Cocktail Favourites: Gentleman & Scholar

We told you we were going to be sharing with you some of the most delicious and interesting cocktails that the experts have to offer and today’s drink is a definite example of just that! With its 3.5oz of liqueur and bacon slice garnish (yes, bacon!) we think the Gentleman & Scholar is a great drink to usher in the colder months of the year. Yes, it’s cold and miserable but what better way to warm up than with a unique and tasty cocktail?

The Gentleman & Scholar comes from Nick at The Straight Up. Nick describes himself as a “self-taught lover of classic cocktails” and he uses his blog as a way of sharing his knowledge and passion. He was recently featured in Serious Eats’ 8 Great Cocktail Blogs You Should Read Now and deservedly so! The Straight Up features over 120 cocktails, both classic and from the mind of Nick himself. If that’s not enough, he also has great guides to spirits and techniques and an extensive catalogue of interesting articles.

This cocktail had to be on the list because, well…bacon? And with 3.5oz of yummy herbal liqueurs and bitters, this unique concoction seems like the perfect drink to welcome in the cooler Autumnal months. And, again, bacon.

The base of this drink is Rye, an American whiskey made of at least 51% rye. Around the 1700s and 1800s, rye whiskey was predominant in the North-eastern states of the U.S. although after the prohibition, its prevalence dwindled. Rye has a fruitier, spicier flavour than other whiskeys which makes it a great choice for a winter drink.

One ingredient of this cocktail that definitely intrigued us was Strega. The word Strega means “witch” in Italian and we had not come across the herbal liqueur before in a cocktail. The Digestif is produced in Benevento, Campania, Italy and is made from around 70 herbal ingredients including saffron which gives the drink its distinctive yellow hue. The complex herbal flavours, mysterious name and interesting bottle of this liqueur makes it a great one to have in any bar and is sure to be a conversation piece with your guests. Not to mention you’ll be able to whip up some exciting new cocktails like the Gentleman & Scholar!

What are your thoughts on this cocktail? Keep checking back for the next cocktail recipe!

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Cocktail Favourites: Hazy Sunset with Smoked Ice

Summer may be over but that doesn’t mean our love of delicious cocktails is! Over the next few weeks, Restaurant Choice is going to be publishing some exciting recipe cards featuring some of the most tantalising cocktails we could find from some respected bloggers and mixologists. So whether you like to take the fruity and refreshing cocktails of Summer through to the cold months of Winter, or you prefer something a little spicier and more appropriate for the holiday season, we’ve picked out a range of tasty concoctions that we think you’re going to love!

To begin our series of cocktail love, we’ve got the Hazy Sunset with Smoked Ice from Elana at Stir and Strain. Elana lives in Los Angeles and uses her blog as a way to experiment with her ideas and collaborate with readers in order to create the most amazing cocktails possible. A finalist for Saveur’s Best Cocktail blog of 2014, she really knows her stuff and Stir and Strain is definitely one to bookmark!

We chose this cocktail because we just LOVE the idea of our drink taking on new flavours as the ice melts and the smokiness diffuses into it.

A rum based drink, the Hazy Sunset uses 2oz including 0.5oz of over proof rum so this one is sure to pack a punch. Elana recommends using fresh ingredients which includes making your own syrups where possible. If you’re wondering where the hell you’re going to find smoked ice cubes, fear not! Elana’s got instructions for that too!

Another ingredient that all cocktail aficionados will know, but not necessarily understand, is Angostura Bitters. This infamous concoction of alcohol, herbs and spices is a staple in any serious cocktail lover’s bar. The bitters originated in Angostura, Venezuela. The exact recipe is a secret and was originally developed by Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert as a tonic to help soldiers with their upset stomachs. Nowadays you can find it in all sorts of cocktails, from Elana’s creation to old classics like Don Draper’s favourite the Old Fashioned.

Like this cocktail? Stay tuned for more to come! You won’t be disappointed!

