Monthly Archives: June 2014

Gastronomic Glasgow

The lovely Scottish Highlands

The lovely Scottish Highlands

I’ve been off gallivanting round the beautiful Scottish highlands this past week, the North coast to be precise. Full of bleak, dramatic and breath-taking scenery all in one! It’s a fair old schlep up there from Leeds so we broke our journey home in the bustling metropolis of Glasgow for some on trend eating and drinking. I have to admit that I did expect Glasgow to be a bit more shiny and gleaming than it was, especially given that the Commonwealth Games take place in less than a month – the Olympic effect it has not had, which is a shame. Having said that we still stumbled on a few gems that it’s worth sharing with you.

The newly developing area of Finnieston is where it’s at in Glasgow these days. About 2 miles out of the city centre, this was once an industrial wasteland in rapid decline since the end of ship building heyday. However a bit of organic regeneration has seen it start to emerge like a phoenix from the recession ashes. Cheap rents and proximity to the city have attracted young folk and with young folk come trendy bars and eateries, winner! The Finnieston end of the very long Argyle Street is where to head – sympathetically renovated buildings now play home to delicious restaurants, pop ups and speakeasys. If I had to compare it to anywhere I’d say Leeds’ Call Lane when it was first burgeoning (although that doesn’t do it justice at all tbh).  A better comparison is Uberkampf in Paris which has recently transformed from a pretty rough area into a hip and happening oasis of fun and frivolity.

The Gannet - Finnieston, Glasgow

The Gannet – Finnieston, Glasgow

We ate the at the hotly tipped Gannet – a homage to good Scottish produce, served up in a once derelict building. They cure their own meats and smoke their own fish, so I’m wasn’t going to argue. The venue is all bare brick, exposed wires and natural wood. Staff were friendly, genuinely interested in you and helpful in explaining the menus. They do a good early bird, even on a Saturday, but we still opted for the ala carte because it sounded so nice.Gannet Menu

For starters I had to go for the home smoked salmon with crab and fennel salad. The salmon was soft and light, with the smoking very gentle indeed, which is a skill in itself. My fennel salad was lovely and crisp but it’s only writing this now that I’ve realised there was no sign of the crab which is so disappointing! I feel bereft! My dining partner had the oddly paired scallops and confit chicken wing. He however reported that they were in a fact a decent pairing, the fatty, salty chicken a good counter balance to the sweet scallop and all married together nicely by the smooth pea puree.

Gannet Scallops

Gannet Salmon

For mains we both went for the borders lamb, which was a pleasingly hearty portion. The plating meant that as a diner I kept finding new little treats and tit bits on the plate that I wasn’t expecting, which meant for exciting eating! The lamb rump was soft, pink and melt in the mouth. Cubes of crispy belly gave a salty umami edge to the dish with fresh crispness delivered by the braised baby gem and broad beans. A slightly sweet cumin sauce kept the dish beautifully moist and colourful. It was very good eating indeed!

Gannet Lamb

For dessert we shared a caramel fondant and tonka bean ice cream. I still don’t understand how the fondant was produced – sponge filled with caramel… I’m guessing a sponge case injected with caramel before baking? The caramel for me was very sweet and lacking in the burnt sugar/ salty tastes I had anticipated. The ice cream had more of a coconut flavour, not that I’m entirely sure what tonka bean tastes of anyway?! It was a nice accompaniment to the warm cake, elevated by the crumbs of honeycomb on top. Overall a very pleasant meal, made special by the attention to detail in the ingredients and the attitude and attentiveness of the lovely staff.

Gannet Fondant

With full bellies we luckily had room for a few cocktails and so my other tips for Finnieston include – the Kelvingrove Café for grown up cocktails. It’s right next door to the Gannet and is decorated in the style of a vintage Parisian café upstairs and an illegal 1920s speakeasy downstairs. We sat downstairs and enjoyed watching the bar man expertly and speedily produce our cocktails in cut glass. All are gin and vermouth based, so my kind of place! A few doors down is the Finneston, which is a nautical themed pub – think lots of wood and portholes! Again gin is big business here with over sixty on offer. There’s an extensive menu to tempt you. I went for the Scottish gin and tonic which comes with fresh red apple. This was extremely refreshing but too gluggabale! I swiftly moved on to their signature martini which comes wet as standard and includes grapefruit oils. There’s a huge ritual to making the drinks which is lovely to watch. The martinis are served up in tiny glasses but then the remainder of the mix is given to you in a mini jug so that you can top up to your heart’s content. I liked the idea of adding aromatic oils to the drink but felt it wasn’t as pronounced as I would have expected it to be. I’ll be trying the dirty martini next time which comes with the brine from kalamata olives, yum!

Cocktail

Martini (640x568)

So, if like me you’re more of an Edinburgh kind of person then do give Glasgow’s Finneston suburb a look in next time you’re in Scotland. It’s edgier, more creative and more innovative then the foodie scene in Edinburgh and whilst it doesn’t have the same romantic, historic charm of Edinburgh, it’s worth a look in to keep up with the latest trends and fads.

