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Q&A : Andy Allen, Snaffling Pig Co.

We meet Andy from Snaffling Pig at the start of London Beer Week 2016. A busy week for a pork scratching producer. But like the quality beer being celebrated at festivals such as London Beer Week these are no standard pork scratchings. So we sat down to find out more about the people behind the ideal quality snack to accompany that ever so glorious pint of beer.Continue Reading →

To Casheese or not to Casheese

I’m sure I’m not the first to mention that Christmas is full of eating, drinking and being merry. So we thought it prescient to introduce you to a great little treat we happened upon recently. Me met the founder of Gozo Deli and the maker of Casheese, Lydia Davidson. We loved the creamy cheese she spread liberally over the old classic cream cracker, and whilst dreaming of a little glass of port to accompany, she revealed there was in fact no cheese in this little jar of Casheese…..

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Pottering About in The Kitchen with Kylee Newton.

‘I often joke that I have a dealer in Colombia.’ Kylee Newton is, of course, talking about fruit. Fruit which makes it into the jarfuls of preserves that leave her kitchen every week and contribute to the 130 recipes that will grace the pages of her new book The Modern Preserver.

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Take breaks and make lunch better!

Be honest – when was the last time you took a proper lunch break, that’s to say, a full hour away from your desk, without checking your phone or emails? If you can remember, you’re in the minority. The Holborn ponders why lunch is not just an enjoyable part of the day – it’s essential for health, wellbeing and productivity.

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Dates for your diaries: Gourmet Dinners hosted by the ETM Group

For many, a night out at a restaurant is a much-anticipated treat every month or so. If this is the case, best to head somewhere that is sure to provide a memorable experience of quality food and attentive service to avoid a lingering feeling of disappointment.

A sound choice is a booking at one of the monthly food and wine dinners hosted at one of the ETM Group’s gastro pubs and brasseries across central London.

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Have a storming time at Le Garrick on Bastille Day, 14th July 2015

This year Bastille Day falls on a Tuesday – not the most typical day for a party, but there will be celebrations nonetheless, bien sur.

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The Botanist Broadgate Circle

London is most certainly a city of villages: whether you are loyal to the tribes of the north, south, east or west, you are never too far from a venue owned by the ETM Group, which has gastro pubs all over town. Over the past 15 years brothers Ed and Tom Martin have learnt a thing or two about adapting successful concepts to their location. The Botanist Broadgate Circle is virtually unrecognisable from its West London counterpart, with smart tweaks ensuring it suits the City clientele the new venue is already attracting in droves.

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Tea and a Chat with Isabelle Legeron, RAW Artisan Wine Fair

Thank you for joining us in the Pantry at The Holborn for Tea & a Chat, Isabelle. 

What would we find if we poked around in your pantry?

I love my pantry – it’s full of glass jars, you won’t find any plastic. I’m a big believer in a “one single ingredient” policy, so everything we cook at home is made from scratch. We’ve just made a huge batch of pâté and we have kombucha and kefir fermenting in one corner of the kitchen. Aside from that, there are rows of homemade jams and lots of dried wild herbs for tea. I also like to forage, so we currently have some extra herbs macerating in oils too. Everything you can think of, we’ve got a jar of it!Continue Reading →

Take a walk on the wild side with new monthly Highlands pop-up, Struie Road

These days, there’s a pop-up to suit every occasion and any craving. Perhaps your fancy is tickled by a dessert tasting menu, a Persian supper club or perchance an evening supping cocktails with owls? In London, there’s a pop-up for that.

At the Holborn, as much as we exalt the time-honoured British tradition of eccentric buffoonery, we had a hankering for a simpler, richer evening celebrating quality produce, novelty animal companion optional. We were delighted to find the monthly pop-up from acclaimed Venison-savants Wild Game Co ticks all our boxes, an altogether more British affair bringing a taste of the Highlands to Clerkenwell.

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Now in season: ravishing radishes and wonderful watercress

Elevate these versatile veg from “a bite on the side” with these seasonal recipes and serving suggestions. Continue Reading →

Tea and A Chat With: Michael Zee, Symmetry Breakfast

We at The Holborn love nothing more than to welcome a fellow food lover into our Pantry for tea and a chat.

As you know we’ve had breakfasts and brunches on the brain recently, so it was only a matter of time before our thoughts turned to one of our favourite internet sensations, Symmetry Breakfast.

Like many of the best ideas, Symmetry Breakfast is beautifully simple: every morning, Michael Zee prepares a delicious (and photogenically matching) meal for two, which he shares with his boyfriend after taking a snap to upload to their increasingly popular social media pages. For many people, checking the latest Symmetry Breakfast Instagram and Twitter is as much of a daily ritual as the first meal of the day.

We couldn’t wait to find out more about the story behind Symmetry Breakfast…

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Snack In Style: Rabbit Scotch Eggs

Save the drunks in your life from a  late-night Kebab run by preparing these Black pudding & Rabbit Scotch Eggs. Ignore their current ‘trendy’ status and simply enjoy these Hibernain treats for what they are. Make in advance and then serve when that girl you like starts to mention ‘nibbles’.Continue Reading →

Tea & a Chat with Chocolatier Paul Young

With Easter coming up, we at The Holborn have chocolate on the brain and are keen to stock our Pantry with the very best artisan treats.

Over the past few years there has been a boom in chocolate made by skilled chocolatiers, thanks to small producers experimenting with new techniques and flavours, as well as retailers and festivals championing proper bean-to-bar chocolate.

We dusted off our best china and invited award-winning chocolatier Paul A Young for some tea and a chat, to find out his thoughts on what the best chocolate is and should be…

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Five of the best: (boozy) brunches

The main difference between breakfast and brunch is the quantity of booze involved. Although it is customary to postpone the first alcoholic beverage until the sun is over the yardarm, a feast and a tipple can be a dizzyingly delicious way to start the day.

The Holborn welcomes any excuse to indulge in a spot of gentle early morning boozing. Here are a few of our favourite spots to dine and imbibe while the larks are still singing…

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“New Middle Eastern” cuisine popping up across London

To borrow a phrase from fashionistas, Middle Eastern food is “having a moment”. There has never been more interest in the bright, fragrant flavours of this region, and London now has more opportunities to try the cuisine than ever before.

Before you get lost in a whirl of dried fruits, sweet spices, verdant herbs and aromatic basmati rice, let The Holborn be your guide through the evocative scents and flavours of the region and share tips on the latest pop-ups to represent the region in a modern way. Sadly they will not be around forever, so hurry along…

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Five of the best: sweet treats for grown-ups

A discerning palate should not mean relinquishing beloved childhood pleasures of confectionery. Here, The Holborn rounds up our favourite treats for a grown-up sweet tooth, all with suitably sophisticated flavours and ingredients.

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Taste Fire in London with Baijiu Cocktail Week this Chinese New Year


Some of the most exciting London bars and restaurants are joining forces this Chinese New Year 2015 to celebrate the Year of the Goat with “Baijiu Cocktail Week” until 22nd February 2015. Sixteen venues around town will be showcasing this up-and-coming distilled white spirit. Baijiu is China’s most popular and traditional drink, accounting for around half of all the country’s annual alcohol sales, although the category is still in its infancy elsewhere in the world. Baijiu is brewed with fermented grains (rice, barley and others) to produce an aromatic, sweet citrus liquid with ripe plum aromas. Traditionally baijiu is taken neat, at room temperature but this is definitely an acquired taste; it’s far more accessible as part of a cocktail. Baijiu is quickly becoming an accessory for London’s movers and shakers; there have been whispers of music stars such as Tinie Tempah proclaiming baijiu their new favourite drink.
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Buchanan’s Cheesemonger: Maturing and Tasting Rooms

‘What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?’  If philosophising on the subject of coagulated milk was important enough for Brecht, then we at The Holborn can’t be blamed for indulging ourselves. And indulge I did when I went to visit Buchanan Cheesemongers new maturing and tasting rooms on Porchester Place. With the likes of  two Michelin-starred The Ledbury and The Square on its books, the owner Rhuaridh Buchanan is used to the responsibility of sating the appetites of turophiles with high expectations.

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A year in the making, Buchanan Cheesemongers’ permanent residence was preceded by the Scottish cheeseman’s wholesale business, which determined the W2 postcode of the deli. ‘We needed a location where we would still be able to make our deliveries in central London’. Easy, right? Wrong. ‘Normally, it’s the funding that’s the hardest part of setting up your own business, but it took six months to find number 5A Porchester Place.’

Now, with his new deli and tasting rooms open since this summer, I asked Rhuaridh a question I’d never thought to ask before: how does one becomes a cheesemonger? ‘I fell into the trade completely by accident. I’d been working in the hospitality industry, in Michelin-starred restaurants in Scotland and on the Orient Express when I decided I wanted to live in New York. I applied for a visa and while I was waiting for it to come through, I moved to London’.  This is where cheese giant Paxton and Whitfield came into play. The shop floor of the 200-year-old company’s Jermyn Street store was where Rhuaridh was really taught his trade. ‘You’re always better off learning on the job, and that combined with a training course in cheese-aging is where I got my grounding.’

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Stepping past the delivery bicycle (yes, a bicycle) and into the fairylight-lit, blue-fronted deli, you get the sense that Buchanans is as much about learning about cheese as it is about buying it. I’m greeted by Alice who takes care of the day-to-day running of the shop. ‘Before working here, I didn’t know that much about cheese and everything that goes along with it’. She certainly seems to know her stuff as she takes me downstairs to the maturing rooms.

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This is where Rhuaridh’s experience really comes to fruition. He spends three to four hours down there – after all, aging takes time. The two rooms are kept at a pretty high humidity (85%-95%, to be precise) with the larger of the two being for the hard cheese. This room is comparatively warm to ensure that the cheese doesn’t dry out. Much cooler (to maintain the creaminess) is the soft and blue cheese room. I’m hit by the smell of truffle as Alice slides the door open. ‘We’re making a blend of brie and camembert with it running through the middle.’ Sounds good to me.

Back upstairs, she talks me through what the tasting room has on offer. A small table set with menus and cutlery lines one of the walls, above which the likes of Square Foot and Pressure Drop ales from Hackney are on display. At the back of the room, a square table is sat next to shelves stacked with specialist crackers and condiments including truffle honey and fruit cheeses made from pear, damson and figs. This is also where the shop hosts its classes and events, with the likes of competitive cheese tastings, as well as Lalani & Co tea and cheese pairings can be tailored for groups. A pile of russet apples, a roll of blue roquefort-esque, marble-effect wrapping paper (designed by Rhuaridh), muscat-dried raisins and a leg of four-year-aged jamon iberico ‘Bellota’ from Brindisa bookend the main attraction.

