Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: Sheffield
Showing posts with label Sheffield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sheffield. Show all posts

Monday, 20 March 2017

Sheffield Beer Week 2017 - A Round-Up

Sheffield Beer Week is over for another year and we've flung ourselves in absolutely head first this time! Here's a quick overview of the events we attended...

MONDAY
A relatively quiet start to the week for us as we joined in a twitter hour with @catsontap. We've long been fans of beercats Rosie and Milly, and our Tosin is a regular on their page too! We kicked off with something pretty special brought back from our trip to Brussels last year - Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio. Face-puckering, fruity and a glorious treat to kick off the week. We also imbibed Cloudwater's Seguin Biere Brut, reminiscent more of a wine than a beer and utterly delicious.


TUESDAY
Every week, Sentinel Brew Co host a film night, wittily titled Brew-vie Tuesdays. We've not made it down to this before but in conjunction with Sheffield Beer Week they decided to show "Beertickers: Beyond the Ale". Filmed in 2008 in and around Sheffield, it was so entertaining for us to look back at the beer scene as it was around the time we both first properly got into real ale, with many a familiar face amongst the footage! Great pizzas and popcorn, too.

WEDNESDAY
A Lervig tap takeover at the Rutland Arms kicked off our evening, with the highlight being Sippin' Into Darkness, a chocolate martini imperial stout at 12%. Bold, boozy and tasted like a Double Decker chocolate bar fondue.

We then headed up to Brewdog for the Mad Hatter meet the brewer event and bumped into the team from Weird Beard. Plenty of beery chat and a lot of laughs were had.


THURSDAY
An even bigger night for us on the Thursday. First off we hit up the Beer Engine's North vs South beer and food pairing, featuring four beers each from London based Fourpure and Fierce from Aberdeen. The food at the Beer Engine is some of the best in Sheffield as far as we're concerned, and a new guest chef brought in to create the pairing menus for this event elevated the offering to an even higher level. The highlight for us was Fierce's Tropical Tart, a beautifully light and tangy passionfruit sour, served with spicy prawns and crab laksa.


A short walk back to Sentinel for a tap takeover hosted by Yellowbelly Brewery where we sampled their collaboration with bloggers Wayne and Janice from IrishBeerSnob, Juice Wayne - a Rock Shandy IPA, inspired by an Irish soft drink and bursting with oranges and lemons. It took Laura until Sunday to realise that Juice rhymes with Bruce...

Finally we headed up to the launch of Abbeydale Brewery's new Brewers Emporium range at the newly refurbished Devonshire Cat, which was buzzing with a vibrant atmosphere and presented a great range of progressive beers to choose from.

FRIDAY
We started the day with a Beer Writers Breakfast hosted by the The Can Makers, giving us an insight into a truly up and coming portion of the market and with tasty pastries from Sheffield based Percy & Lily's. It was the first day of the Beer Now conference, ending with a trip to Beer Alive festival. It was the third time we've attended the festival and it's been scaled down pretty drastically this year. It's a shame that this resulted in a rather lacklustre beer selection - the lack of involvement from brewers directly, which was a great feature of last year's festival, was missed.

SATURDAY
A full on and inspiring day at the Beer Now conference, kicking off with Bob Pease of the Brewer's Association, who gave us useful insights into the American beer scene. Our favourite part of the day was undoubtedly the Live Beer Blogging featuring beers from Abbeydale, Ilkley, Lost Industry, Sentinel, Sharps, Thornbridge and Twisted Barrel - a frenzied hour of tweeting, chatting, learning and drinking.


A raucous coach journey later and we were treated to BBQ and beers at Thornbridge Brewery, a brilliant evening where we also discovered that table football is never going to be our forte!

SUNDAY
The Beer Now conference was wrapped up, with inspirational talks from Richard of Ferment magazine, Jules of Hop Hideout and of course Sheffield Beer Week fame, and Andy from the excellent Elusive Brewing.

FINALLY, we trekked up to the Greystones for a special edition of Karma Citra, pairing a selection of Tiny Rebel beers with some super spicy Caribbean food. Always a brilliant event and a fun and laid back end to a very hectic week.


