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Saturday, 6 February 2016

Mackays Marmalade Cocktail

National Marmalade Week takes place from 28th February to 6th March. The event is organised by the World Marmalade Awards at Dalemain, Penrith. The Awards take place from 19th-21st March and the main sponsors are Mackays, Fortnum & Mason and Paddington Bear.
To help get me in the mood, the good people at Mackays sent me a few jars of their marmalade in the hope that I could come up with a recipe or two that showcased their wonderful citrus preserves.
Keen to get involved with the marmalade recipe challenge, I sat down at the kitchen island with a notepad and pen hoping for some inspiration however after a few minutes I realised that inspiration wasn't coming! In the end, I decided to mix myself a cocktail in the hope that alcohol might help come up with a delicious marmalade inspired recipe.

Mackays Marmalade Martini
Ingredients (serves 2)

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice before adding all the ingredients.
  2. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds
  3. Double strain into a chilled martini glass before garnishing with a twist of orange
Wow! This variation on the classic 'breakfast martini' was fantastic. The botanicals from the gin work well with the bitter preserve whilst there was enough sweetness to make my Mackays Marmalade Martini very drinkable.
Unfortunately, I'm no further forward with my marmalade recipe challenge although with so many different gins and so many different Mackays marmalades to choose from, maybe I should research the cocktail line to find the perfect blend of flavours for the perfect Mackays Marmalade Martini.


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Quick Review - MPW Steakhouse Glasgow & Hotel Indigo Glasgow

After spending four nights in Belgium at the end of last year, you would have thought that myself and Nicola would have relished the last few days of the Christmas break in the comfort of our own home. However, that wasn't the case as we spent a very relaxing overnight stay at Hotel Indigo on Glasgow's Waterloo Street.
This came about as I had previously bought a dinner deal for Marco Pierre White Steakhouse (which is housed within Hotel Indigo) from the discount site Groupon, and realised that the deal had to be used by the first week of January. Keen not to lose out on our deal, I booked our table for the 2nd of January and decided to make the most of the Christmas break so booked a room in the hotel too.
After parking in the Q-Park next door to the hotel (residents get a 25% discount from the normally expensive car parking rates), we checked in and within a few minutes we were unpacking our overnight case in a lovely upgraded bedroom.
Each of the floors of the hotel are decorated with Glasgow's rich history in mind. Murals by local artists line the walls of the Victorian building, the original home of the one of the city's first powers station, whilst each of the boutique rooms are beautifully decorated and finished with a luxury bathroom. There was also a complimentary minibar in the room, stocked with wine and beer from the local West Brewery, that we were encouraged to make good use of during our stay. This coupled with the free wifi in the hotel ensured that we got great value for money for our £89 prepay rate.
As I unpacked the case, Nicola let out squeals of delight as she discovered the Aveda products in the bathroom. Nice toiletries don't do it for me however I was hugely impressed with the giant Damask patterned wall tiles and Villeroy & Boch sink. It's safe to say that no expense was spared when the bathroom was fitted.
Keen to make the most of our local 'city break' we finished unpacking and made our way to Buchanan Street to see if we could pick up a bargain or two in the January Sales.
After a short wander through Glasgow's busy shopping streets and a couple of light refreshments, we made our way back to the hotel. We were feeling tired after our recent European city break so spent a couple of hours relaxing in the bedroom, enjoying James Bond on the TV as well as doing our bit to empty the minibar. Refreshed and recharged, we made our way downstairs to the restaurant for the last big dinner of our Christmas break.
After being shown to our table, we started our evening in style with a glass of the house champagne. Keep an eye on the MPW Facebook page as they often run a Fizz Friday promotion in the bar when you can get a bottle of their house champagne for just £20.
Our Groupon dinner deal was for Chateaubriand for two with fries, onion rings, grilled tomatoes, two sides, two sauces and a bottle of wine for just £55 - great value when you think that the average bottle of wine costs over £20 in the chain restaurants.
We decided against starters as we figured that we would have plenty to eat when the main arrived and we weren't wrong! We knew as soon as our perfectly cooked fillet of beef arrived that we would be taking some of our dinner home in a doggy-bag. (Making good use of the mini-bar once again!)
Our beef was well seasoned and wonderfully tender, the accompanying garlic butter and wild mushroom sauce were the perfect foil to the soft, smoky meat. The giant onion rings were as good as I've had whilst the sides of buttered spinach and garlic mushroom rounded the meal off well.
Always wary that when you buy a 'deal' that you get what you pay for, I can honestly say that I was surprised by both the portion size of the meal as well as the top quality food that we were served. Rest assured, I will be buying the Groupon deal the next time I see it for sale!
Suitably stuffed, we made our way through to the bar for a nightcap but the stresses of our trip to Belgium were catching up on us and knowing that our bed was only a few minutes walk away, we only managed the one cocktail before lazily making our way to the lifts. (Although not before we grabbed a cheeky #MarcoChairSelfie
The next morning, after a comfortable sleep, we made our way downstairs for a fantastic breakfast. There is no shortage of choice in the restaurant when it comes to breakfast with plenty of cereals, cold cuts and pastries available. In addition to this, there is also the option of freshly cooked hot breakfasts too. I rounded off my weekend with Eggs Benedict and Nicola had Eggs Royale (like Benedict but with smoked salmon replacing the ham).
Feeling fully charged but ready for a lazy day, we said goodbye to Hotel Indigo, half an hour later we were tucked up on the couch at home catching up on all the Christmas TV that we had missed whilst away.
I'm glad that I took advantage of the Groupon deal and even happier that I booked the overnight stay - we had a great time and were well looked after by the staff on shift during our visit. What a great way to end our Christmas break!
They run competitions every now and again for overnight stays and meals so keep an eye on Hotel Indigo on Facebook and Twitter, as well as watching MPW Steakhouse on Facebook and Twitter too.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Yushoi Prove You Can Balance Great Taste and Better For You

