Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Edinburgh blogger

Sicily at Six by Nico Edinburgh Review  

From Palermo in the north to Catania in the east, with active volcano Mount Etna towering over it, Sicily is a treat for the eyes and the belly. A couple of friends of mine travelled around Sicily this summer and I was glued to their Instagram! The sights and food looked equally breath-taking. So when Six by Nico announced their latest menu was going to be Sicily themed, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

Sicily has been inhabited by the Greeks, Arabs, Spanish and the Normans at various points over the centuries and these influences come across in both the culture and the food. The soil is fertile due to volcanic eruptions and the warm climate makes it perfect for growing lemons, oranges, tomatoes, olives and pistachios. Fishing is also important to the island and local catches include tuna, sardine and swordfish. With these ingredients to work with, I was excited to see what Nico and his team would come up with.

If you’ve not been to Six by Nico yet (where have you been?) the concept is a new themed six-course tasting menu, every six weeks. The menu is very reasonably priced – £28 for the six courses and you can add matched wines for an additional £25.

To begin, there were three different types of arancini to try. My favourite had to be the red pepper with smoked mozzarella. The risotto balls were a good start to the meal and left me wanting more.IMG_6102

Next up was slow cooked aubergine served with creamy ricotta and Trapenese pesto. So both of the first two courses were meat free but certainly not lacking in flavour or substance. It worth noting that there is also a vegetarian menu, or if desired individual courses can be swapped out for the vegetarian alternative.IMG_6121

The fish dish was beautiful, fresh seared tuna served with puttanesca, a caper and raisin purée and some crispy kale. The tuna was cooked perfectly and the accompaniments complimented the fish and allowed its flavour to shine through.IMG_6126

Then it was on to a pasta dish of saffron pappardelle and ox cheek ragu. The ragu had been slow cooked for a deep, rich flavour. The dish was topped with a cheese crisp which was a bit like when you make a cheese toastie and some cheese runs out and crisps up. Delicious!IMG_6136

There were more traditional Sicilian flavours coming through on the pork fillet and sausage dish which had an orange and pistachio dressing. This dish was tasty, but maybe a little too filling straight after the pasta.IMG_6145

Dessert was a Sicilian Lemon Tart with whipped creme Fraiche, granita and candied rosemary. I’m not going to lie, I had been hoping for some Cannoli for dessert! However the lemon tart was certainly not a disappointment. It was zingy and fresh and the perfect ending to the meal.IMG_6151

This was another brilliant and inventive menu at Six by Nico. It runs until the 28th of October at both the Edinburgh and Glasgow restaurants. The next menu has just been announced as a Middle Eastern theme and I must say, it sounds absolutely delicious.

 

Mono Edinburgh Review

Does Italian food automatically make you think of hearty, homely cooking; lasagne, Bolognese, pizza? The type of meal where you might need to undo the top button on your trousers afterwards? If you fancy trying a different side of Italian cuisine, I may just have found the perfect place!

Mono opened a few months ago and I’d heard really positive things so I was keen to try it out. It describes itself as ‘progressive Italian dining’ and walking in off the busy South Bridge, it felt like a serene sanctuary with tasteful, modern décor.

The three course lunch (£22) seemed like a good starting point and I added on matched wines at £15. Mono also do à la carte as well as a tasting menu. The lunch menu is concise, with three or four options for each course. The menu doesn’t give a lot of clues as to how the ingredients will be served, but that’s part of the excitement.

After a delicious beetroot and goats cheese amuse bouche and some hand made bread and olive oil, it was on to the first course. I opted for the baked ricotta whilst my friend chose the tuna tortellini. The ricotta dish had lots of colourful elements on the plate and was finished with a tomato consommé poured over the top. The baked ricotta and creamy ricotta mousse worked well with the other elements including the olives, tomatoes and what my friend described as the orange ‘pieces of coral reef’. The tuna tortellini was fresh, had a beautiful bergamot sauce and was topped with crispy onions.

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IMG_6009On to the mains and I had taken our waiter’s recommendation on the cod. A decision I did not regret! The fish was well seasoned and perfectly cooked. The accompanying mussels were a treat! My friend opted for the porcini risotto; probably one of the more traditional dishes on the menu but perfectly executed and the mushroom flavour came across well.

IMG_6016For the desserts we opted for the olive oil cake and the plum tart. This was my first olive oil cake and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a soft texture and wasn’t overly sweet but the honeycomb and ice-cream on the dish gave the right balance. The plum and chocolate tart was dramatically served with a puff of Laphroaig whisky from a perfume bottle.

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The staff in Mono were knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing. They chose some really nice matched wines for us which I thought were excellent value at £15.

This was an all-round excellent experience and I confirm I there was no need to unbutton my jeans after lunch!

Keep an eye out for special events from Mono; the most recent one was an eight course Truffle Tasting Menu which sounded unbelievable!

I was invited along as a guest of Mono.