To finish, it's worth mentioning that our festivities during the week didn't even scratch the surface in terms of the amount of events running. We really were spoilt for choice, and have been left feeling very lucky to live in a city with such a thriving, varied and exciting beer scene. A mighty round of applause to Jules Gray for co-ordinating everything... we're already looking forward to finding out what Sheffield Beer Week 2018 will bring! But first, a lie in and a green smoothie are most definitely in order.

Cheers!

Jim & Laura

Monday, 6 February 2017

Street Food Warehouse

We love living in Sheffield... in fact, there's nowhere else in the UK we'd rather be! However, we have often lamented that the city centre pretty much closes down as soon as the clock strikes 5. In step Alive After Five - a new project helping our hometown to find out exactly what there is to offer once work is over, and to encourage more people to get off their sofas and out into town!

The Alive After Five team invited us down to the inaugural Street Food Warehouse event, based on Trafalgar Street in the city centre. We've been a number of times to other street food markets, but although we've enjoyed them, it's definitely the case that they seem to have become victims of their own popularity, with massive queues and a tendency to invite back the same group of traders time after time meaning these events had lost a bit of the "je ne sais quoi" vibe for us, so we were looking forward to trying out an alternative.


First thoughts - Trafalgar Warehouse was WAY nicer than we were expecting, having only really frequented the area to go to our most beloved but highly sticky, depraved and GREAT nightclub Corporation, which shares an outdoor area with the warehouse. There was an excellent mix of food offerings available, from waffles and brownies to hot dogs and pies. An on-site bar was also available serving beers from The Brew Foundation alongside a selection of wines, cider and soft drinks.

Our first stop was Dim Sum Su, a trader who we were already familiar with but whose food never disappoints. We were shown how the steamed buns are made and sampled the belly pork Bao, packed full of succulent and fragrant five spice meat, topped with a sprinkling of spring onion, coriander and peanuts. Super tasty and oh so fresh, a lovely light way to kick off our evening.


HomeBoys was founded by Masterchef 2015 finalist Pete Hewitt, with modern Asian inspired street food served from the side of a 1978 Grumman Olson Stepvan. We chose to share the Kara Age chicken wings and the pork sando bun. Kara Age simply refers to the technique of deep frying in oil - these chicken wings were coated in potato starch, for an incredible crisp finish, and were served with Japanese Kewpie mayo. The sando bun was mouth-wateringly good, with the accompaniments of pickled pineapple and kimchi being flavourful and unique. There was also something on top which I forget the exact name of but was described as a "low calorie pork scratching", what more could you ask for in life?! The two together were mega filling and both absolutely outstanding quality.


Despite being pretty stuffed already, we couldn't resist trying something with was completely unlike anything we've ever seen at this sort of event. And so our final choice was Platzki - a completely new offering to the street food world. We tried the pierogi (traditional mushroom and cabbage dumplings) and the "classic zap" - a Polish style baguette topped with mushrooms, onions and cheese. It was as long as Laura's forearm AND HAND and was bursting with earthy flavour. Worth mentioning as well that Peter, one of the three members of the Platzki team, came for a chat with us and is quite frankly fantastic - the most charismatic man in street food!


The next Street Food Warehouse event is taking place on February 13th, and we can't recommend it enough.

Cheers!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Sheffield Cookbook: Second Helpings

The second release of the Sheffield Cookbook, from Meze Publishing, is out now just in time for Christmas, and a veritable plethora of Sheffield's restaurants, cafe and pubs are showcasing their top recipes within. Now we're big fans of the first book, and have the Nottingham version too, and this second edition is MASSIVE... proof that Sheffield has a thriving and vibrant foodie scene!


Being the beery types that we are, one of the things that we first noticed about this book is that Sheffield breweries and pubs are very well represented. Abbeydale Brewery is represented by their pub, The Rising Sun in Nether Green, who's kitchen team have whipped up a rolled lamb breast dish with crispy lamb neck bon bons, using Abbeydale's Daily Bread (we have since been to the Rising Sun to taste this dish and can absolutely vouch for it's deliciousness!).


