Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Category: Reviews (page 2 of 6)

Places I’ve been and products I’ve tried.

The Spanish Butcher Review

I’ve been keen to try The Spanish Butcher since it opened on Miller Street, Glasgow in December 2016 so I was delighted to be invited along this month to sample the pre-theatre menu. The people behind The Spanish Butcher own two of my favourite Glasgow restaurants; Hutchesons and The Butchershop so I definitely had high expectations!

My first impressions of the restaurant were good; I received a warm welcome and I really liked the stylish décor; dark green walls, lots of wood and plenty of candlelight. Even the toilets are swish looking!

While we looked at the menu we enjoyed some warm sourdough bread and THE most delicious olives I’ve ever tasted. The green gorda olives were juicy and perfectly marinated. There’s a big focus on produce and provenance at the restaurant; from the beef sourced from 12-14 year old Galician cattle from northern Spain to the 30 month matured authentic Jamon Iberico de Bellota. I found staff to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the menu.

There’s an extensive wine list with bottles ranging from £19 up to £425. There’s also a good selection available by the glass. We took a recommendation from our waitress and went with a nice smooth bottle of Rioja which was very enjoyable.image1

So on to the meal. To start, I had the confit pork belly stew with chorizo, morcilla, butterbeans and charred bread. My friend went for the Shetland mussels which were sautéed with chorizo, lobster stock, fennel and also served with charred bread. Both starter portions were generous. The pork belly was melt in the mouth and really tasty, if just a touch salty. The mussels were fresh and flavoursome and it was nice to have the bread to dip in the juices at the bottom of the dish.IMG_4816

Pork Belly Stew

Pork Belly Stew

For the main course, my friend chose the Galician hogget stew served with charred bread. In texture and flavour this had similarities to my starter and again was a little bit salty, but very tasty.IMG_4817

I opted for the Secreto Iberico de Bellota which comes with truffle manchego fries and Mojo verde. Secreto means “the secret cut” and comes from the acorn-fed Iberico pig. The meat was super tender and I would describe it as tasting like somewhere between bacon and steak.

The side of fries were something else; crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and the truffle flavour was complimented by the grated Manchego cheese.image3image2

So did The Spanish Butcher live up to my high expectations? Absolutely! Delicious food, a great selection of wine and enthusiastic staff. The lunch and pre-theatre menu is also excellent value at two courses for £15.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Edinburgh Review

The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse in Edinburgh is the new kid on the block amongst some well-established steak places in the city. As a steak-lover, I was delighted to be invited along to check out the menu in the new Edinburgh restaurant last week.

The restaurant is located within the Carlton Hotel, located on North Bridge. Marco Pierre White has a number of steakhouses across the UK but the only other one in Scotland is in Glasgow. Now operated by Hilton, The Carlton recently underwent a £17m facelift and I must say it is looking very swish! Check out this grand staircase leading up to the restaurant which is situated on the first floor.IMG_4281

There were some rather imposing signs inside and outside the hotel advertising the restaurant with larger than life photographs of the celebrity chef. However, the décor in the restaurant itself was modern and classy with a grey and neutral colour palate. I really liked the spacious booths as they gave a sense of privacy without feeling too enclosed.IMG_4235

The MPW staff were friendly and made me feel welcome. Our waiter was confident in answering questions about the menu and attentive throughout the meal.

So onto the menu itself. There were eight starters to choose from including three vegetarian options. As a major cheese fan, I couldn’t resist going for the warm baked Camembert with toasted sourdough and roasted vine tomatoes with vintage balsamic. My friend opted for the crispy devilled whitebait served with tartare sauce. It was a generous portion of whitebait and the batter was nice and light. The baked Camembert came served in its box with two big slices of sour dough. This was a simple dish but well-presented and very tasty; what’s not to love about bread and melted cheese?IMG_4242IMG_4245

Given we were checking out a steakhouse, we were always going to order steaks for our main course! However, there were a lot of tempting alternatives; the lamb sounded delicious, as did the burgers.

I opted for the 10oz Ribeye steak and my dining buddy opted for the 16oz T-bone steak.  The beef is 28 day aged steak and comes from Campbell Brothers Butchers. The 100-year-old butchers based in Bonnyrigg have a Royal Warrant so you can be assured you’re receiving excellent quality produce. The steaks are served with skinny chips and a green salad and there are also a selection of sauces to choose from. I picked the escargot in garlic and parsley butter. The meat was cooked perfectly and had a lovely char on the outside.

