Archive | Food & Drink

The San Miguel Experience – London

The San Miguel Experience – London

Posted on 31 July 2017 by Chris Ford

 

Last week San Miguel invited me to San Miguel – The Experience in London.

Now this may sound like a chance to drink some of Spain’s favourite beer and it was but there was a lot more to it than that.

San Miguel have teamed up with some pretty inspiring people who we joined for an evening of inspirational talks, creative workshops and immersive experiences celebrating people from around the world who live life differently.

I’ve picked out a couple of my favourites here, the most noticeable one I guess was  the Virtual Reality simulator Birdly which makes you feel like you are soaring above streets of New York city, pretty dizzying realistic stuff!

 

Then there was Mike Kus, a British designer and photographer as well as pretty amazing Instagrammer.  Mike guided us through how he takes a photo for Instagram and generally how to take better snaps. It was the simple things like use interesting / different angles and the settings to use to enhance your image. Mike mainly uses the brightness, contrast and structure tools right in the Instagram app itself for his processing.  He also just uses a regular iPhone. I left feeling impressed and inspired that I can up my Instagram game (watch this space on that one!)

The other stand out session I attended was more interactive. We joined Belgian pastry chef and chocolatier Willem Verlooy for a really enjoyable class where we made our very own chocolate treats. I filmed most of the session in the video below, (sorry for the poor sound on this one my mic wasn’t working properly!)

After a few great talks we then had to of course check out the beer and food selections, being hosted by San Miguel there was course an array of their beer range on offer. I really enjoyed some of the less common offerings particularly like the 1516 which is made to conform to Germany’s strict purity laws and result in a fresh slightly smoky tasting spin which went down really well.  The other winner for me was the San Miguel Selecta 3 toasted malts and 3 specially selected hops creating a really smooth beer with a lovely slight hoppy finish. I really really liked this one!

I can’t wait for the San Miguel Experience to return to London next year, it was such a fun inspiring night.

For more info on San Miguel head over to https://www.sanmiguel.com/en , Mike Kus is on Instagram at @mikekus  and Willem Verlooy is at @willemverlooy

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The Regal Rogue boozy brunch

The Regal Rogue boozy brunch

Posted on 18 July 2017 by Chris Ford

Last month I received a curious invitation to join a brand called Regal Rogue for a bit of a boozy brunch on a Saturday morning to kick off London Wine Week.

Regal Rogue was developed by Brit-born Mark Ward. Mark realised, while living in Australia, that they produce some of the best wine in the world so why no vermouths?  Hence Regal Rogue was born.

I don’t think I have ever had vermouth before, so this was a bit of an education of me. We learnt that Regal Rogue was being used a base ingredient for an array of cocktails on offer and with the blazing sunny weather we were experiencing, they were perfectly refreshing while not too boozy for the early morning start.

On arrival we started off with a ‘Lively Spritzer’ consisting of Regal Rogue Lively White, fresh grapefruit, lemon, sparkling wine and a sprig of rosemary.  The grapefruit shone through on this one and really woke me up!

 

The brunch was served family style and to start we had a selection of five starters to try. I went for the Granola with Honey oaks, roasted buckwheat, quinoa and rosella yoghurt which was amazing, I would never ever normally order this for breakfast but it really was tasty, a game-changer for me breakfast-wise.

Then we went onto the main breakfast items, I particularly enjoyed the crispy haloumi as well as the smoked haddock and sea beet kedgeree. Again not things I would normally order for breakfast but this all felt like a real treat. To accompany our meal we had a choice of Regal Rogue cocktails.  My favourite was a mix featuring ‘Daring Dry’ with apple, celery, spinach and cucumber which complemented the strong flavours of the kedgeree perfectly.

The interesting thing about Regal Rogue to me is its actually quite low in alcohol making it an ideal mixer for summer cocktails. You can enjoy them and not worry about getting too tipsy in the heat. But as the brunch drew to a close we did up the alcohol game a bit and enjoyed a ‘Australian Rogroni’ which had Regal Rogue Bold Red mixed with gin, Italian bitter and a large slice of orange, and wow this really packed a punch! But so good on this roaring hot day.

I guess the take home from the Rogues brunch though wasn’t the food. It was that Vermouth can be used as an excellent and light replacement for spirits in things like gin and tonics or negroni with surprisingly fresh and delightful results. Give it a go especially as we continue to enjoy this glorious weather!

