More martini snacks and canapes

I’m just going to leave this here…

  

What could be easier than olives and cheese-stuffed peppers that you picked up at the shops on the way home? I particularly like the colour contrast of these two. Oh and the taste.

You can’t go wrong with the lemony-buttery taste of Nocellara olive flesh, while the soft creamy cheese paired very indulgently with the sweet piccante crunch of the pepper.

  
This one was also a little bit last minute. I threw together some Bombay mix, prosciutto and olives when a friend popped round unexpectedly. The Bombay mix didn’t really go with the other two, but it’s definitely very nice on its own.

  

Here are some nuts, arranged mindlessly while I stared into space sipping my first drink of the night. Salted pistachio nuts are my favourite, although some nice big fat macadamia nuts would go well with a martini too.

  
Simple, easy, light, savoury, Twiglets are an underrated canapé snack. They are the flavour and texture opposite of the martini. Where a martini is cold, smooth, heady, citrusy and ever so slightly sweet, these are light, crunchy, salty and savoury. They don’t look particularly elegant but the flavour contrast really works. They’re a guaranteed winner for marmite fans.

  
This one is a bit more fancy. Asparagus skewers, blini with taramasalata, maki rolls, sigeumchi-namul, crisps, a martini and candles…

  
A simple but slightly more edgy snack, here are some wasabi peas with a simple classic.

  
Extremely simple, but very tasty, here is some lightly pickled baby beetroot. I’m sure we could create some kind of pink-coloured beetroot Gibson Martini, perhaps similar to the Beet Up Vesper Martini at the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town bar in central London. 


Sea Aster is a seasonal coastal plant that flowers in the summer but is edible in the spring. Wash and eat raw or lightly boil for a minute or two. I got mine at a fish monger’s in Borough Market.


Mum bought these langoustines from Tobermory Main Street while I picked up the samphire on Oban pier on a trip back from London.


There’s a whole world of tapas-style ingredients and food types you could use. Above you can see chorizo, cold roast pork slices, feta cheese, olives, bread, houmous, oil  and duqqah.


You can turn the nibbles into your whole meal and really take your time with the martini. Above you can see crab open sandwiches, nuts, wood ear mushrooms, Korean-style spinach, roasted vegetables, seaweed, manchego cheese, Bombay mix, olives, bread, oil and houmous all to be slowly munched while you sip your cold gin.


Houmous is a relaxed martini accompaniment to have at home with informal company over a drink.


Here it is served with sliced pitta bread and a variety of mostly Mediterranean snacks.


My kind neighbour made me some lovely Middle Eastern sweets which I included in the meal.

The Arabic element of the food was especially good at soaking up some of the alcohol!


Dim sum was a surprisingly good – if slightly unconventional accompaniment.


Oysters are my favourite.


I also love creamy manchego cheese.


Finally though, the most classical martini snack will always remain the pitted green olive. If it’s all you have, you’ll be fine. And you won’t spoil your appetite for dinner.

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Even More Martini Snacks

Here is some more food to go with your martini. I like to go with things that are simple to make (or that you can make in advance), easy to eat and either carbohydrate or protein based, especially on the savoury side of things.

 
Let’s start with some simple pretzels. 

  

And move on to some sliced chorizo, here rolled and skewered to make ‘dragonfly’ type bites.

  

Or to keep it simple, just slice the chorizo and serve it with on its own or as I did here, with miniature oatcakes.
  
Here is some sliced, cold roast pork, left over from the previous night’s dinner. Leftovers can make some surprisingly appropriate accompaniments for martinis sometimes, even though they might not always look very glamorous. 

  

Slightly more indulgent, here are some pork gyoza (dumplings) served with chives and a soy/vinegar/mirin dipping sauce. You can make them yourself, buy them ready-prepared and steam them or you could even have them delivered as takeaway food (the author might have done that on this occasion).

 
Pickled gherkins, Bombay mix and Japanese rice snacks combine three completely different cuisines. They don’t go together spectacularly well but it doesn’t matter too much once you’re on martini number two. It’s also useful if ou have several guests with different preferences.

  
This is a very simple tapas-inspired appetiser of cheese and tomatoe purée roasted in the oven for a few minutes.

  
Even something as simple as sausages go nicely. I prefer gamier types of sausage to go with juniper-strong gins.

  
Here are some Pringles. Everyone likes them so just get over yourself. I also like the argument that Pringles are the only crisp manufacturers that don’t sell you lots of air in their packaging. 

  
More crisps, here served with a classic martini containing a Rosemary garnish.

  
Nachos. Go well with dips and pair nicely with a coriander martini.

