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20 July 2012

The past is brought to life in Alan Coxon's historic vinegars

Photo: © childsdesign

With twinkling eyes and a disarming smile, Alan Coxon is a man brimming with enthusiasm and a head full of interesting food and history facts. Some would say he is the Stephen Fry of the culinary world.
We have ‘known’ him since the 90s when he was on many television cooking programmes. We finally got to meet Alan giving one of his informative and engaging cookery demonstrations last year at Woburn Food & Crafts Festival.

Being introduced to his range of vinegars was a real eye-opener. They are based on some of the oldest recipes in culinary history and are the direct result of Alan’s unerring quest to dig into ancient history and uncover long-since forgotten concoctions. Alan is every bit a food archaeologist – there's little he does not know about the world’s food heritage.

It has taken Alan Coxon a decade to create and perfect the vinegars.
The lengthy research, even down to the development of the bottle design,
all carried out by Alan, prompted him to remortgage his house. It has been a long hard road, but his determination has finally brought to fruition some truly special products.

Photo: © childsdesign
The Roman Vinaigre™
After much research Alan’s influences for the Roman Vinaigre™ were derived from three of Ancient Rome's greatest gastronomes.

All three were named Apicious and lived during the rise of Julius and Augustus Caesar, Emperors Tiberius and Trajan. By the end of the first century AD the name Apicious had become a symbol of wealth and all of the good things in life.

The Roman Vinaigre™ is made using quality wine, brewed naturally and then infused with some of Ancient Rome's favourite spices.

Warming flavours such as cinnamon, hints of camomile and a touch of peppercorn, sweetened by one of the oldest sugars known to man, honey which was a favourite and much used ingredient during the Roman period. It is warming both on the palate and the nose oozing herbs and spices, fruit and floral undertones.

Because of the slightly spicy nature, Roman Vinaigre™, we found that it works very well with pork and chicken and it is superb as a dressing for salads. Nothing else is required, not even oil, as all the flavour is there.
It is particularly wonderful drizzled over sliced nectarines with parma ham.
Perfect for no-fuss marinades, and when simmered to reduce it to a thick drizzling glaze, it transforms plain old vanilla ice cream into something luxuriously decadent.

Photo: © childsdesign
Ancient Greek Vinaigre™
The Ancient Greeks were historically respected far and wide as leaders in the culinary field and Alan has taken cues from Ancient Greek cuisine which were honey, vinegar, fish sauce and a few carefully balanced herbs and spices to produce his Ancient Greek Vinaigre™. The secret to their cuisine was to balance the sweetness with the bitter, the sour and sometimes, the unusual. The Ancient Greeks were elegant in style and hand and would only add three or four spices or herbs to a dish at any one time, as opposed to Roman recipes which could have had as many as 10 strong flavourings.

For his Ancient Greek Vinaigre™, Alan has taken a route of balance and simplicity, while bringing out the individual flavours. The sweetness comes from the vine fruits, a slight bitterness from the coriander and a clean, fresh acidity from the wine. The aroma is light, fruity and fragrant. Alan claims, “It is befitting of a Greek goddess and possibly why it is a favourite of the ladies!” and adds, “This true wine vinegar will give you a kick and kiss at the same time.” He’s certainly right and although it does give a kick it is not overpowering or sharply acidic. The ‘kick’ is wow factor.
Alan informs us that The Ancient Greeks certainly placed a value on the power of their vinegar and sipped it before competing in the very first Olympics.

This vinaigre lends itself well to oriental style dishes and can be used to replace rice wine vinegar. The flavour is perfectly balanced to create a pleasing sweet and sour sauce. Try using as a marinade for fish or poultry,
in salad dressings, the sky’s the limit. It even complements sweet dishes too.

About the Bottle
An artisan product needs a suitable and equally artisan container.
After looking around for readymade bottles that had a historical look,
Alan found they were all too archetypal, too Disney-esque. Alan set about designing the bottles himself as he wanted something that looked old yet modern. From his sketch, he got a glassblower to reproduce the shape in three dimensional form and from that a mould was made. They are made from heavy glass with a frosted section around the neck. The shape feels good in the hand – substantial and elegant conveying the high quality of the product within and they can be re-used for another purpose.

We are pleased to give Alan Coxon ‘Artisan Food Trail Approved’ status for his Roman Vinaigre™ and Ancient Greek Vinaigre™

Mediaeval Old English 15th Century Ale-Gar™
We’ve yet to fully test Alan’s Ale-Gar™ but from the mini taste we tried at a food show it was impressive to say the least.
After ten years of development and research, Alan has created a unique product which could be the British rival to balsamic vinegar.
Deeply dark in colour with hints of chocolate, cinnamon and roasted malt, Ale-Gar™ is rich, smooth and certainly individual in character.
We have now approved the Ale-Gar and you can read the article here.

For more information about Alan Coxon see his page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here

Order directly from foodbyalancoxon.com

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