thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


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Exotic Addition

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In Dunfermline the opening of a new restaurant is really quite a big deal, or at least it is to me.  The latest, very welcome, addition to Dunfermline’s rather small clutch of decent eating places is the Turkish restaurant Antioch.  I stalked Antioch weeks before they actually opened – reporting to my long-suffering husband on the progress of the interior and exterior decor.  “They are painting the outside now” and “I peered in and noticed they had lovely lighting” – that sort of strangely obsessive behaviour.

There was much anticipation ……  far too much most would say.  Finally myself, BC and two of our friends headed out.  There is always a risk on a night minus children that you peak to early with pre-dinner fizz and fail to enjoy/see/remember the dinner.  Thankfully this was not the case on this particular occasion.

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Antioch had a full house that evening which was fantastic.  Nothing better than walking into a warm buzzing atmosphere of happy people enjoying their food.  Our table wasn’t quite ready so a smiley waiter whisked us over to the bar for a Turkish tea which tasted pretty much like normal black tea but in a very ornate and pretty cup, I believe it is all about the process of making the tea rather than the tea leaves themselves.  I am no aficionado.

And at last to the food

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“In addition to being the refined product of centuries of experience, Turkish Cuisine has a very pure quality. The variety and simplicity of the recipes and the quality of the ingredients are guarantees of delicious meals.”

Well I am not going to argue with that.  Turkish cuisine is not the place for fussy sauces or silly fads like foam (I blanch when I see foam as part of a dish).  It is based on very basic and very tasty dishes with lamb and chicken taking centre stage.  I absolutely love the food from this part of the world – Lamb, aubergine, pine nuts, feta,  mint, hummus, couscous, baklava – would all appear in my top 50 list of all time favourite foods and flavours.

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The menu is made up of a selection of cold and hot mezze starters and then it is down to the big grill being worked at the back of the restaurant (hot job).  At Antioch the food is a great example of simple produce done well. On this visit (I have been back half way through the writing of this blog)  I ordered the sigara borek with feta cheese to kick off proceedings.  This is a cigar-shaped roll of filo pastry filled with feta and seasoning and despite its absolute simplicity it is rather fantastic and pretty sizeable as a starter portion.  The sigara borek also comes with spiced lamb mince option which I will try sometime very soon.  I then selected lamb meatballs which were absolutely fantabulous.  They did come in a very simple tomato and pepper sauce which made quick work of any left over flat breads lying around our table. Every dish also comes with a small (very small) mound of giant couscous and a token dab of salad. Turkish chefs certainly know their meat,  which was cooked and seasoned to perfection.  The only desserts on offer at Antioch are ice cream or Baklava and I am ashamed to say I had neither on this first occasion – what was I thinking? (fear not – scroll down for baklava action)

I have only two criticisms of Antioch and they are easily fixable.  The first is that the only hot drink options available on the night were  Turkish Tea and Turkish Coffee, neither of which are suitable for a decaf drinker like me.  I did take a risk and have a few sips of the complimentary Turkish Tea at the start of the night but as I am really a decaf free lady I was  left with  no post dinner hottie.  Even those who like a caffeine hit may struggle with the concept of Turkish coffee – rocket fuel I believe.  The other minor niggle was the service which was a little slow but to be honest I think our lovely waiter was new and getting to grips with things.  They need to be a little slicker going forward.  There might not be many fabulous eateries in this neck of the woods but discerning diners have no issue high tailing it to nearby Edinburgh so putting in that extra mile is important.

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……..I have taken a few weeks to finish writing this blog and have trotted back to Antioch to try that Baklava and oh sweet Lord is it good! Three quite large baklava with a token (and rather unnecessary)  blob of skooshy cream.  Baklava is just the best thing ever – rich, sweet, sticky, flaky and nutty.  It is worth going to Antioch just for this!

On my second visit I had the Chicken Kebab.  I had scoffed all of my flatbread with my super tasty falafel before the chicken arrived and wished that I hadn’t as chicken is pretty much all that you are getting along with your token mound of couscous.  This is not a complaint  ….. the chicken is sublime and stands up quite well on its own thank you very much.  It is beautifully seasoned and absolutely perfectly cooked with that lovely smokey char grilled flavour – you just need to keep your flat breads for it.  I felt that a little side sauce would not go a miss however a friend who has spent a lot of time in Turkey informs me that this would not be terribly authentic. Fair enough!

