It feels like ages since I last sat down to write but we had a very busy time last week having dinner with friends, deadlines with school and a little weekend away to pack and get ready for.
I have a week off now so will be back to blogging (hopefully daily) and I have some great posts and projects coming up this week!
For Christmas, my best friend Lu bought me and Ian two tickets for a tour, tasting and making session at Plymouth Gin Distillery. She always gets me very cool and unusual gifts and this one was no different! We decided to combine the present with a few nights away and we couldn’t really do this boozy tour and then drive home afterwards anyway! Haha
I hadn’t been to Plymouth since I was a child, and I always like exploring new places, so we set off after work on Friday night. We arrived quite late so checked into our hotel and headed out for a curry.
I think we managed to find the most colourful curry house in Plymouth, but it was delicious!
The next morning, we went out for breakfast and I had one of my favourites, eggs benedict – yum!
I couldn’t resist a spot of shopping so we wandered around the town centre for a little bit. I felt parts of this area were quite run-down and despite having a newish looking mall, there were lots of closed-down shops and not very many independent stores that I like to have a rummage around. I still managed to purchase a few new items though!
Ian can only take so much shopping with me (why are boys like that?!) and it was soon time to head to the distillery for our tour. This part of town had some lovely old buildings and cobbled streets and I wish we had had enough time to explore the antiques market I saw there.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any photographs with cameras or phones throughout the tour (something to do with the high alcohol content in the air?!) so you will just have to trust me when I say it was amazing!
I am a bit of a history geek so I loved finding out about the origins of Plymouth Gin and the foodie in me found it fascinating to see how the gin is made and flavoured.
Then, it was on to the best part…the tasting!
We went into a room with close to 300 bottles of different gins from around the world and then blind-tasted the 5 most popular; Plymouth Gin (obviously!), Gordon’s, Hendrick’s (my favourite), Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire.
All tasted quite different and it was interesting to see how much they varied as I would never have thought of asking what type of gin was going into my G&T when I ordered one in a bar, but I think I would now as I definitely had my preferences.
After the tasting, we went into a laboratory-style room and, based on the flavours we liked from our tasting session, we had a go at distilling and bottling our own versions using a variety of ingredients including juniper, coriander seeds, nutmeg, rosewater, lemon, orange and liquorice.
At this point, all the gins we had tried were starting to take effect so there was a lot of giggling as we were making our own gin but we had our tour guide on hand to help!
After we had bottled and labelled our gins, we had a few gin cocktails in the bar and I am afraid to say it is a little hazy from that point but I do have some pictures and I look like I enjoyed myself!
After heading back to the hotel room for a quick nap (much needed!), I woke up hangover-free and we went out for some dinner and a walk along the Barbican.
A Greek taverna, Shirley Valentine’s, had been recommended by a friend so we wandered in that direction and enjoyed a lovely traditional Mediterranean meal.
We started with a platter of dips which were amazing but I made the classic mistake of filling up on these and fresh, crusty bread and was then not able to manage my main course, which I ended up taking away in a doggy bag!
I opted for the classic Moussaka which was delicious. The lamb was well spiced and the creamy topping was indulgent and comforting. I am now keen to try and replicate this dish at home.
Ian obviously felt like he hadn’t had enough meat that day as he ordered the mixed grill which, apart from some over-cooked pork, was lovely and very filling as you can see from the size of the portions!
Overall, we had a lovely weekend away together and it was a perfect start to my half term after a particularly stressful few weeks at school.
I have to say that Plymouth is not the prettiest city I have visited, but I imagine the area along the sea front would be lovely in warmer weather to wander along and do a spot of al fresco dining.
We also struggled to find nice non-chain pubs and restaurants around the centre although I am sure a Plymouth local could have pointed us in the right direction.
The gin distillery was fantastic and I would definitely recommend the tour if you ever visit the city, especially if you don’t mind a bit of afternoon drinking!
We bought a bottle of tonic on our way home today so I plan to sample our handmade gins with dinner now they have had a few days to allow the flavours to settle and blend together…I will let you know the verdict on who made the tastiest gin!