Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Review - TABLA, Calle Doctor Ruperto González Negrin, Arrecife, Lanzarote

Myself and Nicola have been coming to Lanzarote for almost ten years and have been lucky enough to meet some great people who have chosen to settle on the island and run very successful food businesses. Benn Atkinson and Zoe Buchanan own La Cantina in the old capital La Villa de Teguise, a traditional restaurant that is proving popular with both locals and tourists alike, and place that myself and Nicola have loved eating at on previous visits to the island.

We had heard through the grapevine that Benn & Zoe along with the help of their friend Nicola, had recently opened a new restaurant in the commercial capital and as myself and Nicola always make time for a shopping day in Arrecife, we were always going to swing by to check it out.
TABLA Arrecife sits just along from the 5 Star Arrecife Gran hotel and as most tourist who drive into the city tend to park in the car park underneath the hotel, the restaurant will be easy to find as you need to walk by it to get to the main shopping stretch.
We arrived about 1:30pm and after initially sitting inside, we decided to move outside to one of the tables on the sidewalk, as the cool breeze from the sea helped take the heat out of a very hot afternoon. TABLA specialises in quality burgers but also serves up a selection of salads and tasting boards, and after a look over the menu we decided to share a couple of plates between us.
First up was our Tabla de Queso, a wonderful board of fresh, semi-cured, cured, and blue cheeses. This was presented on a bed of peppery rocket and with sun-dried tomato, pickled cornichons, olives, balsamic onions fresh bread and herby butter. Neither myself and Nicola are fans of blue cheese but we gave it a go again .... unfortunately, our minds haven't been changed yet! However that said, the rest of the board was fantastic - we both love the cheeses of Lanzarote and the fresh local cheeses served on the Tabla de Queso were great, perfectly matched by the various accompaniments on the board. We had the board as part of our lunch but it would work just as easily watching the sun go down whilst enjoying a bottle of local Lanzarote wine.
We had seen some photos on Facebook of the burgers that TABLA were serving up and despite the fact that the temperature was tipping 30 Celsius, we knew that we had to taste the main item from the menu. Nicola got to choose and selected the Funghi Burger, a six ounce prime beef patty topped with bacon, cheese, caramelised onions and tons of fried mushrooms and served in a burger bun with gem lettuce leaves. The burger is served with a chipotle dipping sauce which added a really nice spice to the plate. The burger was well cooked with just a little pink in the middle, and the combination of all of the added toppings was a perfect balance of flavour. The burger was huge and unfortunately was a little difficult to eat without making a mess, I ended up with sauce all over my face whist Nicola ended up using knife and fork to eat her half. Maybe worth giving thought to some kind of holding device to help diners, especially those who decide to double up for just and extra €3.
Would be go back? Absolutely! The food was well presented and full of flavour, our bill including a small Peroni Nastro Azzurro and a bottle of Fanta Limon was just €20 which we both thought was great value for money and definitely worth making the trip from the resort into the big city. There are a few dessert items on the menu too including Zoe's Famous Chocolate Brownie but we were both stuffed, so we'll need to find time to get back before we head home later this week.
Keep up to date with the team at Tabla on Facebook

 Written by Gerry HaughianWritten by Gerry Haughian

Monday, 22 September 2014

Pinto Mexican Kitchen Edinburgh - 1000 Free Burritos Giveaway

To celebrate the opening of their Edinburgh branch of Pinto Mexican Kitchen, the staff are looking forward to welcoming new diners by giving away 1000 free burritos when they open the doors tomorrow.
Pinto offered a similar burrito givaway when they opened the doors of their third Glasgow branch with the offer proving so popular that queues ran the length of Bothwell Street.
If you want to get your hands on a free burrito tomorrow, get along to 119 Lothian Road in Edinburgh from midday on Tuesday 23rd September.
There is also the chance for one lucky diner to win a weeks worth of burritos . . . . So what are you waiting for?


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Braw BRGR’s arrive in Glasgow’s West End - BRGR Launches with FREE FOOD FRENZY

Burger lovers in Glasgow’s West End are in for a treat this month with the launch of BRGR on Great Western Road, and the team behind the new venue is inviting people to come and sample a patty to celebrate its opening on Wednesday 10 September.

