Mashtun and Meow

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Toasted Sandwiches: Brewdog Sheffield

Everyone knows that sandwiches are the perfect hearty pub snack - one step up from the humble pork pie, but without needing to resort to a knife and fork. Sheffield's Brewdog have just announced a new toastie menu to accompany their range of hot Pieminister pies (you do get cutlery with this option!), and we were invited along to give them a try. On the night, Jim was stricken with an evil bug, so it was a solo Mrs Mashtun mission this time - it's a hard life!

The menu labels itself as "toasted sandwiches", but there were no flimsy triangles of disappointment here, oh no. Every sandwich is made on fresh ciabatta bread from Seven Hills Bakery, and stuffed full of tasty treats with an emphasis placed on quality local ingredients. They're also very reasonably priced, at between £4.50 and £6 for a filling sandwich with a couple of little accroutements on the side.

We were first treated to "The Big Italian" - a generous portion of Milano salami from the lovely folks at Porter Brook Deli, with goat's cheese, mozzarella, and little semi-dried tomatoes which gave a beautiful burst of Mediterranean freshness. I was covered in it after the first bite, so it's fair to say this was a little on the messy side, but cheese and meat on your face is an excellent way to get to know each other. A good sandwich for bonding. It came paired with Brewdog's Libertine Black IPA, and the citrussy, spicy nature of the beer cut through the richness of the sandwich really well.


On the side, we also got a little dish of Salty Dog steak flavour crisps, and a pot of the most adorable mini gherkins I've ever seen in my life. I'm an absolute cornichon whore and predictably I loved them.

The second toasted sandwich turned out to be my favourite. Cheese, cheese, and cheese, all melted onto the crusty bread to form a hefty portion of molten scrumptiousness. The cheeses in question were more mozzarella and goat's cheese, with a great tangy cheddar alongside. What made this one a cut above for me was that the whole piece of ciabatta is doused in Henderson's Relish (for those unawares, a Yorkshire and better version of Worcestershire sauce) before the cheese is melted onto it. After eating this, I don't think I ever want to eat a sandwich again that hasn't been treated to a Henderson's dip. A Weihenstephaner Hefeweisse was selected to go with this and the creamy freshness of the beer cut through the cheese at the same time as complementing it. The little accompaniment here was the world's longest sweet pickled chilli, which was delicious and another component of the meal which ended up coating my chin.


Up next was a Brewdog twist on the classic ham, cheese and pickle - the twist being that the pickle had beer in it! The menu advertises Punk IPA pickle, but on the night we were given 5am Saint chutney, to go with the beer we were drinking (5am Saint itself!). The sharp cheddar and frankly awesome chutney were both great ingredients but it was the thick cut ham from Trearly Farm in Wales (but again acquired from Porter Brook Deli) which made this sandwich stand out - just lovely. This would be a perfect lazy lunch.

The veggie option was also delicious - griddled aubergine and courgette, marinated in garlic oil, with an olive tapenade and some more of those lovely semi-dried tomatoes. Admittedly not the option I'd have originally picked as an out-an-out lover of meat, but definitely one I'd consider in the future although I think I'd choose to add on some goat's cheese (75p supplement). To go with this we were treated to the single-hopped Citra version of Brewdog's IPA is Dead, which provided a refreshing balance to the slightly salty sandwich.

Every Brewdog bar differs in kitchen facilities and this is reflected in their menus. The Sheffield team are proof that a lot can be done with just a single grill and a pie oven. The whole group was really impressed with the sandwiches on offer, and the fact that every ingredient has been clearly thought out and carefully sourced. These are toasties done proper, Sheffield style!

Cheers,

Laura

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Barley to Bake: Laphroaig and Coffee Cake

It's no secret that I love both baking and whisky. Until recently, for some utterly unknown reason I had never combined the two. However, when my fellow Islay-loving, whisky-drinking, baker extraordinaire friend Sarah of the Starbake Sisters posted an absolutely mouth-watering image of a Laphroaig coffee cake, I just HAD to pester her for the recipe! Sarah has been kind enough to share this, along with a little bit about why she loves the extraordinary Isle of Islay. Having made this cake myself I can absolutely attest to the recipe, and the result is delicious.

