Tuesday, February 22, 2011

febfast update: Week 3

Apart from the conventional non-alcoholic beverages on the market today - I wanted to explore those that are not so conventional - can a de-alcoholised wine or beer taste anywhere near as nice as the real thing? Or is it just as disappointing as carob compared to chocolate?I decided to see what's available (in the name of research).

Maggie Beer's Sparkling Ruby Cabernet  
This is a really pleasant, flavourful drink which might benefit even more from crushed ice and lime wedges. At about $15 it's a nice change from the usual bubbles and definitely not expensive.
Recommended by none other than Derryn Hinch, I found the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon at my local Coles supermarket for $7.99 per bottle. Upon opening each bottle - I got a distinct sweet aroma of grape juice and although there was definitely a hint of the real thing, I found that the red wine lacked body and finish - while the white had less 'grape juice' overtones and a bit more flavour. Interestingly - my non wine drinking husband enjoyed the red much more than any other wine he's tried.

a Californian range whose Blanc achieved a Gold Medal against regular wines in LA many years ago. Thomas Dux carries this range and I purchased the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Brut Cuvee at about $17 each. I tried the red with a wine friend of mine and we both agreed that while it still had a sense of wine, it was lacking in body once again. I described it as 'empty'. I'd purchased the Brut Cuvee to enjoy on a weekend away with my mother and sister, and although it had the colour, fizz and smell of a standard sparkling, once again the flavour wasn't quite there. I didn't finish my second glass.

Aigua de Moritz
Our local wine store had a de-alcoholised beer for sale this month, so I grabbed a couple to share with my husband on a humid evening. It is made in XXX and the colour is similar to a Corona. The first taste is enjoyable and refreshing but the last taste in my mouth was something else.

The moral of the story
As with most things, an imitation is exactly that - an imitation (ie not quite the real thing). I would have enjoyed a lime & soda much more than any of these beverages and although I'm sure they have their place, my palate would prefer the real thing or nothing.

If you're looking for some more info about Non-Alcoholic beverages try these sites http://www.clearmind.com.au/

febfast update: Week 2

When I began this challenge, I wanted to arm myself with lots of great ideas as well as have some ready to drinks to fall back on when time was short. I remembered my old favourite recipe book - Marie Claire Food & Drink by Michelle Cranston and wanted to share with you some of the great drinks I've tried over the month:

Moroccan Mint Tea
Place 4 springs of mint, 1 wedge of lemon, 1 star anise, 1/2 cinammon stick and 1 tsp caster sugar (optional) in a small glass and top with boiling water. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and drink while hot. Serves 1. Tip - this is just as delicious without the sugar!

Rose Petal Sherbet (adapted)
1 cup rose petal syrup
2 litres sparkling mineral water

Divide the rose petal syrup between 8 chilled glasses and to with sparkling mineral water. A beautiful choice for Sunday afternoon with the girls.

Mango Lassi
In a blender combine 3/4 cup of roughly chopped mango flesh, 11 tsp honey, 1 tsp lime juice, 1/2 cup natural yoghurt and 1 1/2 cups ice cubes. Blend until smooth and pour into chilled glasses. Serves 2.

Banana Cardamom Lassi
Remove the small seeds from 1 cardamom pod and place them in a blender aklong with 1 roughly chopped banana, 1/2 cup natural yoghurt and 1 1/2 cups of ice cubes. Blend until smooth and pour into chilled glasses. Serves 2.

Orange & Rosewater Ice Cubes
Combine 1 cup of rosepetal syup and 1 cup of water , pour into ice cubve trays and freeze. Place the ice cubes into chilled glasses and fill with freshly squeezed orange juice. Serves 6.

Fall Backs (always have these in the fridge)
Hepburn Springs sparkling mineral water
Bundaberg Ginger Beer
Cranberry Juice, Lime & Soda

See? Dry needn't mean Dull.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

febfast update: Week 1

One week is over and I haven't felt the slightest bit cheated. Hubs did offer me a beer but his embarrassed face told me it was definitely an accident! I ate out twice this week, contenting myself with Lime & Soda's, beware if you're not used to fizzy drinks - they fill you up fast!
I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support I've received from friends and family - my donations were at $120 before February has even started and since then they've risen to $140 - GO ME!

Last week we enjoyed a Moroccan inspired menu at home and I was thrilled to find some interesting and tasty Moroccan drinks courtesy of Cooking with Alia.
The Peach & Orange Blossom, Almond & Orange Blossom and Watermelon & Rosewater drinks were not only dead easy to make, they tasted just like summer in a glass! Moroccans often use these wonderful flavours and essences which can take any standard juice and whip it up into something far more exotic -they'll all be in my repertoire long after febfast is over.
Like any lifestyle change, the trick to making sure this isn't a drag is to be prepared. At the beginning of the week I hit up our local green grocer Pompello (Victoria Street Seddon - visit if you can!) for a great range of fruit and berries and went home to try out a few cordial recipes I'd found online...

Left to Right: Raspberry & Rosewater Cordial, Orange & Lemon Barley Cordial, Almond Sherbet

Raspberry & Rosewater Cordial from Taste.com.au

  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 300g frozen or fresh raspberries
  • 6-8 drops rosewater

Method: Place sugar, lime juice and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add raspberries and increase the heat to bring to a simmer. Simmer for 8-10 minutes then remove from heat and stir in rosewater. Allow to cool. Pour the raspberry mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Press mixture through a sieve to remove seeds. Store cordial in a clean, dry jar. To serve, add a little cordial to iced water, soda water or lemonade. 

Verdict: What a delicious treat - not too sweet and the combination of Raspberry and Rosewater is a winner!

Lemon Barley Cordial from Aussies Living Simply
Makes approx 600ml. Keeps for 2 weeks, refrigerated.

  • 2 organic oranges
  • 1 small organic lemon
  • 85g pearl barley
  • 200g caster sugar
Method: Pare the zest of 1 of the oranges and the lemon and place in a bowl. Squeeze the juice from all the fruit and strain to remove pips and flesh (you should have about 250ml juice).
Put the barley in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Then strain through a sieve and discard the water. return the barley to the pan. add 600ml of boiling water and the fruit rind and bring back to the boil.Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Strain the barley and return the liquid to the pan.
Add the sugar to the strained barley water, stir once then heat gently without stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2 min, stirring a couple of times, then add the strained fruit juice and bring back to the boil.
Pour immediately into warmed sterilized bottles using a funnel.
Seal, and leave to cool, then store in fridge Shake before use. 

Verdict: I used a combination of oranges and lemons in this one and it's a beautifully refreshing drink - hint - add some fresh mint leaves to serve!

Almond Sherbet from Marie Claire Food & Drink
by Michelle Cranston
Place 200ml of water, 4 Tbs almond meal, 4 split cardamom pods and 1 cup of sugar. Boil until the mixture thickens. Cool, add 1 tsp rosewater and 2 drops almond essence. Top up with cold sparkling water. Serves 10.

Verdict: OK so my muddy brown syrup doesn't look like the photo in the book, but this is an amazing flavour and it's just perfect on a hot day - dare you to try it!

As far as my mini challenge of walking every morning went - Rossi and I enjoyed a beautiful sunrise on Tuesday but too many late nights meant that my well-meaning endeavours came to a grinding halt by Wednesday. Nevermind - this week I'll be aiming for a 10pm bedtime (where I should have started all along!)

Next week
Join me as I explore the unique world of non-alcoholic alcoholic beverages - beer or wine anyone?
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