Sunday, 23 September 2012

Number One Balmoral In Pictures

This was the view as I walked across South Bridge to the Balmoral Hotel
 Dining Club and I had a night at Number One at the Balmoral planned for some time, and were thoroughly looking forward to it.

We opted for the tasting menu and matching wines.

Unfortunately when having a 7 course meal with matching wines, after about glass 4 I become more festive and less focused on making valuable points about each of the courses.

So enjoy my pictures and know that every course was incredible. (Wines in italics)
Appetizers on arrival

French Martini

Gruyere Bread

Amuse Bouche. Laurent Perrier Brut
Pigeon Breast (requested replacement for Saute Foie Gras)
The foie gras that I didn't have... it looks good.
Corra Linn. Palo Cotardo, Gonzales Byass, 30 yrs

STEAK la troisième partie

 Steak... Steak, Steak, Steak.

I apologise to anyone that is noting the repetition in my Steak posts, or vegetarians for that matter. But you'll have noticed how much I enjoy every experience I have at this restaurant. It saddens me so to know when I venture back to Oz I will not be able to 'pop into' Steak Edinburgh.

Tonight's trip to Steak was a last minute decision. Fortunately we were able to get a booking, and as we were ever-so-keen to try to Chateau Briand I asked my guest to call the restaurant to ensure there would be one available for us.

I arrive a few minutes before my guest and made my way into the cocktail bar downstairs.

I was greeted by one of the most knowledgeable bartenders I have ever met, who assisted me in choosing a drink.

The Fruity Fish House Punch, I was assured, was a 'serious' drink. Right up my alley. It showed up a minute later and it most certainly was 'serious'. Tart and fruity and wonderfully delicious (and very boozy).

 My guest, upon arrival, decided on the White Russian Ramos. I had a taste and it was the most unusual yet spectacular thing I have ever tried through a straw. The bartender enthusiastically ran us through the process of how it was created and also introduced us to the most wonderfully smooth vodka.

A Swedish vodka that smells like a river of butterscotch and drinks like water. Delicious.

We made our way to our table and made our decisions. I was recognized by my waitress Tessa, every time I have visited she has served me and has always been perfect.

Bread arrived firstly: Bacon and Comte bread which was beautiful and incredibly moreish, but I know not to fill up on bread- I know what is still to come.

 I decided on a salad for my starter, the smoked eel and bacon salad. It was positively delightful. The leaves were perfectly dressed. Plenty of delicious moist eel chunks and crispy bacon pieces. Salty, fresh, light yet still a perfect starter size. I cannot recommend this dish enough.

And ... it arrives. Chateau Briand, done medium rare, carved at the table... it's just so beautiful.

The sides we ordered were peas with bacon (obviously my favourite thing in the world), sweetcorn fritters (donuts you can eat with dinner), rosemary roasted new potatoes,  carrots star anise, cauliflower gratin, garlic mushrooms.

Unfortunately to the utter embarrassment of our waitress the final THREE of these choices were not available. She was mortified, poor lass. This didn't bother me in the slightest, and changed our order to instead mac n cheese with truffle and asparagus.

What a spread!

 Here is my pick for side of the millenium: peas and bacon done in a wonderfully creamy white sauce. I love them so much.

Here is the Pièce de résistance the Chateau Briand. The one thing that always gets me is now incredibly juicy the meat is, and yet so very little of the juice escapes. This was heavenly, definitely on par with the Beef Wellington that I had on my first visit here.

I have learnt that sauce is totally not required when here... the flavours are so delicate and the meat so moist that it seems like a terrible waste to mask the perfection of the meat.

I did not have a dessert this time round, but instead ordered one of the Cariel Vanilla Vodkas I had tested earlier on ice. My guest had the apple pie which was made fresh.

The staff were mortified that the sides we had ordered were not available, both the manager and the owner expressed their concern. This sentiment itself more than made up for the any inconvenience caused by the earlier ordering mishap.

As I was leaving the owner again approached me for a chat. It was an absolute pleasure to meet him and listen to his enthusiasm for both meat and this, his baby.

I can promise more posts from Steak before I leave.

And yes, Steak is still my favourite restaurant in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Hay Sushi

 On the way home from Gym, I stopped into Hay Sushi for some takeout. I was after something fresh and healthy. I ordered salmon, avocado and cucumber maki sushi; seaweed salad and a special seafood donburi, which at the time I had no idea what it was, but it did sound... erm, special and... seafoody.

