The knackered Chef visits The Canopy

I think it’s fair to say that Autumn is well and truly underway, it’s dark before 5pm and there’s a chill in the air, the good old trusty scarf is pulled from the cupboard the faint wiff of my favourite aftershave still lingering the from its last outing,  I was on a market most of last year, an experience for some and not for others I’d been making and selling artisan handmade pies, long, very long hours and it can be demoralising if the weather’s inclement,  believe me, I used to work until 3am some mornings preparing food and baking knowing that I have at least another eight hours of work to come at market. I’d grab a shower and get changed ready for the market which was only four hours sleep away, falling asleep in my chair and waking straight up to go to market, I once remember working three straight days and nights with less than six hours sleep under my belt, a feeling I never wish to replicate, exhaustion and determination becomes a forbidding condemnation bestowed upon an unfortunate soul, it’s a mind-set most could never grasp, relentless and punishing working hours are what you do if you’re to become successful at anything, that success has many varying degrees, for me it’s always been  the recognition of knowing that what I do is different to others and people talk.


Independence often comes with hefty price tag but the investments and sacrifice we make always pay dividends there’s nothing better than the satisfaction of knowing that you are your own boss the freedom of choice is yours, although not a brilliant example you can afford to either be a couple of minutes late or stretch that all important lunch break a few extra moments, and then there is the financial benefits, it all sounds attractive in fact it sounds like the perfect dream!  A veritable cave jam-packed with riches beyond measure. So why isn’t everyone doing it, the rewards and benefits I so gleefully regale you with exists only for the few that are willing to offer commitment others could not possibly dream of, I talk about the drive and determination that pushes you from madness to genius to madness and finally a drooling jabbering wretch, all too often the dreams and goals you set for yourself to others seem to be so far beyond what they see a capable that they mock you,  it is those dreams and ambitions that keep us motivated, money although a great incentive becomes less attractive. You’re working to feed the desire to succeed, it doesn’t inspire you like it first did when setting out to conquer the world, it becomes a tool of the trade.

I see all of which is beginning to a become recipe for success at The Canopy Beer Company, in my quest to support local business I often frequent The Canopy tap room, it’s clearly not about money, more the determination to bring a little love into people’s life through the extraordinary process of producing ale, and what a fine calibre it is. The need to charge a king’s ransom for what seems to be a fashionable trend at the moment doesn’t come in to it, all ale is priced at £3.50 a pint, we’re talking almost a third better priced compared to the market average, some venues throughout London are taking to charging £7 or even £8 a pint, justification for this comes in the form of “well a good glass of wine will cost upwards of six pounds for a small 175Ml glass”, alcohol has and always be priced based on content ABV it’s taxation classes  wine is 14% so it’s going to cost more than ale at the most 8%, how refreshing that The Canopy is not using this vehicle to drive demand, the aesthetic it rustic incorporating the brewing facility into the tap room which then sprawls seamlessly into the outdoor area where you will find the seating area covered by you guessed it! A Canopy. Locals have left their mark on the doodle wall adjacent to the entrance, an ecliptic range of music plays in the background anything from eighties and to my surprise Antipodean  meditation music, it all works, the range of clientele is wide from early twenties right the way through, there’s a buzz a real feel of something special, hard work is showing signs of success and it’s not even a year old. Bottles can be taken away at a mere £2.50  with containers that range from two pints to 10L a night in could become quite an affair, but why would you do that when the pleasure of company in the tap room is far more inviting and does not cost any more in comparison, in fact it’s they do the cleaning and pay the bills  its cheaper. Drinks range from 4% upward to a lofty 7.2%, The Milkwood Amber ale weighs in at 7.2% three pints of which would have you speaking fluent Swahili and the lack of a plausible story when telling your significant other that you have only had a couple of pints and come straight home.

A deep and mysterious ale with fruity overtures, some breweries get this completely wrong, however they have it just right here, it drinks well and is smooth, no chalky  aftertaste left lingering which sometimes is a compromise to an ale of this strength, not only could this ale be used to help learn a different and new unpronounceable foreign language it’s a welcome addition to one of my all-time favourite autumn eats, she that is Liver and Bacon, a temptress infrequently championed, this bad girl is rustic eating at it’s very best, it’s also a very well-priced meal, offal isn’t to everyone’s taste but for those who like a deep  punchy taste it’s a cross between comfort food and traditional good old fashioned eating.

My father in law sees this as fine dining, lamb’s liver has a delicate and rich flavour cooked in a good dark ale with smoked bacon, the gravy created finishes this meal to perfection, it’s cheap, easy and full of goodness rich in iron and a quick cook for those who have limited cooking time or experience, accompanied with creamy mash potato’s. Yet again just another reason to visit The Canopy and purchase a two pint carry out, theirs is a journey worth watching as they stride to success.

Lambs liver and bacon cooked in Milkwood amber ale my way.  

Prep time 5 mins 

Cook time 11mins.

450g lambs liver, sliced 

4 tsp plain flour

20g butter

1 tsp sunflower oil

Pinch Nutmeg optional

1 medium onion, fairly thinly sliced

2/3 rindless lean back bacon rashers (about 75g), each cut into 2cm wide strips

250ml beef stock

250ml Milkwood amber ale

2 tsp tomato Puree

Flaked sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Rinse the liver under cold water and and pat it dry on kitchen paper. Put 2 teaspoons of the flour in a large bowl and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Add the liver to the bowl and turn it in the flour until lightly coated.

Melt half the butter with the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Tap the excess flour off each slice of liver and add them to the pan using tongs. Cook for 1½–2 minutes on each side until lightly browned but not completely cooked through, then place them on to a plate to rest.

Turning down the heat and melt the remaining butter in the same pan. Add the sliced onion and cook for a minute or so, stirring to separate add the bacon and cook together for a further  five minutes or until the onions are softened to a lightly goldened brown, 

Adding  the remaining flour over the onion and bacon, cook for a few seconds, stirring. Pour the hot stock  and ale slowly into the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer, stir in tomato puree and cook over a medium heat until the gravy is thickened and glossy.

  Put the liver back in the pan and heat it through in the onion gravy for 2–3 minutes until hot, stirring. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the liver and bacon with a small portion of mashed potatoes and lots of freshly cooked greens.