Friday, 29 May 2015

5 Questions - Masons Yorkshire Gin

It is no big secret that there is a gin revolution happening around us. Artisan distillers are popping up everywhere with their own twists on 'Mother's Ruin', hoping that they have the perfect balance of botanical that have you reaching for their bottle when you're in need of a refreshing drink.
Whilst at the BBC Good Food Show at the SECC last October, I got chatting to Karl Mason of Masons Yorkshire Gin who had spend months rejecting various gin recipes before he found the right balance of juniper, citrus and secret botanicals that he was happy to unleash on the gin loving public.
Here's Karl's story;
How did you get started?

Being a gin lover one Friday, before I left work I sent my wife a message via Facebook simply saying gin & tonic? A gin and tonic was waiting for me when i got home so i posted a picture of it on Facebook. Over the next couple of weeks, a few friends also posted pictures of themselves having their own G&T's on a Friday evening so I started a little Facebook group for us to share our pictures. Well this little group went viral and i got over 10,000 followers all joining in which led to gin brands contacting me and sending across free samples to try with the hope that I would promote them to my followers - well the rest is history but i basically decided some of the new gins were a little same old same old and set about lauching my own gin with the intention of it being unique and deserving its place on the shelf.

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

Be different

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

Hopefully available in more bars and being recognised with more awards. It would be great to be used as an example of how to launch premium food or drink without any experience in the industry, just a passion for what we like.

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

A Gin & Tonic with lots of ice, premium tonic water garnished with pink grapefruit peel and a twist of the pepper pot - it's the perfect way to unwind after a stressful week!

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

It would be my dad's father, my grandad. I don’t remember him as I was only 4 when he died so I would just love to have a conversation with him, get to know him and see if I am like him. The menu would probably have to be a traditional sunday dinner with beef and Yorkshire puddings, something to ease the conversation and bridge the generation gap.

It's encouraging to see someone turning something that makes them happy into something that others can get enjoyment out of too. I'm quite partial to a cheeky wee G&T when the sun comes out and Masons Yorkshire Gin is definitely one of the new kids on the block that I think might just last the distance. You can find out if Masons Yorkshire Gin is stocked anywhere near you by checking out their website.
Keep up to date with all that's going on with Masons Yorkshire Gin on Facebook and Twitter.





Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Recipe - Gnocchi with Streaky Bacon, Chicken & Peas

For the last seven months, my day has involved working until half past four then driving into the City Centre to pick Nicola up before heading home together. We didn't normally get home until about six o'clock so when it came to making dinner, I found that I was often repeating some of my tried and tested dishes just because they were quick and easy to make.
Thankfully, my shiny new Seat Leon has eventually turned up which means Nicola doesn't need to spend forever on the long bus journey into town that I can now be home for five o'clock in the afternoon. Now that I have a whole hour before Nicola gets home from work, I can now work my way through all of the recipes that have caught my eye on TV or in my Olive Magazine subscriptions.
Starting tonight I plan on brining at least two new dishes a week to the table, and hopefully get at least one of them posted onto the blog. First up is a slightly adapted gnocchi dish that I spotted in the November issue of Olive Magazine.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 50g streaky bacon, chopped (you could use pancetta instead)
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 400g pack of gnocchi
  • 150ml soured cream or crème fraîche
  • 25g Grano Padano, grated

  1. Cook the gnocchi following the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and once hot, add the bacon and cook until it starts to brown. Add the chicken breast and cook with the bacon making sure that the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the peas and chicken stock to the pan and cook until the stock has reduced by half. Add the gnocchi and sour cream to the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until you have a glossy creamy sauce before stirring in the grated Grano Padano.

To serve, divide the gnocchi between two bowls and serve with slices of warm garlic bread. This dish is very easy to prepare and can be on the table in less than thirty minutes.

