words

“We are fat and sick and dying because we have handed a basic, fundamental and intimate function of life over to corporations. We choose to value our nourishment so little that we entrust it to strangers. This is insanity. Feed yourselves. Feed your loved ones. And for God's sake feed your children.”
― Alton Brown

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Adventures In Liquid Refreshment





What follows is a compilation of some of the many beverages I have consumed over the past few months. I hope this makes up a little for the lack of frequency in my posts. 


This is, of course, me enjoying my blueberry gin and tonic (see picture below). Enjoying it a little bit too much, by the looks of things.



The aforementioned blueberry gin & tonic. Blueberry gin was made by myself. I bought a couple of punnets of blueberries in Waitrose last year. Normally, blueberries are very expensive but these were marked down so I took them home and put them in the freezer, the idea being that I would do something with them at some point. Later on,  I purchased a bottle of gin and when it was about a third empty I decided to put in the frozen blueberries. The act of thawing made the skins on the blueberries split and so the lovely juicy part inside began to infuse into the gin. After a few months, the gin was ready to consume, so I decanted some into an empty bottle and this summer,  during those really hot days, I polished it off.


A bottle of whisky my boss bought me for my 50th birthday. At first, I didn't really like it to be honest. Eventually though, I find it's actually pretty smooth and there's only a couple wee drams left!

Last month, we went to the St Michaels Party In The Park. St Michaels can be a bit of a hike especially with a 3-year-old in tow,  so we opted to take the bus. The bus stop is just outside The Vine Inn in Tenterden, and we had half an hour to kill, so we popped in for a swift one. This is a pint of Shepherd Neame's Whitstable Bay Pale Ale, and a tasty pint it is too.

When we got to the Party In the Park, the beer tent (which was run by The Crown  pub) had the lovely Sharp's Doom Bar ale on tap, so it would have been impolite not to have one.
Or two. With a gluten-free coffee and walnut cake on the side.
On a recent trip to Bluewater Shopping Centre in Greenhithe, we were planning to eat at Jamie's Italian. However, that day there was a half-hour wait and we had a grumpy teenager needing food on our hands. So we went for the nearest place we could see without a line outside, which happened to be Ed's Easy Diner. We ordered the usual burgers and fries etc. but I was delighted to see Sam Adams on the menu.


And a meal in a full-blown 5o's -style diner is not complete without a proper milkshake - Reese's Peanut Butter Cup flavour..


Later, I had a juice from Joe and The Juice, unsurprisingly a coffee and juice bar. This is the delicious and pricey carrot/apple/ginger blend.

A few weeks back Waitrose were marking down these lovely little lagers from Hells Brewery in Camden. They came in a little square red-and-white box that looked like a Christmas gift. The reason they were marked down? Well, the original price was clearly too high for the average Waitrose consumer, and being a new brewery people were not going to pay through the nose for something they had never heard of. Always the beer adventurer, I plumped for a box of these beauties. Glad I did, this stuff is delicious.  Going to try to get some more in for the holidays.

Another pint-while-killing-time-waiting-for-the-bus, Timothy Taylor's Golden Best. Served at The Woolpack and consumed outside on one of the outdoor tables while basking in the sun. Ain't life grand?

Not sure if this is even Amstel, but it's in an Amstel glass. Pint glasses are one of those things that can easily be cleaned up and put to good use, so I can say without any shame that we found this glass while out and about walking in the town, checked for cracks and chips, and when it was found to be perfectly sound, washed it thoroughly and it's now my favourite beer glass.
During the summer Marks and Spencer had some unusual and interesting imported beers available. They were expensive due to being imported microbrews, so I bought three bottles at £2 each. I would have liked more, as they were all fabulous, like this Hawaiian brew above.




As was this strong IPA from Sierra Nevada.

A couple sips of this and I was playing Dick Dale on my phone and trying out my surf moves.

Occasionally  I take upon myself to try out new products when they hit our shelves, so that I can share my findings with customers and recommend accordingly. This Wolf Blass Yellow Label 2014 Chardonnay is pretty nice, but not world-shattering. 


A nice golden ale from Badger Ales.


My son Charlie works in McMenamins in Portland, OR. They roast their own coffee, so when he came to visit in the early part of the year he brought me a bag of these magical beans.