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Rounds and wedges of cheese are stacked in the central counter, not to mention the huge blocks that line the back wall. ‘If it tastes delicious, we sell it’. I like Rhuaridh’s selection process. He uses sources from all over Europe, depending on what sells the most or on what has finished ageing in the downstairs maturing rooms. Rebluchon from Jura, pecorino from Sardinia and the 18-month-old comte are all regulars. My favourite though has to be the super-salty Blu des Basque, made from ewe’s milk, served on a sweet oatcake. ‘They all go down really well, but I like it when we have something new in and I can recommend it to a regular. Yeah, you really get to know your customers.’

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It’s this sense of familiarity that makes this particular cheesemongers so special. Rhuaridh tells me that he’s noticed ‘a real rise in the public’s knowledge of cheese in recent years. There seems to have been a huge surge of interest and people’s shopping habits have changed. They’re more likely to go to larger chains for their essentials, then go to smaller, independent suppliers for their specialist produce.’ Just as you get that sense of belonging when the bartender in your local pub rhetorically asks, ‘the usual?’, what could be better than being asked the same about your cheese? To quote Monty Python’s Life of Brian, ‘blessed are the cheesemakers’: amen.

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Q&A – Bash Redford and Arch McLeish, Forza Win

Watching my boyfriend stab a glistening joint of meat by candlelight, surrounded by wide-eyed strangers, was an unusual way to spend a chilly November evening. This was our first encounter of Forza Win – last winter we turned up to an old converted factory having been promised an Italian woodfired feast complete with cosy blankets and a hot cocktail bar. An hour in and we were passing generous hunks of porchetta – crackling and all – down the table to everyone. Two hours in and we were reclining in our chairs, full-bellied and bonding over cups of hot spiced beer, while Josh Flowers & The Wild serenaded us with their bluesy tones.

Since then, I’ve kept an eye on Forza Win’s journey, interested in their one simple intention: to get everyone eating one big meal together. Beginning with their seasonal pop-up mega feasts and the creation of their custom-made woodfire grills, they’ve since set up shop in Peckham and will soon start throwing Porchetta Parties for anyone who fancies it. We catch up with directors, Bash Redford and Arch McLeish on Italian banqueting, winter cravings and breaking the ice.

Forza WinHow did the venture begin?

Bash: Forza Win began as a pizza supper club that was going to be in my back garden in New Cross, because I was bored of sitting at a desk all day. Then we found ourselves on a rooftop on Hanbury Street, building a pizza oven brick by brick (it’s still there!) and were shut down two weeks later (we weren’t as awesome at planning and licensing laws back then).

Arch: Shocked by Bash’s attempts at branding, I had to take care of it. Over time getting more and more roped in. We haven’t veered much from the original desire to make something good happen, and have a grand time doing so.

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What’s your connection with Italian food, and why does it work so well for banqueting?

Arch: The only connection is that I love it. It’s such a staple part of the British diet and has been for years. We celebrate the flavours, produce, and communal-style dining of Italy. But I don’t think London needs Italian banqueting specifically but more banqueting all together – not to gorge, but to gather and meet and be social.

1003413_618069384877495_847928631_nWhy do you think us anti-social Londoners have become so fond of gathering together at the table?

Bash: Because we don’t have a friendly high street anymore – nobody talks to each other on the tube or in the shops. Sit people round a table with some well-sourced, simply executed food and a bottle of decent wine – boom!

Arch: I reckon every Londoner is sick of this self-imposed sanction on chatting to strangers. Food is so much more than solving your hunger, it’s an enabler for good conversation – plus you’re going to have to talk if you want some grub on your plate.

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How do you select your suppliers? Do you still use The Ginger Pig?

Bash: We pick our suppliers by chance really, if they have produce that excites us and use processes that we like, we’ll work with them. Hell yeah we still work with The Ginger Pig! They’ve become quite good friends. They’re getting big now, but their ethos when you go up and see their farms is still exactly the same.

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Tell us about the craft behind the food. Why did you create custom wood-fired grills?

Bash: Cooking over wood makes things taste amazing and you can do it anywhere (within reason) without the need for gas and electricity (unless you need to extract). I like cooking with a wood fired grill and an induction – you can make some awesome food with two really easy things to come by.

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Arch: It’s the simplest form of cooking. You have that same woodsmoke flavour running through all the dishes. The only downside is eternally smelling like a bonfire. Friends and family have learnt to live with it, but the upside is not having to carry business cards.

Your projects have rotated according to season, how do people’s cravings change in winter? 

Bash: People get a second stomach in Winter. Fact.

What are you hoping for Foza Win’s Fonduta feast this year?

Archie: Hunkering down in a nice thick jumper, feeling warm and full, with plenty of good vibes.

FondutaYou’re at the table next to a stranger, what’s your icebreaker?

Bash: Did you fart?

Arch: As kids of the ‘Fresh Prince on repeat’ era, you’d reckon we’d all be pretty smooth people. Unfortunately, we’re more likely to fumble around for talking points. But thankfully, food is always a great conversation starter.

You’ve eaten too much, what’s your remedy?

Bash: A hot drink and a lie down, like a right bore. That or Fernet Branca (an Italian bitter).

Arch: We are investing in some hammocks.

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You’ve settled in Peckham and set up an outdoor restaurant called Dispensa, tell us about the place.

Bash: It’s one of the few remaining places in London that has that perfect mix of great, characterful and cheap(ish) space – and a really great set of locals who don’t take themselves too seriously. Plus I’ve lived down the road in New Cross for ages, so it’s pretty handy. I hope it keeps its unique vibe but you can already hear the gentrification death knell ringing.

Archie: I grew up down the road in Brixton, and we both live in the area. Peckham could become its own independent state. It’s firmly rooted but ever-changing, and there’s a good bunch of people making a go of it down here. Although Del Boy has moved off, we’re still offered cheap fridges on a daily basis – or church pews.

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You now have two other projects in the pipeline: Weekend Brunch and the Porchetta Party, how soon can we get involved?

Bash: For weekend brunches, we might wait until the weather gets a little warmer. As for Porchetta Parties – we take the feast to people, so you can just email us and have your own. It’s delicious – one of life’s better sandwiches.

 

Interview by Amy Bonifas

Dined with strangers recently? Let us know when and where: pantry@holbornmag.com

Something For The Weekend

We here at The Holborn love a nice spot for a beverage or a little nibble, and London is awash with options.  So much so that it is hard to keep up, especially for us once we are finished with our weekly duties caressing fine tweeds and experimenting with new gin cocktails. So our friends over at Twenty Something London  are going to regularly give us their favourites spots for going out in London. This week it’s the city’s best brunches, hidden terraces to escape to and authentic Italian wine bars amongst others that fit the bill.

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A hidden outdoor terrace, perfect for cocktails as the sun goes down

Aqua, Bar & Restaurant, Regent Street
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The discrete yet suave entrance of Aqua in Central London gives a tempting hint of what lays in wait upstairs, and certainly doesn’t disappoint when you get there. This award winning restaurant and bar sits on the fifth floor, boasting three stunning terraces with views across London and a real exclusive feel, despite Oxford Street’s continuing bustle below.

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An authentic Italian wine bar in Primrose Hill

Negozio Classica, Wine bar & Restaurant, Primrose Hill
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This little slice of Italy set down in London’s Primrose Hill is a fantastic place to while away a few pleasant hours on the weekend. Indeed it’s the only place you’ll get the privilege of sampling the wines Negozia Classica serve, as the wine bar, restaurant and shop is part owned by the Italian vineyard Avignonesi that supplies them.

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Notting Hill’s coffee and shop

Café 202, Café, Notting Hill

A café inside a boutique shop may sound like a slightly odd concept, but once inside Café 202 you can’t fail to be charmed by the simple, classical décor and tantalising one page menu showcasing excellent brassiere-themed fair. The perfect place to indulge in a spot of people watching and truly delicious brunch as the queue of devoted locals will tell you better than words ever could.

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Drinks and dining with a view

Paramount, Bar & Restaurant, Tottenham Court Road
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Paramount restaurant and bar, hidden above central London in Centre Point is worth visiting just for the view. But the extensive and tasty cocktail menu, seasonally changing a la carte dishes and ‘highest high tea’ in London make it more than worthwhile. The perfect place to come when a fantastic first impression is required.

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Balham’s best brunch?

M1lk, Café, Balham

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M1lk is a slice of Brooklyn inspired café cool that sits on the corner of Bedford Hill and Hildreth Street Market in Balham, tempting you in with its eclectic interior and smoothies served in milk bottles. Serving mainly coffee in the week, on weekends the place is full of loyal customers coming back to enjoy their delicious brunch options.

Q&A – David Lanning, CEO of Dave’s Coffee

Our friends over at Fable + Folly General Store, who already stock some of our favourite brands, mentioned Rhode Island’s Dave’s Coffee to us and helped us find some great Craft Roasted Coffee from the US. And as you know here at The Holborn we love craft artisan goods. So we awaited our parcel and once arrived we unwrapped the string and brown paper wrapping and put the kettle on. So over the past few weeks we have made our way through the Dave’s Coffee selection and had great fun experimenting with their Coffee Syrup (great over Ice Cream and best way to make an Espresso Martini!). So after overdosing on caffeine and with a spring in our step we reached across the pond and had a chat with CEO and Founder David Lanning.

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Why do you do what you do?

Doing what brings happiness into my life, and into the lives of others, was the driving force behind getting into the coffee business.

I have always been an avid coffee drinker, cook and enjoyer of great food. The ritual, experience and culture surrounding small batch craft coffee roasting lead me into turning a passion into a career.

What inspired you to make coffee?

About twelve years ago, I noticed small, independent coffee companies becoming an integral part of people’s lives, and a part of the communities where they were located. People were not just drinking coffee, but truly enjoying the unique characteristics and flavors of coffees from around the world. And, coffee roasters were showcasing their creativity and making signature roasts and blends.

This creativity inspired me to begin roasting coffee and working to develop a style that is an expression of myself and how I enjoy coffee.

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How did the company get started?

Dave’s Coffee began as an espresso bar focused on the art of coffee preparation and presentation in 2003. As time went on, I realized that purchasing coffee roasted by another company was limiting and didn’t allow for expression.

In 2009, Dave’s Coffee began roasting beans that were sourced for their individuality and roasted each coffee to accentuate it’s characteristics.

What are your influences?

My biggest influence in making our coffee syrup was creating a product with the fewest possible ingredients while keeping the ingredients all natural and wholesome.

Several chefs and small food producers that I have followed over the years taught me that if you start with the absolute best ingredients, there is no need to add more than is necessary.

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Describe the process of making your wonderful coffee syrup?

Dave’s All Natural Coffee Syrup starts with the coffee. We source a very specific Brazilian coffee that is mellow, sweet and nutty in flavor. The coffee is roasted in a fashion that allows the beans to roast in the smoke of the drum at a critical stage of the roasting process.

After roasting, the coffee is allowed to rest for forty-eight hours. We then grind the coffee and “Cold Brew” the coffee at room temperature for twenty four hours. This brewing process extracts the full body and flavour of the coffee while limiting some of the tannins and acidity.

