23RD – 25TH NOVEMBER 2017
Yes, it’s back! Edinburgh’s biggest and best celebration of craft beer returns for November 2017 with more brewers, more street food and, of course, more craft beer!
Rich & Dan, the curators of craft beer brilliance have prepared a fantastic line-up for this year’s festival, featuring some the best brewers from Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Europe. The festival will be welcoming some familiar faces from our region and also introducing new breweries from further afield that are producing some delicious beers. As well as the opportunity to sample exclusive beers not available anywhere apart from the festival, there’ll be tasty snacks from top street-food vendors and a great roster of DJs and live music.
The venue for this craft beer congregation is the awesome Assembly Roxy, which can be found just off South Bridge, behind Surgeons’ Hall in Old Town Edinburgh. It’s the perfect venue for Edinburgh Craft Beer Revolution Festival with its large main hall, which will be transformed into a Beer Hall showcasing seventeen breweries with over 60 beers on tap at any time, street food stalls and a Cocktail Corner. Elsewhere in the venue there’ll be some very special takeovers in the Upper Theatre and Basement Bar. With local faves such as Alechemy, Fallen Brewing and Pilot rubbing shoulders with international names there is a pale ale, pilsner or porter guaranteed to tickle your tastebuds. Even if you don’t want to enjoy the beers, (which I suppose is possible, but at least give one a try) there will be plenty of epic Thistly Cross ciders, wines from Vino and cocktails available for people who prefer a non-beery tipple.
What would a festival be without food… so to accompany the steady stream of flowing beer there will be a selection of mouthwatering street food, featuring flavours from around the world. What goes well with a beer, well a pie of course, so Jarvis Pickles will be on hand to warm you up from the inside. Awesome Scottish street food vendors Bruadair will be on-site, hopefully with their fabulous Venison Burger. Fancy a curry with your pint, Sharma's Street Food will sort you out. And to finish off, how about something sweet (and gluten free) from Sugar Daddy’s bakery. What a line-up!
So it's back and it’s bigger and better than ever! More brewers, more beers, more awesome street food, more DJs and more awesomeness. Whether you're a seasoned beer drinker or simply want to sample some of the new and exciting drafts being made by the best up-and-coming brewers in the UK: this is the festival for you!
Head over to the Craft Beer Revolution website - http://www.revolutioncraftbeer.com to buy your tickets, which start at £7.20 for the Friday afternoon session, up to £15.20 for a weekend slot. Please note tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. All tickets include a souvenir tulip glass, programme. A £2 drinks token is also included except all Friday afternoon tickets. Last year early bird tickets sold out within days of launch and weekend most sessions were completely sold out weeks before the event so buy early to guarantee your spot!
If you head over to our Facebook page, you could win a pair of tickets to the Thursday or Friday Afternoon session!
If you had subscribed to our newsletter you'll also have been sent a discount code saving you £2 a ticket, so if you've missed out, sign up! #JustSaying
ASSEMBLY ROXY, 2 ROXBURGH PLACE, EDINBURGH, EH8 9SU
Tinto Hotel is a traditional country house hotel nestled in five acres of stunning gardens within the breath taking countryside of the Scottish Borders not far from Biggar. In the dining room, you will find a diverse range of dishes from the classic to contemporary to suit all palates and Tinto Hotel have worked hard to expand their menu, now catering to the vegan society. The hotel host monthly Vegan Dinner Evenings where guests can enjoy a selection of vegan dishes in a traditional Scottish setting.
The monthly evenings are designed to cater for a gap in the alternative, meat free market which are usually only accommodated for in big cities such as Edinburgh or Glasgow. Tinto Hotel wanted to cater for vegetarians and vegans a little more close to home. The essence of the evening is to bring something new to the table every time so menus are never repeated and the cost of the meal (3 courses for £25) is a fraction of what would be paid in the larger cities.
Past menus have included spicy veggie dogs with “cheezy” fries and roast beetroot and mushroom bourguignon. For those with a sweet tooth there has been raw strawberry and mint cheesecake and hazelnut mousse with warm raspberries, something to suite all tastes.
During the festive period a speciality vegan Christmas Dinner event being held on the 22nd of December which will include 3 mouth-watering traditional courses with a twist.
For further information or booking enquiries please contact Tinto Hotel directly on 01899308454 or email email@example.com
Tinto House Hotel
44 Biggar Road
Symington, Near Biggar
I don't really like surprises.
I like a predictable, almost mundane life, where I know exactly what to expect.
So imagine my surprise when an email hit the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox from McDonald's. Here we are, constantly espousing local sourcing, quality ingredients and individuality and possibly the most well-known multinational fast food restaurant chain is inviting me to try and make their ubiquitous Big Mac.
First of all I checked they had sent the email to the right person, just in case!
Then I re-read it, they were indeed wanting to show off the evolution of McDonald’s restaurants and they were going to let me behind the scenes at the Newbridge restaurant to see how it was done. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that they were inviting me into the kitchen to prepare my own burger. You are very brave, very daft or very confident to invite an outspoken food writer into your kitchen. So with very little hesitation I took them up on the offer, to find out which one it was…
When the big day arrived I was greeted by the franchisee (Bob!) and his loyal and friendly team. It was half one and the lunchtime rush was in full swing as families, solo business-folk, workies in vans and the slightly dazed looking folk that looked like they'd just got off a long haul flight (which they might have now I come to think about it) all looking to get a quick meal. It was interesting to see how in this restaurant they were reinventing the McDonald's concept, keeping the best bits whilst removing the annoyances. Now there is no queueing at a counter to order and watch the staff select a prepared burger from the shelf, no it's all made to order. Your choices now are myriad. You can use one of the kiosks, giant touch screens in a range of languages, that allow you to select your meals and make whatever personalisation you wish, don’t like pesky pickles, hold the tomato, you betcha. You can use the mobile phone app to get your order ready and scan the QR code at the door to let the kitchen know you've arrived and they'll get cracking. You can also sit at the table and order from there on the app.
