Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: June 2014

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Milestone

At the Sheffield Food Festival, we had our first taste of cuisine from The Milestone, with their "Piggy" dish. This was a delightful selection of pork, including braised head fritter, blood sauce with black pudding, and an array of miniature salads and shoots. After trying this, we couldn't quite work out why we hadn't been to the restaurant before, particularly as it seems a sort of rite of passage in the Sheffield foodie scene!

We wasted no time in booking ourselves on to the Early Bird menu, which offers a smaller but still very varied selection of dishes and even includes a pint or glass of house wine.

Whilst we perused the menu we went for some homemade bread and dripping, recommended by our waiter for the evening (and it's worth mentioning that the service throughout was exceptional, although a little more formal than we're used to!). Can't go wrong there really, can you?!

Second up on our meal, we went for a celebration of the humble chicken, with chicken ham, chicken liver parfait, and chicken thigh served with crispy skin. Very nice (although the liver was just a tad too rich for Laura). We also shared the pig's head terrine, which was served with a delicious selection of pickled veg, crackling and a wonderfully tangy apple sauce. We'd expected this to be quite similar to the Piggy dish from the Food Festival, but it was a totally different twist on the ingredients, which demonstrates the flair and originality shown by the chefs on a day-to-day basis.

Onwards to the main courses! Laura chose the coley, accompanied by buttery-soft new potatoes and sea vegetables. Gherkins and anchovies were also used in the dish which worked really well as seasoning and were a lovely touch. Jim decided upon a classic: sausages served with mustard mash, plus side dishes of quite dense but still delicious Yorkshire puddings, and fresh asparagus. The mash sang with a lovely kick and tang of mustard and worked really well with an excellent pair of sausages. The spring asparagus was sweet and fresh with a lovely crunch and nicely seasoned with Parmesan.

Having partaken in two sides, Jim decided on a calvados rather than a dessert, which turned out to be a very good idea when Laura's sticky toffee pudding arrived. As such emphasis is placed on presentation here (and everything arrived looking outstanding), we were expecting a dainty little pud. What was put in front of us was a veritable wedge of gooey, rich and utterly scrumptious toffee pudding, served with salted caramel sauce and really tasty droplets of date puree, which brought the whole dish together perfectly. Jim's assistance was required.

The Milestone have a great ethos, having an end goal of being self sufficient. Already having a pig farm and a lovely little rooftop garden, they are well on their way to achieving this. The garden provides the restaurant with many of the shoots and herbs used in the dishes and cocktails, meaning they are as fresh as you can possibly get.

The "From Garden to Glass" cocktail menu itself looked superb, and boasted some completely original cocktails that I've never seen anything like in Sheffield before, including the Walk in the Weeds (comprising gin, celery, cucumber, mint, and borage - or whatever else they can forage from the rooftop garden!). Whilst we had over-indulged quite enough for one night we will definitely be back to try some of these out.


Laura & Jim

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Bamboo Door: Rum Club launch night

Bamboo Door is a brand new bar located in the trendy Leopold Square in Sheffield centre, and is the city's first tiki bar. All about a laid back atmosphere and good vibes, it's helping to bring a much needed indie injection to the area. Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to attend the taster edition of their upcoming rum sessions, and find out about their new Rum Club, a loyalty scheme with loads of benefits such as permanent happy hour*!
The bar - just look at that rum selection!
Our host for the evening, Tom, was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and wearing a fetching Hawaiian shirt - what more could you wish for?! I started the night with Tom's recommendation, the Pisco Flower Sour. Made with top quality ingredients (Capel Pisco, elderflower liqueur, Aperol, pink grapefruit juice, lemon, sugar syrup, an egg white, and a dash of Amargo Chunco bitters), it was sharp, refreshing and original. It was also almost too pretty to drink!
We then settled down to our session. Beginning with a brief overview of the history of rum and how it's made, we moved on to look at the chosen range - Ron Zacapa. This wasn't a rum I was previously familiar with, and I was impressed that something a little out of the ordinary was chosen for this event.

We sipped on a delicious Spiced Daiquiri, made from Zacapa 23, Green Chartreuse and sugar syrup, whilst Tom explained the ageing process of the rum (at 2,300 feet above sea level!) including the complicated but traditional "solera" system used, whereby bottles are filled from the bottom barrel of a pyramid, with the empty space filled from the cask above, and so on, all the way to the top.

Then on to the rum itself! A signature Ron Zacapa 23 was first. Made only with first press sugar cane honey, it could be said to be the extra virgin olive oil of the rum world! A long fermentation with pineapple yeast produces a wonderful tropical fruit feel. There's also tons of vanilla in the nose, and a smooth woodiness on the palate. The rum was served with a little cube of organic dark chocolate, which really brought out the cocoa elements in the drink. I really enjoyed this - a brilliant summery alternative to my usual whisky-based choices.

