Barney then invited me to follow his lead, blindfolded. The masterclass proved a fun way of getting to know other people as we were asked to get into pairs and work together (one blindfolded, one not) to mix a mojito. We then made other cocktails from the menu, picking up tips on how to improve out mixing as we went.
Among the main course options, Walter has introduced a mild katsu chicken curry and lobster tempura, served in a crisp pancake basket with a Thai-style Sriracha flavoured mayo dip. The succulent lobster is served with the option of salt and chilli fries or rice.
It’s a place that has managed to generate a buzz. “What? You’ve never eaten there?” was invariably the response if I admitted I hadn’t dined at Riley’s Fish Shack. I could tell that people were looking at me, judging, probably thinking something along the lines of “you can’t really be from the north-east of England and interested in good food without having been there.”
The distillery is named after the kingfisher, a bird that was rarely seen on the waterways of Limburg a quarter of a century ago. These days, though, the colourful birds can be spotted frequently, sitting on overhanging branches and darting into streams while hunting prey. The company logo depicts one of the birds perched on a branch.
The first Sunderland Restaurant Week of 2018 takes place from 17 to 25 March. More than 40 cafés and restaurants will participate. Diners can take advantage of two- or three-course menus costing £10 or 15 respectively. During the daytime, participating cafes will feature £5 offers. This is the third Sunderland Restaurant Week. Since the previous event, held during September 2017, a handful of new dining establishments have opened in and around the city centre.
“When I first started in the industry I was 24-years-old and there were, I think, six other female brewers in North America. I’d get mistaken for the marketing person and whatever. Now that I’m in my niche, in my province and home, I know all of the brewers: I’m just another one of the guys. It’s changed a lot but I’ve really established myself. I’m part of community that takes me as a brewer and not as a woman,” says Wendy.
The Živanović Winery is in the town of Sremski Karlovci, about 80 kilometres north-west of Belgrade. It’s one of around 60 wineries in the Fruška Gora region of the country. The region’s spiced, sweet Bermet wine was drank by members of the Austro-Hungarian court. It’s said that Maria-Theresa, the Habsburg empress, decreed that the region’s young men were not permitted to marry without proof they’d planted a vine.
“I would get online support. There are Facebook groups out there…you can ask advice. You can talk to people who are in a similar situation. The Veganuary one is particularly good for that. People will say things like ‘I fell off the wagon’ and it's good for things like that. It provides moral support,” suggested Chef Day Radley, including at times when vegans are faced with unsupportive people around them.
The culinary scene on Tyneside is vibrant. From the food trucks that park at the Quayside, for the market held each Sunday, to fine-dining restaurants, Newcastle offers an array of cuisines and dining experiences.
One of my favourite dishes on the menu is Soljanka, a soup with Russian origins. Friends tell me that occupying Soviet troops introduced the soup to eastern Germany. To most residents of Saxony it proved more palatable than the presence of a foreign military power. Soljanka has remained popular following German reunification.