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Monday, 30 June 2014

Faversham: Macknade Cafe

A recommendation on Twitter bought us to Macknade's Cafe on the outskirts of Faversham on Saturday afternoon. A family run business which can trace its roots back to the Doomsday Book, it is well know by locals as their go to place for groceries and a bite to eat. Trundling along Selling Road, we pulled up in the huge car park and wandered over to the entrance.


Breezing into the building I was amazed that I had never come across this Aladdins Cave of foodstuff before. The farm shop alone is worth a visit, the huge space filled with rows of fresh local produce amongst bottles of local juices, jars and tins of goodies as well as a mouth watering deli counter selling cheese, pies, meats and such like. Walking past this tantalising array we headed for the cafe at the back, housed in the old oast. Exposed red brick walls along with wooden railings and the sky high ceiling creates a welcoming ambiance in this cafe.


Joining the queue at the counter I deliberated over the choice of lovely looking cakes and bakes whilst Tester 1 went off to find a table. Making my mind up on a Snickers Cake, our order was placed with the friendly lass on the till in exchange for a wooden spoon with our order number. The range of food on offer is brilliant and it's obvious this business is passionate about fresh Kentish produce, something we are passionate about too. The food menu is ever changing using fresh salads along with some of the delicious looking meats and cheeses from the deli counter so we will be coming back to try these out another time.


This little sign describing the Tea of the Week made me chuckle, 'Like sucking on a hedgerow only smoother in the mouth!'. All tea served here is loose leaf with a range of blends to suit many tastes. The coffee is espresso based using beans imported from a historic roast house near Florence and they do a flat white, a good sign they know their coffee!


The drinks menu is chalked up on this huge blackboard making it easy to read and come to a decision quickly. I ordered my favourite Flat White whilst Tester 1 went for a Macknade No.1 loose leaf tea. Newspapers and magazines are available to read, a good touch if you're on a solo trip or if you've left the other half here whilst you do a shop!


The main cafe seating area was chockablock so descending the sitars we found this comfy looking sofa under the vintage bike and claimed it for the next hour. The concrete floor fooled us for a moment as it appears to be flooded but is in actual fact a layer of varnish making it appear wet. A nice big rug would make this area a bit more cosy but the sofa was super comfy and offered a quiet little corner for us to relax in.


Further on from our comfy sofa is this large seating area with smart sturdy farmhouse tables of various sizes encircled by black chairs, so if you visit on a busy day make sure you check for available seating down here. The whole atmosphere of this cafe is friendly and laid back with an unhurried buzz of chatter filling the space.


Our order arrived pretty quickly by a friendly young chap who happily made conversation with us whilst unloading our scrumptious hoard of afternoon snacks from his tray. My Snickers Cake tasted as good as it looked, moist chocolate sponge with a doorstep of chocolate ganache filling topped with sliced Snickers and more icing. It wasn't sickly, had a slight whiff of Snickers to it and the portion size was spot on.  Tester 1's cake choice was even better though, Courgette, Lemon & Lime. WOW! This was amazing, the sponge flecked with courgette and lime with a thick lemon icing filling along with lemon curd it was absolutely beautiful and sets our cake tasting standard to a new high. Way better than the cakes at Juliets in Tunbridge Wells and on par with daily changing choice of cakes at The Dolls House in Hythe. My flat white was super - rich and velvety smooth with a good hit of full bodied flavour on par with Brown's Coffee House in Canterbury and Loaf in Sandgate. The tea was also a good brew with some Assam, Sri Lankan and Kenyan Black amongst the mix. We shared a refreshing sparkling elderflower as well as a passion fruit macaroon which was delicately flavoured and delicious.

The Verdict? Thumbs Up!
A great place to come for a relaxing bite to eat with really great coffee. All the cafe staff are really friendly and happy, there is plenty of seating both in open areas and cosy spots. This place feels young and fresh yet established, a good mix appealing to many types of customers. A particular highlight is the sourcing and use of seasonal local Kent produce which makes it a spot we will definitely be coming back to.

