thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


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October Fest

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I was not living it up in Germany this October, partaking of large steins of beer as the title of the blog might suggest.  October however was a bit of a food fest for the Grumbling Tummy collective.  Mind you I am not sure which month is not a food fest for us!

The first week of October found us perched on cliffs in a rather fabulous caravan just outside Filey on the Yorkshire coast.  It was a holiday of tromping along windswept beaches and revisiting sentimental spots such as Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay.  Ah that sounds romantic! It was also a holiday of swimming pools, penny arcades, water zorbing and of course EATING far too much!

HUMBLE PIE AND THE BLITZ

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Whitby is one of my favourite destinations of all time for a winter break and the first place we make a bee line for on arrival is a very small restaurant near the harbour called Humble Pie.  Humble pie as the name would suggest sells pies and the odd plate of sausage and mash.  That is pretty much yer lot –  but oh what pies they sell. From your traditional steak and kidney & mince and onion through to lamb and mint, homity and  feta and roast vegetable.  Pies here are served as they ought to be  – with mash, gravy and a choice of beans or mushy peas and the correct way to accompany this meal is with a steaming hot mug of Yorkshire tea.  It is really the best start to an autumnal break.  I opted for a mince and onion pie with and gravy and as always it was splendid.  They don’t have much choice but it is all about perfecting the e pies and they are damned good at what they do.

Humble Pie is brim full of nostalgia from a bygone era, a theme embraced by another Whitby eatery.  The Blitz cafe is a 1940s war time themed cafe complete with Glen Miller drifting from an old Wurlitzer juke box and interesting interior decor which includes sandbags piled up the walls.  For a concept cafe the food was surprisingly good as often such places are all style and no substance.  Aside from having a bit of a random tapas menu,  the theme of the menu is firmly set in WW2.  There are goodies such as bread and dripping,  the battle ground ration board  (ham, cheese, bread, apple and pickles) and ration bags for mini evacuees which included sandwiches, fruit, cake and juice. I plumped for the Welsh Rarebit which is something you don’t see very much these days and it was absolutely delicious.  Huge hunks of bread with bubbling hot melted spiced cheese.  Not sure what they used for flavouring – mustard for sure,  Henderson’s relish perhaps.  What I do know  is that this tasty dish was more than enough to put a smile on my face and provide the fuel needed to get me up the 99 steps to Whitby Abbey.

PROSECCO LUNCH CLUB AT SEASONS

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A LARGE VENISON FILLED RAVIOLI

Back on home ground for a much posher affair with the Prosecco Lunch Club.  We are 4 pals who meet once every two months for a spot of lunch and fizz.  There are rules too …… oh yes there are! So shared interest of food and fizz and a rule and we have us a club.  This month we went to a little restaurant in Edinburgh’s Broughton Street called Seasons.  I was led to believe that this was an unconventional eatery in that we would be given a list of seasonal ingredients to choose from and then a dish would be created – voila!  A bit like Can’t Cook Won’t Cook for toffs. This was not the case for lunches sadly,  so instead we chose from a rather lovely small lunch menu which came at a very reasonable price.

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I THINK THIS IS WHAT WE CALL A DECONSTRUCTED DESSERT

Before I launch into the food,  a  little bit about the restaurant itself.  It very intimate with a  warm Nordic vibe – incredibly tasteful and simple really. Strangely for a Saturday afternoon in the heart of our capital – there was nobody else dining there.  I can only assume that it attracts  food loving couples who flock there of an evening to gaze at each other by candlelight.  Either that or it is actually a restaurant for vampires – take your pick. It is certainly is not the food that was keeping the crowds at bay – for that was very very good indeed.

We all chose smoked duck to start (In house smoked duck – mushroom & black truffle salsa,  blackcurrant,  lamb sorrel,  Scottish brambles) and there were squeals of delight (OK that was just from me) when the duck arrived underneath a little cloche filled with smoke.  It was all very theatrical and Hestonesque when the cloche was removed and the smoke escaped.  We would have applauded if we have not been coughing in unison.  To be honest it was impressive and that duck was moist and tender to a fault.  The intense smokey flavouring was perfectly balanced by the fruit.  All in all a great start.

