..And their merry men: Old Fashioned Ode

You know what they say about behind every good woman…!  Us foxes know some great men, who in addition to being fine and brilliant have a great fondness for the fermented.  From time to time they might pop up and share their tasting notes and recipes, and so it is with pleasure we introduce you to our newest feature: (The foxes..) And their merry men!  First up is the hirsute and lovely Simon Francis.

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Old Fashioned Ode

This is in honour of a companion with whom I have shared many adventures – we have raised glasses in countless cities, under varied roofs, and with a changing cast of cohorts.
A simple and warming blend of Bourbon, Sugar, Water, Angostura Bitters, garnished with Orange & Maraschino Cherry.
…My job consists of a series of tangled tours around the globe, and at most stops along the way I often find myself with a trusty this familiar cocktail to hand, sipping slowly as it’s flavours dance across my tongue, rich sweetness, and zesty spice warming me both inside & out.
At this point it is almost ritualistic in it’s regularity (always enjoyed responsibly), and pseudo-“slice-of-home” in spite of it’s never having been drunk at my actual home. So, upon entering a more stationary season with considerably more time at home, I decided I would bring my touring tipple along back with me.
I am at times, a creature of singular focus and what some may label “obsession” (an attribute I have carried from teen Star Wars aficionado, through to professional musician)…
In applying this to this drink; a blend of relatively few ingredients, I decided to contemplate the parts that made the whole…
The official ingredients are as follows:
4.5cl Bourbon (or Rye Whiskey)
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Sugar Cube
Splash of Water
Orange Slice & Maraschino Cherry to garnish.
This allows for a considerable range of possibilities and options, as there are a kaleidoscope of interpretations of this simple recipe: Bourbon or Rye? Experiment with the bitters? White or brown sugar? Sugar syrup? …etc
Relatively early on I settled with Bulleit Bourbon as a base – I liked it’s spicy character and orange-y notes, and felt these worked as a good foundation.
Having experimented with different bitters on different equations, both myself and at the hands of many barkeepers I felt it best to keep it somewhat traditional and stick to the classic  Angostura bitters, whilst I do sometimes use an orange bitters in the absence of an orange garnish.
The sugar and the water are where I diverge a little – the sugar cube is elegant, but at times I feel it doesn’t blend in to the drink enough, and as much as I value labour and process, there are times when the marathon muddling required to mix sugar grains and water is inconvenient and enjoyable… So having decided upon demerara as my sugar of choice (I simply love it’s dark richness), I set about making a simple syrup with water, for easy use in future drink making. Just dissolve your preferred sugar in water at a ratio of 100g sugar : 100ml water. Simply heat and combine then pour in to a sterilised bottle or container and allow to cool.
Finally, the cherry comes under our gaze. I wanted nothing to do with those red plastic monstrosities you are sometimes served up, and so looked for something more refined. Ultimately I was introduced to the original Maraschino cherry from Luxardo, at a number of bars across the USA. You should most definitely seek these out if you haven’t had them before: they are delicious and addictive!
Additionally, you can make your own – a road I ventured along, loosely following a number of recipes found on the internet (search “homemade maraschino cherries”). Essentially a combination of sour cherries, cherry syrup, and a touch of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, which is then left to macerate and mix up in a dark cupboard. Ultimately, this process came at a similar cost to Luxardo’s own, though with a favour that definitely stands up to the original… I think both are options worth pursuing, and either way you end up with a jar of delicious drops of pleasure.
As for combining them… my personal ritual is as follows:
-Take your glass (generally a small rocks glass), and add a splash of the syrup: 10-20ml to taste
-Add two dashes of bitters.
-Add 1 maraschino cherry ad a slice of orange, and muddle gentlly.
-Remove the orange slice, and add 40ml Bourbon
-Add ice and return the orange slice to serve
-Drink slowly
-And exhale
-Simon

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Our weekend in pictures

imageHope you all had a weekend full of merriment – ours consisted on house renovations, mooching around a beautiful blustery Edinburgh, and enjoying coffee & banana
bread in the new and lovely Wild goose bakery (https://mobile.twitter.com/WildGooseBakery) in Leytonstone and Celeste has indulged her tom Selleck infatuation for a good cause and has become a mo sister :