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I think this is a great addition to Dunfermline and will be back again.  If you like your meat then you will be very happy as they are extremely good at it! I am sure tiny niggles will be ironed out as time floats on.  Well done Antioch, you have yourself a fan!

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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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THE SEVEN MEALS OF CHRISTMAS

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Christmas really was a festival of gluttony round at the Grumbling Tummy HQ.  It started off well but ended with both myself and B rolling around the lounge in a fug of chocolate lethargy, lifted only by the occasional cherry brandy.

I have actually been far too busy actively eating to blog but here is a quick catch up on how I managed to gain half a stone in 2 weeks.  Eat your heart out Katie Hopkins.

THE GALS LUNCH – CAFÉ MARLAYNE, EDINBURGH http://www.cafemarlayne.com/

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It all began with a rollicking gals lunch at the wonderful Café Marlayne in Thistle Street.  It’s a tiny bistro style restaurant and on that particular Sunday afternoon it was occupied (in the main)  by our party of girls in Christmas cracker crowns.  The food was rather overshadowed by lots of chat, general over excitement and wine.  You can read my review of Café Marlayne from a previous and more sedate occasion here: http://wp.me/p2NKGd-gQ

On the Menu: I dined on Boudin Noir with sautéed potatoes, bacon and mustard dressing.  I know that the boudin noir is actually from France and it is really lovely.  This was followed by a gorgeous beef dish which was melt in the mouth (the wine has impaired my recall of the name of said beef dish but it was delish) served up with seasonal vegetables.

DATE DAY – OROCCO PIER, SOUTH QUEENSFERRY  http://www.oroccopier.co.uk/

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The traditional Christmas date day with B came a mere two days later.  Bravely fighting sinusitis I agreed to earn my lunch by walking across the Forth Road Bridge to our lunch venue – Orroco Pier in South Queensferry. The star of the show at this stylish restaurant is without a doubt the view.  It is nothing short of breath-taking.  We had the best seat in the house and watched the sun set and the rail bridge light up as we enjoyed our feast.  buoyed up by Nurofen with codeine (genius).

On the Menu: we kicked off the date with a mulled cider for me and a mulled beer for B.  The Mulled beer won the day both for being unique and for its spiced honey notes.  After an acceptable starter of prawns I moved onto a traditional turkey lunch.  This is the only time I ate turkey over the whole season and it was lovely.  It was all finished off with an enormous cheese plate which included a delectable runny brie.  All washed down with prosecco and wine.

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THE BIG DAY – THE RUSSELL HOTEL, ST ANDREWS  http://www.russellhotelstandrews.co.uk/

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Feeling a little rotund at this point, our next big day out was the 25th– Merry Christmas.  Following my tradition of eating scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and oodles of lemon juice, we made our way via the folks to the Russell Hotel in St Andrews. The Russell is the sort of hotel that inspires loyalty.  On booking we requested the same table as 2013 and lo and behold so did the threesome next to us.  It was deja vu but in the best possible way. My only complaint about this stonking 4 course meal is that ALL of the portions were way too big.

On the Menu:  It went something like this: duck liver and plum pate served with home-made oatcakes which were curiously sweet but rather nice.  I suspect this oatcake would have been just as happy dipped in a cup of tea.  This was followed by a spiced sweet potato soup which was pretty good but a wee meal in itself.  I then moved on to Roast Ribeye of Prime Scottish Beef with a Wild Mushroom, Shallot & Madeira Jus & Yorkshire Pudding.  This was divine and melt in the mouth.  Feeling it a bit I considered skipping dessert but in for a penny in for a pound as they say – bring on the Christmas pudding complete with sparkler!  All washed down with copious amounts of red wine.  Why was my waist band digging in I pondered?  Why indeed.

BOXING DAY LUNCH WITH THE DE VRIES CLAN –  SWEET CHESTNUT, DUNFERMLINE

 http://www.sweetchestnutpubdunfermline.co.uk/

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Oh but we were nowhere near finished yet.  A trip to our local carvery was the main event on boxing day along with our friends and assorted children.  I had quite a lot of wine at this lunch  …… because I could! The relatively new Sweet Chestnut which is part of the Marstons pub chain, serves perfectly good fayre in a child friendly environment which was just what we needed.

On the Menu: I wanted to have breaded mushrooms with a garlic dip however most of the little shrooms were naked by the time I ate them.  My darling daughter having stolen their crispy coating by the time they got to my mouth. They were followed by a rather pleasant vegetarian fandango with all the trimmings including an oversized Yorkshire pudding.

