Smokey BBQ Goodness…

Product Review: The Smokey Carter

Although the weather isn’t quite sure what it’s doing here in the UK can we ever really put the lid on BBQ-ing? There’s something in my DNA that craves that smoky taste and adventurer’s cuisine. So I’ve dusted off my grill for one more BBQ blog for 2016…and this is a good one!

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This BBQ blog is extra special as it’s a proper Northern adventure with these delights from The Smokey Carter coming all the way down the East Lancs Road to me from Manchester. Enjoy!

The Smokey Carter

Rating: 8/10

Packaging

I really like the branding on The Smokey Carter’s products. It’s simple and unassuming but really effective. The branding and symbols have hit on the utopia of symbiosis between adornment and protein through butcher’s shop imagery. I always look for the scope and potential in brand identity and The Smokey Carter has this by the bucketful and there is so much more they can do to develop the brand. My only criticism is that, in its current format, the products would struggle to jump off the shelves amidst a sea of competition.

Price

£2.70 – £3.95 – The Smokey Carter is playing in a crowded market so pricing is key. The price points that the company has adopted are on the premium end but very appropriate. It’s important as an artisan supplier that you set yourself apart from the mainstream but allow shoppers to trial your products.

Delivery

Chipotle & Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Wow. I’ve already found so many uses for this sauce. It’s dense enough to be a dipping sauce but also works brilliantly as a finishing glaze. The jar produces a tight symphony of sweet, spicy and smooth smoke.

Spiced Pineapple and Nigella Seed Chutney

I love a good chutney accompaniment, especially one that can orchestrate a dance between sweet fruits and spice. This jar hosts a dance between a chunky pineapple and a subtle scotch bonnet.

Carolina BBQ Sauce

This sauce has a real depth. I was overwhelmed by the whispy smoke that runs across the surface of the BBQ sauce and adds layers to the flavour.

Smokey Chipotle BBQ Rub & Pitmaster BBQ Rub

There is a huge difference between a good BBQ rub and a bad one. I don’t want to be able to identify the individual flavours but just paprika, sugar and chilli won’t cut it. These rubs offer a complex flavour that works with the meat to pronounce certain notes.

Verdict – in a word, barbilicious! I know there will be element of bias in this commercial review because it’s a Northern business but these BBQ products are brilliant. I’ve seen a lot of rubs, sauces and chutneys in my time as a food forager and food buyer but The Smokey Carter stands out to me. The food is great but the branding is greater – expect to see this one hit mainstream shelves soon.

Details: www.thesmokeycarter.com

So all that’s left for me to say is that it’s been a brilliant BBQ season this year and ask what trends we’re predicting for 2017? Come on, sharing is caring so leave me a comment.

Northern Munkee.

 

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A Food Tour of Scotland

Scottish Food and Drink: Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee

Scotland has always been a hotbed of food and drink innovation with a rich, fertile environment to rear the tastiest Aberdeen Angus and more premium gin than you can shake a haggis at. In recent times Scottish revolutionaries such as Flavourly subscription boxes and Thistly Cross Cider have led the way in the food and drink movement.

With all this rich food heritage I take any opportunity I can to explore Scottish food and drink so I thought I’d enjoy a small tour around Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee; check out the places I found…

Eatery: V Deep

Location: Leith, Edinburgh

Style: Craft Ale & Indian Street Eat/ Tapas

Avg Price Per Head: £25 (two courses plus drinks)

Ambience: if you’re after a traditional Indian eating experience with tired flock wallpaper and barely audible Bollywood soundtracks then Hardeep Singh Kohli’s V Deep is not for you. It’s loud, bustling and energising with quirky décor made from up cycled doors, bottle tops and chick pea tins. The exterior is unassuming in an area of Leith I’d describe as ‘up and coming’ with high rise apartments out of one window and trendy wine bar through the other.

Appeals to: food adventurers, group eaters and trend seekers

Quick Review:

Now, I made the mistake (sorry gents) of going to V Deep with two experienced chefs who were seeking the traditional Indian experience – and therefore they were disappointed. I however, love this place. The haggis naan breads, well fried pakoras and decadent curries were incredible. I’ve also started to measure eateries on their selection of alcohol and anywhere that serves Thistly Cross Whisky Cask is a winner in my opinion! At first the notion of Indian Tapas may seem like an unlikely fusion but imagine going out with a group of friends and passing the foils between you, beers flowing and music blaring – what a great way to spend a few hours!

