Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Fantastic Pub Grub, feat PORK BELLY

 It's Miss K's birthday, and she has invited our troop to enjoy a speed boat ride on Loch Lomond.

It was truly wonderful, the sun was out. We got to witness some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, all while wondering if we were going to fall off the boat and die :P

For lunch we drove over to Helensburgh, which isn't far from Lock Lomond for a Trip Advisor recommendation, but communications had gone amiss and the place we went to visit was a wee indoor cafe: which is completely unappealing on a sunny Scotland weekday.

So we asked in at a shop and were told there was a pub with a lovely beer garden overlooking the water not far down the road, and off we went.

The Commodore Does indeed have a lovely beer garden with a gorgeous outlook. And I must say, a bloody good menu.

It was almost too easy for me to make my selections. My laser-beam eyes spotted Pork Belly £11.99 on the mains, and there really wasn't a need to continue looking after that.

For starter I chose the prawn salad, large £9.95.

The starters came out almost immediately, which is awesome, but only half of our tables starters. I could hear my mum in the back of my head screaming "don't you dare start untill everyone has their meals!!" but we began anyway.

The salad was astonishing! The prawns were fresh, bursty and full of flavour! Served with mixed green leaves, tomato berries, slices of mild chili, pomegranate, mango and a delicious dressing. It really, really was spectacular, perfect even! My only very wee criticism would be to dress the prawns, whether with a small splash of olive oil, and even a last minute garnish of herbs just to give them some shine, to make them pop a little.
 Miss K and Miss E ordered the Fish Cob Salad for their mains... what a cracking dish!
 Okay, before I become a gushing mess about how BRILLIANT this meal was, I will put it into context. When we got to lunch I was not all that hungry, peckish maybe, so after the salad, then this main, I contemplated -and not briefly, for a good 5 to 10 minutes- ordering another serve!!!

So from left to right we have potato mash, pork belly, apple fritter and black pudding in the background.
 I don't even know how to objectively describe this meal... as I sit here and try to type I am awash with emotions. The pork fell apart when I touched it with my fork, the gravy was so rich and velvety, the fritter has the loveliest light batter, the apple within ripe and sweet. The black pudding was such an awesome accompaniment crispy at the edges and working so well with everything on the plate. Oh got this meal made me happy.

How I left the plate.

For drinks we shared a couple of very quaffable bottles of Rose. It was such a lovely, relaxed lunch, and a perfect concluding chapter to our time at the Loch.

Happy birthday Miss K, hope you enjoyed your birthday as much as I enjoyed my Pork Belly.

Monday, 18 June 2012

GBK Edinburgh

 Young D and I had 2 things to do yesterday before we allowed ourselves an afternoon of drinking. Buy a jacket and change an appointment. Sensationally, we managed to do both really quickly, so all we needed was to fill our bellies. D suggested GBK or Gourmet Burger Kitchen and I enthusiastically agreed.

I knew what I was going to get before I even got there... the Kiwiburger (which I still think should be the Aussie Burger) and D wanted the Satay Chicken burger. We would split them and share.

The Kiwi Burger (which you may remember from my post in Liverpool) contains Beef, beetroot, pineapple, egg, cheddar... things that Aussies love on a burger.

Much to both of our disappointment, GBK have stopped their Satay burger, so we went for the Tokyo Jim: Chicken on a brioche bun, with asian slaw, Tokyo BBQ sauce and salad.

For sides, the chunky chips and onions rings. A Savannah Dry Cider for me, and a Budvar for D.

While anxiously awaiting our burger meal, we prepped our table with salt, pepper, CHICKEN SALT (the best invention in the world), and grabbed some peanuts to nibble on.

This was my first try of Savannah, and I have to say, it was really lovely. VERY dry (as says on the lable) but very drinkable.

Firstly our chips, onion rings and dips arrived. The onion rings were beautiful, the chips were not AS crunchy as they could have been. The menu says double cooked, but I don't think they were. Nonetheless, still delicious, and of course, with the addition of chicken salt- almost perfect.
I apologise for the dodgy pictures, I really struggle to get still shots from my phone.

