Iceni – Men of Norfolk 6.2% ABV

30 01 2011

Men of Norfolk is a strong (6.2%) dark beer from the Iceni brewery in Norfolk.

The Iceni Brewery is situated on the edge of Thetford Forest and takes its name from the Iceni tribe who were ruled by Queen Boudicca (yes, the famous one in the chariot) and occupied most of Norfolk and Suffolk around 61 AD. They have been producing beers since 1995 and even have their own hop garden on site…

I first came across the Iceni Brewery selling bottled beers in a food hall at the nearby Elveden Estate and picked up a couple of bottles for my uncle and I to  have later that day – Roisin Dubh if my memory serves correctly.

Well those couple of bottles went down well and since then I have tried pretty much all of the beers that Iceni have produced.

I have seen Men of Norfolk listed as a couple of different styles over the years, a few pubs have put it down as a porter and I have often seen it listed as a mild… I am going to stick with my original assertion that this is a strong dark ale and will try to steer clear of pigeon holing it unduly.

The pint pours to a rich black colour with a fairly thin cream coloured head that lasts well through out drinking – you could be mistaken for assuming it to be a stout based on looks alone.

The aroma is definitely there but isn’t too pronounced with roasted malts, raisins, chocolate and liquorice coming through clearly, there is also a slightly sour/bitter note almost like a bitter coffee that comes through in the background.

The main flavours are roasted malts chocolate, some sweet dark fruit – raisins, sultanas etc,  caramel and there is a nice cocoa bitterness in the finish The sweetness from the fruits and the slight bit of bitterness from the cocoa work well to balance out the rich roasted malt.

The carbonation is a little light and gives  a very soft mouthfeel that might not appeal to everyone but overall this is a small complaint to have.

I really enjoyed Men of Norfolk, the flavours work well together and have enough punch to carry the strength of the beer so you don’t just end up with that sour alcohol note that can plague some strong ales. 

 A very good beer from a small local brewer 4.5 / 5





The Moruga Scorpion

28 01 2011

I wrote recently about one of the handful of contenders to the throne of world’s hottest chilli – the Naga Viper.

Following up on that post I want to bring to your attention the Moruga Scorpion which has been developed by Jim Duffy from Refining Fire and is closely related to the Trinidad 7 pot which might I add is already a stupidly hot pepper.

The Moruga is reportedly hitting the scales at a mighty 1.46 million SHU – now that is just mental quite frankly, nearly 50% hotter than the Bhut Jolokia…

Until official tests are carried out and results are announced the Bhut Jolokia is still officially top dog but it will be interesting to see which of its heirs apparent will take the crown.

Now to get an idea of just how hot the Moruga is I have included a quick video of Buddah from I Love it spicy.com tackling one of these fiery little beggars.





Authentic Chicken Korma

24 01 2011

 

When most of us think of a chicken korma we imagine the mildest dish on the menu and quite often a dish which is overly rich and creamy but that really doesn’t taste of very much whatsoever.

Well as with a lot of foods served up at takeaways or restaurants throughout the country this perception is a little off the mark; the word korma actually refers to the cooking process as the meat should be braised and whilst the dish is usually creamy and rich due to the yoghurt that is added there is really no basis to it being a mild curry and certainly nothing at all that should mark it out as being bland.

My chicken korma recipe gives a curry that is a little bit of a compromise, I have cut down on the cooking time in order to simplify the dish but whilst it would be recognisable to most takeaway fans in the UK and elsewhere it is anything but bland.

Ingredients:

1kg chicken breasts or thighs with the bones removed

a pinch of saffron

6 cardamom pods

2tsp cinnamon

4  cloves

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 tbsp coriander powder

1tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp asafoetida

2″ piece of ginger

4 garlic cloves

50g flaked almonds

100g natural yoghurt

2 large onions

300ml chicken stock

salt to taste

50g creamed coconut

Method

Put the  saffron in a bowl and pour over about half a pint of boiling water. Leave to soak for approximately 10 minutes or so.

Dice your chicken into good sized pieces and place into a large mixing bowl, cover the chicken with the natural yoghurt and set aside for about half an hour

Blend the ginger and garlic together in a food processor with a splash of water until it is a purée.

