Scrumptious Snippets: Cheeky drams, paella parties, and spring rejuvenations

Scotch Malt Whisky Society Mixology.
Marvellous malt whisky mixology.
I'm not sure if it's because more and more people appear to be reading Scrumptious Scran (apologies for any immodesty), but I seem to the recipient of a lot foodie news of late. It would be remiss to keep this to myself, so I am starting "Scrumptious Snippets" which is my way of sharing what's capturing the culinary buzz in Edinburgh, and further afield. So here we go...

Clans and Drams - what's your whisky "clan"?

Partial to a wee dram of "the water of life", but bewildered by the sheer diversity of Scotch whisky that's on offer? Well, Edinburgh's Scotch Malt Whisky Society might just have the answer. This May - as part of Homecoming Scotland 2014's Whisky Month - the Society is opening its doors to the public for a series of activities that aim to help people discover which "clan" of whisky they prefer.

Clans and Drams sets out to shake up preconceptions about Scotch that centre on regions or distillery brands, instead focusing purely on taste characteristics by categorising whiskies into 12 clans that include "spicy and sweet" and "deep, rich and dried fruits". Watch out for events throughout the coming month that will help you discover your own "Dram Clan", including a "Clan Whisky Feast" that explores how whisky can be paired with food; and "Clan Cocktails" which will guide punters through the enchanting cocktail mixology that can be applied to uisge beatha.

A full list of the events throughout Clans & Drams month can be found at www.smws.co.uk/clans&drams.

Paella partying at La Tasca

Cooking paella at La Tasca, Edinburgh.
Seriously big paella at La Tasca, Edinburgh.
It's no secret that I love Spanish cuisine. So I was delighted to be invited - the other week - to the re-launch of the Edinburgh branch of Spanish-themed restaurant chain, La Tasca. I must admit that I hadn't previously eaten at this South Charlotte Street restaurant before. So I was intrigued to see what it was like.

Well I have to say I had a very pleasant evening. The sangria flowed freely, and the guests that crowded into the airy basement - where the re-launch party took place - were treated to an impressive demonstration of how to cook paella - using the largest paella pan I have seen this side of Valencia. It wasn't all theatre, however, as the finished product also tasted very good. Having chatted to some of the Spanish and South American staff behind the restaurant, they certainly seem to be passionate about creating an authentic Spanish dining experience. I think I shall be heading back soon to sample more of what is on offer.


Brewing up with Black Wolf 


Black Wolf Brewery bosses.
Bosses behind Black Wolf Brewery.
Spring is traditionally a time for rejuvenation and welcoming the new. And so it is in the world of Scottish food and drink, as the recent transformation of Stirlingshire brewers Traditional Scottish Ales demonstrates. The producers of much admired brews that include Lomond Gold, and - a particular favourite of mine - Double Espresso have recently transformed themselves into The Black Wolf Brewery.

"Black Wolf?" I hear you ask. Well apparently the name is derived from a local legend that suggests that Stirling was saved from being sacked by Vikings thanks to the howling of a friendly black wolf. To mark the rebrand, three new beers are being launched: Florida Black stout; a premium lager billed as Coulls; and Tundra, which is a rather intriguing, elderflower-infused wheat beer. Will this change of image prove to be merely a sheep in wolf's clothing? Well not if the quaff-ability of the beers the brewery is renowned for is maintained, even though the branding might be different. I hope to report back Black Wolf's new ales soon...

Bottles of Black Wolf craft beers.
Smashing new Black Wolf brews.
Update
I recently had the pleasure of attending the official launch of the Black Wolf Brewery in Edinburgh, which provided a chance to taste some of their new craft beers. And very tasty they were, including:

Gold Digger (4.2%) - a really refreshing blond beer which is light and citrusy (probably thanks to the use of Citra hops in the brew). It strikes a really good balance between fruit and bitter flavours and will be a great beer for the summer, when it eventually arrives.

Tundra (4.8%) - a smashing wheat beer, which is dry with floral notes and hints of elderflower. Not surprising, given that the brew is actually "dry hopped" with elderflowers. If you like continental-style beers you should give this a try.

Florida Black (4.5%) - this excellent stout combines the sweetness of a porter with really satisfying smoky and bitter notes. Dark and smooth, this brew is enhanced through the addition of toasted wild oats to the mash. If pushed, I would say this just has the edge as my favourite amongst Black Wolf's excellent new offerings. 
2 comments on "Scrumptious Snippets: Cheeky drams, paella parties, and spring rejuvenations"
  1. Love this new feature Chris & what a coincidence - I've just started my own series called Scrumptious Saturdays. It is my roundup of some my favourite recipes I've found around the internet each week, along with any foodie news of my own! Vohn x
    P.S. No pinching of your moniker was intended - it hadn't even occurred to me about you being so nearby - it just went nicely with "Saturdays"!

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    1. Why thank you Vohn. And I must add, great minds think alike and all. It's something I have been toying with for a wee while, with so much foodie bits and pieces popping up. And no worries about the "scrumptious" nomenclature - such an appropriate adjective which is copyright free!

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