Sentinel Brewery have created a pork and black pudding Scotch egg (which has malt in the coating!), served with brown sauce made from brewer's wort - a really interesting way to incorporate beer and the brewing process into food!


If you're more of a dessert person, one of our favourite shops, Beer Central, has submitted a chocolate cake recipe using Thornbridge Brewery's sumptuous Cocoa Wonderland stout. Thornbridge's best bitter, Lord Marples, is also represented by the Stag's Head pub (which forms part of the Thornbridge portfolio) who use it as a braising liquor for their venison shank.

The recipes are mainly targeted towards pretty ambitious home cooking, but generally use ingredients that are easy to get hold of, making the book perfect for those who like a bit of a challenge in the kitchen. For example, the ham hock ballotine with textures of apple from Thyme Cafe is an excellent mix of simple flavour combinations, incorporating a more technical way of cooking. We're also dying to have a go at one of our absolute favourite dishes - Rico from the Rutland Arms has shared his secrets on how to recreate his INCREDIBLE cod dish, which comprises beautiful roasted fish with arroz nigre (a risotto type dish made with squid ink), braised octopus in garlic and smoked paprika XO emulsion. We always make a beeline for the Rutland whenever we spy this on the specials menu, and the recipe is detailed and informative enough that we have confidence we can at least have a go at doing the dish a bit of justice (we will report back in due course!).


So much deliciousness in every single one of it's 318 pages. Bravo, Sheffield Cookbook!

Cheers,

Jim and Laura

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Botanist Sheffield Launch Night

We're not usually ones to frequent chain establishments, preferring instead to support our local independents, but when we were invited along to the launch night of the newest addition to Sheffield's bar scene, The Botanist, the look of their cocktail menu alone made us decide it was worth making an exception. The Sheffield branch of the Botanist is the 10th of it's kind across the UK, run by the New Trading Company, and is based across three floors in fashionable Leopold Square.


We received a warm welcome from Ellie and the Botanist team and were ushered straight into the downstairs bar area where Laura dithered over the cocktail menu for far too long, eventually picking the signature "The Botanist" cocktail (vodka, rum and elderflower liqueur) upon the recommendation of the bar staff. Jim went for an All Day IPirinha - a clever twist on a beer cocktail with a miniature caiprinha served alongside a full can of Founders All Day IPA, meaning you could tailor the cocktail to your own exacting requirements. A good idea indeed. Both were presented beautifully and tasted wonderful, the Botanist getting more savoury than sweet as you continued to sip which was pleasantly surprising.


We then went upstairs to be seated. Instantly, the decor absolutely blew us away - it is absolutely stunning. Victoriana blends seamlessly with the floral theme and the entrance to the room, which has been made to resemble a woodland glade, made us feel like we were being transported to somewhere almost ethereal. The focal point of the dining room is a little bandstand, where on the night of our visit acoustic musicians added to the relaxed ambience of the room, even making Shaggy sound classy. Who knew this was a thing?! The venue plans to host "Sunday afternoon sessions" with this sort of feel, alongside evening gigs.


Onto the food! While we perused the cocktail menu (again), we welcomed a little nibble platter of pork crackling to the table, slightly Asian-inspired with chilli and spring onion (and we think soy sauce provided much of the saltiness), deliciously crunchy and served with sweet apple sauce which cut perfectly through the chilli... and can we all please take a moment to appreciate the tiny wheelbarrow?!


Starters arrived swiftly after along with our second cocktails of the evening. The homemade Scotch egg had a lovely runny middle, and came with a piccalli puree - initially a tad perturbing, but absolutely couldn't fault the flavour, tangy and piquant against the well-seasoned sausage meat and egg. The basket of wings was a generous portion, and again served in the most twee (in a good way) fashion in a little wicker picnic basket. The cocktails were just as impressive as the first round - the blackberry and mint julep was refreshing with a good kick from the bourbon, and the rosemary negroni was probably the nicest negroni I've ever had in a bar, with savoury bitterness coupling brilliantly with grapefruit and rosemary. It's worth mentioning that the spirit menu (particularly the gin) is extensive and the emphasis is on using quality, carefully selected options in the cocktails too - no sticking to "house" options here.


