Friday, October 29, 2010

Malmesbury King named Best British Banger

The British magazine Country Life has just held a nationwide competition to find the UK's best sausage and the banger that emerged victorious was the magnificently-named Malmesbury King from Wiltshire.

The speciality of butcher Michael Thomas, the sausage is said to contain coarse pork shoulder flavoured with rosemary, thyme, parsley and ginger.

Sounds gorgeous. The winning sausage will now appear on the menu in Bar Boulud in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London (in a sandwich, I hope!).

This, the only coarse-cut sausage to make the shortlist, is made to Mr Thomas's own recipe, using a shoulder-cut of pork (specially sourced from pigs with good conformation), minced just once and hand-mixed with rosemary, thyme, parsley and a sprinkling of ginger, before being piped into natural hog casings. The judges deemed the Malmesbury King to have the most pleasing, rustic, herby appearance and a satisfying, piquant taste. Mr Thomas now has the honour of the Malmesbury King being served in Bar Boulud.

Link: Country Life

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Greggs (nationwide)

Photo: avtost

This is an interesting one. Greggs the Bakers are present on just about every high street in Britain. Compared to the chains I've previously reviewed, Greggs is much more widespread and prevalent but it is perceived by many as being of inferior quality to say, Pret a Manger or Eat.

This is unfair I think. Their products may be made on a large scale but that is not to say they are bad and in fact studying the Greggs' nutritional information shows that for a number of items Pret a Manger's equivalents are actually less healthy and higher in calories and fat (see the two companies' egg or tuna sandwiches).

Back in February Greggs officially launched a new breakfast range but it was only recently that I noticed the new menu and was able to try their sausage breakfast roll

What a pleasant surprise. In most small cafes, sausages are cooked, allowed to cool, stored in a chilled cabinet and then reheated when served. This results in sausages with a compressed, airless, paste-like texture and a tremendous amount of taste and subtlety is lost.

In contrast, the Greggs sausages must have been cooked fresh that morning. They were wonderfully moist inside, with a springy, satisfying, tasty filling. I wouldn't say they were gourmet sausages and the salt content is perhaps on the high side (3.8 grams for the entire roll), but for what is in effect a mass produced sandwich (on a par with a McDonalds hamburger) the quality and flavour are impressive.

The bread roll is, as you would expect from a bakery, fresh and pleasant to eat. The only condiment choices are tomato or brown sauce but they are genuine Heinz ketchup and HP - another plus point.

All in all, this is a great ambassador for the sausage and bread combo. Importantly, we are talking here about a good quality sausage and bread roll that can be bought on just about every high street in the UK. That's something I've been hoping for since I started this blog, all those years ago!

5 out of 5. A very good sandwich with top marks for availability.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trailer - 'A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour'

Well, who would have thought that one day I would be posting a trailer on here? :-)

This video was sent to me from to promote their new DVD 'A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour'. it looks like a fantastic little independently-made documentary about the many and varied types of hot dogs that are available in Connecticut, and the love affair people of New England have with the classic sausage and bread combo.

As it's a trailer, we only get to see glimpses of the various hot dogs that appear in the film but they do look delicious. From the webiste:

From a hot dog boat that travels the Connecticut River to a roadside shack built in 1872 that allows customers to carve their names on the walls, A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour, Directed by Mark Kotlinski, visits some of Connecticut’s distinctive hot dog stands.

A Connecticut Hot Dog Tour travels across the state to visit outstanding hot dog shops like Blackie’s Hot Dog Stand in Cheshire – where the family’s secret hot relish recipe transformed the former gas station into a hot dog institution that’s been around since 1928. We go from Capitol Lunch in New Britain to sample the “meat sauce” that’s made it famous since 1929, to the flame-grilled hot dogs at Glenwood Drive-In in Hamden, to the original Frankie’s location in Waterbury, an open air stand where the local hot dog franchise got it’s start.

This trailer along with a few selected clips form the DVD can be seen on CToriginals' Youtube channel.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Make Mine, Dean Street

makeMINE is popular sandwich shop with the Soho crowd. Most afternoons you will invariably see more than one of their purple and white bags being carried back to an office somewhere and there is usually a queue extending out the front door.