SPOT OF LUNCH DARLING – KUSHIS, DUNFERMLINE http://www.khushis.com/

On the 27th I was beginning to experience that toxic feeling where everything is just a little bit pudgy and out of kilter.  Remember that in-between these meals out there was the chocolate mountain at home. However I did not feel bad enough to argue with “shall we have a spot of lunch at Kushis darling”.  I like Kushis as a lunchtime venue – they do a cracking deal and thankfully the portion sizes are relatively small.

On the Menu: vegetable pakora and popadoms of course followed by chicken korma.  Washed down with a bottle of beer.

PARENTAL VISIT  – THE ADAMSON,  ST ANDREWS  http://theadamson.com/

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A visit to my parents on the 29th marked my favourite meal out over the whole holiday season.  The Adamson in St Andrews is just a bloody good restaurant with amazing food which is absolutely consistently fabulous every time you go.  It looks the business, the staff are fantastic, the presentation of the food is sublime and it always tastes like heaven.  I cannot recommend the Adamson enough.

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On the menu: I felt smug starting with their superfood salad  – this is a veritable health explosion of beetroot, walnuts, squash, quinoa, lentils, pomegranates and yoghurt dressing. I then ordered the blade of beef with confit potato,  pear tart, spinach and red wine sauce.  This rendered me speechless.  Not an easy thing to achieve.

AULD YEAR’S NIGHT, THE PETTINGER THOMSONS, EDINBURGH

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Food and entertainment on this auspicious occasion was provided by the Pettinger Thomsons.  We started off by popping in to the free family celidh at the Chambers Street Museum – huge amounts of fun.

There was good food, party poppers, happy children, plenty of fizz, giggles, fireworks and slight hangovers the next day.  All good!

On the menu: We started with two of my favourite foods – scallops and chorizo – yum! Mr Pettinger had been busy in the kitchen the day before preparing the main event and  his now famous beef bourguignon which was served with Miss Thomsons equally famous potato dauphinoise.  This was accompanied by green beans and a delicate swedge of puffed pastry.  After a fair smattering of prosecco (we brought along a magnum) I was the only one with space for homemade sticky toffee pudding with oodles of sauce and cream.

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So that was it for eating out and being entertained – wafer thin mint anybody?

I didn’t even include the Christmas drinks on the 20th where I gorged on little spiced Thai chicken sticks and camembert or the day when I invited the same friends around to feast on mince pies, chocolate marzipan, cinnamon stars and wine.

Now as wonderful as it has been a line has finally been drawn.  Enough is enough.  My waist line is bulging (and that is putting it politely), my hair has lost its shine and despite a very posh new moisturiser my skin is flagging.  As much of 75% of your body is made up of water I believe, however I fear that most of my water has been replaced with baileys, prosecco, red wine, cherry brandy and amaretto.  I am done!

Christmas was a whole heap of tasty fun but like any ride it must come to an end.  In January I am ditching the nonsense and trying to eat clean rather than down right dirty.  Expect the blog to fill up with clean eating, nutritious soups and stews, refreshing smoothies and salads with pizzaz.

Keep tuned in!


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Kelpies and Cake

20141019_155843It has been such a lovely summer that I had forgotten the very British tradition of battling the elements on a family day out,  when the sensible course of action would be sticking on a movie and eating Jaffa Cakes.

And so the Grumbling Tummy three found themselves in Falkirk on Sunday on a quest to see the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies,  or as my daughter calls them, The Skelpies.  There was rain, there was cold and a wild wind that blew a new white hat clean off a small curly head into the mud.  We were grimly determined like the other mad day trippers with their wellies on.

We took refuge in the cafe at the Falkirk Wheel and watched this amazing feat of engineering through the rain battered windows.  It was here that I had the misfortune to be introduced to a haggis and brie panini.  The only word I could muster to describe this unfortunate franco-scottish combo was “interesting”.  In my family “interesting” and “different” are terms used by my mum to express her dislike for something without actually saying so.   So this sarnie was indeed different and slightly interesting but not something I ever wish to repeat.  Worry not readers – good grub coming soon …

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We had decided to settle for a drive-by past the Kelpies when lo and behold the sun burst its way through the clouds and there was a lull in the rain.  So with only the bluster to battle we got out to see these 30 metre high equine head sculptures which were a beautiful sight to behold.  There was only one problem – cake was thin on the ground.  I was determined to have cake and good cake at that.

