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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Restaurant Review - Gusto, Bothwell Street, Glasgow

Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
It doesn't seem that long ago since the Glasgow branch of Gusto opened it's doors on Bothwell Street back in March 2015. Since then, they have been wowing diners with their take on good quality Italian cooking inside the comfort of the art-deco styled restaurant.
Gusto is one of the brands owned by the Living Ventures Group, the Glasgow branch is one of 15 restaurants in the chain, with more to be announced during 2016. We've eaten there a few times in the last year although we've probably been in more to take advantage of Gusto's fantastic £4.95 weekend cocktail offers, so when we were invited back to try out the new look menu, we jumped at the chance to return.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
After a few pre-dinner drinks across the road at Grill on the Corner (another Living Ventures property), we made our way to Gusto with time to partake in a cheeky cocktail before we were shown to our table. Nicola settled quickly on an Aperol Spritz whilst I took the bartender up on his suggestion of a wonderful Apple & Elderflower Martini made using Gin Mare, apple schnapps, St Germain elderflower liqueur, apple juice and rosemary.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
The wine list at Gusto has something to suit most budgets in both red and white wines and in the end we settled on a bottle of San Silvestro Cortese del Piemonte Adelasia. Made from the Cortese grape, the wine is dry, fresh and light with a fruity, flowery bouquet and lemon peel finish and was a perfect accompaniment to our impending starters.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
There's no shortage of choice on the starters menu with classic Italian options like meatballs in tomato sauce, and Burratina mozzarella being joined by smoked salmon and tiger prawns. Nicola decided on the deep fried calamari with lemon mayonnaise (£7.25) which came with a little mixed leaves and the obligatory wedge of lemon. We've eaten a lot of good calamari in our time and Gusto stepped up to the plate with soft tender squid, coated in a light crispy batter. The calamari rested on a bed of rocket and radicchio leaves which gave a nice bitter contrast to the sweet squid whilst the zingy lemon mayonnaise left the mouth feeling fresh and ready for the next piece.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
I really struggled to choose but decided to go for the asparagus spear with dolcelatte mayonnaise and roasted red peppers (£6.25). This was a risk from me as I'm not the biggest fan of blue cheese but was curious about how the dolcelatte was being used in the starter. I needn't have worried as my starter was a light fresh dish that set me up well for my main. The mayonnaise was actually more like at creamy sauce and had just the right amout of salty dolcelatte crumbled into it to act as a salty, tangy foil for my asparagus and sweet roasted pepper.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
If choosing a starter was tricky, deciding on a main course was even more difficult. Well it was for me because as soon as Nicola heard that Lobster Thermidor was available on the specials board, she was sorted. A choice of half lobster (£22.95) and whole lobster (£45) was available, served either Thermidor or with Sauce Américaine, Nicola opted for the half lobster Thermidor which was served with hand cut chips. If you've never had Lobster Thermodor, you need to treat yourself - It's one of life's luxuries! Thermodor sauce is a classic French recipe, created by the great Auguste Escoffier, made with fresh cream, butter, brandy, mustard, shallots, parsley (sometimes tarragon). The lobster meat is removed from the claw, tail,and head before being tossed in the sauce with Gruyere cheese then put back into the lobster shell and grilled until the cheese is bubbling. Gusto's Thermidor was fantastic, the succulent, sweet lobster meat works so well with the rich creamy sauce. The hand cut chips were delicious - crispy on the outside and fluffy inside, helped by the inclusion of a little dipping pot of Thermidor sauce, served on the side.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
I should have been jealous of Nicola's lobster but I was distracted by my own main. I had ordered the lamb rump with truffled cheese flavoured piccol ravioli and tomato sauce. The huge lamb rump was seasoned well and cooked pink, just how I like it. The accompanying tomato sauce was packed with herbs and carried a little saltiness from the inclusion of black olives while the little cheesy ravioli had enough truffle flavour to cut through the sharp sauce. Everything on the plate was there for a reason and I had no problem I finishing the lamb with ease.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
If I have one critisism it would be that my lamb dish was missing a green vegetable. I've written about this before and it's still a sore point with me. I hate the way that chain restaurants think that it's ok to charge for side dishes that would have looked much better on the plate to start with! If a Michelin starred restaurant can serve a meal of carbohydrate, protein and vegetables, why should I have to pay £3.50 for a bowl of tenderstem broccoli in order to balance my meal? That said, the broccoli cooked with red chilli and almonds was very nice.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
After a short break we both still had a little room left for pudding with Nicola ordering the Gusto Tiramisu, a fantastic version of the Italian classic dessert. Often, homemade tiramisu can be too heavy with cream and marscapone, or too sweet with sugar or too bitter from coffee, but the Gusto version was wonderfully light and well flavoured with coffee and chocolate. A true 'pick me up' indeed!
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
After a hearty meal, a light pudding always goes down well so when I spotted the almond milk panna cotta with honeycomb, flaked almonds and lemon curd, my decision was easy. Served in a slightly less convensional manner, the panna cotta was set in a bowl with just the right amount of wobble. This was an accomplished dessert, the contrasting texture of homemade honeycomb, sharp redcurrants, mint and gooey lemon curd were the perfect foil to the rich creamy almond flavoured panna cotta.
Gusto Glasgow, restaurant review, Glasgow restaurant, Gerry's Kitchen
Normally after three courses, we haven't room for coffee or after dinner drinks but for some reason, we were in "full on dining mode" so decided to end the evening with a couple of espressos before making our way back across the road to Grill on the Corner for a nightcap. I love a good espresso after a meal and the rich nutty coffee in Gusto was a great way to end our meal.
As mentioned earlier, we were invited to try the new menu and as a result, our food was complimentary, (We did pay for our drinks) but my review is a true reflection on our evening. I would like to thank Gusto Glasgow for asking us back and also thank the management and staff for looking after us so well on the night.
Check out the Gusto website for information of special offers and don't forget to sign up to the Gusto Dining Club where you can get up to 40% off all food across the chain. Finally, you can keep up with news from the Glasgow restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Firth of Forth Shellfish Outlet Opens to Public in Pittenweem

