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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Pompadour by Galvin wins Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year 2017

The Pompadour by Galvin was crowned Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year 2017 at the fourth annual Food Awards Scotland at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow on Monday night, hosted by radio presenter Gina McKie.

The Food Awards Scotland recognise the success of local professionals and establishments. The winners are a true reflection of high standards and customer service as they are chosen by members of the general public.

Pompadour Head Chef Dan Ashmore commented: “It’s an honour to be recognised for all the hard work that my team and I have put in. I feel very privileged to have the chance to showcase the best seasonal, Scottish ingredients in one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the country.”

The Pompadour by Galvin, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AB

www.thepompadourbygalvin.com

Twitter: @GalvinPompadour

Instagram: @galvin_edinburgh

Restaurant Review - Cucina (at the G&V Royal Mile Hotel) 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

I recently posted a review of an overnight stay that myself and Nicola enjoyed at G&V Royal Mile Hotel in Edinburgh. Whilst staying at the hotel, we were treated to dinner at the award-winning Cucina, a modern Italian restaurant headed up by Head Chef Matteo Camorani.
In years gone by, the hotel went under the name of Hotel Missoni and despite the fact that the Italian designer's name is no longer above the door, the hotel and restaurant still carries all the hallmarks of the iconic fashion house from prints and tapestries hanging on the walls, right down to the crockery and table wear in the restaurant.
As you would expect in a 5 star menu, the wine list is extensive with a good range of wines from both Old and New World at budgets to suit everyone. Our menu choices better suited being paired with a white wine so we opted for a chilled bottle of Fuedo Antico Pecorino, a crisp, dry wine with plenty of floral notes on the nose but a more complex taste of citrus, and dried fruits. This wine was a good all-rounder and worked well with both of our mains.
The menu changes regularly, making the best use of fresh and local produce. I stared with a vegetarian option of curried cauliflower, almonds and sultanas which was well seasoned and well presented. A hearty cauliflower 'steak' had been seasoned with a little spice before frying to a crisp finish on the outside. The accompanying curried cauliflower purée had just enough heat to make the dish interesting. The scattering of golden sultanas and toasted almonds added a nice balance of sweet and texture.
Nicola's starter of crab, onion marmalade, pea and herb sorbet was light and fresh. The portion size was very generous with a good amount of well seasoned, sweet crab meat on the plate. We weren't sure about the crabs companions on the plate but the balanced the dish well. The sorbet was packed full of flavour, like a frozen salsa verde and acted as the perfect palate cleanser after each forkful.
As soon as I spotted rabbit on the menu, my choice of main course was easy as I opted for rabbit loin, Pommes Anna & braised chicory. My top two all time meals have both been rabbit so I was looking forward to seeing how Cucina would fair. My main was good and although not in the same league as other rabbit dishes that I've had, I can't fault the cooking. The rabbit loin, wrapped in Parma ham, was cooked well with the saltiness from the ham working really well with the subtle flavours of the rabbit. I'm not usually a big fan of endive but the braising process had tamed the usually bitter taste adding a savoury balance to the dish. The star of the dish however was the perfectly cooked Pommes Anna, thinly sliced and layered potatoes which are slowly cooked in butter - a perfect accompaniment to the rabbit. The dish was dressed with a glossy rich jus that packed so much flavour without dominating the meat while a scattering of toasted hazelnuts added another layer of texture.
I've always said that Italian restaurants do 'meat and two veg' very well and Nicola's main dish of roast guinea fowl, spelt, cabbage and potatoes was testament to that. Think the perfect Sunday roast chicken then multiply by the first number you think of - it was that good.
Guinea fowl is a wonderful meat, leaner than chicken with a mild gamely flavour. As the meat is drier than chicken and has almost halt the fat, it takes a decent piece of cooking to ensure the meat isn't over cooked. In this case, the guinea fowl was cooked perfectly, and served on bed of buttery braised cabbage and the silkiest mashed potatoes. Everything was seasoned well, the whole dish was brought together with a fantastic rich spelt & mushroom gravy.
After the hearty Italian cooking, we didn't really have room for pudding but after a short break while we finished our wine, we got a second wind.
Those without a sweet tooth should look away now because my dessert of Italian meringue would have the tooth fairy flying for the hills! Full marks for presentation - my dessert looked stunning with rich vanilla ice cream, covered in silky sweet Italian meringue and a generous spattering of candied fruits and crushed pistachios which was a pretty good way to end my meal although the pudding was even a little too sweet for me.
Nicola wasn't really feeling up to a dessert but when she spotted the words 'white truffle honey', she somehow found room for the milk sorbet, honeycomb and white truffle honey dessert. This was a much simpler affair than my own pud but every bit as classy.
Homemade chunks of honeycomb and shards of meringue surrounded the luxurious milk sorbet which tasted as good as a creamy vanilla ice cream but with a lighter finish. The sorbet had been drizzled with lashings of honey that had been infused with white truffle and although you would think that the savoury flavour of truffle has no place on a dessert, in the honey, it works so well to add a grown up touch of class to the simplest of puddings.
With dinner behind us, we were both feeling a little tired so made our way to the chic G&V hotel bar, Epicurean for a cheeky wee G&T before bed.
Overall, we can have no complaints about the food or service - the portion sizes were very good and the food was tasty and well presented, the service was attentive without being too over the top. The menu is perhaps a little more expensive than what I would look to pay normally but when you consider that the restaurant is located within a classy 5 Star hotel, the prices are probably on a par with others of a similar style. That said, there is also a Seasonal Set Menu available at a reasonable £18 for two courses or £23 for three courses.
We dined as guests of Cucina but my review above is an honest account of our visit. We enjoyed our meal and would have no hesitation in recommending Cucina at G&V Royal Mile Hotel if you're looking for quality food in luxurious surroundings.
After a decent night's sleep, myself and Nicola made our way back downstairs for breakfast which is also served in Cucina.
The continental breakfast included the usual selection of meats, cheese, fruit, yogurt and pastries plus kippers and fresh salmon however we both selected one of the freshly prepared hot breakfast with Nicola starting her day with a mushroom & cheese omelette. Slightly crispy on the edges but light and fluffy on the inside, the omelette was perfectly cooked.
For my own breakfast, I opted for bacon, goats cheese and avocado on toasted ciabatta which was a great way to start the day.
The restaurant was very busy at breakfast time but the service was slick and efficient with all of the waiting staff seeming to know their role in the restaurant, helping make sure that diners were seated and served with little fuss.
Keep up to date with news and offers from G&V Royal Mile Hotel on Facebook & Twitter.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Free Bar on Tap as Glasgow Restaurant Celebrates Indian Independence

