Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Month: December 2014

Restaurant Wish List 2015

After a fantastic 2014 of food, I am feeling enthusiastic about a new year of dining out! Read on to find out what’s top of my wish list for 2015….

Pompadour by Galvin is billed as the Grand Old Lady of Edinburgh restaurants. If that’s what old age does to you – bring on the wrinkles, I say! The sample al a carte menu sounds delish – in particular the starter of ‘Roast Hand Dived Scallops, Pig’s Trotter & Veal Sweetbreads, Parsnip Purée, Apple Fondants’ has my mouth watering.

Meanwhile, Glasgow is going all Heston on us with Porter & Rye, a newly opened restaurant on Argyle Street, which specialises in molecular dining and quality beef from Gaindykehead Farm. I’m intrigued, but let’s be honest; the truffle salt fries alone are enough to get me through the door!

I’m not going to lie, I did give a little squeal of excitement when I opened the Christmas gift from my lovely sister-in-law to find vouchers for The Kitchin, Leith. Someone knows me too well! A visit to a Michelin star restaurant is always an experience and this is one place I can’t wait to try! The a la carte menu sounds amazing with a massive emphasis on Scottish seasonal produce but I think I have my heart set on the ‘Celebration of the Season Surprise Tasting Menu’. Watch this space for my review!

During this year’s MasterChef: The Professionals, I genuinely wished taste-o-vision had been invented. From the signature dishes to the innovation tests, my stomach rumbled the whole way through. That’s why Moonfish Café in Aberdeen is one of my must visits for 2015. Brian McLeish, one of the three finalists on the show, is Head Chef at the restaurant which turns out phenomenal seafood and also has an impressive gin selection.

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Restaurant Mark Greenaway is next on my 2015 hit list. The Edinburgh restaurant has 3 AA rossettes and the dining room looks gorgeous. As a self-confessed pudding fan I am particularly excited to try Mark’s famous desserts! Fingers (and toes) crossed that Mark’s ‘Great British Menu “Knot” Chocolate Tart’ is still on the menu when I visit.

Now for a second entry on my wish list from the creative genius that is Tom Kitchin. At The Scran & Scallie the ethos is still ‘From Nature to Plate’ but this time it’s not fine dining but a relaxed gastro pub. The rustic surroundings and tasty sounding ‘scran’ made this a no-brainer for my list. Plus there’s a good selection of ales and single malts to keep the husband happy.

The final wish on my 2015 list might be a little far fetched but bear with me. So here’s the dream, I fly in (by sea plane, of course) to the heart of Rob Roy country and arrive at the postcard pretty Monachyle Mhor Hotel and Restaurant. There I’m greeted with a glass of champagne and cooked a delicious meal by Head Chef Maria Paszkowska. Then I spend the night in one of the 14 individually styled bedrooms – I’ll go for one with a free-standing bathtub, please and thank you. Ok, as I said, maybe this is a dream that’s slightly out of budget! But I would definitely love to do lunch at Monachyle Mhor this year for a very reasonable £30 for 3 courses. Perhaps I’ll even squeeze in an overnight at little sister venue the Mhor 84 Motel.

Well I think that’s a good start for dining in 2015, but I’d love to hear any restaurant recommendations you have for this year! Leave a comment below or drop me a line on contact@girlversusfood.com

 

Dining Highlights 2014

Foodies100 Index of UK Food Blogs
Morphy Richards

As 2015 beckons, I wanted to reflect back on a fabulous year of food! Until this year I had never been to a Michelin starred restaurant, now I’m chuffed to say I’ve been to three and had some other fantastic meals along the way!

Unsurprisingly, honeymoon in Italy and France involved A LOT of eating and drinking! Two particular highlights were the Sorrento Food Tour and Il Buco restaurant. The food tour let us experience all the hidden gems that locals frequent – a just-fired pizza dough panini with the freshest buffalo mozzarella and two year aged Parma ham. I loved trying the best gelato in town and visiting the lemon groves to sample some amazing limoncello. Il Buco is a Michelin starred restaurant where we dined al fresco and had the best meal of our honeymoon. Mr GVF went for the five course ‘Trust the Chef’ menu with matched wines while I chose from the a la carte selection. Highlights were the lobster, the lamb three ways and the cute Happy Honeymoon desserts! A must visit if you’re ever in Sorrento.

We were also lucky enough to receive some fabulous (and very generous) dining experiences as wedding gifts. First up was lunch in the most beautiful surroundings in Rhubarb restaurant at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh. From the creator of The Witchery, this opulent restaurant did not disappoint.

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Next was a three course lunch with matched wines at Castle Terrace. I was initially surprised about how simple the décor was in Castle Terrace but once the food arrived it made sense; quite rightly the proprietors did not want overbearing surroundings distracting from the stunning food. Portions were generous for a fine dining restaurant and the wine pairings were perfection. A delicious meal.

