York Supplies is becoming a co-op – and you can own a piece of it

York Supplies is one of the worst-kept best secrets of Kings Heath – an old-school hardware and gardening store where you can find anything you need, and if that’s one nail then you can just buy one nail. We’re big fans and were quite distraught when it was announced that Jon Jaffa, the owner and heart and soul of the business, was retiring and selling up.

Over the last year a group of customers, with support from Co-ops UK, put together a plan to save the business and, more importantly, maintain the community spirit of the business that Jon has nurtured over the decades. Here’s Barbara Nice to explain it.

If successful, the business will be reborn as a York Supplies Community Co-op. Anyone who invests at least £100 can become a member with voting rights, meaning the business will effectively be owned by the customers in the community. They need to raise £300,000 from shares which will then be matched by the Community Ownership Fund, giving Jon a fair price to retire on.

The share offer ends on 7 September. You can invest (and note this is an investment, not a donation) by filling in this form.

Soul Food News

sfpOur buddies up at Soul Food Project in Kings Heath sent us over a bit of news, so we’re just passing it on…

Firstly, they have an exciting opening to join their growing team. They’re looking for a Front of House/Marketing assistant, and you can check out all the details on the attached job description: Staff Vacancy – Front Of House Assistant

Secondly, they are throwing one helluva party for Mardi Gras on the 5th March – headlining is Craig Charles coming straight down to the Hare and Hounds after recording his Funk and Soul show for BBC 6 music in Birmingham. There’ll also be DJ sets from Coldrice and Sweat and live music from Whitmo Deans and Atlantic Players. All accompanied by the best cajun food in brum, what’s not to like?

Soul Food Project unleash new menu

soulfoodprojectI was excited last week, to be invited to attend the ‘gastro evening’ launch of Soul Food Project’s new menu, the cheffy equivalent of an album launch if you like. Soul Food project occupy the kitchen upstairs at The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, and serve up southern-style food to discerning eaters, and drinkers with an appetite. That’s the essence of proper pub food I suppose, you have to attract a few people that would normally head to a restaurant, but maybe want to save a quid or two, but also feed the tipsy reveller who suddenly gets the munchies. The question then, I suppose, is does the Soul Food Project’s new menu hit the mark?

During an enjoyable evening comparing oven temperatures and bakery start times with the smiley Sarah Frost, we were given samples of 7 or 8 dishes off the new menu as we washed it all down with pints of Purity’s finest. The first, and finest of them all, was the Sierra Nevada hush puppies, a moorish deep-fired savoury doughnut made with corn and Sierra Nevada pale ale. Next out came the burgers, chunky locally made beef patties in a sturdy bun with a punchy soul sauce, good stuff. We sampled the consistently good Jambalaya, a great sunburst salad with halloumi and sweet potato, veggie gumbo (I thought gumbo had to have peanuts in it – am I thinking of somehting else?), and SFP’s SFC (southern fried chicken), of course.  The thirty-strong crowd were visibly stuffed by this point, but when chef’s Carl and Matt emerge with trays of the famous brownies and stunning churro’s to finish us off, who can turn that down?!

Their repertoire has massively expanded and now fills a glossy A3 menu (complete with photos!), and there are many intriguing dishes that I still want to sample (pork crackling with a bourbon sauce for a starter? yes please!). So have they managed to hit the hungry-boozer/gourmet-diner-on-a-budget balance? I think they pretty much have. The dishes are certainly good value – starters are £3-4 and mains just £5-7. The dishes aren’t refined and showy like a flashy restaurant, they’re hearty, which is how soul food should be, and perfect for fuelling-up for a night out. The resounding thing that struck me though is that there’s no one else really doing this kind of food in Birmingham, so although there’s no smears of chestnut puree or embellishments of pea shoots on the plates, I urge foodies, gourmands, and anyone wanting some honest, original pub grub, to head down and check out the new menu. I know i’ll be returning soon…

Soul Food Project – review

sfpI tend to avoid going to pubs for a Sunday roast these days – years of overcooked meat, soggy vegetables, overly salty gravy, and flabby potatoes have left me wishing I’d gone to my mums instead! I suppose not many people actually make a Sunday roast these days, so despite the crap food, I guess these pubs are providing a historo-cultural service at least!