You no longer need to give up great taste for products that are better for you thanks to Yushoi Snapea rice sticks, a delicious baked savoury snack made using green peas and rice, which has launched and is available from Tesco stores nationwide for £1.99 per 105g re-sealable pack.
The baked snack, which boasts less than 99 calories per 21g serving, is high in fibre and a source of protein, nut and dairy free, suitable for vegetarians and vegans and has no artificial colours, flavours or MSG is set to be a hit with those who have a healthier agenda and prefer tasty nibbles that won’t pile on the pounds.

Subtly seasoned in a range of mouth-watering flavours including Soy and Balsamic Vinegar, Smoked Salt and Szechuan Pepper, Sweet Chilli and Lemon and Lightly Salted, there are at least four reasons to add these to your basket during the next shop.

Marketing Director, David Wilson said: “Yushoi Snapea rice sticks is like nothing else. Lovingly made using green peas and baked with seasonings that really play on the Japanese influence we know that we have something really special for people to try. You can lose the guilty feelings when you have Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks and can enjoy the snack with lunch or on the go.”

Working with leading nutritionists, food technologists and health experts, Yushoi Snapea rice sticks has been developed to meet with the Governments criteria to encourage better eating habits, make choices simpler and address concerns in relation to obesity throughout the UK.

With a full range of pack formats including 21g single serve, 6 x 21g multipacks and 105g re-sealable sharing bags these tasty snacks that are better for you can be found in Tesco, Morrisons, The Cooperative, WH Smith, Whole Foods Market, Selfridges and online from Amazon and Ocado.
For more details about Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks please visit, like the brands Facebook page: Yushoisnacks or follow on Twitter: @Yushoisnacks


Monday, 1 February 2016

How To Celebrate Chinese New Year In Glasgow

Chinese New Year falls on Monday the 8th of February this year. Bring in the Year of the Monkey by heading to one of these fantastic Chinese restaurants in Glasgow or attend the first-ever George Square Chinese New Year celebration to get you in the spirit of things. Here’s a round-up of what’s happening in the city:

If you fancy a feast, look no further than Amber Regent. This restaurant, set in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre, has legendary status within the city, serving a range of traditional Chinese dishes since the 1980s.

The new kid on the block, Ka Ka Lok is already drawing in the crowds and is known to have people queuing for a table on a week night! With fresh ingredients and generous portions, you’re in for a far eastern treat in Glasgow’s Charing Cross.

Feel like fine dining in the city? Then give Dragon-I a try. It fuses Scottish produce and far-Eastern cooking styles with fantastic results. Take the grilled fillet of scotch beef stir fried in a ginger spring onion whisky sauce, this bold take on Chinese – Malaysian cuisine will not disappoint.

Duck down a side street in Glasgow’s bustling city centre to find hidden gem, Lychee Oriental. Under the instruction of Head Chef and ex Great British Menu contestant, Jimmy Lee, this award winning restaurant boasts both traditional Chinese and innovative seafood dishes.

Or why not celebrate the Year of the Monkey at Dumpling Monkey? Set in Glasgow’s west end, it serves up a masterclass in Northern Chinese cooking, with a hint of Korean and Vietnamese dishes thrown in for good measure. The Chinese street cafe has fast become a firm favourite with students and locals alike, and it’s not just the prices that keep people coming back.

For those who like spice, Scotland’s first Sichuan restaurant, Sichuan House is worth a visit. With liberal use of the unique Sichuan pepper, the Sauchiehall Street restaurant will transport your taste buds to South Western China!

