Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Inspired Cocktails for St Patrick's Day!

The Dubliner Irish Whisky, Feeney's Irish Cream, St Patrick's Day Cocktails

The countdown to St. Patrick's Day on Friday 17th March has begun. It's the day where everybody feels a little bit Irish. So prepare your Irish Stew, paint yourself green, grab your Dubliner Whiskey or Feeney's Irish Cream and make some of these Irish cocktails at home. Have the craic and be a Dubliner. Slainte!

The 'Molly Malone' Mule - named after the unofficial anthem of Dublin, this effervescent cocktail combines delicious Dubliner Irish Whiskey with spicy ginger beer and lime for a fun twist:

The Dubliner Irish Whisky, Feeney's Irish Cream, St Patrick's Day Cocktails
  • Add ice to a copper julep cup.
  • Pour in 35-50ml of The Dubliner Irish Whiskey (depending on preference) and the juice of a quarter of a lime.
  • Top up with ginger beer and garnish with a sprig of mint, lime wedge and a slice of ginger (optional).

The Dubliner Spire, named after the striking 120 metre high Dublin landmark, is a refreshing, no-fuss cocktail, which is easy to make. The Dubliner Irish Whiskey is enriched with sweet honey and a little lemon for a citrus twist.

The Dubliner Irish Whisky, Feeney's Irish Cream, St Patrick's Day Cocktails
  • Drizzle some honey into a small amount of boiling water in a tall Collins glass and stir.
  • Add ice into the glass, take a handful of mint leaves and clap the mint in your hands, add to the glass and top with more ice.
  • Add the juice of quarter of a lemon and 35-50ml of The Dubliner Irish Whiskey (depending on preference) to the glass and stir gently.
  • Top with lemonade and garnish with a wedge of lemon and sprig of mint.
  • Add an extra drizzle of honey to taste.

Another great cocktail is The Dubliner & Honeycomb Liqueur Bees Knees:

The Dubliner Irish Whisky, Feeney's Irish Cream, St Patrick's Day Cocktails
  • Add ice to the cocktail shaker.
  • Pour in 50ml The Dubliner Honeycomb and 20ml honey syrup and 20ml of fresh lemon juice.
  • Shake, strain into a martini glass and garnish with lemon zest - perfect!

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey is available from: 31Dover.com, thewhiskyexchange.com, Wine Rack and Amazon. RRP: £22.50 for 70cl. ABV: 40%

The Dubliner Irish Whiskey & Honeycomb Liqueur is available from: 31Dover.com, thewhiskyexchange.com, masterofmalt.com and Amazon. RRP: £22.50 for 70cl. ABV: 30%

A great cocktail to end St Patrick's Day with is a luxurious Feeney's Irish Coffee:

The Dubliner Irish Whisky, Feeney's Irish Cream, St Patrick's Day Cocktails
  • Heat gently 100ml Feeney's Irish Cream Liqueur with 1 cup of freshly brewed coffee.
  • Pour into a toddy glass and top with 1 teaspoon of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Available from Tesco's which stocks 1 litre bottles RRP: £15.00 and 31Dover.com which stocks 70cl bottles RRP: £12.50 and 1 litre bottles RRP £15.00 and Amazon. ABV: 17%.



Hebridean Food Company Launches Fresh Soups

The Hebridean Food Company has launched a range of nine fresh soups with quality Scottish ingredients at their core.

The full range is available from the chiller cabinets at Whole Foods Market across the UK, as well as at selected retailers including Selfridges Food Hall in London to House of Bruar in Perthshire.

The Scottish business, founded by 25-year-old lobster fisherman’s son Douglas Stewart, also retails an extensive selection of Hebridean seafood, organic beef, organic lamb and wild red deer venison from their online shop.

With UK sales of fresh soups increasing, Douglas spotted an opportunity to create a premium range of soups using quality ingredients with Scottish provenance.

Douglas commented: “As with all the products on offer, we strive for as little intervention as possible between land, sea and plate. We want our customer to enjoy our products in as fresh and as natural a state as possible.”

