Wednesday, 23 March 2016

A Slice of Heaven in Copenhagen - The American Pie Company

Copenhagen is city spoilt for choice when in comes to quality konditories & bakeries, so much so that one almost gets cinnamon bun fatigue... tough times indeed! However, I recently discovered something a little different that revived my jaded tastebuds - The American Pie Company. I caught up with owner Grace Lovig to find out more.

A Family Affair

Grace makes all her own pies in the shop, from scratch. Every time I go in the shop she emerges smiling from the kitchen smiling through a cloud of flour. As  a baker Grace is clearly passionate about what she does. So, what inspired it all? 

"My great grandmother started a small resort called Wilson's Camp Prattville in Lake Almanor to feed and lodge the gold miners & loggers of the time. She was a fantastic cook. Her pies were pretty good too. My grandfather took over when she died and he just happened to have a wife who was an amazing pie maker. The restaurant part of the resort is still run by my grandmother Carol and the resort is run by my brother. People travel miles for a taste of her pies. I spent my summers there working in the kitchen. After college I did a small stint at CIA , California Culinary Academy, but most of my practical training was done at the Ritz Carlton Mauna Lani and Campton Place, San Francisco. I left the food industry after my daughter was born and ran a production company for 15 years. Last year and decided it was time to return to my true love - food."
A true love that inspired Grace to swap the sunny West Coast of America for chilly Copenhagen. 
"I met some exchange students at University of Oregon from Denmark, Norway and Sweden. I hooked up with them when I decided to come to Europe to travel. And every time I left I ended up missing it and returning. Met a Danish man, married, had a child, got a dog, bought a house in the suburbs, same ol, same ol, blah blah and then ditched the guy, kept the kid and the dog and moved back to the city!!!! Big changes, all of which included the birth of the American Pie Company."

The American Pie Company

A New Path in Life - The Bad Ass Baker

Grace has dreamed of opening a bricks & mortar pie shop since she wrote the cook book 'American Pie' with her business partner Erin. 
"The Danes loved our take on having fun cooking American sweets and pies. After running my own production company for too many years I felt i wanted to take a new path in my life. I knew I wanted to return to food, so I started putting the thoughts in motion, looking for kitchens and talking to people in the industry. I started creating the energy to make the dream come alive. I had no idea how it would unfold but i knew it would somehow."
 A meeting with one of Erin's clients, Dorte, a huge fan of Americana, gave them their next business partner and the stimulus to get the ball rolling. As Grace says,
"we both felt that the gods had just handed us the missing part of what now makes up the all woman triage of The American Pie Company. Erin Chapman has owned an advertising agency for many years here in CPH. She is known as the Pie Pusher. She handles all PR and Marketing and design. Dorte Pripp is our CEO. She is a business powerhouse. And me…. I am the pie lady otherwise known as the Bad Ass Baker."

Everything We Love In One Dish

So, what inspires Grace's recipes?

"Everything inspires me. Often I have dreams of what pies i am going to conjure up. More often than not I draw my inspiration from peoples desires. People desire, and I mean desire, chocolate and caramel and salt and fresh fruit and butter and sugar. Its never hard for me come up with a new combination or revisit some of our oldest and most loved American staples and add a Gracie twist to it. Thats the great thing about Pie. Its everything we love all in one pan."

On a recent visit I tested out Grace's Pecan & Bourbon Pie - a normal pecan tart is one of my favourite sweet treats, but add bourbon to a  deep pie? It was fantastic. The pastry was just right and the bourbon helped to take the edge off the sweetness.

As this is Denmark Grace also has a Cinnamon Breakfast Pie as a staple on the menu - a kind of familiar safety net for the wary Danish palate! The pie just melts as you eat it - all the best components of Danish & American baking rolled in to one dish.

Fear not if you don't have a sweet tooth - there are also savoury pies on the menu - the Chicken & Thyme is highly recommended.

Tempted to pay a visit? You should be. The shop is on Skindegade in the centre town. Find out more here.

Friday, 4 March 2016

OldBlue Co. Duck Canvas Jacket

When people think of quality selvedge denim what automatically pops in to the mind is Japan or the USA.

However, there’s some great things coming out of places like Indonesia. One such label is Oldblue Co.

New Utility - Old Blue Duck Canvas Jacket

Can a Man Have Too Many Jackets?

Founded in 2010, Oldblue Co. is, perhaps unsurprisingly, inspired by work wear of the late 1800's to the 1950's. The label take a lot of their styling from Levi’s Vintage Clothing (LVC.)

I’d been on the look out for a duck canvas jacket for a while so when I saw this one I knew it had to be part of my collection. I must admit here that I own far too much denim... I couldn't justify buying more of the indigo stuff, so duck canvas seemed like a good compromise.

New Utility - Old Blue Duck Canvas Jacket

An Alternative to Levi's

As with the LVC original, the first jacket the company ever made in 1878, the key features of the garment are characterized by the triple pleats front and back with box stitching, round bottom pockets (with no arcuates) and a cinch back. The waistband has a little tilt on it, so shorter in length at the back than the front.

New Utility - Old Blue Duck Canvas Jacket

Old Blue added their own details to the jacket. The front pockets are larger and they’ve added a hidden pocket on the left chest. All the seams are felled for added strength. There’s black selvedge line detailing on the hang loop and down the centre seam.

The cut is also more like a modern jacket, longer than the original vintage blouse, cut to sit on the hips.

You Want Duck?

For fabric Oldblue Co. use an 11oz brown duck selvedge. (It says 12oz on the label and 11oz other site, I suspect the former is the post wash weight.)

