Un très délicieux Pancake Day!

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For a change, and because we specialise in French drinks, we decided upon a pancake day with a distinctly French influence. So where would we find out more? Simply by chatting to Patrick Jouan, the founder of Le Bon Vin who grew up in Brittany, France. What he described was mouthwatering, so we researched the recipes and the wines to match. Enjoy!

Apple Crêpes with Calvados

The classic combination of sweet apples with a calvados kick makes these pancakes impossible to resist. This recipe by Delia Smith is relatively simple to do while the results are outstanding. We recommend Calvados du Domfrontais, Domaine Pacory and Cidre Poire Normand to sip while dining.

  • Preparation time: less than 30 mins
  • Cooking time: 10 to 30 mins
  • Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 25g/1oz buckwheat flour
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml tub crème fraiche
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 2 tbsp. Calvados

To make the pancakes:

  • 50g/2oz melted butter

To serve:

  • caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp calvados
  • double cream, well chilled

Method

1. Peel and core the apple and cut into quarters. Coarsely grate into a bowl then toss it in 2 tbsp. Calvados and leave aside for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sift the flour, buckwheat flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Then in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and crème fraiche together, then gradually whisk this into the flour mixture using an electric hand whisk until you have a smooth, lump free batter. Stir in the apple and calvados.

3. To make the pancakes, melt the butter in the frying pan, then tip it into a cup. To make your first pancake, heat the pan over a medium heat until it is very hot then use 1 tbsp. of the batter to make each pancake, cook until it becomes crisp at the edges and is a lovely golden colour underneath, then, using a palette knife or spatula, turn it over and cook the other side until crisp and golden (about 45 seconds on each side.)

4. Remove the crêpe to a warm plate. Lubricate the pan again with the melted butter, then continue cooking the pancakes until the batter is all used up. Transfer the pancakes to warmed plates, giving each person three or four, lightly dusted with caster sugar. Then combine the cream and calvados, put a little on each serving and hand the rest round separately. For a special occasion, you could flame these by leaving them piled on a large plate, dusting with caster sugar, then warming 3 tbsp. of calvados in a small pan ­ light it with a match and pour the flaming calvados over the pancakes. When the flame has died down serve each person three or four pancakes with pouring cream, served separately.

Download the recipe PDF here.

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Ham & Gruyere Galette Complète

Galettes hail from the Brittany region of France, and like bread were historically a very basic food item. This recipe is topped with an egg, melted Swiss cheese and ham. You can add almost anything, caramelised onions, sautéed mushrooms and even add green vegetables like spinach. Pay tribute to its rustic origins by pairing this dish with a glass of apple or pear cidre – Loic Raison Brut or a rich buttery Chardonnay like this one..

  • Preparation time: less than 30 mins
  • Cooking time: 10 to 30 mins
  • Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 80g buckwheat flour
  • 80g plain flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 110ml milk
  • 110ml water
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, melted, plus extra as needed

Filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 225g Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 225g sliced ham

Method

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, milk, and water. Whisk from the inside out, gradually pulling in the dry ingredients from the sides until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. Whisk in the melted butter. Then, whisk in 55ml cold water, or enough so that the batter has the consistency of heavy cream.

3. Heat a 12-inch non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and ladle some of the batter in the centre. Immediately tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter into a thin, even layer. Return to the heat and cook undisturbed until lightly browned at the edges, about 1 to 2 minutes. Then flip with a spatula and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat until batter is finished.

4. To make a galette, heat the crepe pan and wipe a tiny bit of butter around the bottom. Add the crepe, ugly-side down (you’ll know which side I’m talking about), heat for 10 seconds or so, then flip. Place a slice of ham in the centre of the crepe and then crack an egg on top of the ham. Sprinkle about a ¼ c. of grated cheese around the egg and cook over medium heat until the egg white sets. Add the spinach and tomatoes at this stage if required. If you want to speed up the process, put a domed lid or another frying pan over the crepe. As soon as the cheese has melted, fold the edges of the crepe up so the galette is square and the yolk is framed by the round edges of the crepe.

Download the recipe PDF here.

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Echlinville – from barley to bottle

 

Established in 2012, Echlinville Distillery was the dream of local man, Shane Braniff, and in 2013 it became Northern Ireland’s first licenced distillery in over 125 years. Since then, his hard work has paid off as the distillery and brands are now firmly established in the whiskey industry, winning gold at the World Whiskey Awards and the Irish Whiskey Awards.

The new ultra-modern state of the art distillery, set in the magnificent grounds of the Echlinville Estate on the picturesque Ards peninsula, has rich soil, saline air and a temperate climate that contributes to producing the finest Irish Malt and Pot Still whiskeys.

Unusually the barley, used for each base spirit, is grown in the estate’s surrounding fields and floor malted in house (most other distilleries buy in their already-malted barley).

There are four brands produced by the distillery: the historic Dunville’s, the extremely popular Jawbox Gin, the self-titled Echlinville Gin and the modern and quirky FECKiN range – the brainchild of the founder Shane Braniff.

