thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


4 Comments

Things that made me go ooh

Phew its been a while!

Its been pretty tricky finding the time to write of late.  First little  N was poorly then we had family staying so it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind.  Excuses aside and without any further ado,  here are the things that have made me happy in the last week or so.

THE CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN DILEMMA

crispy chicken stkin

I reckon that I cook a chicken once a week and although the chicken meat is a delight, the real treat in my humble opinion is the crispy buttery chicken skin.

On ‘chicken day’ B and I can be found huddled over the freshly cooked bird pulling off skin and drooling like cave men – forbidden pleasures.  Problem is that B is often not home for the arrival of the chicken and so once I take my chicken out and rest him and then cover him in a bit of foil his skin is no longer crisp and it is a soggy disappointment to all involved.

After one more disappointment and some ‘googling’ B came up with a plan.  Whip of the skin and tear it in to pieces then shove it in a nice hot oven for about 15 minutes.  You guessed it – ‘crispy craspy’ chicken skin.  We almost suffered third degree burns in our rush to eat this wonderful discovery – very happy days indeed.

Best eaten hovering over the oven, very quickly,  in a clandestine fashion

TIPSY MALLOWS

photo (37)The arrival of a beautiful pink box of Tipsy Mallows  heralded the start of a very tasty Saturday.  I came across Tipsy Mallows, from East Lothian at the St Andrews Fine Food Fayre a couple of weeks ago and raved about them here on the blog.

To summarise –  Tipsy Mallows are simply pillows of joy – all soft and bouncy and sweet.  There were six considerably large mallows in the box: Caramel Shortbread, Gin & Elderflower, Amaretto Crumb, Rum Pear & Ginger, Chocolate & Cherry, Peach Bellini.

We all settled down in front of Disney’s Pinocchio and a pair of scissors, essential for large mallow snipping,  on a Saturday afternoon for a tasting session.  They were all beautiful and we each had our favourites.  For me the Caramel Shortbread won hands down – perhaps this was due to the streaks of caramel streaked through the mallow (reminded me of Scottish Tablet).  Brian chose the rather sophisticated Rum, Pear & Ginger as his favourite – the ginger gives a lovely pleasant after glow.  For  who is four, it was Chocolate Cherry all the way (she didn’t quality to sample many of Tipsy Mallows offerings for obvious reasons.

You couldn’t eat a lot of these beautifully infused mallows in one sitting but I think that they would be great as an after dinner treat at a dinner party.

www.facebook.com/tipsymallows

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL FROM SPAIN

olive oilIt is Callum Henderson’s mission to bring us the best quality olive oil from Spain.  Callum bought a house among the Spanish olive groves and so understandably most of his neighbours were in the olive growing business.  It is this co-operative of olive farmers who grow, harvest, extract and bottle this Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain.

The arrival of  900 Novecientos  Extra Virgin olive oil through my letter box thankfully reminded me of what Olive Oil is all about and rescued me from the cheap bland olive oil I was buying from the supermarket.

This wonderfully peppery oil needs to be given some serious undivided  attention and so I have consumed most of my samples in the simplest of ways – dipping quality crusty bread right into it and rediscovering just how good olive oil can and should taste.

Aceites Novecientos were recently awarded a Gold Medal at the International Olive Oil Competition held in New York receiving a score of 9.5, the fourth highest score of the competition and the highest awarded to a Spanish Oil. The Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from a mixture of picual, picudo and hojiblanca olives.

Check it out for yourself – http://www.extravirginspain.weebly.com

ALMOND MILK and HOT BANANAS

almond milkAlmond milk  – discuss!

How is it possible that I have not come across this wonder milk before.  Almond milk has revolutionised my porridge experience as have hot bananas but we will get onto that in a moment.

First off this milk is ludicrously low in calories but high in Omega 3 which is awfully good for you.  It has a whiff of almonds in the taste which is no bad thing but best of all it is lovely and creamy and it makes my porridge seem positively sinful instead of the saint that it is.

I used to make porridge and then chop my banana into the finished product.  In terms of bringing out the full potential of the banana this is an epic fail. Chop the banana up into small chunks and pop it in at the start so that it heats up with your porridge and goes all soft and melty.  Voila – banana porridge!  I love discovering new things no matter how simple they are.

Share your food discoveries with me – always interested to hear what you lot have been up to.