Once the coffee is ready, it is transferred to a steam kettle and combined with pure cane sugar. This mixture gently simmers for two and a half hours and is transformed into a thick, amber syrup. The slow simmering caramelizes the sugars and creates a sweet coffee flavor that brings out the highlights of the coffee.

Describe your personal feelings involved in creating your products?

I feel creating a product that is natural and able to be enjoyed several different ways is key.

Coffee syrup can be used to flavour milk, used in cocktails, enjoyed as a glaze or sauce on meats for grilling, added to desserts, mixed with yogurt, drizzled over ice cream and much more.

The fun of a product is in discovering creative uses and ways to enjoy it.

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How important is the local community to your business?

Dave’s Coffee works closely with our local community.

We employ several people in the production of our products. We also work with a local organization that promotes independence for physically challenged individuals who assist in our packaging.

Several times throughout the year we assist in donating coffee and products to various charities and relief agencies.

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(Our US readers can visit Dave Coffee’s website here to purchase, and our European readers can visit Fable + Folly to buy here)

Meet the Brewer: Neil Hinchley, Crate Brewery

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Stop the press! Beer is cool. The Holborn Boys are regular attendees at the annual beard and sandal convention that is the Great British Beer Festival and we love it but we are not so deluded that we don’t realize the geeky company we are part of. Though the craft beer revolution has changed the landscape. Like the way the food on our plates has changed over the decades, when my parents were my age there was a restaurant on Charlotte Street that felt the need to advertise on its A-board ‘Spaghetti- Not on Toast’, the beer in our glasses has changed. For many long gone are the cheap fizzy European lagers and the smooth-flow John Smiths to be replaced with a plethora of craft ales in all strengths and flavours. And not just served in flat-capped boozers, but in canal-side trendy bars, fashionable restaurants and city wine bars.

London with its long & rich brewing history is the epicentre of this revolution and at its heart a growing number of committed, talented and inventive micro-brewers. We at the Holborn have set out to meet some of them and learn about the craft at centre of Craft Beer. First we head to Hackney Wick, a stone’s throw away from the Olympic Park, to meet Neil Hinchley of Crate Brewery. Crate Brewery is nearing it’s first birthday and the venue (below) is both the Brewery, a Bar and a Pizza restaurant.

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How and why did you become a Brewer? What inspired you?

I’d been a home brewer for a while and have always had an interest in taste, loving my food and drink. Used to make gorse wine with my dad back in the day, nettle wine and few other crazy brews. My mum was a keen cook too, so taste has always been important. My previous career was as a radio producer at the BBC, and its a bit tenuous but that job was all about crafting a product, so if I was making a documentary I spend a few months making sure that was a perfect hour long lesson. Then as a brewer I am crafting something that is ultimately going to be enjoyed and savoured by someone. I wanted to get out of the BBC after fourteen years and I thought my home brews were good enough to have a crack at it. So I suppose it was a fascination with flavour and an enjoyment of creating things for people to enjoy.

How did Crate come about?

Crate came about through a chain of very fortunate consequences. I would have always have done a brewery but this, a bar/brewery/pizza restaurant has been so much more of an experience. So Crate has three directors, myself and siblings Tom and Jess Seaton. Tom and Jess run the Counter Cafe just down the road. It was bizarre meeting between me and them; my sister is married to a Maori guy from New Zealand, he was best mates with this guy at school who was married to a women who happened to be Tom’s cousin. So when Tom’s cousin was over I was talking about how I was starting a brewery but also wanted to do a restaurant but didn’t know how to. She then spoke to the Tom who wanted to run restaurant with a brewery but wanted to didn’t know how to do the  brewery. That was the weekend, on the Monday we meet for the first time, then on the Tuesday we came to see this place and on the Wednesday we committed to it.

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What’s the first year been like?

Nuts absolutely nuts! Every week we struggle to keep up with demand, really great problem to have. Every month we look at the next month and try to project six months on and up our staffing and up our systems but we just get to end of the month and realize oh that wasn’t enough. We have been bowled over, it has been a run away success. People are really connected with the fact that all of this, as in the interior, has been created by the local artistic community. It is all pretty nuts and bolts, it’s clear that it’s run by a bunch of enthusiasts who love beer and love pizza.  You can see the beer being brewed, you can see the pizzas being tossed, people have really connected to it all.

What is it like seeing the beer you have crafted being enjoyed?

Regardless of demand or the venues that the beer ends up in, there is no buzz like walking into my local, three doors down from my house, and seeing the beer on tap and watching people drink and enjoy it. It’s not like I am hanging out in pubs watching people drink my beer, but it did happen to me the other day and it’s delightful. Beer and taste is entirely subjective, there are so many palates and so many beers, the great thing is meeting someone who you connect with, and if they like your beer there is this immediate affinity, they like what I do and appreciate the craft.

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Where do your recipes come from? What are the inspirations for tastes?

I learnt my basic beer recipes from my time as a home brewer. I search out the recipes for my favourite beers and try to make them my own. In terms of taste my influence isn’t just from beer, I am inspired by everything, especially as the total foodie I am. We have created a core range here, they are the best I can achieve of those individual styles, we are not a brewery which does 150 different types of beer, with the high ABV or really hoppy stuff. We have such demand for our core range anyway. Though we are moving the brewery into a building on the same site, so we can use the brewery in the bar to do a few more experimental beers. Though as brewer I am all about refining those main beer styles to the best they can be rather than do hundreds of different beers.

Whats the connection for Crate to the local area?

Our hops and malt come from further afield obviously. But the staff are all local and the artistic community has inputted. But I am totally inspired by the London Micro-brewery scene, there is a amazing range and variety of beers and taste. Its being at the heart of all it, it gives me so many ideas.

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What do you think of the explosion of Craft Beer? Is it here to stay?

It’s never going to stop, going to be a beast. What is interesting, there is no question that Craft Beer will become enormous, the question is how much of the craft will remain in that expansion. My hope is that all the breweries stay true to the craft, are careful about the ingredients they use and the processes they use, and continue to make great beer. We have been here before, when you get to a certain size it starts to become about the money, then it’s no longer craft. It’s happened in America, craft beer is huge there, Sierra Nevada started as a tiny brewery and now is a size to rival any Heineken or Becks. But they are still producing really great beer. I just can’t see the public turning away from this quality of beer again, we were duped by fancy advertising of larger from Europe that was going to make you sexy and get you laid. But I can’t see I us going back, the beer is too good now.

MHG & NH

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A Very Holborn Guide to Angel

Widely viewed as the spiritual home of the 21st Century intelligentsia, there is much more to the Islington area than left-wing New Labour candidates, yummy mummies and middle-class professionals. The high-street shopping leaves much to be desired, so an alternative plan has been conjured for those of you looking to enjoy a day in Angel.

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Tucked away down a cobbled backstreet, Camden Passage is a whimsical collection of chic antique shops, kitsch cafés and a bi-weekly market on Wednesdays and Saturdays where specialist traders display their wares. This is not your average bric-a-brac though, so don’t expect low prices and be prepared to haggle! Not to be confused with Camden Market, Camden Passage plays host to specialist and renowned dealers in dolls, toys, clocks, glass and china – as well as the glittering Narnia of vintage clothes shops where tantalising treats await within – Annie’s is a particularly tempting place in which to spend your entire salary, more akin to a Hollywood costume drama store than your average high street clothing store. Fat Faced Cat provides the perfect opportunity to rummage through a battered leather suitcase of gloriously vintage silk scarves, or if loading up on gems that would put Liz Taylor to shame, beat a path to Cloud Cuckoo Land for stunning vintage costume jewellery.

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If you’re feeling peckish, grab a milkshake from Issy’s Milky Way, a beautiful 1950s café complete with Formica table tops and fun memorabilia, or, if haggling has really taken it of you, stock up on a proper brekkie at Breakfast Club, which – in my opinion – is still the best non-greasy spoon in London.

For a rainy-day alternative, cosy up at The Screen On The Green, a single screen cinema opposite Islington Green. SOTG offers a thoughtfully selected variety of films, as well as events including the groundbreaking National Theatre Live, (which broadcasts British theatre to cinemas worldwide), live Q&A sessions and film festivals. This purpose-built Edwardian cinema opened in 1913, and is one of Britain’s oldest running cinemas in the UK. The façade, outlined in red neon, stands out like a beacon against the otherwise conservative aesthetic of Upper Street, and is reminiscent of those kitsch 1950s cinemas in small-town America. Screen on the Green has been operated by the Everyman Cinemas Group since 2008, a group renowned for their service and exceptional hospitality, and a world away from the copy-paste multi-screen cinemas you may be used to.

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There is a fully licensed bar with wine, champagne, beer and even cocktails – somewhat more refined than a jumbo carton of the syrupy, carbonated offerings. If popcorn’s your bag then naturally, it is available, but if you fancy a change from the standard fare, then I encourage you to indulge in the olives and bread, and maybe a piece of cake if you’re feeling naughty.

The plush sofas, complete with cushions and pouffes make this a great place to take a date (no cramp-inducing stretching over those awful plastic armrests) – although if you’re flying solo, you can always opt for an armchair. The Everyman Cinemas do not skimp on the tech spec either – Sony 4k Digital Projectors and Dolby Digital surround sound provide home-cinema comfort combined with a multi-screen cinema experience. Lush.

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If you’re looking for something quick and tasty before heading out for drinks, bear in mind that there are two big contenders for the title of ‘Best Burrito in Angel’ – Chilango, and Bombay Burrito. Prepare to choose between the two, which is no easy feat.

Chilango provides a Zagat rated menu, already has a great reputation and an excellent online presence and has quickly established itself as an exciting local franchise. The food is prepared before your eyes; choose from burritos, tacos or salads with either shredded pork, grilled steak, grilled prawns, marinated chicken or a scrummy vegetarian pepper & onion mix. Then, dress it as you please, with black beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. The flavours are fantastic – Chilango marinate their chicken and steak before grilling, and the pork is cooked for hours until it is pull-apart tender. With a little forward-planning (and luck!) you could even get your burrito for free with Burrito Friday, a Facebook and Twitter based competition with surprisingly good odds of winning.

The new contender for the crown is Bombay Burrito, which has recently opened and offers up fresh curry in a wrap in a sensational Indian/Mexican fusion. It shouldn’t work, but it’s amazing. Look past the no-frills décor; the main focus here is the food. The curry carries all of the flavour you would expect from a decent Indian restaurant, but with none of the grease. As an added bonus, the staff are among the friendliest, happiest people you could come across. Regardless of which you choose, honestly, get a burrito. Although they’re more expensive than your average sarnie, you won’t need to eat again for the rest of the day, which is technically a cost-saving exercise.

