America, Asia, Countries, Food & Wine

A cup of cha for the Queen

The Queen Mum liked her gin, Princess Margaret her Champagne, Prince Charles his Cherry Brandy but we suspect it was a cup of cha for the Queen.

The QM’s drinking holes counted racecourses up and down the country, Mags the Caribbean and especially Nylon Beach in Tobago and Chuck the Isle of Lewis.

For the Queen though it was her many palaces around Britain.

And especially those where she spent most time relaxing… Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham.

So if you want to toast her memory this weekend raise a cup with that most British tipple, tea.

And add to the 100 million drunk by Britons every day, almost as many as are queueing to see the Queen’s coffin.

The Royal cuppa

Take a seat: The Willow Tearooms

Britain’s love affair with East Indian tea began in royal circles with a hangry 7th Duchess of Bedford.

Anna’s answer was to take tea served with light snacks which became the phenomenon of afternoon tea.

The fashion took hold throughout the land and onto our doorstep in Glasgow, the Second City of the Empire.

Queen tea: And is that a tea cosy?

With the Mackintosh Tea Rooms which celebrate the high-chaired furniture and interior decorations of the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

And that’s just the cup of tea for more modern home furnishing British institution Cath Kidston.

With Cath kindly giving us a tea-potted history of cha around the world.

Crowning glory: Cath Kidston in Southampton

Of course all the tea in China isn’t all the tea in the world but it was where we first got the taste.

When Emperor Shen Nung went for a seat under a Camellia sinensis tree in 2737 BC.

The story goes that a few leaves fell into his boiling drinking water to try the accidental infusion and tea was born.

There’s more to this tea

Tea in bed: OLCOTE in Sri Lanka

His tea rituals he mapped out in Ch’a Ching (Tea Classic), the first book about tea written during the 8th century.

Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian in its philosophy, Chinese tea ceremonies are centred around peace, mindfulness, and appreciation.

And as many as the tea leaves in a cup, their most famous ceremony is the kung fu tea ceremony, sometimes known as gong fu.

Of course the tea we all know and love in the UK is from the Jewel in the Crown.

No, not the curry house.

But where Our Little Corner of The Earth, or OLCOTE, the hotel retreat of my old Sri Lankan-Irish force of nature Tess De Kretser will pour.

Take the floor: Bewley’s in Dublin

But from Assam in India, and Ceylon, which we all know as Sri Lanka.

If the British love their tea then the Irish love their tay double.

Ya Corker: Lafayette’s in Cork

Only be sure to know which brand to order where…

So that’s Lyons in Dublin where it must be Bewley’s Oriental Cafe on Grafton Street and Barry’s in Lafayette’s in Cork.

Rockies tea

The benchmark: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Just like cats and dogs we’re told that you’re one or the other, tea or coffee.

Only we’re both, and even in the cwaffee-loving Oo Es of Eh, or especially, tea can be a delicacy.

As we found when we rocked up in the Rockies and discovered the links between Boulder, Colorado and Dushanbe, Tajikistan .

Another cuppa: Dushanbe

It’s 35 years since the Mid-West of America and the Mid-East of Asia hooked up.

And they built strong foundations from the off with architect Lado Shanidze leading more than 40 artisans in several cities of Tajikistan.

To create the decor for the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

Tea for me: In Boulder

Including its hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns, and exterior ceramic panels.

Like the best artists our Tajik pals have carved their names into the teahouse’s history.

With Manon Khaidarov and Mirpulat Mirakhmatov, who helped reassemble the tea house, in signing their names in the ceiling.

A message carved in the ceiling reads “artisans of ancient Khojand whose works are magical”.

All of which you can dwell on when you’re sipping your Chai.

Colourful ceramic

Colour me good: Engraving

Eight colorful ceramic panels, created by Victor Zabolotnikov, grace the building’s exterior and display patterns of a “Tree of Life”.

And that’s enclosed by a mihrab motif (a niche in a mosque indicating the direction of Mecca.

Did we mention the Seven Beauties? Och, you’ll just have to get out there to find out for yourself.

We have to get back in the queue… we left it to get a cup of cha for the Queen.

 

Caribbean, Food, Food & Wine

Kabawe Libre in St Lucia

The beauty of the Caribbean is that they all have their own take on island life and we can put our own mark on each which is why we give you Kabawe Libre in St Lucia.

