Sunday, 21 October 2012

Le Cream Puff

On a cold and rainy Friday afternoon at work I found myself answering the door to a delivery, which to my delight was for me. As the gentleman handed over the white package I instantly knew what is was...This was no normal delivery of leaflets and stationery.  My samples had arrived from Le Cream Puff.  This Stockbridge based bakery bakes, among other things, artisanal choux a la creme (cream puffs) in the classic French tradition.  Their facebook page describes them as "a light and crisp pastry shell hiding a luscious silky custard refined with a dollop of freshly whipped cream." 

On with kettle and then myself and my work colleague sat down to carefully open the pretty package.  

We were greeted by these little lovelies.  Hazelnut and Lemon.  I have to say, I simply cannot recommend one over the other as I thought they were both to die for.  And yes, I did have more than one. Or two. OK so I had 3! But I took the rest home for my family to try and it's safe to say, they gave them the thumbs up too.

Filling oozing out - messy but oh so good!

These little buns would make a great dessert, perfect with afternoon tea and I'm thinking they'd be great for work events too.  I think it's safe to say I'll be devouring more of these sticky, sweet little gems in the not too distant future.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Afternoon Tea at Cammerlaws Farm, Scottish Borders

Well, after much deliberation, mum and I decided to host our first "pop-up" afternoon tea at Cammerlaws Farm today. We'd been chatting about it for ages as I kept telling mum about all these amazing afternoon teas I had visited. I'd done some research and couldn't see anyone else doing similar in the Scottish Borders, so we decided to give it a go!  I was lucky enough to have met the lovely Alison from the Edinburgh Cake Ladies  a few times and when I floated the idea on Twitter, Alison kindly offered to meet us for a wee chat.  She gave us some great advice, do's and don'ts and off we went.  Our first dabble into the world of pop-up afternoon teas was in the safe hands of the Edinburgh Cake Ladies.  Who better to try a cakey venture out on, right?!

This is the menu we decided on:

Cammerlaws Farm

Afternoon Tea
Saturday 8 September 2012

**On Arrival**
Prosecco garnished with a fresh Scottish Raspberry
Sparkling Normandy Apple Juice served with a slice of braeburn apple

** Something to nibble**
Wiltshire Ham, Cream Cheese & Spring Onion
Prawns with Cheese & Chive mayonnaise
Cheese puffs

**Something Savoury**
A selection of sandwiches on soft white & brown bread
Cheese & Celery
Wiltshire Ham & Mustard with mayonnaise
Cucumber & Mint
Petite Croissants with Ham and Camembert
**Something Sweet**
Fruit and Plain Scones with Susan’s Award Winning Raspberry Jam (Westruther Flower Show 2012) and Clotted Cream
Rocky Road
Salted Caramel Chocolate Brownies
Meringues with fresh cream and raspberries
Honeycomb Cream Choux Pastries with Lindt Chocolate

**Something Else**
Maple & Pecan Tart
Clementine Cake with Cream
Victoria Sponge

**Something to Drink**
A selection of loose leaf teas
English Breakfast
White Pomegranate

And here are some yummy cakey pics!

Clementine Cake

Afternoon Tea

Clementine Cake, Maple & Pecan Tart and Victoria Sponge

Saturday, 4 August 2012

My new favourite place to hang out - The Fountain

When I found out The Fountain bar on Dundee Street was being refurbished by the owners of The Golden Rule, I was delighted.  There are very few places around the area I live that is nice to eat and go for a drink.  I've not been disappointed.

They've done the place up to a really high standard that would rival any city centre bar.  Hubby and I popped in after work one Wednesday night to try it out.  We sat in the bar for a glass of wine and received a very warm welcome from the bar staff.  The menu is varied, and far from normal pub grub. We decided to kick off with a sharing platter of cheese, bread, hummus, olives and oil.  A huge platter arrived with three varieties of cheese. It was delicious, and would be perfect to share with a bottle of wine on it's own.

