January has come back to life!

January 25th, 2017

We are now back in full swing and suddenly January business has come back to life! This evening there are going to be Burns night celebrations everywhere and I’m hosting a table in HIX Mayfair for both friends and anyone who would like to join!

This weekend I’m up at Cheltenham Racecourse, home of the National Hunt horse racing, for the Festival Trials Day and representing the Stewart family with Paul Stewart on their sponsored race ‘Hugo’s restaurant Barbados Trophy Steeple Chase’. Of course I’ll be having a little dabble… or four and I’ll of course be backing the Stewart’s horse Saphir du Rheu.

I have been part of Cheltenham festival for the last couple of years but in a culinary way, collaborating with The Lucky Onion group who have hotels No. 131, and No. 38 The Park, cooking ticketed dinners which are always great fun.

…And in case you’re wondering I’m not on dry January as it’s quite tricky in this business so I’ll be working as usual on new cocktails with Dustin and our bar team, creating seasonal cocktails with seasonal ingredients like Yorkshire rhubarb and an interesting imported Bergamot which is the base of earl grey tea.

This isn’t a resolution…

January 23rd, 2017

How long have I been here? Even more concerning where the bloody hell am I? I stood alone unable to bear the solitude of New Year’s daybreak, midnight’s embrace smudged, and lingering, stained lips.

Nobody mention the weather, only in times of paramount vocal paralysis, horizontal cloudburst with a negative thermometer reading aren’t kind to the ill prepared, leather jacket with no zipper and a right boot with a nasty hole in the sole.

The inaccessible shelter’s ghostly facade appeared abandoned for decades, its inhabitants left in a hurry from something rather nasty one was lead to imagine. Dusty fingerprints etched the windows. A fire place piled with half burnt oak logs crumbled to ash. Cracked beige tiled floor littered with disorderly open return tickets destined never to make it home. A motionless clock where time physically seized into a black hole of nothingness.

When the mind begins collapsing, your damp bones have a way of reminding you there is no such certainty of dry January. Just when I thought it was over, the rail lines began vibrating, steam filled the void in-between my carriage taking me anywhere but here, yet it doesn’t halt rather powering through conducted by insanely egotistical politicians aboard smuggling our passing lost heroes from yesterday to the ever after.

In times of need when one along with the wide, folks turn to the bottle numbing the hilarity of our modern world, however on this occasion, I decided to choose a new, yet ancient holistic approach, this isn’t a resolution thus why I waited to the end of the month. Too many are more than pleased to shout of their inevitable three day future-selves failures. I have done this too many times taking part in a one man imitation game, learning from the errors of my ways.

 

Sea buckthorn birch sap steep with dried Mugwort

Serves 4

 sea buckthorn

1 250ml bottle of Forager’s Sea Buckthorn juice & Birch Sap
Handful of dried Mugwort
Drop of honey
Boiling water
1 vintage kettle
A few funky glasses
4 in need and willing friends

It’s quite simple really, steep the Mugwort in your boiling water for 3 minutes to fully infuse, pour 50ml of the sea buckthorn birch sap into each glass and start pouring the infused boiling water, and add honey to taste for those with a sweeter tooth. Don’t be scared to reuse the Mugwort as with tea the second brew is always better than the first, what’s the saying? Keep the last one for the one you love.

Sea buckthorn or the nerdy word Hippophae is a coastal dense berry with a vibrant orange allure, tart in taste due to its high malic acid content and packed with enough vitamin C to cure even the worst case of winter blues. A little goes along way.

Mugwort is traditionally used by village healers and mystics. On a recent trip to the south on a team outing, our forager tells us that if you stick Mugwort in your pillow case before bed it can induce lucid dreaming, certainly worth a try! It contains many of the same chemicals wormwood does so if you fancy a night with the green fairy you know what to do, all that ‘new you’ good behaviour might just go flying out the back door!

 

Dustin MacMillan