I then moved onto venison ravioli.  It was actually a single whopping ravioli filled with venison and it was truly delicious. Tender and seasoned to perfection,  it was served with a delightful sauce which was only a tad on the foamy side.  I generally loathe foam on a menu.  I feel (and please excuse my lack of finesse on this matter) that is looks like spit on my food.  Best to be an honest blogger!  However this main course merely hinted at foam without offending me and it tasted wonderful.

My dessert as you can see resembled a deconstructed cheesecake affair full of chocolate soil and dehydrated shards of raspberry.  We were a few wines in at this point therefore the finer points of this course dessert me – boom boom!  Safe to say it tasted heavenly.

With the beautifully presented and unfaltering flavoursome food, the attentive service and pleasant surroundings I would find it hard to find fault with Seasons.  It is a cut above the rest of the non-Michelin brigade but had the feel of a restaurant striving for that status. The only problem for a greedy blogger for me was the portion sizes.  Modest portions have me running for a burger on the way home but as I say – I am just rather on the greedy side.

BUMPER CROPS AND ZOMBIES

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I decided that this summer I was going to grow vegetables for the first time ever and embarked on project tomato.  Easy the Dobbies lady said ….. cannot fail she said.  And you know what?  She was right – in a way.  So I planted the little seeds and before long they sprouted and I was like a proud parent cooing and bragging to everybody who would listen. There were 30 plants in total and I loved them all, chatting to them and feeding them until they were big enough for a second round of re-potting. Bursting with pride I decided it was time to share my good fortune. I kept 10 plants for myself and split the rest between two friends.  My 10 plants grew and grew but alas no flowers appeared.  After an aborted attempt at sheltering them in a temporary greenhouse which fell foul of a gale force wind, I was left with 5 plants and still no flowers.  Finally one little solitary flower on one plant appeared.  I was beyond excited, my faith had been restored.  In the mean time the other 20 plants which had been adopted, were growing like bloody triffids and drooping with the weight of all of the beautiful tomatoes sprouting like wildfire.  Bitter – hell yes!  So here it is, my bumper crop.  One beautiful round red cherry tomato, eaten in a tuna salad on a Friday lunchtime.  It was wonderful.  I am still finding it hard to come to terms with the other treacherous 20 plants but I am getting there.  Counselling helps!

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Do you ever look at pinterest?  Does this not remind you of a classic  pinterest fail?  It is actually from the ASDA magazine and these beauties in case you didn’t know are Sausage Mummies.  Embracing Halloween I decided that I would attempt some mummy, daughter cooking.  As always with mummy/daughter pursuits there is a huge gulf between how I imagine the task unfolding and how it actually unfolds.  After 6 years I still have not got to grips with the fact that the romantic magazine notion of crafting/cooking with your kids is a big fat lie.  You know the one – where they are smiling and engaged, with perhaps a cute splodge of icing on their nose which mum wipes whilst laughing gaily.  Here is how it goes in our house.

Me: Hey look at these, aren’t they fab?  Shall we make them together  N: yeah!

Then after eagerly buying the ingredients (mayo, frankfurters and puff pastry)

Me: OK honey are we ready to make these mummies?  N: I am watching My Little Pony  Me: well why don’t we put that off and do this together  N: you just do it and I will eat them Me: muttered expletives not fit for blog

So I bugger about with the pastry and the sausages on my own and then cook them but the mayonnaise makes them look like depressed mummies – which is ironic!  Anyway I suppose I ought to be grateful that she ate them.  Harumph!

That’s all for October Folks.  November round up coming soon where I swoon over a new restaurant discovery in St Andrews …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Vive la France!

 

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Mireille Guiliano famously wrote a book some years ago entitled ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’.  I’ve read the book and think that she may have forgotten to mention the magical willpower of the average French woman.  I am not big on willpower and  I was well on the way getting very tubby following two weeks eating in France. It is the only explanation I can think of!

Our French adventure was in the Calvados region of France in beautiful Normandy.  B was ecstatic as to him it was all about trundling round WW2 museums and seeing lots of tanks and gunning placements, whereas for me it was all about mucking  around on stunning beaches and eating lots and lots of food.

France has often been hailed as one of the great food centres of Europe, however until now I have been seriously underwhelmed.  In Paris we sat through several bad meals and indeed my only fond food memory from the French capital was a rather fine Croque Monsieur served without fuss in a simple café.  In Carcassonne the food was no doubt wonderful, but as I’m not a fan of cassoulet I was rather out on a foodie limb in that particular region.