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OFF THE EATEN TRACK

 

20141019_155152Kincardine is probably not the first place you would think to head to for splendiferous cake but trust me, it is home to one of my secret places to procure cake of the finest standard.

The Baking Room http://www.thebakingroomkincardine.com/ sells breakfasts  and lunches but the highlight is the home-made cakes.

On offer amongst other delights on Sunday were:  giant custard creams, a pink Victoria Sponge complete with giant chocolate buttons, an amazing tray-bake made from brownies, white chocolate and mint ganache , Rolo tray bake, peanut butter fudge and salted caramel cheese cake.

B and N shared the pink striped Vic Sponge and it must have been good as they seemed to be fighting over selected parts of it – chocolate icing seemed to be the main battle ground.  Calm down  WI Vic Sponge purists – it was bloody good.

And let  me tell you how nice my Rolo tray bake was.  I didn’t ooh or aah about it one little bit.  I tasted it quietly and then cunningly hid it behind my coffee cup in the hope that it would not be noticed and that I would not be called upon to share.  Sadly I was found out and had to offer a tiny bit to B but oh how much did I resent that little bit of wonder going somewhere else apart from into my mouth.  Not only do I like cake but I am also a tiny bit greedy and am not keen on the whole concept of sharing.  Probably due to being an only child!

Not content with the cake that we had eaten – we felt the need to buy a giant custard cream and take it home.  I think the plan may have been to sit down and share it over a freshly brewed coffee but in reality it was opened and devoured before we had time to fill the kettle.

 

So Cake and Kelpies – it’s a great day out.  And as for the diet – there is always Monday!

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La bonne bouffe en Belgique

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One of the many chocolatiers in the Galerie st Hubert

Roughly translated as great grub in Belgium which is what this post is all about.

A couple of weeks ago my mum and I took off for a mini break in Belgium.  She was mostly interested in the shopping and I was mostly interested in the food.  I had heard that the food in Belgium was outstanding and with national treasures such as chips, chocolate, waffles and beer it is easy to understand why.

We did not have the most auspicious start to the trip from a gastronomic point of view.  Half an hour before our flight my poor mum was to be found in the public conveniences being a little bit sick – a wee bug we thought (actually the onset of shingles!) My hopes of eating our way around Belgium began to fade.  However she is a trooper and thankfully rallied pretty quickly – onwards and upwards – quite literally.

We were staying at the fantastic Dominican Hotel which is bang smack in the centre of Brussels.  It is a Boutique Hotel full of design genius and quite possibly the nicest gaff I have ever had the pleasure to stay in.

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Hotel Dominican – the courtyard

This is of course a food blog not a travel blog so first of all a word about chocolate.  In Brussels the chocolatiers are impressive both in quality and quantity.

 Belgian chocolates are rated as some of the best in the world and believe you me they take it all very seriously!  There are thousands of varieties to choose from, Truffles and pralines galore and of course  with Easter only a week away they had gone all out with fantastic eggs, some of them larger than my four year old!  The  Galerie Royale St Hubert is a stunningly beautiful and achingly sophisticated walkway which houses a selection of restaurants and shops  and It is also choc-a-bloc with chocolatiers – yum!

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Easter madness

I bought some chocolate (of course) but there is no need to put your hands in your pockets to sample this Belgian speciality.  Samples abound in the choccy shops of course but the real treat was the amount of freebies you are given in coffee shops along with your drink.  In one memorable and rather adorable tea room in Bruges we ordered a coffee and were given 4 chocolates and a flourish of whipped cream to boot.  It seemed rather excessive but you will not find me complaining about such decadence.

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Free chocolates with coffee and cake – obscene but we liked it

 

We were based in Brussels but we travelled to both Bruges and Ghent and it was in Bruges that I sampled the best waffle I have come across.  Again we were in a coffee shop which dished out chocolates willy nilly (cue sugar rush) but it was the waffle with chocolate sauce, banana and cream that stole the show for me.  The waffle was large (always a very good start) and light as air.  The banana made me feel worthy and who can resist lashing of warm silky Belgian chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  “Do you know you can buy waffle machines?” said mum.  I tried to ignore her and I am still trying to ignore that such wonders exist – it would be a very bad idea for me to be able to recreate such splendour in my own home.

