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Everything posted by gethin

  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
  15. but you also need porridge, stewed fruit , kedgeree and some cold roast partridges (very pink) sprinkled with rum , some boiled pheasant eggs plus toast , dark orange marmalade and ginger marmalade, coffee and tea. Slices of Christmas pudding fried in butter when available. gethin
  16. Is it the turkish bread with the really open texture? We used to buy this a lot in Sydney and it is really good for toast or griddled for bruscetta as it crisps up really well. I wouild love to find some more. ← Yes it is quite an open texture. The loaves are oval shaped - a bit like a naan, but slightly bigger. There are at least two bakeries within 200 or 300m of each other and as well as selling over the counter, they presumably supply some of the many local Turkish restaurants. I can get some and post photos if you'd like ← . If your not to close to Green Lanes which is where you will find the best Turkish bakers, any branch of TFC (Turkish Food Centre) will also have pide,baked on the premises and pretty decent.(there are branches in Lewisham,Dalston and elsewhere). gethin
  17. Has any other london based e-gulleteer ventured into SAF (152 Curtain Rd) at all ? As its a organic, vegan,uncooked food restaurant,I'm guessing possibly not ! It does however have a fairly serious cocktail bar with some bottles (particularly gin), you are unlikely to see elsewhere in London. It has for instance , Aviation gin,DH Krahn gin and Bombay Original as well as an organic gin apparently made in Clapham! They also use Maraska maraschino, which I've not seen elsewhere. Having fortified myself for the forthecoming vegan ordeal with a few stiffeners at Hawksmoor,which is only five minutes walk away,I wasn't able to explore the SAF cocktail menu as much as it deserved,but I did have an Aviation aviation(which i thought had an odd creamy sort of taste), and a Shoe Shine (Old Tom gin,Via sweet vermouth,Noilly Ambre, Cynar,BT orange flower water and Regan's #6) which worked extremely well. Its certainly worth a visit if you are in need of a cocktail in the Old St area or as a prelude to another drink and a steak at Hawksmoor (or, if like me, you wanted to take some one following the Gerson regime out for a meal while not suffering too dreadfully yourself). Gethin
  18. Vinoteca (Smithfields end of St Johns St ) has a surprisingly extensive selection of well chosen wines in the £6.00 to £12.00 range that are usually much better value for money than you'll get in Oddbins or wherever. That also have a smaller, but still interesting range of more expensive stuff. The full list is on their website , and they opartate as wine bar too, so you can check out a lot of stuff by the glass before committing yourself. For really central Central London, Planet of the Grapes ( 9 New Oxford St) is worth checking out. They also have a useful website and a wine bar -though the latter is miles away from the shop - in Leadenhall Market, and I rather fear it may be full of the type of people you would expect to find in a wine bar in Leadenhall Market. There's never anybody much in the shop though and they do have some intersting stuff. gethin
  19. Thats cos Frasier's never been to The Algerian Coffee Stores ! Gethin
  20. There is actually some evidence that drinkers in the UK are drinking less, but its a recent and not that significant a drop. The longer term and really quite dramatic trend, and the one i refer to, is the drop in sales through the on trade-bars and clubs. The off trade is still booming , in volumes at least. This is largely because of deep discounting by the supermarkets,who are using alcohol as a loss leader. Pubs and clubs are increasingly used as somewhere used for the last few drinks of the night , after a long evening of drinking supermarket booze at home. Once they have had one or two drinks in the local bar, they come and misbehave under your window, so you blame the bar , not Sainsbury's who supplied them with the vast majority of what they drank, probably at a price lower than Sainsbury's themselves paid for it. Not sure if airport lounges will be a better market than the high street though. Most UK airport bars will be run by high street operators on much the same model as their other branches. If the machine doesn't justify itself on staff cost grounds, in the high street, it isn't going to in airports (where sales prices are inflated so the staff cost ratio is lower). Coffee machines (and fresh juice machines) work in bars , because they give you a product (or range of products) that you can sell at a premium price. Cocktails are an attractive proposition because again you can sell at premium price, but people will pay the premium for the hand made product not the machine made one. A machine that's going to give you a product that you sell cheaper needs to really cut your costs - and i don't think mechanising one part of the job, the actual mixing of the individual drink is ever going to do so. If you dont want to go down the route of lots of bells and whistles and brightly cououred cheap liqueurs. aiming at getting alcopop drinkers to trade up on special occasions i suspect your best business model will be the "smoothie package" companies. There are certainly people making good money from the fact that lots of operatots want to offer fresh made smoothies and juices but don't really know how to go about it. These companies provide the kit, the product (often part prepared-eg sachets of prepped fruit ), disposables, menus, posters etc , staff training, and quite often a pricing structure and a brand. There are no doubt operators who would like to try cocktails , but don't really have a clue how to go about it. There may be a market for a cocktail machine as part of a package like that. I'd think about having a standard machine that could be used, with different graphics and branding, and re-stocking with different products to produce different "families" of drink. e.g. you would brand it as a Classic Martini machine , stock it with 2 or 3 london gins, an Old Tom gin, a dry vermouth and a sweet vermouth , lillet blanc and celery, orange and aromatic bitters and produce a menu - martinez, martinis at various ratio's and with various bitters , vesper etc. The menu would provide some notes about the drinks -anecdotes about Winston Churchil, bits of Dorothy Parker etc , You would offer it as a package, machine, access to non standard products (Bitters, Pun e Mes, Old Tom etc), menus, table talkers and other promotional material, glassware, training. The same machine could be re-branded as the "spirit of Latin America" or some such, stick on some appropriate graphics stock it with Tequila, Cachaca and Pisco, simple syrup, a few fruit juices . I'd think about mounting the machine on top of a glass chiller (or at least having that as an option). Serving the drink in a ready chilled glass both improves the product and further distinguishes you package from the standard bar offering. gethin