 

Here is some beetroot and salmon ceviche with leche de tigre, Korean-style wilted spinach, tsukemono and green tea. I didn’t actually serve this dish with a martini but its constituent parts make good accompaniments.

You can see more about the Ceviche and Leche de Tigre and it’s possible combination with a martini here (this is a personal favourite of mine).

You can see my thoughts on green tea and martinis here.

My Korean spinach recipe is here.

And my tsukemono recipe is here.

  
If you don’t want to prepare anything, Bombay mix is a handy and traditional drink snack.

  
Here are some Nocellara olives served with a Japanese pickled ginger martini.

 
Here are some roasted soy beans and black bamboo charcoal peanuts.

  
Here are some peanuts, “pork floss” / Rousong (I didn’t know what it was at first either but it’s tasty) and my own carrot San Bai Zu.

 
Fish floss also exists but it won’t be to everyone’s taste. I thought it tasted like fish food but it goes quite nicely sprinkled over thick tofu slices in miso soup.

  
Otherwise, I prefer to keep it simple. Here are some salted pistachio nuts in their shells.

 
Sun-dried tomatoes and olives stuffed with anchovies.

  
I’ve previously mentioned that martinis go very well with seafood. Here are some locally caught mussels served in a cream and onion sauce in the garden.

  
Here are some scallops and prosciutto.

  

Let’s go back to mystery pork products. There is quite a lot of pork in this entry even though I don’t actually eat a lot of it. These are honey roasted pork pieces. Given the unknown ingredients they could even be kosher/halal, we just don’t know.

 
However, I must admit, they were quite tasty.

  
Here I served the pork with walnuts and olives.

   
It kept us going for at least one round of martinis.

  
Here is some of Mum’s homemade herb butter to be slathered on some tasty rare steaks.

 
I guess it’s less of a snack and more of a meal…

But it certainly went well with a martini.

  
Barbecue and steaks in general go very nicely with or immediately after a martini.

  
Bruschetta… Not my most artistic photo but it was tasty.


Here is some salmon carpaccio, with lemon juice, grated lemon and orange rind, herbs, capers and juniper berries. I evidently still need to work on my presentation but it tasted nice enough and nobody died.

  
If you prefer your salmon cooked with heat I marinated some in a little rice vinegar for 30 minutes then grilled it for 16 minutes on a high heat.
And I think that’s quite enough for one blog post…

Until the next one!

The Lemon Iced Tea Martini with Foam

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While I first made this during the winter, I think it will make a better summer cocktail. It involves a similar preparation technique to the Lemon Drop Martini with Foam but uses Earl Grey infused gin as an additional ingredient.

Leave out the egg white and the frothing process in this recipe if you want a simpler drink. For two martinis you will need:

* The juice of 1 lemon
* The white of 1 egg
* Sugar
* Sweet Vermouth
* Earl Grey infused gin
* Standard gin or vodka
* Chilled martini glasses

– Pour the lemon juice and 2 measures of vermouth into a large cup
– Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until dissolved
– Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg white
– Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly blended and a thick, velvety foam has formed on top of the liquid
– Rim the martini glasses with sugar
– Using a spoon or fork to hold back the foam, pour the liquid into the martini glasses, about half way up.
– Fill up the rest of the glasses with a half-and-half mixture of Earl Grey infused gin and standard gin or vodka, leaving a space of around 3-5mm at the top of the glass. Lightly stir the mixture.
– Pour over the foam until it has covered the top of the drink and reached the rim of the glass

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– If you like, you can sprinkle some grated lemon rind over the top of the foam to add even more zest, although I preferred it without.

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A collection of several recent martinis

Here is another collection of recent martini photos.

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This one is my equivalent of the Bat-Symbol. I put it up there to call on my friends from around London to come over and save the day.

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This is the terrifying creature from the black lagoon martini.

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Preparation for the Lord Mayor’s Show in London.

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This Pineapple Martini is an addition to the selection of fruit martinis.

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Here’s a simple classic martini.

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Here’s another.

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Here is a Japanese Pickled Ginger Vodka Martini. I think this one might be my second favourite (after a classic of course).

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Another classic at night.

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A beautiful picture a friend of mine took at Dishoom restaurant in Shoreditch, London. They set fire to alcohol inside the glass to heat up fennel seeds prior to pouring a Sri Lankan-inspired Arrack Julep. I have mentioned before that I love Sri Lanka

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A very simple Friday night martini with Bombay mix. Time to unwind after a long week!

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A classic Gibson martini (with crisps).

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Classic martinis on the balcony at sunset.

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A recent Earl Grey martini.

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This is the most googled recipe on my blog right now: the lemon and lime drop martini.