We both picked the "Hanging Kebabs" for main - Laura the jerk salmon with sweet potato fries, and Jim the salt and pepper belly pork with regular fries. When these arrived they looked spectacular, although it would have been good to have been informed that the vegetable component of the salmon kebab was sweet potato (this wasn't specified on the menu), as I'd then have picked a different side. It ended up being far too sweet potato heavy meaning I couldn't finish everything. The salmon was well cooked, though, and the jerk seasoning was spicy without being too overpowering. Jim's belly pork was melt in the mouth, but pretty heavy on the salt.


Jim couldn't resist his favourite sticky toffee pudding for dessert, accompanied by a Wild Beer Millionaire, a salted caramel stout which made the rich pudding even more of a treat.
Laura decided to refrain, instead choosing a sweeter cocktail to finish off the meal - a pear and cinnamon Sazerac, a well-balanced, slightly festive and imaginative twist on the classic.

We had been informed towards the start of the evening that staff training was still underway, with new members of staff shadowing more experienced members of the team. We really appreciated being informed of this - service was a tad reserved in places but having this explanation meant that in no way did we see this as a negative.


Overall, a hugely enjoyable evening. Although the main courses weren't quite up to the standard of the starters and nibbles, the lavish but welcoming feel of the venue and the outstanding, elegant cocktails more than made up for it and we'll undoubtedly be back to work our way through more of the menu.

Many thanks to the team for having us down!

Cheers,

Laura and Jim

Monday, 12 September 2016

Pizza School at Craft & Dough

Part of Sheffield's well-respected The Milestone group, Craft & Dough has got tasty pizza nailed. Add to that an improving beer selection and a cracking brunch menu and you're onto a winner. There are three sites across the city, and we were invited along to the Ecclesall Road venue (sure to be massively popular with the incoming student population) for the launch of their Pizza School events.

On a balmy Wednesday evening we strolled down and were greeted with a welcome drink, both going for Abbeydale Brewery's Rango Mango, a refreshing mango Berliner Weisse. The event was held in the upstairs space, with 8 of us in attendance - the perfect number, we all agreed, to allow everyone to get fully stuck in and have a good chat with the chef as well as each other. Our tutor for the evening was Jack, who as well as being a top notch pizza master is also a passionate pastry chef, creating all manner of delicious desserts too (which we'll definitely be going back to sample!).


After a welcome nibble platter featuring an array of cured meats, fresh bread, and chargrilled artichokes, it was onto the work. After being supplied with a very fetching disposable apron each, we combined our flour, oil, water and yeast (all pre-measured separately for us) and got our hands sticky diving in to create the dough. As soon as the mixture was kneaded enough to form a rough ball, it was time to add the salt, followed by a further ten minutes of kneading, provoking a little competition within the group of who could get the springiest dough! It was then revealed that our dough needed 6 hours to rest, which meant we were able to take our homemade version back with us to use another time (ours is happily sat in the freezer ready for a nice night in!) to be replaced by some that Jack had prepared earlier - to the relief of some of the group! After stretching the dough out into something that vaguely resembled a circle, it was time to add the toppings.


We were definitely spoilt for choice - a problem Jim overcame by chucking a bit of everything on. Laura was a tad more selective, going for beef brisket, balsamic onion, and honey roast parsnips with rosemary. Each ingredient had clearly had time and care taken over preparing it, and all meats are sourced locally. As it was such a lovely evening, we were able to cook our pizzas on the terrace (in bad weather, the larger oven in the main kitchen would be used). The only downside to this was that the outdoor oven could only cook one pizza at a time, but with a small group we didn't see this as a major problem, particularly as we were all chatting away throughout, thanks to the relaxed atmosphere created to Jack and the team. And the pizzas were definitely worth the wait!


The Introduction to Pizza courses will be run monthly and cost £20 per person which includes all your ingredients, the tuition of one of Craft and Dough's friendly chefs, and a drink. A lot of fun, a good value event, and one we'd definitely recommend. Just dress prepared to get covered in flour...


Big thanks to Jack and the Craft & Dough team!