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Hope your week is full of rest & play

-Hanna, Celeste & Sarah

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Field Trip: Portland, Oregon

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Roses, independent bookshops, Independent everything, bikes, coffee, food trucks… what is not to love about Portland?  The perks of a travelling husband is being able to tag along from time to time – on our travels we have got to pass through Portland a few times now and have left part of my heart there.  So, if you find you self lucky to have a day or two in Portland here are my top tips:

Morning Coffee:  Stumptown Coffee Roasters

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With Staff as delightful as their coffee.  Our first visit to stump town coffee roasters we met Nathan, a hirsuite barista, that looked every bit the portland hipster, but chatted with us for 10 minutes about coffee, the relationships with farmers, the differences in the beans and the benefits of an aeropress.  The coffee will leave you every bit as stimulated as the knowledgeable and friendly staff – a Portland institution & a must visit in your Portland adventure.

Browse: Powells City of Books

photo-9This is a bookworms paradise, the largest independent bookshop in the world, and it feels like stepping into heaven, once you enter you might never want to leave – good job it stays open super late!

Brunch: The Parish

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A short stumble from Powells, the Parish serve up an tasty brunch, with a local Jazz trio as entertainment – here is where i first tasted a grapefruit Mimosa… Just when you thought you couldn’t improve on the original…

Shop: Yo Vintage

As a someone who enjoys a vintage shop but doesn’t love too much clutter, this shop is beautifully laid out and curated collection of vintage wares.  I picked up my favourite dress of all time in this shop, as well as heaps of styling tips from the lovely shop assistant.  As everywhere in Portland, the staff was unpretentious, knowledgable, and gave me loads of time in helping me chose and advising me on outfit selections.

Cocktails:  Clyde Common

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I visited here pregnant and can thoroughly vouch for the deliciousness of the sparkling lavender lemonade, but have it on good authority that they do a great Old Fashioned.  You’ll find here attached to the Ace, and a few doors down from Stumptown.

Sleep:  Hotel Monaco

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Fun, Kooky, Colourful and with a happy hour free to residents, this hotel has the best wallpaper (and ostrich legged lamp) I have ever stayed in.  There is nowhere better to lay your head after all that Portland  (& tax free shopping) You should probably pick up a voodoo doughnut on the way though.

That is a round up of my favourite parts from the Portland visits, next time I am determined to check out the famous food trucks, but until then I will just need to watch Portlandia and dream of returning.

-Sarah

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Dress Up: Singing in the rain

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“There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” Sir Ranulph Fiennes

We know it’s been a little quiet of late and not sure how many of you out there are still with us, we three foxes, have taken divergent tracks, with Hanna embarking on a teaching career in Bristol, Celeste moving to East London and ensuring the lawyers of Chancery lane are kept well caffeinated & me having a baby and moving back to Belfast.  My Belfast move has necessitated being well kitted out for the wet weather and with the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo visiting us this week, I thought it might be fun to share some wardrobe ideas & thoughts for cheering you through the drizzle.

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One of my most precious possessions is this yellow raincoat, from the brilliant Swedish company Stutterheim….it has seen me kept dry through the last two winters and I suspect it will keep me dry for many more: love what they say about melancholy…

“Feeling blue inspires creativity. What if August Strindberg, Ingmar Bergman, Karin Boye and hundreds of other famous Swedish artists had felt happy all the time? Would they have produced their fantastic work? No. Being melancholic is an essential part of being a human being. If we try too hard to get rid of melancholy it’s almost like we’re settling for a half-life. To embrace melancholy is ultimately to embrace joy.

Melancholy shouldn’t be confused with depression. Melancholy is an active state. When we’re melancholic, we feel uneasy with the way things are, the status quo, the conventions of our society. We yearn for a deeper, richer relationship with the world. And in that yearning, we’re forced to explore the potential within ourselves – a potential we might not have explored if we were simply content. Through our melancholy we come up with new ways of seeing the world and new ways of being in the world. Melancholy and creativity go together like ebony and ivory on a piano.”

