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Archive for December, 2011



Koi out, Kurds in

Koi teppanyaki restaurant on Edinburgh's Potterrow has turned into the Nawroz restaurant specialising in Kurdish and Middle Eastern food.

The starters menu is packed with fatoush, baba ganush, dolmas and falafels along with heaps of Middle Eastern dishes which are completely new to me. Think along the lines of the Kubba Halab: crushed rice stuffed with minced lamb, almonds, sultanas, onions and spices. The whole thing is deep-fried and served with salad and yoghurt.

Assorted kebabs and dishes from the charcoal grill make up the main courses. Desserts range from delicate saffron ice cream to honey-heavy pastries.

They also appear to have a shisha lounge where you can get busy on a hubbly bubbly pipe.

The arrival of Nawroz gives a definite Middle Eastern flavour to that little corner of town. Beirut Lebanese restaurant is just around the corner and there are a couple of busy little shawarma caffs within a five minute walk.

Just so this post isn't all about Edinburgh, let me point you towards Persia on Glasgow's Great Western Road. Open about a year and a half, it's been well reviewed by the blessed Blythman in the Sunday Herald and 5pm users have rated it a tasty 4.1/5.

They are currently running a 20% discount on their a la carte menu if you book through 5pm.

Hot from the charcoal grill in Persia


Google food top ten

Internet search giant Google have just released their annual list of most searched for terms. It is not a huge surprise that 'Royal Wedding' was the top search term in the UK. More worrying is the fact that 'I hate Mum' was the fourth fastest rising 'I hate' search term in 2011. What's going on out there, kids?

The top ten 'What is' searches are illuminating. 'What is AV' topped 'What is scampi' and 'What are truffles'. 'What are piles' came fourth.

The top food and drink searches reflect the dominance of the supermarkets. Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda and Morrisons were all in the top ten with, of course, Tesco leading the pack.

Perhaps surprisingly, curry was beaten into tenth place by cake which came in at number nine. Jamie Oliver was the only sleb chef to get a look in.

Here's the list in full:

Top food and drink

Tesco

Recipes

ASDA

Pizza

Wine

Sainsburys

Jamie Oliver

Morrisons

Cakes

Curry



Trampcast

Trampy and the Tramp prepare for their seasonal jobs

Trampy and the Tramp's Glasgow of Curry have just released their third curry-themed podcast. The latest edition of Keep Calm and Curry On looks back on the year in curry and casts an eye over new openings in the Central Belt.

The newly opened Mama's Rasoi in Glasgow and both Khushi's and Kama Sutra in Edinburgh are up for discussion as are the pros and cons of egg curry.

It also features some silky sitar sounds.



On the festive rob

'Nah, I don't know where it came from. Last thing I remember was the Flaming Sambuccas...'

Back in the Nineties, Quaglino’s in London’s West End used to get their ashtrays nicked at a rate of 1000 a month. Designed by Sir Terence Conran and costed at £8.95, the aluminium ashtrays were very popular with light-fingered memento-seekers.

At £8.95 a pop times a thousand, that was quite a hit for the restaurant to swallow but it’s nothing compared to some of the stuff looted from Best Western Hotels. According to their annual review looking into their stock levels, over the last year, items which have gone missing include a Christmas tree, a suit of armour, a two piece leather suite, a 12ft long model of the supersonic jet Concorde, and a cigarette machine.

One guest even managed to clear out an entire hotel room - taking absolutely everything inside, except the bed. Their ill-gotten haul included a bedspread and matching curtains, a plasma TV set, a hairdryer, kettle, cups and saucers.

Whoever pinched the suit of armour must have got a shock when they woke in the morning, rubbed the kebab from their eyes and found a 15th century knight at the end of the bed.

 



Wha drinks like us?

Just in time for the festive party season, Tennent’s Lager have unveiled their regional pint glasses. Based on customer suggestions, they are engraved with the iconic images, quirks and slogans associated with Scotland’s cities: Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Glasgow’s cone-headed monument and the Barras are mentioned as is the phrase 'aggessively welcoming'. For Inverness, it’s dolphins and a fifteen minute rush hour. Aberdeen is noted for having seagulls bigger than a Labrador while Edinburgh’s predilection for salt ‘n’ sauce with chips is underlined as are its cobbled streets.

Dundee is celebrated with the slogan ‘Nae too big... Nae too wee... It’s Dundee’. Reasonable but surely it should have been ‘Say aye to a pie’.

You can see the glasses here.



bungo a go-go

Like the picture says, the bungo is open

The team behind the two figs and the left bank in Glasgow's West End have just opened another lower case-loving venture on the Southside. Called the bungo, the new bar and restaurant has been conjured up from long standing pub premises which were formerly known as The Horseshoe and then The Fothers.

Local artists, such as Nichol Wheatley of Perfect Circle Art (who also did the massive floor mosaic in the Corinthian Club), have helped stamp character on the bungo but perhaps its defining feature is the amount of recycled materials used in its build. Team bungo reckon that some 70% of the new look is recylced, reclaimed and re-used.

Scots- Italian chef Paul Bonomi has come up with a menu that combines Indian, Italian and Scottish dishes. Think North Sea haddock suppers and Ayrshire beef burgers with rosemary chips; lamb badami and locally-sourced Cairnhill farm steaks.

Nichol Wheatley has drawn a giant bungo map on which local customers can add their own personal places on interest



Guerilla burgers win fast first battle

The foodie gossip in Edinburgh at the moment revolves around the Burgher Burger guerilla dining concept.