Not all of these features will be available at all the restaurants yet, but this is the way of the future, so if your local McDonald's doesn't do this yet, it will soon! Until then (and even in the new restaurants you get the option if you want to do it the old fashioned way) you can still head to the counter and order from one of the friendly staff.
Then you can wait for your meal to be handed to you, like the old days, or better still to your seat. The restaurant is split into zones which you use when you order and the food is served at the table. Imagine when you are trying to corral a heap of children, remember orders, juggle straws, well no more. Place the little cherubs in front of one of the tablets, place the order from the comfort of your chair and wait. The server will take care of everything bringing condiments, napkins the whole kit and caboodle over to you. To quote one of the McDonald's team “if you have to get up from your seat we'd see that as a fail.” To me, as far as front of house service goes, in what is still a value orientated market, that's a winner. I can pay nearly twenty quid for a burger in some places and still have to stand in a queue, so digitally enabled full on table service for a 99p cheeseburger is definitely a surprise.
There were more surprises lying ahead, for as we crossed the threshold, through the ‘staff only’ emblazoned door and entered uncharted territory, there was a table with hats and aprons and a personalised name badge waiting for us! Whilst we were preparing ourselves for the trip to the kitchen, lots of hair net kerfuffling took place, I appreciated the neat and tidy staff (crew) room, the iron (so the staff can look their best) and best of all the dozens of photos of the team on a range of nights out, team building and fun days that gave the impression that looking after their staff was high up on management's priorities.
Once suitably attired we scrubbed up, passed food hygiene inspection and were let loose into the kitchen proper. Two things were immediately apparent. Firstly it was very clean. This is a kitchen at the end of the lunch rush, I'm expecting a certain degree of carnage, maybe not a pile of dirty pots and pans, but some sign that a couple of hundred people have just passed through, but no, everything appeared to be pristine. Which leads us onto the second observation, it was very methodical. A place for everything and everything in its place, there was some very clever process planning in place, that produced optimum efficiency, so we get tasty burgers quickly. It's the little details like the bespoke toaster that can grill the top, bottom and both sides of the middle of a Big Mac bun at the same time. Bet you'd never given it a second thought before, but there is a special bit of kit to do just that task. The double sided hot plates cook the burgers for just the right time and they have an illustration to remind you that the order you put the patties on is the order you need to take them off, so they are all on the heat for the same amount of time. And when you cook a burger at home and you do that thing with the spatula to push the meat down, yup these have an automatic function to push down and release when cooking, just to add a little tenderness… The patty is pure beef, 100%, from British and Irish cows. Yes, its flank and forequarter, but it's being minced and shaped into a tasty burger, not served on a plate with a Diane sauce so that shouldn't worry you. Once cooked a no doubt carefully calibrated grind of salt and pepper is added and the burgers placed into hot storage.
Because no fully prepared burgers are sitting waiting, everything is prepared to order, so this may take a little longer than simply handing you a lukewarm one that was prepared earlier. But, you know what, I'll wait thirty seconds longer for the freshness of a bespoke burger, thank you very much, and McDonald's believe that I'm not the only one. The patties may be grilled and kept hot, but when that order for a Big Mac hits the screens, (there's no shouting, not bits of paper, just a monitor detailing the personalised order), that's when the magic happens, and not a second before. A bun is toasted, onion, lettuce,two skooshes of special sauce, cheese, pickles added in just the correct quantities, before the meat is added, the two halves joined and voila your freshly made burger appears.
And then it was my turn… After observing a slick professional turn one out in twenty seconds I had to bring my A game, and I'd like to think I didn't let myself down too badly. I managed to toast the right side of the bun, but then skimped too much on the lettuce and doubled up on the pickles.
When I turned it over and opened the box there was a vaguely Big Mac-esque creation inside. Admittedly it also took three times as long as my McDonald's Yoda to demonstrate the correct technique, but not a bad first try I thought, certainly tasted pretty darn good to me!
And with that I was shown back out of the kitchen and into the by now slightly quieter restaurant. I polished off my handy work and thought about what had just happened and reconciled it with my initial thoughts. First off the old adage of “you get what you pay for” remains true enough. For the price of even the most expensive McDonald’s Signature meal, you wouldn't realistically expect hand ground wagyu in an artisan brioche bun, liberally dusted with unicorn tears, so guess what, you don't get that. What you do get is a freshly prepared, pure beef burger. If anything it makes the price of some of the ‘gourmet’ burger establishments look frankly ridiculous. Table service, easy ways to order freshly made food at a family friendly price, what's not to like?
Brave, not really. Daft, definitely not. Supremely confident, I guess so.
Because I could find no faults. It is not a kitchen - it’s a machine, a well orchestrated, minutely detailed series of processes that makes the act of preparing a burger appear effortlessly efficient. Sure what you have is more paint-by-numbers than Picasso. In all the kitchens I've ever worked each dish is unique, a splash of cream here, a variable spoon of butter there, a random sprinkle of spice, using my skill and judgement to create a meal. McDonald's don't want that variation, they want you to enjoy a Big Mac that is the same from Berwick to Motherwell and that's what you will get. Consistent, uniform, predictable, no surprises…
Guess McDonald’s is perfect for me then.
