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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

5 Questions - Daffy's Small Batch Premium Gin

The increasing popularity of gin seems to be showing no signs of stopping and Scotland has become a huge distilling pot for artisan producers who are bringing their own version of 'Mother's Ruin' to the market.
When I visited The Good Food Show Scotland at Glasgow's SECC recently, there were a number of gin producers in attendance who were all doing a roaring trade as the public went wild for their gin. In fact, there was one gin producer that was so busy that I never managed to get anywhere near their stand, and that was Daffy's Gin. Fortunately, I did manage to catch up with the team at Daffy's a few weeks later when they were attending The Foodies Festival at the EICC in Edinburgh.
The first bottle of Daffy's Gin rolled off of the production line exactly one year ago today (01/12/14) but despite this, Daffy's can proudly boast to being 'the finest copper pot single batch distilled gin' in the world after the IWSC presented them with a gold award at the first time of asking. This coupled with distinctive branding and imagery and a quirky brand name steeped in history - Daffy was the Goddess of Gin and first written about in the 1700's - Daffy's Gin may well be the new kid on the block but have big plans to be the gin of choice to the discerning drinker.
I managed to catch up with Chris Molyneaux, creator of Daffy's Gin, at The Foodies Festival and disputed the crowds gathering round the stand, he was able to give me a quick introduction to Daffy's as well as sending me off with the better part of a quarter bottle of gin to enjoy at home.
Here's Chris's story;

How did you get started?

When I was 14 by grandfather opened my eyes to the glamorous world of wine. I then wrote off to a load of vineyards in France where I trained as a winemaker and learnt to distill. I always had a dream of one day founding my own drinks company and it all came together a few years ago in a conversation with a good distilling friend where we decided that the world needed a London Dry Gin so good that you could drink it straight like the finest of malt whiskies. So I started working on inventing a new distilling process and recipe and in December last year we produced our first bottle of Daffy’s!

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Keep reminding yourself to have fun! There can be a lot of work, pressure, admin and stress in getting a new company off the ground but at the same time there is a lot of great things to focus on and enjoy, especially in the drinks industry!

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

Being more established as a brand that many people are aware of an love and continuing with the creative ideas and innovations that we love to work on together as a team.

If you could only enjoy your product one way, what would it be & why?

Straight over ice with feet up infront of a roaring fire. The goal was to create a London Dry that had a lot of complexity and finesse that you could sit and savour it this way and at the same time that would give our gin the edge when used in cocktails due to its quality and the many dimensions of the spirit.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Mignonne, my wife and muse for Robert McGinnis’ illustration on the front of our bottle as these days with the hectic business of day to day life, any extra time together we’ll take.. and perhaps eating a feast of sushi… it goes very well with gin you know! (Robert McGinnis is famous for his iconic artwork for Hollywood movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany's, Barbarella, and several James Bond Films including You Only Live Twice, Thunderball, Live & Let Die, and my favourite James Bond movie, The Man With the Golden Gun)

Crafted to be enjoyed straight over ice like a fine malt whisky, or to make the perfect Negroni or a classic D&T, Daffy's uses the finest French grain, Lebanese mint and the finest botanical to create a complex yet perfectly balanced gin that is very smooth despite the 43.3% ABV strength.
I have to admit that although the gin is smooth enough to drink neat, I prefer to enjoy my Daffy's in the perfect serve Daffy's D&T with Fever Tree Tonic, which is what I had on Saturday night at the Finnieston.
Daffy's is now available in a large number stores, bars and restaurants across the UK of so if you fancy treating yourself to the world's best gin, check out the website to find your nearest stockist.
I would like to thank Chris for taking the time out to answer 5 Questions and wish the team at Daffy's all the best for the future. Keep up to date with all the news from Daffy's on Facebook and Twitter.


