Archive | July, 2015



Posted on 29 July 2015 by Chris Ford

You may have heard reports of a Prosecco shortage and talk of a similar situation with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, summer 2015 might well be the time  to turn to some refreshing cocktails.  Think Gin & Tonics at a weekend barbecue, or Cuba Libres on a rooftop bar in the sunshine, but do you know the reasons why these iconic drinks taste so good, or what those in the know are drinking this summer?


The Wine & Spirit Education Trust is the largest body worldwide in wine and spirit education; they teach how the history and production of spirits influences the style and taste of our favourite drinks.

Here The WSET have put together for us a guide to getting the best from some of our favourite summer tipples and which drinks to look out for this year.




Gins were first brought to England in the 1600s and by the early 20th century had become known as the mixing spirit for cocktails. In recent years, a new generation of gins has arrived meaning creating the perfect Gin & Tonic has become a quite a skill. London Dry Gins commonly use dry citrus peels in their botanical mix, the flavours of which can be brought out by garnishing with a slice of the same fruit.  For styles with lots of strong spices in the recipe, try a garnish of star anise, rosemary or a cinnamon stick for a good pairing. Plymouth gin is a good pairing for a sweet slice of orange which help balance the juniper forward sprit.


If you like Gin…


Gin & Tonic fans may enjoy white port over ice, topped up with tonic water and garnished with a slice of lemon or sprig of mint for a new refreshing summer cocktail.




Another popular summer highball drink is the Caribbean inspired Cuba Libre. Supposedly invented by a member of the US Signal Corps known as ‘Mr X’ during the Spanish-American War of Independence in the early 20th century, a Cuba Libre contains golden rum paired with cola and should be garnished with a zesty slice of lime to offset the sweetness.


Rum fans should look out for…


If rum is your usual drink, try Brazilian spirit Cachaça as your pick for this summer. Largely confused with rum, Cachaça is actually made from distilled fresh sugarcane juice rather than molasses.  There are two main varieties; white Cachaça, which is a versatile cocktail mixer, and dark Cachaça, which is usually more expensive and drunk straight.




Once known only as the most popular spirit for mixing, recent times have seen many premium and quality vodkas hit the shelves which are thoroughly enjoyable straight.  Best ice cold and sipped slowly, those made from grains often have a subtle cereal aroma, grape-based vodkas have a crisp, aromatic taste and potato vodkas are often described as creamy on the palate.


Vodka drinkers might also like…


Adventurous vodka drinkers looking for something new this summer could try white whiskey. Known in its illegal form as ‘Moonshine’, when distilled correctly, white whisky can be delicious. Try it mixed into your Moscow Mules and Martinis this summer.


for more info head over to the  Wine & Spirit Education Trust


Canvas Bar, Old Street

Canvas Bar, Old Street

Posted on 23 July 2015 by Chris Ford

A few weeks ago, while heading out of Hoxton Square on our way home from my birthday meal, my girlfriend and I fancied one last drink. Luckily, we happened upon the  – new to us – Canvas Bar, on Old Street.


The venue itself was once an old, unremarkable pub. But the owners of Canvas Bar have transformed it into a stripped back, post-work hangout.

While I wasn’t there on a particularly busy night (there was a tube strike on) I imagine this place is heaving on a Friday night, as local office workers descend for a well earned drink in a cool space.


Not being a regular cocktail drinker, I puzzled about what to choose from the menu. The barman stepped in, and after taking the time to ask me what I usually drink, he recommended their signature ‘Smoked Old Fashioned’ based on the fact I like a whiskey or three.


Watching my drink being made was a treat in itself, as the barman infused smoke into the cocktail of Wild Turkey 81 Whiskey, cinnamon, orange zest and lavender. The drink was presented to me in a dramatic, smoke-filled bottle along with a glass.


The barman explained that the ‘Smoked Old Fashioned’ was designed with cigar smokers in mind. Being a smoker myself, I will say the cocktail does offer a cigar-like experience, with the infused smoky flavours complimenting the whiskey.


My girlfriend also sought the barman’s advice, and after saying she’d like a rum cocktail, that wasn’t too sweet, he mixed up a Mexican Kick – dark rum with fresh red chilies, banana, fresh lime and apple juice. She loved it, saying it was such a unique flavour combination. Having had a taste myself, I can confirm it certainly lives up to its name!

Canvas Bar definitely felt like a special experience and a perfect way to end my birthday night.

So if you are in the area and want something a bit more interesting than a pub, check out Canvas Bar. I totally recommend it.