Deets:
Macknade
Selling Road
Faversham
ME13 8XF

Friday, 27 June 2014

Rye: Marino's Fish Bar

Over the past couple of weeks we have found ourselves passing through Rye in the evening with our friends and decide to stop off for a spot of grub as we were rather hungry. Fancying fish and chips we parked in the Market car park and meandered along the streets to our favourite chip shop, Marino's.


Situated along The Mint, this is a far better chip shop than the large one on the roundabout. Always busy and always super crispy chips, we ordered to take away and went outside to wait. There is also a large inside area to sit at if you fancy that, but Rye has so many picturesque places to sit if it's not raining.


It is a true traditional fish and chip shop, nothing fancy and posh just good quality fish and chips. The customer service can sometimes be a little lacking in friendliness, but we don't come here for that, we come for good honest grub. During the 'in season' they serve fresh scallops in batter with chilli sauce which sounds tempting.


After having a good old peek through the window of this shop opposite (we loved it that they only buy old coins on Saturdays!) our order was shouted out so we went in to apply copious amounts of salt and vinegar to our open portions. Seeing as it was such a lovely evening we walked to the gun gardens to sit and enjoy the awesome chips.


Walking along The Mint we turned up onto West Street through the church yard and imposing church where filming for a BBC film was taking place.


Not seeing any famouses we carried from the 12th Century church for a short stroll towards the castle where you can walk down steps and sit on the low brick wall looking out over The River Rother towards the sea in the Gun Garden.


We sat and ate, small cod and chips for moi on our first visit with chips and mushy peas on the 2nd stop and large cod and chips for him both times. Eating in silence whilst sipping on our cold cans of fizzy we studied the horizon and admired the boats moored up along the river.


A beady eyed seagull kept a patrol around us hopeful of a scrap but the arrival of a young family caught his attention as an easier target and he hopped off. With tummies full we bunged the empty chip wrappers firmly in the bin and headed back to the car.

The Verdict?
These are the best chips not only in Rye but in the surrounding area. Fluffy insides with crispy outers, the portion sizes are very good and reasonable value. Make the most of how beautiful Rye is to find a spot to sit and eat rather than sit inside.

Deets:
37 The Mint
Rye
East Sussex
TN31 7EN

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Whitstable: Tea & Times

Whitstable has a very English seaside charm about it which draws us back time and again. The selection of independent shops selling clothes, gifts and food are a refreshing change from the modern high street experience. It was on a particularly hot and humid day that I popped into town for some gift shopping and managed to squeeze in a quick pit stop at Tea & Times. 


Situated along the High Street on the North side out of the sun, it was a welcoming cool and airy spot to have a quick cup of tea. Painted in a royal blue with vintage looking sign writing, it looks a friendly and relaxing non pretentious place. Seating is available in the window or upstairs in the spacious cafe area.


Snaring one of the well used tables and chairs behind the huge floor to ceiling windows, I grabbed a newspaper and ordered a builders tea. This is a place where you can sit and read without feeling out of place, just don't think the reading materials are free though! The best table is upstairs in the first floor window but this is usually always taken.


Being tight on time and loose change I could only peruse the food menu with lust, sandwich fillings galore along with some great looking cake chalked up on a huge blackboard. All reasonably priced and homemade, there was also a good selection of teas and espresso based drinks on offer. I didn't have to wait long from my brew to turn up and sipped whilst reading for a good 15 minutes. It would have been nice to have had a teapot for one, but the tea was served already brewed with milk added in a rather dirty white chunky mug. It may have been an off day but I wasn't that impressed, I felt like I could have been in a truck cafe. 


This place reminds me of The Apothecary in Rye, but Tea & Times is a little grubbier. Both have a feeling of being well lived in with lovingly worn chairs and tables along with original features such as this super stained glass window in the background. Both have huge wooden counters which feel like they have been there serving thirsty and peckish customers over the centuries. Large globe lights hang from the tall ceiling creating a subdued but relaxing light. The service is much more friendly and professional in The Apothecary however.

