Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Category: Gin (page 2 of 2)

Posts that involve my love of gin.

Review of Gordon Castle Gin

For some it’s new shoes, others designer bags…. but what I get really excited about is trying out a new gin! This is especially true if it is a Scottish gin! No surprise then that I was intrigued to try Gordon Castle Gin from Moray in the north-east of the country. The gin is distilled using botanicals grown in the estate’s walled garden, with notes of lavender and mint. 

London have been quick to pick this one up – I spotted it on the menu when I visited the gin Mecca that is the London Gin Club in Soho a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods recently named Gordon Castle “gin of the month” in their stores.

I was lucky enough to be sent a wee sample to try, but just look how pretty the full size bottle is!Gordon Castle gin

The taste is really crisp and summery. After adding some FeverTree tonic, I was swithering about which garnish to include; so I tried one with lime and the other with fresh rosemary from my garden. I was really impressed with both combinations and couldn’t pick a favourite. The clean flavours make Gordon Castle a really versatile gin and I think it would be difficult to come up with a ‘bad’ pairing. Next time I’m going to try it out with some toasted grapefruit peel…. or maybe strawberry with a twist of black pepper…..hmmm so many possibilities!

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So I’m pleased to say Gordon Castle has easily made it in to my top three; and I’m a gal that’s tried a fair few gins! It’s also reasonably priced for a premium gin, coming in at £32.99 for the 70cl bottle. If you fancy giving it a try, you can buy some online here http://www.gordoncastlescotland-shop.com 


Review of Moonfish, Aberdeen

I was glued to ‘MasterChef The Professionals’ which finished just before Christmas. The main downside to watching it was that each episode left me starving and I found myself rummaging in the cupboards to complete my own invention test! I enjoyed the show even more this year because local lad (and friend of my husband) Brian McLeish made it all the way to the final with his incredible cooking.

Moonfish

No surprise then, that a visit to Brian’s restaurant in Aberdeen was on my Wish List to visit for 2015. Moonfish specialises in seafood and gin – clearly a match made in heaven! We visited the restaurant with two good friends who moved to Aberdeen last year. The place isn’t massive so it’s important that you book in advance, especially if you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday. The interior is light and airy and made me feel instantly relaxed.

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First of all, I was really excited about the HUGE list of gins available! Lots of lovely Scottish craft gins including a number I hadn’t come across before. Secondly, I was really surprised at how reasonably priced the menu at Moonfish is – £35.95 for three courses. This has to be one of the best value, high quality menus in Aberdeen! The menu is changed every four weeks to keep the emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. However, we were in for an extra treat as Head Chef Brian McLeish had designed an eight course tasting menu for us!

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If you fancy trying out a Moonfish tasting menu for yourself there is a special night coming up on the 4th of July. It’s a seven course tasting menu with matched wine and champagne on arrival. Places are limited and priced at £120 per person, give the team a call to get booked in on 01224 644166.

So… onto the meal itself, or should I say FEAST! My mouth was watering when we were presented with this amazing menu…

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First up was crab accompanied by a ‘Sweet Corn Royale’ which was like eating a delicious little cloud, so delicate and fluffy! A light vegetarian dish followed with courgette, yellow peppers and tomato accompanied by the creamiest of feta cheese. The presentation throughout was stunning; vibrant colours and contrasting textures.

Crab and Sweet Corn Royale

Confit tomato, feta and courgette

 

Next up was a mackerel dish and my first time trying seaweed (salty and tasty FYI!). The fish was cooked to perfection. The subsequent sweet potato curry which had a runny egg hiding underneath was one of my favourites and I couldn’t believe it when the Chef told us later that he had whipped this course up from things he had to use up in the kitchen. Ingenious!

Mackerel dish

Sweet potato curry

 

Is it weird to look at lambs frolicking in the fields and think “Oh, you look tasty”? If so, I’m weird. The Moonfish lamb came three ways; belly, loin and kidney. The kidney was a wee bit rich for me but Mr GvF wasn’t slow in finishing it off on my behalf! The lamb was in good company with a lovely broccoli puree, a rich jus and an anchovy. It was back to fish for the final savoury course and the halibut with swede puree, fava beans and truffle was to die for. Another set of clean plates all round.
Lamb courseHalibut dish

 

Then it was time for desserts. TWO desserts, happy days! First a light blancmange topped with raspberries, mini meringues, beetroot and basil dust. An unusual combination, but definitely one that worked. Finally, it was the piece de resistance; the Chocolate Pave with malted nuts and white chocolate fudge.  I kid you not, I would happily eat this dessert every day for the rest of my life and I’m fairly sure that Chef Brian must get proposals after dishing up this treat!

