Friday, 29 May 2015

5 Questions - Masons Yorkshire Gin

It is no big secret that there is a gin revolution happening around us. Artisan distillers are popping up everywhere with their own twists on 'Mother's Ruin', hoping that they have the perfect balance of botanical that have you reaching for their bottle when you're in need of a refreshing drink.
Whilst at the BBC Good Food Show at the SECC last October, I got chatting to Karl Mason of Masons Yorkshire Gin who had spend months rejecting various gin recipes before he found the right balance of juniper, citrus and secret botanicals that he was happy to unleash on the gin loving public.
Here's Karl's story;
How did you get started?

Being a gin lover one Friday, before I left work I sent my wife a message via Facebook simply saying gin & tonic? A gin and tonic was waiting for me when i got home so i posted a picture of it on Facebook. Over the next couple of weeks, a few friends also posted pictures of themselves having their own G&T's on a Friday evening so I started a little Facebook group for us to share our pictures. Well this little group went viral and i got over 10,000 followers all joining in which led to gin brands contacting me and sending across free samples to try with the hope that I would promote them to my followers - well the rest is history but i basically decided some of the new gins were a little same old same old and set about lauching my own gin with the intention of it being unique and deserving its place on the shelf.

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

Be different

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

Hopefully available in more bars and being recognised with more awards. It would be great to be used as an example of how to launch premium food or drink without any experience in the industry, just a passion for what we like.

If you could only use your product in one way, what would it be & why?

A Gin & Tonic with lots of ice, premium tonic water garnished with pink grapefruit peel and a twist of the pepper pot - it's the perfect way to unwind after a stressful week!

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

It would be my dad's father, my grandad. I don’t remember him as I was only 4 when he died so I would just love to have a conversation with him, get to know him and see if I am like him. The menu would probably have to be a traditional sunday dinner with beef and Yorkshire puddings, something to ease the conversation and bridge the generation gap.

It's encouraging to see someone turning something that makes them happy into something that others can get enjoyment out of too. I'm quite partial to a cheeky wee G&T when the sun comes out and Masons Yorkshire Gin is definitely one of the new kids on the block that I think might just last the distance. You can find out if Masons Yorkshire Gin is stocked anywhere near you by checking out their website.
Keep up to date with all that's going on with Masons Yorkshire Gin on Facebook and Twitter.






Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Recipe - Gnocchi with Streaky Bacon, Chicken & Peas

For the last seven months, my day has involved working until half past four then driving into the City Centre to pick Nicola up before heading home together. We didn't normally get home until about six o'clock so when it came to making dinner, I found that I was often repeating some of my tried and tested dishes just because they were quick and easy to make.
Thankfully, my shiny new Seat Leon has eventually turned up which means Nicola doesn't need to spend forever on the long bus journey into town and that I can now be home for five o'clock in the afternoon. Now that I have a whole hour before Nicola gets home from work, I can start to work my way through the long list of recipes that have caught my eye on TV or in my Olive Magazine subscriptions.
Starting tonight I plan on bringing at least two new dishes a week to the table, and hopefully get at least one of them posted onto the blog each week. First up is a slightly adapted gnocchi dish that I spotted in the November issue of Olive Magazine.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 50g streaky bacon, chopped (you could use pancetta instead)
  • 1 chicken breast, chopped
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 400g pack of gnocchi
  • 150ml soured cream or crème fraîche
  • 25g Grano Padano, grated

  1. Cook the gnocchi following the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and once hot, add the bacon and cook until it starts to brown. Add the chicken breast and cook with the bacon making sure that the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the peas and chicken stock to the pan and cook until the stock has reduced by half. Add the gnocchi and sour cream to the pan and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until you have a glossy creamy sauce before stirring in the grated Grano Padano.
To serve, divide the gnocchi between two bowls and serve with slices of warm garlic bread. This dish is very easy to prepare and can be on the table in less than thirty minutes.
Keep an eye out for more quick and easy recipes and let me know how you get on if you try any in your own kitchen.


