Month: November 2008

Good Oil? Goody!

Good Oil

Good Oi

Let’s just say outright that – as an online PR person – I have a new appreciation for those bloggers I’ve asked to do reviews or go to events or whatever. It’s been an entire week since the foodie event I went to (put together by the good people who did the Smirnoff London Bloggers Meetup) and I’ve done nothing but put my pictures up on Flickr. It’s been a completely mental week – and this is just about the first time I’ve sat down at a computer without work-related stuff to do.

But now, seeing as I’m home from work, with a glass of wine and no tryptophan from turkey in my system (because I’m not having any Thanksgiving this year), I’m ready to begin my catch-up….

As part of my induction to the London Food Bloggers circuit, I received an invite from Rax and Chris at Splendid to a dinner party hosted by the owners and producers of Good Oil, a hemp seed oil that actually lives up to its name.

Myself, Chris, Niamh (who was just named one of the Top 10 Food Bloggers from around the world by The Times), Helen, Lizzie and Alex all converged on a lovely flat in Westbourne Park to hang out with Henry Braham and Glynis Murray, the masterminds behind Good Oil for an all-around proper dinner party featuring dishes all made with Good Oil.

I had the chance to try out Good Oil before the event – very simply with a baguette from Sainsbury’s, a little garlic and some cracked pepper. While it had the look and texture of a regular olive oil, there definitely was something different. It was nuttier, a bit lighter and didn’t necessarily feel like it was clogging my arteries in the way that olive oil can. This is likely because Good Oil contains no trans fat, little saturated fat and is high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Chef Ben

I kept thinking there were a lot of possibilities in cooking with it, but I didn’t really have a clue how to go about it.

Enter Ben: our chef for the night, and Henry and Glynis’ son. Ben put together the entire menu for the evening, ranging from the ‘down home’ venison stew to a pea and pecorino crostini starter.

*As a side note – I hate peas, and I could more than stomach the crostini. Must have been the oil ;-)

We had a very eclectic mix, and as much as everything was tasty, the most surprising dish of the night was dessert. It doesn’t sound like much: just vanilla ice cream and shortbread. But with a drip or two of Good Oil, it took on completely different characteristics. The nuttiness in the vanilla ice cream suddenly lept out and the shortbread became rich and complex. In hindsight it makes perfect sense, but I never would have thought to put oil on a dessert. My mind is now reeling with possibilities.

However, as much as the food impressed me, Henry and Glynis’ story did even more so. Good Oil took over 8 years to get to where it is right now, which means that it’s gone through constant innovation and tests for taste, consistency and overall health benefits. It’s been – to say the least – a battle. Through the years they’ve lost crops (damn Devon weather), witnessed the foot and mouth crisis and had to deal with the never-ending question of why they were actually growing fields of hemp in the middle of the English countryside. Hearing the two of them talk about their product so passionately really helps the consumer identify with the brand.

The Good Oil Crew

The Good Oil Crew

The evening ended on a high note with me stumbling home to Maida Vale full on oil and wine, but I should have known that it didn’t stop there. Just like with the Blogger’s Meetup, Splendid went ahead and custom-tailored the night to each individual blogger. What I thought was just a casual conversation about our favourite recipes, turned out to be a perspicacious PR move on the part of Rax and Chris – because come this past Tuesday, I had a personalised recipe card of a Good Oil-take my favourite dish ever from the best restaurant in Ann Arbor: Pacific Rim‘s Japanese-style Sablefish with a Soy-Tamarind Glaze! Well done, guys (as usual!).

I’ve yet to try it, but that’s only because I can’t imagine how expensive sablefish is here in London.

Good Oil is currently stocked at most branches of Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Co-Op, as well as department stores like Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. Expect to pay a more-than-reasonable £5.99

Originally posted at Fake Plastic Noodles

A Rum Do with Elements 8 was a definitely a Do

Originally posted at Fake Plastic Noodles

Rum and I have a very love/hate relationship (I love mojitos, I hate hangovers), so it wasn’t completely without trepidation that I agreed to go to an Elements 8 rum-only bar tour on Monday night in Notting Hill. However, after a very hectic day at work, it sounded like a very good idea.

I met up with Annie Mole, Dom, Chris, Lea, Tim and Dave for the journey into rum-induced debauchery.

Elements 8 is a St. Lucian a high-end brand of super-distilled rum, which comes in ‘platnium’ (aka white) and gold (aka dark). The rum uses premium sugar cane from Guyana and as Chris says, “takes advantage of St. Lucia’s microclimate and ferments their rums with ‘pristine water’ from protected St Lucian rainforests”

Thing is, I don’t really care how they make it, just that it tastes good – and Elements 8 is really really good.

We all started out at Portobello Star where I had my good old stand-by: the classic mojito…

After that, we walked over to E&O, a JapanesePan Asian-styled bar and restaurant just around the corner. There I had a mango/apple/cinnamon concoction that took my breath away (I really need this recipe!):

Things really got interesting after we moved on to Montgomery Place with drinks created by Marian Beke. First off, I have to say that I am now completely in LOVE this bar. It was swanky without being pretentious. Prices were fairly decent for tapas, a bit more expensive for drinks, but based on what I tried, TOTALLY WORTH IT. Plus, the bathrooms were wicked. That pretty much sells in a place for me. I can’t stress it enough: everything was amazing (besides the Campari drink. I hate Campari).

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There are a couple standout drink recipes that I want to share from Montgomery Place. First off, that big bowl of liquor in the upper left-hand corner.

Words cannot describe how delicious this was. I could think of nothing more than to be in front of a fireplace somewhere in a mountainous region with wool socks and a blanket watching snow fall and deer prancing in a field. Goes to show you what full fat milk and a crapload of sugar and eggs can do.

Chestnut Tom & Jerry (10 Portions)
8-10 Eggs (depending on size)
400ml Elements 8 Gold
300ml Cognac
100ml Chestnut Liqueur
4 bar spoons caster sugar
1 Litre full fat milk
4 dashes Cream

Separate egg yolks and whites in to 2 bowls. In one bowl whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until foamy. In another bowl whisk the egg whites until frothy. Bring the milk to a boil. In a big bowl mix the milk with the egg yolk mixture. Add Elements 8 Gold, Cognac and Chestnut Liqueur and mix well. Ladle and float the frothy egg white on top. Sprinkle with cloves, cassia bark, nutmeg and shaved bitter chocolate. Serve from the bowl in to small, preheated ceramic cups / mugs.

Second to point out,

The Molasses Daiquiri:

50ml Elements 8 Platinum
1 barspoon molasses
10ml honey water – honey and water mixed 1:1 (easier to do if water is warm)
Fresh lime juice of 1 fresh lime

Stir the molasses with the other ingredients. Add mixture and 1/2 of the lime in to a shaker and shake hard. Strain in to a glass and add a large chunk of ice and garnish with the other lime half.

I’ve mentioned before how cool it is to go to these PR events coming from an online PR background, and this one was no exception. The guys from Elements 8 weren’t around solely to sell their product; and Sally from Relish, who was working on her first online campaign, was top notch. They answered questions only after we asked them for research purposes, but I don’t think they would have been bothered if we really did just sit down, talk and have a few drinks together.

Obviously it worked, because here I am talking about their product like it cures cancer. It just goes to show that the most effective PR is subtle, honest and genuine (which makes me feel about as warm and fuzzy inside as that rum did).

The rest of my pictures are here. They’re good for a laugh – especially this one.