Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Review - Ian Brown Food & Drink, Giffnock

A few weeks ago I spotted a deal on the Glasgow discount website, Itison, offering a fantastic deal for two to enjoy two course meal with a glass of Prosecco for just £18 at Ian Brown Food & Drink in Glasgow's Southside. I'm a sucker for a good deal and had heard great things about the eponymously named restaurant so after checking the terms and conditions of the offer to see if I could use the voucher on a Saturday, I bought my deal.
Ian Brown Food & Drink is situated on Eastwoodmains Road next to Williamwood train station in the building that previously housed Aris Greek restaurant. Before moving back to East Kilbride, myself and Nicola spent three happy years living in Clarkston, and had always wanted to try out our local Greek restaurant but never had the chance before the building was taken over and occupied by Glasgow chef, Ian Brown. Having heard lots of great feedback about the new restaurant, we always wanted to try it out but somehow never found the time to visit.
Ian Brown has amassed many years experience as a top chef which includes a spell as the head chef at The Crutherland House Hotel in East Kilbride then settled in as head chef for 12 years at west end restaurant, The Ubiquitous Chip, before opening up his own restaurant in the Southside of Glasgow.
Cosy is the word that I would use to describe the interior of the restaurant and when we arrived for lunch last Saturday afternoon the restaurant was full to bursting! We were quickly shown to our table before being left to look over the menu whilst enjoying a chilled glass of prosecco each and tucking into some freshly baked bread with olive oil and a deliciously thick balsamic glaze. Some people might feel that the tables are a little too close to one another but we felt that the restaurant made good use of the limited floor space without us feeling that we were sitting on each others knees. We were close enough to the table next to us that we could chat with them about the menu but not too close that we felt that we were on a double date!
Our deal let us choose two courses from a set menu that changes throughout the year in order to make best use of seasonal produce. The menu has changed since our visit so we will need to find time to get along for another tasty lunch.
To start,Nicola chose the filo tart filled with spinach and Crowdie, with pesto and romesco sauce. I had heard of Crowdie but didn't know what it was so we were both delighted to see that it was a traditional Scottish soft cheese that tasted not unlike Feta. When balanced with the iron rich spinach and sweetness from the red pepper sauce, the flavours were wonderful. The drizzles of home made pesto lifted the starter to another level.
For my own starter I chose the potted ham hough with pickled vegetables. When my dish arrived, it looked like a Joan Miro masterpiece as shape and colour dominated the plate. A jelly tower filled with chunks of salty tender ham, pickled onions, pieces of cauliflower and other assorted goodies was the perfect foil to the garnish of crisp, colourful salsa. The plate was also dressed with a little of the pesto, which added more colour which delicious as it was, I don't think the dish needed.
With both starters hitting the mark, we were looking forward to our next course and after a short break, our main dishes arrived. I had chosen the braised belly of pork with black pudding mash and honeyed apple jus. I had been expecting the usual trendy little square of pork to be my main course so was surprised when three big slabs of tender, melt in the mouth pork arrived instead. This was a great dish. The mashed pudding had plenty of spicy black pudding broken through it and the pork was full of flavour but the star of the show was the honeyed apple jus that accompanied the pork. This 'gravy' had an almost 'toffee-apple' flavour going on which brought out the best in the generous serving of perfectly cooked pork. I'd love to say that I managed to finish the lot but the large portion size had gotten the better of me and I had to give up towards the end.
As soon as Nicola seen the word kedgeree on the menu, her main course almost picked itself. We both love a good kedgeree and this was a very good example indeed. Soft fluffy rice was cooked with just the right amount and balance of spices to make up the taste buds dance. Nicola's main was packed with plenty of flaky salmon and smoked haddock, not forgetting the soft yolk poached egg on top, which rounded of a fantastic attempt at recreating an old classic. Once again the portion size won and Nicola struggled to clear her plate.
We were both stuffed and after a quick glance at the dessert menu we both decided that we didn't have the room to squeeze in a pudding, besides we had plans to head to The Busby Hotel for drinks and didn't want to bag ourselves up.
What impressed us most about our visit was the fact that we were treated in exactly the same way as every other guest even although we were dining on a discount deal. The food was fantastic and there was no skimping on the portion sizes - Ian Brown serves up a proper plate of food. The busy afternoon service was efficient and friendly, with myself and Nicola being made to feel welcome and appreciated throughout our visit. Our deal was for two courses each with a glass of prosecco for just £18, which offered fantastic value. That said, at just £13 for two courses from the set menu, great value is an everyday occurrence at Ian Brown Food & Drink and I know that myself and Nicola will be doing our best to get back again soon.
So if your looking for great value, quality cooking in comfortable surrounding, you won't go wrong by booking a table with Ian Brown. Of course, you can also keep up to date with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

 Written by Gerry HaughianWritten by Gerry Haughian

Saturday, 21 March 2015

St. Enoch Centre Presents.....


