Monthly Archives: May 2010

Suffolk brewery to make own-brand Gin, Vodka and Whisky

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Southwold brewery Adnams has just been granted a licence to set up a distillery that will allow it to make its own-label spirits.

The Gin and Vodka will be on sale within a few months, but the Whisky won’t be ready for sale until it has spent three years maturing.

Growing up in Suffolk, I always knew the Adnams brand to be highly respected. I have however, never really being a huge ale drinker, so I am really pleased the brewery will now be producing something I do drink!  Can’t wait 😉

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Eat cheese to boost your immune system

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As many of you may well know, I am a major cheese freak (the smellier the better) so I was really pleased to hear the news that eating cheese helps boost your immune system.

Recent research, conducted by Finish scientist Dr Fandi Ibrahim, finds that certain cheese, made by adding bacteria to milk, naturally contains probiotic bacteria.  This bacterium, when digested, causes an increase in the number and activity of the immunity cells.

The study was conducted among the elderly whose immunity levels naturally decline with old age.  However, the scientists did mention that eating probiotic cheese would boost anyone’s immune system regardless of age.  Now that’s enough proof for me – more cheese please!

Cheese counter at Daylesford, Westbourne Grove

Unique Italian cookery class arrives in London: Pizza made with beer…

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Birra Moretti, Heineken UK’s premium imported Italian beer, and popular TV culinary duo Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi have teamed up to offer Italian food lovers a unique opportunity to learn how to make an authentic Italian pizza with a special ingredient…Italian beer!

The two pizza and beer making evenings will take place at the Caldesi’s highly successful cookery school and restaurant La Cucina Caldesi in Marylebone Lane, London, on June 11th and August 13, and will teach attendees how to make truly authentic margherita pizza.  I attended a pre-launch course and it was great fun, Giancarlo and Katie are excellent hosts, the pizza really was delicious, and I learned how to make a light dough using beer – what more can you want?!

Jason Wills, Senior brand manager of Birra Moretti, Tiger Beer, Sagres and Zywiec at Heineken UK, added: “We are encouraging Italian food lovers to encounter more of the authentic Italian experience by offering these two exclusive pizza and beer evenings, run by two of the UK’s most revered Italian chefs”.

The beer reacts well with the yeast, therefore creating a lighter and crispier dough, and because Birra Moretti has a slightly bitter flavour it works particularly well in pizza.

Katie Caldesi commented: “We want to teach Italian food lovers how to make genuine Italian margherita pizza, with a special ingredient – Birra Moretti. This premium Italian beer is the perfect accompaniment to two Italian passions – great food and great conversation, which is why we love it.”

The Birra Moretti and pizza making events are perfect for a quick bite after work or as a ‘starter’ before more Friday night summer entertainment. Two classes will be run each night on June 11 and August 13 from 6pm – 7.30pm and 8pm – 9.30pm respectively. Each class will cost £28.

For further information or to book a place please call La Cucina Caldesi on 0207 487 0750/6/8 or email: lacucina@caldesi.com.

This course is selling out fast, so get in there quick!  There are also plenty of others to choose from so have a scout around their website. http://www.caldesi.com/la-cucina-caldesi/

Le Pont de la Tour wins ‘best wine list’ and ‘Sommelier of the Year’ Award

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Nicolas Clerc, Head Sommelier from Le Pont de la Tour has just won the prestigious Best Wine List and Sommelier Award at the Tatler Restaurant Awards 2010.

With more than 900 bins from France, and many others from around the world, Le Pont de la Tour certainly has an impressive list and well deserves the award!

As per my previous blog post Nicolas Clerc also organises regular wine tastings in the Wine Cellar at Le Pont de la Tour, including informal tastings every Saturday afternoon.

Namibian Lager Windhoek hits the UK

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Just as the sun arrives in the UK, so does a new tasty, foreign Lager.  Brewed and imported from Namibia, Windhoek lager has been crafted according to Reinheitsgebot (a 494 year old regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany), using only three natural ingredients – malted barley, hops and water.

Windhoek Lager is now available at Tesco, Morrisons and Asda among others at an RRP of £ 4.29 for a pack of 4 x 330ml bottles.

