“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

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 (Click link for Facebook event page)

10 September - 11 September

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



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!


01580 766 866


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