I just can't help starting off these blog posts with a reference to the weather. I am British after all. Well, it has either been glorious sunshine or February gloom this month: either cold beers and ceviche, or hearty rib sticking fare. Nothing wrong with that. It has also been a mixed bag in terms of our foodie ferreting and taste testing - some good, some bad, some high, some low. This month, we have been...
1) PICKLING peonies. Our favourite summer flower which sit perfectly in these vintage Ukrainian pickle jars. We stock the jars (without the peonies) in the shop in a range of different colours and sizes and, if you aren't going to use them to pickle, they are pretty darn perfect for flowers. Unfortunately we don't sell them online as we would be too upset were they to be damaged in the post.
2) ASCOLANING olives. I am quite certain this isn't a verb, but I was keen to shoehorn our new beer snack discovery into this round-up format. Joy of joys, a new craft beer pub has opened just around the corner from home - hello The Axe Pub - and turns out the food is pretty darn good too, particularly Olives Ascolane. Don't be put off by the oh-so-70s name. These are green olives stuffed with a mix of veal and pork mince, breadcrumbed and deep fried. Oh so salty and porky and perfect with a pint. Turns out these are quite a big thing in Italy, although the Italian wikipedia page on the subject (yes, there is a wiki page on this bar snack) translates so dubiously as to make it unintelligible.
3) LISTENING to Jerry Murrell of Five Guys on "How I built this". I am already a convert to this podcast (try the Spanx one, regardless of your interest in or encounters with Spanx) and this episode on the burger chain is equally interesting. Murrell has no qualms about admitting the unusual growth of the Five Guys business with tales of blind taste testing mayonnaise and franchising the business like a game of Risk. Even if you aren't a wannabe business guru, it is a dead interesting listen. It is a good-enough listen for me to overlook the American mispronunciation of the word "niche".
4) DEVELOPING new products. We love the good old gin kit and wanted to come up with a product that had the same universal appeal but with a different flavour profile. Welcome the spiced cacao liqueur. It is still in the final stages of development with a few tweaks to the ingredients, blends and packaging but we are almost there. And the liqueur is tasting pretty darn good.
5) TASTE TESTING as much chocolate as we can get our hands on. Not just any chocolate but the top end, single estate, bean to bar, really-proper-Gucci-stuff. The winner at the moment is anything from Land. Yes, its thin and cripplingly expensive but the melt-in-your-mouth malty flavour makes it worth it.
6) HITTING SUGAR HIGHS at Dominique Ansel Bakery. Woah, the sugar. Great flavours and concepts (very much a restaurant for the Instagram-era) but pretty darn sweet. This has awakened our sweet tooth and we are looking for more suggestions for all things cake and patisserie in London. Violet Bakery has been ticked and Lilli Vanilli is also on the list. But where else should we be heading?