SPONSORED POST - Whilst I was invited to try out the new McDonald's, the opinions within the post are still very much my own. Can't you tell...
Hotel bars and restaurants were for a long time somewhere to avoid, unless you were staying in the actual hotel, of course. There were a few notable exceptions, always at the rosetted and starred end of the culinary scale, but generally the hotel restaurant was the domain of the table-for-one business person and the octogenarian coach holiday party, unless it was a Sunday lunchtime when the place would be stowed.
But times change, hotels recognise the benefits of livening up their food offerings and being genuinely attractive to folk who want a meal rather than a bed. The result is exciting new places to visit, and unsurprisingly Malmaison, the iconic and innovative boutique hotel brand, is keen to show off their brand spanking new Chez Mal Brasserie at Malmaison Glasgow. There is plenty going on at this end of the town at the moment so Chez Mal is going to need to be pretty special to pull in the punters. We secured an invite to the launch party to have a good look at what Malmaison hope will achieve just that.
First impressions are good, just about the right amount of understated opulence from the outside, but a big chunk of fun inside with colourful balloons and the name spelled out in three foot high light up letters.
There was a host of food on offer, from uber-posh scallops on tiny black pudding cushions, to beef sliders and pigs-in-blanket hot dogs demonstrating the quirkier side of the kitchens outputs. Chez Mal offers a fresh mix of contemporary styled dishes in the relaxed but vibrant setting. Food and drink lovers can look forward to mouth-watering menus, bursting with bold flavours and fresh ingredients, all complemented with craft beers, Champagnes and expertly crafted Mal cocktails. The decor shouts about Glasgow’s ship-building heritage and the wooden parquet flooring and glittering domed ceilings emphasises a laid-back luxury.
Mal Bar brings you cold beers, crisp bubbly and a creative array of inventive cocktails, all in a cool and colourful setting with an electric atmosphere. Pull up a blue pew amongst the pop art and peruse the majestic menu of wines, ales, cocktails and spirits. Watch mixologists work their magic alongside the beats of the resident DJ on Friday nights. The inside out feel of the atrium, the neons and the big red pipework all add to a fun and funky feeling that is just that bit more relaxed than you’d expect from an upmarket hotel bar. The perfect venue for a pre-theatre Prosecco? You bet it is! They will be offering £5 cocktails and great music Wednesday – Friday, so you don’t need to wait for the weekend.
Set behind the Mal Bar are three private dining rooms, which share the intimate atmosphere and are the perfect setting for a family get-together, a meal with friends or a celebration without any interruptions.
Chez Mal looks amazing, the staff were lovely and the food and drinks we tried were excellent. This is not simply a hotel restaurant, Chez Mal is a destination in it’s own right, and if this evening was anything to go by, it’s going to be very successful!
A La Carte - British ingredients with balance and panache. Beautifully-balanced flair dishes and perfectly seared steaks.
Sunday Brunch - £19.95 - Experience the ultimate Sunday lunch at Malmaison with our endless Chef’s Table, your choice of superb main courses including traditional roasts.
Wednesday to Saturday 12pm to 2.30pm
Sunday only (obvs...) 12.30pm to 4pm
Monday to Thursday 5.30pm to 10pm
Friday to Saturday 5pm to 10pm
Sunday 6pm to 10pm
O141 572 1001
Malmaison Glasgow - 278 West George Street, Glasgow G2 4LL
As the nights get darker and colder, what better way to spend an evening than with a glass of wine or beer and some delicious meats and cheeses?
Clark and Lake, a new charcuterie and bar in Edinburgh’s Tollcross is already proving to be popular since it opened in June this year, but they’ve now added some autumn specials to the menu that will make regulars and new customers’ mouths water.
In addition to the regular menu of meat and cheese boards alongside a selection of small plates, customers can now try out tasty mozzarella arancini balls served with marinara sauce and rocket, delicious whitebait with a homemade tartar sauce, homemade Spanish tortilla served with a sun-blushed tomato dip and a smoked mackerel pâté on garlic crostini with caper popcorn. Those with a sweet tooth will not be disappointed either by a trio of chocolate truffles including dark chocolate & Tawny Port, milk chocolate & spiced rum and white chocolate & Lambrusco and soon to be added to the menu, chocolate sorbet and coconut ice cream from The Chocolate Tree in Bruntsfield.
Customers to Clark and Lake can accompany their choice of dish with a drink from the extensive wine list with each available in 125ml, 175ml glasses as well as 500ml carafes or by the bottle. These include an Albarino Lagar de Bouza from Galicia in Spain, a Cava de Ribeauville Riesling from Alsace, France, a Domaine Berrod Fleurie from Beaujolais and Santa Marena Espinos y Cardos Pinot Noir from Chile.
Those more tempted by beers will find an extensive selection of bottled beers available including Beavertown Gamma Ray, Neck Oil and Smog Rocket, Brooklyn Lager and Camden Gentlemen’s Wit.
Founded by Andrew Thompson after years of researching, planning and sampling eateries around the world, Clark and Lake is his long term dream to bring a European approach to dining in Edinburgh. With a menu including a choice of sharing platters with meats and cheeses from Spain, France, Italy as well as across the UK, the relaxed and informal setting is already proving to be a welcome addition to the burgeoning restaurant scene around Tollcross and Bruntsfield and with the choice of new specials on offer, it’s sure to continue.
Clark and Lake - 8 Gillespie Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4HS
We were lucky enough to get sent a few tins of 'no added sugar hoops' from Heinz, so we got creative, and carefully considering the grim autumn weather, thought a hot bowl of soup was just the ticket. With no real desire to be outdoors I recruited Mini-SFR for veg chopping duty and off we went.
