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  1. Thanks for the suggestions- i think we will have Black Velvet with at least one course of the meal itself- i'm trying to do a variety of spirit based drinks that can be served in smallish glasses before the meal, so everyone can try them all without getting to plastered. I'll pick up a bottle of Riga Black Balsam this afternoon and experiment over the weekend. As far as the squid ink sour goes , I'll use Tequila. lemon juice and fresh squid ink- (there's a squid stuffed with a ginger/chilli and squid ink pork stuffing dish on the menu so i'll hopefully get enough ink when prepping the squid- i've got a few sachets of the ink in reserve anyway). The Blavod Vodka gets it blackness from Catechu - extracted from a Burmese variety of acacia tree apparently - not sure what its point is (though i dont really see what vodka's point is either) but it does come in helpful when faced with this rather silly task . i'd really like to offer drinks that people might want to try just out of interested even if what's on offer is not restricted to drinks of particular colours.
  2. Hi I need to produce a couple of black drinks and a couple of white ones to serve before a black and white dinner . I'm planning to do a squid ink sour and something using Blavod black vodka (probably a Berlin Station Chief, using a peaty whisky and replacing just enough of the gin with Blavod to make it properly black). I'm less sure about the white ones . I dont want to use milk/cream/cream liqueur as they are notthings most people want in a drink before a meal (or ever ). I'd rather avoid using egg white too, just because i dont really want to shake cocktails for 8 people- but may have to if I cant come up with a second white cocktail without doing so. For the first of the white drinks I think i'll do something with orgeat and Pernod ( as i assume I can produce a milky white effect with these ) , probably with gin (eg a Gaby de Lys cocktail - i'll make a really floral orgeat with rosewater and orange flower water , and play up the floral notes using a orris heavy gin like Martin Millers). I'd really appreciate other suggestions .
  3. This may be a bit late to be useful but: Istanbul - check out www.istanbuleats.com if you haven't already. It's really strong on reviews of cheap, authentic places. Konya- not much of a restaurant scene and even less if you want somwhere that serves alcohol. Mevlevi Sofrasi (Nasimbey Cad -next to the Mevlana tekke and tomb etc) is probably the best for a proper meal nd has an english speaking owner. Kosk Konya Mutfagi (sorry not using a Turkish Keyboard so - you'll need to imagine the umlaut over the o and cidilla ander the s in Kosk and the bar over the g in Mutfagi) on Topraklik Cad. (thats an i without a dot in Topraklik) is another option. There are some decent breakfast places on Alaeddin Cad and Mevlans Cad and plenty of places to try firin kebab. Antakya- there is an enthusiastic review of Sultan Sofrasi on istanbul eats today- part of an occassional foray to other parts of Turkey. For most of my time in Antakya last summer, I was suffering the after effects of some dodgy bici-bici eaten in Adana before arriving there so I wasn't up to eating much, but there were some interesting offerings on the hotel breakfast buffet, including something that looked like coffee grounds mixed in olive oil ( the waiter simply called it kekik -which is varioiusly translated as oregoan and thyme but seems to be used to cover most aromatic herbs) and Siirt cheese- both well worth trying. Ferah (near the Ulu Camii) is supposedto be the best place for kunefe - i wasn't taken by it myself- it was just too much like a mozzarella in carrozza steeped in sugar syrup.
  4. For what its worth, the Forst Park hotel in Platres,Cyprus was serving a Cyprus Brandy Sour which included bitters in the early 1930's. The bitters used at the time were the locally produced "Cock Drops" (" the heart of a good cocktail" according to the label !), although Angostura is now widely used. "Cock Drops" are still in production , although they have recently been re-branded as "Magusta Magic Bitters" gethin
  5. i guess this is probably too late to help you , but probably the most useful English language web resource for eating out in Istanbul (especially if you are looking for authenticity rather than international high end dining) is here If you are still in Istanbul and haven't yet eaten at Ciya - you should! gethin
  6. It increasingly looks as if I am shortly to part company with my employers of 17 years. With the economy as it is, and at the age of 53, I'm not expecting to get a well paid job in a hurry. I have a share in a (very much wet led) pub in West Wales, that is now really struggling, so my plan is to move there full time in a few months and try to relaunch it as a food led operation. I will be in London and not working (though at the moment still being paid) for the next 2 or 3 months , and would really appreciate any offers of unpaid work experience in a professional kitchen environment. I'm a reasonably competant home cook and have plenty of experience of banging out Sunday lunch for 30 to 40 people in the pub as well as of managing a coffe shop/cafe operation and bars as part of my day job. Looking for anything from the odd day to 3 months , doing any thing kitchen related as long as their is an opportunity to learn and get experience. If anyone can offer any opportunity, or point me in the right direction for finding such opportunities, I'd be really grateful. I'm based in central north west london, but happy to travel anywhere in London area.
