Upping Your Grilling Game

I've spent the last few years obsessively following barbecue shows on youtube and reading everything by Meathead Goldwyn.... especially the Science of Great Barbecue

and I've discovered most of what I thought I knew about grilling was wrong (or could be done much better).

Here's a couple of pro tips for the best possible steaks you can grill at home.

 

Learn how to choose quality cuts - preferably grass fed and an inch and a half thick 

Season your steaks - Two hours before cooking pat the meat thoroughly dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle salt on on both sides of the meat. Put it back in the fridge.

Print off this temperature guide - and leave it near your barbecue.

Buy a Chimney Starter
Buy a quality Super-Fast Thermapen
Buy a Wireless thermometer

Learn how to setup your grill for Two Zone Grilling 
Read up on how to Reverse Sear

When you hit your perfect temperature
Finish with the Afterburner Method

The result is genuine  ‪#‎Barbecue_Heaven‬ 

 

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Le Fizz

This is a favourite go-to cocktail of mine. It's light and refreshing with a beautiful bubbly zesty zing. You could easily offer this instead of a glass of cava of prosecco - 

You will need -

1 1/2 Parts Absolut Vodka

1 Part  St Germain elderflower liqueur

1/4 lime 

2 Parts Soda Water

 

Get your hands on… A champagne flute, A shaker, Some cubed ice and a strainer

Follow these steps…

Build all the ingredients apart from soda water in a cocktail shaker

Top with cubed ice

Then shake hard for about 20 seconds to chill the liquid really well

Fine strain into a chilled flute

Top with chilled soda water and enjoy

Bloody Excellent Bloody Mary

How to craft the perfect Bloody Mary is a well contested issue ...

Everyone has their own perfect recipe. Personally ... I like a little heat and plenty of layers of flavour.  I have a chili bacon celery vodka infusion I made back before Christmas that is simply delicious in a Bloody Mary - but with this recipe, Absolut will work perfectly.

I like to make a large batch so I fill the blender with the following

3 large stalks of celery (including leaves),  put some aside for garnish

2 tbsp horseradish

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1/4 small yellow onion (grated)

2 lemons juiced

1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce 

Dash of garlic pepper

Splash of red wine vinegar

Dashes of hot sauce ( I like Mics Chilli sauce but you know how much heat you like - act accordingly)

10 caper berries

200 ml beef stock (yes beef stock ... that's the secret ingredient)

1 carton of Tomato juice

Blitz in the blender, add a shot of absolut and add your garnish of choice - pickled onion, celery stick, olives, bacon, whatever you fancy.

That spicy, salty umami goodness is hard to beat. Let me know how you get on.

 

Fun with Flavoured Infusions

I have been experimenting with some gin and vodka based infusions. I've prepared sampler selections of several umami (savoury) vodkas and a few unusual gin combinations too. Savoury cocktails are all the rage at the moment - imagine making a bloody mary with a  bacon, celery and chili pepper vodka. This is pretty easy to do. You just need a few air tight jars, whatever ingredients you'd like to infuse and your base spirit of choice. Its best to go for a mid range spirit. If you cheap out, the infused flavour won't disguise the poor spirit and at the other end of the scale you're not going to be able to taste an expensive filtered vodka once you've added a touch of fruit.

All you need to do is decide what you'd like to infuse. (See full instructions after the photos)

I choose Absolut vodka and Beefeater gin and concocted the following

Blackberry & Thyme Infused Gin

Raspberry Infused Gin

Apple Pear Ginger Infused Gin

Cucumber & Lime Infused Gin

 Rosemary Infused Vodka

Crushed Peppercorn Infused Vodka

Celery Infused Vodka

Chili Pepper Vodka

 Bacon Infused Vodka

Just add your ingredients to each jar and fill with your spirit of choice - vodka, gin, rum, whatever you like. Then just store in a dark cupboard. Shake once a day. Taste a sip each night, to see if you've reached what you are looking for. Herbs, fruit and spices all infuse at a different rate, some may take a day, others may take 3 - 4 days. Once you're happy with the taste, just run the liquid through a sieve to remove the fruit and then through a coffee filter a few times. Then re-bottle and store for your next party. There is one additional step with the bacon infusion - you will need to pop it in the freezer when it's done, the fat will go hard, and then you can filter. Repeat the freeze /  filter process a couple of times to get a less cloudy bacon vodka.    

One thing I would recommend is record everything. You want to be able to recreate the successful ones and tweak the ones that don't work out, so label each jar with the ingredients and quantities inside.  

Shout out if you have any thoughts, tips or questions. And let us know how you get one. Have fun.

Finest Pot Still Rum

For centuries, the finest rums, like whiskeys, were made in pot stills. Traditionally, pot still rums from several different origins were married together to produce the most coveted rums, rich and complex with flavor. This costly and time-consuming method of distillation has now all but vanished. Today, most rum brands are the product of a column still or a combination of column still and pot still rums. Furthermore, most rum brands are the product of a single country.

We have a limited supply of the rare Sea Wynde pot-still rum. It is a blend of 5 rums from Jamaica and Guyana aged in oak casks, so if Rum is your drink of choice I highly recommend picking up a bottle of this Sea Wynde.

Sea Wynde is a rum unlike any other. Not only is it made using the traditional pot still technique, but it also marries rums from Jamaica and Guyana, creating a rich flavor that could never be reproduced by column stills used today, and also proves that two are better than one. In fact, Sea Wynde is the only rum we have come across to combine pure pot still rums from these two countries. The individual rums are aged in small oak casks, some in the Carribbean and some in the UK. Once all the individual casks are selected, the rums are vatted together prior to bottling.

