Archive | Food & Drink

Talking Homebrew with Home Brewtique

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Talking Homebrew with Home Brewtique

Posted on 09 August 2018 by Chris Ford

I’ve been thinking of trying my hand at home brewing for years. But I will be honest, I didn’t have a clue of where to start. So I turned to an expert for advice! And who better to talk to than Claire Russell, co-founder of homebrew supply website Home Brewtique After our chat, I can’t wait to get cracking. Hope you enjoy

Can I pretty much home brew any of my favourite beers or is it a little more complex than that?

You can home brew almost any style of beer – aside from some lagers and certain types of sour beers – as long as you have the right ingredients and the right equipment. However, it can be a bit more complex when it comes to replicating specific recipes, as many large-scale brewers are getting pretty clever and creative with their recipes and flavours. Quite a few will employ complicated techniques in order to achieve some of the super-hoppy flavours we are seeing these days and your average small-scale home brew set up is not going to be able to reproduce those techniques without some pretty fancy equipment. For the most part, however, you can brew a huge range of flavours – ranging from wit beers to stouts and porters! co-founders Claire (left) and Posey (right)

With regards to cost, is home brewing cheaper than just buying my favourite ale in the supermarket?

You are always going to have an element of set up cost when you start home brewing. You can bet and borrow many items to get started cheaply, but in the long run you will want to invest in your own equipment if you want to keep up the hobby. Small batches are a great way to get started as the initial set up cost is much less than a large batch kit (£90 – £130 as compared to £300 – £400).

Once you’re set up, however, the only cost to home brewing is your ingredients which are really pretty cheap – and of course your time.

How complex is it to get going?  Do I have to have a chemistry degree to succeed?

The great thing about home brew is you can get started and produce pretty decent beer with no knowledge at all! As long as you follow a good recipe kit (ours are perfect for the complete novice) you can get started, and then you can get as geeky as like with it. Some home brewers like to experiment and control every single element as they get into the hobby, while others prefer to keep brewing by following the directions exactly. As long as its fun and you produce beer that you like, then that’s all that matters.

Does it take a long time to brew? Are there fast and slow methods and does that vary the quality of the end product?

Most styles will take three to four hours to brew, two weeks to ferment and a further two weeks to bottle condition, although there are all sorts of things you can do to speed up the process.  Simple tweaks include mashing for a shorter period on brew day, making a yeast starter to speed up fermentation, and forcing carbonating instead of bottle conditioning. Any of these techniques should shorten the process to varying degree and impact on your beer too much!

Personally, I love force carbonated beer, whereas others will swear by bottle conditioning – both are great options, it just depends on what you prefer and how much time you have!

How much space will home brewing take up and will it smell?

Small batch brewing is great because it barely takes up any space. Our fermentor is specially designed to be light-weight and attractively designed so that you can fit it easily in your kitchen or anywhere else in your house!

On brew day, your mash will smell bready and generally pretty pleasant – the only potential ‘smell’ will be during the boil when you add in your hops. It isn’t a problem if you don’t mind the smell of hops though! The fermenting process doesn’t smell unless you lift the lid and take a good whiff, so overall it isn’t too overpowering!


What’s the cost of a basic kit to get started and what would you recommend for the beginner?

If you need all the equipment to get started then our comprehensive kit is a great place to start – it is £120 for everything, including pots, bottles, equipment and your first recipe! If you already have some of the equipment, such as your own pot and bottles, you can tailor your kit to help reduce costs. More information is available here:

What makes your home brew kits unique?

Our kits are designed to make brewing from scratch as easy as possible so that anyone can experience all grain home brewing without having to follow difficult instructions or use bulky equipment. We created a ‘full volume mash’ and a brew-in-a-bag method so that you can make your beer in one large pot on your stove top. Our kits include only the finest quality ingredients which are pre-measure and vacuum sealed for freshness and designed our fermenter to block out light – it is about the size of a small food processor so can easily fit in any size kitchen. The integrated bottling spout on the fermenter means one less messy step and our convenient bottling wand fits straight into the spout. Most importantly, our recipes taste great. We try and test each recipes for the best results and then write step-by-step instructions that a novice brewer can re-create time and again. We have a wide range of recipes, spanning from an Australian Pale Ale to a Milk Stout and loads of IPAs.

Any other advice you would give for someone looking to get started?

Just give it a go! Home brewing isn’t nearly as hard as you may think and I would recommend our kits in particular because they allow you to brew completely from scratch, using an all-grain, brew-in-a-bag method. This is compared to a pre-mixed extract that you find in many other kits, which can seriously impact on the taste. You will be surprised at how simple it is and impressed with the quality of beer that you’re able to make yourself.


