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Superflashy newsflash: foodie special

Heard on the grapevine! From the launch of a new Warwickshire artisan rum to the coolest new local openings and Coventry's Big Foodie Weekend here's our foodie superflashy special.

New Warwickshire rum

Shakespeare Distillery has this month launched Jester, a new British white rum – with a spiced rum launching in mid-May. The independent artisan spirit producer has successfully been distilling gin for the last five years and all their products are inspired by the Tudor period.

The name ‘Jester’ is taken from the famous sculpture of a Jester in Henley Street outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace – interestingly almost all of Shakespeare’s jesters were fond drinkers. Most rum on sale in the UK has in fact been imported. Distilling rum requires patience, experience, and a palette for perfection which is why many British rum distillers choose to import their base spirit before spicing it themselves. Shakespeare Distillery are one of only a handful of distilleries in the UK to create their rum in its entirety onsite.

Sold in three sized bottles from £6 (5cl) to £17.50 (20cl) and £34 for (50cl). Available online or from the distillery shop for click and collect and customer visits. Free delivery is offered within the UK on all orders over £35. It’s also now stocked in Shakespeare Distillery’s own Stratford town centre shop at No 1 High Street.

Big Foodie Weekend line up, Coventry city centre, July 23-25

Not only are Michelin Star chef Theo Randall and Dorset-based celebrity chef Lesley Waters headlining the kitchen stage, but it’s just been announced two top pop superstars will be performing – Melanie C and Heather Small – the unmistakable voice of M People.

On the evening of Friday July 23 there’ll be a DJ set by the former Spice Girl who will be joined by R&B singer/songwriter Karen Harding (‘Say Something’)  90’s pop sensation Rozalla (’Everyody’s Free’ ); legendary disco and house vocalist, Shena, and Coventry DJ, Paul Morrell. Heather Small will be the headline act on Sat July 24. Noughties acts Big Brovaz and Booty Luv are also set to perform, along with Katherine Ellis (Freemasons vocalist), rounded off by another blistering set from Paul Morell. Tickets available from May 31 here

The Alfresco Theatre Drive-In, Sherbourne  Park, Warwick, May 19 – 23

Paul Ainsworth

A tasty new menu has been announced for The Alfresco Diner with dishes created by five of Britain’s best chefs: Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Atul Kochhar, Paul Ainsworth and Jason Atherton. The ultimate travelling restaurant will be serving up one-off dishes from these superstar chefs including Tom’s Smoked Applewood Cheeseburger, Paul’s Slow Roast Pork Burger complete with crackling, Rick’s Panzanella Salad and Smoked Mackerel Pate. And for kids there’s Tom Kerridge’s Kids Cheeseburger served with Tomato Ketchup in a Brioche Bun or an Alfresco Kid’s Picnic Box.

Adult tickets start from £18 for movies, £35 for comedy and music gigs, and £16 for Gruffalo tickets (ages 3+) - with each show being sold  

Monthly Maker’s Market, The Farm, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Sat April 24

The makers of Leamington’s award-winning Newbold Spirit gin and spiced rum will be among the brilliant local, independent businesses, artisan makers, food creators and all round food gurus at this Saturday’s outdoor event in the Goat Field from 9am-4pm, plus Fanny’s Fancies, Swirls Gelato, Vin Neuf wine merchants, The Cookie Cottage, Leamington’s loaded boozy chocolate makers The Slabb Sage and Grace, the Rustic Shack, Jodie Fern Jewellery and the Steamhouse bakery.

Generators, new roof terrace bar, The Telegraph Hotel – now open

This new sky-high city haunt – a first in Coventry – is definitely ‘generating’ a lot of interest! More than 3,000 people have booked to experience the cocktails and tapas at the former newspaper offices right up to mid-May when the 4-star mid-century hotel can fully open.

Features include 88 individually designed air-conditioned bedrooms including loft style penthouse suites on two levels, an all-day cocktail bar and restaurant dining experience, Forme & Chase. Conferencing, weddings and events in the Editors function space – accommodating up to 160 guests.

