Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Category: Food & Drink Events (page 1 of 3)

7 Unmissable Food & Drink finds in Angus

Angus is a wonderful region full of treats for the food and drink lover. Here are a few of my top recommendations.

1.One of the most famous foods from Angus has to be the Arbroath Smokie. The Smokie has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. In a similar way to Champagne or Parma Ham, this means that the smokie has to be processed within five miles of Arbroath. The haddock is washed, salted and then wood-smoked in a traditional process that dates back to the 1800’s. My personal favourite is having smokies served simply with butter for breakfast but have a look over on http://www.asapsmokies.com/recipes/ for some brilliant recipe ideas.

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2. Who knew that Kirriemuir would be home to an artisan chocolate maker? Johanna Woodhead and her husband have run the gorgeous 88 Degrees café for more than 13 years and I hear that the communal bench seating has led to more than one marriage proposal! As well as being a bit of a Cilla Black, Johanna creates THE most amazing handmade chocolates. She was kind enough to let me sample the Adult Snickers (yep, as good as it sounds!) and even let me have a go at making my own truffles. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to give up my day job quite yet!

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3. Angus loves a food and drink event. I attended Taste Angus at Glamis Castle and it was a brilliant day out with artisan food suppliers, celebrity chef demos and live music. Look out for its return next year. Later in 2017 there’s also Brechin Beer & Gin Festival  in September and Angus Brewfest in October to look forward to. Also the Farmers Market Montrose is held on the first Saturday of every month and the Farmers Market Forfar is held on the second Saturday of the month. Lots of great opportunities to try and buy local produce!

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4. I couldn’t talk about Angus food and drink without mentioning the famous Forfar Bridie! Whilst there are conflicting stories about the origin of the bridie, there’s no denying just how tasty they are! The delicious shortcrust pastry, the hot beef filing…. nothing quite compares! The first time I visited Forfar for work, when 12 o’clock came, I was asked the most serious question of the day “Are you going to McLaren’s or Saddler’s for your bridie?“.  One not to miss out on when you visit the town!

5. For whisky lovers, this 360 degree bar in Edzell has to be a little piece of heaven. Situated in the Glenesk Hotel, the bar is home to over 1,000 varieties with the most expensive dram setting you back a cool £195. For those less partial to Scotch, the bar also has a great vodka corner and an excellent gin selection. The lounge is the perfect place to unwind with a drink after dinner in the stunning Fairways Restaurant.

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6. Angus is home to not one, but two of my favourite gin producers! Both Arbikie and The Gin Bothy are based in the county. Arbikie has two gin varieties – Kirsty’s Gin and AK’s Gin. Both distinctly different but equally delicious.

The Gin Bothy currently have four full strength gins as well as a number of fruit infused gins which are liqueur strength. The Gin Bothy is the brainchild of Kim who gave me a sneaky peak of the brand new tasting rooms where you can enjoy a guided group sampling session. She also let me try out the full range; tough job I know! What stood out for me was how ‘real’ the fruit gins tasted. There’s no synthetic flavours added so the Raspberry Gin, my favourite, tastes like real Scottish raspberries. I also fell in love with Gunshot Gin which has won a triple star in the Great Taste Awards

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7. If, like me, you are a fan of fine dining, then Angus and the surrounding areas have a number of restaurants sure to tickle your fancy! The Tayberry in Broughty Ferry was created by award winning chef Adam Newth in 2015. Adam, from Abroath, is also Head Chef at the stunning Kinnetles Castle near Forfar and has recently opened a second Tayberry in St Andrews. My experience at The Tayberry was outstanding – you can read the full review here.

Or how about a visit to one of Chef Graham Campbell’s restaurants? The youngest person in Scotland to have received a Michelin star; he is Head Chef at both Castlehill restaurant in Dundee and the Glenesk Hotel in Edzell. I watched Graham demonstrate some of his favourite dishes recently and I loved his passion for using locally sourced produce and letting the ingredients do the talking.

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Scallops with Corn

Scallops with Corn

Edinburgh Festival Food and Drink Experiences 2017

August is one of the most exciting months in Edinburgh’s social calendar. With The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe all going on, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to comedy, music and theatre options. 2017 is an extra special year as it marks the 70th year of the Fringe Festival.