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Having sufficiently lined your stomach, finish up at ‘Round Midnight Jazz and Blues Bar.  The cocktails are good,  and there are live bands on most nights of the week for which entry is rarely charged. This bar is delightfully unpretentious; all atmosphere and no affectation. The basic benches and chaotically dispersed tables will all be occupied unless you arrive in a timely fashion, as this popular no-frills bar is usually packed to the rafters with a clientele made up of a refreshing mix of ages, ethnicities and professions. ‘Round Midnight is perfect for those who are looking, simply, to have a rollicking good time and get lost in the music.

Cheryl McGee

Q&A with Pete Tomlinson, The Attendant Coffee House

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When Ex-PR man Pete Tomlinson took his redundancy package and went travelling with his wife through Central and South America little did he imagine that a few years later upon his return to Blighty he would have ended up converting an old victorian public toilet into a top-notch underground cafe. We sat down with Pete at The Attendant over a delicious flat white to find out more about this unique location.

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How did all this start?

Well me and my friend Ben Russell were sat upstairs at The Crown and Sceptre (the pub next to the Attendant) and over a pint had this hair-brained business idea. We thought it’d be great to open up a coffee place which did nice food and had a great neighbourhood feel to it; so sat there we saw that the old Foley Street toilet was to let and it went from there. We came down to have a look around the place and fell in love with the space. We felt the space lent itself well to great coffee and great sandwiches. We knew it could become a great focal point and landmark in Fitzrovia.

As Pete & Ben Found the Foley Street Toilet

As Pete & Ben Found the Foley Street Toilet

As it is today...

As it is today…


What has the conversion process been like? 

A lot of hard work. Our landlord bought the toilet off Westminster Council in 1989 with the idea of turning it into a design studio. So he installed a kitchenette and had all the urinals unplugged and concreted in and had electric and telephone lines installed, though his idea never came to fruition. Though when we came in the place still needed lots of tlc. We had problems with the London clay behind the tiles, as rainwater would seep through, the stairwell had been left open to the elements and that took a long time to smarten up. The iron cage upstairs had eleven layers of paint on it dating back to the Victorian period, that took eight months to strip all that back and restore it to it’s original splendour. It was a labour of love, but we knew it was our shop entrance and it was so important to get right.


How much of the place is original? 

Everything pretty much. The floors and the wall (i.e. the tilling), the urinals, the cisterns, the attendants door which is now our little kitchen. The urinals were put in in 1890 and were made by Dalton & Paisley based down in Lambeth, and probably brought up here on a horse and cart.

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What the reaction been like to a coffee shop in a old toilet? 

Overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people who live in the neighbourhood and have been here for decades were really appreciative that we’d cleaned up what had become a blot on the landscape. Some of the older generation, some of whom had used this as a working toilet were a little sceptical.

Where do you source your ingredients? 

The coffee comes from Caravan Roastery up in Kings Cross where they have a beautiful facility where they get single origin coffee sourced from sustainable partners all over the world, they are a great help with our staff training too. Our milk is from Ivy House Farm in Somerset, it’s stocked in Harrods and Selfridges and is used in the English version of the World Barista championships. Our cakes comes from Bittersweet Bakers, recently named London’s best biscuit makers by the Evening Standard. Even our crisps come from a little husband and wife team who are the first UK maker to cook their crisps in olive oil. So we try to pull together people who are doing great things and are passionate about food and drink and present it in one place. In that spirit even our coffee cups are sourced to provide the best experience, they are made by Not Neutral and were voted the best coffee cup in the world by the LA Times. They are designed to be  a seamless marriage of form and function. The inside of the cup provides the best fluid dynamics for the perfect pour while also accommodating the drinker’s nose to take in the aroma. The bottoms are thick to retain heat and the handle is also designed to be as easy as possible to hold.

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What is it now like seeing people enjoying the place? 

Now a couple of months into it I am just use to it, but at the start I just couldn’t believe it. It makes yourself so proud to see it such a popular place in a short amount of time. And the press has been great, we were in Timeout last week for instance. The reputation has gone global as well with features in papers in Sao Paulo and in The New York Times for example.

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Do you think a place like yours is indicative of modern city living?

Yeah, as a city grows and as a new business not being able to afford the rents on the street. And with a sea of different individual coffee shops it always helps to differentiate yourself. In that light spaces like this are going to be used more. Though saying that one of the reasons we felt we had to work so hard on our coffee and food was because we didn’t want it just be a gimmick, a tourist attraction. They would come down, like the space but not come back as the coffee wasn’t great. We do get tourists from all over the world though, and think a used space like this is great for London.

And what about the future? 

Just looking to build on our success, we are going to be opening seven days a week soon. We will then attempt to roll out The Attendant Brand more and try and do something totally different that nobody would expect.

MHG & PT

The Holborn Drinks – ‘The Jim Dandy’

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Spring has failed the British isles (a fresh heap of snow is falling as I write) winter is victorious, long live winter! Whilst summer’s unbridled enthusiasm is tamed by a host of cocktails and mixtures designed to cool and refresh you. There are countless variations with that sole purpose in mind. But during winter (and now, spring), we feel the pain of discontent. We’re left to escape the winter drudgery with just a few libations worthy of soothing us during a cold night’s chill. Most cocktails designed for this season are hot, yet few strike the chord of comfort that is needed when the post Christmas cold outside continues until it sets into your very bones. So we present the Jim Dandy, a non-traditional winter beverage that warms you up from the inside out.

It’s a beverage with robust, full flavours and spices to boot. The kick from the spiced rum, the soothing heat from the fresh ginger, citrus notes from lime juice, the spices from the chai tea and the sweetness from the pear come together very well indeed. It can serve as a great late night cocktail to have by the roaring fire. One sip will warm you, and a few more will make you forget you were ever even cold in the first place. As long as you have to deal with the extension of this winter cold, you can turn to this to ease the freeze.

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‘The Jim Dandy’

Ingredients (makes 1)

60 ml  Spiced Rum – we like Kraken Black (and not just for the packaging)

90 ml  of Ginger beer – best use a ‘fiery’ variety for truly warm and spicy effect.

30 ml  of Pear Juice (use a cloudy apple juice if you can’t get hold of this)

1/2 Lime, juiced

1/2 tsp (5 ml) fresh ginger, grated

15 ml  of Chai (Spiced)  tea, allowed to cool

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Infused ice cubes (recipe to follow)

Pear slices, to garnish

Lime quarter, to garnish

Lime & Ginger Infused Ice Ingredients

Ingredients

1 x lime, cut into thin wedges (about 8)

1 x Knob of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (about 8 slices)

Water

Method

I) Take a chai tea bag and pour boiling water over top (as if making tea). Let steep for 5 minutes and place in the fridge to cool.

II) Fill a cocktail glass halfway with ice. Pour in the spiced rum, ginger beer, pear juice, lime juice, grated ginger and chai tea. Top with the bitters. Give it a good stir to mix all the ingredients together. Place a pear slice and lime quarter on top and finish with an infused ice cube, which will slowly release the added flavour.

Note:  For a large batch method, pour all ingredients ,minus the bitters, into a pitcher. (Multiply the ingredients by the number of people you will be serving to determine the amount.) Pour into individual ice-filled cocktail glasses and top with bitters, pear slice, lime and infused ice cubes.

A Very Holborn Guide to Fine British Cheeses

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There was a time, not all that long ago when I used to sell cheese. Yes, that’s right I would spend my working day at a local deli slicing to order though huge pieces of the stuff, wether it be cows-milk, goats-milk or even sheeps-milk. I would frequently leave work smelling as one pasteurised.
One of the particular characteristics of the collection of cheeses that we had in store was that it predominantly featured artisan, British made cheese as opposed to relying on the classic french options to get customers through the door. The selection of British cheeses available these days is staggering, only our national beer-makers can match then in ingenuity, eccentric names and variety of flavour.

I have selected ten small batch cheeses which I feel really showcase the range of skills, textures and tastes available in the UK. In addition to this I have also provided you with specially selected accompaniments and a complementing beer (the best companion to British cheese) to really get the most out of your new and enlightened cheeseboard.

I have provided online sources for our recommended cheeses but I would really advise visiting one of the UK’s excellent artisan cheesemongers. There’s something about entering a roomful of cheeses, the smell yes but also a sense of excitement and possibilities. I can only recommend those of whom I have previously visited or dealt with, who are the following:

Fine Cheese Company,  Bath.
Mellis, Edinburgh.
Neal’s Yard Dairy, London
La Fromagerie, London

– If you have a recommendation for your fellow Holborn readers (national or international) please get in touch.

All that is left is to invite a dozen friends round. Get each person to bring one piece cheese and some matching beers and let the fromage-driven conversation roll away into the night. Perfect.

(Please note that all cheeses are best served at room temperature).

We present for your delectation:

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I) Stichelton£4.40 for 200g, stichelton.co.uk
A very popular, award-winning blue cheese produced on the Welbeck Estate in Nottinghamshire. Made from unpasteurised organic cow’s milk and traditional animal rennet, it tastes cool and creamy with a slight acidic warmth coming through from the blue mould. It is also fiercely addictive. It’s especially good melted over walnuts and cranberries.

Enjoy with: Fuller’s London Porter or Sloe Motion Sloe Gin & Fine Cheese Company Celery crackers.

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II) Keen’s cheddar, £6.50 for 250g, finecheese.co.uk
Made from unpasteurised milk from the farm’s own cows, this cheddar is pressed and bathed for three days and matured for up to a year. Traditional cheese-making at its best.

Enjoy with: Fuller’s Vintage Ale (Note: Rare), Preserved Figs & Fine Cheese Company Chilli Crackers.

Innes Ash Log

III) Innes Log, £9 for approximately 220g, nealsyarddairy.co.uk
Soft, white, creamy and light, with a subtle nuttiness, this is simply one of the best goat’s cheeses you will find. Produced at the Innes farm in Staffordshire, the handmade cheese has won praise from foodies and chefs alike.

Enjoy with: Bateman’s Victory Ale, Fig Fruit Cheese & Fine Cheese Company Apricot & Pistachio Toasts.

Wigmore

 IV) Wigmore, £33 for 700g, nealsyarddairy.co.uk
Named after the cheesemakers themselves, this soft, brie-style cheese is smooth as a kiss and very subtle. Made with unpasteurised ewes’ milk and perfectly matured for six weeks, it is the winner of more than a dozen awards.

Enjoy with: Sharps’ Chalkey’s Bark, Preserved Apricots  Hazelnut Biscuits.

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V) Ardrahan, £16 per kg, waitrose.com  
A rich, soft  Irish cheese with a strong, almost meaty flavour. Ardrahan has a buttery textured honey-coloured centre with a complex delicate flavour. It is made with a washed rind (meaning quite literally that the cheese has been washed in a special brine) which grows over time into a bright golden colour, it also keeps the inside of the cheese moist and creamy.

Enjoy with: William’s Bro’s Grozet, Damson Fruit Cheese & English Wheat Fingers.

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VI) Ticklemore, £6.06 for 1/8th Cheese, thecheeseshed.com 
Made at Sharpham’s Dairy in Devonshire, Ticklemore is a cool, crumbly  goats’ milk cheese that melts in the mouth much like ice cream. It has a mellow, fresh and subtle citric flavour.