The duck fabric is produced by Cone Mills, their famous vintage shuttle looms using single continuous threads to produce a tighter, heavier and more durable fabric. (The same mill where the bulk of LVC’s fabric is produced.)
This duck fabric starts out quite rigid and gets heavier after it’s first soak

For the hardware Old Blue have used Japanese made 100% copper washers - burr rivets and silver "Laurel Leaf" iron plated doughnut buttons. The custom-made brass cinch back hardware is made in Indonesia, and given an antique copper finish.

New Utility - Old Blue Duck Canvas Jacket

The leather patch is a bison hide imported from its origin, USA. According to Old Blue it varies in thickness, 3-4 oz on average, or 1.4 – 1.6 mm. Genuine American bison leather is more than 40% stronger than the traditional cowhide and known for its strength and durability. Compared to the cowhide, bison leather grain is more pronounced, and the fibers are also thicker.

New Utility - Old Blue Duck Canvas Jacket

The fabric sanforised, however after a first soak there's just under a centimetre of shrinkage on the sleeves and the jacket in now nice and snug across the chest.

So, the verdict? This is great little jacket and very well made. I hope labels like this grow and thrive to make the denim industry, or the selvedge part of it at least, a more diverse place.

The jacket is available from Oldblue Co. here.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Weekend Man-Food - Spiced Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

As regular readers will know I've been away with the British Army for a long while and, horror of horrors, have had to subsist on the slop provided by their civilian contractors for the last year. The MOD should be utterly ashamed of what it feeds its troops, but I digress.

Well, I'm home now and have had an emotional reunion with my kitchen! So, here's the first Weekend Manfood post for a long time. I had this at a restaurant last year whilst nursing the mother of all hangovers after a friends' wedding. I knew immediately I had make this dish at home.

I give you meat stuffed with cheese... or mozzerella stuffed meatballs.

Meat. Cheese. Oh yes!

Assemble the following:

500g beef mince
100g chorizo, diced in to small cubes
1 hunk mozzarella, diced in to small cubes
250ml bread crumbs
100ml milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbs of Herbs de Provence
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground garlic
1tsp ground black pepper
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes

Throw the whole lot in to a large glass bowl and mix thoroughly.

Form the meat in to ball and press the mozzarella cube in to the centre and re form.

Brown the meatballs in a large pan, then pour in some tomato sauce. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer partially covered for an hour. (I have to admit I cheated here and used a jar of ready-made passata but it's easy enough to make your own sauce.)

Serve with penne. Simple as that. Have a good weekend chaps.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Andersen-Andersen Seamen Sweater - Italian Looks, Danish Heritage.

After nearly 25 years of faithful service my original Channel Island made guernsey pull-over has been relegated to 'old work jumper' status.

Looking for a smarter replacement (read: not full of holes) I immediately thought of Danish knitwear label ANDERSEN-ANDERSEN - a label I came across at a Copenhagen fashion show in 2014 and had mentally filed away for future reference.

Yep, it's a grey jumper, but a jolly well made one.
ANDERSEN-ANDERSEN is a small family run company founded in 2009 by Product Developer Cathrine Lundgren-Andersen and Art Director Peter Kjaer-Andersen. The company arose from the idea of making one durable and classic sailors sweater.

Today the collection has grown to 7 styles. The one which caught my eye was The Seaman, perhaps unsurprisingly very similar in style, construction and fit to my faithful guernsey. 
Long ribbed cuffs
The wool is single knit seven-gauge 100% new merino, sourced from South America. In collaboration with their Italian spinning mill the company developed its own yarn, now used for all their wool sailor sweaters. The extra spun fibres and the fact the yarn is made of pure new merino wool, makes it both soft and durable. The sweaters are then knitted by another small family concern in Northern Italy.
The detailing and construction is simple, but spot on - the bottom, collar & cuffs are all ribbed with thumb holes in the latter. For strength all seams are bar-tacked. 
The fit is pleasingly slim, making it an ideal base layer - the symmetrical cut means it can be chucked on quickly either way - this jumper may be stylish but the working sailor's heritage is clear to see.

ANDERSEN-ANDERSEN have their flagship store in Copenhagen, but I bought my jumper from that treasure trove of heritage fashion Maritime Antiques - a must visit for any vintage minded chap if you're in town. Yours for 1,200 dkk.
(All images courtesy of ANDERSEN-ANDERSEN.)

Monday, 1 February 2016

Gentlemen's Undergarments - JBS Underwear

When you realise that some of your t-shirts are older than your 11 year-old step daughter it is perhaps a good time to upgrade.

Such was the case with me last month, so off I went to the sales looking to replace some of my more worn long-sleeve undershirts.

Founded by Jens Bjerg Sørensen, Danish company JBS have been making quality underwear since the start of World War II. Today the company is still family run and employs 300 people; and as the blurb on the company website has it, they are one of Denmark's leading underwear manufacturers.

JBS Undershirt -

Their Classic range is a good place to start for those looking to keep out the chill of a seemingly endless winter.

In terms of workmanship and production it's spot on, though nothing particularly special compared to for example the premium loopwheel construction of Buzz Rickson's cottons - just a decent well made ribbed cotton undershirt for everyday wear. The contrasting white stitching on the non white versions and plain cotton button placket are nice touches too.

JBS Undershirt -

Aside from the traditional plain white and black the undershirts are available in several colours. I plumbed for navy blue, grey and coral red - these all look perfect underneath a heavy denim or chambray shirt.

Apparently the company are now doing an a range endorsed by the association footballer Christiano Ronaldo, but please don't let that put you off.

JBS Undershirt -

Find out more here.