Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Italian food

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

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

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

Italian Caffe

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

Italian Caffe food

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

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

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

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

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

My haul from the stalls

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

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

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