For main course, I chose the Sea Bass with Pesto Risotto from the regularly changing list of specials.  I'm not usually a huge fan on fish but since our cooking class at Locanda Di Gusti, I've been trying to eat more of it, and  I have to say, it was delicious!  Portion size was huge, I had 3 large pieces of fish with a good sized amount of risotto.  The Sea Bass was cooked to perfection, with lovely crispy skin.

Hubby found it hard to see past the Fish and Chips.  A humongous piece of fish arrived, beautifully crisp and light batter with big chunky chips, homemade tartar sauce and mushy peas. 

My second visit to The Fountain was with friends and I'm pleased to say we all had something different and all just as good as the time before.  Here's the run down:

Beef Shin Pie
I've since been back and ordered this for myself and it's the best beef pie I've ever had.

Fish Pie - packed full of fish with a lovely creamy sauce.

Spiced Veggie Haggis with minted courgettes

Salmon with coconut broth

Please try this place out for yourself - it's fantastic for food or an after-work drink. I know I'm looking forward to returning!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Jamie's Italian - Edinburgh

I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Jamie's Italian Restaurant in the newly refurbished Assembly Rooms on George Street.  I've visited his Glasgow restaurant a couple of times and just love the atmosphere and service, as well as the great food. 

I arrived at midday for lunch and was instantly impressed by the beautiful and grand decor.  There's a huge big bar at the bottom of the restaurant (on Rose St entrance) with big legs of Parma ham hanging all round the bar.  A great place for an after work glass of wine and a nibble! 

My mum was already there so I joined her and was greeted by our friendly waiter and offered a drink.  We ordered quickly as I was on a work lunch break.  I opted for a special, Spaghetti with fresh pesto, ricotta and cherry tomatoes. 

Mum opted for the Ravioli Primavera which arrived on a huge big plate - pasta stuffed with smashed new-season peas, mint & ricotta in a silky asparagus sauce with mascarpone Amalfi lemon.  We also ordered a basket of bread.  Our food arrived promptly and was fresh, light and tasty. The service was great - very friendly staff - which I think just make such a huge difference to a dining experience.

By the time we left at 1pm, it was heaving!  I really liked the place and look forward to returning.  A definite new favourite for a girlie Saturday lunch with a glass of wine, Italian of course...   

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Afternoon Tea at Hotel Indigo Edinburgh

For mum's birthday today we decided to try afternoon tea at the new Hotel Indigo (51-59 York Place). I've heard very little about it so far and it was a bit of a gamble going for afternoon tea to a hotel, what with all the amazing tea rooms Edinburgh has to offer, but we were very glad we did.

We entered the hotel and passed through the bar area to the Turquoise Thistle Restaurant and were greeted by a friendly girl who showed us to our table by the window.  The restaurant is lovely, very smart with some interesting Edinburgh artwork adorning the walls.  In the restaurant it was just us and one other couple having lunch.

To kick off we had a cocktail - well why not, it was mum's birthday after all!  The cocktail menu was quite small but had all the classics, so we both opted for The Cranachan (Whisky, raspberries and cream) which was creamy, strong and delicious!

It wasn't long before our food arrived and I have to say we were pleasantly surprised with the choice on offer. 

Rather than the usual sandwiches, we were given what I thought looked like giant canapes!  They were lovely and a nice change from the norm.  We had large smoked salmon blinis, croissants with Ayrshire ham and melted brie, egg mayo on a crostini and roast beef with horseradish. 

We soon munched our way through the savouries and on to the sweet stuff!  There was a lovely choice of scones with a nice big pot of cream, shortbread, cherry tarts, meringues, choux buns and macaroons.  We were spoilt for choice!

I would have to say my favourite was the choux buns which were topped with a sticky toffee sauce - very yummy!

All in all it was a really nice and relaxed afternoon.  The staff were very friendly, the surroundings were lovely and the food was great.  The only slight downside was that it was lacking a little in atmosphere with it being so quiet, but it was nice to see the place was a bit busier through in the bar.  Hopefully word will spread and it'll soon be bustling with tourists and locals alike! 

