Monday, 30 November 2015

Review - Barstro, Nazaret, Lanzarote

It seems like a lifetime ago that myself and Nicola enjoyed two weeks on holiday in Lanzarote. We are often asked why we return to the same place each year, rather than trying new holiday destinations? There are lots of answers to that question but the two main reasons that we return each year are quite simply;
  1. We both love the fantastic food and drink that is readily available on the island
  2. We know so many people who live on the island that we consider to be good friends
With that in mind, we were able to kill two birds with one stone when we went for dinner one evening at Barstro, an amazing restaurant in the sleepy village of Nazaret, run by our friend Paul Campbell.
Paul is a brilliant chef who has worked under some of the world's best chefs before he relocated to Lanzarote where he built up a great reputation prior to setting up his own restaurant with another of our friends, Viktor Domahidy.
Viktor has actually been working in Canada for the last six months helping to set up a Spanish restaurant for a friend however he must have heard that Gerry's Kitchen was stopping by as he had flown back over to say hello. (Although this might just be a little bit of a coincidence)
I had arranged our booking through our friend Heidi who looks after all of the PR and Social Media for the restaurant and she had promised to pop in to say hi. We had arrived earlier than our planned booking so took our time to look over the wine menu that featured plenty of choice from the surrounding Lanzarote bodegas. In the end, we ordered a fantastic bottle of Malvasia Volcánica Seco from Bodega Bermejo, which happened to be one of the bodegas that we visited earlier in our stay when we took part on the Bodega Hopping trip organised by Active Club Lanzarote. It wasn't long before Heidi turned up along with her gorgeous daughter Darcy and spent ten minutes catching up with our holiday adventures, but as it was a school night they had to make a quick exit and get back home.
The menu at Barstro is split into small and large plates and when we have eaten at Barstro the past, we have ordered a selection of small plates to share. Both of our previous visits have been over the lunch service so sharing seemed more natural but as we were in for dinner, we decided to go order starter and mains.
To start, Nicola ordered the salmon & spinach Scotch Egg which was a clever twist on the classic. A soft boiled quail's egg was wrapped inside a well seasoned mix of salmon and spinach then deep fried in crispy breadcrumbs. This was a well executed dish, the runny egg yolk, irony spinach and rich oily salmon were a great balance, enhanced further by a rich teriyaki sauce.
For my own starter, I ordered roasted artichoke hearts stuffed with Feta. This was a hearty starter with three artichoke hearts stacked with huge chunks of feta and pickled cornichons. The combination of saltiness from the Feta, the smoky flavours from the roasted artichoke and the acidity from the pickles was great.
We were also served up a side of marinated Feta with pickled cornichons and a side of huge marinated green olives with garlic and lemon so by the time we had worked our way through these four starter dishes, we were both feeling pretty full.
For main, Nicola opted for confit duck leg which was served on a bed of fluffy mashed potato. Henry VIII was a huge fan of confit duck and he would have been impressed with the tender, well cooked duck that just fell from the bone. The portion size was generous and when coupled with the side of seasonal vegetables that were served alongside, the main represented pretty good value for money.
For my own main, I opted for the calves liver with lemon, ginger, tomato & coriander. I love liver but don't get it that often so I was interested to see how Paul would apply his Barstro twist to this old time classic. There was no shortage of liver on the plate with five perfectly cooked slices stacked on top of a mound of mashed potato along with a sauce packed with lemon and ginger on the side. The side sauce was nice but it didn't work for me, I thought it was too sharp for the strong flavours of the liver. Maybe it's the traditionalist in me but I would have much preferred my liver to have been served up along with some Serrano ham and fried onion.
By this point in the evening, we were both stuffed so decided to skip dessert and get the bill but Paul sent out a selection of frozen yogurt, sorbet and ice cream to freshen our palate before we made our way into the night. I'm glad that he did as the red berry sorbet was to die for, packed with tons of sweet fruit flavours and balanced with a super sharp lemon sorbet.
We were definitely stuffed now so we settled up the bill and said our goodbyes. Dinner for the two of us including wine cost around €65 which represented fantastic value for money considering the quality of cooking on show.
Barstro might be a little off the beaten track, especially for those holidaymakers staying in the resorts but it's definitely worth making the effort to get along if you can. This was our fourth visit to Barstro and once again we left feeling totally satisfied and know that it's only a matter of time before we get back again for good food and a catch up with old friends.
Keep up to date with Barstro on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Mark Greenaway's Christmas Pudding Fit For a Millionaire

The festive season is fast approaching and tables at Restaurant Mark Greenaway are filling up fast with some key dates already full. Due to numerous requests they have extended their opening days over the period. In addition to their normal opening hours, the restaurant will also be open for lunch and dinner on Sunday 20th December, Monday 21st December, Sunday 27th December and Monday 28th December. Make your reservation here.