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Hamilton Food & Drink Festival

Bank Holiday weekends are always stressful as they put pressure on you to do something with that valuable extra day. Thankfully, the good people at Forum Event Management have a solution at hand with the Hamilton Food & Drink Festival which is taking place from Friday 2nd - Monday 25th May.
The festival is taking place Friday - Monday from 10am - 5pm & they will have around 40 different traders with all different types of hot & cold foods on offer. Tony Singh will be along on Saturday & Sunday from 12pm onwards & will be doing a cookery demonstration showcasing as much as he can from the producers. He will also be doing an interview on stage, book signing as well as mingling with the public for some Q&A.
Local butcher Andrew Henderson will have a marquee with demo area & he will be showing best way to cut meats etc for dishes & recipes. We will also have a demo stall where each trader is invited to showcase any of their products & answer any questions.
The stage is being run by Dougie Jackson and there will also be a range of street entertainers varying each day from fire eaters, jugglers, stilt walkers, balloon modelling, huge bubbles & our Chef Di Campo will be there each day. The festival will also be running competitions for the public to take part in as well as a few surprises.
There will also be 2 licensed areas with a beer tent run by local hotel group Manorview & Thistly Cross Cider will be serving up their own products in the other.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Taste of Arran founder honoured at HIT Industry Event

Alastair Dobson, Managing Director of Taste of Arran, has been recognised for his ‘inspiring innovation and business acumen' at a glittering awards ceremony hosted by industry body, Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland (HIT).

The annual award, presented by Arlene Bonomi, Sales Director for Brakes, recognised Alastair's considerable achievements and boundless energy that has seen his business grow from a single van enterprise to a collaboration of ten food and drink premier producers from the Scottish Isle of Arran.

Paying homage to Alastair's success, James Stagg from The Caterer magazine spoke of the ‘marketing brilliance' of the Taste of Arran that has boosted the island's economy and provided producers with a sustainable and successful business platform from which to grow.

James said: "Alastair's flair for marketing and innovation led him to diversify the business without ever losing sight of his drive for quality and innovation: his Isle of Arran Dairies ice cream is synonymous with the island he operates from".

Accepting the award, Alastair paid tribute to the quality, innovation and hard work of fellow producers as well as acknowledging the HIT's achievements in developing the skills and ambitions of young people working in the hospitality industry.

The dinner, to celebrate HIT's 21st anniversary, was attended by over 500 industry representatives. The event raised a staggering £67,000 for HIT, a registered charity that delivers scholarships and bursaries for those working in the industry

Sponsored by Diageo, guests were served up a sumptuous dinner of local produce and enjoyed glittering entertainment from Edward Reid, Britain's Got Talent, who emerged from a giant cake.

Summing up the night, HIT's Chief Executive, David Cochrane said: "This generous and fun loving industry partied like never before and dug deep to secure the future for many of our next generation of industry leaders. I am hugely proud to be part of a sector which contributes so much to Scotland."






Saturday, 16 May 2015

Nocking Point Wine - UK Launch Party

This weekend, Birmingham will be the safest city on the planet as the Hilton Birmingham Metropole plays host to the City of Heroes convention. DC Comics stars from TV shows Arrow, The Flash and Gotham will decend on the hotel to meet and greet their fans.
Stephen Amell, the actor who plays The Arrow, is making good use of his time in the UK as he hosts a launch party for the wine label that he owns with friend and business partner Andrew Harding. Nocking Point Wine is a relatively new wine producer and operate out of the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State, USA. Nocking Point Wine is sold exclusively through an already fully subscribed wine club and carries artwork created by legendary DC Comics illustrator, Jim Lee.
Nicola is a huge fan of Arrow and Stephen so as soon as she found out about the launch party, she had to go, and as I always seem to be dragging Nicola to various food events, it seemed fair that we go and do something that she wanted to do.
Everyone who attend the party at Birmingham's Old Stock Joint can look forward to a great night including;
  • Spend the evening with Stephen, Andrew, a handful of their pals, (as Stephen has been at City Of Heroes all weekend with his TV friends, we are hopeful that we might get to meet more than one superhero) and a room full of new Nocking Point friends!
  • Take home a custom "Nocking Point Comes to the UK" commemorative wine glass.
  • Taste all of NP’s newest wines: Apex 2.0, Verdant House Wine, Year Two: New Bow, Wicked Aim, MAJA, KDH, and their 2009 Merlot. Enjoy other wines, cocktails, beers, wonderful canapes, small plates and desserts provided by the NP team.
  • Enjoy awesome live music all evening long and have an overall one-of-a-kind wine party experience with Stephen, Andrew and a great group of their fellow NP supporters!
  • Bid to WIN extremely cool silent auction & raffle items with all proceeds going to benefit a cause they love. There will also be some AWESOME collectibles there!
So roll on Sunday and our trip to Birmingham. Hopefully, I'll come back with more information about the wines that Stephen and Andrew produce and members even a new superhero recruit for 5 Questions.