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Normandy was a game changer as far as my ratings of French cuisine goes.  All along the spectacular coast there are a string of beautiful seaside towns, unsullied by arcades and the‘taps aff’ brigade. The beaches are stunning and all about wholesome seaside fun – think sandcastles, kite flying, swimming, candy floss and boules.  The pretty resorts most importantly are also  littered with great places to eat  …. and eat we did.

Here are a few of the highlights for your digestion…

THE NOT SO HUMBLE CREPE

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As we were just along the coast from the  Brittany, home of crepes, we did expect them to be rather on the good side and we were not disappointed.

Some notes about this very French speciality – first off a crepe has a sweet filling, those with savoury fillings are called galettes. I ate both in abundance. Second interesting fact is that most of the galettes in Normandy are made with buckwheat flour, which is gluten free.  This allowed me to ignore the cream and cheese involved in some of the fillings and focus on the fact that it sounded healthy – it ought to be noted that most of my crepes included cream and indeed cheese in some form or fashion.

There were many, many fillings to choose from but my BFF crepe was filled with crème fraiche, potatoes, lardons, onions and mushrooms,  and I am betting a hefty daud of garlic too.  I ate this particular offering all over Normandy – from the delightful Le Crabbe Vert in St Aubin sur Mer all the way to the best example in a café in Bayeux.

The wee grumbling tum is notoriously hideous at eating on holiday, normally zoning in on one food stuff she will deign to eat for the entire trip.  This holiday we lucked out with her decision to  eat two types of food, once of which was Crepe with Nutella.  She ate this daily and as she has a little tiny tummy, mummy often had to help out – shucks!

The best crepe I sampled was in the lovely Crab Vert restaurant in St Aubin Sur Mer. topped with beautiful freshly stewed apples and calvados.  We are not talking a hint of calvados in this after dinner treat – it was full on blow your head off calvados – and it was rather splendid.

THE CIDRE

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When in Normandy!  With around 600 cidre producers in this region and hand painted road signs directing you to where you can buy and taste every few miles, there is little doubt that this is Normandy’s national drink.  This is a part of the Norman culture that I embraced with open mouth!  I like cidre anyway but the Normandy version seemed so much better than the brands available in Scotland.  Not overly fizzy yet not flat like scrumpy – somewhere pleasingly in-between. Or maybe it was just the sunshine!

Coming in three varieties – dry, sweet and corked (twice fermented with more sparkle) – cidre is not traditionally served in a glass but in a bowl.  A cidre bowl is rather like a large round coffee mug or a small soup bowl.  I am not sure if this enhances the taste but it sure is fun.  As with most local drinks when travelling, cidre is pretty cheap to buy and we were well stocked up for the whole trip ……. and beyond.

We were however a little over-enthusiastic on our return and have run dry, so if you are planning a trip to Normandy …… could you?

THE MOULES AND FRITES

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Normandy is a haven for lovers of Moules et Frites.  I have never in my life eaten as many mussels. I pretty much stuck to the same version of this classic every time I ordered– Moules Normandie. This is a variation of the classic mussels and white wine, instead the  mussels are served with cream, onions and cidre. Everywhere I tasted this the mussels were  beautifully plump, amazingly fresh and the sauce was to die for.  Perfectly crispy frites were reserved for dipping in the creamy sauce, it really is the best of all foods.

There is a garlic version of this dish which I attempted one evening and trust me when the French feel the need to include the word garlic in the description of a meal it is Def Con One on the garlic breath alert.  I spent the rest of the night trying hard NOT to speak to anybody and there was definitely no snogging for me.

If you like mussels (and I do) then you will never ever be disappointed in a Normandy restaurant.

THE CAKE

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The discovery of a particular pink patisserie in the heart of the beautiful city of Bayeaux was when it all went wrong for me.  It was the beginning of the end of any pretence that I was trying to be healthy.  This particular patisserie was a sight to behold –  beautifully decorated in bright fuchsia candy stripes, pink regency style chairs, elaborate plump feather cushions and the largest patisserie counter I have ever seen.  We were dumbfounded and incapable of any decision making.  The poor waitress had the  patience of a saint as we asked a 6 year old to choose from about 100 sweet treats (eidgets!).  It all became rather stressful at one point.

Eventually I settled on an almond cake which was divine.  Sweet perfection.  The game was now a bogey as far as a cakeless trip was concerned and this was the first on many sweet downfalls …….. the first is always the best!

