Brighton Food Festival 2012 – beer festival at Vin Du Pub

Last night we went to our first event of the Brighton Food Festival and it began with ale. We were in the function room of the Vin Du Pub flanked by a reasonable selection of ales, from brewers such as Beachy Head and Dark Star.

£5 entrance fee got us our tasting glass (effectively a standard pint glass just with the extra/vital 1/3 pint measurement marked on) and a taste of one of the beers or ciders of our choice.

I started off on the lower alcohol ales, getting a 1/3 pint of Beachy Head’s The Legless Rambler which went down a treat. Ty hit the cider to start (all the cider was 7% or more) which had a strong strawberry flavour – I moved onto that one for dessert.

The other notable quaff was the Dark Star Revelation – this rounded off our time at Vin Du Pub in favour of hitting a new pub. The consensus in the group was that, although beer festivals are a great showcase for breweries and beers, the condition is sometimes a bit off. Some beers in particular could have done with being a little colder.

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So – thanks to a passionate local’s recommendation – we headed to The Cask just a couple of roads over. I think this pub had almost the same amount of beers available (certainly if you count the bottled beer) as the beer festival. Here I nursed a pint of Rabbit which was lovely – the gents hit the 10% ales and soon it was time to hit the sack.

There are plans to revisit The Cask, there are still so many things to try!

Baked apple and rhubarb meringue pie

Oh my! This dessert was a bit of an experiment and it worked beautifully.

4 sticks rhubarb
5 small apples
Healthy dose cinnamon powder
Soft brown sugar

6 egg yolks
360g caster sugar
30g liquid glucose (optional)
80ml water

The meringue recipe came from Eggs book by Michel Roux. You’ll need a sugar thermometer.

Combine the water, sugar and glucose in a saucepan and start to heat.

Separate the eggs and put in a mixing bowl and get your whisk ready.

Ensure you have a glass of water and pastry brush as you’ll need to brush down the sides of the pan to stop the sugar crystallising on the edges. We used a silicon pastry brush this time, last time we made meringue we used a normal brush and some of the brush hairs came off. Silicon worked much better this time.

Once it starts to bubble, put in the sugar thermometer and watch for t temperature to reach 110 degrees C.

At this point you can start beating the egg whites. Mix until they start to form stiff peeks. At this point one of us was on egg whites and one on sugar syrup.

Watch the sugar mixture carefully, as soon as it’s reached 121 degrees C remove from heat and allow the bubbles to subside (about 30 seconds) and then add slowly to the egg whites.

Once all the sugar mixture is combined, you’ll need to continue mixing on a low speed for 15 minutes until the meringue mixture is almost completely cooled.

And then it’s ready to spoon over whatever you fancy.

We baked the apples and rhubarb with 4 tbsps soft brown sugar, 2 tsps cinnamon and 3 tbsps water and baked at 150 degrees C for 40 minutes.

Then the meringue was spooned over the top and put under the grill until browned and golden on top. I watched this happen so it didn’t burn – approximately 4 minutes but it’ll depend on your grill so I recommend keeping a eye on it. Obviously if you have a blow torch you can skip the grill and just use that.

We had about half the meringue mix left and intend to use it for another dessert as it’ll keep in the fridge for 48 hours.

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Custard – or nearly custard

This week I’ve made two attempts at custard with some success.

The first, and most disastrous, turned into sweet scrambled eggs and was certainly not to everyone’s taste. Second attempt went much better.

Custard recipe as follows:

  1. 3 medium free range egg yolks
  2. 3 tbsps caster sugar
  3. 300ml milk
  4. 1 vanilla pod

And that’s it!

  • You whisk the yolks and caster sugar together until combined.
  • Heat the milk on the stove with the vanilla pod to infuse – get the milk to just on boiling point and then remove the vanilla pod.
  • Add a small amount to the egg and sugar mixture ensuring you’re whisking constantly to avoid the scrambling thing.
  • Slowly add the rest of the milk – still whisking – and then clean the pan to ensure any milk that’s stuck to the sides during heating is removed.
  • Then add the yolk, sugar and milk back onto the heat and in the pan – pop the vanilla pod back in.
  • Ensure you’re stirring constantly – I swap to a spatula at this point – and the mixture will start to thicken.
  • Continue stirring until the custard is at the consistency you like (around 8 minutes in my case) – serve hot or cold.

My second attempt was a bit grainy – far far more palatable than the first though. From reading up, this could be because I over-whipped the sugar and egg yolks at the very beginning so next time I’ll try less enthusiasm and see how it goes. Still a very quick recipe and something I am determined to master.

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