BRGR, with support from Rodgers Butchers, will be giving free burgers away whilst stocks last from 12-8pm. As part of the giveaway, hungry burger fans will have the option to make a donation for Scottish charity, Unite Against Cancer should they wish, who will receive all the proceeds from the day.

The new restaurant, which takes inspiration from burger joints across the pond in America, will bring the ultimate burger experience to Glasgow including the arrival of Scotland’s first burger holder, the aptly named ‘hawder’ – because it ‘hawds’ your burger. The ‘hawder’ ensures less mess, spills and an all-round better burger eating experience for Glasgow’s diners.

The stylish new venue boasts six different varieties of meat-based burgers including three beef choices with the addition of a seventh vegetarian option. All burgers are handmade using the freshest ingredients and can be teamed with a range of sides including wings, mac n cheese, charred corn with jalapeno butter and a selection of fries.

Although owner Chris Lessani has been inspired by many of the burger joints he has encountered whilst visiting America, BRGR is firmly focused on Glasgow, celebrating the best ingredients from local suppliers throughout its menu, to make the highest quality burgers. Suppliers include Rodgers Butchers and George Mewes Cheese on Byres Road, Big Bear Bakery in Glasgow and Glasgow’s Direct Foods for fruit and vegetables.

Accompanying the burgers is a range of delicious shakes fresh from the restaurant’s very own milk station. Offering a variety of shakes including classics such as, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate to grown up shakes like chocolate and Cointreau, Malibu and a coffee inspired mix with Café Patron and Kahlua.

Commenting on the launch, Chris Lessani, owner of BRGR, said: “We are really excited to open BRGR’s doors and bring the best burgers to Glasgow. We suspect we are going to have a busy day on Wednesday celebrating our arrival and we hope to raise plenty of money for a very worthwhile cause.

“Burgers are hugely popular in Glasgow’s city centre, but in the West End there aren’t that many options if you are looking for a really high quality burger in a great dining experience. We have some fantastic suppliers in the city and we wanted to celebrate this in the creation of our braw burgers. We have kept our menu quite small but with enough variation so that people can get what they are looking for. We will also have a kids menu for our little BRGR diners.

“BRGR will offer the perfect spot for those looking to grab a quick lunch or dinner, providing great tasting burgers without the wait; but we have also created a space that we hope people can relax in and enjoy dining out with friends and family.”

Housed in a bright red exterior, BRGR will be hard to miss. The more subdued interior creates a relaxed and cosy eating space with a vintage vibe. The management of BRGR take pride in working with local suppliers and a number of Glasgow firms were involved in the design, interior and branding of the new venue. Designed by Composed Design, BRGR features a number of reclaimed materials from Glasgow Architectural Salvage and boasts a hand-drawn feature wall spanning the full side of the restaurant, providing a unique scene for diners to sit within.

Colin Smith, Founder and Trustee of Unite Against Cancer, added: “On behalf of everyone at Unite Against Cancer, we would like to say a big thanks to the team at BRGR for their support and wish them every success in their new venture. We can’t wait to try a burger or two.”

The new venue opens creating over a dozen full and part time jobs in the West End, including a new general manager and head chef, Adam Kirk whose previous experience in the city includes Etain, Kelvingrove Café and Panevino.

BRGR is at 526 Great Western Road and will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, serving food until 10pm. There will also be a live DJ on Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm. For more information, please visit www.brgr-glasgow.com or keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Eat Drink Discover Scotland, 12th-14th September

Eat Drink Discover Scotland is here!

Scotland’s largest celebration of Scottish food & drink will open its doors on Friday 12th September.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland, billed as the ultimate celebration of food and drink in Scotland, is a three-day foodie extravaganza, bringing together over a hundred exhibitors showcasing top notch Scottish food & drink, a stellar line-up of celebrity chefs and a packed programme of demonstrations, tastings, talks and sampling sessions.

