Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Prosecco crips: The verdict

When someone mentioned to me that prosecco and crisps were a thing, it was certain I was going to try them out. So when I recently spied these fizzy finest crisps in my local Tesco, there was no going back....

To say I was left a little confused, but also very much satisfied at the same time, is slightly bewildering to myself, never mind confusing for you guys. However, the experience (which quite frankly I can't believe i'm saying this...) is something you that you simply must try for yourself.

What do they taste like?
Well...exactly what they state on the label I guess. Very fizzy to begin with, much like the sensation you would get when drinking prosecco, which I wasn't really expecting from the crisps in all honesty. Leading on from the bubbles, was a much sweeter, vibrant flavour, which  I presumed could only be the elderberry due to its sharp, yet fragrant flavour on my palette. However, it wasn't too soon until the familiar taste of potato filled my mouth, although, I guess that's what you would expect to taste when sampling any type of potato crisp, right guys?

What do they look like?
You're going to think this is the most ridiculous question ever, and I bet you were already thinking "A crisp, duh!" but you'd be left a little unsatisfied if I didn't show you what they looked like wouldn't you? True, they do look like regular crisps, varied in size, colour and flavour of course. The really dark one's are the one's which boast the most flavour, and if you enjoy the fizz, there's plenty of that too. These were my favourties by far, and luckily in my packet I managed to bag quite a few #winning.

What did I like most about them?
They're something different to the usual bog-standard flavours available on the market, and there's something a little exotic about them in that respect. Although they may have been brought to shelves around the UK throughout the festive period, there's something very refreshing about them and I could easily see myself enjoying a packet (well, sharing a packet) with friends at a picnic on a beautiful Spring afternoon. The flavour was obviously a winner in my opinion, and as much as I appreciated the fizziness on my tongue, the sweetness of the elderberry vs potato flavour won it for me.

Would I recommend them?
If you're into the weird and wonderful, or love a crisp glass of fizz (no pun intended), then you should definitely give these circular (well, when they can be), golden delights a try. They would be a fantastic addition to Christmas nibbles or any New Year's Eve party. However, I would advise giving your guests a heads up about the tangy initial burst of flavour, as they may not be best pleased with an unexpected fizzy surprise!

Where can you buy them?
If you fancy putting your culinary palette to the test then any local Tesco supermarket should have them, although, I have a sneaky suspicion the larger stores are more likely to have them in stock! Happy munching.

  For Now...

Just Julia

Monday, 21 December 2015

10 ways to put Christmas cheer into your prosecco

Twas a few days before Christmas, when up on the blog,
Came a feature so fizzy you'd possibly explode;
So read if you dare, the secrets I share,
What else can fare with Prosecco and glassware!?

Prossecco is one of my favourite tipples, that is, alongside gin, cocktails, and Champagne obviously. The way the bubbles tickle my tongue always makes me giddy, and the only time better to have bubbles (than all the time) is the festive period! I love to celebrate everything and anything with my family and friends, be that birthdays, promotions, new jobs, engagements, anniversaries, you name it. So, with that in mind, and with the month of festive celebrations already underway, it would have been rude not to have pulled together a number of 'quirky' prosecco tipples for y'all to indulge in over the festive period. It is Christmas after all! 

For those who like to kick-start the festivities bright and early

1. Terry's Not-So-Chocolate Blood Orange:
Squeeze and strain the juice of a ripe blood orange and pour 50ml into a tall flute glass. Top up with ice-cold prosecco and garnish with a slice, or twist, of the orange. The perfect way to start off Christmas morning, especially when accompanied by eggs Benedict and smoked salmon, delicious!

2. Oh-So-Classy Buck's Fizz:
Pour 1/3 of fresh orange juice into a Champagne flute and top up with 2/3 prosecco. Add 1/2 teaspoon of grenadine and garnish with a twist of orange peel.

For those who love a little bit of Christmas quirk, and are avid Instagrammers #proseccoparty

3. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
Fill a champagne flute with prosecco, and add a flavoured rock candy stick into the prosecco. The flavour is completely up to you, however, to create a variation of different tastes add two different flavours together and experiment with your tastebuds before, or even after Christmas dinner.

For those who enjoy a spicing up the festive period

4. Spicy Santa-Tini:
To a glass of prosecco add 1 shot of chilli infused vodka and 1 shot of chocolate liqueur. Dust cocoa powder round the rim of the glass. Ho, Ho, Ho.

5. Cranberry and Pear Prosecco Cocktail:
Pour one or two shots of pear vodka (Absolute Vodka has a fantastic one), and top up with prosecco, garnishing with fresh cranberries. Decorate the rim of the champagne flute with sugar and cinnamon. (Put one tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, mix, and then dip the glass rim into the mix).