THE CAMEMBERT

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The official cheese of Normandy – Camembert.  If you are going to have an official cheese then what a variety to have.  Camembert is served up in so many different ways in Normandy – from crepe fillings and moules camembert to salads, whole baked cheeses and pizza toppings!

My all time favourite Camembert creation was in a restaurant  in the beautiful town of Honfleur.  We sat by the harbour in the baking sun drinking ice cold cidre and eating a gorgeous crisp fresh salad topped with pieces of Camembert lovingly wrapped in filo pastry and deep fried  until the filo was warm and crisp and the cheese was molten.  The salad was topped with salty warm bacon. The best use of Camembert ever!

THE SUPERMARKETS

It is impossible to ‘whizz’ around a French supermarket or ‘pop in quickly’.  French supermarkets are there to be savoured and one must take ones time drinking in all the delicious food there is on offer.  We were relatively near a Hyper U and spent more time than is normal wandering around the ailes.  The cheeses, the array of cold cuts, the riot of colour in fresh produce, the wine, the cidre.  In an ideal world I would have dumped the husband and the kid  for an hour or two, and spend a few hours procuring items to take home with me in a spare suitcase sized cooler.  A girl can dream can’t she.

BEST OF THE REST

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Never underestimate the beauty of the simple croque monsieur.  I have had several and they never disappoint. Okay I do admit that this is really a glorified cheese and ham toastie but glorified it is none the less. The cheese is a fabulous gruyere, the ham is generally of superb quality, the bread is sweet and fluffy and it is fried up with a bubbling bechemal on the top. I find it hard to knock the humble croque monsieur.

In Arromanches I had the most wonderful Tarte Tatin I have ever tasted (not that I have tasted that many).  The pastry was so light and airy and the apples were ludicrously fresh and sweet. All of  that plus caramel and a dusting of icing sugar – divine.

In Falais, home to William the Conqueror I ate the most divine cheese cake of my life . The key was in the base which seemed to be made from a buttery salted caramel biscuit.  It was simultaneously crunchy, moist, sweet and salty.  This was a show stopper.

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I could of course go on …… but I am sure you have read enough so I will leave things there. Suffice say that the food in Normandy possibly surpassed Italy and that is saying something.  We are returning to France next year – this time to Brittany – watch this space….

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Feast Time at Tony Macaroni

 

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There has been a bit of a lull on the old blogging front, but I  am back following an invite from the lovely people at Tony Macaroni in Dunfermline.

I have been to Tony Macaronis on a number of occasions and not just in Dunfermline, my macaroni net has been spread far and wide –  from St Andrews and Livingston to Edinburgh and back again.  I am well acquainted one might say.

We popped along to the Dunfermline branch last Sunday evening, not traditionally the busiest night for a Dunfermline eatery.  We were therefore extremely surprised and pleased to see that it was choc-a-bloc with happy pizza/pasta lovin’ families and couples munching away as far as the eye could see.  I love a full house – not only does it suggest that the food is good but you know that the inevitable capers of your lively 6 year old will go largely unnoticed, which is always a relief.

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Tony Macaroni’s Dunfermline restaurant is a relatively new affair, situated within Fife Leisure Park, but with 11 sister restaurants under their belt I reckon this crew know what they are doing. Righty ho –  six words to describe the restaurant:  warm, friendly, pristine, kiddie-friendly, airy, Italian.  In short it is perfect for families like us who want somewhere comfortable to take mini GT whilst still feeling like we are in a proper grown up environment.

Onto the main event …… the food

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We decided to eat from the Sunday Presto Menu.  Often menus which offer special deals are limited in their choice, not so at Tony Macaraonis.  I have no idea what extras are available on the a-la-cart menu but there really is no need to find out as the Presto menu is extensive to say the least.

First up prosecco.  I like a wee drink as soon as I can. Any parents out there with ‘spirited children’ who are not fond of eating will understand why this is necessary when eating out, it seems to help.

I ordered:

Funghi Fritti – Mushrooms coated in crispy golden breadcrumbs stuffed with cheese, served with garlic mayonnaise. Followed by Roast Pork Belly – stuffed with Italian sausage, served with sautéed potatoes and for the record I topped it off with delightful desert of thin shards of puff pastry with creme Anglais and chocolate sauce and washed it down with a few glasses of Multipluciano.

