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Chinese Cuisine

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China is approximately the fourth largest country in the World, just slightly smaller than the USA, but has the largest population of anywhere at around 1.4 billion people.  That is roughly 1.1 billion more people than the US!  It is no wonder then that Chinese Cuisine is so diverse.

Traditionally the cuisine of China has been split into four distinct areas, North, East, South and West, although more recently it has expanded to eight, known as the Eight Great Traditions.  The style of cooking varies enormously across the country depending on the climate and the terrain, and, of course, the diverse range and supply of fresh ingredients. One constant that does not vary is the freshness of meats and vegetables that are used in perfect harmony.  In this introduction to Chinese Cuisine I will cover the four main regions.

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Lu Cuisine (Shandong)

The northern of our four traditional regions is Peking (Beijing).  With mountains to the north and Inner Mongolia to the west the climate and landscape here is fairly bleak.  Spring and summer can be dry and dusty but winter is freezing cold!  The main crop is wheat, rather than rice, which is used to make noodles, pancakes and dumplings. 

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Meat, in particular mutton, was introduced by the Mongols and tends to be plainly cooked with the addition of onions, leeks and garlic.  The most famous dish from this region is Peking Duck, with its fabulous crispy skin, is à throwback to the Imperial Court from Beijing and is more elegant than much of the cooking from the outlying areas of the region.

Su Cuisine (Jiangsu)

To the East on the plain formed by the delta of the River Yangtze lies the region of Shanghai. This area is one of the leading agricultural areas of China and produces rice, wheat, barley and an abundance of fresh vegetables. It is also known as the land of rice and fish, both of which feature heavily in the cuisine of the region.  Shanghai is the largest city in China and its cuisine is noted for the use of red-cooking with dark soy sauce and plenty of sugar producing dishes that are rich and sweet with exquisite flavours. 

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The Yangtze has a heavy influence on the area with the land being well irrigated and countless streams and small lakes ideal for ducks, fish, frogs and eels.  Traditional dishes will include whole fish steamed in Lotus leaves, which also grow well in the small lakes.  Eastern China is also known  for “paper-wrapped” dishes such as chicken or prawns flavoured with ginger or mushrooms.

Cantonese

To the South is the province of Canton, a mild, semi-tropical climate growing an enormous amount of fruit, vegetables and rice all year round.  There is plenty of feed available for livestock so good quality chicken and meat are in plentiful supply.  To the south of the region the South China Sea provides excellent fishing for a huge variety of fish and seafood. It is probably seafood that plays the major part in Cantonese cooking.  There is an abundance of prawns, lobster and crab which are often stir fried with ginger and onion.

But seafood flavours are often found in meat dishes through the use of oyster sauce or shrimp paste.  Beef with oyster sauce is a favourite.  For centuries the Cantonese have been known for their cuisine and it is probably the most recognisable Chinese cuisine in the Western Hemisphere.  The Cantonese use delicate cooking methods, poaching or steaming, in order to preserve the flavour and quality of their ingredients.  Steamed scallops in black bean sauce sounds heavenly!  They have also developed a cooking method called Cha Siu – literally barbecue roasting.  It involves marinating meat, often pork, for a time and then cooking it quickly in a very hot oven. 

Szechuan

To the West the largest province in China lies in a great basin surrounded by mountains. The scenery here is spectacular with massive gorges cut by the mighty Yangtze river.  In the past the only means of communication with the outside world was via the Yangtze.  The climate is warm and humid and crops can be grown almost all year – fruit and vegetables, mushrooms and spices, particularly chilis and the famous Szechuan pepper. 

As you might expect the food from this region is known for being strongly flavoured and full of hot spices along with garlic and onions.  It can also include the aromatic nutty flavours of peanut, cashew, sesame and pine nuts.  The region is also noted for its food preservation techniques like salting, smoking, drying and pickling. 