And if that sounds like Cuba Libre then that’s deliberate.

And because the St Lucians hosted me so well on their trade show in Dublin you can have that pitch for free.

Apt really because that’s what Libre is and because the rum flows liberally throughout the West Indies.

When in rum

All shapes and colours: Rum in the Caribbean

Kabawe is the Creole word for Rum Shop.

And the St Lucians value theirs just as much as the birthplace of rum just down the water in Barbados.

Which is why the exotically-named St Lucia Tourism Authority CEO Lorine Charles St Jules is promoting the Kabawe Krawl experience.

Best explained by the woman herself:

“The aim of the Kabawé Krawl is that visitors to our shores experience the unique Bar, Rum, and Culinary adventures in Saint Lucia.

“This will allow for the tourism dollar to be spread through our smaller communities and local hot spots nationally.”

She explained that there was a process.

And that all interested bars will undergo an onboarding process.

Domino dancing

Happy chappies: Dominoes in Barbados

And they will be trained in customer service and safety management.

Of course the first starting point for me would be a bunch of oul’ fellas in the back room.

Slamming down dominoes and stamping down on a floor with sand on it.

And not the type we get in my own homeland of Scotland to mop up the slops.

But authentic grains from the beach outside.

Irie Barbados: With Jevan and Donna

We know what a rum shop should look like from limin’ with the locals in Barbados earlier this year and on previous trips.

And we’re keen to explore our old pal Marc’s new Island Time Rum Tour.

While we’ve been down this trail too with Antigua and Barbuda.

They clued us in on their Beach Bar Trail at that Dubin roadshow.

Best bar none

The best greeting: The Irie Bar

We imagine then that the Kabawe Krawl will follow a similar route which checking out a map of the isle might mean:

Starting in the north at the Irie Bar it has all the features we love…

A bamboo structure with plants, flags, local crafts and fishing elements and reggae.

In the pink: The Pink Papaya

The Pink Papaya at Point Seraphine is another which sells itself on its name…

And its jerk chicken and cocktails on the patio.

A rum, a therapy: The Rum Therapy Bar and Treatment Centre

The Rum Therapy Bar and Treatment Centre echoes Soca star King Bubba’s mantra on life… rum is mi only medicine.

And we’re told that owner Nicole will encourage you to do a little number at the karaoke.

All after you’ve lubricated your throat with her spiced rums.

Now whenever I’m out in the Caribbean I’m briefed by The Scary One to pick sea shells at the seashore.

She sells Seashell: At the Seashell Beach Bar

And The Seashell Beach Bar, the still resort, has the taste of the sea about it.

Jump in (literally) but maybe before your fruits of the sea and rum cocktails.

Drink it in: St Lucia

Finish off at The Hustler’s Beach Bar, a watering hole that looks named for me.

And it has been named in places as the best hideaway ever.

Situated in a very recognisable name place too, Londonderry… and I’m sure the locals will give you its history over a cold one.

 

Countries, Food & Wine

Red red wine and Georgia

You make me feel so fine which is why I’ll be celebrating the day that’s in it with red red wine and Georgia. And the rest of the world.

Now we’ve been getting high on the black grape for 6,000 years since the ancient Georgians thought to bury grape juice underground in the winter.

All of which makes you wonder how it took until 2014 and Jace Shoemaker-Galway to establish Red Red Wine Day.

Like all the best ideas you kick yourself that you didn’t come up with it first.

Own it, Eoghan

Gang of four: With Eoghan, Teresa and Sharon

Or that someone you know didn’t, such as the Doyen of Irish Travel and Irish aficionados, Eoghan Corrie.

Who on every trip would regale us with his global tales of derring-do when he had a glass of red in his hand which is always.

And, of course, who knows more about wine than I’ll ever know.

Which is that after the Georgians first bottled the grape the Egyptians got in on the act in 3100BC.

You (and me) are probably more familiar with a Bordeaux red.

And that has been around since 71AD.

Georgia on my mind

By George: With the Georgia ambassador

Of course, Ambassador George didn’t want to talk to me about French red or Egyptian vintage when he invited me around to the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin.

And regaled me about the world’s first winds from his country.

And sent me home with a bottle, although not 5,000 years old although I wouldn’t have complained.

Whatever your red, and we have a standing joke in the family based around Effin’ Merlot, channeling the film Sideways.