For those feeling a little adventurous...

6. Rudolph's alcoholic water bucket:
Every hard-working reindeer needs to replenish after a long night at work.

Slice lemons and limes and squeeze into a punch bowl, add 200ml of Edinburgh Gin's Raspberry Liqueur, and 100ml of Vodka alongside one cup full of raspberries (preferably frozen) to the punch bowl and top up with a bottle of prosecco. Top up with prosecco, raspberry liqueur and vodka as and when.

7. The Grinch:
Grab a champagne flute, add one shot of Midori and a dash of lemon juice, top up with prosecco - oh so sweet and not so sour, just like The Grinch (in the end that is!)

8. Jack Frost:
A glass of your finest prosecco with a shot of Blue Curacao (decorate by putting coconut shavings on the rim of the glass)

For the traditional Christmas lover;
someone who will usually be seem sporting a variety of Christmas jumpers throughout the day...

9. Mrs Clause Bakewell Fizz:
Place a tablespoon of Kirsch into the bottom of a champagne flute and top up with one part Amaretto Disaronno and three parts prosecco. To garnish, add a Kirsch-soaked cherry into the glass, the more the merrier!

10. Gingerbread Bellini:
Before you get started, get those mini gingerbread men at the ready!

Put 1 tablespoon of ginger cordial, or gingerbread syrup and a dash of lemon juice into a cold champagne flute. Add splash of hazelnut liqueur in and top up with prosecco, voilà!

Tip: If you want to keep those wee gingerbread men standing tall, roll up a tiny piece of icing sugar and place on the rim of the glass, it works a treat!

For Now...

Just Julia

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Eat on the Green: Something rather special

Food and drink is my first love. Well, I'd say it was one of them at the very least. The ways in which food and drink impacts almost everything we do has been something I have found greatly fascinating. I love learning about the different aspects of food and drink, especially when it involves tasting, and is something I have grown very fond of over the years. Within my job (my full-time job that is) I have met a number of extremely enthusiastic, creative individuals, who are even more passionate than I am about food and drink. Let's be frank, there's only ever going to be one type of person more into their food than me, and that ladies and gentlemen is a chef.

I first met Craig Wilson (the Kilted Chef) and his team at the Eat on the Green a few years back, working on an exclusive event with some famous faces from the TV show, Emmerdale. The two AA rosette Scottish restaurant situated in the idyllic village of Udny Green, is a decadent wee place, awaiting to welcome and spoil guests with some of the finest Scottish cuisine Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire has to offer.

Bumping into Craig and his team recently, I was kindly invited out to the restaurant one wintry Thursday evening to sample some new Laurent Perrier champagne they were launching for the exquisite champagne lounge. This event was set out to be something rather special indeed.  Although the phenomenal showcase of Scottish cuisine was oh so divine, the underlying charitable message, and the launch of the Festival of Hope (#ropeofhope) was the real reason we had gathered in Udny Green that frosty night.
Restaurant manager, Craig Rochester and myself
On arrival to the restaurant we were serenaded with seductive sounds from the bagpipes, bellowing beautifully out over the open green. In front of the restaurant, two large flames roared ferociously, and beside them stood a familiar friendly face, The Kilted Chef, greeting us with that cheshire smile we are all so familiar with.

Ushered into the restaurant out of the cold the fabulous (and when I say fabulous, I mean fabulous) duo, Craig Rochester and Craig Profeit, greeted my guest and I with a glass of ice cold champagne. The new range of Laurent Perrier was smooth, full of bubbles (without being overwhelmingly fizzy), and very refreshing on the palette. It seemed that I would be been dancing with the champagne devil that night, signing over my soul to the famous Laurent Perrier. Well, just for the evening that was.
Readers note: Just to keep you up to speed, there's three Craig's at Eat on the Green. You get used to it, I promise!

Next to meet my lips was an array of small handcrafted balls of love (homemade haggis balls guys, come on...), and a number of other carefully sculpted canapes, all delicately created by the restaurants five-star chefs. Good food is at the heart of everything Eat on the Green stands for, and the team works tirelessly to deliver something truly rather special.

As an added extra to the event, Craig and his gorgeous wife Lindsay invited along two very dear friends of theirs; Scottish artist and fashion designer, Iona Crawford, and Scottish artist, Gerrard M Burns, who both displayed some spectacularly stunning work throughout the restaurant. On the evening, Lindsay sported a smashingly sensational dress featuring a elegant print of the famous Kelpies, designed by Iona herself. Sadly I didn't manage to capture any photos of her in the unique gown, but trust me when I tell you, the dress was like nothing I had seen before. Wow-factor indeed.