7 Comments

A Very Very Fine Food Fayre

photo (23)

This picture features a cakey delight from the Occasional Cake Company 

www.the-occasional-cake.co.uk

I have done the rounds of food fairs and festivals over the years and I have enjoyed them all.  However if I was to give  a prize for the one I have enjoyed the most it would have to go to St Andrews Fine Food Fayre which I was lucky enough to attend at the weekend.

The event is a collaboration between RAG 2014 which is a branch of the University of St Andrews Charities campaign and the Fine Food and Dining Society,  which is a student formed and managed society based at the University of St Andrews.  As a student I was not particularly motivated to do much beyond making it to  (most)  lectures and consuming cider and black currant therefore I am in awe of the fact that this event was so stupendous.

We were met by a lovely girl offering tortilla chips loaded with a delicious pea guacamole. This was a great touch which made visitors feel really welcome .  The event felt friendly and accessible rather than corporate and despite the volume of people jostling for position at the stands, the producers all had time to chat a little about their product.  This feeling is part of what made it special … that and the lads singing an acapella version of Lady Gaga on the stage!!

photo (22)

PEA GREEN BOAT – CHEESE SABLES  www.thepeagreenboat.net

photo (29) photo (30)“They taste just like mini cheddar’s but better”   I squealed! Think that the lady selling these wondrous morsels may have heard that one before.

These seriously addictive bites are made with Somerset Cheddar and Parmesan (and no preservatives).  They are light, thin, crispy and unsurprisingly very cheesy and I can’t wait to crack open a bottle of red wine and munch my way through the whole lot.

I love the story of how they came about

Maddy’s  Dad (Maddy is at the Helm of pea Green Boat) accepted the challenge  to make the best cheese biscuit in the world.  No mean feat! On the panel of judges was Maddy, her mum, her sister plus numerous passers-by. After some ups and downs he hit upon THE recipe and I reckon you will agree they really are the best cheese biscuits in the world…

Pea Green Boat are an artisan food company based in Cockenzie.  In addition to the original cheese sables, Pea Green Boat make a delicious version with cumin and another with  fennel and chili.  They also make a range of Scotch eggs including a version with my beloved Stornoway black pudding and a selection of preserves.

Where can you buy Cheese Sables:  Mellis Cheese-mongers,  farmers markets such as Portobello and Stockbridge, Vino Wines and Cranachan & Crowdie (Edinburgh)

BIM’S KITCHEN – African Peanut Curry Sauce  www.bimskitchen.com

photo (26)This amazing and rather unique sauce comes from Bim’s Kitchenthe creation of husband and wife James “Bim” and Nicola Adedeji.  This  family business produces a truly unique range of their own-recipe African-inspired products using ingredients which hail from Africa like baobab fruit, cashew nuts, alligator pepper, cubeb and hibiscus flowers.

Bim’s sauces are not cheap but you do get what you pay for and trust me the benefits of introducing my taste buds to a sauce like this far outweigh the cost.

There’s a vast range of sauces  on offer for dipping, mixing, marinading and more.  They all taste quite unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.  I only bought the African Peanut Curry Sauce this time around but it is not the end of the road for me and Bim.  More products will be finding there way into my larder soon.

For now however the beautifully rich, creamy and incredibly nutty sauce with a chilli hit is destined to decorate the chicken defrosting in my fridge at the moment.

Where can you buy Bim’s Sauces:  Lupe Pinto in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, Dunbar Garden Centre and farm shop, http://www.amazon.co.uk and many many outlets south of the border (see their website for full list)

TIPSY MALLOWS  – East linton

photo (28)Tipsy Mallows do what they say on the tin – mallows infused with booze.  Nobody could walk past the giant decorative glasses filled with great fluffy, sugary pillows of soft mallow in pale pastels – they looked stunning.

 I like a marsh mallow but usually I enjoy them perched on a fork and toasted on my gas cooker, evoking memories of sausage sizzles on Pittenweem beach.   Tipsy Mallows though are unlike ANY mallow you have ever tasted.  These are “Handmade Gourmet Mallows”   lovingly created using fresh fruit purees, natural flavourings and a generous splash of  liqueurs and spirits.

They literally melt in your mouth and come in lots of flavours, but I tried only three.  Limoncello, Amoretti and Thistly Cross Cider.  Let me tell you that they were all amazing but the cider infused mallow was the most interesting.  Tipsy Mallows and Thistly Cross cider are neighbours and whilst a little mad, the collaboration between mallow and cider is divine.