To start, two Vegetable Stock cubes were fired into a litre of water and set to boil. Whilst that was doing the whole boiling thing, we set about cutting up three carrots, an onion, a spud and some celery sticks into decent size pieces. We like big bites of veg, but if you don't, cut them smaller, or grate them down to teeny tiny pieces, either way it'll taste great.
We heated some spray oil in a pan and threw in the veg, along with a couple of cloves with of garlic and some salt and pepper, cooking it for around five minutes to soften things up.
Whilst this is ongoing I strained the sauce from the Heinz hoops, and once the veg was ready added it to the pan. I also added in all of the stock, a tin of chopped tomato and half a tube (100g) of tomato puree.
Once all this was stirred in we cranked up the gas and got it boiling, once there it was turned down to a simmer and the lid put on. If you've cut the veg fine or blended, or if you like the vegetables with bite then ten minutes will do you. If you want better cooked, or the veg is chunky, then go for fifteen minutes.
At this point the spaghetti hoops go in, I also put in some butter beans, but this is just me bulking up the soup even more, you can skip the beans if you wish. Either way pop the lid on and leave to simmer for another ten minutes.
Then ladle out into a bowl, you'll get six decent sized helpings. This is a great tasting, warming lunch that is wonderfully healthy. I served it up with a crisp baguette which of course made it far less healthier, but you know what, tasted great!
Heinz were kind enough to provide us with a couple of complimentary tins of ‘no added sugar hoops’ which feature in this recipe. Other than that, this is very much our own opinion, because it is great tasting soup!
1 tin of butterbeans
6 small sweetfire beetroot
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tspns red wine vinegar
Handful of mint (and sprig to decorate)
Put in a bowl and blitz away!
Yup, it's that simple. Now serve with cucumber and carrot sticks.
A new ‘Meats & Beats’ festival, themed around meatylicious street food and music from the past five decades, hits the capital this weekend, 20th – 22nd October.
The event will transform Edinburgh's Assembly Roxy into a carnivores’ paradise, where attendees can feast on a smorgasbord of street food – mainly the sticky, juicy, BBQ’d variety – while getting their grove on to all their favourite tunes from the past five decades.
Sizzling steaks, sauce-dripping tower burgers, racks of sticky ribs, meat-topped mac 'n' cheese and meat-packed Quesadillas are just some of the dishes festivalgoers can tuck into at feasting tables in the main hall, each perfectly portioned so multiple dishes can be tasted without bursting attendees’ trousers or bank balance. Confirmed street food vendors include The Pitt, Kilted Lobster, The Mac Shack, Bruadair and Wild & Smoky, promising a mouth-watering menu to choose from.
Every hour the bell rings and the musical decade changes, as Disc Jockeys and a live band take festivalgoers on a journey through the pop classics of the 70s, the 80s Disco anthems, dance tunes of the 90s and pop band hits of the noughties, right up to 2017. Playlists are compiled from festivalgoers’ song requests before and during the event and in partnership with The Shack Retro Bar & Club (located on Rose Street) to ensure each session is packed with the biggest party anthems of all time.
Pop-up bars from Stewart Brewing, Fyne Ales, The Cocktail Kitchen, Poco Prosecco, Kitsch Soda and Villeneuve Wines will serve craft beers, cocktails, wines and all natural sodas, while chicken-wing-eating competitions, dance-offs, Music Quizzes and retro TV Game Shows such as Blind Date, Catchphrase and Blankety Blank in the upstairs theatre provide a trip-down-memory-lane entertainment. Visitors are also encouraged to dress in the style of their favourite decade, with a 'Best Dressed' award given out by The Shack Retro Bar & Club during each session.
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options will also be available at the event.
Tickets from £5 are on sale now at www.meatsandbeats.co.uk
Instagram - @meatsbeatsfest
Facebook - @meatsbeatsfest
Twitter - @meatsbeatsfest
NEW RESTAURANT SERVING THE BEST OF BRITISH SEAFOOD OPENS THIS NOVEMBER
This November sees a new addition to the Edinburgh restaurant market as the team behind Chop House Bar & Butchery launch their latest venture in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar will open seven days a week on the site of the oldest inn on the Royal Mile, offering a dining experience focused on fresh seafood and shellfish. Boasting a custom-designed lobster tank, this new restaurant is committed to placing the highest quality seafood at the core of the business.
A key feature of the restaurant will be its large custom-made lobster tank, presenting diners with the opportunity to select fresh Scottish lobster at varying weights. The spectacular tank promises to be an impressive feature of the venue’s interior.
Sharing platters of shellfish including lobsters, scallops and crab will form a key part of the offering and a range of oysters from across the UK will be available, shucked on the bar in full view of the customers.
The menu is designed to showcase the best of British shellfish and seafood in a collection of dishes to be shared by the whole table. Seafood platters and small plates allow tables to feast on a wide range of seafood. In addition, a selection of stand-alone dishes like monkfish curry, lobster and fries and whole lemon sole will be available.
The complete refurbishment of the building on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile will create an intimate dining room, with additional covers housed in luxurious booth seating looking onto the lobster tank and further seating available within the bar area.
The interiors will feature a rich heritage colourway with a number of notable design features, such as the custom-made green marble bar top where customers will be able to enjoy fresh oysters and cocktails alongside an all-day menu of small dishes such as crab fries and sesame tuna.
