A throat warming pineapple ginger beer with freshly muddled limes. This punchy drink is only possible if you make your own brew which is easy. The hard part is waiting 24 hours before you can drink it.

I had a similar drink whilst I was on holiday in Amsterdam. 

Lotti’s ginger beer. Delicious.

It had so much punch, my throat burned and my eyes must have widen in shock after the initial sip. Thereafter, I couldn’t get enough. I could not make 2 of that same drink last more than 10 minutes. I kept sipping away as I cooed about how delicious it was. It’s one of those drinks that you know you will be drinking and enjoying for the rest of your life. Naturally, I had to come up with a recipe and thankfully, this drink is easy to make.

It starts off with store bought cans of pineapple juice. You could make your own pineapple juice if you follow my recipe for Pineappleade but I want to drink this punchy soda so badly and so quickly, I just zip to the store and grab those cans of pineapple juice. You should know, especially if you are one to feel bad about throwing out food, that my Pineappleade is made from the peel and cores of pineapples which would otherwise be discarded.

So juice is mixed with yeast, sugar and ginger and left to ferment for up to 24 hours. That’s about it. The next day, you would have a lightly fizzy brew that smells very slightly fermented with obvious notes of pineapples and ginger. Strain this mix. Then choose to either drink with just the addition of ice cubes, very potent stuff or muddle in cut limes, top with ice and then 7-up. Terribly good.

For detailed instructions, scroll directly down to ‘Ingredients‘ as the remaining writing would be about this gem of a find of an Amsterdam accommodation and me going on about Dutch herring, Tunisian sweets in Paris and my food-related holiday purchases that filled the entire surface and more of my 8-seater dining table.

I love Dutch herring, artichokes and sausages. For close-up shots, you have to scroll down.

Amongst my favourite European cities for repeat visiting is Amsterdam. Why? One of the key reasons is my fondness for Dutch herring, a small silvery fish caught in the northern sea waters.  

Ok, yes, I had already started eating before I realised I was in a rather nice spot for a photo snap shot. I did say I love herring. In Amsterdam, I made sure I met my daily required dose of Omega-3 fatty acids with the intake of three Dutch herring a day. Yum.

Whilst there earlier this month, I stayed at Hoxton. Opened not too long ago, it is spread across 5 canal houses in the city centre. Why am I telling you this? The first reason is simple. It was at Hoxton that I was inspired to come up with my recipe for Pineapple Ginger Lime Beer. Secondly, there are accommodations aplenty in Amsterdam but good accommodation? This is a city where you have to be discerning with regard to your choice of boarding and where the power of insider help can’t be underestimated.

To put my standards for accommodation in perspective, I have to say my days of scrimping on accommodations are over. That’s not to say that I stay in 5-star accommodations all the time. I know at least one bed and breakfast that I am ever so happy to revisit and it would put a lot of 4 and 5-star accommodations to shame. If it is clean and conveniently located, I will stay but the toilet has to be clean please, be it a 3-star accommodation.

If you are not on too tight of a budget, you might want to consider Hoxton, a 4-star hotel. It is in the city centre, on a quiet stretch of Herengracht, clean, modern and with new furnishings (as I write this -June 2016) and they hang a complimentary brown bag of a healthy breakfast on your door each morning. How kind.

There is only one other accommodation that I will stay again in a heartbeat in Amsterdam but they have become so reknown for their hospitality I could not even get a room 9 months ahead. I was not a happy puppy then but I really can’t complain as Hoxton, not only cost less, it was very comfortable, more centrally located and they have a happening bar and restaurant, Lotti’s, on the ground floor, That’s where I tasted and went mad for their ginger beer.

I have quite a skill for efficient luggage packing. 

If it is legal and if it can fit into a luggage, I can just about pack anything back for home. Nothing spills. Nothing breaks. I have brought home light as a feather hand blown wine carafes, exquisite fine bone china tea cups, tea pots, clotted cream from London, even a tinselled deer one Christmas… 

Oh the joys of unpacking holiday luggages filled with all manner of food and carefully selected buys! Remember my shopping haul from my previous summer holiday in Greece and then my lovely purchases not too long ago from my Tokyo break?

This last trip to Amsterdam and Paris, I did nothing more than stroll down streets, eat, shop and ate some more. It’s a relaxing way to holiday. No itinerary to follow or restaurant reservation to fulfil. When it rained or when the feet could walk no further, a cafe was always literally a few steps away. A cup of cafe latte can almost always jump start my weary legs. Throw in an always excellent croissant and I am about as good as new.

So while the waters of the River Seine rose to its highest levels in 35 years and summer temperatures dropped to an autumn 51F (11C), I bought myself a new coat and continued to enjoy the streets of Paris. And, look at where my walks took me to -this lovely Tunisian sweets shop. 