The hotel’s most luxurious room is the Lord Iliffe Suite – named after the family who started and until recently owned the newspaper – which includes its own hot tub and terrace. There’s also the spectacular Winter Garden – a private, glazed indoor terrace only accessible from the 11 bedrooms surrounding it.

The Bell Inn, Welford on-Avon

The pub’s lovely garden is now open

Stratford-upon-Avon couple Tony Gardner and Rita Faccenda have taken over this award-winning 300-year-old village pub after the previous owners decided to call it time after 25 years. The pub has won the coveted Good Pub guides Warwickshire Dining Pub of the Year for the last six years and has recently been awarded the title for a seventh time in 2021. It’s even rumoured Shakespeare stopped for a drink here on his way home to Stratford after a meeting with Drayton and Ben Johnson then got caught in heavy rain resulting him contracting fatal pneumonia.

Former company boss Tony has lived in Warwickshire for 20 years and was joined a year ago by his partner Rita who moved down from South Lanarkshire in Scotland. She has worked in hospitality all her life, and for the past 20 years owned and managed two Italian restaurants with her family.

Tony and Rita. Photo by Lorentz Gullachsen

Zack’s Bar, Hilltop Farm, Hunningham, every Fri & Sat

One of Warwickshire’s best bars for a sundowner! Named in memory of the Ellis family’s beloved border collie this new outdoor bar is open on weekends between 5pm and 8pm serving wood-fired pizzas, burgers and local booze. A lovely panoramic spot to dine and watch the sun set over the Warwickshire countryside – especially as the weather forecast is looking pretty good! Seating’s available on a first-come, first-served basis. See the menu here.

New Belgrade Café, Coventry – now open

The theatre’s newly refurbished and roomier in-house Belgrade Café is now open for takeaway and outdoor dining from 8am to 5pm, Mon-Sat. The new menu of locally sourced food includes nachos, loaded fries and loaded salad with toppings including guacamole, tomato salsa, salsa verde, coleslaw, sour cream, plus soft and alcoholic drinks

From May 17 it is planning to open seven days a week with later opening times on Fridays and Saturdays, and live music events. The new café and upstairs bar, Nineteen 58, will open for the very first time. Live performances also start with April in Paris starring Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw.

The refurbishment was part of its £5.5 million 2020 Redevelopment Project with interiors designed by Lazzeri CreativeInteriors inspired by the Theatre’s origins and beautifully realised by Corstorphine + Wright Architects.

Digbeth Dining Club’s Open Arms, Warwick Castle

One of the UK’s most scenic open-air pub gardens is now open within the Castle grounds on selected evenings until May 31 with the potential for more dates to be added. Located in the Castle’s main courtyard surrounded by towers and ramparts, Digbeth Dining Club is serving street food and drinks together with music.

Last summer it opened for 12 weeks of sell-out sessions and is back by demand – a great place to relax after a day exploring the castle’s outdoor attractions which include the brand new Zog and the Quest for the Golden Star trail, based on Julia Donaldson’s books. It’s been carefully organised to comply with Covid guidelines, including restrictions on group sizes and household mixing. 
April dates are currently sold out, with May dates available. Warwick Castle is open daily from 10am-4pm, and the Open Arms takes bookings from 5pm (6pm on Thursdays). All payments are contactless, and tables must be booked online in advance here.

Bicester’s new pizza joint

Heading to Bicester Village for a post-lockdown shopping jaunt and fancy some food? Having gained a following for their crispy pizza bases, woodfired to perfection, The Pizza Boys are taking the next step – bricks and mortar. The Pizza Boys Bistro just opened on April 14 at Greenhill Leisure Park, Bicester. And it isn’t just dough on the menu – expect breakfasts, pasta, homemade cakes, Jericho Coffee Traders drinks and a fully licensed bar. If that’s not enough, their pizza pop-up continues Weds-Fri 5-9pm at The Angel in Bicester.

Factory, Fargo Village

Finally, Fargo Village in Coventry has just announced the first street food trader at their new all-day dining hall Factory – burger joint, @stripclub_streetfood established in 2019 is often found at live street food events across the Midlands.

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