As well as a carefully-crafted menu, White Horse has an unrivalled drinks offering including a bespoke cocktail menu drawing on classic influences. The list will incorporate seasonal ingredients, boutique spirits and seaside influences into a fresh and vibrant range of signature cocktail serves. White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar will be supplied by a selection of boutique and smaller suppliers including Edinburgh-based Welch Fishmongers, Mara Seaweed & Cornish sustainable fishing specialists Wild Harbour.
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar will open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, with the bar trading until late.
If you are kind enough to follow our nonsense on the social media, you'll know this time two weeks ago we were finishing an epic food challenge. But for those of you who don't (and we really must enquire as to why you don't…) we have thoughtfully summarised the whole two and a half days in one post.
So here we go on our food challenge. 28 countries, 28 different lots of food and drink.
We started off with a visit to Champagne and Fromage in Greenwich to secure a cheeky doubler, ticking off two countries in one visit. Kachkéis is traditional in Luxembourg and a glass of champagne, obviously from France got us rolling.
Some may say it's a cliché, others will give us a hearty pat on the back, but you know what, a cheeky pint of the black stuff meant that Ireland tasted great!
A trip across the city to Bayswater, and in the basement of the Latvian Institute we eat and drank country number four. We enjoyed Liellopu Galas Strogonovs - An amazing combination of Rice or Buckwheat in a creamy meat gravy, very much along the lines a stroganoff, with a smash of dill and some chunky pickles. Brilliant! We washed it down with a bottle of Valmiermuiza Amber Lager. Latvia tasted good.
A few minutes later we were back on the Queensway and headed to the Byzantium Cafe where we ordered a pair of Souvlaki and two cups of coffee you could chew on. That ticked Greece off the list.
So here's the rub, we couldn't eat 28 meals from 28 countries, even settling for the odd snack was going too be much, for two good reasons. The first was pure cost, if we sat down and have even a main course in each place, at London prices we'll go bust quicker than Northern Rock, so we need to be sensible with our choices. Secondly we pride ourselves on our toned and athletic physiques, honestly we really do…, OK that's a complete lie, but we did need to at least in someway consider the calorie intake over the course of the weekend. As a result we decided it would be acceptable to drink some of the countries, hence the earlier Guinness. But we made a commitment to keep the food to drink ratio above 50%. It was a necessary measure as well as like some eighties yuppie we found ourselves in a Wine Bar in the City of London. Pretentious, Moi?
We decided just two countries here, although there phenomenal range meant we could have done the whole continent in one sitting! So Number 6 in our European tour was Slovenia and a dry smooth little white called Gue Rila and 7 was the Royal Tokaji from Hungary, it's like drinking honey, absolutely stunning! Perhaps having it with a Chocolate Brownie is sacrilege, but I really don't care
And that was us, #consEUme day one complete. Seven down, twenty one to go…
Day Two saw a big push around the markets to try and grab some street food, quick nibbles and the occasional drink to knock off some countries quickly.
portugalstaste at Greenwich Market squared us away with a Pastel De Nata and a Tigelada, and that saw us right for breakfast.
A quick jump west and we were at Maltby Street Market enjoying Germany, land of the Sausage. Thanks to @hermanzegerman we have Bratwurst and a Currywurst, danke schöne! And quickly ducking over the border, OK we went into the railway arch opposite, we find @speckmobile and wonderful Austria serving up mixed dumplings, an applestrudel and two glasses of Schremser beer.
A short walk took us to Borough Market where we enjoyed a Halloumi wrap courtesy of @gourmetgoat gave us Cyprus and Kulin Sausage from Taste Croatia gave us 11 and 12.
A Delirium Beer from Belgium beer gave us number Thirteen.. I have to say it had quite some punch, but pretty smooth. I liked it.. 👍
It was an obvious choice to head over to @mercatometropolitano at Elephant and Castle. It was awfully restrained of us to pick just two #Spain and #Malta and enjoy the traditional combination of #churros and @cisk beer. We could have ticked of several other countries too, such is the variety of kitchens and bars in the place, but as we passed the halfway point we moved on...
To a little shop off the Queensway where we secured delicious, nutritious (it proudly announced it was 18% fat! ) Lithuanian ice-cream! That banked us number sixteen.
Some clever planning got us to the Czechoslovak National House in West Hampstead , where we enjoyed Svíčková - a slab of beef in a thick vegetable sauce, and also Halušky with pork belly bacon. Both were excellent and represent the best of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, oh and we washed it down with a suitable Pilsner as well.
Back on the tube and into the carnage of Piccadilly Circus to get to De Hems bar and a super strength Oedipus beer, which pretty much did us for the night and closed off day two with nineteen countries done.
Day three commenced at Casa Transylvania in Lewisham (see what they did there) but when asked about traditional breakfast dishes the nice guy says they don't do breakfast in Romania! Instead we are starting the day with cake and coffee!
The coffee was strong enough to dissolve your tongue. The cakes are what is best described as a super charged tiramisu and banana-custard in a roll. Massive slabs of flavour, and a huge dose of sugar. Good Morning World!
A tip off brought us into the Finnish Church in Rotherhithe and a light lunch of meatloaf, mash and a vegetable pancake, accompanied by some rye bread in marvellous company whilst scoring off country 21.
Back on the tube and north of the river to the Scandikitchen where we chalked up countries 22 and 23 - Denmark and Sweden.An open salmon sandwich with a sweet mustard and a smattering of dill, and a Danish with a hint of cardomon. Yummy
And of course because we are children we bought ourselves a Plopp!
