Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Edinburgh food blogger

Chaophraya Edinburgh – £35 Graduation Menu

I’ve visited Chaophraya (pronounced chow-pry-a, in case you were wondering!) before and always had delicious food so I was really excited to be asked to go along and sample their special Graduation Menu. The menu is running between the 19th of June and 30th of July and offers three courses plus a glass of Prosecco for £35.

The Thai restaurant is located on the corner of Castle Street and George Street and is up on the third floor which means you get the most amazing views of the city. You can see all the way from the coast, right round to the castle. Just look at this sunset:878FFF8E-CD23-43C4-B893-33CE3A7CB784 (1)

When making your reservation, I would request a table with a castle view, but the restaurant interior is beautiful too. You can always enjoy a pre or post-dinner cocktail on the roof top terrace.

There are three or four options to choose from for each course. My friend and I opted for the Chicken Satay and the Soft Shell Crab with Prawn Tempura. Both starters, particularly the seafood, were generous in size and well presented. The batter on the prawns and crab was light and crispy and it was also served with tempura asparagus and onion rings.IMG_6583

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For our mains we opted for the Thai Green Chicken Curry and the Chaophraya classic – Weeping Tiger. There is a choice of rice or noodles as a side dishes to go with the main courses. The Green Curry was perfectly balanced, not too spicy and contained plenty of chicken as well as aubergine and courgette. Jasmine rice was the right choice of an accompaniment as it soaked up all the lovely curry sauce.

The Weeping Tiger (£5 supplement) is a sirloin steak which is served on a sizzling platter with an accompaniment of different Thai sauces. It really is quite impressive as it arrives at the table in all its sizzling glory. It came medium to well done (I would normally have my steaks medium/rare) but it was still tender and the different sauces were so tasty.IMG_6589

On to dessert, and we ordered a Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Trio of Sorbet. The sorbets were light and refreshing, I preferred the Peach & Prosecco and Mango flavours to the Lemongrass one. The Sticky Toffee Pudding looked very pretty, topped with ice cream and an edible flower. It was an indulgent and delicious finish to the meal.

The graduation menu at Chaophraya is good value and you can look forward to great service and dinner in a beautiful setting.

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Scotch Beef and Haggis Wellington Recipe

The lovely people at QMS (Quality Meat Scotland) asked me to come up with a recipe in honour of Burns Day which combined haggis and Scotch beef. Since these are two of my favourite ingredients, I was excited to get my thinking cap on! As much as I love haggis, neeps and tatties, sometimes it’s nice to use ingredients in a new way. So here’s my Scotch Beef and Haggis Wellington. I’ve used Scotch Beef PGI which is beef that is specially selected and sourced from Scottish farms that adopt best practice regarding animal welfare and natural production methods.

 

Serves 4 – 6

For the Wellington

700g of Scotch beef fillet

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp English mustard

2 pre-rolled packs of puff pastry

2 beaten egg yolks

8 slices of Parma ham

300g of good quality haggis

100g of mushroom pate (Castle Maclellan is good)

Sides

3 large new potatoes per person

400ml chicken stock

3 sprigs of thyme

2 peeled garlic gloves

150g butter

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of olive oil

6 – 8 asparagus stalks per person

Whisky Sauce

1 onion, finely chopped

10g of butter

50ml whisky

50ml of chicken stock

400ml double cream

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice

 

