Tag Archives: Beer

On a Cambridge mission…

Having lived in London for 5 years, I’ve been completely and utterly spoilt by the food options available to me. With even more exciting eateries opening by the minute I sometimes feel completely over stimulated and that there’s just not enough time in the day or pennies in my bank account to humour my constant hunger for exciting food!

At the end of last year I moved back to my hometown of Cambridge. It’s so easy to take familiar places for granted and not actually SEE what’s just on your doorstep, which is a travesty when it’s as beautiful as this…

In the few months that I’ve been back I’ve made it my mission to re-discover Cambridge, to look up at my surroundings instead of being on a pavement pounding mission and to seek out the little gems that may not be glaringly obvious! Cambridge is a mecca for camera wielding tourists, who mostly annoy the s**t out of me, but who also make me even more determined to shun the mainstream and to discover places off the beaten track. These are some of my findings…

I recently went to my first Cambridge supper club: Saucepan & Suitcase Secret Suppers run by the lovely Francesca, who welcomed me very warmly into her home and introduced me to Tuscan cuisine. The highlight of the evening for me, were these delicious malfatti…or as I prefer to think of them, naked ricotta and spinach ravioli, no pasta in sight!… 

I joined a Book and Bake club, which as the name suggest is all about books…and baking. Each month we choose a fiction book to discuss and a cookery book, from which we choose something to bake. Then we get together to chat and eat…perfect!…

I’ve found my new favourite restaurant, which very jammily is a hop, skip and jump from my front door…Bibimbap House. A Korean restaurant specialising in bibimbap, literally meaning ‘mixed meal’. There are just 7 options on the menu, great for an indecisive diner like me. I opted for this, the pork bulgogi bibimbap… 

When it arrived at the table, the centrepiece, a boiling hot stoneware bowl, was still sizzling away. I wasn’t sure where to start or how to tackle such a meal as there were so many exciting parts to it, so I asked the lovely owner for advise. Unless she was just humouring me, it didn’t sound like there were any hard and fast rules involved…so I just got stuck in, using my chopsticks to mix everything in the large bowl together, pouring over lashings of their AMAZING homemade soy sauce, nibbling on the cold side dishes and pausing for a miso soup break every now and again. It was so delicious that I didn’t want it to end, so delicious, in fact, that I’ve already been back within a week…

I have also made the acquaintance of my friendly local purveyor of wine, Cambridge Wine Merchants, who also do a great range of beer. I went in recently with a yearning for a Brewdog 5am Saint ’the holy grail of red ales’, unfortunately they’d sold out but luckily for me had just had a delivery of Moor’s Revival…

It’s just what it says on the bottle, ‘an immensely hoppy and refreshing pale ale’ full of citrussy, grapefruit zinginess. Now that they’ve proven their good taste, I will most definitely be returning for more beer tip offs.

These are just a few of the Cambridge gems that I wanted to share, there are many more to come and I’m looking forward to discovering them!

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The Hip Hop Off at Mason & Taylor…

Thanks to Qype, I was lucky enough to get a sneaky preview of Mason & Taylor’s first ever ‘single hop real ale & craft beer festival…The Hip Hop Off! I’d heard a lot about M&T, which opened in December and was especially intrigued by their beer tasting flights, which are served in gorgeous 1/3 pint glasses in trays of either 3 or 6.

It was a day of new beginnings for me as I took my first ever trip on the (not so) new East London Line to Shoreditch High Street…merely a hop (apologies for the pun), skip and a jump from Mason & Taylor!

The sun was shining and upstairs was buzzing with an after work, long weekend, celebratory atmosphere, so I was a bit disappointed to be led into a fairly dark, empty basement…little did I know that this is where the Hip Hop Off magic was all set to happen…10 ales were rigged up on a specially constructed water-cooled gravity racking system in preparation for the festival the next day.

Now, I’m not what you would call a serious beer drinker, I don’t know if I should shout about it but I’m more of a lager fan myself. However, just listening to M&T’s beer aficionado, Steve Taylor, wax lyrical about it made me feel that I was well on my way to becoming a convert…what that guy doesn’t know about beer just isn’t worth knowing! His enthusiasm is completely infectious and I felt like we were in very capable hands, as he talked us through the 6 beers we were sampling…

Amongst others we tried Kernel’s IPA Citra, Thornbridge’s Kipling and Brodie’s Pink Pride, which contained fresh raspberries, adding a very fruity dimension without any stereotypical ‘fruit beer’ sickliness!

we also got to sample some of the food that they’d be serving during the festival, which had all been prepared using hops in some way or another…

My photography is shocking but I can verify that the duck breast, which had been smoked using citra hops was absolutely delicious!…

as was the venison that had been cured in hops and served with a chocolate and barley sauce…(meat and chocolate…how can you go wrong?)

Although the Hip Hip Off was a special event for the Easter weekend, M&T’s beer selection on a normal day is pretty darn impressive… ‘12 draught beers and ales on tap at any one time and a seasonal list of 40 bottled beers which changes every 2 months’. They source all of their beers through independent breweries including a couple of my faves…Kernel and Camden Town. They also serve up a tempting menu of small plates of food…ideal for sharing and soaking up some of the stronger  beers! :).

I feel it’s my duty as a newly converted beer drinker to sample more of Mason & Taylor’s wares very soon…let’s call it homework!

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