How to Eat Cake and Drink Coffee (properly!)

northernmunkeebites.coffeepairingboxesAlthough I now reside on the dark side of the Pennines but I am a very proud Yorkshireman and I’m very proud of the fantastic food and drink that comes from God’s County. This post is a celebration of the coming together of two fine Yorkshire based brands: Grumpy Muleand The Yummy Yank.

The Afternoon Tea trend is now through adolescence and well onnorthernmunkeebites.grumpymulerange2 its way to being considered mature with post-modern, deconstructions and proliferations being the norm. Do you ever stop and wonder if we’re doing it right? Are we just gorging ourselves on towers of cakes and flagons of hot brown liquids without a thought or care to the taste? Are we just racing to finish the pile laid out in front of us? Surely there’s more to it right? Well that’s what I intend to prove with these two awesome Yorkshire businesses.

northernmunkeebites.theyummyyankrange2Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in flavour pairing but anything I have learned in the art I have gleaned from DGH Chocolatier.  Flavour pairing is clearly subjective so thankfully there isn’t a right or wrong answer; if you’re like me and you love Wensleydale cheese with Christmas cake then don’t let anyone tell you that’s wrong! Coffee is a fantastic medium for pairing as it is made up of more than 1000 chemical compounds; these compounds contribute to everything from flavour to aroma. The key to good coffee pairing is just a bit of forethought and experimentation.

So, one blustery afternoon in St Helens Mrs Munkee and I decided to sit down and harmonise two fantastic food and drink brands we’d been sent (it’s a hard life eh?); the results were incredible! I’m going to blow your coffee and cake consuming minds!

Now this is where the magic happens…

First thing’s first, and apologies if this is a little obvious, for the full flavour experience the order is CAKE then COFFEE not COFFEE then CAKE. All the flavours I’m about to walk you through work delightfully together but the power and potency of the coffee has the inclination to overpower some of the subtleties of the sweet treats ; therefore if you want to fully appreciate the journey then this order is a rule not a choice!

Just to be clear, this is not an appraisal of the coffee and cake brands – they’re phenomenal and don’t require further exploration. This post is about pairing two outstanding products to deliver a full flavour adventure so let’s take our lead from the Spice Girls and focus on when two become one…

Carrot Cake with Rwandan Musasa Co-Operative Coffee

Who doesn’t love a good carrot cake, right? This one is exceptional! Initially you getnorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairrwanda drawn into the ride by a light, fluffy and moist sponge and then the sweetly creamy topping and finally the texture is turned with the crunch of the walnuts. This coffee boosts the trip with a bright, citrus-fuelled brew that is deep and powerful. The cream from the cake lingers and is eventually swept away by the bold red fruits in the coffee.

 Butterscotch Caramel Bar with Organic Colombian Equidad Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepaircolombia2Here is masterclass in texture variation to induce excitement and intrigue in each bite. The butterscotch bar is smooth, sweet and almost naughty! So it needs a stiff shot in the arm from a powerful, nutty coffee with just a nod to the smooth caramel.

Raspberry Brownie with Organic Ethiopian Shakisso Coffee

Dark fruits and chocolate play together so nicely and this gooey brownie is the perfectnorthernmunkeebites.ethiopia2 platform for the combination. Pair this with a light, zesty coffee and you’ve got the recipe for a brilliant afternoon!

Cherry and White Chocolate Brownie with Organic Colombian Equidad Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepaircolombiaThe flavour depth here is complimented by the texture variances. This brownie delivers a beautiful blend of creamy, sweet and tart whilst delicately balancing soft, smooth and hard textures. The Colombian coffee extracts the cherry flavours and attaches it to the deep hazelnut notes for a smooth finish.

 Pecan Pie Bar with Organic Seasonal Decaf Coffee

Now for me you can keep your apple pie because there’s nothing more American thannorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairdecaf Pecan Pie – I love it! Here you begin with cheeky apple notes that are juxtaposed by full nutty flavours and held together by a sticky sweetness. The coffee rushes through with a smooth chocolate burst and a curiously acidic finish to bring us back to the fructose acidity of the apple notes.

Peanut Butter Brownie with Brasilian Deterra Sunrise Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepairbrasilThis flavour journey starts with the soft gooey brownie with decadent sweet notes that eventually make way for crunchy, earthy peanut flavours that linger on the palate. The coffee follows on with a smooth caramel entry that is quickly pursued by an echo of hazelnut flavours. A fantastical cyclical flavour flow.

