© 2009-2011 Quality Eating and Drinking London Ltd

 

© 2009-2011 Quality Eating and Drinking London Ltd

Duvel: a better beer-glass?

Duvel tulip goblet: £4

Can a glass really make a difference to how something tastes? Glassmakers Riedel constantly aver that shape and rim are crucial and that one must have the right sort of glass for each style of wine; and Belgian beermakers have also been keen that drinkers should use the correctly branded stemware for their offerings. In the latter case, the major point at issue, one suspects, is that their product gets advertised by those drinking it. Why else, for example, would Kwak come in a round bottomed flask which can only be put down on its accompanying wooden retort stand? Quite.

I was intrigued, therefore, to receive news of Duvel's latest innovation: a subtly engraved swash Duvel D in the bottom of their tulip goblets. Its purpose? To preserve the head and the sparkle of the beer. So does it do the job?

To discover the truth, this intrepid tester poured a number of Duvel samples into a variety of shaped glasses: tall ones, fat ones, round bowled and flat. One, of course, was the engraved Duvel special. Was I sceptical? I generally am. Was I won over? On two accounts.

The engraved glass certainly kept a definite spritz in the drink for longer. Duvel is a deceptively alcoholic heavyweight among beers and not for superquick quaffing. In the wrong glass the beer did tend to turn a bit flabby and dull, with its maltiness deadening the alluring pear skin elements it also boasts. The Duvel D glass visibly displayed a more energetic stream of bubbles and exhibited a much livelier, spritzier palate that was far more supple and alive.

It also kept its head alive markedly better, making a considerably more attractive glassful. A disintegrating Duvel head leaves its remnants rather like scummy dissipating soap suds in well-used washing up water. Not an endearing sight.

So there we have it. Just a gimmick? No. Worth the investment? At around £4 a chunky stem, it won't break the bank (or itself that easily). Ultimately, I guess it all depends on how much Duvel you're likely to drink.

Poach pods

Following hair-free pastry brushes and heat resistant flexible spatulas, and the more questionable manipulation of silicone for madeleine and cannelé moulds (surely the metal-induced golden crunch is a sine qua non here?) it's a wonder it took so long for silicone egg-poaching pods to muscle in on the ranks of the modern batterie de cuisine.

Now if your back garden boasts an eggloo chicken run, and you rush your eggs from hen to pan; if you’ve perfected the proportion of vinegar to water and your wrist action is second to none, you won’t want to give these floppy pouches any of your precious kitchen space. Unless of course you use them to create frittatas and crustless quiches; or custard creams and pannacottas; or simply nicely proportioned ice-cream domes (at 75ml comfortable fill volume, each pod turns out an ideal proportion of a rich pud).

There again, whipping up a mean hollandaise with your right hand while whisking poaching water with your left may not be your idea of a restful Sunday morning. In which case a fiver for two of these foolproof-as-dammit widgets will seem your best investment in a long while.

Here’s the method: bring some water to the boil in a saucepan or sauté pan – about 4cm depth is fine. Smear a little oil round the inside of each pod with your thumb, or a scrap of kitchen paper. Break an egg into each pod (they’re wonderfully stable simply sitting on a work surface) and use the handy raised ‘flaps’ to lift the pods into the simmering water. Cover with a lid (transparent is best, so you can easily check progress) and after four minutes the whites should be solid, with an opaque film covering runny yolks. 2 more minutes for a firmer yolk – though much depends of course of whether you refrigerate your eggs, and buy small or large, and so on. But you’ll work out your perfection very quickly. When done, lift the floating pods out by the raised flaps (you can use a slotted spoon as suggested but really there’s no need), run the tip of a knife or a teaspoon round the edge of each egg and invert the pod(s) onto a plate, or buttered muffin, or whatever.  Beautiful dome, no wispy bits, no waste.

You could, ahem, use the pods to microwave your eggs instead. In fact you could bake eggs in the pods (being silicone, they’re tolerant of pretty extreme cold and heat; of dishwashers too, though I can’t see the point in this instance). You’ll probably be much more inventive. But if you put them through no more paces than poaching, they’ll still make you glad you’re alive in the 21st century.

Available from Lakeland, AmazonWaitrose and Presents for Men (!).