So I must admit that on arriving for my much awaited first meal at the Soul Food Project in Kings Heath’s Hare and Hounds pub, there was a tinge of disappointment to learn that the normal menu had been set aside in favour of Sunday roasts. The disappointment didn’t last long though, as I met Alex from the Soul Food crew at the bar, who recommended the cajun beef roast and gave me a nod and wink concerning desserts!

So the beef was what I had, and I was mightily pleased with my choice. The cajun rub on the joint, which was served deliciously pink as promised, really came through on the outer edges of the beef, and permeated the gravy – it wasn’t overly spicy, but just enough to let you know it wasn’t a run-of-the-mill joint. Accompanying the beef were cooked-to-a-crunch broccoli and carrots, sweeter-than-sweet slow-roasted sweet potatoes, and a generous portion of home cooked yorkshires enveloping a spicy pork stuffing. I said at the time it was one of the best roasts I’ve had in Birmingham, and I still remember it fondly a week later. photoThe guys behind Soul Food Project Carl, Alex and Matt, kindly brought us down a sharing plate of their fine desserts, showing off an unctuous carrot cake with thick cream cheese frosting, and my favourite, their tray bake chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream. All round a great sunday roast, a gentle introduction to the Soul Food Project’s southern flavours, and a desire to return mid-week to sample their daily menu – nice one fella’s!

Soul Food Project has arrived!

A few weeks ago I met up with 3 enthusiastic local foodies, and clearly good mates, at their ‘office’, the corner table in the Hare and Hounds Kings Heath. They told me of the plan they were hatching to launch an exciting new food venture in Kings Heath, bringing more great local food to this burgeoning foodie suburb of South Birmingham. Although I sadly haven’t got the capacity to supply them with bread for their new venture, and haven’t yet eaten there, I wanted to share with you this excerpt from their Facebook Page:

Soul Food Project has arrived to spice up and inject some fun into the Birmingham food scene. The kitchen is based in one of Birmingham’s busiest and most important independent pubs…the Hare and Hounds.

The Project is the brainchild of 3 Birmingham friends, Carl Finn, Matt Beck and Alex Morrall, who have between them over 10 years experience in the catering, service and promotion industry. The idea was formed over several bottles of Brooklyn Lager and a consensus that the standard of food served in pubs was in need of an overhaul of soul.

What makes Soul Food Project different to other pub food?

Well SFP takes influence from the diverse food landscape of America so…..
– Think smoked paprika and chilli infused Southern Fried Chicken,
– Think Sunburst salads,
– Think crayfish, chicken and chorizo Jambalaya from New Orleans,
– Think the best burgers in Brum
– Think Waffles and Rocky Road for the weekend.
and so much more..

Food is sourced locally where possible and each ingredient is treated with care and passion. The kitchen is open to ideas, suggestions and feedback and also plans to host live music, gastro evenings and much more….Watch this space.

It’s time to put some soul in your bowl!!!

Sould Food Project is serving at the Hare Hounds from 12-8 on Tuesdays-Saturdays, and 12-5 on Sundays. I’ve just noticed on their facebook page too that they now do waffle Wednesdays – 2 waffles for a fiver – bargain!

See you down there soon, T.

Local Fruit and Veg delivered to your door

sns034Just a quick post to highlight the latest exciting addition to our local food directory – Barrow Boy. Barrow Boy are a great new service operating in the Moseley and Kings Heath area, that deliver fresh fruit and vegetables directly to your door. The friendly face of Barrow Boy is Pauline Findlay, who collects class 1 produce daily from Birmingham wholesale market, much of which is grown locally (especially the veg), and drops it off (in her Morris Minor) to you at your convenience. She even gives 15 minute time slots so you don’t have to stay in! There is a huge amount of choice, and the quality and prices are reportedly amazing. You can find out more on the Barrow Boy website or by calling 0121 777 0344. Please mention Loaf when you get in touch.