Drunken Pig in the Mud Brownie with Organic Ethiopian Shakisso Coffee

Now, let me warn you – this one isn’t for the purists. This brownie contains vegetariannorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairethiopia bacon, salted caramel and a little whisky for good measure so prepare to be taken on a flavour rollercoaster with a sweet meat treat! The flavours are complex here so I needed to find something that would match these flavours rather than get lost amongst them. This Ethiopian blend delivers just that with a light citrus which picks out the whisky and the caramel to complete the adventure.

So that’s that! Mrs Munkee and I had a belting afternoon and were fully immersed in a self-inflicted, delirious food and drink coma!

Ultimately, there’s no snobbery in me and I’m in the camp that states that you should be able to enjoy your food and drink any way you see fit however I would urge you to give this a go. Just dare to try something a bit different and start your own food adventure!

Northern Munkee.

If you enjoyed my post (or even if you didn’t) please drop me a comment below because sharing is caring!

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Feeding Your Gut!

Thinking about bacteria used to make me think yuk. I got images of worms and bugs from playing outside or dirt on bathrooms for some reason. So when the term gut bacteria came on my radar it wasn’t one that I instantly warmed to.

However after digestive issues I realised the problem wasn’t with the bacteria but my association with the term to think it’s all bad. On further research I realised that the human body is made up of millions and millions of bacteria and actually the microbiome in our gut was an important part of our whole approach to health. Ailments of the body, including poor digestion, constipation/diarrhoea, joint pains can all be linked to the health and type of bacteria in your gut. Studies also suggest all sorts of ‘dis-ease’ with the body including eczema, psoriasis, diabetes can also be traced back to the bacteria in your gut. When these bacteria are out of line and the ‘bad’ ones overpower the ‘good’, that’s when we can start facing problems with our health.

For me this was a a-ha moment. So to help improve my bacteria, feeding the good bacteria was important. And just as I started to find out more, the mainstream food industry suddenly seemed to catch on and now feeding your gut bacteria was the latest trend. Wary of fads I spoke to professionals including nutrionists/dieticians to make sure I wasn’t just following a gimmick. A lot of it was based on a healthy balanced diet incorporating a mix of vegetables and fruits. However there were some particular foods that could help this microbiome community including sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kefir. These are all types of fermented foods that when consumed help replenish good bacteria in your gut.

So I did what any sane person would do, I started experimenting and trying different fermented foods to help boost my bacteria. I tried products that didn’t particularly look appealing but actually weren’t so bad when incorporated with other foods. I also tried other items that I’d never look at again! Some of the good stuff I’ve now incorporated as part of my diet and one of them is kefir. Kefir is akin to a drinking-style yogurt which contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine to give health benefits when consumed regularly.

And therein lay the extra complexity. I am dairy-free and kefir is more beneficial when consumed with dairy via milk or yoghurt.  So my searching continued until I finally found a dairy-free alternative…..

I just want to add here please get professional advice before you start embarking on new eating plans etc. EveryBODY is different and what works for some won’t for others.

northernmunkeebites.kefirRhythm Pure Coconut Kefir Shot (126g)

Rating: 8 out of 10

Appeals to: Dairy free consumers, free-from lovers, healthy-conscious eaters

Packaging

I first saw this product at a free-from exhibition and what I instantly liked about it was the very clean, white branding. It was also in a small plastic bottle which reminded me of the milk bottles I used to drink when I was in nursery.  I was attracted by the turquoise coloured font (little things!) and the fact that you could see the product through the clear plastic bottle. The information on the sleeve is short, sharp and to the point. It’s perhaps not the most imaginative of packages but in a way that seems to work as it feels that it is not fussy and not trying too hard.  Clean, pure and simple is how I would describe it.

Price

£1.69 (company website). For a small bottle I did find this fairly expensive.  Appreciate it is a health drink and quite accustomed to the prices of health products being considerably higher.  However this product seems to target those that want to be healthy and are willing to pay the price.  What I did find out is that it does say you can consume the drink across two days, so to me that felt reasonable and that I was spreading the cost.

Delivery

Kefir has a sharp tangy taste to it, almost fizzy like and on the first few times of consumption it does take a little getting used to. However it is quite refreshing and surprisingly filling.  I loved the fact this was dairy free and so I could consume very easily.  Whilst I go for the plain coconut flavour, there are other flavours such as Mango & Passionfruit which adds a summer flavour but I’m happy to stick with the plain one, sometimes adding my own herbs to it.  The great thing with this is that there is no set time that you have to drink it, you can have it with food, without food, first thing, last thing so there’s no restrictions which helps to just have a quick gulp and get on with the rest of the day knowing you’re doing your best to help your body.