Hailing from the Isle of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Douglas founded The Hebridean Food Company in 2014. His passion for Hebridean produce started at an early age when his weekends were spent on fishing boats and sorting lobsters. His passion now is to ensure everyone in the UK is able to enjoy a true taste of the Hebrides.

The Hebridean Food Company engages the services of Colin Bussey as development chef. Douglas and Colin are currently working on new soup recipes as well as developing a range of healthy fresh ready meals for launch next year.

Keep up to date with news from The Hebridean Food Company on Facebook and Twitter.



Friday, 24 February 2017

Mother's Day Cocktail Treats

Feeney's Irish Cream, Greenall's Gin, Thomas Dakin Gin, BLOOM Gin, gin cocktails, Mother's Day
You could thoroughly spoil your mother with a BLOOMING Love Martini, which has been specially created by The Head Mixologist Deena Versanszki, at Pennethorne's Bar, Somerset House, London WC2R 1LR. Telephone: 020 3751 0570
Feeney's Irish Cream, Greenall's Gin, Thomas Dakin Gin, BLOOM Gin, gin cocktails, Mother's Day
BLOOM Gin is available from: Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Ocado, Asda, Tescos, Morrisons and 31dover.com. RRP: £24.00 for 70cl. ABV: 40%
Treat your mother like a Queen for the day with Greenall's Queen's Tipple which was created last year to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday
Feeney's Irish Cream, Greenall's Gin, Thomas Dakin Gin, BLOOM Gin, gin cocktails, Mother's Day
  • Pour 30ml Greenall's Gin and 60ml Dubonnet into a mixing glass with ice cubes and stir well.
  • Strain into a chilled glass, add the lemon slice and top with two ice cubes. A perfect aperitif whilst you prepare a spoiling Sunday lunch.
Greenall's is available from: Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Master of Malt. RRP: £15.49 for 70cl. ABV: 37.5%
Another delicious cocktail you could give your Mother to thank for all her hard work is Thomas Dakin's The Bee's Knees, which has been created to celebrate Thomas Dakin's home of Manchester. The bee is the emblem of Manchester and was a symbol of hard work during the Industrial Revolution - and as we know all Mothers work very hard!
Feeney's Irish Cream, Greenall's Gin, Thomas Dakin Gin, BLOOM Gin, gin cocktails, Mother's Day
  • Add ice to a shaker stir 2 teaspoons of honey with 35ml of Thomas Dakin Gin until it has dissolved.
  • Add 25ml of lemon juice, shake or stir and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a thin orange wheel float - heavenly!
Thomas Dakin is available from: Waitrose, Harvey Nichols, Booths, Ocado.com, 31Dover.com, GinFoundry.com. RRP: £29.00 for 70cl. ABV: 42%.
At the end of the day you could serve a luxurious Feeney's Irish Coffee:
Feeney's Irish Cream, Greenall's Gin, Thomas Dakin Gin, BLOOM Gin, gin cocktails, Mother's Day
  • Add ice to a cocktail shaker.
  • Pour in 30ml of Feeney's Irish Cream Whiskey, 25ml espresso coffee and 20ml premium vodka.
  • Shake and strain into a martini glass.
  • Garnish with three coffee beans.
Feeney's Irish Cream is available from Tesco's which stocks 1 litre bottles RRP: £15.00 and 31Dover.com which stocks 70cl bottles RRP: £12.50 and 1 litre bottles RRP £15.00 and Amazon. ABV: 17%.


Stewart Brewing Launches New Classic Tasting Scottish Lager

Stewart Brewing, Stewart's Lager, Craft Beer, Edinburgh beer, Gerry's Kitchen

Lager lovers in Edinburgh can rejoice with the launch of Stewart’s Lager, the latest beer from leading UK craft brewer, Stewart Brewing.

Stewart’s Lager has been created to appeal to drinkers looking for a lighter beer from the Stewart Brewing range. Pale straw in colour with a dense white head, Saaz hops lend it a refreshing earthy citrus character.