Not everyone knows there is goat meat in Keith, chillies grown in Galloway, chocolate from Cowdenbeath or tea blenders in Leith – that’s why Eat Drink Discover Scotland is dedicated to highlighting the incredible produce that comes out of Scotland. The show will be laid out in eleven regional zones -, Perthshire, Grampian, Dundee & Angus, Kingdom of Fife, Highlands and Islands, Ayrshire, Arran & Argyll, Greater Glasgow & the Clyde Valley, Loch Lomond The Trossachs and the Forth Valley, Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Edinburgh and Lothians – meaning visitors can taste their way round the country, in one day and under one roof. There’s also a specialist Chocolate Zone for those with a sweet tooth.

Organisers want visitors to engage fully with what’s on offer at the event and encourage them to take their time, savour the tastes and aromas of Scotland’s produce and explore with their noses. They are also encouraging guests to try their hand at some of the many skills classes available and take the opportunity to learn something new from the professionals.

Scotland’s Best Food & Drink Producers

From Scottish Seaweed seasonings by Mara to Celtic Cross Cider by Thistly Cross Cider, Eat Drink Discover Scotland will be showcasing artisan producers.

Wild and Scottish, Strathearn Distillery, The Puffer Food Company and Nairns Oatcakes are among the diverse range of businesses showcasing their Scottish produce at the event. What’s more, many of the exhibitors will be launching brand new products, so it’s a great opportunity to be first in line to see what’s coming to the market, whether you’re a consumer or a buyer. A full list of exhibitors can be found on the website.

With a particular focus on providing opportunities for smaller rural food producers to share centre stage with more established brands, the weekend programme will also feature a ‘Skills Cookery Theatre’ hosted by chef, cookery writer, and unofficial food ambassador for Fife, Christopher Trotter. Starring food producers exhibiting at the show, tried and tested cooking techniques will be demonstrated as well as the latest food trends. On the menu will be chocolate workshops, cocktail making, game butchery and artisan pie making.

Master Chefs

Taking regional foods to create spectacular dishes will fall to award-winning chefs Tony Singh, Adam Handling, Scott Davies, Mark Greenaway, Neil Forbes and Jacqueline O’Donnell. With numerous accolades under their belts, the sizzling six will be creating spectacular regional dishes with seasonal produce plucked from the fields and seas of Scotland. The star chefs will also lead hands-on masterclass sessions where members of the public can cook along with their culinary idols.

Full brains and tummies

Every day’s a school day at Eat Drink Discover Scotland, but Friday is the day for school pupils aged ten to sixteen to quench their thirst for knowledge! Scottish rural education charity, The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), is co-ordinating ten food/farm workshops at the event, specifically linked to the curriculum, which will give pupils a taste of the best ways to enjoy Scottish food and drink.

The educational programme also includes workshops that will enlighten teenagers on the journey of Scottish produce from farm to fork and unearth the ‘science’ of food and how we ‘taste with our noses’. They also aim to educate pupils about the carbon footprint of food and explore the food groups that Scotland produces. There will certainly be plenty of food for thought – and with cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes too, there’s more than enough to go round!

Great for taste buds, great for business

Eat Drink Discover Scotland will play host to over a hundred food and drink companies – many of whom are smaller producers and will be showcasing a diverse product line up.

With its strong regional zoning, organisers believe this food event will give buyers a real flavour for Scotland’s produce.

Extending an invitation, organisers are hoping that buyers will attend to see what’s new in the land of food and drink and chat to the passionate producers who are innovating the industry.

In order to help exhibitors spread the word about their brand and take their business further, there will be trade-networking opportunities on the Friday of the event, with a range of workshops specially designed for food and drink businesses, which will be free to attend for exhibitors and other food and drink players.

Friday Night Feast

The Friday evening of the event has been billed as the ‘Friday Night Feast’. Open until 8pm, the public have been invited to drop in from 5pm-8pm for a reduced-price entry to kick start their weekends with foodie events, special treats or even just for a bite to eat.

Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

Eat Drink Discover Scotland is one of the highlights of the Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2014. An annual celebration, this year the fortnight runs from 6th-21st September, during which there will be a calendar of events aimed at encouraging people to try some new food adventures such as foraging, visiting a pick your own farm or even just trying a new product or recipe.

Created to promote the healthy, locally sourced food and drink available throughout the country, the 2014 celebration aims to be the biggest yet. The festival will also act as an excellent introduction to the Scottish Government’s 2015 Year of Food and Drink celebrations.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland has been put together by the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). Chief Executive, Stephen Hutt, said: “Our vision when creating this event was to provide a unique regional showcase. At Eat Drink Discover Scotland you can truly taste Scotland in one day – from Orkney Lamb to Galloway Chillies – all regions are represented.”

Tickets for the must-attend food and drink event of the year are on sale now, at www.eatdrinkdiscoverscotland.co.uk



Friday, 5 September 2014

5 Questions - Section 33

Guerrilla Dining or Pop-Up restaurants as they are also known have been around for a while, especially in the USA, however they a becoming more popular as people look for new interesting and cheaper alternatives to restaurant eating.
The whole concept is geared around imaginative chefs taking over 'interesting spaces', often disused buildings, car parks, even spare rooms in peoples homes, and often serving up high end food in the most surprising and unexpected venues. The marketing of the guerrilla dining experience is often driven by social media sites like Facebook & Twitter, providing just enough information about an upcoming event that people desperately want to be involved over however short lived the period that the restaurant has 'popped-up'. As pop-ups come and go, everyone wants to be one of the 'cool kids' that managed to say 'I was there!'.
Glasgow is not far away from one such event as Kyle Steel and Chris Gibson get set to launch their own brand of guerrilla dining when Section 33 makes a splash onto the Glasgow dining scene.
Both guys have years of experience within the hospitality trade and have put their creative heads together to create a business idea that is sure to wow the coolest of Glasgow's socialites. In days gone by, Section-33 was the original occasional license within the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976, so a fitting name for a business that plans on popping up anywhere it can. However on the flip of this, if you're served a Section 33 by the council, you've just been given notice that you're about to lose your home! With this in mind, the boys will be supporting local Glasgow homeless charities in the way of food donations, and various other means to help give back to those less fortunate.
As you know, Gerry's Kitchen loves a good story so it was only natural that the boys at Section 33 were given the opportunity to answer '5 Questions'.
Here's the Section 33 story;
How did you get started?
Chris - I've been working in this industry for a long time. I've also been lucky enough to work all over the world with some fantastic chefs. For me it was a case of waiting for the right time and until I met like-minded individuals who wanted to do something a bit different and unconventional.
Kyle – I’ve been in Hospitality for over 13yrs, literally starting at the bottom and working up through various positions; I seem to have developed a unique passion for opening new venues having completed 5 in Glasgow alone. The job that really sparked my love for 5-star service was at The Westin Turnberry Resort.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Chris - Follow your convictions and enjoy yourself but think with your head rather than your heart. Passion is hugely important in what we do, it's what drives us, but it should never cloud your judgement. Also...be impeccably organised ;)
Kyle – Be analytical, educated and efficient. Don’t be hesitant in making decisions; the worst kind of decision is no decision at all. And without doubt always try to be an inspirational motivating leader.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Chris - There's so many different directions we can go in and we have so many ideas for some seriously cool stuff...not just for pop up restaurants. We're keeping those to ourselves right now, but the beauty of this industry nowadays is there are no rules; it's a really exciting place to be.
Kyle – It’s taken over a year of strategic planning to get where we are today so with a strong foundation in place the world is literally our oyster ;) The most important aspect for me is that we are delivering a consistently high product in a unique fashion. As we are planning to support and donate towards the "Glasgow homeless/People in need" community I hope in 5 years we have really made a huge difference to hundreds of families.
If you could only use one venue in the world for a pop-up event, where be & why?
Chris - That's hard to say, I like the venues that have an element of surprise, ones that you wouldn't expect to find or haven't been into. Our venue for our first event is awesome.
Kyle – I’m really happy with our first venue; it’s taken over 3 months of negotiations to secure the site and I couldn’t be happier. The most important factor is that the venue should bring back memories for our guests and be a real talking point for all.
You can invite one guest (living or dead) to your last pop-up event – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Chris - It would have to be Claudia, my partner as she's the person I would want to share an occasion like that with. We'd have fresh crab, blood orange and asparagus followed by Roast Grouse, bread sauce and game chips......granted that seasonally this is impossible..........but we're in fantasy land here right?
Kyle – I should say my wife, as J’ai has been there every step of the way supporting me however on this occasion I’d invite my Gran. As long as I can remember she was always saying, "you should be a plumber, you should be a joiner – get a trade" and didn’t think Hospitality was a professional career choice; as she passed away last year unfortunately she isn’t here to witness what we have created. We’d eat Feather Blade steak, triple cooked chips, tender-stem Broccoli and a nice glass of 1961 Château Latour.
Section 33 will host their very first Glasgow event over the weekend of 3rd-5th October and will be held somewhere cool in Glasgow's Southside. Myself and Nicola have already booked our space for the Saturday evening and are now waiting patiently for further details of this undercover extravaganza. Tickets are on sale now and have been selling well but you can still guarantee your place at Section 33's first foray into guerrilla dining by grabbing your tickets on the website.
To find out more about Section 33, check out this recent interview that was given to STV, or swing by their Facebook or Twitter pages.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Quick Review - Las Iguanas, West Nile Street, Glasgow

