Thursday, October 27, 2011

acclimatization: food and drink edition

Today's soundtrack:
"All You Good Good People" by Embrace
"Road Rage" by Catatonia

Nothing for a month, and then two posts in a row.  You lucky people.

Over the past few months, I've tried a new recipe each week in an attempt to get a sense of British cuisine.  During the summer, I learned how to make a number of different curries and dahls.  This autumn, I've tried a couple new soup recipes.  The other week, I made my first Shepherd's Pie, but I was rather underwhelmed with the results.  I was working off of a basic recipe of meat, carrots, and potatoes.  Not a lot of flavour there.  Having never had Shepherd's Pie before, I assumed that this famous British dish is supposed to be bland, but not this bland.

Tonight's Shepherd's Pie, however, is a complete success.  I used a recipe off of the BBC's Good Food database, although I did tweak it a bit.  Not having thyme sprigs on hand, I used 1 tsp of thyme instead, and put it in alongside the tomatoes rather than with the onions.  I also used roughly 450g of ground beef, 500 mL of beef stock, and 250g dry green lentils.

The result is fantastic.  Unlike last week's inappropriate potato to meat ration, I think this version has the perfect balance.  I topped off my own portion with a bit of HP sauce.

You're drooling now, aren't you.  But wait, there's more!  Alongside these new British dishes, Miguel and I have been sampling different beers from the smaller breweries.

Broughton's "Black Douglas", "Greenmantle Ale", Wychwood's "Hobgoblin", "Wychcraft", Fyne Ales's "Highlander", and Shepherd Naeme's "Spooks"

Thus far, we've sampled the three beers on the right.  "Wychcraft" is a blonde beer and I didn't find it particularly interesting.  More interesting than a regular lager, but not exceptional.  Essentially, I'm over lagers.  Too boring.  Now, "Highlander" and "Spooks" are stronger ales, but my favourite out of the three is "Spooks".  Fantastically hoppy, "Spooks" is a more autumnal version of Inveralmond's "Ossian".

So there you have it - the perfect Shepherd's Pie and the perfect pint.  This acclimatization thing is a lot more fun than I thought it'd be.


  1. I hate to do it but I have to. I'm calling you out on a technicality. It's a very British technicality but it exists. What you made was a Cottage Pie...and it looks delicious. A Sheppard's Pie uses lamb mince. Whilst Sheppard's Pie often is the generic term for a mince meat and potato pie, there is the distinction in terms relating to the meat content. As a lover of words, I think you'll appreciate this variation. Which leads me to a new topic - I think the Brits very much are into very descriptive words, rather than generics. They have very specific terms to describe things that we in North America would defer to a generic word...not sure if you've noticed this or not? And finally you should be watching Stephen Fry's word show - I think it would be up your ginnel.

  2. @Lyla

    I had no idea there is a meat-based difference in terminology. Brilliant! I really couldn't've brought myself to buy lamb mince anyway...

    Fry's word show is fantastic (as is QI, which I just finished watching - oh how do I love thee, iPlayer...). Did you see last week's episode - the 10th doctor was on it. I nearly squeed with delight.