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Helen Hackett of Hackett’s to Go, Witney tells us about the take away!

September 15, 2011

Q:  How long have you been managing Hackett’s to Go?

A: Since we opened in 2009, December.

Q:  Was adding a sandwich deli to the Hackett’s brand your idea?

A:  No, it was Dave’s idea, and as we had no one else to drive it forward, it fell to me!

Q:  How would you describe Hackett’s to Go to a customer?

A:  We are a posh sandwich shop selling great coffee at reasonable prices, and we can make anything you want.

Q:  Are you a good cook?

A:  Probably more enthusiastic than expert!  My pastry is really good, but my cakes and scones are rubbish!  Still Its the opposite for Jane, H2G Cook, so it works out quite well really.

A: Which item is your best seller?

Q:  Probably Panini, of every description.  It depends on the day, sometimes Bacon and Brie is the best seller, sometimes Tuna Melt or Cheese and Ham.

Q:  Does being in Marriott’s Walk help your business?

A:  Well I think it will once the other units are let.

Q:  Who are your favourite suppliers?

A:  We like to try and use local and independent as much as possible, but we do have to keep an eye on the bottom line.  Cool Cuisine provide some of our staples like Panini bread, and Blue Basil are our new unbelievable brownie suppliers.  We love Samuelsons for their homemade lemonade, and Winstones Ices for the proper Cotswold ice cream.

Q:  It’s a take away so why offer seating?

A:  We wanted to offer seating so that if it is raining, people have somewhere to sit to eat their lunch, rather than hunched over their desks.  We have Wi Fi as well, and  it is always more inviting to see people sitting in a place if you are not sure of where to perch.  We especially value our breakfast bars which attracts anyone who loves people watching over a steaming cappuccino

Q:  What’s your busiest time of year?

A:  Christmas is really busy in the run up to the holidays, but generally we do a lot better when the sun shines, so anytime when it is out really!

Q:  Who does the baking for Hackett’s to Go?

A:  Jane is our resident cook, and she had devised the recipes for coronation chicken, and prawns Marie Rose, as well as producing the best scones in Oxfordshire!

Q:  How do you price your food?

A:  We look at the cost of the ingredients, and then add in a %, which is dictated by “Dave The Money”!  We are not trying to exploit people who need to buy lunch, and we always have an entry level sandwich for around £1.60 – £1.75.  We try and base our thinking on the premise that anyone should be able to get lunch for under £5.00, including a drink and a snack.

Q:  You believe in organic and healthy options.  What do you offer at HTG that complies with this?

A:  All our mayonnaise and margarine is low fat, and no one had noticed as yet!  I cannot tell the difference anymore, especially with Mayo.  We also make a big deal about the salad in a sandwich, and use a premium lettuce mix that includes rocket, frisse and other types, based on the idea that if it tastes good people will eat it rather than pull it out from between the slices of bread!  We carry a range of gluten free options, and as far as we can we use ethically produced food, local and home made, using organic or free range ingredients.

Q: What the price of the average take away from HTG?

A:  A regular coffee is £2.00, a panino is £3.00, Crisps are 70p, cold drinks vary, but a carton of Ribena is £1.30.  So you could have a panino, ribena and crisps for £5.00.

Q:  Will you be opening other sandwich deli’s in Oxfordshire?

A:  We recently opened a Hackett’s coffee in Summertown, Oxford. The plan is to expand to possibly Headington,  Carterton  perhaps, and Abingdon maybe?  Who knows, you might see a Hacketts on most  Oxon town streets in a few years!


Food and Wine Pairing

September 13, 2011

Wine and food matching is the process of pairing food dishes with wine to enhance the dining experience. This modern “art” of wine and food pairings is a relatively recent phenomenon, with many books and television programs featuring best guidelines.

To explore this subject for you, we have invited our first guest blogger, Lee Isaacs from The Oxford Wine Company Hackett’s Bistro’s local wine supplier.

Lee is the manager of the flagship branch of the Oxford Wine Company, and has been a wine merchant for 10 years. With his extensive experience, he also runs The Oxford Wine School. Lee says that he enjoys nothing more than sharing a good bottle with friends and helping them to learn more about this wonderful product, as wine has always been his passion and hobby.

Today he will share his incredible knowledge with us and teach us about food and wine pairing… Enjoy!

Matching food and wine: countless column inches have been devoted to this incredibly subjective area. Is matching food and wine really that difficult and complicated?  Are all these rules concerning white with fish and red with meat accurate? Can you not drink your favourite white wine with your favourite cut of steak? As with most things in life, matching food and wine is as awkward as you decide to make it.

Wine is often overcomplicated and hidden behind a veil of snobbery, rules and unnecessary jargon. It certainly is a field where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  But, it doesn’t have to be this way. So, lets look at some basics and try to shed some light on the matter.

When looking at pairing a wine to a food, we need to consider more than just the flavours; we must examine the textures of the food and the method of cooking (as this can alter the flavours), the acidity, sweetness (or dryness) and the overall weight of the wine. It is the more structural elements that can make or break a pairing. Not enough acidity, and a wine will be dominated by fattiness or drown in too much creaminess. Too much tannin and the wine will destroy a dish with delicate flavours. It’s all about the balance.

There are, in my mind, two schools of thought when it comes to the actual pairing. The first is all about the two partners complimenting each other, finding common ground and forging a tasty relationship from there. If the dish is spicy, why not make the wine equally spicy? It makes sense to match flavours and textures together. Duck in plum sauce can work with a weightier Red Burgundy, where the darker plum fruits come to the fore and the gaminess is obvious. All of this makes a lot of sense.

