Archive | July 2021

The Edinburgh Food Festival @ Assembly George Square Garden: enjoy a gourmet alfresco picnic to kick start the summer Festival season.

The Edinburgh Food Festival launched in 2015, running for five days as part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink. The Festival soon developed as a showcase for the best producers and chefs from across Scotland, with street food, market stalls, workshops and cookery demos, welcoming over 35,000 visitors in summer 2019.

The Edinburgh Food Festival celebrates the finest quality Scottish food and drink

Having been cancelled in 2020, this popular festival for foodies and beer drinkers has been given support from Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund through EventScotland to return for its fifth year, running for ten days from Friday 23th July to Sunday 1st August, 2021.

“We’re delighted to be back in George Square Garden preparing for our summer of festivals once more. The hospitality and cultural industries are closely intertwined, and the Edinburgh Food Festival has served as the perfect entrée to our Garden experience since 2015.”

Dani Rae, General Manager, Assembly Festival

Experience a tasty starter to launch the Edinburgh Festival summer season at Assembly George Square Garden

George Square Garden is at the heart of Assembly on the Fringe with shows at the fabulous vintage Spiegeltent and pop up stages: during the week beforehand, the Food Festival offers an appetising amuse bouche to kick start the Edinburgh Festival season.

This year there are over thirty local producers, street food and market stalls as well as workshops and chef demos, to offer a colourful culinary feast of Scotland’s best contemporary food and drink – with an international flavour.

The Edinburgh Food Festival is open every day from 12 noon to midnight – entry is free with no tickets required. As with all hospitality venues, all health and safety regulations are in place for social distancing and the wooden tables with benches seat eight people.  So bring your bubble of family and friends.!

Returning again are several well known Scottish food producers such as Jarvis Pickle. Based in Eyemouth, they make hand crafted, homely, meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan filled pies, winning 30 recent Awards including for their Cullen Skink Pie, Pork and Blue Cheese pie and Steak and Kidney Pie.  Great Taste Awards for Vegan Mushroom and Chestnut with Truffle Oil Pie, Pork Venison, Port & Redcurrant Pie.

These speciality gourmet pies are sold at the prestigious Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, London so excellence is assured.

Champion Vegetarian Class winner, 2019 is the Spinach, Goat Cheese and Sweet Potato Pie. This is so healthy and hearty, the thick shortcrust pastry shell is stuffed full of vegetables – 33% spinach, sweet potato, tomato, goats cheese (8%), cream, garlic, butter, vegetable fat, cream cheese, egg, salt black pepper.

The pastry is pre-cooked to prevent a soggy bottom, a culinary error frequently criticised by the judges on Great British Bake Off. !

These pies are seriously stuffed full of premium ingredients.

Jarvis Pickle pies are made from scratch for home-made taste and nutrition. The flour is grown and milled on a farm in East Lothian for the buttery pastry, filled with beef, chicken, smoked Eyemouth haddock and vegetables and eggs from the Scottish Borders. Once you have tasted a bite, you will be checking out which pie to munch next.!

Bellfield Brewery & Tap Room at Abbeyhill, Edinburgh is the UK’s first exclusively gluten free craft brewery, family-run with a mission: to craft-brew certified gluten-free craft beer produced in small batches, using traditional brewing methods; the perfect combination of science and art.  

‘We set up Bellfield to make exceptional beers that everyone could enjoy drinking. We love good food, so we brew beers that complement it. No compromise, just delicious, classic IPAs, hoppy ales and crisp, refreshing and perfectly balanced lagers and pilsners’.

Award winning beer, ale and lager from Bellfield Brewery

Lawless Village IPA is named after the local seaside resort of Portobello. A copper coloured, aromatic beer brewed as a traditional American IPA. Enjoy this chilled, with friends, Bellfield suggest.  

Bohemian Pilsner is a classic Czech pilsner, pale with a light body, slight bitterness and gentle floral tones from the finest Saaz hops leading to a soft refreshing finish. The Session Ale has citrus tones from the hops for flavour and aroma and the bitterness is balanced by fine malt character – very gluggable.

And many other award winning Bellfield ales and lagers to keep you refreshed sitting under the summer sun in the garden. This smiling “bar tender” at their Festival stand looks as if he will be very happy to serve you.!

Chick + Pea is a pop up mobile kitchen in their iconic bright blue Citroën H Van, touring around to cater for hungry folk at Festivals and private parties.

They specialise in tasty dishes from the Mediterranean and the Middle East – Halloumi fries, roast garlic yoghurt; Falafel, hummus, tahini; Courgette fritters, goats, feta, ricotta cheese, harissa yoghurt.

Healthy Middle Eastern & Mediterranean snacks with aromatic spice

​Back again too is the popular wee shed – kitchen We sell Dumplings, and their brand name says it all. They make and sell wee bite size dumplings. Their enticing promotion, akin to the foodie travel memoir, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – is rather clever, Order, Consume, Repeat.

These tasty, vegan Scottish – Asian parcels are perfect picnic canapés, drizzled with chilli oil and Vietnamese dipping sauce.

‘Became utterly addicted to these during the Festival. Really tasty and good value for money for a decent sized portion,’ commented one happy diner.

We sell Dumplings – spicy, vegan, Asian snacks – so delicious

Moskito Bites and Tapas bring a taste of Spanish summer with Patatas Bravas and Spaniard Fries.  Mana Poké creates edible art with their healthy, protein-packed, Hawaiian Poké Bowls. As good as you would find in Naples, try the Paddle and Peel Pizza, freshly baked in their wood-fired oven. 

As well as Bellfield beers, other drinks are Poco Prosecco sparkling fizz and Sangria from Moskito’s Bacchus Mobile Bar.

You don’t have to head down the coast to Prestonpans to experience the famous Alandas Fish and Chips and seafood, as the van is back on the Square.

The fish is locally sourced and delivered daily so depending on the catch, there might be scampi, salt and chilli squid, salmon and lobster too. Recommended are the juicy fat, freshly grilled prawns on a skewer with a side of fries for posh fish and chips – sorted!  

Alandas fresh local seafood
Alandas Fish ‘n Chips – great Festival food

For dessert, Alanda is also a Gelataria. Their award-winning ice cream is made with Scottish cream and milk from a local dairy in East Lothian at their North Berwick parlour,  and as well as vanilla, infused with quality seasonal fruit and ingredients. As they proudly say, ‘Handmade with love.’

Home made Scottish Gelato from Alandas

As well as this wide choice of freshly cooked dishes to enjoy in the garden, several market stalls have a selection of food products to purchase and take home.

So head over to the Edinburgh Food Festival this week to enjoy leisurely picnic lunches, snacks, drinks and alfresco dining by night in the tranquil lush, green space of Assembly George Square Gardens.