Drinkers will be able to taste the new lager in select Edinburgh bars. It will also be available to take home from the Stewart Brewing brewery shop in Loanhead and the new Stewart’s Dockside Tap shop in Leith.

Jo Stewart, founder, commented: “We’re excited to be bringing a great Scottish lager to the market. We wanted to create a classic tasting lager which is crisp, refined and refreshing. It’s a very moreish beer which tastes delicious with a variety of food from chicken to seafood and cheese platters to hotdogs, so it’s very versatile. We’re sure Stewart’s Lager will delight our current fans and introduce new drinkers to our range of craft beers.”

Stewart’s Lager is available in keg draught only. Abv 4%.

Stewart Brewing, Stewart's Lager, Craft Beer, Edinburgh beer, Gerry's Kitchen



Thursday, 23 February 2017

Restaurant Review - Chaophraya Leeds, Blayds Court, Swinegate, Leeds

I love Thai food but have to admit that whether I'm cooking at home, or if myself and Nicola are going out for dinner, Thai cuisine is rarely on my radar. However after eating at Chaophraya Leeds, I might be changing my thought process in the future. When hospitality website Citylicious heard that myself and Nicola had plans for a long weekend visiting our friend Andrew in Leeds, they got in touch to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their restaurant clients. As soon as I found out it was Chaophraya, we quickly agreed to help out.
Operated by Thai Leisure Group, Chaophraya Leeds is one of eight Chaophraya restaurants dotted across the UK, three in Scotland and the other five located across England. Myself and Nicola have eaten at Chaophraya Glasgow in the past and had an idea of what to expect from the menu although we had no idea what the restaurant would be like from a design point of view. The Glasgow restaurant is catagorised as a 'traditional, heritage' site and is a stunning example of classy, chic interior design housed in a Grade A listed building, while on the other hand, the Leeds restaurant is catagorised as a 'classic, contemporary' site so we were keen to see how the the two styles compared.
It was a cold and wet Yorkshire night when we arrived at the restaurant and as we were a little early for our booking, we had time to relax with a drink from the bar. The drinks menu has a fantastic range of classic cocktails, imported bottled beer, premium spirits and even a few perfect serve Gin and tonics but we all decided to order a selection of Thai inspired cocktails. Nicola started the night with the 'Flower Market', a refreshing shaken cocktail of Aperol, Colonel Fox Gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and vanilla. This drink was a great balance of sweet, sour, bitter and dry with the Aperol adding an amazing depth of flavour. Andrew opted for the oddly named 'Gentleman's Badger', a long drink crafted from Gentleman's Badger sloe gin, mixed with Pimms, ginger ale and lemonade. As cooler style cocktails go, this was delicious, the sloe gin was packed with sweet jammy flavour and a spiciness that worked really well with the herby flavours from the Pimms. Andrew loved his drink, commenting that it would be perfect drink to enjoy on a Summer's evening watching the sun go down. I started the night with the 'Galangal Essence', a wonderful blend of Whitley Neill Gin, vanilla liqueur, galangal root and lemon juice. Whitley Neill is a fantastic gin with tons of spice and citrus zest on the palate - congrats to the bartender who decided to shake it with the spicy galangal, sweet vanilla and sour lemon.
It wasn't long before we were shown to our table before spending what seemed like an age trying to decide what to order. The menu at Chaophraya is extensive, which made it really difficult for us to choose what we wanted to eat! We were so undecided that in the end, we selected one of the starter platters to share between the three of us. The platters offer great value for money, starting from just £9.50 per person, with a good selection of meat and vegetation dishes to whet the appetite. Our Maeklong Platter included chicken satay skewers, prawn & pork dumplings, chicken spring rolls, and sweetcorn cakes, (and for some unknown reason, we