and, although it will be necessary to close during January, everything is on schedule.

The lounge and bar is already a success with Friday & Saturday nights the busiest. Presently the food is restricted to a Tapas menu although the chef Andre is already full-time. The Function Room is nearly complete and has its first booking during December.

At 6.00pm on a Friday evening the bar was filling up as a friend and I sat with a couple of glasses of Merlot. Live music on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday is the plan. Local musicians have contacted the management team and will be featured Sophie at the piano was the first guest performer Sunday (December 6.)

Good wishes from MP Claire Perry and via the Facebook page are encouraging. Maybe starting again after four weeks of success followed by a month’s closure will be difficult, but the aim to be one of the primary venues on Marlborough’s “Music Street”, The Parade, is still on the agenda.

We will have more news in early February as the official opening day approaches.

You can fond out first report on The Piano Lounge here.

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Pop-up restaurant offers a caveman menu

 Adam WildingAdam WildingA pop-up restaurant serving the food our distant ancestors would have eaten will open its doors in the heart of the Savernake Forest next month.

Chef Adam Wilding and butcher Robin Shattock are laying on a banquet of wild plants and animals at the Savernake Supper Club on Saturday, November 22.

Fun and informative talks from guest speakers including Roger Philips, Bill Ankworth, and Richard Paget all come as part of the £35 cover.

The event will be held at the Old Sawmill at Warren Farm, St Kathaerines, which recently underwent a £250,000 makeover.

The menu will be based on the fashionable paleo diet - also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet – which eschews ‘farmed’ foods like grain, pulses and dairy in favour of fruit, nuts and meat.

Adam sad: “We had the thought to theme a supper club around the paleo diet, which incorporates ingredients that were eaten by our ancestors through the period from 10,000 to 10 million years ago.

“The Old Sawmill seemed a fitting environment for this due to its location on the edge of the forest.

“The paleo diet isn’t well known by the population at large, though certain scientists believe that the human body has evolved eating this diet and it can lead to greater health and potentially fight certain modern illnesses”

Robin added: “We’ve are receiving great enthusiasm and guidance from specialist food growers, foragers and business owners in the area. It’s because of their input that the evening is set to become a huge success.

“Tickets have recently gone on sale in various local pubs and food based shops, where they are now selling fast. We aim to cater for up to 160 guests on the night, which is an interesting challenge.”

Although ticket sales will be targeted at individuals and businesses within food and agriculture, the experience is open to anyone with a love of real food.

The ticket price includes a five-course banquet. Locally brewed craft ale, cider and selected wine are also on offer.

For details log on to www.facebook.com/ancestralpopup

 

 

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High Street eating: The Wellington Arms has reopened - for pie and a pint and much more

Szymon…and sample pieSzymon…and sample pieThe Wellington Arms, Marlborough’s historic pub, built on the site where the great fire of Marlborough started on April 28, 1653 and named after the Duke of Wellington who stayed the night there in 1836, has reopened after a complete refurbishment.

With an extended dining area which spills out into a sunny courtyard, the pub serves food all day and up to an hour before closing (Monday to Thursday 11-11, Friday/Saturday 11-12 and Sunday 11 to 10.30.)

The new menu includes award-winning pies from Pieminister which are made exclusively from responsibly sourced ingredients including free range British meat and seasonal vegetables.  

Szymon Kocjanwicz, the new manager, told Marlborough.News: “The product speaks for itself. I have visited the factory and it looked just like my grandmother’s kitchen – hearty portions, traditional. The feedback from our customers has been excellent.”

Pies on offer include Moo with British beef steak and ale or Meatador with beef steak, chorizo, olives and butter beans or Heidi with Somerset goats’ cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion and even Saag Pie-Neer with peas, paneer, spinach, potato, chilli and mango.

Pies without pastry include Captain Nemo (hake, salmon, pollock and prawns with a cheesy mash topping), Moo & Brew (slow-cooked beef steak with ale and a mash top), and Holy Macaroni (wild British venison and scotch bonnet chilli with macaroni cheese).
 