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Food & Wine Festivals of Sicily/ Southern Italy in 2015

Food & Wine Festivals of Sicily/ Southern Italy in 2015

Posted on 22 July 2015 by Chris Ford

It’s the food and the wine that makes visitors travel to Italy every season! The whole year is practically filled up with festivals celebrating the richness of the land, its culture, its history, its people. People from all over the world love to visit Sicily because there are so many things to do and see and it’s a bonus when there is a celebration going on during your stay. Have fun and learn something about Sicilian culture and tradition by joining in on the fun. If you are thinking of a trip to the island, why not schedule it on a festival month? Booking a villa with a pool in Sicily in advance could be a great idea for relaxation after going around the island.


photo by :,_Sicily.jpg

Stragusto – If you like food, then it’s time for a visit in Sicily. Go to Trapani which is located on the west coast of the island! From July 24 to 26, 2015, the place comes alive with celebrations of Sicilian, Italian and Tunisian street food, accompanied by local wines, music and other events. You will love the different flavours of traditional Sicilian street food dishes made from the freshest ingredients.


Sagra del Pesce Spada a Pozzillo – For those who love seafood, this is a pretty good reason to pack your bags and visit the seaside hamlet of Acireale in Catania, on the east coast. Running from July 26 to 27, you can enjoy the swordfish in the manner they prepare it in Sicily. There are local specialties such as the swordfish sandwich.

photo by

Festa del Raccolto – This is a harvest festival on the 31st of July for the purpose of celebrating the end of the year’s labours. You will have a chance to taste traditional way of cooking local products such as chickpeas, and fava beans. The event includes prayers, music, and festivities to make the town of Cianciana alive.

Sagra dell’Olio – Typically on the 31st of July, the people of Furnari in the Nebrodi Mountains welcome visitors to attend the celebration of their fruits of labours. Taste locally produced olive oil in bruschetta and other local dishes. There will be lost of olives and wine to taste. Feel the mountain music as folks play their favourite sounds.

Sagra delle Melanzane a Milazzo – Before taking the hydrofoil to the Aeolian Islands, stop in Milazzo and join the fun as they celebrate one of their favourite ingredients – the eggplant! Two days of tasting various dishes and folk music will surely make your stopover worth it! This is usually on the first weekend of August.

Calici di Stelle nelle Città del Vino della Sicilia – This event happens in Castiglione di Sicilia in Catania, on August 10. Gala wine is the main attraction of this event where there will be tastings, music, entertainment, street performers and fireworks.

Sagra della pasta cu l’agghia e sasizza arrustuta – On the evening of August 14, in Buseto Palizzolo, get filled up on Pesto Trapanese and barbecued sausages, melon and lots of wine!

Sagra dei Sapori Chiaramontani – This is a one-day feasting on traditional Sicilian food and wine as towns people celebrate the cockerel and other local products with music and fireworks! It is celebrated on the 17th of August in Chiaramonti Gulfi.
La Sagra del Mare- This is the perfect event for seafood aficionados! In Mazara del Vallo on the 3rd week of August, the people celebrate fruits of the sea. You will have fun watching townsfolk frying fish, prawns and squid in huge frying pans. You can also try boiled octopus and wash them all down with local wine!

La Sagra del Tortone – Watch a medieval procession on the 16th of August in Sperlinga in the Madonie Mountains and have a taste of the traditional cake made of flower, yeast, olive oil and sugar.
Sherbet Festival – If you happen to be in Sicily on the 1st week of September, you willstill be feeling the heat of summer. Join this festival as locals celebrate with home-made ice cream, sherbet and granita made by the very best producers. There will be concerts and other interesting events to see.


Cous cous Fest – One of the most interesting and biggest events to attend in San Vito Lo Capo in Trapani. This is an international festival where you will get your fill of the dish, meet new people and learn about various cultures. Famous chefs from around the world come together to participate in a cous cous cooking competition. The festival usually lasts a week, from the 18th to the 27th of September. Your vacation will be filled of activities as you join cooking workshops, cultural events, talk shows, and seminars. Not just that, you can join the partying in the evenings where it will be characterized by live music and shows. Different artists will perform every night.

20th Edition “Montevago Wine Festival” – This is for wine enthusiasts who can have the opportunity to attend shows, taste wines and watch exhibitions. A three-day food and wine festival, it is a perfect time to discover the extraordinary wines of Sicily as well as relax in the beautiful sunny town of Montevago, along the Wine Road Terre Sicane.