One of the ‘Chosen by Marco Pierre White’ wines on the menu is Syrah but our waiter said that the Argentinian Malbec was also very good. I sampled both and my preference was for the fruitier Malbec.IMG_4254IMG_4259

The selection of desserts was traditional with options including Eton Mess, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Knickerbocker Glory. I picked the Cambridge Burnt Cream and my friend chose the Warm Chocolate Brownie. The desserts were generously portioned and indulgent. It would have been great if there had been dessert wines available to match this final course.

IMG_4272IMG_4275

A good steak dinner is a thing of beauty and you’re sure to find this at the MPW Steakhouse in Edinburgh. If you want to check out the restaurant for yourself, the Pre-theatre Menu is really good value at three courses for £19.95 including a glass of Processo. Check out the website for details http://www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/steakhouse-edinburgh/offers/pre-theatre-menu

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

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.

img_1822

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!

img_1842

 

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.

img_1266

img_1265

img_1260

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.

img_1311

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!

img_1335-2

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.

£20 lunch with bubbles at 111 by Nico

I recently tried out a hidden gem in the West End of Glasgow that I just had to share with you! 111 by Nico has been my favourite lunch this year and it is also incredible value. Their Taste lunch is available Friday to Sunday and for £20 you get an amuse bouche, three courses and a glass of prosecco. The menu is inspired by nature and designed to give you a taste of the garden, land and sea.

I started with a glass of fizz and an amuse bouche of mushroom consume. The consume was silky smooth; I could easily have had a full sized bowl of it and still asked for more! The restaurant had a great atmosphere and I enjoyed watching the open kitchen.amuse bouche

Next up was a goats cheese salad. The goats cheese mousse was incredibly light and fluffy and the walnuts and summer vegetables were a great accompaniment. You can add matched wines to the lunch for an extra £20 and I was served a fantastic South African white with the goats cheese dish.IMG_0811

It was then time for a taste from the sea in the form of a beautifully cooked piece of stone bass with mussels, pak choi and sweet potato. The fish had a nice crispy skin and I loved the slightly spicy Thai sauce. The matched wine this time was a refreshing white from Sardinia which was a great alongside the stone bass.

IMG_0812

The final savoury dish was a piece of pork belly and ham hough with apricot and beetroot. The slow cooked meat was really flavoursome and the crisp Cotes du Rhone red served with the dish was a perfect match.

ham hough

For a small supplement, you can add dessert to your lunch. Fresh strawberries, meringue, cream and prosecco jelly; what’s not to love? The dessert was not too heavy and satisfied my sweet tooth at the end of the meal.

dessert

The restaurant has only been open for a year but has quickly built up a loyal fan base, the table next to me during lunch told me that they regularly travel from the other side of Glasgow to sample Nico’s delicious menu. Not only is he turning out exceptional food, Nico is an all-round good guy who is passionate about giving an opportunity to young people who’ve not had the best start in life. A prime example is Modou who is now head chef at the restaurant. Modou had been sleeping rough when he applied for a job as a kitchen porter and Nico, seeing his work ethic and determination, trained him up to be a skilled chef.

The Taste lunch is a great concept which translates even better on the plate. 111 by Nico is most definitely worth a visit; and is now a firm favourite on my list.

Chef Nico

Chef Nico in action

 

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.

IMG_0458

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

Food for a fiver in Edinburgh

With its posh shops and upmarket bars and restaurants, George Street might not be the first place you’d think about for reasonably priced food in Edinburgh. So I was surprised (in a good way) to find out there’s somewhere on George Street where you can get a main course and a drink for less than a tenner! Where is this hidden gem, you ask? It’s Candybar which I’ve been to for cocktails plenty of times before but never thought to eat there. It turns out that Candybar has all food priced at £5 every day and a range of other deals like fajitas and a margarita for £9 on a Wednesday. Surely there’s a catch, I thought? Candybar recently invited me along to check the place out for myself and here’s what I thought….

IMG_9546

Candybar, at the west end of George Street, is at basement level but there is also some outdoor seating at pavement level (which you can’t miss due to its fluorescent green colouring!). I visited on a Wednesday evening and the place was really busy and there was a buzzing atmosphere. The clientele seemed to be mainly small groups of friends enjoying mid-week catch ups.