A new initiative led by the Fishermen's Mutual Association (Pittenweem) Ltd (FMAP) to encourage locals and tourists to eat more of the seafood caught around the Fife coastline has been set up in Pittenweem, East Fife.

Locally landed lobster, crab and langoustine caught in the Firth of Forth, which will have no food miles, is now on sale to the general public at a brand new FMAP Seafood Kiosk set up at Pittenweem Harbour, where the shellfish are landed.

The outlet, which will be open every day until the end of August and run by local fishmonger, George Allan, has been set up to make fresh, locally caught seafood available to the public. This is the first time the fish has been on sale directly to consumers; normally it is only available to trade buyers in the neighbouring fish market, with 95% of the annual catch exported to Spain, Italy and France

The kiosk has been open since the end of June and is already proving extremely popular with locals, who are buying lots of lobster and langoustine, and walkers on the Fife Coastal Path, who are taking advantage of the dressed crab for their packed lunches.

Tom Mackenzie of the Fishermen's Mutual Association (Pittenweem) Ltd (FMAP) said: "It is no secret that Scotland exports the majority of the fish and shellfish caught around its shores, with many Scots not realising that the delicious seafood they are enjoying on holiday in Spain has actually come from just up the road at home.

"Fife's coastline is brimming with delicious shellfish and the aim of this kiosk to give people an easy way to pick some up for themselves and try at home. Fish is healthy and delicious and I believe it tastes that wee bit better when you know just how fresh and local it is."

Geoffrey Smeddle, chef proprietor of the Michelin starred Peat Inn near St Andrews, said: "Scottish seafood is prized by top chefs on the continent and yet strangely hard for members of the public to buy here. In an area blessed with outstanding produce, this wonderful initiative marks the most exciting development, bringing exquisite local seafood to local consumers."

The FMAP Seafood Kiosk is open seven days a week in July and August and weekends in September and is located in Pittenweem Harbour next to the fishmarket. Prices vary, but on average lobster is £15 per kilo, prawn tails are £10 per kilo, dressed crabs are £5 each and five langoustines are £12.50

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Competition - Win a Tipple Box Gift Set of Williams Gin

The good people at Tipple Box have given me a great Williams Chase Gin gift set to give away to one lucky person.
The box contains 3 x 50ml miniature bottles of Williams Gin including Williams Chase Seville Orange Gin, Williams Chase Elegant Crisp Gin and Williams Chase GB Extra Dry Gin.
To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post or follow this link and follow the instructions.
Good luck everyone!
Competition closes 31/07/16 (you must be 18 years old to qualify)

 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Buchanan Galleries to Pioneer New Indoor Street Food Hub

Traditional food court model will be revamped to feed Scotland’s growing appetite for street food. Independent local traders to be given a platform to showcase to a new and diverse audience.

Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries is set to reinvent the image of the traditional shopping mall food court by offering the space to local independent street food traders.

Taste Buchanan, a partnership between the Land Securities-owned Buchanan Galleries and hi- tech street trading platform StreetDots, will launch in early August and will be the first retail space of its kind in Scotland.

Following a dramatic refurbishment, Buchanan Galleries top floor will be transformed to host up to eight pop-up units serving artisan street style food run by independents using Scottish-sourced produce.