Enjoy with: Dark Star Sunburst, Lemon, Basil & Bay Fruit Vinegar & Charcoal Crackers.

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VII) Lincolnshire Poacher £5.95 for 250g, pongcheese.co.uk
Lincolnshire Poacher is made with great care by Simon and Tim Jones, It is a  tangy, hard crystalline cheese made on the eastern edge of the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds. Poacher has an earthy and powerful taste that is nuttier than a mature cheddar with a long, lasting almost alpine flavour.

Enjoy with: Fuller’s Golden Pride, Quince Fruit Cheese & Wholemeal Crackers.

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VIII)  Colsten Bassett Stilton, £5.95 for 250g, finecheese.co.uk 
Made by a dairy that has only once stopped producing stilton – during the minor incovience that was The Second World War (production was briefly switched to cheddar). This is a fine stilton that has all the features you would want: rich,creamy with a deep and tantalising flavour.

Enjoy with: Brackspear TriplePreserved Whole CherriesCherry and Almond Fruit Toasts.

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IX) Cornish Yarg, £17.95 for a 900g trucklelynherdairies.co.uk
Named after the couple who first handmade this Cornish cheese in the 1970s (it is their surname, Gray, spelt backwards), this is a beautiful example of British artisan cheese. Wrapped in either nettle or wild garlic leaves, the hard, tangy-tasting cheese has been the recipient of a shelf-full of awards.

Enjoy with: Badger (Hall & Woodhouse) River Cottage Stinger, Gooseberry Fruit Cheese & Olive Oil Crackers.

Ogleshield

X) Ogleshield, £5.35 for £250g, thecheeseshed.com 
Made one fateful night by Jamie Montgomery (who also make Montgomery’s Chedder) in Cadbury, Somerset. Ogleshield has a rich, long lasting flavour that is ripe, fruity and almost beer-like in itself with a soft but firm texture. It is a great melting cheese as it holds shape. Hawksmoor of London  use it to melt over their burgers and Hot Dogs

Enjoy with: Dark Star Imperial Stout, melted over anything from The Ginger Pig, or your best local butcher.

JMN

The Holborn Drinks – The Penicillin

 

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There are classics that appear in the cocktail bibles that sit on the back shelf of bars all over the world.  Included in those books are recipes for the Old Fashioned, Martinis, Manhattans, Tom Collins, and the list goes on. And now you can add another libation to that list, a contemporary called The Penicillin. Created by Sam Ross of Milk & Honey in New York, The Penicillin is a blended scotch-based (we’ve gotten whiskey on our minds at The Holborn) cocktail with fresh lemon juice, sweetened Honey-Ginger Syrup and a delicate pour of aromatic Islay Single Malt for some delicate smoke on the nose.

There were countless years when whiskey-based cocktails lined up and down the bar. Single malt scotches were always reserved for the bottom of a bare glass. Even the thought of pouring it on the rocks was met with disapproval. It was an old boys club drink, poured neat. The popularity of ‘The Penicillin’  which seems to have doubled in bars around the world at the moment – no doubt thanks to the endorsement by Milk & Honey which has helped revive the recipe. And with good reason. It’s like a warm fire that seeps into the heart on a frigid day. It is a smoky and intensely flavourful drink, and now you can make it at home.

There are a few essential touches to this cocktail. One is the use of a mellow blended scotch as the base. It’s also important to use fresh lemon juice, slightly diluted honey syrup and a sweetened ginger juice. From the research we’ve done many have attempted to use muddled ginger, but it’s not quite enough to give the drink the hot flavour that it really needs. It’s important to juice the ginger root and add granulated sugar to it. If you follow these tips, you will not be disappointed.

To make The Penicillin you will require a Juicer, some cheesecloth and a cocktail shaker.

If you don’t have your own shaker, The Holborn really likes this helpful little number from Izola , that wouldn’t look out of place at the back of Roger Sterling’s office.


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The Penicillin


Ingredients (Makes 1)

60 ml  of Blended Scotch Whisky

25 ml  of freshly squeezed lemon juice

25 ml  of honey-ginger syrup*

1 dash of a smokey Islay single malt

Method

I. Pour all the ingredients except the Islay into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a rock glass filled with ice. Gently pour the Islay over top whilst allowing your lips to smack. Best served in a Rock Glass with your favourite book on an insipid grey cloudy day for maximum effect.

To make Honey Ginger Syrup (essential to the drink) you will need.

Tools: Juicer (optional) & grater

Ingredients

45 ml of loose, runny Honey

15 ml of Water

1 large piece of peeled fresh ginger

2 tbsp. of Granulated Sugar

Method

I. Stir together the honey and water together in a bowl until combined and then put to one side. Run the ginger through the juicer, or finely grate the ginger into a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze to separate the juice. Stir the sugar into the ginger juice and add to the honey syrup. Stir until the sugar and honey dissolve then it is ready to be used for more nefarious purposes.

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JMN

American Pie. Or not.

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When I was asked to write a piece on American food and the rise (and demise?) of such sweet, delicious but bad for you things, I had just come back from a long trip to SoCal. Upon my return, in the shop windows of my food and drink business, American produce captivated passers-by and it also seemed Hollywood fever had gripped this side of the pond with Lincoln and Django Unchained at the flicks and the Oscars looming. With just about adjusting my watch (it’s not digital you see) and unpacking the last (literally – the last) Twinkie from my leather holdall, I came across some Trader Joes chocolate and also a tin of Trader Joes Green Tea candy mints that I purchased for a friend.

Trader Joe's Green Tea Mints

Trader Joe’s Green Tea Mints

Under every J Crew shirt and between Banana Republic tees, there was one surprise after another that made me smile and remember why American food is so great.

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Most think of American food as fatty beef-burgers (no horse in sight), fries and giant guzzlers of Coca Cola or Iced Tea. Ok. To be fair, the US has some fantastic fast food chains from Arby’s with their roast beef sandwiches to 7-Eleven and their wide choice of hotdogs, fountain drinks and all-night-available mixture of alcohol, ice cream and snacks on every street corner.  Others remember the film American Pie, or the TV series Friends, which was set in the coffee shop Central Perk. Whatever our association though with the States is, food comes into it in some part whether we like it or not.

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Speaking to some customers in store, I often hear how they want to see Twinkies back, and then their saddened face when we say they no longer make them. All that cream filled, sugary, stale but sweet cake mixture in a little american-1lb-box-of-lucky-charms-cereal-453g-box.-ready-to-ship-in-the-uk-now--1768-prole is so bad, you’ve probably got through a week’s calorie intake in the space of 4 or 5 of the little buggers. The ratio of calories vs size isn’t the only thing that astounds me in some of the popular candy. While as children I remember our parents watching how much fizzy drink was being consumed, all eyes were also on e-numbers and other additives. This is why Jolly Ranchers, Fluff, Lucky Charms and even Pop Tarts are also on my naughty but nice list.

As obsessed with programmes like Man vs Food and Cake Wars we are, surely something has to come out that is good for us?

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Well, the answer is street food. I’d like to think that our approach to food consumerism and retail is slowly changing. And while there’s been a slow rejuvenation of food and farmers’ market the length of the British Isles, many years ago in the deepest depths of America’s Chinatowns and Little Italys, amateur cooks and independent restaurants started launching barrow boy style kiosks to supply quick and easy hot food, funnel cakes, pasta and noodles. Now, walking around East London at the weekend, or on the streets of Manchester and Birmingham, vendors supply the most vibrant smells and tastes we’ve seen since the first Michelin starred restaurant.

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This is turn has launched a whole wave of food experimentation such as Bubbledogs – the hot dog and champagne restaurant, and continues to allow for a wild imagination in culinaria. While we have a love hate relationship with fast food, American ‘candy’ and cups of fizzy drink the size of which you could wash your motor vehicle with, the Americans dare to be different with food. And as the saying goes, fortune does favour the bold.

Lewis Hunt

What the Dickens!

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We at The Holborn are avid followers of the street food revolution on the avenues, roads and mews of London. So we were quite excited to hear last week that one of our favourite traders What The Dickens have joined our favourite food collective Kerb.

So we popped over to Kerb’s market at University College London to have a chinwag with the boys. Michael Quinn, Adam Bernstein and Dominic Rose, friends since their school days, started out What The Dickens as a hobby; ‘a bit of a laugh’ they say, they thought it would be fun to dress up as Victorian gentlemen and start serving Victorian breakfasts, kedgeree and devilled kidneys; indulging their love for both food and finery. So seeking to resurrect and revive time-honoured English recipes they started off at the then recently revived Chatsworth Road market just a stone’s throw from where they all lived. This is where this humble street food eater first happened across these fine chaps on a rain soaked London weekend last year.

With the market taking up more and more of their time, from fortnightly to weekly and with all three working office jobs the trio decided to up their game and turn it into more than a weekend laugh. Adam tells us they are resistant to say they are full time till they are all earning a living wage from the stall but they are all in this for the long run.

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So why Victorian food and finery; it simply because they love the food and had been kicking around with those types of recipes when they first started out. Interested in food history as well they see the Victorian period as the most interesting period in recent history. Though the food range has expanded since those early days, Adam explains that just doing Kedgeree was starting to become a little too restrictive and their cuisine now encompasses a wider range of traditional British dishes. So for example on the menu today is ‘Devilled Pork Rolls’, a delicious slow-roasted pork belly, cooked with a sweet and spicy sauce with crackling and a apple and quince sauce. Perfect for a cold Spring day.

The boys don’t only cook traditional recipes, they prepare as much of their food in a time honoured approach. In keeping with the approach to historic recipes What the Dickens also aim to prepare as much of their own food as possible. Their bacon is salted and hung on the premises while their back garden holds bees and a densely packed crop of fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, and a sign of London life these days, the laying hens sadly met their maker in the autumn one night after a fox entered the coop. In 2013 the boys  will see the completion of their smokehouse, which will be used for bacon as well as fish and home made cheese. An expansion of the business model to include deli liked goods sold on the stall, another reason to track the boys progress over the coming months.

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So they teamed up with KERB last month, and they are honoured to now be part of the collective and have already picked up lots of help and advice from some of the most experience street food sellers in London. I love the theatrical style of What the Dickens, and I have always leant towards infusing that kind of fun into markets and food; for instance a staple favourite of the Holborn are the Mussel Men traders. Though the boys are nervous about the theatrics being focused on to much and Adam says that has often been written about them, he was more keen to talk about the food. Though they admit that food has a natural theatre to it and they see their style much more as a form of showmanship than theatrics. However the whole package works and most importantly the food is fantastic.

So the future; new food, more markets with KERB, the smokehouse being completed and hopefully after their pop up restaurant last year perhaps another similar venture. Well we for one look forward to it.  We’ll be keeping a greedy eye on What The Dickens and we do recommend you track them down. Also listen to our interview and the bustle of the food market here…

Snack In Style: Valentines Truffles

Looking for something special for Valentines? Things a bit tight with the financial crisis? Want to show your love through hard work and thoughtfulness?