Cheers,

Jim and Laura

Monday, 29 August 2016

BBQ and Brewers Night


North Union showcase at the BBQ Collective


Beer and food pairing events are more often than not top of our must-do list, and the BBQ Collective are definitely hosting some of the best in Sheffield. Each month, a different local brewery joins up with BBQ Collective head honchos Jeff and Mat to carefully and collaboratively consider and create a mouthwatering feast where the beer and food work perfectly together. Last month was the turn of one of the newest additions to Sheffield’s beer scene, North Union, based in a railway arch close to the Wicker in the city centre. Head brewer Iain Kenny presided over the proceedings with panache!


We kicked off the evening with a starter of rare beef tenderloin on homemade black pepper crispbread, with burrata and smoked tomato relish. The drink to accompany was a wonderful Oatmeal Stout at 4.8%, with a twist of being nitrogenated rather than being fused with Co2. The smaller NO2 bubbles meant the drink was smoother and creamier and slipped down an absolute treat. A very good example of the style.

The second course was a green chilli, smoked chicken and sweetcorn chowder served with a chicken skin cracker (we could have eaten a dish of these alone!). Alongside we were given a glass of North Union's core release, the Pale Ale, at 5.5% ABV. The crisp freshness of the beer paired really well and cut through the creamy chowder. Little hot link meatballs were a spicy, tasty treat in this one too!

A little surprise for the third course, as we were all ushered outside with a red cup each, into the sunshine where Iain was waiting with a party keg of his 7% imperial lager, “Shy Bairns Get Nowt”.  To go with the American house party feel, the food pairing was a corn dog, served with a dollop of homemade smoked ketchup and Alabama mustard sauce. Our first ever corn dogs and they were a veritable revelation. Crispy outer, doughy and indulgent corn bread inside, all wrapping up the BBQ Collective's signature spicy Texas hot link sausage. The beer was a little sweet for the tastes of some of the group, but we both loved it and we reckon it's damn near impossible to find any other beer with a more "Sheffield" name!


Smoked pork ribs with a tender delicious pull from the bone were up next, accompanied with Indonesian spices and noodles. While this combination might not be initially the most obvious, the outcome was incredible, and the fresh chilli heat from the noodles seemed to bring more flavour out in the sweet wood smoked meat. To pair, Craft Amber - a refreshing lager at 4.6% with a clean balanced palate and a light floral nose, which worked well to cleanse the palate in between bites and ensured that even though we were four courses in none of the flavours became too heavy.


The final course was shots! Dark chocolate and chilli ice cream with cherries, dark Guatemalan rum and the final beer of Dubbel at 6.5%. All rich and bold, the flavours of the three glasses complemented each other well, with rich malted roastiness from the beer echoing the chocolate notes in the ice cream, with a great boozy hit from the glass of rum. We'd have liked the ice cream to have been a little firmer (it was served almost as a milkshake) but this is a very minor criticism in what was frankly an ace meal all round.

There was one final surprise to come. Beer pong! Laura proved the victor and came home with a case of North Union Pale Ale and a red cup (of course) full of Jeff’s smoked tomatoes, which we had tons of fun experimenting with! We used them in a Korean influenced BBQ sauce, a slow cooked ox ragu, and a triple tomato bruschetta topping.

This was the third BBQ and Brewers Night we’ve attended, and it’s great to see that what could have potentially turned into a restrictive theme has just continued to grow, expand, and push the boundaries. Here’s to many more!

Cheers,

Jim & Laura

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Wet Yer Whiskers: A Collaboration Brew

What better way to celebrate Sheffield Beer Week than to brew a beer with some of our Steel City chums! Teaming with Meg and Chris from Karma Citra, we brewed with our day job mates Abbeydale Brewery.

We bandied around a few ideas before settling down on a classic oxymoronic beverage - the white stout. While yes, we know stout is just a traditional term for strong, in the current lexicon it is most commonly used as a dark beer descriptor.

Made with loads of coffee from local experts Pollards, cocoa nibs for a hit of rich sweetness and heaps of lactose, we aimed to create a beer that when drunk confuses as well as pleases.

The result? A 5.5% beauty we called Wet Yer Whiskers! Look out for it heading out on bars around Sheffield and beyond...