It's seventy years since India gained independence from Britain and a Glasgow restaurant is toasting the date with a brand new menu - and free beer.
The Dhabba in Candleriggs in Merchant City will be unveiling its new a la carte menu on Tuesday August 15 - the exact date of the 70th anniversary Independence celebrations.
It was on August 15 1947 that British India was divided along religious lines into the dominions of India and Pakistan.
Food lovers over the age of 18 who buy two courses from The Dhabba's a la carte menu will also be given a free pint of Kingfisher - the leading Indian beer in the world.
It's the perfect excuse for a celebration and owner Navdeep Basi can't wait to introduce diners to some of his favourite homemade dishes from Northern India.
He said: "We've changed a third of our dishes so still have our favourites and best sellers like Murg Maskawala (a mild and creamy tandoori cooked chicken dish), Bhuna Gosht (one of the most famous tomato and onion based lamb dishes from India) on the menu but we've got some delicious new dishes like Dhabba Khas (a traditional Indian chicken dish with garlic, ginger, tomatoes and onions), Bengun Bharta (again, a traditional Indian dishes with tandoori cooked aubergines)"
We have only changed the menu three times since we opened in 2002 so this is a big occasion for us and we can't wait for our customers to try it out."
The Dhabba is one of only two Indian restaurants from Scotland listed in the Michelin Guide - the other being its sister restaurant Dakhin which offers delicacies from South India.
Navdeep said: "We might not be raising a flag on the night but we are looking forward to raising our glasses numerous times."
Gemma Stephens from Kingfisher Beer Europe added: "Celebrating the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence is an extremely proud moment and we cannot wait to see The Dhabba’s new and exciting menu to support it.”