The best news is that entry is free and you don’t need a reservation. Open every day from 12pm–midnight until Sunday 1 August.

Bon Appetit and Cheers!

To keep up to date with all the news about the Edinburgh Food Festival, visit www.edfoodfest.com or follow @EdFoodFest and #EdFoodFest on social media. 

The perfect tranquil green space for a picnic lunch or alfresco dinner

‘To the Water’ – the cool, cultural heritage of swimming from pool to beach, captured on camera by Soo Burnell

‘To the Water’, an exhibition of photographs at Saorsa Gallery

With childhood memories of fun times being taken to the Victorian swimming pools in Edinburgh, Soo Burnell is now fascinated by the ‘high ceilings, glass roofs, symmetry, old signage, tiling – all reflected in the still water. There is also a lot of nostalgia surrounding them.’

In July 2018, ‘Poolside’ at Saorsa Gallery was a most evocative showcase of Burnell’s photographs of favourite local pools viewed as palaces of architectural heritage, stylised with vintage glamour.

This was the springboard to venture further afield to a diverse range of indoor and outdoor swimming pools around Scotland, UK and Paris, where she observed each iconic place with a film-maker’s eye and imaginative artistic vision.

Deep End, Soo Burnell

The British artist, David Hockney was dazzled by the sunshine and laid back Californian lifestyle when he first visited Los Angeles in the early sixties, especially the fact that everyone had a swimming pool. Between 1964 and 1971 he made numerous paintings of pools, attempting the challenge to represent the constantly changing surface of water.

A Bigger Splash (1967), David Hockney

Hockney’s series of ‘splash’ paintings are empty of human presence yet imply the presence of a diver. “A Bigger Splash” (1967) took three weeks to complete using various sizes of brushes to perfect the spray of water.

‘When you photograph a splash, you’re freezing a moment and it becomes something else. I realise that a splash could never be seen this way in real life, it happens too quickly. I was amused by this, so I painted it in a very, very slow way.’

David Hockney

Swimming in the Sun, Soo Burnell

Illustrating her own passion for a splash in a pool, Soo Burnell has just published a large format, beautifully illustrated book “To the Water,” launched to coincide with an exhibition at Saorsa Gallery (17 – 24 July, 2021). This is another stunning collection of photographs of leisurely life by the pool and on the beach. 

Here are a few of the much loved Victorian pools around Edinburgh – Glenogle in Stockbridge, Leith Victoria and Drumsheugh Baths.  The architectural design is extraordinary with cathedral-high ceilings and dome of girders like a railway station, the sunlight streaming in from tall windows and roof top cupula.

Leith Victoria pool, Soo Burnell

The setting is calm and quiet, witnessed after the shrieking children and racing swimmers have gone home. These are empty pools to reflect the tranquility of the light-filled spaces but look more closely. Relaxing, standing at the side, or preparing to dive are a few solitary figures adding perspective and touch of theatricality.  

The wide panoramic view of each pool focusses on the decorative design with the neat rows of changing rooms all around and centre stage, the shimmering, fluid luminosity of the azur tile-tinted water.

Girl on the Rings, Drumsheugh baths, Soo Burnell

The Drumsheugh Baths is a private swimming club in Edinburgh, founded in 1884 and hardly changed since then with the acrobatic rings and trapeze, large stone hot pool and Victorian showers. But they did add a Bar.!

Here too is a quirky aerial shot of a girl sitting on the step at the Western Baths, Glasgow. Come on in, the water’s lovely.!

Alone at Western Baths, Soo Burnell

When the Tarlair outdoor swimming pool opened in 1932, it was said Macduff would become a French Riviera-style resort on the north east coast of Banffshire. The bright white modern block architecture is in stark contrast to the craggy, black rocky cliff above and with its natural tidal pool too and Pavilion this was a popular visitor attraction.

No the South of France! – Tarlair Swimming Pool, Macduff 1936

Families, sunbathers and swimmers flocked to the open air Lidos around British seaside towns in the days before package holidays.  After years of dilapidation and few outdoor swimmers, Tarlair closed in 1996, preserved as an A listed historic site.

Girl at Tarlair, Soo Burnell

Dramatising these poolsides with a small cast of characters, Soo Burnell uses the lens of her camera like a photojournalist with each image telling a hidden narrative – ghostly figures and happy memories from over a century of watersport and sunbathing.

This is particularly well illustrated at the legendary palace of a pool, Piscine Molitar in Paris. Built in 1929, the Art Deco Lido regularly hosted fashion shows, galas, theatrical performances, and used as a dazzling backdrop for film shoots.

Piscine Molitar, Paris (1929)

The Piscine Molitor is described most reverently in Life of Pi by Yann Martel, a fantasy adventure novel centred around “the pool the gods would have delighted to swim in.”

The protagonist is Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, an Indian Tamil boy from Pondicherry.

‘One day, Mamaji said to my father, that of all the pools in the world, the most beautiful was a public pool in Paris. That the water there was so clear, you could make your morning coffee with it. That a single swim there changed his life. I never understood why my father took this so much to heart, but he did, and I was named ‘Piscine Molitor Patel’.”

From ‘Life of Pi’, Yann Martel (2001)

In languid, elegant pose at the Parisian piscine, these two slender models in pale blue swimsuits and white bathing caps perfect the 1930s vintage look akin to a Chanel fashion shoot.  

Pool Girls, Piscine Molitor, Paris, Soo Burnell

With great perspective, we can study the geometric structure and decorative design of the balcony, porthole windows, lines of pool tiles and shadows of the loungers.  The Lido was inspired by the grand ocean liners of the era.

I do want to be beside the seaside. The golden sandy beach at Tyninghame on the East Lothian coastline is the perfect filmic location to observe stylish swimmers on the seashore. Here are intimate soloists and chorus lines ‘snapped’ with choreographic precision in a colour palette of blue, white and gold.

Day Dreaming at the Beach, Soo Burnell

These atmospheric seascapes are beautifully composed to emphasise the shapely curve of lapping waves on the sand and the fine line between sea and sky on the horizon. Above all, you can sense the fresh salt-sea breeze in the air.  

After Swimming, Tyninghame, Soo Burnell

No wonder that the joyful fresh air freedom of wild swimming became so popular when city pools closed during lockdown for people to experience an envigorating dip in the sea. 

To accompany this exhibition is a lavishly illustrated Coffee Table book, “To the Water” by Soo Burnell which gives the full pictorial story of these and other heritage swimming pools.   

To the Water, by Soo Burnell – a pictorial journey around swimming pools and beaches

Edinburgh is basking in glorious summer sun this week so why not take a day trip to Soarsa Gallery to see this refreshingly cool collection of photographs which recreate our timeless love of relaxing beside the water.