 

B ordered Arancino Carne – Traditional deep fried Italian rice balls coated in breadcrumbs made witha a bolognese sauce, stuffed with peas and cheese and served with a spicy ketchup dip. Followed by Risotto Mediterraneo – Risotto rice with mushrooms, peas, peppers, garlic and cream, finished with butter and parmesan. Then I tricked him into having fruit – HA!

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So how was it?

I forgot to mention that for some bizarre reason B decided it would be a simply fab idea to get some bread to munch on as clearly we were not going to have enough food already.  The so-called bread he ordered was actually a full-blown garlic pizza topped with mozzarella.  It was basically the equivalent of another main meal. It was lovely but I was almost full by the time my meal arrived.  I soldiered on however like the brave blogger I am.

My mushrooms were toasty hot and crispy on the outside with lovely stringy mozzarella oozing from inside.  Lovely way to start a meal and a really decent portion (like I needed it), and lets face it who does not love garlic mayonnaise?  As usual I find it a bit of a struggle to keep up with what my dining companions are thinking but the noises coming from B suggested the arancino was up to scratch.

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The main course reminded me of eating out in Florence where the food is extremely rustic – you pretty much get what you ask for plonked on a plate but hey it tastes great.  The Pork Belly on potatoes was just what it said on the tin.  Spades of it on a big old plate. It wasn’t pretty but who cares really as long as it tastes good and is cooked well. I was going to have rocket salad to add a bit of colour but there has been a national rocket shortage.  I know this because not only had Tony run out but our online Asda delivery later that evening was sadly sans rocket.  I digress – the pork belly and italian sausage had a fairly strong herb flavour- sage perhaps – but I liked it.  I imagine it may bit of a marmite dish …  I was a lover. For once I did not manage to polish my plate.  Weighed down by the giant pizza bread and the large portions I was struggling.  When it comes to food however I am nothing if not committed.  Bring on the dessert …..

 

I can’t remember for the life of me what this was officially called but basically my final course consisted of a very pretty plate of puff pasty shards all beautifully arranged and covered with a gentle dusting of icing sugar.  Tucked into the pastry was generous helpings of creme anglais and chocolate sauce was liberally drizzled over the whole affair.  A nod to good health came in the form of a few raspberries but it was all too little too  late for such gestures!  Brian munched on fruit.  What can be said about that.  It looked nice and he looked smug.  Damn!

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Oh can they fit in a coffee  in this marathon ………….yes they can!

The crane arrived at around 8pm to pick up the Camerons and hoist them home where they rolled into the house and groaned alot.

Tony Macaronis is a fantastic venue for families and couples alike.  Their food is great but pizza and pasta is where they excel in my opinion . Beware the portion sizes – they are very generous as we discovered much to the dismay of our waistlines.

We will be back to Tony Macaronis very  soon albeit for a slightly less ambitious feast!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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THE GUARDBRIDGE INN

 

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GUARDBRIDGE INN WEBSITE

“So I have booked the Guardbridge Inn for 12.30 on Sunday” (B)

Short silence is followed by ” Oh right” (Me)

“It is meant to be very good” (B)

Short silence followed by “hmm okay” (Me)

Faced with the myriad of gastromic delights that the town of St Andrews has to offer my lovely husband decided in his wisdom to ferry our family out of town to the local pub in Guardbridge for a belated mother’s day lunch. Guardbridge is to me a place that you pass through very quickly on the way to Leuchars train station and in more than 20 years of eating out in the St Andrews area I had never once considered dining there.

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Despite my reservations,  first impressions were pretty positive.  The Inn itself is in a lovely traditional building and inside it is very cosy and well …. pub like.  They do have a nice bright room for meals but you can also eat in the bar which was much more inviting with its’ cosy wood burning stove ablaze. The bar has about five tables so it feels quite intimate (in a good way) and the overall vibe is very relaxed and friendly. Despite becoming increasingly happy with my surroundings I did expect a rather hum drum pub menu with standard quality fare. It was then that I started to clock the dishes being scoffed by the very  happy looking folks around me and it became clear that there was nothing hum drum about it.  B looked smug! I hate it when he looks smug!

