Friday, September 26, 2014

Cordials... A Taste Of Summer Even Out Of Season

So a few months ago, I was reading a copy of "The Field" and found an article on British cordials. Immediately I recalled seeing the name of one of the companies profiled and opened my computer to confirm that, yes, I could buy them here in America. I'd never given these drinks much thought before I read this article, but this introduction was all I needed to try them now.

Typically when you mention a cordial in America, thoughts run to the sweet or relatively sweet alcoholic beverages which are served after dinner or in the evening. The alternative meaning of this word is a drink of heavy fruit juice which is mixed with water. It is this latter definition which was discussed in this article.

While in many ways similar to British squash, which is also a concentrated fruit juice, cordials are a bit more refined and less sugary sweet. and a perfect way to enjoy the flavours of summer even out of season.

Leading the way with their Elderflower cordial is Belvoir Fruit Farms (pronounced beever), which is imported and sold in America. The recipe is a family recipe from the Manners family of Belvoir Castle. Growing 90 acres of organic Elderflowers, they ensure they have a supply to supplement those purchased from local pickers. And this picking is done in the traditional method using a walking stick to "hook down" higher florets.

One of the quintessential flavours of early summer, this cordial produces an elegant and refreshing drink any day. Don't be thrown off by the cost and size of the bottle, as it will make 10 pints. You can also add a splash to white wine or a gin and tonic.

They also make another traditional summer flavour, Rhubarb & Strawberry. This bottle makes 8 pints of the most delicious rich fruity drink when mixed with club soda. A real treat and like all their products, they use real sugar, no preservatives, no flavourings and nothing artificial.

I also tried their Ginger Beer Presse, the organic version of which is available in America. This came in a single serve bottle and was most unlike ginger beer I had previously tried. Much lighter and less intense, it has the addition of lemon which with the sparking spring water makes it an incredibly refreshing drink for a summer day.

These hand crafted drinks will remain on my list of drinks to buy for quite some time, even if I have to go to slightly extra lengths to find some flavours which are not imported into America by Belvoir Fruit Farms.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Schweppes Tonic Water or Indian Tonic Water...

First, I will begin by saying that of the tonic water which is available, Schweppes is my favourite. Yes there are some high end tonic waters available, but this brand still remains my favourite.

Most Americans are exposed to one type of Schweppes tonic water, simply known as "tonic water", but when they travel to the United Kingdom, they find Schweppes Indian tonic water. What's the difference? Is is just in a name or is there more?

Well trying to contact Schweppes resulted in questions from their legal team, or rather the legal team of Coca-Cola which owns Schweppes. Since this blog is and remains a not for profit endeavour written for fun, I've decided to write based on my simple observations.

Yes, there is a difference. The name change is more than just a simple labeling difference. Indian Tonic Water uses sugar, rather than the high fructose corn syrup used in the American version. /The American tonic also contains sodium benzoate as a preservative and the British tonic contains sodium saccharin as a sweetener.

The resulting British product is more tart than the American version which is slightly sweeter. While the sweetness might be more palatable to the American palate for those rare few who drink tonic water alone. But when you mix the tonic water with gin to create the classic gin and tonic, you will find the British Indian Tonic Water makes a better gin & tonic. I experimented with both tonic waters using Gordon's, Tanqueray, and Juniper Green Gin. In each case, the Indian Tonic Water created a superior gin & tonic.

So the choice is yours, American or British Schweppes. They are close, but not the same, so if you are looking for something slightly different and you find Indian Tonic Water, give it a try, I think you will enjoy it.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sasanqua Spa... Relaxation on the Kiawah River

The most recent spa I have had the pleasure to visit was the Sasanqua Spa. A private spa on Kiawah Island, it offers spectacular service in a unique environment.

Sasanqua Spa
Photo Courtesy Sasanqua Spa

Designed by Clodagh on a quiet peninsula overlooking the Kiawah River, the building is pile supported, and wood clad. Inside, stone marble and cypress flooring is used, along with teak decks and handrails. The six treatment rooms have ceramic tile floors as well as cypress floors and ceilings, and feature stunning views of the Lowcountry marsh grasses and river beyond.

The men's and ladies' lounge areas offer multi-head showers, private outdoor whirlpools, steam rooms and saunas. There are also co-ed lounges, a outdoor sanctuary with an adjacent co-ed whirlpool.

Entrance Hallway leading to Changing Rooms
Photo Courtesy Sasanqua Spa

From the moment you arrive you are treated like an honored guest, and while I was there felt as if I was the only person in the place, with only occasional glimpses of other guests. Once you have changed into the robe and slippers which are provided, you are allowed to rest in your lounge area until your massage therapist is ready.

Men's Lounge Area
Photo Courtesy Sasanqua Spa

The treatment rooms overlook the Kiawah River with beautiful views, but to be honest I was so lost in the relaxation of my massage that I could have been anywhere. I am pretty sure I even fell asleep at one point, which for me was a very good sign of a magnificently relaxing massage.

Co-ed Whirlpool
Photo Spa Management Journal

After my massage I made use of the whirlpool, steam room and sauna before I finally decided it was time to head home.

Ladies Deck
Photo Cindi Hobgood

I can't say enough about this amazing spa and hope that I will be able to make this a regular part of my trips to Kiawah in the future.

For more information contact the Kiawah Island Club.

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