Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: March 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tamper Late: A Polynesian Feast

We are always on the lookout for something a bit different here at Mashtun HQ, so when we came across a Polynesian-themed supper club at the lovely Tamper Coffee, we absolutely jumped at the chance to book ourselves a table, and arrived filled with excitement to try some ingredients that we had never even heard of before, let alone tasted (taro leaves, anyone?! - Look them up: they're amazing).

The venue itself, coffee bar by day and to my knowledge the only place in Sheffield where you can treat yourself to a bronut, was perfect for an evening of fine cuisine: relaxing, sophisticated and just a little bit industrial with a warehouse feel.

The menu was a showcase of Pacific ingredients, and it was evident that this is the sort of food that Head Chef Steve Tauillii loves to cook.

Our starter was a yellow fin tuna carpaccio, marinated in citrus, which was served with accompaniments including pink grapefruit and beautiful little pickled cucumbers. The taste of the marinade did not overwhelm the fish, and the rest of the ingredients on the plate really made it sing. It was a light, zingy and refreshing dish, which made our mouths water for what was to come.

Main course was suckling pig three ways and was an absolute treat. The oily sweet, sesame pork belly melted in the mouth and worked really well with the monkey apple puree. Loin of pork, smoked in taro leaves, was also cooked to perfection. The smokiness had a pleasant hint of what was almost tobacco and a whisky-ish flavour. The star of the plate for us was a rosemary, thyme, and taro leaf encrusted pulled pork ball, which looked a bit like a Scotch egg but was much more exciting! It was crispy, fragrant, and totally unusual. A real winner. The meat was served alongside roast cassava and plantain (definitely more interesting than your usual carbs!), with buttery, silky silver beet, all presented in a giant leaf. Pleasing to the eye as well as the palate (you'll have to take our word for that as we didn't get a picture to do it justice!)

We both went for a pint of the recommended beer pairing, Magic Rock Rapture, a 4.6% red ale which had just the right level of hoppiness to cut through the flavours of the pork without being too overpowering, and the citrussy nature of the beer also complemented the food really well.

When pudding arrived it was almost too pretty to eat: Samoan biscuits, with coconut ice cream, a mango and pawpaw salsa, and an edible flower! The biscuits soaked up the juices from the fruit and the melting ice cream to become soft and delicious, and the salsa was floral and aromatic.

We finished off our meal with a signature Tamper coffee, a great end to a relaxing evening. With these supper clubs planned as regular events in the future, we will definitely be back!

Laura xx

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Favourite pubs: The Fat Cat

It's a bit of a tradition in my family to love The Fat Cat. As one of my dad's favourites, it's been a place I've been frequenting since I was a nipper, commonly found in the upstairs room with a fruit Looza and a bag of Royster's crisps (what ever happened to them?!). My little sister became famous for being the youngest customer to eat an entire Ploughman's, aged 4.

Since then, a couple of decades have passed, both myself and Jim have done stints behind the bar, and the Ploughman's lunches are just as massive (and excellent).
The beer selection is always varied and showcases a fantastic range of local and national brews, with Kelham Island beers (including Pale Rider, Best Bitter and a seasonal special) and Timothy Taylor's Landlord providing a sturdy backbone. As well as the regulars another 6 or so guest cask ales can be sought, along with the occasional Belgian keg beer. The selection of bottled beers is extraordinary for the size of the bar, with a floor space comparable to the mid-sized office desk I am currently writing at. This tiny space could contain up to 5 members of staff at busy times, including during the now famous shows of the Everly Pregnant Brothers on the toilet roof.

The food is always traditional, hearty and delicious, with a good selection for vegetarians and those on a gluten free diet too. It's also excellent value. If you are not wanting to eat a full meal, sandwiches, beer basted pork pies and a selection of varying crisps are on offer.

As a regular haunt for a quiet few on a Sunday evening, you can't get any better than the Fat Cat.



Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Exploring on our own doorstep

We love finding new places to eat and drink, and every so often we come to the realisation that there are some fantastic places in Sheffield that we have never been before.

After a quick post-work pint in the Bath Hotel, we decided to head to the brand new BrewDog bar. Overall, it's what we have come to expect from a BrewDog - crisp and industrial interior, quirky, knowledgeable staff, and expensive but very tasty craft beer. There were around 20 keg beers on offer - half BrewDog, and half guest - alongside a large selection of bottled beers. They also do a small menu of nibbly foods, which looked very tempting. It's not an everyday bar, but somewhere that for us would definitely be suitable for a special occasion.

For dinner, we descended upon The Great Gatsby, located on Division Street - somewhere that has previously been recommended to us but that we had not yet had the chance to visit. The menu is provided courtesy of Shy Boy Cantina - resident at Gatsby's since last October and taking Mexican street food to a tasty new level.

We selected tacos to share (2 per portion) - pulled pork, kimchi and sriracha, and beef with a horseradish cream. Both were exceptionally good, but I think the pork just edged it... Spicy, zingy and fresh flavours combined with the meat to produce a popular dish with a unique twist. I'm still not quite sure exactly what kimchi is, but I know I like it. The beef and horseradish tacos were also very good - a familiar combination, albeit one which isn't usually found in Mexican cuisine. This is quite clearly fusion food at its best.
As a side we chose chilli cheese fries, which were hearty, naughty and delicious.