Sagra della Salsiccia – In honor of the sausage, three days of partying happens on the 2nd Sunday of September in Aragona. This is characterized by a homage to the local patron saint and there will be market stalls, fairground rides, music and fun!

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Moretti Gran Tour hits London!

Moretti Gran Tour hits London!

Posted on 17 July 2015 by Chris Ford

This week we had the pleasure of attending the Moretti Gran Tour in Hackney London and we had a total blast!


The Gran Tour organised by Italian beer brand Birra Moretti showcases independent Italian food vendors many of which you may of seen around the food markets of London and many you may not have heard of until you go but like me Im sure you will be excited to visit them again once you have tried their food.
We of course went last year to the Gran Tour and this year I have to say was even better, there were six vendors offering their food and the portions were really generous almost to the disappointment of some in our group as they wanted to try more!


Stand outs for me were the Arancini Brotherswith their beautiful Risotto balls

the Arancini Brothers

the Arancini Brothers

The Arancini Brothers Risotto balls

The Arancini Brothers Risotto balls

Pasta E Basta with their beautiful beetroot gnocchi salad dish


Pasta E Basta’s beautiful beetroot gnocchi salad

Forzawin and their amazing (and massive) roast pork ciabatta sandwiches


Forzawin and their spit roast pork


And delicious straight out of the oven pizza from Arancina


pizza from Arancina

The whole event is a total bargain too with tickets costing £10 plus £1 booking fee you get two cans of Birra Moretti along with 2 plates of food and a Gelato in fact we are serious considering going back again on Saturday!
The event is located at Space Studios (a short walk from London Fields station ) until this Sunday and ticket can be bought online here


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London Pop up Cinema this Summer

London Pop up Cinema this Summer

Posted on 16 July 2015 by Chris Ford


Pop Up Screens (as the name suggests) put on big screen cinema events outside in the open air and are back again this year which a great line up all over London.
Heading to nine of London’s most idyllic settings, including the Greenwich Peninsula, Bishop Park in Fulham and Eltham’s Tudor Barn, Pop Up are bringing a bigger line-up of films for 2015
At £10 Pop Up is great value I find the average cost of tickets to my local cinema is nearing £15 just for a ticket so to be able to sit in the open air with a beer and a burger and watch a classic movie with friends, well what’s not to like?

Complete Summer Programme

24 July 2015 Greenwich Peninsula Labyrinth

25 July 2015 Greenwich Peninsula 10 Things I Hate About You

26 July 2015 Greenwich Peninsula Big

31 July 2015 Fulham Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

01 August 2015 Fulham Pretty Woman

02 August 2015 Fulham Footloose

07 August 2015 Parsons Green Ghostbusters

08 August 2015 Parsons Green Four Weddings & A Funeral

09 August 2015 Parsons Green When Harry Met Sally

13 August 2015 Eltham Bridesmaids

14 August 2015 Hammersmith Stand By Me

15 August 2015 Hammersmith Dirty Dancing

16 August 2015 Hammersmith Good Will Hunting

21 August 2015 Holborn The Big Lebowski

22 August 2015 Holborn Jerry Maguire

23 August 2015 Holborn Raiders of the Lost Ark

27 August 2015 Eltham The Goonies

28 August 2015 Lewisham Pulp Fiction

29 August 2015 Lewisham Romeo + Juliet

30 August 2015 Lewisham Last Crusade

03 September 2015 Lewisham Dirty Dancing

04 September 2015 Fulham Leon

05 September 2015 Fulham Top Gun

06 September 2015 Fulham Grease

10 September 2015 Eltham Mama Mia

12 September 2015 Holborn Ghost

13 September 2015 Holborn Lion King

16 September 2015 Streatham Beetlejuice

18 September 2015 Hammersmith The Notebook

19 September 2015 Hammersmith Robin Hood Prince of Thieves

20 September 2015 Hammersmith The Shawshank Redemption

23 September 2015 Streatham Up

24 September 2015 Eltham The Shining

25 September 2015 East Greenwich Ghostbusters

26 September 2015 East Greenwich ET



for more info and to book tickets head over to WWW.POPUPSCREENS.CO.UK I’m already signed up to see The BigLebowski  with some friends, can’t wait!

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CanDogs, The new dogs of Old Street!

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CanDogs, The new dogs of Old Street!

Posted on 15 July 2015 by Chris Ford

The last time I had a hot dog was in Philadelphia last year. It was dollar dog day at the Phillies baseball game and me my friend Bob, and his girlfriend went a bit mad and over dogged. Suffice to say I’ve not had one since but when CanDogs opened up around the corner from my office in London’s Old Street the draw of meat was too strong I had to go and check it out.