Where to buy:  no idea.  Guys you make great Mallows that we want to get our hands on but your website is not there and your phone number on facebook seems to be wrong or out of date.  How can we all buy them if we don’t know where to go? It’s so cruel!  If somebody from Tipsy Mallows is out there – help us out.

SUPER NATURE – www.supernature.uk.com

photo (31)I love a flavoured oil but this is the first time I have come across Super Nature.  This cold pressed rape seed oil is produced, harvested and bottled at Carrington Barns, which is a small, traditionally-run farm that has been in the same family for five generations.

Rapeseed oil is super good for you and these guys make it so appealing.  As well as their original oils this award-winning team have come up with a head spinning amount of flavour infused oils.  Choose from: garden mint, garlic, corriander, chilli, ginger, basil, oregano, lemon, orange, lime, lemongrass.

They are all fantastic but I plumped for lime and garden mint.  Both varieties are fresh and zingy and perfect for spring and summer eating.  I plan (as suggested by Chris) to mix a little lime oil with a little of my beloved Hellmann’s to make a delicious lime mayonnaise and I thought that a little garden mint oil over new potatoes would be stunning.

Where to buy:  http://www.realfoods.co.uk

DIP NATION – www.dipnation.co.uk

photo (34)Fire blazing, blinds drawn, Game of Thrones on the telly box,  cold beers with lime, a big bag of salted tortilla chips and a killer dip.  Is that not bliss?

My dip of choice is the newest addition to Dip Nation’s selection – Exotic Thai.  This chunky dip blends crushed cashews with coriander, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and lime leaves to create a fabulous chunky texture and a fabulously fragrant taste of the exotic.

The lovely gentleman who sold me this did regale me of the many ways in which I could use this wonderful dip  – a base for a curry sauce, stirred through pasta,  but to be honest all I want is that big bag of tortilla and the beer and I will be a very happy lady.

If exotic Thai doesn’t float your boat there are plenty more varieties to choose from.  Sweet Thai chilli, roasted red pepper, spinach and feta and roasted butternut squash and chilli are all in the chunky range, whilst the smooth range included three delicious takes on hummus.

Dip Nation are a family run concern in Lundin Links in Fife where Dip Nation HQ make their lovely dips in batches for you and I to enjoy.

Where to buy:  nationwide in lots of farm shops and food halls but you need never be without them as they retail in Tescos too

LUNCH

I love foodies and the other big festivals but you really do have to take out a small mortgage to eat there.  Not so at St Andrews photo (36)Fine Food Fayre. In the basement we found the various student societies giving away free samples of food from their region.  All super but the best of the bunch was the offering from the Middle Eastern Society.   Basbbousa is a cake made from semolina and topped with syrup, it was sublime and planning to hunt down a recipe.

Stands selling hot street food from the far flung corners of the world were doing a brisk trade in yet another room.  I opted for a chickpea and bean stew topped with thick yogurt and parsley with bread.  This was made by the fantastic Habibi Kitchen from  Glasgow – treats from the Middle East and beyond.

We sat in the theatre seats with this thoroughly enjoyable lunch listening to the entertainment and watching the bustle go by – fantastic.

If I mentioned all the food I loved at the St Andrews Food Fayre this would be a stupidly long post and you would all be huffing and puffing in exasperation by the end.  So to finish just a few more folk to very briefly mention

The Adamson’s tomato Ketchup – the term amazeballs was made for this – bring on the burgers.

Burnett Highland Chocolatier –  Gourmet truffles and  wonderfully spiced pralines.  I may need to save my pennies but these chocs were fantastic, especially the cinnamon variety. Christmas in a chocolate, who could ask for more.


7 Comments

The Lust List

image of St Monans East Pier Smokehouse & Cafe provided by www.avocadosweet.com

image of St Monans East Pier Smokehouse & Cafe provided by http://www.avocadosweet.com

This is quite simply a list of the restaurants I would most like to visit (at the moment) and my reasons why. Just to make your mouth water I have also given a flavour of their wares by including what I would choose from their current menu.  I am starting small  but I have no doubt that this list will grow arms and legs as the year goes on.

The Lust List though short is diverse,  from decorated restaurants  to rustic al-fresco dining and locations stretching from my home county of Fife down to my beloved North Yorkshire.

I would be  keen to find out if you have visited any of these restaurants and if so what you thought of them.  Also please let me know which eateries are on your Lust List.