Well we all know Valentines revolves around chocolate. How about doing some home-made chocolate truffles for the special person in your life. You may have to sneak home from work early tomorrow to do the preparation, but combine it with a nice glass of English Bubbly and the chocolate lover in your life will melt with appreciation.

Snuggle up with a classic movie and toast all the hard loving work you’ve put into these delicious chocolatety snacks.

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Ingredients
For the Ganache:
21 ounces bittersweet chocolate
18 ounces (generous 2 cups) heavy cream
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
2 ounces (1/4 cup) orange liqueur or raspberry vodka (optional)
For the Coating:
3 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
2 cups nuts, toasted and finely chopped

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Directions
Chop the chocolate: Use a chef’s knife to chop the chocolate as finely as possible; this will help it melt quickly and evenly. Then place it in a medium glass bowl. (Glass retains heat, so the chocolate will stay melted longer.)

Make the ganache: Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from the heat and add about one-fourth of the chocolate; whisk until smooth. Slowly pour the cream mixture over the remaining chocolate in the bowl and let sit until the chocolate melts, about 30 seconds. Puree the melted chocolate with an immersion blender or beat with a whisk until all the lumps disappear and the ganache is smooth. Stir in the butter until smooth, then add liqueur, if desired.

Pour and set: Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-foot overhang on one side. Pour the ganache onto the baking sheet and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Fold the plastic wrap back over and press directly onto the surface of the ganache. Let cool at room temperature at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the truffles: Using two teaspoons, scoop small mounds of the ganache onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Set aside until firm enough to roll, about 15 minutes in the refrigerator or 2 hours at room temperature.

Roll into balls: Place the chocolate mounds between both palms, squeeze slightly and roll. Refrigerate until ready to coat.

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Temper the chocolate: This is a gentle melting and cooling process that gives chocolate a glossy finish. For the coating, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted, about 40 minutes. Pour into a clean glass bowl; stir to cool to between 88 degrees and 90 degrees, about 40 minutes. (Jacques recommends a laser thermometer for checking the temperature.)

Dip and coat: Spread out the cocoa powder, coconut and nuts on parchment paper. One at a time, dip each truffle in the tempered chocolate with a two-prong dipping fork (you can buy one at a baking-supply store or break off the middle tines of a plastic fork). Lift the truffle and let the excess chocolate drip off. Roll in toppings and place on a rack to dry. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The Holborn Drinks – The Wild Ruffian

Well it’s Friday night, so lets not beat about the bush. Time to get ready for the weekend, and there are worse ways to begin your precious drinking hours that with a few Wild Ruffians – an altogether classy libation of cognac, peach jam, and mint to loosen up your work muscles. Enjoy!


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Wild Ruffian

Ingredients (Makes 1)

2 tsp Peach Jam
1 tsp Brown Sugar
12 leaves of fresh mint
90mml Courvoisier Cognac

Method:

I) Blend the Peach jam, sugar, and 1 teaspoon  of still water in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds on a low setting. Stir to dissolve sugar, and allow the mixture to cool.

II) Muddle the mint leaves in a Collins glass, coating the inside of the glass with the mint oils. Remove about 3/4 of the mint and then discard it and fill the glass with crushed ice. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine peach syrup and cognac, and shake until well chilled. Strain cognac mixture over ice in the Collins glass, gently stir, top with more crushed ice if need be.

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Q&A – Richard Wynne, Beard to Tail

We’ve been fans of world famous Shoreditch cocktail bar Calloh Callay for years, so when last October we heard they were opening a restaurant round the corner on Curtain Road we were giddy with excitement. To top that as carnivores and whiskey lovers the concept of a whiskey and meat focused restaurant had us rushing to book a table as soon as we could. Three and a half months later after frequenting the restaurant many a time, most recently for Burns Night where we enjoyed a creative take on haggis and a whiskey and irn bru syrup cocktail, we sat down with owner Richard Wynee to ask him how it’s all going.

What was your inspiration?

We always wanted to do a meat focused restaurant. We’ve had the idea for a couple of years. We’ve had a few beardtotail4trips to New York, there’s a few great bbq places out there. One in Brooklyn particularly stood out called Fette Sau, an awesome BBQ joint, just great meat and picnic tables. Brooklyn is very similar to Shoreditch and if there was anywhere in London to do this it would be Shoreditch. We wanted something a bit more modern and upmarket, more of a restaurant. We are really passionate about beef and pork; and with places like Meat Liqour opening the passion for meats has really taken off. A slight fear of jumping on the bandwagon but we’ve had the idea for a while, but we looked at how we could be different. The concept of Beard to Tail works by doing that, we’re using different cuts of meat and sticking true to the name. Beard to Tail is the literal French translation of BBQ, coming from French settlers in the Caribbean seeing locals digging holes in the ground and grilling all parts of the animal.

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Are you joining with the Americana food craze in London?

We’d rather stay away from American food, best left to the Americans. We have an American whiskey bar, but that’s because it’s just a great drink to go with the meat. But American style food no, we’ve got a great chef and we’d like to be more British and London. Modern British cuisine takes a lot of influences and we draw on that.

How did you come to own and run a restaurant and bar?

Like many I fell into the industry, I started off as a student working at Wimbledon tennis. I then moved into 27897_376995299053200_918489134_nworking for high street bars such as Pitcher & Piano who took me under their wing and taught me a lot about running a business. From there I moved to LoungeLover, just round the corner from where I am now, and worked there for two years and loved it. Though two years into Calloy Callah I really missed doing food, and we looked at what we felt Shoreditch needed and the idea for Beard to Tail started to emerge. Though Beard to Tail has been very different. We opened Calloy Callah at the start of the economic crisis before it was really started to hit. People are always going to go out and drink but eating out is different. Also people are alot more knowlegable about their food, unlike their cocktails.

Hows it been seeing your vision come to life?

It’s clicled but its been a dream come true. We’ve been really adaptable and open to change. When we started we had a deli as well but we realised quickly it didn’t work, so we got rid of it. We are constantly evolving and it’s been an organic process. It has been difficult, would have been easier to open another two or three Calloy Callah’s, but I wanted a challenge. The fact Beard to Tail is here now despite that challenge makes me incredibly proud and gives me a great sense of achievement. We want to be different and we will keep evolving and getting better. Working for yourself is a great thing and I couldn’t now go back and work for someone else.

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And the future?

We have a basement here where we may expand. And especially I’d love for Beard to Tail to be a three or four venue enterprise. I think its a great concept and if East London likes it then maybe West London would too. But for now we are focused on getting it right here.

There is big things to come from Beard to Tail and I fully expect as Richard says they will get better and better. And if they continue with their inventive and mouthwatering food and their creative cocktail list, combined with their theatrical events such as last years rib-eating contest to celebrate the end of Movember, then it will one very fine restaurant indeed.

The Magazine Rack: Lucky Peach

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This week in The Magazine Rack we head stateside to have a look at Lucky Peach. As a Londoner I’m am currently drowning in trendy diner food; premium burgers, Hot Dogs, Po Boys and mountains of pulled pork have formed a meaty wave of edible Americana which continues to hit the capital. London joints such as Meat Liquor, Meat Wagon, Bubbledogs and (street food hero) The Rib Man have been keeping the capital topped up on meat and squeezing into their jeans for a good two years now. So Issue Four of this US quarterly food journal is great if you’re looking to swat up on the nuances of the US food craze.

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There aren’t a plethora of great Food Journals out there, probably given that food writing is a surprisingly hard journalistic task. Often you trawl the blog sites and find restaurant reviews or recipes that talk endlessly about minute details and nothing about the story behind food, the experience and if you’ll allow me to be so verbose, the poetry of it all. The other thing that is so often missing from food writing is quite simply; the fun! Mixed in the mist of Gordon Ramsay’s expletive ridden rants and Lloyd Grossman talking as if he’s making love to that Creme Brûlée there is a world of just celebrating the enjoyment and love of food with a cheeky smile on our face. The Americans are particularly good at not taking their food too seriously; now I don’t mean they don’t love their food, they do, they just have a lot more fun with it. Maybe it’s because as American food expert Jonathan Gold says in the opening interview of the Issue, “American Cuisine is about being nostalgic for food that doesn’t really exist’. With no traditional cuisine, no rigid rules like the French & Italians, a country full of immigrants write their own culinary history, no holes barred and having a hell a lot of fun doing it.

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So Lucky Peach is refreshingly different from European food journals. Imagine a combination of Man Vs Food with some of the wit of Giles Coren in an accessible printed format. It’s full of brilliant quirky cartoonish illustrations and some great recipes to boot. Issue 4 is nicely stacked up high on different takes on US food, you almost expect it to be served with a complimentary pickle on the side.

The Issue spans a good range of different areas and cultures of the States, though the Editor apologies for the lack of breadth on the opening page. There’s a great article by a member of the native american tribe the Ojibwe who despairs that he can’t actually describe his tribes cuisine, and goes on a journey through history to discover what it is.  Did you know that in California 90% of independent doughnut shops are owned by Cambodians? Well I didn’t, and now this culinary mesh has a term, ‘Khmerican Food’. Then back across on the East Coast we delve into the world of the Philly Cheesesteak.

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Away from salivating over cheesesteaks and doughnuts Lucky Peach delves into American food culture. A look at Warhol’s relationship to food and an exploration of the relationship between food and cinema in the States. And it wouldn’t be complete in An American Food issue without of review of 1982 film ‘The Dinner’ (starring Mickey Rourke, before..the incident). Here’s the trailer, which may be the cheesiest three minutes ever assembled outside the town of Chedder.

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So for some good and fun food writing I suggest looking stateside and picking up a copy of Lucky Peach.

Bread & Milk

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Bread and Milk, 82 Trafalgar Street, Brighton

There’s not really much I require from a coffee shop. It should be local – I want my coffee to wake me up, not the walk – and, in accordance with the law of Agent Cooper, I want damn fine coffee. That’s it really. I have nothing inherently against chain store brands but I don’t need my name being scrawled on the side of the cup to show how much they value my business. And I’m not a fan of ordering in one place while someone else makes my drink and collecting further down the line. It really is astounding, then, how coffee shops can sometimes get it quite so wrong.

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So it was with trepidation that I first ventured into Bread and Milk (http://breadandmilk.co.uk/welcome.html)  in Brighton’s North Laine. The place looks so good from the outside (and by peering through the windows) that I almost expected to be disappointed by bad coffee or baristas with attitude. I shouldn’t have worried. With the level of friendliness and customer service I’m still only getting used to after moving down to Brighton last year the people behind the counter (I’m not sure they even bother to call themselves ‘baristas’) served up a perfect coffee. See, it’s not hard – as manager Rupert Davidson explains: “Great coffee, great food, clean and tidy – and most importantly fast and efficient and very friendly service”. Rupert has been in the business all his working life – both sides of the counter. A chef for 10 years, he then went on to be head of development at restaurant chain Benugo which goes some way to explain his obvious understanding of both the needs of the customer alongside employee satisfaction.