If you’d like to include some food and drink themed fun in your plans, here are my top tips for the 2017 Edinburgh festival.

 

1. Ice Cream from Mary’s Milk Bar

Sometimes the sun shines in Edinburgh. Mostly it doesn’t. Either way, make sure you sample the delights of Mary’s Milk Bar! The soft gelato is freshly made each day and comes in exciting flavours like Fried Bananas in Butter or Fig & Goats Cheese. Check out Mary’s Instagram page to see the mouth-watering treats https://www.instagram.com/marysmilkbar/?hl=en

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2. Fine Dining and Enchantment

If you only do one thing at the festival this year, make it this. The Illusionist’s Table was my highlight of the 2016 Fringe.  The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a brilliant venue and you can look forward to an evening of food, whisky and enchantment. Always a sell out so make sure you get your tickets well in advance. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/at-the-illusionist-s-table

3. Fresh Seafood

Stop by Odine for Oyster Happy Hour! Oysters are only £1 a shuck (5.30 – 6.30pm Mon – Thur, 5.00- 6.00pm Fri – Sat).

https://www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk/oyster-hour/

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4. Have a dram

Scotch whisky is famous across the world and with good reason! We have over 100 distilleries in Scotland so why not take the opportunity to try out the national drink during the festival this year? Here are some of the planned tasting sessions available:

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5. Foodies Festival

I’ve been along to Foodies Festival a few times and it’s always a great day out with loads to see and samples to taste. This year is set to include appearances from top chef Mark Greenaway, a Vintage Tea Tent and even a Chilli Eating Competition! The festival takes place at Inverleith Park between 4th and 6th August. http://www.foodiesfestival.com/edinburgh-food-festival/

Foodies Festival fun

Foodies Festival fun

6. Dram & Smoke Pop Up Dining

Meet new people and try some Scottish seasonal delights at this pop-up dining event in a former biscuit factory. You can expect a welcome cocktail and a four course dining experience followed by live music. The coolest way to have dinner during the festival! https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dram-smoke-the-campfire-feasts-pop-up

7.  Picnic in Princes Street Gardens

Princes St Gardens were created in two phases in the 1770’s and 1820’s following the draining of Nor Loch (where they used to drown Edinburgh’s witches…. go on a ghost tour to hear more about this).  The Gardens are a lovely place to sit and people watch while you have a great view of Edinburgh Castle. Why not stop off Valvona & Crolla for some gourmet picnic ingredients? Remember to tweet me with your picnic pics @girlversusfood

8. Dining and Cabaret Show

A four course meal and evening of traditional Scots fiddle and bagpipes will make for a great night out at Prestonfield House. I’ve visited Prestonfield before and I was really impressed by the grand 17th-century building and the delicious food. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/famous-taste-of-scotland

Prestonfield House

Prestonfield House

9. Visit a Farmer’s Market

There are weekend Farmers Market in Stockbridge, Leith and the Grassmarket which stock a wonderful variety of local produce. Check out the website for details. http://www.stockbridgemarket.com/

10. The Gin Whore Tour

Historical tales of hooch and harlots, paired with the very best gins….sounds like my kind of thing! The one-woman show is back for a second year and will be running from 21st to 27th of August (four gins are included in the ticket price). Here I am with the fabulous Gin Whore herself: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-whore-tour

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11. Thai Cookery Class

Get hands on with this Thai cookery workshop from executive chef Rujira Herd where you will make an autherntic three-course lunch. Rujira has been running the Thai cook school from an Edinburgh town house for nearly 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge about the traditional cuisine of her homeland. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/thai-cookery-workshop-with-lunch

12. Sample Some Sweet Treats

  • Check out The Marshmallow Lady for the fluffiest of marshmallows made from Scottish butter, cream and Fair Trade Sugar. Most are gluten free. Prosecco and Rose Petal Flavour? Yes, please! http://www.burghbakes.com/
  • Shortbread has a long tradition in Scotland. Try this biscuit at its best at the fabulous Pinnies and Poppy Seeds bakery; will you go traditional or try the butter pecan? http://pinniesandpoppyseeds.com/
  • Mimi’s Bakery on the Royal Mile is a great place to go for cakes, traybakes, brownies, cupcakes, muffins and scones. Mid-afternoon sugar fix sorted! http://mimisbakehouse.com/pages/mimislittlebakehouse-oldtown

