Tuesday, 31 January 2012

One Spa, Edinburgh

Ysterday was my induction at One Spa, in the Sheraton Hotel Edinburgh. So far, I am very fond of it. No crowds (even in peak times in January!) The staff are lovely. The change rooms are huge and spotlessly clean. I think I'm going to like it here.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fishers, The Shore

Lunch yesterday was ay Fishers, The Shore. I walked down the waterfront, studying the menus in windows as I went. It was cold and wet and I really wanted something lovely and warm, and Fishers looked the most inviting.

The interior of the restaurant was warm and inviting with a nautical theme, and as I was the first in the restaurant I had my choice of tables. I chose a lovely table by the window, and had bread immediately brought to my table (bread baskets will be the demise of my attempt at a wheat free diet).

The bread was divine, and I had no self control to speak of as my hand was bread basket-to-mouth the whole time I perused the menu.

I ordered a South African Sav Blanc £4.95 and my starter of Grilled Oysters with parmesan, cream and parma ham £7.95and main of Fillet of Hake from Fraserburgh with roast butternut squash, chorizo & feta salad with roast red pepper aioli £14.95.

The oysters were brought out after a short amount of time and looked amazing! I was very surprised to have 5 oysters as a starter. The oysters were served on a full sized dinner plate with a rocket salad, and were creamy and tasted very fresh. The parmesan/butter/cream was to die for, and i thoroughly enjoyed dunking my bread in the remainder left in the shells. I found the ham over cooked, was too crispy to actually get a fork through and had that kind of powdery-ness that crispy bacon can get. The rocket wasn't dressed, but oil and balsamic were on the table, so you could self-dress. Overall apart from the powdery ham, this starter was as good as they come.

My main came out shortly after my plate was whisked away.  Visually it was stunning. (My camera is sick and at the Doctors'. Ie returned to Olympus to be repaired, otherwise there would be lovely food photos here.) The colours were stunning, from the bright gold of the squash, the salmon tones of the aioli, the burnt umber of the charred fish contrasting against the creamy white of the flesh, the rich forest greens of the salad, it was aesthetically stunning.

The roast squash had a beautiful caramelised sweetness and was so full of flavour. The Hake ( a fish I had never previously tried) was a subtle flavoured fish, which was initally dry, but only around the first edge, once I reached the more uniform section of flesh it was cooked perfectly. The chorizo was flavoursome and not too spicy, as some chorizos can be, and I find can overtake other flavours. As you may be noting by now there were A LOT of flavours on the plate... I haven't even discussed the feta, roast tomatoes, salad leaves or pepper aioli yet, and this was my only complaint. Individually each ingredient was done just about to perfection, but the combination of all of these strong flavours was rather overwhelming to the taste buds. I frequently required 'bread-breaks' to neutralise my palette.

Overall, a really really good lunch. The service was second-to-none. And it's lovely as a lone-diner to still receive all the attention of a full table of diners.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sunday Lunch (The Australian Way)

The last time my friends B&A had be over for lunch, they introduced me to their Polish heritage. This sunday, having them as guests at mine, I thought I'd show then a fairly typically Australian Sunday lunch.

Another steak post.

If you have read my other steak post, I have based this lunch on the premise of that- Steak, Salad and Potato. But it's such a perfect combination.

I started with my meat, 2 pieces of sirloin and 1 of rib eye which i let come to room temperature (which was a measly 6deg) and marinated the steaks in cracked pepper and olive oil.

The salad was a rocket leaf mix, celery, shallot, pine nuts, avocado, nectarine, sun-blushed tomato which I dressed with a pear balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

The baby potatoes I boiled skin on in heavily salted water and chili flakes. And I made a spicey mushroom cream sauce by sauteing mushrooms and red chillies then mixing in single cream. It was quite hot but very delicious.

As A is one of the most amazing cake makers I have ever met, I chose a cheese board for dessert. As I hadn't been to the shops, it was quite a simple cheese board, but still a tasty mix of Arran Chedder, Jarlsberg, a mild chedder, a chicken liver pate, caramelised onions, and grapes. I served these with oat cakes.

The lunch was great, B&A enjoyed it thouroughly. They were surprised at how big the lunch was, but couldn't believe how good they felt afterwards.

As a belated Christmas present they bought me the most amazing hamper of Polish sweets, treats and snacks. I have already started on it... they're amazing!