  7. Although service can be abrupt to the point of rudeness (particularly , it sometimes seems to me , to non Farsi speakers) and there's often a lengthy queue for a table as it's always packed with large Iranian family groups, Behesht (1084 Harrow Rd) delivers enormous portions of pretty decent Persian staples and bargain prices -starters around £2.95 , various khoresht from around £5.50 and grilled kebabs from £6 , all for vast portions. They dont serve alcohol or allow you to take your own , so I mostly use it for takeways - having the sabzi paneer as a starter always leaves me with enough fresh herbs to last at least a week. I've also enjoyed a couple of meals recently at a little Iranian cafe on Upper Street, directly opposite the fire station. gethin
  8. A bit more hunting round on the web reveals that Suriname Alcoholic Berverages NV make a product called Ponche Campos which they describe as : " Suriname's original cream liqueur based on our rich tradition but made according to the highest standards of the 21st century. This scrumptious blend of rum, brandy, cream, caramel and avocado is scintillating when served chilled and is remarkable as the finishing touch for complicated deserts and other confectionary." Sounds horrid ! It seems likely to me thast Lostmyshape was correct in suggesting upthread that advocat preceded any avacado thickened drink and that the avacado was a substitute for egg rather than it being the other way around. gethin
  9. The Verpooten story appears however to be just a story. There were apparently no avocado's in Brazil in 1654 - they were not introduced into Brazil until 1809.(see RJ Knights paper History, Distribution and Uses in Whitely and Schaffer's The Avocado:Botany ,Production and Uses. There is no reference in any of the papers in this book, which "summarises avocado science at the beginning of the 21st Century" to either current or historical use of avocados in alcoholic beverages. I'd be pretty certain that there is no tradition at all of such drinks. Gethin
  10. hmmmm...i seem to remember there being a deli on Church St that sells them (not too far away from Alfie's Antique emporium - same side of the road but further west). There's one somewhere along the row of food shops that has a butchers counter in the front. I'm pretty sure they sell merguez. Haven't ever bought any myself though, so I can't vouch for their quality - but they looked good! let us know how you get on if you try them. ← Thanks for the tip. I'll give it a try - will be good to have an excuse to have a potter around Alfie's. ← These guys make them... and a whole host of other sausages http://www.gornos.co.uk/index.htm ← For real authenticity try the butchers counter at either Le Maroc or Le Marrakech , both on Golborne Road in W10. There is also another halal North African butcher on the same street (which i think is just called Golborne Butchers). Gethin
  11. Jay Hepburn at www.ohgo.sh (and occasional contributor here on e-gullet) posted a really interesting comparison of 4 currently available Old Tom gins back in August and has just added some notes on a fifth. Two of them (Hayman's and Jensen's are relatively easily available in London at least , two are limited editions from a German company (Haromex) that I'd never heard of and available on the web while the fifth is the Dorchester Hotel's own brand- I'd assumed this was only available in their bar but Jay seems to have got his hands on bottle so possibly they sell retail too. gethin
  12. I regularly make a sorrel (hibiscus flower) rum, usually with a bit of ginger and a few pimento (allspice) berries as well . I use cheap own brand white rum, add the flavorings and a bit of sugar , shake it every few days and after a week or so strain off the bits. I've just put a handful of dried pomegranate flowers to steep in white rum too, not a load of taste on that right now, so may add something more in a day or too (dried rosehips or rose petals perhaps) gethin
  13. I'll be at a conference in Glasgow this Sat to Tues ,no doubt the food will be awful . Does anyone have suggestions for decent places to eat out ? I'll probably go to Two Fat ladies (the original one- I see from the web they have 3 branches now ) and the Babbity Bowster but wouyld be grateful for other suyggestions. gethin
  14. a 3 tier electric steamer )and the kind of cheap electric fryingpan/slow cooker/food warmer that you can buy in Turkish Shops in Green Lanes (for some reason called pizza cookers) would cost about £60 all together,be surprisingly useful in the future even when u have a functioning kitchen .and enable you to feed 6 people pretty easily. you couldn't do any baking or a roast dinner, but you'd still be able to knock out a decent variety of meals. gethin
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