To celebrate the tastiest day of the year, Glasgow’s St. Enoch Centre presents The Chocolate Collection for Easter, featuring a selection of cracking gifts, perfect to treat yourself or the family.
With a wide selection available to suit all tastes and budgets, St. Enoch Centre has an Easter egg for every egg hunter this year.

Hotel Chocolat - Rocky Road to Caramel – Extra Thick Egg - £27
Indulge yourself or your loved ones with the Rocky Road to Caramel Extra Thick Egg from Hotel Chocolat at St. Enoch Centre.
This opulent delight comes with a pair of generous chocolate eggshells, one in milk chocolate with cookies, puffed rice and chocolate chunks, and the other in caramel-milk chocolate. Inside, you’ll discover 12 mellow chocolates all devoted to caramel and milk chocolate.
Thorntons – Milk Chocolate Indulgence Easter Egg - £15 (Now £10)
An eggs-tra special indulgent Easter egg with milk chocolate shell decorated with swirls of decadently dark & white chocolate from Thorntons in St. Enoch Centre.
This beautifully ribbon-tied Easter Egg is surrounded by Thorntons mini masterpieces selection, - chocolate squares with irresistible flavours such as toffee, fudge, orange and raspberry.

Tesco - Cadbury Dairy Milk Giant Easter Egg - £6

Keep it classic with this giant Cadbury Dairy Milk Easter egg from Tesco at St. Enoch Centre.
Gift boxed and finished off with a purple ribbon, the deliciously creamy milk chocolate is made with a glass and a half of fresh milk and Fairtrade cocoa. This giant Cadbury milk chocolate treat also comes with three scrumptious bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Glasgow’s St. Enoch Centre showcases a wide range of Easter treats. From beautifully presented luxurious Easter eggs, courtesy of premium chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat and Kimble’s, to amazing masterpieces from Thorntons and Easter classics from Tesco, St. Enoch Centre has Easter covered.
The good people at St. Enoch Centre have very kindly sent me one of each of the eggs above to taste test. Normally I wouldn't open up my Easter Eggs until Easter Sunday but in the name of research I will be working my way through these chocolate goodies and will post up some feedback on each of them.
Keep an eye out for my upcoming review of the various eggs but whilst you wait on me working my way through the kilo of chocolate, you can visit www.st-enoch.com for more information on where you can buy your own Easter Eggs.

Written by Gerry HaughianWritten by Gerry Haughian

Friday, 20 March 2015

Moo-hoosive launch for this year's Royal Highland Show

The great and the good of Scotland's rural, tourism and creative industries turned out in force in Edinburgh this evening (19th March) to launch the 175th Royal Highland Show. Over 150 guests were invited to a private screening at the Filmhouse to preview a series of short films shot on location at the 2014 event by former BBC TV Series Producer and award winning film maker, Rob Bryce.

The five films focused on different aspects of the iconic show - food and drink, livestock, countryside, machinery and equestrian - which last year welcomed over 178,000 visitors and had an estimated economic impact of £47.1m.

Following the screening, David Jackson, Royal Highland Show Manager, unveiled this year's consumer campaign, 'It's Moo-Hoosive', featuring the Show's iconic Highland cow with enormous horns to represent the breadth and depth of this unique event and its wide appeal to urban and rural visitors alike.

David said: "It's quite a challenge to create a campaign for an event as diverse and huge as the Royal Highland Show, but 'It's Moo-Hoosive' hits the spot. It is fun, arresting and gives visitors a sense of the scale of the Show. And by rooting the image in the beautiful Scottish countryside, it also underlines the positioning of the Show as a showcase for the best of farming, food and rural life.

"2015 is Scotland's Year of Food & Drink and we know that 42% of visitors attend the Show for our exceptional food and drink offering, so this year we are launching 'Scotland's Larder Live!' and transforming the Food Hall into the ultimate celebration of Scottish food and drink. 'Scotland's Larder Live!' will showcase the array of regional flavours and premium produce we have here in Scotland, building the connection between farming and food to consumers in a highly visible and entertaining way."