 

Friday, 11 August 2017

'Gin Up' For Summer with Kokoro Gin

Kokoro Gin, a Japanese-inspired London Dry Gin, has launched two perfect summer serves to get your taste buds tingling this holiday season.

Working in partnership with Rasa Gaidelyte, an experienced mixologist from Trailer Happiness, an award-winning intimate lounge bar in London, Kokoro has produced two signature summer serves; the Tarragon Spritz and Akatsuki.

Rasa was inspired by Kokoro’s unique ingredient, the sansho berry, which is hand-picked and imported to the UK from the Afan Woodland, a sustainable forest in the Nagano region of Japan. Used extensively in Japanese cuisine, sansho berries have a distinctive citrus flavour with a warm pepper finish, complementing the sweet ingredients of Kokoro’s summer serves.

The Tarragon Spritz, which has oriental inspired umami flavours, is a twist on the renowned French 75. A simple recipe combining Kokoro’s unique gin, lemon juice, sugar and a sprinkle of tarragon, topped with champagne – the perfect summertime spritz.
In addition to sansho berries, Nagano is also known for its large, sweet peaches, including the Kwanakajima and Akatsuki peaches. Kokoro’s Akatsuki cocktail is a twist on the Peach Collin which is traditionally served with vodka. The fruity cocktail combines Kokoro Gin, fresh peaches, lemon juice and a dash of sugar topped with soda and a sprinkle of black pepper for balance and garnish.
Barry Darnell, creative director at Forest Spirits, which produces Kokoro Gin, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Rasa to create the perfect summer cocktails using our Japanese-inspired gin. We are always looking for creative ways to serve up our dry gin, as with its distinctive flavour, you can be very experimental with the flavours you add. It’s also important to complement the seasons and people’s moods at certain times of year – there’s nothing better than a light, refreshing cocktail in the height of summer.”
Rasa Gaidelyte, who has 10 years’ experience in the bar industry, said: “We wanted to create cocktails that are accessible and easy enough for people to make at home. Both of the summer serves are very unique gin cocktails, as the traditional recipes tend to include a different spirit. I also like to experiment with different herbs and tarragon is a very oriental flavour and reflects the Kokoro brand very well. Two simple yet delicious cocktails, perfect for the summer season.”
Forest Spirits was formed by entrepreneurial duo, James Nicol and Barry Darnell. The brothers-in-law, who are financial consultant and design agency head by day, were inspired by a family connection to the Afan woodland in Japan, where sansho berries grow. James’s uncle, CW Nicol (affectionately known as Uncle Nic), is a lifelong environmentalist and author. He bought the Afan woodland in the 1980s and donated it to the Woodland Trust. It is now home to over 50 endangered species.

 

Edinburgh Gin Unveils New Look for Bestselling Fruit Gin Liqueurs

Edinburgh Gin’s popular fruit gin liqueurs are to move into a new bespoke bottle design, the same as the distiller’s iconic core range.

Hand-blown by artisan glassmakers in Italy, the bottles feature an embossed Edinburgh Gin logo and captivating illustrations of signature ingredients including Perthshire raspberries and Madagascan vanilla.

The move to the new design brings unity to the Edinburgh Gin portfolio; a dynamic range of spirits that are the embodiment of the modern-day gin experience.

