Dining on Top of Europe

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On a recent holiday to Chamonix I was lucky enough to go up the Aiguille du Midi cable car. This the highest cable car in the world takes you from the warm summer climate of the valley to the snowy tops of the mountains.

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In this fantastic setting tucked away is the almost as stunning little bistro. Seating no more than 20 people getting a table is tricky but worth waiting for.

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For my starter I has escargot in a morel and fois gras fricassee sauce. Indulgent, rich and oh so good. As classically French as you could ask for the dish was well balanced and beautifully presented. Delicious.

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For my main I had a very rustic veal chop covered as many things are here in raclette cheese. Not the most sophisticated dish but it was superb. To my surprise the light rose veal stood up well to the cheese and went together beautifully. With some veg the portion was massive and satisfying.

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The setting…..the meal…….the wine…….the company and the service made for a memorable afternoon!

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Glasgow’s Lunchtime Surprise

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As an office drone during the working week there is very rarely ever the opportunity to get my foodie hat on.

Lunch times tended to involve the inevitable trip to Pret, Philpotts or one of the many supermarkets around the finance district.

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Then one happy day as I hunted for an RBS branch I stumbled across Riverhill. What I found what a coffee shop with the most fantastic array of salads, sandwiches and deli items all prepared fresh daily!

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One of the first things that made me go oooooh was the Puddledub sausage rolls which they make themselves using Puddledub originals, possibly the finest sausage in the land.

On a daily basis they serve two fresh made salads, two soups and their collection of rolls and wraps, some are staples to the menu some are specials!

Favourites with me have been the chicken schwarma wrap, the new wild boar baguette and basically any of their salads which even the biggest carnivore will have to admit is damn tasty!

To add to this they have a great selection of cakes and sweet items that really whet the appetite, top for me is the polenta cake.

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With great coffee and fantastic staff it’s easy to see why this place has become the Glasgow food scenes lunch stop of choice!

Riverhill Coffee Cafe comes Highly Jd Recommend!

Venisontastic

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Aaaaah venison, it’s long been one of my favourites in a restaurant but I’ve rarely dared to try and cook it. Having discovered a market stall by the name of Seriously Good Venison this had well changed a little.

SGV will sell you pretty much anything and everything you can do with a deer. The dish above is seared sirloin with fondant potato and white asparagus I did a few weeks ago.

They are also doing charcuterie and the smoked venison carpaccio went into created a beautiful starter with pickled bettor, parsnip purée and parsnip crisps below.

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Probably one of the greatest things the Edinburgh market sells on any given week however is the rack of venison. This is just incredible, I bought one recently for a dinner party and to say it was a success would be an understatement. The quality of the venison is possibly unbeatable. They are the first stall at the Castle Terrace market every week! Go try them and you won’t regret it, what’s more you’ll soon be back for more :)!!

(Array of venison photos to follow 🙂 )

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Mark Greenaway – New Beginnings

After the much publicised closure of Mark Greenaways restaurant at Piccardy Place we always waited with baited breath to find out where he was heading to. From his words at the Foodies Christmas Fair to his updates on twitter he was giving nothing away. So clandestine was this becoming that a head chef from another restaurants comment on twitter that he looked forward to having Mark as a neighbour lead to the rumour he was off to the Royal Mile. Then, just two weeks ago, he announced his new location as 67 North Castle Street the site of a former Italian Restaurant and once upon a time an RBS branch.

I was delighted to have a reason for booking for opening weekend, as Stephs parents are in town for their birthday weekend and we couldn't think of anywhere we would rather take them. So roughly 3 minutes after the announcement of the new restaurant was made I had my reservation request sent. Roll on two weeks and last night was the night I've been waiting for, all the more eagerly after such positive comments from those who attended the launch party and Yelpers Jackie.G and Claire.L who were there for opening night.

The first thing that strikes you upon entering in that all of the staff have stayed with Mark, infact he confirmed later he didn't lose any of his staff despite being closed for 7 weeks. Once seated you soon see that Mark and his team have been able to recreate the wonderful ambiance they had at Piccardy Place. To the menu and from the à la carte it was good to see he has kept the favourites while also introducing something new to lift the menu further.

Once we had ordered, the sommelier Loic who we have gotten to know was kind enough to show us his new wine vault, with this having been an RBS the original vault in the basement remains. Given how little time they have has to prepare its amazing how much they have achieved. The wood work and the style they have given this room is really impressive. Loic explained that they intend to further develop the vault and diners will be able to select their wines with an illustrated world map on the wall providing further details. Loic will also be on hand advising and giving diners tasting samples of suggested pairing wines.

As soon as we sat down we were presented with our amuse bouchée, as espuma of shallots. Can't say much about this other than it was delicious. Slight sweetness with earthy undertones it was a great way to start our meal.

For my starter I chose the pave of pigs cheek, served with warm apple jelly, apple purée a flavoured meringue, the pave is wrapped in beetroot carpaccio. This is a dish which has gone through a few developments since I first had it at the Great British Menu party and its only gotten better. The balance of the deep flavour of the cheek with apple and beetroot is superb. It's a dish I would happily order again and again.

For my main I went for the tasting of lamb. Succulent tender lamb, deep jus, aromatic rosemary, buttery mash and earthy brussel sprouts…….delicious! The lamb came three ways, a loin chop, a piece of filet and some leg. The flavour of the lamb was just incredible, the seasoning brought out the taste as much as any producer could hope for.

