Great looking ketchup from Adnams


I obviously haven’t been to Stamford for a while, as Adnams as always on my list of places to stop by. And looking at their ketchup, then they’ve obviously been doing some packaging updates.


Adnams Tomato Ketchup


Their previous ketchup was lovely in both design and taste, so be happy to give this one a try too. I could also be tempted to push the boat out and have a full trio with the BBQ sauce and the brown sauce (although I’m very devoted to HP). And no doubt the beer chutney should be good, given their pedigree.

Off to check my diary, seeing when I get a trip to Stamford in.


Gifts for beer lovers for Christmas and beyond


If you’ve got a beer appreciator or true connoisseur, then you’re not going to really get away with a four pack of Special Brew for them as a gift this Christmas. Or pretty much anytime! So here are some possible choices, liquid and otherwise.

I love Adnams, although I am more biased towards their excellent gin and kitchenwares. But if you need a beer choice, then there’s always their Sole Bay Celebratory Beer. Which is a bit of a crossover towards wine territory, with its gentle fizz, and some floral notes. Looks rather snazzy too.


33 Bottles of Beer Tasting Book

If they are very keen, then perhaps they need a tasting notebook. I rather like this one, both in terms of the design of the cover but also it’s very comprehensive in terms of what to record about each beer. Probably a good prompt by the 20th one! (UPDATE: sadly no longer available)


Beer of the month


Perhaps you could make it the gift that keeps on giving, with perhaps a beer of the month subscription, which lasts three months, or even the beer for the year, which means a box arrives every quarter.


Barretts Ridge Beer Bread Mix - great gift for a food lover who loves their beer and their bread


If you want to give something beer related but not actually beer, then how about the Barrett’s Ridge Beer Bread Mix? There are several flavous, and it’s attractively packaged too. It’s a good simple bread to make, so you could even be enjoying this by Christmas Day teatime.


Beer Lover's Gift Crate from the Gluttonous Gardener - great gift for a food lover with green fingers


I’m not sure one hop will make them many brews, but I love the idea of this gift crate from the Gluttonous Gardener, complete with a Golden hop plant. It comes with a bottle of St Peter’s Golden Ale, so a sort of drink before you grow kind of moment! (UPDATE: sadly no longer available).


Craft Beer Gift Pack


I like the Craft Beer Gift Pack available from Ales by Mail, which are pulled from small UK breweries, and across styles of brewing. There’s a stout, an IPA and a lager, so a good variety for them to enjoy tasting.

There are so many small breweries that are cropping up around the country, so maybe you could track down a local producer to shop with. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Tickety Brew, so if they’re local to you then please go and track them down at farmers’ markets around the North West in the run up to Christmas.


Surely time for more gin?


There was a great taste test in the Guardian on Saturday, which brought back happy memories of a night of gin tasting round here. And that was nearly two years ago, and the gin scene has really continued to explode since then, and there are a whole heap of new gins around now compared to then.


Adnams Copper House First Rate Gin - great gift for a food lover who loves their gin


Last year I did try the Adnams Copper House Distilled Gin, which I was rather partial to. The tasting notes say juniper, six botanicals and sweet orange. I say, ice and a slice please. Which makes me quite keen to try their First Rate Gin, which I am quite sure it is.


Portobello Road Gin - great gift for a food lover who loves their gin


I would love to try the Portobello Road gin, and think an afternoon or three at the Ginstitute would be right up my street. This sounds beautifully balanced, between the citrus notes and the spice notes. Only one way to find out I guess!


Botanivore from St Georges Spirits - great gift for a food lover who loves their gin


I’d also bookmarked a piece about the renaissance in gin production also happening the other side of the Atlantic. I cannot say I’ve ever had an American gin. Although partaken of plenty of gin in America to be fair! I would like the irony of trying the various gins from St George Spirits, particularly the Botanivore. I would think this is produced in small quantities, and therefore not always available here, but it looks like The Whiskey Exchange carry it when available.

So, those three would see me set up for a good evening with good friends, and some serious rounds of G&T’s and even a few martinis. But if you’ve got another one you think I should try let me know!


Great food all the time in Stamford


Wonderful eating, drinking and shopping in Stamford


Not sure what to do today? If you’re not too far away, then I’d head to Stamford for the inaugural Stamford Feast. I love that it says it’s about celebrating culture through cuisine, and there is no better way to do that. Stamford is beautiful at the best of times, and if the weather is lovely then it will be a great event. Plenty of food and wine tasting, great local producers.