And give a thought to our fave drink. Red red wine and Georgia, the birthplace of a favourite tipple.

 

 

 

 

America, Countries, Food & Wine

Hoppy 4th July

Hoppy 4th July… let’s celebrate American Independence Day the way the founding fathers would have, with good ale.

Because while we think we can drink we have nothing on Washington, all the Adamses, Franklin and Co.

Colonial Americans drank roughly three times as much as modern Americans, primarily in the form of beer, cider, and whiskey.

And uisce beatha (Gaelic for water of life) is probably what the Spirit of 76 was all about.

Our old friends at Westward Whiskey in Portland, Oregon, have already been on.

And they’ve been showing off their wares with a new product for Independence Day.

And they remind us (OK, we didn’t know) that they begin their process by brewing an artisanal American Ale from scratch.

They use locally malted barley, ale yeast, and a slow, low temperature fermentation.

We love our American whiskies and we will return to them in due cours.

But to make the tortured pun in the title of today’s blog work it’s all about the beer on today’s Independence Day.

Drunken Sam

A bucket of booze: In boozy Boston

Sam Adams: Now the great Bostonian rabble-rouser spent so much time swigging ale in radical public houses that his enemies nicknamed him Sam the Publican.

Sam, of course, took it as a badge of honour, and the Bostonians repaid him by putting his badge on their beers.

Now there is no one Sam in Boston.

And you will be able to digest a range of his ales in the Samuel Adams Tap Rroom next to Faneuil Hall in Old Boston.

As well as Tap room merch, and I am already seeking out where they might sell Old Fezziwig for my can holder I bought there recently. 

There’s also Oktoberfest (the next beer date on my calendar).

And St Paddy’s Day as well as any number of other reasons to swill.

Sam’s namesake, John, the first vice-president, and a future president is cited in a letter to his wife during the days of British overtaxation.

He wrote: ‘I am getting nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone.”

He died at 90 of old age.

By George

Hail to the Chief: Issy, George, and Jim

George Washington: Now America’s first president and its saviour on the battlefield was more of a wine and whiskey man than beer.

But we dare say he imbibed ale as a chaser.

Washington even boasted one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country at Mount Vernon.

And it produced 11,000 gallons in 1799, the year he died.

Mount Vernon in Virginia even boasts a small beer recipe the Great Man wrote up.
 
And he had produced for his soldiers during the French and Indian War during the 1750s.
 
And that’s a blend the Virginians still swear by today.
 
They put it on for their visitors with their Battlefields and Brews tour in Northern Virginia.
 
And I, of course, road tested it for you while out there.

Revere for the beer

Can I sign up? Outside the Green Dragon Tavern

Paul Revere: And probably because he was talking to children, although they drank too, Longfellow played down how boozy Revere’s ride was.

But it was effectively a pub crawl, starting out from the Green Dragon Tavern, a version of which exists to this day.

Revere isn’t just immortalised in poetry.

He’s also commemorated in pewter with Liberty Ale, named for him.

First brewed on 18th April 1975, it celebrates the 200th anniversary of his Midnight Ride.

The tasting notes tell us it is brewed as a single hop beer, Cascade, with 2-Row pale malt and a top fermenting yeast.

Franklin my dear

A Bell’s: Whiskey or Beer in Philly

Benjamin Franklin: Now not to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But Ben likely didn’t say ‘beer is living proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.’

Instead his letter to a French noble waxed lyrical about wine.

That was his favoured tipple. But it got lost in the translation and is now the accepted version.

A brewer and distiller in his own right, Ben gave us too The Drinker’s Dictionary.

It has over 200 euphemisms for getting tore up including Piss’d in the Brook, Wamble Crop’d, and Been too free with Sir John Strawberry.

Although a proud Bostonian, he came to be associated more with Philadelphia which he made his home.

A good choice as they’re blue-collared people who love their sport and know Sir John Strawberry only too well.

Now we’re not sure if it still exists but our gurgling googling turned this up

A Three Horshoes pub in Northamptonshire in the English midlands with a brewery with his name.

There is a connection you see with Franklin’s Uncle Thomas and a forge… happy horshoeing.

Martin Van Boozen

Drink up: But Martin Van Buren had a boozy Presidency

Martin Van Buren: And one from left field here.

