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Archive for the ‘Eating Out’ Category

This is my Daddykin’s favourite dish ūüôā

The real, true, proper version (of which mines completely isn’t) he first tried in a gorgeous little restaurant in St. Anne’s, called Margherita’s.¬† We’ve been there many times and he never deviates from his Pollo Vesuvio, no matter how many times he says he will.¬† I can’t blame him; it’s gorgeous!

So gorgeous, in fact, that I just had¬†to try to¬†recreate it myself.¬† Their description of Pollo Vesuvio is “chicken breast cooked in onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, wine, brandy, cherry tomatoes, Napoli sauce, tabasco and cream”.

I refuse to buy a bottle of brandy, just to use a splash of it in a dish.¬†¬†I don’t drink brandy, so¬†I know the remains will just fester away in the back of my cupboard.¬† Therefore, the brandy is gone from my adaptation.¬† I also use tinned tomatoes for ease of use.¬† Here are all the things you’ll need to create this stupendous dish (my way):

 

Ingredients (Serves 4):

4 chicken breasts, whole

2 onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 red peppers, diced

500g mushrooms, sliced

2 tin chopped tomatoes, drained

1 tbsp sugar

1 glass of white wine

Chicken Stock (1 cube mixed into 100ml boiled water)

1 heaped tbsp dried oregano

1 heaped tbsp dried basil

Tabasco, a generous dash (as much as you can handle!)

50ml cream (room temperature)

Grated Parmesan (a big handful ‚Äď room temperature)

Make sure everything is all prepared before you start ūüôā

Brown the chicken all over, in olive oil, then take out and set aside on a plate.

Fry the onions and garlic for 5-10 mins.  Add your red peppers and mushrooms, stirring for a further 5 mins.

Put your chicken back into the pan.

Add your chopped tomatoes, then sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over it (this will get rid of that tangy-ness of the tomato that makes the eyeball twitch).

Add the white wine, chicken stock, basil, oregano and Tabasco, then give it all a good stir.

 Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Turn off the heat, put your chicken breasts on their plates, then add your cream and grated parmesan to the sauce.  After a good stir, pour it decadently over your chicken breasts.  Mmmm.

Best served with tasty roast totties!

One of the great things about this dish, is that there is sometimes leftover sauce (which freezes no bother yay!).  Add it to some pasta and smoked sausage.  Tastiest.  Lunch.  Ever.

Have you ever tried to recreate your favourite dish from a restaurant?¬† There’s a starter dish I fancy trying, from the ASK restaurant.¬† It’s crostini¬†with beef tomato, goats cheese, caramelised¬†onions and balsamic¬†vinegar, served with rocket.¬† LLARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Enjoy ūüôā x

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When having a meal, how many of your senses do you really use? 

Of course, there are the obvious ones; taste and smell.¬† If you wanted to be pernickety, you could argue that sight, touch and sound¬†all have their¬†place in the dining experience.¬† But have you ever had a dining experience that focuses¬†exclusively on exploring the senses?¬†¬†Probably not, if you haven’t¬†attended the Ubiquitous Chip’s¬†event: Ingr3dients.¬† It claims to be the¬†World’s first sensory dining experience.¬†

The event was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant, situated within Ashton Lane, at¬†the heart of Glasgow’s West End.¬† This charming lane is filled with character and very pretty to look at.¬† But if,¬†like me,¬†you¬†enjoy wearing heels… be prepared to stagger along the cobbles looking like you’ve had one too many cocktails!

I was kindly invited to experience it for myself,¬†and¬†asked Irene to be my ever faithful companion.¬†¬†On the invitation, the event was described as “combining fine food and cutting-edge digital art, including Alasdair Gray’s first digital artwork”.¬† I don’t know much about cutting edge digital art, but I do love my food!

The decor in the Ubiquitous Chip made for tranquil surroundings.  Soft lighting, provided by millions of teeny lights, along with an abundance of plants and a gorgeous water feature in the corner of the room, making a relaxing trickling sound.

On the table, there were 3D glasses waiting for us.¬† Safe in the knowledge that everyone was going to look as cool as us, we donned our attire…

One of the waiters pointed out the interactive sea bed, on the way to our seats.¬† It was so cute!¬† There were fish, crabs and lobsters etc, scurrying around the floor from a projection on the ceiling (I assume).¬† When you stood within the “sea bed”, they all scurried towards you.