Grüvi Releases Limited Edition Alcohol-Free Red Wine

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Alcohol-Free Red Wine

Grüvi, a line of non-alcoholic beer and wine, today announced the latest addition to their growing non-alcoholic wine collection – a special limited batch release of a dry Red Wine. The Red Wine blend will be available for purchase only while supplies last — consumers can purchase online for home delivery starting Saturday, July 31 or at Gruvi’s Denver Tasting Lounge

Grüvi’s Red Wine is dry and medium-bodied, with notes of jammy raspberries and black currant. This velvety smooth wine has a balance of tannins and a hint of oak and coffee that lingers on the palate. The Red Wine blend consists of premium dealcoholized red wine from California, and is still 0.0% ABV thanks to an advanced technology now available in the industry. Grüvi’s Red Wine is also gluten free and only 45 calories per can. 

“A non-alcoholic red wine has been the most requested style for Grüvi to make for quite some time. There are few to none good NA red wine options, and we knew it was up to us to create something people genuinely craved, ” said Anika Sawni, Co-Founder of Grüvi. “We are continuously trying to push the limits when it comes to curating non-alcoholic beverage options, and once we were able to secure the technology needed to craft a real, delicious dealcoholized red wine, we jumped at the opportunity.”

 Alcohol-Free Red Wine
Alcohol-Free Red Wine

Since launching in 2019, Gruvi has seen massive growth — they have expanded to 7 other states, launched 5 new products and expanded internationally to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Gruvi is currently available in over 1,500 locations across the U.S. and has retailer partnerships with Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Target  and Total Wine & More. The business grew over 5x in 2020 and is expected to quadruple in 2021 as more consumers seek high quality social beverages without alcohol. 

Grüvi’s Red Wine comes in a 4-pack of 8.4oz cans and can be purchased online for $24.99 while supplies last. For more information about Gruvi and to purchase the non-alcoholic Red Wine blend, please visit www.getgruvi.com or follow Gruvi on Instagram at @getgruvi.

Remaining Hospitality Restrictions Lifted

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Remaining Hospitality Restrictions Lifted

As of July 19 2021 the UK has lifted all remaining restrictions on the hospitality industry related to the Covid pandemic.  But there is a big “but”

Since April pubs and restaurants across the UK have gradually been reopening, first with outdoor areas only then, gradually, inside opening with seated table service and limited numbers.  Finally, as restrictions have been lifted the need for seated service is no longer applicable and the British public can once again stand at the bar and enjoy a pint.  Within the hospitality sector there is one area that is only just reopening for the first time – nightclubs. And this is where the big “but” comes in.

Remaining Hospitality Restrictions Lifted
Image by rafaellevels from Pixabay

Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, announced this week that from the end of September Covid Certification would be necessary to enter any crowded venue.  This includes concerts, festivals and nightclubs.  He said, “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere, but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS Covid pass…” Proof of a negative test will no longer be valid and all clubbers will need to prove double vaccination. 

The nightclub industry, as you might imagine, is distinctly unimpressed. They state that carrying out checks will be unduly burdensome, costly and discriminates against their clientele, who are younger and, as yet, have not received Covid vaccination.  The government argues that by the end of September, when the rules will come into place, all over 18’s will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Only two weeks ago both the prime minister and health secretary stated that “vaccine passports” would not be needed to enter hospitality venues.  This was following a report that said the practicalities of enforcing such a rule would be difficult and costly for an industry that has suffered greatly during the pandemic.  Then, a week ago the government said that it “reserved the right” to force venues to require certification “at a later date if necessary”

In France, nightclubs reopened on July 9th after 17 months of complete closure and are only allowed to permit entry to either fully vaccinated customers or those who can prove a negative test within the past 48 hours.  In an extremely entrepreneurial move many clubs have set up testing stations outside with rapid results.  However, rules are about to change across the whole hospitality sector.

