What are you having for dinner tonight? Are you the sort of person who meticulously plans a week of meals, or do you just rummage through the fridge come 5 o’clock looking for inspiration?

Whether you’re from Leicester or not, the one thing you’re sure to have lurking amongst the shelves is a block of Red Leicester. Who doesn’t love cheese? And what dish, from potatoes or pasta to ploughman’s and sandwiches, isn’t enhanced by a generous serving of this mild, slightly nutty-flavoured favourite?


Red, white and blue… cheese

You can pop to any supermarket, shop or deli for your Red Leicester, but there’s nothing better than the real thing. Leicestershire Handmade Cheese Company is based at Sparkenhoe Farm in Upton, and the cheeses here are traditionally made using unpasteurised milk from pedigree cows. There’s also a tearoom and cheese shop, where made-on-the-farm cheeses include a semi-soft Bosworth Field and a soft blue-veined Battlefield Blue.

Red Leicester was originally created in an attempt to use up the milk left over from Stilton-making, and that’s another cheesy Leicestershire success story. Only a handful of locations are licenced to make this creamy, pungent blue cheese, and one is ‘Rural Capital of Food’ Melton Mowbray, where Long Clawson Dairy, Tuxford & Tebbutt Creamery and Webster’s Dairy produce both the blue and white varieties.


You can eat, and make, all the pies

The Melton Mowbray pork pie is another culinary speciality and, thanks to protected status, can only be made in this historic market town. The Dickinson & Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe was established in 1851. Along alongside the succulent pork and rich crunchy pastry of the pies, Stilton cheese, sausages, chutneys and preserves are also on sale, and when social distancing rules allow, you can even book a Pork Pie Experience and make your own. 

The pies at Brockleby’s bakery are also handmade in Melton Mowbray, and its workshops also give you the chance to learn the secrets of traditional pie-making.


Brewers are masters of their craft

Once at home with your freshly baked goodies, you’ll want something to wash them down, and what better than the perfect pint. Melton Mowbray was where the phrase ‘painting the town red’ was born. That makes it the ideal home for beer experts Round Corner Brewing, which prides itself on producing ‘farm-fresh’ craft beers. You can take a tour, a seat in the tap room or take home a selection of beers including session IPAs, pale ales, brown ales and barrel-aged imperial stouts, all promising to be ‘highly drinkable and exceptionally moreish’.

Taking its name from Leicester’s knitting trade, Framework Brewery has honed its craft to perfection in the city’s industrial heart. Its limited-edition craft beers can be ordered online and found in local bottle shops or bars including The Two-Tailed Lion and BrewDog. Look out for the return of the weekly tap sessions and brewery experiences at their base at The Old City Depot on Friday Street.


Made in the West End

If a night in a traditional pub is more you, head to Braunstone Gate, where The West End Brewery offers a friendly welcome, great pizzas and its very own brewed-on-the premises craft beers. Alongside all the usual drinks, you can order a pint of session IPA Car Park King or a hoppy Project Pale in Leicester’s original brewpub.

Also adept at brewing their own ale are the Cistercian monks at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Coalville. In its shop, you can buy the first Trappist ale to be brewed in the UK (and one of only 11 in the world!) – Tynt Meadow – which is a strong dark ale with hints of dark chocolate and liquorice.


Tiger earns brewery its stripes

Subtle toffee aromas and a copper colour are the hallmarks of popular local beer, Tiger, and Everards has been the big name in Leicester brewing since 1849. Now settled into their new home at Everards Meadows, drinkers and diners can visit to enjoy beautiful countryside views outside, while inside the Beer Hall, they can watch the brewers in action through huge windows beyond the bar.


They’ve got gin down to a T

If gin is more your thing, and let’s face it, gin really has enjoyed something of a renaissance over recent years, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are plenty of distillers right here in Leicestershire.

Brentingby Gin, near Melton Mowbray, Burleighs Gin, in the heart of the beautiful Charnwood Forest, and Bond Street Distillery, housed in a former Hinckley hosiery factory, all handcraft their own gin.

They each offer experiences ranging from tours and tastings to gin schools, and Brentingby Gin had the honour of creating Belvoir Gin for the Duchess of Rutland, which you can try at the stylish Balloon Bar in The Engine Yard at Belvoir Castle. This unique retail village is home to a range of dining experiences at The Fuel Tank if you really can’t be bothered to rustle up dinner.


Restaurants are a feast for the eyes

You’ll also find some pretty unique places to eat in Leicester if you give yourself the night off from cooking and washing up! Once an elegant Victorian bank, Middletons Steakhouse & Grill now serves sizzling steaks in this impressive building in the city’s Old Town.

You can also view its friezes and decorative panels reflecting Leicester’s industrial heritage from adjacent restaurant, The Case. Formerly a luggage factory, its menu packs a punch with fine-dining fans, and the chef’s Red Leicester and spring onion mash is an icon to its regulars.

Still pulling pints after opening in 1720, The Globe is one of the city’s oldest pubs. Nowadays it welcomes in drinkers and diners with a modern menu featuring everything from fish and chips to sweet potato curry. Older still are 1573 Bar & Grill, a 16th century grammar school building, and timber-framed Wygston’s House, a former wool merchant’s house that is Leicester’s oldest dwelling.


Raise a glass to the perfect match

If you want to discover a new wine to pair with your food, Leicestershire has a handful of vineyards producing everything from dry red to sparkling rosé, as well as tours and tastings. Welland Valley Vineyard in Market Harborough grows a variety of French and German vines, with the emphasis on sparkling wine, while in Loughborough, Eglatine Vineyard produces a variety of wines plus mead made using honey from their own beehives. Perhaps you’ll be tempted by its sweet cherry wine, which can be served as a long drink with a mixer over ice, but we think its fresh dry white with citrus and earthy notes might just pair perfectly with a big chunk of Red Leicester cheese.

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  2. Lee
    Superb article, great to appreciate how much our county produces. Fantastic shout out to The West End Brewery, such a lovely pub.

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