Monday, 30 November 2015

Review - Barstro, Nazaret, Lanzarote

It seems like a lifetime ago that myself and Nicola enjoyed two weeks on holiday in Lanzarote. We are often asked why we return to the same place each year, rather than trying new holiday destinations? There are lots of answers to that question but the two main reasons that we return each year are quite simply;
  1. We both love the fantastic food and drink that is readily available on the island
  2. We know so many people who live on the island that we consider to be good friends
With that in mind, we were able to kill two birds with one stone when we went for dinner one evening at Barstro, an amazing restaurant in the sleepy village of Nazaret, run by our friend Paul Campbell.
Paul is a brilliant chef who has worked under some of the world's best chefs before he relocated to Lanzarote where he built up a great reputation prior to setting up his own restaurant with another of our friends, Viktor Domahidy.
Viktor has actually been working in Canada for the last six months helping to set up a Spanish restaurant for a friend however he must have heard that Gerry's Kitchen was stopping by as he had flown back over to say hello. (Although this might just be a little bit of a coincidence)
I had arranged our booking through our friend Heidi who looks after all of the PR and Social Media for the restaurant and she had promised to pop in to say hi. We had arrived earlier than our planned booking so took our time to look over the wine menu that featured plenty of choice from the surrounding Lanzarote bodegas. In the end, we ordered a fantastic bottle of Malvasia Volcánica Seco from Bodega Bermejo, which happened to be one of the bodegas that we visited earlier in our stay when we took part on the Bodega Hopping trip organised by Active Club Lanzarote. It wasn't long before Heidi turned up along with her gorgeous daughter Darcy and spent ten minutes catching up with our holiday adventures, but as it was a school night they had to make a quick exit and get back home.
The menu at Barstro is split into small and large plates and when we have eaten at Barstro the past, we have ordered a selection of small plates to share. Both of our previous visits have been over the lunch service so sharing seemed more natural but as we were in for dinner, we decided to go order starter and mains.
To start, Nicola ordered the salmon & spinach Scotch Egg which was a clever twist on the classic. A soft boiled quail's egg was wrapped inside a well seasoned mix of salmon and spinach then deep fried in crispy breadcrumbs. This was a well executed dish, the runny egg yolk, irony spinach and rich oily salmon were a great balance, enhanced further by a rich teriyaki sauce.
For my own starter, I ordered roasted artichoke hearts stuffed with Feta. This was a hearty starter with three artichoke hearts stacked with huge chunks of feta and pickled cornichons. The combination of saltiness from the Feta, the smoky flavours from the roasted artichoke and the acidity from the pickles was great.
We were also served up a side of marinated Feta with pickled cornichons and a side of huge marinated green olives with garlic and lemon so by the time we had worked our way through these four starter dishes, we were both feeling pretty full.
For main, Nicola opted for confit duck leg which was served on a bed of fluffy mashed potato. Henry VIII was a huge fan of confit duck and he would have been impressed with the tender, well cooked duck that just fell from the bone. The portion size was generous and when coupled with the side of seasonal vegetables that were served alongside, the main represented pretty good value for money.
For my own main, I opted for the calves liver with lemon, ginger, tomato & coriander. I love liver but don't get it that often so I was interested to see how Paul would apply his Barstro twist to this old time classic. There was no shortage of liver on the plate with five perfectly cooked slices stacked on top of a mound of mashed potato along with a sauce packed with lemon and ginger on the side. The side sauce was nice but it didn't work for me, I thought it was too sharp for the strong flavours of the liver. Maybe it's the traditionalist in me but I would have much preferred my liver to have been served up along with some Serrano ham and fried onion.
By this point in the evening, we were both stuffed so decided to skip dessert and get the bill but Paul sent out a selection of frozen yogurt, sorbet and ice cream to freshen our palate before we made our way into the night. I'm glad that he did as the red berry sorbet was to die for, packed with tons of sweet fruit flavours and balanced with a super sharp lemon sorbet.
We were definitely stuffed now so we settled up the bill and said our goodbyes. Dinner for the two of us including wine cost around €65 which represented fantastic value for money considering the quality of cooking on show.
Barstro might be a little off the beaten track, especially for those holidaymakers staying in the resorts but it's definitely worth making the effort to get along if you can. This was our fourth visit to Barstro and once again we left feeling totally satisfied and know that it's only a matter of time before we get back again for good food and a catch up with old friends.
Keep up to date with Barstro on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mark Greenaway's Christmas Pudding Fit For a Millionaire

The festive season is fast approaching and tables at Restaurant Mark Greenaway are filling up fast with some key dates already full. Due to numerous requests they have extended their opening days over the period. In addition to their normal opening hours, the restaurant will also be open for lunch and dinner on Sunday 20th December, Monday 21st December, Sunday 27th December and Monday 28th December. Make your reservation here.

Recently Mark was honoured to be tasked with making a Christmas pudding fit for a millionaire by EuroMillions who are guaranteeing to make 5 UK millionaires on Friday the 27th November. His pudding is based on a 100 year old family recipe with some lavish additions to make it fit for a millionaire. With sparkling gold leaf and a healthy serving of 50 year old single malt whisky, it is no ordinary dessert. And while guests would traditionally find a lucky sixpence in their pudding, the EuroMillions millionaires could instead uncover a rather more extravagant golden toffee apple nestled in the centre. Find out more about Friday Night's EuroMillions draw and watch Mark cook up his dessert fit for a millionaire here.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Tony Singh kicks off a series of celebrity chef appearances at No.16 Deli in Bridge of Allan

TV Celebrity Chef Tony Singh wowed the crowds at No.16 Deli on Henderson Street in Bridge of Allan on Monday. Tony cooked up a few dishes using produce local to the area including Highland Curing Company cured salmon and Highland Wagyu beef. After everyone had enjoyed some tasters Tony did a Q&A talking about his life as one of Scotland’s most popular chefs and what his plans are for the future. Before he left Tony mixed with the crowds and signed copies of his new book ‘Tasty Tony Singh’.