If you are not one for beery lager, Windhoek (pronounced ‘vint-hook’) is perfect for you as it is not that bitter and at 4% it’s not too strong either.  Award winning beer expert Ben McFarland comments; “A great deal more aromatic than your average, archetypal African lager, Windhoek squares succulent malt sweetness with a snappy, crisp grassy hop character. Delicate and very drinkable.”

Interestingly, Namibia has been the home of Windhoek Lager for over 90 years, and as one of the biggest selling beers in South Africa, it is cherished for its quality and purity.

English vodka voted best in the world

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Ever heard of Tyrrell‘s crisps?  Well the founder, Mr. Chase, has just won an award, but not for his crisps, for his vodka!

In the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the English brand Chase was voted the no 1 Vodka brand in the world.  Chase Vodka was selected by 30-strong election team, in a blind tasting.

I am sure it was thanks to the fact that the drink was made from freshly grown potatoes on Mr. Chase’s farm in Herefordshire.

Discount restaurant vouchers rock

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A new survey, conducted by moneysupermarket.com, found that Brits save a whopping £3m every day using restaurant vouchers.

The findings revealed that over the last year 60% of Brits have used a restaurant discount in the last 6 months.

As per my previous post discount cards like View Card are the new paper voucher, however the rise of iPhone apps like Voucher Cloud will certainly be a challenger to the market.

Guest recipe: Canteen’s Fish and Chips – celebrating 150 years

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150 years ago, the first fish and chip shop was set up in Cleveland Street, London.  Since then, the recipe has changed very little, only what was considered “an offensive trade” in the 19th century, is now a staple for many celebrated British chefs.

Fish and Chips at Canteen in Baker Street

Fried-potato shops apparently spread down south from Scotland and these establishments naturally paired well with fried-fish shops that were making their way north from the south of England.  While I’m sure people had eaten the combination before, it wasn’t until 1860 that Jewish proprietor Joseph Malin opened the first proper British chippie.

Today, munching on a take-away of fish and chips is ingrained in British culture.  It’s not only in your classic high-street chippie, but in much more up-market restaurants like Geales – even chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsey regularly list the popular dish on their menus.

My most recent episode of fish and chips was at Canteen, (my new favourite restaurant) where founding partner and chef Cass Titcombe gave me a few top tips on how to make the best fish and chips.  My plate came with two different types one breaded and one battered, so I could try the difference – While the breaded fish was quite delicious, the batter was absolutely sublime and definitely my preferred choice!

Cass Titcombe

Cass’s top 10 tips:

  1. Choose your fat – the north of England prefers a meat-based fat, but the south prefers vegetable.  A meat-based oil has a better flavour.
  2. Decide on your cooking method, are you going to use batter or breaded fish?
  3. If you use batter, brush the battered fish in oil to set it before frying it, or it will stick to the bottom of the pan
  4. What fish are you going to use? Haddock is Cass’s favourite as it has lots of flavour but fresh and is always best
  5. Keep the fat/oil clean, don’t reuse
  6. Make your chips out of Maris Piper potatoes
  7. Cook your chips in two stages. (For small-ish chips) 130 deg for 5/6 mins; leave to cool; then 190 deg for 3 mins
  8. If you plan to batter your fish, use beer, or a pale ale, which makes a lighter batter
  9. If you want to bread the fish instead, then it is easier to gauge the cooking time if you use white, not brown, bread
  10. When using dried peas, never put salt in the water when you soak them

While this blog post is supposed to be about fish and chips, I can’t resist writing about Canteen, I was so pleasantly impressed that I plan to go back and sample everything else on the menu.  The mission statement of the chain (detailed in it’s fantastic recipe book, Great British Food), the design, the menu, the atmosphere – everything about Canteen is right…I just can’t wait to try their pies!

If you ever get a chance to go to one of its four restaurants across London, (Spitalfields, Baker Street, Royal Festival Hall, and Canary Wharf) please do let me know what you think, I guarantee you will be converted for ever!
Canteen Baker Street  on Urbanspoon