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

5 Questions - Graham Gardner, Sous Chef @ Morblas, Hilton Glasgow

It's not too long now until The Ideal Home Show Scotland makes its return to Glasgow's SECC. The show promises something for everyone and for those with a passion for cooking, there are a number of demonstrations being carried on the Super Theatre stage. One of the chefs who will be doing his bit to wow the crowds is the current sous chef at Hilton Glasgow restaurant Morblas Seafood & Grill, Graham Gardner.
Graham has over 15 years experience in the kitchen and has honed his skills at a number of venues including Glasgow Art Club and the Blythswood Square Hotel.
Here's Graham's Story;

How did you get started?

I got a summer job washing dishes in a local Indian restaurant, after a few weeks of being in a kitchen that was it. There was nothing else I wanted to do other than cook. I got an apprenticeship with Hilton as soon as I left school and just started to learn as much as I could so I could get better.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give any young aspiring chefs?

Be prepared to work hard, be willing to listen and always want to keep learning! Even learning simple things like the fastest way to peel a potato will help you. Also read a lot of books.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

Not sure about 5 years time, I’m focused on achieving my goal of running my own kitchen within the next 12-18 months. Once I have achieved this, I will look further into the future.

If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?

It would have to be my scallops, peas and hazelnuts dish. It's 3 individual ingredients that I love and when you put them together it’s hard to find anything better in life. At the time of creating this dish, I was still not confident in my ability to create new dishes but once I was given the opportunity this dish came about and has been on our menu ever since. It was even one of the dishes we demonstrated at last year’s Ideal Home Show Scotland.

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

It's got to be my childhood hero Hulk Hogan, he was everywhere when I was a kid and pretty much still is, now that I’m an adult.

Anyone who has had such a long career, no matter what that career is, is always worth looking up to. I’d be happy to just have a burger and chips with him, the less time spent cooking the meal, the more time I would have to hear some of his stories from his career.

As mentioned earlier, Graham will be on the Super Theatre stage at The Ideal Home Show. You can see Graham, and his Hilton Glasgow colleague Stuart, in action on the Ideal Home Show Scotland Super Theatre stage on:

Saturday 23rd May at 1pm

Sunday 24th May at 12 noon

Monday 25th May at 11am

Pop along and see them on the Super Theatre and you may be lucky see some of the Hilton staff who will be giving out 20% discount vouchers which will allow you to experience the fantastic Morblas Seafood & Grill menu for yourself.




Sunday, 10 May 2015

30 Second Beer Review - Hibernation White IPA by Bear Hug Brewing

London is bursting with craft brewers making sure that there are always plenty of unusually named beers vying for your attention.
Hibernation White IPA (ABV 5.2%) from Bear Hug Brewing.
  • Bought at Whyte & Brown, Soho for £5.50
  • Pours with a tight foamy head that hangs around until the end.
  • This hybrid beer looks like a wheat beer with it's cloudy, pale hazy yellow appearance.
  • Very citrusy on the nose with grapefruit and lemon fighting for your attention. Background floral notes are also evident.
  • Medium to high carbonation.
  • This is very easy to drink with almost champagne biscuity flavours yielding to lemon and grapefruit. Good bitterness leaving a clean dry finish.
I really liked this offering from Bear Hug Brewing and while it claims to be a hybrid of wheat beer and IPA, there is no mistaking that this is very obviously IPA in style. That said, Hibernation White IPA has all the characteristics that I like and I can't wait to get my hands on my next bottle.



30 Second Beer Review - Tundra by Black Wolf Brewery

Here's the first of my 30 Second Beer Reviews. The format will always be they same with information on where I bought the beer and how much it cost as well as my own thoughts on the beer itself. Hopefully, the review can be read in 30 seconds or less.
Tundra Wheat Beer (ABV 4.8%) from Black Wolf Brewery
  • Bought at Aldi for £1.49
  • Pours with a foamy head that thins a little as you go down the glass.
  • Hazy golden in colour, clearer in colour than most wheat beers.
  • Lots of citrus & floral notes, Tundra is dry hopped with elderflower which definitely comes through on the nose.
  • Medium carbonation.
  • Slightly sweet although noticeable presence of clove balances flavour. Very smooth with nice slightly bitter finish.
I'm a big fan of wheat beers and I thought that Tundra stood up well to some of the big players in this arena. The only downside for me was that it was maybe just a little too sweet which would stop me being able to drink more than a couple in one sitting. That said, I imagine that it would work well with highly spiced Indian food.



