Friday, 27 December 2013

This Is The 'Ale' Of The Train

Over the last couple of years, in the name of research, I have been sampling a huge volume of craft beer. The growth of craft beers has been huge as beer drinkers become more sophisticated in their tastes. Whilst glancing through Virgin Train's Facebook pages earlier this year I read a post about the launch of 'Tilting Ale', a British real ale that has been brewed especially for Virgin Trains by Macclesfield brewers RedWillow Brewery.
The collaboration between Virgin Trains and RedWillow is aimed at improving the choice and quality to the passengers who travel up and down the UK on Virgin's high speed services. At the time I had no plans to be travelling anywhere by train in the near future but still keen to try out the new pale ale, I typed up a quick email to Virgin Customer Service in the hope that they could further my research.
After a lengthy wait for a reply, I received an email apologising for the tardiness in getting back to me, but also informing me that they had arranged for the brewery to send a couple of bottles out to me in order for me to sample and review.
What I kindly received was a presentation box which included two bottles of Tilting Ale and a branded pint glass carrying the same designs as the bottle label.
After a few hours chilling, (the beer - not me), I was ready to sample the goods. Virgin and the guys at RedWillow claim that the specially formulated pale ale evokes the spirit and speed of our tilting trains. A high-speed whoosh of flavour tilts smoothly into a light, hoppy taste and arrives, right on time, at a clean finish of bitter. Perfect for sipping at 125mph!
I have to agree! The Tilting Ale is definitely my kind of beer - golden in colour with fresh citrusy aromas with a light touch of hops. My first bottle went down very easily, maybe too easily - at 4.1% ABV, Tilting Ale would make a very good session beer but unfortunately as it is only available for sale on board Virgin Trains, your sessions could be limited to trips up and down the East or West Coast Mainline.
I think it's great that a company like Virgin have tried to offer something unique to their travellers and fantastic that they allowed an independent brewery to become involved with their innovative project.
Oddly enough, as I write this post, I am sitting in a Virgin Trains first class carriage on my way to London. It's still early but I think it's only a matter of time before I get my laughing gear around my next Tilting Ale. After as they say.....'When in Rome.......'
Keep up to date with RedWillow Brewery on Facebook or Twitter.


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Recipe - Chickpea & Chorizo Casserole

The subject matter of my last post was the head chef and owner of Barstro, Paul Campbell. Paul was previously head chef at Cas Roja in Puerto del Carmen before setting up his own business with friends Viktor and Merc├ędesz Domahidy. Since Barstro opened its doors six months ago, the team at Barstro have been wowing both locals and visitors to the island with high quality food in their new home in the tranquil village of Nazaret.
This month, the marketing machine at Barstro have launched a monthly newsletter which will be used to keep everyone up to date with what's going on at the restaurant as well as giving a little insight to the staff who work tirelessly to make every diner have a meal to remember when they walk through the door.
The monthly newsletter will also feature one of Paul's recipes for you to recreate at home. I was delighted to see that the first recipe to be shared was the Chickpea & Chorizo Casserole dishes that we had when we visited in October. We both loved the dish and I couldn't wait to give it a go in Gerry's Kitchen.


  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 500g cooking chorizo, cut into bit size chunks
  • 400g chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 500ml single cream
  1. Heat a good glug of olive oil in a pan then add the leek and garlic, cooking for a few minutes before adding the chorizo.
  2. Once the chorizo has been browned, add the chickpeas, paprika and coriander and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the cream to the pan and bring the contents to a simmer cook for a further 4-5 minutes then remove from the heat and season to taste.
To serve, generously spoon into a couple of large bowls and accompany with some warmed garlic bread. This dish is so easy to prepare and can be adapted to include some of your own favourite flavours. I added an extra leek and some cherry tomatoes to the original recipe, because I love leeks and thought that the tomatoes would work with the other flavours in the pan. Despite the fact that I tweaked the recipe slightly, the end result tasted every bit as good as the dish that was served up by Paul when we visited Barsto, and will definitely be a meal that I'll be bring to the table more than a few times through the winter months.
You can find out more about the Barstro newsletter on their Facebook page.

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