Helping Leamington Spa achieve Plastic Free status!

In October 2019 we were delighted to receive Champion status for our efforts in reducing single use plastic by Plastic Free Leamington and Warwick.

Last week, Leamington and Warwick were officially awarded ‘Plastic Free Community’ Status – the 100th location in the UK to receive the award!

Our town’s plastic-free campaign was started in January 2018 by Leamington residents Jo Lally and Sarah Kenny-Levick after seeing Penzance become the UK’s first plastic free community, calling on key organisations and businesses to take more responsibility for eradicating single use plastic.

Jo and Sarah say “More than 30 businesses across our community have eradicated at least three items of single-use plastic, in many cases much more, which has taken hundreds of thousands of pieces of waste out of our system that would have otherwise been on our planet forever.”

 

 

 

 

At Aubrey Allen, we want to do the right thing and we were posed that very question by a packaging consultant last year –
‘is it the right thing you wish to do, or do you want to do what your clients think is right?’
Most definitely the former. Our whole ethos is to eat with integrity and integrity is at the heart of all we do.

We wanted to give you a guide to the small steps we have taken over the last 12 months using the 5 Rs as we navigate our way through the thorny minefield that is plastic reduction in the food industry.

 

 

 

Why not simply stop using plastic altogether and use all these wonderful eco–friendly, plant based, compostable products? If we could, we would do so without hesitation. However, with the fresh products that we sell, it isn’t that easy. Landfill is, well, filled with products marketed as plant based and environmentally friendly but the truth is that they cannot be processed without the industrial composting facilities that are yet to arrive in Britain.
We have conducted extensive research but unfortunately until recycling infrastructure and technology catches up on these issues, there is going to have to be some compromise; the 5 Rs

Here is a summary of what we have implemented so far:

Ready Meal Trays

REPLACE We have now switched from a black plastic tray to a paper board product (the raw material is sourced from PEFC sustainable managed forests) which is 100% recyclable – just rinse it out and put in your paper/board recycling.

RE-USE Or you can ask our shop staff for the ready meal menu a week before hand and we will fill your own containers and oven ready dishes for you to simply collect and cook at home.

Fresh Meat

REPLACE AND RECYCLE Paper Bags – we now pack the majority of our meat in paper bags, they keep the meat fresh, products can be frozen in them, and they can be recycled.

REPLACE AND RECYCLE Polystyrene Trays – we have moved our prepack meat to aluminium trays which are infinitely recyclable (just rinse off any food residue and put in with your regular recycling).

REVIEW The film coverings are not yet kerbside recyclable – we are currently searching for a more environmentally friendly alternative.

REDUCE AND REVIEW Vacuum Pack Bags – There are currently no kerbside recyclable alternatives so we will continue to use at present. We could stop using them however this would lead to higher levels of waste product which is not commercially viable and our advice received is that the food waste implication would lead to a higher negative impact on the environment than using plastic to preserve the product.

Deli Pots

REPLACE AND RECYCLE For our salads and olives we have moved to RPET pots which are made from post-consumer recycled plastic and these are widely recyclable within your general kerbside recycling.

RE-USE They are also easy to clean and therefore able to be reused – bring them with you when you next come in for your salad items.

REVIEW AND REDUCE Upon advice and internal trials we decided not to go with compostable plant based products as they currently go into landfill and can take many years to degrade. They are also difficult to wash and reuse without losing structure making them a single use item.
You could argue that it is not ideal to continue to use plastic as it is an oil based product however it seems to be the best option to us at this time and that reusing the plastic that is currently on the planet would seem a sensible option.

Fruit and Vegetables

REPLACE We have replaced our pre-packaged fruit and vegetables with loose produce that can be taken away in paper bags. These products come fresh from local markets and suppliers.

Carrier Bags

REPLACE AND RE-USE For smaller, lighter items we are now using paper bags. Larger, heavier joints of meat simply don’t work in paper bags and the compostable paper based ones are very flimsy and the meat would most likely fall out onto the pavement upon customers leaving the shop.

RE-USE Bags for Life are available – we sell them at zero profit margin along with cool bags so please purchase these to use again and again or bring along your own bags and boxes.

Internal processes

REPLACE We ship some meat out by mail order using a lined cardboard box that we have introduced instead of polystyrene – we are talking to our suppliers to encourage similar practices.

REDUCED We have reduced the use of disposable trays back of house and are using lined crates instead, as well as having deliveries in crates instead of boxes that are then returned to the supplier.

REDUCED We have reduced the number of vacuum pack bags by changing our processes and are constantly looking at where unnecessary packaging is being used.