Remaining Hospitality Restrictions Lifted
Image by rafaellevels from Pixabay

President Macron announced on July 12th that covid passports (Pass Sanitaire) would be required for anyone wishing to visit hospitality venues including just taking à coffee on a bar terrace.  Since the announcement the debate in parliament has been raging, with many modifications being put forward.  At one point terraces and outdoor dining areas would be exempt from the need to prove vaccination or negative testing but during the night of sunday 25th july it appears that the final text has been agreed. 

For customers to enter any building open to the general public, including museums, cinemas and government offices, they will need to show double vaccination or negative test within 48 hours or recovery from Covid.  For bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues the same rule applies and will include terraces.  The rules will also include staff that work in the industry.

What is becoming clear is that the hospitality industry is going to continue having a tough time and that, certainly across Europe, governments will introduce stringent measures to ensure that the public are as safe as can be whilst in big crowds.  Unfortunately, I foresee a number of flashpoints arising with our customers who are becoming tired of Covid restrictions.

Canción Tequila, an Award-Winning, Ultra-Premium Tequila Line, Launches in Connecticut

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Canción Tequila, an Award-Winning, Ultra-Premium Tequila Line, Launches in Connecticut

Canción Tequila, an ultra-premium tequila line, further expanded its footprint in the U.S. today with the launch of a new market – Connecticut. Distributed by Angelini Wine Ltd. of Centerbrook CT, consumers across the state can now experience the top shelf agave spirit with Arizona roots in local CT restaurants and liquor stores. Also distributed in the Mexican beach town of Puerto Peñasco on the Sea of Cortez, Canción Tequila hosts an annual 4 day music festival called Circus Mexicus, making it an International brand with authenticity in culture and concept.


Canción Tequila is the award-winning brand of 100 percent Blue Weber agave tequilas from international touring and recording artists Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (formerly The Refreshments). Named after the Spanish translation of ‘Song’, Canción Tequila has found popularity on both sides of the border, boasting four varietals — Blanco, Reposado and Añejo— all having earned medals from national and international competitions, and the newly released Extra Añejo makes its public debut. Canción also boasts a 40% solar powered distillery in Jalisco, MX.

“We are proud to welcome new co-owners from Connecticut to embrace our brand and expand Canción Tequila’s presence on the East Coast,” said Alisa Clyne, co-founder of Canción Tequila. “Canción Tequila has been incredibly well received by tequila lovers and the momentum and excitement we’ve seen following our award wins across some of the industry’s most prestigious competitions further drives us to build out our national presence in the agave spirits category.” 

Canción’s partnership with Angelini aligns with the brand’s core values. The Connecticut distributor’s goal is to be the leader in the delivery of craft spirits and wines. Angelini provides customers and suppliers exceptional service and value, making its collaboration with Canción a perfect fit. 

“Angelini is very pleased to partner with Canción Tequila and to introduce their fine tequilas to the discerning spirits drinkers of Connecticut. We were deeply impressed by the quality of all four of the products, and we look forward to making new friends for both Canción and Angelini as we present the line. Equally impressive was the commitment of the brand and distillery to environmentally friendly practices. Now, more than ever, it’s tequila time in Connecticut!” Said Julius Angelini, Owner of Angelini Wines.

Canción Tequila, an Award-Winning, Ultra-Premium Tequila Line, Launches in Connecticut

The Canción family portfolio offers four luxurious tequila expressions with suggested retail prices  per 750ml bottle starting at $44.99 for Blanco (unoaked), $52.99 for Reposado (rested 9 months), $62.99 Añejo (aged 18 months), and $109.99 for Extra Añejo (aged over 3 years). Angelini will supply the state with Canción’s award-winning, core products including:

  • Blanco: Crystal clear brilliance conspires with melon and citrus to subtly harmonize and create an alluring nose. Floral agave with hints of quince and white pepper blend for a balanced encounter. The finish is smooth and enduring, leaving the palate with a warm and lustrous invitation to return.
  • Reposado: Resting for 9 months in Bourbon barrels imparts a golden radiance with a viscous, buttery entry to the palate.  A rhythmic balance of agave, hints of honey, and oak accents.  Finishes with a smooth and smoldering crescendo.
  • Añejo: Simple elegance begins with aging for 18 months in Bourbon barrels heralding a full nose of smoky, woody notes. A silky entry to the palate that finishes with a harmonious blend of sweet and dry tastes of agave, tobacco, and hints of vanilla. Perfect for sipping. Lingers with a long, silky glow.
  • Extra Añejo: A celestial union of a premium Bourbon barrel and agave spirit allowed to rest and coalesce for over three years. Tequila’s legendary obsidian terroir meets the heritage of American White Oak Bourbon barrels to conjure seamless notes of dry fruit, woody smoke, and hints of caramel and butterscotch. The finish is an extravagant, refined experience of balance between sweet and dry in an alluring palate of agave at its best.

Canción will be available in restaurants and retailers throughout Connecticut. For more info and for the Canción store locator, please visit: https://canciontequila.com/.

Craft Beer in France

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Craft Beer in France

When you think of drinking in France, beer is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.  After all, France is renowned worldwide for its wines, but there is an increasing presence of artisanal breweries popping up.  In the small corner of southern France where I live there are now 13 small craft beer breweries.

The largest two of these are Cap D’Ona in Argelès sur Mer and Bière du Canigou in Le Soler in the shadow of the famous Mount Canigou. Both breweries now have quite an extensive range from a traditional lager to seasonal ales and speciality beers.  My personal favourite, Cap d’Ona was established in 1998 and now has upto 30 different beers many of them using local ingredients as flavourings. 

The region is famous for apricots, peaches and cherries and all of these are incorporated into a range of seasonal beers. They also produce other seasonalities with very limited production such as white beer with yuzu and pomegranate or with strawberry and kiwi.  I have to be honest, I have not tried them!  Some of their more “standard” beers have been elected as “best in World” and over the past few years the brewery has won more than 50 gold medals for its beers at some of the most prestigious beer competitions.

Craft Beer in France
Image by lecreusois from Pixabay

Sitting nicely on the front page of the website of Biere du Canigou is a statement attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  If you are considering a life as a brewer then I reckon that is a pretty good way to approach your work! Again, Bière du Canigou has quite a large range including some seasonal beers.  One thing that makes craft beers stand out from the mass-produced market is that they tend to be bottle conditioned. 

In the case of Biere du Canigou the beer has not been filtered, has not been pasteurised and is considered to be a live product.  In the bottle this can lead to the beer looking cloudy and is best handled delicately.  It is very similar to the English cask conditioned beer, or real ale, which needs time to settle before being served so that the end product is crystal clear.

I do not wish, nor do I have the space, to discuss all 13 craft breweries in this region but allow me to introduce you to one more.  The Brasserie de L’Ours, or Bear Brewery, is a small craft beer specialist owned by an English couple who moved to France in 2003 and created their brewery in 2012 believing that the area needed a locally brewed beer. 

Their range includes a 6,5% honey beer using local honey.  Their brewing process is very aligned with the traditional British way of producing cask conditioned ale.  I am hoping to make contact with them and arrange a visit to their brewery which I will write about in the future.

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Image by MustangJoe from Pixabay

One thing that is evident is that craft beers and small breweries have become, and will continue to be, extremely popular.  Drinkers’ tastes have changed in recent years and the average drinker is now more educated regarding the taste and brewing process of beer and their palates are more discerning.  There has also been a general evolution in how we want our food and drink produced and delivered. 

The distance that our deliveries travel has come to the forefront of peoples’ minds with concerns over global warming.  There has also been a push, particularly here in France, for more local produce.  Some of the artisanal breweries are using local ingredients to produce and flavour their beers in a unique way.  The multi-national companies that brew under licence in different countries will always have their place in the market but also, I hope, will the small, independent craft brewer.