Method

  1. Heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a pan and sear the beef for 30 seconds on each side.Remove the beef from the pan and brush all over with the mustard. Leave to cool.
  2. Mix the haggis and pate together in a bowl.
  3. On top of a sheet of cling film, lay out 4 of the slices of the Parma ham with them slightly overlapping. Spread some of the haggis and pate mixture on top of the ham. Place the beef fillet on top of this and spread the other sides of the fillet with the remainder of the mixture. Drape the other 4 slices of Parma ham over the top of the haggis covered beef. Pull the edges of the cling film up and wrap the beef top. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  4. Take the pastry out of the fridge.
  5. Peel the potatoes and cut them into barrel shapes.
  6. Dust your work surface with flour and unroll one of the packs of puff pastry. Place the Parma wrapped beef in the middle of the pastry. Drape the other roll of pastry over the top. Smooth the pastry down to get a tight seal with the bottom layer of pastry, expelling any air as you go. Trim around the base of the wellington with a knife, leaving a small border. Press all the way around the border with a fork.
  7. If you have pastry left over you can cut it into strips and create a decorative lattice pattern on the top of your wellington. Brush the pastry with the egg yolks.
  8. Place the wellington in the fridge for 10 minutes and preheat your oven to 200C.
  9. Put the wellington on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 200C then lower the temperature to 180C and cook for a further 15 minutes. The meat needs to rest for 15 minutes before you carve and serve it.
  10. While the meat is cooking you can make the whisky sauce and the fondant potatoes. Melt 150g of butter in a pan and once the butter is foaming, add the potatoes. Cook them for 7 minutes on one side over a medium heat without moving them. Turn the potatoes over (they should be golden brown) and cook for another 7 minutes on the other side.
  11. Add the chicken stock, garlic gloves, thyme and salt and pepper. Place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer. The potatoes are done when they are tender and slide easily off a fork.
  12. For the whisky sauce, melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped onions. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes until the onion softens.
  13. Add the whisky and flambé the mixture to burn off the alcohol (carefully turn the pan to the side over the flame until it catches alight).
  14. Add the chicken stock and the cream and bring up to a simmer. Stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
  15. Drizzle the asparagus will olive oil and season will salt and pepper. Cook in a hot griddle pan for about 4 minutes.
  16. Carve the wellington and serve on a warm plate with the potatoes, asparagus and whisky sauce.

Beef Wellington

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Beef Wellington

20 Fun Food & Drink Activities during the Edinburgh Festival

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. But what if you’re looking for some food and drink themed fun to include in your plans? This is a guide to some fantastic food and drink activities you can include in your itinerary for August 2016. Scottish food and drink are an absolute passion of mine and whether you’re a local or visiting for the first time, I hope you’ll find something to tickle your taste buds!

 

1. Scottish Craft Beer and Food Matching

The Gait Bar on the Royal Mile is hosting Craft Beer and Food Matching events. Each week of the Fringe will feature a different brewery including Drygate and Stewart Brewing. You can try four to six courses paired with beers from Scottish craft breweries. http://www.gait.bar/events/2016/8/4/festival-fringe-scottish-craft-beer-food-matching

Alternatively Edinburgh New Town Cookery School is running a session on 16th of August. The cookery school has a great reputation for their courses and offer something for everyone from newbies to trained chefs. This two-hour session will let you sample some excellent craft ales from the likes of Innis & Gunn and William’s Bros along with smoked salmon, venison, haggis and Isle of Mull Cheddar. Find out which is your match made in heaven! http://www.entcs.co.uk/beer-and-food-matching-course

 

2. Ice Cream from Mary’s Milk Bar

Sometimes the sun shines in Edinburgh. Often 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 inspiring flavours like Fried Bananas in Butter or Fig & Goats Cheese. Check out Mary’s Instagram page to see some of the mouth-watering creations… https://www.instagram.com/marysmilkbar/?hl=en

 

3. Whisky Tasting

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:

 

Scotch Whisky Experience

Scotch Whisky Experience

4. Locked in the Distillery

Escape room games have become incredibly popular over the last few years. If you haven’t heard of this concept, it basically involves being locked in a room with a small group of friends/colleagues and working together to solve a series of clues and puzzles in order to ‘break out’ within a set time limit. Mentally challenging and lots of fun! The Locked In escape game comes to Summerhall for the first time this year. Can you solve the mystery behind who is plotting the downfall of Pickering’s Gin? Your team have an hour  to find and solve clues… and most importantly SAVE THE GIN! http://festival16.summerhall.co.uk/event/locked-in-the-distillery-escape/

 

5. Foodies Festival

I visited Foodies Festival last year and it was a brilliant day out with loads to see and samples to taste. This year is set to include appearances from top chefs Paul Wedgwood and Mark Greenaway, a Vintage Tea Tent and even a Chilli Eating Competition! The festival takes place at Inverleith Park from 5th to 7th 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-pop-up-dining

 

7. Evening of Literature and Liquor

Edinburgh Gin’s Brand Ambassador, Ewan Angus, will guide you through a boozy literary history from the late 1700s through to the modern day while you enjoy three delicious cocktails. An Evening of Literature and Liquor returns for a second year after last year’s sold out dates. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/edinburgh-gin-s-evening-of-literature-and-liquor