All pies are served with sides of mash, minty peas and red wine and onion gravy. Experimental diners can add jalapenõs, PM No.10 Chutney, macaroni cheese and spiced cabbage - perhaps not all at once.

The Wellington offers cask ales and keg beers including Caledonian Deuchars IPA, Sharps Doom Bar Amber Ale, and Sambrook’s Wandle as well as the local Ramsbury Gold. There is  an extensive gin menu including Broker’s, Langley’s and Sipsmith with selected Fever Tree tonics. There are plenty of wines to choose from and Kimbo Italian coffee.

Manager, Szymon Kocjanwicz, has moved to Marlborough from Salisbury and after 14 years working in London:  “It’s beautiful around here. I grew up in the countryside in Poland so I love it here.”

He believes The Wellington Arms is all about “...keeping tradition with a modern twist. We can offer Marlborough something a bit different.”  

And he is keen that the pub is dog and family friendly. In fact there's a jar of dog biscuits on the counter!

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Just another Marlborough Saturday? Some people got a taste of Little Mop's delights - others were tasting the delights of Rick Stein Restaurant's inaugural evening

Saturday, October 8: Little Mop Fair - viewed from the top of the Ferris wheel - photo by Marlborough resident Peter Greenbank - our thanks to him [click to enlarge]Saturday, October 8: Little Mop Fair - viewed from the top of the Ferris wheel - photo by Marlborough resident Peter Greenbank - our thanks to him [click to enlarge]A first night review by Jane Hamilton:  

Stepping into the calm of Rick Stein Marlborough on Saturday night (October 8) was a welcome escape from the lights and sounds of the Mop Fair in full swing.  The bar is a small, but elegant delight, and our senses were further soothed by the unusual gin & tonics recommended by James the knowledgeable Head Barman.  

Pinkster Gin with a garnish of dehydrated raspberries was a fragrant winner.  Twisted Nose, a watercress based gin was also a winner (although the watercress garnish had apparently been 'borrowed' by the chef.)

The restaurant is made up of several dining areas on the ground and first floor all decorated in elegant dark wood with greys and blues.  We were shown to our table at the back of the ground floor.  A board of warm bread and bottle of fruity olive oil for dipping were swiftly delivered followed by a seared tuna amuse bouche, a delicious fishy morsel.

The wine list is extensive, but we chose to try the Spanish red and white that bear the Rick Stein name.  Both were very enjoyable - an easy and reliable choice at £24.
 
This is not just a fish restaurant and there is an excellent selection for non-fish eaters, but we were here for a piscine feast.   Between the four of us we chose four different starters: crab linguine got a big thumbs up as did a warm mackerel salad.  

Tuna carpaccio was excellent although the flavours would have benefited from being a little less chilled.  The squid and chorizo was a little light on chorizo, perhaps as we were quite late in the evening there had been a run on this most favourite dish.

Megan, our server, looked after us beautifully.  You could see the opening night nerves from the staff, but other than the occasional dropped glass everything seemed to be running to order.

When our main courses arrived, the Bouillabaisse was a showstopper with rock star looks but sadly the bisque was a bit of a let-down, lacking depth of flavour.  Hake with spinach and beurre blanc was not blessed with dramatic good looks but delivered highly on flavour.  

Two of us had the Indonesian fish curry – the absolute star of the show as far as we were both concerned.  Sea bass, prawns and squid in a fragrant coconut curry sauce -  accompanied by two side orders of steamed rice and - best of all - crunchy green beans dressed with a scattering of sautéed garlic, shallot, chilli and coconut.
 
One shared-between-four pudding of Riz au Lait (rice pudding) with caramelised pineapple and a well thought out cheese board with Rick Stein crackers were an excellent way to end the meal.

All in all, in a week that saw Marlborough mourn the closing of Coles, I think we can be very happy that there is a new kid in town…one, of course, with a great track record elsewhere in restaurant-land.

