Tag Archives: beer

Hot beer, Polish dumpling and plums in Krakow

7 Mar

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By Andrea McVeigh

If necessity is the mother of invention, then freezing cold winters in Poland necessarily gave birth to mulled beer.  Not wine (although there’s plenty of that too) but beer.

I’ve long been a fan of mulled or gluhwein, that staple of Christmas markets in northern European Medieval capitals.  But hot beer was a new one to me.  We discovered it in arty, cultural Kraków (also known as Cracow or Krakow) Poland’s second largest city after its capital, Warsaw, and located in the south of the country.

Hot beer, or grzane piwo as it’s called, is a staple of the Polish winter, something to not just delight tourists beating a path around the streets of the Old Town, but essential to the survival of its residents.  It’s not just warm beer, of the sort served in British pubs in the 1970s, but mulled beer – a brew that has been heated and infused with cloves and cinnamon plus other spices and herbs such as nutmeg and either fresh ginger or ginger syrup, sweetened with honey or sugar.  It’s considered good for you too – there are tracts dating back to the 17th century which enthuse about the healthy properties of a warm frothy tankard of the stuff.

While the barrel-shaped huts in the main square’s Christmas Market served mulled wine (the perfect accompaniment to a large pork knuckle or Polish dumpling, with the fresh air acting as a powerful aperitif) we found the beer in several restaurants including the Czech restaurant Ceska Chodba – yes, we went to Poland and, tempted by the rich roasted goose, ended up eating in a Czech restaurant.

Mulled beer turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to a festive winter goose, served with a mushroom and prune sauce along with nutty buckwheat groats (the Cerna Hora photo shows the brand of Czech beer that was served warm/mulled in the restaurant).

In Poland, prunes are big, as are plums – in popularity and ubiquity, if not necessarily size – and, for a nation that takes the time to mull its beer, it’s unsurprising that the Polish have thrown their considerable brewing expertise into creating a wide and varied selection of beers.

You can find beer with ginger (not, you will note, ginger beer, but actual beer with the addition of ginger), alongside the plum beer and honey beer which you can find in off-licences and liquor stores (you’ll recognise them from the giant Alkohole signs outside) as well as supermarkets.

The other hot alcoholic beverage we tried was mead (honey wine), which we found in a Medieval-themed restaurant – possibly making us the first people to get mead hangovers since 1485.

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Dawa, ox testicles and crocodile in Kenya

29 Nov

By Andrea McVeigh

Guinness goes with Irish stew; coffee goes with croissants and red wine goes with steak.  But what should you drink when you’re chowing down on crocodile, ostrich and ox testicles?  Dawa, as it turns out, the national cocktail of Kenya.

Vegetarians, look away now…

We were in the world-famous Carnivore restaurant in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi (there’s one in Johannesburg too).  Open since 1980, it’s renowned for its speciality meats – whole joints of lamb, pork, beef, ribs, sausages, chicken and kidneys roasted on traditional Masai swords over huge charcoal pits.

It’s a moveable feast, with waiters coming to your table to slice off morsels of whatever takes your fancy – they only stop when you finally admit defeat and lower the Carnivore flag on your table.  But despite the fleshy feast that it’s famous for, Carnivore does a pretty great vegetarian menu too.

Some might balk at the idea of crocodile, ox balls and ostrich, but it’s these exotic meats that tickle many tastebuds and prove to be the big draw.  It’s not a habit that’s exclusive to Africa either.  In north America, Rocky Mountain Oysters are bull calf testicles, usually deep-fried and served with a dipping sauce. In Spain, Argentina and some parts of Mexico, they’re given the slang name of huevos de toro (bull’s eggs).  But no such euphemisms exist at Carnivore, where they’re on the menu as plain old ox balls.

So what do ox testicles taste like?  They have a texture like pâté and taste just a little bit salty; exactly as you would expect, had you ever given the matter any thought.

As for the famous ‘tastes like chicken’ sobriquet, that rests with crocodile.  What does crocodile taste like?  A sort of fishy, almost citrussy, chicken-like meat actually.

A cold Kenyan Tusker beer goes down well with pretty much anything, but the speciality at Carnivore is the Dawa cocktail (its name translates as medicine or ‘magic potion’ in Swahili).  Based on the Brazilian Caipirinha and subsequently introduced into Kenya and adapted, it’s ‘Hakuna Matata’ (the Swahili phrase for ‘there are no worries’) in a glass.

Recipes vary slightly, in terms of measures and quantities, but they’re all based around the same ingredients.

DAWA COCKTAIL RECIPE:
vodka (one or two shots depending on how strong you like your cocktails)
two lime quarters unpeeled
a teaspoon of sugar
honey
crushed ice

Pour the vodka, honey and sugar into a whisky glass and add the lime quarters and crushed ice.  Use a muddler or honey stick to crush all the ingredients together really well.  The key is to mush the ingredients together as much as possible and swirl the mixture until the honey has blended well too.

ABOUT US

1 Sep

where we’re from

We are Patric Baird and Andrea McVeigh and we love travel, we love food and we love drink – and we love it when all three of these things are combined!

We’re married to each other, based in both London and Belfast, with a wealth of  passport stamps under our ever-expanding belts.

We’ll be writing about the places, people, food and drink we discover on our adventures.  Come on and join us y’all – the drinks are on us!