Tag Archives: local food

Chilli Festival- 23rd September

Join me on Sunday the 23rd of September at Dorothy Clive Gardens for their annual Chilli Festival. I will be making my well known scrummy Chilli Truffles which are rolled in cocoa powder as well as making special Chilli Chocolate Brownies and Chilli Chocolate Tarts. I will also have a selection of other chocolates including Cardamom, Salted Caramels and Rose and Violets.

Please let me know if you’d like any more information

Advertisements

Welsh Food Festival 2012

For the 4th year in a row I spent the 1st weekend of September in the beautiful location of Glansevern Hall near Welshpool. The Welsh Food Festival has been going for 7 years, and I was lucky enough to be invited for the 1st time 4 years ago. The festival takes place surrounded by beautiful gardens and a large lake.

The Welsh Food Festival is one of my favourite festivals; partly because of the location, but also because the volunteers and organisers are so lovely. The atmosphere is always so welcoming and there’s always a great mix of exhibitors. This year I was next to Bings Heath Smokery (delicious smoked garlic, fish, meat etc) and the guys from Welsh Brew who kept me topped up with tea for the whole weekend.

I had a really successful weekend with my range of Shropshire Chocolates, selling out of Violet Creams by midday on the Saturday. I had to call for more to be brought from the shop. My handmade Turkish Delight and the delicious Italian Nougat also proved very popular with several customers commenting on how they’d come back for more (after buying from my stall last year 🙂 ).


Flavours of Shropshire

This evening while working on a few bits for the shop I started to think about local food. This weekend I will be attending the Welsh Food Festival, which is a fantastic festival highlighting great producers from Wales and many from Shropshire and the surrounding borders. Next weekend the Ludlow Food Festival will also take place, so this is partly why I’ve got the subject of local food in my mind.

I’m really passionate about locally produced and sourced food; having worked within Food retail for nearly 10 years, and producing my own chocolates for the last 2 years it’s something in my blood which I automatically look out for. I love finding out the history behind locally produced food, and do personally believe you can tell the difference when sampling food and drink which has been carefully produced within the area you live. Firstly the quality is usually better as it’s been grown or made in small batches; secondly each area has its own individual flavours. I know the UK is pretty small compared to other countries, so some produce and recipes do spread across
the nation, but all regions have their own way of making and serving.

I decided to ask my followers on twitter what flavour they thought best represented Shropshire, and I had several fantastic responses. I have decided to produce a poll, so I can tweet about this further and hopefully get some votes and comments. I would really appreciate any comments especially as I found tonight that several items featured highly on peoples tweets; these included Honey, Beer and Shropshire Blue.

Interestingly and pointed out by @ShrpshirePrune, Shropshire Blue doesn’t actually originate from Shropshire. After doing a little bit of research I found out that Shropshire Blue originates from Castle Stuart Dairies in Inverness, please click here to find out more. It’s now made in Nottinghamshire, and produced by Ludlow Food Centre. After a little more research and help on Twitter I have found out that Shropshire Cheese Company also make Shropshire Blue and have won several awards from the Heart of Fine Foods. @ShrpshirePrune also noticed no one mentioned Fidget Pie; the pie has been around for over 400 years and really is one of the unique recipes to come out of Shropshire. I can only presume Fidget Pie wasn’t mentioned because it’s not that popular. It’s definitely not as widely available as it probably should be.

I personally associate fruity flavours with Shropshire, but since asking the question on twitter I have started to think about all the other flavours, including the varieties of game we have on offer.

So if you have any comments of what flavour you think best represents Shropshire please let me know and if your suggestion isn’t already on the poll please add to it. I will be revisiting this topic regularly 🙂


2 Gold Stars won at this year’s Great Taste Awards by the Guild of Fine Food

This Saturday I found out that I had won 2 Gold Stars at the Great Taste Awards run by the Guild of Fine Foods for my Shropshire Lavender Truffle in Dark Chocolate. Some of you may remember that last year I won 1 Gold Star for my Shropshire Lavender Truffle in White Chocolate. I also won 2 Gold Stars for my Dark Chocolate Butterscotch in 2010.

I’m really glad to see that a little bit of tweaking to my Lavender Truffle has meant I have won 2 Stars. To make the Lavender Truffles I use Lavender grown by Shropshire Lavender and locally sourced cream. The truffle has a very creamy consistency and is encased in delicious chocolate (It’s available in White, Milk and Dark).

Once I have the feedback from the judges I will post some of the details 🙂

If you don’t know much about the Great Taste Awards I’ve listed some interesting facts from their website below

  •  7482 products were entered this year by over 1500 companies.
  • All the tasting is blind and 350+ judges are used; they range from fine food retailers, chefs, restaurant critics, food writers and other industry experts.
  • Of the 7482 products entered 1686 of them were awarded 1 Star Gold, 608 products were awarded 2 Gold Stars and 114 food products received the special 3 Gold Star.

I’d just like to take the opportunity to thank all my lovely regulars and hopefully after reading this post some of you might take the opportunity to pop into my shop in the Shrewsbury Market Hall.

