Clarks Desert Boots

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The Fast Show – a UK TV show from the mid-1990’s  – had a wealth of characters created by Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse – amongs others. One particular favourite was “Louis Balfour” – played by John Thomson – who was the oh so slightly pretentious presenter of “Jazz Club” with a catchphrase – when all else failed – of “Nice!”. You rarely got to see his feet but my bet is that he would’ve worn Clarks Desert Boots

See here a sample of Jazz Club The Best of Louis Balfour’s Jazz Club

Now you have to follow this, Louis was cut from a very similar cloth to a couple of Art Masters at my last school. They insisted on being called “Chris” and “Steve” as indeed I suspect they were their real names and as 6th Formers it seemed odd to continue with “Sir”. They wore corduroy jackets – in brown and country green – one with contrasting leather elbow patches – they had a penchant for practical Farah Hopsack trousers – don’t ask – and each had several pairs of iconic Clarks Desert Boots.

Quite what desert there were planning to cross in leafy Cheshire was uncertain but none the less these two were simply the coolest guys in the school.  “Steve” with his long hair even drove a late reg VW Beetle – click here to our previous post Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined – you can imagine he was already ice cool to me.

Assured not to be bitten by scorpions nor rattle snakes, Clarks Desert Boots to this day are an iconic and a highly flexible wardrobe essential that you can wear with jeans, moleskins or chinos and they will always look the part. Just avoid wearing in the rain – they are suede and, after all, are intended for deserts!

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C. & J. Clark International Ltd, (“Clarks”) was founded in 1825 by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Street, (Somerset, England) where its HQ is still based – although manufacturing is now predominantly undertaken in Asia. Clark’s continues to be 84% family owned.

Since 1879 the Clark’s trade mark has been the distinctive Glastonbury Tor with the St Michael’s tower.

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The Desert Boot was launched in 1950 having been designed by the co-founders, James’, great-grandson, Nathan Clark, a serving British Army Officer based in Burma. It is said that the Desert Boot was based on the unlined boots made in the bazaar’s of Cairo for returning British Army Officers during the Second World War.

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Post War the Desert Boot saw adoption by the Mod Culture in UK, the Beatnik Culture in the US and were known to be a favourite of the Student anit-capitalist demonstrations in Paris in May 1968.

Why not be like Steve McQueen or Liam Gallagher and get a pair of Clarks original Desert Boots – please click the links below the images below to be directed to AMAZON – the two links show the full colour range available.

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Clarks Desert Boot, Men’s Derby, Braun (Cola Suede), 10 UK

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Clarks Originals Desert Boot, Men’s Derby Lace-Up, Brown (Brown Sde), 9 UK 43 EU)

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Images courtesy of C & J Clark International Limited

Aestheticons’ January Detox – Part 1

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It is said that detoxing doesn’t work. Possibly? However, after the excesses of the Festive Period during which we hoover up the remains of various roast meats, pork pies, chestnut stuffing, pickled onions, cranberrys and, of course, Toblerone – all washed down with copious glasses of wine – with the arrival of January a more sensible wave of consumption is absolutely needed.

Over the years the mistake has been made of pushing the Festive Period earlier into December meaning that by about 26th December our bodies are waving the white flag. By juicing – keeping the sugary fruits like oranges to a minimum – and eating much more strongly coloured fruit, simple changes can be brought about to help you digest better and shed those holiday kilos.

I find an early New Year’s hack is to up my usual intake of Porridge. Alone it has a huge number of health benefits and ranks high on the “comfort food” scale with the addition of the best honey you can find. The iconic packaging of Scott’s Porridge Oats has been part of my family’s table since childhood – my Mother is half Scots – and whilst her counsel to make the porridge with water and salt is, I am certain authentic, it’s just not my taste.

Fill your Detox shopping basket by clicking the following AMAZON link: Scotts Porage Oats 1000g

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In the passed certain members of my family have complained about the consistency of  my porridge. This can be alleviated by the use of a special stirring stick called a “Spurtle”

Add a Spurtle to your kitchen by clicking the following link: Scottish Gift’s – Spurtle – turned Beechwood Porridge Spurtle uk gift’s

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An alternative to bread – which we consume in great quantities as sandwiches including turkey and bacon – I really like rice or corn crackers they are light and make an excellent base for cheeses or dips.

Start experimenting with avocados. Guacamole is simplicity itself and this iconic Mexican dish can be scooped as a nutritious dip with a chip or added to a chicken tortilla wrap with crunchy red peppers to be an excellent low calorie/low fat alternative to mayonnaise. Our simple guacamole recipe – and it doesn’t matter if the fruits are over-ripe – is to take four mid-size avocados peel and stone – you know the trick for getting the stone out I am sure – just don’t cut yourself!