Budweiser Budvar, the original Czech lager that was stolen by the Americans and made their own.

Tiger Lager, the perfect beer to accompany a nice spicy Indian or South-East Asian dish.

Sapporo and pizza. Why not?

Delicious Desperados Cerveza with a smidge of tequila. Nice.

Ice cold Beck's in the sunshine.

I bought some cans of this fine brew for the second day of Tentertainment. If I hadn't, I'd have been cleaned out of cash at the beer tent.
The Dutch know their beer, and so do the Germans. How fitting then, that this fine brew is called Bavaria Holland.


A fine brew from the makers of the original. Lovely smokey aftertaste with this one.

Try It!

As you know, I am a food adventurer. I like to try anything new. Some people don't, and I do not understand this way of thinking.

 "Ugh, it's new and different from anything else I've ever ingested, so I'll give it a miss."

For flip's sake, why? Why deprive yourselves of the opportunity to taste something potentially amazing! Something that might even alter your perception of food and drink in general?

So the mindset I always approach things with is "Hey, that's new/different. It would be churlish of me to pass it over without a second thought. I'll have some of that."

Sorry to rant, but people who just eat the same thing day in, day out are missing out on so much. Even just trying one new thing a week would open up a ton of possibilities.

I suppose I have always been like this. Or at least, most of the time. I remember when I was young I didn't like tomatoes or cheese. A few years later and I loved them.

I didn't like parsnips when I was younger, either. But one day someone encouraged me to give them a go. "Taste buds change and develop as you get older," she said. "Try one, it's not gonna kill ya."

So I tried it and found that in the 15 years that I'd been stringently avoiding them, I actually had been missing out. I loved them and still do.

I am a sampler, though. I love food festivals where you are given the opportunity to wander around and try nibbles of different things. Again, I remember once going to some event in Canterbury with my mother when I was about 13 years old. I can't remember what the event was, but it was about the time that my mother was a volunteer at Canterbury Hospital Radio and they were there providing the music that makes me think it was possibly a health-related fair of some kind. I went off wandering round the stalls on my own and I can't really remember any of them except one which was run by The Vegan Society. They had nibbles of food to try and since I was curious, and it looked good, I tried a small slice of a vegan Bean Pie. Utterly delicious.

So ever since then, whenever people make fun of Vegans, as they are apt to do, ("How can you tell if someone's Vegan? They'll tell you."), I've always said, "Vegan food is quite nice." Because it is. Because even though I'm not vegan myself (I'm merely vegan-curious), I feel the need to defend veganism from the naysayers. Because I feel that we should not just decide to block out one type of cuisine because of some poorly-informed reason.

Just like people that say they don't like Indian food or Chinese food or Mexican or Thai or Indonesian food. I feel that unless you have a legitimate health-based problem with a certain type of food or style of cuisine, you should go out and sample them - because you're missing out if you don't.

I used to work as a catering assistant, and one time we were tasked to create a wedding menu for a couple who were from two different backgrounds. The bride's family was from Guatemala and the groom's family were Polish. This was one of the most exciting things - coming up with dishes that married (pardon the pun) the two cultures so that everyone would be happy with what they were eating. So there were plantains and shredded cabbage, and Polish sausage stir-fried with roasted peppers, and on and on. And everyone told us we did a bang-up job, no mean feat considering neither of us had ever been to  Poland or Guatemala, or eaten the cuisine.

So essentially, what I'm saying is get out there and explore. Experience as many different cuisines as you can, and try new things. Because you sure as heck weren't put on this planet to eat pizza every day.



Saturday, September 3, 2016

SPUD FEST 2016

SPUD FEST 2016 (Click link for Facebook event page)



10 September - 11 September

10 September at 10:00 to 11 September at 16:00

THE POTATO SHOP

www.thepotatoshop.com



The Potato Shop at Morghew Farm in Tenterden are holding their first Pick Your Own Weekend on 10th & 11th of September from 10am-4pm.

A rare chance to pick your own specialist potatoes direct from the field they were grown in @ 50p/kilo.

Fresh & local.

What a great way to educate the children where their food comes from & for the oldies among us to reminisce on how it used to be done!

Tastings will be available plus stickers & colouring for the kids.

Recipe booklets too!