The maki was freshy made, the rice was still warm and moist, they were so lovely they needed nothing more, no soy, no waqsabi, no pickled ginger.
 The seaweed salad was a great sizes serving, vry fresh and lovely textures.

 The miso came as part of the donburi- it was miso-y and delicious.
 And here is the donburi. Donburi, according to Wiki:

Donburi (?, literally "bowl", also frequently abbreviated as "don", thus less commonly spelled "domburi") is a Japanese "rice bowl dish" consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients simmered together and served over rice. Donburi meals are served in oversized rice bowls also called donburi. Donburi are sometimes called sweetened or savory stews on rice.

It was a heafty serving of fresh sushi rice with a variety if seafood served over the top. Prawn, squid, salmon, mackeral, tuna and some lovely roe. If they had in fact been simmered, it was literally only for a minute as they tasted bursting with freshness.

It was a great dish and one I could really see myself ordering again.

 As I have said before, Japanese in Edinburgh is not cheap, but this was a great sized meal for the price (I believe they do 10% off regular menu for take out).

Hay Sushi is located on Dalry Rd adjacent to Haymarket Station.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Eating through Paris Part1

My Paris escape was unbelievable. For a city that I never had any interest in visiting, it stole my heart almost instantly. The food lived up to all expectations... enjoy.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Sunny Edinburgh Lunching

As what I consider a 'local' of Edinburgh now, I have subscribed to the if-it's-sunny-you-damn-well-get-outside- and yesterday it felt like summer!

I hastily completed my chores and looked for somewhere in the sun to enjoy my own company and some vitamin D intake.

I had been looking forward to trying Mussel Inn on Rose Street but I was informed that at 3.05 the kitchen was closed.
I wandered up to George Street and saw that there were some wonderfully sunny table vacant at Centrotre AND they were serving food.

A perfectly summery drink: a Hendriks, cucumber and tonic.
It took me an absolute lifetime to make up my mind of their spectacular menu, literally dozens of options I would have been happy with. But the mussels with tomato, garlic and chilli got me, I ordered a large at £13.95 and a side of hand-cut chips.

My goodness when it was placed in front of me it just looked so wholesome, and hearty and Italian!
The mussels were sweet and plump and the sauce was so lovely for dipping, it was nothing short of perfect!

The chips I shared with Mr S, as the poor chap (who wasn't eating) had to watch me demolish this feast of the sea. Bless his patience. The tomatoes were beautifully rich and juicy and sweet- ripe to perfection, and the chilly added flavour rather than heat.

The chips were a solid 6.5/10 (But I am such a harsh critic of chips).
After (late) lunch we took a walk to Stockbridge for a drink then I decided I desperately required pudding, and so to 52 Canoes we headed.

Great Quote
I kind of had it in my head before I got there what I wanted. The rum and banana loaf. I have had it before and it was pretty good, but I felt it could be perfect. So I got my cogs spinning and decided that to offset the crumbly nature of the loaf I was going to douse it in Malibu.

I did this and it was good but just too boozy, due to the fact it already has dark rum on it, and now and extra 20 mL of Malibu. So I asked for a pot of pouring cream and proceeded to add this as well.




It had crispy edges and the texture of self saucing pudding, and it was sweet from the banana, and creamy and coco-nutty and every now and then you'd get a smack in the face from the rum. It was my most perfect dessert!

52 canoes, you did it again.

I also had the most frothy and perfectly brewed decaf cappuccino. 52 Canoes is so good to me.

Stockholm: Swedish Foods!!

 As I upload these pictures I realise how little food I actually got to eat whilst in Stockholm. A holiday from Thursday through to Sunday, I found, is still only 2 full days, and when catching up with friends you haven't seen in two years and possibly par-taking in drinks while catching up, does not, unfortunately, allow for many eats. None the less... here is eating in Stockholm.

My day started with a bus ride to Edinburgh airport, where, after checking in I made my way upstairs to the pub. I have a theory that being on 'holidays' (ref: traveling any distance for any purpose) allows one to partake in alcoholic beverages earlier than what would be deemed 'reasonable', so for my 9 am breakfast, a vodka and diet coke... Absolut of couse- I was going to Sweden.