Into a Hamilton Beach blender – the iconic American model as used in many US bars and diners – add the flesh of the avocados, two peeled garlic bulbs, some salt to taste, the juice of one and a half lemons, either two fresh tomatoes or half a tin of tinned tomatoes and blitz in the blender. The lemon will add flavour and ensure that the avocado pulp stays green.

Add a Hamilton Beach blender to your kitchen: Hamilton Beach HBB908-UK Commercial 2-Speed Bar Blender, 1.25 Litre, 400 Watt, Black

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If you’d like your guacamole a little spicy add some Chipotle tabasco – see previous post here – Tabasco Chipotle Sauce

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My Achilles Heel in the colder winter months is booze. Red wine, beer and Whisky – though not all at once! Through some research towards the end of the year I found one low alcohol beer that even with its lack of booze credentials is in fact a great glass of ale – Brewdog’s “Nanny State”. An excellent Ale flavour with compelling and no doubt future classic packaging.

Please see our earlier post about Brewdog here: Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 2

Lighten your alcohol intake with Nanny State by clicking the following link: BrewDog Nanny State (Alcohol Free), 12 x 330 ml

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A Virgin Mary is a great alternative. You may have already seen my favourite Bloody Mary recipe – see it here  Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary  and Holiday Breakfast. Well, if you can bear to hide the Stoli for another few weeks this is wonderful hit of fresh goodness. A delicious hit of vitamins and flavour great for a weekend brunch.

I am a nibbler, put a plate of Japanese rice crackers or kettle chips in front of me and there’s a severe risk they wont be there upon your return. As an antidote, I have chosen Almonds as my nut of choice. Not only do they contain a unique and God-given constituent that apparently enhances beauty – well I’ll take anything I can get – unroasted they are simply delicious.

Get Wholefood Earth’s Organic Almonds by clicking the following link: Wholefood Earth: Organic Whole Almonds 500g | Raw | GMO Free | Suitable for Vegans & Vegetarians

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Image Credits with thanks: Scott’s Porridge, Hamilton Beach, Tobasco and Brewdog.

Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 2

Beer A

I am very excited by the growth of Craft Beers. The very name suggests the image of a ruddy faced and smocked farmer sucking on an ear of wheat but nothing could be further from the truth. These start ups that have emerged from the micro-brewing scene are many well capitalised business making amazing products.

The ethos of the craft brewer is not at all at odd with those beautifully crafted European beers that have seen international success.

In our second appreciation – see our first guide here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 of some of Europe finest and most iconic beer I have highlighted those beautiful beers that stand strong to the noble tradition of brewing.

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BrewDog: I was in a bar in Camden North London about two years ago with an old friend – and a very successful entrepreneur – from the music business. He suggested a pint of Dead Pony Pale Ale. Indeed a delicious pint, but it was the usual branding and obviously compelling punk attitude that required a deeper sampling of this recent UK beer brand.

Founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in Scotland in 2007. In 2011 they raised £2m by via crowdfunding and by October 2015 production had risen to 2.2m bottles and 400,000 cans. Their first bar was opened in 2010 in Aberdeen and their fourth being the bar in Camden – many others world-wide have followed. By April 2017 22% of the business was sold for £213m to The Shansby Group (TSG), a US based private equity firm housed in the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco (CA.).

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By mid 2017 the canned Punk IPA became one of the regular house pours on EasyJets European services – an accolade for sure.

Hope you will support this fabulous new movement in UK brewing? If you’d like to try a mixed case from BrewDog hit this Amazon link:
BrewDog: Headliner Mixed Case, 12 x 330 ml

Pelforth

Pelforth Brune: French beers are typically “blonde” and have many refreshing qualities. However, on colder autumn/winter days with a warming bowl of Cassoulet – a delicious traditional white haricot beans and pork stew – a delicious accompaniment is a glass of deep brown Pelforth. Its has a rich caramel aroma and profound, almost sweet, flavours for a brown beer.

Founded in Lille (Northern France) in 1921 the three local brewers, Louis Boucquey, Armand Deflandre and Raoul Bonduel, joined forces. By 1937 Jean Deflandre, Armand’s son, used high fermentation, two malts of barley and English yeast to create a beer that he called “Pelforth 43”. Why? Based on Pelican – as seen on the bottle – the French word for “strong” – “fort”. “43” refers to 43kg of barley required to produce a hectolitre of the beer – it also happens to be the name of the local infantry regiment. 