Throughout the event, there were various digital art displays, running in a concurrent theme along with each course.  The first image was of a giant fish, darting around the screen and zooming in at you (in what Irene found to be a hilarious fashion; she was cackling away to herself!).  We were henceforth presented with our first course: A Tassie of Cullen Skink.

This creamy soup was so moreish; it was so thick and luxurious, with delicate chunks of fish and potato.  I could easily devour a massive bowl of this, and intend to recreate it soon!

Next up, there was a visual display of 3D shells.  With our glasses on, they looked beautiful and intricate.  This was to introduce the next course: Seafood Trinity.

This consisted of:

Queen Scallop, Dulce and Mirin Ceviche

Black Bottle and Beetroot Cured Organic Salmon

Crab, Pear and Celeriac Choucroute

I have to admit, I was apprehensive about this dish.¬† I’m a complete seafood novice; having never tried scallops or crab and not being very keen on smoked salmon.¬† But, in the spirit of adventure (and being able to talk about the food here!), I tried it.¬† The scallops weren’t as scary as I thought, but they didn’t taste of much.¬† The crab had a lovely texture, and I will try it again.¬† The only gripe is that I felt it was overpowered by the taste of mustard.¬† The salmon was a nice surprise for me; the whisky and beetroot gave it a lovely taste, and I ate the lot!

Whilst we waited on our next dish, the display showed a flock of birds, flying in an erratic fashion and in a sequence that was quite hypnotic.¬† We didn’t even notice the waiters coming up to us with our next course: Pressed Perthshire Game Bird Terrine, with Warm Puy Lentil and Shiitake Salad, Sherry and Walnut Pickled Enoki Mushroom.

If I was apprehensive about the seafood, I was¬†terrified of the game bird terrine!¬† I didn’t start eating vegetables and fish till my early twenties, so this is a big hike from my picky days.¬† And I’m¬†delighted to report; this was one of my¬†favourite¬†dishes of the evening!¬† I cleared the plate entirely and I kept interrupting my meal with outbursts of “this is delicious“,¬†and¬†Irene wholeheartedly¬†agreed.¬† The terrine was pure meaty goodness.¬† The mushrooms complimented it wonderfully, and the salad was sweet and fresh; perfect for lightening the dish.

As we made way for our next course, we were greeted by a massive Highland Cow, strolling across the screen lazily and grazing on nothing at all.  This indicated our next meal: Rioja Glazed Shin of Beef, Marrow Beignet, Shallot Essence, with Potato and Sage Gnocchi.

I could have used a spoon to cut through the beef; that’s¬†how tender it was.¬† The Rioja¬†glaze was outstanding.¬† Irene’s favourite wine is Rioja, so she was especially delighted.¬† She did find the shallot puree rather salty, but I couldn’t agree.¬† The waiter told us the gravy was made using a reduction of the meat juices with some wine and chicken stock.¬† It was incredibly flavoursome; if I were serving this up myself, I’d have flooded the plate with gravy (one of the many reasons I’m not a chef!).¬† The marrow beignet was scary in theory (I tried to convince Irene it wasn’t¬†bone¬†marrow), but we reluctantly admitted it was very tasty.¬† The potato and sage gnocchi¬†was the star of the show for me, out of EVERYTHING.¬† The only criticism is that there wasn’t more of them on the plate.¬† Considering the large portion of beef, I feel more gnocchi would have¬†given a better balance (or less beef, but always more potato if I can get it!).

There was just enough room for our last course; dessert: The Chip’s Famous Caledonian Oatmeal Ice Cream, with Caramelised Banana, and Angostura Rum Fattened Golden Raisins.