Eatery: Bo’Vine

Location: Glasgow, West End

Style: Steakhouse

Avg Price Per Head: £15 (two courses plus drinks)

Ambience: the room was dimly lit with a quiet and moody ambience, I thought it was bordering on being pretentious until I heard ‘Hey Joe’ through the speakers and then I knew I’d be in for a treat!

Appeals to: meat eaters, fine diners and steak aficionados

Quick Review:

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good steak served just how I asked for it but the grilled Sirloin here was absolute perfection; the creamy pepper sauce added a great juxtaposition to the sweet cherry tomatoes it was served alongside. Although I would ordinarily seek out a Thistly Cider, I can’t grace a good steak with anything but a nice, smooth Malbec and Bo’Vine certainly delivered the goods with the wine menu. The service I received was super fast without being overbearing and I was amazed at the price when I got my bill: starter, main and a large glass of wine for £15 – what type of sorcery is this?!

Eatery: The Beer Kitchen

Location: Dundee

Style: Traditional/Comfort

Avg Price Per Head: £25 (two courses plus drinks)

Ambience: the room was very open, light and trendy with wooden furnishings adorning every nook and cranny. The ambience was very laid back and chilled with a selection of neo soul setting the scene for a great meal

Appeals to: most foodies with an appetite for good food and drink

Quick Review:

Given that this is an Innis&Gunn establishment you’d expect the drinks menu to be incredible – and it is. Obviously, I elected for a Thistly Cross Whisky Cask. The food, although fairly simple on the surface, was fantastic. I started with a savoury haggis donut that was complimented by crisped seasonal vegetables and a sublime bone marrow aioli. My main course was a succulent lamb rump with creatively cooked vegetables and a rich, smoky gravy that gave the whole dish a new dimension.

So that concludes my short jaunt around Scotland and I have to say: Scottish Food and Drink, take a bow; just don’t bow too deep, I’m not keen on discovering whether you’re a true Scotsman or not! I have a great deal of respect for a fine Scottish menu and these are three eateries I can definitely recommend that you try.

That just leaves me to ask for some feedback from foodie friends for recommendations of more Scottish eateries I need to seek out. Also don’t forget to check out my tour around Merseyside I wrote for Foodies100.

Northern Munkee.

Gluten-Free BBQ Times!

BBQ Mini-Series: The Black Farmer

So, it’s officially the British summer and it’s that time when we fellas refuse to wear sun cream, go an offensive shade of puce and revert back to our Neanderthal instincts by making a fire to burn meat on.

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This mini-series explores some of the new and great products and recipes that I’ve foraged and found this year to make Britain’s BBQ season great. So, even if we need to turn to supplements rather than the sun for our vitamin D, we can always enjoy well-cooked, well-seasoned and well-complimented meat.

The Black Farmer Gluten Free Meats

northernmunkeebites.theblackfarmer1.jpg

Rating: 9/10

Packaging

The packaging employed by The Black Farmer is simple, on trend and effective. I do believe the front of the packaging could do more to inform the shopper some of the products’ biggest selling points: Wilfred’s heritage, the quality of meat used and the fact it is a free-from. These are all called out but, in my opinion, should make more a bang than a sly whistle.

Price

£2.00 – for the size and quality of this products this is a steal and could certainly demand a higher price point if The Black Farmer chose to. There has been a great influx of premium meats into the chiller from smaller suppliers and therefore the market is challenging and the bun fight over shelf-tickets is getting more vicious.

Delivery

Premium Pork Sausages

These sausages were phenomenal. The skin was soft and just burst on first bite releasing fantastically seasoned, juicy sausage meat. The absence of oats in the recipe produced a brilliant flavour profile surpassing any banger I’ve had before!

Beef Burgers

This is a really simple product but it really delivers. The meat is light and floral without grease and fat overpowering.

Beef and Cheese Burgers

Now these bovine beauties were the best of the bunch. The mature cheddar cheese added a delicate layer of delicousness beneath the brilliant quality meat. Perfect!

Verdict – in a word, juicy! As a gluten-evader (I don’t completely cut it out although I should) I think The Black Farmer has done an awesome job, certainly in terms of producing great quality meat. This review has been a very apt way to close my BBQ mini-series, thank you to Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones.

Details: www.theblackfarmer.com

So all that leaves me is to ask: what’s your favourite BBQ recipe, tip or trick? Come on folks, leave me a comment below because sharing is caring.