13. Bring Your ‘A’ Game

Highland estate distiller Arbikie will be back with their ‘A Club’ this year bringing the most delicious artisan cocktails and best live music to Merchants Hall. Hop over to Arbikie Club for the full low-down. https://www.arbikieclub.com/

14. Spend time at Summerhall

It’s not just the Fringe that turns seventy this year. Pickerings Gin are celebrating 70 years since their 1947 recipe was created. That makes it a great time to head to their distillery at Summerhall. You can hang out in the gin garden, take a tour of the distillery or even play the gin-themed escape room.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/pickering-s-gin-jolly

https://www.pickeringsgin.com/tours-tastings/lockedin-the-distillery/

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11 Fun and Romantic Dates in Edinburgh

With its spectacular skyline and historic buildings, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; making it the perfect location for a date! Who needs Paris when we have Auld Reekie? But what are the most fun and romantic dates you can undertake in the city?

  1. Catch an Edinburgh sunset. Get up high to a vantage point to see the best views of sunset over the city. My favourite spots are the top of Arthurs Seat or Calton Hill. Dress for the weather and perhaps take a picnic and a bottle of bubbles. You can check the sunset times for each month here https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/edinburgh. If you don’t fancy an uphill trek, you can still see a good sunset from some bars and restaurants.
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    View from Arthurs Seat

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    View from Chaophraya Restaurant

  2. Toast your date with a romantic cocktail in one of Edinburgh’s many bars. Heads and Tales bar have created this special love themed cocktail using Edinburgh Gin’s limited edition Valentines Gin, Orange Columbo, Pamplemousse Rose and Campari.

    Heads & Tales Valentines Cocktail

    Heads & Tales Valentines Cocktail

  3. Take in some culture together. Both the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery have free entry and are brilliant for a wander around. See if you can find any faces that look like your date amongst the portraits hanging on the gallery walls!IMG_4155
  4. What could be more romantic than star-gazing? Experts at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh will talk you through the wonders of the night sky and (weather permitting) you will get the chance to look through the powerful telescopes. http://www.roe.ac.uk/vc/public-events/astronomy-evenings.
  5. From lemurs to lions, Edinburgh Zoo has an amazing collection of wildlife. Don’t forget to check out the Penguin Parade. Bonus points of you spot any of the animals involved in their own ‘romantic liaisons’!image1
  6. There are hundreds of options for a romantic meal in Edinburgh. If you are feeling extravagant, push the boat out and visit one of the city’s four Michelin star restaurants; Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, 21212 or Number One at The Balmoral.

    Scallops with escargot butter at The Kitchin

    Scallops with escargot butter at The Kitchin

  7. Share a sweet treat with your sweetheart. If ice cream is your thing then check out Mary’s Milk Bar. Mary’s soft gelato is freshly made each day and comes in wonderful flavours like Goats Cheese & Honey and Whisky & Pecan.
  8. Edinburgh has a spooky and at times gruesome history! A ghost walk will get the heart racing and give you the opportunity to cosy-up to your other half. There are a number of guided ghost walks that allow you to experience Edinburgh’s closes, graveyards and underground vaults.
  9. If you or your other half are cat lovers then Maison de Moggy is the must visit cat café in Edinburgh. Have some tea, cake and share your date with the prettiest kitties in town.
  10. Camera Obscura is a fun date with six floors of illusions and interactive exhibits. The rooftop chamber contains the camera obscura itself where you will see live images of Edinburgh projected onto the viewing table.
  11. Share some laughs together at The Stand comedy club. The Stand has seen some famous faces perform over the years including Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle but regardless of who is on the bill, you’re in for a great night.

Which other favourite spots would you include on the list? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

How to Host a Burns Supper

Robert Burns birthday on the 25th of January brings a night of celebrations across the country (and further afield) in memory of the great poet. It’s a brilliant night of food, drink, verse and good company but it can be a bit daunting if you’ve never planned your own before. So here’s the Girl Versus Food guide to hosting a Burn’s Night at home.

