Wednesday, 14 February 2018

60 Second Craft Beer Review - New World Odyssey by Fallen Brewing Co.

With beer names like Local Motion, Just The Ticket, Light Freight, Platform C and Chew Chew, you’d think that the team at Fallen Brewing Co had gone off the rails however these imaginative titles are simply a nod to the fact that the brewery is housed within a disused Victorian railway station that sits on the now defunct Forth & Clyde Line. 
On a recent shopping trip to my local Lidl, I spotted cans of Fallen Brewing New World Odyssey on offer at £1.25 and always one for a good deal, I picked up a couple of cans and got on board.

New World Odyssey (ABV 4.1%) by Fallen Brewery Co.

Bought at Lidl for £1.25 for 330ml can
  • Pours with an airy white foam head that dissipates quickly.
  • Bright golden in colour, slightly hazy.
  • Nose of lemon, pineapple and grapefruit with malt and yeast in the background..
  • Medium carbonation.
  • First taste is of malt followed by mandarin & lemon flavour cleansing the palate before a bitter hoppy finish.
As a fan of big hitting IPA’s, I really enjoyed New World Odyssey as all of the familiar flavours were there without the massive alcohol content that usual goes with the former. Yes, this beer is right on track and unlike the old Victorian trains that used to pull through the station, at only 4.1% this session beer won’t leave you steaming.

'Six By Nico' to Open in Edinburgh

Renowned Scottish-Italian chef, Nico Simeone, is set to introduce his latest dining concept to Edinburgh this April when he opens 'Six by Nico' on Hanover Street.

'Six by Nico' in Edinburgh will be the third addition to his growing restaurant portfolio, with award winning venues including '111 by Nico' and 'Six by Nico' already well embedded in Glasgow’s restaurant scene.

The Edinburgh New Town restaurant will replicate the concept of his Glasgow venue in Finnieston and will be home to a series of carefully curated and constantly evolving menu concepts.

Pioneering a revolving culinary hub, every six weeks, Nico and his team will re-invent the wheel – serving a brand new six-course tasting-menu – each one themed upon a different place, memory or idea. Drawing inspiration from both at home and abroad such as the docklands of Leith to the vineyards of South America, Nico and his team will combine different ingredients, flavours, and dishes, to bring memories and stories creating a brand new dining experience every 6 weeks.

The 2500 sq foot venue on Hanover Street will house a 70-cover restaurant, a wine and cocktail bar and will offer the very best of beautifully sourced produce.

Using food as a narrative, each menu will tell a different story, taking guests on a new and exciting journey each time they visit. Each new chapter will be kept a surprise and new menus will remain secret and published two-weeks prior to the next theme. 

Chef Nico Simeone said, "We are very excited to bring an unforgettable culinary experience to Edinburgh. We have been overwhelmed by the success and the appeal of our first 'Six by Nico' in Glasgow, and we couldn't be more delighted about bringing a completely new offering and dining experience to the people of Edinburgh".

The concept was born in Glasgow in 2017 from a passion of experimenting with new ingredients and developing and creating unique dishes. Nico continued to say, "We feel we have created the perfect recipe for an exciting epicurean adventure not just for our diners, but our team too".

Six by Nico Edinburgh promises to be as eye catching as it is delicious. It will boast a minimal design, starkly contrasted by grand fixtures and fittings with atmospheric mood lighting. The restaurant will feature a modern design open kitchen on view to all. Nico said, "Combining our focus on food and design, we love to create lifestyle dining environments that are dynamic yet relaxed - spaces customers love to dine in".

Serverino designs and creative partners blk 29 have been appointed by the team to develop the new city centre restaurant and work is currently underway at the former 'Passorn Thai' brasserie site at 97 Hanover Street. Six by Nico plan to create 35 new jobs as they expand their restaurant portfolio in Scotland.

Six by Nico will open it’s doors in April 2018 becoming the latest addition to the cities burgeoning restaurant and bar scene. From it’s creative menu concepts to outstanding food and service, the venue will aim to become an immediate hit with the people of Edinburgh.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Easy Recipe - Chilli & Garlic Chicken

Sometimes after a long day at work, the last thing I want to do is spend forever in the kitchen making dinner so when I stumble upon quick and easy recipes online, I’m always Lee to put them through their paces.
The most recent recipe that caught my eye was a simple chilli & garlic chicken dish from Proper Tasty that could be thrown together using a list of ingredients that most people should have in the fridge and cupboards. 