REVIEW As a team we are all committed to working towards minimum packaging.

Help us do the right thing.
Wash out your deli containers and we will refill them.
Bring your own containers and let us dish up your dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We value any help or feedback on what we have done so far. If you have any ideas or suggestions to help us on our sustainable journey, please email me directly russell@aubreyallen.co.uk

 

For more information on how you can support Plastic Free Leamington and Warwick visit their Facebook page

Five of our Burns Night must-haves!

Burns Night, celebrated on the 25th January, is the annual remembrance of Scottish poet Robert Burns’ birthday. 

Back in July 1801, nine of Burns’ close friends got together to mark the fifth anniversary of their friend’s death. Taking place at Burns Cottage in Alloway, the night included food, performances of Burns’ work and a speech in honour of the late poet. The night was such a success they decided to hold it again in honour of Robert’s birthday, kicking off the tradition we still enjoy to this day.

Hosting your own Burns Night Supper this year? These are our top 5 traditions to consider:

Piping in the guests 

Ok, so it might be a bit of a push to get a piper in just for welcoming your guests but it sure does set the scene! The people of Leamington Spa were serenaded by Pat and his bagpipes a couple of years ago outside the shop.

You could download a suitable playlist to pipe through your speakers instead.

 

Selkirk Grace

The Selkirk Grace is the traditional thanksgiving poem recited prior to the meal being served.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menu

Our favourite part of the night! Of course we all know about the haggis (the star attraction and traditionally piped in to the room to great delight) but there is more to a Burns Night menu than that!
A starter of Cock-a-Leekie soup is served before the main course of Haggis, neeps (swede or yellow turnip) & tatties (potato) also known as Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties 

Dessert is either a Clootie Dumpling (steamed pudding with spices and dried fruit) or Cranachan (oats, cream, whisky and raspberries) and all of that is followed by a cheeseboard with Scottish oatcakes.

A feast for sure!

Auld Lang Syne

Once the after-dinner entertainment of ceilidh dancing, speeches or performances of Burns’ work has been enjoyed everybody gets up to belt out Auld Lang Syne (consider providing lyrics if you’re doing the full version!)

Whisky

Before, during, after – as long as the haggis is splashed with a wee dram before eating, the rest is yours to enjoy throughout the night!
Head to Leamington Wine Company for a fantastic selection of Scotch.

 

Whether you’re planning a traditional Burns Night supper or just fancy picking a couple of elements to enjoy over the weekend, you can find a great range of Scottish food in the shop in time for the 25th January.
Our MacSween haggis includes a variety of sizes and even comes with vegetarian and gluten-free options. 
Our chef will be preparing Cock-a-Leekie soup, neeps and tatties and Cranachan and our cheese shop will have a great selection of Scottish cheeses to suit all tastes.

Call us on 01926 311208 to place an order.

It’s the how, not the cow!

Good news… 🙌

Our teammates at Aubrey’s HQ (Aubrey Allen Wholesale) have been voted by chefs as Meat Supplier of the Year for the third year in a row as part of the 2020 Restaurant Magazine Awards!

It’s amazing to see the hard work by all of the team recognised by those who choose Aubrey’s products in their restaurants and establishments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A huge part of that success is down to our meat-buying ethos.

Here’s a couple of reasons why it matters where you get your meat from –

🐷 British meat is produced to some of the highest welfare standards in the world – the farmers we work with are passionate about caring for their livestock and it also shows in the finished product

✈️ British food travels far less from farm to shop so has a lower carbon footprint than most imported foods. Our British Beef, Suffolk Pork, Cornish Lamb and Worcestershire Chicken has a much shorter distance to travel than some supermarket cuts coming over from New Zealand, Brazil and Germany amongst others

🚜 65% of all agricultural land in the UK can only be grazed. If it isn’t grazed, it goes to ruin.  Grass fed beef enhances the environment by improving soil, helping with absorption of carbon, production of oxygen and is critical to our ecosystem! 

🌍 The carbon footprint of UK beef is 35% lower than the global average and significantly lower than a number of the other key beef producing nations.

🐮 Britain’s cattle passport system means that each animal can be uniquely traced to its mother and place of birth – at a time when supermarkets are making up wonderfully British farm names that, in a number of cases, have been found not to exist, we shout proudly that every single piece of beef coming through our doors can be traced right back to its farm, including this beautiful Wagyu cattle from Earl Stonham Farms in Suffolk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We could go on for days about why we are so proud of what we sell!

If you would like more information please contact shop@aubreyallen.co.uk

Getting to know… James Gaskell!