The Food

It goes without saying that your guests will be expecting haggis, neeps and tatties! Getting good quality haggis is important; I’d suggest ordering one from your local butcher. For something a bit different, Servus Venison Haggis is very good.

Will you be serving your haggis traditional style with champit tatties and bashed ‘neeps? Or will you look to incorporate the national dish into your menu in another way? I’ve previously created these Haggis Scotch Eggs and will be posting a recipe for Haggis Beef Wellington later in the week.

Last year for my Burns Supper, I went classic with a haggis main course and designed the rest of the menu using as much fantastic Scottish produce as possible. The full menu was as follows;

Amuse Bouche:

Lobster Tail with truffle

Starter:

A Plate of Game – game terrine, venison tartar served with a quails egg, game pate

Le Trou Normand (palate cleanser):

Edinburgh Raspberry Gin Sorbet

Main:

Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties

Pudding:

Heather Honey and Whisky MousseBurns Supper

 

The Drinks

It’s traditional to serve the haggis with whisky. With it being our national drink there’s plenty of options to choose from and each has its own unique characteristics. Food and drink writer Fiona Beckett has an article here https://www.matchingfoodandwine.com/news/pairings/which-whisky-pairs-best-with-haggis/ about which whiskies pair best with haggis, but a Talisker 10 year old would be a safe bet.

Not a big whisky fan? How about a lovely Scottish gin instead? Just like whisky, each gin is very different depending on the botanicals used. A few of my favourites are Rock Rose, The Botanist and Strathearn. Rock Rose have distilled this beautiful limited edition Lassies Toast Gin for Burns this year.Lassies Toast Gin

The Toasts and Poems

It’s great to get all your guests involved in the fun. You might want to ask them to pick out a favourite piece by Burns in advance that they would be happy to give a rendition of on the night (since nobody likes to be put on the spot). You could have guests reading their verses between courses or after the meal.

The Selkirk Grace is said at the beginning of the meal. This is a short and easy verse so would be ideal for someone who is nervous about reading a poem aloud.

When the haggis is brought to the table (ideally accompanied by bagpipe music) Address to The Haggis is read and the cooked haggis is cut open.

After the meal, there are three pieces performed which have been written especially for the evening by the hosts or another appointed person.

  1. The Immortal Memory is a tribute to Robert Burns where the speaker picks out interesting aspects of The Bards life or works. This is the most serious of the speeches.
  2. The Toast To The Lassies is a light-hearted performance and an opportunity to tease the female guests in a good natured way. It should always end with a genuine thanks to the fairer sex and a heartfelt toast.
  3. It’s only fair that the girls get a chance to respond and so follows The Reply to The Toast To The Lassies.

The Visit Scotland page has some great short videos with advice on writing your toasts here https://www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/robert-burns/burns-night/

At the end of the night, it’s time to get your guests together, join hands and sing along to Auld Lang Syne.

Remember, it’s your night so if there are any sections you want to skip or extras you want to add in then go ahead and tailor the evening to you and your guests.

Everything Else

If you can talk your guests into wearing tartan then all the better… kilts, tartan trews and dresses will really set Burns mood.

A tartan themed table and place cards will look beautiful too! As an added touch, you might want to think about a wee favour on your guests’ place settings. Scottish tablet or an alcohol miniature perhaps?

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Too Much Hassle?

If this all seems like a bother or hosting isn’t your thing, get yourself along to an organised Burns Supper in your area. And nobody will ask you to do the dishes at the end of the night! Here’s a couple of options in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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Glasgow

December in Pictures

A summary of a fabulous month in pictures!

 

December started off with making some home made Christmas gifts like this Prosecco Pineapple

December started off with making some home made Christmas gifts like this Prosecco Pineapple

Once the tree was up, it was time for a festive toast!

Once the tree was up, it was time for a festive toast!

A Christmas night out at Copper Blossom, Edinburgh

A Christmas night out at Copper Blossom, Edinburgh

Then it was time for five days in Las Vegas!

Stopped by Carlos Bakery for some canollis!

Stopped by Carlo’s Bakery for some cannolis!

Enjoyed the wonderful tasting menu at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Enjoyed the wonderful tasting menu at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Breakfast with a view at Mon Ami Gabi

Breakfast with a view at Mon Ami Gabi

White chocolate, caramel and macadamia nut cheesecake was an absolute treat!