Verdict – in a word, simple. This is an easily accessible drink that has been produced to help you feed your good bacteria. It’s fuss-free, dairy free and hassle-free.  If you’re looking to introduce fermented foods into your diet this is one I would recommend, split it over two days and the price becomes more palatable too!

Details: https://www.rhythmhealth.co.uk/

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, would love to hear how you get on with this product.

Guest Blogger: Mrs M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

 

Yorkshire’s finest delivery…

Food and Drink Subscription Boxes Mini-Series: Posted Pantry

This is the first instalment in my mini-series covering Food and Drink Subscription Boxes.

Food subscription boxes are still a relatively new phenomenon in the UK but they are going from strength to strength. The trend really seemed to gain traction when Ben Jones posted his first Graze box to offer lifestyle-conscious snackers an alternative to the dusty vending machine in the corner of the office.

Now you can satisfy your food foraging and drinks detecting needs for almost anything without even leaving the comfort of your own wifi hotspot. There are some brilliant subscription boxes out there for meat, alcohol, snacks, artisan food, grow-your-own kits and so much more. Think of them as your own personal foodie shopper trawling through the racks of artisan food and drink to find something that’s just in your size and colour.

Product Review: Posted Pantry’s Yorkshire Box

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: foodie foragers, local business supporters and farm shop frequenters.

Packaging:

This subscription box came parcelled up exquisitely to give a great premium feel as well as protecting the integrity of the goodies inside.

Price: 

£22.50 which, for the volume of product you receive straight to your door, is brilliant value; plus you’re getting the added concierge service of hand picked products.

Selection:

Twisted Chilli Tandoori Marinade

White Rabbit Yorkshire Honeycomb Chocolate

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

Bracken Hill Yorkshire Lemon Curd

Side Oven Organic Biscuits for Cheese, Organic Museli & Goldenberry’s

Posted Pantry have opted to bring together some of Yorkshire’s finest artisan producers as an introduction to quality food in the White Rose county.

Verdict: in a word, good’un! This is a great way to broaden your food horizons without leaving your own kitchen. In structuring the subscriptions regionally you also get a great sense of the story behind the producers and a greater insight into where the food comes from. Get yourself signed up!!

Northern Munkee.

When we pour, we reign!

Coffee Mini-Series: Grumpy Mule Coffee

This is the second in my three-part coffee mini series.

I love a good coffee. There’s nothing better than pressing pause, to recline in a chair sat outside a coffee roasters and watch the world whizz passed with the sun warming the side of your face. The smell that wafts from the door each time someone new ventures in is reminiscent of the cocoa plantation in a far off world. A coffee for me is more than just a drink, it’s an excuse to stop time and just relax.

Hot beverages was a category that I used to buy so I have a real passion for it and I find it fascinating the shift and improvement that the category has undergone. Britain is a nation of tea drinkers. Correction: Britain was a nation of tea drinkers. The hot beverages has seen a significant change with the rise of the coffee shop culture which has led to coffee overtaking tea in terms of value and frequency. Black tea has seen a dramatic decline and you can now pick up great quality black tea for about a penny a cup. Tea companies have had to react and focus on fruit teas, teas with inherent health benefits and teas with more focus on origin and provenance. Great! This is what we deserve! A hot beverage adventure!

Coffee, however, has stolen a march and is leading the way in the popularity of hot beverages. Like a lot of categories provenance and origins seems to be the dominant appeal for drinkers and people now know the difference between a good Arabica and a robusta. Now this opinion may not be universally agreed with but, for me, the surge in popularity for coffee can be attributable to Starbucks (and to a lesser degree Costa). Starbucks have found a way to charge £3 for a 15p product by creating a coffee occasion and giving a home to that excuse to stop time and relax. In turn, this has led to artisan coffee roasters emerging on high streets, in refurbished military trucks and even a reclaimed phone box (yes, it’s true http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-33755170).

So now hipsters, yummy mummies, 20 somethings, 30 somethings, 40 somethings and 50 somethings have somewhere to meet through the day rather than a Wetherspoons or waiting for a more credible pub to open!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Sumatra Ground Mighty

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: this is a coffee lovers drink! It’s rich, strong and will certainly bounce you out of bed in the morning!

Packaging

I think the branding is fantastic. It’s quirky, it’s tongue-in-cheek and it’s very Yorkshire and I know I’m biased but I love that! The branding is very personal and the messages that come through reinforce the coffee occasion which is great. However, if I’m honest I think they could make more of their packaging to bring the personality of the brand to life. There isn’t anything wrong with what they’ve done, in fact it’s right on theme for the coffee shelf, but I think it’s a little safe. The branding is great so I’d want to see more of it on-shelf. It is great to see a Great Taste Award and I think the prevalence and importance of these awards gets greater year-on-year and it’s something worth shouting about.