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Swap This for That: A Guide to Clean(er) Eating [Infographic]

Aside from the virtuous feeling you get from eating a little cleaner, there are many other benefits to subscribing to a clean lifestyle. Not only is it likely that you’ll lose a few pounds, but increasing your intake of nutritious whole foods will help to boost your energy levels, clear you skin, prevent sickness and generally improve your day-to-day living.

However, many of us shy away from clean eating as it sounds complex. Don’t the meals take longer to prepare? Don’t they taste bland? Don’t I have to go to special shops to buy everything I need?

This infographic makes a few simple suggestions for swapping some of your staple favourites for clean alternatives.

clean-eating-swap-this-for-that


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1.) Swap 100g brown rice for 100g cauliflower rice

Okay, so this might not sound like the most delicious swap in the world, but trust us, once you’ve given cauli-rice a whirl you’ll never go back! Brown rice is still a great choice if you’re eating healthy, but if you fancy something a little lighter, then cauliflower rice is a good substitute; t’s light, fluffy, and takes on all of the flavour of the dish, just like traditional rice.

It’s an easy swap for those on a low-carb diet, and takes no time at all to prepare! Say goodbye to standing over the hob stirring your rice for 20 minutes; welcome in the era of the cauliflower instead.

Need some recipe inspiration? Give these a go:

Guilt-Free Egg Fried “Rice” via The Londoner

Cauliflower “Fried Rice” via SkinnyTaste

How to Make Cauliflower Rice via Oh My Veggies

Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice via I Breathe… I’m Hungry…

How to Substitute Cauliflower — Deliciously — for Just About Anything via Huffington Post

2.) Swap 100g spaghetti for 100g spaghetti squash

Yes, another carb-for-veg swap! If, like us, you just adore a big steaming bowl of hot spaghetti on a cold night and just don’t see how you could ever give that up, why not give spaghetti squash a go?

The inner strands of the squash are absolutely delicious when baked, boiled, or even slow-cooked, and gives you all of the warm fuzzy feelings a bowl of pasta does, without the starchiness.

If you can’t find spaghetti squash in your local supermarket, why not give growing them a go, or substitute spaghetti squash for courgette for an equally-as-delicious alternative.

Need some recipe inspiration? Give these a go:

Baked Spaghetti Squash Carbonara via The Kitchn

Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Squash Lasagne via Half Baked Harvest

Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash via The Comfort of Cooking

Zucchini Noodles with Pesto via Two Peas and Their Pod

12 Light and Delicious Veggie Noodle Recipes via BuzzFeed

3.) Swap 2 slices of white bread for 1 slice of rye bread

Just because you’re eating clean doesn’t mean that you have to cut out carbohydrates! Your body prefers carbs as it’s main source of energy, and you need to have it as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

However, when it comes to grains and bread, think ‘whole’ grains. Brown rice, quinoa, and rye breads are all good options. In order for a grain to become ‘white’, all of the nutrients must be stripped out, leaving you with minimal nutritional benefits.

Swap your normal 2 slices of white bread for a single slice of rye bread topped with a nutritional topping such as nut butter, smoked salmon and avocado or a classic BLT.

Need some recipe inspiration? Give these a go:

Rye Bread via BBC Good Food

Cranberry-Pecan-Rye Soda Bread via Top with Cinnamon

Open-Face Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Asparagus and Prosciutto via Bon Appetite

Nordic Open-Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches via The View from Great Island

The 10 Best Sandwich Recipes via The Guardian

4.) Swap 1 medium jacket potato for 1 medium sweet potato

Whilst both white potato and sweet potato are packed with vitamins and minerals (and are equally as delicious) sweet potato wins the battle as they provide over 400% of your RDA of vitamin A, which is essential for a strong immune system and healthy looking skin.

Just because you’re eating clean doesn’t mean you have to give up your beloved jacket potato, but when you feel like switching things up, give the sweet potato a go – it can be baked, fried, boiled and mashed, just like your traditional spud!