For more info on homebrewing and to get started head over to the good people at


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Galvin at The Athenaeum Restaurant

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Galvin at The Athenaeum Restaurant

Posted on 19 July 2018 by Chris Ford

Living in London, there are a wealth of restaurants to choose from but among them, there are a few names that scream quality. Galvin has to be one of them. Brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and have since both won highly sought after Michelin Stars. From Park Lane’s iconic Galvin at Windows to Galvin Hop in London’s Spitalfields (where I’ve enjoyed a fair few relaxing brunches), you know what to expect when visiting one of their restaurants – great service, a relaxed atmosphere and top quality ingredients.

So I was excited to be invited along to try Galvin at the Athenaeum. I’d been to the Green Park hotel a number of times before and even spent the night but had never had the chance to eat at the restaurant.

As we walked into the restaurant, the bright, modern yet smart theme from the hotel’s lobby continues – and while this is fine dining there certainly isn’t a stuffy feel here at all and as we were seated in our booth I was already looking forward to my order.

Stepping away from Galvin’s now trademark French-inspired menus at The Athenaeum, this menu is on championing British home grown ingredients.

For starters I went for the Dressed Portland crab, Hampshire watercress & rye bread. The crab was out-of-this-world good.

Dressed Portland crab, Hampshire watercress & rye bread.

My girlfriend, noticing the inclusion of her favourite egg – the Burford brown – chose the Galvin cured smoked salmon, Burford brown egg, sour cream & caviar.

Galvin cured smoked salmon, Burford brown egg, sour cream & caviar

For our main course I chose the beef rib eye with tomatoes, watercress and bone marrow (oh wow whenever I have bone marrow it’s such a treat!), my steak was cooked perfectly and melted in the mouth.

beef rib eye with tomatoes, watercress and bone marrow

But nice as it was, I couldn’t help but be jealous of my girlfriend’s order, when I stole a bite of her Welsh rump of lamb. Served with butter beans & wild garlic, it was so good I’m already plotting when I can return to order a whole plate of it for myself.

Welsh rump of lamb. Served with butter beans & wild garlic

For wine, we are no experts and sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by the choices. But our friendly waiter was more than happy to guide us on an appropriate bottle to accompany our mains. He suggested a Galvin label red to accompany our red meat and what a fantastic choice!

Service with a smile!

For desert there was little room left but on my way in I spied the extensive cheese counter that wouldn’t look out of place in a small deli. So there was little dithering time when it came to going for the selection of English cheeses, grapes & celery. My girlfriend chose the passion fruit cheesecake, chocolate ice cream, a strange combo on paper but she said it worked really well. I wouldn’t know though, as I was too engrossed in my cheese to notice or care!

selection of English cheeses, grapes & celery

passion fruit cheesecake, chocolate ice cream

I found Galvin at Athenaeum a refreshing change for me, fine dining food in a in a relaxed atmosphere using British produce this is a definite recommendation from me.


Galvin at The Athenaeum Restaurant is located a short walk from Green Park station, for more info and to book  head over to their website here

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Spanish Craft Beer Showcase

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Spanish Craft Beer Showcase

Posted on 02 July 2018 by Chris Ford

Every one can name a Spanish beer. Lager brands like Estrella and San Miguel are the perfect thirst-quenching bevvy for scorching days, whether you’re in the Costa Del Sol, or Croydon.  I’ve just got back from a week in the Spanish sun myself and had more than my fair share of refreshing Mahous as I lounged by the pool. But while I was there, I got to thinking that I really don’t know what craft beers Spain has to offer. So I decided to find out! Here are my favourites.

La Pirata – Viakrucis IPA

ABV 6%

Style – IPA

La Pirata started off as a home brew (like many craft breweries seems to) and now with their own brewery based just outside Barcelona. Viakrucis IPA was their first beer made for sale to the public was born in 2012. A Golden orange colour with aromas of citrus and grapefruit I instantly loved this, al slight bitterness finishes off a very tasty IPA from LA Pirata.

Ceriux Rubia

ABV 5.4%

Style – Blonde

A blonde top fermented ale made from Perle, East Kent Golding and Cascade hops. Concentrated white grape juice is then added before secondary fermentation in bottle.  Very fruity I can definitely taste the grape here but it’s almost candy like, very nice and like nothing I’ve really had from a beer before. This is a must to check out.