Heat some vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat and add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Let them sizzle for 25 – 30 seconds and add the onions. Increase the heat to medium and fry the onions until they soften, 5-7 mins

Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for a further 2 minutes.

Add the salt, turmeric, chilli powder, white pepper,chilli powder, asafoetida and ground coriander and fry gently for about a minute.

Add the chicken, creamed coconut and flaked almonds turn up the heat to a medium flame. Stir everything well so that the chicken is well coated in all of the spices etc. Pour in thechicken stock, cover the pan and simmer for around half and hour.

About 5 minutes before you have finished cooking stir in the saffron in warm water from earlier on and the garam masala, leave the lid off the pan for the remainder of the cooking time.

Garnish with some flaked almonds, chopped chillies and some coriander leaf.





Crazy chef claims world’s hottest curry

20 01 2011

 Chef  Bablu Rodrick from Glasgow’s Cafe India has cooked up a curry that is claimed to be the world’s hottest – the Tikka Chance is laden with ten scorching hot infinity chillies and customers can have it made with either chicken or lamb.

 According to Cafe India general manager Raj Bajwe heatseeking customers will have to sign a medical disclaimer waiving the right to sue before being allowed to attempt the dish. In an interview with The Sun Raj stated: “This is lethal. “I am only going to be selling the Tikka Chance with a serious health warning. If you have any health problems, especially a heart condition, then do not even attempt it.

“These chillies are so hot the chef has to use rubber gloves to handle them. I normally like chillies and eat them all the time – but even I’ve been suffering since having a taste.”

If anyone is able to finish the £22 dish in its entirity Cafe India will be presenting a certificate to confirm the impressive feat.

So just how hot is the Tikka Chance?  Well Cafe India reckon it is coming in at a little over 1.1 million SHU which lets face it is pretty hot. There is no real scientific evidence to back up the claim however it is using a ridiculously hot chilli in pretty copious amounts.

 The infinity chilli was grown and developed by Woody Woods from Fire Foods in Lincolnshire and according to HPLC tests is clocking in at 1,257,468 SHU making it a solid contender for the title of world’s hottest chilli.

  I have tried the infinity chilli and it is nuts, plain and simple.  I am still waiting to get my hands on some of the other contenders to the Bhut Jolokia’s throne but lets face it once you start getting up above 1 million scovilles pretty much everything is pain incarnate.

Anyone who has read my blog with any frequency will know I love curries and the hotter they are the better they are and the the idea of ten infinity chillies in one dish is enticing to me but it is also a little bit scary and quite frankly I reckon that any sane person would do well to pass on by…

For more information on the Tikka Chance curry contact Cafe India here





Shepherd Neame Amber Ale

18 01 2011

Amber Ale is a 4.0%  seasonal ale from the  Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham, Kent.

The Beer was launched in early 2009 as a winter warmer and has been available in January and February in 2010 and again in 2011.

Amber Ale is available as a cask ale however the two pints I had most recently were bought bottled as part of the Lidl Beer Festival which just seems to be an excuse to shift a whole bunch of Shepherd Neame beers as the other choices were Bishop’s Finger, Spitfire, 4-4-2 and Autumn Blaze – not that I am going to complain at €1.49 a bottle!

As the name would suggest Amber Ale pours to a very clear coppery/amber colour with a very thin white head that vanishes away rather quickly. Within a minute or two of the beer being poured there is very little if any visible sign of carbonation suggesting that it might be quite soft in that regard.

The main aromas from the beer are citrus, some fruitiness and hops, LOTS of hops, I found this a little odd as a I would expect a beer billed as being a winter warmer to have a bit more richness to it, maybe a bit more sweetness and perhaps even a touch of spice…

The taste of the beer followed on pretty closely from what I could smell; there was quite a bit of citrus and some fruit – possibly apples married with a big hit of fragrant hops.

There is supposed to be a blend of pale, crystal and brown malts added which I would have thought would add a certain depth and richness to the beer but I have to say I only picked up the slightest hint of malt whatsoever.