Need some recipe inspiration? Give these a go:

Cinnamon and Paprika Sweet Potato Wedges via Deliciously Ella

7 Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes via BodyBuilding.com

5 Sweet Potato Recipes via Abel & Cole

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Black Pepper via Saveur

Roasted Broccoli Rabe, Sweet Potato and Ricotta Crostini via Food52

5.) Swap 1 Tbsp Mayonnaise for 1 Tbsp Avocado

Okay, okay, stick with us on this one! Avocado can be substituted for mayonnaise, and we promise you won’t even notice! Avocado, when mashed, is just as creamy and delicious as mayo, but it also brings its healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamins to the table too.

It makes a great pasta sauce, can be spread on bread instead of mayo or butter, and is generally just super-tasty!

Need some recipe inspiration? Give these a go:

How to Mash an Avocado via Live Strong

39 Deliciously Unexpected Avocado Recipes via Greatist

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta via Oh She Glows!

Tuna and Crab Avocado Wraps via Nigella

Better Egg Salad via The Kitchn

6.) Swap 1 tbsp butter for 1 tbsp coconut oil

There has been some debate as to whether coconut oil is really better for you than butter. Whilst coconut oil does boast a few more calories and a few more grams of fat than butter, about half of virgin coconut oil’s saturated fat is lauric acid. Bear with us whilst we get a bit technical here!

Lauric acid is a medium-chain triglyceride that turns out to have a number of health-promoting properties. We can also easily digest MCT’s and convert them to energy.

A tablespoon of coconut oil a day has also been proven to aid weight loss according to research from the Journal of Nutrition.

Not sure where to start with coconut oil? Check these out:

Sweet Potatoes Roasted in Coconut Oil via Food52

Homemade Coconut Oil Honey Almond Granola via Lovely Little Kitchen

Pink Power Detox Smoothie via Oh She Glows!

No-Bake Coconut Crack Bars via Chocolate Covered Kate

50 Ways to Use Coconut Oil by Swansons Health

7.) Swap 1 cup semi-skimmed milk for 1 cup almond milk

Did you know that 65% of the human population has difficulty processing lactose, the sugars in milk? Whether you’re lactose intolerant or not, almond milk can be a tasty, and healthy, alternative to cows milk.

If you’re going to give almond milk a go, choose an unsweetened variety to reduce the amount of sugar you’re drinking in.

Need some recipe inspiration? Give these a go:

How to Make Almond Milk via The Kitchn

No Dairy Chocolate Pudding via A Beautiful Mess

Almond Milk Pancakes via The Cake Hunter

Dairy-Free Chocolate Ice Cream via The Minimalist Baker

Creamy Leek and Almond Pasta via Love and Lemons

8.) Swap 1 glass of orange juice for 1 glass of fruit water

Now, this is an easy one. Whilst orange juice is tasty and packed with vitamin C, it’s also full of fructose. Whilst fructose is a naturally occurring sugar, it’s still a sugar none-the less.

If you don’t like the taste of plain water, then adding fruit it an easy way to make it taste great, without adding calories! Plus, it’ll help towards your daily recommended intake of water (about 1.6l per day for women, and 2l for men).

Get fruity. Try these delicious combinations:

Pomegranate and Rosemary Infused Water via Divine Glowing with Health

3 Easy Infused Water Recipes via A Beautiful Mess

Raspberry, Rose Petal and Vanilla Water via She Who Eats

Blueberry and Orange Water via The Peach Kitchen

Strawberry, Lime and Cucumber via Back to Her Roots

9.) Swap a cup of tea with milk and 1 sugar for a black cup of tea with a slice of lemon

We can’t start our day without a cup of tea, so we wondered how we could turn our builder’s brew in to something a little healthier. It turns out that skipping the milk and sugar and drinking your tea black keeps the flavonoids called catechins intact!