On Sunday The Spud Brothers will be joining us & making us some delicious fries to taste, trust me they are good!

www.thepotatoshop.com

01580 766 866

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pottically Correct

It's not often that one gets the chance to try something really new, but it's something I am always open to. That's why I'm happy to say I've just had the opportunity to try some cracking new ice cream.

It's called Pottical,  from an Old English word meaning 'inspired by alcohol'. Which might lead you to suppose, correctly, that this ice cream is of the boozy variety.

It's the brainchild of Matthew Freeman, who used to work for Tenterden's own Old Dairy Brewery,  and now makes ice cream. Yesterday he dropped me off some samples and I tried them all this morning before coming to work. What's that ya say? Ice cream for breakfast? No, my friends. Boozy ice cream for breakfast. What could be better? Oh, that's right - no artificial ingredients! Matthew uses just double cream, sugar, egg , cornflour and locally sourced tipples - that's it!


The first one I tried was the Gibbet Oak Discovery Cider ice cream, because I'm not overly keen on ciders in general. Having said that, the Gibbet Oak ciders I have tried have been really good. Plus, I had to try it first because Gibbet Oak Farm was where my grandparents lived when I was a nipper - Grandad was the orchard manager and their house was directly opposite the packing shed which is now the Farm Shop building. Gibbet Oak themselves have been in the news recently because of their recent launch of a new range of ciders. They even took over the White Lion Hotel one evening a couple of weeks ago and all their ciders were on draught.





Well, as soon as I opened the lid of the Discovery Cider ice Cream there was no doubt that it was made from real cider from that initial burst of apple aromas. I worried that it might be too strong of a taste, but the aroma subsided quickly and I plunged in to what turned out to be a delicate and creamy experience, definitely Discovery apples, but without the tart aftertaste that can sometimes happen with a cider. Think baked apples and cream and you'll be getting close.

The first one finished, I went for the Dessert Wine ice cream.


Even though it doesn't say it on the label, I can tell you that Matthew used Nectar, the dessert wine from Tenterden vintners Chapel Down Wines.



This is a gorgeous ice cream with lots of exotic fruity flavours from this very moreish wine. It's like something Heston Blumenthal would concoct for his Waitrose lines, but without the WTF? factor. A beautiful dessert. But I was saving the best till last. How did I know it would be the best?


Because it is made using an outstanding beer! Dark Side Of The Moo is an Imperial Porter, 7% abv, rich, dark, smooth and gorgeous. How could this not be an amazing ice cream?



Now I realise there are some people out there that actively dislike dark beers, stouts, porters, etc. but even those people might like this one, because its rich darkness gives the ice cream a coffee/chocolate quality, with a subtle hint of golden syrup cake in the background. And yes, I know it sounds like one of those terribly pretentious things reviewers say, but I got all that from the first spoonful. The rest, I quickly scoffed down.

I would gladly buy a case of this and eat it in one sitting. It's that good.

If you're interested in getting hold of some of this ace ice cream, you can contact Matthew in one or all of the following ways:

Phone: 01580 761230
Mob: 07856 478244
Email: matthew@pottical.com

or check out the website www.pottical.com

Tweet to Matthew at twitter.com/pottical

and he's even on Instagram at www.instagram.com/pottical/

Kooshti sante!


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Food Bites

One of the great pleasures in going to Tesco supermarkets is to be had when you go there late in the day, say, an hour or so before closing. The reason why is because this is the time when a lot of stuff gets reduced in price, and especially at this time of year it's useful to pick up some reduced price bbq items you can sling in the freezer for use at a later time. For example, when it's a nice day and you can fire up the BBQ grill and pull out a couple packs of kebabs or burgers and hey presto! dinner is served.

It's also useful if you want to grab some breakfast items because they mark down unsold bread products that are baked instore daily, such as donuts and rolls, turnovers, etc.

Such was the case yesterday when we were in Tesco and there was one of these left.

It's a "Rise & Shine Breakfast Twist", a pastry filled with baked beans and smoked cheese. Or at least, that's the idea. I grabbed the item as it was marked down to a paltry 19p. Normal price is 95p.