 

for more info on Regal Rogue head over to www.regalrogue.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stagolee’s Hot Chicken, Fulham, London

Stagolee’s Hot Chicken, Fulham, London

Posted on 07 July 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week we went along to a press night at new Fulham restaurant Stagolee’s,  with the promise of fried chicken it seemed rude not to , so we trekked over from East London (actually it wasn’t that bad) to the lovely Fulham Broadway to check out what Stagolees had to offer.

Speaking to head chef and co-founder of Stagolee’s Ashley James you can see straight away there’s a passion for good food. Texas born James has a strong pedigree when it comes to food, having trained under Michelin starred chef Tom Aitken and worked as a sous chef at New Yorks famous Rainbow Rooms it’s a exciting prospect that she has chosen to bring us some of the southern staples from her homeland. In fact Ashley explained to us it was the lack of authentic southern food that inspired her and friend Jordan Harris to open Stagolee’s in the first place.

“I wanted to bring to London American food how we eat it not the over exaggerated way a lot of places do, I want to bring Londoners a piece of our home”.

So hearing that got me a bit excited, and from the moment the devilled eggs arrived for us to sample I knew Ashley was serious, I mean who does devilled eggs here?  I have only had these in the States and they were divine!

Hot Chicken

The main star of Stagolee’s though is clearly the hot chicken. Hot chicken or Nashville hot chicken is a type of fried chicken that is a local specialty of Nashville, Tennessee. it is a portion of breast, thigh, or wing that has been marinated in a blend of seasoning, floured, fried, and finally sauced using a paste that has been spiced, Stagolees bring this to us in three levels one plain, one spicy and one well so hot I nearly passed out, that one’s not for the faint hearted!

Key Lime Pie

 

Everything in Stagolee’s is made from scratch and it shows, from their biscuits to their home made key lime pie ( I still dream about that pie) in fact Ashley said the only thing she hasn’t been able to make from scratch was the crinkle cut fries , a small price to pay when you have such amazing food on the menu.

In fact Stagolee’s ticked all the boxes for me, they had good food, good beers ( all us breweries and some I haven’t seen on tap before) and very competitive prices.

To sum out Ashely and Jordon’s attitude to Stagolee’s they quote American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez,

“the people who give you their food give you their heart” and that’s exactly what they are offering with Stagolee’s.

Stagolee’s Resturant

453 North End Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1NZ

Nearest Tube – Fulham Broadway

stagolees.co.uk

 

 

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Whisky and Beef the perfect combo ?

Whisky and Beef the perfect combo ?

Posted on 07 July 2017 by Chris Ford

So recently Ive been drinking alot more whisky than I used to, not in a problem kind of way but Ive just been enjoy a dram of a evening alot more than I used to so when Scotish distillary  Balblair got in touch with some recipies to pair with their whsikies this one stood out to me, beef and whisky has always sat well with me and this recipie sounds like a winner, I will be trying it out this sunday so I hope so!

 

Smoked Highland Ribeye, Potato Rösti with Green Beans, Wasabi & Pickled Shallots &Brown Butter Béarnaise

 

A truly epic piece of meat that is a guaranteed summer barbecue showstopper. Let your guests carve at the table and get stuck into the sides family-style.

 

Ingredients (serves 8)

 

For The Beef:

1 Bunch x Rosemary

1 Bunch x Thyme

2 Heads x Garlic, Halved

2 Tablespoons x Smoked Paprika

2.5kg x Highland Fore Rib Beef, French Trimmed

 

For The Green Beans:

2kg x Green Beans, Top and Tailed

 

For The Pickled Shallots:

8 x Large Banana Shallots, Peeled and Sliced into Thin Rounds

250ml x White Wine Vinegar

200g x Caster Sugar

10 x Juniper Berries

1 x Bay Leaf

 

Dressing:

2 Teaspoon x Wasabi Paste

100ml x White Wine Vinegar

200ml x Highland Rapeseed Oil

 

For The Rösti:

4 x Large King Edward Potatoes, Peeled

2 x Large Egg Yolks

20g x Rosemary, Finely Chopped

10g x Cracked Black Pepper

 

For The Béarnaise:

300g x Unsalted Butter

120ml x White Wine Vinegar

15g x Tarragon Leaves, Finely Chopped

6 x Large Free Range Egg Yolks

  

Method

 

The day before serving, cold smoke the beef over oak wood chips for 1 hour at 20 – 30C. Remove the beef from the smoker and place on a baking tray. Run the remaining ingredients over the beef and place, uncovered, in the fridge to marinade overnight. Make sure to remove the beef from the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking.