You don’t need to skip the milk completely, just having one cup of tea a day without your usual additions could be enough to make a difference!

Need some tea advice? Check these out:

How to Make a Proper Pot of Black Tea via The Kitchn

How to Make Iced Tea via Bluebird Tea Co

Lemon Black Tea via Food.com

10.) Swap 100g vanilla ice cream for 100g protein ice cream

Hands up who has a sweet tooth? Trust us, our hands are most firmly in the air. You just can’t be a delicious bowl of icecream, but when it comes to clean eating, how do you avoid all those delicious sugars?

A simple way to clean up your ice cream act is to swap you vanilla ice cream for protein ice cream! Just take 500g of 2% fat Greek yoghurt, mix it up with half a cup of your favourite protein powder and pop in the freezer. Fifteen minutes will have you a frozen yoghurt texture, and the longer you leave it, the more solid the texture becomes!

Want some more ice cream goodness? Check these recipes out:

Cocoa Banana Almond Dairy-Free Ice Cream via Offbeat and Inspired

Two Ingredient Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream via Two Peas and Their Pod

2 Ingredient Protein Ice Cream via BodyBuilding.com

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Ice Cream via Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Raw Cookie Dough Ice Cream via Clean Food Dirty City

11.) Swap 50g chocolate chips for 50g cacao nibs

Chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate chip ice cream. Chocolate chip everything! We adore chocolate chips, but realise that stuffing handfuls of them in to our mouths might not be the healthiest thing to do ever. If you can’t give up your sweet treats, why not clean them up with cacao nibs instead?

Cacao nibs are cacao beans which have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken in to smaller pieces. These nibs are then processed to make the chocolate we know and love today.

Cacao beans are packed full of vitamins and minerals including magnesium, fibre, iron, antioxidants, and phenylethylamine (PEA – we produce this naturally when we’re excited).

Cacao nibs have a chocolately taste but it might come as a bit of a surprise if you’re used to sweeter milk chocolate.

Get chocolately! Try these tasty nib recipes:

Raw Chocolate Nib Brownies via Nutrition Stripped

Cocoa Nib Coffee Cake via Not Without Salt

Oatmeal Walnut Cacao Nib Cookies via Joy the Baker

Raw Almond Coconut Cacao Nib Bites via Oh Lady Cakes

Double Cacao Buckwheat Granola via My Blue and White Kitchen

Do you have any clean-eating swaps you think we should give a go? Or have any recipes you’d like to share?

We’d love to hear from you!

Tips for Travelling with a Picky Eater

We all know one; a friend or family member who knows what they like, and won’t diverge from that path. The kind of person who orders ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ at every Indian restaurant and has a complete aversion to seafood, the kind of person who will only eat cornflakes for breakfast and cheese sandwiches for lunch; the picky eater. Generally living with a fussy eater is something we get used to, but when travelling, it becomes a little trickier.

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With the world of TV seemingly obsessed with pandering to ‘the foodie’, it’s easy to make our fussy friends feel ashamed of their habits, but they needn’t be. Indeed, some people simply can’t stomach exotic foods and this only becomes a problem when travelling in countries where there are no familiar fast-food chains or supermarkets to fall back on. Continue reading

Four Apps Food and Drink Lovers Should Never Be Without

Our smartphones and tablets have radically altered the way in which we live our lives by bringing an extra element of convenience to everything we do. Whether we’re looking for a quick and easy answer to settle a petty argument or checking up on the latest breaking news over morning coffee, the perpetual access to information has made modern living that much easier, none more so than when it comes to our dining habits.

There are hundreds of apps available to both iOS and Android users, which offer foodies and wine buffs alike access to information regarding the hottest restaurants and bars, and the best recipes. So we’ve gathered together some of our favourites that we think are worth downloading…

Evernote Food

Free on iOS/Android

evernote-food

Whether you’re looking for your new favourite restaurant or a recipe to wow the guests at your next dinner party, Evernote Food acts as your one-stop shop for everything food related.