Ingredient (serves 2)
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into 1cm slices
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 100g sugarsnap peas, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g seasoned plain flour
  • 2tbsp rapeseed oil

  1. Heat 1tbsp of rapeseed oil in a wide frying pan then dip the chicken in the egg before following in the seasoned flour. Add the chicken to the pan and fry until golden brown in colour and the chicken is cooked. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Heat 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil in the same pan then add the red pepper and sugarsnap peas and cook until the peppers begin to soften. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp of rapeseed oil in the same pan then add the garlic and chilli. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic is soft then add the soy sauce and tomato ketchup. Bring to the boil and stir until you have a thick sauce.
  4. Return the chicken vegetable to the pan, tossing until covered in the sauce before serving with boiled rice.

This is one of the tastiest and easiest meals that I’ve made at home and it’s tastes as good as something that I would expect to pick up from my local Chinese takeaway. Crispy chicken, crunchy vegetables and a glossy, deeply flavoured sauce has made this a that I will keep going back to.
Since discovering this recipe, I have now served it up a number of times, making little tweaks to the recipe to suit personal taste. I’ve got the cosnsistency of the sauce just how I like it although I think that I’ll be adding some chopped ginger and chilli flakes to the sauce to add an extra layer of flavour.  
If you don’t have a great deal of time to cook after work, why not give this recipe a try? All going well, you can have this easy cook meal ready in 30 minutes from fridge to table.


Kinrara Distillery appoints Ugli Fruit Media as new media partner.


Ugli Fruit Media are proud to announce a new partnership with spirit company, Kinrara Distillery.

Kinrara Distillery is set amongst 12,000 acres of the Cairngorm National Park, just outside Aviemore. One of Scotland's newest micro distilleries, Kinrara will start by making some unique highland dry gins and liqueurs, before moving on to producing single malt whisky and Scottish rums.

Iain Fenwick from Ugli Fruit Media said "This is a fantastic partnership for us to be involved in. Everyone knows of the rapid growth of the spirit industry in Scotland, and Kinrara's plans are incredibly exciting. The passion the team at Kinrara have shown for their new project is infectious and we cannot wait to get started!"

Luke Fenton of Kinrara said: “Stuart, David and I are really excited to be working with Ugli Fruit Media. Being part of a small team, we need an added focus from people who really understand what it means to work with Craft Spirits. Kinrara Distillery will be launching its first Highland Dry Gin at the beginning of March and are glad to be working with Iain and his team at Ugli Fruit Media to get the message out there!”

Due to launch in early March, this exciting new addition to the growing Scottish spirit industry prides itself on making a totally hand crafted spirit. From the distillation of the spirit, cutting to the correct strength, and then bottling and finishing, everything is done by their small team by hand.

Ugli Fruit Media

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Restaurant Review - Ibérica Restaurant, Spinningfields, Manchester

As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of Ibérica Restaurants having enjoyed many great nights with friends and family at the Glasgow branch as well as being treated to a wonderful tasting menu when we visited Ibérica in Leeds last year.
There’s so much to love about Ibérica from the amazing menu that has been created by 3 Michelin starred Exec Chef, Nacho Manzano  to the top quality ingredients that are carefully selected and imported from Spain, that every time we introduce someone to the brand, they are immediately blown away.

Over the Christmas break, myself and Nicola spent a couple of days in Manchester and upon hearing that we would be in the city, we were kindly invited  to dinner at Ibérica Manchester which is located in the trendy Spinningfields area. After a busy day of Christmas sale shopping we took advantage to the free shuttle buses that navigate Manchester City centre and made our way along to the restaurant for some pre-dinner drinks.

