Will apple cider be the next gin?

Apple cider is a drink I never think of buying or drinking. There’s no particular reason, I just never think of it … maybe because I don’t know it that well or that I never noticed it in bar’s or on menu’s? Or maybe it is like with regular apple juice, I like it a but I usually only drink it when somebody tells me they have it 🙂  That’s why I was more than happy to learn more about this wonderful product and who better to teach me than the one and only Andy De Brouwer owner of restaurant Les Eleveurs and Belgian top sommelier?!

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Apple cider is basically a low alcoholic sparkling (around 4%) version of apple juice 🙂 . I’m not going to bore you with the whole production process as you can find it back via following link.

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What Andy showed us last week was that although apple cider might not sound like a very “modern”, “hip” or “sexy” thing, it actually is. It is a great base to make cocktails, can be paired with funky appetizers and it is just tasty 🙂 … What do you think about a Strongbow elderflower Scotch whisky longdrink, a frozen Margarita paired with some homemade nachos or a Mojito with Gold Apple? Or is a Negroni with Strongbow red berries paired with a stuffed artichoke more your thing?

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Next to all home-made ingredients Andy used Strongbow apple cider to make his cocktails. I confess that I had never heard of Strongbow before. Strongbow is an English apple cider brand, but then again technically speaking also Belgian. I consider it as a local product as the biggest part of the production happens in Belgium. So I think it is ok to call Strongbow apple cider a local product, right?!

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Strongbow has 3 different types of apple cider:

  • Gold Apple: fresh, fruity flavor with a hints of green apple
  • Red berries: aromatic combination of apple and red fruits
  • Elderflower: subtle aromatic combination of apple and elderflower with a fresh end note of lime

The cocktail that was the biggest surprise to me was the mojito!! What surprised me about Andy’s version was that even though there was no alcohol in it, it tasted exactly the same as the “original” version. No alcohol with the exception of the cider’s alcohol that because of the mixing with other non alcoholic drinks would be 1% maybe…Which basically means you can drink more of these puppies then you could of the original one… so I’ll go for the Apple cider version if I may

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I became a fan and will without any doubt try to make these cocktails at home. And because I like you soooo much I’ll share with you Andy’s Strongbow mojito recipe .

Ingredients for +/- 20 cocktails:

  • 5 cl fake rum
  • Fresh mint (1 bot op 2 l. water)
  • 4 teabags of gunpowder (Chinese greentea)
  • 5 g cardamom bolsters
  • 200 g raisins

Per person

  • 15 cl Strongbow Gold Apple cider
  • ¼ lime
  • 1 branch mint
  • 2 drops Angostura
  • 2 lumps of cane sugar

Preparation:

For the ‘fake rum’:

  • Make an infusion of fresh mint, gunpowder and lightly toasted and crushed cardamom bolsters.
  • Leave to cool (not in the refrigerator) and sieve.
  • Let the raisins swell 24 hours in this fluid.
  • Riddle with a fine sieve, press the grapes with a spoon.
  • Recover the liquid.
  1. Put mint leaves in glass.
  2. Wash lime, cut into quarters and press the juice out of two and put in the glass.
  3. Add two lumps of cane sugar.
  4. Mortar with a mortar to a syrup.
  5. Add the fake rum.
  6. Fill the glass with ice cubes and fill with Strongbow Gold Apple. Stir with a bar spoon.
  7. Finish with 2 drops of Angostura and garnish with fresh mint and a slice of lime.

In case you would like to try to make it yourself,  Strongbow apple cider is available in almost all supermarkets. In case you want to know more good cocktail recipes and combinations with dishes I strongly recommend you the new book on cocktails by my dear friend Andy the Brouwer ‘Cocktail a night’.

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Cheers!

Floom makes you bloom

Last weekend I’ve been a healthy boy, not that I am ever non-healthy as to me healthy means not eating fast food or unhealthy products. I rarely eat those, I always eat fresh and good products and eat lots of vegetables and fruit… BTW Healthy doesn’t need to mean Bio, because sometimes people seem to mix those 2.  So basically last weekend I have been an even healthier boy than usually :-). I must admit it is because of my lovely wife I did it (for who else 😉 ). She took me to a pop-up brunch restaurant called Floom.  I won’t say I was immediately tempted in saying ‘yes’, as in her opening sentence she mentioned Muesli a few to many times to my opinion and liking… Let’s just say that is that step over the extreme healthy line I don’t always feel like taking. It brings up the words “without butter and sugar” up in my head and those 2 just happen to be 2 of my favorite breakfast partners 🙂 🙂  Nevertheless I am always into trying something new and getting convinced my idea/thought about it was wrong…