John Bloomer, mall retail manager at Land Securities said: "The arrival of Taste Buchanan will be the first genuine permanent street food offering within the city and we can't wait to see it kick-off next month."

It will transform the food offering within Buchanan Galleries and we're excited to partner with one of the best in the business. StreetDots is a leading operator in the street food sector and we know they will bring the very best new and exciting food trends to our shoppers here in Buchanan Galleries. Darren Callcott, co-founder of StreetDots, said: "The popularity of street food is growing faster than any other category, and there is a real appetite for the culinary trend right now. Street food is about creative artisan dishes being prepared by highly skilled people with a passion for serving fast-moving fresh food to suit customer demand. Street food culture is growing in prominence in all the major cities worldwide, but for a leading shopping mall like Buchanan Galleries to dedicate its much sought-after space to the concept really is ground-breaking, and we're sure Glasgow will embrace it."

The first line-up of traders to operate in Taste Buchanan includes:

  • Chompsky, soft steamed Asian bao buns stuffed full of fusion flavours
  • Designer Cakes by Paige, beautifully handmade cupcakes, truffles and push pops
  • Equi’s, 90-year-old award-winning family ice cream business
  • GLo Pizza, Italian wood-fired pizza͛s made with authentic Neapolitan flavours
  • Sláinte Mhath, brand new Scottish pop-up bar specialising in craft cocktails

Discussions are underway to secure a local coffee provider, and to maximise the variety of food on offer Taste Buchanan will introduce new traders every two to three months. Kathy Murdoch, centre manager at Buchanan Galleries, said: "This is such an exciting development for Buchanan Galleries and we're confident our shoppers will love the concept. To host Scotland's first independent street food hub within a shopping centre is a coup for us and a real point of difference, but it also fits well with the shoppers we attract who are forward-thinking, stylish and know what they want – now they'll be able to tell us what theyd like to eat via the new app and we can respond to demand."

StreetDots launched in London in 2014 to give high quality trading opportunities to independent street traders, and works in partnership with major landowners to create smart trading spaces which can be booked by traders using an app which allows the public to vote in their favourite food providers.

Taste Buchanan will open to the public in early August, trading seven days a week 11am to 7pm and 8pm on a Thursday.

 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Dundee Berry Transformed into Delicious Ice-Cream

Tayberries, grown and picked in Fife, are being transformed into a delicious, seasonal ice-cream.

The berries, which are a cross between a raspberry and a bramble, have been grown at the family-run Pittormie Fruit Farm in Dairsie. The ice-cream, which has been developed and created by Jannettas Gelateria in St Andrews, is thought to be the only one commercially available in Scotland and will be sold within Pittormie Fruit Farm’s shop and Jannettas itself.

Originally cultivated in Dundee, the tayberry originates from the former Scottish Crop Research Institute, near Dundee.

Pittormie’s tayberries, which are only available for around seven weeks, are also sold to the Williams Brothers brewery in Alloa, where they form the basis of a delicious Tayberry beer, ‘Roisin’.

Euan Cameron of Pittormie Fruit Farm commented, “Everything we do is driven by ‘keeping it local’, growing and selling our own fruit and local produce which is either made with our fruit, or connected to the farm in some way. We also avoid poly tunnels, exposing our fruits to the elements, and focusing on entirely natural processes. We’re absolutely delighted that Jannettas are using our tayberries to create a truly local ice-cream to enjoy over the summer months. Tayberries have a subtle perfume, and the ice-cream is absolutely delicious!”

As members of the Food for Fife network of food producers and retailers, Jannettas Gelateria, a fourth generation family business, ensures that is products are locally sourced and Fife-grown where possible, recognised by their success in the Food and Drink category of the Fife Business Awards 2016.

Co-owner Owen Hazel commented, “Having been rooted in Fife for over 100 years, we love nothing more than collaborating with other Fife food businesses and firmly believe that Fife has a tremendous amount to offer when it comes to growing and creating the very best of food and drink produce in Scotland. With Pittormie just down the road, it makes sense on many levels to use their delicious berries to create something unique for our, and their customers.”

Pittormie Fruit Farm is a small intensive family run farm situated in the heart of North East Fife. Its aim is to produce quality fresh food which has real flavour, keeping the use of chemicals to an absolute minimum. Its farm shop is stocked with fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, free-range eggs, fruit beers and wines and Pittormie’s own range of jams, jellies, marmalade, chutney and lemon curd.

Jannettas Gelateria, St Andrews is open between 9am and 10pm, seven days a week. For more information, visit www.jannettas.co.uk.