Also, before you go take a look at my blog on a fantastic condiment I reviewed earlier in the year; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.

Northern Munkee.

Cooking with Heinz..

BBQ Mini-Series: Cooking with Heinz

So, it’s officially the British summer and it’s that time when we fellas refuse to wear sun cream, go an offensive shade of puce and revert back to our Neanderthal instincts by making a fire to burn meat on.

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This mini-series explores some of the new and great products and recipes that I’ve foraged and found this year to make Britain’s BBQ season great. So, even if we need to turn to supplements rather than the sun for our vitamin D, we can always enjoy well-cooked, well-seasoned and well-complimented meat.

Cooking with Heinz

Rating: 7/10

PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES

COOKING TIME:  40 MINUTES

12 chicken wings or thighs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon

2 tablespoons Heinz Peri Peri Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING

• Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic and oil until smooth

• Place the chicken in a freezer bag, season with salt and pepper and pour in the marinade. Shake and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

• Once the marinade has infused with the meat cook on a medium BBQ heat, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes or until cooked through

• Once cooked place in a bowl and add in Heinz Peri Peri Sauce and toss through so all the chicken is coated. Serve and enjoy!

Verdict – in a word, easy! This is a really quick and easy way to really enhance your BBQ experience and serve food that will impress your friends. There are a range of Heinz sauces that you can cook with but the Peri Peri delivers on that authentic, home-cooked flavour so your guests won’t even need to know!

Details: www.heinz.co.uk

So all that leaves me is to ask: what’s your favourite BBQ recipe, tip or trick? Come on folks, leave me a comment below because sharing is caring.

Also, before you go take a look at my blog on a fantastic condiment I reviewed earlier in the year; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.

Northern Munkee.

Barbecuing with Beer…

BBQ Mini-Series: Cooking with Tsingtao and Jeremy Pang

So, it’s officially the British summer and it’s that time when we fellas refuse to wear sun cream, go an offensive shade of puce and revert back to our Neanderthal instincts by making a fire to burn meat on.

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This mini-series explores some of the new and great products and recipes that I’ve foraged and found this year to make Britain’s BBQ season great. So, even if we need to turn to supplements rather than the sun for our vitamin D, we can always enjoy well-cooked, well-seasoned and well-complimented meat.

Cooking with Tsingtao and Jeremy Pang

Rating: 9/10

Method and Recipe

Jeremy Pang’s Barbecued Tsingtao Beer Chicken Drumsticks

(Recipe adapted from Jeremy Pang’s Chinese Unchopped (Quadrille £19.99)

SERVES: 6–8

PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES

COOKING TIME: 3 HOURS 30 MINUTES

4 garlic cloves

1 large knob of ginger

20 chicken drumsticks

8 tablespoons tomato ketchup

8 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

500ml of Tsingtao beer

1⁄2 spring onion, finely chopped, to garnish

PREPARATION

• Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.

• Finely chop the garlic and ginger and put in a deep roasting tray or big pot suitable for the oven along with the drumsticks and all the other ingredients. Mix everything together thoroughly,ensuring the chicken is well covered.

COOKING

• Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook uncovered for at least 2–3 hours, basting and turning the chicken every so often so they don’t burn (if they do start to ‘catch’, turn your oven down slightly). Towards the end of the cooking time the chicken will start to break up and fall apart slightly – this is a good sign, but you want to keep them as whole as possible (ready for grilling), so be careful when turning.

• Transfer the chicken to a hot barbecue and cook in batches for 2–3 minutes on each side until drumsticks are glazed and charred. Drizzle over a little of the remaining sauce and sprinkle over some finely chopped spring onion to garnish. Enjoy.

Verdict – in a word, terrific! Cooking with alcohol isn’t anything new but the BBQ occasions presents the perfect opportunity to introduce alcohol as an ingredient. Tsingtao’s distinctive taste adds a different dimension to BBQ cooking and works fantastically well with pork or chicken. I’d urge any budding barbecuists to give it a go!

Details: www.tsingtaobeer.co.uk

So all that leaves me is to ask: what’s your favourite BBQ recipe, tip or trick? Come on folks, leave me a comment below because sharing is caring.

Also, before you go take a look at my blog on a fantastic condiment I reviewed earlier in the year; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.

Northern Munkee.

Mexican Hot Chili Garlic Sauce!