I tried it this morning for breakfast. First thing I noticed was how tasteless and doughy the pastry is. Practically flavourless and quite chewy. And as for the beans and cheese, they seemed to have all gathered near the centre. So it was quite tasty in the middle, but a bit rubbish on each end. And it wasn't twisty at all. All in all it has the potential to be good, similar in style to a Stromboli, but Tesco need to up their game a little to make me buy another one. There is a Honey, Oat and Fruit Twist available too, and I can only hope it's more tasty than this.

This evening we ordered from Star Kebab and Pizza in St. Michaels. They are owned by Zafer Bayram who also owns the Quality Kebab van which is in Recreation Ground Rd every evening. Recently Laura and I have taken to ordering their Falafel Box and Falafel Burger, and they are delicious.

The Falafel Box consists of 4 freshly made falafels, on a bed of hummus (plenty of that!) and accompanied by a load of salad (red and white cabbage slices, sliced lettuce, onion and tomatoes). It's a lot of food for under £4! The Falafel Burger basically takes the contents of the box and sticks it in a bun, with a box of salad on the side, for £4.50. Delicious. If you're in the Tenterden area, you can order by phone or online at http://starkebabandpizza.restajet.com/

Not the actual Falafel Burger, but you get the idea.
Delighted to announce that the long-empty Wine Kitchen restaurant in Tenterden high Street is now open as Montalbano restaurant. http://montalbanorestaurant.co.uk/ If you go to  http://www.mytenterden.co.uk/pdf/voucher-Montalbano-Restaurant.pdf  you can download a voucher for 20% off your food bill  which is valid thru to the 6th August.
I stumbled upon their grand opening last night, there were crowds out on the pavement and it was jam-packed inside. There were free appetizers (delicious) and free prosecco being proffered by the friendly staff. It looks great and I cannot wait to go there for a meal.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Vegan Treats at the Retreat

Yesterday we went to the wilds of High Halden (about 5 miles away!) to a Family Fun Day at a wonderful animal rescue centre called The Retreat. It was their first ever Fun Day and they had seriously not expected the huge crowds that they got.


On the downside this meant that there were tremendously long queues both for food and the loos! On the upside though, it meant they got way more donations than they were expecting, which is great!

The food they were serving looked and smelled great - vegan burritos with sweet potato, rice and beans, vegan burgers with all the trimmings, and vegan hot dogs at one area, and at the other area, sandwiches and wraps and fries etc., and a cake stall with some seriously delicious-looking cakes.




Again, all vegan. There was a sign up that explained their position.


Luckily for us we weren't all that hungry, so when we learned that there were only hot dogs left it wasn't really a blow to us, even though I would have liked to sample the burritos or burgers, However as we meandered round we came to an area with a mixture of stalls, some with random items for sale and some about veganism, organic cotton and the like, and then I came to the Animal Aid stall, staffed by two very nice people...

...who were selling all sorts of nice vegan treats for humans (and doggies - I bought our pooches a bag of heart-shaped peanut butter-cinnamon dog treats which they enjoyed).


I bought four interesting-looking items with the intent of sampling them at home. Here are my reviews!


From the top: The Nakd Ginger Bread bar. Gluten, wheat and dairy free. Consistency somewhat like playdough, a nice pleasant taste, but not very gingery. I liked it though, and so did Rosie, which counts for a lot in my book.

Secondly, The Nakd Bakewell Tart bar, like all Nakd bars, are pure raw fruit and nut bars, guaranteed GMO-free. This one also got the thumbs-up from Rosie and me. It tastes very like a Bakewell, with that crumb-y, cake-ish almond flavor. Definitely must have this one again.

Third was the  GoMaxGo Cleo's Peanut Butter cups. These look identical to the traditional Reese's white chocolate version, with the added bonus of tasting a whole lot better. Not only that but they're gluten free. The regular chocolate version is made using rice milk chocolate.



Lastly, and this was our favourite, the Thumbs Up bar, also by GoMaxGo. Imagine somebody crossed a Cadbury's Crunchie with a Butterfinger bar. This is what you would have. Crispy, crunchy honeycomb with the subtle slightly salty twang of peanut butter.  No trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, GM-free, dairy-free. Awesome.

If you want to buy these, you might just find them in the health foods section of your local supermarket, your local Holland & Barrett or independent health food store, or purchase them online from Amazon, or from  www.animalaidshop.org.uk.


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