The app acts as both a cookbook and rolodex of restaurants. It’s split into four sections; Recipes, Cookbook, Restaurants and ‘My Meals’, each of which represent different aspects of your culinary life.

The recipes section allows users to use keywords to scour some of the web’s best food blogs for recipes, each of which are presented with a picture and a link to the recipe, which can be saved into your own personal cookbook.

Meanwhile, restaurants scans your local area and displays all restaurants, takeaways and fast-food establishments in the immediate area, which can be saved to your ‘favourites’ with a simple swipe. If you wish to look for restaurants outside your area, there is also the option to search by location name.

Finally, the ‘My Meals’ section lets users take pictures of their creations and share them with friends over the network.

BarChick

BarChick

Free on iOS/Android

BarChick is an award-winning app that ranks some of the best bars in 60 of the biggest cities in the world. The idea behind the app is to direct users towards the drinking holes that have a little more character, class and charm than your generic JD Wetherspoon hovel.

When you first sign up to BarChick you’re asked to input your nearest major city and drink of choice and the app uses these details to pinpoint bars nearby that suit your requirements. It’s a quick, simple and (best of all) free to use, and even has its own ‘BarChick Bargains’ section, which collates any deals in your area, letting you in on happy hours, 2 for 1 deals and more.

Untappd

untappd

Free on iOS/Android

The beer movement has been steadily building steam over the last few years, with more and more drinkers being turned on to the joys of cask ales and craft beers. Untappd is an app that taps (pun very much intended) into this growing fascination with fine beers by focusing on the best beers available in the local area.

The app scans nearby pubs and bars and tells users which beers are currently on tap, the beers can then be ‘tapped’, rated and shared via social media, where friends and followers can ‘toast’ your beverage of choice. You can even search for nearby breweries, earn ‘badges’ and add beers to your ‘wish list’ that you intend to try next.

Urbanspoon

urbanspoon

Free on iOS/Android

Urbanspoon is a pretty ubiquitous app when it comes to restaurant ratings. Indeed, many restaurants can stand and fall on their Urbanspoon score.

It’s an incredibly simple app that exists primarily to help diners find nearby restaurants, but also functions in a manner akin to Trip Advisor, in that once you’ve dined you can leave a rating and review, which other users can use in order to make an informed decision. The app has over one million restaurants on its servers, from dinky little fast food establishments to Michelin star restaurants. The apps standout feature, however, is the ‘shake’ function, which allows you to literally shake your phone to randomise a selection, perfect for the indecisive eaters amongst you.

Restaurant Showcase – Mohujos Mexican

To showcase some of the hidden gems where you can use your Restaurant Choice vouchers, we will be interviewing the owners of our finest independent restaurants to find out a little bit more their delicious dishes.

First up is Mohujos Mexican Restaurant in Stockton on Tees run by the lovely Wendy. Let’s find out more!

 

Could you tell us a little about the history of your restaurant?

We opened in 2007. Research suggested Mexican Cuisine was going to be a growing trend over the following 5 years so we took a chance on it being a success. We did a lot of doorstep questionnaires to understand the needs and habits of our local market which really helped in the early days given that it was my first venture and I had no experience in the industry.

We wanted to focus on a fresh prepared menu with lots of flavour and local produce where possible, with a personal and friendly service in a relaxed environment. We have succeeded in sticking to our ethos to this day and get excellent reviews and feedback.

 Mohujos Chilli Dish

What initially attracted you to the idea of opening a restaurant?

I was made redundant from my Sales Managers job and wanted a complete change of career. It was a sweeping idea that turned in to my dream job!

 

Do you have a signature dish?

We sell a chicken Parmesan which is a local tradition in Teesside, we added a Mexican twist and it became our best seller. We have recently won an award for the best Parmo in the world and recently were mystery shopped by the Parmo Hunters on facebook who gave a glowing report and 5/5. Our signature Mexican dish has to be our pulled pork burrito.