Dunville’s VR Old Irish Whiskey Dunville’s Three Crowns Irish Whiskey

Almost 80 years after the last Dunville’s was distilled, the Echlinville Distillery revived the Dunville’s brand, and began distilling at their facility.  There were over 100 years of sometimes turbulent history in the family owned distillery (and tea importer), Dunville & Co. Their most popular whiskey, Dunville’s VR, was launched in 1837 and named after Queen Victoria, when she ascended the throne. Unfortunately, Dunville & Co. was liquidated in 1936 due, in part, to family tragedies and Prohibition in the USA.

Jawbox Gin

A Classic London Dry that is also the first single estate gin, made from grain harvested, distilled and bottled on the estate. Named after the jawbox – the colloquial name for the Belfast sink because it reflects what this gin stands for: ‘a time when the front door was left unlocked. When the kitchen was the scullery.  And in the tiny scullery stood this big sink. Clothes and dishes and weans got washed there. A lot of craic was heard around a jawbox.’ Also, a tribute to Belfast is the recommendation to mix this gin with ginger ale as along with ship building, rope making and delicate linen weaving ginger ale was invented there.

Echlinville Gin

Ireland’s first super-premium single estate pot still gin made using local botanicals to infuse the land and the sea – petals from the whin bush (gorse) and seaweed from Strangford Lough.

FECKiN Whiskey, FECKiN Spiced & FECKiN Vodka

The name is the only non-serious part of this range and surprisingly it doesn’t translate to the other foul-mouthed swear word that quickly comes to mind. In Ireland, this challenging verb means to throw something or to keep a look out. From the late 19th century it was defined as ‘to steal’.  Whatever you believe it means, it’s certainly eye catching, unconventional and it totally encapsulates the ‘craic’.

For 2017 the range got a fresh new look – a rectangular bottle and newspaper style double sided labelling with quirky news stories about ashtrays for motorcycles and ejector seats for helicopters, that will no doubt keep the imbiber entertained while sipping. Look out for FECKiN Gin and FECKiN Spiced Rum, due in stock soon.

FECKiN Vodka, FECKiN Whiskey & Echlinville Gin

Ginaissance not set to slow down any time soon

ginaissance

You may have noticed that the popularity of gin has skyrocketed in the last few years and the signs are that it isn’t going to land anytime soon. Indeed, there’s a well-known single malt distiller in Scotland who says that sales of their gin, which was only launched in 2011, are set to overtake sales of their whisky.

This all got me thinking as to why and how gin has changed from a fuddy duddy tipple for ladies who lunch to an á la mode potation for the sophisticated and fashionable.

Part of its success could be because of the way it is served in the southern Mediterranean – in a balloon glass with lots of ice and a vast array of garnishes. Holidaymakers would then head home and create their own Gintonica. Also the fact that now bar-tending isn’t just seen as a summer job but as a professional career in its own right, with bartenders being much more innovative and creative in their work.

This gin-aissance has produced a craft-beer type of industry all over the world – in the last year alone there were 50 new gin distilleries in the UK! Their artisanal approach is clearly working – if only winemaking could be seen in the same light, as after all winemakers are craftsmen: they plant and tend to the vines, harvest the fruit when it’s perfectly ripe and then make the wine! It is even more skilled than most distillers as they don’t just buy the main ingredient to make the base spirit.

Anyway, back to gin. It isn’t just acceptable to put another gin on the shelves – the contemporary gin tippler wants authenticity, history and to know about the people who make it. They want to know where was it made? By whom? In what size batches? And by what methods?

There are a few things that might just slow the gin revival – the first is the cost. Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible for a craft gin to compete with the prices of Gordons, Beefeater and Plymouth as the scale of production is so small. Also there is a fear that the desire to be different could mean they are tempted to experiment with different flavours – just like the vodka trend in the 1990’s. There are already some sweet gins available – mostly marketed to people who don’t actually like the taste of gin but who want to be seen as fashionable. Thankfully the majority, and those which are most popular, have more interesting spicy, bitter and herbal flavours.

Over the last few years as we have seen a rise in the offers of new gin we get an email nearly every day from another distiller. But as with our wine, we keep the right selection on Le Bon Vin’s shelves. We choose the most flavoursome, unusual or just plain excellent gin. In 2016 we welcomed Friday Chic Gin from Portugal which sits well with the others on the shelves and more recently we received Echlinville Gin from the distillery of the same name (read more here) and the premium Forest Gin. There’s Hobart No.4 from Tasmania from the makers of the World’s Best Whisky which has won awards at the 2016 Gin Masters competition. We also have Ireland’s only single-estate gin that uses vapour distilling to infuse the botanicals (Jawbox Belfast Cut), finally Sheffield’s own Sir Robin of Locksley – you may have seen the iconic bright green packaging and filigree label design.

So what comes next? We do expect this boom to slow, but only a little bit, the gin-ophiles will find their favourites, be it a London Dry, Old Tom, Genever or one of the new wave.

Whatever you choose – and don’t forget to use a good quality mixer as, like Fever-Tree says, ¾ of a drink is a mixer so choose the best – try a Gin Tonica – grab a chilled balloon glass, fill it with ice, pour in a generous measure of your chosen gin and serve with a special garnish. Let the gin-aissance continue!


See the article published on the Sheffield Telegraph website here.