Pub of the month, March 2016, The Brewers Co-operative, Auckland

As with the beer of the month, this one is New Zealand heavy. In fact, it is totally New Zealand because we spent the first part of the month there and didn’t visit many pubs when we got back!

So many to choose from, so I’m just going to pick my top 3 for this month.

First up is last month’s winner, the Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery. It was an easy decision to come back again and tuck in to some more tasty food and some good beers. Mrs MOFAD had some cider too as she was not suffering with jet lag this time around.

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On to our runner up, Crafty Trout Brewing Co in Taupo. This was somewhere I had been looking forward to visiting, and after a long day of walking (we’d been up to Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon), we walked a bit more to get back down in to Taupo and the Trout, to have some great pizzas and good beer. As with many good brewery tap outlets, they keep things simple with the menu, with a choice of 8 pizzas, a schnitzel, pie, spare ribs, fish’n’chips, pasta or a cheese’n’meat platter as well as a few other snacks. My “Wild Thing” pizza with venison, olives and spiced grape jelly was very good. As were the beers.

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The Brewers Co-operative in Auckland is this month’s winner. Somewhere we visited twice, after spotting it on our first morning in the city. We popped in for a drink after dinner at The Shakespeare (above). The Brewers Co-operative are all about quality craft beer from around these isles, which is a pretty good decision, since there’s so much to choose from. After you’ve been here for a couple of weeks, you soon recognise some of the names like Garage Project, 8 Wired, Epic and Liberty.

On our second visit, we had dinner. They have a kitchen which specialises in fish dishes, and serves many of them in classic chip shop style, wrapped up in paper. Although I am a plate advocate, this lack of plates fits in perfectly with their laid back vibe. Lovely food, great beer, and a great place to escape the Auckland CBD.

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A well deserved pub of the month!

Beer of the month, March 2016

This one is going to be rather a New Zealand heavy post, having spent half of the month there, and sampling quite a few beers. The only beer that isn’t from New Zealand is from Mexico, so this one is an international takeover!

Let us begin, with a Kettle Sour by Tuatara Brewery at The Brewers Co-operative – pucker up buttercup, this presented supreme sourness like pear drops in beer form. Wowsers.

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Next up we have IPA (anyone shocked by that?) This one was by Good George Brewing, and was a hoppy and pale delight with good tropical fruit notes at lunchtime in Rotorua.

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Here comes the non-union Mexican equivalent. If you’re not up on your Simpsons references:-

This is Day of the Dead Chocolatl Stout (The Necromancer) by Cervecería Mexicana. Easter in a glass. All of the chocolate. All of it. A lovely chocolate stout.

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Back down to New Zealand we go, with Oh Lordy! by Funk Estate. It’s not hard to see why they called it Oh Lordy. Here comes the hop hammer. Whichever way you turn it smashes you in the face. A delicious pale ale enjoyed on the camp site we stayed at in Hastings. The photo is a little blurry as it was getting late and getting dark.

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The next beer is a Fat Monk Pacific Pale, which is a better IPA than their IPA. A totally tropical hoppy delight which was enjoyed in blazing sunshine, eating pizza, listening to music. It was so close to being the winner.

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That honour goes to Armageddon IPA by Epic Brewing Company, enjoyed at The Brewers Co-operative. As soon as I tasted it, I made a bold claim – “beer of the month for March. No doubt.”

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That claim turned out to be true. A super hoppy smack down with malty and tropical fruit notes. It could have been paler but that’s just me and my obsession with pale ales being pale… A worthy winner which goes through to beer of the year…

Harvester, Loughborough

Have you ever been to a Harvester before? Yes, plenty of times. This is our local, but we haven’t been here very much for quite a while. When we first moved in and were renovating the house, this was a convenient place for dinner. We have had a few meals here this century, but not all that many.

I came here for a team Xmas meal a few years ago, but the service was very poor, our pre-ordered and pre-paid meals took ages to come out. The food has always been of a reasonable standard, and the place itself always feels fairly well looked after.

Today we were here for a leaving do for someone from work – a quick meal and a drink to say goodbye.

Here’s the first problem with Harvester – the selection of ale is usually limited to something like Doom Bar. When it’s well kept, it’s a good pint. But when it ends up in chain pubs, it’s just average.

Here’s the thing that is the part of the Harvester experience that everyone remembers. The unlimited salad bowl. This is something that hasn’t changed all that much over the years, with a few things a bit different. There’s the usual selection of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber slices, sweetcorn, pickled onions, pineapple chunks, gherkins, sultanas and those crispy onion bits. There are a few more bits and pieces too. And of course red devil sauce, which doesn’t seem to have changed at all in the last 20 years…

Just something light today, classic nachos with added pulled pork. Nachos done well can be a thing of beauty. A few of us still remember the nachos from the Swan, with whole roasted chillis. Nachos done badly are a travesty – some Tesco value tortilla chips, cheap cheddar and some gloop from a jar.

These nachos were pretty good, with reasonable chillis and some decent toppings – the pulled pork was also good. The portion size is pretty good, certainly enough for one – the larger portion for two is also pretty good.

250 posts

Yes, it’s another milestone post. Just over a year since the idea for the MOFAD blog appeared on my radar and I have already made it to 250 posts. Just a couple of months since the 200 mark was reached, and there’s a lot to reflect on.

Just a week after the last milestone, we visited a lovely village pub, The Nag’s Head in Stapleton. This featured a tasty burger in an interesting serving device:-

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There was a brief musical interlude, and then a trip to London which generated eight posts, from places old and new, including The Monument pub on Fish Street Hill, which we visited before climbing the actual monument.

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January also saw Eternal from Northern Monk crowned as beer of the month, and The Beer Hall in Staveley came out as pub of the month.

February was mostly about the great New Zealand road trip. There was time for another trip to The Marquis Wellington and a new Leicester venue for us, The Parcel Yard. Just a week later we found ourselves on the other side of the world, checking out food and drink venues in Auckland, such as Brothers Beer and the Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery, and then 2 days after that we were in Waihi Beach checking out the wonderful Flat White Cafe Bar.

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There are still a lot of posts to come too. There are 7 more New Zealand posts in draft right now, with around 30 more still to come from the trip (we went to a lot of places including lots of wineries on 2 long cycle rides). There are another 7 other posts that need finishing up and a few more that will be generated in April.

The write up of Dodd’s Restaurant is the new top article with over 100 views and Triple Pork Nirvana continues to be the most popular page, spreading the word of pork (it’s still the first result on Google if you search for the term!) There are now visitors from Sri Lanka, Hungary and Tanzania.

The Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheMOFAD is still proving popular and you can find the Minister on Twitter @The_MOFAD, where over 2,500 tweets have now made their way out into the world.

Right, time to get back to writing those posts…

TPN 2016 #9

Another day in control, and hot on the tail of yesterday’s, it’s a fast follow up with another triple pork nirvana. Breakfast was a sausage sandwich (left over sausages from last night’s sausages and mash). Lunch was my usual M&S sandwich choice (chicken, bacon and mayonnaise) picked up on the drive home from Essex.

Dinner rounded things off nicely with a chicken & bacon pizza, foraged by Mrs MOFAD who picked up some shoppping on the way home from work. Yet another tasty triple!