Just look for the beach chair and towel outside and a red neon Deep End sign in the window.

Saorsa Gallery, 8 Deanhaugh St, Stockbridge Edinburgh, EH4 1LY

‘To the Water’, 17 – 24 July, 2021. 12 noon to 5pm daily.

For more information on Soo Burnell, ‘To the Water’ view and purchase images and the book:

https://soo-burnell.com

On the Diving Board, Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh, Soo Burnell

The exquisite, exotic, pure taste of The Teasmith Gin – linking Scotland, Ceylon and India through Tea and G&T.

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as Afternoon Tea.”

— Henry James

Before the fashionable popularity of coffee shop-lifestyle today, British people have long been more partial to a refreshing cup of tea. When in 1840, the Duchess of Bedford began to sip a cup of tea with cucumber sandwiches and cake around 4pm to stop the sinking feeling during the gap between lunch and dinner, she created an enduring, sociable occasion.

From the days of Colonial India and British East Africa, the drink of choice was also Gin mixed with the anti-malarial Indian Quinine Tonic, created by Schweppes in 1870. The perfect, daily, medicinal tipple when living in the tropics. But then G&T was quickly enjoyed as a popular aperitif across the world.

Aldi promoted both tea and gin in this most amusing and extremely innovative TV advertisement.

“My husband likes tea …. but I prefer Gin” says this sassy lady.

I wonder if this advert prompted the idea for the The Teasmith Spirit Company?!. Launched in 2016 in Udny, rural Aberdeenshire, the founders, Nick and Emma Smalley were keen to create a very different yet quintessential classic dry style of gin: Scotland’s first tea-distilled gin.  

Nick and Emma Smalley – with their handcrafted The Teasmith gins

Nick had first begun experimenting by making Sloe gin as favours for guests at their wedding which led to the entrepreneurial idea to develop this skill with spirits and passion for gin into a commercial company.

To craft a truly Aberdeenshire Gin, the couple were inspired by the extraordinary story of an intrepid young local lad, James Taylor from Auchenblae. Born in 1835, the eldest of six children, he was determined to do better in life and aged just 17, he left the family farm to travel to Ceylon to work at the Loolecondera Estate, a coffee plantation. It is thought that his cousin worked here.

With the onset of coffee rust disease, Taylor visited India to learn about growing tea and returning to Loolecondera, planted a 21-acre tea plantation. Through successful exports, the estate developed international reputation and Taylor became known as the Pioneer of Ceylon tea.

The Teasmith company worked with tea consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright to source a speciality, rare Ceylon tea. The Amba estate is located on a hillside in a small valley above the Ravana Ella Waterfalls overlooking Ella Rock and Lipton Seat – the other famous producer of tea, Sir Thomas Lipton was also a Scotsman.

‘Tea Pickers, Amba Estate’ a most evocative painting by Beverly Wainwright

The Golden Tippy Orange Pekoe tea is harvested without machinery using the same process as James Taylor when he picked his very first batches of tea 150 years ago.

The hand picked tea leaves at the Amba Estate, Sri Lanka

Beverly’s recommendation for the Amba Estate was also due to the ethos of this organic farm producing a range of artisanal teas, coffees, spices and preserves. The owners work with the local community to support a variety of educational, economic and environmental initiatives.

The finest quality tea sourced from Ceylon

The premium Ceylon black tea is the key ingredient along with the essential Juniper, together with nine other botanicals, including Coriander seed, Orange peel, Angelica root, Liquorice root, Calamus root, Grains of Paradise and Rose petals.  

The Teasmith Gin is distilled at the Strathearn Distillery, Perthshire, a long, careful process using traditional copper alembic stills. As the tea has been hand picked and hand rolled, the essential oils in the leaves are preserved.  First the tea is distilled separately, steeped in alcohol and then gently heated to capture the complex flavours – soft floral notes, blood orange and a minty sweetness.

The other gin botanicals are distilled collectively in a vapour basket at the head of the still. The alcohol vapours extract all the flavours to create a light spirit, finally blended with the tea-distillate to create a fragrant, fresh-tasting gin.

Let’s take a look at the other botanicals:

Juniper is what gives gin its distinctive earthy flavour or spruce and pine with a touch of lavender and perhaps over-ripe banana. Without juniper you don’t have gin.

Coriander seeds are from the Cilantro plant – the oil is primarily Linaloolwith a spicy, floral and sometimes fruity aroma. Angelica root is often confused for juniper but with a stronger musky and woody aroma. The seed oil is much sweeter with a hint of mint and eucalyptus.

Although not related, Liquorice root is similar to fennel and aniseed with notes of vanilla and popcorn. Calamus Root, aka Sweet Flag, has a gingery, spicy, bittersweet flavour.

Grains of Paradise

Grains of Paradise are described as black pepper with attitude. These small seeds come from a West African plant closely related to cardamom with a peppery punch of heat cut through with citrus and ginger; it’s commonly found in the Moroccan spice blend ‘ras el hanout’. 

The name may have come from Medieval traders who claimed that this speciality spice could only be harvested in the Garden of Eden – Paradise on earth.

Finally, orange peel (perhaps Seville oranges) to give a citrus tang, and the delicate scent of Rose Petals complement the woodland earthiness of Juniper.

Through the slow, slow journey of distillation, each individual ingredient is carefully blended to ensure The Teasmith Original Gin has a unique character and artistically-layered expression.

The Teasmith Gin proudly crafted with Aberdeenshire heritage

Tasting Notes

Key Flavours: Aromatic, Citrus, Spice, Sweet

Aroma: Bright and crisp with a beautifully balanced mix of juniper and citrus

Taste: Juniper and citrus come to the fore with a subtle addition of spice

Finish: A warming minty sweetness develops on the tongue that lingers on the finish.

Key Botanicals: Hand-Picked Ceylon Tea, Juniper, Pure Liquorice Root, Coriander, Orange Peel

Strength: 43% vol

The Taste Test

The Teasmith Gin served neat:

The earthy juniper notes but also ginger to the fore – this will be the Grains of Paradise which intensifies flavour as well as bringing its own fragrant spice to create a truly exotic gin. Richly aromatic, a hint of vanilla, subtle orange sweetness and a lingering, smooth silkiness on the palate.  A touch of genius in this mix of botanicals.  

The Taste Test

Gin and Tonic:

50 ml The Teasmith Gin with a good splash of quality tonic over lots of ice and garnish with a sprig of mint, or with a slice of juicy orange.

While one part gin to four parts tonic is the norm, don’t drown The Teasmith to ensure you can appreciate the distinct layering of blended botanicals. So mellow, floral, citrusy and again, to my tastebuds, the refreshing kick of ginger.  There is a real sense of purity here – a delectable spirit.