The 2015 event is also the 175th anniversary of the Royal Highland Show and guests were greeted by the first of 175 specially commissioned 3-foot high steel Highland cows. These have been created by award winning designer Kevin Paxton, a blacksmith and regular exhibitor at the Show. Although the first cow is being presented to the Show's Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, with the other 174 available to purchase. The Show's trophy maker, Hamilton & Inches, has also created 175 miniature Stirling silver versions which will also go on sale.

Stephen Hutt, Chief Executive of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), concluded: "This evening has been the ideal opportunity to remind our guests just what the Royal Highland Show is about - the very best of farming, food and rural life. There is nothing else quite like it in the UK and we are enormously proud to host it. Entries for all our show categories are now open and some are already full. Figures are up on this time last year - we have had more applications from exhibitors and competitors, businesses are asking for larger exhibition stands and we have increased the overall exhibition space within the showground. The 2015 Royal Highland Show promises to be Moo-Hoosive!"

Keep up to date with all the news leading up to the Royal Highland Show on Facebook and Twitter.



Tuesday, 17 March 2015

5 Questions - Jak O'Donnell, Chef Patron & Co-Owner of The Sisters, Glasgow

Last week I published a post about the launch of a new cookery TV programme that was about to launch on STV Glasgow which is hosted by Glasgow chef and Chef Patron at The Sisters restaurant, Jak O'Donnell and Eddie Boyle, the head baker at Whole Food Market in Giffnock. I managed to catch up with the star of the show at a pre-screening event and gave her the opportunity to answer her own 5 Questions.
After 12 years as a pastry chef Jak decided to try her hand at private dining. You could hire her for as little as £10 per head back in those days! For this she would come to your home, cook, serve and wash up the dishes! After the private dining, Jak served her "apprenticeship" in a wee place in Glasgow's West End but outgrew the the site after a few short years. Needing to expand, a new location was found and it wasn't long before Jak and her staff were wowing diners across the city.
Jacqueline, and her team have since developed two homely welcoming local eateries having worked with Scotland's larder to give customers and now a lot of their friends a taste of true Scotland right in the middle of Glasgow.
With a passion for fresh, local and high quality produce, Jak does her best to use the bounties of Scotland's fine larder. Her scallops & langoustines are landed on Thursday at the pier in Uist and they are brought down to them direct. Braehead Foods, fine purveyors of the best Scottish game and have been supplying her for 17 years.
That's how The Sisters story began and been successfully operating for 17 years with the girl at the helm still loving what she does.
Here's the rest of Jak's story;
How did you get started?
At the age of 4, my Grannie sent me to the garden to pull some rhubarb I handed it in to the kitchen, the reward for doing this job was a newspaper cone filled with sugar & one of the smaller rhubarb stalks, well I thought this is amazing, however I had to sit on the back steps as I wasn’t allowed into the kitchen as the adults were getting there tea! When I did get back in to the kitchen, a rhubarb crumble (so i was told) came out of the oven, bubbling hot, sticky with a crumble topping all gooey round the sides from the rhubarb juice, well I was hooked, how did this happen? Surely I had just pulled some pink/green sticks with massive leaves out of the ground with dirt at the bottom, yet this pudding tasted amazing topped with a "Drizzle of Milk" well we did not have the luxury of cream in those days going back 43 yrs now mind.....
The story of my interest in food began right there on the back door step of my Grannies house!!
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
To have The love & appreciation I have for the Scottish produce I cook, understanding every step the person before me has taken to get it to my kitchen, appreciating that and caring for it until it reaches the next destination(customer plates) So they also get the pleasure too! My costings too !!
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Building on the great reputation that Glasgow is working on right now expanding the legacy of People Make Glasgow and putting our city on the map as a great Foodie destination, showing the world wide audience just how great Scottish food is in my home city.
If you could only have one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
I love the science behind food and watching my kids wow if they are watching - from spinning sugar to making puff candy - if you could bottle those wee faces and show them in the future, that’s what makes me tick! Obviously letting them eat these things is not very high on my to do list!!
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
It would actually be my Nana & Papa, as when my papa died my nana was worried she would have no one to sit on the chair opposite her to eat her tea, as they had shared a table for 60 years at dinner.