Recently Mark was honoured to be tasked with making a Christmas pudding fit for a millionaire by EuroMillions who are guaranteeing to make 5 UK millionaires on Friday the 27th November. His pudding is based on a 100 year old family recipe with some lavish additions to make it fit for a millionaire. With sparkling gold leaf and a healthy serving of 50 year old single malt whisky, it is no ordinary dessert. And while guests would traditionally find a lucky sixpence in their pudding, the EuroMillions millionaires could instead uncover a rather more extravagant golden toffee apple nestled in the centre. Find out more about Friday Night's EuroMillions draw and watch Mark cook up his dessert fit for a millionaire here.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Tony Singh kicks off a series of celebrity chef appearances at No.16 Deli in Bridge of Allan

TV Celebrity Chef Tony Singh wowed the crowds at No.16 Deli on Henderson Street in Bridge of Allan on Monday. Tony cooked up a few dishes using produce local to the area including Highland Curing Company cured salmon and Highland Wagyu beef. After everyone had enjoyed some tasters Tony did a Q&A talking about his life as one of Scotland’s most popular chefs and what his plans are for the future. Before he left Tony mixed with the crowds and signed copies of his new book ‘Tasty Tony Singh’.

Tony is the first in a line of top Scottish chefs scheduled to make an appearance at No.16 Deli. On the 16th and 17th of December, reigning MasterChef The Professionals Champion Jamie Scott will be doing a ‘Guest Chef Night’ with the deli’s own Mark Heirs. Tickets will be on sale to the public with more details available on the website soon –
No.16 Deli is Bridge Of Allan’s newest and most exciting gastronomic hot spot. Provenance is king at No. 16 and they source their produce from small local producers. The team of chefs also produce a wide variety of ready meals, homemade chutney, sauces and their signature wagyu pies.
Keep up to date with No.16 Deli on Facebook and Twitter.



Citylicious Scoops ‘Most Innovative Business of the Year’ at the WeDO Scotland Business Awards

Leading hospitality membership business Citylicious has capped off a fantastic first year with winning the coveted ‘Most Innovative Business of the Year’ award at the WeDO Scotland Business Awards on Friday night at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel. Over 300 guests were in attendance to celebrate the best of Scottish entrepreneurship sponsored by Santander.

Managing Director Iain Fenwick said “It has been an incredible year for us and this is just the icing on the cake! We started Citylicious hoping that we could have a positive impact on the industry. We still have a long way to go but to already be recognised is both overwhelming and humbling. 2016 will be even bigger with the launch of our new website in January so it is an exciting time for us.”

In just 12 months Citylicious has grown to now have over 320 members including some of the best artisan producers, restaurants, hotels and catering companies in the UK and attracts over 110k visitors to their website every month. To coincide with the launch of their new website, 2016 will also see expansion in to the USA and Canada.

Keep up to date with the Citylicious team on Facebook and Twitter.



Tuesday, 17 November 2015

You Say Tomato, They Say Tutto Matto!

The founders of Pinto Mexican Kitchen are excited to announce a brand new concept, opening this November just in time for the start of Edinburgh’s Christmas Festivities - “You say tomato, we say Tutto Matto!”

The very first Tutto Matto restaurant will be opening its doors in Scotland’s capital city on 24th November 2015.

The first 5 people through the doors will receive some fantastic prizes, PLUS the first 500 people on their opening day will receive one of #500freepizzas*! Look out for other exciting goodies to be won during the day as they team up with other amazing Edinburgh businesses!

Whether you can make it along on the opening day or not, sign up to be in with a chance of WINNING a holiday to the pizza capital of Italy - Naples! Each week in the run up to Christmas, one entrant will WIN a voucher for Tutto Matto.