Both the Glasgow and Leeds restaurants are housed within beautiful old building that exude class and character but as Ibérica Manchester is located within a purpose built shopping and dining complex, we wondered if it would still be as grand as the others that we have visited. 
We needn’t have worried because as soon as you walk through the door, you are immediately transported from industrial Manchester to upmarket Madrid. The main dining area is located upstairs but set back from the front of the building helping create a huge high ceiling over bar area downstairs. Dark wood, red painted walls, huge vintage posters of Flamenco dancers and Matadors help complete the transportation and really got us in the mood for the Spanish feast that awaited us.
Ibérica pride themselves on offering their customers the best quality produce from Spain including a fantastic selection of Ibérico and Serrano ham which we were able to watch being expertly sliced as we sat enjoying a glass of cava before dinner. 

When it comes to the wine list, Ibérica source from different regions of Spain with the aim of representing the rich diversity of Spanish. As part of this effort, the team source wines from small boutique wineries that are not available anywhere else in the UK. 
We have worked our way though the wine list over recent visits and after recently booking our holiday for this year to Andalusia, we decided to sample a bottle of Cloe, a Chardonnay from Bodega Doña Felisa in Ronda which falls within the D.O. Sierras de Malaga. 
The wine is bright yellow in colour and full of citrus and tropical notes although there is a little vanilla in the background thanks to the wine being aged for two months in French oak barrels. This was a great introduction to Andalusia and if we have time when in the south of Spain later their year, we might take a drive to the Bodega to try some of their other wines.

The menu at Ibérica has a huge range of choice, which is broken down into Charcuterie, Artisan Cheeses, From the Land, Salads & Vegetables, From the Sea, Eggs & Croquetas, From the Grill, and Rice in Paella. With so much choice, there’s something for everyone and although we have our own favourite dishes we always look to try something new when we can.
That said, we started with our usual a portion of Half and Half, a board with three different cheeses and three different meats including a wonderful air cured beef that I just can’t get enough of. No tapas night would be complete without some bread and the Toasted Bread (sourdough) with Tomato was delicious. 
As you would expect when ordering tapas, the food comes out as and when it’s ready so my review below is all about the food, not the order that it arrived at the table.

We actually managed to try two new dishes tonight starting with breaded artichoke hearts stuffed with ham and onion on a Sherry sauce. This was a clever dish with a great balance of texture and flavour. Softened onion and ham had been stuffed inside the tender hearts of artichokes, wrapped in breadcrumbs before being deep-fried. The artichoke hearts were cooked well with a soft buttery texture which worked well with the salty ham stuffing. The simple Sherry sauce was rich, velvety and the perfect match for the big flavours of this dish.

You can’t do tapas without doing tortilla and the traditional Spanish omelette at Ibérica is as good as I’ve had in Spain. With the choice of soft, medium or firm finish, they can cook your omelette just as you like it. We asked for ours to be cooked medium and it arrived, well seasoned, packed with soft cubes of potato with a tiny bit of wobble in the middle. Perfect!

The other dish that we were trying for the first time was Garlic Prawns with Fideos. (Fideos is an angel hair pasta from Spain) The Fideos is somewhere between spaghetti and vermicelli and had been tossed in olive oil, a ton of garlic and chilli and topped with four juicy prawns -be warned though as it packs a spicy punch. This dish was so much better than I expected although with plump prawns, chilli, garlic and pasta, it was always going to be a winner. 
On my first visit to Ibérica in Glasgow I recall eating five Ibérica burgers, and every time we have been back, we have always made sure to order a portion. These are the cutest little burgers made with secreto pork and topped with a pickled Pippara pepper - sweet pork and buttery brioche bun are almost perfect but throw in the sharpness of the pickled spicy pepper and you’ll understand why I ate five on that first night. The sliders are served with a couple of deep fried plantain chips and a wholegrain mustard and honey dipping sauce. I’m not a massive fan of the chips but Nicola loves them so this is one of the few dishes that I’m happy to let her take the lions share.
The last of our dishes was the twice cooked lamb with marinated cherry tomatoes and red peppers from León. On the plate, this doesn’t look like much but the depth of flavour is so intense that the portion size is just about right for two people sharing. The meat is soft and tender although maybe a little too rich on its own but thankfully the sweet tomatoes, earthy peppers and accompanying pea purée help cut through the big flavours of the lamb. 

