Monday, 31 May 2010

Taste Festival, Edinburgh

Taste of Edinburgh weekend was here again, a chance to sample specially prepared menus from some of the best restaurants in the city. There was also classes and demonstrations, not to mention a wide variety of exhibitors at the producer's market.
London will see their festival in June and Taste of Birmingham is on in July.
I was surprised to see half as many people in than there was last year. Maybe this had something to do with the extremely cold weather or it could have been the pricey tickets that are 16 pounds each, if you buy them on the day. We bought ours months ago and got them for next to nothing and I heard that they were giving away free tickets during the week as well. But you still have to pay for your food. 
Taste festival has got their own currency called 'crown' and this is used to pay for all goods purchased. This year I finally understood why that is... so you don't realize how much you're actually spending! In the end, the food is quite expensive. Almost all the dishes we had were ten crowns each, that being five pounds and they are starter size portions. Ouch, I say, but worth it if you love food. And I know for sure that I will still be going again next year, no matter what.
'Curry in a hurry' was our first sample, Tony's mum's chickpea curry with potatoes and sambals from Tony's Table. One of my favourite of the bunch, I decided later when I was summing it all up!
'Butts in buns with Asian slaw', pulled Perthshire pork with ugly bread focaccia and spiced slaw also from Tony's Table, was nice but I preferred the curry. We also got a chance to see the man himself, Tony Singh, and I was surprised to find him super-friendly and very approachable. So lovely, actually, that I really want to go for lunch there as soon as possible!
'The Mal Burger' from Malmaison was good last year, and this year their burger made from naturally reared ground beef with Gruyere cheese and bacon was sensationally good. The sauce was out of this world and to my disappointment there was no chips with it like they had the year before, but hey-ho. Mr Lovable wanted to have two of these...
'Ravioli di asparagi', pasta parcel with green asparagus from Cucina at Hotel Missoni, was nothing special: quite bland tasting and barely warm. Their service was rude and ignorant to the point that for a moment I thought of not ordering anything. Well, I should have... at least I know now to avoid this place.
Hot Aberdeen butterie with Patullo's asparagus, crowdie and Lanark Blue with watercress and walnuts, dressed with cold pressed rape seed oil from The Scottish Cafe&Restaurant, very Scottish tasting and Mr Lovable's favourite. Their service was amazing, everyone seemed to be welcomed with a big smile by the owner and he managed to make me feel like we were old friends when I chatted to him!
 Lapsang tea-smoked salmon with ponzu and Japanese wands from Waitrose Kitchen. Pea shoots and smoked salmon were just a perfect match and it looked so very pretty on the plate, too!
Roasted beef fillet with black truffles, watercress and early potatoes from Launceston Place and Action Against Hunger. Can I just say that I'm not a big fan of beef like steaks and big lumps of it, and was a bit apprehensive when I saw this in front of me. But the meat was so beautifully cooked and tender that I could have had more!
This was Taste of Edinburgh's first ever Celebrity Chef Charity Pop-Up restaurant, menu by Tristan Welch. 'The restaurant has been stocked by donated supplies and is run by generous, talented staff who have donated their time for the cause'. All proceeds from the restaurant were donated to Action Against Hunger. I am hoping to see more stuff like this next year...
'Rhubarb and custard', poached rhubarb, rhubarb jelly, vanilla custard and crystallised rhubarb from The Rutland Hotel, first dessert to sample. Very nice, wouldn't mind going here for dinner one night...
Marmalade and whisky ice cream served in a sugar cone from Amber was one mouthful of beautifully presented homemade ice cream.
'We Scream', soft vanilla ice cream with Tony's Table monkey blood from Tony's Table was just soft ice cream from a machine with a bit of berry coulis on top. At least they've got sense of humor in this place!
Chocolate mousse with strawberries, coconut whip and hazelnut crackling from Waitrose Kitchen. The bottom part with strawberries and chocolate was good but the 'coconut whip' was made form canned whipped cream! What's that all about, Waitrose? 

So that was what the Taste Festival 2010 tasted for me ... where do I want to go for a meal after all this? Tony's Table for sure, The Scottish Cafe&Restaurant and Centotre, Tony's Table sitting smiling on the top of my wish list!
opportunity to meet famous chefs

chance to sample new restaurants

blueberries and strawberries from Good Natured, I have never tasted berries that good!