The shop is like a Subway but much better in that you choose a sandwich from a set menu and it is made fresh for you. But their combinations are much better and the quality a lot higher than that of the ubiquitous sandwich chain. They also do soups and salads.

The sausage sandwich is part of their breakfast menu and only required a short wait before I was able to take it away.

What we have is a couple of moderately good quality, small Cumberland sausages sliced, in toasted granary bread for £2.25. It was overall a curiously boring sausage sarnie. The sausages have been cooked some time ago and reheated so they have a pasty, compressed texture to them. The bread was quite tasteless being a generic, catering granary variety. There was nothing particularly bad about it - to be sure you will find worse - but then again there was nothing really good about it either.

2 out of 5.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Randall and Aubin, Brewer Street

Randall and Aubin has one of the most appealing shop fronts in Soho, if not the whole of London. Originally a butcher's shop, it is now known to denizens of Soho as a lively place for great seafood, wine as well as rotisserie items such as roast chicken, not to mention great french fries.

It has a wonderful, open, bustling atmosphere and is that rare (in London) combination of being a casual and accessible restaurant yet also high quality.

Personally I've always liked their fresh seafood selection more than the hot menu but with a sausage baguette on the menu, how could I possibly resist?

The offering is actually a sausage baguette plus french fries for £5.00 (takeaway) and on balance I think this is a good deal; Randall and Aubin's fries are hard to beat.

The sausage baguette is substantial and good quality but it's underwhelming. It's a case of the product not living up to the promise of such an appealing venue.

The 2 sausages (on the main restaurant menu they are described as pork and honey sausages) are unembellished with any herbs or outstanding flavourings. The darkness of the cooked outer casings suggest they are deep fried (perhaps alongside the fries?) rather than griddled. The addition of plain sliced tomato helps but overall there is a feeling of pallid dryness and a lack of 'oomph', flavour-wise. More delicate cooking might extract more out of the sausages.

For £5 you do get a very satisfying sausage, bread and fries combo that is hard to fault for value for money but one that is, I'm afraid, unlikely to get your taste buds excited.

3 out of 5 (1 point for the fries)

Link: Randall and Aubin

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oh no! Goodbye, Farmer Brown! (Il Castelletto, New Row)

This is a truly devastating revelation. The little known, out-of-the-way cafe that (in my opinion) served the best straightforward sausage sandwich in central London is no more.

It has been replaced by a generic 'Italian' cafe called Il Castelleto which, at the time of reviewing, had not even fully removed the old signage from its shopfront.

Once I was over the shock of Farmer Brown's demise, I decided to try the new establishment out in the hope that they had retained the same supplier of sausages:

They hadn't. I'm afraid what would once have been a delicious sandwich filled with two fat Cumberland sausages, has been replaced by a bland sarnie indistinguishable from those bought in many other Soho cafes. Microwaved at my request (because the shop's griddle had not been turned on and would have taken 5 minutes to heat up), the sausage was your usual salty, flavourless cafe fare, and the bread was no more than ordinary.

1 out of 5. RIP Farmer Brown. you will be sorely missed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caffe Milan, Shaftesbury Avenue

First of all, I apologize for the lack of updates recently. After a spell out of the country, I'm finally back in London and what better way to brighten up a drab, winter morning than with a sausage sarnie?

Caffe Milan is located on the Covent Garden/Soho border, a few steps from Cambridge Circus. The first impression when you walk in is how clean and modern the interior is for a cafe. The menu covers the usual bases with the addition of a small salad bar. Overall the impression is that everything seems carefully prepared, although their on-display panini look a little meagre with their fillings.

But what of their toasted sausage sandwich on brown bread? Well, the sausage is what I would call a 'catering Cumberland'. It has the speckled appearance of a well herbed sausage but lacks little in texture and flavour. It's quite generic. What can't be faulted though is generous serving of two fat sausages in each sandwich. Many establishments try to fob you off with one sausage cut into slices but not here. For £2.20 it's a good value, if unremarkable sarnie from a well-maintained establishment.

2.5 our of 5 Good value for money