 

8. A 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 with the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Why not stop off Valvona & Crolla for some gourmet picnic ingredients? Tweet me with your picnic photos @girlversusfood

 

9. 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-cabaret-dinner-show

 

Prestonfield House

Prestonfield House

10. Visit a Farmers 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/

 

11. Vegan Festival

For all you vegan and vegetarian lovelies, the Vegan Festival is running 20th and 21st August at the Roxburghe Hotel. Returning to Edinburgh after being fantastically well received in 2015, the festival is set to be really popular again with vegan food, drinks, clothes and gifts available. Get your tickets here: http://veganfestival.co.uk/

 

12. Gin Cruise

Set sail with a Juniper Cruise on the Union Canal on 13th, 20th or 27th August. Gin experts will guide you through a two hour canal cruise highlighted with premium gin and tasty bites. The barge is covered, meaning you can enjoy a bril day out come rain out shine! http://www.solid-liquids.co.uk/#!juniper-festivals–events/c1sll

 

13. Fine Dining and Enchantment

Magicians. I’ve never really been sure how I feel about them! But after a recommendation from a friend who was absolutely amazed by this guy last year, I’m very much looking forward to checking out this show! Following sell-out runs from 2013-2015, the Illusionist’s Table returns for an evening of food, whisky and enchantment. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/at-the-illusionist-s-table

 

14. Thai Cookery Class

Get hands-on with this Thai cookery workshop from executive chef Rujira Herd. 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

 

15. Seafood and Bubbles

Oysters and champagne. I’m not sure I can think of anything better! The Cannonball Restaurant, a 16th century building on the Royal Mile is offering an opportunity to taste three oysters from places including Lindisfarne, the UK’s oldest hatchery along with Pommery Champagne. I recently tried Cannonball’s oysters and champagne for myself and cannot recommend them highly enough. They also have an impressive whisky bar…. just sayin’! https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cannonball-on-the-rock-oysters-and-champagne

Cannonball oysters

Cannonball oysters

16. The Gin Chronicles: a Scottish Adventure

How about some gin-infused culture? This play is set in the 1940’s and involves a gin shortage (shock, horror!) and a train journey to Scotland. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-chronicles-a-scottish-adventure

 

17. Sample Some Sweet Treats

Need an afternoon sugar fix? Here are some of my favourites:

  • 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; the dark chocolate & orange and the toasted coconut varieties are on my hit list! 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

 

18. Food Safari

Who knew you could go on safari in Edinburgh? There are two options for this fun foodie walking tour; the ‘Fine Dining Stockbridge Safari’ and the ‘Bohemian Broughton Street Safari’. The tours, designed by TV presenter and food columnist, Nell Nelson, have received rave reviews on TripAdvisor. Oh and no camouflage gear is required!  http://www.edinburghfoodsafari.com/

 

19. The Gin Whore Tour

Historical tales of hooch and harlots, paired with the very best gins….sounds like my kind of thing! A fantabulous one-woman show taking place on the 27th and 28th of August (four gins are included in the ticket price). https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-whore-tour

 

20. Pop Up Champagne Bar

During August, the stunning Signet Library on the Royal Mile will host a pop-up Champagne Café Bar. You can enjoy champagne, cocktails, afternoon tea and more within the Lower Library of the grand Georgian building each day of the festival. http://www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/

15 reasons to visit the Royal Highland Show 2016

I visited The Royal Highland Show for the first time last year and it was a fantastic day out! Now in its 176th year, the Royal Highland Show has the very best of food, farming and rural life. Maybe you think the show is only for farmers? I’ve put together some  top reasons to visit the show regardless of who you are! The RHS is on this weekend 23rd – 26th June 2016.

