Tallest building in Europe opens in London

6 07 2012

Standing at 1,016ft the Shard in London is officially the tallest building in Europe.

 

After 3 years of construction and more than 12 years of planning and design the “vertical city” was the site of a fantastic laser light show to mark its opening.

The Shard was first conceived by entrepreneur Irvine Sellar and Italian architect Renzo Piano, with funding for the project coming from the Qatari royal family.

Earlier the governor of Qatar Central Bank, Abdullah Saoud Al-Thani, said the Shard marked the Arab state’s “belief and commitment to London both today and in the future”.

“It is a symbol of Qatar’s belief and commitment to London both today and in the future,” he said. “We have a long heritage and continued commitment to invest and build in the UK for the long term and The Shard highlights this close relationship.”

All that to one side it is actually kind of cool to have something like this in London. I am just sad enough to make a point of buying the new Guinness Book of Records each year and love all the little stats and facts like who is fattest or what is tallest.

The fact that it will cost a modest 25 quid for a view from the top just shows the enterprising view which my home city takes towards tourists and their hard-earned cash and once again makes me proud to be a Londoner 😉





Happy St Totteringham’s Day

14 05 2012

So we did it… far, far later in the year than I would have liked but you know what they say, better late than never.

A 3-2 win against the “Baggies” yesterday saw us snatch third place therefore guaranteeing us Champions League football again next year.

Perhaps more importantly, well for me at least, a win yesterday means that T*ttenham finish fourth….

Now excuse my ignorance here but I am fairly sure that 4th is below 3rd in the table. What’s that? It is you say.

Well in that case allow me to wish you a very happy St Totteringham’s Day.

Well I am so glad to see that the much talked of “Power Shift” in North London is still in effect and that Spurs best team in living memory has done oh so well.

Except they didn’t…Hahahahahahahahaha. Let this be a lesson to all of you fans of the chicken on a basketball lads; premature gloating,boasting and a chip on the shoulder that McCains would be proud of get you precisely nothing.

All of a sudden I am hoping that Chelski play a blinder in the Champions League final and give Bayern an absolute thumping. Not because I like Chelsea, really I don’t, but just to ensure that you mugs get everything you deserve in the form of some nice Thursday night football.





The World’s End – Camden

9 05 2012

Here be Demons

I have never really understood why but an awful lot of people rave on and on and on about The World’s End as if it were the be all and end all of pubs.

Well it isn’t.

I honestly wonder if they are venturing through some portal into another dimension as in reality the WE is a tedious, boring, overly large tourist trap that plays annoying trendy music at pretty much any hour of the day or night.

However there is one distinction that I have to highlight. The World’s End is now the official recipient of my very own “Shittiest Beer Ever” award.

Three of us hung around this giant turd of a pub long enough to have 2 pints each as we had dinner reservations just round the corner and couldn’t be arsed to walk any further.

We each ordered a different pint and they were all absolute crud. Now I should take a moment to clarify here, we aren’t talking some rare amber nectar brewed by silent monks in the hinterlands of Nepal. No, we had Guinness, Old Speckled Hen and London Pride, not exactly the hardest beers to keep correctly.

The pints we received ran the whole gamut of foul… from an oily, dirty sheen on the ‘Hen to a slightly fishy taste and smell from the Guinness.

In summary: stay well away.

0.25/5





Man vs Phaal

17 08 2011

When I have a spare moment I quite like watching the television show Man vs Food with hyperactive glutton Adam Richman.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show Adam travels the length and breadth of the US taking on various food challenges, most of the time these challenges are focused on Adam eating ridiculously large servings within a set period of time. These episodes are all very well and good but my favourites have been the episodes which feature some slightly spicier adversaries.

One such episode featured Adam taking on the phaal challenge at the Brick Lane Curry house in Manhattan.

I was intrigued to see this episode for a number of reasons; firstly I love Indian cuisine, I would possibly go so far as to say it is my favourite food, added to that a good phaal has to be one of my favourite dishes and I have eaten so many of them that I have lost count. Some were better than others but they all have one thing in common, they are all pretty damn hot!

Secondly I was intrigued to get a look at the food being served by the Brick Lane Curry House  seeing as I grew up within spitting distance of the actual Brick Lane in East London and have eaten my way along the entire length of it over the past 20 years or so.

