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Kings County Distillery

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

One of the more unusual things we did in Brooklyn was a visit to New York’s first new whiskey distillery since the Prohibition era, Kings County. Tucked away in the paymasters’ building at DUMBO’s Navy Yard, the distillery has only been open since 2010. It’s starting to get a reputation for small-batch quality and the product is now stocked in many of Brooklyn’s bars and restaurants.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

The tour began at the imposing entrance to their premises. Cofounder of the business, Colin Spoelman, started by giving us a fascinating potted history of distilling in the USA and explained how he came to set up the business. He was essentially a home-moonshiner from Kentucky who was moved to set up officially when state laws dropped the previously huge taxes and setup fees for a new distillery.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

We wandered to the tiny ‘corn field’ to the side of their building. This corn isn’t really used for their everyday production: there’s nowhere near enough space to grow what they need, but they just requested to use the land for fun. They may brew a special edition whiskey with this year’s harvest.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

Our next stop was the distillery itself. Here the corn (several tons a month come from an upstate farm) is cooked up with barley and yeast, then left a little while so the yeast can eat up the natural sugars in the corn, creating alcohol. Then it’s distilled twice in the ‘stills’: they are currently in the process of upgrading their production from the smaller metal tanks to the much larger copper kettles in the middle of the space.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

Helper kitty keeps the mice away.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

Colin then led us upstairs to the barrel room, which drew collective oohs from the small tour group. Ageing in oak barrels is what gives the clear alcohol its amber colour and depth of flavour. Colin explained that a longer ageing doesn’t necessarily result in a better whiskey and that the temperature fluctuations in the barn mean the liquid can absorb better from the wood. They constantly taste from the barrels until the required flavour profile – a balance of spice and caramel tones – has been reached.

Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn
Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn

At the end back in the tasting room, there’s a small exhibit of the history of the area and whiskey in NYC – hilariously dubbed the Boozeum – and shelves of the lingering remains of experimental batches. The hand-typed labels and small-batch approach remind me of London’s very own Kernel brewery. We also got to sample the final product in its unaged (moonshine) and aged forms. Now I’m not a whiskey fan but I really did like the ‘chocolate’ version, with Mast Brothers cocoa nibs thrown into the barrel. They imparted just a hint of sweetness and warmth. Josh bought a couple of bottles to bring home. It was a great tour and fascinating to learn the history and processes of distilling. Tours run informally every Saturday afternoon and are well worth a visit.

Brooklyn & NYC Eats & drinks

Brooklyn

This was always going to be an indulgent foody holiday. I’d saved about 200 places to my Foursquare list and Google map and was determined to plough through as many as possible, waistline be damned. I think we did pretty well! I don’t know if it was the exchange rate or being in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan, but prices everywhere seemed really reasonable, and it was a delight to have so many places on our doorstep in Williamsburg.

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Mushroom Bao

Mushroom Bao

I got the idea to make these watching Jamie Oliver’s new series on TV. I was amazed to see him make bao – pillowy steamed Chinese buns with a spicy filling tucked inside – with a dough of just flour and milk, and had to give it a go with a veggie filling. I had everything I needed to hand in the kitchen – don’t you love when that happens – so they made for a good impromptu Friday night dinner after the rain put paid to any other plans.

Mushroom Bao
Mushroom Bao
Mushroom Bao

You can find Jamie’s bao recipe and method here. It was so quick to make the dough and fill the buns – the dough is soft and stretchy so it’s easy to pull it over the filling and seal. No resting or kneading required either!

Mushroom Bao

For my spicy mushroom filling I just fried together:
· 8 chestnut mushrooms, finely diced
· 1 diced red chilli
· 2 crushed cloves of garlic
· 1 tablespoon of Szechaun chilli bean paste
· A shake of hickory liquid smoke (my current favourite ingredient ever)

Mushroom Bao

One 10-minute steam later…

Mushroom Bao

… perfectly soft and fluffy little buns pop out. Served with quick pickled veg slivers and all the chilli sauces, they made for a tasty, filling dinner – definitely one to add to my regular roster.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

I’m pretty late to the blogging party with this one, because Street Fast is now nicely settled into its newest temporary home in Dalston Yard – just up the road from the last incarnation in Merchants Yard. In all honesty I’ve visited three times already in as many weeks, but like a bad blogger I never took my camera until this time. Here’s a peek at why you should definitely visit before it pops down again.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Street food markets are still a bit hit and miss in London: at one end you have the woefully disorganised ones with massive queues, vendors running out of food early and no toilets; then you have the fancier ones like We Feast which attract high end restaurants and are superbly organised in lovely venues – but charge a hefty fee just to get in before you’ve even bought your food and obligatory cocktail.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Brilliantly, Street Feast seems to have nailed an ideal middle ground: it’s free, capacity is limited to 500 at a time, the venue is an old car park but well equipped with rustic decor touches, large bars and loads of seating… good vibes all round. The vendors vary from week to week: in past weeks I’ve had Japanese egg curry from Nanban (Tim from Masterchef’s new venture), fried Mauritian fritters, and delicious gelato from Sorbitum.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

This week I was delighted to find Horn OK Please which offers veggie Indian street snacks – I went for a samosa chat, topped with chickpea curry and some fabulous chutneys.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Josh had tacos from Street Feast stalwarts Breddos (you can find them at Netil Market in London Fields too) followed by salted caramel and pecan bites from the excellently-named You Doughnut.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

There’s really someone for everyone, from jerk chicken to handmade gnocchi, to an old fashioned burger and chips (albeit poshed up with rosemary salt). There could be more choice for veggies but I can generally find something new to try each time.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

The crowd’s a variety of all ages, with little kids having as much fun at the adults.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard
Street Feast, Dalston Yard

For the gin fans, there’s even a separate little bar dedicated to the good stuff including a very passable Negroni.

Street Feast, Dalston Yard

Vibes are high, in other words. Make sure to check it out before it moves on again.

Brewbacca beer labels

Here’s a fun little project I did recently – my old employer Sidekick Studios brewed an in-house beer, and I designed the label for it.

Brewbacca beer label

We called it Brewbacca because he’s a famous sidekick, and kind of nerdy…. geddit? It’s a light, hoppy IPA, perfect for summer drinking.


Brewbacca beer label
bbsketch

I hand sketched the design then finished it up in Illustrator, and had them printed by Diginate, like my Garden Party labels. This time I went for a vinyl sticker with spot varnish, and I think the end result is super nice. Plus the beer tastes good, which is a bonus!