Tag Archives: Review

Cane & Grain: Ribs, Beer & Bourbon

Whilst reading my twitter timeline last week, one tweet in particular caught my eye. It spoke of a new restaurant in Manchester that specialised in ribs, bourbon and beer. I was sold purely on that and vowed to sample Cane & Grain as soon as possible. It’s neatly tucked away in the Northern Quarter, oozes style and has an unpretentious atmosphere. The bar staff were friendly and approachable, even though they were extremely busy. The bar had a huge selection of beers and they were all roughly £4.50 a pint/bottle/can but when you consider that it seems to be imported from the USA, I don’t think that’s too horrendous.20140716-145444-53684942.jpg

Unsurprisingly for a restaurant that’s marketing itself as a rib joint, the food on offer was…ribs! But there was also some delicious sounding starters and extras, we sampled the bacon popcorn and pig fries. They arrived pretty quickly in a paper bags and went down really well with the group – the pig fries were like nothing I’d tried before. I don’t like pork crackling or pork scratchings but these were gorgeous and are well worth a try. The bacon popcorn (suitable for vegetarians) was as wonderful as it sounds…20140716-145445-53685653.jpg

Cane & Grain offers a wide selection of beef and pork ribs, I opted for the beef short ribs with a rum sauce. It arrived in a metal tray topped with bacon, sauce on the side with a small portion of frys – it looked great but it tasted even better. The meat fell off the bones and I struggled to finish my meal, I decided to leave the fries and work on the meat! Having never tried beef ribs before, I was impressed and can highly recommend them to you. 20140716-145447-53687062.jpgIf you’re feeling a little more caveman then you should try the Dino ribs – one beautiful, massive, beef rib cooked and flavoured to perfection (we also sampled the smoke pit beans with rib bits, which were just brilliant – I could eat them every day and never tire of them). At £22 each for the short and the dino ribs, Cane & Grain isn’t the cheapest place to eat but that didn’t seem to be putting people off as the place was filled with people. 

20140716-145447-53687973.jpgOverall, our experience of Cane & Grain was a good one and I’d definitely go back again. The music was an eclectic mix of indie/rock from the past few decades and was loud enough to hear but not intrusive. The waiting on staff were friendly and made sure we were well looked after. Seeing that we were in a bar specialising in bourbon, I asked what they’d recommend – the waiting on staff actually sent a barman over to us to ask what sort of bourbon we’d like to sample. He listened and came back with three distinct bourbons – if I’d been more wealthy I would quite happily have pulled up a stool at the bar and drank bourbon all night. And that, to me, is the sign of a good bar. 20140716-150116-54076505.jpg

I have not been asked to write this post nor was I gifted anything in return for writing it. If you want to sample the place yourself, you can find Cane & Grain at 49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester (call 0161 839 7033 for bookings).  

 

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Sigg Thermo Mug: Perfect Companion?

I’ve been fan of SIGG bottles since I was a teenager (which was a very long time ago): they’re sturdy; last a lifetime and they look pretty cool too! I’m an outdoorsy, ‘busy’ type of person and my SIGG products have travelled the world with me, turning heads wherever I go. The latest addition to the family is the Thermo, an insulated bottle that keeps drinks hot or cold (depending on what you put in them). This is due to the high-grade 18/8 stainless steel and the vacuum-insulation used to make the Thermo.

I was sent the SIGG Thermo 0.5L mug to review and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I’ve always used a traditional flask when out for a day and a screw top thermal mug to take a brew away with me in the car. At 0.5L the Thermo certainly has the capacity of a decent sized hill walking flask but I wasn’t sure if it would keep my coffee as hot for as long. The Thermo definitely looks the part: it’s slim, cool to the touch and has a lid which is really easy to hold. I took my Thermo everywhere, and I mean everywhere…

I’m in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and have just been through all my Basic Training for Seafarers courses. I took my Thermo to lectures, to the lake whilst doing lifeboat training and I also tested the cold properties of the Thermo when doing my firefighting.