Walter Gregor’s Tonic Water is handmade at Manse Farm, Peathill, Aberdeenshire which is a neat connection.  Another perfect mixer is Fever Tree Refreshingly-light Clementine Tonic Water, featuring Cinnamon from Sri Lanka.! 

Fevertree Refreshingly light Clementine Tonic, flavoured with cinammon from Sri Lanka

The Teasmith Gin has received numerous accolades at prestigious International Gin and Spirit events over recent years. In 2019, The Gin Society placed it at # 5 from a consumer tasting of the best 50 Scottish Gins.  

The design, logo and packaging of the Teasmith Gin bottle also won a Master Medal at the Global Spirits Masters.

The award winning, handcrafted brand logo

The decorative, fire-branded logo symbolises the way that tea crops are planted and rotated. The inner pattern depicts a tea leaf and juniper berry chain and the custom designed ‘The Teasmith’ typeface font is printed in rose gold foil all part of the smart, stylish brand identity.   

The beautiful design concept for The Teasmith Gin

The label, print, fire-branding, slim (tamper-proof) ‘watch strap’ around the cork stopper and metallic roundal combine to create this award winning design.

It’s Cocktail Time:

Gin Martini

50ml The Teasmith gin, 15ml Dry Vermouth

The classic and classy Gin Martini

Stir gently in a Mixing Glass filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass and garnish with lemon peel.  

The vermouth enhances the spirit with a floral pungency and a herbal, crisp, clean flavour.  So smooth.  Alternatively, an olive garnish balances the sweetness with a salty flavour- and when the Martini has been sipped, nibble the olive soaked in gin.!

The Negroni

60ml The Teasmith gin, 60ml Campari, 60ml Sweet Vermouth

A classic bittersweet Negroni with the zest of orange

Combine equal parts of The Teasmith Original gin, Campari and Vermouth Rosso and stir over ice. Serve in a Rocks (Old Fashioned) glass and garnish with orange peel.   

The timeless, elegant Italian aperitif is the perfect marriage for the smooth texture and bittersweet and orange notes of The Teasmith Gin.

Gin Sour

50ml  The Teasmith Gin, 25ml  Cold black tea, 25ml fresh lemon juice, 15ml sugar syrup, 1 egg white

Shake the ingredients vigorously over ice and fine strain over ice into a rocks glass with a layer of egg white foam on the top.

The Teasmith Gin – Gin Sour

Sour cocktails mix a base spirit with citrus and sugar, (Daiquiris, Margaritas and Sidecars) and the recipe for Gin Sour was first listed in ‘The Bar Tender’s Guide’ (1862) by Jerry Thomas. 

This Gin Sour is a very clever variation with black tea to echo the key botanical. Iced Tea for grownups.!

Fresh, crisp and utterly perfect as a summer cocktail.”

The Teasmith is sure to appeal to today’s generation of gin connoisseurs seeking a sophisticated, artistically crafted and exciting modern spirit: evoking the fragrant scent of Ceylon Tea, ginger spice and citrus tang of tropical sunshine,

Exotic is the word.

It’s G&T time

When someone suggests cup of tea – why not say it’s time for Teasmith G & T.

At many grand hotels over a leisurely, sociable Afternoon Tea, a glass of champagne is often served to add a touch of indulgence.  Instead, what could be more perfect than an ice-cold Teasmith Gin & Tonic or your favourite gin cocktail.

The Teasmith Gin

Website: https://teasmithgin.com/

N.B There is also the new Broich Single Estate Gin, distilled with tea leaves grown in Scotland.

Shop on line:  https://teasmithgin.com/collections/all-products

See the website for local stockists

Jock McFadyen: ‘Lost Boat Party’ – majestic, moody Scottish land and seascapes illustrate a sense of nostalgia in a changing modern world @ Dovecot Studio

Born in Paisley in 1950, Jock McFadyen studied at Chelsea Art College during the 1970s, an exciting, vibrant era of creative innovation embracing pop art, minimalism, conceptual work, photography and film. 

He first came to prominence as a social realist artist in the 1980s through his punky images of London’s East End – figurative street scenes, tower blocks, warehouses, graffiti around the bleak urban environment. This theme has been developed over the years to observe the world around him, focussing on both architecture and open, isolated spaces, now mainly devoid of people.

Terminus, Jock McFadyen

I’m excited by the interface between nature and the edges of human construction. If all cars were suddenly removed overnight and the land was left with motorways and filling stations, I wonder what the Martians would think when they landed. I’m trying to see things from the Martian point of view.”  Jock McFadyen

Jock McFadyen standing in front of ‘Lost Boat Party’ at Dovecot Studios

In partnership with Scottish Gallery and the Edinburgh Art Festival 2021, this 70th birthday exhibition of Scottish land and seascapes link the romance of the past and the raw realism of the present.  

Over twenty large scale paintings are well displayed around the light filled Viewing Balcony above the Dovecot workshop. This is where over the past few months, the weavers have collaborated with the artist to create a tapestry version of his painting Mallaig 2.  

The weaving of the Mallaig Commission tapestry at Dovecot Studios

Our initial aim was to explore the beauty in the painting. We experimented .. to amplify Jock’s use of paint through the blending of yarn … and [emphasise] a depth of colour.” Naomi Robertson, Master Weaver

As a magnificent starting point to the show, The Mallaig Commission has transformed the original seascape into softly textured, gun tufted wool on canvas. The dark blue streaks of the sky at night with a sparkle of street lights and stars is an extraordinary accomplishment.

The Mallaig Commission, tapestry (gun tufted wool on canvas)

 “The intriguing thing that Dovecot seems to do is take the fluidity of paint and freeze it into another material .. its own aesthetic. . a revelation.” Jock McFadyen

 The charming old fishing port of Mallaig on the North West coastline is observed from across the water in a series of night paintings as the sky turns from indigo and navy blue to inky black.

Mallaig 2, Jock McFadyen

The depth and darkness of colour creates an abstracted seascape with tiny dots of shimmering light along the shoreline, reflected on the water in Mallaig 2; then with more delicate detail, in Mallaig 4, you can just make out a row of tiny wee boats moored in the bay. 

The oversized image of a full moon, a perfect white circle, dominates the sky in Mallaig 2019, the surface richly textured like crumbly Cheshire cheese; the village is seen as a faint, thin glow perched on the edge of a bold blue slither of sea. 

Mallaig 2019, Jock McFadyen

The moon takes centre stage in many paintings at the Dovecot – culturally, a familiar, symbolic image in the landscape tradition from Constable and Turner to the French Impressionists, the moon denotes femininity, the rhythm of time and natural cycle of change.

Under a red moon of a lunar eclipse in the middle of a barren desert is an Avia gas station, an oasis of humanity akin to a scene from a Route 66 road movie set in Arizona or New Mexico.  

