Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Contini Cannonball Restaurant

I've been lucky enough to visit the Contini's newest restaurant venture, sixteenth century Cannonball House beside Edinburgh Castle, twice now. Once for a tasting menu along with two of my favourite food bloggers (LeilAppetite and MyMonkfish) and the lovely Fiona from Taste Communications - and once for a girlie Christmas lunch, as a paying customer. 

I'll give you a brief background to the restaurant before I launch in, as it's actually quite interesting. For those of you who don't know them, Victor and Carina Contini are the couple behind the newly rebranded Contini Ristorante (formerly Centotre) on George Street and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at The Scottish National Gallery on The Mound. This latest opening is a partnership with the buildings owners, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and after sensitive remodelling of the listed building, the Continis opened in August. Spread over three floors is Contini Caffe - a beautiful traditional Gelateria, porridge bar and cafe and Cannonball Restaurant on the top floor.

Now this is where I have to make a confession, but please don't tell anyone. On arriving early to the bloggers dinner (on an extremely cold October evening) I popped into the Caffe to wait with a coffee and was obliged to try the ice cream, which "accidentally" turned out to be a rather large sundae...Now in my defence, I hadn't realised the bloggers event was a full dinner. Not that it made me eat any less! Anyway, the point is, it was the most amazing creamy ice cream I've ever tasted and was made that morning by the very lovely girl that served me. I loved that! The phrase "kid in a candy shop" comes to mind when I think of this place.  


At 6pm I made my way up the candle-lit stairs to the top floor and was shown to my table and welcomed with a glass of Prosecco. Off to a good start! With the castle literally next door the views are simply stunning. Sadly, there is limited seating with views of the castle and being a listed building there wasn't anything the Continis could have done to remedy that. (My advice would be to book early and request a castle view table if possible). 



My fellow dining companions soon joined me and I was delighted that I was in such good company. As the food and wine flowed so did the chat, and what I thought was going to be a standard bloggers event turned out to be more like dinner with the girls! 


Here's what we ate:

First up, Findlay's haggis cannonballs with pickled turnip and Morelli beer mustard. These were perfectly crispy and the unusual accompaniment worked really well. 

Next, Isle of Mull hand-dived scallop with garlic butter and lemon. This was one of my favourite courses and without doubt the hugest, sweetest and most perfectly cooked scallop I've had the pleasure of eating. It was beautiful. A must try if it's on the menu when you visit. 


With each course seemingly better than the next, I was excited to try the in-season Scottish Grouse with blackberries, red wine and beetroot. Cooked pink just to my liking it was tender and succulent and the sweet beetroot paired with it perfectly. 

The cheese course was next, Pecorino with chutney, figs and homemade bread. Again the pairing was perfect. 

Now, in my humble opinion, the show stopper. Valhrona 70% chocolate and amarena cherry torte. WOW! It was so rich and delicious I didn't want it to end! 

This was genuinely one of the most beautiful food experiences I've had in a long time - a real treat. The menu is packed with seasonal Scottish produce with an Italian sprinkling. In fact, I liked it so much I made my mum and dad go the following week! They too loved it. I've also since been for a Christmas lunch and really enjoyed it. 

Slightly hidden away beside the castle, as a local you'd have to make the effort to go as you wouldn't normally be passing by. But please do make the effort - you won't be disappointed. And if you don't have the time for dinner, go for ice cream instead! 

Huge thank you to the Continis and Taste Communications for hosting us and for providing all these images (as my phone battery helpfully died on me) and of course to the team at Canonball for the superb service and food. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Book Review - Easy Indian SuperMeals by Zainab Jagot Ahmed

I recently had the pleasure in receiving an advance copy of a new book - 'Easy Indian SuperMeals for babies, toddlers and the family', written by Zainab Jagot Ahmed.  Those of you are regular readers of my blog will know that me and my family love Indian food, and as soon as Paige was old enough to start on solids, one of her first meals was a fruity chicken korma, which she loved.

As soon as I received the book I started flicking through looking for recipes to try, but what I was surprised (and delighted) to see, was that not only is this a recipe book, it's also packed full of information about weaning, spices and their suitability for babies and children, portions sizes, nutrition and food groups.  Just what I've been searching for, and all in one place - Hooray! 

The book starts from 7 months+ and progresses through to 3-5 years+.  What I love about the recipes is that they are for the whole family and any chillies or salt etc has been omitted from the recipe until the end where you can spice it up for the grown ups once you've set aside a portion for the little one.