Well I watched it and I laughed and laughed and laughed some more, whilst I am sure that it IS a very hot curry I am completely not convinced that it requires quite the hullabaloo that seems to surround it.

Enjoy…





Banks UCB – Ultimate Curry Beer

28 06 2011

 

Here is a bit of an oddity that I turned up on draft at the Coppermill in Walthamstow last time that I was back home.

As the sharp eyed amongst you may have spotted UCB stands for Ultimate Curry Beer and it has been brewed specifically to accompany said food stuff, now as anyone who has set foot in the Coppermill will know there isn’t really food on offer in the pub, pickled egg anyone, as such I was drinking this with my usual accompaniment of more pints.

I have heard from a few people that UCB really isn’t a beer to be drunk by itself and whilst I don’t completely agree with them I can see their point, it has a very strong, very hoppy flavour and may not be to everyone’s tastes, however with a good spicy curry it would work perfectly.

Personally I like strong tasting beers and actually enjoyed this as a nice pint for a relaxed afternoon session, the 5.3% ABV is easy going enough that you could sink more than a few pints with ease yet strong enough that know you still know youare having a beer.

In terms of appearance UCB is a rich, golden brown with a fairly thick creamy head not unlike a pint of stout or dare I mention it… Caffreys – Shudder. The head lasts well for the duration of the pint with a fair amount of lacing.

In terms of taste and aroma the hopping comes through very clearly along with some strong citrus and a little floral hint, as mentioned previously the hopping IS strong but in a refreshing way.

All in all a pretty good pint and worth a try IF you happen to come across it, if you are lucky enough to come across it at the same time as a good hot curry then you are in for a real treat.

3.6/5





1,300 pubs closed in the UK last year.

16 03 2011

According to the latest figures from the British Beer and Pub Association there were 1,300 pubs in the UK that shut their doors for the final time last year.

The number of pub closures has fallen from 40 a week in 2009 to 25 a week now, with the rate of losses highest in London and north-west England.

The BBPA have stated that these pub closures have resulted in the loss of over 13,000 jobs nationwide.

BBPA  chief executive Brigid Simmonds had this to say:”The closure of 25 pubs every week is bad news for the economy, as the sector plays such a vital role. It’s also a blow for local communities, with pubs often acting as the hub of local life.

“With the right policies, this vital part of our tourism and hospitality sector could be creating new jobs, and helping to bring Britain out of recession.

“If we really do have a pub-friendly Government as the Prime Minister says, the time to act is now – with a freeze in beer duty in the Budget.”

So there we have it folks loss of pubs, loss of choice and loss of livelihoods. Pub closures are a bad thing at anytime but to see this many jobs lost in the midst of one of the worst recessions ever is even worse. Fair enough the rate at which pubs are shutting has slowed but we are still on a slippery slope.

If you are concerend about the closure of British pubs and the loss of jobs then please lobby your local MP or contact CAMRA to see how you can help.





White Horse – Black Horse Porter

30 12 2010

Black Horse Porter is a seasonal beer from the White Horse brewery (see what they did there…) from Stanford-in-the-Vale in Oxfordshire.

I have encountered a couple of their beers before and had found them to be well above average, in particular Volund’s Hammer and Wayland Smithy.

I came across this beer on cask at the Argyll Arms at Oxford Circus and after looking at the tasting notes – great idea everywhere should do it – I decided to give it a spin.

In terms of looks this is exactly what a porter should be, so dark it’s nearly black with a good firm white head that stays well for the duration of the pint.

You get the expected aroma of chocolate malt along with a rich biscuity note and some very light fruit.

The taste of this porter is superb, rich roasted malts give real depth and body to the beer whilst there is a nice hint of dark fruits which add a little tartness without making the beer in anyway fruity or overly sweet. There is a long dry finish and a really surprising kick of hops which really makes this porter sing.

I found this porter to a be a real treat, it was warming and full bodied with a great depth of flavour to it and the liberal use of Kentish hops really made it stand out.

4.7/5





Fuller’s London Porter 5.4%

5 12 2010

Fairly recently I wrote a review on Fuller’s London Pride (here) today I turn my attention to another beer from the London based brewery; Fuller’s London Porter.