I was pleased to see a modestly sized menu (beware the restaurant who gives you a million choices –  it can’t possibly all be freshly cooked) which included such non pub grub delights as seared fillet of salmon on beetroot & kale risotto and roast chicken stuffed with cream cheese & spinach and wrapped in parma ham, served with a garlic cream.   These nestled happily along side more traditional options such as fish and chips, well it wouldn’t be a Fife menu without them now would it?

Before the food fest a note about the staff.  Bloody fantastic!  They are open and friendly, brilliant with kids, accommodating, informative and everything else that you could possibly want from restaurant staff.

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Now to eat: I started with Thai Crab Cakes with a sweet chilli sauce and B opted for the rather unusual sounding Mushroom and Turkey soup.  The Crab Cakes were delicious however B’s soup packed a flavour that made me consider shouting fire so that I could sneak into the kitchens and half inch the recipe.  Far fetched perhaps,  but nailing a soup like that would make me a very happy lady indeed.  This delicious creamy soup was finished off with an elegant swirl of fresh pesto making it look as delightful as it tasted. Now I was properly impressed.

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Both B and I ordered the beef roast dinner as our main course on the basis that the lady next to us had it and it looked utterly divine as far as roast dinners go.  We were not disappointed.  They didn’t make the fatal mistake of piling mounds of roast dinner titbits on the plate Jenga style.  Instead there were a few beautifully pink slices of roast beef, a lovely Yorkshire pudding, a few roast potatoes and a medley of cubed swede, carrot and celeriac.  All items were cooked beautifully and were extremely flavorsome.  The whole shebang was finished off with a rich red wine gravy which was extraordinarily nice.  A daub or horseradish cream and we had a winning combo all round.

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Never one to stop at a modest two courses we pushed forward to the dessert menu.  I really could not get past the idea of hot banana sponge with toffee sauce and hazelnut ice cream from local ice cream emporium Luvians.  So  imagine if you will a sticky toffee pudding which lacks the heaviness of the dates.  A sponge with a delicate banana flavour which is so light it is in danger of floating away.  Then imagine a warm silky toffee sauce cascading over it and a generous helping of the creamiest hazelnut ice cream you are ever likely to encounter.  Toffee, bananas, nuts and cream – heaven.

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I barely registered what B was having for desert.  A glorious parfait involving exotic fruits.  It certainly looked the business and he appeared to be smiling – but oh the banana sponge!  After coffees with a little piece of tablet (full to bursting) we waddled back to the car.

I am quite shocked that for over two decades of eating out in restaurants in and around St Andrews, this wee gem had never entered my head as a dining possibility despite having driven past it literally hundreds of times. Next time I want fresh local food cooked to perfection in the St Andrews area I know where I will be heading – and so should you.

 

 


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Quesadillas, an obsession?

A quesadilla is a wheat tortilla or a corn tortilla filled with cheese, a savoury mixture, and/or vegetables, often cooked on a griddle, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape. (Wikipedia)

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In the last few months the humble quesadilla has become my absolute go to food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Smashing the boundary of what can actually be termed a quesadilla I am constantly finding more and more interesting ways to serve them up.

The obsession really ramped up a gear when B trotted off to Argentina for a week leaving me in sole charge of the six year old (gulp). We did grand me and the nipper but by the time I had put her down at night and tidied up a bit there was little time left to whip up something tasty for dinner, even pasta seemed like too much trouble.  Enter the quesadilla – a bag of tortilla wraps and a seemingly inexhaustible range of fillings saved the day. Add to that a chilled bottle of San Miguel and I had a meal fit for a queen.

Before long my notoriously picky daughter got in on the fried sarnie act.  Once you find something this one will eat – you stick with it and with it and with it.

I don’t really need to tell anybody how to make a quesadilla.  You get two tortilla wraps and fill them like a sarnie then fry them in some oil so that the filling is nice and toastie and the tortilla is nice and crispy craspy – simples!

I will share some of my favourite fillings:

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THE TRAD ONE

Cook some finely chopped red onion, garlic and chopped chillies in a little olive oil.  Once softened add cumin, lime juice and a can of kidney beans.  Smash the lot up with a fork or a mini-masher (do you get such a thing – if not then you should).  Use this as your filling and top with cheese.  Serve with lashings of soured cream.

THE DAY AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE ONE

Left over chilli with grated cheese and thinly sliced avocado.  Go easy on the meat mixture or you will have to eat it with a knife and fork.  Can get a bit on the sloppy side.