Read more about Finnieston here – http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/feb/09/a-day-in-finnieston-glasgow-city-guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July Menu – Latin American Feast

We’ve had a short hiatus, but we’re back with our Latin American event in a couple of weeks! A certain sporting event has brought a spotlight to the food of South America and we’re keen to show how delicious it is!

We’re keen to get our aprons on and whip up a veritiable feast.

My my, we’ve missed you!!

July_2014_Latin_American_Feast

Hay Latin America – Trinity Kitchen

During this current rotation of traders at Trinity Kitchen, Dan and I were given the opportunity to spend a bit of time with, and sample the delicious morsels from Hay Latin America. Owner Fred Parkes and the gang hail from our West Yorkshire neighbour Huddersfield and they we very keen to share with the people of Leeds their take on South American food. Fred spent a number of months travelling through the southern parts of Latin America (Argentina, Chile) and was so inspired by the flavours he wanted to recreate them back home. We were particularly keen to chat to Fred given we’re holding our own Latin American event next month and wanted some insider advice!

The stall itself serves up a range of different Latin American foods, including empanadas, quinoa and alfajores. The menu is constantly changing and has previously included Brazilian dough balls, Chilean hotdogs and most recently Chivitos – Uruguay’s national dish which is essentially a beautiful steak sandwich!

On our visit we sampled a number of dishes including…

Chicken and sweet potato empanadas
Gold crescents of beautifully short, crisp pastry (which is made in house daily) and generously filled with tender rotisserie chicken and spiked with paprika and herbs. I could literally gobble down loads of these. Delicious. For non meat eaters the Hay team also have spinach and ricotta and also a mushroom variant. We also got to see some empanadas made in action. Exciting stuff!

photo 2

photo 1

Quinoa and Chicken Salad
The quinoa was spiked with tomatoes, red onion, mint and lemon – very Ottolenghi-esque and felt like it was doing you good from the moment it touched your mouth! The chicken was the same rotisserie chicken from the empandas and was once again flavoursome and juicy. For veggies, the salad is served with guasacaca, the Venezualan equivalent of guacamole which is packed full of leafy herbs.

photo 3

Alfajores
For anyone who has had a peek at our previous Latin American events, you’ll know we love an alfajore! Buttery, crumbly shorbread biscuits sandwiched with all manor of fillings (traditionally dulce de leche or chocolate). Hay Latin America’s alfajores were delicately short and delicious to boot. alongside the traditional chocolate and caramel fillings, it was great to see the use of local ingredients in the form of a rhubarb filling – bringing a Yorkshire twist!

Fred also gave us a sample of Torrentés white wine, an Argentinian variety which was beautifully crisp, sharp yet full bodied. Perfect with a fistful of empanadas!! Whilst the wine isn’t for sale, there are a range of Latin American beverages on offer including Inca Cola, coffees and green teas.

It was great to see how passionate Fred was about this business and was keen to let people know all about Latin American food – perfect timing I’d say given the focus on the World Cup! Prices at Hay Latin America range from £1.10 for the smaller bites to £6.50 for the bigger plates which is a bargain. Get yourself over to Trinity Kitchen before the residency ends, although you can catch the team at World Feast every month on Briggate and also over in Huddersfield.

A weekend (or two) in London

It’s nearly a decade since I left London and moved back to Leeds, scary really as it feels like yesterday. I was there for less than two years but this was time well spent as it now means when I go back I can travel the tube like a local, I know lots of the hidden neighbourhood gems and I always have somebody to stay with! It feels like I’ve been up and down the East Coast mainline too many times of late – this is what comes of having free time now we’ve scaled back the supperclub! Anyway I thought I’d share with you some of my weekend tips for fun foodie things to do:

Dinner in Peru

Latin American food has really taken off in the UK, the latest additions to the scene being Martin Morales’ Peruvian beauties Andina and Ceviche. Ceviche is a cosy bar/ restaurant in Soho whilst Andina is a slightly roomier, more modern branch in Shoreditch. Food is served tapas style – my favourites being the amazing Ceviche Andina – full of sea bass, physallis and swimming in restorative tiger’s milk; the chocolo corn cake with uchatta sauce – soft, comforting and so moreish; and the salty, spicy pisco beef skewers. Be sure not to miss out on the house classic pisco sour for the true Peruvian experience.

Supperclubs with a twist

Supperclub on a tube train

Supperclub on a tube train

Ever keen to try supperclubs up and down the breadth of the country our latest visit was to Basement Galley. Previously run in his basement in Brixton, Alex has recently moved his foodie venture to a disused 1967 Victoria line tube train in Walthamstow. Lost in the back and beyond of suburban London this was truly a secret and bizarre experience! Sadly our meal was their last night aboard the train, but Alex has promised to be bringing the Galley back to a new and exciting venue soon, so keep your eyes peeled! We loved the bonkers palate cleanser of ‘gin’ jelly and ‘tonic’ sherbet that fizzed and excited the mouth, as well as the cheesy and comforting risotto balls. Bearing in mind that this was food prepared in a museum and a car park it was pretty top notch. What’s more drinks were supplied by pop up bar peeps Shot Tails providing decent wines and cocktails at non London prices! It was fun to drink wine aboard a tube now that Boris has banned it, but less fun clambering over everybody to get to the toilet!