The eighth President was said to have been born on the floor of his father’s tavern and got a taste of ale there.

The New Yorker is quoted as saying: “If you’re asking if I’d rather be president or not get drunk I think you damn well know the answer to that.”

And that is probably among the reasons he didn’t get re-elected.

Worth noting that the Founding Fathers all drank.

And most of the 45 presidents, bar George W Bush and Donald Trump…

And the latter at least could probably do with a pint just to calm him down.

Rewind too now to the drafting of the US Constitution and the 55 signers celebrated the birth of the fledgling nation with a full-bore blowout.

They put away 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight bottles of whiskey (phew)

Twenty-two bottles of port, eight bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

The punch was said to be large enough that one observer said: ‘ducks could swim in them.’

So cheers, and a Hoppy 4th of July to y’all.

 

  
 

 

 

Europe, Food & Wine

Grin and beer it but it’s Oktoberfest masks

Well that would be one way of shutting me up, I’m afraid we’ll have to grin and beer it but it’s Oktoberfest masks.

Now I’ve been chucked out of other establishments, including my high school, but none as big as the Lowenbrau or Hofbrau huises at the Oktoberfest.

And because every Dancing Dad has their favourite stories on repeat let’s recap.

The first time was when I tried to redress the unfair balance of baying Antipodeans (mostly in my party) competing with chants of ‘Ausssie’ and ‘Kiwi’.

And so I climbed onto the bandstand as the oompah band was in full flow, and took the mic, to sing uninvited ‘My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean’.

A minute later my bonnie was lying over the outside of the hall.

And because youth is wasted on the young I hadn’t remembered (maybe the drink) or learned from my past experience.

Back for more

Schnapps to it: The Topdeck booze bus

And returning from a Bayern Munich v Nuremberg match I got between two rival football supporters who were fighting.

I thought I was being gallant as they were women, despite knowing all about never coming between fighting women from my time growing up in Glasgow.

A boyfriend took exception (my story, and I’m sticking to it) and bust my nose.

A hospital visit and a taxi later with me not knowing where my campsite was and relying on the cabbie and I was back on site and with a thirst on me.

The Mask

Soak it up: With a pretzel

Back to Oktoberfest 2022 and the good news is that it is back after its Covid hiatus.

But with a difference with the German government considering enforced compulsory mask-wearing in all public spaces –including bars – from October to March.

Good luck with that Mein Herr.

Because once the Munich crowd get started on their steins of beer and schnapps chasers then you’ll have the divil’s own job to get the seven million drinkers to put their masks back on.

That’s if they can even find them because I sure as heck I wasn’t able to find my own backside.

The times are a-changin’

Table service: The beer tents

And you might expect things to have changed in the 36 years.

Since I last clinked steins at the Oktoberfest.

And alas it looks as if my booze bus doesn’t drive to Munich.

I dare say Wombat the driver has long since hung up his drinking gloves.

And is back home in Oz draining a cold one (or judging by his waistline) a kegful.

Ja dancer: The Oktoberfest

And in its place it has this package which involves making your own way and staying at the hostel.

After which the Topdeck people will look after you over the next three days.

So no trip to Dachau or Austrian overnighter with tobogganing and glass boot and schnapps drinking games. Hey-ho.

Still, who knows some of the stragglers from our Eighties booze trips may not have made it back or have continued the annual pilgrimage.

The Oktoberfest Braumeister

Let’s get this party started: In Munich

So check out their specs for their Oktoberfest Braumeister.

And get their app to find out more about costs.

Although you’d have to get into a booze bus time machine.

To get £84 for six days with accommodation on the bus and friends for years.

Those who will drop in on you for a winter in Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland and form an Earl’s Court Aussie colony there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Win win on Ginoisseur Day

Now, just to prove there’s no such thing as a new idea I can’t claim to have coined this… but it’s still win, win on Ginoisseur Day.

I came to gin late in life, piqued by the mid-2020s craze for the juniper.

And the row of gins and their fancy tonics laid out in front of me at Teach Aindi in Monaghan in the Irish Midlands.

They have 101 although time constraints limited us to six.

Not the Grapey One’s drink of choice you understand, though for research purposes, she mineswept the bar.

Unbeknownst to me, but logical as we invented everything else, it was a Scot behind the G&T.

Gee, G&T

Shake it up: Gin cocktails

Gin & Tonic: Doctor George Cleghorn explored in the 19th century if quinine could cure malaria.