With the 2019/2020 season about to kick off, we wanted to find out more about James Gaskell who plays second row for Wasps Rugby.
We know he loves his food, let’s see what some of his favourites are!

Q: Are you a good cook?
James: I would say I’m pretty good at cooking; the amount we have to eat gives me an opportunity to practice a lot

Q: What would your ideal dinner party menu be?
James: Chicken wings in hot sauce with blue cheese dip followed by Reverse seared Boston chop, dauphinoise potatoes and vegetables with peppercorn sauce then finish with a cheeseboard!

Q: And who would be your ideal dinner party guest?
James: Barack Obama

Q: Was there anything you wouldn’t eat as a child that you enjoy now?
James: As a kid I was pretty good, the only thing I didn’t enjoy much was peanuts but now I can’t get enough of them!

Q: We know you probably don’t have them often but what’s your favourite takeaway food?
James: Favourite takeaway would be Thai – you can’t go wrong with a good Pad thai

 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
Quickfire Q&A

Favourite…

Rugby HeroCharlie Hodgson

Sporting HeroPeter Crouch

Football teamStoke City

TV ShowGame of Thrones

BandOasis

Drink Tea

Holiday DestinationThailand

 

See James and the rest of the Wasps in action on Saturday 21st September when they play their first home game of the season against Saracens!
Find out more here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of Wasps Facebook

 

Bonne Anniversaire, Oscar’s! Celebrating 15 years of an independent, family-run restaurant in Leamington Spa

We’re a big fan of birthdays at Oscar’s – any excuse to get the champagne out! So when it came to celebrating our most recent birthday there was never a doubt that it would go with a bang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our much-loved French Steakhouse & Bistro, owned by high street heroes Aubrey Allen, invited a handful of close friends to join the party on (what better day than arguably the biggest National Festival in France which celebrates independence?) Bastille Day with fizz, canapes, memories and lots of laughs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owner Russell Allen said “Oscars is simple food served well and we are delighted to see how it has gone from strength to strength. Independent restaurants are a rarity on high streets and you have to give guests great food every time and a wonderful experience. Our team and our offering is better than ever and we’re busier than ever.”

At the party Russell thanked the small, hard-working team for their service, and in particular gave thanks to local legend Pascal who has been at the restaurant since day one. 

For more information about our Michelin-recommended restaurant including menus and to book a table online visit the website here 

New season lamb – do you know the difference?

Down in the south coast of England, the quality of lamb is so good, it’s recognised with a PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication). This area is also one of the more abundant areas in the country for lambs, and having dealt with our suppliers for over 25 years we are able to get the pick of the flock!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The majority of these lambs are bred from Dorset sheep. Dorset’s are a great, fast growing breed, but there is something that makes them extra special – they are the only breed of sheep which are able to lamb all year round! In addition to this, the South West is known for having a better climate that the rest of the country and the grass is of great quality. This in turn helps to push the lambs on slightly quicker to achieve a greater level of finish.

Take a look at why Russell Allen thinks our new season lamb is worth shouting about!


 

To order please call the team on 01926 311208 or email shop@aubreyallen.co.uk 

 

Aubrey’s Best in Show 🐾

With the paws officially on the doors, the Aubrey Allen team came up with a fitting celebration for National Butchers Week and Crufts, both taking place at the beginning of March.

Aubrey’s Best in Show gave our dog-loving team the chance to thank our wonderful pack of loyal four-legged followers and welcome some friendly new faces.
With categories such as ‘Best Beard’, ‘Bravest’ and ‘Most Polite’ every pup that visited during the three-day shop event went home with their very own certificate and a bag of delicious doggy biscuit bones.

The event also saw the launch of our new doggy deli range including Denzel’s high-protein and nut butter dog chews and premium, hand-baked treats from The Dog Treat Company, all available in the shop.

Is your dog featured in our gallery? 🐾

Aubrey’s team get spicy in the kitchen for National Curry Week!

The nation’s favourite dish is also a team favourite here at Aubrey Allen! With statistics published in 2016 stating that Britons spend over £30k on curry in their lifetime it’s no surprise that National Curry Week has tickled the tastebuds of the Aubrey’s team.

To celebrate National Curry Week we challenged seven members of the team to each cook a curry over seven days and here’s what we discovered…

  1. Quick and easy or low and slow – it’s up to you! Busy mum Claire wanted a family-friendly curry in a hurry and looked to the ready-prepared spice mixes available in the shop. Adding a bhuna Spice Pot to her diced chicken supremes and natural yoghurt she created a delicious dish in no time at all leaving her with plenty of time to spend with the family and plan the next cheese of the week in the shop!