Oasis, Jock McFadyen

At first quick glance of Estuary Music, this is a bold abstract of two horizontal blocks in azur blue and sandy grey. But in microscopic detail, spot a dot of a matchstick man looking out to sea, create the perfect perspective to entice the viewer closer into this majestic scene.

Estuary Music, Jock McFadyen

A panoramic view depicts the Hebridean island of Uist as a place of tranquillity and other worldliness.  The smooth brushstrokes of oil paint give the surface a transparent luminous sheen like the fluidity of watercolour across the wide expanse of hazy sky with a tangible whiff of fresh salty air.

Uist, Jock McFadyen

Island hop over to Harris where, within a softly striated composition, – grass, sand, water, cloud – a battered old bus litters an otherwise pristine beach.  

Somewhere on Harris, 4, Jock McFadyen

From dilapidated buildings to discarded vehicles, McFadyen has a painterly passion for highlighting fragments of abandoned communities and forgotten lives.

Perhaps based on nostalgic memories of childhood, the title painting, Lost Boat Party is a fantasy funfair with Ferris wheel and Big Dipper rides, as if being transported on a cargo boat, heading out to sea.  Instead of a melancholic metaphor for the end of an era, the pale pink sweep of sky may reflect optimism, viewing the world through rose coloured spectacles. The dominant theme is blue sky (thinking) – dream, imagine, life goes on, the party is not over.

Lost Boat Party, Jock McFadyen

From surreal, empty landscapes to the reality of greyhounds on Carnoustie beach and the Calton Hill observatory in the moonlight, Jock McFadyen brings an emotional resonance to the physical geography of a place in reminiscent mood.

McFadyen has been described as ‘a maverick, idiosyncratic’, creating his own personal and perceptive exploration of art; inspired by a broader culture through film, literature and music, there’s a hidden narrative in each of these journeys to land’s end, hilltop and the edge of the ocean.

You will not find Shangri-La marked on any map’ James Hilton, ‘Lost Horizons.’

As an artist with the enriching, romantic imagination of a poet, these are lyrical, languid, lost landscapes of the mind and memory: Jock McFadyen in search of his own elusive Shangri-La.

Jock McFadyen – Lost Boat Party @ Dovecot Studios.

Friday 11th June – Saturday 25th September 2021

The Tapestry Studio Viewing Balcony:

Monday to Friday: 12 noon-3pm. Saturday: 10am- 5pm

Free Entry

10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT

Further work and a video in association with ‘Lost Boat Party’ by Jock McFadyen can be seen through the Viewing Rooms at The Scottish Gallery.

www.dovecotstudios.com

www.scottish-gallery.co.uk

www.edinburghartfestival.com

Carnoustie, Jock McFadyen

‘Art and Soul – The International Art and Sculpture Fair’ presents a colourful, cultural experience at the Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

This summer, Gormleys Fine Art is presenting a major arts and sculpture event ‘Art & Soul,’ at the Culloden Estate and Spa, near Belfast.

Founded in 1990, Gormleys has galleries in Belfast and Dublin curating exhibitions year round, taking part in global art fairs and organising garden sculpture events throughout Ireland.  Specialising in international & Irish contemporary art, this is their sixth major exhibition at the Culloden Estate taking place from 26 June to 18 July, 2021.

Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast Lough

Ireland’s largest ever sculpture exhibition – complemented by a stunning showcase of unique artwork by such world masters as Andy Warhol, Picasso and Dali – has a combined value of an extraordinary 7 million Euro.

The Culloden Estate was built in 1876 as an official palace for the Bishops of Down, who picked an idyllic location in the Holywood Hills overlooking Belfast Lough on the County Antrim coastline. This grand sandstone mansion surrounded by 12 acres of gardens, offers traditional Irish hospitality with contemporary lifestyle.

Art in the Garden – a dreamlike, sculptural wonderland

The central highlight of the Fair is Art In the Garden, featuring sixty large sculptures and installations by Orla de Brie, Patrick O’Reilly, Paoli Staccioli, Bob Quinn, April Young, Ian Pollock, Eamonn Ceannt, Gianfranco Bosco, Anthony Scott and other leading Irish and international sculptors.

Let’s take a walk around the garden at the Culloden Hotel to venture into an Alice in Wonderland world of birds, animals, dancers and fairylike ‘Ariel’ characters.

Penair, Eamon Ceannt

Anthony Scott, born in County Fermanagh, is primarily known for his beautifully stylised, majestic bronze animals based on Celtic mythology and literature. “I come from a farming background, so animals have always been a source of inspiration. They possess a sense of timelessness, [appearing] in art from the earliest cave paintings”

Donn, Anthony Scott (Bull) and Un Cavallo, Paolo Staccioli (Horse)

The Italian sculptor Paolo Staccioli from near Florence began his artistic career as a painter in the 1970s, later diversifying to experiment with ceramics and pottery. His compositions feature warriors, travellers and horses as recurrent characters. This is a magical work with a tiny figure clinging to an elegant horse on red wheels.

Patrick O’Reilly from Kilkenny, Ireland, is a highly acclaimed Irish artist who studied at the Belfast school of Art. His personality and humour shines through in his unique bronze sculptures of the animal kingdom. Monumental large-scale public commissions have allowed his sculptures to become part of the local landscape particularly in Ireland but also worldwide including a Strolling Bear in Paris and a Dancing Bear wearing a tutu in Cape Town.

Bear with Jockey, Patrick O’Reilly

Patrick O’Reilly’s humorous larger than life-size Bears look as if they have jumped out of a story book and will certainly entertain children who can also take part in a Teddy Bears’ Picnic. There are also several other O’Reilly sculptures of small bears, Irish Wolfhounds and horses with a light hearted spirit of fantasy.

Freedom from the Treadmill, Patrick O’Reilly

Giacinto Bosco from Alcamo, Sicily, showed artist talent as a young boy moving to Milan aged just fifteen to be an apprentice caster at a foundry, a creative place to inspire poetic, dreamlike narratives in his figures.

I Promise You the Moon, Giacinto Bosco

Orla de Brí lives in her native Ireland working in bronze, steel, stone and fibreglass as well as recently experimenting in photography. She creates both Giacometti-esque, slender figures and the abstract human form. “ I am curious about human behaviour, how we relate to other people, a perspective on life, love, self and emotional landscape.

Seated She Stag, Orla de Bri


F. E. McWilllian (1909 – 1992), was a renowned Northern Irish surrealist sculptor, working chiefly in stone, wood and bronze. His early wood carvings were influenced by primitive and African art, moving on to develop more symbolic and imaginative work. This is a most enigmatic and powerful Picasso-esque deconstructed woman.