Here is the Kiwi Burger... The king of burgers, even looking at these pics makes me happy.
Everything about this burger is perfect, the big chunky beef patty is juicy, the cheddar melted across it, the egg oozing through the cold and sweet pineapple and the lovely refreshing beetroot. I just want this burger everyday.
The Tokyo Jim. The chicken piece was massive, but cooked perfectly and not dry at all. The BBQ sauce had a lovely heat. In my opinion could have used something creamy, some mayo or a creamy soft cheese. I added garlic mayo dip to mine.

Our halvsies plate.
I love going halvsies with people. Not many people are all that keen on it, but I just love the option to try more things. Are you a sharer?

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Yesterday in Edinburgh the weather was absolutely terrible, but I simply needed to go grocery shopping. So I rugged up, jumped on a bus and headed to the Retail Park near my place.

I have learnt, very slowly, that if I go shopping on an empty stomach I will buy at least one of everything in the whole supermarket. Yes, yes I know most people learn this their second or third time of shopping, I'm a little slow on the pickup.

Anyway, I had a look in Boots for something small, a wrap or sandwich, but they all looked old and mooshy. My only other option was KFC. Now, I have only had KFC one time since I have been over here, and if left me with less-than-pleasant memories, I would go into detail, but I had a couple of beers last night and my gag reflex is a little too sensitive this morning.

So I wandered into the foreign abyss and actually had to study the menu. LOL seriously, noone studies menus at fast food joints!

I had decided on a BBQ rancher wrap, and a small gravy. (I used to love KFC gravy so much I'd eat it straight with a spoon). So I gingerly approached the counter to order my meal.

'AHA' the counterboy pronounces 'You can get a box set for cheaper and it comes with 2 sides and a piece of chicken!', what clever up-selling.

Now dispite the fact I wasn't overly hungry, or the fact that this very lovely attendant was speaking at 1000 words-per-minute and I couldn't really understand what he was saying I agreed, I think, to a BBQ rancher box meal.

Something in the style of this, but with a wrap, or 'twister' as it's known in the Colonel's world.

Here's where it got confusing... for me anyway. So I was offered 2 sides, after I had already told the lad I wanted a meal and a small gravy... so chips and gravy, but I was offered a side order and had my options listed to me... 'err corn?' I responded, paid my money and waited.
Even with all of the communication problems I ended up with my wrap, a piece of chicken, drink, chips and gravy, and no corn.

 So this is how it showed up. It's a fair whack of food for £5.19

The chips were dead cold, but as in Australia too, the gravy was served radioactively hot... so they balance each other out, kind of. The gravy was just as amazing as I remembered. The 7up tasted just a little of washing up detergent.

The chicken leg was luke-warm, but the skin was amazing. One I peeled the skin away, the actual size of the leg underneath was about a third of the size of the outer-coating, but it was really succulent. I must state however, the meat tasted about as much as chicken as Big Mac meat resembles sirloin steak.
 My precious gravy. And yes, before anyone mentions it... I know what goes into it, and I still love it.
 So the wrap doesn't look anything like what the picture suggested it would. And it didn't really taste anything of how I imagined it would. The BBQ sauce tasted like if you leave a bottle of ketchup standig for ages and it gets a watery bit on top... exactly like that, but tangier.

The chicken has the most unusual texture... like if tofu went stale.

So my KFC experience was 50/50. The gravy was still great, and I still love the chip/gravy combo. The chicken was good, if I'm not expecting chicken. I will stay away from the Twister next time, but you know what, I think I'll probably be back.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Food Porn 2

Time for another clearup of pics that didn't make it into full posts... or as I like to call it food porn.