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Heaven was found in Bruges

 

A word about eating in the right place and eating in the wrong place.  Everybody knows that you should never ever eat in  the restaurants with all the lovely outside seating around the main squares.  Great for a drink but when it comes to eating you are looking at daylight robbery for  rather substandard produce.  But for some inexplicable reason we found ourselves doing just that in Bruges.  It was at this average establishment that I came across the Croque Bolognese.  I am not sure what I expected but I was a little taken aback when I received a standard Croque Monsieur with big dollops of  bolognaise all over the top of it – literally.  I couldn’t help but wonder what John Torode would have said about this had it turned up in the Master Chef kitchen.  It was two meals in one and the bolognaise make the toast all soppy.  It didn’t actually taste too bad – it was just really odd! Finished it all to make sure there was something else in my tummy apart from a great big goblet of Leffe Blonde.

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It is an obscenity really but I ate it all up

I once went to Verona and after perusing the beautiful shoe shops  I settled on a pair of black boots.  Leather boots from Italy, how fabulous I thought, Italian leather I thought.  I thought wrong!  On getting the boots back home I noted that they were “made in India”  There is a point to this story.  We stumbled across the most achingly Belgian cafe in Brussels located in the Galerie St Hubert.  Let me paint you a picture – artisan breads lined up behind the counter, coffee and hot chocolate served in bowls not cups, everything is organic, everything is wonderful,  it is my absolutely perfect cafe.  Each day I have a huge bowl of oats with almond milk, cranberries and walnuts – it is divine.  Mum feasts on organic boiled eggs with artisan sourdough soldiers.  I looked forward to breakfast every day – this cafe was an absolute highlight for me.  One of a kind, what a find.  Except it wasn’t!  When I got home and goggled this fantastic venue to rekindle memories I realise that it is indeed a chain.  There are dotted all around Europe and there is some in London.  So although it is still absolutely wonderful it is not quite as unique as I had hoped.  If you are in London or Europe then you ought to give it a try – there is one in Notting Hill!  Le Pain Quotidien

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I loved this cafe – not quite a unique as I thought

 

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Artisan breads and pastries galore

 

 

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Oats, rice milk, walnuts and cranberries – breakfast of champions – and me!

 

The other stand out meal was in a little brasserie recommended by the staff in our hotel, they promised a taste of Belgium.  It was called ARCADI and was a small bustling Bistro serving delicious and affordable food and seemed to be frequented by lots of locals, always a very good sign.  The tables were small and a little bit cramped but I thought it all just added to the old style Brasserie feel.  Food here is simple and tasty.  I opted for a crepe with chicken and vegetables and mum opted for the famous chicken vol-au-vent with fries.  My crepe was extraordinarily tasty considering the inside included spicing rather than a sauce and the vol-au-vent looked sublime.  It is true what they say about fries in Belgium – they are special – so so crisp on the outside and beautifully fluffy on the inside.  Tis a rare gift.  The staff were friendly, the wine was flowing and the lemon meringue pie to finish was fit for a king.

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The wonderful Arcadi

 

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Vol-au-vent and chips – how deliciously 1980s and very Belgian

Some notes to finish off

A note on chips – I planned to have a big poke of chips slathered in mayonnaise at some point in my trip.  Not a difficult thing to achieve considering these are offered on every corner, but it just didn’t happen!  I even visited the chip museum and learned that French Fries were so-called because American soldiers mistakenly thought that they saw French soldiers making them when they were in fact Belgian.  But when it came to the cafe selling fries at the end of the tour I had to decline having just eaten the croque bolognese obscenity and a vat of beer!

A note about beer – bloody love Belgian beer.  Pretty much stuck to the blonde beers and as I was with mum it was not a boozy break but what I had was glorious.  Nothing beats a glass of beer the size of your head in the sunshine.

Note on Ghent –  go there!  It is truly beautiful and a bit more real than Bruges, which to my mind is a very pretty outdoor museum with lots of shops. Ghent is amazing and I will return.

Final note on Belgium  – it is a superb place to visit.  Most people  looked at me blankly when I said I was going there for a long weekend.  The unspoken word was WHY?  I will tell you why:  it is clean, sophisticated, beautiful, friendly, historical,  a shopping heaven, cultural and best of all it has great food.

 

Beautiful Ghent

 

 

 

 

 


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The Adamson … and Springsteen

So we finally made it along to The Adamson in St Andrews…

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As we sat in what B proclaimed was the best seat in the house,  me with a lovely sparkling glass of prosecco and B with very girly cocktail, eating a warm mini baked loaf smothered with tapenade  I asked “Are you in heaven right now? ”   Despite looking pretty pleased with himself B replied “You know that it can’t be heaven without Bruce Springsteen” .  Thirty seconds later Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Secret Garden’ is played through the sound system.  Now that’s what I call service.