I’d never¬†heard of oatmeal encrusted ice cream before, and after tasting this, I’m surprised I haven’t.¬† It’s absolutely gorgeous!¬† It creates a lovely texture, as do the glazed bananas that practically snap when you bite them.¬† Irene wasn’t crazy about the raisins, but I loved them.¬† For the second time that night, I cleared my plate.¬†

I tried to take pictures of the 3D show, but they just looked blurry, as if through the eyes of a drunken fool.¬† It would certainly not have done the artist any justice for me to post them here.¬† I couldn’t help feeling a bit guilty about these images of the animals we were essentially tucking into.¬† Me being a hardened carnivore as well!¬† I mentioned this to Mal Young, the man who controlled the¬†images,¬†and he alleviated my conscience by explaining¬†the images were more about exploring the locally sourced produce (which Ubiquitous Chip is renowned for), rather than having little animals zooming in at you, with pleading eyes, crying “don’t eat meeee”.¬† I’m sure it wouldn’t placate the vegetarians out there, but it’s good enough for me.

Overall, it was a wonderful night.  As much as I love having a gab between courses with my fellow diners, I absolutely adored the 3D animations and believe it did enhance the meal on the whole.  The restaurant clearly puts a lot of effort into creating an excellent atmosphere, and the staff really do make a fuss over you (in a good way; not in that intrusive way that I detest).  If I were to sum up the food in one word, it would be Magnificent. 

If you’re looking to take someone for a fancy meal, or have a special occasion coming up, I would thoroughly recommend Ubiquitous Chip.

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Is there anything more frustrating than trying to figure out what your favourite type of food is? I find it difficult to answer this question (perhaps because I’m so obsessed with food) but I have managed to narrow it into two categories: Anything potato based, and anything Italian.

My boyfriend and I have started watching The Sopranos DVDs from the beginning and I‚Äôm always left DROOLING at all the Italian food in it. So I was thrilled to be invited to review The Italian Bistro ūüėÄ I immediately scoured their website to salivate over their menus and asked Irene to join me. That‚Äôs what Twinnies are for, after all. She is forced to be my pal, ‚Äėcos we shared a womb.

The website states that it is ‚ÄúSituated on Great Western road in Glasgow‚Äôs bustling West end‚Ķ only 3 minutes from Byres Road‚ÄĚ. 3 minutes, perhaps, if you‚Äôre driving there from Byres Road at 4am when there is no other traffic (Byres Road is ALWAYS busy)! If you change the directions settings to ‚Äúon foot‚ÄĚ on Google Maps, it changes to 23 mins. So please bear that in mind if you‚Äôre thinking of having a few pre-dinner drinks in the part of the West End that is truly ‚Äúbustling‚ÄĚ.

I happen to like the fact that it‚Äôs quite far from the ‚ÄúWest End‚ÄĚ. The West End of Glasgow makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable; it‚Äôs a Haven for students who splurge their entire bursaries on over-priced, second-hand clothing; giving them that ever-elusive shabby chic appearance (previously adorned only by tramps and hobos). Coupled with that awful, contemptible ‚ÄúGlasgow Uni‚ÄĚ accent that has no singular origin, I always feel like a fish out of water when I find myself in the area.

Anyway, I digress. The Italian Bistro has big bonus points from me, to begin with, for its parking facilities. Irene and I were filled with sheer relief when we got parked, having spent an agonising 45 mins getting lost on what should have been a 15 min drive from her house (that was completely my fault though, I‚Äôm THE WORST for getting lost). I had to laugh when Irene said ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll be fine once we get onto the Great Western Road‚ÄĚ. Correct me if this is wrong, but I was once told that the Great Western Road was 52 miles long and ended at Oban!

After a serious bout of road (and passenger) rage, we arrived for our 3pm booking on Saturday, to find ourselves in front of a stunning building.  The decor inside didn’t let it down either; everything was clean, spacious and filled with soft lighting. There was a Norah Jones CD playing and it really set a lovely, calming atmosphere.

We liked that the families with children were all sat near each other (and far enough away from us for any crying/shrieking not to get on our nerves!). The place wasn’t particularly busy, but that’s understandable, considering the weather was quite drab outside!

We were presented with a basket of lovely, crusty bread and some dipping oils and butter. Our waiter said that, as he is Italian, he likes to have his bread with his main meal. But we were ravenous and the bread was annihilated within minutes.

To start, I had the Bruschetta ‚Äď Grilled bread with garlic, plum tomatoes and fresh basil.

It was so delicious, crunchy and fresh. I especially loved the melted mozzarella over the top. Mmmmmh.

Irene had the Crostata Di Formaggio ‚Äď Goats cheese crostini, rocket & sun blushed tomatoes with beetroot dressing.