I also love that at the top of the pages, Zainab gives a little chat about the recipe, relaying some family history but also telling you about the important health benefits of the ingredients.  I like to know that what I'm feeding my child is healthy and nutritious and again, it's great having this information all in one place.   

So my first dip into the book, after much deliberation (as everything looks amazing!) was Zainab's mum's Chicken Karahi.  As promised, it only took around 25 minutes to make and the end result was delicious.  Easy to make, and on the table in less than half an hour - a thumbs up from me!

I decided at the same time to try one of the 'Sweet SuperMeals' for Paige as an alternative to the usual yogurt and fruit she has after dinner.  The 'Creamy Sweet Potato Dream' caught my eye - sweet potato as a pudding?!  All I can say is, you HAVE to try this recipe!  Sweet potato and coconut milk infused with nutmeg and green cardamom - it was so moreish Paige was lucky to get any!  I made a big batch and froze it, and it defrosted really well.  

My verdict?  I love love love this book!

With Christmas just round the corner, this is a must have gift for any parent about to embark on weaning their baby onto solids, or indeed anyone who cooks for children.  The photography is brilliant, the recipes are varied and the information is invaluable. 

You can buy Zainab's book 'Easy Indian SuperMeals' here and you can follow her on Twitter @ZainabJagAhmed


Hardcover Book front and back

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review of Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food - Edinburgh

I recently had the absolute pleasure of visiting Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food Restaurant in Edinburgh with my hubby and little girl, Paige. For anyone who is a regular reader of my blog, or knows me well, will know that we're no strangers to the odd curry now and then!

As Paige is only 10 months old, we went around 5.30pm to fit in with her dinner time.  Unsurprisingly the restaurant was pretty empty at that time, so we took a table by the window with space for our pram, and were promptly given a high chair for the little one.

We perused the menu, whilst at the same time feeding Paige an array of finger foods we'd brought with us.  She does love my homemade curry, but we haven't ventured to a restaurant version just yet!  Our friendly waiter recommended we try 3 or 4 dishes each and after kindly giving us plenty of time to get ourselves sorted, he came to take our order.  

To drink I went for a Coconut Lassi, which is an Indian take on a smoothie made with yoghurt.  It was divine! It's BYOB with no corkage charges, so hubby popped next door to a local shop for his tipple of choice.


We kicked off with some pappadoms and the usual array of chutneys, which came in cute little pots. 


I had been recommended some dishes from the lovely people on Twitter so I decided to put my faith in them.  I ordered the Mumbai Burgers, a potato fritter stuffed in a bread roll with a deliciously spiced sauce and an onion bajhi.  On first look I thought I'd never eat it all, but alas I did!


I was also advised that the Ginger Garlic Chicken was one not to be missed and whoever recommended it was spot on - it was delicious.




I find it hard to see past the creamy loveliness that is Butter Chicken and I wasn't disappointed - this was my favorite dish.  Beautiful tender chicken and a luscious creamy, lightly spiced sauce.




Hubby went for a few things I wouldn't normally have chosen, which was good as it was all equally delicious.  Railway Station Lamb Curry, Lamb Chops and TukTuk Wallah Staff Curry.  We opted for a Peshwari Naan to mop up all the gorgeous sauces.


 



To finish off, despite being completely full, I wanted to try the Laddoo - an Indian sweet made from flour, sugar and ground coconut.  And I had been told Tuk Tuk serves the best Chai in town.  The dessert was very yummy but quite heavy after such a big meal - and the Chai won me over.


All in all a beautiful meal, all presented in a quirky and interesting way.  The staff could not have been nicer, laughing and keeping Paige happy throughout.  Nice to know we can have a delicious meal out in a child friendly place.  Highly recommended by us all!



Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food Restaurant
1 Leven Street
Edinburgh
(Situated opposite the King's Theatre)




Sunday, 20 July 2014

52 Ways to go Greener

The Scottish Government’s Greener Together campaign encourages everyone to ‘go greener together’ so that we can all play a part in making Scotland a cleaner, greener place to live. 

To help Scotland do this, Greener Together has developed some achievable goals which will help everyone live that bit greener. The goal for week commencing 21 July is to discover new in season recipes, to encourage people to purchase fresh produce from our own doorstep. Not only is this good for the environment, but it helps local business and can be better for your pockets too! 