Mala Gissona – Red Bay Rye Red Ale

ABV 5.2%

Style – Red Ale

The Mala Gissona brewery is based in Gipuzkoa in the Basque country. This red ale was brewed to celebrate the 1st expedition of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador. A strong caramel flavour dominates this one for me with a fruity sweet finish, I’m not a massive red ale fan but this is a great example of red ales done right.

Beer Cat – Barcelona Blonde

ABV 5.0% 

Style – Blonde

Another brewery (as the beer name suggest) based in Barcelona. Beer Cat describe this Blonde as a homage to Catalonia and its capital city. This one was to me surprisingly hoppy with a nice underlying fruity aroma and subtle bitter finish. I really liked this beer!

La Pirata – Suria American Pale ale

ABV 5% Style – American Pale Ale

Lastly I tried another beer from La Pirata, this American Pale ale was a little disappointing. Flavours were a tad light for me , quite floral but not much else going on, it was pleasant enough but I don’t think I’d go back again for this one, I much preferred their Viakrucis.


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How Much Beer does £4 get you in the world?

How Much Beer does £4 get you in the world?

Posted on 25 May 2018 by Chris Ford

For some reason a true marker for how much a place costs to visit  for me is the price of a pint, well its a good a marker as any right?   so here for a bit of friday fun we share with you this infographic of how much beer you will get for £4.00 around the world, now this reminds me I have to book myself some cheap flights to Prague ,cheers!


thanks to Money Guru for the graphics

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Having the right glass for your drink

Posted on 18 April 2018 by Chris Ford


There is nothing quite as off-putting when you’re enjoying being at an event when refreshments are served in plastic or cardboard cups; and grabbing a quick coffee packaged in cardboard on the way to work might have become a habit, however, it has more to do with helping you wake up than matters of taste. Hot drinks such as tea and coffee always seem to taste better when served in a china cup, or at least decent crockery of some kind, while cold drinks benefit from being served in the right glass for your particular beverage. Here are a few tips to help you use the correct glasses for different drinks.


Whiskey glasses

Most whiskey glasses are of substantial weight and are shaped like squat tumblers. They are used for serving whiskey with or without ice or water. Beautiful contemporary versions come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, some of which are colored and decorated by hand. If you like your whiskey in a cocktail, perhaps to celebrate World Whisky Day for instance, you can also opt for a highball glass or a Martini glass, depending on your preferred recipe. Each year, World Whisky Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May – an essential note for your social calendar, perhaps.


Gin glasses

The recent surge in the popularity of gin has resulted in debates about appropriate glassware. For example, traditionally, gin and tonic have been served as a long drink, in a highball glass. Connoisseurs argue, however, that a more appropriate option is to use a Copa glass –  stemmed drinkware topped with a glass bowl, rather like a cross between a tall brandy glass, or snifter, and a fat red wine glass. Developed by the Spanish, who are fervent gin drinkers, the Copa de Balon is said to be favored by gin experts. You can get a wide range of drinkware, including both highball and Copa gin glasses, from


Other glassware


Lovers of champagne flutes are also in for a disappointment. Experts say they are too narrow to allow you to fully enjoy the aroma of your fizz, whether prosecco, cava or champagne is your preferred tipple. Instead, try moving to a tulip shaped glass or a narrow white wine glass instead. If you’re a beer drinker, of course, you have lots of choices. Tankards and dimpled glasses with handles are ideal for most pints, while tall glasses with curved sides are said to be better for pale ales as they release the fizz. Snifter glasses for brandy are often also used for stout, while goblets suit strong ales and IPAs. If you like to travel, take some pictures of glasses used around the world as part of your online journal and educate your friends at home on the subject.


If you haven’t tried some of these alternatives before, why not get together with some likeminded people and select some different glassware for your preferred refreshments. Then you can make an informed choice about the correct glass for each type of drink.

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Abd el Wahab bring their Lebanese delights to  London

Abd el Wahab bring their Lebanese delights to London

Posted on 15 March 2018 by Chris Ford

A few weeks ago on an extremely cold snowy evening we were invited to the London opening of upscale Lebanese restaurant Abd el Wahab in Belgravia.

Abd el Wahab is named after the street in Beirut where their original restaurant still stands, and now has 45 locations in the Middle East. But this London opening marks their first European venture. , With a strong reputation for both their food and service, we were eager to try their famed dishes for ourselves.

Upon entering Abd el Wahab we were greeted with a bright modern clean relaxed space which while feeling extremely high end was welcoming at the same time.

The five course feast that followed was nothing short of amazing.  Having never really experienced Lebanese cuisine before I wasn’t really sure what to expect other than of course the hummus (which was amazing) but the sheer variety of flavours and dishes on offer was a real treat. Each course was brought to our table family style (which I’m a big fan of) enabling us to try a wide variety of what’s on offer.