Although my Bruschetta was nice, I had serious plate-envy when I spotted Irene’s starter. I tried a bit and it was mouth-watering. I intend to have the Crostata Di Formaggio for my starter on my next visit.

For my main, I had Scallopine Di Pollo ‚Äď Seared chicken escalope with penne and a rich tomato and basil cream sauce.

I was intrigued, as I usually only ever see tomato based sauces or cream based sauces. The combination of both… DIVINE!  It was so flavoursome and rich.  And the chicken was so tasty and moist. Irene was laughing at me trying to savour it for longer by cutting it into smaller pieces. The chicken portion wasn’t small by any means, but comparitively drowned in the mammoth pasta serving!

Irene opted for the Spaghetti Carbonara. This is the very same Carbonara recipe that I tested a while back, from The Partners Restaurant Magazine. They have the option on the menu of adding cream to your carbonara, but Irene and the Waiter agreed that the Italian way is best.

Obviously their one looks a lot better than my attempt *blush*, but mines tasted just as good, I promise! As you can see, it doesn’t need cream, as the egg & cheese added at the end make it spectacularly creamy.

We were given humungous portions. It was rude to leave food on the plate, so we persevered (oh the trials… hee hee) and managed to finish it, which surprised our Waiter (and hopefully pleased the Chef!). We were so full for the rest of the day; I would recommend a nap after eating one of these meals!

Overall, we had a wonderful time at The Italian Bistro. The best bits (apart from the food, which was fabulous), was the friendly service (it was that nice balance of attentiveness, and NOT coming over every two minutes to ask how the meal is ‚Äď a pet hate of mines), the generous portions and the calming, peaceful atmosphere. I‚Äôm positive that even if every seat were filled, it would have still kept some kind of tranquillity about it, with the soft music and lighting.

The only thing to let the restaurant down, were the toilets; they could have been cleaner. But that’s our only grumble.

I would like to go back on a weekend evening, perhaps, as the website states that it has Live Jazz! I need that Crostata Di Formaggio in my life. And I have my eye on their Pollo Cacciatore!

The Partners Italian bistro opens daily from 11.00a.m for coffee, pastries and cakes. They have ‚ÄúLunch for a Fiver‚ÄĚ offers and a reasonably priced menu. I could waffle on, but you can find out more details about them here.

Thoroughly Recommended ūüôā

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Back in the 1920’s, there were a multitude of illegal bars operating, due to increased licensing costs.¬† These bars were called Speakeasy’s.¬† A Speakeasy establishment was apparently “high-class”, where I imagine the women wore flapper dresses and the men wore tuxedos and top hats… sigh.

The “lower class” version of a Speakeasy was called “The Blind Pig”.¬† Ironic, really, that there is a place in Glasgow’s pretentious West End, which¬†dons that very name.¬† Irene and I went a few weeks ago, to get the “Afternoon Tea for Two”: The Blind Pig’s Cake Stand stacked with a selection of bespoke Dainty Sandwiches, Chef’s Homemade Scones with lashings of Jam & Clotted Cream and our fabulous assortment of cakes.

Of course, we made ours an alcoholic “tea” for two; served in a gorgeous Hendricks teapot and poured into matching tea cups!¬† We got a deal through Living Social, which was ¬£14 for two (instead of ¬£22).¬†

We were greeted with friendly smiles and told to pick any seat we wanted (there were hardly any people there!), so I opted for a seat in the corner that would allow me to take photos and not feel like some kind of food pervert.  We told the waiter-cum-barman what we wanted as we made our way to our seats.

It was a pretty long wait considering it was so quiet, but he did apologise and said the kitchen next door (in their main restaurant) was mobbed and they didn’t have a minute.¬† He presented us with our cake stand:

Half the sandwiches contained smoked salmon; the other half contained salad.¬† I’m not a fan of smoked salmon and can’t comprehend a sandwich without some kind of meat in it, so I nibbled at them huffily and eyed up the cakes.

I think this was carrot cake Рit was the nicest of the three, if a little dry! 

This is the Chef’s Homemade Scones with lashings of Jam & Clotted Cream.¬† It takes joint 1st place alongside my first attempt at shortbread (the competition¬†being “most likely to be used as an offensive weapon when flung at someones head”).

