Sake tasting for sake's sake.

Dave Hall from the Larder House/Library of Liquor took us through a very interesting evening tasting different Japanese sake and learning about its background and the part that milling process plays.

7 sake were on offer and a couple of them had a little extra treatment to make them traditional and memorable, although for some it was a bit too much, ha ha. You shall see.

All dressed up in Akashi Tai aprons Dave and Salvatore were ready to get the evening rolling, as opposed to getting down to some deep and dirty sumo wrestling. Dave began by giving some background to the brewing process and how sake is more akin to beer than wine. Many of the sake makers are small scale, and the product can be totally encompassing for the people working there, sleeping and waking to turn the rice over and so on on a regular basis. Amazing.

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All hail to the ale...

We are loving the real ale Micropub scene that is developing around Bournemouth, as it is around the country.

We did a little mini-micropub crawl the other weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the venues and the chats with the owners and fellow drinkers alike. You can't really do that in other pubs as easily can you? Try that in 'Spoons or some high street pub and you will probably be met by a strange look.

Starting off in Winton, we called into the Silverback Ale House - I tried a Porter and then a Blue Monkey 10.5% Russian Imperial Stout in a bottle.

A short walk back down the High Street, during one of the worst stormy nights to hit England in 2016, we ended up in the Micro Moose (their Micro Moose Facebook page). A few more beers and chats with the locals. Had a great conversation with a gentleman at the bar, talking about all sorts of stuff, including hats, neckties, Strictly and more. I'm sure we both enjoyed the ramblings and I left him with a nice cigar for his time!

Next it was a taxi ride to the Saxon Bear in Christchurch. By that time, I "barely" had room for one more and just sipped away whilst enjoying the fun and laughter.

A fantastic afternoon to early evening outing for sure, and fully recommended.

Wicked, wicked, wild, Wild West - The Larder House

It was American Whiskey theme night over at the Larder House this time (11 Nov 2016). No major structural fabrications this time like there was for the World of Whiskey or the Rum nights, but the fun and games were still there in spades.

On entry, we were actually entering an old Cowboy Saloon to be met by a shot of Rittenhouse Rye whiskey to chased by a shot of pickle juice, a pairing called a Pickleback. Slightly acquired taste but at least I know the leftover pickle juice from those jars have another use. Something oddball to try with your next set of dinner guests methinks.

Whilst the Cowboy Saloon music played on, we were treated to a couple of mixed cocktails in the form of a mint julep made with Evan Williams Extra (a Bourbon), and also a Mellow Corn Blinker (a whiskey made from corn). OK, the night is getting interesting.

With all this alcohol flying around the platters of chicken wings, cured salmon and frickles (fried pickles for the vegetarians) came out at the right time.

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The Bathers gig in London, 16 October 2016

Chris Thomson playing keyboards

It's been a while since I have been to an music concert, a gig, as opposed to seeing music in a pub. I think the last one was Coldplay at Crystal Palace, which took hours to painfully get out of. I also remember a dodgy Simply Red one as well, but best forgotten.

You probably haven't heard of The Bathers, as not many have given that they are often quoted as the Scottish band that is one of Scotland's best kept secret and never got the recognition they deserved. Did you know the singer Chris Thomson also teamed up with two of the Commotions, of the Lloyd Cole fame, and produced an epic album called Fortuny under the name of Bloomsday?

He first came to the fore as the singer of a band called Friends Again, from which members also popped up in Love and Money, and Texas. It was when I was 16-18 at school in the 6th form that I first heard the band's music. It followed me as one of the soundtracks of adulthood, along with the music of David Sylvian, and coincidentally the keyboard player Paul McGeehan has released an album called Starless that name checks David Sylvian in its sleeve notes. The maturity of the Bathers' music followed me into middle age.

Anyway, come October 2016, on a Sunday night in Islington London, I am at the Lexington Pub, which has such a relatively small concert space, to see the Bathers. We were even stood next to Chris Thomson's brother-in-law, who had never seen him sing.

It was a lovely gig, from a very appreciative crowd that ended on two separate encores. They played the old Friends Again track of Honey At The Core for me, and then they came back on to play Girlfriend for Angela. We were both happy and had a great weekend.

Website: The Bathers Official

Twitter: The Bathers Official

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Southbourne Food Assembly

I’ve been using the Southbourne Food Assembly on and off for a couple of months now and have been enjoying the food that has been on sale.

It’s a pretty straightforward concept but I wanted to acknowledge the effort of the organiser, Lyndsey Fisher-Cooke, who set it up, gets local suppliers involved and rounds up the goods in many cases - no mean task in terms of time and energy. You order online during the week and then go along to a local venue to collect your goods on the appointed day, and also have the opportunity to meet with the suppliers that may be there.

Like with anything, it takes effort to gather the momentum of getting both consumers and suppliers on board and then for them to regularly take part so it can live on.

It works for me as I can order a few niche products that I can't readily get on the local high street and at a time that I can make it, as Saturdays I can be away or busy to shop. Needless to say that I do shop local and spend enough money on the high street to negate calls that I am not supporting the local businesses by using this venture.

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