Sea Wynde is bottled in small batches and, like a vintage wine, the flavor of each bottling will vary. It is a rum of honeyed richness and subtle complexity which places it in a class of its own, and demonstrates the benefits of sticking with tradition. Sea Wynde Pot Still Rum allows you to experience the invigorating taste of the Caribbean and South America any time of year so give us a shout while stock lasts.

 

Our New Wines

We recently became the only Irish importers of some excellent wines from a small boutique wine producer in Tuscany. We sampled a lot of Spanish and Italian wines over the summer but the Tigliano, Filetto and Mania were head-and-shoulders above all the others. These have been some of the best wines we’ve tasted this year and we hope you will enjoy them too. To cover a variety of price points we selected an entry level wine, a mid range wine and a high end (Supertuscan) offering.

Tigliano is a clear ruby Tuscan red, a blend of cabernet, syrah and sangiovese. It has a bouquet of fragrant fruit flavours including blackberry and raspberry.  It is well balanced with soft tannins, good structure and persistence. Tigliano at this price point is one of the best entry level wines I’ve come across.  

In the mid range we recommend the Filetto Chianti; it is 100% sangiovese and has been produced in an international style. There is delicious red fruit on the nose with noticeable blackberry, strawberry and raspberry on the palate.

Finally, at the top end, we have Mania Supertuscan. This is a wine lover's wine; both rich and complex with an initial bouquet reminiscent of blackberries, black cherries, and plums. This is followed by hints of cinnamon, vanilla, leather, tobacco, violet and pepper. It’s a dark ruby red, sangiovese, merlot and cabernet blend. It has a rich strong structure with powerful but well-balanced tannins. This is from an upcoming top class wine maker whose prices are currently very good value for money. I predict that it is only a matter of time before this producer gets ‘discovered’ by renowned reviewers.  

As a self-confessed wine geek I'm proud to be able to offer wines at the quality of these and I trust you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Exciting Times for Irish Whiskey

The spirits industry can be fickle as trends come and go quickly. Several years ago there was a huge vodka phase which was followed by a trendy high-end rum phase. Right now, Gin is the belle of the ball, but whiskey is beginning to really take off in a way that hasn't happened in a very... very long time.

Could Irish Whiskey finally be claiming its rightful place on the world stage?  Back in 1897 Dublin was the distillery capital of the world, the four largest distilleries put out a combined total of 11 million litres. From that point on it all went pear-shaped and our Scottish cousins cleverly out-manoeuvred us by supplying a thirsty USA during prohibition. Irish whiskey has played catch up since.

Until 2013 there were just four operating distilleries in Ireland, all owned by large international corporations: Kilbeggan, Cooley, Bushmills and Midleton

But now Irish whiskey is experiencing double-digit growth and new distilleries are popping up to meet this demand - Dingle Distillery, Echlinville Distillery, Teeling Whiskey Company, Great Northern Distillery, Portaferry Distillery, Tullamore Dew Distillery, Slane Castle Distillery, Belfast Distillery, Walsh Whiskey Distillery and Boann Distillery.

These guys have seen a global demand for quality Irish whiskey and they're in it for the long haul. Exciting times indeed.

 

Crafting Great Cocktails

I have friends who are partial to a cocktail but they have admitted they find the prospect rather intimating. I have recently discovered that I don't, in fact, need hundreds of bottles to make great cocktails. Actually all we need is a select few quality basic bottles, some bitters, sugar syrup and enthusiasm.

A great guide would be something like The 12 Bottle Bar specifically created to make classic cocktails accessible to the home bartender, with just 12 bottles (or less). It teaches you how to make simple syrup and how to start making great drinks without the expense.

Another place to get some excellent information for the home mixologist would be Jamie Oliver's wonderful Drinkstube - this is a Youtube channel dedicated to showing how easy it is to craft great drinks, with minimum fuss.

Or you could follow our Facebook or Twitter feeds for regular updates. It is our plan to promote any good links or recipes we find.

Champagne

A friend of mine is something of an expert in Champagne. I fancy myself as knowing quite a bit but on our selection of bubbly I have deferred to his good counsel.

The champagne he recommends is by Marc Hébrart, a small but exciting producer who produces pinot-noir dominated Champagnes from the firm’s own high-quality vineyards in Mareuil sur Aÿ. 

Having researched a bit more we found that Hébrart is a small family run house founded by Marc in 1964, but now run by his son Jean Paul. Only a small percentage of the wine is exported, with most of production entirely swallowed up by the French themselves. They used to solely provide grapes to some of the big Champagne houses before more recently choosing to bottle their own produce under their own name.

So what’s so good about that, you ask? 

Well growers champagnes usually hope to express their own terroir - often from a single vineyard or from a small patch of land– much more than the large Champagne Houses. The latter by necessity are made from a blend of many vineyards and areas– often 50 or more wines are blended into the typical non-vintage négociant Champagne. How could any Champagne produced in this manner reflect its terroir? 

This champagne by Marc Hébrart was a Sunday Times Wine Club hit and picked up commendations at the recent Masters of Wine Champagne event. In various reviews it was described as “full flavoured with excellent balance and length”, “simply delicious” and rather strangely described in one review as “intellectually engaging” . This last sound bite sounds more like House of Cards review than something I would drink but there you go.

We are delighted to be able to offer a small allocation of the Marc Hébrart Non Vintage Champagne.