Paul Sloan, one of the founders, commented: “Tutto Matto is not just another pizza joint! We are crazy about pizza at Tutto Matto, and each one of our Italian or continentally-inspired pizzas are made from the true provenance they descend from. It is a pizza joint with a difference, where unbelievable flavours, worldly-inspired dishes, quirky sides and desserts will grace the menu. You can even pair any one of our pizzas with any one of our delicious world beers!”

To get your hands on one of their #500freepizzas* get yourself and your work colleagues down to 16 Nicolson Street on Tuesday 24th November from 12.30pm!

Don’t miss out - when they’re gone, they’re gone!

Keep up to date with Tutto Matto on Facebook and Twitter.



Saturday, 14 November 2015

British Sausage Week with Debbie & Andrew's

Last week seen the celebration of one of my favourite foods, Sausages, and to help me celebrate British Sausage Week, the good people at Debbie & Andrew's sent me some of their wheat, gluten and dairy free sausages to put through their paces.
I've been a fan of the Debbie & Andrew range of sausages for a number of years and love the fact that I can pick up their delicious porky sausages in most of the supermarkets.
From a small family business to a brand that graces the shelves of supermarkets across the country, Debbie & Andrew's continue to use the highest quality meat from British Red Tractor assured farms.
I was sent two packs to try, Perfect Pork and Perfect Cumberland. We had the Prefect Cumberland simply. Fried and served with creamy mashed potato and onion gravy. The sausages have a high meat content and because of this, they don't release much fat back into the pan so it's important to keep turning them otherwise they could easily burn. The Cumberland sausage is made from prime cuts of meat and heavily seasoned with green and pink peppercorns which provide a subtle florals taste with a nice kick of peppery heat. The Perfect Pork is a simpler affair made from just the best minced pork meat which is lightly seasoned and bound with specially baked-breadcrumbs. When you've got great ingredients, you don't need to do much to make them stand out and The Perfect Pork is a great example of this. Firm, juicy, and well seasoned - a very good sausage indeed.
I know that there are so many ways to enjoy the noble sausage, maybe in a sandwich or sausage casserole but I can't think of anything better than serving up a couple of tasty bangers with chips and fried egg. What do you think of my sausage and egg scarecrow face?
I would like to thank the team at Debbie & Andrew's for sending me some of their fantastic sausages and helping me get involved in British Sausage Week.
You can keep up with Debbie & Andrew's on Facebook and Twitter or find your nearest stockist here.



Thursday, 12 November 2015

The world of Food & Drink comes together to celebrate the Citylicious 1st Birthday Party

On Monday night Citylicious celebrated their 1st Birthday, hosted by Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events, at The Gateway Restaurant at The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Nearly 200 guests braved the storms to join in a celebration of the world of Food & Drink.
A combination of some of Scotland’s best chefs and producers were in attendance. Canapes made by the students of Fife College using Highland Wagyu beef, Highland Curing Company cured salmon, black pudding from Taste of Arran and Dunsyre Blue cheese preceded a feast of dishes made by Ben Harrison, Head Chef at The Gateway Restaurant, Mark Greenaway from Restaurant Mark Greenaway and MasterChef Pro Champion Jamie Scott using ingredients from the likes of beef from J Gilmour Butchers, Taste of Arran, Marvellous Mustard and Cyrenians. Spread around the room were producer stalls from Fresh Food Express, Braehead Foods, Taste of Arran, Good Cup Coffee Company and The Marshmallow Lady with Pop Up bars by Ian Macleod Distillers, Edinburgh Gin and Cairn O’Mohr Fruit Wines and Ciders.
Among the guests were representatives from Scotland Food & Drink, Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance and Visit Scotland along with other key individuals from the hospitality industry, food and drink agencies, press, and some of the most influential food bloggers in Scotland.
Iain Fenwick, Managing Director of Citylicious said “Tonight is about more than Citylicious. This is an example of a community that is unique to the food and drink industry. This may be the year of food and drink in Scotland but to everyone here, every year is that year. We have a natural larder in Scotland that the rest of the world can only dream of, and we are privileged to be part of that. We attract over 100k unique visitors to our website ever month which proves that everyone here has a story that the public wants to read about. Our responsibility is to make sure that this story is told. We are so thankful to everyone here for showing their support and in particular to Sodexo Prestige who have provided the perfect venue and been an incredible partner to Citylicious in putting this event on.”
Citylicious currently has over 300 members comprising of some of the country’s best hotels, restaurants, bars, producers and suppliers. With a series of over 20 Food & Drink blogs up and down the country including sections for recipes and videos, Citylicious provides a unique platform where people can find out everything they need to know in the world of food and drink, book tables at their favourite restaurants and learn how to replicate dishes by the finest chefs in the country.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Bring It To The Vege-Table with Chef & Brewer

Help me get my vegetarian starter onto the menu at Chef & Brewer.

