Cheese feast at the Forbury

Glen Dinning’s Blue Collar Street Food is back at the Forbury Gardens from Thursday 19 April to Sunday 22 April with the marvellously titled ‘Cheese Feast’. I caught up with Glen for a carafe of tea at C.U.P to ask him about his modern re-boot of this festival as well as the latest events at the Madstad.

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Munchees happy café

I spent a year unemployed in Reading in 85-86 and it made me feel pretty low. It is incredible how quickly your self-confidence ebbs away when you are in that situation. On Giro day I used to treat myself to a meal out at this friendly café at the Butter Market called Munchees; I would have usually have either the burger or fish-n-chips and a milky coffee. A waitress would take your order and you paid at the counter afterwards. Back then, there was a big bloke with a moustache running the place who always made you feel as you were on to a bargain by knocking 10% off the bill and you would be offered a free lollipop on leaving.

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Fidget and Bob on Kennet Island

Shuet and Breege at Fidget and Bob’s on Kennet Island

Within the old Whitley borders, and built on the sewage plant that had been the origin of the Whitley whiff before new facilities were built on the other side of the A33, Kennet Island isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as a place to live or visit. Some people point to its isolation from the town, the zombie-film-like soulless streets and architectural sameness as the downside. On the upside, it’s clean and safe with some nice foliage, there is a hospital for a minor op and it’s close to the football and Kennet Meadows; you can even walk or cycle by the canal from central Reading. While most Islanders are hunkered down in their living machines, two resident pioneers are working hard at building a smart and tasty new business, situated slap bang-in the middle of the estate’s rather wonderful and a bit mad waterfall-bedecked piazza. Breege Brennan and Shuet Han Tsui are the friendly, busy folk behind the memorably named Fidget & Bob and generously agreed to talk to me about it.

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Never trust a liquid with a skin

For the past four years or so, Edible Reading has been the fearless Keyser Söze of Reading’s food scene; the anonymous blogger and local food chronicler of our times. I not only managed to track ER down to the great Katesgrove boozer The Turks (Head) for an 80s-Smash-Hits-style interview, but I also managed to eat an incredible, table creaking five course Georgian meal from former in-residence food sensation Caucasian Spice Box just before they left the pub for pastures new.

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The year on Katesgrove Hill

Some years are defined by great songs, some by great personalities, some by great tragedies. This year has been alarming both nationally and internationally, but on the oft-ignored local level, the year was defined by the sound of the tide going out on civic society. The world clearly has bigger problems than the damage wrought by the tortured thrashing of Reading Borough Council as it gets strangled by central government, but one can only be dismayed at the prospect of more of the same next year, exacerbated by the council’s difficulty in controlling its finances.

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