Thursday, 16 February 2017

North Carolina: Making Moonshine at Broadslab Distillery

In the 1920s America there was no work or money due to the financial crash - the depression and no alcohol because of prohibition.  It was no fun sitting around with friends with no money and no drink so ultimately men began to distill their own.  The practice of illegal stills in isolated backwoods locations under the silver moon was given the name of 'Moonshine' whiskey!

Meanwhile deep down south there were many men stood guarding their home made stills where they were distilling a colourless liquid. The problem with this liquid was that it was very high in alcohol content and as it was during the prohibition period of the depression it was also highly illegal.  It was also a dangerous pastime - if the still didn't blow up and kill you often the moonshine would!

Fast forward to present day and today you can make moonshine with a licence under strict conditions, a bonded warehouse and a legal still. Moonshine making has been in Jeremy Norris's family for five generations and is alive and distilling in Benson, North Carolina.
Broadslab Distillery doesn't purchase commercially available grain alcohol, they take pride in growing and Harvesting their own food grade white corn.  Their special malting process produces a smooth mash when blended with pure cane sugar and left to ferment in oak barrels.  Broadslab Legacy Shine is distilled in small batches in a large copper still.

Take a tour of the still and hear Jeremy tell the tales of moonshine distilling form  his granddad's days
Broadslab produce five different spirits.  Broadslab Legacy Shine, Broadslab Legacy Reserve (limited edition product with a light amber glow from aging in traditional charred oak barrels, Broadslab Legacy Appleshine as well as Carolina Coast Spiced and Silver rums made with premium, table grade molasses and pure granulated cane sugar, crafted and distilled on the premises at the distillery in Johnson County, North Carolina.
You can make a purchase of Moonshine in the gift shop however due to a weird North Carolina law you can only purchase 1 ltr per person per year from the gift shop! Guess I will have to go back again to get another bottle!
Once the tour is finished you get a tasting session in the bar/gift shop where you can taste the nuances of the different blends (my favourite was the Spiced Apple - which I think would make a great liquid to soak sultanas for an apple and spice cake!).
I thought Moonshine would be rough and the first sip is kind of rough however from the second sip onwards it is smooth like the clouds rolling over the stills in the woods!
I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of Broadslab Distillery and look forward to getting another bottle of Moonshine this year! I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are my own.  
No photos may be reproduced in any form without my written consent.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Valentine's Day -Who gets your heart?

Yes, I am a big softie when it comes to Valentine's Day - I like to make everything heart shaped and if possible red!

Mr R's sandwiches will be heart shaped along with the fillings where possible as well as having his dinner served in a shape as close to a heart as possible!

Mr  R and I will also have steak on Valentine's Day as is our tradition as well as a very nice bottle of red wine.  To accompany the steak will be a salad and heart shaped pasta with butter, Parmesan and parsley.
Don't tell Mr R but I have got him some Maille mustard to go with the steak as his Valentine's present.  We love the seasonal choice of mustard poured from a hand pump in the Piccadilly boutique. This season it is a black truffle and cep mushroom mustard. So delicate with an incredible flavour.
I used to make my children a large, pink heart shaped sponge cake to take to school on Valentine's Day each year however they are now grown up with children of their own.  This year my daughter and her boys will be at my house so I decided to make them their own little cakes as well as have a few other heart surprises for them.

Heck sausages have a special edition heart shaped sausage for the special day! It is their usual sausage but specially shaped for the occasion.  The sausages are made in small batches for better flavour and contain 97% pork which doesn't leave much room for other ingredients!
Mr R will enjoy his heart sausages along with heart toast.

Oh yes the sausages come with a Valentine's message inside too.
Rococo Chocolates have a beautiful range of special chocolates for the heart lovers out there.  Rococo's chocolates are outstanding and perfect for any occasion however the special occasions are really, really lovely.

Rococo have sent me two of their limited edition range this year. Their chocolate can be bought in their shops or on-line.
If you really want to treat your special one Nespresso have the cutest little coffee pod coffee maker - the Inissia which is totally portable.
The machine comes in a range of colours but the red is particularly appropriate for Valentine's Day!
I love taking ours with us when we go away for a weekend.  We are able to have a proper cup of coffee wherever we go!
These are just a couple of highlights in our house this Valentine's Day.  Did you get an extra special gift or did you surprise your Valentine?  Please leave a comment below.

I was sent some of the items mentioned above but not all of them.  As usual all opinions and photographs are my own.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Best Dressed Oysters in Town - Irish Atlantic Oysters

I first fell in love with oysters on a beach in Cancale in France where the oysters were brought in from their beds only a few yards from the shore to the shacks selling them by the coast.  They were so fresh filling your mouth with sensations of sea, sun and saltwater.

Fast forward to now and I will order oysters whenever I get a chance.  I was therefore no hardship for me to attend The Best Dressed Oyster event at Hix Oyster and Chop House in London at an event put on by Bord Bia the Irish Food Board.
Champagne was flowing,
and oysters by the dozens,
kept us busy whilst 10 chefs competed across two heats and in two categories - hot and cold oysters basing their recipes on creativity, working methods, hygiene, presentation, taste and flavours.

The guests had the pleasure of sampling all of the entries which was no hardship whatsoever!  The overall winner in both categories (hot and cold oysters) was Simon Lamont from Shuck
who blew the judges away
with his Blown Seaweed, an oyster grilled with a blowtorch gently sweetened with mustard and miso and balanced by clean, tart ginger.

Here are a few photos of the amazing variety of oyster dishes created by the contestants:-
And my favourite - a deep fried oyster in tempura batter
Now for some oyster facts:-
* Irish oyster cultivation dates back to the 13th century but Irish people have been eating oysters for over 4,000 years - discarded oyster shell fossils have been found on Irish beaches dating back 5000 !

* Irish oysters can be found in the finest restaurants and fish wholesales throughout Ireland, Europe and around the world.

* Casanove, the great 18th century Italian lover believed in starting the day by eating 50 oysters.

* Only about 1 in 10,000 oysters contains a pearl! That's a lot of oysters to eat!!

My favourite way to eat oysters is simply as they come with a good squeeze of lemon juice and of course a glass of champagne in the other hand!

I was a guest of Hix Oyster and Chop House and Bord Bia. I was not required to write a positive review of the event.  All opinions and photos are my own.  No photographs may be reproduced without my written permission.