 

Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F/ Gas Mark 5.

 

Lay a clean tea towel over a large mixing bowl and coarsely grate the potatoes into it and season with salt and pepper. Over the sink, twist the towel into a ball, squeezing as much moisture as possible. Mix the grated potatoes with egg yolks and rosemary. Heat up a 12-inch non-stick frying pan with an inch of oil, over a medium heat. Carefully fill the pan with the potato mix, gently pushing the mix down in the pan with the back of a spatula. Fry for 4 minutes and then place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Turn the rösti out onto a baking tray and set aside for later.

 

Drizzle oil over the beef, season generously with sea salt and roast in the oven for 1 hour 35 minutes.

 

To make the pickle liquor for the shallots, bring the vinegar, sugar, bay and juniper berries to the boil along with 200ml of water in a pot over a high heat. Boil for a minute and then remove from the heat and chill until cold enough to touch. At this stage add the sliced shallot rounds and leave to steep for at least an hour.

 

The wasabi dressing is simply made by whisking the oil, wasabi paste and vinegar until it combines. Taste, season and chill.

 

To make the Béarnaise sauce, melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. When the butter starts to turn a light brown, and begins to smell nutty, turn the hob down to its lowest temperature. Once the butter has entirely melted, set aside for 10 minutes so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pot. In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vinegar and a tablespoon of cold water. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (ensuring that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching water). Continuously whisk the eggs until they have doubled in size and become light and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the water and slowly add the clarified brown butter whilst constantly whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the tarragon, taste and season then set aside. Do not leave this sauce for more than two hours.

 

Remove the beef from the oven and place back in the smoker over oak wood chips at 30C for 30 mins, allowing the meat to absorb the smoky flavour as it rests and becomes tender.

 

Simmer the green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water, then toss in a large mixing bowl with the pickled shallots and wasabi dressing. Serve on a large platter along with the rösti. Pour the Béarnaise into a small gravy boat then finish the dish by carving the smoked beef and placing on a large board, finishing with a sprinkle of smoked salt.

 

Whisky Pairing: Balblair 99

A robust piece of beef like this needs the full-bodied finish of the 99. The warmth and fruity spiciness of this whisky will complement the sweet cherry smoke of the meat.

 

for more info on  Balblair and their range head over to www.balblair.com

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The Moretti Gran Tour is back !

Posted on 04 July 2017 by Chris Ford

The Moretti Gran Tour has become a bit of a fixture in our summer calender and something we really look forward to each year and Im pleased to say that this week its  back and I might go as far to say  better than ever before with the introduction of an immersive sensory experience is intended to transport you  to different Italian regions, from the Tuscan hills to the Sicilian sea front, alongside four Italian street food vendors at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park, London  until the 9th  of July.

The sensory experience offers visitors a guided tour of famous sights, scents, tastes and sounds from across Italy which will be brought to life by creatives Robin Collective through an experience that explores how taste is unique to an individual and how a wide range of multi-sensory stimuli can alter and heighten the flavours we experience.

Your journey around Italy will continue as taste buds will be indulged with foods native to each region, from molecular caviar to market spices, all paired with the Birra Moretti range.

You can tuck into four of London’s best Italian street food vendors each serving a range of authentic signature dishes inspired by different regions of Italy.

Returning again this year  Arancini Brothers will be offering its citrus, mushroom zucchini and spicy sweet potato with smokey cheese arancini balls – all served with homemade aubergine and tomato dipping sauce and garlic aioli. These were a total highlight for me when I tried them last night.

Also returning are the amazing Pizza Pilgrims who are  serving their classic Margherita made with tomato, fior di latte, parmesan and olive oil pizza.

Or you could try a  ‘Meatball Parm Hero’  from Cheeky Italian which is filled with fried chicken, pork and beef meatballs, oozy mozzarella, marinara sauce all in a toasted white bap.

For more info on the event head to https://www.birramoretti.com/partnership-and-events/moretti-gran-tour-2017/

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World Gin Day

World Gin Day

Posted on 02 June 2017 by Chris Ford

World Gin Day

The 18th of June brings us World Gin day so we must of course celebrate such a fantastic day and heres some ideas how

 

The Green Man Pub In Chelmsford  will be showcasing three bespoke cocktails including the VJOP Gimlet, Vesper Martini and Sloe Negroni for £10 each I’m a bit of a Bond fan and always wanted to try a Vesper Martini, and why not?