The body is rather on the light side and matches the ABV which is a little on the low side for this particular style of beer which more often comes in over the 5% mark.

I didn’t find that this beer put me much in mind of a winter warmer, it just seemed a little too light and lacking in flavour and could have used quite a bit more malt to balance out the hopping. That said I did actually quite like it, I could easily imagine myself enjoying several pints in a sunny beer garden.

3.8/5





Professor blames hot sauce for indecent activities.

17 01 2011

Alan in the Hangover states that counting cards isn’t illegal, merely frowned upon like masturbating on an airplane…

Well unfortunately for Floridian professor Rafael Escamilla this isn’t advice that should be taken seriously by anyone. The educator  has found himself in trouble with the law after exposing and pleasuring himself on a Skywest flight from Salt Lake City to Lewiston

Escamilla had lowered his lunch tray but was spotted massaging his member by his fellow  passenger a 17-year-old cheer leader who happened to be sharing the seat next to him. The traumatised young lady took herself off to the toilets and on leaving them found an empty seat elsewhere on the plane informing the woman next to her that Escamilla had “creeped her out”.

Upon landing she made the incident known to her father who contacted the relevant authorities who intercepted professor Escamilla and arrested him.

When interviewed by the cops Escamilla claimed that he had spilt Tabasco brand hot sauce on his penis earlier on that day and had been trying to “rub”and  “massage” away the burning sensation he also claimed that it “wasn’t hanging out” and that he had tried to disguise it with his tray.

Now whether there is any truth in the story or not I have a couple of issues; firstly how did he manage to get tabasco sauce down there? Was he eating nude?

Secondly; the prof claimed that he spilt the sauce on himself at breakfast that day, if that is the case how the hell was tabasco, pretty much the mildest sauce out there, still burning him up that much later on in the day.

Thirdly and most importantly how would anyone let alone an educator think that it would be appropriate to deal with this itching feeling whilst seated on an airplane, especially when the passenger alongside you is a teenage girl? Did it never occur to him to walk 50 feet or so to the toilet cubicle and deal with the issue there…. well the police asked this question as well and Escamilla informed them that he “didn’t feel that it would help.”

The officer who conducted the interview did note down that at no point during the conversation did Escamilla react in a way that would suggest he had an incredible itch on a particularly sensitive area of his person.

Now I don’t claim to an expert in the field of  genital injuries however I have eaten Bhut Jolokias and then gone to the bathroom having forgotten to wash my hands first… let me go on record as saying that hurt, in fact it hurt quite a lot. Even so that level of pain from a chilli over 200x hotter than tabasco sauce would not have made me masturbate on a plane in front of a child.

Whether or not he is a criminal remains to be seen but he is certainly an idiot.





Garam Masala

14 01 2011

 Most Indian recipes that you will come across will list  garam masala as being one of the key ingredients but what  is it?

 Well contrary to what some people think garam masala isn’t actually a spice in and of itself, instead it is a blend of several different spices that together make up the basis of  wide variety of dishes. Most families in India will have their own particular blend that they use and often these carry on unchanged for several generations.

It is getting easier and easier to get hold of garam masala in supermarkets and some of them are pretty good, however a lot of them are really bland and stale tasting as such I prefer to make up my own blend. Not only do I end up with a superior product but I can tweak things to my personal tastes.

The recipe I have included below is really just a stepping stone, it will give you a really good garam masala to start off with but it is your own tweaks that will make it great.

Ingredients:

2 bay leaves

2tbsp coriander seeds

1tbsp cumin seeds

Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods

2tsp black mustard seeds

2tsp fenugreek

1tsp fennel seeds

2tsp black peppercorns

1tsp cloves

1tsp ground nutmeg

3” cinnamon stick

Method:

Heat a small dry pan over a  high heat, once the pan is hot toast the spices for 2 – 3 minutes or until they are several shades darker than at the start, you may wish to cover the pan when the mustard seeds are popping and be careful not to let the spices burn.

Using a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice/coffee grinder grind the toasted spices to a powder and transfer the powder to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

If kept covered and hilled your garam masala should last for about 2 months.








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