The Verdict?
An OK spot to enjoy a cup of tea whilst reading the paper. Service was quick, prices on par with other cafes in Whitstable along with a very laid back atmosphere. The rather surly staff who seemed more interested in gossip than being polite to their customers let the experience down and I wouldn't come back.


Deets:
36a High Street
Whitstable
CT5 1BQ

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Whitstable: Whitstable Coffee Company

It was on a truly baking hot Sunday that we ended up in Whitstable with an hour to fill. Too hot for coffee, we headed for the Whitstable Produce Store thinking we'd get another refreshing smoothie. However walking along the high street we spotted the Whitstable Coffee Company selling smoothies so thought we'd try them out instead.


Painted in a slate grey with cream sign painting and eye catching black and white entrance flooring, this looks a lovely spot to stop off in. Being so hot we didn't fancy a coffee so each went for a homemade smoothie. Ordering at the till towards the back of the shop, we paid the £3.25 each for a fresh smoothie. We sat in the window at the front, people watching and chatting until our smoothies arrived.


The interior and chairs are all painted white with all tables matching. Whitstable themed artwork adorns the walls along with blackboard menus. It should feel trendy and fresh but the atmosphere was a bit lacklustre with no real ambience and felt like being in a chain coffee shop with no character.


Smoothies having arrived, he went for a Big 5 with kiwi, pineapple, mango and strawberry whilst I went for a Melon Refresher with melon, strawberry and mango. Both looked the same and had the same coloured straw, unlike in the Whitstable Produce Store where we had different coloured straws denoting different flavours. Not a big deal, just a small observation. Both were icy cold and gave welcoming refreshment but were no way as thick as the smoothies in the Produce Store.

The Verdict?
A bit disappointing with no atmosphere or personality. Our smoothies were refreshing but were too watery compared with the smoothies at the Whitstable Produce Store a few minutes walk away. This review doesn't cover the coffee or food so another visit to try those out will be needed. If its a cold drink your after though, keep walking to Harbour Street.

Deets:
39 High Street
Whitstable
CT5 1AP

Monday, 23 June 2014

Our Pick: What's a flat white?

Whilst Ollie loves a Latte, I love a flat white. It's my favourite thing, if a coffee shop sells one I'll have one. I actually love them more than cake and that is saying something for those that know me! They range from place to place and after having to explain to my friends that it was a bit more than just a latte with less froth I decided to do some research on the internet.

My lovely flat white from Edith's House

After an hour of reading different peoples opinions on the perfect flat white, it seems coffee connoisseurs also have a ranging view on what a flat white is. The concensus however seems to be that originally developed in New Zealand in the 1980s it is basically prepared by pouring steamed milk with small fine bubbles and a glossy texture known as microfoam over a double shot of espresso. It is smaller in volume to a cappuccino and latte therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk. It also differs as the loosely frothed milk from the top of the steaming jug, used for latte and cappuccinos, is held back and discarded instead using the more velvety milk below allowing the espresso to dominate the flavour.

According to many views, the following characteristics of a flat white are:
  • thin layer of velvety microfoam milk
  • usually made with whole milk
  • served as a 5-6oz, not served in a large glass
  • free poured milk folded through the coffee so there is no layer separation between coffee and milk 
  • usually with pretty latte art
The Black Dog had a description chalked up on a blackboard which matches this, and they know their coffee. So there it is, a flat white explained how I understand them to be made. Now go and find one because once you've had one you'll be hooked!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Our Pick: 12 Vintage Catering Trucks June


1. Citroen HY Van 1976

Called Francine she is on eBay with an asking price of £25k . MOT'd and Taxed she has 2 crepe burners, Fracino coffee machine and grinder, big built in fridge and freezer and 70 litre water tank. The current owners offer full training for the new owners to get to grips with this eye catching business.







Well this is different, an American school bus which has been converted into a catering van. Comes with full kitchen and appliances along with all the other bits and bobs you'd need. Has a 6.3 litre diesel engine, is left hand drive with a years MOT. 