We were also treated to a taster of the Zacapa XO. This rum spends the first 23 years of its life in the exact same way as the previous rum sampled, but is then finished in cognac casks for a further two years, which gives it a much richer, deeper flavour. The aroma was full of demerara sugar, with a hint of leather and tobacco underneath. The flavour was full of fruit again, but more reminiscent of dark fruits such as cherries alongside just a hint of pineapple. A very long, tinglingly sweet finish became gradually spicier as I sipped away.
The tasting event as a whole was really enjoyable, and was entertainingly informative. Being an independent bar, there's a relatively small number of people working at Bamboo Door, which means the bar retains much more personality and it's clear that the staff are passionate about what they do. The Sunday Rum Sessions will run on the first Sunday of each month, and cost £25 (£15 for Rum Club members) which will include at least two rums and a cocktail, plus food pairings. Each month will focus on a different brand of rum, ensuring that the bar is able to showcase everything it has to offer (and there's a lot of it!). Anybody who thinks that rum is just Bacardi or Sailor Jerry's, you'd be in for a real surprise - and a massive treat!



*Happy hour runs all the time for Rum Club members, excluding Saturday nights

Thursday, 5 June 2014

American Whiskey Tasting at the Broadfield

Well, well, well... here we are again. We originally hadn't thought to book onto the American night at the Broadfield, not thinking it was quite our tipple. However, after only a little bit of liquid persuasion (the Japanese whisky night!) and talk of classic American cocktails with a twist as the pairings for this night, we had our spaces reserved and our Boardwalk Empire DVD on repeat.

The evening opened with Old Fitzgerald: an 8 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This was a good entry level whiskey, if you are after a typical bourbon. Vanilla on the nose and sticky sweet across the palate, this whiskey is bottled at 45% but is much smoother than it's Scotch counterpart. Available at around £20 per bottle, it's a dram which is completely accessible and really quite delicious.

This was accompanied by an Old Fashioned cocktail, with sugar syrup, orange peel and a dash of bitters added to the Old Fitzgerald. This was then transformed into a smoked Old Fashioned, using applewood chips and a smoke generator. The cocktail was fantastically orangey and a great twist on a classic, as well as the slightly bonkers methodology being a sign of the magic to come!
Whisky Curator at work!
We moved on to a Woodford Reserve, a bourbon with a high rye content and a heady nose full of honey, vanilla and woodiness. This literally tasted as American as apple pie - fruity, with hints of cinnamon and cereal sweetness. The toasted wood notes returned in the lingering finish.

With this was served a Manhattan, but not just any Manhattan: this one was barrel aged in a mini Kentucky toasted oak cask. For two weeks, the barrel held a Spanish sweet vermouth, before the Woodford Reserve and dry vermouth were aged in the same barrel for a further 6 weeks. The drink was completed with a splash of cognac added to the aged ingredients along with Benedictine and homemade orange bitters. Pure class. The barrel aged cocktail isn't something we've seen very often, but after sampling this one we're thinking Ed could be quite the trendsetter.

The third dram of the night was the Blanton's Special Reserve. This caught Laura's eye due to having possibly the best bottle stopper ever - it has a racehorse on it, in honour of the Kentucky Derby. Bottled at 40%, this smelled more like a Scotch than the previous two offerings of the night, with prominent spiced notes. It had a nutty flavour with a bit of a bite from citrus peel flavours and more spiciness.

Our next cocktail was a hot variation on the Mint Julep, which came poured from a proper antique teapot into a little china teacup. Just darling. Peppermint tea was delicately brewed before adding brown sugar syrup, fresh mint and bitters, along with the Blanton's. It's fair to say that this was not a favourite in the room, having a somewhat medicinal quality, but Laura loved it, and the Prohibition-style presentation was a great touch.

Up next was FEW distillery (ironically named after initials of Frances Elizabeth Willard, one of the leading figures of the temperance movement in the distillery's home city of Evanston) with their Rye Whiskey, bottled at 46.5%. The rye was prominent on the nose, along with aromas of lemongrass, ginger nuts and a hint of lavender. On the palate, you can taste that it's a young whiskey, but this is no detriment - it's a very nice tipple with a lightly herbal note. 

The cocktail pairing this time was an original take on a whiskey sour, which began simply with FEW rye whiskey, fresh lemon and sugar syrup. All straightforward so far. It was then shaken (with added flair from Ed). A honey, rosemary and elderflower foam was added to the glass before the cocktail was poured through, to produce a delicate and sweet-yet-sour delight.

Finally, we were treated to the High West Campfire. This had a more familiar seaweedy nose, with inspiration coming from a master distiller who fell in love with Islay, and so decided to create a whiskey which paid homage to the beautiful island. The whiskey is formed of 70% bourbon, 20% rye, and 10% Islay whisky, and it was an outstanding drink. Sticky sweetness and dried fruits provided the undertones to the palate, with heat and spice playing a part too. The peated whisky element made itself apparent in the finish.

A Rob Roy cocktail completed the line-up for the evening. High West was stirred down with barrel aged vermouth sugar syrup and bitters. Added to this were Martini Rosso sweet vermouth caviar pearls (yes, really!). These little jewels were created with a sweet vermouth sodium alginate, which was painstakingly dripped into a calcium bath (ooo technical).
 A vacuum and an Aerolatte were also used in there somewhere. We lost track a tad, but trust us when we say there was real chemistry in the room! 

The night as a whole was probably our favourite tasting so far. Whilst the whiskeys weren't quite as much to our taste as usual (we've not been converted away from our Scotch!), they were none-the-less great easy-drinking drams and very enjoyable. However, the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the cocktails - all five were absolutely spectacular and totally unique.


Laura & Jim

You can find out more about the cocktails at Thanks to Ed for another great evening!