also had some Thai chicken tacos too). This is the most popular sharing platter on the Chaophraya menu and I can understand why. Everything on the platter was full of flavour and well seasoned. The dumplings were delightful little flour parcels stuffed to bursting with an incredible mix of sweet prawns and seasoned pork mince, this was my favourite starter. Nicola and Andrew both loved the chicken satay skewers which had been chargrilled to perfection and worked with the rich satay sauce. The other starters were equally delicious and I can easily imagine working my way through a Maeklong Platter armed with nothing more than a chilled bottle of Singha Thai beer.
Choosing our main dishes wasn't an easy thing to do either but Nicola loves her fried rice dishes and opted for the Spicy Fried-Rice with Chicken and Basil, topped with a fried egg (or star egg). The word spicy should have been a clue as the huge mound of stirfried rice was heavily flavoured with a kick of garlic and packed a ferocious punch of chilli heat but not too much that it was uncomfortable. The spiralised cucumber on the side was clearly there to help cool the mouth, not an over the top garnish. Some restaurants often scrimp on the meat in a fried rice dish but that wasn't the case here as Nicola seemed to have a piece of chicken in every forkful of this street. In the end, the hefty position size, loads of chicken and a well cooked fried egg got the better of Nicola and she threw the towel in.
A quick glance at the main courses was all it took for Andrew to plump for the Duck Tamarind and when his dish came to the table, I have to admit to having a little food envy. The duck breast had been roasted with palm sugar and tamarind to give a slightly sweet and sour taste but these flavours were balance by the addition of fried shallots, cashew nuts, steamed tenderstem broccoli and the heat of dried chilli flakes. On the plate it looked like an proper tasty Sunday roast dinner but the richness of flavour from the tamarind based sauce lifted this dish to another level.
I really struggled to decide what to order. There was a pork belly dish that my eyes kept going back to but when our waiter popped the question, I blurted out that I wanted the Stir-fried King Prawns with Ginger, and I'm glad that I did - it was delicious! There was no shortage of succulent king prawns on the plate which had been tossed in the wok with copious amounts of Thai ginger, shitake mushroom, red pepper, chilli and spring onion. This dish was fragrant, light and fresh, making it very easy for me to clear the plate.
Myself and Andrew took our waiter's recommendation on side dishes of rice with Andrew having the sticky rice and myself having the steamed jasmine rice. Both of the rices dishes were huge and had me known the size, we would have shared one portion between us.
By this point in the meal we were all stuffed and declined the chance to look over the dessert menu. It was Saturday night and we didn't want to fill ourselves up any more, we had drinking to do so we asked for the bill and made our way outside to the sub-zero temperature to join the hoards of Leeds girls who were braving the elements 'sans coats'.
We all had a great night at Chaophraya Leeds and although it is part of a 'chain', the restaurant has its own identity and is very different to our experience in Glasgow. All of the food was fresh and tasted delicious, the portion sizes were generous, and the service was excellent from the minute we walked through the door until the moment we left. All three of us would happily recommend Chaophraya Leeds to anyone living in or visiting Leeds when looking for somewhere to eat.
I would like to thank the staff and management at Chaophraya Leeds for their hospitality and generosity on the night. We all had a fantastic night and I know that Andrew has plans to get back again soon.
On the night, Nicola and myself dined as guests of the restaurant although we did pay for drinks and Andrew's meal. The review above is an honest account of our experience at Chaophraya Leeds.
Keep up to date with news from Chaophraya Leeds on Facebook or Twitter and if you fancy getting along for dinner, book a table online here.