This February heralds Glasgow City Centre’s first Chinese New Year celebrations. Head to George Square on February 7th to celebrate the Year of the Monkey with Dragon and Lion dancing, Chinese Martial Arts displays and a whole host of pop-up food stalls from your favourite Chinese restaurants and cafes in the city.

Whetted your appetite?

To find out more about Glasgow’s food and drink scene, please visit


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Martin Wishart to host sold out first birthday party at The Honours, Malmaison Glasgow

Malmaison, the iconic boutique hotel brand, is to host sold out first birthday party ‘The Honours Uncovered’ at The Honours, Malmaison Glasgow on 30th January. The lunch format event will include a three course meal, wine tasting and a cooking demonstration from award winning Chef Martin Wishart.
Beginning with a Champagne and canapé reception, the lunch will see three spectacular cooking demonstrations from Michelin-starred Chef Martin Wishart, Chef Director at The Honours Paul Tamburrini and Rikki Preston, Pastry Chef at Martin Wishart Restaurant, Leith. Guests will also enjoy a wine tasting hosted by sommeliers Patrick Cooper and Peter Convey, and a three course lunch with an amuse bouche and petit fours.
Opened in 2014, The Honours is a contemporary brasserie, with a menu that combines seasonal, Scottish flavours in innovative, brasserie-influenced dishes.
Graham Chalmers, General Manager, Malmaison Glasgow, said, “Since starting, The Honours at Malmaison Glasgow has been providing a fantastic dining experience inside our beautiful and unique hotel. The menu, combining the very best of seasonal Scottish flavours in brasserie-influenced dishes, has been a huge hit with our guests. We’re delighted that this event has proved to be so popular, selling out in just a few hours.”
Keep up to date with all the news from The Honours at Malmaison on Facebook and Twitter.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Celebrating Burns Night with Hall's of Scotland Haggis

Earlier this week was Burns Night and a time when Scots the world over celebrate the poet Roberts Burns. Personally, I don't get too expedited about this annual celebration, if truth be told, I'm not a massive fan of the Ayrshire bard' work but that doesn't stop me joining my fellow scots as they munch their way through a mountain of Haggis.
Breaking from the traditional haggis, neeps & tattles, I would normally pick up a haggis supper from the local fish & chip shop and be quite happy that I've done my bit. However this year, thanks the good people at Hall's of Scotland, I would be serving my haggis 'au natural'.
Preparing the haggis was very easy. I opted to steam the haggis over boiling matter for a hour but I could easily have heated in the oven or simpler yet, microwaved.
Neither myself or Nicola are huge fans of the tradition 'neeps' (mashed Swede) accompaniment so whilst my haggis was cooking, I paid a visit to the local Italian chip shop for a couple of bags of chips. If I couldn't have my haggis supper, at least I was able to have the next best thing.
The haggis was tasty although nowhere near as peppery as some of the others that I've tried but that didn't stop me finishing the lot. That said, my Burns Night dinner of chips and haggis was fairly one dimensional, maybe that's where the neeps and whisky sauce come into play?
Looking back, I think that the Halls haggis would be better as an ingredient rather than as the main event, which is handy as I was given two haggis (or should that be haggises or even hagi) so I can see haggis bonbons, fritters or even a haggis cottage pie making the rounds in the coming weeks.
Thanks again to Hall's of Scotland for donating the haggis. Look out for Halls haggis, as well as their popular breakfast range, in your local supermarket. You can keep up to date with Hall's of Scotland on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Scottish Artisan Popcorn Producer Poporopo Celebrates 1st Birthday

Scotland’s first and only gourmet popcorn company Poporopo celebrated their 1st Birthday on the 19th January. Based in Stirling, Poporopo create a range of luxury caramel coated popcorn infused with a variety of creative flavours. To mark this milestone Poporopo have launched a Gin & Tonic caramel flavour collaborating with two highly celebrated unique and innovative Scottish producers. Arbikie Highland Estate using Kirsty’s Gin and Summerhouse Drinks using Walter Gregor’s Tonic Water.
In 2015 Poporopo won the STEP business of the Year Award and the BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award and 2016 has continued on the same course with two more nominations for The HEAT Pitching award and the Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce Best Start Up Business Award. Founder Daman Bush says “2015 was an incredible year full of ups and downs, it all feels worthwhile when we receive recognition from 3rd parties by shortlisting us for awards. 2016 is going to be a big year for us, increasing our high street presence and partnering up with more small businesses to bring truly unique products to the shelves”
In their first year Poporopo have secured partnerships with high profile customers such as Historic Scotland, and Caledonian Sleeper and their delicious range of gourmet popcorn can now be purchased at close to 100 independent retailers. A new year also welcomes a new look for Poporopo. Their new logo and website gives the company a new, cleaner look, more suited to their place in the market.