The Rise of the Micro Brewery

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micro brewery

Back in the mid 1990’s I was running a country pub not far from London.  We had six different hand-pulled ales on the bar and the pub was a member of, and recognised by, CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale).  The pub was a “freehouse” meaning that we were free to buy beer from any supplier, big or small, and negotiate our own terms.  Because we had such a large volume of beer sales we tried to keep the range varied and interesting, meaning that we bought from small local breweries as well as the big nationals.

It was about this time that small micro-breweries were starting to become popular in the UK. One of the small suppliers we used to buy from was called Chiltern Brewery.  Their Beechwood Ale was, and I am sure still is, fantastic.  They are now the oldest independent brewery in the Chilterns and Buckinghamshire. 

But there were others springing-up at the same time and often situated right next door to their own pub making it extremely easy for them to distribute their product. Some even had a glass wall separating the public bar from the brewery so that the customer could see the brewing equipment and process. The majority of these are producing real ale which is a live product and could not be more different than a keg of lager.

Moving forward into the 21st century the trend for micro breweries has gone from strength to strength.  In 2002 the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain, Gordon Brown, reduced the amount of tax that small breweries had to pay by 50% in comparison to their larger counterparts.  In 2017 the number of breweries in Britain was over 2000, for the first time since the 1930’s. 

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Image by Peter Holmes from Pixabay

But what has happened is that these small producers have diversified to take into account current trends and tastes.  For example, the Bellfield Brewery in Scotland produces a gluten-free beer suitable for coeliacs. which has proved so popular that they are now exporting across Europe.  In London Toast Ale uses leftover bread from bakeries to make its beer with a mission to cut down generally on food wastage.

Unfortunately with the popularity of the micro brewery at such a height some of the global players are taking notice and they are not happy.  Drinker’s tastes have changed, they are demanding quality and variation and are keen to support the small business but some of the big brands have seen a fall in their own sales figures. 

There is currently a move from some of the national brewers to buy up small micro-brewers or launch their own craft beer under a different name. There is a trade body, The Society of Independant Brewers (SIBA), which looks after the interests of many of the country’s small breweries.

Unfortunately during the pandemic of the last 18 months the pub and brewing industry has suffered major loss.  One of the issues with cask beer is its short shelf life.  It is not in a sealed, pressurised keg which has a much longer life.  During the closure of pubs in the UK it is estimated that 87 million pints of beer were literally poured down the drain! A recent government report has highlighted the need to support the brewing industry post-pandemic, possibly with tax cuts and job creation schemes.  We can only hope that these small independent breweries, who are so vital to the pub industry, will survive.

Plans to Overcome the Hospitality Staffing Crisis

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Hospitality

There is a chronic shortage of catering and hospitality staff within the UK since the reopening of the industry.  The shortage has been caused by a perfect storm of Brexit (the UK leaving the European Union) and Covid.  When the hospitality was first forced to close many of the staff were foreign workers mainly from Europe who had enjoyed border-free migration and freedom to work for many years.  They simply went home to be with family in their country of origin.  During the closure, December 31st, the UK separated from Europe and all those workers were no longer allowed free movement and to work within the UK. 

The other issue is the hospitality workers who were laid off have been and found alternative employment and have realised that they don’t like the working conditions within catering.  Long hours, working whilst everyone is enjoying themselves and, more recently, having to wear a face mask for the entirety of their shift. The crisis is so bad that some restaurants are now closing for certain sessions to give their staff a break.  There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of signs being put up in restaurants and pubs apologising if there is a delay in service but the establishment is chronically understaffed. So what can be done?

Plans to Overcome the Hospitality Staffing Crisis
Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Firstly, as we all know, the pay and conditions within the hospitality industry is not the greatest. For many years we have been staffed by part-timers, often youngsters, looking for a bit of extra money but the current crisis extends to management and senior chefs.  Will the industry reform and pay more than minimum wage, guarantee days off and maximum working hours?  Gradually some employers are trying to achieve this. 