Friday, 17 February 2017

Academy of Cheese to Launch This Spring

A group of passionate individuals from the cheese industry have been working closely together over the past two years, to establish a professional accreditation programme for the cheese sector. Initiated by Mary Quicke from Devon based cheesemakers, Quicke's. Mary had watched how the Certified Cheese Professional (CCP) in America, elevated the role of those in the cheese supply chain. She wanted to see this happen in the UK. With the support of John Farrand and Jilly Sitch from the Guild of Fine Food plus Tracey Colley from Harvey & Brockless; Ros Windsor, Paxton & Whitfield; Charlie Turnbull, Turnbulls Cheesemongers and Clare Downes of Monkhouse Food & Drink - this is now happening and level one will be ready to sit and pass in spring 2017.
Identifying a need for cheese! This passion and belief was not enough if there was not a genuine need for the qualification. Stage one of this process, was to establish if the wider industry - from maker through to cheesemonger and chef, actually felt that they would benefit from a nationally recognised standard. Once research came back positively, the formation and funding of the Academy of Cheese, began. The development of the actual content and structure is now in progress; with level one and level two due to launch in the first six months of 2017. This will then be followed by level three. The ultimate, aspirational level four will be next in 2018; this will be the pinnacle of cheese expertise - a Master of Cheese. Why cheese matters... Being an expert on cheese should matter - and with it will come respect, such as there is for a Master of Wine through the WSET programme. More cheese will be sold in better condition, if the people working with it fully understand their product and their industry. Achievement through the Academy will elevate the profession and make it a more attractive industry to be part of, where excellent people are retained. John Farrand, Guild of Fine Food explains; "The Academy of Cheese will bring a much-needed respect and direction to cheese professionals and to those who want to take their enjoyment of cheese to a different level. Through its ascending levels of learning and through the knowledge and contacts of those involved - a resource will exist that will inspire, educate and contribute to higher quality cheese being sold and enjoyed." Business backing After two years of development, the Academy of Cheese, can only now be brought to life due to support from those businesses that have made a valued commitment to provide financial support, to go alongside the contribution of the original committee members. Patrons currently; Bradbury's, Tesco, Harvey & Brockless, Cropwell Bishop Creamery, Wyke Farms, Bridgehead Foods, Lincolnshire Poacher, Lynher Dairies and Stitchelton Dairy.
Bradburys Sourcing Director, Richard Paul, commented; "Bradburys are pleased to be sponsoring and be associated with the Academy of Cheese, having an industry wide skills-based qualification will help raise the standards of everyone in cheese - from sellers to graders to makers. Our business has a long association with passion and knowledge for cheese and helping to develop the next generation of ‘experts’ is essential for our industry."
Tesco’s Category Buyer Manager for Cheese, Sam Watkins explained why they had joined in with their support; "Tesco has a long history of supporting the cheese industry and we recognise the quality, expertise and commitment of those who work within it. We are proud to offer customers a wide range of high quality and delicious tasting cheeses for any occasion. Which is why we’re delighted to be the first major retailer to support the Academy.” Tracey Colley, Exhibition Co-Ordinator & Retail Account Manager at Harvey & Brockless outlined their reasons for support; "Our commitment to supporting artisan cheese makers with the promotion and distribution of their cheeses to numerous markets, has also led to a need for educating chefs and cheesemongers. This long awaited formal accreditation body for the UK will be an excellent opportunity to inspire and retain talented people who have a real passion for the wonderful world of cheese!" Whether you are a cheesemaker, cheesemonger, chef, distributor or just an individual with a personal interest in cheese; you will now be able to learn more and attain a qualification with recognition. The Academy of Cheese has been created to ensure a strong future for cheese - so that traditional makers stay and new innovation keeps on coming. And - importantly, the consumer will really understand and appreciate what they are buying and tasting, wherever they are - from a cheeseboard at home to a selection on a train or aeroplane!


Thursday, 16 February 2017

Divino Expects to Dominate the Higher-End Italian Restaurant Scene in Edinburgh

Edinburgh restaurateur, Tony Crolla celebrates the re-opening of one of Scotland’s best Italian eateries.

Following a recent expansion, together with his sons Alberto and Leandro, Tony Crolla has re-opened Divino Enoteca on Merchant Street in Edinburgh - an elegant Italian restaurant oozing with old school charm and hospitality but the Vittoria Group’s owner’s ethos remains the same – simple, quality cooking and ingredients combined with the kind of service that will make customers return again and again.

Hidden in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the 100 cover restaurant offers a unique twist on contemporary dining with an archetypal wine cellar married to an elegant fine dining Italian restaurant.

Having spent his formative years training in his Calabrian birthplace, Head Chef Francesco Ascrizzi has created a seasonal menu which takes a contemporary approach to traditional and authentic Italian flavours and combinations with everything made in-house from the bread to the pasta. He said: “It is a menu artfully designed to cater to many palates. You'll find a generous selection of fresh pasta, as well as seafood, chicken and veal dishes skilfully cooked and served."