The service was actually so good and so intuitive at The Adamson that we began to wonder if our seats were bugged!

There is time for my usual preamble about interior decor and ambiance later  as I am desperate to tell you all about the food first.  Why?  Because it was bloody marvellous that’s why.  Not just a bit good – this was proper 10 out of 10 territory.

At the helm in the kitchen is a man good enough to impress Gregg Wallace and John Torode –  Scott Davies was the runner-up in the 2013 programme ‘Masterchef: the Professionals’.  Scott has created a classic brasserie menu with a modern twist.

I kicked off proceedings with Ham hock, Piccalilli and Toasted Artisan Bread whilst my happy Bruce loving husband ordered Smoked Fishcake in Tartare Sauce.  

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It may seem odd to describe piccalilli as cute but hell it was – I don’t know where they found cauliflower with such dinky little florets.  As well as being cute it was thankfully delicious and complimented the ham hock terrine beautifully.  Often meat terrine’s have the dreaded ‘jelly’  factor which is pretty much guaranteed to put me off.  Not so at The Adamson.  The terrine was  perfectly meaty and jelly free, fantastically seasoned and surprisingly very light.  It really was rather splendid and roughly spread on artisan toast it was heaven indeed.

B’s  fish cake was a very large and round and on first inspection resembled a Scotch egg floating in a lovely creamy capery moat.  I had a little taste and it was absolutely delicious.  This creamy, light and very sophisticated sauce bore little resemblance to the tartare sauce I love to smear all over my scampi and chips – thank goodness.

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Now for the piece de resistance…  I opted for lambs liver with confit new potato, wilted greens and sauce diablo.  Liver is like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it  and I absolutely love it. Often liver is presented a la rustique  – i.e. dumped on the plate with a pile of mash onions and gravy,   but this dish turned liver into a thing of beauty.  Balanced on top of lovely rich greens and  little potatoes with a beautiful rich silky sauce  this dish looked amazing.    Liver overcooked is a terrible thing – grainy and tough.  Liver cooked perfectly is pink inside with a beautiful soft creamy texture.  Needless to say the Liver at the Adamson was cooked to perfection.  Having only ever tasted liver with the standard mash and onions combo, for me the sauce Diablo was the high point.  I have no idea what makes up a sauce Diablo but if I was a betting woman I would guess that paprika and cayenne were key spices in this wonderfully rich, smoky and aromatic  sauce.  It was superbly tasty and complimented the liver so well that I was practically groaning with pleasure  (I am aware of how that sounds but  it was bloody good food).

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B opted for flat iron steak sandwich with onion & peppered mayo & skinny fries. It was a proper blokes portion with the perfect steak nestled in between generous chunks of ciabatta.  Now the whole meal was lovely but the steak was out of this world.  Seriously folks this steak was good.  I often find thin slices of steak are overcooked and chewy.  This happens pretty much 100% of the time I try it and a good proportion of the time in restaurants too. This flat iron steak was pink and melty and tender and seasoned to perfection.

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This may seem strange but the high point of the dessert menu was the addition of sorbet.  Now I love my desserts and unlike most of my friends, I find it almost impossible to bypass this course.  However, dessert no matter how adorable is usually served up with a dollop of guilt on the side and invariably I will mutter all the way home “nice meal but I shouldn’t have had that sticky toffee pudding”.  The guilt will sometimes manage to actually overshadow the pleasure of the meal.  I have often said that every restaurant should offer a guilt free alternative such as fresh fruit with perhaps a twist or sorbet, which is exactly what you can opt for at The Adamson. As well as a guilt laden array of desserts you can choose to have two scoops of sorbet (from local business Luvians) from a selection of flavours: passion fruit, rhubarb, lemon & yogurt and banana.  I chose passion fruit and lemon & yogurt and it was perfect.  The ideal way to end a meal – not too sweet, palate cleansing and best of all free from guilt.

B suffers no such guilt and opted for Creme Brulee which both looked and tasted superb.  You may have learned from previous posts that we have had creme brulee issues in the past and it is always a bit of a spirit test ordering it these days. I am glad to report that The Adamson passed with flying colours.

So it is 10 out of 10 for St Andrews newest kid on the block.  A bright, contemporary restaurant with great service and stellar food.   Can’t wait to visit again.

Find out for yourself :

The Adamson

www.theadamson.com

127 South St, St Andrews KY16 9UH
01334 479191