To finish I decided to revisit a favourite of mine the broken citrus taste. This dish simply put is a work of art in appearance and just as tasty. The zing of the parfait is beautifully matched by the coconut, watermelon cubes clean the palate and the pistachio purée adds another dimension when combined. After dinner Loic was also kind enough to take me back to the vault and give me a sample of the most incredible muscat I have ever tasted, larger quantities will be required when my dry January has finished.

All in all the meal was superb, Stephs parents were delighted and then even more so when they had a good ten minute chat with the man himself Mr Greenaway. Mark is such a friendly guy and willingness to chat to customers at the end of a service does him great credit. With the excitement that has surrounded this opening I can say the product more than lives up the hype. Undoubtedly they have a lot of work to do but with Marks inventive cooking and the team he has around him I am confident this new venture will be a massive success.

Restaurant Mark Greenaway comes highly JD Recommended!

 

Bon Appetit!

Edinburgh is now blessed with bistros and restaurants providing the best in world cuisine, from Italian to Chinese, Kurdish to Mongolian we have it all. My favourite however still has to be French, from classic Escoffier to the more rustic I love the way in which they seem to be able to celebrate produce.

After a walk to the Castle Terrace Famers Market Steph and I decided that lunch out would be a nice reward for our newfound healthy lifestyle and gym going. In search of reasonably priced and yet reasonably healthy food we came across L'escagot Blanc. With 2 mains for £10.90 this was ideal for us.

Once you have a chance to sit down and take in your surroundings you are taken by the charming, rustic French decor. All of the staff are French and greet you in their mother tongue, something which I love. Steph pointed out the staff don't wear uniforms, something which we both agreed added a homely feel we loved.

To the food, after some deliberation I opted for the warm fish terrine and Steph the homemade rillette with gherkins. My terrine was fantastic, the flavour was very well measured and the texture soft. I can't say I have had many fish terrines in my life but this was certainly the best. It came with a crayfish sauce that set it off brilliantly. Stephs rillette was also lovely, but I was happy with my choice :). The rillette was served with a jar of gherkins so you could have as many as you would like or not as it were.

For our mains I chose the Lyon Saucisson with puy lentils and Steph had the Fish of the Day which was pike. My dish came to the table in a pot and was served by the waitress, great restaurant theatre. What made this even better was that there were seconds to be had in the pot.

 

As the manager said to us on the way out their food is what great French food is all about, simplicity and great flavour. The sausage and lentils went brilliantly together and the qaulity of the sausage was great. Just one of those dishes that make you go YUMMMM.

 

Stephs pike was equally impressive, so gently cooked the flavour was tremendous. Soft soft fish with a tomato sauce, it worked well. Again simple and delicious. There can't have been many more than five ingredients in either dish but both were so tasty.

In the end we were both delighted with the meal and for such a low price it was a very worth while venture. We will be back. A trips to L'escargot Blanc comes highly JD Recommended

 

The Farmers Are Coming

So logically in a recession you would think people would spend less money on luxury items and be economical, at first thought that would them mean the likes of farmers markets should be under threat. Well that's what I thought anyway.

Edinburgh is now served every weekend by two great markets, on a Saturday at Castle Terrace and on a Sunday in Stockbridge. As a lover of all things food my weekend invariably means visiting one if not both of them. In the last four years these markets have gone from being one a month, twice a month to where they are now as weekly bustling events.

So the secret of their success and the secret many people have still to catch onto……..locally sourced produce direct from farmers is better and cheaper than anything you will get in a supermarket. Take lamb shanks for example, in Tesco they are £7 for 2. At either of the markets you could have better quality meat at 2 shanks for £5 or even a rack of lamb for £7.

 

The other real secret is the wonderful producers, their knowledge and passion is there for anyone to see. They gleefully talk to customers, give them recipe ideas and pass on their enthusiasm for the whole process. Stand outs for me personally would be Peelham Farm, Puddledub Pork & Buffalo, Arran Cheese, Creelers, the fish and game stall at Stockbridge who's name I can't remember :)!

 

So if you are looking to try a grouse, pigeon, duck, lobster get to the markets and get talking to these gret producers!

 

JD Recommended

 

Edinburghs next Michelin Star in the Making

There are always going to be mixed opinions when it comes to restaurants as well we all have our own tastes as so naturally our own opinions, few places are more universally adored by foodies I know than Mark Greenaways restaurant. Over the last 2 years at 12 Picardy Place he has carved out a name as one the cities hottest placed to eat. As he grows in fame via his food and tv appearances on the Great British Menu I was excited to hear he will soon be taking up residence in a larger establishment.

So what makes it so good you ask? Well first of all it's the staff, from the receptionist, to the hostess, the waiting staff and the sommelier the service is 1st class. In terms of value for value his market menu, 3 courses for £20 before 7pm has to be one of he best value meals in the city.

With wine flight options carefully selected by Loic the sommelier it's a great dining experience. Go more than once and this young sommelier will even go to extent of considering what he served you previously to ensure you are given something new to wash down your meal with.

Having eaten from the a la carte as well as the tasting menu what really strikes you is the use of modern and classic techniques intertwined to deliver the biggest flavours.

The above dish was a stunning rework of a Scottish breakfast, hot smoked salmon, black pudding Bellini and fois gras with a foam. Light starter with bags of flavour and visually stunning.

Meat, mushrooms….truffle…in what world was I not going to love this dish 🙂

Deconstructed banoffee, so many flavours, so many textures…… Delicious.

So for me Mark has really set a new standard for the new comers to the Edinburgh restaurant scene and done it in style. I love his food and his restaurant and look forward to much more in the future. By 2014 I will be amazed if he has joined ten elite Michelin star club.

Hugely JD Recommended.