  1. It’s easy to get there. There are special buses are running regularly from Edinburgh city centre. Check out the travel page for more info http://royalhighlandshow.org/travel-information Why not leave the car at home and enjoy no.5 below?
  2. There’s tonnes of fun activities for kids. Each area within the showground has attractions suitable for wee ones; don’t miss out on the animal parades and huge tractors. Youngsters can get close to creatures in the poultry tent and the bee marquee where they can learn the bee dance and make candles! The RHET Education Centre is open to the public all four days of the show, with school groups also booked into some of the activities on Thursday and Friday.picnic
  3. There’s live music. Have a boogie to the UK’s top Abba tribute band; Abba Gold. If that’s not your thing, how about some toe-tapping ceilidh music with the Ian Muir Ceilidh Band or some traditional pipes and drums?
  4. The people. Visitors come from all over Scotland and further afield giving the show a buzzing, friendly atmosphere.
  5. The show includes three exciting new bars this year. The Botanical Garden will provide a gin lover’s sanctuary with artisan Scottish gins and expert mixologists. Alternatively, The Stetson is a lively, country music themed bar where you can show off your line dancing moves. Yeeha! Or why not take a break from shopping on the 13th Avenue Arcade and sip some bubbles at the new Prosecco Bar? Sounds right up my street!
  6. The livestock. Not just sheep. You can see highland cows, donkeys and tiny ponies to name a few. Be prepared for a whole lot of cuteness!R
  7. You can be confident about grabbing a bite to eat. The food outlets throughout the show ground have signed up to the show’s food charter. So whether you fancy a buffalo burger or some fresh Scottish seafood, you can rest assured that wherever possible it has been produced using local and ethically sourced ingredients. #eatlocal
  8. Scotland’s Larder Live is foodie heaven, featuring over 100 producers and showcasing the very best produce from Scotland and further afield. If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the Fudge Kitchen and Equi’s ice cream stalls; yum!larderlive
  9. Be amazed by demonstrations of forestry skills like chainsaw carving and pole climbing. Do not try this at home!
  10. You can dance the night away! There are Show Dances with a different theme each night from Wednesday – Saturday. Tickets available here https://highlandshow.ticketsrv.co.uk/
  11. There’s plenty of opportunities for a spot of retail therapy at the relaunched 13th Avenue indoor shopping area. There’s 1,100 shopping outlets in total across the show including luxury country fashion brands like Barbour and Hunter.
  12. Gin! Lovely Scottish Gin. Strathearn, NB Gin, Pickerings and Edinburgh Gin all have stalls at the show. Have a wee sample and find out which is your favourite.
  13. Get some top tips from amazing chefs in The Cookery Theatre. You can see chefs such as David Haetzman, John Rutter and David Barnett. There are opportunities to ask questions and sample what the chefs have cooked up.
  14. You can watch talented sportsmen and women take part in activities like show jumping in the main arena. Over 2,200 riders are expected to compete in an impressive array of equine challenges.
  15. You could become an internet sensation – this year’s show is being streamed live online here http://royalhighlandshow.org/lives-streaming Last year the show was watch by thousands of viewers in 47 countries.horse

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….

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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.

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Roasted Sausage & Potato Supper

One of my favourite days out of the year is a trip to the BBC Good Food Show Scotland. I’m particularly excited about the 2015 show as I’m one of the official bloggers for the show. There’s so many delicious samples to taste and cooking demos to watch; it’s a foodie paradise! This year there are also going to be pop-up versions of some of Glasgow’s top restaurants like Porter & Rye which I reviewed here.

The 2015 show will take place at the SECC, Glasgow from Friday 6th – Sunday 8th November. You can get your tickets for the show online here or to be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, simply sign up to my Girl Versus Food Newsletter. The lucky winner will be picked on Sunday 1st November.

The fabulous Mary Berry is one of the celebrity chefs cooking live in the Supertheatre this year, and to celebrate here’s an easy and tasty recipe from Absolute Favourites by Mary Berry (BBC Books, hardback £25). 

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large onions, sliced lengthways into wedges

2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into  large dice

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves

500g (1lb 2oz) baby new potatoes, unpeeled and halved

12 sausages, pricked with a fork

200ml (7fl oz) white wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/Gas 7.

2. Place all the ingredients except the wine in a large, resealable freezer bag. Seal the bag shut and shake well to coat everything in the oil. Alternatively, put everything in a large bowl  and turn the ingredients until they are fully coated in the oil. Tip into a large roasting tin, spreading the ingredients out into one even layer and ensuring that the sausages aren’t covered by any of the vegetables. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. Roast for about 30–35 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven, turn the sausages over and toss the vegetables in the cooking juices. Pour in the wine and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until browned and the sausages are cooked and the potatoes tender. Serve hot with a dollop of mustard on the side

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