THE MEDITERRANEAN ONE

Sliced cooked chicken breast with grated parmesan and a healthy dollop of pesto – what is not to like

THE QUEEN BEE

A personal favourite – a few slices of prosciutto topped with a hard or semi hard goat’s cheese.  Crumble some walnuts over the top and finish with a drizzle of honey before serving.

THE CHAVACADO

Grated cheese, sliced cooked chorizo, sliced avocado and liberal dusting of paprika

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Mini Grumbling Tummy Favourites:

Quesadilla filled with mashed banana and nutella for a breakfast treat.  Treat! Who am I kidding? This is now a staple

Cheese and beans – again like the chilli go easy on the beans due to the slop factor

Cheese and ham or cheese and sliced frankfurters

I realise the little one’s choices are lacking in worthy ingredients like kale or even the odd carrot chucked in – but then they wouldn’t be her favourites would they? Besides when this kids eats anything with gusto we go with it.

Nice to be back after a rather long Christmas break.  Now I am off to fry up a quesadilla.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/73343592@N08/15186627344″>Sharp Cheddar Quesadilla with Fresh Apple Salsa via photopin (license)


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December Shout Out

THE BEST MINCEMEAT PIES ON THE MARKET

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Without a shadow of a doubt THE best mincemeat pies on the market today are ALDI’s  Specially Selected Luxury Mince Pies.  At £2.99 for six they are slightly more expensive than your average ALDI offering but by god they are worth every penny.  I am not a lone voice either,  the Independent judged them third best in their list of 15 great mince pies for 2015.  For me what makes them super special is that they are not huge yet very deep filled, topped with almonds and somewhere in there, there is a smattering of marzipan.  How can you resist.  Well I haven’t which brings me on to the next thing on my list of shout outs for December.

BREVILLE BLEND ACTIVE SMOOTHIE MAKER

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Well if one is stuffing one’s face with ALDI mince pies and squirty cream most nights of the week then it is wise to at least attempt to be healthy at the start of the day.  My husband bought me a Breville Active Smoothie Maker from my birthday in November and it is one of the best things I have ever been given.  It is simply the most quick, simple and clean ways to make a smoothie.

A blueberry and banana combo are top of the smoothie pops at the moment but I can also recommend going for banana, mango and coconut milk for a truly tropical taste.

If you say you don’t have time for breakfast then you must buy one of these bad boys.  It is really a case of ‘blend and go’ with stylish little bottles which are great to shove in your  hand bag/man bag to drink on the move.

MY SECRET KITCHEN

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In November I was invited to a My Secret Kitchen event by my friend Vickie, who despite running around after three small kids, one big kid and running her own training business  has somehow managed to squeeze another venture into the mix.  As an agent for My Secret Kitchen  she offers an extensive range of spice blends, oils, vinegars, tea blends and other yummylicious treats which are a delight to the senses.

I love cooking but I am also just a little bit lazy and therefore spice blends are ideal for me. Something that can transform Monday’s mince into a mexican treat bursting with flavour in the blink of an eye gets a huge thumbs up.

I would have liked to order pretty much everything displayed on the table at the party, however products as lovely as this do not come with a bargain price tag …….. but as my granny use to say, you get what you pay for.  She possibly never said that but I am rolling with it.

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In the end I ordered a bottle of Lime Oil – used liberally in a range of couscous inventions thus far.  Fajita spice blend – used in a chilli, a smashed bean and lime tortilla and just sprinkled over a fried cheese flat bread sarnie.  Finally I purchased a Shawarma blend which I have used in little lamb patties.

I also signed up to a rather exciting option called Flavour Stacks. Each month I will receive four mini pots of MSK products each with a recipe card.  Thrilled by the idea of NEVER knowing what is coming my way.

I suggest having a little look at the website to view all of the amazing products on offer or contact Vickie if you are in the Fife/Edinburgh area. Vickie from My Secret Kitchen

RESTAURANT MARTIN WISHART –  MICHELLIN STARRED RESTAURANT NO LESS

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WOO HOO!  Check me out frequenting Michelin Star restaurants this month.  I actually thought that I was off out for a pub lunch and shoved my jeans on.  “Is that what you are really wearing” chimed in my rather anxious looking other half.  Though I thought he was very rude I changed into a skirt anyway.  Turns out he had only booked us into Martin Wishart’s in the Port of Leith for a lovely spot of fine dining!  He is racking up the brownie points at the moment, that husband of mine.

