Spontanscran

Given that we’ve been pairing food and beer for hundreds, if not thousands, of years it’s extremely challenging to come up with a new take on the topic. I first met Ben and Sashana shortly after they opened Edinburgh Food Studio, while I was still at The Hanging Bat, to discuss a really wacky idea I’d had for a beer dinner. The idea ended up being a bit too wacky to properly pull off (although it’s still on the back burner), but we had some really interesting discussions on the topic. I continued to follow them and was always fascinated by the events and produce I’d see coming out of their kitchen.

In my new guise in a sales role for beer importer James Clay, I’m constantly trying to build events and work with our products in novel ways. I’m completely transfixed by the lambic and ‘sour’ beer category, and have recently been doing research into the way developments and flavours in this scene are being mirrored in the fermented food movement. With Ben and Sashana’s rich collective experience, and the EFS motto “Keep Food Interesting” it made perfect sense to approach them to host a dinner looking at how ‘sour’ beer and food can work together. After some initial discussions they invited their friend and previous collaborator Craig Grozier of Fallachan Dining to get involved and share the experience. Continue reading

Defending My Right To Breathe Clean Air At Work

This piece was featured on The BeerCast, below is just a snippet.

As part of my job as a bartender I pride myself on going above and beyond whatever the customer asks of me in the name of good service, all I ask for in return is good etiquette. This request is honoured almost every time, with the exception of a few forgotten Ps and Qs, allowing me to enjoy my job and my guests to enjoy their time in the bar. However, within the past year a new threat to this harmonious balance has appeared: a neon blue glue appears at the corner of a customer’s mouth, partnered seconds later by a white plume which is then followed by an acrid aroma, peculiar and unwelcome, that lingers in the air for minutes. Continue reading

Boutique Bar Show Report

This is a report I wrote after visiting the Boutique Bar Show in Glasgow. The piece is hosted at Edinburgh Whisky Blog

This year’s Scottish edition of the Boutique Bar Show was held at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow’s Merchant City, arguably the city’s cultural epicentre. I hitched a lift on the bus organised by the Scottish Bar Network, which at a fiver including a bloody Mary and a bacon roll kicks Scotrail’s ass. Continue reading

Bruichladdich Whisky Tasting at The Place Hotel

An invite to a Bruichladdich tasting with matching food set in the supremely decadent surroundings of ‘The Place Hotel’ on York Place is not one that can ever be declined. The bar is a dazzling array of colour, solid black granite set underneath an intense display of Swarovski crystals strung around LED bars currently set on pink. This crystalline crapulence (a fancy word for over indulgence, Ed) is taken to the next level with the addition of wallpaper detailed with shapes made from the dust left over from the polishing process at Swarovski.

The key feature of the hotel bar’s finesse is noted Edinburgh bartender Alan Fisher, previously of the Point Hotel. Given free reign of the bar Alan has built up a superb gantry with a hefty focus on non-chill filtered single malts. With these tools and an unsurpassable knowledge at his disposal Alan is able to concoct some truly stellar beverages and proves this as he starts our night with a sublime Botanist Gin Sour.

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Whisky Experience Review

This is a review of the Scotch Whisky Experience I posted for http://www.edinburghwhiskyblog.com a couple years ago. Originally posted here.

In general my whisky experience CV does not read well at all. Between pouring an entire glass full of Laphroaig when my dad invited me for a whisky at the tender age of 14 and sculling an entire bottle of Bells at an uneducated 16 there aren’t all that many highlights. However in recent years and working in one of the ten ‘Edinburgh Whisky Bars’ I have become more enlightened and developed a passion for learning the ways of this extraordinary industry. So when Chris invited me along to write a review of the revamped Scottish Whisky Experience I was pretty keen after having been on the old tour and feeling somewhat unimpressed by it.

On entering we are greeted by a glistening vision of Scotland embodied by a velvety smooth accent and vibrant red hair. As is typical of all the staff, she was exceptionally friendly and began our experience with a smile. Chris and I were ushered into the brand new barrel ride and trundled off into the dark to be enlightened by Douglas Macintyre. The barrel ride takes us directly into the process of distilling malt whisky. The spectre of Macintyre takes us into the mash tun and the difference between this and the 1990s era animatronics is massive. Sounds coming at visitors from every angle and short but very adequate explanations of each stage are certain to entrap visiting children’s attention and bringing the joy of the water of life to a whole new generation. Continue reading

Horses for Courses, and Muppets too

This piece was a collaboration between myself and Ewan Angus (his gibberish is in italics, mines is not).

On racedays in Musselburgh the ‘Electric Bridge’, constructed for heavy vehicles used to build Cockenzie power station, is opened to all traffic. The whole town froths at the mouth at the novelty of trimming a couple of minutes off a journey through the town centre. Racedays are huge for the town; local restaurants thrive off them and anyone who can do gets along to watch. As we approach the racecourse itself I’m reminded of exactly how my innocence was lost in this town. Just a lad, I used to come along to the races with my mates and jump the fence and get into all manner of scrapes and shenanigans. However, after the age of eighteen going to the races took on an entirely different meaning. Once I came of age a dreadful beast was revealed to me, the terrible vice of gambling. A seductive bitch that tempts you in, pulls you to bed, tears the shirt from your back and then promptly leaves you to the will of the evil dominatrix Lady Luck. This was the downfall of my tender youth and the descent into a gambling addiction that would last until just shortly before I turned twenty. Continue reading

La Tomatina

I’m pretty sure I only own eight pairs of socks and they were all in my bag. It may have just been paranoia but I don’t think anyone wants to play Travel Scrabble with a big ginger guy wearing one pink sock and one luminous green one. I left my flat in Marchmont at 2pm on the Sunday and by the time my flight left I had done 296 miles in just under 17 hours, giving me and average speed of just over 17 miles per hour. These are the perils of a 7am flight from East Midlands Airport when you live in Edinburgh. Continue reading