Suzanne with one too many hotdogs than is wise in Philadelphia

Located right next to Canvas Bar a short walk from Old Street roundabout CanDogs is a refreshing alternative from the numerous kebabs shops surrounding the area.


The CanDogs menu

Inside you first must pick your bun of choice be it a regular hot dog bun, brioche,wrap or a healthy lettuce leaf! Next interestingly, you can choice the hotdog protein type itself ( pork, beef, chicken or veggie) then you go onto toppings. Of course there are also suggested creations on the menu I went for the Old Street Dog which featured bacon, onions ketchup and mustard (after all everything is better with bacon).


The ‘Old Street’ with a beer

The Hotdog was bang on, meaty, with a good bun that didn’t fall apart and very tasty. Actually better than the hotdogs I’ve had in US which is saying something. I also opted to try the tater tots, which I’d never had before. They are basically deep fried potato balls of goodness and I thoroughly recommend you try them. Next time though I’m trying the chili fries!


Tater Tots

All this I washed down with a can of American beer for a truly all-encompassing American lunch.
Would I go back yes, ok its not a super cheap lunch but totally comparable with the sort of prices you will be paying in the area and if you like hotdogs and Americana you will love CanDogs

CanDogs can be found at 235b Old Street which is a few minutes’ walk from the station itself
For info check CanDogs out at or on twitter @CANDOGS

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‘Rise of the Footsoldier 2 ‘ trailer released

Posted on 14 July 2015 by Chris Ford


That’s right they have made a sequel to the cult classic ‘Rise of the Footsoldier’ , just when you thought there wasn’t anymore to be told around that infamous murder of villains found dead in a Range Rover down an Essex country lane there is more!

This could either be amazing or terrible but I loved the first installment as many guys did so have high hopes the sequel will be just as good

here’s the trailer

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Cocktails with Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Cocktails with Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Posted on 07 July 2015 by Chris Ford

Last week we were invited along to a cocktail masterclass with London Grind bar manager Adam Wright to show off the versatility of of Bundaberg Ginger beer and pairing the cocktails with different food, in all we tried six different cocktails which by the end of we were a little merry!


my favorite ginger beer cocktail is of course the Dark and Stormy (which incidentally goes perfectly with Bundaberg) but my favourite from the night was the London Mule which I thought I would share with you below


Make the perfect London Mule



·       1Ž4 fresh apple cubed (red delicious)

·       20ml maple syrup

·       25ml fresh lime

·       50ml bourbon

·       3 dashes of angostura bitters

·       Bundaberg ginger beer

·       Two cubes of candied ginger


  1. Muddle the fresh apple, candied ginger and maple syrup
  2. Add the bourbon, lime juice and angostura bitters and shake
  3. Strain into a short glass and top with Bundaberg Ginger Beer
  4. Garnish with candied ginger and fresh apple fan
  5. Enjoy your drink


Adam remarked on the London Mule “London has long been having a love affair with craft beer but craft cocktails are also about to have a moment. We wanted to introduce a new cocktail that would embrace craft, sophistication and summer. Something you could imagine Don Draper drinking at the weekend. The London Mule is just that.”

The London Mule is available at both the London Grind and Shoreditch Grind and is deliciously refreshing on a warm summers evening.

for more information on Bundaberg Ginger beer head over to or @BundabergDrinks


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CANDOGs Hot Dog Giveaway

Posted on 01 July 2015 by Chris Ford

With all things American being popular right now especially food its of no surprise that we hear of news that a new Hot Dog themed restaurant is opening in London just off trendy Shoreditch and they are opening in style!


Giving away 500 hot dogs in the first week of launching, CanDogs will be situated just a hop, skip and a jump away from Old Street Station.
CanDogs have created options for just about everyone and if those don’t tickle your taste buds, you can use your creativeness and make your own with an extensive choice of topping and garnishes. The toppings range from caramelised onions, pickles, grilled juicy peppers, bacon and for a blazing hot option there is the chilly and cheese dog.

The new hot dog bar will offer a trendy American styled fast-casual dining and take away service.
CanDogs say they pride themselves in delivering a quick and easy to use service and at the same time it upholds its commitment on delivering good hot dogs and mini wieners with homemade tater tots. The menu also offers vegetarian, halal and kosher options.

CanDogs opens rather apropriately on the 4th of July,  To take part in the free giveaway, follow their social pages for instant updates and promotions.

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