Country 24 was Italy and Italy had to be pizza! So a short walk brought us to Flat Planet Pizza and a flat bread Soho Pizza with mozzarella, nduja sausage and salami. Boom! That nailed number 24, four to go…
Estonian Beer was a pig to find, but thanks to various leads and the power of Google we discovered Viru beer, and best still The Porterhouse in Covent Garden that sold it. A distinctly average beer has never tasted so good! ..
Bulgaria had the potential to do our legs, just like Estonia threatened to do. However Perpericon saved us. It may advertise itself as a pizza place, and was a trek back south of the river, but if you ask for the "other" menu it is all Bulgarian. We enjoyed Sirenka - a feta and mozzarella stuffed garlic bread, Luteniza a red pepper puree dip, Elena is very similar to Parma ham, but with a herb coating and the Lukanka a meaty sausage. A fruity Bulgarian Pinot Noir washed it all down.
Two to go! And I make no apologies for getting two beers as our No. 27. Poland does brew a good beer and we got two great ones from the Polish Music Club in Streatham so that's well within the rules I reckon! They were self-imposed rules anyway... Twoje zdrowie!
So that's 27 down and left us with one.... What is a ubiquitous culinary delight for the whole of the UK? Obviously I'd go Neeps and Tatties and a Whisky if I was just Scottish, but it's not.. So what is more UK than Fish and chips (or as most of us know it, a fish supper) , pie and chips, a chip butty and some mugs of tea?
Job done - 28 of 28.
Two and a half days, 30km of walking and a large amount of public transport, but we managed it. A fantastic foodie adventure, which I'm not sure I shall match anytime soon.
But there is a question that has bugged me all the way back home. Did I have to go to London? Could I have done an EU food challenge in Scotland, let us know your thoughts.
RODIZIO BAR & GRILL TO OPEN ON EDINBURGH’S GEORGE STREET EARLY NEXT YEAR
Independent restaurant operators City District Group, founders of the Fazenda Bar & Grill brand in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, are set to open a fourth outlet in the Scottish capital in early 2018. A fifth location in Glasgow is also being sought.
A £2m refurbishment of the 7000 sq ft site on Edinburgh’s prestigious George Street will offer 175 covers including a bar area of 40 covers, plus a private dining room for 8 guests.
Fazenda presents an authentic gaúcho dining experience that embraces rodizio, a unique Brazilian way of serving a variety of grilled meats carved at the table.
For a set price, successions of prime cuts arrive at the table including chicken, lamb, pork and beef including Fazenda’s signature picanha cut, a juicy, tender and flavourful cut from the cap of the rump that is very popular in Brazil. Fazenda ensures the experience is easy and enjoyable by allowing diners to eat at their own pace via a start/stop signalling system on every table.
Diners are also invited to visit Fazenda’s outstanding gourmet sides bar offering an extensive selection of salads, sushi, smoked salmon, fresh cut vegetables, cured meats, traditional Brazilian dishes, and more.
Wine is a key ingredient of the Fazenda experience, with a carefully-curated wine list offering diners a perfect accompaniment to every cut of meat.
100 George Street
Edinburgh EH2 3DF
When you are trudging through an industrial estate in the pouring rain on a Wednesday evening, normally this is an indication that somewhere the week has gone horribly wrong.
On this occasion we had endured a journey on a bus and two trains to end up exactly here. For in this little corner of Yorkhill, hidden from view by the railway arches, and watched over by ten foot high street art is the SWG3 Studio Warehouse. A venue contained within a collection of re-purposed industrial buildings, with a blend of brick, rusting steel and polished concrete, a location which perfectly mixes contemporary and history.
But why were we here? Well actually to perfectly mix contemporary and history, or more accurately allow someone to mix them for us… The lovely folk from Jack Daniel’s were hosting “The Meeting Place” a taste of Tennessee, with the Clyde standing in for the Elk River. What ensued was a party that I will remember fondly for some time, because on top of a brilliant DJ and cracking band, the Broken Witt Rebels, there was two of the cities finest street food suppliers, Chompsky and The Buffalo Truck. But the best bit, was the relaxed, friendly vibe, that can only happen when a large number of Jack Daniels’ drinkers get together and enjoy some fine Tennessee whiskey.
Best of all, this was not a “JD & Coke” affair, oh no, this was about exploring some new and interesting ways of serving Jack. Apple Jacks, a simple combination of Jack Daniel’s, fresh apple juice over ice with a slice of apple and a sniff of cinnamon added a fruity zing and a different spicy flavour to the usual mellowness of the whiskey.
The Jack Old Fashioned mixed a large Jack Daniel’s with a few dashes of Angostura and then a healthy slug of honey. The sweetness of the honey takes the punch of the bitters on the chin and hits back with a perfect counterpoint to the smokiness of the Whiskey.
Seems someone at Jack Daniel’s has worked out that the whiskey is a great partner with honey, so much so you can buy it paired up in the bottle. The awesome Tennessee Honey sees a honey liqueur blended with Old No. 7 to create a fantastic combination that is still undoubtedly JD, but different! It formed the basis of our two favourite drinks of the night, Jack Honey and Lemonade, a simple mix of sweet lemonade, a wedge of lemon and a healthy shot of Tennessee Honey was simple but effective.
The Tennessee Touchdown was a standout, Tennessee Honey, some honey and ginger syrup, a squeeze of lemon juice, a dash or two of Angostura and then top the tankard up with lager! Oh wow sweet, sharp, smoky and sour all going on in one glass! I’m going to need to experiment with some of our finest Scottish brewery products to find the perfect brew, but this is definitely worth a try (responsibly of course!!!)
