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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.
 

 

5 Questions - Poporopo Gourmet Popcorn

90% of the American population regularly buy popcorn whilst only 40% of the UK population spend their hard earned cash on the air-popped snack. However things are changing as UK sales of bagged popcorn has increased by almost 40% over the last year. In fact, it is now believed that the average UK citizen is eating about 5kg of popcorn per year. The boom is being driven by a change in direction as popcorn has shed its previous unhealthy image and repositioned itself as a healthy snack. Whilst some producers have jumped all over the healthy side of popcorn, others have decided that premium indulgence popcorn is the key to getting a cut of this exploding market.
One producer that has taken advantage of the increased demand is Stirling based Poporopo Gourmet Popcorn run by Daman Bush who aims to bring the wackiest, highest quality taste of gourmet popcorn to the market. Over the last year we have bumped into Damam and Poporopo at a number of high profile foodie events including the BBC Good Food Show, Let's Eat Glasgow, and the Foodies Christmas Festival and every time his stall was overrun by customers who couldn't get enough of their super tasty treats.
Breaking away from run of the mill popcorn, Poporopo have wowed fans with big hitting flavours like Chilli & Lime, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Orange, and Ginger to name but a few. Having sampled more than my fair share of Poporopo's sweet and savoury offering, I'm still unsure which flavour I love best. They're all so good!
Here's Daman's story;
How did you get started?

My partner and I are big film fans and spend a lot of our time going to the cinema or watching movies at home, with the amount of popcorn we consume it doesn't take long to become bored of the limited variety that is on the market, this lead us to making our own and discovering the world of gourmet popcorn which is huge in the USA. After months of making it for us I thought that if we liked it, friends and family loved it, then maybe there is market for it here in Scotland. I booked a market stall at Loch Lomond shores Farmers market, (a market we still attend today) we sold out, picked up a few stockists and the rest is history!

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Perseverance, we have had some really tough moments over the last year, many of which made me want to give up, but working through the problems one by one and not giving up, even when there is no light at the end of tunnel, is key to any business.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

Selling our popcorn throughout the UK and exporting, there are lots of opportunities on the horizon and with such a versatile product I think the company is too young to force it down any particular path just yet, for now we will keep growing, developing the brand and see where wind takes us

If you could only produce one of your popcorn flavours, what would it be & why?

Easy! It would have to be the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Caramel flavour! This was our first collaboration with another Scottish company, I absolutely love the product and it really helped get us noticed at a very early stage, securing some key listings that I don't think we would have got without the collaboration. (They have since gone on to collaborate with Arbikie Highland Estate to make a quirky Gin & Tonic flavour popcorn too)

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

My dinner guest would be my Bamp (Granddad or Papa as he would be called in Scotland or England). It would be so nice to see him so he could see what myself and my dad have gone on to do, both living in Scotland running food companies that people love. (Daman's dad is the owner of Summer Harvest Oils)On the menu would be an omelette, and he'd be cooking! Nobody can beat his omelettes. I guess it's a Welsh thing?

National Popcorn Day was earlier this week which also coincided with the first birthday of Poporopo but based on the popularity of their wacky flavoured popcorn, I'm sure that they will be around to celebrate many more successful years of popping.
Remember that you don't need to wait until next National Popcorn Day to get your hands on some of the best popcorn that I've tasted, why not check the website to find your nearest stockist or you simply buy direct from their online shop.
I would like to thank Daman for taking the time out to answer 5 Questions and wish Poporopo every success in the future.
Keep up to date with Poporopo on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Restaurant Review - Zarza, Bondgenotenlaan, Leuven, Belgium

Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
Until recently, I had never been to Belgium. In fact, I had never given it a thought when it came to European city breaks but having just returned from a four night trip to Brussels and Leuven, thanks to the good people at Visit Flanders, I know that this will not be my only trip to the Kingdom of Belgium.
We were staying in the picturesque city of Leuven, which is approx. 20 miles from the Belgian capital, Brussels. Leuven is a small city with a population of less than 100000 but it still manages to house the global headquarters of the worlds largest brewery group, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and the worlds oldest Catholic university, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. In fact, to help us get a birds eye view of the city, Visit Flanders had arranged for us to climb the bell tower of the University Library. The climb up the spiral staircase was very tiring but the view from the top was stunning!
As part of our trip, Visit Flanders also organised meals for both evenings at two of the best restaurants in Leuven. First up was dinner at Zarza where chef Bram Verbeken would be serving up a tasting menu with a selection of matched beers.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
When we arrived at the restaurant we were one of the first groups to arrive however by the time our champagne arrived, Zarza was filling up nicely. In fact, by the time our first canapé arrived, the restaurant was almost full. Not bad for a Tuesday evening!
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
The first canapé was nothing more than a couple of crispy filo pastry tubes filled with black pudding. The little crispy rolls were served with a sweet apple sauce and arrived at the table inside the scooped out shell of a small apple. We've had black pudding served to us in so many ways yet this simple presentation was a first and we both loved the simplicity of the dish.
The next canapé to arrive was a duo consisting of rich liver pâté with cubed apple, and a cauliflower panna cotta with crispy chorizo and paprika crumb. At this early stage of the evening, we knew that we were going to have a great meal. The pâté was delicious and well balanced with the fresh crisp apple whist the clever cauliflower panna cotta was a wonderfully created appetiser. The creamy panna cotta was well flavoured with cauliflower, the crispy chorizo added much needed texture whilst the smoky paprika crumb rounded the dish perfectly.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
Like the majority of the other diners, we were eating from Zarza's Zita Menu which was being served with matching beer. Our starter of smoked salmon and beetroot was served with an oak aged pale ale from Petrus. This beer had light citrus notes and a slightly sour taste with vanilla oakiness. I'm not mad about sour beers but this worked with the rich salmon. The next beer up was Kasteel Tripel, a high fermentation beer that packed a hefty 11% ABV that had sweet apricot and apple nose with a sharp grapefruit taste that worked well with the strong Roebuck dish that it was matched with.
Our favourite beer of the night was the Chimay Blonde, a white Trappist beer that tips the scales at 8% ABV. With notes of cloves and citrus, this beer had a deceptive sweetness with banana flavours working away in the background. This was served alongside a few classic raw beef dishes and worked really well.
Last up on the night was a beer based cocktail with Blanche de Namur acting as the star of the show. This was blended with orange pulp and orange liquor and served alongside a wonderful mandarin inspired dessert.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
The starter of smoked salmon, beetroot, radish and yogurt sorbet was one of the best I've had this year. Beetroot and salmon are a great match and when paired with dill, pickled veg and the crunchy melba toast, it was amazing. The addition of the sharp frozen yogurt helped cleanse the palate and pushed this starter to another level. The perfect combination of texture and taste.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
The second course was Roebuck deer, pickled shallots, pomegranate jelly, and pâté filled pink meringues. This was another joyful plate of food. The rich Roebuck was cooked to perfection, crispy on the outside whilst pink in the middle. The Roebuck had a slightly sweeter taste than venison that I have eaten previously but the pickled shallots and pomegranate seeds and jelly cut through the well cooked meat. The surprise package on the plate was a trio of pink meringues that were stuffed with a smooth pâté that added a nice crunchy texture to the plate but more importantly, the iron rich liver pâté helped balance the sweet and sharp. As mentioned previously, the matched Kasteel was high in alcohol content and full bodied enough to work with the strong flavours on the plate.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
After such a rich course, we were presented with a refreshing grapefruit sorbet dusted with smoked paprika. It was a odd combination but it done the job required and set us up nicely for the main event.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
The main course was a meal in itself. We were first served a plate of well seasoned vegetables including carrot, mashed potato, squash, cauliflower, radish and even a solitary Brussels sprout. We were advised that our meat would follow and it wasn't long before our table was cluttered with a number of small plates of beef at various stages of cooking.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
Every part of the main course was delicious from the well seasoned steak tartare served with a plump caper, to the tender strips of steak that had been cooked sous vide (this is the second time we've had beef cooked this way in recent times). We were also served a croquette of pulled pork that simply melted in the mouth but the star of the show was a dish that was new to us both. It's difficult to explain but image a tender piece of thinly sliced beef wrapped around a coleslaw of cabbage, walnuts and blue cheese. This was served chilled and covered in grated Parmigiano Reggiano. In the past a dish like this would have had us both running for the hills but the balance of flavour and texture was fantastic, especially when eaten alongside the sweet Chimay Blonde.
As we took a rest before our dessert arrived, we both agreed that we had just eaten one of our best meals of 2015. The level of skill and top quality cooking was clearly evident and we couldn't wait to see how Chef Bram would close the evening.
Gerry's Kitchen Zarza
Needless to say, the dessert was outstanding too. The beautifully constructed 'elements of mandarin' was a visual delight and packed with fresh citrus fruit flavour. The creamy parfait, sharp sorbet, zingy jelly, subtly flavoured whipped cream and fresh mandarin segments were joined on the plate with brandy snap and candied hazelnuts giving the dessert just the right amount of crunchy texture. What a great way to round of a fantastic night of fine dining!
The Zita menu costs €70 per person including the matched beers and based on the beautifully presented food that was served across the evening, I would certainly recommend it as great value for money. I would like to take this time to thank the team at Visit Flanders for arranging dinner for us at such a fine restaurant and also thank Chef Bram, his kitchen brigade and the front of house staff for making sure that we enjoyed our first night in Leuven.
We both agree that we would go back to Zarza in a heartbeat. Keep up to date with news from Zarza on Facebook.

Chieftain o' the brewin’ Race: Burns Night at Tennent’s Brewery

Celebrate the Bard at Scotland’s oldest brewery

The Tennent’s Visitor Centre will prove to be well versed in more than just beer this weekend, as it opens its doors for a special Burns Night edition of its popular brewery tour.

On the 24th January and 25th of January, guests will be able to raise a poetic pint of Tennent’s Lager to Scotland’s national poet, following a tour of the iconic brewery.

The tour will finish in the Tennent’s Training Academy where all will be treated to a dram and a taster of locally sourced haggis, neeps and tatties.

A Whisky Ambassador will be on hand during the whisky tasting, which will also include an opportunity to sample Tennent’s acclaimed beer aged with Whisky Oak

Said Visitor Centre Manager Ross Pollock, “We were brewing on this very spot when Burns was writing his best loved works, and it’s only fitting for us to host a celebration of our nation’s greatest poet. He’s known for enjoying a whisky, so naturally we’ll serve a dram in addition to our usual tour, which is a fun and fascinating look behind the scenes of Scotland’s favourite pint. ”

Events will be held at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm on the 24th of January, and 6pm and 8pm on the 25th. Tickets cost £15 each and must be purchased in advance online at http://tennentstrainingacademy.co.uk/leisure.

 

 

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Great British Cook Book - Be Part of Something Amazing!

This is the Official Invite for the Great British Cook Book Vol 2

Last year’s book gained the support of some of the finest chefs across the country

The team behind the book are not just looking for Michelin Star, Rosette venues but local restaurants with passion and flare for great food using wonderful local produce where possible

The Great British Cookbook will take you on an unforgettable journey through 200 of the UK’s most prestigious pubs, guest houses, hotels, AA Rosette and Michelin Star restaurants showcasing 200 of the UK’s finest chefs who have created 200 culinary masterpieces using locally sourced produce; for you to cook with your family and friends in your home. If all this wasn’t enough this online cookbook is your very own road map of exceptional places to eat.

All profit from the book sales will be donated to the same charities as last year - Hospitality Action and MacMillan Cancer Support.

All participants receive 2 pages like the pages below with a recipe of either a Starter, Main or Dessert

All of the entries from last year have benefited greatly from the publicity they received by the local and national press which is organised by use and the charities, we also have a community on social media which venues can get involved

Every Restaurant and chef involved receive an official letter from the book and the charities and a certificate of entry.

They will also send out invitations to all involved to the book launch which will be held in London later this year.

Book goes on general sale in the summer of 2016.

Find out more information visit www.thegreatbritishcookbook.co.uk or email Gary Allen for further details.

Closing date for entries and copy no later than 28th of April 2016 (60% of the book is already filled but that still means there is plenty of space for creative chefs to get their own recipes published!)

You can also keep up to date with news from The Great British Cook Book on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Gerry's Kitchen 2015 Round-Up

2015 was a great for me and Gerry's Kitchen. Myself and Nicola always seemed to have something on as we followed our noses in the search of great food and drink. More PR opportunities came along too that allowed us to try out new restaurants or menus, as well as get to places that we might never had though of going to.
Here's a little round-up of some of our highlights from the last year.
January - The Busby Hotel re-opened its doors after a massive refurbishment.

February - with the cold winter biting hard, I found this great recipe that I've served up so many times since.

March - thanks to a great value Itison deal, we enjoyed a great lunch at Ian Brown Food & Drink.

April - a busy month with Glasgow seeing the opening of Gusto plus a trip to London which included a fantastic Sunday roast dinner at Marcus Wareing's The Gilbert Scott and a great repeat visit to Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social.

May - we had a great trip to Birmingham for the UK launch party of Nocking Point wine which is owned by Arrow Stephen Amell. Whilst in the 2nd city, we had a great dinner at Opus @ Cornwall Street. -

June - after our trip to Birmingham, we had a quite month at home. This quick and easy recipe was perfect for the early summer evenings.

July - this was a month of invitations starting with a visit to Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa in the Wirral to try out Matt Worswick's The Lawns Restaurant before heading to the Heverlee @ Tontine pop up where I won a trip to Belgium! (More on that in the coming weeks)

August - one of my most read posts of last year was the 5 Questions post featuring the 2015 Masterchef Winner Simon Wood. This was followed by a birthday dinner at Restaurant Mark Greenaway then we celebrated out 5th wedding anniversary by staying over at Hilton Glasgow with dinner at Morblas Seafood & Grill.

September - anything to do with Masterchef always has high readership and the 5 Questions post with the 2015 runner up Tony Rodd was no different. Whilst on holiday in Lanzarote we sampled some of the best food and drink that the island has to offer when we visited the Feria de la Tapa.

October - after returning from holiday, we had a quitter month although did manage a great lunch at The Finnieston.

November - some great chefs have answered 5 Questions in the past and November seen one of the world's most recognised chefs, Michel Roux Jr throw his hat on the ring! We ended the month with our first visit to the 2 AA Rosette restaurant, The Gannet (review to follow)

December - life as a food and drink blogger moves pretty quickly and before we knew it, 2015 was almost gone but not before our friends at Big Partnership helps us get in the Christmas spirit with a day out in Glasgow before dinner at one of the city's newest restaurants - Atlantic Brasserie. The year ended with our trip to Belgium where we enjoyed three tasting menus over three nights, starting with a great night at Belga Queen. Our year ended with two amazing meals in Leuven, firstly at city centre restaurant Zarza before dining at Het Land aan de Overkant.
So that was 2015. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in making it a great year and thanks too to those that have taken the time out to read Gerry's Kitchen over the last year and here's to a busy 2016.

 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Only 2 Weeks until Scotland's Speciality Food Show

Buying may be the main activity at Scotland’s Speciality Food Show in just over two week’s time (24-26 Jan) but the range and topics of the talks and workshops in the Seminar Theatre will give buyers many top tips on how to improve and increase business.

This year the Show has secured the official Google training team, Garage Digital, who will give talks each day on how to reach new customers and how to tell your story online. Their practical advice gives quick and easy hints at improving your online presence. Complementing this will be a few social media seminars on using this essential marketing tool to boost retail business.

Attracting customers into your deli, farm shop or fine food outlet and improving footfall is a perennial task. The John Lewis Visual Merchandising Manager will be delivering a presentation on merchandising and shop window techniques – given John Lewis’s recent Christmas sales success we all know it works here so can work for you too.

The Giftware Association’s Vice Chair will deliver Top Tips for independent shops and along with one of Scotland’s most experienced PR gurus, (currently Group Head of Comms for Macdonald Hotels), who will give advice on creating personality in the retail world, there will no shortage of useful, interesting and hands-on information for visitors to glean.

And if this leaves you gasping leading coffee experts Brodies of Edinburgh are giving a Coffee Masterclass on creating that perfect coffee.

If this isn’t good enough reason to visit then our line-up of exhibitors certainly is. With a bigger than ever Food Show, with almost a half of all exhibitors new to the Show, and a very varied and original Launch Gallery for new young companies, there is certainly a fresh, new flavour to the Show.

To ensure you get free entry, remember to register now at: http://www.scotlandsspecialityfoodshow.com/

 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

January Doesn't Have to be Boring Thanks to Hutchesons Glasgow

Gerry's Kitchen Food Blogger
EVERY MONDAY - WEDNESDAY IN JANUARY

Two great venues, one awesome deal! After the incredibly popular Butchershop pop-up in The 158 last October, the team at Butchershop Bar & Grill and Hutchesons have decided to give their wonderful customers a little January treat by launching a Rusk Company favourite in The 158 this month. Burger vs Steak Frites is now available every Monday to Wednesday throughout the whole month, EXCLUSIVELY in The 158 Café Bar!

For just £30 you can enjoy TWO Hutchesons burgers, TWO dry aged rump steaks... OR mix them up and have one of each! Served with skinny fries and a bottle of house wine to share.

Call 0141 552 4050 to make your reservation. Offer only valid in The 158 Café Bar.

CHATEAU THURSDAYS... NOW WITH ADDED TOMAHAWK!!!

Hutchesons regulars know that Thursdays are all about their mouthwatering Chateaubriand Experience in the Grand Brasserie. You may not have thought it could get any more delicious... but that's where you were wrong my good friend.

To celebrate the start of another incredible year at Hutchesons, they are now adding the most celebratory of all steaks to their Chateaubriand Thursday menu. That's right, for only £10 per couple you can upgrade to the famous, 1.2kg 45-day dry aged TOMAHAWK steak. The usual rules apply, simply choose your cut:

OPTION 1 - 35 day dry aged CHATEAUBRIAND PLUS 2 sides + 2 sauces + a bottle of house wine = £60 for two

OPTION 2 - 45 day dry aged TOMAHAWK PLUS 2 sides + 2 sauces + a bottle of house wine = £70 for two*

Call 0141 552 4050 to book and remember to quote 'TOMAHAWK' when making your reservation to avoid disappointment.

*Subject to availability.