Archive for July, 2010

Urban Bees

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Honeybees-300x300Have you picked up a little bee friendly pack of seeds recently, is that how you’ve ended up here reading this… we do hope so, and welcome.

So, here at the Urban Beach we love bees, a lot, and we want to help them, and we want you to help them too! 

Now as socially conscious Urban Beachers you’re probably already aware about the plight of the bee.  But just in case you’ve missed it, we have some news we feel compelled to share with you.  You need to know that bee populations are declining rapidly and this is becoming a global concern.  Please sit down before you read this: last year 1/5 of all bee colonies did not survive the winter…you read correctly, 1 in 5 bees, that is one hell of a lot and we can’t let this go on unnoticed for yet another bee unfriendly winter.

Now, this is not just about us having our honey puffs or honey porridge or honey on toast for breakfast.  It’s much more important than that.  This is about ‘pollination’ and even hard cash!  Bees contribute £200 million per year to the UK economy alone.  You wonder where the phrase ‘busy bee’ comes from?  They are busy pollinating apples, carrots and most of the fruit and vegetables in your kitchen.  Two thirds of the world’s plants are pollinated by bees!  Without them we would not even have tea or coffee…right, now you’re listening heh, a day without espresso is not a good day at all!

Nobody knows for certain what is causing bee losses.  It’s hard to ask them, they just sort of buzz and are short on the detail.  Explanations, more from observations than direct questioning, include: bad weather, pesticides, importing of non native species, viruses and a mite called ‘Varroa’.  Also the commercial growing of large fields of single crops (mono cultures) is limiting the amount of pollen being produced in certain areas of the world resulting in the actual starvation of bees!

At the Urban Beach we’ve always been keen on local produce for lots of reasons.  Such an approach helps local famers who carry out small scale farming of multiple crops.  By changing crops in line with the seasons through the year our local farmers help ensure that pollen is around for most of the year to feed the hungry bees.

So back to the seed pack that you may have received already, or that you can pick up at the Urban Beach.  Inside that pack is a mix of wild flower seeds that will provide essential nutrition for bees and also brighten up your garden year round!  You should find poppies, sunflowers, marigolds, dahlias, nasturtiums and more. 

We need you to plant these seeds and save the bees.  Grow them in your garden, on your balcony, in your hair.  Then one day, our friends and yours, the bee, will just appear and will enjoy a fine lunch, just like you can at your local friendly bistro.

Can we also be bold enough to suggest that you visit http://www.co-operative.coop/ethicsinaction/takeaction/planbee/ to find out even more and sign up to their campaign for a systematic review of the impact of pesticides on our important pollinating friends.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your honey and your flowers and come back soon for more bee news.

For those of you who are busy at work, let’s leave you with one final ‘bee fact’.  ‘A bee travels an average of 1600 round trips in order to produce one ounce of honey; up to six miles per trip’.  Now that is a bloody busy bee and one that deserves our respect and a bit of Urban Loving!

Rum & ginger & elderflower too…

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Once more the passion for experimentation and DIY has taken the Urban Beach. To keep things fresh and to strive for the unique sentiment of our establishment, we have conjured some homemade products we are especially proud of.

Cocktail menuTo begin, last week a mountain of ginger big enough to warrant a license for possession spread across the bar with a decadence and ‘bring it on’ manner. The bartender stared at it with adoration and bemusement at to what could it possibly become. Following the previous blog on Old Jon’s Spiced Rum and the behemoth vessel still standing proud on the bar…the link was made in a moment of eureka. Rum and ginger beer is an exceptional partnership and what better way to compliment a home infused rum than to marry it with a handcrafted mixer.

With a crack of knuckles and a teaspoon in hand, the bartender went to work peeling the ginger in an event that could surely rival Thor’s escapades in Norse mythology. The mammoth task wore on to produce a naked and ready batch of fresh ginger. In a frenzy and flurry of motion our now vengeful bartender went to work on pulping the ginger in order to extract the juices fully. Once water was added and allowed to stand to mine every last morsel of sap from the roots, a few special ingredients were included to entice the full flavour of the ginger…citrus juice, angostura bitters and coriander seeds were followed by a reasonable amount of sugar. Our bartender stood shaking and content at the final ginger concentrate, he recommends lengthening it with soda for a sparkling ginger beer or still if you prefer. As a mixer with rum or ingredient of a cocktail (look for the Kiwi Batida on our specials board), we hope you enjoy the fresh zing of this handcrafted creature as much as we do.

ElderflowersAs a rolling stone gathers no moss, the homemade adventure continued with something a little less raucous and a far superior delicacy. Our very own Professor of Mixology, Obi-Jon-Kenobi prised himself away from the 2ft of marble in the Urban Beach on a day out much less dangerous but vaguely synonymous with Frodo Baggins ordeal in search of natures gifts. The journey to Swanage on a glorious summer afternoon reaped more than simple fun cavorting with stinging nettles…and bestowed a stack of Elderflower upon our delighted chap. Once back at the bar with his haul, the cauldron was lit and the fires of experimentation burned. A cordial came to mind at first, maybe a champagne would be its evolution…but whatever will come of this little treasure, be sure to know that it’s sole purpose is to tantalise and delight you fair readers and customers. Watch this space…

By Adam Haines

Some new grapes

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Wine on the deckMmmmm….wine. There really is no greater gift that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us mere mortals. Our vine laden friends are as much a joy to quaff as they are to discuss. On another precarious sunny day above the Urban Beach our local wine supplier and connoisseur Charles lead the most glorious and pleasurable of all training sessions, a wine tasting.

Other than giving the staff a few hiccups and rosy cheeks, the lesson in Veno bestowed a knowledge of our new wine menu upon them. With the aim of providing you fair patrons with a tailored taste; whether it is a spritzer on a sweltering day or a deep rouge to compliment your steak, we believe we have struck gold. You can find the menu inside the Urban Beach or just converse with our team and allow us to discover your flavour. A few of our favourites are worth mentioning; however this is not a comprehensive list.

The new entry level white, Saint-Laurand, is a dry and salivating tipple of mixed grape, perfect for spritzers or those who are not overly fussy. At the other end of the spectrum for our white selection is the Italian Gavi, our pride is a floral and elegant mistress perfect with delicate fish and pastas.

For those who revel in diversity, we have a Chilean Pinot Noir that may meet your expectations. Explorer is a light grape of translucent properties and herbal nose, a red that can not only be enjoyed at room temperature…but also slightly chilled for a new experience. A more traditional rouge for you to savour could be the French ‘Domaine Le Cazal’. This fairytale wine from the Minervois region is complex and herbal with an outstanding smoked lavender edge that makes it a perfect spouse for cheeses. In vogue of recent summers are Rose wines and we have something most suited to this time of year. Saint Sidoine is so light and airy on the nose that one feels as though they could simply inhale it. A real sense of Wimbledon is achieved through its strawberries and cream connotations.

Finally, we would love to boast about our sensational sparkling wine. Breaky Bottom is a zesty, yeasty sparkling that contains fresh melon and peach notes…strangely suited to the Fish and Chips off our food menu. But the most surprising secret to this tipple is that it is made in our fair country. From East Sussex, this bubbly wine is grown from Kimerage clay and chalk…the same stuff that is used in the champagne regions of France!

So please, indulge us and indulge yourselves…for there is no greater thing in life than to eat, drink and be merry.

By Adam Haines