This white chocolate, caramel and macadamia nut cheesecake was an absolute treat!

The steaks at The Capital Grille were HUGE!

The steaks at The Capital Grille were HUGE!

Sterling Brunch at Bally's with bottomless champagne and seafood = heaven!

Sterling Brunch at Bally’s with bottomless champagne and seafood = heaven!

Beautiful cocktails at the Chandelier Bar in Cosmopolitan

Beautiful cocktails at the Chandelier Bar in Cosmopolitan

12 Ways to feel festive in Edinburgh 2016

  1. The spectacular Street of Light is back for 2016 and this time it can be found on George Street. Between the 21st of November and the 24th of December there will be a twice nightly shows where the lights will synchronize to the music of local choirs and bands. This is a free event but you need to book your tickets in advance here http://www.edinburghschristmas.com/whats-on/street-of-light#calendar-11-2016

    Last year's Street of Light

    Last year’s Street of Light

  1. Sample some festive cocktails. How about a Hot Buttered Rum containing dark rum, muscovado, butter and cinnamon? Try Dine on Cambridge Street which has a great selection of Christmas cocktails starting at £7.50
  2. The Signet Library is one of the most beautiful venues in Edinburgh and it’s also one of the top places for afternoon tea. A Festive Afternoon Tea in this glamorous setting includes mini game pies, turkey club sandwiches and coconut snowballs http://www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/news-events/festive-afternoon-tea/afternoon tea
  3. Get wrapped up and take to the circular ice rink in St Andrews Square. Tickets from £5.
  4. Try something a bit different to the usual Christmas night out. Yuletide Games is new for 2016 and involves your group moving through a series of fun rooms where you will play mini golf, take part in a sensory game show and race mini buggies http://yuletidegames.co.uk/
  5. Dinner, cocktails and a classic Christmas film… sounds like a perfect night! Every Monday in December, Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar are offering the chance to enjoy festive cocktails, a three course meal and a feel-good movie like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ in their very own micro cinema http://www.harveynichols.com/news/2015/08/26/movies-shakers/?restaurant=edinburgh-dining
  6. He’s behind you! It’s not Christmas without a panto. Jack and The Beanstalk is on at The Kings Theatre this year http://www.edtheatres.com/jack
  7. Dine in the Grill Room of The Dome on George Street and enjoy the view of one Edinburgh’s most famous Christmas trees. http://www.thedomeedinburgh.com/christmas/IMG_0412
  8. There are two fabulous Christmas markets to choose from. This year the Scottish Market will be in West George Street, next door to the Street of Light, and will showcase some of the best gifts, food and drink that Scotland has to offer including local gin and craft beer. The Scottish Market runs from 26th November – 24th December. Opening hours are Monday – Thursday12pm -10pm and Friday – Sunday 10am – 10pm.   The European Market is located in East Princes Street Gardens from 19th November until 7th January and has over 140 stalls from Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Belgium. From bratwurst and Glüwein to handcrafted jewellery, Christmas ornaments and carved wooden gifts, there’s lots of goodies to try and take home. The market is open between 10am and 10pm daily.scottish-market
  1. Foodies Christmas Festival brings Scotland’s top chefs and award-winning producers to Edinburgh for a fabulous festive feast. The show takes places between 25th and 27th November at the EICC http://www.foodiesfestival.com/xmas-edinburgh/
  1. Want to brush up on your Christmas cookery? The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School have a range of classes from Christmas baking to sessions demonstrating the perfect canapes http://www.entcs.co.uk/calendar
  1. Do something fun for charity and burn off a few of those mince pies – The Christmas Charity Festival takes place over the 3rd and 4th of December in Inverleith Park. You can take part in a range of events from the Santa Parade to the Tinsel Walk http://www.christmascharityfestival.com/

A Pate Party

A few weeks ago, I got some fantastic news; one of my best friends got engaged. In Vegas, no less! Very exciting! So what better way to celebrate than by getting the girls together for some delicious food and wine?

Of course we got the evening started with a customary glass of bubbles!