Hummus with Chickpeas

Highlights were of course the previously mentioned hummus but we really enjoyed the platter of grilled meats including their amazing mixed grill platter featuring grilled lamb koftas and cubed chicken as well as the extremely moreish cheese pastries which I had stop myself from eating the whole plate of! We finished with final course of desert consisting of some wonderfully palate cleansing fresh fruit as well as their decadent pistachio baklawa stuffed with ashta (pictured) to finish.

pistachio baklawa stuffed with ashta

A big surprise for us though was the fantastic wine on offer. Not previously knowing the Lebanese even made wine we thoroughly enjoyed the Lebanese wine on offer from Abd el Wahab’s cellar which they are rightly very proud of. As well as the Lebanese wines Abd el Wahab of course offer wines from around the world to cater for all tastes.

Abd el Wahab is a very welcome addition to the London food scene which really would recommend you go and try for yourself, speaking to the manager they have big plans for the building including in the coming months a cigar lounge in the basement with a fully stocked humidor, what a better way to end your meal that a cigar afterwards? I know I will be returning to do just that!


Abd el Wahab , 1-3 Pont St, Belgravia, London SW1X 9EJ

Abd El Wahab

Nearest Tube : Sloane Square


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No booze, no problem?  A look at Non Alcoholic Beers

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No booze, no problem? A look at Non Alcoholic Beers

Posted on 12 January 2018 by Chris Ford

Around this time of the year, not only is everyone a bit broke, but people embrace something called Dry January where they abstain from booze for the month after the excesses of Christmas and New Year.

One thing that goes alongside Dry Jan are non-alcoholic beers and in recent years they have become massively popular to the point I know a fair few people that enjoy low or no alcoholic beers on a regular basis.  Having never tried one before I thought I’d take a look at what’s out there in the supermarkets and most important of all how do they taste?*

Budweiser Prohibition

From Budweiser’s website it says Prohibition is brewed in exactly the same way as regular Bud, with exactly the same ingredients but without the alcohol – but does it taste the same? Well I’d say this was my least favourite of the four, very thin-tasting like something is missing (yeah I know the booze! ).  Saying that this was my girlfriend’s favourite out the bunch so it obviously isn’t terrible. Again the Budweiser taste is there but I wouldn’t rush back to try it.


San Miguel 0.0%

San Miguel is one of those beers that tastes great on a hot sunny day and I associate with many a Spanish summer holiday on the beach, but will it live up to that memory? The first thing I noticed about this one is its very sweet, there’s certainly that San Miguel taste there and I’d say the most beer-tasting out of the four I sampled. While it isn’t as full flavoured as regular San Miguel there’s certainly flavour there unlike some of the others that taste really thin.


Heineken 0.0

I drank a lot of Heineken in my youth so I know it well, and the Heineken 0 0 is a great non-alcoholic beer!  There’s a slight malty taste here, which isn’t unpleasant, I think this one is the closest tasting to its regular counterpart. My only complaint it was quite gassy compared to the others.  I was actually torn which I preferred the San Miguel or this it was really close.


Brew Dog Nanny State

Well first off if you are into Craft Beer or not a lager drinker and looking to go No Alcohol then this is the obvious choice.  Looks and smells like beer, has a tamed hoppy taste with some of the floral fruity notes you might expect and slightly bitter. My one criticism would be it does seem to leave a slightly artificial after taste, which can be a bit off-putting. To be honest I’m really surprised with this one as I thought it would be my favourite, I don’t think I’d drink it again. So not for me but I think some would get on well with this, especially if you don’t drink lager.




So in conclusion if I had to go down the Non Alcoholic beer route it would certainly be either San Miguel 00 or Heineken 0.0 – both are close enough to the original to have a pleasant enough drink and not feel left out.



*I was sent all these beers  on the basis that I’d give an honest review which I have.

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Makers Mark Whiskey Cocktail ‘The Road Less Travelled’

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Makers Mark Whiskey Cocktail ‘The Road Less Travelled’

Posted on 22 November 2017 by Chris Ford



Last week I had a lovely evening at The Athenaeum Hotel THE BAR with Makers Mark Whiskey UK ambassador  Amanda Humphrey learning about the history of the brand.


It was a really interesting evening in a stunning venue, and fascinating to learn how Maker’s Mark still employ a very old-school approach to their business despite the size of the brand. Each bottle is hand-dipped in their signature red wax and the labels are still printed and cut the same way they have always been despite the obvious advances in technology.  This makes owning a bottle that little bit more special, now I know this.