So, lets don our best raincoats, find a fabulous pair of rubber boots (Hanna, is Finnish and thus an authority on the best in rubber boots, she can help you out over here), and embrace the melancholy of a rainy October.

-Sarah

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Fieldtrips: Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff City Hall

I don’t know about you but my experience of day trips to new cities has not always been the best.  Starting from wondering around aimlessly from shop to shop (the same ones you’ll find in any other city in the country), ending up getting hungry and cranky and therefore finding the first place to get some food (which more often than not has been McDonalds). And the day goes on following this pattern (clearly I can’t count on my luck for finding perfect spots).

BUT, I have learnt from my experiences and for this reason PLANNED a rough list of things to do on our day trip to Cardiff, Wales. Our day looked like this…

Peter-Blake-Dylan-Thomas'-Under-Milk-WoodImage by Peter Blake

Our main reason for going was to visit the National Museum of Wales. It was great to see some classics by the big shots like Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne. But the highlight was a temporary exhibition of Peter Blake’s (Britain’s answer to Pop Art back in the day) illustrations to Dylan Thomas’ play Under Milk Wood. I was sold. He’s been working on this collection for 25 years; lots of collage, watercolour, woodcarvings and pencil drawings different scenes of the play. Well worth a visit if you happen to be around the area.

NYdeli(HighStArcade)For once we lucked out and found a great lunch spot.

From here, my plan took us to explore some of Cardiff’s shopping Arcades. There’s loads of them but according to my research (ahem) the best one’s to go to are: Castle, High St, Morgan and Royal Arcade. They didn’t disappoint. And for once we managed to stumble upon a great lunch place too: New York Deli. Two NY hoagies later we could barely breath but were in carb heaven.

Records and vintage

Cardiff’s subcultures seem to be still blooming with lots of vintage, skate, record and Second Hand bookshops. This made our afternoon. Also, the weather was on our side with blue skies but the joy of the roofed arcades is that you can enjoy them no matter what the weather.

Cardiff Arcades

This was just a little snapshot of Cardiff and we’ll definitely be back to explore more – the bay area will be next on the list. Cardiff was such a pleasant surprise of a city and our day definitely benefitted from a bit of advance planning (mental note)!

- Hanna  x

 

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Dress-up: Re-inventing my wardrobe

This is the kind of post that only comes about after having spent a fair few days at home just pottering about. It’s involved some fairly awkward posing and a realisation that I think I may have to start ironing my clothes (one outfit was disqualified from this post simply because it was so crinkly).

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If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that we’re avid fans of Pinterest. I’ve been collecting inspiring outfit ideas for ages now, and one day opened this page full of ideas as well as my wardrobe and started to think how I could recreate what I see on screen in real life with things I ALREADY HAVE. No purchasing needed but a frugal exercise in money saving.

We all (I assume) have moments when we stand in front of a bulging wardrobe and think: I have nothing to wear. However it’s amazing what you can rustle up when you have something to be inspired by. Here’s a couple examples (enter cringey face for posing:/)

Loosetop

I bought these trousers couple years ago and just haven’t been able to make them work. However, I love them paired with this loose top (50p from a charity shop – love a bargain) and CONVERSE. I would have never thought about pairing them with trainers (they’re silky flimsy material). Anyway, a winner combo in my books and beyond comfortable.

trench

I found this trench from my parents house and love it, but would only wear it with workwear or for smarter occasions. Having seen it dressed down I needed to give it ago. This is where it’s useful to be married to an ex-hipster (stuck in the early 2000’s). One of his old band t-shirts paired with black skinny jeans (ps. the most useful thing to own) and the trench is ready for casual outing.

So if you find yourself at home with nothing to do I highly recommend raiding through your wardrobe and discovering what you already own. And when there’s a need for new – this quote is a good one to remember.

Vivienne Westwood quote

- Hanna x

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Dancing Words: The journey

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The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations, though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
but little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver, Dream Work, Grove Atlantic Inc., 1986 & New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, 1992.

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January 28, 2014 · 3:36 pm