Inverleith Park, Edinburgh, 28-30 June

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Quay, Montrose

I have made a discovery that I would like to share... yesterday I was on one of my travels, this time headed north from Edinburgh, to a town called Montrose. As I had half of the day off I wanted to have a wee wonder around and then sit down for nice lunch somewhere.
I asked the petrol station guy about The Quay when passing by and he said 'You HAVE to go and eat there, their food is seriously good!'. The night before I had done a quick Google search about where to eat in Montrose and found similar comments. I was so hopeful.
So in I went and ordered black pudding, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce to start with. It was beautiful, a superb start for a rainy day's meal; simple, comforting flavours sitting on a toasted slice of brioche. As I was eating I was making notes in my head to cook this for breakfast one day.
Roast squash, chestnut and sage risotto with crispy bacon for main. As I had eaten the most perfect risotto only two weeks ago in First Coast I wanted to see if this would be as nice, but it was not quite so. It was, however, very pleasing with earthy flavour and I did enjoy every forkful.
Chocolate mousse with Viennese biscuit was simply heavenly. Once again, my eyes were bigger than my stomach and that night something really rare happened, I didn't have dinner. I was still too full from my lunch. Note to self: must triple the amount of exercise if going to keep lunching/munching like this.
If you are ever anywhere near Montrose, eat here. I think it's even worth of taking the coast road when going to Aberdeen and stopping here for a meal. It is that good.
simple, modern decor

warmest welcome

very reasonably priced

1-4 Wharf Street, Montrose, Angus, DD10 8BD - 01674 672 821
The Quay Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Pink Olive, Edinburgh

Pink Olive is a Scottish bistro with a simple, no fuss, shortish menu and stripped and plain decor, 'atmosphere that appeals to all' in Edinburgh's Newington neighborhood. From the outside it looks just too cute and inviting and I remember walking by so many times and wondering what their food is like.
Since that we have been here for a dinner, last summer, and both liked it quite a lot. Ever since I have wanted go come here for lunch and this week I popped in by myself at lunchtime on a day when temperatures hit record highs for May in Scotland.
I ordered leek & smoked Arran cheddar tart with puy lentil vinaigrette that was obviously packed with calories but was well worth it. Portion size could have been a tad bigger in my opinion, but this was after all lunch, and I do remember their dinner portions being a lot bigger.
Mississippi mud pie with chocolate fudge sauce was what I first had my eyes on in the dessert menu but the hot and humid weather made me to go for orange & lemon jelly which was truly refreshing and paired nicely with ginger syrup.
I have been here for lunch and dinner, next excuse for a visit is to sample their Sunday brunch...
relaxed ambience

mostly female clientele, which I find oddly amusing

friendly staff

55-57 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DB - 0131 662 4493
Pink Olive on Urbanspoon

Friday, 14 May 2010

First Coast, Edinburgh

 First Coast is 'quality neighborhood bistro' in Edinburgh's not so nice area between Haymarket and Gorgie, in Dalry Road. If you brave yourself and don't let the location scare you, I promise that you will experience wonderful cooking, food made with passion using the best, freshest ingredients.
 We have been here loads of times and always find ourselves coming back.
 I had braised oxtail with potato gnocchi for starter, it was so good and full of flavour that it made me emotional.
Pearl barley and Mascarpone risotto with honey glazed butternut squash for main course. I don't think I have ever eaten my food as slowly as I ate this risotto... it was so delicious, creamy and tasty that I did not want it to end, ever.
 For dessert we shared a rhubarb roly poly with custard. There was even a wee jug of extra custard and this of course made me super-happy: one of life's little pleasures is getting extra sauce with your food.
This is one of my favourite places to eat in Edinburgh, anything I've ever tasted has been mouthwatering and it's always been an enjoyable experience. I can't recommend this place highly enough, please go and sample yourself...
 never disappointing

chilled atmosphere

menu that changes frequently

97-101 Dalry Road, Edinburgh, EH11 2AB - 0131 313 4404
First Coast on Urbanspoon