Category: Events

British Burger Week, 18th – 24th June 2012

Heinz and 3663 have teamed up to promote Britains Favourite Burgers.Shake off that rain, fire up the coals and grills as Britain prepares for British Burger Week 2012.  This national event is set aside to pay homage to ‘the burger’. Traditionally ‘the burger’ began its life as shredded steak meat, however the terminology has since evolved to encompass a wide range of ingredients mixed together, served in a sliced bread roll often accompanied with salads and sauces or relishes.

The invention of the burger is disputed but the common current consensus it that the burger appeared on menus in the late 1800’s in the U.S.  It’s agreed that the name ‘burger’ is an abbreviation of Hamburg, so whatever your view on ‘who’ created the burger, one fact remains standard through all historical-yarns, immigrants from Hamburg Germany who settled in the U.S. brought with them some of their favourite foods, one of these being the method of shredding and seasoning steak meat (often cheap off-cuts) and serving it as an enjoyable light meal.  Curiously during the first world war, anti-German sentiment saw the hamburger briefly renamed to the “Salisbury Steak”, the name “hamburger” made it’s come back post-war to en-grain itself into today’s menu culture.  Since the boom in fast food establishments towards the end of the 1970’s the hamburger has become a staple item on many menus, from simple burger-van style burgers containing basic ingredients that you can buy for £1 or less, to gourmet style burgers fetching up to and over £3000 (made from Kobe beef from Japan).  These days burgers also use different meats, vegetables, buns, accompaniments and relishes to tantalise you into choosing them from the menu and specials boards. Kids love burgers, they are like a cheeky treat, students love to throw them half eaten on the streets after a night out, adults look to the burger as usually being the cheapest, easiest, tasty meal on the menu.  Men use their burger flipping skills at barbecues to assert dominance, and women have added flair and diversity to create some of the worlds best burgers.  Yes, the burger is here to stay, part of our culture, part of our menus, say what you will about this being just another way to make money, burgers taste great.

Food giants Heinz and 3663 wholesales distributors have teamed up to find the nations favourite burger recipes. Straight from the 3663 kitchen you might want to try some of these bad-boys that they recommend (click here for the burger recipies). BITE is interested to find out just what is your favourite burger? Have you got your own secret recipe, or method for preparing your burger-masterpiece? If you’d like to share it with other BITE readers you can do so by adding it to our comments section below or by joining the conversation on our Facebook page. Hold your burgers high, cheers!


The Diamond Jubilee

The QueenCelebrating 60 years of Her Majesty’s Reign, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this coming weekend (2nd – 5th June 2012) is certainly a national affair with many events happening all over the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne on the 6th February 1952 and her coronation took place on the 2nd June 1953. As a British monarch she has achieved the second longest reign so far in British history, only Queen Victoria has reigned longer.  Her time as monarch has arguably seen Britain transgress through more social change than previous monarchs.  The collapse of British manufacturing, the technological boom, the rise in power of corporate business and media, the increase of women in the workforce (and the decrease of men). She has seen 12 British Prime Ministers come to power and with the Commonwealth included that number expands to 156 prime ministers during her time. She has reigned through many wars, fire at her estate and been the focus of attention and criticism by the media during many royal hardships and downfalls.

Yet her influence and impression upon the people of Britain is still resoundingly one of respect and admiration.  Her appearance not only seeps through onto glazed china cups and plates, it appears before us almost every single day of our lives, on coins and stamps. Have you noticed that on coins the Queen faces right, and on stamps she faces left? In accordance with tradition monarchs fluctuate the coin design between facing left and right, Queen Elizabeth’s portrait on coins today is in keeping with this tradition, Charles, should he take to the throne will be a ‘left-facing’ monarch on his coins.  As for the stamps, it has always been the design for the monarchs face point to the left as it would on a medal, the first design being taken from a medal showing Queen Victoria.

BITE invites you to take a look back to 1952 and how things in Britain were then when Queen Elizabeth came to the throne, and how things are now in 2012, just bear in mind that while comparisons are fun, £1 in 1952 would be worth around £24.34 today. Or £1 today would be worth around 4p in 1952.  We understand how British people love to have an endearing moan about “in my day”, hopefully the information posted below should give you some more ammunition to impress your fellow pub goers!