Here are some top tips for eating in season: 

* This July / August there are so many in season fruit and veg, from runner beans, to lettuce, to cucumber, to tomatoes and raspberries 

* Head down to your local farmers market, it’s often a cheaper option as the produce doesn’t have the added costs from the supply chain 

* Food is also tastier because it’s fresher when sourced locally 

* In season produce has a higher nutritional value when picked at the right time of year 

Visit the Greener Together website for more tips on staying green – www.greenerscotland.org 

Visit the recipe calendar on the Greener Scotland website for a list of seasonal recipes. Here's a couple I tried myself:

Scottish Salmon Stir Fry



Serves 4;

Ingredients:

600g Scottish Salmon
250g Red Cabbage
2 Carrots
150g beansprouts
50ml Olive Oil
50ml Soy Sauce
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp grilled sesame seeds

Method:

Shred the cabbage and slice the carrots into thin strips.



Heat half the oil in a wok and saute the red cabbage, carrot and ginger for 5 minutes.



Add the beansprouts and season. Cook for a minute then remove the vegetables.

Cut the salmon into cubes and fry with the remaining oil for 3 minutes. Season well. 



Add the vegetables back to the wok, add sesame seeds and serve.



Fruity Breakfast Pot




Serves 4;

Ingredients


30g rolled oats
30g chopped hazelnuts
2 tsp honey
150g strawberries
100g blueberries
100g raspberries
150ml low fat natural yogurt 







Method:

Preheat oven to 200c.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 



Mix together the oats, nuts and honey and scatter onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in oven for around 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.



 
Hull the strawberries and put into a bowl.  Roughly mash with a fork so that there are some large chunks left.  Mix in the blueberries and raspberries.






Divide the fruit between 4 serving dishes and top with the yogurt.  Once the oat mixture is cool, scatter over the top.  Serve straight away or it can be chilled in the fridge overnight.
 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Foodies Festival 2014



Foodies Festival brings MasterChef winners, top producers and award winning street food to Inverleith Park



Foodies Festival – Inverleith Park, Edinburgh – Friday 8th, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th August 2014






Foodies Festival, the UK’s largest celebration of food & drink returns to Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park on the 8th, 9th and 10th August for a weekend celebration of Scotland’s finest produce, international street food, and culinary masters.



Having started as a small event in Edinburgh eight years ago, the festival has now grown into Scotland’s food and drink event of the Summer, transforming Inverleith Park into a foodie paradise with over 200 artisan producers, pop-up restaurants, premium brands and the chance to watch your favorite chefs cooking live. 



Festival Director Sue Hitchen said… “Edinburgh is where it all started for Foodies Festival, so it’s a very special event for me and our team. This year we are delighted to be the official partner of the MasterChef Dining Bus, which offers our visitors a unique onboard dining experience with the contestants and winners from the series cooking onboard and serving visitors top-notch dishes from the purpose built kitchen. “

Top chefs joining the festival this summer include MasterChef the Professionals runners-up Adam Handling and Scott Davies, Great British Menu’s Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters, Mark Greenaway of Bistro Moderne, TV Chef Tony Singh, The Pompadour by Galvin Head Chef Craig Sandle, CafĂ© St Honore’s Neil Forbes and Glasgow’s The Three Sisters bakers Gillan, Nichola and Linsey, all of whom will cook their signature dishes live in the Chefs’ Theatre while explaining how home cooks can prepare the same dishes for friends and family.



 MasterChef's Adam Handling said… “I am delighted to be a part of the Foodies Festival in Edinburgh, I always love it when I can meet other foodies and share my love of cooking with them, and if I can help to inspire and encourage people in their kitchens, then that for me is an honour. Coming back to Scotland is always special for me, it was the where I undertook my first apprenticeship when I was 16, where I gained my first two AA rosettes at Fairmont St Andrews, and where I was awarded ’Scottish Young Chef of the Year 2011’. Being a part of the Edinburgh Foodies Festival will add to the many special memories that I have here.



Exciting new features for 2014 include a spectacular Chocolate, Bake and Preserves Theatre, which will host top pastry chefs, chocolatiers, bakers and sugarcraft experts. This is complemented by the new Chocolate, Baking and Preserves Village, for those with a sweet tooth and who enjoy home baking, with a selection of stalls selling baking essentials and the latest gadgets. 



A brand new outdoor BBQ Arena will appeal to lovers of al fresco dining. The purpose built BBQ stage will feature hourly BBQ cooking demonstrations and invite the audience to take part in BBQ challenges; meat-eating competitions and they can even learn how to make a ‘BBQ cake’!



A new Chilli Market spices things up with a range of chilli-growers and artisan producers of sauces, sweets and jams. For those who can handle the heat a Chilli Eating Challenge takes place at 5pm daily.



A new Feasting Tent at the heart of the festival becomes a social hub, where visitors can relax and enjoy their purchases in the company of chefs, friends and family at long banqueting tables.