Blancmange

Chocolate Pave

 

So, full of delicious food and gin, there was only one thing left to do…. time to take a CHELFIE!

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All in all, Moonfish has been my favourite dining experience of 2015 so far. The food tasted amazing, was beautifully presented and excellent value. While the staff were friendly, welcoming and not at all pretentious. If you’ve not been to Moonfish yet, what are you waiting for?

 

Oh and in other exciting other news; you can win a dinner for you and five friends, cooked by Brian McLeish and three more MasterChef finalists and winners. The dinner is to raise money for ABF Soldiers Charity and you can enter by sponsoring the fundraising team here https://secure.soldierscharity.org/registrant/TeamFundraisingPage.aspx?TeamID=63144#&panel1-2 What a great cause and a fantastic prize!

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The Rise of Scottish Craft Gin

With a strong history in brewing and distilling, it no surprise that Scotland is producing some of the best gins in the world, but what has brought about the dramatic increase in the numbers of small craft gin distilleries in recent years?

Several of the most famous gins are produced in Scotland; Tanquery, Gordons and Hendricks to name a few. But in 2009, the landscape changed dramatically when London gin distillers Sipsmith challenged a 250 year old law that classed gin producers with stills smaller than 1,000 litres as bootleg operations.

The Sipsmith license being granted paved the way for craft producers all over the UK; like husband and wife team Martin and Claire Murray from Caithness. Martin had been interested in distilling since university but followed a career in the oil and gas industry. The prospect of an unwelcome move abroad was the catalyst he needed to bite the bullet and pursue his dream in distilling. Fast forward to August 2014 and the first batch of Rock Rose gin, in its distinctive ceramic bottle, sold out within days. “It’s a product we’re immensely proud of,” Martin said, “we’re delighted with the reaction to it.”

So what makes Scottish gin so special? Whilst there’s not one definitive style amongst Scottish gins, what they do have in common is quality. Each distiller is passionate about making an excellent product and pushing the boundaries of innovation. For example, Perthshire distillery Strathearn have produced an unusual oaked gin whilst Eden Mill of St Andrews launched the UK’s first ever hopped gin.

Gin is an accessible luxury where even the most premium brands are likely to set you back less than £10 for a G&T. Edinburgh bar, 56 North, has the biggest collection of gins in Scotland with an average of 170 available at any one time. James Sutherland, owner and Director of the bar, has noticed the public have become more discerning when it comes to gin. “People are interested in quality and want to know where their spirits are made. Provenance is more important than ever before.”

There are lots of opportunities to sample the delights of Scottish craft gin for yourself in 2015. What better way to celebrate World Gin Day than with like-minded people at the Scottish Juniper Festival? Held at Summerhall in Edinburgh between 12th and 14th June, the festival will offer demonstrations and gin cocktails a-plenty. Alternatively, Inverness will host North Hop, a craft beer and artisan gin festival on August 21st and 22nd.  Or how about a Scottish Gin and cheese tasting class at 56 North in Edinburgh? You can even see gin being produced first-hand by visiting a distillery like Eden Mill in St Andrews.


Review of The Jolly Botanist, Edinburgh Gin Bar

The Jolly Botanist is Edinburgh’s newest gin bar, located on Morrison Street, close to Haymarket Railway Station. As a lover of all things gin, it had been high on my ‘To Do List’ since it opened earlier this month.

When I visited for post-dinner drinks, the bar had a buzzing Saturday night atmosphere. The clientele were a mixture of couples and groups of friends. Despite the place being busy, I only had to wait a few minutes at the bar before being served and I also managed to find a seat at a long table with bar stools.

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I counted around forty different gins on the extensive drinks list which has helpful suggestions on which tonic and garnish would be best paired with each. I decided to try out something different and went for Opihr – an oriental spiced gin which was lovely and warming on a cold February night. I followed this up with a Rhubarb and Ginger liqueur from Edinburgh Gin. Mr GvF opted for a deliciously crisp Scottish Caorunn gin which was garnished with apple. Next time I visit I would love to see even more Scottish craft gins like Rock Rose, Eden Mill and Daffy’s.
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The bar has had a £730k renovation to transform it in into something completely unique. The Victorian style decoration is quirky and theatrical and I loved The Jolly Botanist winged character adorning one wall. In keeping with the shabby chic décor, the drinks were served in heavy crystal glasses. The toilets were clean and beautifully decorated with shiny white tiles embellished with oriental blossom.