But the aesthetic aspect of the place (alongside the coffee) is the  real selling point. Rupert says it is a functional look that is just the right side of manufactured, “a slightly industrial look without trying to make it styled in such a way, really just using the rawness of the building. I have been responsible for designing and building shops for the last five years or so, so it is really an expression of that. In my view the great food establishments are simple in design allowing the product to come to the forefront”.

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Opening a food or drink establishment in the North Laine of Brighton is a bold move but one that seems to be working for Bread and Milk. There’s a real feeling of support for independent stores in the area and when the quality of product and service is this good there seems no reason why their damn fine coffee shouldn’t be enjoyed by many more people to come.

DR

Brit Pop – English Wine.

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‘English Wine’ is still one of those word combinations I still find myself approaching with some trepidation like  ”German sense of humour”, ”Scottish sports” or ”Vegetarian Bacon”. I know they exist, but I’m not always entirely sure what for. For a start is always the question, how in the name of all that is holy can grapes grow in a climate like ours? And then how can it be any good? I’ve never heard of a vineyard that thrives on rain, let alone the second dampest year on record, ..and that was just the summer. Yet you would have to be pretty deaf not to hear the racket being made about the quality and quantity of wine being produced right here in the UK.

Of course the universal truth is ‘you live and learn.’ And so it came to be that myself, a complete novice in wine tasting ( I’ve forever been an ale & spirits man) bought himself six bottles of English wine, dug out an old history textbook, got himself moderately plastered and then wrote this article (pity me tomorrow morning). My aim, to show that tasting and comparing wines is accessible to everyone with and open mind and a few spare quid.

English wine has been going on for over a thousand years. We first learned about it from those toga-wearing, smart arse purveyors of hotch-potch civilisation; the Romans, to whom we own the drinking salutation ”nunc est bibedum” loosely translated from Horace ”let’s get them in”. Though the venerable Bede mentions wine-growing in his ecclesiastical history, it’s fairly obvious from the surviving songs and tales that Anglo Saxons’ preferred beverage was beer, and as such wine became a more monastic interest. Viticulture continued to prosper until the 14th Century, when summers started to become wetter and cloudier, French wine became cheaper to import and a lax health and safety policy concerning plague rats finished off the wine making monasteries as a commercial force.

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English wine’s long hibernation ended sometime in the 1950’s when the first commercial vineyard since the high Middle Ages was established at Hambledon in Hampshire. There are currently more than 500 vineyards in the country, most of them situated in the warmer southern counties. (Kent, Sussex, Surrey) though there are others as far afield as Durham to the north and Cornwall to the west. Camel Valley, near the Bodmin moors in Cornwall is a family-run vineyard started 20 years ago, and if it’s sparking are anything to go by it should last for many more. Their Pinot Brut (Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut, 2007 – £29 at www.turtonwines.com) is a clean, zesty mouthful and they also do a crisp rose fizz that can (and should) be drunk, according to the brochure ”as early in the day as you fancy”. So Breakfast then?wine 3So far, so good. English fizz is certainly  seems to me the strong point of the British wine industry. My growing confidence in English wine took a knock however when tasting English table wine.The first red I tried was a Bolney Estate Dark Harvest (2006, from Sussex £9 at http://www.bookervinyard.co.uk) which has a strong blackberry flavour but  apart from that brought not much else to the game, a boozy Ribena tooth-kind with a splash of claret if you will. The whites where, unfortunately worse, Chapel Down in Kent, has made a name for itself, winning meddles at various international wine festivals, but it’s status defeated me. They say ‘crisp citrus’ well yes, I suppose that is true, but not quite in the good way, it’s a bit like sucking on baking apples.

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The Pinot reserve (Chapel Down Pinot Reserve, 2006 – throw a party and get £6 for £137 at http://www.chapeldown.com) sparkling however is terrific, one of the finest bottles I’ve ever gotten through, so to the Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury (Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury 2009, £22 at http://www.waitrosedirect.com) which you could easily pass of as Champagne to pretty much anyone ( the soil, apparently resembles northeast France). So my first foray into buying and tasting English wine taught me a firm lesson if you want to support English winegrowers, follow the trail of bubbles and buy the fizz.

JMN

Jaguar Shoes Collective

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We present to you a long standing member of Shoreditch’s creative hub and hipster scenes. Jaguar Shoes collective have been going in the area for over a decade, long before the explosion of cafes, cocktail bars and pop-up stores, predating the opening of the Overground and the arrivals of the bigger West End stores.IMG_9876 Jaguar Shoes is a collective which is made up of  a group of creatively motivated businesses and individuals working in art, film, fashion, music, publishing and design. They seek to provide a multitude of platforms for creative talent; from exhibitions and events, to collaborative products and retail opportunities. The ethos of the collective is to motivate positive change through creative output.

So where do we start… There’s the wonderful product line, the varying exhibitions and the creative way they put them on, the record label, their publication and two great venues both with a cafe and a bar.

Well we decided the best way to start would be to sit down with coffee with Jaguar Shoes Creative Director Vickie Hayward. Sat in the store part of the Old Shoreditch Station venue the first thing I feel the need to put to Vickie looking across the product range and seeing quite a limited selection of shoes is why the name? Well upon setting up the business the collective started out at their other venue further up Kingsland Road and struggling for a name for the project they plumped for calling it after the already existing names above the shop. So Jaguar Shoes were born and the flagship venue is still called Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes (named after both existing shop signs, as seen below). Vickie said it worked at the time really well for the business, back then being unusual for a business to name itself after what was already there, as she says ‘it became memorable almost because it was so unmemorable’.

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So how does a brand that does so much stay succinct, and how does an artist collective end up running two bars? Well staying succinct is something they try and do everyday but the overarching goal of working with and profiling young talent pulls the whole operation together. Having the shop allows them to show and sell the more ‘product’ based items (see below) such as the clothes, shoes and homeware and the exhibition space shows off the more installation based work such as illustration.

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Taking a look round the store the products are unique, they do a lot of collaborations, inventive and of exceptional quality. The scarf above is a collaboration with rising designer Lucy Jay, their website describes the concept, “The design of the ‘Kingsland’ scarf came from the JaguarShoes philosophy; creative ideas through collaboration. Combined with the inimitable patterns of Lucy Jay, the colour palate reflects the vintage wholesaler signs that hang above “DreamBags JaguarShoes” the renowned exhibition space and bar; and the original namesake of the entire enterprise. The idea for the silk scarf sparked earlier this year when Lucy Jay launched her new collection with a solo exhibition at JaguarShoes venue, the Old Shoreditch Station and was inspired by the Art Deco style lighting features of the venue” You find that level of care and detail across the range, making it a pleasure to grab a coffee in the store and just enjoy browsing.

And the bar? Well when setting up the first venue the goal was to profile a group of young talented artists, but without need the sales from a gallery to commercially support the venture. So a bar seemed a sensible idea, a concept that flowed through into the second venue down the road. For me it also creates a fantastic feeling of life in the two venues, as opposed to a lot of art galleries which often can feel slightly desolate. Pop in late afternoon to the Old Shoreditch Station and you see lots of young creative people sat round on their Macs with a coffee or a beer. It brings another dimension to this creative hub.

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Campari recently set up shop in the Old Shoreditch station roasting oranges as they went, the cocktail list has developed, often themed around what else is going on in the venue. Rooted in the community as they are supporting local designers and artists this ethos carries through into cafe and bar, the coffee is roasted down on Redchurch Street, the food is made by two local independent stores, the Food Hall opposite The Old Shoreditch Station and the Sicilian next door to Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes doing pizzas for that venue.

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And I’ve hardly had any time to delve into the publication and the record label such is the creative reach of Jaguar Shoes. But I hope I’ve given you a taste of what this dynamic collective is all about. I suggest heading on over and checking out both venues and seeing whats going on. Companies like these rooted in the community and supporting local creative talent in such a varied way are rare and should be celebrated.

Rinkoff’s Bakery

I love a Beigel, it’s a slice of my childhood. Visiting family in the East End and coming home with bags full of smoked salmon and cream cheese, or delicious slices of hot salt beef. Before I get accused of a typo, beigal (pronounced ‘bygal’) is the East End spelling of its more famous cousin the Bagel. Like the bagel with the large American Jewish population the beigal came out of the large Whitechapel Jewish population and along with a nice slice of pie and mash is synonymous with East London food. Though the Jewish population of the East End have moved on, it’s estimated that the population has decreased from around 200,000 to 2,000 in the past century, the food has remained.

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For the newly initiated and also for those of you who are familiar with an East End salt beef beigel and those of you whose shoes have carried them up and down Brick Lane many a time I’d suggest a saunter off the beaten track and to take a short stroll round the corner onto Selby Street and amble along until you hit Valance Road to visit a Jewish Bakery with an illustrious past, Rinkoff’s.

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Valence Road Store

The guy on the side of the building is Hyman Rinkoff, a Ukrainian Jew who emigrated to Britain at the beginning of the last century. In 1911 he set up his bakery, 102 years later it’s still going strong. The business has seen a lot IMG_0799change over the past century. From a local kosher Bakery serving the large Jewish community they travelled from doing 95% retail & 5% wholesale to a complete reversal. The company now is 95% wholesale providing their products to esteemed stores such as Selfridges and Harrods. They now also do bepsoke baking, give them a call and they put together some specialist cake or breads for you, (though your going to need to order like a 100 cakes). Master Baker and Hyman’s grandson Ray Rinkoff puts down the reversal to partly the community base the shop was built on dwindling but more to the growth of the supermarkets, he told us it all started to change back in the late 70s when Sunday was still their busiest day and there were queues round the block of people getting their breads and rolls for Sunday Lunch. So like all businesses who have reached a century of trading they changed and adapted. The store is no longer Kosher, but Jewish-style, the demands of the modern world making it hard for a small business like Rinkoffs not to operate on Saturdays.

The nerve centre of this wholesale baking operation is not the Valance Road store but a slightly more unassuming shopfront (below) on Jubilee Street off Mile End Road. The business has been run from here since 1971, after the original store on Montague Street was lost due to a compulsory purchase order. Here they bake up all sorts, with the influence of Ray’s daughter Jennifer Rinkoff they started doing cupcakes and made special editions for both the Royal Wedding and the Golden Jubilee. There is another royal connection with Rinkoff’s, the old Queen Mother was a fan, partial to a beigel, there is a rather wonderful letter framed from Clarence House in the Valance Road store.

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Jubilee Street Store

Another twist in the fabric of this East End tale is that the current flagship store in Valence Road which came into the business in 1976 was formally the home of the Kray Twins. Though despite all the history and intrigue it always comes back to the products, and despite all the wonderful products they create, the Linzer biscuits, gooey chocolate brownies a generous selection of pastries and jewish breads, I suggest taking that trip off Brick Lane and grabbing a traditional beigel, be smoked salmon or salt beef sink your teeth into this delicious lunchtime snack.