Another exciting addition this year is the Vintage Tea Tent that will hold daily tea dances, alongside a Vintage Kitchen Market allowing visitors to pick up beautiful pieces to add to their own kitchens at home.



Returning features this year include the popular Drinks Theatre, where regular masterclasses and demonstrations allow visitors the chance to taste and learn about wine, champagne, sherry, ales and spirits with experts including TV’s Charles Metcalfe, beer expert Melissa Cole and champagne expert Neil Phillips. There is also a daily cocktail making competition to find the best cocktail in Edinburgh, judged by an audience of Foodies visitors.



Foodies Festivals are recognised for their focus on street food with the introduction of the Street Food Avenue in 2012. This year visitors can enjoy a huge selection of award winning hot and cold food from around the world including hog roasts, Vietnamese buns, exotic meats, tapas, churros, burritos, Moroccan tagines, South American prime beef, Jamaican and Thai street food.



There is plenty for little foodies to do as well with the Children’s Cookery Theatre hosting “Around the World” themed cookery classes. These workshops will help children find their taste buds and teach them basic cooking skills.



The entertainment stage features live music acts and fringe performers throughout the day until 7pm.

 
Ticket Information



2014 Foodies Festivals tickets are now available from www.foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111.
Tickets:

1-day adult ticket for Friday £10.00
1-day adult ticket Saturday or Sunday £12.00 (£10.00 concession)
3-day adult ticket £18.00 (£15.00 concession) 1-day VIP ticket £38.00 (Friday VIP ticket £35)

Opening times: 10am until 6pm.


VIP tickets include a glass of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine on arrival, access to the VIP tent throughout the day, a goody bag and priority entry to theatre and masterclass sessions as well as a private bar with refreshments throughout the day and great views of the entertainment stage.


All children aged 12 and under go free to all Foodies Festivals when accompanied by an adult.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Anniversary lunch at Clerks Bar

To celebrate our third wedding anniversary, hubby and I managed to squeeze in a rare child-free lunch. Hubby was working so we headed to nearby Clerks Bar on South Clerk Street and had a surprisingly lovely lunch! I say 'surprisingly' not because I didn't expect it to be good, but because of the extra mile the bar manager went to ensure we had a nice time.


We sat in one of the booths by the window and straight away I was intrigued by the row of sauces on our table. 


The manager came over to explain the menu. The kitchen smokes their own ribs, chicken and meats "low and slow" for a minimum of 12 hours. The menu is simple in that it knows what it does well and sticks to it. 

The pulled pork burrito took my fancy and it was delicious. I smothered it in hot sauce and it was messy but so good! I washed it down, not with one of their craft beers, but with a glass of prosecco!! 


We also had some sweet potato chips, a side of mac n cheese (which I'm delighted seems to feature on many menus now!) and a salad to make ourselves feel better.


I was so touched when I was given the cork from the bottle of prosecco, and wished a happy anniversary with a complimentary drink. (Thank you).

Not one to shy away from pudding I managed a wee slice of pecan pie, served warm with ice cream.



We had such a lovely time! I love my daughter very very much but I have to admit it was nice to have my hubby to myself for just one afternoon...shhh don't tell her I said that...! 

For a tasty lunch at a very reasonable price, I'd highly recommend Clerks Bar. 

Clerks Bar
74-78 South Clerk Street
Edinburgh 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Girlie catch up at Chop Chop in Leith

Last Friday, my oldest friend Debbie and I met for a long overdue catch up, over dinner at Chop Chop in Leith. The sun was shining and tables outside the Quayside restaurants were packed with people enjoying their well-deserved Friday night after work drinks. I felt like I was on holiday! (In my excitement at being out on a Friday night I forgot to take a photo of the exterior so this photo is courtesy of Crimson Edge PR - thanks!)


We were seated right by the window so we could enjoy the view and the beautiful sun set. 


After our initial catch up we finally got round to looking at the extensive menu. We decided we'd share everything so set about choosing which dishes to order, which was no easy task. We were assured by our friendly waiter that we had ordered quite a lot, but not too much if we were hungry...!

Here's what we went for:

Beef and chilli Dumplings (fried) and what looks like a huge glass of wine!


Vegetable Spring Rolls


King Prawns with Spinach 



Crispy Northern Chicken


Bean sprouts with coriander and spring onion


And some egg fried rice, naturally.


Having visited the Morrison Street restaurant too, my personal preference is the Leith restaurant. But that's just my opinion! I found it slightly more formal.