Photo credit JCBrandon Flickr

Gin and Tonic Icecream!

Yes you read that right, for World Gin Day The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch will be serving Gin and tonic icecream. With botanical infused ice creams, gin sorbet and top topped with crystallised rosemary, savoury wafers or your choice of gin-soaked orange peels it certainly sounds different!  The G&T Icecream will be available from their pop up G&T bar from the 9th to 11th June.

www.thehoxton.com

 

Make your own

How about this refreshing twist on the classic G&T from Bulldog Gin?  They call it the Supersonic G&T

Mix 25ml BULLDOG Gin,100ml Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic and 10ml Cassis.  simple yet amazing !

www.bulldoggin.com

Gin in the post

If you really want to celebrate Gin why not sign up to Little Gin Box? The Subscription service where for £10 every month you receive two 50ml carefully selected gins from small artisan distillers. With no commitment, you can cancel anytime so not like that gym membership you can’t get out of!

littleginbox.com

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The Big Easy Boozy Brunch, Canary Wharf

The Big Easy Boozy Brunch, Canary Wharf

Posted on 30 May 2017 by Chris Ford

I’ve made a bit of a habit of bottomless brunches recently. Dare I say this is turning into a series? And with that, I present to you, the Big Easy Boozy Brunch.

The Big Easy is a US style barbecue restaurant currently with three locations in Covent Garden, Kings Road and the one we visited  last weekend in Canary Wharf, a short walk from the DLR and Jubilee Line. The setting by the docks couldn’t be better on a hot sunny day.

Being a BBQ place the menu is meat-focused but there’s also options like lobster and other seafood if beef and pork aren’t your thing. But on our visit we went to try the Boozy brunch and I can confirm it was very boozy!

First of all you have to choose your type of brunch I went for ‘The Big Pig Gig’ which includes unlimited BBQ – and yes that really does mean you can keep asking for more! For two hours after your initial plate of food you can ask your server for more ribs, slaw, fries chopped pork – whatever you fancy more of from that initial plate.  The plate includes Pork ribs , chopped pork, BBQ chicken, pork ribs, smoked beans , fries and corn bread which to be honest when It was placed down in front of me I thought who could eat more than this plate?

The ribs were chunky and meaty and the pork fell off the bone, I’m generally not much of a rib man but these really hit the spot (in fact I did end up asking for some more!). The chicken had a lovely smokey taste with crispy outer skin the meat was soft and delicious from the first bite to the last. The beans were as you may expect smokey flavour beans all in all I was pretty amazed at what had been placed in front of me.

The other brunch option is ‘Lobster Fest’ which is lobster served a choice of three ways, ‘The Pounder’ (a 1lb lobster served with fries)  Lobster Roll or Lobster Mac and Cheese, the latter my girlfriend went for.

The mac and cheese isn’t unlimited but it’s so rich and indulgent with a generous helping of both cheese and lobster involved, I dare to find anyone that could eat more than the one massive dish of the stuff placed in front of you, along with that you also get a bowl of fries and a side salad.

Now onto the boozy part, for your two hour brunch you also have access to unlimited select drinks, these include pints of Big Easy Brew (Big Easy’s own house lager), prosecco , frozen Bacardi Mojitos or house wine. I was really impressed by this, so often these bottomless brunches offer prosecco and no other choice so it was nice to see the option of four different drinks.

So my verdict? We both loved the brunch and both agree we would go back, both the food and service was excellent and we felt offered amazing value for money especially in a typically expensive locale such as Canary Wharf and well unlimited beer and BBQ what’s not to like?

The Boozy Brunch is on offer at Big Easy Saturday and Sunday 11-4 priced at £29.50 all in.

http://bigeasy.co.uk

Nearest Tube – Canary Wharf

#Big Easy did offer us a complimentary meal in exchange for a review but as always with the agreement the review would be unbiased, all opinions are our own.

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Giant Robot – Canary Wharf’s new Street food Venue

Giant Robot – Canary Wharf’s new Street food Venue

Posted on 21 April 2017 by Chris Ford

So last night we headed down to Giant Robot in Canary Wharf to check things out. Giant Robot is a Street Feast’s brand new, seven-day-a-week eating and drinking mecca in the heart of Canary Wharf at Crossrail Place.