BBQ Mini-Series: Chili Garlic Sauce by Cholula

So, it’s officially the British summer and it’s that time when we fellas refuse to wear sun cream, go an offensive shade of puce and revert back to our Neanderthal instincts by making a fire to burn meat on.

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This mini-series explores some of the new and great products and recipes that I’ve foraged and found this year to make Britain’s BBQ season great. So, even if we need to turn to supplements rather than the sun for our vitamin D, we can always enjoy well-cooked, well-seasoned and well-complimented meat.

Cholula Hot Sauce

northernmunkeebites.cholula1

Packaging

In my opinion the beauty of this product is in its packaging and the distinctive wooden cap. The label draws up connotations of fresh ingredients, traditional cooking and authenticity. I’m also a big fan of the inclusion of Spanish on the label to add to the product’s character.

Price

£1.50– for a 150ml bottle this is very affordable and excellently positions it against other similar sauces (in profile not origin) such as Nando’s and Encona.

Delivery

I really enjoyed this sauce. I was expecting it to blow my socks off, which it didn’t, but the flavour that emanates from the chili is outstanding. The first taste you get is the vinegar of the arbol and piquin peppers which gently give way to an intense garlic hit. Although I wouldn’t describe this sauce as a powerful heat it does leave a pleasant tingling sensation on the lips and peripheries of the mouth.

I opted to use this sauce as an adornment for some sweet potato chips and it worked superbly; however, I can see this sauce being versatile in its usage and occasions.

Verdict – in a word, authentic! It’s hard to find a truly authentic sauce that doesn’t taste synthetic but this is one. I’m a big fan of hot sauces but not the types of sauces that tear a strip off your taste buds; I want a sauce that adds a depth of flavour and this certainly does that. Señores bien hecho!

Details: http://www.cholula.com/

So all that leaves me is to ask: what’s your favourite BBQ recipe, tip or trick? Come on folks, leave me a comment below because sharing is caring.

Also, before you go take a look at my blog on a fantastic condiment I reviewed earlier in the year; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.

Northern Munkee.

Pimp My Egg…

Product Review: Crackin’ Egg Co

Snacking is one of the fastest moving and most lucrative categories in food retailing; it’s constantly evolving where we, as consumers, become increasingly time poor and demand a more portable, convenient repertoire.

A cornucopia producers from multinational corporations to startisans have sought for new ways to steal a share of the market. This quest has seen a number of innovations hit the market place over the last ten years with health taking a leading role in terms of the snacking shoppers’ needs. However, as I’ve mentioned before, in this category TASTE IS KING. A successful snacking product needs to be firstly, great tasting and secondly, healthy. The era of Slimming World punishment eating has gone and health conscious shoppers and snackers are making lifestyle changes not short, sharp shocks to the system.

This review presents the ultimate in the cusp of the snacking trend. It takes the uber-convenience of a ready-to-eat boiled egg and pimps it! It is the definition of taste meets convenience.

Here’s what I thought…

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: gym junkies, health conscious, time-poor snackers

Packaging

I really like the packaging and branding. It’s not over the top but it’s targeted right at the early-adopter target audience with a matte cardboard sleeve that provides good shelf presence when it’s compared to other similar products on the market. The producers have also been careful to call out cues that are important to the snackers they are targeting: low GI, low in carbs, GF. The cleverest thing about the packaging, in my opinion, is the egg itself. Want to grab someone’s attention? Do an Avatar and paint yourself bright blue!

Plus there are some egg-cellent egg-based puns on-pack and who can resist joining a pun-off, even if it’s just for the crack?

Price

£1.59 – now if you sit there and work out the value in comparison to pack of a dozen eggs then you’ll be disappointed, but don’t do that. This price is for two eggs, which is an ample snack. If you compare it to other things being bought as snacks this is bang in-line with where it should be. Plus you can often pick them up on promotion at 2 for £2.50.

Delivery

Brilliant. I am already a fan of hard-boiled egg; whether they’re fresh or pickled I love them and they were a staple of my diet many moons ago when I played sport. However, this is taking them to the next level.

The flavour sachets add a depth to the flavour and lift the fleshy egg textures. There is always a danger that you drown the egg but this has been portioned just right. This is a great substitute for any other mid-afternoon snack and I’d take these over a bland sponge cake any time!

Verdict – in a word, egg-squisite (sorry!)! This is a great example of how fast-paced and alive the snacking category is and Crackin’ Egg Co have fit perfectly into the mould of what people expect: healthy, tasty and convenient. Great work Egg Men!

Northern Munkee.