Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Scottish food blogger

Review: Kinnettles Hotel, The Tayberry Restaurant and Eden Spa

St Andrews is known for being the home of golf and the famous university. It’s also home to a stunning new boutique hotel, restaurant and spa which I have been lucky enough to be invited to check out.

Kinnettles Hotel on North Street opened this summer and has nine beautiful suites. I stayed in Kingsbarns which is a Deluxe Suite on the first floor and it definitely has the ‘wow factor’. Entering the room, the first thing that caught my eye was the separate lounge area which had two huge comfortable chairs, a table and a flat screen TV. The colour pallet of classy greys and neutrals continued through to the spacious bedroom area. There was so much attention to detail throughout the room; from the coffee machine to the fluffy robes to the ESPA toiletries, every little detail had been considered.IMG_6980IMG_6974

So after getting ready in our gorgeous room, it was time for dinner. The Tayberry is sister restaurant to the original of the same name located in Broughty Ferry. Award winning chef Adam Newth is the man behind both restaurants and I was super excited to sample the food here.

My friend is coeliac and I had forgotten to mention to the restaurant in advance that she would need a gluten free menu. So I was a bit nervous when the waitress asked about dietary requirements or allergies but they honestly couldn’t have been more accommodating! She was delighted at how easy they made her dining out experience.

There were lots of delicious sounding options on the menu but we decided to put ourselves in the hands of the kitchen and try the five-course surprise tasting menu with matched wines. My friend was able to have a gluten free version which only had slight changes to accommodate her needs.

Amuse Bouche – Pressed Ham Hock, fois gras butter, pickled walnut, apple pureeIMG_7029

First Course – Scallops, pigs head fritter, soused radishes, herb emulsionIMG_7031

Second Course – Confit Duck Leg Terrine, pickled mushrooms, orange curd, ginger, fois gras briocheIMG_7045

Fish Course – Pan Roast Monkfish, chorizo & borlotti cassoulet, garlic butterIMG_7048

Main Course – Braised Ox Cheek, creamed potato, burnt leek, pearl onionsIMG_7057

Dessert – Pittormie Strawberries, white chocolate, elderflower sorbet, baby basilIMG_7061

As you can see, the presentation throughout was perfection! The quality of the ingredients and the flavours really came through. From the juicy scallops to the melt in the mouth ox cheek, each dish was a taste sensation. If I really had to pick, then I’d say the monkfish and chorizo dish was my favourite; the fish was cooked perfectly and worked really well with the cassoulet. The matched wines were very good; we enjoyed a selection of red, white and fizz selected to compliment each dish.

After dinner we moved through to the beautiful bar area and checked out the cocktail menu which I’m pleased to say has a good number of gin cocktails! A nightcap in the bar was the perfect end to the evening before retiring to the suite to find there had been a turn-down service with slippers placed by the bed and bottles of water on the bedside tables. Nice touch!IMG_7079

Breakfast in the restaurant was another treat to look forward to and staff didn’t need to be reminded of my friend’s coeliac; they already had the gluten free bread on hand. From the cooked selection, I opted for eggs benedict which was just the way I like with runny yokes and thick, good quality ham.IMG_7086

Eden Spa within the hotel is definitely worth checking out. The spa is not huge but is perfectly formed with a sauna, steam-room and Jacuzzi which have been finished to a really high standard. There are a great range of ESPA treatments available so my friend and I decided to treat ourselves. Our lovely therapists, Carly and Ruby, first gave us a Jessica Geleration manicure (the most difficult part was choosing from all the pretty colours) and then an ESPA back, neck and shoulder massage. As the treatment rooms are spacious, we were able to have our treatments together. This is ideal for friends/couples etc. The massages were soooo relaxing, we almost felt like we could float out of the spa – what a great end to our visit!IMG_7093

Apart from the sheer luxury of it all, what really stood out for me was how lovely the staff were at Kinnettles. From Grant, the General Manager, to the restaurant staff, to the therapists in the spa; everyone was so welcoming and enthusiastic about the new venue. It really made for the perfect getaway and one night here felt like a proper holiday!

*I was a guest of Kinnettles and The Tayberry and received a complimentary stay.

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?

17 reasons to visit the Royal Highland Show this weekend

The Royal Highland Show showcases the very best of food, farming and rural life. Here are my top 17 reasons to visit the show this weekend 19th – 21st June.

 