The Festival of Hope...
This year, Eat on the Green launched its Festival of Hope featuring the #ropeofhope initiative in partnership with Friends of ANCHOR. The charity, which was set up to directly support the ANCHOR unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, helps make the North-east of Scotland's cancer and haemotology care be the best it can. The unit cares and treats patients with all forms of cancer, leukaemia, and benign blood disorders, and with the support of Friends of ANCHOR, can invest in the latest medical equipment, fund leading clinicans' research in Aberdeen in the fight against cancer, and also allows them to offer additional care, comfort and support to patients during their time in the ANCHOR unit.

Cancer is something which is especially close to my heart, as well as my friends and family, and is something which has effected many people I know in a number of different ways. When a project like this comes along, it really does make me think about the true meaning of Christmas, and how important our health, and life itself is. Strength comes in many shapes and forms, so go on, do something meaningful this Christmas.

  1. Visit Eat on the Green between Wednesday and Sunday up until Christmas Day and ask the reception for a Rope of Hope.
  2. Put a £5 donation in the gift aid envelope provided by the restaurant for Friends of ANCHOR. (One lucky donor will be selected at random from these envelopes to win a meal for two at Eat on the Green!)
  3. You can also decorate your Rope of Hope before placing it on the Trees of Hope outside the restaurant.
  4. When hanging your Rope of Hope on one of the Trees of Hope feel free to make a short dedication video of what you are hoping for this Christmas.
  5. You can upload your video to your own Facebook page tagging Eat on the Green, or you can send it to them to upload.

You can also get involved by texting ROPE15 £5 to 70070
Help make a difference this Christmas....#ropeofhope

 For Now...

Just Julia

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Secret Supper Club: The most sought after membership in town

Have you ever had an invitation so insanely unbelievable that you feel like you have to re-evaluate your life to figure out how the hell you got invited to such an event? Yeah? Well that happened to me twice recently, how and why I'll never know, but I can tell you one thing, I am beyond grateful to those two individuals who invited me along.

Chris Tonner, head chef at The Courtyard (which is soon to be converted to CUE; a Southern US and American BBQ food joint due to open in February 2016), invited me along to one of the most unique dining adventures I may ever experience in my life.

The Secret Supper Club, Aberdeen's first exclusive secret dining club, treated a select number of individuals to indulge in some of the finest Scottish produce the region has to offer. The intimate event, which took place over a dinner table in the heart of Aberdeen saw two fine chefs develop a culinary experience like no other.

The menu, which was created by guest chef, Bruce Morrison, alongside Chris, who prevously worked with Bruce back in 1995, consisted of a round of seven courses. To say I was excited about the abundance of food  which would be teasing my tastebuds any second now, was a serious understatement.

What I loved mostly about the evening (apart from the food obviously) was that guests were asked to bring an 'interesting tipple' for others to sample. I've come across my share of fantastic rums and gins in my short legal drinking age time, however wasn't sure what was actually up to the task of being my 'interesting tipple'. After careful consideration I decided to opt for the North Hop Festival Gin, a strawberry and rhubarb infused gin created by Rock Rose Gin masterminds Dunnet Bay Distillery.

The room was set, ready to unleash the artistic Michelin star banquet we were about to endeavour, and what a treat it was going to be...
First up was a quick opportunity to catch-up with all the guests over a warm 'pint' of mulled cider. The cider was oh so sweet, and oh so tasty, a real 'Christmas in a glass' type tipple. Very appealing to the tastebuds I must add, and the perfect way to kick-off the Christmas festivities whilst warming up our tums.
Mulled cider created by the fantastic Lauren of Adelphi Kitchen
Sitting down to dinner, Chris took to the floor discussing the first four savoury dishes, going into great detail about how the dishes were created and constructed. Some very fascinating facts on how to utilise different flavours and many interesting concepts discussed that is, for someone who doesn't own a CO2 cylinder gun or a culinary water bath!