The bar staff at The Athenaeum Hotel held a competition to come up with a new cocktail to showcase Maker’s Mark’s latest expression Makers 46. We tried the winning cocktail on the night, which was amazing! Here’s the winning recipe for that cocktail ‘The Road Less Travelled’ for you to make at home if you can’t make it to The Athenaeum to try it in person.



The Road Less Travelled


20ml Maker’s 46

20ml Mancino Chinato

20ml Rinomato Aperitivo

5ml Maraschino

2 dashes of aromatic bitters

4 dashes of rhubarb bitters



Stir all the ingredients, strain into a ginza rocks

glass over a chunk of ice and garnish with an

orange twist.


‘The Road Less Travelled’ cocktail which is available now for £15 at THE BAR at The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences

You can buy some Makers 46 here.

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The Botanist Gin Dinner – London Cocktail Week

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The Botanist Gin Dinner – London Cocktail Week

Posted on 20 November 2017 by Chris Ford

We always enjoy London Cocktail week when it comes around but the highlight for us this year had to be the wondering dinner we attended at SAGAR & WILDE in Bethnal Green hosted by The Botanist Gin. Here’s a insight into the food and drink pairings we had on the night along with recipes so you can try them for yourselves.

I still dream about that Venison Ragu and the Islay Martini was quite possibly the best gin cocktail ive ever had!


Venison Ragu

Venison haunch

Chicken stock

Red wine






  • Dice mire poix
  • Salt venion haunch and grill.
  • Sweat mire poix, add red wine and reduce. Add chicken stock and bring to boil.
  • Put venison and liquid in gastro and braise for 4 to 5 hours in low oven
  • When meat is ready and can be pulled from bone, shread meat and reduce liquid.
  • Check seasoning and finish with sherry vinegar


Cocoa Pappardelle

1240g ‘00’ flour

200g semolina

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

7 eggs

360g egg yolk


  • Mix dry ingredients and add yolks and eggs and knead until soft
  • Roll pasta through machine to 1 mm thickness and cut to 1cm ribbons



Lamb belly

  • Salt lamb bellies over night
  • Wash and vac pack pack with thyme garlic and olive oil.
  • Cook at 84C for 6 hours
  • Remove from bags, take out bones and press between grease proof and chill
  • When cold, portion
  • Grill and cover with mint sauce



Wild Mint Sauce


  • Make a gastrique by boiling together equal white vinegar and demerara sugar.
  • Chill and add chopped wild mint and pour over lamb bellies


Beetroot salmon


1 side of salmon, skinned


30ml Botantist gin

500ML beet juice

50G brown sugar

30G Caster

130G salt

10G pink Salt


  • 1 side of salmon, skinned
  • Combine ingredients and cover fish.
  • Cure for 48 hours turning each day


Apple Cake

250 grams unsalted butter

300G sugar

4 eggs

300 G flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

4 tablespoons cream

6 braeburn apples peeled

demerara sugar (for sprinkling on top)


  • In an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at the time and stir
  • Sift the flour and baking powder together, mix some of it onto the batter, then add some of the milk, then some of the batter like this until all blended. Don’t over work
  • Smear half of the batter in a buttered gastro, cover with cake batter and add apples all over mix.
  • Sprinkle with Demerea sugar
  • Bake at 180 C for 25-30 mins



Islay Martini


Glass: Martini


50ml Botanist Gin

5ml Dulce Infused Dry Vermouth

2.5ml Port Charlotte Whisky


Garnish: Sea Aster


  • Stir in mixing glass over cubed ice, strain and garnish.


For more info on The Botanist Gin head over to or to buy yourself a bottle click here.

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BREWDOG – Craft Beer For The People

BREWDOG – Craft Beer For The People

Posted on 04 October 2017 by Chris Ford

BrewDog are I think most will agree  have played a massive part in bringing craft beer to the mainstream and that’s certainly true for me, my first proper craft beer was their flagship ‘Punk IPA’ and I haven’t looked back since.

Saying that I’m still far from a expert when it comes to beer which is why I welcome this new book from the guys behind BrewDog  ‘Craft Beer For The People’ aims to cover everything from how beer is made looking at the ingredients and decisions brewers make to how to understand the different styles, how to cook with and match beers with food and even how to brew your own!

To celebrate the launch we have two copies of the book to give away, if you fancy one just drop us a email at  we will pick two lucky readers at random to win.*

Craft Beer For The People is available from November 5th and you can grab yours here.


*Competition closes on Monday 9th Oct at 9am when two winners will be selected at random to win.  Open to UK residents only.




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