If today’s not your day to visit, then make some time another day, as there are some great treats in store for the food lovers. Here’s my pick:

The Fine Food Store – coffee stop and great deli too. Whether you’re in for breakfast or just elevenses, there’ll be plenty to tickle your fancy. Which may or may not include the tart of the day.

Hambleton Bakery – the place to stop for bread and baked goods. Not cheap, but fantastic. I love their English muffins, and their sourdough is worth taking home.

The Stamford Cheese Cellar – great range of cheeses, both from the local area and further afield. Great range of chutneys and pickles, not to mention local honey from a number of different producers. Just need to get themselves sorted with any kind of website, as nothing to connect to to give you more info. Find them at 17 St Mary’s Street

Adnams Cellar & Kitchen – obviously not confined to Stamford, but nearly always pop in, if only to see what tastings are on that day. Good stop for food and drink gifts, both edible and non edible, as the kitchenware selection is pretty extensive too. Can’t get there? Online shop is pretty darn good too.

The Tobie Norris – fantastic choice for lunch, or spending the afternoon in its lovely garden, the Tobie Norris can keep everyone happy. If you love real ale, you’ll be well catered for, with Adnams, Ufford Ales and a selection from micro breweries around the UK. After that, you’ll need something filling, so suggest you go for their stone baked pizzas, cooked in their specially imported Italian ovens.


Discover this beautiful town, it will be time well spent! There are also some lovely places to stay if you fancy exploring for a bit longer, or indulging in dinner as well.

Great shot of strolling around Stamford, which is the perfect thing to do, by Jon Smith on Flickr.


New beers for your street party


It wouldn’t be a Royal Wedding without a street party, commemorative mugs and specially brewed beers for the occasion! Here’s a round up of a few special bottles you might want to order in for the day.

Windsor Knot for the Royal Wedding

Windsor Knot from Windsor & Eton Brewery – brewed almost on the doorstep of Windsor Castle, this brew incorporates two specially selected hops, the aptly named Sovereign and Nelson Sauvin. The latter hop is supposed to have a white wine fruitiness similar to the Sauvignon grape. The label shows swans making a heart shape. Regal and lovely, or kitsch and yuck? Either way, the beer sounds good!

Kiss Me Kate from Castle Rock Brewery

Kiss Me Kate from Castle Rock Brewery – a local brewery to me, as they are based at the foot of Nottingham Castle. According to the Head Brewer, this is a great British beer, full of British hops and barley, elegant, tasteful and British to the core. Hmm, unlike the Royal family then. Available on draught in pubs, and also bottled versions available nationwide at Morrisons.


Adnams Royal Wedding Ale

Adnams Royal Wedding Ale – Adnams has been brewing Royal Wedding ales for three generations now, and this year’s is designed to celebrate the new generation of royals, combining classic and vibrant modern styles. This one has a great sounding description: a slight floral sweetness balanced by the biscuity malt and crisp bitterness. This one contains lavender honey, with the tradition of adding honey to beer said to have been the source of the word honeymoon. We had a mini cask of this last night to go with a BBQ, and even most of the non beer drinkers, myself included, really enjoyed it. Light, slightly sweet and very drinkable!


Matrimoniale from Westerham Brewery

Matrimoniale from Westerham Brewery – my favourite name for a special beer, very clever. It also turns out to be the Italian for the matrimonial double bed, so specially appropriate. Sadly, very little other information exists, obviously a secret brew.


Royal Kiss from Southport Brewery – made with English hops and malt to give a full-bodied bitterness and a hoppy, fruity aftertaste. I’m not entirely convinced that full-bodied bitterness is something we should wish on any couple!

Royal Wedding Cider

Royal Wedding Cider from Tutts Clump Cider – one for the non beer drinkers, this is a medium sweet cider, handmade from apples mainly from West Berkshire, and brewed in Bradfield, where Kate has previously lived. Not sure they serve it at Mahiki but worth a bottle or two perhaps.


These feel like very British tipples to suit a very British street party. Possibly unopened ones may be worth something in years to come but, really, what’s the point in that?