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Floom is a once a month pop-up brunch restaurant that serves a healthy brunch where sugar gets left out as much as possible. They do replace the sugar by natural sweeteners like agave syrup. What  Floom tries to show people (like me) that food without the regular sugar and organic food doesn’t have to be dull or boring and lets not forget to make people healthier. Floom also has a wide rang of gluten free products… just FYI. What Julie (owner and founder of Floom) had prepared for us that ‘morning’ did look fantastic and I couldn’t wait to fill my plate (ooooh yeah I rime). .. Really she had prepared Apple-rhubarb clafoutis, chocolate donuts, mango chutney, Red beet salad, green pancakes to name a few… next to her regular  selection of muesli that is…  Julie’s smile and pride about her food did also give me that extra ‘push’ to try other things :-). I was that surprised and so busy with the food I forgot taking pictures like I usually do, so the few pictures you see are from Floom… I promise that next time I go I’ll try to post a few of my own pictures. But I’m sure these picture’s do the trick 🙂

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You could really tell she had put (and puts) her whole heart in the food and lots of passion. She had even prepared a special banana bread for my wife as she knows my wife loves it so much … (my wife already did a few Floom brunches) I enjoy nothing more that people who work with their heart and passion!! I  find it my duty to spread the word. I do! I also do my best in showing/letting those people know they are doing a great job and that I’ll try to help them in every way I can to spread that word and making their passion an even better success than it already is. I know they’re not waiting for it, but I’ll do it anyhow 🙂

Did she surprise me? Yes she did!! I was a bit skeptic in the beginning, but after the 2nd time I filled up my plate I had no doubt anymore that the ‘extreme healthy’ (in my eyes 🙂 ) food wasn’t as bad as I imagined it. Muesli won’t become my daily breakfast, but it isn’t banned anymore from my breakfast table as it might have been before. One step at a time and maybe after my next Floom brunch they will have convinced me even more…

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I do hope you guys get to try one of the famous Floom brunches, do check their FB page or website. In case you’re not able to wait for the next brunch you can also order some of Julie’s home made products via the Floom website. If she was able to convince me, she can convince everybody (she can). You can also find more info on Floom on their website, as I’ve been very brief 🙂

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Homecooking without cooking at home

Just two weeks ago Mama Kookt opened its doors. Mama kookt is a caterer/delishop that focuses on making home cooked meals. Mayda andBeatriz ( owners) are of the opinion that people don’t take enough time to eat a decent meal (I fully agree with them), which often results in eating fast food or unhealthy food. Eating a good home cooked meal is so much tastier (I sometimes dream of home cooked meals, I really do 🙂 ). That is why they decided to change this by offering a home cooked meal for a modest price of 9,5 EUR, that you can either pick up or get delivered at home. Mayda and Beatriz  prepare their home cooked meals with a Hispanic twist as Mayda is from Venezuela and Beatriz from Spain.

Just in a few clicks or via the phone you order your home cooked meal either per day, a week or a whole month. FYI, the menu also changes every day and for what you can see on their website looks very yummy :-). Every day you can choose between meat, fish or veggie always accompanied with vegetables (so you even get your daily vitamins) and for those who want also some desserts. You can also just pass buy their shop in the trendy Antwerp fashionstreet Kammestraat. In their shop they also cell imported Spanish, Italian and English deli products.

So if you’re in for a nice home cooked meal with a southern influence, you should definitely check out Mama kookt!

I’m sorry for my foreign followers, for the moment it is only available in Belgium… but who knows, maybe someday they’ll be thinking of expansion 🙂

Mama kookt:

Website: http://www.mamakookt.be

Address:

Kammenstraat 79

2000 Antwerp, Belgium

Phone n°: +32 (0)3 232 03 10

The start of a healthy 2012?

Hello everybody! Yesterday evening I did a real nice discovery… well that is if you guys are into gardening? I found a very nice website about how you can plan and organize planting your own vegetables…  The site is called Veggie Harvest.  I’ll be honest I’m not really a specialist, but I must say that they did a great job. They divided the whole vegetable planting in 10 zones, each zone stands for a period of time you should start the planting or gather all the vegetables. (for more vegetables that you know)

Below you can see an example  of a calendar

So if your new year’s resolution was to eat more healthy… you’d better put on those rubber boots and gloves!! I know, I’d also need more convincing than this to start gardening, but just know everything you do yourself is done/tastes that much better + next time your friends come over you can say the vegetables are from you garden…

Anyway get more inspired on the  Veggie Harvest website