May I present...

A malt whisky cake inspired by the Queen of the Hebrides


"Islay: first discovered by the Starbuck family in Spring 2004, ever since that Easter holiday we all have a place in our hearts for this Hebridean island.  Its breath taking scenery and quaint, welcoming villages make it hard not to want to revisit… So we did just that, several times over the years.

Nestled between the expansive beaches and tumbling hills you will find Islay’s 8 malt whisky distilleries dotted over the island, and I can proudly claim to have visited them all. The huge quantities of peat that the island is built on make for remarkably distinctive flavours in the whiskies and yet each distillery has been boasting different tastes, smokiness and sweetness for hundreds of years.

I love food. It’s primarily this fact that sparks my interest and enjoyment of cooking and baking. I find little more satisfying than preparing nice food for family and friends, and seeing them (hopefully) enjoy it!  So it seemed a natural progression with my family’s long awaited return to Islay this summer to incorporate Islay malts into a new recipe. Not wanting to waste quality malt by being too extreme with my creativity, I decided to first come up with a cake recipe to use it in. 

Choosing a sponge flavour wasn’t too challenging. I felt a plain sponge wouldn’t quite enhance the whisky’s aromas, chocolate would have proved too sweet. I had also considered ginger, as my sister had tried out in Islay with Bruichladdich, but I didn’t want anything quite as strong to overpower the whisky, as I wanted the malt to be the main feature. Coffee cake struck me as the most appropriate.  
Now to choose a malt.  I went for Laphroaig 10 year old.  It’s a well-known whisky, with fantastic earthy peat flavours and sweet smokiness that I felt would be effective alongside a coffee cake recipe.  You could of course use your own favourite malt/blend, though I’m yet to experiment using other whiskies with other sponge flavours.

The trick with this recipe is not to add the whisky before baking. The characteristic flavours mentioned above get lost in the baking process.  So, still not willing to waste good malt, I used a trick I had seen in Primrose Bakery book when making mojito cakes with my little sister. They suggest making a syrup with rum, sugar and lime juice, and brushing it onto the still warm sponge fresh out of the oven. This method worked perfectly with just caster sugar and Laphroaig as well. Any syrup left over from the sponge I then added to the golden icing sugar buttercream.  This addition was even more effective and maintains the sweet, distinctly Laphroaig, smoky flavour throughout.


I was delighted with the results and even more delighted to hear my dear friend, Mrs Mashtun, wanted to try it too. I hope she and Mr Mashtun have enjoyed it as much as I and my family and friends have. 

Sláinte!"

Ingredients

Cake: 
150g caster sugar
150g butter
150g self raising flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
1tbsp hot (not boiling) water
1tbsp instant coffee

Syrup: 
4tbsp whisky to 2tbsp caster sugar

Buttercream: 
225g golden icing sugar
100g butter
About 1-2 tsp of the whisky syrup

Preheat the oven to 160, and line and grease 2 sandwich tins.

To make the cake, beat the sugar and butter together before gradually adding the eggs. Add the sifted flour and baking powder and fold in. Next, dissolve the coffee in hot water and add to the mixture.
Divide into tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Whilst the cake is baking, warm up the whisky and sugar slowly over a low-mid heat until all the sugar has dissolved, and allow to cool a touch.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool enough to remove it from the tins, and cool on a wire rack. While the sponge is still warm, brush the tops with the whisky syrup (leaving a splash for the buttercream).

Beat the icing sugar and butter together to make the buttercream. When combined, add the remaining whisky syrup, and apply to the sponges once they are cooled.

A little Mashtun holiday photo!
And finally, for any cake fans lucky enough to be dwelling in Edinburgh, you can find the work of cake decorating genius Starbake Sister #2, Emily, at Banco.