I can still send chocolates out my mail order as well, so please email ( julia@tootsweetschocolates.co.uk ) me if you’re interested


Loyalty Scheme

I’m currently trying to think of more ways to get people to regularly visit me at the Market Hall in Shrewsbury. Previously I have produced Loyalty
cards where people have got a free quarter of sweets after receiving 8 stamps. I’d like to do something universal to include the cupcakes and chocolates, but that might mean the loyalty card scheme might become complicated.

So I thought the best way to design a loyalty scheme for my customers it to ask my customers! I’m really interested in what your views and
opinions are what you’d think a good loyalty scheme would be. Please comment below or on the facebook wall 🙂


Shrewsbury Market Hall Revival

Last August we took over the ownership of the sweet shop in the Market Hall, we’ve finally got round to sprinkling the Toots magic on the unit after waiting for our floor to be resurfaced. We’ve now got one of our beautiful chocolate fridges positioned in the shop and customers can now walk straight into the shop. As a few of you will know the shop units in the market all have large static counters, we’ve removed ours making the shop feel much bigger and open. The shop looks so much better now people can walk into the shop and look at the sweets properly as well as being able to have more choice.

We’ve still got lots of improvements to make, but it’s a really exciting time all round. We’ll be stocking and providing all the fab
products and services available on our website as well as linking up with other shops in the market to provide some exciting services (announcements coming soon). We’ll have a dedicated Wedding Favour section, our handmade chocolates, truffles, chocolate bars, and lots of well known traditional sweeties, party bags, lolly pops and lots of special at weekends.

The Market has recently gone under a major revamp, with new shop owners in one particular corner turning the area into a vibrant Mecca for
crafts and vintage delights. My shop is situated just on the corner of the newly revamped area next to the Birds Nest Cafe, it offers a fabulous mix of whole foods serving Fair-trade tea and coffee, homemade soup and delicious freshly made sandwiches. I sampled a Hummus and Roasted Vegetable sandwich the other day. A great combination of flavours enhanced with some pesto and fresh bread. Arran and Victor have worked hard to transform the cafe area using fairy lights and really tree branches to decorate the walls and ceiling. All the furniture is recycled vintage pieces picked up along their travels.

Jo Bloodworth will also be opening a new shop at the end of June, which will be packed with fantastic gifts, retro glass ware and her own,
designed and made gifts such as dresses and aprons. Jo has a huge following in Shrewsbury because of her wonderful and creative one off pieces.

Dog-eared Vintage and Vintage Gem’s bring the retro sparkle into the crafty corner; both have a great selection of clothes and accessories,
and a must for any student or vintage fan looking for a statement piece with character.

Adding some glamour to our corner of the Market is SalakjitNail Art offering a range of services such as Manicures, Pedicures, and Gel
Nail Extensions on Saturdays.  Private Nail Parties for Adults and Children are also available

Ilovecompost.com has taken over the last unit in the corner, as a working artist Sam will be producing commissions from the shop while
helping to spread the arty message with classes for children. Recently she held a paint class where toddlers got the chance to paint cats and learn about how they moved; they finished the class with a story read by Susan from Pengwern books. A lovely interactive class with many more planned.

Lastly although not in the corner of the market Toot Sweets is based in, but something I really do believe is a gem and a must for any
foodie to visit; Mirage Mediterrean Mezze. Working within the food industry you really do get to experience lots of good and bad eateries. Mirage is one of the amazing ones; family run and bursting with so much potential. Situated at the back of the market in the opposite corner to Toot Sweets. Mirage sells a range of Mediterranean goods as well as serving freshly made food in its restaurant area, food is also available to take away. I often pop over for a wrap for my lunch; I can highly recommend the Halloumi wrap. A vibrant combination of salty warm Halloumi dressed with chunks of tomato, refreshing mint leaves and cooling cucumber; a vegetarian’s delight! With a range of mezze dishes (tapas style) you can sit down order a few dishes and while away the afternoon catching up with friends in the relaxed atmosphere. The Baklava is also exquisite; layers of puff pastry adorned with pistachio nuts and drenched in honey, baked and cut into cubes. I often find shop bought baklava is too sweet and usually baked to an inch of its life making the risk of breaking a tooth likely. Mirage’s baklava is definitely worth a try, moist, sweet and positively nutty!

The Market hall is bursting with a huge variety of different shops; fresh local veg, handmade cakes, delis, antiques, children’s clothing, a
fish bar…you name it and its here. If you’ve never been to the market I definitely recommend a visit the opening hours are:

Tuesday 9-4

Wednesday 9-4

Thursday 9-1

Friday 9-4

Saturday 9-4

The Market hall has recently joined facebook and will have a twitter account very soon. Please check out there facebook page, and if you’re
not already a member of the Toot Sweets Page please join.


Salted Caramels

Have you tired our delicious Salted Caramels? After months of experimenting with different recipes and types of sugar I have finally found
the perfect caramel! The salted caramels have been on sale for the last 2 months and so far I’m getting lots of great feedback from people. I’ve now
started to experiment with different flavoured caramels, and so far I’ve introduced Basil and Violet Caramels to the new caramel range. The Basil
Caramels have a delicious sweet herby flavour, with under tones of aniseed from the Basil.

So if you pop into the shop you might be asked to try a new flavour and give us feedback!

Update: I’ve just started selling Salted Caramel Cupcakes and they are going down a storm 🙂


%d bloggers like this: