thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


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Do You Remember the First time?

As you grow up your life is full of  firsts that leave their indelible mark – first kiss, first love …

But this of course is a blog about food so I am going to take  you along with me on a nostalgic journey,  revisiting some of the foodie firsts that have made their mark on me.

One of my very first food memories is of Ketchup, which I discovered aged 4. I have no idea why I hadn’t experienced Ketchup before then, perhaps my family were just HP junkies.  Mum had rather bravely taken me on holiday to Jersey on her own for a ten-day break in a lovely hotel in St Helier.  Amongst the memories of feeding orangutans in the zoo, mum contracting food poisoning, choking on an ice cube,  and my beloved ‘Jersey Ted’ is the memory of my saucey discovery .   I can’t  really remember if I loved the taste of it back then but  that is almost irrelevant – I was 4 and it was a truly wonderful thing that came in a red plastic squeeze bottle.  I can take or leave tomato sauce these days, but sometimes when I dip a chip in it I see that little girl with the funny little page-boy haircut being excited about the discovery of   this exotic brightly coloured condiment on  (almost) foreign soil.

In common with many kids I hated vegetables.  The unimaginative use of veg in the early 80’s didn’t aid the cause much,medium_27079122 boiled to oblivion and plonked onto the plate as a necessary evil.  Mum and dad being good parents would ensure I got my veg quota by employing ingenious yet devious methods such as blending them with more palatable foods.  My status as committed veg hater was about to change when we attended a  family wedding at the Grosvenor in Glasgow.  Adorned in a straw boater and lace gloves I felt quite the thing as I took my place at the kids table.  We were served tender roast beef,  crisp roast potatoes and a curious green bundle which was totally unfamiliar to me.  Despite my trepidation on discovering that this was indeed a vegetable, peer pressure made me taste it.  It was amazing, I loved a vegetable, and that vegetable was BROCCOLI .

Zip forward to my 20’s – I once accompanied my manager in a London trip to attend a meeting, and we were taken out  to a lovely Thai Restaurant for lunch.  I had never tasted Thai food, seen Thai food or even considered Thai food before –  I had no idea what to expect.   My first thought when the Green curry arrived was that they were a bit off the mark on their rice cooking (surely it ought to be fluffy) and that their sauce could probably do with a dab of cornflour (so thin).  Then I tasted it – OH MY!  I was stunned by Thai food and still am.  I adored the delicate yet spicy flavours, the sweetness of the rice, the creamy coconut milk.  Thai became my favourite type of food there and then and I am pleased to say it is still up there.

medium_265546693Friends can be great for introducing you to new experiences.  My mate Charlotte has taught me a lot about food over the years, and  although I have caught up now, her tastes were much more sophisticated than mine when we were in our 20’s and early 30’s.  She introduced me to the dark art of shelling prawns  (which had always terrified me) Over a lunch at Browns in Edinburgh a combination of wine and Charlotte gave me the courage to order a plate of the critters, which she then taught me to expertly shell.  Doesn’t seem like a big thing but for me it was a revelation. I bloody love big fat juicy prawns with lemon juice squirted all over them , eating with my hands and getting acceptably messy.  I can’t quite believe I was approaching 30 before I tried them.

I had always “quite” liked black pudding but Stornoway Black Pudding is something else entirely.  I first tasted this on a trip home from Skye around 6 years ago.  We stayed over in a tiny place called Dornie and got ridiculously drunk in a local bar.  The next morning I was possibly the most hungover I have ever been in my life,  but somehow made it down to breakfast.  I vividly remember tasting the black pudding on the full Scottish breakfast served up to me that day –  it was bloody marvellous.  The slightly purple hue devoid of all these horrid little white fatty bits on other black puddings.  I thought that this smooth textured delight tasted divine – onion and pepper and gorgeous black puddingy puddingness – YUM.

I could go on forever boring with you with my first tastes and experiences: why the taste of parsley transports me back to my home economics class, my first taste of sticky toffee pudding in the Breadalbane Arms in Dundee and why a scotch pie has to be served with a buttered morning roll, brown sauce and a cup of tea.  But I will quit whilst I am ahead.

I would love to hear about some of your foodie memories, we all have them.

Drop me a line!

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That’s Amore

THAT’S AMORE!

Despite what you may think, I don’t actually live in St Andrews but I am there a lot at the moment – hence the many reviews that pop up on Photo 10-03-2013 13 18 29my blog about restaurants there.  I would actually love to live in St Andrews if I could afford it,  but for now I will content myself with regular visits to the folks,  who are fortunate enough to live there.

For quite some time my parents have been raving about an Italian restaurant in St Andrews called Little Italy.  It’s the place they choose time and time again to impress visiting friends and relatives and is a restaurant which, in their eyes, can do no wrong.

Now when comes to dining out my parents are just a bit critical and my interest was piqued. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long to try it out for myself – the traditional Mothers day food and wine extravaganza!

Tucked away in Logies Lane it is quite easy to miss Little Italy and even if you do stop to have a gander, the outside betrays little of what is in store for your taste buds.

Once inside it is hard not to get a warm fuzzy feeling. All of the dining takes place in one square area which is filled with the buzz and Photo 10-03-2013 13 42 52chatter of happy diners.

Shunning the fashion for contemporary Italian restaurant design that is popular these days, Little Italy is refreshingly retro/authentic.  Red and white chequered tablecloths, wooden chairs, red candles in wine bottles and flowers on the tables.  It is familiar and charming and you know that here, it is all about the food.

ALL ABOUT THE FOOD

 To begin I chose one of my perennial favourites –  Melanzane Parmigiana.  This dish was a sight to behold and I am pleased to say that the taste didn’t disappoint.  The aubergine was velvety, the tomato sauce rich and the hot bubbling cheesy topping perfectly alternating between crispy and “gooey” (I am not sure if gooey is a good description of luscious mozzarella, but I am sure you get my gist).

Have you ever eaten a dish and found yourself audibly groaning with pleasure – I am sure you know what I mean?  Well that was the response prompted by my second course, Tagliatelli Boscaiola. Brilliantly cooked pasta coated with wild mushrooms, white wine, cream, Photo 10-03-2013 13 58 26fine Italian sausage and all seasoned to perfection.  It was to die for!

Unfortunately I remained on my diet wagon (wine has no calories you know) and so skipped dessert.  Next time Tiramisu, you will be mine.

I am often told off for forgetting to mention the choices of my dining companions and this review is no exception (must try harder). The truth is that I am usually so eager to dive into my own food that I forget all about what my companions are having until it is too late! Suffice to say that mum thoroughly enjoyed her food as she always does in Little Italy, and she is a harsh critic indeed.

Little Italy is a restaurant that does not rely on trendy websites (it has none), fancy frontage or elaborate interior design.  They know that week after week they will be full because they have the most important thing just right – the food.


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RISING STAR – A RECIPE FOR BREAD

Photo 04-03-2013 22 12 52Everywhere I go people seem to be cutting bread out of their diet.  It is blamed for all sorts of things these days, which is such a shame because as you  probably know all bread is not created equally.  The loaf from your supermarket, which probably includes emulsifiers amongst other things to keep the bread looking all fluffy and consistent is a far cry from  the loaf that you will see on the stalls at your local bakers or farmers market.

Like most people I buy supermarket bread pretty much every week  but I also love buying lovely artisan loaves of bread whenever I can and have recently set about trying to make my own bread.

The first attempt did  not go well.  Unfortunately I read two teaspoons of yeast as two tablespoons and spent five minutes frantically trying to remove the excess yeast.  It all went horribly wrong  – the lazy loaf didn’t make the effort to rise and to be honest the finished result would have been better used as a lethal weapon than for human consumption.  Fellow blogger  www. aweepinchofsugar.wordpress.com suggested using it for breadcrumbs, but I was skunnered and it went in the bin.

Photo 04-03-2013 21 12 04However I am glad to say that my second attempt rose to the occasion!  The original recipe was  ‘fig and pecan yeast bread’,  but having neither figs or pecans in the cupboard it became a prune and walnut loaf which worked really well.  The fruit suited my quest to find something sweet but virtuous and it was great toasted. Obviously you could experiment with lots of different variations of fruit and nuts;  the world is your “oxter” as my granny was fond of saying.

Ingredients

260ml lukewarm water

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

2tsp dried yeast

400g wholemeal flour – I used wholemeal bread flour

Teaspoon of salt (a bit of a scant one!)

photo100g of chopped dried prunes

60g of chopped walnuts

1tbs melted butter

Method

Pour the water into a jug and add the sugar, stir and sprinkle over the dried yeast.  Leave for around 10 minutes when the beery head forms from the yeast.

Place flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the fruit and nuts.  Make a well and pour in the yeast/water and the melted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon.  The dough should be moist and firm but not sticky

Place the dough on a floury work surface and knead for around five minutes until the dough becomes smooth.

Place in a large bowl and leave somewhere nice and warm for around two hours – your dough should double in size

Remove from the bowl and knead lightly for a minute of two before popping in a loaf tin

Pop into an oven that has been preheated to 220 degrees centigrade for ten minutes then lower the heat to 190, baking from a further 30-40 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom

Voila – lovely homemade bread!