Once again we were unable to make it to the dessert menu which is a pity as the churros are to die for but we really didn’t have the room. 

Now that we have eaten in three different branches of Ibérica, I can honestly say that the quality and service have been consistent across the brand. We might have been in Glasgow, Leeds or Manchester but we could easily have been in Barcelona, Madrid or Seville because I truly believe that Ibérica Restaurants deliver everything that I would expect to get from a high end restaurant anywhere in Spain and that’s why I will continue to recommend Ibérica to friends and family.

We dined as guests of Ibérica Manchester but the review above is an honest account of our experience on the night. We would like to thank the staff and management at Ibérica Manchester for their hospitality and generosity and hope to visit again soon.

Keep up to date with news from Ibérica Manchester on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, 6 February 2018

60 Second Craft Beer Review - Orkney Gold by The Orkney Brewery

I’m always on the lookout for different craft beers and on a recent shopping trip to my local Lidl, I spotted that they were running a special offer on bottles of Orkney Gold at just 87p per bottle. I’ve previously been impressed with other beers from The Orkney Brewery so had a good feeling that my investment in four bottles at this bargain price would be money well spent.
Operating from a former schoolhouse over 300miles north of Glasgow and using the clear Orcadian waters, The Orkney Brewery produce a wide range of beer for both the on-trade and off-sale market.

Orkney Gold (ABV 4.5%) by The Orkney Brewery

Bought at Lidl for 87p per bottle - Special offer (Normal price £1.49)
  • Pours with a small white foam head that laced the glass.
  • Deep gold in colour.
  • Initial aromas of sweet malt followed by zesty lemon.
  • Medium carbonation.
  • First taste is of malt followed by mandarin & lemon flavour cleansing the palate before a bitter hoppy finish.
This beer is so easy to drink and I have to compliment the team at The Orkney Brewery for managing to squeeze so much flavour into a beer that is only 4.5% ABV. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Orkney Gold is one of my favourite beers at the moment and I’ll be making a return trip to Lidl before they put the price back up although I’d be more than happy to pay full price. After all, it’s ‘As Good As Gold’.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Restaurant Review - Ishka, Morrison Street, Edinburgh

Over the last couple of years, the Edinburgh dining scene has changed considerably as  national chain restaurants have decended on the capital. With so many new opening around St Andrews Square and the surrounding area, you could easily forget that the capital has some fantastic independent restaurants that easily give the big guys a run for their money.
One such gem is Ishka  a modern restaurant and cocktail bar located on Morrison Street that serves up a menu of modern Scottish cuisine with a contemporary Mediterranean influence. In the run up to Christmas last year, myself and Nicola were invited along to try out the menu, never ones to miss out on a trip to the capital, we accepted their kind invitation and sorted out a booking.
Just a five minute walk from Haymarket Station, Ishka is close enough to the main shopping streets of the capital to be local, yet far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street.
We arrived shortly after opening on a cold Saturday afternoon and were quickly seated at a cosy window table with views of the neighbouring EICC. The restaurant interior is a fairly masculine affair with dark wood, black leather and blackened corrugated steel dominating the eye while a well stocked bar and marble bar top leans towards Ishka’s focus on pre and after-dinner cocktails.

The extensive wine list has a decent range of choice for all budgets and tastes. Great care has been taken to put together a fantastic selection of wines from across the globe including a couple of bottles of Viognier from the US as well as a bottle of Marjan Simčič Teodor Selekcija from Slovenia. I didn’t know that they made wine in Slovenia and had It not been for the fact that I was driving later, I might have been tempted to order a bottle to try.
In the end, Nicola selected a glass of Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Blanco from Bodega Classica, which despite being aged for six months in the barrel, this wine packs a ton of peach and pear flavours that made it very easy to drink.
I opted for red and thoroughly enjoyed my Moulin Gimie Merlot thanks to the huge dark cherry flavour with just a hint of mocha that worked incredibly well with some of the food that we were about to receive. 

After looking over the menu for a good ten minutes or so, we were still struggling to choose our lunch. The menu had so many dishes that sounded delicious that we really couldn’t decide but after a brief chat with our waiter (who had been liaising with Head Chef), we ended up agreeing on a selection of starters to share followed by a selection of smaller portions from the mains. This would allow us to choose more of the dishes that had previously caught our attention whilst allowing Executive Chef Claire Lund to show off her skills. 