Tony Crolla said: “Divino Enoteca is already one of the most popular spots for romantic dining and get togethers in Edinburgh. We boast an impressive assortment of world wines, we host regular wine tasting evenings allowing customers to sample, appreciate and indulge the flavours of our most famous regions in Italy."

With awards for ‘best wine list’ and ‘best Italian restaurant in Scotland’ already under its belt, diners can expect a new menu of specials alongside its traditional mix of Italian pasta classics, while there will be an extensive cocktails and fine wine list, served from the sophisticated central bar at the heart of the venue. Classic cocktails set to please the Edinburgh pallet include a Negroni, which mixes Campari with gin, Martini rosso and soda and a Dry Martini served with an olive or a twist. Divino expects to dominate the higher-end Italian market in Edinburgh.

The highly skilled team also offer bespoke wine tasting dinners and can cater for a wide range of events from private dining rooms to weddings and receptions.

The new look restaurant is bathed in soft lighting with comfortable chairs, banquettes and booths, rick oak floors and a welcoming ambiance.

Proudly Italian, this family business combines a passion for food and hospitality with old-school service, proving some things never go out of fashion or fall out of favour. Restaurateurs in it for the long-haul!



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

5 Questions - WooHa Brewing Company

Gerry's Kitchen, 5 Questions, WooHa Brewing Company, craft beers, Scottish Craft Beer, microbrewery, Craft Beer Clan
The Scottish craft beer market is growing at a phenomenal rate with micro breweries popping up all over the country. In the past, getting your hands on some of these magnificent ales was a tricky task but thanks to the Craft Beer Clan, you can now pick up a wide range of artisan and small batch beers from the shelves of every Asda store in Scotland.
That's how I first stumbled upon WooHa Brewing Company, a microbrewery based in the Highland seaside town of Nairn. Established in 2014 with a desire to produce fresh and natural ales and lagers, WooHa Brewing Company made a decision to release its beers in bottle conditioned format. No filtration or forced carbonation is applied as they believe that a minimal amount of pressure should be used, instead WooHa choose to use science, temperature and time to create beers that are full of body and flavour.
Speaking of science, WooHa Brewing Company was founded by Heather McDonald, a former microbiologist who after a career in asset management decided to go back to her roots to set up Scotlands first all female run brewery.
I'm a big fan of WooHa's beers and it would seem that I'm not the only one - demand is high and as a result, their beers are readily available in France, Denmark, Germany, Spain and as of last month, you can also find their WooHa in Tennessee USA.
Keen to know more about this fledgling brewery, I got in touch and put my 5 Questions to Heather.
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Here's Heather's story;

How did you get started?

I’ve always been interested in the science of brewing and with a background in microbiology and finance starting a brewery seemed like a good choice… and a fun one.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Do your research! You may find opportunities in surprising places – similarly you may discover a great idea on paper won’t work in reality. Get as much information as you can before you start making any plans.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

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Well we’ve just launched in the USA with our first shipment arriving in Tennessee earlier this month so it would be great to see WooHa reaching further into the US. We have plans to expand into other states but who knows how far we’ll have reached by 2022!

If you could only have drink one of the beers that you brew, what would it be & why?

I asked everyone in the brewery office and we all had a different answer! My personal favourite is the Wheat – it’s got a lot of personality and I love the fact that ours is a proper wheat beer with 50% wheat in the malt bill.

​​You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

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It would need to be Richard Branson – it would be great to hear what pearls of wisdom he has from his years in business, and he looks like he’d appreciate a good beer. What would we eat? Well there’s a café local to the brewery called 112 on the Brae who recently made a chutney using our IPA so some of that with some local bread and cheese would be perfect.

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I would like to thank Heather for taking time out to answer 5 Questions and wish her and her team every success for the future.
Keep up to date with news from WooHa Brewing Company on Facebook and Twitter.