These little cakes were tasty enough, although they did have a bit of a staleness about them unfortunately ūüė¶

The cakes and sandwiches, to me, were a bit of a disappointment.¬† Irene and I had been looking forward to this wee day out for a while, so it was a bit of an anti-climax… until…

The pièce de résistance РStrawberry Cream Tea Martini: Raspberry Skky vodka & strawberry bols liqueur, infused with a touch of double cream, strawberry & champagne jam and topped up with cranberry juice.

This was delicious, and lethal to boot!!¬† Definitely worth the ¬£7 each as we got two cups full each (although theres no way I’d pay the full ¬£22 for the package!).

Maybe we happened to catch The Blind Pig on an off-day with their Cake Stand, as I’ve heard so many good things about them.¬† The whole “cake stand & teapot cocktail” craze is all over Glasgow at the moment, and although many places are passionate about quality, I suspect others might be guilty of cashing in by jumping on the bandwagon half-heartedly.

At the end of the day,¬†if I wanted to eat some solid scones I would have made them myself!¬† I’d go there again for the cocktails though! ūüėČ

It has, however, made me want to buy a wee cake stand and have the girls round for some dainty sandwiches and cakes!¬† Join me, wont you? ūüôā x

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Sadly, I haven’t been cooking much the last few days; what with the gym, work and more work!¬† But I would like to post about the lovely meal I had at the Argyle House¬†on Friday night.¬† We were supposed to go to a restaurant in Ayr (about a¬†50 mins drive), however, the mist fell down quite bad that evening and we decided to stay closer to home for our feast.¬†

My starter was Black Pudding Fritters with Savoy Cabbage¬†and an¬†Arran Mustard Essence.¬† I was quite surprised to see two black puddings on my plate, as they are quite filling!¬† I couldn’t finish it, but the taste was phenomenal.¬† You could tell the black pudding was of a very good quality, by it’s soft, velvety texture (which went wonderfully with the crisp batter).¬† I’d never tried savoy cabbage before (the aftermath of my childhood veggie phobia!) and I was pleasantly surprised with it; it was nice and light… a perfect accompaniment to the weighty black pudding.¬† I was interested¬†to see how the mustard sauce would fare against the black pudding, as they are¬†both really strong in¬†flavour.¬†¬†They paired together wonderfully and I really want to learn how to make my own “mustard¬†essence”, as I feel it would¬†be¬†a great¬†addition¬†to so many different¬†dishes.¬† If I were to¬†make this dish myself, I would perhaps use more batter and reduce the amount of black pudding to one slice.¬† ¬†

After my triumph of tasting salmon for the first time last week, I continued my boldness, by opting for a Main Course of Seared Sea-Bass Fillets on a Smoked Haddock Fishcake¬†with Harissa Mayonaisse.¬† I can now say I am a fan of Sea-Bass!¬† It was delicious!¬† I didn’t eat the skin (purely psychological – I can’t even eat skin on chicken), but I found it to be¬†thoroughly enjoyable and I will eat it again soon.¬† The haddock fishcake¬†was beautiful.¬† I thought there would have been chunks of haddock throughout the cake, but I couldn’t see/taste any.¬† The smoky haddock flavour was definitely¬†present though.¬† The Harrissa sauce set it off wonderfully, with it’s creamy¬†texture and spicy aftertaste.¬† The peppery rocket gave the whole¬†dish a lovely lighter balance.¬† If I were to make this myself, I would have more sea-bass and less fishcake on my plate.

My last course of the evening was Crushed¬†Fudge and Baileys¬†Cr√®me Brul√©e.¬† I usually go for a chocolate dessert when I’m in a restaurant, but this one sounded tremendous.¬† It didn’t disappoint.¬† Cue theatrical “mmmmmm”‘s¬†whilst devouring the lot!¬† The shortbread wasn’t necessary though; the Cr√®me brul√©e was¬†deceptively filling.¬† They are so easy to make, yet look so impressive!¬† I may invest in a blow torch…

Overall, a fabulous meal!¬† It’s inspired me to attempt my own versions of each of these dishes, so look out for them in my upcoming posts!

P.S – Sorry about the blurry images… it’s apparent that the wine was also very good… ūüėČ

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