One company has increased pay to chefs by à third to £12 per hour, which might be a reasonable amount for a microwave technicien but not for a chef! In an industry that relies on teamwork and a decent level of skill in some departments it is time to start recognising what staff have to put up with but the issue comes full circle because to pay staff more means charging customers more.  One restaurant group, Hawksmoor, is offering its existing staff upto £2000 in bonuses if they introduce friends who are then hired by the company.

Plans to Overcome the Hospitality Staffing Crisis
Image by TheOtherKev from Pixabay

Surely the crisis in recruitment is not only due to pay. What about how the industry is perceived by the public.  During the pandemic closure the general public seemed very sympathetic to the plight of caterers and since the reopening have been keen to support their local eatery and help the industry get back on its feet.  Demand has been high in the first weeks of opening, which we all hope will last, but there needs to be a level of respect given that at present still appears to be lacking.  There is a lot of skill in the industry whether it be technical in the kitchen or the ability to handle people efficiently and politely.

In the long run there needs to be an overhaul of the industry.  Catering colleges need to instill a sense of professionalism in their young students who are then proud to work in our industry.  There should be no such thing as being “only” a waitress or “just” a chef.  And, finally, there needs to be a change in attitude from our customers.  All too often customers are abusive and rude to young staff who are just trying to do their job.  Unfortunately alcohol does not improve customers’ attitudes.  One thing I have noticed while living in France is that catering is considered a profession and, certainly chefs, are given a good deal of respect.

Food Drink Magazine Issue 12 July 2021

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Food Drink Magazine Issue 12 July 2021

 

Food Drink Magazine Issue 12 July 2021

In this issue of Food Drink Magazine, you can find full details on Craft Beer and Craft Brewers

You can reach our Digital Magazine at https://issuu.com/fooddrinkmagazine and https://www.magzter.com/US/HGH-Perfect/Food-Drink-Magazine/Food–Beverage/All-Issues.

Food Drink Magazine Issue 12 July 2021

New Restaurant Restrictions

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New Restaurant Restrictions

Last year I wrote an article concerning the possible need to have a “vaccination passport” in order to be able to eat out.  The article mainly concerned plans being discussed in the UK at the time of the introduction of the new Covid vaccine.  Since then the world has moved on, vaccination programmes have been running smoothly and many restrictions on the hospitality industry have been relaxed.  But then came a new variant and some new restrictions.

Since June 9th the hospitality industry in France, and most of Europe, has enjoyed a gradual reopening, firstly with a limit of 50% capacity indoors and, since June 30th, with full opening of terraces and indoor spaces.  The number of daily new Covid cases in France has been extremely low at around 2000, well within the government’s target of 5000.  But over the past couple of weeks there has been a steady increase in cases and talk of the Delta variant being far more contagious.  The Delta variant has now become the dominant strain of coronavirus in France, like it has in the UK.

New Restaurant Restrictions
Image by Wilfried Pohnke from Pixabay

At present we are at the start of the peak holiday season.  Foreign visitors are allowed to enter France and, across Europe, a Pass Sanitaire has been put in place to enable cross border travel.  The Pass Sanitaire takes the form of a QR code on your phone which shows either your vaccination status or the results of recent PCR tests.  The Pass is also destined to be used for large events of more than 1000 people and for entry into nightclubs, which have reopened since July 9th.

On Monday July 12th President Macron made a televised address to the nation and in the space of 30 minutes everything changed again.  From August 1st anyone wishing to enter a bar or restaurant, either inside or on the terrace must prove they have been double vaccinated at least two weeks previously or provide a negative result from a PCR test taken within the previous 48 hours.  Testing, which has been free up until now, will also be chargeable. 

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Image by hakan german from Pixabay

The same rules will apply to cinemas, theatres and any assembly of more than 50 people.  With roughly one third of the population double vaccinated, the restaurant industry has been plunged back into dark days in one simple move.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I am fully in favour of vaccination and the ability for a person to prove that they are vaccinated, but I am also a restaurateur.