The menu had loads of tasty options and I was torn between starting with the pulled pork nachos, mac ‘n’ cheese fritters or the coconut chicken. In the end, my macaroni cheese obsession won and I opted for the fritters. This was a good choice if I do say so myself; crispy golden breadcrumbs, hot gooey macaroni on the inside and a delicious spicy sriracha sauce to dip them in. Yum!IMG_9553

Next, I was in the mood for a burger. Looking down the menu, the #PBB caught my eye. A homemade Scottish steak burger on toasted brioche with crispy maple cured bacon and peanut butter. Peanut butter on a burger? That was a new one on me and definitely something I had to investigate. My friend also fancied a burger and went for the Chicken Katsu Burger. The burgers were served on a mini tray and came with salad and skinny fries which were crispy and nicely seasoned. Both burgers were delicious and the peanut butter totally worked!IMG_9556

After that, I had no room for dessert but decided to finish the evening with a cocktail from the extensive Candybar list (there’s over 100 to choose from). I also clocked the decent selection of craft beers and made a mental note to inform Mr GvF of this!

I really enjoyed the food and drinks in Candybar and I think this is the perfect venue for a midweek get-together or dinner before a gig or night on the town. If you are planning some Edinburgh Festival fun this summer, Candybar would be a great option for keeping costs down and still enjoying some delicious, good quality food.

IMG_9563

Carnivore Club Box – Review and Recipes

A platter of cured meat paired with cheese and wine is one of my absolute favourite things so I was delighted to test out a Carnivore Club Box this month. The Carnivore Club is a monthly subscription service that delivers artisan charcuterie direct to your door. Italian Bresaola, Spanish Serrano and chorizo are all long term loves of mine. But what’s great about the Carnivore Club is that they use all British produce and ethically treated animals.

This month, the featured producer is Great Glen Charcuterie who specialise in wild venison products. The husband and wife team behind Great Glen Charcuterie are based in the Scottish Highlands and are clearly passionate about what they do.

So what was in the box?

Carnivore Club Box

  • Green Peppercorn Salami
  • Venison Bresaola
  • Venison Pork Salami
  • Venison and Pork Chorizo
  • Chili Venison Chorizo

Of course, I started off by having a wee taste of everything and was blown away by the flavours. The textures were lovely and the seasoning and spices were perfectly balanced.

I was pleased at the quantity in the Carnivore Club box as it meant I was able to create a great platter as well as several other dishes. I had a look at the Great Glen website for some recipe inspiration; they’ve got lots of great ideas on there!

Here’s what I used my box to create:

Brunch of Asparagus with Venison Bresaola and a Poached Egg:

Asparagus Poached Egg

Scallop and Chili Venison Chorizo Canapes:

Scallop Chorizo

A Salad of Gorgonzola, Walnuts, Figs and Green Peppercorn Salami:

Venison Salad

A Charcuterie Platter including artichoke hearts wrapped in salami and pear and gorgonzola wrapped in salami:

Venison Platter

Overall, I was really impressed by both the quantity and quality of the products in the Carnivore Club box. If you’re into cured meats it is definitely worth trying out.

Byron Burger, Glasgow

Glasgow has a thriving burger scene where you can get every type of burger imaginable and all sorts of inventive toppings. But sometimes what you want is a proper hamburger. One that looks more like the classic American burger than a mountainous food challenge. That’s what you’ll get at Byron. They’re all about good quality British beef, cooked medium (unless you ask for it to be cooked differently) in soft squishy buns.

Byron Burger

I was invited along to try out the newly opened Byron on West George Street and the first thing that struck me was the friendly and enthusiastic staff; they genuinely wanted customers to have a great experience. The restaurant itself is really spacious and has a cool industrial vibe with exposed concrete walls and quirky touches.

We kicked off the meal with a generous portion of nachos and some tasty chicken wings with blue cheese dip. There’s currently eight beef burgers to choose from, plus a selection of chicken and veggie options. Mr GvF went for the Double Bacon Cheese and I opted for the Smoky which is a 6oz burger with cheddar cheese, streaky bacon, crispy fried onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles and smoked chilli BBQ sauce. I opted to ditch the lettuce and add some Freddar cheese. We need to talk about this cheese. So you know that American sliced cheese that melts really well? Well Freddar cheese is like that, except it tastes AMAZING! It’s a combination of Grana Padano, Red Leicester and mature Cheddar. It was invented by Byron Head Chef, Fred Smith, through a process of trial and error. Here I am with the Cheese Genius himself:

Fred Smith

So cheese aside, the burgers were delicious. They were cooked medium as promised and the flavours were great. The quality of the ingredients was really coming through. For sides we opted for courgette fries and sweet potato fries which both got top marks. I also cannot recommend the milkshakes highly enough, I had the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Shake and it was heavenly. There were lots of good chunks of peanut butter cup in there so you might need to ask for a spoon! There was a great selection of beers available for Mr GvF too.Byron Burger

In summary, Byron is in a great location, has friendly staff and excellent burgers and shakes!

Older posts Newer posts

© 2019 Girl Versus Food

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