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I played around with the thermal properties of the Thermo, following the instructions to the letter (preheat the Thermo with boiling water prior to filling with drink) and also throwing caution to the wind and NOT preheating it. When I did it properly, I made a brew at 0845 and got bored of waiting for it to get cold at 2215. In all fairness I did leave the lid on tight , only opening it occasionally over that time and whilst the coffee wasn’t steaming hot at 2215, it was still a very drinkable brew. When I made my brew maverick style, again at 0845, my coffee was still drinkable at 1500. That’s a better performance than my traditional flask and way better than any thermal screw top mug I’ve ever owned – they usually keep a drink warm for about 2 hours. As for the keeping water cold, it also performed very well indeed – definitely welcome after coming out of a burning container wearing full fire fighting kit!

The Thermo mug has a removable tea strainer, which does what it says on the tin. I made some green tea and it worked pretty well, I didn’t test it with loose leaf tea so I can’t comment on whether the strainer is fine enough for that but it definitely works well for using tea bags. No messy fishing it out of the mug!

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I work hard and like to play equally as hard and I took my SIGG Thermo to Northern Ireland with me to provide a hot, home made brew wherever I went on my road trip. It really was the perfect companion on my trip, slim, unassuming and keeping my drink hot for hours. It was something special to have a coffee on the Giant’s Causeway! My friends who’ve been with me whilst testing the SIGG Thermo have tried to whisk it away on several occasions – it’s definitely a bottle that’ll turn heads!

I’m not sure that I would take the Thermo 0.5L away as a flask on the hills as I like to pour out my coffee and drink it from a mug BUT the larger sized Thermo bottles actually have a mug. Given the performance of the 0.5L I am sure the larger SIGG Thermo’s would be excellent pieces of kit for a day on the hills. I am more than happy to say that the SIGG Thermo 0.5L is the perfect companion for work and play, and I highly recommend it.

The SIGG Thermo is available in 0.3L, 05.L, 0.75L and 1L bottles.

I was sent this product for the purposes of this review, all opinions are my own.

Jetboil Zip: Supreme stove?

The Jetboil. A stove I’ve seen many a military person whip from their webbing, make a brew in record time and then pop it all back nice and neatly in the pouch. It’s fair to say that I’ve been pretty envious of this, I mean – it all seemed so ‘neat’. A mug, burner and gas canister all stored in one super easy to carry package? Whats not to love?!

I’ve finally managed to acquire one to have a play with. I got a Jetboil Zip (retails at approximately £69.99) free with a subscription to Trail Magazine (£49), which I figured was a pretty good deal. It’s smaller than other Jetboils holding 0.8ltrs of water and you need an external source of ignition: I choose to use my Firesteel because it makes me feel rugged and outdoorsy, but you could just use a lighter or matches.

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Inside the Jetboil mug is the burner, a pot/pan support and a tripod. A 100g gas canister will also fit inside, if you fit all the pieces together correctly.

The pot/pan support means that you can use the Jetboil as a normal stove and put pots and pans on the burner. My main misgiving about the whole Jetboil system was that it could only really be used for one thing: to boil water quickly. The addition of a pot/pan support makes it a much more versatile stove – I used it to cook bacon when I went camping last week and was pretty impressed. The tripod massively increases the stability of the cooking system and can fit several different sized gas canisters – there is nothing worse than watching your freshly boiled water tip over in the wind!

When the Jetboil Zip is used to simply boil water, it is the fastest stove I’ve ever used and I had my brew in record time. It didn’t fare so well when I tried to cook boil in the bag meals in the mug, I found the 0.8ltr capacity a tad small to fit my food pouch in let the water boil without overflowing. I’ve mostly used the stove to boil water to make a brew, I’ve found it a nice alternative to taking a flask of coffee out with me. 20130822-134659.jpgPerhaps a larger Jetboil would be better for heating up boil in the bag food as I see plenty of people who use them to do just that. Another selling point of the Jetboil is that you can simply boil the water in the mug and then make the brew straight into it. I did just this a while back and it worked well, saved me packing another cup! The downside to that is that you have to wash the mug before putting your stove back together. Perhaps I’m lazy but I’d prefer to just stick to clean water in my Jetboil mug.