Finally, I just had to share with you my new purchase today...I'm a very happy girl!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Italian Cooking Class with Rosario at Locanda De Gusti

Last week, hubby and I attended an Italian Cooking Class at Locanda de Gusti on East London Street.  We had been to the restaurant in it's previous incarnation as Bella Mbriana so we were looking forward to another visit.

We were welcomed to our group of fellow cookery students with a nice glass of Prosecco - and took our places at the long table.  Head Chef, Rosario, introduced himself and gave us an overview of what we'd be cooking.  His ethos is very much around comfort food, and by that he means quick, tasty and healthy food that can be thrown together with a few ingredients and some basic cooking skills.  Here was our menu:

Grilled aubergine sandwiched with goats cheese and 'peppery' rockette served with stewed sweet and sour Sicilian way cherry tomatoes.


Fillet of sea bass pan seared and served on a light broth of kale and borlotti beans, with grilled polenta and crispy Parma ham crisps.


Shortcrust pastry tart filled with vanilla infused mascarpone, topped with raspberries and finished off with a drizzle of Strega syrup

First up, was the sweet shortcrust pastry for the dessert.  For those of you who read my blog regularly, you will know that I've been making a LOT of pastry recently, so I let hubby have a go.  And he did an excellent job!

Next up was the grilled aubergine which was grilled with just olive oil (no salt), then sandwiched with goats cheese and rocket and popped in the oven.  Rosario then took us into the kitchen (which was boiling!) and showed us a couple of dishes we could whip up with some cherry tomatoes.  He made an amazing Sicilian sauce with tinned cherry tomatoes, some sugar, white wine vinegar, onion and some basil.  This was to accompany the aubergine, but would have made a perfect pasta sauce.  We then sat down to enjoy our starter, which was just delicious.  So simple, healthy and tasty - just as promised.  A big hit with hubby too who isn't a big aubergine fan!

Then onto the main course.  And I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to it.  You see, I do not like fish.  And I was hoping fish wouldn't feature on the menu.  So I faced my fear and got stuck in with the sea bass!  Rosario showed us how to present it nicely, and a big tray of it went off to the kitchen to be cooked. 

And the students went back into the kitchen to see how to make the broth, kale and polenta.  The end result was surprisingly good, and I will definitely be buying some sea bass to cook at home. It was really nice to be pushed out my comfort zone a little.

So finally, we got to see how our little tarts cases turned out, and hubby had done me proud.  Out came a huge bowl of chocolate sauce, mascarpone infused with vanilla and sugar and big bowl of berries.  We were given a free rein so we dug in like kids in a sweetie shop!  Here is what we came up with...

And hubby's...

Such a simple dessert, and again, delicious.  It was safe to say by the end, we were stuffed.  We both had a great time, met some lovely people and picked up some really great tips from Rosario.  The nice thing was, he let us all ask lots of questions and the cooking class wasn't about following a recipe, it was showing how some basic methods can be used with lots of simple ingredient combinations.  We will definitely be visiting again, but will opt to have Rosario cook next time!  A brilliant birthday gift from hubby, thank you. x

Monday, 7 May 2012

Tealicious - Retro Sweets Theme

When the tickets went on sale for May's Tealicious Retro Sweets event, I was one of the lucky few to snap one up.  They sold out in about 10 minutes flat on Twitter, so I knew I was in for a treat.  So what is Tealicious?  They describe themselves as: "A secret pop-up afternoon tea experience by The Shore in Leith. Expect sophisticated sweets in a quirky vintage style. With booze." 

I was a little apprehensive about turning up on my own as I wasn't sure who was going to be there.  I arrived at Sofi's Bar for 2.30pm as instructed and was directed through to the back room by a friendly bar tender when I mentioned the magic word "Tealicious." To my delight, the tiny room, adorned with vintage bunting and local photographs, was filled with some familiar faces in the form of the Edinburgh Cake Ladies; Alison (@EdinburghCake), Wendy (@insideoutchef), Lisa (@Harbourhussy - all the way from Aberdeen!) and Sophia (@pleasebringcake).  It was also filled with cake

I took my seat and was soon joined by the lovely Melissa (@melbise) who I'd met briefly before at the Edinburgh Cake Ladies 'Getting Tarty' event.  The room was small enough for us all to chat together which was nice.  I was soon offered a choice of tea - chai or cherry blossom.  I opted for the chai which I've never had before and was pleasantly surprised, being an avid coffee drinker, that it reminded me of Christmas spices and mulled wine.