Quick pick – Go on a Beer Safari


I’m off travelling again for a week, so just some very quick ideas around things to look forward to or things to cheer up grey winter days.

First off, how about something to look forward to this summer? A trip to Suffolk perhaps? A trip around Suffolk involving beer? Could it possibly get better than that?

Food Safari are a great business, and their Beer Safari takes place at the end of July. Perfect for a beer lover, or even one who just quite likes it, this would be a great day out. You take in a hop farm, a malting barley farm and then onto Adnams, and I imagine there’s a bit of beer on the way.

You could then retreat somewhere lovely for the night. I’m very fond of the Crown at Southwold, had a fantastic meal there and a comfortable night’s sleep. So go on, give yourself and/or a loved one something to look forward to!

Photo from the Adnams tour by Fimb on Flickr.


Cry “God for Hops, Eating and St George”



Celebrating on St George's Day - England expects great gifts for food lovers

Apologies to Will, particularly as it’s the anniversary of his birth and death on the same day, but St George’s Day really should be a call for celebrating what’s great in English food. Let the French scoff, but the renaissance, revival and reinvention of British food hasn’t left a corner of this sceptred isle untouched. But without a brewery with a black beer to push the day, celebrating St George’s Day has never really taken off to the same extent.

So here’s a few things I think you could get in to create your own St George’s Day feast.

* What to toast the day with? Well, if you fancy beer, then what about ordering in the Champion Beer Box from Adnams? I can’t think of a more English environment than Southwold, so this mix of their best beers would seem like a great way to get things started. Or what about a G&T, with something like SW4 gin, part of the vanguard of new London gins. There again if it has to be fizz, then I would say it has to be Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2003, not long since pronounced best in the world in blind tastings.

* What would you pick for a starter? Some might say pork pie, but then they might have given the same answer if I had asked about dessert. They could pick Mrs King’s above , but my personal vote would always go to Brays Cottage. Then you could try something like London Cure Smoked Salmon, from Forman & Field, which has a long history. Or you could go for Cromer crab, or Lindisfarne Oysters. Anything except tomato soup really.

* Main course? Well, perhaps we  have to go with stereotypes, as what can top a really fabulous plate of roast beef? But of course you have to get great English beef to start with. For me, I would go local and buy from Northfield Farm, well renowned for their beef. Their beef is hung for 3 to 4 weeks and comes from either Dexters or White Park Cattle, and the flavours and textures have always been incredible. They are a welcome sight at any country or food fair in our area, and are often at Borough Market I understand.

* There are so many choices for dessert, but it feels like it should be a proper pudding. MGG would choose Sticky Toffee Pudding, and she is very fond of the Cartmel one. I’d also be tempted to buy a Bakewell Pudding, as opposed to a tart, for something very English but slightly different.

* Cheese. You know what? Just go mad! So much good stuff to choose from. Get to your local farmer’s market, or try Paxton & Whitfield or Neal’s Yard for mail order for a huge variety of English cheeses, new and old.

To be honest, if you can’t be bothered to go mad with 4 courses, then I would say a few really good sausages, some great black pudding and some great bread, and you’re ready to go. A great English sausage and black pudding sandwich with a glass of Vimto and I defy you not to toast St George’s health!

Love this St George’s Day photo by Jonathan Beard Photography over on Flickr.

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The Annual Pickled Onion Hunt


It's the pickled onion time of year


I know some look forward to this time of year. Nothing to do with the exchange of gifts, the bon homie, the endless turkey. No, it’s all to do with pickled onions. Just the one jar that might arrive in a house each year, just in time for cold cuts and chips on Boxing Day.

The choice here was always the same: Garners Pickled Onions. I don’t know why, definitely a traditional choice, and widely available. If you want something a little more artisanal, then try Mrs Darlington’s.

If you wanted something a little more gourmand, then I would say you have to go for the Italian version. Generally, they come preserved in either red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar. I am a bit defeated by finding a source for them in the UK, certainly online. And I guess it would be a little extravagant to fly to Italy just for pickled onions…! But if you know anyone going, then ask them to look out for some and bring a jar back for you.

Personally, I will be adding sweet olive, fig and almond relish to my plate of cold turkey. I’ve also got a jar of Adnams Beer Chutney to start at Christmas too, which sounds very tasty. A mix of spices, chunky fruit and Broadside beer, I’d take this over Garner’s any day!