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I’d definitely like another rendezvous with The Jolly Botanist soon and next time I hope to sample their food and some delicious gin cocktails which come in gorgeous tea cups on stems.

Cheers from Girl Versus Food! ximage4


Food Gifts Part 2: Shimmering Santa Vodka and Bramble Gin

Seeing as it’s the season of goodwill, I’m giving you a 2 for 1 in this post. A BOGOF from Girl Versus Food! Read on for my two flavoured spirit recipes which make fantastic homemade gifts.

My Shimmering Santa Vodka tastes like Christmas with cranberries, clementine zest and cinnamon. The perfect winter warmer.

My Bramble Gin isn’t strictly festive, but anyone you give this to will think all their Christmases have come at once! It’s inspired by my favourite cocktail; the Bramble and is made with blackberries, lemon zest and vanilla.

You don’t have to use premium spirits to make these but I would recommend steering clear of the cheap and nasty stuff otherwise you will taste it in the finished product.

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SHIMMERING SANTA VODKA INGREDIENTS
500ml vodka
100g of dried cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 5 clementines
1tsp edible gold glitter

BRAMBLE GIN INGREDIENTS
500ml gin
250g of frozen blackberries
Zest of 2 lemons
1 vanilla pod, sliced open

METHOD (same for both recipes)
1. Pour the alcohol into plastic storage container with an airtight lid.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and put the lid on.
3. Leave for one week, giving it a little shake each day.
4. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
5. Sterilise some pretty bottles, I like the Kilner flip top bottles. To sterilise you can use a dishwasher on a high setting. I don’t have a dishwasher so I washed the bottles with hot soapy water and then covered loosely with tin foil and placed in the oven for 30 mins at 170C
6. Pour into the sterilised bottles and decorate with a ribbon and label.
7. For the shimmering vodka add your edible glitter.

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Morphy Richards

Tipple Box – Cocktails delivered to your door!

I’ve had a lot of things delivered to my door over the years… healthy snack boxes, beauty boxes with cosmetic samples and countless party dresses. But something I’ve never had pop through my letter box is a booze delivery!
I was intrigued when I was asked to go along and try out the new Tipple Box product. For £24 a month you can get a delivery with all the ingredients you need to make around 8 glasses of craft cocktail.

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I was really impressed to see the quality of the products in the box – Fever Tree mixers and Chase spirits. The pack comes with easy step-by-step instructions to create each cocktail. I tried out the gin based Strawberry Tipple and the vodka based Lady Marmalade… both delicious!! This would be fab for a girls night in and how good would it be to come home from work on a Friday to find a TippleBox waiting for you? Looks like I have a new addition for my Santa list!

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Gin heaven at Heads & Tails, Edinburgh

On Friday night I tried out Heads & Tails, a new Edinburgh gin bar. The place opened this summer and is situated in the basement of the beautiful Rutland Hotel. Talking about underground – this venue feels like a trip back in time to an illegal speakeasy in Prohibition America. From the outside, you would never know the bar was there and descending the stairs to the entrance, I was nervous that I might need to give a secret password at the door!
The interior is very cool with wooden barrels for tables, dim lighting and comfy leather and fabric upholstered chairs. It also has some intimate side rooms (as pictured above) which would be brilliant for a group gathering. The unisex toilets were a bit of a surprise but thankfully there were cubicles – no urinals in sight!
The bar provides table service (no queuing – yay!) and has one of the most original cocktail menus I’ve seen. I loved the PB & J – a cocktail containing two of my favourite things – gin and peanut butter! The delicious Bees Knees was made with honey and came in the cutest teddy bear glass; what a relief that I only had a clutch bag with me! Staff were knowledgeable and friendly which made for a very relaxed evening. There are a selection of light snacks available and I would definitely recommend trying out the meat and cheese platters along with a teacup full of olives.

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The light entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of cackling banshees on the next table who had been drinking prosecco (in a gin bar, pffft!) since they finished in the office. There was a lot of over-sharing going on at that table. Maggie, if you’re reading this, I really hope your colonic irrigation went well today, sweetie!
Heads & Tails is home to the two Edinburgh Gin stills which are a prominently displayed behind glass. I loved that Flora and Caledonia (what else would you call your gin stills?) were busy distilling the good stuff while I was busy drinking it! Will I return to this gem of a gin bar? Definitely. And no need to toss a coin to decide!

Edinburgh Gin still

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