A Very Tasty Breakfast

MMMMMMMM This was a very light and tasty brekky I made yesterday. I had lovely organic eggs from the Edinburgh Farmers' Markets and Jarlsberg left over from the Cheese Platter I made Sunday Lunch (post to come), and so I put together this beautiful breakfast.

In short: it's scrambles on toast, but the menu name would be creamy herbed organic scrambled eggs with rocket, jarlsberg and sunblushed tomatoes on gluten-free wholegrain toast.

The eggs turned out beautifully cooked long and on a low heat ( as per Heston's advice) using left over herbed butter i had from Sunday's lunch and a blob of double cream, with lots of lovely fresh cracked pepper.

I really do love breakfast, but so often feel 'glugged' down for the rest of the day. A breakfast like this, to me is perfect, warm and filling but not 'heavy'. This is the kind of breakfast I'd love to have on the menu of my dream deli-cafe.

Yes I have used the crusts of the loaf here- were still super tasty.

Monday, 23 January 2012

New Dress

I love this Dress. I LOVE House Of Fraser SALES! Now I just need somewhere nice to wear it!

Queen's Arms

Saturday night a group of seven of us decided to Dine at The Queen's Arms on Frederick St in Edinburgh. I had been sent a link to the menu and was really surprised at what was available and how cheaply priced it was.

We arrived at the bar at 7 and were shown to our table. It was not in the designated dining area but in the lovely bookshelved corner of the bar (shown below), where 2 huge round tables had been pushed together. It was very spacious, but may have been a bit of overkill, as whole-table conversations were almost impossible, unless yelling.

We perused the menu (well those of us who hadn't spent all week deciding already) and made our choices. Our waitress took our orders, but I was rather surprised when she chose to take all 7 orders, of 2 courses each, without a pad by memory. As suspected, her eidetic memory wasn't as she had hoped, and returned 3 times to confirm orders.

For starter I chose the Orkney Crab Cakes. They were served golden, crispy and piping hot. It was lovely to have crab cakes that actually tasted like crab, and the spiced mayo was a perfect accompaniment. My fellow diners had the mussels, and a haggis tart. The tart looked amazing, and apparently tasted as such.

For the main I chose the Pork Loin. It was beautifully cooked and the sauce was divine. The others had the Haddock which was a HUGE serving and looked lovely, and the Brisket which fell apart with a fork. Both of which I would love to try at some stage.

Although full, I impulsively ordered a dessert of Creme Brulee, and after breaking through the crispy top, was delighted that I did. It was one of the most beautiful desserts I have ever tried: Thick, creamy as just perfectly sweet enough. The blueberries and shortbread were lovely with the custardy brulee.

The Queen's Arms is a beautifully atmospheric pub with a great menu. The waitress we had was fantasic to begin with, but as the meal went on and the pub filled up we did struggle to get her attention. The placement of our table was also of slight concern as the pub filled up, as us sitting on the outer side of the table were getting bumped by passer-bys continually. But these 2 small things were my only complaints.

Will happily return to try more of the menu items.

Friday, 20 January 2012

When everything You ever believed... was WRONG!

Beef... more appropriately Steak, has long been one of my favourite foods. It would definately be my last meal (if it was positively guarenteed to be cooked to a perfect rare). I remember before I was a big steak fan, I would go to steak houses with family and friends, and nibble on a dry chicken breast or iceberg-y salad wondering what all the fuss was about.

I can't remember which particular steak brought me back to being a lover of the cow, but I DO remember not too long after, I decided I was going to learn how to cook the perfect steak, and bought a 6 burner gas barbeque to assist the learning process.

I can proudly, and boldly, say that I can cook steaks *he hem* PERFECTLY... to the point where I am so critical of restaurant steaks, that I would say that in 3 out of 4 cases, I am disappointed.

But... all of that self-praise aside, I return to the point that I am here to make. Being proved wrong... and by a hero at that. Tonight, after napping on the couch through the evening, I woke just after midnight and realised I'm probably not going back to sleep for a while, so I jumped on 4OD (TV on demand) and had a peruse. Mr Heston Blumenthal has a new series that I thought I'd catch up on. How To Cook Like Heston is Heston teaching us, the viwers, how to cook: no fancy schmancy science-type theatrical food, but basics, that we all-too-often get wrong. Tonight's episode was Beef HUZZAH!