There are some hops underneath... Promise

Ar' Meg operating the squeegee


Chris is life and soul of all parties!


Brewsome Twosome

The final offering!


Cheers!

Laura, Jim, Chris and Meg

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Sheffield Beer Map

Are you in need of a beer in Sheffield? Hopefully this map will help you find some liquid refreshment. We have arranged the map into four areas of Sheffield and highlighted our recommended watering holes.



We will endeavour to keep the maps information updated. Anywhere you think we've missed please let us know.

Jim and Laura

Friday, 26 February 2016

Espresso Martinis

Much as we love our spirits unadulterated, we are also BIG fans of the odd cocktail or two. The espresso martini is one of our absolute favourites... rich, creamy and decadent. The absolute key to getting it right is using good quality ingredients - we go by the rule of never putting in a cocktail anything we wouldn't drink neat.

First of all, make the espresso. Instant coffee will in no way cut it, it needs to be the proper ground stuff.


Put a load of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add a double shot of vodka per person. We used Brittains vodka, made in Doncaster (always nice to keep things local!) and bought from one of our favourite independent shops, Mr Pickles. Next, a generous shot of coffee liqueur. Add a shot (or more, if you like it bitter) of espresso per portion and if you're feeling particularly swish, a little glug of chocolate syrup. The final ingredient is an egg white, very important for a lovely frothy top. Shake until you feel like your arms might fall off, then strain into martini glasses.


Enjoy!

L&J
"Serious GOURMET shit"

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Autumn menu launch: Forum, Sheffield

The Forum in Sheffield, part of the newly renamed True North Brew Co, had tended to fade into the background a little alongside it's sister venues, with us more likely to choose to eat and drink at The Broadfield or The Old House. However, having received an invitation from manager Miles (formerly of the Broadfield) to try out their revamped Autumn menu, and having had a frankly awesome evening doing so, it's abundantly clear that we were being unfair to True North's flagship venue.

We arrived at 7pm and were greeted by Miles himself (who's traded in his Broadfield beard for a trendy city centre moustache, with great pizazz) and Forum's take on an Aperol spritz, adding prosecco and grapefruit bitters. This was a pleasantly refreshing and lightly bittered autumnal cocktail which got the evening off to a great start. Whilst we sipped on these, executive chef Andy Burns introduced the menu to us. It was quite a surprise (the good kind!) to discover that the menu is themed around a fusion of traditional British dishes and Korean fare, taking inspiration from the increasingly popular street food festivals which have sprung up all over the country in the past couple of years. Andy explained that he wanted to keep the "hand food" sort of style which has always worked so well at the Forum, whilst juxtaposing familiar menu items with something a bit more adventurous. The result is a modern, exciting menu which definitely offers something different to our local scene.


The first dishes presented to us were the spicy sriracha hummus with pitta chips, baby back ribs with a honey and sesame seed marinade, and a gorgeously tangy blue cheese rarebit fondue served with hearty slices of sourdough (all £3.95 or 3 for £10). Following this were two types of steamed buns - kimchi pork belly, and bulgogi beef (also in the same 3 for £10 deal). These were Laura's favourite offering of the night - both absolutely bursting with flavour, aromatic, wonderfully seasoned, and the soft steamed buns were a delight to eat. This sharing food style of starters worked really well and I'd say for a group of four that three dishes would be just right to nibble on before main courses.

Next up was the second cocktail of the evening - a soju daiquiri made with muddled sweet potato, lime and agave syrup. Now this sounded slightly odd, but was a revelation... tasting just like sherbet lemons!

 Onto the mains, where firstly we sampled the pork tomahawk steak (£9.95) - the meat was wonderfully cooked and beautifully succulent, with the soy and ginger glaze giving just the right balance of salty and sharp sweetness. This was served with skinny house fries and roasted vine tomatoes, which were both good accompaniments.