Sunday, 12 February 2017

Restaurant Review - Ibérica Leeds, East Parade, Leeds

Restaurant review, Gerry's Kitchen, Ibérica Leeds, Leeds restaurants, Spanish restaurant
With eight restaurants spread across London, Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow, Ibérica are committed to bringing the best Spanish food, wine and culture to diners across the UK. I had been lucky enough to get invited along to the Glasgow restaurant shortly after it opened and had a fantastic evening. Nicola was disappointed not to have been able to get along that night and after reading my review and seeing my photos from the evening, she made me promise to take her to Ibérica in the New Year.
Jump forward six weeks and we were heading to Leeds to stay with our friend Andrew for the weekend. Knowing that Ibérica Leeds was just a short walk from Leeds train station, I got in touch with my contact at Ibérica and booked a table for lunch.
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Located inside Hepper House, a beautiful building that was built in 1863 as the home of Leeds auctioneers John Hepper & Sons, the design team at Ibérica have done a great job in creating a stunning interior which is fitting of the buildings rich history.
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When we arrived in Leeds, the temperature was just below zero so rather than wander the shops, we made our way to the restaurant with time to warm up with a glass of cava and look over the tasting menu (created under the direction of Executive Chef Nacho Manzano) that we would be served for lunch.
Ibérica pride themselves on serving the best quality produce and import almost all of the ingredients on their menu from the carefully selected Spanish producers.
Restaurant review, Gerry's Kitchen, Ibérica Leeds, Leeds restaurants, Spanish restaurant
Cava finished, we were warmed up, both physically and metaphorically and made our table. Our menu included a choice of wine and after a look over the wine list, we decided to go with the recommended Viña Riquelas, a crisp dry white wine from Tenerife. The wine is a blend of 90% Gual, 5% Malvasia & 5% Verdello - an easy drinking wine with light floral aromas, and worked well with the first round of tapas that we were presented. Incidentally, all of the wines on the menu were from Spain or her islands.
Our meal started in the traditional way with a selection of cold cuts including air-dried beef, cured Iberian acorn fed 'Presa', a trio of hams and the most wonderful toasted bread with tomato. This was a great way to start the meal and as we worked our way through the Spanish meats, we knew that we were in for a proper Spanish treat. All of the meats were delicious - the air-dried beef was salty and smoky and so more-ish, whilst the cured Presa carried a balance of sweet & smoky paprika spice. The trio of ham was a joy to eat starting with a very good Jamón Serrano, through to a wonderful Juan Pedro Domecq Jamón Ibérico.
Restaurant review, Gerry's Kitchen, Ibérica Leeds, Leeds restaurants, Spanish restaurant
Our next selection included green asparagus toast, fried squad, Octopus a la gallega, and hake a la gallega. The asparagus toast is a fantastic dish, with fresh asparagus joining manchego, onion confit and truffle oil on bed of fresh seeded sourdough bread. I loved this dish in Glasgow and it was every bit as good in Leeds. The fried squid was another winner, with tender perfectly cooked calamari in breadcrumbs served with a creamy alioli. One of my favourite dishes when I was at Glasgow was the octopus a la gallega, so I was delighted to see it on our menu here. The octopus was cooked to perfection, and served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with a creamy pimenton de la Vera sauce. Octopus, potato and paprika are best friends and the Ibérica dish is a great way to showcase these wonderful ingredients.
The original fish dish on the tasting menu was fresh mackerel but this was a dish that I didn't really enjoy in Glasgow and after a chat with the restaurant manager, he was happy to substitute the mackerel with something else. His recommendation of the hake a la gallega was a great replacement. Hake is an underused fish with diners often looking past it for the more popular cod or haddock. However, when cooked with paprika and garlic sauce by the Ibérica chefs, the firm meaty fish was a delight.
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The last selection of dishes to arrive were ham croquettas, Secreto Ibérico and in a change to the Pluma Ibérico, we had the Abanico Ibérica. The croquettas were wonderful, well seasoned and packed full of Serrano ham. The two pieces of pork were cooked in the Josper Grill, a hybrid combination of grill & oven that is the perfect cooking environment for quality cuts of meat. Nicola was looking forward to the Secreto, having enjoyed a dish that I had in Lanzarote, and Ibérica didn't disappoint with a juicy and tender piece of Spain's best kept secret. Secreto is a cut of meat taken from the shoulder that is full of flavour due to the marbling found in the Pata Negra breed of pig.
Our last savoury plate was the Abanico Ibérica, a cut of pork which is also taken from the front part of shoulder, between the collar and pork back fat. To date, this was one of the tastiest pieces of pork that we've eaten, packed full of porky flavour and thanks to the Josper, the meat also carried a wonderful smokiness.
Restaurant review, Gerry's Kitchen, Ibérica Leeds, Leeds restaurants, Spanish restaurant
By this point in our lunch, we were stuffed and had to pass on the oxtail sandwich plus we almost turned down the puddings too but after so many big savoury flavours, we could do with a little sugar so decided to end our meal by sharing the caramelised Spanish rice pudding. The Ibérica signature rice pudding was delicately flavoured with orange zest and cinnamon and although it was rich and creamy, it was also surprising light. In fact, looking back now, I'm wondering if I could have managed the other pudding? Oh well, I'll just have to plan another trip back to Ibérica so that I can try the Gloria Cheesecake next time.
Over the course of the afternoon we ate like kings and were lucky enough to taste quite a few of the more popular dishes from the Ibérica menu. The portion sizes are generous and next time we go back we would probably share four or five dishes along with a glass or two of Spanish wine knowing that we would leave feeling 'well fed'.
I would like to thank the staff and management of Ibérica Leeds for their hospitality and generosity and although we dined as guests of the company, my review above is an honest account of our experience.
I've eaten at two branches of Ibérica and been hugely impressed at both. With top quality imported produce delivered to each restaurant each day, you can guarantee that the end result is going to be a tasty affair. So if you're looking for authentic Spanish cooking in comfortable surroundings, I would happily recommend that you get along to Ibérica Leeds......(or any of Ibérica's venues across the country)
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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Exclusive New Whisky Takes Off at Glasgow Airport