I would make sure they got an amazing Sunday Roast Dinner with all the trimmings and although there would not be wine I would have a wee cream sherry to start the meal with them! Food should always be shared by those whom we love and care for - it is a win win situation past or present.
It's clear to see from Jak's answers that food has always served an important part of not just her own live but that of her family too. From grannies back doorstep to a successful restauranteur who blushes at the term celebrity chef, no one could have predicted that! However Jak's blushes can't hide the fact that she her reputation for serving up great food has seen her appear on a number of TV programmes including ITV's This Morning and The Great British Menu.
I would like to thank Jak for taking the time out to answer 5 Questions and wish her every success with the new TV show, Jak & Eddie's Scottish Kitchen, as well as continued success at The Sisters. I really do need to get myself along there soon!
Keep up to date with Chef Jaqueline on Twitter.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Jak & Eddie's Scottish Kitchen on STV Glasgow

There's no shortage of cookery programmes on TV. In fact as the nation's love of food keeps growing, there seems to be no end to the number of celebrity chefs who pop on our TV screen, all hoping to feed our ever growing appetite.
One of the big drawback of these programmes is that they often serve up amazing looking dishes that are far too complex for the average home cook to try, or they contain ingredients that you just don't find on the average supermarket shelf.
However, with the launch of Jak & Eddie's Scottish Kitchen which starts tonight on digital channel STV Glasgow at 8:30pm, we might actually have a cookery programme that demonstrates simply yet tasty food that everyone can try at home.
The show is hosted by Jacqueline O'Donnell, co-owner of The Sisters restaurant in Glasgow, and Eddie Boyle who is the head baker at Whole Foods Market in Giffnock. Some of you may recognise Jak from her appearances on Great British Menu last summer.
Last night myself and Nicola were kindly invited along to a pre-screening of the show at STV's Pacific Quay Studios, where we were able to check out the format of the new show as well as having the chance to meet Chef Jak who gave a little talk about the show. Unfortunately, Eddie wasn't in attendance - apparently on holiday topping up his tan before the filming of the next series!
The format of the show is simple with Jak demonstrating a dish in the first have of the show and Eddie showing off his baking skills in the second half. All of the recipes will be readily available on the STV website.
As the season rolls on, they will look to showcase some of the wonderful products that can easily be sourced across Scotland. We were privy to some very seasonal Easter recipes on the episode that we shown and it won't be long before I'll be trying the one-pot lamb dish in my own kitchen.
So if you're tired of the usual run of the mill cookery shows that require you having the skills of a Michelin starred chef in order to get the recipe to the table, why not tune in tonight from 8:30pm on Sky 117, Virgin 159 or Freeview 23 and see just how easy it can be to serve up easy yet delicious food.
Don't forget to get in on the action on Twitter by following STV Glasgow and by using the hashtag #jakandeddie


Sunday, 1 March 2015

5 Questions - Luke Owen, Masterchef 2014 Runner-Up

Most people who enter Masterchef do so because they want to show off their cooking skills and hopefully turn their dreams of working within the food industry into reality. However last year's runner-up, Luke Owen, filled in his application for the show as a bit of a drunken dare!
Who would have thought that the robotics engineer from Chorlton would have made it all the way to the final, via Barcelona where he cooked for the great Ferran Adrià and Christian Escribà before losing out to eventual winner Ping Coombes.
I've been lucky enough to have had Ping take time out to answer 5 Questions for Gerry's Kitchen but Luke and fellow runner up Jack Lucas had also promised to answer their own questions too. Since the show ended back in May, the boys have been busy trying to carve out their new lives on the back of their Masterchef experiences, however Luke managed to find time recently to get his answers back to me.
Here's Luke's Story;
What do you hope to do with your career now that you have completed the Masterchef 2014 process?
Well I definitely don’t want to open a restaurant, far to risky and unsociable! I’ve set up my own private dining business (www.lukeowencooks.com) and I'm really enjoying it. I really like the guest interaction and the complete artistic control!
What was your favourite challenge on the show?
Cooking with Tom Kerridge for the Chefs table was amazing, Tom and his team were brilliant and getting to cook for the best chefs in the UK is something only a handful of people ever get to do.
What is the biggest thing that you learnt about yourself over the process?
I’m a much bigger risk taker than I ever realised, I honestly believed I was a rational and sensible person.
If you could only cook one of the recipes that you cooked over the Masterchef process again, what would it be & why?
Probably the black pudding and chorizo scotch eggs. Mainly because everybody always asks/tells me to cook that for them.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
I would invite Marcus Wareing. I'm not sure about the starter and main, but I’d really like to show him that I can cook profiteroles. I messed them up big time when I made them for him on the show!

I'd like to thank Luke for answering 5 Questions and wish him every success in the future with his private dining business. So if you're feeling adventurous, why not give Luke a call and get him to prepare the menu and wow your guests at your next dinner party.
You can keep up to date with everything that Luke gets up to on Facebook and Twitter.

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