The lovely people at Castle MacLellan had sent me out five different pates from their range to sample and have my very own Pate Party. The pates we tried out were:

  • Orkney Crab Terrine – enriched with crème fraiche, lemon juice and Galloway mustard.
  • Chicken Liver Pate – smooth creamy chicken liver pate enhanced with Scottish heather honey.
  • Oven Roasted Mushroom Pate – with full fat soft cheese, crème fraiche and a hint of garlic and thyme.
  • Scottish Smoked Salmon Pate – a blend of smoked and poached salmon enriched with cream, lemon juice and horseradish.
  • Rannoch Smoked Duck Pate – smooth duck liver pate with pieces of Rannoch smoked duck complemented by apple jelly and aromatic tarragon.img_1794

I served the pate with butter, oatcakes, fresh bread, red wine and a selection of other nibbles. The delicious selection of pates were definitely a welcome addition to our girly get together and made a change from the usual ‘crisps and dips’ cliche.

The pates had a lovely texture and the quality of the locally sourced ingredients really came through. Castle MacLellan have long term relationships with lots of their suppliers like John Mellis who produces the heather honey for the chicken liver pate.

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My guests loved the variation in the selection from Scottish seafood to the creamy mushroom pate. What really surprised me was that each of the five girls picked a different favourite. Personally, I was torn between the smoked duck pate and the Orkney crab terrine. They were both so different but equally flavoursome.

I really like that there were recipes ideas on each pack, which you can also check out over on the Castle MacLellan website.  I’m definitely going to have a go at making the Spiced Monkfish en Croute.

Oh and given that we were celebrating an engagement, it would be rude not to include a final photo including The Ring. So here we are… duck pate and diamonds!

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10 reasons to visit the BBC Good Food Show 2016

This year will mark the tenth BBC Good Food Show Scotland. It’s always a cracking day out that showcases the very best in food and drink which is why I’ve attended the last five years in a row! So whether you’ve been before, or are completely new to the show, read on to hear what to expect from the 2016 BBC Good Food Show.

 

Oh and exciting news! I have six pairs of tickets to give-away to the show courtesy of Supertheatre sponsor Aldi. If you’d like to win a pair of tickets for Saturday 5th November, just sign up to my newsletter here.  Entries close 6pm Sunday 30th October,

Here are my top 10 reasons to visit the show 4th – 6th November 2016:

  1. Some of Glasgow’s best restaurants are coming to the show this year in pop-up format; The Finnieston, Gamba and Porter & Rye will all be making an appearance. This is a brilliant opportunity to try their signature dishes in taster size. The Bone Marrow Mac and Cheese from Porter & Rye is legendary!
  2. The Finnieston will also be hosting a pop-up Boutique Bar every day of the show with amazing sounding cocktails like Tiki Down featuring Sailor Jerry, Charred Pineapple, Lime Solution, Coconut, Apricot Brandy. Yes, please!finnieston
  3. It’s easy to get there. The SECC has its own dedicated railway station and there are 6 trains an hour from Central Station so you can leave the car at home. Alternatively, there’s ample parking in the multi-story car park. Check out the travel page for more info https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowscotland.com/visit/opening-times-and-travel
  4. From cheese to craft gin, there’s samples galore so it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new. Lots of the stands have special show prices and offers so you can pick up a bargain.
  5. Get inspired watching demonstrations from celebrity chefs like John Torode and Michel Roux Jr in the Supertheatre sponsored by Aldi.
  6. Great British Bake Off fans, you can meet The Blue Eyed One in person and have him sign your book. Paul Hollywood is one of a host of celebs taking part in book signings over the weekend. See the line-up here.
  7. And while we’re on the subject, did you know there’s a whole area of the show dedicated to all things baking? See demonstrations and source all sorts of specialist ingredients and equipment in the Cake & Bake Village.Bakes--26-Cakes-Village
  8. The Producers Bursary Awards helps small-scale local producers to attend the show. This means that we all get to try tasty treats like Venison Haggis made by Lanarkshire based Servus Haggis and Seville Orange and Malt Whisky Marmalade by Wild Fig.
  9. The Show Guide you’ll receive has a floor plan which is great for making sure you don’t miss any gems! It also has lots of tasty recipes to take home and try out.
  10. Looking for some top tips to impress your dinner party guests? Now’s your chance to ask the experts for their advice on the Interview Stage. Amongst those taking questions is Scottish chef Tom Kitchin, who was the youngest ever winner of a Michelin star for his Leith restaurant, The Kitchin (which also happens to be my favourite ever place to eat).