Last Tuesday evening myself and Nicola had a night at the SSE Hydro, Scotland's newest entertainment venue, to see Ant & Dec's Takeaway on Tour. Before we made our way to the show, we met in the city centre for a bite to eat. We had originally planned on going to All Bar One for their great value Tapas Tuesday offer but Nicola had received a birthday email from Las Iguanas offering her a main course of her choice if we had dinner there instead. We both love the menu at Las Iguanas, and as we were on the countdown to Nicola's birthday then it seemed only fair that she should decide on our dinner destination.
Never one to turn down a free meal, we were soon walking though the doors of the Glasgow branch of Las Iguanas. The restaurant was fairly busy for a Tuesday evening, this could have been as a result those lovable boys from Newcastle, or it could be down to that fact that Las Iguanas have some very enticing food offers on their extended lunch menu that runs daily until 6:30pm.
If you order before 6:30pm there are a number of the regular menu items at reduced prices, and if you order from the lunch menu you can add on a glass of house wine or bottle of Brahma beer for just £2. As I was the designated driver on the night, I settled for a small glass of red wine whilst Nicola started her birthday celebrations with an orange & ginger caiperinha from the cocktail menu.

From the moment that Nicola decided that we were going to be having dinner at Las Iguanas, I knew that I would be ordering the burger off of the lunch menu. I've had the burger before and loved it so it was a fairly easy decision to have the burger again. The Classic Burger is a lightly spiced and seasoned patty served in a toasted bun with little gem lettuce, tomato, fried onion and a zingy gherkin mayo, all served with a choice of fries, curly fries or sweet potato fries and a pile of jalapeño slaw. I always get the sweet potato fries which are amazing and a perfect match to the smoky chargrilled burger. For just £7.20, I'm not sure there's a better value burger in town.

The birthday offer allowed Nicola to order any main course from the a la carte menu and after much deliberation she opted for the Camarão a la Criolla, one of the recent additions on the Las Iguanas menu. Plenty of plump prawns were encased within a rich sauce of peppers, tomatoes, parsley, coriander, cumin, garlic, paprika, lime and coconut milk, served on fluffy spring onion & garlic rice and soft chilli & garlic corn tortillas. I immediately had 'food envy' as the aroma of Nicola's dinner hit my nostrils but I did manage to grab a sneaky forkful or two and it's a safe bet to assume that the next time we return to Las Iguanas that I'll be ordering the Camarão a la Criolla for myself.
As we were finishing off our meal, Nicola was received another present from Las Iguanas as she was presented with a cheeky wee caiperinha topped off with a birthday candle stuck into one of the lime segments. Not a bad way to end the first of Nicola's birthday meals!
Lots of restaurants encourage you to sign up to their email list and then do very little with the valuable information that they have captured. However, Las Iguanas make sure that if they have any offers running (locally or nationally) that they keep you up to date, of course being given a free birthday meal with a caiperinha to wash it down, is reason enough to sign up to the Las Iguanas newsletter.
Keep up to date with Las Iguanas Glasgow on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Gerry HaughianWritten by Gerry Haughian
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