I plan to create a page on the blog for the Lust List so that I can add to it as time goes by and include links to  reviews, should I be lucky enough to be a patron of these fine establishments.

Without further ado …

CHAMPANY INN

Linlithgow  – www.champany.com

champanayIf you live in Scotland the chances are you have heard of the Champany Inn,  which is located in the hamlet of Champany just outside the historic market town of Linlithgow.  This luxury restaurant with rooms is described as a “haven of excellence” and indeed they were the proud winners of Restaurant of the Year Award 2013 (CIS Excellence Awards).

Beef, Beef, Beef.  That is what the Champany Inn is all about and they do it to perfection.  There is a Chop & Ale House for a faster and  possibly less expensive meal but no, not for me.  If I am going to dine here I want the full candlelit experience.  I want to sit in the bar with an aperitif and gaze with wonder at the rock pool (yes in the bar) which contains oysters and lobster from Loch Gruinart ready to be fished out fresh for surf and turf!  I want to wander past the chill cabinet on the way to the restaurant where magnificent cuts of beef are displayed and know that this is where my meat will come from.  I want to experience the old world charm and opulence of this famed restaurant – and at only £22.50 for a Monday to Friday quick lunch I just might!

What would I eat?

In for lunch (lets face it, it would be lunch) – Stilton salad followed by the Champany Pot Roast and topped off with Hot Malted Waffles (worth cancelling my embargo on sweet treats for one thinks)

THE ENDEAVOUR

Staithes,  North Yorkshire – www.endeavour-restaurant.co.uk

staithes-from-cowbarMy first date with my B was a weekend away (yes really) to the pretty little seaside village of Staithes in North Yorkshire.  We stayed in the rather cold “True Love Cottage” and had whale of a time. On our first visit to Staithes there was no restaurant and I remember  chittering with cold in a phone box attempting to order pizza to be delivered to the Cod and Lobster pub!

In subsequent visits I couldn’t help but notice that a rather lovely restaurant had popped up – The Endeavour.  The Endeavour is housed in a 200 year old building and consists of a dining room and 4 en suite rooms.

It is a stylish sort of place – all egyptian cotton sheets and Farrow and Ball paint.  The food looks rather splendid as well with fresh fish,  lobster and locally sourced meat. To be honest they don’t have the best website so information is scant,  but I have peered in the windows and studied the menu which has resulted in its inclusion in my foodie lust list.

The lovely picture is you will see not of the restaurant (could not find one decent one) but of the lovely village of Staithes.

B if you are reading –  I am thinking for the next big birthday – a night here with food – revisiting the start of it all!

What would I eat?

Grilled goats cheese served with homemade onion compote followed by King Scallop ‘Cardinale’ – King Scallops sauteed with shallots, mushroom, tomato and garlic served in a pastry case finished off with a Strawberry and Raspberry Pavlova.

THE LOBSTER SHACK

North Berwick harbour  – www.lobstershack.co.uk

shackOne glorious summers day 2 years ago we discovered the Lobster Shack in North Berwick.  Coffers were running low and lobster was not on our agenda that day, but this  al-fresco dining experience has been on my lust list ever since.

It is indeed a small shack, set up at the side of the ludicrously quaint old harbour. Interestingly the Lobster Shack was one of the inspirations for James Robb who is the proud owner of the East Pier Cafe (also on the lust list).

The Lobster Shack is the perfect setting on a balmy day to enjoy fish as fresh as it comes  – from boat to plate – washed down with a crisp white wine. You can either sit on one of the tables and chairs dotted around the harbour or head to the beach with your super posh lobster lunch. This coming summer I do believe I have a date with the Lobster Shack.

What would I eat?

Fresh North Berwick Lobster with garlic and herb butter served with homemade chips and mixed leaves along with a large chilled glass of Pino Grigio Via Nova.

 POMEGRANATE RESTAURANT

Edinburgh – www.pomegranatesrestaurant.com

pomThe bright and contemporary Pomegranate is owned by the team behind the award winning restaurant Haman.  As you may have guessed the speciality here is food from the middle east –  Morocco, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

Olives, pitta, honey, sesame, dates, mint, chickpeas, sumac, aubergines, mint and lamb – I absolutely love the fragrant flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Here you can either indulge in a selection of hot and cold mezze dishes such as Hummus Shawarma (hummus topped with thin marinated slices of  lamb fillet) and Baly Merishke (lemon scented chicken wings straight from the BBQ) or you can order from the utterly delicious array of main courses including the wonderful sounding Chicken Koobideh (minced chicken breast, marinated in tomatoes and turmeric with a hint of green chilli & parsley).