 

Tickets can be bought at the door or online here https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowscotland.com/visit/ticket-info

 

Hope to see you there! GvF x

 

 

Chocolate, Gin and other reasons to visit Fife

Being invited along to enjoy a ‘Feast of Fife’ has to be one of my blogging highlights for 2016! I’m always excited to try local produce, so I was intrigued to find out what delights Fife had to offer. I took the train from Edinburgh and the journey itself was a pleasure; crossing into Fife over the iconic Forth Bridge and along a coastal track, contemplating a day of gourmet treats ahead.

Starting the day with cheeseJane Stewart

Jane Stewart from the St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company was an absolute pleasure to listen to. I loved hearing about how Jane and her farmer husband had branched out to start making cheese from their dairy herd in 2008. Myself and the other foodie bloggers got to sample four different cheeses produced on the farm; Anster, Red Anster, Smoked Anster and St Andrews Farmhouse Cheddar. They were all delicious but the smoked cheese really did it for me! The crumbly cheese is smoked nearby at St Monans using oak and beech chips. A great place to try St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese is at the purpose built coffee shop; it’s light, bright and has gorgeous views out to the Firth of Forth. If you visit on a cheese-making day (3 days out of 7) then you’ll be able to watch the action through the viewing gallery. I’m also definitely going to have a go at making the cheese scone recipe which is featured on their website http://www.standrewscheese.co.uk/our-cheese/recipes/

cheese

Lunch in a barn

Next up was a visit to The Balgove Steak Barn. I’d never seen a restaurant quite like this before! The rustic looking barn has walls made of potato crates and a shrubbery lined entrance. Inside there are long communal benches and a fire pit which adds to the cosy atmosphere. Along with my fellow food writers, we started by sampling a selection of the Steak Barn’s tasty starters including chicken skewers and battered prawns. Then it was time for the mains, which of course included fantastic 28 day aged steaks, as well as burgers and huuugee onion rings! The meat is all cooked on the wood fired barbeque which provides a focal point for the restaurant. Whilst I’m normally a red wine with steak kind of gal, I took the opportunity to sample three different beers from the St Andrews Brewing Company. The Crail Ale, a crisp pale ale was my pick of the bunch.

I really enjoyed looking around the Balgove Farm Shop too. It’s a proper foodie paradise with lots of locally produced gourmet ingredients. I couldn’t resist taking home a jar of Venison and Cognac Pate.

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Gin and chocolate

What does everyone need after lunch on a Saturday? Definitely gin and chocolate. We headed to Eden Mill to sample the range of gins paired with chocolates from The Highland Chocolatier. What a treat! The Eden Mill range of gins are recognisable by their ceramic bottles and bold branding. I had the chance to sample four gins; the Original, Love Gin, Hop Gin and Oak Gin.

  • The Original Gin is a London dry gin which was paired with a White Lime and Chilli Truffle. The chilli flavour was subtle and the lime worked really well with this classic style of gin.
  • The dark chocolate Ginger Truffle was an excellent accompaniment to the Oak Gin. The caramel and vanilla flavours in the Oak Gin along with the ginger in the truffle made me think of cosy autumn nights by a log fire.
  • The pale pink Love Gin was served with Rose Lemonade and this made it a little sweet for me, but I have tried it with tonic previously and it was delicious. The White Raspberry and Heather Honey Truffle was just beautiful with a thistle pattern on the outside. It tasted just as good as it looked!
  • Last up was the Hop Gin with a Passionfruit and Mango Truffle. The Hop variety is definitely the Marmite of gin and there were some mixed reactions around the table. Eden Mill have a great range of craft beer and this gin is a bit of a cross-over product which features Australian galaxy hops. I found the smell of this one a bit overpowering but the flavour definitely grew on me.

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Fife Foraging

Over the last year, I’ve developed a growing interest in foraging, mostly brought on by my experience with The Botanist Gin which you can read about here. I had mixed results at the beginning of the summer in my attempts to make elderflower cordial and champagne but that hasn’t put me off! A great way to finish my day in Fife was a guided foraging trip. Along the way we found lots of edible plants and berries and also learned what to be wary of. It’s amazing what you can find on a country walk. I’m now inspired to make some elder berry wine and sloe gin…. stay tuned!