I will let you catch up on the whole episode at your leisure. Worryingly Lord Blumenthal tonight told me that I was wrong. That my tried and true searingly hot pan, 2-3 mins one side, 1-2 the second, was WRONG! I am yet to try his method of continually flipping every 15 seconds, but I shall... and will report back.

This has got me thinking though. If I cook perfect (and i mean perfect in the true sense of the word, ie: as good as it can possibly be) steak is there any point in me changing? Or... if my steaks are actually less-perfect than they can actually be, how much more dining disappointment is there for me in the future?

An experiment is at hand. The outcome, I don't know. But if nothing else, Heston has shown me how to make a great burger patty.

I am about to watch the next episode: Eggs. I'm fairly sure my fried egg is second-to-none, but we'll see what H.B. has to say about that. (In a worst case scenario, I might finally learn how to poach)


Roscata: Stuff for People, Etsy Store

I want...

White jeans... again!
Probably on this weekends' shopping list!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Scary Colour

So I picked up this dress during the week. I'm scared. Scared of such a girly dress ad of so much colour. It is a beautiful colour, without doubt, but much more colour and in such a block than I'm used to wearing. I'm wearing it out Saturday night, so I'll find out then what the general consensus is.

Also this week... replaced my over-the-knee boots, which have become my most worn shoe item (but have sadly passed). These new ones are a bit different, but should hopefully still suffice.

Petit Paris

This is a late post from when I went to Petit Paris, on Grassmerket a few weeks ago.

I was showing a friend from Australia around town on my patented 'See Edinburgh' tour, and after Carlton Hill and the Castle but before Greyfriar's Bobby we had a shocking hunger attack. Til we spotted the magical words 'Lentil Stew'. Ah man, I love those words.

I had walked passed this cute little French bistro many a time, but this is the first time I had gone in. It was lovely and pokey and Frenchy. We were lead to a table on the lower level, had the specials explained to us, and we were left to chose our meals.

I think even before we sat we both knew what we were going to order, in The Toulouse Sausage with Lentil Stew, but I perused the rest of the menu and decided on a starter as well.

Our drinks were brought out, as well as a basket of beautiful dence sourdough and baguette. I am trying to avoid processed wheat as much as I can, but the sourdough and butter was too much for me to resist.

I love that the wine came out in a tumbler, it felt so... 'humble french cafe'.

My starter was Poached Egg with Hollandaise.
The poached egg was cooked perfectly, and I was delighted when the bright yellow yolk oozed out. The egg was served on crispy croutons, and the hollandaise was rich and creamy, but not overly so.

The main of Toulouse Sausage and Lentil stew rang very German for me, and quite possibly why I was so drawn to it. The dish itself was very underseasoned but after salting it from here to tomorrow, I found it very tasty. I am used to having my lentils more 'stodgy' than this, but it was nice for a change. The sausages were a definate highlight.

This is a great little restaurant, and I am sure I'll be back. Esspecially worth noting is the fantastic staff: polite, helpful and very, very efficient. The customer service was definatelt 10/10.

Coconut Yoghurt?

I did a HUGE grocery shop yesterday. I actually got way too excited with the idea of it. I LOVE food shopping, and trekked out to the 'burbs to one of the bigger Sainsbury's in Edinburgh.

So my kitchen is now full of lovely fresh fruit and veg, delicious deli snacks, beautiful cuts of meat, and something that caught my eye, but I didn't know how it would go... coconut yoghurt.

I anxiously waited all night for breakfast so I could sample my curious new treat.

It should be noted, that one of my favourite things of all time, is trying foods I have never tasted before, it is something that becomes rarer and rarer with the older I get, and I never ever tire of the experience.

My breakfast of pink lady apple, kiwi and banana with a generous blob of coconut yoghurt: Not in anyway a 'typical English breakfast' but ... I'm slowly learning that maybe the English diet isn't suited to an Aussie brought up on fruit, salad grilled seafood and meat... so the prognosis of the yoghurt... AMAZING! It's like having malibu for brekky! So very good! I often forget how incredibly tasty fresh, healthy food actually is.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Surf and Turf

 My body had been craving Salad. Salad, red meat... nutrients. Which it generally does after a big dose of partying. So I called my housemate, let him know I was cooking, and headed to the shops.

