Everyone is invited to join the Polish community of Cambridge on 13 May at The Guildhall to celebrate their heritage and culture.
The Polish community in Cambridge numbers around 5,000 people, many of them permanent residents and some who are here to study. The Polonia Club on Chesterton Road is a meeting place, a cultural centre and has a restaurant serving traditional Polish dishes while the University offers a Polish Studies programme which runs lectures, film screenings, debates and meetings with writers and artists, events which are open to all. There’s a Polish Saturday School and a Polish Mass is held every Sunday at the Catholic church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs on Hills Road.
There’s plenty going on at this Heritage Day event which will be opened by the Polish Ambassador. You’ll be able to taste authentic Polish food such as pierogi (little dumplings of various flavours, both sweet and savoury), cakes, pastries and breads. Local Polish artists and craftspeople will be exhibiting. There’ll be choral, guitar and piano performances, dancing from the Wiwat Folk Group and a Thai boxing display while local Polish businesses will host stalls.
Polish Heritage Day is happening on Sunday 13 May from 12 noon to 5pm. Entry is free. Everyone is welcome to join the celebrations and to discover more about Polish life and culture.
A little piece of Spain just landed in Mill Road with the recent opening of Tu Casa Tapas, a new independent tapas bar at the Parker’s Piece end of the street.
It’s owned by Roi Vaquero and Elia Polo who met here in Cambridge five years ago when Roi, who hails from Galicia, took a sabbatical from his job as a corporate lawyer and arrived in the city to improve his English. He and Elia, who is Italian, noticed that there was no independent Spanish restaurant here and decided to set one up themselves. It’s been a long journey as they gained experience in some of the city’s top restaurants and negotiated the vagaries of the Cambridge commercial property market but they put a team together along the way and ended up completely refurbishing an old charity shop. They’ve created a welcoming space with a pared back aesthetic … whitewashed walls, dark wooden furniture, white crockery and plain terracotta dishes that really let the food be the star of the show.
We went for lunch last weekend and ordered from the tapas menu. Albondigas (beef and pork meatballs marinated in garlic, parsley and white wine tomato sauce) were aromatic in the piquant sauce.
We loved the generous plate of wafer thin hand carved Jamon Iberico de Bellota while the plump Croquetas de Boletus were a texture sensation with a crunchy outside and a soft, creamy mushroomy bechamel sauce inside.
Escalivada con Pimiento (roasted red and green pepper with onion and aubergine, seasoned with cumin and olive oil) was sweet and smokey at the same time.
We managed to squeeze in one final dish, Ensalada de queso de Cabra, a roasted goats cheese on crisp lettuce, studded with walnuts, sultanas and cherry tomatoes and drizzled with a sweet, sticky honey and pomegranate dressing.
Next time we go, we’ll try the main courses which include paella, slow cooked meats and the favourite Huevos rotos (hand cut chips with fried eggs and chorizo).
From the small dessert menu, we ordered Arroz con leche (Valencian rice, cinnamon and skinned lemon served with dried apricot in rosewater) for Johnny and a slice of Tarta de Santiago, the wonderful almond cake which took me right back to a lovely family holiday we had in Galicia some years ago.
There’s a small wine menu from which I ordered a glass of Rueda which was a perfect light white wine for lunchtime. Johnny enjoyed his glass of red wine, Ribera del Duero, and we couldn’t resist sharing a glass of sweet, raisiny Pedro Ximenez with our puddings.
Tu Casa Tapas fits really well into Mill Road with its cosmopolitan food scene. If you’re looking for authentic, delicious Spanish cooking, you’ll find it here.
Well, April brought us a short, unseasonal heatwave but as we move into May, the weather’s reverted to wind, rain and generally grey murky conditions … surely, surely we must be due some decent spring days soon?? Anyway, there’s plenty going on in the city so here’s the What’s On listing for May. It’s a mix of all sorts of things that come to my attention and I update it through the month, so it’s worth checking back occasionally. And please get in touch via my Contact page if you know of an event that I’d like to include.
3 – 7th Cambridge May Fair, Midsummer Common
3 – 12th 11am – 5pm Sound of Silence. Still Life Exhibition. Alessandra Tarcia and Akiko Hirai. St Peter’s Church, Castle Hill http://www.flowgallery.co.uk
12th 8pm Ensemble Pro Victoria. The Kinges Musicke. Rarely heard music from Tudor England and the Continent before and after the Reformation. Cornysh, Fayrfax, Byrd, Victoria. Trinity College Chapel. Tickets on the door.
Cambridge News recently asked me to contribute to a piece in which I, along with a couple of other bloggers, shared a few of my favourite places to eat in the city. It was difficult to choose as there are so many I love and I had a tight word limit but here’s what I wrote!
The Locker Café in King Street is close to my heart (and not only because of their amazing Chocolate Guinness cake, which is my current obsession!). It opened just as I started writing my blog at the end of last summer and was the subject of my first post. Co-owned by father and son John and Adam Hodges, the café is light and spacious with a balcony for sunny days. Ceramics made by John are in daily use while art on the walls is curated by Adam’s mother and there’s live music on Sunday afternoons. The Locker is a favourite spot for brunch with my husband and I often interview for the blog here, over tea and cake.