Each of the starters that we selected were fantastic starting with the venison carpaccio which was both of our favourites. Our starter of seared poppy & sesame seed venison, apple compote, blackberry & sherry dressing and watercress was a great balance of texture and flavour. The sweet apple compote, pickled blackberry, and sharp acidity from the blackberry & sherry dressing worked wonderfully with the rick lean venison. 

Next up was the pork, chicken & spinach terrine, maple streaky bacon, apricot chutney & chorizo oil. If we had been ordering a starter each, this would have been been my choice and I would have been over the moon when it arrived. The chicken and spinach had been rolled like a roulade before being surrounded in pork and the maple cured streaky bacon. There was so much flavour in the terrine as the chicken, pork, spinach and sweet cured bacon all fought for attention on the palate while the apricot chutney brought enough sweet to cut through the iron from the spinach. The chorizo oil sounded like a good idea however we both struggled to detect much chorizo flavour from the oil dressing and wouldn’t have missed it if it wasn’t there. 

Last up was Nicola’s choice of starter, the smoked coley, leek & egg tartlet, dill dressing and warmed potato cream. This was outstanding! I would have been more than happy with just the tartlet - a crisp buttery pastry tart casing filled with a well seasoned egg and leek filling and topped with plenty of big flakes of rich smoked coley. The smooth potato cream tasted like an old fashioned baked potato whilst the dill dressing countered the rich flavour of the smoked fish. Flavour, texture and balance were all addressed well with this fantastic starter.

After a great introduction to the Ishka menu, we were looking forward to our mains and Chef Claire was happy to serve up reduced sized portions of which ever mains we wanted to try. 

Our first choice of main course was the pork fillet & slow roasted pork belly, curried parsnip purée, apple & grape compote with curly kale & cider jus which was a great introduction to Chef Claire’s menu. This was an almost perfect plate of food with the sweet pork fillet being balanced wonderfully by the spices from the parsnip purée while the sharp apple & grape compote was the perfect foil for the slow cooked pork belly. 

Our second main was roasted monkfish with spring onion slice, spiced aubergine and sweetcorn butter sauce. This was one of the most interesting fish dishes that we’ve had in a while with so many distinctive flavours fighting for attention. The aubergine purée was well seasoned and lightly spiced, acting as a foil to the sweetness of the corn. The spring onion slice was actually a triangle of frittata that acted as a spongy cushion for the roasted lion of monkfish. The fish was cooked well, and tasted great. We both love monkfish and the light flavours of the fish worked really well with the contrasting sweet and spice of the accompanying ingredients.

Last up was the pan-fried duck with wild mushroom & leek cream, savoy cabbage & carrot parcel and beetroot jus. This dish might not have looked too pretty, although in fairness I don’t think the red plate done the presentation any favours but what the dish lacked in style, it made up for in flavour. First off, the duck breast was cooked well, just on the right side of pink although we would have both prefered that the duck skin to have been rendered down a little more. I’ve never paired duck with mushroom before but the side of field mushrooms, leeks and cream was a delicious accompaniment to the duck. The savoy cabbage & carrot parcel was an interesting concept although it didn’t quite work. The cabbage leaves were still too firm to cut through which meant that the seasoned and cooked carrot filling just kind of spilled out of the sides. Again, the filling didn’t lack seasoning but looking back, I think some wilted savoy cabbage would have made for a better balanced side.

As our meal came to an end, neither of us had room for desserts so we finished up our drinks and wrapped up ready to walk off our hearty lunch. We dined as guest of Ishka however my review above is an honest account of our visit and I would have no hesitation in recommending Ishka to anyone looking for somewhere to eat in the capital. We dined from the a la carte menu which is well priced although Ishka also have a fantastic value lunch and pre-theatre Market Menu as well as a brilliant 2For20 menu option too.

We would like to thank the staff and management at Ishka for their hospitality and generosity and wish them all the best for the future. Keep up to date with news from Ishka Edinburgh on Facebook and Twitter.
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