We visited West Lothian’s best steak restaurant The Champany where there was a real risk that the huge Porterhouse steak might have my husband beat. We had initially tossed a coin to decide who would drive as the restaurant is a bit out of the way. But after sommelier Michael made some fabulous wine recommendations, an executive decision was taken to ditch the car and get a taxi home!

We topped off ‘The August of Food’ with a much-anticipated dinner at Restaurant Martin Wishart in Leith. We both opted for the six course tasting menu which delighted our taste buds with treats like veal tartar and raw scallops. The presentation was modern and innovative and each dish and matched wine was explained by the wonderful staff. Definitely an experience to remember!

Coming soon…. Girl Versus Food Restaurant Wish List for 2015!

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Best of Supermarket Prosecco

Light on the palate and considerably cheaper than its French counterpart, it’s easy to see why Prosecco has seen a massive surge in popularity over the past few years. It’s an affordable luxury that can make any day feel like a mini celebration. Amongst my group of friends, it’s now a rare occasion that doesn’t start with Prosecco! The sparkling wine is made from the Glera grape, produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of north-east Italy. With Hogmanay just around the corner, it seemed like excellent timing to review the best of what the supermarkets have to offer. Read on to find out which bargain Prosecco came top of my taste test.

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The Test:

In order to provide a comprehensive review, I engaged a few associates to help out – it’s a tough life being friends with a food blogger, but someone’s got to do it! My five fabulous taste-testers have qualified to ‘expert’ status through years of regular Prosecco drinking! One in particular, has the extra credentials of having lived in the north of Italy for a number of years and has sampled some of the best bubbles the country has to offer. This was, of course, a blind taste test and all labels had been removed beforehand.

The four proseccos selected for the taste test were:

Sainsburys Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco currently £7.50 (normally £10)

Asda Extra Special Prosecco £6.00

Aldi Belletti Prosecco Spumante £4.79

Morrisons Signature Prosecco Spumante £9.99

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The Results:

Morrisons Signature was very frothy and had a head a bit like a pint of lager when first poured! The tasters said that this smelt the nicest but felt it was a tad on the sweet side.

The Aldi offering kept its bubbles for longest and was less sweet than the others. If you are a fan of a drier Prosecco, this may be the one for you. An excellent buy at £4.79.

Runner-up from the review was Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference which smelt great and had a very smooth, creamy finish. The was the most expensive of our selection, but at the time of writing it is on offer at £7.50.

However, Asda Extra Special came out as the clear favourite. Just the right amount of fizz with small, even bubbles. It was the lightest in colour of the four and although my testers weren’t wowed by the smell, the taste was great and neither too sweet nor too dry. So there you go, our top pick for New Year’s Eve bubbles is the purse friendly Asda Extra Special Prosecco. Cheers!

 

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Food Gifts Part 2: Shimmering Santa Vodka and Bramble Gin

Seeing as it’s the season of goodwill, I’m giving you a 2 for 1 in this post. A BOGOF from Girl Versus Food! Read on for my two flavoured spirit recipes which make fantastic homemade gifts.

My Shimmering Santa Vodka tastes like Christmas with cranberries, clementine zest and cinnamon. The perfect winter warmer.

My Bramble Gin isn’t strictly festive, but anyone you give this to will think all their Christmases have come at once! It’s inspired by my favourite cocktail; the Bramble and is made with blackberries, lemon zest and vanilla.

You don’t have to use premium spirits to make these but I would recommend steering clear of the cheap and nasty stuff otherwise you will taste it in the finished product.

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SHIMMERING SANTA VODKA INGREDIENTS
500ml vodka
100g of dried cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 5 clementines
1tsp edible gold glitter

BRAMBLE GIN INGREDIENTS
500ml gin
250g of frozen blackberries
Zest of 2 lemons
1 vanilla pod, sliced open

METHOD (same for both recipes)
1. Pour the alcohol into plastic storage container with an airtight lid.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and put the lid on.
3. Leave for one week, giving it a little shake each day.
4. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
5. Sterilise some pretty bottles, I like the Kilner flip top bottles. To sterilise you can use a dishwasher on a high setting. I don’t have a dishwasher so I washed the bottles with hot soapy water and then covered loosely with tin foil and placed in the oven for 30 mins at 170C
6. Pour into the sterilised bottles and decorate with a ribbon and label.
7. For the shimmering vodka add your edible glitter.

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Foodies100 Index of UK Food Blogs
Morphy Richards

Food Gifts Part 1: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

This peanut butter chocolate fudge tastes so good that it almost hurts to give it away, but believe me the recipient will feel very, very special.

I’ve made lots of variants of this fudge recipe which is adapted from Lorraine Pascale’s. Some of my other favourites have been White Chocolate, Baileys, Choc Orange and Real Rum & Raisin. The only limit for flavours is your imagination! It always turns out great and is easier than most fudge recipes as you don’t need to mess about with sugar thermometers. It literally takes twenty minutes from start to finish. In fact, the hardest part is washing up the pan at the end but I’m sure you could bribe someone to do this for you in exchange for a few squares!