Ray Rinkoff- Master Baker

Ray Rinkoff- Master Baker

So what next for this hundred old family business?  Ray and his brothers are at the helm, but the fourth generation of Rinkoffs is in the business. Ray’s nephew joined early, at 13 he was given the choice of Hebrew lessons or working in the bakery on Sundays, and in the past few years Jennifer, Ray’s daughter joined, taking the brand on to the world of social media. Here’s to another successful hundred years.

MHG

Mr. Buckley’s

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Another new hipster restaurant opening in East London. But no ribs, hotdogs or burgers in sight, your food is on plates not trays, and there not a single diner-esque red leather booth to be seen. Though we still find mac’n’cheese (a rather wonderful Lobster version) on the menu, an inventive cocktail menu and the must have exposed brick walls. The food is served tapas style at between £6-£8 for a small plate and include dishes such as Confit duck & pistachio terrine with pickles & crostini; Roast poussin, potato & almond salad with garlic dressing, and Nut crusted lamb cutlets with honey, pomegranate molasses & pumpkin puree. The cocktail list is very inventive, their current top seller is their Bloody Madison (Bacon infused bourbon, tomato juice, lemon juice & chipotle spices), a simply brilliant take on a Bloody Mary. Mr Buckley’s brings what’s best of the East London food scene and misses out all the predictability and lack of quality that has crept into the Shoreditch scene.

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Brainchild of Phillip Way, formally of Barworks, the company behind places such as Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen and the Electricity Showrooms. Phillip decided to break away to have a go at his own enterprise and build something with real ambience and atmosphere that did real quality food with a great variance and inventiveness.  Talking to The Holborn he told us he wanted to do something to combat the lack of genuinely quality restaurants in East London, to escape the predicability of scene where everyone is doing fish and chips and burgers, to move away from what has come to be known as ‘Dirty’ food. So you won’t find any chips or anything fried on this menu. The brunch menu is a good example, not a fry up in sight! But lots of other fascinating dishes to make your re-think breakfast. Phillip describes the menu as worldwide, and promises to keep it continually varied with maybe up to 12 new menu’s a year, with dishes from as many cuisines as they can do. This is definitely a place to keep coming back to.

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Like the ethos of the business the venue is slightly off the beaten track in East London. Just five minutes from Hoxton Station and ten minutes from Shoreditch High Street Mr.Buckley’s sits on the relatively untapped Hackney Road on the site of an old Indian restaurant which had gone bust. Phillip and his team completely gutted the old restaurant and rebuilt from scratch, the result has been a very relaxed sociable space which is pleasing to the eye and perfect for a lunch time snack with your laptop or a great evening meal and cocktails with your mates. Mr Buckley’s is inventive, fun, and friendly but most importantly the food is both adventurous and great quality.

The Bloody Madison Cocktail

The Bloody Madison Cocktail

Oh and the name? Well that comes from the building’s history. In 1833 the building was a Victorian lower middle class private members club called the United Radical Club. When they refused local publican William Buckley entrance to the club on account of his profession he proceeded to set the building alight. Arrested for arson now Mr.Buckley’s name has a second association with this small building on Hackney Road. Apparently on the next menu there may even be a flaming dessert in his honour!

Camp & Furnace

When a brand lists itself as an ‘eatery, bar, music venue, boutique caravan hotel, indoor park, photographic studio, camp shop (and) exhibition space’ (they also hold a nightclub), I think it’s fair to say you have every right to feel inquisitive. Camp & Furnace is a Liverpool based collective (I think that’s right?) stationed on Greenland Street in the heart of the Baltic Triangle.

They have an extensive events calender, centered around ”Pop-up’s, fold-downs (and) Drive through’s ” using inventive collaborations to bring a real unique quality to each. Recent ventures have included The Winter Picnic, ‘BEERD’ fest, Vintage Wedding Festival and possibly the best/worst/noidea idea I’ve ever heard of..the ‘Cycle thru noodle cinema‘ which included such activities as ‘Breast Knitting..Noodle Eating” and Pimping ones bike.

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If you weren’t already exited enough to order a train ticket to Liverpool, then I should probably inform you that  they have commissioned their own Beer and Wine. Camp & Furnace worked with the Liverpool Craft Brewery to produce Brown Bear which is made with a particularly delicious sounding combination of Birch smoked Wheat (using their own furnace) and local Whirral Honey.

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As for the wine, they have worked with suppliers Boutinot to source a southern house red, rather brilliantly called ‘Frechie’ which the suppliers state has;  “Friendly spice of Grenache sprinkled with Syrah; textured plum and strawberry fruit rounds off the palate, making this a delicious, uncomplicated medium-bodied, soft, fruity and very drinkable red … yet serious enough to accompany food” – all good then, and should go particularly well with one of their specialities; a weekly Sunday lunch held in their indoor park using 28 day dry aged Lancashire Sirloin. Whilst we are on the topic of wine take a look at Camp & Furnace’s Australian collaborators Some Young Punks who are doing some really interesting things with their wine, as well as having one of the best websites I think I’ve ever come across.

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There is a real sense of community that you have to admire with this project, Camp & Furnace use their multi-media spaces to centre themselves locally, pulling local talent and skills towards it. Hosting events such as markets and live music help to encourage local creativity. A really nice, and I think a very smart aim of theirs is to cater Weddings. You make think it slightly frivolous or quirky, but weddings are still central act to creating community, through it you help to form households and families and what is essentially, life to an area.

The new Eatery is certainly generating some buzz too, and it looks like pretty decent fayre to me, you can see the Menu here.

This is the kind of projects I really like to see emerging and it’s one I think carries with it an important message of localism along with it’s emphasis on great design and unique fun. However I shall leave it to the Director of Camp & Furnace; Ian Richards to tell you about it in his on words:

Snack in Style: Latkes

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So here we am again with some more hot, home-made morsels for your delectation. Latkes are a pretty classic savoury potato pancake served all over Europe and the Middle East in varying guises. Unfortunately here in the UK they seem to be primarily served re-heated and stale in the front windows of late night Turkish Kebab shops, lying forgotten and forlorn next to the Felafel. They can be a bit of a fuss to make, given the amount of grating involved, but if you have a grating disc for a Food processor then you can knock these out quick as a flash.
They make a great alternative to bread muffins in an Eggs Royale/Benedict. Alternatively serve them as a home-bound bar snack with friends, they go well with with IPA’s like Greene King and Belgian Weisserbeirs, I enjoyed mine with a  William Worthington White Shield, perhaps serve with a little Paprika- infused Creme Fraiche as a dip?
The Americans have a tradition of serving them with Apple  sauce, this is a bit sweet for me, but I tried one with some sharper Quince Jelly from The Fine Cheese Company and that worked a treat, also grating a little Pecorino cheese over them whist they are still hot is really, really good.

Note: I recommend making pretty small Latkes which are easier to fry up and less likely to fall apart. This recipie makes 25-30 small Latkes (keep them for work lunches).

Potato Latkes 
900g of Russet Potatoes, peeled and.. coarsely grated
1 Medium Onion Grated
190g Matzo Meal (available in the UK, here)
Chopped fresh Chives (about a handful)
5 Large eggs
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

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Place the grated potato (Russet has the best firm texture for this) in a large bowl, fill it with water and then strain. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times until the water runs relatively clear, then drain the potatoes, squeezing out as much as the water as you can.

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Combine the rinsed potatoes and grated onion in another large bowl and mix them together with your hands and some Matzo meal (smashed up crackers in a fine crumb – if you can’t get Matzo) and mix, then add the chives. Finally add the eggs and massage them into the potato mixture until incorporated. Add Salt and Pepper to season.

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Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of Oil (I like Sussex Gold Rapeseed) in a large Skillet/Saute Pan over a medium heat. Working in batches so that the Latkes are not to crowed (and get the right amount of oil/heat) take a golf sized ball of the potato mixture, squish it, and add to the skillet. Repeat. Cook the Latkes until they are crisp and brown all over, and still tender inside. Transfer to paper towel lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding a tablespoon or so of oil between batches.

Also why not try?…

Butternut Squash Latkes Note: For Butternut Squash, a grating disc attachment for a food processor is the only way to avoid blood & tears when it comes to grating the monster.

1 Butternut Squash (Medium sized)
1 Medium Onion
190g Matzo Meal
15g of chopped fresh Sage
5 large Eggs
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Cut the squash up into manageable chunks and pass them through the grating disc of a food processor.
Follow much the same instructions as the potato version, but skip the rinsing step at the start.
Cook the Squash Latkes for slightly longer over a slightly lower heat (about 4 minutes on each side)

You can reheat Latkes in the oven, It takes about 5 minutes at 220 c, avoid Microwaves it makes them soggy.

JMN

The Toast Box

London is awash with different culinary tastes from all over the world and in all different forms. Be it Michelin starred restaurants, your local curry house or a street food van there is not much you cannot get hold of. So what could be next, what is the next food revolution? Where will it come from?

Well it may be a lot humbler than you might think. A simple piece of Toast. That staple of a rushed breakfast, of the weekdays of not being able to pop into your local cafe for an eggs royale. Though there is something warm and cosy about the thought of a thick slice with a healthy spread of real butter and a large mug of coffee. And so we present to you the latest craze from Asia; Toast Box.

Toast-Box

Toast Box is from Singapore, it was developed in October 2005 in Singapore, starting as a food stall unit of Food Republic Wisma Atria, to recreate the warm atmosphere of local Nanyang coffee shops of the 60s and 70s. The Nanyang Kopi coffee is the signature beverage, which is hugely popular. It seeks to bring an old-world charm to the culinary landscape. Toast Box goal is to hark back to the simplicity of a bygone era, with its pleasurable comforts of coffee and toast. It serves up traditional favourites like peanut butter and toast, Asian favourites such as mee siam, nasi lemak and soft-boiled eggs, you can even get Toast and Ice cream.

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Since its launch the company have expanded into Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong and China and now has over 30 outlets in Singapore. They have also started to sell their own sweet honey-flavoured Hainanese Kaya and Peanut butter. There are no definite plans for European expansion as of yet, but we do hope that we discover a Toast Box on a London corner soon where we could sit back and relax with their Nanyang Kopi coffee, a nice thick slice of Toast and maybe even a dollop of ice cream.

MHG

Kerb & Fifteen

So we at The Holborn took a little day trip down to Old Street yesterday to visit Kerb‘s Christmas food market hosted by Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. So lit by the strong winter sun, and with an array of colours, smells and noises to delight our senses, we tucked into salt beef bagels, pulled pork sandwiches, oven baked pizzas, rice pudding and a few french tarts. For a cracking lunchtime delight, do check out where Kerb will be pulling up next. We’d also recommend The Old Fountain pub round the corner on Baldwin Street for a wonderful collection of ales.

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MHG