1952 2012
The population of Britain 50 million 62.1 million
Prime Minister Winston Churchill David Cameron
Average wage (PA) £590 – £1,200 £22,900 – £28,400
Working week (hrs) 48 37
Manufacturing jobs in Britain 8.7 million 2.5 million
Unemployment 2.2% 5% – 5.5%
% of men employed 96% 75%
% of women employed 35% 71%
House price £1,880 £160,417
Car price £400 – £800 £9,018 – £12,200
Litre of petrol 3.3p £1.40
Pint of beer 1s 2d (about 6p today) £3.17
Popular meal Stewed meat and vegetables Chicken Tikka Masala
Popular boys names John, James Joshua, Jack
Popular girls name Margaret, Elizabeth Sophie, Isabelle
Births outside marriage 4.8% 46.8%
Marriages 349,308 241,100
Divorces 33,922 119,589

The Jubilee Celebration Weekend!

Saturday 2nd June – Race day!
The Queen will be attending the Epsom Derby, she’s always been a keen racing fan, but she never gives any inclination of her favourites!

Sunday the 3rd June – The Big Jubilee Lunch!
Up and down the country communities and neighbours will be taking part in the fourth annual “Big Lunch” a chance to have a knees up and boost the community spirit, raise the bunting and close the roads!
The Thames River Pageant, due to start at 2pm. This historic event will see the Queen lead a precession of 1000+ ships up the River Thames, perhaps a nod to a time when Britain ruled the waves, the flotilla will resemble the disembark for Dunkirk in 1940 (but obviously with pomp and cheer) with many of the vessels never having experienced the unfamiliar waters of the Thames.

Monday 4th June – Live music and beacons!
Featuring some of the biggest names in music, the BBC have organised a live music concert at Buckingham Palace. Ticket sales has closed, but you can catch the spirit of the moment on big screens in St. Jame’s Park and The Mall.
At 10pm the Queen herself will light the national beacon, part of our British tradition is a good old beacon lighting session for any national event, this year is no different with beacons being lit up and down the country to commemorate the Jubilee.

Tuesday 5th June – Service of thanksgiving and carriage procession, more ships and fireworks!
The Queen will attend a service of thanks giving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, featuring a choir service from school children around the UK. Later the royal family will travel from Westminster to Buckingham palace along the procession route to be greeted by thousands of waving Britons. Expect an RAF flyover too!
In another historic moment, luxury cruise line Cunard will bring all three of their cruise ships into port in Southampton.  The Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth will sail single-file into port along with a flotilla of fire-tugs and other vessels. Later there will be a Red Arrows display and fireworks to wave goodbye to ‘the three queens’ as they set off on routes around the world.

If you have any Jubilee facts, Jubilee beers or would like to comment on this post you can do so in our comments section below, or by joining the conversation on our Facebook page. Cheers!

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British Pie Week 2012

British Pie Week

It’s British Pie Week from the 5th to the 11th March (2012), earlier this year we posted about National Pie Day, so if you’re interested in some quick pie-related facts check out our previous blog post here.

The British Pie Week website (hosted by General Mills Inc.) has announced their “Pub Pie Champion for 2012”.  Drum roll… It’s (chef) hats off to Carol Haime at The Sandrock, Farnham, with a delicious “Wheatley House Pheasant Pie with baby parsnips, juniper and a poppy seed and rock salt crust!” Becoming the first woman to win the competition, Carol said “It’s fantastic to have won! I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. The whole team is delighted and we’re really looking forward to celebrating during British Pie Week.”
(Source www.britishpieweek.com. The recipie for Carol’s winning pie is also available here.)

The marriage between pies and British pubs is long standing and legendary, searching the comments on BITE we discovered the following pie’scentric pubs recommended by you, our users. These pubs have gone to greater lengths to produce pies worthy of our attention as pub patrons. (Pub suggestions are based on pub-page activity within the last 12 months.)

The Brie Louise, Euston, London: While the reviews from users who have dined on The Brie’s pies seem mixed, there’s no mistaking that The Brie has won awards for it’s skills in pie making. Their Steak & Kidney pie is a crowning achievement  having scooped three consecutive annual awards, a medal has also been pinned on their seasonal Turkey, Cranberry & Stuffing pie (only available in the winter months).   The Brie Louise offers a decent range of home cooked pies, including vegetarian and fish options.

Sweeney & Todd, Reading: The sign above the door blazons the title ‘Famous Pies, Famous Ales’. Knowing the story of Sweeney Todd and the recent findings that his murderous antics were no urban myth, we’re curious as to what ingredients are used in the Sweeney’s pies… Corporate bankers? Estate agents? Expense swindling Politicians? Jokes aside, the Sweeney & Todd boasts what we all want in a pub – friendly staff, reasonably priced well stocked real ales, and a curious selection of pie fillings, … Hare & Cherry anyone? The Sweeney & Todd pie fillings cater to both meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

The Raven, Bath: Described as a “hidden gem”, The Raven in Bath offers a wide selection of ever changing pie fillings, it all depends on which season you find yourself musing their menu. Classic ingredients, such as pork, steak, lamb are all locally sourced, with vegetarian options that may even tempt a browsing carnivore. The Raven also has it’s own specially brewed Real Ale (Raven Ale), when pubs go that extra yard and get it right, The Raven, Bath is worth mentioning.