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Following various mergers and acquisitions Pelforth became part of Heineken in 1988.

I highly recommend that you try a Pelforth Brown, particularly if you like a typical mild beer – there is much in common. If that appeals please click the following AMAZON link:
Pelforth brown 6.5 ° 65 cl – 6 x 65 cl

Franks Weiss

Franziskaner Weissbier: Is a wheat/white beer – is a deep, complex and flavoursome beer – produced by the Bavarian brewing giant Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu GmbH.

The brewers origins can be traced to the late 14th century and the name derives from the German for “Franciscan” as their was a monastery diagonally opposite the original brewery. The Friar was first used as a logo in 1909. In 1922 the breweries of Spaten and Franzikaner merged.

In 1964, the Spaten-Franziskaner brewery brewed its first wheat beer. By 1984 Franziskaner Weissbier became available by export. By 2003 the brewery was selling 1m million hectolitres annually. It is claimed that Franziskaner Weissbier is now the world’s favourite wheat beer.

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In 2004 following a merger with Lowenbrau the business was acquired by brewing giant Interbrew – now Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

So you missed Munich’s world famous “OktoberFest” in September this year. Why not try a few bottles of Franziskaner Weissbier at home by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Franziskaner Weissbier Beer, Case of 12

Fullers

Fullers London Pride: Fuller’s London Pride has alway been proud that it is “Made in London”. It is in fact the UK’s best selling cask-conditioned ale and is sold worldwide in bottles. Its a deep and very flavourful ale that was first brewed at Fuller’s Chiswick (West London) Thames-side based Griffin Brewery in 1959.

The name for this fine beer stems from the early 1940’s when a flower, colloquially called “London Pride” (Saxifraga x urbium) – a perennial flowering plant – was noted as blooming on bomb sites around London left by the Blitz. The symbolism of the flower, its reliance and the resolve of Londoners to resist the misery of the War years was celebrated by Fullers.

In 1979 and 1995 at the Campaign For Real Ale Awards London Prised won Champion Beer of Britain in the Best Bitter Class. Since 2007 it has been the official beer of the London Marathon.

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One of the finest ways to enjoy a pint of Pride is at the Fuller’s owned pub in Hammersmith, “The Dove”, with its wide terraces overlooking the River Thames. It’s said to be where Charles II dined with his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and has been owned by local brewer, Fuller, Smith & Turner, since 1796.

Like many other Londoners why no “Take Pride” by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Fullers London Pride Premium Ale – 12 x 500ml

Youngs Bitter

Youngs Bitter: Progress is often a bitter pill best enjoyed with a pint of Youngs’ fine bitter. A real pint of bitter that results from many years of brewing tradition.

Since the 1550 the Ram pub has been recorded on the site of the former Youngs’ brewery in Wandsworth (South West London). The Ram was purchased in 1831 by co-founders Charles Allen Young and Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge. In 2006 the last chairman of Young & Co, John Young – a direct descendent of Charles – agreed to sell the site for re-development ending over five hundred years of brewing tradition. Sadly, Mr Young died shortly after the sale and a final brew from the Ram’s Brewery was served at his funeral.

For many years I recall seeing the Young & Co brightly coloured shire-horse drawn drays delivering beer to the local area around South West London.

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Since 2006 the brewing of Youngs’ beers, to service its licensed trade – including as of August 2017, 177 managed pubs and 74 tenanted houses in the area – and its off license business was transferred to a new business – a joint venture between Charles Wells Brewery that operates from the Eagle Brewery in Bedford. Wells have subsequently acquired full control of this joint venture.

Young & Co is still based in Wandsworth. In 2007 the company moved to a new head office around the corner from the former brewery site.

As part of the 2013 redevelopment plans for the site, there is a commitment for the Ram’s historic buildings to be retained and restored to include a micro-brewery and preservation of the bank of the River Wandle that passes through the site.

I have several favourite Youngs Pubs in London. “The Guinea” in Bruton Place is perhaps the home of the finest steak in London. “The Fox and Anchor” in Charterhouse Street where you once could enjoy an early morning pint with the porters of Smithfield market and the recently refurbished “The County Arms” in Trinity Road, Wandsworth is a delightful evening local.

If you cannot get to one of the above fine pubs – or many of Young’ others – why not try the dray deliveries from AMAZON by clicking the following link: Young’s Bitter – 12 X 500ml

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So sorry to our international readers as the AMAZON links are UK only.

Images courtesy of the Brewers