To awaken our senses Chris presented us with a purple potato foccachia with marmite butter on the side. Not a fan of the "love it or hate it" gooey spread, I was sure I would hate the butter. However, to my surprise it was delightfully delicious. A strange concept which worked extremely well and was very popular with the other guests.
Purple Potato Foccachia bread with Marmite Butter
Our first course, the scallop tartare, was initially meant to be served on our hands (clench your fist; the flat surface where your thumb and index finger join - that's where). However, due to the size of the amuse bush the chefs decided otherwise. A nice touch to even have been considered in my opinion. The scallop was succulent and melted in my mouth, and the intense flavours of the lemon were quickly softened with the creaminess of the parmesan and the white chocolate arrancini. Very delicious.
Scallop tartare: Onuga caviar, white chooclate arrancina, savory lemon curd and shaved parmesan
Not a massive fan of absinthe I was a little sceptical how I would take to the Adnams absinthe which I was presented, not to my surprise sadly (I hate liquorice you see), I didn't take too fondly to the absinthe, although the colour was vibrant and it was 66% ABV too! The ideal tipple if you love liquorice.
Some fabulous Adnams Absinthe which owner and head barman of 10 Dollar Shake, Adrian Gomes, contributed to the evening. 
Our second course was to be one of the strangest, but tastiest dishes of them all...packed lunch on a plate. A foil wrapped stuffed potato (edible silver foil may I add), seaweed mustard, pork pie puree, cucumber pickle and ham salt. The different textures ensured the dish was continuously developed throughout, right down to the last fork-full.
Packed lunch on a plate
Packed lunch on a plate
Chocolate wine provided by the lovely James of CRE-ATE
The third course was to be my favourite savoury dish, and boy was it a catch.

Warm King crab, potted shrimp butter, crispy bacon loaf, celeriac remoulade, lemon bulgar wheat and sweetcorn sorbet. The prawns and the king crab were cooked excellently, both tasted fresh and took me back to a walk along the beach on a crisp Spring morning. The crispy bacon loaf provided a totally different taste in comparison to the fresh seafood and complimented this greatly to my surprise. I've never thought on pairing seafood with anything lse but vegetables, rice or pasta, so it was great to incorporate a totally unpredictable ingredient into the dish. The sweetcorn sorbet was very creamy and was also something I had never tried before. It's definitley something I would love to try re-create at home.
Warm King Crab
Warm King Crab
The gorgeous Michelle Barclay of Elevator UK and myself sipping on prosecco with the North Hop Festival Gin
Course four was very interesting, not only in the way it was presented but the flavours in which it produced.

Chicken which was poached in a water bath, skin granola (the actual chicken skin made into granola, how I have no idea), various vegetables, cepe broiche crisps, thyme jus gras and toasted hay cream. What I loved about this dish is how the green puree type sauce on the left hand side is actually some of the vegetables, insane, I know.
Poached Chicken
Poached Chicken
Chris Tonner briefing guests on the courses to follow...
Course five, and the first of three desserts, was without a doubt my favourtie dessert (I'm a chocolate fan, there was no hope for the other desserts in all honesty as divine as they were).

Frozen white chocolate aero, tarragon oil and wild blackberry juice. The aero was actually created in-house with some fancy shmanshy CO2 type gun-thing. The chocolate was them vacuum packed, frozen then sliced - a culinary military operation to produce this dish it would seem!
Frozen White Chocolate Aero with a number of 'interesting tipples'
Frozen White Chocolate Aero
The sixth course was extremely appealing to any custard-loving, apple adoring crumble fan. It was super rich, a little too rich for me to be honest. However, what I could eat of it tasted exactly like custard creams, but 100 times better. When I say it was creamy...I mean it was CREAMY, still a delight though.

Vanilla custard cream, tarte tatin puree, apple salad with sorrel, mascarpone beignet and apple crumble sorbet which was made with Granny Smith apples and was the freshest, and probably best sorbet I have tasted to date.
Vanilla Custard Cream

Vanilla Custard Cream
And finally course eight.

Caramelised buttermilk ravioli. This dish was intended to be one, if not, THE Mona Lisa of the event. Chris and Bruce had envisioned mastering the art of making ravioli with the buttermilk's skin (once boiled), however, due to the fact a very small, minuscule fraction (I mean only a handful) of chefs know how to do this, and have spent months if not years trying to perfect this art, they were unable to deliver the ravioli in the way which they would have liked to present it. Nonetheless I can't do anything but commend them for their fantastic efforts throughout the day trying to perfect this culinary craft. So what was meant to be caramelised buttermilk ravioli was now deconstructed caramelised buttermilk ravioli, still outstandingly stunning though. Served with a banoffee sauce and topped with pistachios, the textures of this dish finished the extensive menu off perfectly.

Pickled spiced watermelon and a rib infused bourbon shots
An outstanding culinary adventure around a Michelin star menu, Chris and Bruce really did go up and beyond in creating a five star experience.

Without a doubt a culinary experience I will never forget, and one I can't stop talking about (and showing all the pictures to my friends). Genuinely still can't believe the skills and techniques which were presented on the evening, and I proudly take my hat off to both Chris and Bruce, jolly good show chaps, jolly good show. Thanks again for the invite and I look forward to seeing how the Secret Supper Club develops. To keep up to date with The Secret Supper Club news, ssubscribe here:
The Secret Supper Club #1

  For Now...

Just Julia
© Just Julia

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