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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

National Hot Toddy Day is on the 11th January celebrate it with The Dubliner!

With this cold and gloomy weather National Hot Toddy Day, which is on the 11th January, is a welcome celebration. The Dubliner has the perfect Hot Toddy recipe to keep you warm:

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  • Add 50ml The Dubliner Irish Whiskey
  • 25ml lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of honey to a warmed heatproof glass. 
  • Top up the glass with boiling water, stir until all the ingredients are dissolved and mixed.
  • Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

The Dubliner is available from: Amazon, and     RRP: £22.50 for 70cl. ABV: 40%

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Happy Ginuary - without the calories

If you have opted for Dry Ginuary rather than Dry January, here are 3 Gin Cocktails to stimulate your taste buds (but not your waistband).

All under 100 calories per drink, after mixing.

Opihr Gin & Ginger (54Kcal)
For a more fiery twist, try swapping ginger ale for ginger beer.

  • 25ml Opihr Gin 
  • Light or Slimline Ginger Ale 
  • Fill a tall glass with ice, add Opihr Gin & top with a light or slimline Ginger Ale.
BLOOM Winter Berry G&T (70Kcal)

  • 25ml BLOOM Gin 
  • Fever Tree Naturally Light Tonic 
  • Garnish with fresh or frozen cranberries or blackberries
Thomas Dakin Tom & Mary (76Kcal)

  • 25ml Thomas Dakin Gin
  • 120ml tomato juice
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcester sauce
  • 1/2 tsp horseradish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco 
  • 8 coriander leaves
  • Splash of orange juice 
  1. Combine and stir all ingredients over ice
  2. Serve in a chilled hi-ball glass
  3. Top with a splash of orange juice
  4. Garnish with sprig of coriander, stick of celery and grounded black pepper

Sunday, 7 January 2018

60 Second Craft Beer Review - Cali-Belgique IPA by Stone Brewing Berlin

Since their launch back in 1996, Stone Brewing Co. have grown to become one of America’s most recognised independent craft brewers. Based in Southern California, the team at Stone have been making a name for themselves with big hitting beers including their flagship Stone Pale Ale and Arrogant Bastard Ale. 
In order to help satisfy worldwide demand for their flavoursome craft beers as well as opening up a distribution channel into Europe and the Balkans, Stone Brewing Berlin opened in the German capital and shortly after, Stone IPA became available in the UK - quickly became one of my favourite beers.
On a recent visit to my local Asda, I spotted the Stone ‘Gargoyle’ staring out at me from the shelf on a shining gold can of Cali-Belgique IPA, a twist on the classic IPA where the brewmaster in Berlin has taken a strain of Belgian yeast to create a new take on the classic. As the beer was rapidly approaching its best before date, Asda had reduced the beer to just 80p per can - needless to say, I filled my basket.

Cali-Belgique IPA (ABV 6.9%) from Stone Brewing Berlin

Bought at Asda for £0.80 for 330ml can - short best before date.

  • Pours with an airy foam head that collapses very quickly.
  • Pale golden in colour but very cloudy once settled.
  • Initially smells very much like a wheat beer before ripe bananas and clove spice invade the nose.
  • Medium carbonation.
  • Initially sweet to taste before bitter hops take over. Flavours of apricot and orange fight for attention but the cloves result in a slightly antiseptic bite. 

I’m a big fan of the beers from Stone Brewing, especially their very popular IPA, and I am also partial to some of the great beers from Belgium so had hoped that this mash-up would be my perfect brew however if fell a little short. The use of the Belgian yeast strain might have seemed like a great idea but the end result left the beer more Belgique and too far removed from the classic Stone IPA for my liking. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it but this beer won’t be making my top ten.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Restaurant Review - Shoryu Ramen, Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

Last December myself and Nicola enjoyed a few days in London where we took advantage of the Christmas sales. Our last full day in the capital was bitter cold and after wandering the shops for hours, we warmed ourselves up by grabbing lunch at Shoryu Ramen at Liverpool Street. 
The first Shoryu Ramen on London’s Oxford Street five years ago and under the watchful eye of Ramen Shogun Tak Tonkumine, the group has grown to 8 branches across London, one in Manchester and a recently opened restaurant in Oxford. 
Last month I had to travel to my Manchester office for some training which meant that I was on the lookout for somewhere to go for dinner. Word must have gotten out that Gerry’s Kitchen was in the North West and before I had time to Google ‘Restaurants in Manchester’, I was kindly invited for dinner by the team at the Manchester branch of Shoryu Ramen