Saturday, October 8: Little Mop Fair - the view from the top of the Ferris wheel - photo by Marlborough resident Peter Greenbank - our thanks to him

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Godots Bar and Grill has a makeover - and is now waiting for its official re-launch

 

Godots' Lesley PowellGodots' Lesley PowellGodots Bar and Grill in Kingsbury Street has had a thorough revamp and a change of emphasis to a more casual style of dining.

When owner Gary Powell became ill, the restaurant was put on the market.  Once he had recovered, Gary and Lesley took it off the market again.  But Gary has decided to retire and now his wife Lesley is taking Godots to a new level.

The lunch and evening menus will continue to feature steaks and fresh fish each day, but new items will include sharing boards, small plates and gourmet burgers.  And there is still, of course, Godots' wide range of wines.

Upstairs the three double en suite bedrooms have had a total makeover.  They are very nearly ready - in fact they will have to be ready in short order as they are all booked for the four days of the Cheltenham Festival (March 15-18.) 

Lesley will be providing bed-and-breakfasters with continental breakfast served in the rooms - at £85 a night.  

Downstairs, the most noticeable change is the lighter table-tops.  These were discovered to be maple wood stained to a rather gloomy dark brown.  They have been professionally stripped and resurfaced to give a lighter and more natural look to the dining areas.  

The central fireplace has been opened up and there is new furniture for the bar.

Gary and Lesley have been in catering for 35 years and ran The Wheatsheaf in Ogbourne St Andrew most successfully from 1997.  They then sold it in 2004 and moved into Godots.  

The Wheatsheaf became The Silks on the Downs. It is now owned by former Swindon Town goalkeeper Fraser Digby.

In the summer Godots has the great advantage of a secluded courtyard - and it is, of course, very close to the High Street.

Watch this space for an official re-opening later in the month - and a new website.  In the meantime you can book a table on 01672 514776.

 

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Christmas wish list with a difference launched to help families in need

Hazel Jennings and Christopher Sloane of Devizes Food Bank with Claire Perry MP centre collecting at Waitrose in December 2012Hazel Jennings and Christopher Sloane of Devizes Food Bank with Claire Perry MP centre collecting at Waitrose in December 2012A Christmas wish list with a difference has been published by Waitrose, and the supermarket is hoping that Marlborough shoppers will tick off items to make Christmas better for the poorest in our community.

Waitrose has teamed up with the Trussell Trust, the Salisbury-based organisation behind the Food Bank scheme, to devise a list of foodstuffs that will make a real difference to the neediest families in the area.

The list includes UHT milk, tinned veg and ham, Christmas pudding and mince pies, along with luxuries like chocolate bars and biscuits that our poorest neighbours might otherwise struggle to afford, or to justify from limited budgets.

The initiative follows the success of collections held in Waitrose stores last year, which saw over 130 tonnes of food donated by Waitrose customers alone - enough to make over 260,000 meals.

The donations will then be collected by local food banks and distributed to those in the community who need them most. As well as essentials, the list will feature items that many of us may take for granted at this time of year, such as children’s selection boxes, Christmas crackers and mince pies, to make a huge difference to the experiences of vulnerable people this Christmas.

Waitrose is also extending its relationship with the Trussell Trust further by rolling out permanent food donation points in all of its supermarkets, in order to support more families in need across the UK, throughout all times of the year.


The new initiative will help provide local food banks with a steady and manageable supply of both food and non-food items all year round.

Nicola Evans, branch manager of Waitrose Marlborough said: “Our food banks do an incredible job helping those who need it most. We’re delighted to be working with the Trussell Trust to help our customers support food banks throughout the year and particularly at this time of year.

“If you know of a local cause in need of help, please do get in touch with us to see how we can help.”

Helen Franks, corporate partnership manager for the Trussell Trust said: “It is a privilege to work for such an inspiring organisation and I am particularly delighted that Waitrose is helping us change the lives of so many people by establishing permanent collection points in all of its supermarkets.

“Thank you Waitrose for all your support and helping us combat poverty and hunger in the UK.”

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