Price

£4.49– spot on, no issue with the pricing on this at all. It’s appropriate for its audience and its market.

Delivery

I think I’ve found a new favourite coffee, I love it! The tasting notes promised cocoa and dark chocolate which I could taste, if I screwed my face up and tried really hard, but it didn’t quite capture everything that was going on. The dark chocolate definitely came through on the smell test, it was exactly what I got, but the first taste that hit me with a coffee crack was a tingling aniseed that warmed my lips. This was swept away and replaced by a hazelnutty glow that developed on the front of the tongue that was lapped at by an undercurrent of earthy tones from the deep coffee and cocoa notes. This is a fantastic brew!

Verdict – in a word, amazing! I love the branding and I am in love with the taste. It’s Fairtrade too which, for a commoditised product, is very important. I can certainly imagine sitting down with this cup and a bar of intense dark chocolate to forget 30mins of an afternoon; but for now I’m going to add Grumpy Mule Coffee to my list of great thing to come out of Yorkshire!

Details: http://grumpymule.co.uk/

Northern Munkee.

Stir It Up

Coffee Mini-Series: Marley Coffee

This is the first in my three-part coffee mini series.

I love a good coffee. There’s nothing better than pressing pause, to recline in a chair sat outside a coffee roasters and watch the world whizz passed with the sun warming the side of your face. The smell that wafts from the door each time someone new ventures in is reminiscent of the cocoa plantation in a far off world. A coffee for me is more than just a drink, it’s an excuse to stop time and just relax.

Hot beverages was a category that I used to buy so I have a real passion for it and I find it fascinating the shift and improvement that the category has undergone. Britain is a nation of tea drinkers. Correction: Britain was a nation of tea drinkers. The hot beverages has seen a significant change with the rise of the coffee shop culture which has led to coffee overtaking tea in terms of value and frequency. Black tea has seen a dramatic decline and you can now pick up great quality black tea for about a penny a cup. Tea companies have had to react and focus on fruit teas, teas with inherent health benefits and teas with more focus on origin and provenance. Great! This is what we deserve! A hot beverage adventure!

Coffee, however, has stolen a march and is leading the way in the popularity of hot beverages. Like a lot of categories provenance and origins seems to be the dominant appeal for drinkers and people now know the difference between a good Arabica and a robusta. Now this opinion may not be universally agreed with but, for me, the surge in popularity for coffee can be attributable to Starbucks (and to a lesser degree Costa). Starbucks have found a way to charge £3 for a 15p product by creating a coffee occasion and giving a home to that excuse to stop time and relax. In turn, this has led to artisan coffee roasters emerging on high streets, in refurbished military trucks and even a reclaimed phone box (yes, it’s true http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-33755170).

So now hipsters, yummy mummies, 20 somethings, 30 somethings, 40 somethings and 50 somethings have somewhere to meet through the day rather than a Wetherspoons or waiting for a more credible pub to open!

Right, enough of that! On with my review…

Product Review: Marley Coffee One Love

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: just about any coffee lover, it’s very accessible and is a great introduction to great quality coffee.

Packaging

I love the packaging. It’s simple and adheres to expectations in terms of what a good premium coffee should look like. It’s sleek, black and adorned with awards. The Marley (note this is Rohan not Bob) element of the branding is perfect for the total coffee experience and has great connotations for a lazy weekend. A good coffee should also be ethical in my opinion so Marley Coffee ticks another couple of boxes here with Soil Association accreditation and a percentage of the sales being donated to Youth Football programmes worldwide.

Price

£4.99 – this is the potential barrier to making this coffee less accessible as an entry point to premium coffee. The price point is perfect for premium retailers and you will not be disappointed if you buy this coffee. A quality product demands a premium price point.

Delivery

This is an excellent coffee. The first thing that I enjoy about a good coffee is the beautiful and diverse aromas they emit. This particular brew had beautiful sweet notes that really set the tone for the rest of the drink. The first flavour to greet your lips is a sharp burst of pepper which is quickly washed through with a smooth and long caramel which sweetly moves through the mouth until it is replaced by a familiar bitter coffee flavour. What a great brew!

Verdict – in a word, smoooooooth! This is definitely a drink that all coffee drinkers can enjoy. It’s not harsh but it has strong flavours at the start and end of the drink. The branding is perfect and it’s exactly what you need to compliment the sunshine and some easy listening. One Love!

Details: http://www.marleycoffee.co.uk/

Northern Munkee.