In front of me, were bite-sized morsels of cakey loveliness.  We were offered some savouries to start which included a tasty onion bread, cheesy puff (which was to die for) and a pumpkin scone.  All were full of flavour and got me ready for the main event.  The first to catch my attention was an individual chocolate eclair, with a surprise honeycomb topping.  It was delicious!  As was the buttermilk scone which, naturally, I smothered in the homemade jam and clotted cream.  On to the rhubarb and custard tart which was light, crisp and beautifully sweet.  I was starting to get a bit full, when a huge slab of chocolate mint cake, resembling and old school Vianetta, was popped on my plate.  I made my way through that and decided I needed a break. 

After about 5 minutes of my 'break' it was on the lemon polenta cake.  Again, it was delightfully light and tangy with a perfect balance of lemon.

Next were were offered a raspberry cheese cake which I just couldn't fit in, however, I managed to taste a bit of Melissa's and it was just devine - genuinely the best cheesecake I've ever tasted.  If only I'd had room for a slice of my own! 

Lots more tea drinking and chatter ensued and then, just when you thought we couldn't possibly eat anymore, these beauties were brought out.  Homemade marshmallows flavoured with raspberry and orange and macaroons.  Again all bite-size so easy to try them all!  Well it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?!

The experience was completely complimented by the lovely Tealicious girls, who looked after us all afternoon, ensuring we all had an endless supply of tea and cake, whilst at the same time sharing their recipes and tips with us.  As if that wasn't enough, we were all given a box of goodies to take home. 

Now I know why the tickets sold out so quickly...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review of Kampung Ali Malaysian Restuarant

Last Friday, I found myself finished work sharp after a meeting up in Nicholson Street.  It's not a part of town I'm that familiar with, and as it was such a lovely evening, I bought a magazine and took myself off for a wee dander.  After popping into a few little boutique shops I stumbled upon Hula Juice Bar at the bottom of Victoria Street, which I've been meaning to visit for ages.  Being on antibiotics for a chest infection, this was a treat, as I've been missing my Friday night glass of rouge!  I had a lovely 'Pink Lady' juice which was as tasty as any glass of wine and I felt very proud of myself for being 'good'.

After my nice healthy juice I received a call from hubby saying he was on his way home from work, so we caught up in Kampung Ali, a Malaysian restaurant at Fountainbridge.

I had visited the restaurant some months ago (in my pre-blog days) with some friends and had a fantastic prawn red curry so I was glad to try it again.

We were shown to our seats and ordered some drinks.  I opted for green tea as I was freezing from my dander (it was a lovely evening, but this is Edinburgh we're talking about!). 

After much deliberation over the extensive and very authentic menu, and lots of eyeing up other diners dishes trying to figure out what they were having, we decided on our meal.  I was being boring, so I was told, and ordered the prawn red curry again to which I was abruptly told by our waiter 'no'.  I didn't see that coming!  I was told there was a Malaysian fish curry on special which was much tastier and I was to have that.  Yes boss.  I was also told I have to have the coconut rice.  Hubby successfully ordered the chicken Rendang.  This was allowed apparently.

We decided to share a couple of starters.  First up was the Roti with a curry dipping sauce.  Two lovely light and delicious rotis arrived with a nice spicy curry dipping sauce.  We also opted for the chicken satay skewers.  A huge plateful of chicken skewers arrived doused in a spicy peanut sauce.  Both very delicious and devoured quickly by hubby and I. 

On to the main course.  My Malaysian fish curry arrived and to my delight was completely delicious.  Spicy, but not too spicy, huge prawns cooked in a coconut broth with aubergine and beans.  I was very grateful for the recommendation!  The Rendang curry was equally as tasty.