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This was an absolutely brilliant day out in Fife and I would definitely recommend checking out all the fantastic producers in this area! Throughout the day, I saw so much passion from the producers; theyare quite rightly extremely proud of the fantastic food and drink scene in Fife.

Review of the Italian Caffe and Ways to Spend £20 at the Merchant City Festival

The Italian Caffe Enoteca invited me to stop by this weekend and sample the delights of the restaurant while checking out the Merchant City Festival (30th July – 7th August).

The Albion Street restaurant is light, bright and I received a warm welcome from the team when I arrived for lunch. Enoteca is an Italian word which translates literally as “wine repository” and that is clearly reflected in the Italian Caffe’s extensive wine list. The list contains more than 34 wines from various regions of Italy and most of them are available by the glass. This is great news if, like me, you want the freedom of being able to match wine to your food without committing to a bottle.

Italian Caffe

The Italian Caffe has a great selection of small plates to choose from including meat, seafood, pasta, pizza and risotto dishes (check out their Facebook page and Twitter for special deals). My dining buddy and I opted for two dishes each – langoustines, smoked haddock risotto, pork medallions and a parma ham pizza.

Italian Caffe food

I was pleasantly surprised at how generously proportioned the ‘small plates’ were; two dishes were enough for a filling lunch. The langoustines in garlic butter were fresh and perfectly cooked. The risotto with haddock and asparagus was creamy and the smoked fish flavour really came through. The individual sized pizza had a light base which was topped with lots of parma ham, rocket and drizzled with olive oil.

Staff were engaging and attentive throughout the meal and made sure to check back on whether there was anything else we needed. Oh and the toilets were spotlessly clean!  Overall I really enjoyed my visit and would definitely return for lunch or dinner and to work my way through more of that gorgeous wine list!

The Italian Caffe also challenged me to see what I could get for £20 at the Merchant City Festival. The festival is running from now through to Sunday 7th August and has a programme packed full of street arts, music, theatre, comedy, food & drink and family activities.

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There’s lots of fantastic market stalls selling everything from street food and sweet treats to hand made arts and crafts. It’s easy to spend an hour perusing the stalls while soaking up the festival atmosphere. So what did I pick up for £20?

  • A beautiful forest green scarf for £5. There were lots of lovely accessories to choose from!
  • Scottish cheese from the Inverloch Cheese Company, based in Campbeltown Argyll – £4.50
  • Lemongrass and Ginger Beard Oil from Twa Burds, a Glasgow based maker of artisan soap company – £6.99 This was a gift for Mr GvF and it smells devine!
  • Some greetings cards. I picked up a wedding day card for £3.50 on a stall featuring Scottish themed cards. I also got a cute ‘Belter’ card from the Marseille/Glasgow inspired pop-up PoundShop which has lots of quirky products priced at £1, £3 or £5.

My haul from the stalls

With the number of free events in the Merchant City Festival programme, you could have a great day out for nothing, but here are three more ways that I would choose to spend £20:

  1. Celebrate the music of David Bowie and Roxy Music with an evening featuring the artists they have inspired. Includes Bowie and Roxy Music themes karaoke and face painting. (Tickets £15.00 – Saturday 6th August) http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/vintage/Pages/Oh!-You-Pretty-Things.aspx
  1. Enjoy a guided walking tour of iconic Merchant City venues with Glasgow Music City Tours and learn about the history of the Glasgow music scene. (Tickets £10.00 Thursday 4th – Sunday 7th August) http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/Event-Info.aspx?k=d3b74de9-7a99-4ee9-b1a2-a63400a1058b Then stop by the Vintage DJ Bus on Bell Street for a refreshment at the bar while listening to some retro tunes (Saturday 6th August).
  1. Roll up, roll up, the circus has come to town! This circus variety show is set to dazzle with spectacular aerial feats and acts hailing from both sides of the Atlantic. (Tickets £12.00 – Sunday 7th August)  http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/Event-Info.aspx?k=fb5a793c-96d3-4641-8371-a63300bf7de6
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