I picked up some rump, prawns and salad items, gathered up my housemate and his brother from work, and headed home to prepare the feast.

The salad was a pre-bagged salad of leaves, to which I added celery, cucumber, sun blushed tomatos, pine nuts and a Jamie Oliver-inspired sauteed nectarine in olive oil and black pepper. The dressing came with the leaves and had an asian tang of chili and ginger.

The baby potatoes were boiled in in their skins in heavily salted water to which I added chili flakes. After boiling, I drained then returned to the hot pan and placed back in the heat for around 30 seconds to dry them out and added more coursely ground sea salt, and served with a knob of butter.

The prawns, (which were a product of Thailand- which I usually stay away from, but strangely fresh Mooloolaba prawns aren't so easy to get a hold of here in Scotland) I marinated in three cloves of finely chopped garlic, a fair amount- maybe a tsp of dried chili flakes and olive oil whilst I was preparing the salad and potatoes, then pan fried for no longer than a minute, transferred to a bowl, and kept warm in the oven.

The rump was one of the cheapest steaks available at the store, but I will always adore the full-flavour of rump, and since I've been over here, I can't help but notice how beautiful the meat is. The flavours are more delicate but more defines, and the texture seems much finer than that of Australian beef. I can't be sure, but that's my opinion. To cook, (rare for me, blue for my housemate- my first attempt at a blue steak) I covered both steaks in freshly ground pepper, and got the pan smoking hot. I friend mine first. Maybe 2 minutes on one side, and between 30 secs and a minute on the second side, then transferred it to the pre warmed oven. The housemates, was no more than a minute on each side. They rested in the cool (70deg) oven. Then I plated everything together.

I served with a Rosemount Semillon Verdelho.

It was a really lovely meal, and reminded me how much I miss Australian-type cooking. Salads are a rarity with meals here, and often fresh fruit and veg are entirely omitted. This meal has totally inspired me to get cooking again.

Monday, 9 January 2012


While in Glasgow we got the boys to choose another Japanese restaurant for us. (Never too much Japanese). We left it all up to then, we just got in a taxi and crossed our fingers. The place was Sapporo Teppenyaki. We arrived early and headed to the bar to wait.
I have never had proper teppenyaki before and I was as excited as I was nervous.

The bar was lovely, maybe a bit bright, but was a pleasant place to wait, the bar tender was very courteous, and they had my favourite

When the boys arrived, we were shown to our table.

The menu was ammmmazzzinnnggggg, there was so many things I wanted to try, but managed to settle on a reasonable amount of options.

Starter of Sashimi and Gyoza. The sashimi was so beautiful, and was the lovliest fresh fish I have ever tried....

Yep, 3 accompaniments, how I love extra sauces and condiments.

The theatrics of teppenyaki are sooooo as good as I had hoped for I could honestly watch the chefs cook forever.

My main of Land & Sea was amazing, my lobster was so garlicky and the meat so flavoursome, and when my fillet steak made it to my plate shortly after, the first bite brought me very close to tears... yes I dfo get very emotional when it comes to food, especially a perfectly cooked steak.

Mains were served with vegetables and potatoes, both done on the grill and fried rice.

Such a good night.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Visitors From Home (makes me feel like tourist)

I love Edinburgh, and I love showing my friends from back home around Edinburgh (also cause it let's me be a tourist again.) The other great thing about having visitors is the excue to eat out!

We went for a visit to Glasgow and used the experience to top up on mych needed Japanese, of which I ALWAYS have cravings for.

On the first night we ate at Ichiban, a place we discovered off a tourist map, it served Japanese, and it was close- so it ticked all the boxes.

On walking in, the bright-lights and cafeteria style tables and benches did nothing for the atmosphere, neither did the 60inch tv on the walls showing the news, but dispite all this, it was still pleasant enough inside.

We were actually quite overwhelmed but the menu, and after ordering wine and a sushiplatter to share, it took us quite a while to decide, but the waitresses were lovely, and didn't mind giving us all the time we needed.

Our sushi platter was fresh and delicious, and we were really impressed with the variety.

For our main we EVENTUALLY decided on Bento boxes each. H chose the duck, and I had a seafood combination.

The gyoza were amazing, the mains were lovely, and I loved the accompaniments. Ichiban Sushi & Noodle Bar Glasgow