Myself and a work colleague arrived just after seven o’clock on a cold Tuesday evening and the restaurant was already very busy. We settled down at our table and quickly ordered a couple of cocktails from the extensive drinks menu. 
Shelley made short work of the Pink Geisha, a mix of Jinzu Gin, Americano Cocchi Rosa, sake, lychee purée, raspberry and rose water. This cocktail is a delicate blend of sour and dry, sweet and fragrant with the lychee purée and fresh raspberry balancing the big flavours from the gin and sake.
My own choice of cocktail was Shoryu’s take on a classic with their Yuzo Mojito. White rum, fresh strawberries, mint, lime and yuzo umeshu (a wine liqueur made from plums and yuzu) are blended perfectly to create a drink that has all the punch of a classic Mojito whilst the yuzu brings a refreshing bite that cleanses the palate and works well with the rich flavour that we were about to enjoy.

To start, we each ordered a Shoryu Bun, mine filled with char siu barbecued pork belly while Shelley chose the chicken karaage. Steamed buns, Baozi or Bao, might have their origins in China but due to longstanding Chinese immigration, countries all across Asia now serve their own versions with Japan being no different.
The Shoryu Buns were light and fluffy, and as good as I remembered from my last visit. Japanese Char Siu is adapted from the Chinese recipe with the addition of dark soy, sake and brown sugar. I’m sure the sake helps tenderise the meat and after many hours of slow cooking, the pork belly was soft, tender and packed with the rich sticky sweetness that you would expect from a good barbecue.
Karaage is a Japanese version of fried chicken which starts with chicken being marinated in sake, soy, garlic and ginger before being dusted in potato starch then deep fried. I love fried chicken and the chicken karaage was fantastic. Tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, this was the perfect foil to the soft bao.

We also ordered a side of the Hakata Tetsunabe Gyoza which originates from the Nakasu area of Hakata and are lacy, crispy, bite size gyoza served in a sizzling tetsunabe cast-iron skillet. The hot skillet gives the gyoza a crispy bottom which is contrasted well by juicy pork mince, ginger and spring onion and were as good a gyoza as I’ve had. 

As we moved on to the main event, we were reminded that Shoryu’s slogan is ‘It’s In Our Bones’, which isn’t a play on words but the philosophy behind the rich favours that they cram into their signature ramen dishes. Creating rich, creamy tonkotsu pork stock is a labour of love. Each pan takes over 12 hours cooking at a rolling boil to contain enough collagen, fat, marrow and calcium (not for the faint-hearted!) to emulsify perfectly turning it opaque; the famous white tonkotsu appearance. Traditionally the stock is then combined with 'motodare', a concentrated base to create the final soup. Our motodare is made using the best soy and spices from Japan. Kanji spent over six months perfecting his recipe until he was satisfied it was good enough to compete with his favourite ramen bars back home.
Shelley decided to go for the house speciality, Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu which is a 12-hour pork broth with soft ramen noodles that comes topped with char siu barbecue pork belly, nitamago egg, kikurage mushrooms, spring onion, sesame, ginger, nori seaweed. The depth of flavour in the ramen is off the chart, a great balance of sweet and salt with the spices bringing a little warmth to the soup. The added pork, egg and mushrooms made this a wonderfully filling dish and Shelley seemed pleased with her choice.

All of the other ramen dishes on the menu are variations on the Ganso Tonkotsu that Shelley had ordered and after much deliberation I settled on the Dracula Tonkotsu which is as above but powered up with caramelised black garlic mayu and garlic chips. This should be called ‘No sign of Dracula’ Tonkotsu as there is no chance that vampires will be anywhere near you once you’ve devoured the steaming bowl of garlic topped ramen. Fortunately, I love garlic and addition of the garlic was right up my street. 

By this point of the evening we were both feeling pretty full however we were encouraged to try a dessert so Shelley ordered the Sakura & Azuki Chiffon Cake, a light and airy cake made using sakura (a type of cherry blossom) and azuki (a type of mung bean). The cake was served with a cherry coulis that added enough sharpness to cut through the sweet sponge although I’m not sure that either of us were able to detect the subtle flavours from the Sakura or Akuzi.

I really had no room for pudding but figured that the yuzu cheesecake might bring enough sharpness to cleanse my palate after all that garlic. The cheesecake was rich and cream but unfortunately, I struggled to pick up much yuzu favour from the filling. That didn’t stop me from finishing the lot -so much for not having room for dessert?