Saturday, 9 May 2015

Beer Bottle Cap Challenge

Earlier this year I thought that it would be a good idea to collect all of the different bottle tops from the lagers and craft beers that I have been drinking. I'm still not sure what I'll do with them at the end of the year but I'm thinking that they might look cool in a funky frame that I can hang in the kitchen.
Whilst I'm working my way through what could end up being hundreds of different bottles over the year, I will be bringing a new feature to Gerry's Kitchen. Look out for my "30 Second Beer Review" posts where I will give a very quick summing up of the various bottled beers that make it into my beer fridge.
Feel free to pass on any recommendations that you think I should try out and if you are a craft beer brewer then why not get in touch and have your one story told through 5 Questions.
So I suppose I better get started with this little selection - look out for the first 30 Second Beer Review coming soon.



Friday, 8 May 2015

Ideal Home Show Scotland, 22nd-25th May 2015

The Ideal Home Show Scotland returns to the SECC in Glasgow over the bank holiday weekend, Friday 22-Mon 25th May 2015. Whether you're searching for a new kitchen or bathroom, furniture for the home or garden, gadgets, food, fashion or you just want to add those finishing touches to your home, this iconic home show has it all! With seven dedicated show areas plus inspirational room sets, stunning show gardens and a host of celebrities and expert seminars - this unmissable event has everything needed for a great day out!

Of course, I'll be more interested in getting to see the the huge range of food and drink exhibitors, selling everything from cheese and sausages to gin and craft beer. Meanwhile at the Ideal Food and Housewares section you’ll also find all the latest gadgets to make life easier in the kitchen.

The Gregg Wallace Restaurant returns for another year to the Ideal Home Show Scotland providing culinary delight for all! The Restaurant will give you a chance to engage in some luxury dining to break up your busy shopping schedule.

Plus if you visit the show on Saturday 23rd or Sunday 24th May you might even be lucky enough to meet Gregg himself! In fact, when we had lunch at the restaurant last year we did meet Gregg and also managed to get him to answer his very own 5 Questions.

For the first time ever, you can now pre-book a table at the Gregg Wallace Restaurant.

So don't miss out and book a table now by clicking here

What’s more, there will be some creative chefs on the Ideal Super Theatre from some of Glasgow’s top dining destinations – including Hilton Glasgow. Chefs Graham Gardner and Stuart Muirhead will be giving you a sneak peak of the delicious fayre from the Morblas Seafood & Grill at Hilton Glasgow, where is a new A La Carte menu launching on 16th May.

You can see Hilton Chefs Graham and Stuart in action on the Ideal Home Show Scotland Super Theatre stage on:

Saturday 23rd May - 1pm

Sunday 24th May - 12 noon

Monday 25th May - 11am

Pop along and see them on the Super Theatre and you may be lucky see some of the Hilton staff who will be giving out 20% discount vouchers which will allow you to experience the fantastic Morblas Seafood & Grill menu for yourself.

For more information on what’s on at the Super Theatre – check out the link below;

For full details on exhibitors at this year's Ideal Home Show Scotland, check out the show website.





Thursday, 7 May 2015

Balcony Bites @ Theatre Royal Glasgow

Every Friday in May, enjoy a delicious buffet lunch at the Theatre Royal Cafe in the Balcony Foyer and access the amazing roof top terrace if the Glaswegian weather is on form. On a clear day you'll be able to see over to the Campsies and the rooftops of the city while enjoying easy listening music in the background.
Swing by any time from 12 -2pm for a great new experience.



Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Eaglesham Beer Festival, June 6th 2015