Jack Daniel’s wasn’t kept just to the cocktail bar, no,no,no several bottles seem to have made it out to the caterers, for Chompsky offered up slow roasted pulled pork in a JD BBQ glaze on Mac & Cheese, whilst the Buffalo Truck went with the Tennessee Honey and butter glazed buttermilk fried chicken burgers. I’d like to say we tried both, but that would be a lie (sorry Chompsky). For us it was double chicken and wow, that batter was phenomenal. Best chicken burger ever? potentially! That’s a recipe I also need to be trying out back in the SFR kitchen!
The top discovery of the night? Three actually.
I like rebellious rock and soulful blues, so will probably end up at Stereo on 21st October to see the Broken Witt Rebels again.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey could possibly edge Old No. 7 as my favourite Tennessee export, wow!
Tennessee Fire makes my eyes water…
So a big thank you to Jack Daniel’s for inviting us along. It’s a brave move bringing a party and Whiskey to Scotland, the land of Scotch and Ceilidh, but you know what, them folk from Tennessee created a near perfect feel-good night out. Slàinte!
Jack Daniel's invited us to their Meeting Place event, but the opinions are very much our own (so there you go...)
Today, Saturday 16th September 2017, goes in the history books as the day whisky makers R&B Distillers officially open the Isle of Raasay Distillery, the first (legal!) whisky distillery on this small Scottish island.
R&B Distillers are bringing this traditional Scottish craft to a previously unchartered whisky region, harnessing the raw elements of the unique terroir to create the first Raasay Scotch, which we will have to wait until 2020 to drink.
Co-founders Alasdair Day and Bill Dobbie are realising a dream to make whisky in this uncommon location.
Raasay is a small island, only fourteen miles in length, situated off the East coast of Skye. The island's 120 residents have watched eagerly as this disused Gothic villa hotel, Borodale House, has been transformed by ABIR architects into the new distillery, adjacent visitors’ centre and Na Tùsairean Club members’ accommodation.
In July 2017 R&B announced the distillery team who will be integral to whisky production: the team is comprised of: Norman Gillies, an island resident; Iain Robertson, a young distilling graduate; and Chris Anderson, a master distiller with decades of whisky prowess.
Iain, with the guidance of Chris, commenced whisky production this week and guests to the opening will be able to witness the first whisky making in action. The distillery will officially open to the public in October and visitors will be taken on a fascinating tours around this unique distillery: they will learn about the unusual geology that influences the flavour of Raasay Scotch; spot the resident bat population in the 'Bat Hotel' and visit the Celtic Well that provides water to the distillery. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, friends, family, industry figures, press and all the island's residents have been invited to join the founders in a ceilidh at neighbouring Raasay House.
The distillery will be opened by renowned spirits writer and whisky expert, Dave Broom. The much-lauded spirits writer and founder of scotchwhisky.com, will cut the ribbon into the production room of the distillery and join co-founders of R&B Distillers, Alasdair Day and Bill Dobbie, along with friends, family and islanders to celebrate the opening of island’s first distillery.
JOIN JACK DANIEL’S AT THE MEETING PLACE: A TENNESSEE INSPIRED POP UP IN GLASGOW THIS SEPTEMBER
Whether it’s fine whiskey cocktails, delicious BBQ food or incredible live music. Find your taste of Tennessee courtesy of Jack Daniel’s
Fine sippin’ whiskey, world-class BBQ food and live music experiences are what Tennessee is all about, which is why, this September, Jack Daniel’s is bringing a Taste of Tennessee to Glasgow with “The Meeting Place”, a southern spread like no other.
The word Tennessee is believed to be derived from the old Yuchi Indian word, ‘Tana-see’, which translates to ‘The Meeting Place’. This one-off gathering in Glasgow’s coolest arts space will bring 200 lucky Glaswegians together to experience some famous southern hospitality and enjoy drinks, food and music inspired by Tennessee.
Mr Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel registered his distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1866 next to a cool, cave spring water at ‘the hollow’ which just happens to be perfect for making whiskey, and the reason every drop still comes from the same place today. The folk at Jack Daniel’s think that is something worth celebrating, which is why they are inviting friends to find their taste of Tennessee here in the UK.
Inspired by the bustling bars and Honky Tonks of Jack’s home state, The Meeting Place will partner with some of the best venues in Glasgow to bring together some of the city’s best drinks, music and food.
Among others, renowned bars Slouch, Lebowskis and Saint Luke’s will be mixing up fine whiskey cocktails, while The Buffalo Truck and Chompsky will be firing up the grill to treat friends of Jack to mouthwatering cuts of meat.
No Tennessee gathering is complete without live music, and there will be a quality line up to match the food and whiskey cocktails. Throughout the night musicians will play Tennessee inspired tunes to entertain the crowd.
For the chance to join Jack Daniel’s at The Meeting Place, head on down to either Moskito, Saint Luke’s, Slouch, Rufus T Firefly, Lebowskis, The Buffalo Truck or Chompsky, purchase a Jack Daniel’s drink and you’ll be handed a Jack Daniel’s postcard to fill out and post into a Tennessee style post mailbox.
Entries close on 14th September.
Your friends in Tennessee remind you to drink responsibly
Moskito - 198-200 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4HG
Saint Luke’s - Calton, 17 Bain St, Glasgow G40 2JZ
Slouch - 203-205 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4HZ
Rufus T Firefly - 207 Hope St, Glasgow G2 2UW
Lebowskis - Several locations, visit http://www.lebowskis.co.uk/ for more information
The Buffalo Truck - Several locations, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheBuffaloTruck/ for more information
Chompsky - Several locations, visit https://www.facebook.com/chompskyfood/ for more information
Edinburgh Cocktail Weekend has revealed 50 specially designed signature cocktails for their inaugural event, Friday 6th - Sunday 8th October, which wristband-holders can enjoy exclusively for £4 each across the capital's top cocktail bars including Harvey Nichols, Tigerlily, Copper Blossom, Le Monde, The Printing Press and Nightcap.