 Jalapenos at Mohujos

What’s your favourite dish to prepare?

We do a Jambalaya Mexicana which requires careful preparation to ensure the right consistency and taste.

 

Do you have a variety of vegetarian options?

We have a fantastic variety of Veg dishes, including enchiladas, Fajitas and burritos – we use fresh vegetables and have the option of quorn. We also cater well for Gluten free.

 

Mohujos Salad

Is there a children’s menu?

Kids menu is 4.25 for Main, dessert and drink…includes mini versions of all our classic dishes.

 

What about your drinks menu – what are the favourites there?

We have an excellent range of exclusive Mexican beers such as Chilli beer, Mexicali and Red Pig ale. My favourite drinks are our margaritas and Mojitos.

 

Mohujos beers

Describe your restaurant in 5 words!

Fun, casual, friendly, tasty, authentic

 

Tell us a little bit about the décor and the inspiration for this!

It’s bright and colourful with lots of Mexican artifacts, blankets. Inspired by the Mexican culture and the big fuss they make of sharing meal times with family and friends.

 

Mohujos restaurant interiors

What’s the best piece of customer feedback you’ve ever received?

We have a Mexican lady who said our Sea bass Veracruz was as good as any she had eaten in Mexico and in general she gave us an authenticity stamp of approval on all aspects of our decor and food.

 

 Have you won any awards? If so could you tell us a little about it?

We won the Worlds best Parmo, were shortlisted for Restaurant of the year North East and Shortlisted for Gordon Ramsey’s F word.

 Delicious desserts at Mohujos

And a couple of fun questions!

Have you ever had any famous customers? If so could you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes, lots! Kevin Richardson, ex England/Everton player who is a coach at Newcastle United is a regular here as is Graham Kavanagh who played for Middlesbrough and is currently the Carlisle United Manager.

 

Mohujos

 

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

A fried egg sandwich with ketchup and black pepper.

 

If you could have a dinner party with 5 celebrity guests dead or alive who would you invite?

Marco Pierre White, Keith lemon, Richard Branson, Theo Paphitis, Bob Mortimer

 

Thanks for joining us Mohujos! If you’d like to find out more about this charming Mexican restaurant then visit the Mohujos website.

 

 

 

Unique Places to Dine – The Best Themed Restaurants in Japan

Tokyo is a city with a huge and varied population, and the varied demographics in the city are clearly reflected in the sheer number and variety of restaurants that it is home to. There are more than 160,000 restaurants in the city, serving almost every food that you can imagine. The most interesting restaurants, however, are memorable for more than just food. If you thought London had some fantastic themed restaurants then you’ll be astonished by Japan’s offerings.
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The World’s Weirdest Food Festivals

Food festivals are a great way to learn about an area’s culture, sample their favourite foods, and enjoy a party too. Most food festivals focus on locally grown produce and local cheeses, wines or other delicacies. If you’re looking for something with a bit of a twist, why not try a traditional food fight, celebrate your love of Spam, or head to Iceland to sample ram’s testicles and fermented shark? There’s a whole new world out there of exotic foods and food-related fun.
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The Best London Restaurants with a View

It’s hard to beat the experience of dining at a fine restaurant that offers a beautiful view. Gazing out at the sunset while enjoying a luxurious meal and a glass of wine makes for a wonderful evening. Here’s a quick look at some of the best places to go for a meal with a view in the London.

 

1. Galvin at Windows

Galvin at Windows view

This Michelin Star calibre restaurant is located in the heart of Mayfair. Diners can enjoy delicious British sea food while taking in the sights of London thanks to the breathtaking 360 degree views offered from the dining area. The restaurant is located on the 28th floor of the Hilton on Park Lane, and the views are spectacular on a clear day. Expect to spend about £70 per person.

 
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