Chef & Brewer are running a competition to put a new vegetarian starter and main course onto their spring menu and my dish of Feta, Spinach & Pine Nut Spring Rolls has been shortlisted.

The winning starter and main dishes will feature on the menu being served in over 140 restaurants across the UK.

Please throw your support behind Gerry's Kitchen and my veggie spring rolls by voting for Starter 2 on the new Chef & Brewer website.

To help sweeten the deal, When you cast you vote you will go into a draw to be in with the chance of winning a fabulous Organic Vegetarian Hamper from Planet Organic!

Go on, what are you waiting for? Vote for Starter 2 now and please ask your friends and family to do the same.



Wednesday, 4 November 2015

5 Questions - Michel Roux Jr., Chef Patron of Le Gavroche

The BBC Good Food Show arrives in Glasgow this weekend and I can't wait. The show is a food and drink lovers heaven as producers from all over the country set up their stalls for what will likely be three busy days of sampling and selling. In addition to the hundreds of exhibitors who will be on show, there will be book signings, pop-up restaurants, cocktail masterclasses, live interviews with celebrity chefs and cookery demonstrations from Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, James Martin and Tom Kitchin at the Supertheatre.
The main reason that I'm so excited about the show is because one of the greatest chefs in the country, Michel Roux Jr, will also be in attendance this weekend ..... and he answered 5 Questions for Gerry's Kitchen.
Coming from true legendary cooking stock, Michel has been working within the hospitality industry from the age of 16, initially at The Waterside Inn under his uncle Michel Roux Snr, before working for his father Albert Roux at Le Gavroche. From there, Michel further developed his skills under Alain Chapel and Pierre Koffman before returning to Le Gavroche in 1990 and subsequently taking control of the restaurant when his father retired in 1993.
Here's Michel's story;
How did you get started?
I was almost born in a kitchen so this has obviously influenced my life. My profound career started at 16 as an apprentice pastry chef. I was taught by my father that all chefs must start with pastry. Once you can master that you can master any dish.
What's the best piece of advice that you would give to aspiring chefs?
Cook for your customers not your ego.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Busy and still achieving the high standards that I set for myself.
If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be and why?
A true le Gavroche classic, the Soufflé Suissesse. It’s been on the menu since 1967 and still is the best seller!
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal - Who would it be and why? ...and what's on the menu?
The culinary legend that is Auguste Escoffier. He has been the biggest inspiration for me and my father and uncle.
I would cook the wonderful “Boeuf Mironton”, a dish that is traditionally made from leftover beef. It is a recipe from Escoffier’s book. I like to think that it would be something we could enjoy and laugh about together, he was a very thrifty man!
Despite the fact that Michel takes an active hand in the running of Le Gavroche, which has held two Michelin stars since 1993, Michel is no stranger to our TV screens where he is perhaps best known for presenting BBC Two's Food and Drink show or as the former expert judge on Masterchef: The Professionals.
However his most recent foray into the word of TV cooking might well be his toughest challenge to date as Michel puts eight out-of-work people with disabilities through an intensive four week introduction to catering on Channel 4's new show, "Kitchen Impossible with Michel Roux Jr." Having watched the first episode last week, it's safe to say that all of the experience that Michel has built over the years will be put to the test as he does his best to mentor the group of young adults, each with varying levels of disability, towards getting a job within the hospitality industry.
You can catch up with Michel Roux Jr. and Kitchen Impossible on Channel 4 on Thursday nights at 9pm. Of course, if you happen to be in Glasgow this weekend, he will be on the demo and interview stages at The BBC Good Food Show on Saturday afternoon.
I would like to thank Michel Roux Jr. for taking the time to answer my 5 Questions and wish him every success in his continuing career. Who knows, if I'm lucky on Saturday, I might get the chance to thank him in person.
Keep up to date with Michel Roux Jr. on Twitter.

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