Enjoy!

Laura xx

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Peddler: Street Food Market

It's been one of those weekends that's just made us realise how lucky we are living in such a fantastic city. There's always something new and exciting going on, and on the food scene this week, the first Peddler street food night market took place.

The event was held in a car park in a generally fairly desolate part of the City Centre, which sounded a bit odd, but the industrial style atmosphere worked really well and plenty of people had wandered down on the Saturday afternoon when we visited. Unsurprising really as there were live bands on throughout the day and the smell of all the delicious street food was wafting around the vicinity. Very inviting and well publicised.


Sheffield favourites Percy and Lily's and Nether Edge Pizza were among the treats on offer, alongside cocktails and coffees from Tamper and beers served from a quirky converted horse trailer, now The Hop Box. It was great to see traders from other cities make the trip too, so we deliberately went for choices we wouldn't ordinarily see on our streets.

Piggie Smalls hot dogs got instant points for their puns. Double smoked, pretty darn huge gourmet hot dogs served with a side order of pig-based wisecracks. Jim plumped for the Amy Swinehouse, which was topped with pulled pork (slow cooked for twelve hours) and a tangy yet sweet BBQ sauce. Top marks for crackling, too.


Mei Mei's Street Cart, hailing from London but currently based in Manchester, took Laura's fancy, with the Beijing classic Jian Bing on the menu. Not something we'd ever even heard of before, this was sort of a cross between a crepe and a Chinese omelette. I went for the fried chicken option, which was stuffed full of spring onions and coriander, beer pickled carrots (which we're seriously tempted to try to recreate ourselves), hoisin and chilli sauce, hot crispy chicken and a wonton cracker. It was vibrant, fresh, different, and really, really tasty. After eating the Jian Bing we went back for their sweet potato chilli fries, served with sriracha mayo. Just scrummy. Overall worth a trip to Manchester!


Peddler is set to be a monthly event, and we look forward to seeing this grow and hopefully have even more traders at the next one.

Cheers,

J&L

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Favourite Pubs: The Bath Hotel

There are few things we want from a great pub... namely some great cask beer, bar snacks, comfortable surroundings and the opportunity to finish the night on a "Big Drink". For us the Bath Hotel has all of this in spades.

With six cask beers on draught and two ciders served the same way, the first box is certainly ticked and with a couple of keg fonts available too there is always something for everyone. This pub is under the umbrella of brewery stalwarts Thornbridge, although at the Bath the bar manager Edd entertains a larger selection of beer than most of their other pubs around Sheffield. As there are three guest ales to accompany the 3 Thornbridge casks, the range of beers is always excellent with something new to try.

On the snacking front there is a great array of salted crunchiness including the usual nuts, pretzels, and crisps, but more importantly there are fresh sausage rolls - served warm and prepared onsite to Edd's own recipe and by his fair hands. Tick number two.

The two rooms of the Bath are separated by the bar, with both traditionally decorated, warmly upholstered and lit by large windows. The smaller of the two is quiet and cosy and catered to by a small serving hatch, with the larger being the host of the tap room. The pub itself is tucked away just behind West Street, and is a friendly haven away from the hubbub of the city centre.

The fourth and final tick is certainly a big one, both in terms of drink and tick. The Bath Hotel often has one of its fonts dedicated to a higher strength beer, that is the perfect end to a night. Our favourite example of this is the Arbor Goo Goo G'Joob (try saying that after you've had a couple) - a 12% Maple Imperial Stout and an absolute stonker of a beer. In addition, there is a small but varied and interesting whisky selection that consists of single malts and higher end blends.

The Bath Hotel also plays host to a variety of events, and we're both incredibly excited about their upcoming festival Sheffbrewfest - an independent beer festival which is the brainchild of some of the most passionate people on the Sheffield beer scene. The brewery line up is just ridiculously promising - we spent a good while mulling over which of our favourite breweries aren't actually going to be there (there weren't any). Sheffbrewfest takes place from the 2nd to the 5th of October and there's a rumour that the Mashtuns will be making an appearance behind the bar...