The portfolio features four fruit gin liqueurs including Raspberry Liqueur, Elderflower Liqueur, Plum and Vanilla Liqueur, and Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur; the latter recently topping the Amazon best-seller list, described as the “perfect summer drink”.

Neil Boyd, Commercial Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, welcomed the new look:

"With our fruit gin liqueurs now sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with our London Dry style gins, the sense of variety among the Edinburgh Gin portfolio is fully cemented.

"Over the last 12 - 18 months, we've seen the fruit gin liqueurs become a staple cocktail ingredient for those creating diverse and dynamic cocktails with Scottish gin at their heart. They are also equally as enjoyable when added to a glass of prosecco.

“Premium and versatile, the fruit gin liqueurs are among our best-loved spirits and we have no doubt that the new designs will only increase their popularity further.”

The fruit gin liqueurs are available for purchase directly through Edinburgh Gin or Ian Macleod Distillers’ distributors, as well as in department stores such John Lewis, and through supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

The new designs are due to hit retailers’ shelves and back bars in September

 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Stewart Brewing Announces First Oktobereerfest Event

Leading Scottish craft brewer, Stewart Brewing, has announced its first ever ‘Oktobeerfest’ event coming this September.
Following the huge success of their Edinburgh Beer Festival in May, the brewery will host a two day beer festival to coincide with the popular German beer celebration. Along with limited edition Bavarian-style beers, the event will also offer old favourites and award-winning beers such as Radical Road, Jack Back, Hollyrood and Ka Pai.
In addition, Oktobeerfest will feature a selection of street food vendors such as Well Hung & Tender. There will also be music from the likes of The Citizens who went down a storm at the Edinburgh Beer Festival in May and Stadtkapelle Lochgelly oompah band who are sure to keep guests entertained with their German-style takes on classic hits.
Oktobeerfest will take place over two days with an adults-only event on Friday 15th September from 6pm – 10pm and a family friendly event on Saturday 16th September from 12pm – 8pm.
Jo Stewart, founder, commented: “Following the success of our annual Edinburgh Beer Festival with tickets selling out ahead of the event and amazing feedback from guests, we didn’t want to wait a whole year to hold another festival at our brewery. Oktoberfest is a key date in the beer drinker’s calendar so it felt like the perfect time to do this.
“Similar to our May event, we’ll be offering our popular array of beers, but with some special one-off brews thrown into the mix too. We want it to be a day everyone can come along and enjoy so, in addition to craft beer, Stewart Brewing Oktobeerfest will offer a selection of other drinks and delicious street food, accompanied by music from brilliant local bands.”
Tickets cost £16 per person which includes entry, a souvenir Oktobeerfest glass and can of beer on arrival. Children accompanied by adults can attend free of charge.
Tickets for both the Friday and Saturday events are on sale now from the Stewart Brewing website which recently relaunched with a brand new design:

https://www.stewartbrewing.co.uk/browse/c-Tickets-12

Stewart Brewing Oktobeerfest takes place at Stewart Brewing, Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, 26a Dryden Rd, Loanhead and is easily reached from Edinburgh city centre by bus, routes 37 and 47.

For more announcements leading up to the festival, follow Stewart Brewing on social media:

www.facebook.com/stewartbrewingedin

Twitter @StewartBrewing

 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Hotel Review - Kinnettles Hotel & Spa, North Street, St.Andrews