I’m not going to prattle on at length about the history and origins of porter – trust me I can if you want 😉 but it is great to see a London brewery still leads the way in producing what I and many others deem to be the gold standard of porters.

Ok so where to begin, well it pours very dark brown, not black close enough, there is a slight ruby sheen to a pint if held up directly to the light. The head is egg-shell white and settles out at around 2 fingers, the head fades away a fair bit but leaves a load of lacing on the glass.

In terms of aroma you can quite clearly make out roasted malt, some bitter coffee notes and a hint of toffee or caramel, there is also a slight nuttiness and a hint of hops.

Taste is where Fuller’s have really won through on this one; everything you can pick up in the aroma of the porter is present and more.  The deep roasted malts come to the fore along with the coffee note and that toffee/caramel sweetness.

The chocolate from the roasted malt comes through in the after taste but in a subtle way, it is very much a supporting character in this porter as is the slightly nutty taste. There is a hint of fruitiness that you just about pick up in the background as well, if I had to try and pin it down I would go with raisins or sultanas with a tiny hit of vanilla creeping in as well.

All in all you come away with a rich complex taste that for me ticks all the right boxes, it is rich and malty, slightly sweet and fruity with an underlying bitterness that is refreshing and cuts through the richness which otherwise might be a tad cloying.

In terms of mouthfeel there is only really one word to describe this porter: smooth. In face we are going beyond smooth we are talking baby’s bottoms or the finest velvet gliding across your tongue  – ok well maybe not baby’s bottoms but you get the picture.

A lot of people far more worthy than I have waxed lyrical about Fuller’s London Porter and have even gone so far as to vote it the World’s best porter on several occasions. I don’t often like to follow crowds or ride along with popular opinion but on this occasion I can’t really disagree with any degree of conviction.

There might be better porters out there but if there are I certainly haven’t found them.

5/5





IT’S NOT COMING HOME

2 12 2010

Well there it is;  the World Cup 2018 will not be coming home to the nation that gave football to the world.

Instead it is off to Russia and whilst I  have nothing but congratulations for the newly affirmed host nation I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that by the time it is even possible for their to be a world cup hosted here in England I will be old and grey.

The lift that a successful world cup bid would have given to the nation would have been huge and not just for die-hard supporters such as I.

The suggestion that this is all one big fix are rolling in and will continue to do so for sometime, not helped by the supposed official leaks that were coming out up to 30 minutes before the results were announced lauding Russia as having won.

One thing that does need to be seriously looked into is the allegations of major corruption within FIFA itself, the thought of going through an other bidding process with the same bribe taking officials in charge is quite frankly ludicrous.

But there is no point lingering on what might have been and what isn’t, instead we should look forward to the spectacle that will be London 2012 and focus on what really matters trying to win the world cup in 2014.

 





Fuller’s London Pride – English Pale Ale

22 11 2010

fullers london prideLondon Pride is Fuller’s flagship beer and has to go down as being one of the best examples of an English pale ale.

It is widely available on cask in the south of England and is one of the most commonly encountered bottled real ales that you can find, you can even find it on British Airways and American Airlines flights!

The cask version of London pride comes in at 4.1% ABV whilst the bottled version is slightly more alcoholic at 4.7% .  Personally I prefer my London Pride from the cask but there is really very little difference between the two.

The aroma that you get from London Pride is primarily malty with a suggestion of fresh bread, there is a slight note of hoppiness that comes through in the background along with a hint of toffee which adds a pleasant sweetness.

When poured there is a rather thin off white head, about 2 fingers worth, that lasts well and provides a fair amount of lacing. The body of the beer is a  clear amber colour that just sparkles when the light hits it.

 Following on from the dominant aromas of the beer the first flavour that you notice is a rich biscuit taste coming from the malt along with the toffee sweetness some buttery caramel and a light fruitiness.

The hopping in London Pride is great, there is a good level of bitterness that perfectly balances with the rich malts and helps to cut through the sweetness the leafy hop flavour is refreshing and carries through to the finish.

London Pride has a nice well rounded feel to it with a medium body, good carbonation and a wonderful smoothness to it, the flavours are complex and layered with everything working together perfectly.

A truly outstanding beer

4.9/5








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