This year sees the inaugural Eaglesham Beer Festival which will run alongside the popular biennial Eaglesham Fair on Saturday 6th June. The normally sleepy town of Eaglesham is just a couple of miles down the road from me so I was always going to get along to try out some of the wonderful craft beers that are likely to be on show. This coupled with the fact that my wife will be exhibiting some of her beautiful hand made jewellery within the craft tent at The Eaglesham Fair meant that I now have a designated driver on the day so now I have no excuses for not sampling an ale or two.
Keen to know more, I made contact with the festival organiser Fraser Wilson to find out more so that I could help spread the word. I wasn't the first to get in touch with Fraser, In fact a couple of weeks ago local newspaper, The Extra, interviewed Fraser and published a little write up about the festival. The information below is the extended interview.
"My wife, Laura, is from Eaglesham and most of her family still stay there.
The idea for the event actually started as a way to mark our wedding anniversary. Last summer was so amazing for us, and for Scotland, because there was such a huge party/carnival atmosphere with everything that was going on. Our wedding in Troon was outside and was just fantastic, and we wanted to be able to have that kind of celebration/party to mark our first anniversary. I think we were sad it was all over to be honest.
So I started looking into organising a beer festival as it was something I had wanted to do for a while. Last year I released "The Foodies' Guide to Glasgow and the West" and am a true food and drink enthusiast with a passion to share the very best of everything Scottish. It made sense to me then to make the progression from writing about what I love, to trying to do it myself.
The money from the book goes to Mary's Meals, a charity who do fantastic work feeding some of the world's poorest children. To find out more about the great food and drink scene in and around Glasgow as well as helping raise a little more for Mary's Meals, you can buy the 'Foodies Guide to Glasgow and the West' from Amazon. (There's also a recipe in the book from Gerry's Kitchen)
Like food, drink and drinking has changed massively in Scotland. It's not just about going out and eating then moving on to the cinema, or going out and drinking to get drunk; people care about what they are eating and drinking; so eating out is the night out now. It's not a pre-cursor to something else; we'll go out and spend the whole night eating, taking our time with it, talking about it, trying new things, taking pics and Tweeting about it, spending large amounts on it. And that's the same with beer. Tennents, a pint of heavy, a cheap cider, vodka and coke - people see that that's not all there is for a night out. It sounds strange to say that, but until a few years ago such a variety or desire to try new beers/ciders was seen very much as an old man thing to do with Real Ale - it conjoured up ideas of grey, biege bars like the Clansman out of Still Game, with old men supping low percentage beers with weird names.
But the Craft Beer revolution has brought that into the 21st century; it has modernised it and made it more mainstream, more acceptable. It has also made it more accessible. People want a beer with flavour, with a point of difference, with a story - they want session ales, not gassy lagers. We're in the midst of this craft beer revolution and it's great. So for me, it seemed silly to miss out on taking part in that.
As you'll know, Eaglesham is such a beautiful place and is part of an affluent area - however, nothing like this seems to have taken place here before. Being able to bring that revolution to the village and trying to make it part of the story just seemed right and I really hope it's something people enjoy. The day isn't an excuse for a piss up. It's a chance to enjoy the best of Scottish.
I contacted brewers and producers to gauge interest levels, then contacted East Renfrewshire Council to find out what I'd have to do and what (if any) resistance there would be for such an idea. Thankfully there wasn't any and I have to say, the council have been absolutely brilliant in supporting the venture, offering advice and guidance.
As have the Eaglesham Fair Committee, without whom I couldn't have managed getting off the ground with the idea, never mind to the stage we're at now. They have been great and deserve a lot of credit. The day will run alongside Eaglesham Fair on the common across from the Eglinton Arms. With that, the day is going to be MASSIVE and AMAZING for the village, and area. There will be something for everyone between the two - it really is going to be class in a (plastic) glass.
Along with the council and fair committee, Yelp and Whole Foods Market Giffnock have been amazing. Just having their name alongside what I'm doing is huge, but being able to rely on their expertise and input is unbelievable. Between us I think we can do something really special that I hope people love and want to see more of.
So far Fyne Ales, Bijou Wine, Thistly Cross Cider, and Whole Foods have confirmed, but there are some really big names to be announce.

Drygate Brewery, Franciscan Wells, Loch Ness Brewery, WEST Beer and Harviestoun Brewery have all confirmed their attendance since the original interview.
There is a stretch tent courtesy of Whole Foods to provide cover from the scorching sun and for people to converge; in there we will have live music and entertainment, including 10 minute pub quizzes with prizes, raffles, and a few surprises. Singer Scott MacDonald from the area has confirmed, as has band, The Set - Ken Irving from the band is from the village.
I think such events are important. The sake of a few miles from the West End, the Barras, Merchant City etc. shouldn't prevent spreading the word. There are a number of events like this on the west coast in really idyllic places, such as FyneFest, Islay Feis, Banchory Beer Fest in Aberdeenshire etc. Eaglesham is an idyllic place and I love it. Why not showcase the village and the best of Scottish at the same time? It's the perfect marriage. Beautiful surroundings, great people, great community, great beer and scran? Sounds alright to me."
East Renfrewshire Council and the Eaglesham Fair Committee have offered a huge amount of support to Fraser to make sure that the event is a huge success so if you are a lover of craft beers or you want to find out what all the fuss is about, then keep Saturday 6th June clear in your diary. Entry to the Eaglesham Beer Festival is FREE and the event runs from 11am - 8pm, it is ON and OFF-SALE on the day, it's family friendly, and the Eaglesham Fair will be running that day too.
Keep up to date with all the new from The Eaglesham Beer Festival on Twitter and if you do head along on the day, make sure to share your pictures using the hashtag is #EagBeerFest

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