Umbilicus, F.E. McWilliam

A number of grand salons inside the hotel have displays of smaller, intimate sculptures. Here too are pop up galleries of to showcase dynamic work by the world’s Blue Chip artists: Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and Banksy.

Andy Warhol was a cultural legend in his own lifetime as an influential leader of the1960’s Pop Art movement. His imaginative vision transformed the humble Campbell’s Soup and the glamourous blonde, Marilyn Monroe into such iconic illustrations which remain instantly recognisable worldwide. Warhol was certainly famous for fifteen minutes.!

Mickey Mouse, Andy Warhol (signed screenprint )

An exhibition of 15 works by Warhol in the Cameron suite of the hotel include his quirky caricature of ‘Mickey Mouse’ and portraits of ‘Mick Jagger’, (signed by both Warhol and Jagger), Chairman Mao and Ingrid Bergman.

Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, (screenprint signed by Warhol and Jagger)

Probably the most renowned 20th century artist, Pablo Picasso was an innovative pioneer as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, redefining, reinventing and shaping the direction of modern art through the decades. Today, auction prices are continually rising. Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse) 1932, recently sold at Christie’s New York for $103.4 million. This work was only acquired eight years ago for $44 million at a London sale.  

A wise investment indeed!.  Here, there’s a fine selection of etchings and drawings for sale to add a small original Picasso artwork to your own collection.

Le Cabinet Particulier, Degas et Le Fille, Pablo Picasso, (signed etching from a limited edition of 150)

As an urban graffiti artist, Banksy follows in the brushstrokes of these masters. His trademark imagery of children in strange, alien environments create a powerful message: With such poignancy, ‘Napalm’ is inspired by the photograph of nine-year-old girl running naked in fear down a road during the Vietnam conflict, ‘The Terror of War’.

Napalm, Bansky (signed screenprint)

Introducting children to a diverse range of artwork is so important to stimulate their own creativity. They are sure to be amused by ‘Triumphant Elephant Anniversary’ one of Salvador Dali’s surreal long-legged creatures, a recurring theme to depict strength and dominance.

Triumphant Elephant Anniversary, Salvador Dali, (Lithograph print)

A diverse range of work is also on display by contemporary artists across all genres – portraits, graphic art, abstract designs, landscapes and botanical studies.

Neal Greig was born in Belfast in 1965. He studied BA Hons in Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art presents a series of seascapes.  ‘The elemental combination of earth, air, fire and water are my core subject matter.  Working outside brings an instinctive aspect to painting rather than a picturesque view of the landscape.’

Atlantic Port, Donegal, Neal Greig

Bridget Flinn attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and the Royal College of Art in London, where she studied natural history illustration.  Working from her studio in Sandymount in Dublin, subjects include landscape, life drawing and still life.

First Peonies, Bridget Flinn

Julian Opie graduated in 1983 from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was taught by conceptual artist and painter Michael Craig-Martin. A major player on the British art scene with a series of painted metal sculptures, portraits and walking figures.

Summer Rain 3, Julian Opie

Stephen Forbes was born in Northern Ireland in 1973 and trained in London and Liverpool. “My paintings simply aim to give viewers pleasure and to celebrate the playfulness of life… without the obsessive introspection about life and self.”

Splash II is certainly the perfect illustration to reflect a sunshine escape this summer.

Splash 11, Stephen Forbes

A most enticing attraction is the ‘Bolli Bus’  parked in the gardens, a bespoke Champagne Bar-Bus created by Pattinson & Co. Wine Merchants, distributors of Bollinger Champagne. Outdoor seating for an afresco drink. Book the top deck for a private party (12 people) to turn a visit to the Art & Soul Fair into a special occasion.

The Bolli Bus, The Champagne Bar-Bus at Culloden Estate during Art & Soul Art Fair

Experience a leisurely Afternoon Tea which includes a curated art tour of the Fair or book a table for dinner in the unique Pop Art gallery of the Warhol Room. The Culloden Estate is offering special Art & Soul rates for overnight stays – (see more details below).

This is just a brief overview of this well curated exhibition of fine art and sculpture to enrich the mind and soul.  Do plan a visit if you can to the Culloden Estate.

Art & Soul: International Art & Sculpture Fair

Culloden Estate & Spa, Bangor Road, Holywood, Belfast BT18 OEX

Saturday 26th June – 18th July, open daily from 11am to 7pm.

Admission is free and prior booking is not required. Guided tours daily at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm.

Read more about the art fair here:

https://www.hastingshotels.com/artandsoul.html

The Culloden Estate is offering Art & Soul special rates for overnight stays. Please quote ARTSOUL when booking: Overnight accommodation, full Irish breakfast from £280 per room.

The Culloden Estate & Spa is part of the Hastings Hotels Group, one of seven luxury hotels across Northern Ireland, located 10 minutes from George Best Belfast City Airport and 30 minutes from Belfast International Airport. The five star hotel is a member of Small Luxury Hotels, a collection of 500 global boutique-styled, independent properties.

There are 98 guest bedrooms and suites, wine and dine at Vespers Restaurant or at the hotel’s own pub, The Cultra Inn. The Spa at Culloden is an oasis for therapeutic ESPA face and body treatments, with new thermal experiences and medi-spa for wellness and relaxation. Guests can use the Health Club, with swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room. 

With its lavish parkland and gardens, The Culloden Estate is a popular venue for weddings and private and corporate parties and events.

Book your stay here:

https://www.hastingshotels.com/culloden-estate-and-spa/

Broken Heart, Patrick O’Reilly

‘Edinburgh & Beyond’ – The classic, artistic beauty of favourite cityscapes through the architectural eye of Adrian Tuchel @ Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh

Adrian Tuchel is an Architectural artist based in Cambridge, specialising in large format drawings and watercolours. This impressive exhibition presents a series of iconic vistas around Edinburgh, as well taking a tour of other favourite cities including Venice, Florence and New York.

After studying art and architecture, Tuchel experimented with a range of genres from abstracts to flower compositions and finally architectural landscapes using pencil, ink and watercolour.

His broad artistic expertise combined with a love of world travel provides the subject matter for his work:

‘They are few cities in the world with an exceptional skyscape. I always been attracted by Edinburgh. Last year in September, superb weather invited me to create some spectacular views of this unique city, to begin to discover the true Edinburgh’. Adrian Tuchel, 2021

Around the gallery is a diverse range of pen & ink drawings, original small and large scale watercolours and prints. However his signature, innovative artistic method is capturing wide angled panoramic scenes from specific viewpoints.

View from the Park – original sketch and Panorama watercolour

As observed from Princes Street Gardens, at first glance this is a sketchy, free flowing impressionist style but this technique is deceptive. There is extraordinary architectural detail here too in the realistic depiction of the Scott Monument, Balmoral Hotel, the skyline of the Old Town, with the higgledy piggledy row of classic buildings: Scotsman Hotel, City Chambers, Bank of Scotland, New College, the Hub spire and over to Castle Rock.    