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A classic martini, served somewhat unconventionally, with sweet accompaniments.

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Back to normal – a classic with pistachio nuts and Bombay mix.

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Almost a meal in itself – a dirty martini with olives and pickled onions.

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And one final Earl Grey Martini for good measure.

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Phew! And now time for the detox.

Earl Grey infused gin

I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while, but I have to admit it’s been a bit of a challenge. But I take heart that even Heston Blumenthal has been having difficulties with the concoction, so I have persevered.

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In theory, the delicate citrus tones of this tea should go perfectly with a gin martini, garnished with a freshly peeled strip of lemon, but it has taken several attempts and there’s a real risk of over-brewing the gin, which will make it taste bitter.

Use 1 teabag for every 100ml of gin you intend to produce.

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I used 2 teabags and added them to a jar, then filled it with gin.

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Give it a shake then leave it to stand for around 40 minutes.

Don’t leave it too long or the gin will impart a taste of tannin.

Remove the tea bags (squeeze the last of the gin out) and discard. Transfer the gin to the freezer and chill until it’s time to serve.

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As I said, this one was quite a difficult one to put together and took quite a bit of experimenting.

When completed, serve as a normal martini, with one measure of sweet vermouth and 4-6 measures of earl grey gin (or to taste).

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The finished product was zesty and smoky, with a touch of bitterness counteracted by the sweetness of the vermouth.

Dishoom could pack a punch: 3.5/5

‘Dishoom’ is a traditional Bollywood onomatopoeic word (like ‘Kapow!’) used to express the noise of someone getting punched or slapped in an old film or comic book.

In London, Dishoom is a Shoreditch eatery inspired by Mumbai cafe culture. It is easily identified by the queue outside its doors most evenings.

Once again, from a martini perspective this good bar/restaurant loses points for its simple failure to keep its gin and glasses in the freezer.

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Otherwise, however, it gets points for its evocative, eccentric decor, attentive service and excellent array of food. Martinis probably aren’t their priority, but if they wanted to hit the full 5/5 rating I would recommend that they focus on the temperature of the drink, whilst serving them with a small selection of some of their fantastic nibbles (such as their delicious battered okra). Maybe they could try out the Raitini as well.

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Recycled cardboard menus, vintage posters and some other quirky features made it an interesting experience to dine there. I would normally refuse to queue for half an hour to enter a restaurant but at Dishoom they serve you warm masala chai while you wait, which is a nice touch, especially in winter.

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The actual cocktail making was also very impressive. I locked eyes with a Sri Lankan inspired Arrack-based drink on the menu (the Toddy Tapper) and asked which brand of Arrack they were using. The barman didn’t know but got out the bottle for me to read the label. I didn’t recognise the brand either. It looked very modern, whereas most of the (many) bottles of Arrack I’ve drunk in my lifetime have had very old-fashioned labels.

Anyway, the barman set fire to some alcohol and fennel seeds in a glass to release the flavour before adding them to my drink. This was visually impressive as you can see from the above photograph taken by my friend. Of course, we also ordered a martini to try.

The food was tasty, the service good and fast (after the queueing at least) and the atmosphere was pleasant. I would definitely recommend giving it a try, but be sure to wear enough warm clothing to queue outside.

This post is self-indulgent

Nibbles
I don’t actually like the word ‘nibbles’. It sounds frightfully bourgeois. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have something to eat to accompany a martini, especially if it’s been a long day and you’re waiting for dinner. Here are some past examples.

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The root of all evil: carbs, fat and cheese flavouring, deep-fried.

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Langoustine with roe.

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Olives, of course.

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Nuts.

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You can’t go wrong with nuts.

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Even radishes.

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Grilled lobster for special occasions.

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This is some seared beef I made with a creamy sauce.

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More seared beef, with cucumber and a wasabi-yoghurt dressing.

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Crisps: more evil.

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Dad’s koi carp from the pond? No I’m just kidding. They’re practically my siblings.

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Grilled salmon skin with a sweet soy glaze.

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More olives, Nocellara this time.

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Bombay mix, peanuts and frozen blueberries.

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Wasabi peas.

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Mangoostine.

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It’s an unusual looking tropical fruit with sweet, white flesh.

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Look how cute they look.

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Croustades with lumpfish roe and dill.

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Sashimi with daikon relish and pickled ginger.

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Rolled spinach with miso and sesame sauce.

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Dry and desirable: like my character, but not like my liver.

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Pate and chives on oatcakes, with lots of olives.

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Japanese ‘izakaya’ styled spring onions.

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Whatever you serve, it should compliment the martini.

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But don’t get so drunk you forget about the real food cooking in the oven.