The quinine was drunk in tonic water but proved too bitter and so army officers added water, sugar, lime and gin.

Now as my own paper the Daily Record is my go-to for reference I checked out what they recommended.

Although they could have asked me to roadtest them!

But the top three are Arbikie Nadar Gin in Arbroath, Tayside, the Isle of Harris and Kintyre Gin.

Dry and high

Czech me out: At the Bond hotel

Dry Martini: And James Bond’s classic drink of choice before Daniel Craig rebranded him.

We first meet Bond at Casino Royale, or more accurately at the Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, Czechia.

Of course the Dry Martini is gin, vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist… and shaken not stirred.

The Tom Tom Club

Supersize it: Tom Collins

Tom Collins: And an example of transatlantic co-operation between the UK and USA.

With Jerry Thomas, ‘the father of American mixology’, chronicled the gin, lime juice, sugar and carbonated water drink.

Of course with every British convention that crosses the Atlantic it has lost something in location and John became Jim became Tom.

The Italian Twist

Mine’s a gin: In Bergamo

 

Negroni: And few things disappoint when given the Italian twist.

And grazie to our amici for their one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel.

Now it’s been a year and a half since I was last in il bel paese and every drink tastes of a memory.

And mine is Bergamo Citta Alta, the high town in the Lombard city.

Taking the Rickey

The 47th President of America: In Washington DC

Gin Rickey: And being Washington DC this is obviously a capitol drink.

But did you know that it originated in Shoomaker’s Bar in the 1880s by bartender George A. Williamson?

Purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey.

The bartender is said to have added a lime to the Civil War veteran’s ‘mornin’s morning.’

It is a daily dose of Bourbon with lump ice and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water.

The gin twist? Well, that came from the popularity of the Chicago Exposition of 1893.

And in particular the Japanese rickshaw… and then the gin rickey with gin growing in popularity.

And that means it’s a win win on Ginoisseur Day.

 

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food & Wine

Trollmops and Princess cruises

This gives you food for thought, a Scandi Culinary Cruise… trollmops and Princess cruises if you will.

Darina Allen, John Torrode and Matt Tebbutt are taking to the High Seas to reach us all how to cook.

Of course, not cook (except in my case) but cook better.

And where better than on a cruise, with the fruits of the sea under us?

And around Scandinavia and the Baltic where they love getting pickled, particularly those Trolls.

Enchanted journey

In the pink: John Torode with Gregg Wallace

Passengers on Enchanted Princess can watch live culinary demonstrations from a line-up of TV chefs in a new culinary-themed cruise.

The ‘Culinary Star’ voyage will be hosted on the UK homeport ship, Enchanted Princess, on a seven-night Scandinavia voyage departing August 26.

The cookies are:

  • John Torode – The straight-talking co-host and judge of MasterChef and regular guest chef on ITV’s This Morning.
  • Matt Tebbutt – Matt has been one of London’s fixtures at prestigious restaurants, including Marco Pierre White at the Oak Room, Criterion, and Alastair Little. He also presents Saturday Kitchen on BBC1, Best Bites on BBC2, and Food Unwrapped on C4.
  • Rachel Allen – And the Irish TV chef, bestselling cookery writer, and celebrated teacher at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School.

For starters

Catherine the great: With Catherine Fulvio

Of course I would come equipped with inside knowledge from disciple and celebrated chef in her own right, Catherine Fulvio, of Ballyknocken fame.

Enchanted Princess joined the Princess fleet in November and will join Sky Princess, Emerald Princess, and Island Princess to sail out of Southampton this year.

Fare play

I’ll drink to that: Princess

All-inclusive balcony fares for the seven-night Scandinavia cruise on Enchanted Princess start from €1,044pp.

The itinerary sails roundtrip Southampton with stops in Oslo (Norway), Skagen (Denmark) and an overnight stay in Copenhagen (Denmark).

Fare includes all-inclusive premium drinks, unlimited Wi-Fi and crew appreciation.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, or by calling 1800 939 608.

Or by keeping on here because this is the type of Princess I will bow to in deference.

 

 

 

 

America, Asia, Australasia, Canada, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

The ten homes of whisky

It’s the golden seal every country strives for, to be the home of something… so where are the ten homes of whisky?

