Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Capital Crimes with a Dog's Nose

'Capital Crimes' is a collection of London based Mysteries, I wrote about it at slightly more length Here, so will content myself with saying that there are some real classics amongst the 17 stories here, and that I distinctly remember at least one of them making a dark walk home from the bus stop really creepy. It's probably also worth saying that the classic crime anthologies are all uniformly excellent. There are absolute gems here from some occasionally unexpected writers, and that some of the titles have become chapter headings in Martin Edwards 'The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books' (he's edited all of these collections) gives a sense of the scope they cover. They're a brilliant way of exploring a theme in Crime writing over a good fifty year period - and I love them.

Meanwhile I've really made the effort on this one, sacrificing a bottle of stout (Brewdog's Jet Black Heart oatmeal milk stout - it's good, less bitter than Guinness, very dark and rich) that was ear marked for making Christmas puddings with. I've also made something hing I thought sounded revolting, in not one, but three versions, just to be thorough. Good news is it turned out not to be revolting.

I've sort of wanted to try Purl and it's close relative, the Dog's Nose ever since I first read about them a couple of years ago - but mostly out of curiosity, because the combination of gin and beer is not immediately appealing. (Also, apologies, this series wasn't meant to be 20+ things you can do with gin, with a few other things thrown in as an afterthought, but that's the way it's going.) warm beer and gin even less so. 

I have a few recipes for Purl - nothing says working London more to me than a combination of London dry gin and Porter (or stout), but the simpler Dog's Nose (because it's wet and black) sounded better. I can't for the life of me remember where I saw this written down, and can't find it anywhere obvious, but a search online threw up a couple of versions. It also tells me that Dickens mentioned it In The Pickwick Papers.

The most simple is a tot of gin topped up with porter/stout (if you were Wondering) in a ratio of about 12 to 1 and it's surprisingly good. The gin works well with the bitterness of the hops, and lifts the general heaviness of the beer. The second version was warm with a little bit of dark muscavado sugar and a grating of nutmeg across the top. On the whole this was the least appealing of the three on an August evening - I might feel differently about it on a cold, foggy, night - it bought out the bitterness in the beer which overwhelmed the other flavours. 

Finally I tried it at room temperature, stirring the sugar into the gin, then adding the stout, and grating the nutmeg over it - and really liked it. Again the gin lifts the beer, the juniper flavours working well with the citrusy elements of the hops, as does the nutmeg, and the sugar gives a richness to the whole lot. I'm raising that last glass to keeping an open mind. 

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