 If you are travelling through Glasgow Airport, you can be one of the first in the world to purchase the new Loch Lomond Scotch Whisky range.


The award-winning independent distiller, Loch Lomond Group  make their duty free debut with four exciting whisky expressions that showcase the innovation and craft championed at their distillery in Alexandria just a few miles away.


The new collection features two single malt Scotch Whiskies - Loch Lomond 12-Year-Old and Loch Lomond Inchmurrin Madeira Cask Finish, as well as the premium blend Loch Lomond Signature and Loch Lomond Single Grain – the perfect whisky for you if you are just starting out on your whisky journey  


The new collection is priced from £25 to £75 and the one litre bottles come in stunning gift tubes that tell the story of the unique parts that come together to create the innovative award-winning liquid inside. 


The inspiration for the premium packaging came from the magnificent Loch Lomond distillery itself. Designers worked to reflect the Group’s commitment to whisky craftsmanship; from the distinctive stills, and innovative distilling methods, to the working cooperage.


The launch is in response to growing demand for Loch Lomond Scotch Whiskies, which are now available in almost 100 countries.


As the local airport, Glasgow was chosen for the launch to emphasise the provenance of the range, which incorporates four expressions each with their own unique flavour and character revealing the innovative techniques used at the distillery. 


André de Almeida, managing director of Global Travel Retail at Loch Lomond Group, said: “We’ve been keen to introduce a global travel retail range for some time now following increased demand for our Loch Lomond whiskies overseas. It means a great deal to us to offer the new range at World Duty Free in Glasgow Airport, less than 15 miles from our spiritual home in the heart of Loch Lomond - one of Scotland’s most beautiful and popular visitor destinations.”


“We’re confident that we are offering something new and unique and a sense of discovery for whisky drinkers around the world.”


A tasting table will be available at Glasgow Airport during February and March, enabling World Duty Free’s shoppers to sample the new range and encouraging travellers to take a little piece of Loch Lomond home with them. 


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