The only dessert option on the menu is churros with chocolate sauce - but who needs anything else?! Already a favourite pudding, these were a joy - served piping hot, crispy on the outside and delightfully soft in the centre. Dusted with cinnamon, they worked perfectly with the rich chocolate sauce... which we somehow managed to improve with a slight dash of cholula chilli!
We'll definitely be back to sample some of the more options on offer - the avocado fries ordered by the table next to us looked amazing! With a menu which changes with the season, Shy Boy Cantina are onto a winner. 

Laura xx

Friday, 14 March 2014

Japanese Whisky Tasting at the Broadfield

So, we return once again to the lovely upstairs room of the Broadfield for another whisky tasting: this time, the focus is on the east and the produce of the Japanese.

As you may have seen previously, these events, run by Ed Daly (@whiskycurator), consist of five fine whiskies. Tonight's proceedings open with the Hibiki 12. This is a Suntory whisky of great character, and with an attention to detail unsurpassed by most of the blends on the market. It is constructed by at least 35 different whiskies, all of which are exclusive to the Hibiki 12 year. It is this commitment to great balance that is reflected in the overall sweet vanilla flavour, which gives way to a peppery spiced finish.
This dram is followed closely by the Hakushu Bourbon Barrel; a whisky that comes to the UK in relatively small batches. It has a honey nose with a slight raisiny edge. As the whisky flows across the palate, a new flavour, more homely yet sophisticated like banoffee pie emerges. The warmth of the 48.2% spirit lingers pleasantly towards a fruity end.
Nikka 'from the Barrel' is next, with easily the cutest bottle of the night, reminiscent of a traditional yet oversized pill bottle. This is a delicious whisky that sings of spiced oak, and not in the least bit medicinal. As tonight's whiskies go it is one that I have drunk before and would do so again (and again) - it's spiced nature is held strong with sweeter, creamier flavours, which work along to a lovely oak spice across the palate and into the finish.
Between the third and fourth whiskies we were given opportunity to get another pint and go for a cigarette, with the reassurance from our host that the whiskies will power through any dulling that 10 minutes smoking can do to the taste buds. So down to the bar for a pint of Summer Wine Barista - an espresso stout of monumental coffee-osity - before returning to the upstairs parlour.
As promised these two were bold, punchy and above all delicious. The Karuizawa, a whisky with 'no age statement' (a dirty phrase between the more traditional whisky drinkers), is a demerara sweet sherried whisky. The whisky is compiled from 77 different sherry casks to create this dark in colour and vibrant in flavour dram of light ginger spice, while at the same time possessing the body of a good red wine that stays on the tongue sweetly and luxuriously.
As with most tastings the night ends on lofty heights with the multi award winning Yamazaki 18 year, a Pedro Ximinez aged gorgeously balanced fruity number. The nose tingles with apples and hints of pear. Its depth and complexity build as you hold it in the mouth and let it wash over the tongue and down the throat, as in the last movement of Beethoven's glorious Symphony No. 9, where the entire spectacle comes to an end with a chorus of a thousand. The long yet dainty fruit-filled finish stays in the mouth long after sending the delightful spirit to the stomach. Divine.
Accompanying each of the whiskies was a simply stunning handmade piece of sushi (one of Ed's hidden talents) - it tasted as good as it looked. See for yourself just how good!
We may have "accidentally" booked ourselves onto another two future tastings, and we can't wait to see what the next one will bring.

Monday, 10 March 2014

French dip salt beef sandwich

As you may have noticed through many a previous post, I am a little bit of a fan of salt beef and pastrami, so when LoveSaltBeef asked me if I thought a variation on the classic French dip sandwich would work, there was only one thing for it: to the butchers!

Essentially a French dip sandwich comprises roast beef, with the bread dipped into a thin but delicious stock or gravy. The difference I took at this point is that instead of a plain stock I felt that the salted meat needed a bit of contrast in the form of mustard heat and a little hint of vinegar sourness.

While I won't go into the creation of salt beef this time (my recipes for which can be found here and here) I will instead show you my take on the gravy and construction of the sandwich.

This recipe makes two hearty sandwiches.

The gravy

1 medium onion
1/2 stick celery
Olive oil for frying
2 large teaspoons mustard (to taste - I used a wholegrain variety with chilli)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Half a pint of good quality beef stock

Fry off the onion and celery until they become limp on a low heat, then turn the heat up and add the mustard. Fry for about 30 seconds, or until the mustard burns the top of your nose, at which point add the vinegar and cook off some of the intensity, again for around another 30 seconds.

To this pungent blend add the stock and bring to a simmer for around 10 minutes. This will allow the vegetables to finish softening and will reduce the mixture slightly. During this time, slice the meat into thick juicy slices and add to the gravy for the last minute or so, with the heat turned low.

As the meat is slowly warming in the gravy, prep the bread. For this I used soft white breadcakes. This is where personal choice comes in, with the amount of liquid you want on your sandwich. Starting with a little dip of just the lid of the sandwich (my wife's choice) to the whole ensemble being served in a Turkish bath of steaming hot meat gravy. Or simply grab the full meaty arrangement in some tongs and plunge it into the pan of meat juices and serve.

As a Yorkshireman this combination of bread and gravy is perfection, normally reserved for the last wonderful moments on a Sunday roast, but which can now be appreciated in full blown sandwich form.