Cocktail enthusiasts can look forward to a weekend of sipping and socialising their way around the city with a cocktail line-up featuring everything from a Willy Wonka inspired 'Violet Beauregarde' cocktail at The Refinery and a tipsy ice cream milkshake at The Boozy Cow, to an iced coffee cocktail at Eden Locke created by the recently crowned 'World's Best Barista' and a Jammie Dodger flavoured martini at Element.
Since the announcement of Edinburgh Cocktail Weekend, excitement for the event has been building, with over 8000 event responses on Facebook and people travelling from across the UK and as far as Australia to join in. Around 7000 people are expected to take part across the three day event, making ECW Scotland's biggest ever cocktail event.
As well as enjoying £4 cocktails, wristband-holders also have the chance to attend free masterclasses and tastings at the likes of Bar Soba, The Scottish Malt Whisky Society, Malmaison and Rabble. Wristband-holders can also enjoy free entry to Edinburgh's top late night venues plus exclusive access to the Boudoir and Bothy at Brewhemia, and the rooftop SKYbar on the top floor of DoubleTree by Hilton, where they can sip on cocktails and take in stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and the city's skyline - the perfect selfie opportunity.
£6 wristbands (or two for £11) can be purchased at www.edinburghcocktailweekend.com and can then be collected from the Edinburgh Cocktail Weekend Hub at ANTA on George Street along with a free copy of the ECW Guide. Then it’s time sip, sample and socialise your way around #ECW17!
Instagram - @edcocktailwknd
Facebook - @edinburghcocktailwknd
Twitter - @edcocktailwknd
Hashtag - #ECW17
Magners Irish Cider, Celtic FC Foundation and the Tennent’s Training Academy have announced the successful Magners Employability Programme will this year focus on chefs looking to get a foot in the kitchen door in 2017.
The project aims to help unemployed people get back into work and returns for its third year after Celtic sponsors, Magners, raised £19,670 for the Celtic FC Foundation, by donating £10 from the first 1,967 of a limited edition Magners Lisbon Lions pack launched to mark the 50th anniversary of Celtic’s historic 1967 European Cup win.
This year, the project is targeted at people who have a passion for cooking and hospitality, as it will see 12 successful applicants undergo training at the state of the art Tennent’s Training Academy from Thursday 14 September until Friday 17 November. Any cooks in the making interested in applying to take part should visit magners.co.uk/celticfoundation.
Applicants can also attend a Recruitment Open Day at the Shettleston Job Centre on Tuesday 5th September from 10am to 12pm, with interviews being held at Celtic Park on Thursday 7th September.
The Magners Employability programme has helped 24 participants gain employment or move into further education since it began in 2015.
This year, the project is targeted at people who have a passion for cooking and hospitality, helping tackle a long-standing skills shortage in Scotland. During the 10-week programme, participants will develop their culinary skills before leaving the course, ready to start work as trainee Commis Chefs in the industry.
To further help graduates in their new cooking careers, some of the biggest businesses in hospitality, including DiMaggion Group, G1 Group, Lynette Leisure, Jury’s Hotel and Holiday Inn, to name a few, have pledged their support, committing to taking on graduates at the end of the programme to work in their kitchens.
Delivered by Celtic FC Foundation and the award-winning Tennent’s Training Academy, the Magners Employability Programme prepares participants for life after the project, encouraging them to engage with a varied mix of work experience, certified industry training along with recruitment days, motivational speakers, and sessions covering; skills, qualities, job searching, CVs, application forms, interview techniques and work ethic.
In addition, this year’s programme will include awards in food safety, a look at world food trends, menu planning, nutritional cooking and foraging trips.
The aim of the project is to enable participants to use their new-found skills and experience to secure employment, voluntary work or further training.
Leith’s first wine café – TOAST - opened at 65 The Shore on Tuesday 8th August and could well become our Edinburgh correspondents new favourite place.
Offering a casual coffee, wine and food experience, Toast will celebrate the pure enjoyment of eating and drinking with friends. Located in a former art gallery, Toast brings a new and unique café destination to The Shore. With 44 covers inside and 20 outside, Toast will deliver friendly service in a contemporary environment on the banks of the Water of Leith.
Open 7 days from early until late, Toast will serve simple yet imaginative food alongside a carefully-curated, predominantly, biodynamic, organic and natural wine list. Wines can be enjoyed by the glass, or sommelier Seli Shama can create a bespoke tasting menu to suit individual tastes. A tasting room, that will host regular events, is opening at a later date.
Head Chef Lizzie Arber and her team are creating a menu of great-tasting dishes with ingredients sourced from local suppliers. With seasonal produce at the heart of the breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and evening menus, Toast will be taking well-loved dishes and giving them an exciting new twist. From classic breakfast dishes in the morning to artisanal salads, soups and sourdough sandwiches at lunch, sharing platters and tapas-style plates in the evening, there will be something perfect to choose for any time of the day.
Toast’s coffee is sourced from Monmouth Coffee Company, the oldest roaster in Britain. A choice of creative cakes, pasties and breads, including vegan and gluten-free options, are sourced from Quay Commons, Pastry Section and Grams. A hand-picked selection of craft beers sits alongside a short but intriguing cocktail list, devised by Toast’s expertly-trained bar staff.
I have no doubt that a full review of Toast will follow soon.