The Prince of Wales, Ledbury: Tucked away off the Ledbury High-Street, the Prince of Wales is a proper old-fashioned British boozer.  With a relaxed, ambient, atmosphere it’s the perfect setting to sit back, enjoy a real ale from their wide selection and tuck into an enormous portion of their home cooked pie.  Check out their pie board when entering, it’s ever changing with the seasons, the Prince’s pies are baked using locally sourced ingredients.

The Kenton, Homerton, London: It’s a coin-toss about this entry, granted The Kenton doesn’t bake it’s own pies.  However, by word-of-mouth the quality of the Pieminister pies served at The Kenton has reached us on a number of occasions while hunger struck and wandering in Hackney.  This Norwegian run, grand, Victorian pub caters for all tastes, that means you, vegetarians and fussy eaters. The ‘Minty Lamb Pie’ is always a firm favourite to expel those stomach-rumbles, with nice selection of ales to accompany any pie you chose.

Just to finish off, The Angel at Stoke by Nayland, Colchester is offering a special pie and pint menu between the 5th and 11th of March, everyday a choice of pies will be on the menu, baked to perfection by The Angel’s resident top chef.  Booking during British Pie Week (5th – 11th March) is advisable so you can be guaranteed a piece of the pie(s).

If you’ve a favourite pie filling, a recipe for pie success or you know of a pub worth mentioning for it’s culinary pie abilities do let us know in our comments section below or by joining the conversation on our Facebook page.

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National Pie Day 2012

National Pie Day 2012It’s National Pie Day 2012 today (23rd January), celebrating the heritage of pies.  The history of pies starts in ancient Egypt.  The Egyptians would bake fruits, nuts and honey into a form of pastry, those first pie incarnations were not necessarily much like the pies we know today.  It was then the ancient Greeks who should be attributed with the invention of the pie; they would bake various fillings both sweet and savoury into a pastry casing.  The Romans saw the potential of the pie and adopted it into their diet, bringing it with them in their conquest of Europe, so it’s the Romans who truly brought the pie to Britain when they landed on our shores.

In medieval Britain the pie was often the centre piece of the meal, filled with exotic fillings such as swans, peacocks and blackbirds (which you may remember from the nursery rhyme).  From the finest London restaurants to the wind swept terraces of football grounds, the pie has since become a stoic dish on the British menu, engraved into our popular culture. The chant “who ate all the pies?!” for example was first sung by Sheffield supporters in 1894 and directed at their clubs goalkeeper at the time William “Fatty” Foulke, an enormous man in stature.

Still lovingly associated with home cooked tradition and British pubs, the pie is here to stay.  Get down your local and demand a pie today!  If you’ve any comments feel free to leave them in our comments section below or join the conversation on our Facebook page. Cheers!

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Remembrance Day 11/11/11

Rememberance DayThere should be no need to remind anyone in the UK that today, the eleventh day of the eleventh month is Remembrance Day.  The poppy, symbol of remembrance is worn on the left side, over the heart by the wearer in remembrance of those men and women that have given their lives for our country.

During the first world war, in Flanders (Western Belgium), most of this expanse of land was ripped apart, towns, landmarks, vegetation were systematically eradicated from existence by artillery bombardment.  The land was turned into a sea of mud, in this mud men continued to fight one another whilst surrounded by the dead and dying.  Each new artillery bombardment would churn the muddy ground revealing corpses of lost soldiers –  a truly horrific sight for the young men that continued to fight the war of attrition.  During each coming spring an enduring flower would appear, the poppy.  Poppies only grow from freshly churned soil, the war torn landscape being the perfect environment for them to germinate, they grew in such abundance on the battlefields that it was superstitiously believed that each one was grown from the soul of a fallen soldier.

Today we do not simply reflect on the human atrocity conducted during the first world war, Remembrance Day is about all wars that have taken lives, on both sides.  With all of our advances in culture, science, medicine, philosophy it’s hard to comprehend why we continue to kill one another, but it seems part of our nature for now. But, for all of our misgivings there is no reason why we should ever forget those men and women who have laid down their lives for our country, our freedom and peace.

This coming remembrance Sunday, raise your glass to the fallen. Or, instead of buying that pint, consider giving the money to help our veterans, you can donate at www.poppy.org.uk.