You’d probably not to be surprised at the top five.

And so it’s more of a case of shuffling that pack to see who is tops.

The next five though is a bit more surprising.

So on this World Whisky Day join me for a distillery tour.

But do me a favour please, don’t ask about distilling or the mashing process.

It just holds us up on our way to the sampling.

Scotch Wahey

Fergie’s dram: Sir Alex’s bottle in his cabinet near Aberdeen

Scotland: And the reach of Scotch (just whisky in Scotland) became clear when the distillers held a whisky-tasting in Barbados.

Now we can blind you with science and stats… 44 bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every year.

There are five designated whisky regions… Cambeltown, Highland, Lowland, Speyside and my own fave Islay.

They’re all heavenly and 

But my No.1 is Laphroaig. It’s so peaty, just like a bowl of water in an ashtray but stick with me here.

After all you have tried haggis.

United Nips of America

Mark of a whiskey drinker: Kentuckian Mark, Cath and Mum

USA: And, of course, when the Scots left home they took their whisky and its secrets with them.

And adapted it to the new world of America and went on to produce nectar such as Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve bourbon.

But US whiskey isn’t restricted to the Deep South… branch out to Oregon.

Where Westward Whiskey have released a reimagined single malt for World Whisky Day.

Green, malt and gold

The oul’ sod: The oldest distillery in the world

Ireland: And Teeling only made it into our Barbados tastings.

While Bushmills lays claim to being the oldest distillery in the world, established in 1608.

They were also responsible for the extra ‘e’, well the Irish are the masters of using two words when one will do, and more letters too.

Land of the Rising Suntory

Made in Japan: Suntory

Japan: Now this is a love story that drams are made of.

And is the result of a relationship between a Japanese chemistry student at Glasgow University Masataka Takaretsu and Jessie Roberta Cowan.

Masataka had been dispatched by the Settsu Shuzi liquor company.

A love Suntory if you will.

Maple leaf

We’re in the Club: Canadian Club

Canada: Right, we’re told that Canadian whisky has its origins not in its big Scottish diaspora.

But because the natives, the First Nations, got a taste for what they called the traders’ firewater.

It was a meld of rum and ‘high wine’ which developed into Canadian whisky, of which Canadian Club is the most recognised.

Sikh beatha

Basket of goods: Indians love their whisky

India: Or Sikh of life, my twist on the uisce beatha which is Gaelic for water of life and is what Scots call their favourite drink.

And long may the Indians keep up their love affair with whisky which they have been producing since 1948 since Amrut entered the market.

More than half of all whisky drinkers in the world come from India. 

Wizards of booze

Bonzer: Aussie whiskey

Australia: And we should have come to expect this with our ne’er-do-wells sent over there as convicts.

Specifically Tasmania is whisky haven with the best Aussie whiskies Sullivans Cove, the best Single Malt at the world awards, and Lark based there. 

A Swede whisky

That way, Sweden

Sweden: Now here’s something you don’t get at your local Ikea with your meatballs but should.

Mackmyra was Sweden‘s first distillery and the Swedes got it right first time, winning the First Edition Gold Award in 2013.

The Isle of Tai

Gold standard: Taiwanese whiskey

Taiwan: You see what we’ve done there. Yes, Taiwan‘s connections with the West probably plays its part here.

Kavalan whiskey won the World’s Best Single Malt at the awards in 2015 and the island’s distillery produces 9 million bottles a year. 

Ja beauty

Dram busters: Germans on the whisky

Germany: Now some of us have ripped it up in Germany at the Oktoberfest where it’s lager obviously but also schnapps chasers.

The Germans though are open to everything and they have around 250 distilleries and around 130 of them are focused just on whisky production.

So, on this World Whisky Day a big Slainte to the ten homes of whisky.

 

 

 

 

Food & Wine, Ireland

Ballymaloe BallyMasterChef BallyMurty

If your interest was piqued by the wonderful cookery school where the season finale of MasterChef is taking place.

Over three episodes this week it’s, er, Ballymaloe BallyMasterChef BallyMurty.

No the heat from the kitchen isn’t getting to me.

It’s just I fancy I should be mentioned in the same Ballymaloe breath as the master chefs who have been teasing us with their creations.

Their efforts have been beamed into the homes of around 7.5 million people across Britain airing on BBC One yesterday.