Cheers,

J&L

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Lakes Distillery: The One

Newly making footprints on the whisky scene, The Lakes Distillery has released its statement of intent. The One is a blend of whiskies sourced from around the British Isles, and seems an ingenious way to get people talking about the distillery whilst the building work is still being completed. Here's what we thought...

Nose: Fresh and fruity, initially the nose is almost cider-esque - quite a surprise! This deepens over time with wood and cereal scents coming through and a gentle hint of ginger and cinnamon spice. Right in the background is a tiny hint of olive brininess.

Palate: Sweet, syrupy and smooth. Crisp tannins, almost like a good white wine. Toffee hits the back of the tongue which balances the whole dram nicely. Great easy-drinking whisky, with continually developing complexities.

Finish: The spiciness from the palate lasts really well - a lovely little lingerer that doesn't overpower. A reminder that blends shouldn't be overlooked! Laura slurped her glass clean.

We're also intrigued by the idea of the Founder's Club, whereby members are sent bottles of the first whisky to be produced at the distillery every year as it matures. Proper whisky history in the making!

With gin and vodka set to be produced too (The Lakes Gin is set to be launched this weekend at the Taste Cumbria Food Festival), it's clear that the Lakes Distillery is gearing up for massive things and we will definitely be following their progress.

Cheers,

J&L

Thanks to Ash at the Lakes Distillery for the sample!

Islay 2014: Ardbeg

It's no secret that we absolutely bloody love Ardbeg's whiskies. After a great morning at Lagavulin, we meandered the 1.1 miles along the coast to this site of whisky pilgrimage.
Conveniently arriving just as it approached lunch time, we ate at Ardbeg's acclaimed Old Kiln Cafe, a dining area situated on what was once the malting floor of the distillery. There's oodles of local produce on the menu, and Mrs M's haggis and red onion marmalade jacket potato was definitely a highlight. A delicious Ardbeg Uigedail accompanied the meal (unsurprisingly) very well.

Before our tour, we had a couple of hours to spare in the glorious sunshine with a few drams. The scenery on Islay as a whole is stunning and nowhere more so than along the south coast. I think a few photos might speak for themselves here...


It was then time to head back inside for the tour to begin. Our guide, Gillian, firstly ran us through a brief history of the distillery. Plenty of photos of historical owners the MacDougall family adorn the walls of the old malt house, and we were able to explore areas of the distillery which are now no longer in use including the old wooden malt bins. This introductory element to the tour was really interesting and something a bit different to the other distilleries we've visited.

We were somewhat surprised to find out that Ardbeg is the second smallest distillery on Islay after Kilchoman (having been the largest in the late 1800s), given the prominence and reputation of the distillery. This definitely shows how having a big company behind them (Ardbeg has been owned by LVMH since 2004), with excellent marketing strategies, has worked to their advantage, but by visiting Ardbeg you definitely get behind the corporate sheen and it's clear that the traditional heart of the distillery is still beating strong.

Ardbeg takes advantage of the service provided by the maltings at Port Ellen, so our tour entered the production stage at the mill. 4.5 tons of the peatiest malt on the island (55ppm) is run through the Boby mill before reaching the mashtun. After the nine-hour mashing process is complete, the wort is piped through to the washbacks. The Tun Room is one of my favourite rooms of any distillery, with a rich, warm, beery scent, and they always seem to have an amazing view!

A leisurely wander through the magical stillhouse later, we visited the filling store to witness a few casks being brought back to life by the Ardbeg new make. A huge 80% of their total output goes into single malts, and Ardbeg uses the "marriage" system (not something we were previously familiar with) to create their core range, whereby the whisky contained within 2 casks is mixed together rather than being moved into another cask for finishing.  Of course, no tour would be complete without a dram, and Corryvreckan was today's whisky of choice... definitely in Mrs M's top 5 of all time!

Slainte,

J&L