First of all it wasn’t entirely what I had expected,  I thought Id be walking into essentially an indoor street food market place type deal and it really isn’t that, what I found is a series of permanent food kiosks (three of them as far as I could tell ) and then lots of seating and two bars.

Now I confess I didn’t try the food on this visit but I saw on the next table some city workers tucking into their bucket of fried chicken and I have to say it looked decent and yes the prices were not cheap as Ive noted a few reviews state but they also were not out of this world and we have to remember that we are in London, this is Canary Wharf it’s not going to be KFC prices.

Food on offer is currently Little Jose Spanish tapas , Thunderbird fried chicken and  Bobs Lobster.

What I did try is the bar, in fact the reason of my visit was to check out the much touted 38 tap bar and the beers they had on offer.  The thing is they may well have 38 taps (I counted 20 odd) but at the time of my visit only 12 beers were on, I’m not complaining though they were really nice beers I particular loved the Blue Point Toasted Lager and the Goose Island IPA was as great as it always is, also service was friendly and quick.

 

The space is a cool one and on a nicer day I could see many an hour spent in the outside area of Giant Robot drinking a cool beer in the sun, maybe next time I go I will try that fried chicken!

 

Giant Robot , Crossrail Place

Nearest Tube – Canary Wharf

 

 

 

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Review – St Barts – Smithfield

Review – St Barts – Smithfield

Posted on 19 April 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week I popped along to a dinner for bloggers at St Bart’s Brewery in Farringdon so they could showcase their new menu, as well as their drinks offerings.


Overlooking Smithfield’s famous meat market, St Bart’s is part of the Hush Heath Estate group (with another London location by Liverpool Street). Their new ‘barbecue soul food’ menu offers fresh and sustainably sourced British meat, fish and vegetables, smoked using apple wood from their Hush Heath Estate in Kent.


We began with a selection of small plates from the menu to share. The highlight for me was the most amazing Scotch Egg made with a duck’s egg. The yolk was rich and gooey and it was worlds away from the M&S picnic eggs I confess I’m used to eating. Sadly I had to share this with the table as I would have gladly eaten it all there and then!
For the main I decided to look beyond my go-to choice of steak (although the person sitting next to me had it and it looked amazing!) The ribs sounded like a tempting option and made the shortlist too. But in the end I had to go for the smoked brisket. And I’m so glad I did. It was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth and some of the best meat I have tasted in a long while. This is no doubt down to the care that has been taken to source good quality British beef, combined with the apple wood smoking.


Our host for the evening Laurence Bowes, operations director of the Hush Heath Estate group explained: ‘We’re not trying to reinvent the industry or even to be the very best in London. The industry is already altering people’s perceptions of quality meats and barbecued food – St Bart’s is coming along for the ride. What we are doing is offering real food, cooked well and served in a relaxed environment.’


So the food is good, very good, but what about the drink? First of all the award winning English wines from their Hush Heath Estate are front and a must try when you visit. Not much of a wine drinker myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the fruity sparkling Balfour Brut Rosé. The house IPA Jakes Orchard Session IPA was very drinkable too and while Hush Heath don’t make this themselves Laurence told me they were heavily involved in its development and the results are a great IPA which can stand up with the best of the big names out there (and in some cases beat them).

We finished our meal with a last bit of indulgence in the for of a knickerbocker glory, wow just wow!
One final note I’d like to mention the prices. Several of us noted that most of the plates were only £10 each which, considering the location and quality, is a very welcome surprise.

I would without hesitation recommend St Bart’s to anyone, in fact I already have so that says it all really.
St Barts ,66 West Smithfield, London EC1A 9DY
www.stbartsbrewery.com/
Nearest Tube – Farringdon or Barbican

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Bumbu rum

Amazing Cocktails with Bumbu Rum

Posted on 13 April 2017 by Chris Ford

Bumbu is a small batch craft rum from the west indies, aged in oak barrels for 15 years creating a smooth flavoursome rum that really kept us going back for more when we tried it last weekend, and with this weekend looking to be another sunny one Bumbu have released these great cocktail how to  videos to really make this long weekend a special one

Bumbu Cocktail 'X Marks The Spot' at Hush Brasserie, London, UK from Bumbu Rum Co. on Vimeo.

Bumbu Cocktail 'Darkest Hour' at 65 & King, London, UK from Bumbu Rum Co. on Vimeo.

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