Although my artistry at making pasta in Ballyknocken, Co. Wicklow, seen only by readers of this blog (just slightly less).

Yes, that was when I joined a cookery class in association with Top Flight a couple of years ago.

Catherine the Great

Do you want a hand: With Catherine Fulvio

And I was supervised by the force of nature that is Ballymaloe Catherine Fulvio.

Nor was it my first stab at cooking in Ireland with a more than passable attempt at Spanish pulpo (octupus) in Dublin some time earlier.

Ole: With the Spaniards

Back to the special Ireland MasterChef cooking challenge.

And it took place last year and was supported by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.

What a Corker

Girning Gregg: He must have seen mine

Viewers saw the final four contestants travel to Cork, together with judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

There they met with Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

For a whirlwind education in local Irish produce and the ethos of ‘farm-to-table’.

The finalists were challenged to prepare a celebratory dinner.

For some of Ireland’s finest food producers, food historians and relatives of the late, great patron of Irish cuisine, Myrtle Allen.

The second episode of this season’s MasterChef ‘Finals Week’ airs this evening and the third episode will air tomorrow.

Publicity and broadcasts like this are a key element of Tourism Ireland’s programme of activity.

To encourage travellers in Britain, and elsewhere around the world, to put Ireland on their holiday wish-list for this year and beyond.

Julie noted

Pasta master: Your bolognese will be with you soon

And so over to Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Great Britain.

She said: “Tourism Ireland was delighted that MasterChef chose to film in Cork and Ballymaloe Cookery School, as part of its ‘Finals Week’.

“With viewers across Britain waiting with huge anticipation to find out who will be crowned the champion of MasterChef 2022, this is a superb opportunity for us.

“To showcase our delicious local produce, wonderful culinary offering and beautiful landscapes to an audience of around 7.5 million.

“It will remind viewers across Britain that Ireland is a great choice for a ‘foodie’ holiday.”

Food for thought

And, I can vouch for that and though the best meals can longer be eaten in Applewood Heights, Greystones, now Mrs M has taken her recipes back over to Scotland.

But should you be in Dublin then Chapter One, The Ivy and One Pico were some of the faves I pushed my return to the office desk for.

While I must also mention my cousin’s The Workshop by the Liffey.

Although I haven’t quite forgiven my old restaurant critic writer Tom Doorley for giving them a less than favourable review.

What he’d have thought of Ballymaloe BallyMasterChef BallyMurty is anyone’s guess.

And an equally great Catherine

Here’s to you: With Catherine Murphy in Val D’Isere

A word here too to a great pal, the one I have come to know as Murphski, Catherine Murphy.

Catherine, who was good enough to be my ski writer and won that award year after year, has just been named Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year.

I have been lucky enough to have joined her on some of those trips, from Las Vegas to Tenerife to just last month Val D’Isere.

My only regret is that I wasn’t in Dublin to clink Champagne glasses and say Slainte with Ireland’s best Travel Writer.

 

 

 

America, Countries, Food, Food & Wine

The Streets of Boston

Now I’ve experience of the streets of Boston and the difference a turning can make, albeit 35 years ago.

So when I’d overshot Chinatown in Washington Street yesterday.

And found myself crossing the Mass Turnpike bridge I knew I was off course.

Way to go Shojo

Chop, chop: Shojo

I had been personally waited on by restaurant manager Jim at Shojo on Tyler Street.

And licked my lips and fingers tearing through his Wu-Tang Tiger Style Ribs, Jasmine rice and Japanese Saison Du beer.

And heavy of tummy had decided to take a walk down Memory Lane to my old workplace, the Black Rose, on State Street.

Now the proliferation of Asian spellings and smellings ought to have alerted me that I was on the wrong scent.

The Black Rose

Get on your bike: The Godfrey

So I doubled back, span into a vortex and was suddenly back in 1987.

With the singer, Irish Terry, singing The Dubliners’ standard Fiddler’s Green.

I waited patiently, cradling my Guinness, for the favourite when I tended door and bar here in the Eighties.

And was glad to put bread in his jar for a rendition of Black Velvet Band.

Filled with the best type of fuel I rolled home and let the tiredness of a three-country, 17-hour Aer Lingus journey drift me to sleep.

And dream of days gone and to come on The Streets of Boston.

Before hitting the Streets of Boston again and checking out its famous T trams.

And a tea party.