 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Beers of Euro 2016 - #8 Portugal, Sagres by Central de Cervejas

#beersofeuro2016, Sagres, Portuguese beers,
Much to everyone's surprise after a run of poor performances in the group stage, Portugal managed to reach the final of the UEFA European Championship, so it seems fitting that they are the next country to step up in my #beersofeuro2016 campaign. For a small country, Portugal have a surprising number of beer brands and breweries, the largest of these are the makers of Super Bock and Cristal, Unicer, and Central de Cervejas who make of my chosen beer, Sagres.
#beersofeuro2016, Sagres, Portuguese beers,
Portugal were drawn in Group F with Iceland, Hungary and Austria.
#beersofeuro2016, Sagres, Portuguese beers,
I sourced my bottle of Sagres for £1.39 from online beer merchant, Beers of Europe.
The Central de Cervejas brewery was established in 1934 and produces mainly pale lager style beers. Sagres was launched in time for the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940 and promoted as a prestige lager, named after a town of the same name, a village located in the most south-westerly point in Europe. Like the famous Portuguese navigators who left Lisbon for faraway lands, Sagres was the first Portuguese beer to be exported and can now be found in every corner of the world. Central de Cervejas has been owned by the Heineken Group since 2008
The beer pours with a golden straw colour and light foamy head that dissipates very quickly. There's very little aroma going on in the glass, I could only detect the faintest of sweet corn on the nose. Sagres tastes like a lot of generic euro style lagers, there's an initial dry grainy taste that is replaced with a slightly sweet maltiness and just enough hops to leave a bitter finish. As beers go, Sagres would never make my top ten favourite beers but on a hot summers day, I reckon that it would do a good job of quenching a thirst.

Keep an eye on the rest of my challenge and feel free to share your own beers of Euro2016 on Twitter using the hashtag #beersofeuro2016

 

 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Recipe - Hakka Mee (Pork Mince with Coriander & Fish Sauce Noodles)

Ping Coombes, MasterChef 2014 Champion, Malaysia CookBook, Hakka Mee
I was recently sent a copy of "MALAYSIA - Recipes from a family kitchen", the first cook book to be released by the winner of MasterChef 2014 - Ping Coombes. Drawing inspiration from her mother and from the late-night stalls and street markets in her hometown of Ipoh, Ping has put together over 100 delicious recipes that serve as a perfect introduction to the tastes and textures of Malaysian cooking. Chilli crab and caramel pork, spicy laksas and rendangs, satays and tangy sambals: these classic dishes are intensely satisfying to make, share and devour!
Last night I prepared a dish close to Ping's heart, Hakka Mee, a dish that her mother would make for her to take to school for lunch but Ping would often have the garlicky pork finished before the school bell rang!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 500g minced pork (not lean)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 250ml water, plus 2 tbsp
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 40g coriander, chopped (stalks and all)
For the marinade
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper

For the noodles

  • 4 x 100g bundles of egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp garlic oil
  • 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce

Method

  1. Pit the mince in a bowl, mix with the marinade ingredients and set aside for at least 15 minutes at room temperature, or longer if you prefer, covered in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant, then add the marinated pork and fry gently (a high heat will dry out th pork), breaking up the mince while it cooks, until it is no longer pink.
  3. Add the fish sauce, sweet soy sauce and sugar, then add the 250ml of water. Bring the water to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. If you think there's too much water, don't worry - so it will thicken and be absorbed by the pork.
  4. Dissolve the cornflour in 2 tbsp of water and add it to the pork and bring to the boil. As it boils, the sauce will thicken and coat the pork. At this stage, fold in the coriander and remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Cook the noodles for two minutes. Drain well and coat lightly with the garlic oil. Season with the sweet soy sauce and oyster sauce.

To serve, divide the noodles into your serving bowls and top with a generous dollop of the pork mixture. To eat, mix it all together and slurp loudly!

Ping Coombes, MasterChef 2014 Champion, Malaysia CookBook, Hakka Mee
I was surprised at how good this simple mince and noodle dish tasted. The balance of sweet and salty from the soy was countered by a massive garlic and coriander punch. The Hakka Mee was a little sweeter than I'm used to but I still found it incredibly moreish and myself and Nicola slurped until we could slurp no more. Perhaps next time I make it, I'll reduce the amount of sweet soy that I use and also add a little ginger and chilli to my Hakka Mee for a little extra dimension.
I love the look and feel of the book, the recipes are easy to follow and the photography used in the dishes is stunning and look forward to recreating more of Ping's Malaysian classics.
'MALAYSIA - recipes from a family kitchen' is published by Orion and available from all good bookshops or you can order your copy online at Amazon.