Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Glasgow food blogger

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.

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

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

 

 

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

Do you believe in second chances? Yes Chef!

Are there any decisions you took growing up that you now regret? Things that you might do differently if you had a second chance? For some young people, bad choices have had serious implications on their lives, resulting in them spending time behind bars. Action for Children Scotland’s Moving On supports young men as they prepare to leave prison, helping them to deal with issues and rebuild their lives in order to reduce rates of re-offending. I was impressed to hear that 84 per cent of young men involved did not return to prison within two years, compared with a national average of 50-55 per cent.

One of their initiatives is Yes Chef; a 12 week training programme where participants learn from some of Scotland’s top chefs. The programme is sponsored by Tennent’s Training Academy. This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited along to sample the results of 12 weeks of hard work as the two teams of chefs went head to head to produce a three course dinner for hundreds of guests at the stylish Glasgow Marriott. At the end of the evening guests were asked to pick a winning team based on the dishes they had produced.

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During the evening we heard from a number of guest speakers including Craig Barrowman, a former Yes Chef participant who gave a heartfelt speech about how taking up opportunities through Action for Children has helped him to turn his life around. Leaving prison he took the decision not to return to a life of gang violence and his since secured a role as a Support Worker with Moving On. Craig told us there is no such thing as bad boys, just bad choices.

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It was a tough choice but in the end the Red Team won with their tasty soup, slow cured ham and vanilla cheesecake. The great news is that young men from both teams will have the opportunity to complete further placements in restaurants across Glasgow.

The evening raised more than £22,000 for Action for Children. If you’d like to find out more about how you can get involved click here https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/

 

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!

My Top 5 Restaurants of 2015

As we kick off 2016, I wanted to reflect back on my favourite dining experiences of last year! So in no particular order, here’s my Top 5 of 2015:

  1. Moonfish Café, Aberdeen. Moonfish specialises in seafood and gin – two of my most favourite things! Head Chef of the restaurant is former ‘MasterChef The Professionals’ finalist Brian Mcleish who has a distinctive creative flair and a passion for fresh, local ingredients. A three course dinner at the restaurant is great value at £36.95 and as the menu is changed regularly there’s always something new and exciting to try. I was blown away by the flavour combinations and the stunning presentation. I particularly enjoyed the halibut with swede puree, fava beans and truffle. Oh and the Chocolate Pave with malted nuts and white chocolate fudge….. if it’s on the menu you MUST order it! Yum! As well as Moonfish, Head Chef Brian has an exciting new venture this year; check out his Pop Up Restaurant here.Lamb course
  2. Porter & Rye, Glasgow. If you love a good steak, Porter & Rye, in the Finnieston area of Glasgow, is for you. The restaurant specialises in fine aged meats which are sourced from Gaindykehead Farm in Airdrie before being dry-aged on the premises for up to 28 days. During my visit, I shared a huge Porterhouse steak which was cooked to perfection and was literally melt in the mouth. The sides; I tried the bone marrow mac ‘n’ cheese and truffle salt fries, were equally delicious. The place had a buzzing atmosphere and staff were friendly and attentive. There’s a lot of competition in the Glasgow steak market but having tried many of the rest, I’d still recommend this as the best.image4
  3. The Kitchin, Edinburgh. A visit to a Michelin star restaurant is always an experience and this was exceptional. Tom Kitchin’s ‘From Nature to Plate’ ethos comes through loud and clear with a massive emphasis on Scottish seasonal produce. I had the ‘Celebration of the Season Surprise Tasting Menu’ paired with matched wines. I loved finding a scroll of a map of Scotland at my place setting showing where the ingredients for my forthcoming meal had been sourced. Highlights included the scallops in escargot butter with squid. The game platter, which included a venison tartar, was delicious. Our waitress was excellent and the sommelier made some fantastic choices for us. This is not only one of my best meals of 2015 but probably the best dining experience I’ve ever had! Time to get saving for a return visit…venison tartar
  4. Monachyle Mhor, Balquhidder. Monachyle Mhor is a 14 bedroom boutique hotel set in a 2,000 acre estate on the shores of Loch Voil. It’s restaurant headed up by chef Maria Paszkowska and offers dinner at a set price of £55 per person for three courses. It was at Monachyle Mhor that I tried my first ever oyster, which was in a shallot and 10 year old Glengoyne whisky dressing; delicious! I chose West Coast crab with black pudding for my starter and lamb for my main. The food was full of flavour and the breath-taking views really added to the ambience of the meal. What a great experience!
  5. image7Chapter One, Dublin. During a summertime visit to Dublin, I took the opportunity to visit Chapter One, one of several Michelin star restaurants in the city. It was truly a warm Irish welcome from co-owner and maître d’, Martin Corbett who made us feel instantly at home. To start, I enjoyed Parmesan ravioli with asparagus and a lemon emulsion which tasted like summer on a plate. Next I went for the short rib of beef which was slow-cooked to perfection and came with a side of the best cheesy gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. The pre-theatre menu was brilliant value at £27 (€37.50) for three courses. Chapter One is a must visit in Dublin.image2

So that’s a roundup of some of my best experiences of 2015. Have you visited any of the above? Which other restaurants would have made your list of favourites for last year?

10 reasons to visit the BBC Good Food Show Scotland this weekend  

The BBC Good Food Show Scotland is a fantastic day out that showcasing the very best in food and drink. Here are the top 10 reasons to visit the show this weekend 6th – 8th November.

 

  1. It’s easy to get there. The SECC has its own dedicated railway station and there are 6 trains an hour from Central Station. There’s also 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
  1. 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.
  1. Get inspired watching demonstrations from celebrity chefs like Tom Kitchin and James Martin in the Supertheatre. Great British Bake Off fans, you can see Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood IN THE FLESH! But no touching. You have been warned.
  1. 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

  1. Make a start on your Christmas shopping. How about a book signed by Michel Roux Jr? The WHSmith stand has a programme of book signings over the weekend.
  1. Shopping weighing you down? There’s a Shop & Drop area supported by Guide Dogs where you can leave your shopping and enjoy the show hands-free.
  1. Fancy yourself as a bit of a mixologist? Why not take part in a 30 minute cocktail masterclass? #letscocktail

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  1. The Show Guide has a floor plan which is great for making sure you don’t miss any gems! It also has lots of gorgeous recipes to take home and try out.
  1. Always wondered how to get that soufflé to rise? Now’s your chance to ask the experts on the Interview Stage. Amongst those taking questions is Andrew Fairlie; the only chef in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars at his restaurant at Gleneagles.
  1. Some of Glasgow’s best restaurants are coming to the show this year in pop-up format; The Gannet, Porter & Rye and Red Onion will all be making an appearance. This is a brilliant opportunity to try their signature dishes in taster size.

 

Tickets can be bought at the door or online here https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowscotland.com/visit/ticket-info Hope to see you there!

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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