  21. You might want to look at the websites for 2 shops specialising in traditional British foodstuffs. A Gold (www.agold.co.uk) is the better of the two, it's a bit twee but does have some interesting stuff and is also almost next door to Verde's, a grocer/deli/traiteur owned by Jeannette Winterson (a writer specialising in novels about fruit!) and handy for Spitalfields Market and for Hawksmoor (if you feel the need for a decent steak and a proper cocktail). The website has been somehow aquired by a discount gold jewellry store at the moment , but they are confident of getting it back shortly. The other shop is The Albion Emporium (its in Covent Garden , so rather more central than A.Gold). Its only been open a matter of days and the stock is still rather limited. their website is www.thealbionemporium.co.uk Other than those two, Fortnums, Selfridges and the more recently opened John Lewis Foodhall are obvious places to check out. Pickled walnuts, Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade, Bath Olivers, oatcakes,eccles cakes would all be on my list - but obviously cheese, cheese and more cheese should , given the abscence of any edible cheeese at all in the US , be the major focus. You might also want to try some decent coffee as a special treat !! The Algerian Coffee Stores on Old Compton St is the place to go. gethin
  22. I agree - they will try it. What is far less certain is whether any significant numbers will buy a drink from it on anything like a regular basis. Most customers are conservative in their drinking habits, they stick to drinks they know and to big brands. Its also a tough time to launch anything new into the on trade. On trade sales are plummetting, with the biggest volume declines being in the RTD/PPS sector. In the student market, which is probably contracting even faster than the on trade as a whole, the only growth areas are premium dark spirits,real ale and wine- but from a really low baseline . (There is also some growth in session lager volumes , but this is at the expense of premium lagers, and overall lager volumes are shrinking). I guess the upside of this is that operators are desperate for anything that might increase sales, and in particular for offers that can't easily be replicated at home .Given that its more complicated to produce even 4 or 5 simple cocktails at home than it is to pour a can of supermarket lager into a glass- a cocktail dispensing machine might be something that operators would try . On the other hand, its not terribly hard to train your staff to produce 4 or 5 simple cocktails,and if you choose cute staff, minimise the amount of clothing they wear and teach them a bit of juggling - you have something that's at least as much fun to watch as the fanciest of machines (even if the drink they produce is no better). The point about brands is definately right though-branded machines can improve sales - Jose Cuervo have recently rolled out a branded back bar dispenser that seems to be increasing sales (For us it increased sales significantly for a few weeks , but once the novelty wore off, they fell back to something only slightly higher than they were before). I suspect that the more of its working parts that are on view, the better. (this certainly works for fresh orange juice machines , people like to watch the machine doing its business, (though in fact the £30 manual machine I have at home is faster to use and gives greater extraction than the £1,800 machine we have at work, with the added benefit that it works brilliantly with pomegranates as well!) Engineers perhaps have a history of being keener to invent mechanised ways of dispensing drinks than others have been to use them. The mechanical wine dispenser illustrated in the "Kitab fi ma'rifat al-hiyal al-hanidsiyyaa", (a culinary manuscript produced in Iraq in 1208) looks great -there's an illustration in Lilia Zaquali's book, Medieval Cuisine in the Islamic Worlds , U of California Press 2007, but its inventor probably built about as many of them as the people at Kis Cocktails have with theirs. Gethin
  23. All sorts of places could get a premises licence and sell booze from a machine or otherwise , but every sale needs to be "authorised" by a personal licence holder. While that individual doesn't have to be on the premises for every sale , someone acting for him has to. So you would have to pay someone to be there all the time the machine is operating. The only self service alcoholic drink machines I'm aware of in the UK are card operated machines dispensing tasting samples of wines in a wine shop in Islington. The shop is staffed all the time and they have obviously persuaded Islington council that they can prevent sales to minors, intoxicated persons and police officers in uniform (the ban on selling alcohol to "two or more known prostiutes consorting together for the purpose of prostitution" having been revoked a few years ago). Selfridges Deparment store planned to have the same machines but ran into problems with Westminster Council who pointed out that wine can only be sold for drinking on the premises in specified volumes or multiples thereof , all much larger than the intended samples. I'm not sure if this has been resolved - but it does seem to me that technically Westminster were right to refuse the license and Islington are turning a blind eye to an offence. gethin
  24. I recently saw a reference -in Timeless Tastes ,Turkish Culinary Culture , Ersu Pekin amnd Ayse Sumer (Eds) - apologies for misspellings caused by the lack of a Turkish Keyboard- to mumessek, musk scented coffee , offered to guests at one of the celebratory meals following childbirth. I'd just bought some musk at the Egyptian Market in Istanbul- so i'm planning to give it a go (the musk coffee, not the child birth). Anyone got suggestions on proportions, method etc ? Gethin
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