So how is this going to work?  Short answer – not a clue!  Restaurateurs and their staff are to be responsible for checking every single customer’s details and if they are not as prescribed we are obliged to refuse service and ask that customer to leave.  Not so easy! At present I am not sure if we are going to need a QR code reader, whether or not we need to check a person’s ID against their data, especially if they provide a paper version of their vaccination status rather than digital.  One other factor to take into account is that all hospitality staff are also going to need to provide evidence of either vaccination or negative tests. 

In the last couple of days a delay has been announced to the restrictions on staff, but it isn’t much.  All staff are meant to have had a first injection by August 1st and are allowed until August 30th before facing sanctions.  Without a double vaccination, staff members will have to pay for a PCR test every 2 days!

What if, for some reason, hospitality staff are anti-vaccine?  Does the restaurateur or bar owner have to fire them, is that even legal?  Apparently the government is considering this and will put in place some measures – we wait.  In addition to the announcements concerning the hospitality industry it was also announced that vaccination for all health-care workers will be compulsory.

As you might expect the hospitality industry and its representatives are in uproar, particularly at a time when we are just getting back on our feet and with the start of the summer rush.  But if we are to have any future freedoms and to beat this virus we know that we must make tough decisions now and take drastic action.  I only hope that it is enough and that people realise they have a responsibility to, not only themselves, but their fellow human being and respect the rules in place.

The Importance of Getting the Music Right

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The Importance of Getting the Music Right

One of the most contentious issues in a restaurant tends to be the music played.  Over the years I have told many a member of staff that the music is for the customer and not the staff.  And I could end this article at that point.

In many ways getting the music right and, hence contributing to the overall ambiance, is as important as the food and service.  If your food offering is about fast food in a young, hip environment then, surely, your music offering is going to reflect that.  Likewise if your customer base is older and your food more high-end it makes sense that the music will be toned down accordingly.

It has recently come to my attention that there is a need to vary your music depending on the time of day, the season or even the day of the week.  The main criteria being; know your customer.  Since the reopening of our own restaurant following the Covid shutdown, we have tried to subtly rebrand.  During the period of closure we changed the paintwork, the decor and some of the nik-naks. Our menu for the summer has not changed drastically and still has plenty of tapas and our more popular dishes as in previous years. 

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

But we have also changed our music.  Gone are the hits from across the decades shuffled up to appeal to all age groups and in are some more themed playlists.  We are trying to create an informal setting, relaxed dining style with a strong summer vibe.  However, on a wet midweek evening last week I was putting on an Ibiza Chillout Session when my wife correctly pointed out to me that our current clientele and level of business was just not going to appreciate it.

We were dining out the other evening, sitting on a terrace in the port area of a Mediterranean beach resort.  The area was bustling and all the restaurants were doing a great trade for a monday evening.  We had chosen a restaurant that we have been to before.  The food is a step up from casual, but not fancy, the service is swift and efficient and the price is middle of the range.  The terrace was busy and there was plenty of chatter – nice. 

The Importance of Getting the Music Right
Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

The music was more than background – good – but the style can only be described as French heavy pop/rap and possibly chosen by the young waiting staff.  OK, here’s my point – it is June, the kids are still in school, so the tourist trade is people who do not need to go away during school holidays.  That means there is a lot more grey hair around!  Come July, with the students and the families, crank it up and blare it out.

Our own restaurant’s clientele can vary depending on the day of the week, as you would expect.  On a weekend evening we get away with playing it louder and if the weather is good some Ibiza vibes or Latin/Cuban salsa.  It is great to see some movement or foot tapping.  But Sunday lunch is a completely different customer and we make it far more mellow with some classic jazz or soul.

For me running a restaurant is about so many different aspects that go way beyond food and service.  There should always be some of the owner’s personality in there and getting the music right can help create a bridge between the food, the service and a great experience.

TOP 50 YOUNG WINEMAKERS; interview with the “best new acts”: vigneron Yann Bertrand and Maximilian Girardi.