View from Calton Hill is also masterly in the minimalism of the composition, contrasting the giant cheese wedge of Salisbury Crag towering over the city and the Pentland Hills beyond.  The soft palette for the sky in coral, yellow and pink catch the glimmering glow of sunset.

View from Calton Hill – original sketch and Panorama watercolour

A few close up images show the delicate use of watercolour on the white textured paper to reflect a cool, clear transparent brightness.  

Close up from View from Calton Hill – Salisbury Crag with Pentland Hills beyond

View from the Castle and Arthur’s Seat are also part of this series, sketched and painted on innovative long, scrolls of paper to create unique, large format panoramic vistas.

View from the Castle – panoramic view

Scroll painting is an ancient Asian art using fine brushes, inks and colour washes on a roll of paper or silk.  “Long Landscape Scroll” (1486) by the celebrated Japanese artist, Sesshu is approximately 15 metres in length. In his inscription, Sesshu claims that this epic narrative depicting a landscape over four seasons was completed on a single peaceful day and thus regarded as a miracle of art.

Instead of being limited to standard art paper up to poster size, Adrian had always dreamed of painting large scale watercolour scrolls.  A traditional French paper mill company, which had supplied the great Impressionist painters, was able to supply rolls of specialist watercolour paper measuring 20-35cm by 2.5 metres.

Adrian Tuchel at work on a long roll of watercolour paper (from a Video)

The original pencil or ink sketches are done on small individual sections moving across the roll of paper but Tuchel cannot see the entire drawing until completed, when it’s unrolled and laid down flat. These long panoramic landscape scrolls are accomplished at one sitting, ‘en plein air’ to retain the consistency and proportion of scale.

Venice: “A splendour of miscellaneous spirits.” John Ruskin

Poets, artists, actors and musicians have long been inspired by the surreal, dreamlike beauty of Venice. The Russian novelist, Turgenev believed that ‘No-one who has not seen Venice knows the full, indescribable charm of that magical city.’

If it’s difficult to describe the spirit of La Serenissima in prose, then Canaletto, Turner, Monet et al, – have done so in paint.  

‘The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore’, JMW Turner, 1834

Venice is one of Adrian Tuchel’s most beloved cities, returning again and again to evoke the dramatic timeless grandeur, a painterly vision of sculpture and sea, in panoramic scenes.   It is interesting to learn that Turner’s sketchbooks contain compositions spreading across many pages with folders of extra sheets – so he would have been wise to source a full roll of watercolour paper.!

Venice: Views from Hotel Danieli, & Campanile di S. Giorgio Maggiore

Again, these are such atmospheric compositions of the ancient city wrapped around the lagoon and canals with an extraordinary aerial perspective.

Adrian Tuchel with his Venice panoramic paintings at the gallery

Tuchel works regularly in association with the historic Caffe Florian, (est. 1720), in the centre of St. Mark’s Square, where he presents regular exhibitions:

Quick brush strokes and a distinctive palette,  [Tuchel’s] Venice is dreamy, romantic, .. snapshots made of colour and light, a Venice where time stops.’ Marco Paolini, CEO, Caffe Florian, (February 2019)

Caffe Florian, Venice – a cultural institution since 1720

Portofino is a traditional fishing village on the Italian Riviera, curiously transformed into a luxury resort town; Milan fashion boutiques, wine and seafood bars line the horseshoe harbour, where chic super-yachts are juxtaposed with old fishing boats.

Portofino, a fishing village and glamorous resort for the rich and famous

Here below is an exquisite watercolour painting by Adrian Tuchel to illustrate the curving row of houses and restaurants, Hotel Splendido perched on the cliff, tall-masted boats on the azur water. The jagged brushstroke streak of sky in a turquoise tint, perfectly frames this tranquil scene in the summer sun.

Portofino, a panoramic scenic view

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”  ― Alexander McCall Smith

Taking centre stage at this exhibition however is Edinburgh with many delightful scenes of landmark sites – these watercolours would be marvellous inspiring illustrations for a richly colourful city guide book.

View from the Nelson Monument

With a harmony of architectural lines and soft blended shades, this city of church spires and ancient monuments is bathed in a glossy wash of blue, rose gold and salmon pink, casting a luminous glow.   

View from the Scott Monument

Edinburgh is a new challenge, for me. I continuously discover new views and its great architectural history – I have come to like it more and more particularly enjoying a fine dram of whisky at the end of the day”. Adrian Tuchel

Do visit the Dundas Street Gallery if you can to view this artwork up close in more detail in the company of the artist and his wife, Barbara. Other cities include Cambridge, London, New York, Florence.  

Original sketches, watercolours and Limited Edition prints. Small scale affordable framed and unframed artwork too. Large Watercolour Panoramas are neatly rolled in a cardboard tube – perhaps an empty Laphroaig whisky carton!. 

An attractive display of prints and watercolours: small and large scale artwork

 “EDINBURGH & BEYOND” – Adrian Tuchel

Dundas street Gallery  6a, Dundas Street Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

1st to 7th July, 2021.  Open daily from 10am to 7pm.

See the website for more information: https://adriantuchel.gallery/

Close up view from the Castle: Arthur’s Seat looming above the Old Town

Caravan Finca El Fénix ‘One Coffee – Three Ways’: Time to taste Real coffee from Columbia

The daily experience of our modern, fast-paced lifestyle, is all about immediacy for everything from Instagram photos to RTD cocktails in a can. But speed does not always mean the traditional quality of Kodak camera film, a slowly crafted Martini to brewing fresh tea-leaves in a teapot.  

And in my view, there’s no comparison between instant coffee and the aromatic flavour of freshly ground coffee beans.

After the essential necessity of water, coffee is the most popular drink worldwide with over two billion cups consumed every day – around 95 million cups in the UK.  Coffee culture is part of our daily life, giving us a kick start in the morning.

2020 was a brutal year for the hospitality industry when cafes, bars and bistros closed during lockdowns and avid coffee drinkers missed the daily coffee shop habit and a cardboard cup on the go. 

However, the current trend which ensued is home consumption with a rise in demand for coffee beans, ground coffee, pods and capsules with smart coffee machines, cafetieres, espresso makers, in order to prepare our own Barista-style hit of caffeine.

Brazil is the largest producer followed by Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. The coffee industry is part of a complex global trade supply chain across a range of businesses, family farms, shipping companies, roasters, grocery stores, independent & online suppliers, coffee shops and finally the consumer.

Farmers and mill workers use different forms of technology, often based on the terroir – the geographical landscape – of the region, their access to resources such as fresh water and electricity.