The lady behind the service counter is positively lovely.  She has a cheerful disposition and attends to each customer with saintly patience.

The sweets they sell are unbelievably intricate and delicate! 

They might look overly sweet but they are surprisingly not. Instead, they are filled with very little sugar and/or honey and are packed instead with an assortment of nuts and mainly put together with chickpea and/or semolina flour. So delicious, I carted home the entire tray you see below and more. If this sweet shop was in my city, I would be the size of a blimp by now.

I never tire of looking at close-up shots of these ever so intricately made sweets.  Take for instance, the sweet that is in the centre. Those green hearts are cross sections of pistachios which had to be chosen carefully so that the cross section of each pistachio would be symmetrical with the other 3 cross sections of pistachios. How many pistachios will one have to go through for that kind of detail?

I could go on and on about the food that I ate and the food items that I bought but then I won’t be able to stop. So I am going to end with my top three favourite purchases.

1. Dutch herring. 

I brought home 7 boxes. That’s 5 X 7 = 35 delicious ‘taste-of-the-sea’ herring. Freshly caught herring are quickly frozen (to kill off any nasties) and then salted. For not too many days is my guess as the herring always taste very fresh and with just enough of salt to make it so tasty! It has a soft texture with a firm bite. To get an all authentic taste, I brought home a bottle of their sweet and sour pickles too.

2. Tunisian sweets from the St. Germain area, Paris.

Tunisian sweet makers definitely have deft fingers.

3. My ever so cute yellow bread toaster from Pyrones -too cute not to take home.

I placed the teapot next to it as I really like that piece too. Picked that up from Forum des Halles, a massive, mainly underground shopping complex which has been through a recent extensive renovation.

So as you can tell, I had a swell holiday in Amsterdam and Paris. Got down from the plane, did frantic unpacking, food gifting, food storage, repacked and in less than 24 hours went back up a plane headed for Galle, Sri Lanka for a villa holiday with the family. More eating again but I will save that for another time.

Pineapple Ginger Lime Beer

Prep: 10 minutes 
Cook:
Inactive: Up to 24 hours
Level: Easy
Makes: ~ 34 fl oz (1 litre) of syrup
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes.
Make ahead? 1 day

 

Ingredients

Syrup
~3oz (~80g) ginger without peel*
~34 fl oz (~1 litre) store bought pineapple juice**
~1 – 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of cayenne or chilli powder
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon citric acid***
If you wish to continue to ferment the syrup for 1 day further, add ~1/4 cup sugar on the second day.
To top
1/4 wedge squeeze of lime per glass*
Ice cubes
7-up or other similar sweetened soda
* Increase amount for more ‘bite’ in your beer.
** Not enough pineapple juice? Top up with water.
*** For more ‘bite’.
Depending on the size of the limes, I would get at least 6 limes for the entire quantity of syrup.

Method

Syrup
1. In a food processor, grind the ginger with the pineapple juice, sugar and cayenne until sugar is dissolved and ginger is more or less ground up. Alternatively, grate ginger and mix in all the other syrup ingredients (except yeast) until sugar is dissolved. Transfer into a flip-top jar or a container with a tight lid.
2. Sprinkle instant yeast over the syrup and stir in.

3. Close the jar and leave in a cool place (not the refrigerator) for at least 24 hours to ferment. Depending on how cold or hot it is in your area, it might take longer or shorter. It has been warm where I am and my batch was left to sit for 24 hours. The mixture had tiny bubbles and smelt pleasantly fermented with notes of pineapple and ginger.


4. You could use this syrup straight away which is what I would recommend. If you are not using it up all at once or want to keep it for another day, add ~1/4 cup of sugar, stir to mix, cover and refrigerate it. Beyond the second day, the syrup starts to taste too fermented for my liking.

To serve
1. Strain the syrup. You could serve this drink with just the addition of ice cubes -strong and punchy stuff.
2. Alternatively, cut lime into 1/4 wedges. Set aside. Fill enough strained syrup to fill ~ 1/4 of a tall glass.
3. Squeeze the cut lime into that glass and throw in that wedge of lime. Muddle the lime with a spoon or a muddler.
4. Top with ice cubes and fill with 7-up or a similar sweetened soda, stir to mix, insert straw and sip away.

Tips

Instead of limes, try it with lemons or oranges. Seville oranges with its slight bitterness would be quite nice.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

These are my soft-dough flat breads cooked over a hot pan. The dough is green because it has kale in it and the filling? A mix of greens and cheese!  It’s all rather healthy and of course delicious.

Advertisements