“Classically French, proudly Scottish,and simply delicious cuisine.”

So is it worth the hype.  Well in a word YES.  All of the dishes look heavenly as you might imagine and each meal has an intensity  that you only find in a handful of restaurants across the country. You can also expect an explosion of flavour with every single mouthful at Martin Wisharts.  The food was a joy!

We were presented with a lovely selection of amuse bouche prior to our main meal, and for me the stand out ‘bouche’ was the Beetroot Macaroon with Horseradish Cream. One word – clever and anther word how? Intense flavour and lovely textures with a delightful horseradish hit.

The Artichoke Veloute with the surprise layer of chestnut puree on the bottom was an amazing starter made even better with the addition of langoustines.

I am not a fan of ‘foam’ in my meals in any shape form or fashion.  I do understand that foam is rather a benchmark of molecular gastronomy,  but really I do find it a pointless and rather distasteful food trend.  HOWEVER I could overlook the addition of foam on my main dish of cod due to the fact that the fish was cooked to perfection and the flavours surrounding it were superb.  A fantastic delicate dish.

And to finish  – a bitter dark chocolate tart with popcorn and salted caramel ice cream.  Well what can I say.  Stunning, absolutely stunning.

I took no photographs or notes (hence the vagueness of this review).  It just didn’t seem the right setting to start clicking away. I regretted my decision towards the end of the meal when I spotted a woman with a camera roughly the size of her own head feverishly clicking away.

The lunch menu is only £28 which is amazing value for a restaurant of this standing.  One or two wines however and you will soon see your bill rack up.  So go along and have some lunch and water – it is a fantastic experience.

So off  I go into the holidays where I shall no doubt gain several pounds eating multiple mince pies, chocolates, prosecco and anything else I can lay my paws on with the cry of “ach well it’s Christmas” seeing me through to the New Year , at which point I shall finally stand of the scales. After rocking and keening for a while I shall set upon a new diet and start the process all over again.  Hurrah for Chirstmas!!


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Simple Fishy Pie

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Despite growing up in a small fishing village as the daughter of a fisherman – I am not a big fish eater.  This was I suspect a great source of irritation to my dad who could not quite comprehend why the only fish related product I would eat whilst growing up was scampi and fish fingers.  I now realise that I like the taste of fish but unfortunately I was so heavily influenced by my mum’s terror of finding fish bones and choking to death that eating fish for me is a laborious task.   It tends to involve a process of detailed poking, prodding and swirling the fish around endlessly in my mouth to triple check for bones .  It does not involve much enjoyment at all.  The only fish I do eat with any regularity is salmon and this is the base of this very simple (if not quite standard) fish pie.  You can pretty much use any fish that you like as I am sure you are not as phobic about the humble fish as I am.

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I am unsure if this is technically a pie but it is certainly pie-esque and best of all it is speedy, taking less than 30 minutes to prepare and get into the oven for cooking. It tastes delicious and with much chat about Popeye the Sailor man to combat spinach objections, I have even got my incredibly picky daughter to eat it all up.  It is also stonking reheated the next day for lunch.  I hope you enjoy it.

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INGREDIENTS

300g salmon fillet, 500g potatoes,  150ml creme fraiche, one onion, sprig of fresh thyme, half a glass of white wine, clove of garlic, bag of spinach, big handful of frozen peas, 40g grated cheddar cheese , gm breadcrumbs.

METHOD

  1. Boil the potatoes
  2. At the same time pop your salmon with a little drizzle of oil into the oven (180 degrees) to cook for around 20 minutes
  3. Whilst all of this is cooking away chop up the onion and cook in a little oil with the garlic and thyme
  4. After about 10 minutes of cooking the onion pop in the glass of wine and cook for a further 4 or 5 minutes
  5. Add the spinach to the onion and wine and pop a lid on to allow the spinach to wilt – this only takes a few minutes
  6. Meanwhile whip out the salmon and mash the tatties
  7. Mix the spinach/onion concoction with the tatties and add the creme fraiche and seasoning.
  8. Add the peas to your nice creamy mashy mix
  9. Flake the cooked salmon and fold this in gently
  10. Pop the mix into a shallow casserole dish
  11. Mix the grated cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the fishy mash
  12. Cook at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes at which point the top will be delicious and crispy and the inside of the pie toasty hot and delightful.