The brainchild of Aoife Behan, who also runs My Homesupper Club, Burgher Burger is a pop-up event that takes place in a different caff with a different high end chef once a month.

The chef's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to devise a new and exciting take on the burger. By taking the chefs out of their own kitchens and out of their fine dining comfort zones, Aoife hopes that they will be inspired to work culinary magic on the burger, a food staple which doesn't always get much respect. Hugh Grierson Organic is the butchery partner for the event.

The first Burgher Burger evening takes place on Tuesday 7th February in the Now Cafe in Leith. The chef is Cafe St Honore's Neil Forbes who, as we have pointed out on the blog dozens of times, won the Scottish Chef of the Year Award at the Scottish Restaurant Awards in February.

Neil’s menu begins with a seafood cocktail before moving on to a cheese and bacon beef burger with crinkle cut chips and onion rings. Dessert is a gooey brownie with vanilla ice-cream. Four bottles of Innis & Gunn beer are included in the £30 a head ticket price.

The 42 available tickets for the inaugural February evening went on sale through Burgher Burger's mailing list on Saturday at noon and sold out within minutes.

The next event will take place on the 5th of March at a yet to be revealed location and with a yet to be disclosed chef. According to Aoife, there is no shortage of chefs eager to step out from behind their normal fancy kitchens and get down, if not dirty, with some burger-flipping.

If you want to be in with a chance of joining the Burgher Burger secret army then you will need to sign up here.

But remember, the first rule of Burgher Burger is that there is no Burgher Burger.



Decorating the Christmas tea

Chinese display teas: a big favourite with Beijing's brickies

A brief mention for the Pekoe Tea bar and shop which is celebrating its first birthday on Edinburgh's Leven Street. The fine tea shop has just taken delivery of a new batch of specially blended Christmas tea made from a mix of black tea, apple pieces, almond, cinnamon and bourbon vanilla.

Real tea buffs may also be interested in the arrival of a rare white China tea called Ancient White Buds. It's just come in from the Mannong Fair Trade Tea Garden in Yunnan Province.

The blog liked the sound of the Monkey Picked Ti Kuan Yin in the connoisseur's section but also cooed over the display teas which open up like flowers in the glass. That's Christmas sorted for the aunties.



The perfect pub

George Orwell: liked a pint in between bashing out Animal Farm and 1984

There is a thirst-provoking piece in today's Guardian about the perfect pub with people like Guy Garvey from Elbow and James Dean Bradfield of the Manics singing the virtues of their favourite boozer.

It also has Carl Barat, formerly of The Libertines, spraffing about his love of the French House in Soho while posing with a glass of brandy. I was completely ambivalent about Barat before reading his contribution and now feel a strange hatred for the man.

Anyway, the piece also has link to George Orwell's classic essay on the pub: The Moon Under Water. Fair brings a tear to the eye.

I quite like a number of brash and bling city centre bars but I prefer my pubs a little worn around the edges. They've got to have a bit of character. A few real ales is a plus point along with some decent malts.

Good pub grub is a must and while music is fine, you have to be able to hold a conversation without the use of an ear trumpet.

All of which makes me sound as though I'm a couple of months off my bus pass.

This list changes on a fairly regular basis but, in Edinburgh, I'm a fan of the Cafe Royal, The Windsor and for something a little more lively, Joe Pearce's.

In Glasgow, Rab Ha's ticks a number of my boxes as does Black Sparrow and, if I can be bothered applying my fake tattoos, The Variety Bar.

Incidentally, we hear that the team behind the left bank and two figs is to open the bungo, a new Southside bar, over the weekend. More info on Monday.

To finish, what makes your perfect pub?

Great cocktail list and the latest chart hits or a promo on a hauf and a nip for the domino flyer?



What’s on this weekend

Scottish Chef of the Year Neil Forbes will be demonstrating how to cook roe deer

Assuming that Edinburgh has not blown away by the weekend then, on Saturday, there are a couple of funky food events that may tickle your appetite.

Saturday is Slow Food's Terra Madre Day and a couple of the capital's 5pm members are hosting special events to celebrate. The terra madre/mother earth thing always sends my over-sensitive hippy BS detector into overdrive but that's cause I'm feeling grouchy. The events themselves look fun.

At Centotre, the Continis are manning tasting stalls outside their George Street premises from 2-4pm on Saturday afternoon.

Carina and Victor Contini will be showcasing the origins of the food they use in their restaurants and telling the tales behind each ingredient.

As well as showcasing fresh pasta made using Shipton Mills organic flower and free range eggs from Phantassie Foods in East Lothian, the Continis will be enthusing about the three different types of mozzarella which arrive weekly from their Italian farmers and the extra virgin olive oils which are produced for them in Tuscany.

Meanwhile, over at Cafe St Honore, Scottish Chef of the Year Neil Forbes will be demonstrating how to prepare roe deer, large organic chickens, Christmas trimmings and Christmas pudding. Naturally, the masterclass is called Roe Ho-Ho.

Coffee and shortbread will be served on arrival at 11am; there will be tasters during each demo, then a two-course lunch featuring roe deer with glass of wine. Tickets are priced at £25.

Joining Neil will be Sascha Grierson of Hugh Grierson Organic Farm in Perthshire. Sascha will share her wisdom on poultry matters, while roe deer expert Morris Scott will be talking about Bambi venison.



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