These were from the Links Tav at the start of Edinburghs second summer (I think it lasted 5 days). K's Salsa burger looked amazing but her onion rings had a scarily radioactive tinge to them, dispite being dead cold.
 I went for three choices off the tapas menu, chicken, calamari and prawns... all were awesome.
 Burgers are definitely one of the sexiest foods. Ooze baby, ooze.
 Table spread from one of Mr and Mrs A and I's sunday lunches. Picked up this fantastic alcohol-free sparkling Elderflower wine from the Farmers Markets.
 Amuse Bouche was wee oatcakes filled with: smoked salmon, cream cheese and caperberries; whitebean puree and semi dried tomato; mozerella, basel and sundried tomato with radish.
I do like a cheese board.

K and I stopped into a lovely farm foods shop, Craigie's for a bite to eat. I ordered the Ploughmans lunch... what a glorious plate. I would eat this for lunch everyday if I could.

 Roast beef, 3 kinds of cheese, 3 kinds of salas, pate, beetroot dip and bread. Amazing!
 This guy thought it was amazing too and kept trying to eat off my plate. He was cute though, so I gave him my tomato. He was happy and we are still friends now.
Does anyone else get freaked out by the fact birds are really quite alot like dinosaurs in their mannerisms?

 Haggis Neeps and Tatties tower on the Royal Mile. Sometimes I still like to pretend to be a tourist. I love haggis! I sure am gonna miss ashtrays on my table when I get back to Oz.
Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream at the cinema... I think we were watching Scientists Adventures with Pirates... It was awesome.
 Ikea lunch! I love Ikea meatballs. Chips were typically soggy... Oh quick rant... why can't anywhere in Scotland do properly crunchy chips... does Hadrian's wall keep all the crispiness on the south side? The dodgiest chippy in England still does better, crispier chips than any restaurant in Scotland. Rant over.
 It does look a bit like a school dinner, but it was lovely, stodgy goodness!
 Lunch at Urban Angel: always a winner. Chickpea parrt flatbead with salads. YUM.

Well that's my blog folder cleared up now. Hope you enjoyed.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Maison Bleue

Yesterday I was lucky enough to watch the Olympic Torch as it arrived into Edinburgh Castle. The torch moment was brilliant and inspiring; the two and a half hour corporate-sponsored farce prior was a disgrace, and took us well past dinner time.

So as us and the thousands of others left the Castle, we ventured towards the Grassmarket, but opened the door to the first restaurant we found, tempted by the sign out the front advertising 2 courses for £12- Maison Bleue.

We took a seat in the lovely bar area while they got our table ready, and as we were seated, inquired into the special, we were told unfortunately that it finished at 6pm, but decided to stay anyway.

The decor was luxurious and quiet, which is always lovely in a restaurant. The menu was french, as per the name, and was really varied with something to suit most tastes. I chose the 3 courses for £25.

To start was a Camembert fondue, a rich tangy molten Camembert served in a pastry cup with 2 pieces of toasted french bread and a dressed leaf salad. It was so indulgent and divine, but I was happy there was leftover bread from the bread basket as the cheese to bread ratio was well out. Apart from this: totally delicious starter.

From the menu I had already decided on the rib filet, that is, until the waiter told me about the fish of the day: Sea bass with cream and garlic, fennel, prawns and rice. With his accent and inheriently better use of adjectives than myself, I was struggling to keep my jaw off the table and ordered it.

It was light, the fish was perfectly cooked, the skin crisp, each flavour delicate enough to balance the plate while still bold enough to hold its own. This was a truly spectacular main.

For dessert there was no other choice: if there is sticky toffee pudding on the menu it's all I can choose (I even discarded the cheese plate for it). I loved it, it was thick and dense and a little crisp around the edges, bathing in a poole of lovely sweet toffee sauce. The perfect amount of ice cream balancing out perfectly.

The staff were lovely, professional while still being chatty. The ambiance- perfect.

For a restaurant that I had never heard of before, and stumbled upon purely by chance, my heart has been taken by it. I will most certainly be back, and will be sure to recommend it to anyone who asks.