Keep an eye out for more quick and easy recipes and let me know how you get on if you try any in your own kitchen.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Hamilton Food & Drink Festival

Bank Holiday weekends are always stressful as they put pressure on you to do something with that valuable extra day. Thankfully, the good people at Forum Event Management have a solution at hand with the Hamilton Food & Drink Festival which is taking place from Friday 2nd - Monday 25th May.
The festival is taking place Friday - Monday from 10am - 5pm & they will have around 40 different traders with all different types of hot & cold foods on offer. Tony Singh will be along on Saturday & Sunday from 12pm onwards & will be doing a cookery demonstration showcasing as much as he can from the producers. He will also be doing an interview on stage, book signing as well as mingling with the public for some Q&A.
Local butcher Andrew Henderson will have a marquee with demo area & he will be showing best way to cut meats etc for dishes & recipes. We will also have a demo stall where each trader is invited to showcase any of their products & answer any questions.
The stage is being run by Dougie Jackson and there will also be a range of street entertainers varying each day from fire eaters, jugglers, stilt walkers, balloon modelling, huge bubbles & our Chef Di Campo will be there each day. The festival will also be running competitions for the public to take part in as well as a few surprises.
There will also be 2 licensed areas with a beer tent run by local hotel group Manorview & Thistly Cross Cider will be serving up their own products in the other.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Taste of Arran founder honoured at HIT Industry Event

Alastair Dobson, Managing Director of Taste of Arran, has been recognised for his ‘inspiring innovation and business acumen' at a glittering awards ceremony hosted by industry body, Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland (HIT).

The annual award, presented by Arlene Bonomi, Sales Director for Brakes, recognised Alastair's considerable achievements and boundless energy that has seen his business grow from a single van enterprise to a collaboration of ten food and drink premier producers from the Scottish Isle of Arran.

Paying homage to Alastair's success, James Stagg from The Caterer magazine spoke of the ‘marketing brilliance' of the Taste of Arran that has boosted the island's economy and provided producers with a sustainable and successful business platform from which to grow.

James said: "Alastair's flair for marketing and innovation led him to diversify the business without ever losing sight of his drive for quality and innovation: his Isle of Arran Dairies ice cream is synonymous with the island he operates from".

Accepting the award, Alastair paid tribute to the quality, innovation and hard work of fellow producers as well as acknowledging the HIT's achievements in developing the skills and ambitions of young people working in the hospitality industry.

The dinner, to celebrate HIT's 21st anniversary, was attended by over 500 industry representatives. The event raised a staggering £67,000 for HIT, a registered charity that delivers scholarships and bursaries for those working in the industry

Sponsored by Diageo, guests were served up a sumptuous dinner of local produce and enjoyed glittering entertainment from Edward Reid, Britain's Got Talent, who emerged from a giant cake.

Summing up the night, HIT's Chief Executive, David Cochrane said: "This generous and fun loving industry partied like never before and dug deep to secure the future for many of our next generation of industry leaders. I am hugely proud to be part of a sector which contributes so much to Scotland."





Saturday, 16 May 2015

Nocking Point Wine - UK Launch Party

This weekend, Birmingham will be the safest city on the planet as the Hilton Birmingham Metropole plays host to the City of Heroes convention. DC Comics stars from TV shows Arrow, The Flash and Gotham will decend on the hotel to meet and greet their fans.
Stephen Amell, the actor who plays The Arrow, is making good use of his time in the UK as he hosts a launch party for the wine label that he owns with friend and business partner Andrew Harding. Nocking Point Wine is a relatively new wine producer and operate out of the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State, USA. Nocking Point Wine is sold exclusively through an already fully subscribed wine club and carries artwork created by legendary DC Comics illustrator, Jim Lee.
Nicola is a huge fan of Arrow and Stephen so as soon as she found out about the launch party, she had to go, and as I always seem to be dragging Nicola to various food events, it seemed fair that we go and do something that she wanted to do.
Everyone who attend the party at Birmingham's Old Stock Joint can look forward to a great night including;
  • Spend the evening with Stephen, Andrew, a handful of their pals, (as Stephen has been at City Of Heroes all weekend with his TV friends, we are hopeful that we might get to meet more than one superhero) and a room full of new Nocking Point friends!
  • Take home a custom "Nocking Point Comes to the UK" commemorative wine glass.
  • Taste all of NP’s newest wines: Apex 2.0, Verdant House Wine, Year Two: New Bow, Wicked Aim, MAJA, KDH, and their 2009 Merlot. Enjoy other wines, cocktails, beers, wonderful canapes, small plates and desserts provided by the NP team.
  • Enjoy awesome live music all evening long and have an overall one-of-a-kind wine party experience with Stephen, Andrew and a great group of their fellow NP supporters!
  • Bid to WIN extremely cool silent auction & raffle items with all proceeds going to benefit a cause they love. There will also be some AWESOME collectibles there!
So roll on Sunday and our trip to Birmingham. Hopefully, I'll come back with more information about the wines that Stephen and Andrew produce and members even a new superhero recruit for 5 Questions.