The food was absolutely fantastic. Everything was so tasty with beautiful fresh, light flavours. I loved the Crispy Northern Chicken - it was sweet and crispy (as opposed to soggy, I'm not just pointing out the obvious!). 

The prawns are also worth a mention. The dish contained loads of huge succulent prawns - a very generous portion size. So often, I find, when you order a prawn dish you get just a few prawns but not at Chop Chop! 

We sat there until after 10pm and weren't rushed at all, other than to be politely told if we wanted more food the kitchen was closing. I think it's safe to say we'd had enough food by then! 

We ordered some Chinese tea to finish then made our merry way home - sufficiently caught up on the gossip and full of delicious food. 

If you're looking for great quality Chinese food in Edinburgh - look no further. The banquets look amazing also.

Chop Chop
76 Commercial Street
Commercial Quay
Leith 


Monday, 12 May 2014

Lazy Sunday Brunch at The Pantry

After a week of sleep deprivation thanks to a teething baby, nothing perks you up more than a good old fry up. Oh and a double shot latte. And that's just what I had at The Pantry in Stockbridge yesterday - and boy did it hit the spot!

Arriving fashionably (or rudely!) late we were helped down the stairs with our pram and shown to a table at the back of the cosy restaurant by the window. There was a highchair in place for Miss Paige, who is now my mini partner in crime with all things foodie. I noticed immediately the warm family atmosphere. At many of the other tables were families enjoying each others company - Parents reading the papers or story books to their little ones. Dining out with a baby can sometimes be quite a stressful experience so I felt instantly calm knowing it was a child friendly place.


With our eyes propped open with matchsticks, hubby and I both ordered coffees. "Would you like a double shot with your latte?" I was asked by our lovely waitress (who now appeared to be some kind of caffeine angel) to which I replied "oh god yes please!" It was like she knew...

Both arrived in quirky glasses, which I love.




A lovely brunch menu was offered and my deliberation began. Eggs Benedict as recommended to me via Twitter, or The Pantry Fry? It was definitely a fry kind of day, and this is what I went for:


Sausages, bacon, toast, poached egg, mushrooms, tattie scone and haggis. Just seeing that written down makes me feel slightly full! Hubby thought that sounded good and went for the same. Paige opted for some scrambled egg which the chef kindly whipped up for her with no salt. 


She was a very happy little customer and I think it's safe to say she enjoyed it way more than mummy's scrambled eggs! 


Hubby and I both agreed it was all delicious, fresh and not greasy at all as a fry up sometimes can be.

We left feeling refreshed and slightly more awake after what felt like a big cosy hug. 

A short stroll down the street and we were at the Stockbridge Market. So if you're looking for somewhere to dine this Sunday after the market - The Pantry is your place. 

The Pantry Farm Shop & Kitchen
1-2 NW Circus Place, Edinburgh 
www.thepantryedinburgh.co.uk


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Review of The Magnum Bar & Restaurant

A week past Monday I had the pleasure of having a fantastic lunch at The Magnum Bar & Restaurant on Albany Street in Edinburgh. 



Hubby and I had spent the morning looking round nurseries for Paige for when I return to work in September. So to have a nice lunch to look forward to at the end of it kept us going!

The sun was shining and it was a beautiful Spring day. We ended up being very early for our reservation, however, a quick phone call en route to a very friendly girl at The Magnum reassured us, and we made our way across town.

We were greeted by a gentleman who held the door for us (by 'us' I'm referring to Miss Paige and her entourage of bags, pram and toys). We chose our spot by the window with plenty of room for Paige's pram, which was helpfully suggested by our waitress. 


We had the choice of a set menu or the a la carte. We went for a mix from both.

For starters we shared the haggis, neeps and tatties in a whisky sauce which came beautifully presented:


And we also had the mushrooms with goats cheese on ciabatta from the set lunch menu:


Generous portions and very yummy.

For main, hubby stuck to the set menu and went for the samosa which was again well presented and a good portion size. Lightly spiced vegetables encased in a crips pastry:


I, on the other hand, stuck with the a la carte menu and unusually for me went with the chicken and bacon burger. And man am I glad I did! It was already dripping in sweet chilli sauce but I added some blue cheese to the mix. It came with a pile of wedges too. Mmmmmmm. Just writing this and looking at the photo is making me hungry! My photo really doesn't do it justice.


As if that wasn't enough I just had to try one of the puddings. A very citrusy cheesecake rounded off my massive lunch nicely!


The staff could not have been nicer and the restaurant itself is beautiful. Very reasonably priced for such lovely food, service and surroundings. Pop in at the very least for a drink if you're in the area, you won't regret it.