The last time that I stayed overnight in St Andrews was over 35 years ago when we used to spend summer holidays at Kinkell Braes caravan park. Over the years, I've returned to the East Neuk fishing village on a number of occasions for day trips but always knowing that I'd be making the long drive home at the end of the day.
So when I was asked if we would be interested in reviewing the recently opened Kinnettles Hotel & Spa as well as dinner at The Tayberry St. Andrews, the 2nd restaurant from 2015 CIS Young Chef of the Year, Adam Newth, I figured I better get some local knowledge of overnight parking in the ancient town.
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We arrived in St Andrews on a drizzly Saturday afternoon and after managing to find free parking behind one of the older university campus' buildings, we made our way to the hotel. Kinnettles Hotel & Spa is the second hotel venture from the same owners as the Kinnettles Castle, a stunning baronial wedding and event venue halfway between Aberdeen and Edinburgh.
Situated on at the bottom end of North Street, only a short walk from the world's oldest golf course and a beautiful golden beach, Kinnettles Hotel & Spa boasts nine luxurious suites which are the result of a painstaking restoration process to a building that dates back to 1879. If the building looks impressive from street level, we were blown away by the interior and after a quick check-in, we were shown to our room for the night.
One word - WOW! Our room was huge! A massive queen size bed draped with luxurious bedding and decorative cushions dominated the main bedroom area of the suite. We would find out later that this was one of the comfiest beds that we have ever slept on - this was helped by a mattress topper that would have easily satisfied that girl from The Princess and the Pea story!
Modern meets antique as a shortage of table space meant that the dressing table doubled up as a home for the Nespresso machine while 40" flat screen TV with a wide range of Freeview and Sky channels was mounted on the wall opposite the bed.
Ample storage for clothing was provided within a huge wardrobe which also housed a heavy duty iron & board, minisafe, tea and coffee facilities and one of the best stocked minibars that I've seen in a hotel room. There was no price list for the minibar items so I'm not sure if the items are complimentary or whether the price list was missing. As it turned out, we had brought our own gin and tonic for the room so I'll never know!
There are also bathrobes and slippers in the wardrobe that can be worn should you wish to head to the connected Eden Spa downstairs. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to try out the spa - oh well, maybe next time.
The bathroom was wall to wall marble and decorated in a clean minimal style. The monsoon style shower was operated by a simple on/off button and packed a powerful punch which was pretty impressive for a building so old. One of the nicest touches was the inclusion of Espa soap and shower gel and body creams which were quickly pocketed by Nicola. (I'm not allowed to use the fancy products)
As mentioned earlier, all of the rooms are suites. I'm not sure of the layout of the other rooms but our suite had a comfortable living room area which was separated from the main bedroom section by a dividing wall. Another flatscreen TV hung from the wall - handy if guests guests want watch a different channel from that in the bedroom or if you fancy watching TV whilst your partner sleeps next door.
For those looking to spend a cosy night in, these giant armchairs are perfect for snuggling in front of the rooms second widescreen TV.
St Andrews is a golfing town and there's no shortage of golfing memorabilia to see but if golf isn't your thing, there's plenty of pubs and bars where you can pass the time.... which is what myself and Nicola done with our Saturday afternoon before enjoying a very nice dinner at The Tayberry St Andrews (full review to follow). I'm not sure what the nightlife is like in town when the university students aren't in term but we didn't get past the well stocked hotel bar before heading upstairs for a peaceful night. The bar carries a decent range of premium gins and craft beer although I was disappointed not to see some of the local producers represented. I do believe that this is currently being reviewed.
The following morning we made our way downstairs to the restaurant for a hearty breakfast of breads, cured meats and fish, cheeses, yogurts and pastries. If that wasn't enough to get you started, there was also a choice of freshly cooked breakfasts which meant that I was always going to be having Eggs Benedict while Nicola started her day with locally foraged mushrooms with poached egg. Special mention must go to the poached eggs which were cooked perfectly and had the brightest yellow yolks - I wonder where they source the eggs from?
So, it's safe to say that we enjoyed our stay in St Andrews. Kinnettles Hotel & Spa is definitely a step up from my last accomodation in the town! In all seriousness, the hotel is one of the nicest that we've stayed in, we just wish that we had more time to enjoy it.
Our stay was complimentary but my review above is anhonest account of our experience. We would like to thank the management and staff for their hospitality and generosity and wish them all the best for the future.
Keep up to date with news from Kinnettles Hotel & Spa on Facebook and Twitter.