    Sophie had an afternoon to herself and dedicated it to her slow cook shin of beef recipe starting by making a spice paste from scratch. Cooking low and slow allowed Sophie to carry on with the new shop slideshow graphics while she waited. The finished result? A Thai red beef curry jam-packed with flavour!

  2. No meat, no problem! If you hadn’t already heard, Aubrey Allen is #MoreThanAButcher and we challenged Zara (self-confessed cheese addict) to a meat-free dish. Halloumi was the perfect alternative and Zara created a Cauliflower & Halloumi curry sure to tempt vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
  3. It’s not just chicken…For those used to cooking their curries with chicken we can definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone!
    For Sarah, cooking with pork was limited to grilling bacon on a Sunday morning but with 400g of diced pork she made a spicy pork bhuna in less than an hour leaving her plenty of time to check in on the company’s social media pages.

    ‘Captain’ Simon Kelly wasn’t afraid of the challenge and created a fantastic spicy shoulder of lamb cooked on the bone for maximum flavour.

  4.  Cooking on a budget? Curry’s the one…A few handy spice jars from the cupboard, stock, fresh or frozen vegetables and meat from our Monday special offer range and you’ve got yourself a delicious, nutritious dish without spending a fortune.
    Every Monday is special offer day and you can find the shop full of great meat at great prices. Beef mince, chicken supremes, lamb joints, steaks, even ready made curries and casseroles! Take a look and fill your freezer ready for the next curry night at home!

    Cal used lamb mince (part of our Monday special offers) and plenty of chilli (he’s the mastermind behind the crazy-hot burgers we do!) with a hint of North African flavours using dried apricots and almonds.

    Resident Masterchef, Robin, used his day off to rustle up a fragrant lamb curry – and that was after he’d made over 100 portions of curry to sell on the meat counter!

    So there you have it – curry for all tastes, budgets, couples and families and as hot or as mild as you like.
    What’s your favourite meat to use in curry? Let us know!

    Claire’s curry in a hurry

    Sophie’s slow cooked Thai Red Curry

    Zara’s Halloumi curry

    Sarah’s Pork Bhuna

    Simon’s slow cooked lamb on the bone

    Cal’s super speedy lamb curry

    Robin’s fragrant diced lamb

C’est magnifique! We’re helping Oscar’s celebrate the Best of Bordeaux

The annual Bordeaux Dinner at Oscar’s French Steakhouse and Bistro is a firm favourite in the Aubrey Allen calendar and a perfect lead up to the colder months.
This year’s event is being held on Thursday 8th November and we can’t wait! As always, Lindsay from Wine Poole will be on hand to introduce the wines.

The evening starts with an Oscar’s standard – french bread, olives and saucisson, paired beautifully with white Bordeaux. It’s all about the aperitif!

Dishes of Shellfish Bisque and Fish Terrine with Watercress sauce will be enjoyed alongside a 2015 Bordeaux blanc which has delicious flavours of peach and apricot.

The main course is a sight to behold – Aubrey’s Sirloin of Beef with Short Rib Pie, Roasted Carrots, Savoy Cabbage and Claret Sauce. We’d be there for that dish alone! Paired with a St Emilion Grand Cru it’s bound to be spectacular.

A regional evening at Oscar’s wouldn’t be complete without a cheese course and the finest Brie de Meaux from our cheese shop is a real crowd-pleaser.

If that wasn’t enough the sweet tooth will be satisfied with the final course – a dessert of Apple and Frangipane Tart with Cognac Cream and a glass of dessert wine to make you smile.

We’ll be there – how about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For bookings call Pascal on 01926 452807 or email bookings@oscarsfrenchbistro.co.uk

Aubrey brings home the bacon!

Is there anything more comforting than the smell of bacon cooking on a weekend morning? The tea is brewing, the bread is buttered and the ongoing argument of which sauce to have – red or brown? Or neither?! – is only just heard over the sizzling rashers almost reaching the perfect place between chewy and crisp.

Imagine those bacon sandwiches that you’re used to…only better!

With our knowledge of bacon, and passion for doing the right thing in the right way it was only a matter of time before we started to produce our own bacon.
Want to know why Aubrey’s home cured bacon is so good?

  • Low water content for full flavour
  • We have a commitment to ethical sourcing and so all of the pigs we use are English outdoor-bred gilt pigs with full traceability #happypigs
  • we built our own state-of-the-art bacon room to focus on creating the very best product
  • its all cured in-house by our dedicated team
  • our rashers are cut to a thickness that you’ll love

MD Russell Allen can tell you more…

 

So next time you’re in have a try of our delicious home-cured bacon and let us know what you think!