The second school of thought is a little more aggressive in its approach. Instead of going for wine and food that compliment each other, why not choose things that contrast? If you’re eating something rich and spicy, why not have a softer more rounded wine with a little more fruit? If you’re dining on a rich piece of venison, try an earthier and drier Northern Rhone Syrah. But why all this contrast? For me, the mixing up of flavour and textures just increases the pleasure of the experience. The more that is happening, the more there is to think about, to talk about, and ultimately just enjoy.

As I stated earlier though, the key element for me is the structure. Acidity is the key when consuming fatty, creamy or spicy foods. Acidity can cut like a rapier through the fattiness of a duck, or the creaminess of Moules Marienere.

Think about drinking a wine with a little sweetness when eating a robust meat or a heavily spiced Asian dish. The sweetness counteracts the earthiness of the meat and the warmth of the spice brilliantly, and leaves the palate able to cope with more.

Of course, all of this is amazingly subjective, and the recommendations above are just combinations that have pleased me (and friends) many times over. We live in a world overrun with so many rules, and some of them are made to be broken. Don’t be afraid to try a good quality oaked Chardonnay with a piece of pork, or a robust New World Pinot Noir with a meatier style of fish. Always remember the most important thing that matters when matching food and wine: If you like it, then it works!

My personal favourites? I love a German Auslese Riesling with Thai Green curry and an old school Rioja Reserva with a pork fillet.

Food and wine are made to go together, and whether you try to compliment or contrast the two, it should always be a marriage made in Heaven.


We hope you enjoyed reading Lee’s wine matching advice. We would like to develop more wine related blog post for you, so if there are any particular issues or topics you would like to read about, please do get in touch here on Hackett’s Facebook Page .

Next post by Lee will be published in a month time, but in the meantime you can read his advice and comments on Oxford Wine Company Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TheOxfordWineCo.

How to Start the Week Feeling Great and Beat those Monday Morning Blues.

September 12, 2011

Where to start – Hacketts To Go, 08.00 am Monday morning.

What to ask for – A Matcha Smoothie!!!  Any flavour smoothie with a shot of Matcha in it – what could be more yummy, or healthier for that matter.

At least 2 of your 5 a day, our smoothies are pure fruit and pure apple juice, not additives, nothing else but fruit.  Matcha is superpowered green tea powder that give you zillions of times more antioxidants per shot than a green tea bag, and zings you up for the day, if not the week! Put the 2 together and you have the perfect recipe for health and happiness!

Give it a go today – what have you got to lose?!

The Joys of Healthy Take Away Food from Hackett’s to Go in Witney

September 8, 2011

A few years ago, take away food was seen as artery clogging, heart attack and obesity making eating and frowned upon by the establishment and, to some degree, that was true!

Today there is a broad selection of take away food available in the United Kingdom and some of it is more healthy than the average home made meal!  Take the food we offer at Hackett’s to Go for example.  We serve a lot of healthy meals including fresh soups, panini’s, baguettes and sandwiches.  We use low fat spreads and organic vegetables and salads and have healthy alternatives to coffee and coca cola!  We understand the meaning of a healthy take away!

One of the reasons we offer healthier options as take away food is that we have a rising obesity problem in the United Kingdom.

In 2009, almost a quarter of adults (22% of men and 24% of women aged 16 or over) in England were classified as obese (BMI 30kg/m2 or over). In 2009/10, around one in ten pupils in Reception class (aged 4-5 years) were classified as obese (9.8%). This compares to around a fifth of pupils in Year 6 (aged 10-11 years) (18.7%). Boys were more likely to be obese than girls for both groups. In 2009/10, 13.3% of pupils in Reception class and 14.6% of pupils in Year 6 were reported as being overweight.  These numbers are increasing.

We don’t believe that fast food has to be unhealthy food.  The thing is, we just have such a selection of processed foods in this country and often, they are cheaper than the healthier options!

By buying fresh and healthy options from take away’s like Hackett’s to Go, you’re taking a step towards a healthier lifestyle.

Come in and explore!

Live Piano at Hackett’s on Fridays

September 6, 2011

Here, at Hacketts Bistro Witney, we know how to start the weekend. Only on Fridays you can enjoy our house wine half price between 5pm and 9pm as a part of our ‘Wine Down Friday’ offer. But that’s not all…

On Friday 9th and 16th of September, Michelle Eaton, a high-class pianist, will be playing piano for everyone enjoying the ‘Wine Down Evening’.

Drinking a glass of wine with some light piano music in the background is a supremely relaxing, enjoyable – and even romantic – experience. So come by and join us for that relaxing glass of wine to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.

London Restaurant Festival (via Poisedconcierge's Blog)

September 5, 2011

How many of you will be attending the London Restaurant Festival? It looks fantastic and loads to nibble on is my guess.

London Restaurant Festival October 3rd to October 17th Location: London What could be more magnificent than a festival solely dedicated to the London dining scene and all of the diverse cuisines that it offers?  London Restaurant Festival will run from October 3rd to October 17th and promises to impress and delight, with an unrivalled calibre of food and luxury lifestyle entertainment. That’s right folks, a two week long excuse to dine out and sample the food from London’s … Read More

via Poisedconcierge's Blog

15 Most Incredible Coffee Art Designs

September 1, 2011

While many agree that making a good cup of espresso coffee is an art within itself, ‘coffee art’, also known as ‘latte art’, refers to creative patterns made from the velvety milk foam skillfully poured into a rich crema-crowned espresso coffeeCoffee art is an extremely current trend, which is very interesting but also difficult to make.

In this blog post, we’re showcasing 15 most eye-catching coffee designs that will make your eye pop out! Let us know your favourites.

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