I am writing this knowing that all I have for dinner tonight is some home made tuna fish cakes and I feel a growing sense of dissatisfaction with my lot.  I want spice and fragrance and oomph – ach well!

I think that this would be a fantastic venue for a girly get together so girls if you are reading – this is my next suggestion!

What would I eat?

I would opt for the mezze style of eating  

Dish one –  Fatoush  – Lebanese style salad with shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, radish, fresh
mint and cubes of toasted flatbread, seasoned with Iranian summac

Dish two – Soujuk – spicy Lebanese sausages sautéed in tomato, green pepper, garlic and chilli

Dish three –  Bayengaan – slow roasted baby aubergines, stuffed with rice, yoghurt & traditional spice

THE EAST PIER SMOKEHOUSE & CAFE

St Monans, Fife –  www.eastpier.co.uk

East_Pier_Inside_avocadosweet.com_This may not be on the hit list for long as there are whispers in the Cameron household of a visit very soon.

I was brought up in Pittenweem which is only a mile away from St Monans, and am delighted that The East Neuk now has a phenomenal reputation for fantastic local food – the secret is out!  This particular eatery was recommended by my friend Rachel, who is a lady of exceptional taste – its a goody!

The North Berwick Lobster Shack (also appearing on the Lust List) and a Prawn Shack in New Mexico were the inspiration behind the East Pier Cafe which is run by James Robb.  It’s canteen style service makes this the antithesis of fine dining.  You place your order, wait for your food then find yourself a seat.  Here it is all about the food and from what I can see the decor ain’t half bad too.  It is achingly simple seaside chic; all exposed white rafters, French stove and windows looking out to sea.  What better setting to enjoy the freshest seafood in town.

There is a great review of this cafe over on www.avocadosweet.com .  They also allowed me to use this lovely picture – thanks guys.

What would I eat?

In for lunch – smoked Pittenweem Langoustines with herb mayonnaise and lemon

In for dinner (£18.50 2 courses) – Seared scallops with a Vanilla Chilli dressing followed by Smoked fish curry with Salmon, Haddock and Mussels

THE ADAMSON 

St Andrews – www.theadamson.com

adamsonThe Adamson is housed in the the old post office building in the heart of St Andrews . Although the building is historic the interior is very contemporary and sophisticated with clean lines, tastefully exposed brick and great lighting.

St Andrews has a superb reputation for good eating and I hope this new kid on the block is just as good as my current St Andrews Faves.  The credentials are looking good with Julie Lewis, who includes a stint with Martin Wishart in her impressive cv,  heading up the team.   At the helm in the kitchen you will find a man who was good enough to impress Gregg Wallace and John Torode –  Scott Davies was the runner up in the 2013 programme ‘Masterchef: the Professionals’.

The food is  classic brasserie cooking with a modern twist and the menu is pretty extensive.

What Would I eat?

I would nibble on a mini baked loaf with olive tapenade, olive oil and balsamic vinegarfollowed by a Roast Chicken Salad – beetroot, smoked almonds, squash, baby spinach and lentil dressing

I think I might find it hard to resist having a dollop of Rum & Raisin ice cream (my favourite flavour)

THE TIEL

Auchtertool – www.tielrestaurant.co.uk


teilThe Tiel is located in a tiny village a stones throw from where I live in Dunfermline.  B and I ventured into this little inn years ago for a very nice pint but it has since been completely refurbished and metamorphosed into a very desirable  restaurant.

I have heard whispers about this restaurant and it appears to be a bit of an undiscovered gem.  Then again perhaps I am just the last to hear about it, wouldn’t be the first time.

To be honest The Tiel had me at the mention of Sunday newspapers and roaring fires but it is fair to say that the food is reputed to pack a punch as well.  At ‘The Tiel’ they promise “good honest quality food” with a focus on sustainability, freshness and seasonality.

The Teil looks relaxed, informal and charming and a good restaurant so close to home is manna from heaven.

What would I eat?

From the lunch menu:

Chicken skewers steeped in a fiery ‘bang bang ‘marinade with crispy salad of leaves, cantaloupe
melon, beansprouts topped with sesame seeds

Followed by  breaded monkfish medallions served with chips, house salad and a tartar and dill sauce