To accompany my breakfast beverage I ordered a ham and cheese croissant. Ham and cheese croissants must be one of the most overlooked yet wonderful foods of all time. Yes, that buttery, flaky golden horn of pastry does amount to about a third of a recommended daily calorie intake, but they are ALWAYS delicious.

I don't sleep well before a flight, I never have, so as soon as I was on board the flight I fell straight asleep till we landed in Stockholm.

I checked into the hotel but missed dinner, and all nearby conveniences, so my dinner was Pringles, Twix, salted nuts and a packet of pastelles- this did not make me happy.

Breakfast was included in my hotels tariff so come the morning I ventured down to see what was on offer. What a pleasant surprise (I am so sorry there are no photos for this) a buffet with, but not restricted to the following: coffee, tea, 4 types of juice, pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled egg (first buffet area).

Cereals, around 8 types of breads, rolls, crackers, cold meats, cheeses. (second area)

More cold meats (featuring more continental and local styles), another selection of cheeses, salad items, preserves, pates, pickled herring, yoghurts, fruit.

It was spectacular. Well done Nacka Quality Hotel!

That evening, after a terribly windy and rainy day spent in pubs catching up on 2 years of gossip from back in Oz, we decided to take our little party back to Miss C and Mr J's apartment, and get some snacks and dinner items.

Our pre-dinner snacks were delicious: tortilla chips, baguette, olives, hard and soft cheese, salami, almonds.

 And a little something I picked up at the ICA, I assumed it would be a fish (herring) based item, and it was. I have not eaten very much pickled fish in my life but have enjoyed it when I have tried it. This particular one was creamy, tart and yet refreshing. Not in anyway fishy. Very tasty.

Most of the next day was spent regretting how late we stayed up chatting and drinking, but we decided that evening we would eat out, and try some traditional Swedish food. Trip advisor had wonderful things to say about Pelikan in Sodermalm, so Miss C and I caught a bus and saw how beautiful Stockholm really is.

We got to Pelikan around 7.15, and fortunately were shown straight to a table (Pelikan does not take reservations on the weekend), and by about 8pm when the restaurant was totally full, we considered ourselves very lucky.

We started with a cider each.

We were both famished and were delighted when the bread basket was brough to the table. The bread tasted home made and the hard bread/crackers were positively moreish.

 We decided to share starters: Assortment of pickled herring and cheese, and Jerusalem artichoke soupe with chanterelles sausage.

The Herring plate came with 3 dfferent type of herring, one in a creamy sauce with dill, one in a mustard sauce, and one served plain with onion.

The mustard herring was outstanding, and the plain one with red onion was the aquivelent of an oyster au naturelle giving the purest version of the flavour of the herring.

Served with boiled new potatos and two types of cheese, one with cumin, it was a beautiful and interesting starter, but both Miss C and I have decided we've had enough herring to keep us going for quite a while.

We decided  on the artichoke soup mostly becase we both had no idea of how it would possibly taste, we simply couldn't imagine what artichoke sup would taste like. This one was rich, creamy and delicious. The sausage was an inspired addition.

There was quite a lengthy wait between courses, and we began to think out very efficient  but very firm waitress, who we likened to a German Head-Mistress was punshing us for something.

But before too long a tray of mustard arrive,a nd I was informed (if not directed) that I MUST have the mustard with my main.
 I was tossing up between the Steak and the Pork Knuckle, but as Miss C suggested, I can have steak anywhere, so I decided on the Pork Knuckle.

I have tried the Pork Knuckle in the German Club back in Brisbane, and that one is certainly a marathon of a meal. This one lived up to the knuckle reputation. It came with a side of mashed squash, which was wonderful. The pork knuckle had been boiled and was delicious but rather salty, I think it really could have benefitted from a white sauce or gravy.
It's difficult to show how big this was, but it was about the same size as the bread basket!

 C got the swedish meatballs, and they were wonderful, served a la Ikea with a creamy gravy and lingonberry jam.
 Also with a side of mash potato which I helped myself to throughout the meal. It was great!
 Feeling like maybe I had abused my stomach's capacity, I opted for an Aquavit after dinner, and though how it came out was absolutely gorgeous, a bowl of ice with a tiny beaker of the aquavit in the middle with the glass nestled in to cool as well.

We left feeling very full, but like we had indeed been treated to some wonderful traditional Swedish food.

The next day I helped myself to a final serving of buffet breakfast before bording my plane and returning home.

What a wonderful city.