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The young Yann Bertrand has quickly become the talk of Fleurie gaining a reputation for his extremely expressive and vibrant Fleurie in an appellation famous for its elegance and grace. 

Mentored by Beaujolais icons Yvon Metras and Jean Foillard, Yann learned the importance of organic viticulture and having a natural hand in the cellar. 

TOP 50 YOUNG WINEMAKERS; interview with the "best new acts": vigneron Yann Bertrand and Maximilian Girardi.
Yann Bertrand

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?

I’m from a family of winegrowers. My father and my grandfrather were winegrowers in Beaujolais. My great grandfather had a small winegrowing negoce and was very gifted in business and was also an astute taster.

Beaujolais
Beaujolais

IF YOU COULD BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH IN THE VINEYARD WHAT WOULD IT BE?

My philosophy is simple. The point is to attain the most beautiful balance possible for the soil. A living soil is likely to break down organic material in order to satisfy the all the vine’s needs. A soil with good equilibrium will produce a grape that will represent the terroir where it was grown. The work in the cellar is continued in this philosophy. The goal is to not need to use oenological products in order to obtain wines with more emotion – more “vibrant.”

WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT YOUR VINEYARDS?

It’s the complexity of the winemaker’s profession that passions me rather than one particular aspect of it. It’s the best when you think about how you spent the whole year while drinking your wine with a client at a wine shop or restaurant. It’s filled with emotion. What’s unique about our wines is that we produce different wines even though all the vines are in the same area. The complexity that can be found in the vineyard is demonstrated each year through these different cuvees.

IF YOU COULD SAY ONE THING TO THE SOMMELIERS WHO ARE INTRODUCING PEOPLE TO YOUR WINES FOR THE FIRST TIME, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

A saying that I use often “Time doesn’t respect what is done without it.” We make natural, fragile wines that sometimes require more time to express themselves. We must know how to forget about them for a month in the cellar when the wine doesn’t taste as we know it to.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC?

“Seventies” de TRINIX

IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SUPERHERO POWER, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

I think that I would like the power to fly.

Maximilian Girardi

Is the youngest winemaker to get the prestigious Merano Wine Festival “red stamp” quality mark and  the “best Albana wine in Italy” for two years in a raw.Keynote speaker at the Wine Management Lab at the SDA Bocconi School of Management and confirmed wine communication expert. 

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?

I was born in Bolzano, in Northern Italy in a lovely family and I was raised in a small beautiful village, Rocca San Casciano, in the heart of Romagna-Toscana Appennines.

It was my grandfather’s hometown and where I currently live with my wife Giulia and my dog Frodo.

RoccaSanCasciano
Rocca San Casciano

IF YOU COULD BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR APPROACH IN THE VINEYARD WHAT WOULD IT BE?

The company has a young approach with a look at the wine of the future, a good wine, elegant that reflects the territory and gives emotions. We give a lot of importance to the environmentwe have a very low environmental impact and we have done studies on the ground for biological and biodynamic with the University of Bolzano, we try to minimize treatments in the vineyard.

WHAT MAKES WINE EXCITING FOR YOU?

Wine is so deeply embedded in the Italian identity and is part of our rich culture.

Each bottle is considered sacred, has its own story to tell.

Wine is conviviality, it’s exciting to try a wine recommended by friends and to find a wine which compliments a great dish.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?

I love Italy and I love our territory and I would like to focus on the enhancement of the Romagna-Toscana Appennines.

In this area we have excellent products, amazing landscapes and a high standard of living.

About a year ago started a very interesting project from the enthusiasm of some volunteers: “Cambia Vita” a house for free for one week in Rocca San Casciano.

No stress, great food, surrounded by nature: it’s the perfect “place to be”, it just needs to be discovered.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE WRITER?

I love Fitzgerald and Pirandello, a genius.

IF YOU WERE A TREE, WHAT KIND OF TREE WOULD YOU BE?

An oak, one of the most beneficial trees for wildlife.

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