This teeny car is fully converted to be run as a coffee shop on wheels with a coffee machine, grinder, water tank and LPG supply. What does make me chuckle is the Starbucks coffee cup in photo 3, obviously don't like their own coffee that much! On eBay with bids currently at £16000. 





A newly converted 1969  long wheel base high top Citroen HY van. Complete with Bushman wood fueled pizza oven, this is one head turning truck! Comes with 11 months MOT and due to its age is tax exempt. On car and Classic for a cool £60,000!

HY Van /  Wood Fired Pizza & Coffee For Sale (1969)

HY Van /  Wood Fired Pizza & Coffee For Sale (1969)


Named Francois this has taken 6 months to renovate and is currently used on the streets of Stokholm selling crepes and coffee. With an LPG conversion to run the coffee machine, crepe machines and fridges its another head turning van ready to go immediately. For sale on Car and Classic for £35000. 

Citroen HY Van 1978 petrol For Sale

Citroen HY Van 1978 petrol For Sale

Citroen HY Van 1978 petrol For Sale


A 1974 Renault Estafette van with original butcher shop interior and original paint work. It has some spots of rush but the chassis is in good order. Ideal for an easy conversion into a catering van, it's on Classic and Car for £7500. 

VERY RARE RENAULT ESTAFETTE CATERING VAN. IDEAL FOOD TRUCK. For Sale (1974)

VERY RARE RENAULT ESTAFETTE CATERING VAN. IDEAL FOOD TRUCK. For Sale (1974)

VERY RARE RENAULT ESTAFETTE CATERING VAN. IDEAL FOOD TRUCK. For Sale (1974)


This 1970 HY van is fully equipped for a smoothie and fruit juice business. With a petrol 1.9 cc engine, it's done 108000 kms and comes with a new set of tyres. On Classic and car for £23000 she's currently in France waiting for a new owner. 

PERFECT CITROEN HY CATERING VAN For Sale (1979)

PERFECT CITROEN HY CATERING VAN For Sale (1979)

PERFECT CITROEN HY CATERING VAN For Sale (1979)

PERFECT CITROEN HY CATERING VAN For Sale (1979)


This TD5 has had a high end conversion job turning it into a coffee shop on wheels. Fully converted to run on LPG it has a coffee machine, griddle and water boiler fitted. Ideal for getting to remote places, it's on eBay for £13,990. 





One of the last produced Fleur de Lys in 1993 it has covered 33000 km. Fitted with two rear serving hatches, the interior is fully lined out in stainless steel. On Classic and Car for £27980. 

Fleur de Lys, Diesel,  Sales Van - LHD - Bar - Catering For Sale (1993)

Fleur de Lys, Diesel,  Sales Van - LHD - Bar - Catering For Sale (1993)

Fleur de Lys, Diesel,  Sales Van - LHD - Bar - Catering For Sale (1993)


This beautiful Citroen 1968 van comes in great working order having had a full custom coffee van conversion. Resprayed in 2012 so not with original paintwork it's had a full service and is for sale on Classic and Car for £26000. 

Beautiful Citroën H Van - ready to go! For Sale (1968)

Beautiful Citroën H Van - ready to go! For Sale (1968)

Beautiful Citroën H Van - ready to go! For Sale (1968)

Beautiful Citroën H Van - ready to go! For Sale (1968)


This cute little 1962 Morris van has had a full conversion turning it into a coffee business. A reliable runner, she has 82,000 miles on the clock with an MOT until May 2015. Comes complete with a built in chiller, on board generator, Expobar coffee machine, pie oven, microwave along with plenty of storage space. For sale on Classic and Car for £12000. 

MORRIS COFFEE VAN For Sale (1962)

MORRIS COFFEE VAN For Sale (1962)

MORRIS COFFEE VAN For Sale (1962)


This long wheel base high top HY van has had a full high quality restoration job done on it. LPG gas, LED lights, hatch and bar counter, sinks, fridge you name it it has it. All ready to go, on Classic and Car for £50000. 

Vintage Citroen food truck  For Sale (1980)

Vintage Citroen food truck  For Sale (1980)

Vintage Citroen food truck  For Sale (1980)