Review – Six by Nico Edinburgh

I’ve been a huge fan of Six by Nico since the Glasgow restaurant opened last year and I’ve made it along to check out nine of their menus! So when I heard that Chef Nico had decided to open an Edinburgh restaurant, needless to say I was a tad excited!

The new Hanover Street restaurant is very stylish with dark wood and grey walls with citrus highlights and marble table tops. The chefs are part of the dining experience; you can watch them in the finishing kitchen as well as get a birds-eye view of their progress on the wall mounted screen.image4

The concept is simple but genius; a new themed six-course tasting menu, every six weeks. The menus have taken inspiration from many corners of the world but have all been inventive and delicious. The menu is also very reasonably priced – £28 for the six courses and you can add matched wines for an additional £25.

The first themed menu that the Edinburgh restaurant ran with was inspired by the pinnacle of Scottish cuisine: The Chippie! But it was definitely not a greasy fish supper served in yesterday’s newspaper. This was a carefully executed meal, designed to bring the inspiration of the chip shop to your plate in unexpected ways.

I started my experience with an aperitif of Edinburgh Seaside Gin & Tonic garnished with samphire, while I looked over the exciting menu that would soon be arriving:

Chips & Cheese – parmesan espuma, crisp potato, curry oil

Scampi – Scrabster monkfish cheek, pea ketchup, herb pesto, bergamont

Steak Pie – Speyside beef shin, caramelised and charred onion, red wine

Special Fish – Shetland cod, beer emulsion, pickled mussels, confit fennel, samphire

Smoked Sausage – Ayrshire pork, salt baked celeriac, caramelised apple

Deep Fried Mars Bar – chocolate sorbets, orange, caramilla nougat

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The restaurant also had a vegetarian version of the menu, which I must say, sounded pretty delicious. It’s difficult for me to pick out highlights as I enjoyed the full meal but the beginning and end of the experience had elements of comfort food for me that gave those dishes an extra something.

The amuse bouche definitely did not have the appearance of chips and cheese! The parmesan mousse was creamy and delicious and the crispy topping inside added just enough texture to the dish. Finishing with a rich, chocolately dessert might seem a bit much for a six course tasting menu but I just loved Nico’s take on the Deep Fried Mars Bar. The caramilla nougat was heaven on a plate!

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So what does Six By Nico have in store for us next? I am beyond excited to say it’s a Willy Wonka themed menu which will run from the 15th May until 24th June. The new menu is set to begin with a reverse cheese board and end with a Wonka Bar – I’m intrigued!! There are also going to be six golden tickets which diners can exchange for an extra special prize. You can book now via https://www.sixbynico.co.uk/edinburgh/

Review: Paul Tamburrini’s new Edinburgh restaurant

The Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, close to The Scottish Parliament, is home to an exciting new restaurant called Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini.

There has been a trend in recent years, for big name chefs to put their names to hotel restaurants. Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White have been just some of the famous faces associated with hotel dining experiences. I was intrigued when I heard that Paul Tamburrini was collaborating with Macdonald Hotels in their new Bistro Deluxe at the Holyrood Hotel.

Paul Tamburrini trained with Marco Pierre White at the renowned L’Escargot in London and has since had stints at some of the Scotland’s best restaurants such as Martin Wishart, Rogano and Hotel du Vin. With a C.V. like that, I couldn’t wait to try his food!

The restaurant and kitchen at The Holyrood Hotel have had a quarter million pound make-over and the result looks high-end with décor in shades of muted greys and browns. The bistro also has a toasty fire; the perfect area for a post dinner nightcap.

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I was lucky enough to try out the five-course tasting menu*, allowing me to sample some of Chef’s favourite dishes paired with the sommelier’s wine choices.

After a tasty chicken broth amuse bouche paired with English pink fizz, I was ready for the first course; foie gras. It was rich and buttery and topped with a beautiful slice of caramelised apple.

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It was really interesting to have the oysters in the middle of the menu. The Lindisfarne oysters were topped with a gin and tonic granita and the effect was like a palate cleanser and delicious fresh seafood in one. The garnish you can see in the picture is an oyster leaf and it really does taste strongly of oysters, I was amazed!

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The Iberico pork was an absolute treat; melt in the mouth tender and served with delicious heritage carrots. I would highly recommend trying out a side of the creamy mash; I’m sure there are ridiculous amounts of butter in it, but it is SO worth it! The Pinot Noir was the first wine I’d tried from Uruguay and was probably my favourite wine of the evening; fruity but subtle enough not to overpower the pork.

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Crème Catalans I have tasted elsewhere have been quite heavy and topped with caramelised sugar; similar to a crème brulee. This one was light, creamy and paired with an exotic sorbet; exactly what I needed to finish off a fantastic meal.

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Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini is not like any hotel restaurant I’ve been to before. Each dish was thoughtful, flavoursome and well-executed. A great addition to the Edinburgh restaurant scene!

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*I was invited as a guest to the Bistro Deluxe press dinner and did not pay for my meal

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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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.

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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

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!

 

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