Tony is the first in a line of top Scottish chefs scheduled to make an appearance at No.16 Deli. On the 16th and 17th of December, reigning MasterChef The Professionals Champion Jamie Scott will be doing a ‘Guest Chef Night’ with the deli’s own Mark Heirs. Tickets will be on sale to the public with more details available on the website soon –
No.16 Deli is Bridge Of Allan’s newest and most exciting gastronomic hot spot. Provenance is king at No. 16 and they source their produce from small local producers. The team of chefs also produce a wide variety of ready meals, homemade chutney, sauces and their signature wagyu pies.
Keep up to date with No.16 Deli on Facebook and Twitter.


Citylicious Scoops ‘Most Innovative Business of the Year’ at the WeDO Scotland Business Awards

Leading hospitality membership business Citylicious has capped off a fantastic first year with winning the coveted ‘Most Innovative Business of the Year’ award at the WeDO Scotland Business Awards on Friday night at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel. Over 300 guests were in attendance to celebrate the best of Scottish entrepreneurship sponsored by Santander.

Managing Director Iain Fenwick said “It has been an incredible year for us and this is just the icing on the cake! We started Citylicious hoping that we could have a positive impact on the industry. We still have a long way to go but to already be recognised is both overwhelming and humbling. 2016 will be even bigger with the launch of our new website in January so it is an exciting time for us.”

In just 12 months Citylicious has grown to now have over 320 members including some of the best artisan producers, restaurants, hotels and catering companies in the UK and attracts over 110k visitors to their website every month. To coincide with the launch of their new website, 2016 will also see expansion in to the USA and Canada.

Keep up to date with the Citylicious team on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

You Say Tomato, They Say Tutto Matto!

The founders of Pinto Mexican Kitchen are excited to announce a brand new concept, opening this November just in time for the start of Edinburgh’s Christmas Festivities - “You say tomato, we say Tutto Matto!”

The very first Tutto Matto restaurant will be opening its doors in Scotland’s capital city on 24th November 2015.

The first 5 people through the doors will receive some fantastic prizes, PLUS the first 500 people on their opening day will receive one of #500freepizzas*! Look out for other exciting goodies to be won during the day as they team up with other amazing Edinburgh businesses!

Whether you can make it along on the opening day or not, sign up to be in with a chance of WINNING a holiday to the pizza capital of Italy - Naples! Each week in the run up to Christmas, one entrant will WIN a voucher for Tutto Matto.

Paul Sloan, one of the founders, commented: “Tutto Matto is not just another pizza joint! We are crazy about pizza at Tutto Matto, and each one of our Italian or continentally-inspired pizzas are made from the true provenance they descend from. It is a pizza joint with a difference, where unbelievable flavours, worldly-inspired dishes, quirky sides and desserts will grace the menu. You can even pair any one of our pizzas with any one of our delicious world beers!”

To get your hands on one of their #500freepizzas* get yourself and your work colleagues down to 16 Nicolson Street on Tuesday 24th November from 12.30pm!

Don’t miss out - when they’re gone, they’re gone!

Keep up to date with Tutto Matto on Facebook and Twitter.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

British Sausage Week with Debbie & Andrew's

Last week seen the celebration of one of my favourite foods, Sausages, and to help me celebrate British Sausage Week, the good people at Debbie & Andrew's sent me some of their wheat, gluten and dairy free sausages to put through their paces.
I've been a fan of the Debbie & Andrew range of sausages for a number of years and love the fact that I can pick up their delicious porky sausages in most of the supermarkets.
From a small family business to a brand that graces the shelves of supermarkets across the country, Debbie & Andrew's continue to use the highest quality meat from British Red Tractor assured farms.
I was sent two packs to try, Perfect Pork and Perfect Cumberland. We had the Prefect Cumberland simply. Fried and served with creamy mashed potato and onion gravy. The sausages have a high meat content and because of this, they don't release much fat back into the pan so it's important to keep turning them otherwise they could easily burn. The Cumberland sausage is made from prime cuts of meat and heavily seasoned with green and pink peppercorns which provide a subtle florals taste with a nice kick of peppery heat. The Perfect Pork is a simpler affair made from just the best minced pork meat which is lightly seasoned and bound with specially baked-breadcrumbs. When you've got great ingredients, you don't need to do much to make them stand out and The Perfect Pork is a great example of this. Firm, juicy, and well seasoned - a very good sausage indeed.
I know that there are so many ways to enjoy the noble sausage, maybe in a sandwich or sausage casserole but I can't think of anything better than serving up a couple of tasty bangers with chips and fried egg. What do you think of my sausage and egg scarecrow face?
I would like to thank the team at Debbie & Andrew's for sending me some of their fantastic sausages and helping me get involved in British Sausage Week.
You can keep up with Debbie & Andrew's on Facebook and Twitter or find your nearest stockist here.