The night was getting on and it was soon time for us to make our way into the night, both feeling suitable stuffed. We dined as guests of Shoryu Ramen Manchester but my review above is an honest account of our evening. From start to finish the service was slick and efficient despite the fact that the restaurant was very busy and the food and drinks that we were treated to were delicious and I would have no hesitation in recommending Shoryu Ramen Manchester (or any of their other branches) if you’re on the lookout for authentic Japanese cuisine.
I would like to thank the staff and management at Shoryu Ramen Manchester for their generosity and hospitality and wish the, all the best for the future.

Keep up to date with news and offer on Facebook and Twitter or book a table at Shoryu Ramen Manchester here.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Glasgow Serves Up The First Citywide Gift Card

Can’t decide what to buy this Christmas? The Glasgow Gift Card is your answer.

From dining out, distillery tours, or cocktails, there’s a new way to gift your city with the launch of the first-ever citywide Glasgow Gift Card – a prepaid visa that can be spent at your favourite restaurants, shops and leading attractions.

Created through tourism business collaboration and supported by Scottish Enterprise and the Glasgow Restaurant Association, restaurateur Ryan James served up the new Glasgow gift cards at The Clydeside Distillery to celebrate the launch today (Wednesday, December 20).

Accepted in over seventy businesses, just in time for Christmas, the Glasgow-wide gift card aims to put the spotlight on leisure and hospitality, drive destination footfall and help tourists discover authentic local experiences.

Not only does the card support independent businesses and attractions but also it allows consumers to discover and enjoy the best of Glasgow with one handy card at their fingertips. Working like other gifting schemes, the card is a prepaid visa and the balance can be spent on any businesses that are signed up to the scheme. Simply choose an amount online at and the loaded gift card and it will be sent out by post ready for spending.

Award-winning restaurant Ox and Finch, modern greek eatery Halloumi, Spanish tapas and cocktail bar Rioja, tourist attraction The Clydeside Distillery and Glasgow Life museums and attractions, are some of the multitudes of venues to accept the gift card.

Speaking about the launch Ryan James, Glasgow Restaurant Association chairman and owner of Two Fat Ladies, said:

“The Glasgow Restaurant Association and its members are excited to be part of the first citywide gift scheme that celebrates the best of Glasgow.

“What better way to showcase our city and grow the economy than with a Glasgow-wide gift card? This is a fantastic new tourism product as it gives the consumer the flexibility of choosing how and where they spend the card across the city.

“We have innovative and exciting food and drink experiences and leading attractions, and with the arrival of our Glasgow gift card, it will make discovering city neighbourhoods more accessible for locals and visiting tourists.”

This new product supports the city’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023, which provides the blueprint for continuing to grow Glasgow’s global profile as a must-visit destination and is focused on increasing overnight leisure tourism visits by one million over the next seven years.

Sallyann Tindall, project manager Scottish Enterprise said:

“Scottish Enterprise is delighted to be able to support the development of the Glasgow Gift Card and hopes many more businesses in the City will get behind it and provide visitors with opportunities to experience great restaurants and attractions in the city.”

Bridgeen Mullen, Visitor Centre Manager at The Clydeside Distillery said:

“When we heard about this new gifting offer for Glasgow, we couldn’t wait to be a part of it all and support the Glasgow Gift Card. Anything that drives tourism and shines the spotlight on our exceptional visitor attractions is a winning combination.

“Support your local businesses, buy a Glasgow gift card and discover the best of the city with one handy card.”

Designed and operated by Miconex, the card is available at any sum from £10 to £500. Customers can use it in one go or in several visits to different businesses.

Take the decision out of gifting and buy Glasgow’s first citywide gift card for a wide choice of spending across food, drink and leisure attractions. Buy yours

Food & drink businesses awarded for their sustainability at VIBES Ceremony

 Image result for vibes awards

 The environmental efforts of Scotland’s food and drink industry have been recognised at the VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards with six businesses rewarded for their sustainable achievements.  

The Glenmorangie Company, Paterson Arran Ltd, Greenvale AP were amongst nine companies to receive a green accolade in front of more than 350 businesses at the recent awards ceremony. 

Diageo Leven, Jaw Brew and The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant also received commendation in their categories, highlighting the role Scotland’s food and drink industry is playing in supporting Scotland’s sustainability.

The Glenmorangie Company was presented the Hydro Nation Award for its Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP). The project aims to enhance water quality and biodiversity within the Dornoch Firth through a combination of a waste treatment process and regeneration of a biogenic Native European oyster reef. An anaerobic digester system has reduced the biological load discharge to sea by 95% while the oyster bed will clean up the last 5%. The oyster bed will act as a large bio filter that will, as it grows, help to protect the shoreline close to the distillery.

