Where to see our Chef-Patron in action this month, and his Cambridge passions revealed!
This September, I’m out of the frying pan and on to the stage at two fantastic food festivals.
First up, the Newmarket Food and Drink Festival, which more than 15,000 visitors enjoyed at its last edition in 2019. Do join me in this charming market town to celebrate the best of East Anglia’s food and drink: I’ll be doing a demo for the home cook, and you can also rub spatulas with haute cuisine chef and TV’s Ladette to Ladyinstructor, Rosemary Shrager, and Michelin-starred chef Hans Schweitzer – among many more. Come along to meet more than 60 artisan food and drink producers and enjoy the live music, family entertainment, food stalls and bars.
The Newmarket Food and Drink Festival runs from Saturday 11th to Sunday 12th September 2021, and is just over 30 minutes’ drive away from University Arms. My demo is on Sunday.
I’m also appearing on the Big Cookery Stage at the Thame Food Festival with my old friends, chefs Jun Tanaka of Saturday Kitchen and Cooking It, and Lotte Duncan of Countryfile and Cooking the Books. Come along to meet us and more of our UK restaurant friends and artisan producers, and enjoy the street-food stalls; FestivAle’s pop-up pub; gin garden; live music; circus skills tent; dog show; and children’s activities.
The Thame Food Festival runs from Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th September, and is approximately a two-hour drive away from University Arms. My demo is on Sunday, 1.45–2.30pm.
Chef Tristan’s Bulging Black Book
Where the man behind Parker’s Tavern stocks up and winds down
1 Sweet Smell of Success: Hill Street Chocolate
Brothers Chris and Greg are the creative masters behind what can only be described as Cambridge’s couture chocolate-makers. Take a bite out of their “Classic Jewels” – discs of dark chocolate inset with caramelised almond, orange confit and pistachio – and you’ll taste what I mean! Chris was a chef at the Savoy before moving to Paris to train as a chocolatier, and then worked at the triple-Michelin-starred restaurant Ledoyen and for Patrick Roger, famed for his edible chocolate sculptures. Greg studied industrial design and taught in London schools before applying his visionary eye to the edible arts. Their beautiful hand-made chocolates are created on-site, and they are elevating the form for us all. The Dark Nougatine Bar is in my secret stash of midnight treats.
2 Top of the Shops: Culinaris
It’s trollies at dawn at Culinaris, a gourmet’s haven selling East Anglia’s widest range of French, British and Italian cheeses. The charcuterie cabinet has seen its fair share of scuffles too! The produce here is droolingly delicious and sells out fast. I adore a smear of the Pyreneese Bouyguette on baguette, and the pickles; tapenades; hand-churned Italian butter; wild mushrooms; flat peaches; and weird and wonderful vegetables are regulars in my home pantry.
3 Al Fresco Feasts: Meadows Cambridge
Now we’ve all got used to eating outdoors, whatever the weather, I recommend a picnic on the meadows from Meadows Cambridge – a delicatessen with a focus on supporting regenerative farming and small, independent local businesses. Star buys are the local and organic fruit and vegetables, all freshly harvested and grown in season; and the traditional farmhouse cheeses, which taste superb on sourdough with a side of Spanish Marcona almonds. If you don’t want to assemble your own picnic, the team prepare take-away soups and salads, as well as cakes and cookies.
4 Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit-Down: Fitzbillies
Fitzbillies is a beloved Cambridge institution and I bring my parents here when they visit for its beautiful mix of old-school and modern menus for brunch, lunch, teas and take-aways. It’s been open every day for more than a century, its famous sticky and sweet Chelsea buns taking the spotlight in the original Art Nouveau window.
5 Keto be Gone: Bread & Meat
Nothing hits the spot like a sandwich, especially one lovingly prepared on sourdough and topped with the best roast meat. Nothing that is, except poutine: French fries and cheese curd topped with a rich brown gravy, which mops up your hangover in an instant. If you insist on your five a day, the house slaw – shredded with coriander, chives and chilli – will bless your biome, but I like the comforting sloppiness of the Philly-cheese steak sandwich, all meltingly soft brisket and aioli. Being here’s like an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and my home from home.
6 Rib-tickling Repast: Smoke Works
Quite simply the best ribs for 100 miles! Close your eyes and you could be in Mississippi, chowing down at the grill while the good ole boys twang their tunes on the banjo. It’s all cooked “low’n’slow” and goes down a treat with a craft ale – or a bourbon if you want to experience true Americana.
7 Hop to It: Wylde Sky Brewing
For a fun short trip outside Cambridge, head to the village of Linton on the Essex-Suffolk border where the Wylde Sky brewery not only produces and serves small-batch beers, but hosts popular food trucks including Rotiseroll, Dot’s Hot Chicken and Jamra – check their monthly calendar of events for their ever-changing schedule. These guys love to experiment with different hop varieties, malt mixes, “water profiles” and techniques to create down-the-hatch deliciousness that’s perfectly offset by the excellent food.
8 & 9 Flippin’ Fantastic: My Favourite Burgers
When I want a chewy, gooey, meaty, “dirty” burger that oozes with delectable melting cheese and drips with succulent sauce, I hot-foot it to Steak & Honour, which is open for take-aways, delivery of burger kits to assemble at home, or to eat fresh from their fleet of Citroen H vans. (Check out steakandhonour.co.uk)
If you want a similarly mighty, bitey flavour without the meat, there’s Doppleganger Burger, which serves vegan versions such as the Dopplepatty “b*ef-style”; the Dopplefillet “ch*cken-style”; and the “this isn't b*con” with “smoked gouda-style ch*ese”. F*bulous! (Visit dopplegangerburger.co.uk)
10 Bottoms Up! My Cambridge Watering Holes
On a sunny day, there’s nothing nicer than to sit by a river and watch the world go by, real ale in hand. The Mill is that perfectly-situated pub, set in a 19th-century mill on the grassy banks of the River Cam and overlooking Laundress Green. If the chill’s set in, it’s light and warm indoors and the comfort-food menu of pub classics will keep you cheery. Visit themillpubcambridge.com
For a glass of wine and people-watching, I like Cambridge Wine, a shop and wine bar voted one of the top 25 in the UK by The Sunday Times. It has views over Magdalene College and Quayside, and the shop has one of the best stocked cellars of wine, beer, spirits, whiskies and Havana cigars in the world! There’s more about the Bridge Street and King’s Parade branches here.
On holidays, I love visiting Spain’s phenomenal “gintonerias”, but that care-free feeling and dazzling array of flavours can all be found right in town at the Cambridge Distillery. You can read about your favourite glass of “Mother’s Ruin” here. or visit cambridgedistillery.co.uk
Then, for the glorious combination of a day out with the reward of bubbles on arrival, a short drive away from University Arms is Britain’s answer to the great wines of Burgundy and Tuscany: Saffron Grange. We wrote about it here and you can learn more at saffrongrange.com.
Wishing everyone a great back-to – whether that’s work, college, school, or normal – and looking forward to welcoming you at Parker’s Tavern soon!