Celebrate Preston’s Fairtrade birthday

The Fairtrade Festival is being organised by Preston FM and local Fairtrade groups

The Fairtrade Festival is being organised by Preston FM and local Fairtrade groups

Today marks five years since the city of Preston was awarded Fairtrade status. To celebrate an event has been organised on the flag market, including music, guest speakers and dignatries. It’s taking place from 10 AM – 4 PM.

Brave the weather, head down and enjoy some quality entertainment and celebrate that Preston is helping those worse off than ourselves.

Preston FM will be there, who are co-organising the event, along with Preston & South Ribble Fairtrade Group.

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Summer menu launched at New Continental

Anyone who likes a nice meal out at a good pub will appreciate the food at the New Continental, Preston.

Good news for food lovers, they’ve launched their summer menu. Here’s the detail:

With the Continental classics meeting the seasonal glory that is summer, by the way of local producers – and turning out menu winners such as baked natural smoked haddock topped with mature cheese rarebit over Bury black pudding & dressed leaves; roasted rack of Pendle lamb on a minted mash with green beans and red wine sauce; followed by desserts such as raspberry brulee with yummy Continental-made raspberry meringue ice cream.

We may be visiting shortly for a meal, it’s got our mouths watering!

Preston Indoor Market

There's plenty of fresh fish to be had at Preston Indoor Market

There's plenty of fresh fish to be had at Preston Indoor Market

Want quality fresh produce at low prices? Well, it’s here in Preston. For many the weekly trip to the supermarket has begun to replace religion. We wander the isles, gawping at special offers but are generally separated from our food. It doesn’t matter if we don’t know our pounds and ounces, all that’s important is the total number of pounds on the display at the checkout.

Preston Indoor Market is tucked away between Iceland and the Outdoor Covered Market. There’s fresh produce, meat, fruit, vegetables and fish. The smells are fantastic and the sellers friendly and willing to do plenty of swift business.

Setting out to experience the market, I was a bit nervous. You have to plan, take a backpack (very handy for putting loads of stuff in) and invest in some of those bags for life from the supermarkets. Write out what you want before you go and have an idea of how much you’ll need. Entering there’s about three or four fruit and veg stalls, I wasn’t sure which one to go for so went for the one that had the most people round it – always a sure sign of either good quality or cheap prices (or potentially both).

I managed to do my weekly shop for £30 and I got plenty. I found a little shop down the far end of the market that did spices and herbs, it was dirt cheap and despite the lady running it being a little deaf she was very patient with my rather poor pronounciation of turmeric.

We also discovered there was a pet store and the hay and straw there was both cheaper and better quality than certain large pet stores.

I read recently that the market is seeing a surge in profits for traders as people come to find recession beating bargains. Well, let’s hope it continues even if the economy does recover. Shopping at the market is far more rewarding, and there’s a big pic’n’mix stall, and you find you eat healthier as well. It forces you to cook from scratch and you’ll see the pounds falling off you as well as the pounds staying in your bank account – supermarkets are very good at making us all spend money.

Give Preston Indoor Market a try. It’s open 8 AM to 5.30 PM Monday – Saturday (although core trading hours are 9 AM – 5 PM and it’s best to go in the morning to get the best stuff and also for there to be stocks left – parking in the bus station car park is £1.20 for an hour, plenty of time). Closed Sunday.

March Twitter Treat for all Preston Blog readers from Subway Preston

Preston Blog have teamed up with Subway Preston (the Church Street one) to offer all readers a great deal. Print off the voucher below and take it to the Subway Church Street store (now open 24 hours – madness!) and you can get any six inch sub, medium frink and cookie for just £2.99.

So print off the voucher, pop it in your wallet and next time you’re in town or on your lunch break then pop by Subway and fill up.

This offer is valid until Tuesday 31st March 2009. As far as we are aware there are no restrictions on how many times you can print off and use this voucher. There’s also no restriction on time of day etc when this voucher can be used.

Happy muching!

Preston Blog and Subway Preston special offer voucher

Preston Blog and Subway Preston special offer voucher

Restaurant review: The Sparling, Barton

decor in the sparling, barton, preston

decor in the sparling, barton, preston

My dad was up for a visit and after a hard day’s work he wanted something to eat. We set off up the A6 in search of some decent grub, and we came to The Sparling in Barton – about 10 minutes drive from Preston.

First impressions were good. The place is fancy inside, soft furnishings, lots of angles and modern decor. It’s not what I expected it to be like.

We were seated and immediately eyed up the set menu. Two courses for £7.95 – that’s credit crunch beating stuff. It’s only starter and main for the two courses, you have to pay extra for a desert. I went for the cup-a-soup of the day and a pepper steak. My dad went for the cheese brisquetes and also plumped for the peppered steak. My girlfriend went for the cheese briquetes as well and the macaroni.  I went for a San Miguel to wash it all down, while a glass of Spanish red (250 ml) was £4.95 for the old man and the missus enjoyed a glass of the house red (priced around £2.95).

Our decisions were made carefully on the set menu as the waitress reported that they were out of a few things (including orange juice!) and we understood as it was reasonably busy for a Tuesday night.

The starters arrived quickly and the cup-a-soup was fantastic. It was carrot and cale, delicious. With a steaming hot baguette to go dunking with. Dad’s cheesy brisquetes (cheesy bites to you and me) were reportedly delicious. The portions were just right, small enough to be ‘fancy-ish’ but not so large you had no room for the main course.

Due to the busy nature of the place for a Tuesday it took a while for the main courses to arrive. The portions weren’t as big as I was hoping for, but the quality of the ingredients shone through. The steak was lovely, with a peppery source drizzled all over. There were no chips unfortunately, so it was mashed potato insteasd and some great fresh veg. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, I was suitably full but with enough room for a desert. The girlfriend was happy with her macaroni (yum! was the sentiment) and Dad had a similar experience with his pepper steak.

Desert was moderately price, Dad and I went for the two scoops of locally producer ice cream. I had banoffi and vanilla bean and it was delicious. The girlfriend went for a knickerbocker glory. Now, I hadn’t seen one of these in years! It was special. Although the fruit got stuck at the bottom and she’d been given a large spoon which couldn’t reach down that far.

We recoiled after our desert and then settled up the bill. A cracking £49 for three, not bad! A brief chat with the head waitress revealed that the South African owner was putting a lot of money into the place and they’ve just started an advertising campaign locally (not that we’d seen it). A second restaurant, called The Sparling, has also been opened in Lytham, which I think we will check out in the summer.

If you’re in need of some top notch food, for good prices, the Sparling is a top contender.

Rating: Food: 4/5, Drink: 3/5, Service: 3.5/5, Atmosphere/decor: 4.5/5, Value for money: 4.5/5

Overall: 19.5/25

Need to book? Not on week days, but weekends will definitely be busy.

Phone:  01772 863 789

Address: 807 Garstang Road, Barton, Preston, PR3 (map)

Website