Paterson Arran Ltd, which manufactures shortbread, biscuits and oatcakes, was awarded the Management SME category for its Environmental Management System. By combining traditional methods with today’s technology, Paterson Arran Ltd has managed to reduce not only its water consumption but also its total energy per tonne, paper use and general waste, while increasing its recycling rate to 95%. Their Livingston site has also been landfill-free since 2014.

Greenvale AP, the UK’s largest supplier of organic potatoes, picked up the Management Large Award for its environmental strategy, GREEN 20 which extends to its suppliers and growers and includes several sustainable targets to be achieved by 2020. As part of its Green20 strategy, Greenvale AP has, to date, reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent and its water consumption by 50 per cent, as well diverting 90 per cent of its waste from landfill. The potato producer has also turned their waste into an income through a variety of methods which includes utilising 100% of potatoes harvested and separating soil and sand and selling it to local businesses.

Diageo Leven was commended in the Hydro Nation category, The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant received commendation in the Management SME Award while micro brewer, Jaw Brew received commendation for Circular Economy Award for its Hardtack product; a low alcohol beer that is produced from unsold morning rolls which are used in place of a proportion of malt.

The awards follow a rigorous judging process, where each of the 37 finalists were visited by a team of judges to assess their environmental processes.

The companies awarded demonstrate the variety of ways Scotland’s food and drink industry, from large scale producers right down to micro brewers, are doing to support Scotland’s environment. In addition to supporting the environment, many of the practices implemented are also good for business, something which the awards aim to showcase.

Not only does it often lead to more efficient use of resources but environmental practice can enhance business competitiveness, improve environmental performance as well as benefiting the bottom line;  for example, by using unsold morning rolls as opposed to malt, Jaw Brew saves 25% on ingredients per batch compared to other beer.

Commenting, Dr Peter Nelson, Operations Director at The Glenmorangie Company, said: “Winning the Hydro Nation Award is a real testament to the innovative work and commitment from everyone at The Glenmorangie Company and our partners at Heriot Watt University and The Marine Conservation Society.  Working towards achieving a sustainable future is key to our collective ambitions.”

Jo-Anne Baptie, Group HSE Manager at Greenvale AP, said: “We are honoured to have been recognised at this year’s VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards and are proud to take our place amongst the different companies working hard to deliver a sustainable future and hope it inspires more organisations to make a difference.”

Adam Wilson, Quality, Safety, Health & Environmental Manager at PatersonArran Ltd, said: “Winning the Management Award is real testament to several years of hard work and commitment from everyone at Paterson Arran in developing our Environmental Management System and reducing our impact on the environment and we are incredibly proud of our achievements.”

Gillian Bruce, Chair of the VIBES– Scottish Environment Business Awards, added: “Sustainable practice is important for our environment but it can also make a big difference to a business’s operations as seen by this year’s finalists.

“The standard of entries has once again been high and it is encouraging to see the different ways and processes businesses are coming up with, both small and large, to reduce their environmental impact.

“The VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards are not just about giving recognition to these companies but also to help showcase the steps they are taking to reduce their impact in the hope that many more companies will be inspired to follow in their footsteps and to reap the rewards.”

Each of the 2017 VIBES winners is now eligible to enter the 2018 European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE) which is open to winners and runners up of RSA Accredited award schemes. VIBES is the only Scottish based RSA Accredited award scheme.

The Awards are accredited by the RSA Environment Awards Accreditation Scheme (  

Celebrate Hogmanay at Hard Rock Glasgow




Step out of the cold and into the new year in true Hard Rock style. The perfect place to spend the countdown with family and friends, guests can enjoy the specially created three course ‘Happy Hogmanay’ menu, or a selection of the Hard Rock favourites before rocking the night into 2018.

For customers wishing to dine before they dance, the three course menu offers choices including L’il Wings, Legendary Burger, mouth-watering Barbecue Combo and the succulent Herb Grilled Chicken, rounded off with an utterly indulgent L’il Brownie dessert. A selection of other Hard Rock favourites will also be available to order on the night and a range of drinks packages can be pre-ordered as part of the Hogmanay celebrations.

Turning it up to eleven for the night will be DJs playing an eclectic mix of rock anthems through to the biggest hits of 2017. There’s something guaranteed to get everyone in the festive spirit this Hogmanay!

What:   Hogmanay Celebrations

Where: Hard Rock Cafe Glasgow
            179 Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 2JZ

When:   31 December 2017
            8pm – 1am

Entry:   Tickets £10
Happy Hogmanay Set Menu: £27.25 per person, must pre-pay before 29 December

For more information and Happy Hogmanay menu bookings call 0141 353 8790 or visit