Life In Sugar and her Amazing Cakes!

I've recently been doing some photo and video work for Laura Dodimead, also known as @life_in_sugar for her competition piece at Cake International this weekend. For the category "pushing the boundaries" she made an extraordinary representation of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip playing on George and Charlotte's christmas presents. She won a gold medal and came second overall! She has also won three other gold awards in the last year and won Kirstie Allsop's Christmas Cake Competition in 2015.

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She is entirely self taught, which I believe allows her creativity to express itself fantastically, as it has never been formed in the mould of formal education. Laura started making cakes ten years ago, following the birth of her eldest daughter. She is teaching a course this year on christmas cakes and toppers, in her amazing studio near Farnham, Surrey and has many more courses planned. The level of detail and the quality of work in her creations is truly exceptional, and something I worked hard to capture in the photos and video presented here.

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For more information, please email her at l.rana@hotmail.co.uk, or check out her Facebook site. A few of the photos and videos can now be found in my Food Gallery. Thanks for reading and remember to subscribe to keep up to date with the latest news.

The (fully) Peated Balvenie

A few years ago I wrote an article on a Balvenie release; Peated Cask, 17 Years Old. I was able to ask a few question sof the Balvenie Ambassador, Dr Andrew Forrester. At that time, clearly Balvenie was already making a peated run, but the whisky used for the peated cask used malt brought in from another malting - he said at that point that perhaps it would be used for a full peated expression, but he couldn't say for sure... a few years down the line and a purebred peated Balvenie has finally been released.

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Balvenie run a weeks worth of heavily peated (30ppm phenols, for the peatgeeks out there) barley through their own malting floor each year, a practice which started back in 2002. This Peat Week release is a single malt from that initial run, aged in ex bourbon casks for 14 years. The peat they use is from North Pitsligo, a small area about 40 miles North East of the distillery and so is very much Highland peat - differing massively from the more widely seen island peat, so immediately recognisable in the Islay malts. This peat has a far greater proportion of non-phenolic bio-matter, resulting in a smoky, earthy taste, rather than the Islay's famous medicinal notes.

This is a superb whisky, beautigfully combining the traditional honey forward notes of The Balvenie, with a rich smokiness that carries through. One could even place a few slightly citrus notes in there too, perhaps bringing an "'all in one' hot toddy" element to Peat Week, medicinal in its own unique way.

A Sojourn to Greece

I've just returned for 10 days in the Mani Peninsula, mainland Greece, in a village called Kardamyli. It was a truly amazing experience. This time, we decided to explore the local area on foot and by paddleboard, but last year we explored more of the peninsula by car. I would thoroughly recommend it as a destination! Was a very calming break, spending a lot of time on the beach, stacking stones and watching people. Back to real life again now...

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I hope you like the photos and video, to see more, head over to the Travel section.

A Trip to Cornwall

I've updated the Travel section of Takes with photos from my most recent trip to Cornwall and a trip last year. We were in and around the Rock/Padstow area and got a chance to explore the amazing beaches! i also learnt (if you can call it that) to surf... The whole area is astonishingly beautiful, and it makes me wonder why it took me so long to explore the area!

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To see more, just head over to the Travel gallery, and have a look!

A wet and muddy Yoga Session...

I spent a very wet and muddy Sunday evening with Charlotte Temple this week, filming and photographing a few of her yoga flows, to help her develop her portfolio for her website. She was an exemplary model, willing to literally get her hands dirty for photographs that she felt best expressed her work.

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The videos are available on her instagram, and will be available on her website as soon as it's updated. More of the photographs are now in my fitness gallery.

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Good things are coming...

I'll be using this page to update you with any additions to my website, any events, tastings or presentations I'll be giving and finally any generally newsworthy type news that I wish to impart... However, at the moment, the biggest news is the launch of my website, my branding and general rebirth of all things Little Tipple. keep your eyes peeled!

ben matthews