So big thumbs up for Kampung Ali.  As Arnie would say: "I'll be back".

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Great British Menu with Mark Greenaway

I was honoured to be invited to join my fellow foodies at Restaurant Mark Greenaway at No.12 Picardy Place for the first instalment of the Great British Menu starring none other than Mark Greenaway himself.  We were treated to champagne and canapes before the show, but were delighted when we were asked to take our seats to be served the starter Mark created on the show.  And it was wonderful!  How it scored only 5/10 I don't know!  Braised pork cheek  wrapped in beetroot carpaccio, served with hot apple jelly with the controversial sea buckthorn...a very pretty plate.

It was really nice evening and I was impressed to see Mark making the effort to get round all the tables and speak to everyone there.  What a nice chap!  I'm looking forward to lunching at Restaurant Mark Greenaway in the near future, if his GBM starter was anything to go by, it'll be great.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Harvey Nichols Forth Floor with the Total Food Geeks Edinburgh

On Wednesday I was lucky enough to be invited to join my fellow Total Food Geeks for dinner at the Forth Floor at Harvey Nichols.  We were treated to an amazing 6 course tasting menu, by Executive Chef Stuart Muir.  This is the menu, and here are some photos:

 View from our private dining room


 North Sea Mackerel 
Pepper roasted with Iberico ham, almond cream,
salted anchovies and preserved lemon.

Squab Pigeon 
Sous vide in Shiraz and aniseed with vanilla roast pear, beetroot puree, molasses, coated hazelnut and baby leeks and beets 

 North Atlantic Halibut Pearl barley and surf calm porridge,
compressed cucumber and tarragon, aniseed nage

 South Ayrshire Pork Slow cooked Ayrshire pork belly with pate brik, cognac soaked prunes, black
pudding, coco nibs, cauliflower cream, soused baby vegetables and toasted cumin and caraway seeds 

 Rock Almond and hazelnut sponge, aerated chocolate,
passion fruit, Tonka bean ice cream

 Amazing cheese!

Petit Fours

Check out more photos on the Total Food Geeks website here

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Getting Tarty with the Edinburgh Cake Ladies

A couple of weeks ago I spent a lovely evening with the now infamous Edinburgh Cake Ladies, at Mimi's Bakehouse at The Shore.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Cake Ladies, they are basically a group of  ladies who love to bake, chat and eat cake.  Simple and fabulous. 

The theme of the evening was "getting tarty" and, as a nod to my Canadian quarter, I decided I'd make a maple and pecan pie.  Easy right?!  Considering I didn't even own a tart tin and had never blind baked a thing in my life, this was a considerable challenge for me.

The hardest part was finding a recipe!  I trawled the internet for a while until I decided to pretty much make it up as I went along so I combined a couple of recipes together.  I needed to test it out though before I dared brave The Edinburgh Cake Ladies!  So I made a test tart using a pastry recipe from an episode of Rachel Allen 'Bake'.  She gave me a great tip: roll out the pastry between 2 sheets of cling film then take the top layer off, pop it into your tart tin (with the cling film side up) and pop your baking beans in, wrap the cling film around the beans and blind bake.  The clingfilm will not melt, I promise!  So to my surprise making pastry was actually pretty easy with no mess and no floured work surfaces.

Here's my first attempt at the maple and pecan tart...

It tasted good but my family were in agreement it was just too chunky! For my final attempt the evening before the event, I couldn't find pecans anywhere so ended up with walnut and maple tart which actually wasn't bad at all!  You will find the recipe for this in the 'Recipes' tab.

I had a really lovely evening with the cake ladies, met some extremely nice people and ate a LOT of cake!  Thank you Edinburgh Cake Ladies for making me feel so welcome and for encouraging me to make pastry!  Here's a pic of the AMAZING display of cakey-goodness.

Since then I've gone a bit pastry crazy and made this yummy potato, stilton and spinach tart with a walnut pastry.  It's just so easy!