Raw Material is a social enterprise coffee importer, the brainchild of New Zealand coffee professionals Matt Graylee and Richard Corney.  Their aim is to support producers in the local community by offering training from how to raise rare coffee varietals to advanced processing methods and access to speciality trade markets.

Finca El Fénix is a multi-use farm in Quindío, Colombia, founded and run by Raw Material, their first major project launched in 2014.

Working in close partnership with Raw Material, Caravan Coffee Roasters in the UK was a major sponsor in a Kickstarter campaign to fund the construction of a Wet Mill here at Quindío to help develop a sustainable and successful coffee business community. Caravan is a member of ‘1% For The Planet’, giving 1% of their total revenue each year to environmental causes.

Processing coffee is complex and has a significant effect on the final product: growing, picking, sorting, pulping and drying the cherry fruit seeds to the export-ready beans. The overall flavour and quality affects the price, directly linked to the income and living standards of the local workers and their families.

The careful gathering of ripe coffee cherries like grapes for wine

Like a professional Master of Wine, or a cocktail mixologist, James Hoffman is a Sommelier-style expert on coffee. He is the author of ‘The World Atlas of Coffee’: from Beans to Brewing, coffee explored, explained and enjoyed:

“Everything good about coffee is in how it is grown. The beans are known at this stage as cherries. We want ripe cherries. These cherries are the size of a grape with a couple of seeds (the coffee beans) in a protective layer covered in a sticky layer of fruit, which tastes of sweet honey and melon flavours. The seeds are laid out to dry and the defective ones removed – only a tiny percentage of coffee goes through this sorting stage.

James Hoffman

The sweet cherry Fruits with coffee bean seeds

Miguel Fajardo, head of operations at Raw Material in Columbia, launched an innovative experiment to identify how specific processing methods change the characteristics of coffee. They selected just one coffee varietal – the Tabi – grown in one area of the Finca El Fénix farm and harvested in the same week.

Three year old TABI coffee trees at Finca El Fénix (photo Andrea Jimenez)

The cherries were then processed in three distinctive ways to examine the impact on flavour.

Natural Process: Ripe, intact cherries, sorted for impurities and laid to dry on raised beds for 14 days.  

Washed Process: Depulped cherry fermented in fresh water before drying on raised beds for 14 days. 

Honey Process: Depulped cherry with fruit pulp still attached, laid to dry on raised beds for 14 days.

Raised beds for the drying process of the cherry seed coffee beans

Caravan Coffee Roasters has now launched a Tasting Set of these Natural, Washed and Honey Coffee Beans: One Coffee – Three Ways. This is a rare opportunity to understand the varied production methods of coffee farming and the diversity of coffee. 

Caravan Coffee Roasters: Finca El Fénix – One Coffee -Three Ways

James Hoffman is a well known presenter of informative on line videos to explain the slow, slow preparation of coffee beans at home to ensure the finest quality and taste.    

Ensure you purchase freshly roasted coffee beans. However, the final aspect to the perfect brew is down to the drinker at home – grinding the beans, temperature of the water, agitation and preparation time.

In the UK, we are more likely to say Cafetiere instead of the American term, French Press – the glass jug with a plunger. Just like following a recipe to bake a cake, the correct measurement of ingredients is essential.

James Hoffman recommends 70g of ground coffee per 1 litre of water for his French Press brewing technique.  Caravan Roasters suggests 60g ground coffee per 1 litre of water – so why not test and taste to find the best ratio for your preference of coffee strength.

Step 1. Grind the coffee beans on a medium/ coarse setting. Finely ground coffee will result in a lot of slush, while grinding too coarse will give coffee a bitter taste.

Step 2. Add the ground coffee to the glass jug.

Step 3. Boil the water and then let it sit for 30 seconds. Water at boiling point results in burning the coffee.

Step 4. Pour a quarter of the measured water into the glass jug. Let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds then slowly start pouring the rest of the water over the ground coffee.  Do not stir and leave the jug uncovered. Set a timer for 3 minutes, 30 seconds

Step 5.  Scrape off the thin crust layer that has formed on top of the liquid with a spoon.

Step 6. Patience is a virtue to make the best cup of coffee.!  Wait for at least 6 minutes.  

Step 7.  Slowly start pushing the plunger just below the surface of the coffee (about 5mm). This stops the coffee fines (tiny particles) being agitated and floating back up into the brew.  Then push the mesh filter plunger down to just above the layer of coffee beans at the bottom of the glass beaker.

Step 8. Pour the coffee into a large cup – leaving the dregs (slush) in the cafeteire.   

This method, advises Hoffman, offers an exceptional flavour profile.

Excellent coffee should have its own sweetness, and instead of suppressing bitterness, milk will obscure the flavour characteristics of the coffee, hiding the work of the producer and the expression of terroir.
― James Hoffman

Just like apppreciating the complexities of wine and grape varieties, it’s the same with coffee beans. There are generally six characteristics to bear in mind when tasting coffee – aroma, acidity, sweetness, body, finish and flavour.

Natural coffee beans –Tasting notes: Blackberry jam, crème caramel, mango, treacle.

The Taste test: Dark smooth chocolate, toasted hazelnut with a slightly sour yet smoothly rich and creamy finish.

Washed coffee bean : Tasting notes: Pink fruits, floral, black tea, custard

The Taste test: A blend of stone fruits, (damson, plum), caramel, and a delicious soft wood smoke, lingering on the palette.

Honey coffee beans: Tasting notes: Red apple, condensed milk, apricot, sweet baking spice

The Taste test: Well rounded with the mellow sweetness of red berries, raspberries & strawberries, milk chocolate, a hint of cinnamon spice with a very long finish.

Coffee is an all-natural drink – and it has been fascinating to learn more about the subtle differences from fragrant aroma to hidden flavours across these three varieties of El Fénix coffee beans.

Of course, most coffee shop aficianados worldwide love to add frothy full fat milk, cream, sugar, chocolate and caramel syrup et. al. – Cappucino, Latte, Caffè mocha or the highly calorific Frappucino!.

Why not experiment and perfect your own delicious home brew – coffee not beer – with a choice of non-dairy oat, soy, rice and almond milk, turmeric, matcha for fashionable, healthy options. 

From the Columbian estate, from cherry to roasted bean, it’s time to taste real coffee once again with these speciality, hand crafted coffee beans.

The evolution and revolution of global Coffee Culture continues.!

Caravan Roasters Finca El Fénix Coffee Beans curated in association with Raw Material

Available to buy at: http://www.caravancoffeeroasters.co.uk – £18 (3 x 80g whole bean)
https://www.caravancoffeeroasters.co.uk/collections/coffee/products/el-fenix-tasting-set

And check out their range of coffee: https://www.caravancoffeeroasters.co.uk/collections/coffee