Thursday, 24 March 2016

Cured Meats, Vodka and Gin Tasting at Cannon and Cannon with Chase Distillery

Fennel Salami
I am very fortunate to live in London and get to frequently visit Borough Market, which used to be a great food market with some amazing products. Don’t get me wrong it still is, but it’s now more a tourist attraction rather than a food market. When I first started going it was all about small food producers selling their wonderful wears, now it’s feel more about selling hot food for lunch. Again don’t get me wrong the food they sell is very nice, like hot chorizo sandwich, paella, pulled pork sandwiches etc. But it’s pushing out the small stall holders, who can no longer afford the ever increasing rents.

But, I still visit and still come across some great food stalls and Cannon & Cannon is one such stall. They are retailers and distributors of British cured meats. They travel around the country visiting farmers and producers and have brought together a collection of some great products that can easily give our European neighbours a run for their money. They also work with, and encourage producers and farmers to expand their product list.

Fiery Nudja

Cannon and Cannon also do classes and tasting evenings and last night (23 March 2016) I attended a tasting sessions. The informal evening also included some vodka and gin products by Chase Distillery and what an exciting experience was had. They have a small warehouse in Borough Market, so the session was a small, informal and intimate affair which works in its favour, because you don’t feel that you are being lectured too. The talkers were very passionate and have very detailed knowledge of their products (as you would expect). There was also humour in the delivery which kept the evening light and fun. It appears a few hangovers was had when putting the evening together as they needed to see which spirits went with the meats.

Blood, Wine and Chocolate Salami
I won’t go into every meat and drink we tried last night, but suffice to say it was a great way to be introduced to new taste and flavours. What I will talk about are what I consider to be the highlights, but that is not saying the other cured meat and spirits were not great, as they were.

My favourite was Wild Fennel Salami, which I had tried before and it is wonderful. It has a light delicate flavour and the fennel doesn’t overpower the pork, as it could easily do. This is followed closely behind the Fiery Nduja salami. Some of the people at the event were worried as they didn’t like food too spicy, for which they didn’t and it was a big hit.  I like my food spicy and it was a hit with me also – so how does that work, keeping everyone happy. That is what is so good about the product. Like the Fennel Salami, I’d had Nduja before and I can recommend mixing into some hot cooked pasta. It also makes a great topping for pizza amongst other things. Like adding some to your morning beans on toast – okay that might just be me – but try it….

Hot Smoke Belly Pork and Air Dried Lamb Salamis
My other favourite of the evening was Blood, Wine & Chocolate salami. If, like me, you first read that and you think WHAT, don’t worry as other people did as well. Personally I am not a fan of sweet and savoury together, pineapple should never go on a pizza, sultanas should never go into an Indian Curry, so you get my drift. But, this works and the Trealy Farm have produced a full flavoured product. When you try it for the first time, you can smell then taste the sweet chocolate and then you taste the blood and wine which help reduce the sweetness of the chocolate. For me, it shouldn’t work, but it does. Maybe I need to start rethinking this sweet and savoury issue J

Brawn Salami
When it came to the Vodkas and Gin, my favourite was the smoked vodka. I found it very smooth with a smoky after taste, as you would expect being smoked vodka. It would be great in a Bloody Mary and would be great in any dish where a smoky flavour is required. When I purchase a bottle I will add it to a simple tomato sauce and serve with pasta.

Smoked Lardo
I actually learnt a lot last night and would highly recommend you attend one of these evenings. Not that I want to give anything away, but one thing I learnt was London Gin, doesn’t mean it was made in London, it means it’s the traditional way of making gin. So if you want to try something new on a “school night”, which isn’t too strenuous after a hard day at work and not too boozy then you cannot go wrong. It’s a fun way of learning about new British products in a warm and informal way. I will be definitely doing one of their bacon courses later in the year.

Click on links to see Cannon and Cannon and Chase Distillery websites for more information and events.

Below is the list of what drinks we had with which meats, as well as the name of the producers of those meats.

Chase Vodka
Smoked Lardo – Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire
Brawn Salami – Blackhand, Hackney

Chase Smoked Vodka
Air-Dried Leg of Lamb, Woodside Farm, Kent
Hot Smoked Belly of Pork, Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire

Chase Apple Gin and Potato Gin
Wild Fennel Salami, Moons Green, East Sussex
Fiery, ‘Nduja, Moons Green, East Sussex

Chase Marmalade Vodka & Chase Rhubarb Vodka
Blood, Wine & Chocolate Salami, Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire
Duck & Sichuan Pepper Salami, Trealy Farm, Monmouthshire.

Apologies for photograph quality, but iPhone camera is not great and as you can see I’m no professional J

Monday, 21 March 2016

Mustard Mushrooms on Toast

It’s been many months since I’ve had any inkling to blog a post. It’s very hard to keep sitting down to write about recipes, restaurants and food articles in general when you have a full time job. But, I need to get my act into gear and so this is my first small article in a very long time.

I really enjoy at the weekend having a nice breakfast. Of course, a full English is the best, but too many are not only bad for you, but also boring to have every weekend. So, it’s nice to have a variety and my recent enjoyment is a simple dish of mushrooms on toast. Over the months I’ve tried to add different ingredients to see if it can enhance the flavours and my favourite is just adding one ingredient, mustard.

You can use different mushrooms, closed cap, chestnut, field and have a variety of them together. As to mustard my favourite is Dijon, as it’s not so strong, but I do occasionally use English if I want the mushrooms to have a bit of a kick.
When it comes to toast, I’ve tried sliced white, wholemeal, but I’ve found that a fancier bread works best and my favourite is spelt bread, which you can see in the pictures.

Apologies, but I couldn't wait to take a picture and had to eat some of the lovely buttered toast, before it became cold :-)

1½tsp mustard
10g butter
150g mushroom

2 slices of spelt bread toasted.
(serves 2)