INGREDIENTS
70g butter plus extra for greasing
300g soft light brown sugar
125g evaporated milk
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
225g marshmallows
300g milk chocolate broken into squares
100g Reese’s peanut butter cups cut into small pieces

METHOD
1. Put the butter, sugar, peanut butter and evaporated milk in a pan over a low heat. Stir frequently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Add the marshmallows and turn the heat up to medium. Let the fudge boil for 5 minutes, stirring once a minute to prevent the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3. Meanwhile, grease a 20cm square cake tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper.
4. Take the pan off the heat and add the broken up chocolate. Leave for one minute, then stir the mixture well.
5. Stir in most of the chopped Reese’s cups, keeping a couple of handfuls back.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and scatter over the remainder of the peanut butter cups.
7. Once cooled, transfer to the fridge to set properly. After a few hours you can remove from the tin and cut into squares. You can put the fudge in clear cellophane and tie with a pretty ribbon.

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Edinburgh’s Best Festive Menus

There are many traditions for work Christmas do’s – cheesy secret Santa gifts, inappropriate outfits and someone vomiting in the loos by 3pm. More often that not, the Christmas lunch itself can lack a bit of originality! If you’re tired of turkey or had a bellyful of brussel sprouts, read on for my top three inspired Christmas offerings in the capital. Oh and they are all under £40 per head. Here’s my pick of Edinburgh’s best Festive Menus:

1. Kyloe, Rutland Street.
This is a very well balanced menu with fish, meat and veggie options – something to please everyone. Always happy to see a beef offering on the festive menu of my favourite steak restaurant. However, after some consideration, I would opt for the smoked fish to start, followed by the Ayrshire pork with black pudding and finish with the vanilla creme brûlée
Check out the full Christmas Menu here.
Lunch £28, Dinner £35

2. Pompadour, Caledonian Hotel, Princes Street.
A petite menu with two choices per course but this is the true meaning of quality over quantity. My choices would be the salmon ravioli, followed by the Perthshire pheasant and finishing with the chocolate pave.
Read the full Festive Menu here.
£35

3. The Witchery, Castlehill
The Witchery has one of the best reputations in Edinburgh for good reason! Very difficult to narrow down my choices on this one, but after some chin scratching, I would start with the terrine of game with foie gras. For my main I would go for the Glasgow Fillet (a beef cut from between the shoulders suited to slow cooking) and I’d round off the meal with the Rum Baba
See the full Festive Menu here. Lunch £35, Dinner £39.50

I’d love to hear about your favourite Christmas menu; you can comment below. Happy festive dining!

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My cat wearing a Christmas hat. Just because.

Bo’Vine Glasgow Review

This weekend I visited Bo’Vine on Byres Road to celebrate Mr GVF’s birthday. The Glasgow establishment is part of the Hilton hotel but is very much a restaurant in its own right. The venue has stylish yet tongue-in-cheek decor with huge painting of cows in ornate frames and cow-print pillars.

Having presented Mr GVF with a gift of Fleetwood Mac tickets earlier in the day (I know, I’m an awesome wife) we were both in good spirits. We had a quick G&T before dinner at BoBar next door which had a buzzing Saturday night atmosphere. Upon leaving we were given the once over by a Mancunian lady sitting by the door. “They really dress smart in this part of town”, she said to her drinking partner. Why thank you, we aim to please!

In the restaurant, we were seated close to the window with a great view of an impressively lit Oran Mor. We cast our eye over the menu and clocked the appealing pre-dinner drinks at the top which included a Smokey Daiquiri made with Islay whisky. I opted for the Tanq 10 Negroni cocktail which contained gin, grapefruit and Aperol and transported me directly to an Italian piazza. Salute!

There’s a big emphasis on Scottish produce on the menu from Perthshire venison to West Coast Scallops. To start I opted for Stornaway Black Pudding with a poached hen’s egg and red wine jus. The egg was cooked perfectly with a runny yoke. Mr GVF opted for the melt in the mouth Ox Cheek Pudding.

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It goes without saying that we both went for steaks for the main – a ribeye for me and a sirloin for him. The steaks come with your choice of two sauces/sides. I would highly recommend choosing the dauphinoise potatoes. Mr GVF also added the Surf n Turf to his steak which comes in at a reasonable £7 to add two scallops and two king prawns.

To finish, I fancied something simple so opted for an ice-cream. This salted caramel treat was so good, I feel I could probably eat it everyday for the foreseeable future. The birthday boy opted for a Prune and Armagnac Tart – presumably he feels the need for more fibre in his diet now he’s the ripe old age of 28. The pud got a big thumbs up and a clean plate.

Service was on point throughout the meal with the staff being attentive but not obtrusive. They were also super helpful in getting us a taxi from the hotel concierge which saved a long wait on a wet December evening. Overall a great night and I’m keen to visit again to try out the Bo’Vine Market Menu which is available earlier in the evening and great value at £18.95 for three courses.


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