The food just kept on coming! The chicken and tofu skewers and Korean pork belly burrito (all £8.50) were both familiar enough to have all-round appeal, whilst offering a tasty twist too. We both really enjoyed mini versions of the classic beef burger - the meat is sourced from one of our favourite local suppliers, Mr Pickles, which demonstrates the Forum kitchen's commitment to quality. These were served on buttermilk buns from Seven Hills Bakery, another Sheffield gem. We also tried the cod pakora, which were a great idea, but a little underseasoned on this occasion. Lastly was the shaved bulgogi beef - thinner strips of the same flavoured meat as those spectacular steamed buns. Bulgogi is a new one on us - apparently it means "fire meat" - a very pleasing concept, I'm sure you will agree. It did not disappoint - tender to the point of falling apart in the mouth, with a rich and fruity flavour from the marinade and an almost caramelised characteristic from the traditional grilling techniques used to cook it.


Finally, we reached desserts. The two of us shared a Hotteok - a Korean style filled pancake with seeds, which was almost crumpetty (definitely a word), served with Yee Kwan coconut and chocolate ice cream. Despite being absolutely stuffed, we also couldn't resist trying the deep fried ice cream sandwich, which was like a classy seaside donut! There were also salted rolo brownies to try, which the rest of the table vouched for as delicious, but we really couldn't fit one in.

We ended the evening with our third and final cocktail, which was a inventive take on a whisky sour. Peaty, smoky Bowmore 12 and delicately punchy St Germain elderflower liqueur combined with lemon to produce the perfect palate cleanser. Although the Islay whisky wasn't to everyone's taste, the balance was just right and it didn't overpower. A good example of how the Forum's cocktail menu, like True North's other venues, combines classic recipes with exciting new elements, resulting in a range of drinks that is quite unique. A winner in our book!

Action shot!
We had a fantastic evening all round and it was great to catch up with Sheffield blogging friends old and new! Despite the absolute FEAST we were presented with, there's still plenty of dishes we'd love to try (crispy pigs ears with a blue cheese dipping sauce, HELLO... plus the brunch menu looks delicious), so we'll definitely be back. Big thanks to Miles, Andy and the rest of the Forum team!

Cheers,

Laura & Jim

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Mr Flavour Review

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that we love both eating out, and cooking up a bit of a storm at home. Sitting neatly in between the two, Mr Flavour is a brand new Sheffield business, which aims to deliver restaurant style meals to your door - an interesting and original concept which we were certainly curious to try.

We were invited to try out the service before the launch, and were presented with the pressed shoulder of lamb with rosemary crushed potatoes, confit garlic and aubergine puree, sauteed courgettes and grape chutney. Lamb jus and a herb crust were also included for extra special "cheffy" touches. The ingredients arrived in a simple paper bag, with everything pre-prepped ready to be heated. Each food item was labelled (with allergen information and use-by dates clearly displayed) and an easy to follow instruction sheet was also included.


Oven ready 
All that was really required was cooking the lamb (which we chose to pan fry quickly before popping it in the oven, as recommended on the instruction sheet for an extra layer of flavour - this also made the kitchen smell glorious), frying the courgettes until tender, and heating up the other ingredients, "boil in the bag" style. There was nothing that hadn't been thought of, and the whole process took just twenty minutes, so this service would be perfect as an after-work treat at the end of a busy day and is much more special than a takeaway.

Plating the meal up was fun, with tips provided on how to make the dish look as though it'd come from a restaurant kitchen... not a skill we've quite mastered (don't think we have the crockery for it!), but it still looked pretty enticing by the time everything was on the plate.

And so, on to the eating! Each ingredient was carefully thought through, meaning that everything worked perfectly together and tasted fantastic. The balance of flavours was excellent, and the instructions resulted in well-cooked lamb which fell apart as soon as the fork got anywhere near it, exactly how we like it. What was especially pleasing for us is that the components we enjoyed the most were those which we wouldn't think to make ourselves at home - the confit garlic and aubergine puree was full of flavour and the grape chutney added a deliciously tangy burst of freshness. The portion sizes were generous but manageable - just right. The only disadvantage was that we had to do our own washing up (although even this was considerably less than if we'd cooked a meal such as this from scratch!).