All in all, I’m quite taken with the Jetboil Zip. It does exactly what I need it to do with minimal fuss and doesn’t take up too much room. I’m not sure it’d replace my flask on a walk but it’s a great addition to my kit and means I don’t have to take my trangia with me if I do want to make a fresh brew.

Breakfast at the Chorlton Green Brasserie

I’ve been a fan of the Chorlton Green Brasserie since it first opened and I’ve written a piece about them before. I love the opening hours (0800-2300 everyday), the atmosphere and the rustic feel of the place. Today I popped in with a friend for brunch after walking my dog in Chorlton Meadows and was treated to some awesome sausages courtesy of the best butcher in Chorlton, W.H.Frost – well worth ordering anything they’ve supplied. Pop in and see them if you’re passing Chorlton, great place to buy your meat.

I ordered a Frosty sausage sandwich with a fried egg whilst my friend had the full English with poached eggs. The food was perfectly cooked, arrived within 10/15 minutes of ordering and was very well presented. We both tucked in and honestly, I can’t think of a better place to have brunch. As we went to pay we had a friendly chat with the owner who kept a smile on his face even when a pot of milk was spilt on his nether regions – an ultimate professional. It was reasonably priced at £4.50 for the sausage sandwich and £8.50 for the full English. Yes, you can get cheaper breakfasts but where else can you get the welcome and a free dog biscuit?

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Esbit Titanium Spoon

Being a bit of a gear fondler, I am always looking at other people’s equipment and checking out what’s available on the market. Whilst in the woods with some Army Cadets I noticed that one of the regular soldiers with us had a foldable titanium spoon and he was pretty obsessed with it. I have always used a Spork but sometimes the length of it meant that it would dig into me, a foldable spoon sounded awesome. The fact that it was titanium meant that it should be pretty light, which is always a bonus when looking at new kit.

I searched online and found the Esbit Titanium Spoon, I got mine from eBay but obviously other online retailers are available.

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The spoon was light, smooth to the touch and the actual eating bit is polished to enhance your eating experience. Sounds a bit fancy but it does actually make a difference. The spoon weighs in at a minuscule 18g/6oz is 17cm long when in use and folds down to 9.3cm when packed away. Compare this to the fixed 17cm Light my Fire Spork – no wonder I kept stabbing myself with my spoon when it was in my pocket! The handle folds neatly into the back of the product, when open there is a sliding locking mechanism which is extremely effective and leaved no possibility that the spoon will fold when in use. I have found that you need to really make sure that the slider is fully pushed down to the base of the spoon to make sure it doesn’t fold when you’re trying to dig out your scoff. It sits nicely in my hand and I don’t notice it in my pocket, I take my spoon everywhere with me and have used it almost daily since buying it.

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I eat porridge for breakfast and sometimes top it with banana – the edge of spoon is more than capable of chopping up the banana, no need to get a knife out! This spoon has been an invaluable addition to my kit and means that I am never short of an implement to eat with or make a brew with. I’ve not used my plastic spork since I got this spoon, it stays in my bag as an emergency eating device but that’s where it’s stayed.20130324-121535.jpg

I am a convert to the whole titanium ‘thing’ and am now looking for a titanium kettle and/or pot. As to whether I get the rest of Esbit’s cutlery (they also do knife, fork and a spork – all foldable) remains to be seen as for me, the only must have when outdoors is a spoon. I can do all my chopping and food prep with my Gerber knife and a fork isn’t really necessary. The Esbit Titanium spoon retails at around £10 and is, in my opinion, money well spent.