Maltby Street Market

Maltby Street Market

Maltby Street Market

Nothing can prepare you for the wonder of Maltby Street Market, although the lovely sunny day probably helped secure its brilliance. Hidden up a Bermondsey back street it’s a foodie paradise full of stalls of streetfood and trendy cocktail and tapas bars. Go hungry so that you can fill up on the treats. It’s all laid out along a line of railway arches – industrial units by day, foodie heaven at the weekend! Everything is reasonably priced and not too big, meaning you can try lots. My favourites included the authentic Mexican tacos at £6 for three (chorizo and potato, beef, pork); the cheese shed grilled cheese sandwiches at £6; and Little Bird gin bloody mary’s at £5. The ultimate must do are the lush burgers from African Volcano. The patties are marinated and then grilled with their trademark peri peri sauces and then served up in a brioche bun that has been soaking in a gorgeous gravy/ sauce type thing and comes with all the trimmings such as cheese, salad, fried onions and pickles. This is the best burger I’ve ever tasted – moist, cheesy, spicy and FIT. At £8 they are at the top end of Maltby eats. They also do a pulled pork bun complete with crackling, and a burger/ pulled pork dirty combo. We shared ours so we could have as many things as possible. Next time I’m having one all for me. Maltby is open Saturdays and Sundays until about 4pm. The street is lined with lots of vintage tables and chairs so you can while away a lovely afternoon and scoff yourself silly.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gin

I used to live near Kew but never went to the famous gardens. At the moment it’s 241 entry in Gardeners World Magazine or with your national rail tickets to London. It’s worth getting the deal as it’s about £16.50 in otherwise. The gardens are a treat in themselves – lots of tranquil spots for picnics and attractions such as the tree top walk where you get to walk on a see-through, wobbly platform amidst the tops of the trees. Breath-taking views and stomach churning heights! At present the Plantasia festival is on, the best bit of which is a gin greenhouse serving lots of refreshing botanicals. Run by London No. 3 gin (made with juniper, orange, grapefruit, coriander, cardamom and angelica – 3 fruits and 3 spices!) I went for the classic G+T with geranium – subtly aromatic. Do have a bit of a wander around Kew when you’re there. It’s a very clean and neat village in London – almost like a theme park it’s so pristine! At the station there’s a fab little baker’s stall selling all sorts of fresh breads, pastries and other sweet and savoury baked treats. We had a load of the mini Portuguese custard tarts – lovely! The train station pub is also worth a look in – light and airy with lots of decent ales on.

British Tapas

Barnyard British Tapas

Barnyard British Tapas

The latest restaurant on Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street is Barnyard – a rustic, rurally themed eatery slap bang in the middle of the city. It got a less than glowing review in the Observer but we were still intrigued, give us a posh sausage roll and we’ll be there! The décor is a bit contrived – think rusty corrugated iron walls, splintering rough wood furniture and plaid shirts. It follows the trend of ordering as many small plates as you want. For me the pricing was a bit odd but the food was consistent. A highlight for me was a beautifully moist and smoky short rib. At £14 this was a tad steep, especially as it literally came as a sole slap of meat and no adornments. It was super fine eating though. The ‘Beyonce’ sausage roll was meaty, crispy and glazed to perfection. Our side of broccoli was smoked within an inch of its life, but all in all it was a meal we were satisfied with. A hit and miss experience but satisfying all the same, do try for something a bit different.

Sherry

Sherry - fresh from the barrel

Sherry – fresh from the barrel

We stumbled upon Drakes sherry bar when we were exploring Charlotte street. It’s just round the corner from the Sam Smiths pub. The bar is stacked full of gigantic sherry barrels of all shapes and forms. We enjoyed a 20 year old nutty Amontillado, straight from the barrel. It was just what we needed for a sunny Saturday afternoon to help us pretend we were in San Sebastien!

‘Vintage’ pubs

A drunk picture of Catford Constitutional Hall

A drunk picture of Catford Constitutional Hall

The latest trend in public houses appears to be cooperatively owned ‘vintage’ style pubs, restored to look like time capsules from the 1940s! Full of shabby chic furniture, authentic parquet, tatty bunting and half plastered walls. They are a lovely, quaint venue to enjoy a pint in as an antidote to the traditional spit and sawdust London boozer. You have to head a bit out of town to track one down. Essentially they are pop up pubs in historic buildings that have fallen out of love. Places of note are the Catford Constitutional Club and the Ivy House in Nunhead. In Nunhead why not check out the gothic cemetery too… although not with a massive suitcase and banging hangover as I did. Do give these pubs a look in, not only do you get a much needed drink in a cool environment – you’re also helping out the independents and protecting local heritage. Enjoy!