Lager became fashionable because your dad didn’t drink it. When they put it in bottles and doubled the price it became even trendier. Now beer drinking has turned a full circle with a crop of
bottled ales now available. '
But don’t try sticking a lime wedge in the neck, says Catherine Fellows.
Two years ago. Oddbins picked up on a couple of signiﬁcant trends in the beer
market. It noted a deﬁnite shift towards
home drinking. and. at the same time. with the help of organisations such as CAMRA. the Campaign for Real Ale. there was a growing demand for better quality brews. Oddbins approached a number of the many British breweries producing traditional cask ales for pubs and persuaded them to develop bottled versions for the home market. Today it sells 28 varieties of British stout. mild. bitter and ale. including beer by Green Mantle. Caledonian and Belhaven. Though Oddbins probably has the biggest range of British bottled beers. these are becoming increasingly available elsewhere. and small brewers in particular are seizing on the opportunity to sell to pubs not prepared
? to take casks. But doesn’t bottling itself
jeopardise the much-vaunted quality of the beer?
Caledonian's Gavin Lockhan explains that while cask conditioned ales are ‘live’. the yeasts still active. most bottled beers. his own included. are pasteurised. ‘Thcy will not improve or
deteriorate in terms of colour. aroma.
? Glasgow I Bar Miro 36
flavour or alcoholic strength.‘ he says.
‘There aren‘t any added chemicals. but there is a discernible difference. Bottled
beers tend to be “brisker”. not as ‘ smooth.‘
There are. however. a few
; unpasteurised. ‘bottle-conditioned’
beers. such as Wonhington‘s. which.
= like ﬁne wines have optimum drinking : ages. It has been suggested. for
example. that Thomas Hardy‘s is best
‘laid down’ for 25 years!
Even draught devotees at CAMRA
admit that the bottling process does not E seem to damage beer unduly. ‘Bottled beers certainly don't taste as gaseous as ~ keg beers.‘ says lain Lowe. who holds
the enviable post ofCAMRA
; researcher. ‘because it is easier to
; control the carbonation in bottles; nor
do they have that chemical. metallic
taste. Ofcourse there are good bottles
; of beer and bad bottles of beer. but
i basically we are happy if good beer in
I any form is reaching a wider market — I
mean there are even a few canned beers that are almost drinkable on the market now.’
The canned beers in question are meeting with approval thanks to the
Kelvingrove Street (on the corner with Sauchiehall Street). 353 (H75. .\lark Goldinger. owner of Nico's. is one of the team behind this spacious new bar/restaurant. On two ﬂoors of a fine listed building. the place has been decorated with deference to the Spanish painter it is named after. and. thanks to a combination of wooden floorboards. big couches and open ﬁres. the atmosphere is elegant but cosy. The upstairs restaurant area is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. and serves everything from ‘big bloomers' — open
sandwiches piled with lavish ﬁllings — and bowls of steaming mussels. to slap up dinners which. in keeping with the Spanish theme. include a lot of ﬁsh dishes. Miro‘s chef takes pride in having no microwave in his kitchen — everything is freshly prepared. Bar Miro is jointly owned by music man Willy Knox. hence the ambitious programme of live gigs that is planned for the next few months. 6 At present. Saturday afternoons are dedicated I to folk. Sunday evenings to DJ Jazz ofClub Havana fame. and Wednesday 8 March will see the ﬁrst of three performances by all girl punk band the Space Kittens. On Thursdays. the stage is given over to comedy — apart from the
. booked ‘star‘. there's an
I open spot for intrepid
| punters. As if all this were
i not enough. Happy Hour every evening from 5—7pm means a large glass of Spanish house red forjust £ l .50.
I Innovations ll Blackl'riars Street. Edinburgh‘s ﬁrst Afro/Caribbean food store is now open and selling a wide variety of items unavailable elsewhere and indispensable for that authentic Jamaican or ’ Ghanaian meal. Apart from gari. salt fish. jerk. palm oil. maize meal and so on. Innovations also stocks authentic cooking vessels and a range of specialist cookery books. Pick up a copy of The
Voice while you‘re in.
invention by Guinness of a little ‘widget‘ which releases carbon dioxide as the can is opened. producing an effect tnuch closer to draught. But it is unlikely that many brewers will choose to put their ‘classic' ranges in cans. They say they have no truck with the other bottle brigade - the trendies with ‘badge brand‘ imported lagers — but they are well aware of image. ‘Bottles are discerned as containing higher quality products than cans.‘ says Belhaven‘s marketing man Andy Messenger. Until the 50s and ()()s. nearly all beer was in bottles. so there is also nostalgia value ripe for exploiting. as brewers well know. Tennents may be using Japan. and some of the cleverest minds in advertising. to debunk the imported- lagers-are-best myth. but Traquair ale. ‘brewed for generations at historic Traquair House‘. is selling like hot cakes in Tokyo.
FLAVOUH OF THE
I COUSCOUS The Marrakech Restaurant, in ; Edinburgh’s London Street, is one of
the few places in Scotland where you
; can eat couscous, Morocco’s most famous dish. Proprietor Bouchaib
Maghrour gives his recipe which, he says, with a good steamer and a bit of
_' attention to detail, anyone should be
able” to manage.
(or, Couscous with Chicken, Chickpeas, Onion, Sultanas and Cinnamon - serves four)
1 lb couscous
2 tbsp olive oil, or a generous knob of
1 small chicken, or four chicken quarters
6 oz dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 large onions, roughly chopped small handful sultanas
2 tsp cinnamon
Wash the couscous in cold water,
drain, and leave to swell for around 5—10 minutes. In the meantime, lightly fry the chicken in olive oil in the
2,71% \ w \ L ,r )‘233’
“xx ’_'—‘__::—/ . U U El Cl is}
., Ubiquitous Chip}
x or THE YEAR £23232; SCOTTISH WINE MERCHANT OF THE YEAR
bottom pan of the couscoussiere or steamer. (Whether you leave the chicken whole or not will depend on the size of your pan.) Add the cinnamon and chickpeas. Add water to cover. Bring to the boil.
Fluff up the couscous thoroughly with your hands or a fork, and place it gently in the top part of the couscoussiere or steamer. It is important, if the final result is to be light and even, not to pack it in, or let it condense at all. Place this over the bubbling chicken, and leave until the flavoured steam has percolated right through the couscous - about ten minutes. (Do not cover as this lets condensed steam drop on the couscous and makes it soggy.)
Take the couscous, in the top part of the steamer, off the pan, and tip it onto a dish. Fluff it up again, and mix the olive oil or butter through it. Pour three wine glasses of cold water over it, and let it stand for about five minutes, while you add the onion and sultanas to the chicken casserole. Put the couscous back in the steamer, lightly as before, and place over the chicken to steam a second time. When the steam has percolated through it again, it is ready, and the chicken and
' chickpeas should be cooked by now as
well. Tip the couscous onto a warm serving dish, and arrange the chicken on top of it. Finally, pour over the stewing juices, and serve.
Marrakech Restaurant, 30 london Street, Edinburgh, 031 556 7293/4444.
7 ()Id Fish mar/eel Close E (l 1' n b 11 lg}?
lunch and (lllillt'l' Monday to 'l‘liursdav all (la). Friday and Saturday Sundays dinner only
telephoni- 031 225 5428
TEL: 041-334 5007
The List 25 February—l0 March 19.94 77