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Scotland

Second Draught: a wintry porter from Innis & Gunn

Last week’s First Draught post was devoted to Innis & Gunn’s winter porter. This is the second time (out of about 25) that I’ve written about one of their releases and that’s partly because I like what oak-aging does for beer. But, also this porter in particular does a really good job of balancing delicately between representing a seasonal style and not letting those flavours dominate.

An angle here that will be interesting to those who serve Innis & Gunn for a living is that the Scottish brewery is running a contest to determine their next recipe. It’s open to bartenders and involves prizes (including a trip to Scotland for finalists) and some pretty wide recognition. Find more details through their Facebook page (more…)

More Marmalade

Backlit by the winter sun, Seville orange marmalade

“If an epicure could remove by a wish, in quest of sensual gratifications, wherever he had supped he would breakfast in Scotland.” -Dr. Samuel Johnson as quoted in John Thorne’s Mouth Wide Open

In the chapter “Maximum Marmalade” in his book Mouth Wide Open, John Thorne describes marmalade as being the most masculine of breakfast preserves and shares his theory of how it evolved in Scotland to replace the morning snort of whisky.  To agree with Thorne’s writing on food is like agreeing with Hemingway on fishing and so I’ll just fall back on quoting his description:

“It is, after all, the only fruit preserve with an attitude problem.  Where the others are all lambs, this one is a lion.  Ordinarily, sugar works as a calmative, soothing everything into unctuous fruitiness.  With marmalade, it plays the lion tamer, which with whip and chair just manages to keep its bitterness at bay.”

If we accept this description–and I do–and extend the analogy further it goes without saying that if it’s suitably masculine to attend this breakfast circus by eating marmalade it has to be even more manly to go behind the scenes as the ringleader and create our own recipe.  For both scotch and marmalade we appreciate that the careful craftsmanship involved is integral to their balanced natures.  I don’t think I’ll ever make my own fifteen year-old whisky but in today’s post I’ll take another shot at creating a perfect marmalade recipe.  I’m after a finished product which assertively presents thick-cut, fragnant, yet bitter Seville orange peel as the main act and not just a bitter garnish suspended in a sweet jelly. (more…)