  1. It’s not just for farmers. Show Manager, David Jackson, explains: “42% of visitors come to the Royal Highland Show to enjoy the food and drink.” This year the foodie aspects play a major role while the show still stays true to its agricultural roots.
  2. There’s live music. Have a boogie to Ceilidh Minogue! Yes, that really is the name of a band.
  1. It’s easy to get there. There are buses are running regularly from Edinburgh city centre. Check out the travel page for more info http://royalhighlandshow.org/travel-information Leave the car at home and enjoy some samples (see no.10)
  2. The people. Visitors come from all over Scotland and further afield giving the show a buzzing, friendly atmposhere.
  3. You can be confident about grabbing a bite to eat. The food outlets throughout the show park have passed the Year of Food and Drink Food Charter. So whether you fancy an ice-cream or a burger, you can rest assured that it is responsibly sourced and, where possible, bought locally.
  4. The livestock. Not just sheep. You can also see highland cows, donkeys and tiny ponies. Cuteness overload!RHS Grand Parade
  1. Scotland’s Larder Live is foodie heaven, featuring over 120 producers and showcasing the very best of Scottish produce. There’s samples galore so it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new. Also lots of the stands have special show prices and offers so you can pick up a bargain.
  1. There’s tonnes of fun activities for kids. Your Mini-Me’s can find out what it’s like to be a bee keeper, become a super sleuth for The Soil Association or watch the Clan Cycle Stunt Team perform daredevil tricks.RHS Young Exhibitor
  1. You could witness a new Guinness World Record! On Sunday, two butchers from different parts of Scotland will attempt to set a world record for the most sausages created in one minute. Sausage-tastic!
  1. Gin! Lovely Scottish Gin. Strathearn, NB Gin, Pickerings, Eden Mill and Edinburgh Gin are all in Scotland’s Larder Live. Have a wee sample and find out which is your favourite.
  1. Check out demonstrations of forestry skills like chainsaw carving and pole climbing. Do not try this at home!RHS Climbing Pole
  1. You might see some royalty. The Queen has visited the show three times, most recently in 2009.
  1. Get some top tips from celeb chefs in The Cookery Theatre. You can see chefs such as Neil Forbes, Paul Wedgwood, Craig Wilson, David Haetzman and Fred Berkmiller. There are opportunities to ask questions and sample what the chefs have cooked up.DSC_0882
  1. See some very well trained animals at the falconry display and gun dogs in the Countryside Arena.
  2. You can watch talented sportsmen and women compete in activities like show jumping in the main arena.
  1. You could become an internet sensation – this year’s show is being streamed live online here http://royalhighlandshow.org/lives-streaming
  1. It’s an institution. This is the 175th year of the Royal Highland Show so if you’ve never been, make 2015 the year to be part of this unique and iconic event.

Review of Moonfish, Aberdeen

I was glued to ‘MasterChef The Professionals’ which finished just before Christmas. The main downside to watching it was that each episode left me starving and I found myself rummaging in the cupboards to complete my own invention test! I enjoyed the show even more this year because local lad (and friend of my husband) Brian McLeish made it all the way to the final with his incredible cooking.

Moonfish

No surprise then, that a visit to Brian’s restaurant in Aberdeen was on my Wish List to visit for 2015. Moonfish specialises in seafood and gin – clearly a match made in heaven! We visited the restaurant with two good friends who moved to Aberdeen last year. The place isn’t massive so it’s important that you book in advance, especially if you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday. The interior is light and airy and made me feel instantly relaxed.

image4

First of all, I was really excited about the HUGE list of gins available! Lots of lovely Scottish craft gins including a number I hadn’t come across before. Secondly, I was really surprised at how reasonably priced the menu at Moonfish is – £35.95 for three courses. This has to be one of the best value, high quality menus in Aberdeen! The menu is changed every four weeks to keep the emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. However, we were in for an extra treat as Head Chef Brian McLeish had designed an eight course tasting menu for us!

cheers

If you fancy trying out a Moonfish tasting menu for yourself there is a special night coming up on the 4th of July. It’s a seven course tasting menu with matched wine and champagne on arrival. Places are limited and priced at £120 per person, give the team a call to get booked in on 01224 644166.

So… onto the meal itself, or should I say FEAST! My mouth was watering when we were presented with this amazing menu…

menu

First up was crab accompanied by a ‘Sweet Corn Royale’ which was like eating a delicious little cloud, so delicate and fluffy! A light vegetarian dish followed with courgette, yellow peppers and tomato accompanied by the creamiest of feta cheese. The presentation throughout was stunning; vibrant colours and contrasting textures.

Crab and Sweet Corn Royale

Confit tomato, feta and courgette

 

Next up was a mackerel dish and my first time trying seaweed (salty and tasty FYI!). The fish was cooked to perfection. The subsequent sweet potato curry which had a runny egg hiding underneath was one of my favourites and I couldn’t believe it when the Chef told us later that he had whipped this course up from things he had to use up in the kitchen. Ingenious!

Mackerel dish

Sweet potato curry

 

Is it weird to look at lambs frolicking in the fields and think “Oh, you look tasty”? If so, I’m weird. The Moonfish lamb came three ways; belly, loin and kidney. The kidney was a wee bit rich for me but Mr GvF wasn’t slow in finishing it off on my behalf! The lamb was in good company with a lovely broccoli puree, a rich jus and an anchovy. It was back to fish for the final savoury course and the halibut with swede puree, fava beans and truffle was to die for. Another set of clean plates all round.
Lamb courseHalibut dish

 

Then it was time for desserts. TWO desserts, happy days! First a light blancmange topped with raspberries, mini meringues, beetroot and basil dust. An unusual combination, but definitely one that worked. Finally, it was the piece de resistance; the Chocolate Pave with malted nuts and white chocolate fudge.  I kid you not, I would happily eat this dessert every day for the rest of my life and I’m fairly sure that Chef Brian must get proposals after dishing up this treat!

Blancmange

Chocolate Pave

 

So, full of delicious food and gin, there was only one thing left to do…. time to take a CHELFIE!

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All in all, Moonfish has been my favourite dining experience of 2015 so far. The food tasted amazing, was beautifully presented and excellent value. While the staff were friendly, welcoming and not at all pretentious. If you’ve not been to Moonfish yet, what are you waiting for?

 

Oh and in other exciting other news; you can win a dinner for you and five friends, cooked by Brian McLeish and three more MasterChef finalists and winners. The dinner is to raise money for ABF Soldiers Charity and you can enter by sponsoring the fundraising team here https://secure.soldierscharity.org/registrant/TeamFundraisingPage.aspx?TeamID=63144#&panel1-2 What a great cause and a fantastic prize!

abf  dinner


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