We did notice from the first week's menu that there doesn't seem to be a vegetarian main meal openly available at the moment, although this is certainly the sort of thing that can be developed as the business grows. However, it's definitely worth getting in touch with Mr Flavour himself, who is on hand to answer any questions (by email, at mrflavour.sheffield@gmail.com, or on twitter), and is also happy to make a whole host of bespoke orders provided they're pre-ordered, including fresh pasta and pastry dough, to make your own favourite dishes that much easier to prepare. Taking it one step further, you can even order a dinner party menu with key ingredients of your choice - a great idea for less confident cooks, or just so you can sit back and spend more time with your guests.

Overall, cooking this dish was straightforward and fun to make. The end result was definitely a meal we'd have been pleased to have eaten at a restaurant (and very good value), and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend the service to others (delivery is currently available across S7, S8, S10, S11, S17 and S18).

Cheers,

L&J

The ingredients for the meal were all provided free-of-charge for review purposes, opinions all our own

Friday, 3 April 2015

A Firkin Beer Festival at Picture House Social

Since the bar under the old Abbeydale Cinema, right in the heart of our local stomping ground on Abbeydale Road, was re-opened last year as Picture House Social, it's quickly become one of our go-to places for a relaxed meal and a good drink. So when we heard there was a beer festival curated by the excellent bottle shop Hop Hideout (conveniently located just across the road from the Picture House) we had to pop in for a few.


With 18 beers on the festival bar and another 3 on keg, the range of beers was excellent for such a fledgling festival. Tons of variety and oodles of quality were on offer, with intriguing beers and exciting collaborations aplenty.

First up was a collaboration brew from Fyne Ales and Siren, Wee Milky Way - a 3.1% Black IPA brewed with lactose. Creamy, rich and smooth with a powerful hoppy aroma. A great example of how a lower ABV doesn't mean the taste has to be comprised.

Bad Seed and Northern Alchemy have teamed up to create a Belgian Rose ale (4%), with rose petals added in to the fermenter. Rose tends to be one of those flavours that divides people, but we really enjoyed it - delicately balanced, with just the right amount of floral headiness. Lovely.

With Dinner for Two and Dinner for Three, Vienna pale ales from Siren and Elusive Brewery, both available,  a little taste comparison seemed a good idea. Sampling the releases side by side, the high vienna malt bill gave a biscuity quality to both. Dinner for Two had a tad more bitterness, with Dinner for Three being slightly more floral. While both of these beers are made using similar recipes we each had a different favourite of the two.

We ended the evening on a Cromarty Anniversary III Belgian Quad at the lofty strength of 11%, and crikey was it good. Big fruity flavours, figs and caramels combined with the characteristic belgian floral yeastiness that comes with a quadruple stout overwhelmed the palate deliciously, and frankly despite the high strength it was altogether too easy to drink. We had another.

Alongside all this festival fun, it has to be said that Picture House Social has quickly made a reputation for itself as a purveyor of excellent pizza and snacks. Our favourites are the anchovy and salsa verde pizza, the anchovies giving a real salty hit, with the fresh herby nature of the salsa providing a good level of balance, and the meatball piadina - a cross between a pizza and a sandwich, stuffed full of tasty meatballs, spicy tomato sauce and some leafy greens.

The arancini, served with salsa verde, are the perfect little snack - a crisp outer shell with the perfect amount of melted cheese in the middle. They're just about bitesized, but don't be fooled to gobble a whole one as the centre remains at a molten temperature for an AGE. These went brilliantly with Buxton Brewery's Ace Edge - a Sorachi Ace hopped variation on their Axe Edge IPA.

The regular drinks menu is extensive and interesting, with unusual draught beer, a great bottle menu from Hop Hideout, and a cocktail menu which changes monthly. An eclectic mix of 60s tunes, psychedelia and indie vibes, played at a volume that doesn't instantly put a stop to all conversation, provide a laid back atmosphere.

The whole complex is ever-improving, with one room being brought back to life at a time. Alongside the broodingly elegant main bar, and the diner-style eating area, the festival area is usually a games room complete with table tennis tables. Most recently, there's even a mini-cinema, a brilliant nod to this building's former purpose.

The festival is running throughout the Easter bank holiday weekend, so still plenty of time to try some of these brilliant beers for yourselves!

Cheers,

L&J