The Copper Kettle on King’s Parade is one of Cambridge’s oldest restaurants and it has one of the best views too, overlooking the historic buildings of King’s College and its world famous chapel. It’s open all day, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and cakes but in the evening the menu switches to Mediterranean cuisine with fish and vegetarian options alongside grilled meat dishes and salads. I like to meet friends here in the early evening to catch up on news over a glass or two of chilled white wine and a selection of delicious meze that we share as we chat.
Restaurant Twenty-Two on Chesterton Road has recently reopened with chef Sam Carter and partner Alexandra Olivier offering creative modern British food with a twist, using seasonal ingredients from local suppliers. Their 7 Course Tasting Menu quite simply blew us away. Sam creates delectable flavours and presents every dish so beautifully but it’s also the textures in each plate of his food which constantly surprise and excite. Returning last weekend with family, we enjoyed the set lunch menu which is exceptional value at £20 for three courses. Once again, Sam had our taste buds dancing until the very last bite.
Following its very successful debut season in 2017, the Star & Mouse “trinket cinema” is back, bringing film screenings underneath the stars at fabulous venues in and around Cambridge at weekends from May through to September. This is a very different experience to the one you’ll get at your local multiplex!
The inspiration for The Star & Mouse Picture Show, owned by Eleanor Lyons and Christian Juschck, came from the way they were already spending time with their friends … evenings of fairy lights, food, fire pits and fancy dress in their garden with their old projector rigged up to screen a movie onto a bed sheet. Eleanor loves to create a magical world, just as her Dad did for her when she was growing up in a caravan while the family built their house. Eleanor and Christian’s creativity is boundless – they are bursting with ideas as they bring us the feeling and the enchantment of those evenings with their friends, just scaled up (and they have a large inflatable screen now!)
The season starts this May Bank Holiday (4-6 May) with a Fantasy and Fairytale Weekend at Manor Farm Bourn. Other venues this year include Madingley Hall, The Doubletree Hilton and The Cambridge American Cemetery. Star & Mouse will be screening a mix of new films and classics that people want to see again and again. Unbelievably, this year it’s the 40th anniversary of “Grease”, so on 29 July you can reconnect with Sandy and Danny at Manor Farm Bourn, which will be set up as a drive in movie theatre. Another highlight will be the River Cam Film Festival (16-19 August) for which Star & Mouse have their own private venue, a little island in The Cam – you get there by punt!
Whatever you book for, make sure you get there early as the film, screened at nightfall, is just part of the evening. There’s always plenty of live entertainment, themed to the film. Catering will be taken care of by popular local food trucks this year and the eco-friendly bar will keep you refreshed. They’re using proper wine glasses, napkins and plates while cups will be made of biodegradable plant based plastics. As darkness falls, park yourself in a deckchair, put on your wireless headphones, relax and enjoy the screening.
Once autumn sets in, Star & Mouse move indoors to the magnificent Saloon Room at Madingley Hall, which they transform into an indoor cinema, custom decorated and lit, with big wing chairs for seating. There’ll be a Halloween film show and in December, they’ll screen Christmas films. Eleanor and Christian really do go to great lengths to create a very special experience. “Last December, we showed “Narnia” in an old barn,” Eleanor tells me. “We transformed it into a magical pine forest and it took us 72 hours! But it was worth it to see the wonder on people’s faces when they walked in.”
So let’s keep our fingers crossed for balmy summer nights! For full details of this season’s programme, to read more of Eleanor and Christian’s story and to book tickets in advance (strongly recommended), just check out the Star & Mouse website.
One of the many things I love about Cambridge is the food! From street food in the market to fine dining and everything in between, this city has so much to offer. And now, Slow Food Anglia is hoping to establish a Slow Food Cambridge group. At a gathering in Thirsty on Chesterton Road last week, they spoke about their ethos and shared their thoughts on how the group might work here.
The Slow Food movement was set up in Italy in 1986 by Carlo Petrini to promote local food, food producers and traditional cooking. It encourages us to think about the sustainability and traceability of our food, as well as reducing food miles by buying seasonal local produce. Slow Food has also developed the “Ark of Taste”, designed to preserve heritage foods which are in danger of being lost. In the UK, these foods include Colchester Native oysters, Dorset Blue Vinney cheese and Jersey Royal potatoes.
The Slow Food Anglia group has run events very successfully in Norfolk. The plan for Slow Food Cambridge would be to run an event in the city later this year, at Harvest Festival time, culminating in a feast, a communal meal with everybody coming together to celebrate local food and community.
Of course, there are many fabulous food enterprises already happening in the city and Slow Food Cambridge plans to work in tandem with them. But it needs a group of people to get this enterprise off the ground. Do you care about your food, where it comes from and what you do with it? Do you have skills that could help get a group up and running? If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!”, please get in touch with your thoughts and ideas. Just leave a comment on this post or get in touch via my Contact page and I’ll feed back (pardon the pun!) to Slow Food Anglia.