People visit Scotland for many different reasons – wildlife, scenery, the Loch Ness monster, tartan, golf, distilleries and whisky, but you may be surprised to find it is a country full of unusual food and unusual delicacies. Our family excitedly wait for their foodie presents each time we take a trip – Edinburgh Rock, Scottish tablet and of course shortbread. Up in the highlands you will find another family favourite - Chocolate Macaroon bars – sweet, very sweet, chocolatey and coconutty you may be surprised (as we were!) to find one of the key ingredients is potato! Like any confection you can find the pre packaged varieties and, if you’re very lucky, delicious home made bars. Packed full of sugar – you definitely need a sweet tooth, but they are a must try if you ever visit.
Fish and chip shops are in the abundance, particularly in and around the many fishing villages. The fish is fresh and delicious served with lovely chips and don’t forget your pickled egg! The default setting is ‘battered’ – pizzas, burgers, mars bars…in Scotland everything is improved by some batter - so make sure you ask if you want it plain!
Breakfasts are a joy with red, white and black puddings, home made haggis (just don’t ask what’s in it!), sliced venison, fresh salmon and my particular favourite the very healthy fried potato scone! Porridge oats with honey or salt, fresh cream or even a splash of whisky! Flat, layered pastries called ‘butteries’ - like croissants someone’s sat on and very salty; oatcakes and the heavy ‘plain’ bread without any side crusts!
There’s Cranachan and Dundee cake for afters; Irn Bru and the obligatory whisky to drink and don’t leave without trying the world famous Tunnock wafers and teacakes.
We’ve tried it all (well nearly!). So, roadtrip 2019 – where there any surprises in store in the culinary world?
We tried our very first maple bacon doughnut in a diner at Port Edgar! Salty and very sweet it was a great start to the holiday! This was closely followed (some days later) by an Irn Bru cupcake and some delicate caramel pastry tart stuffed full of cream! The best scrambled eggs we’d ever had at the Ardgowan Hotel, St Andrews and the largest most delicious, one scoop of ice cream, at Shorty’s Ice cream parlour in Ballater. But for us its not all about the eating out – we shared picnics on the town centre green in Balleter, the harbour walls in Nairn and seal watching in Southend.
Good job we did a lot of walking – just need to hunt down that elusive battered Mars Bar…
"Be our Guest" - Jerry Orbach
The day before Christmas Eve found Adam working at the theatre and Chris out on his works Christmas do, so the ‘girls’ of the family decided to do some ‘cooking with Nanna!’
Nanna is now 79 years young but still bakes like a pro – no measurements or weighing takes place in her kitchen - it’s all done on years of judgements and guesswork! This skill has not been passed down through the family!
It was a lovely afternoon – surprisingly stress free considering there were three girls moving around a kitchen! Grandad, who spent the afternoon reading the Radio Times (Christmas edition!) and watching TV even got to be the first to sample the yule log which turned out with a perfect spiral and tasted delicious.
Think that’s just become a new family tradition!
After getting back to the city centre after spending a great afternoon on the Man City Stadium Tour we were feeling quite peckish. Having made a reservation at one of the city's newest restaurants The Smokehouse we were looking forward to some great food, cooked in the way we like best - over a fire pit!
With the markets in full swing it really was a good job we had booked ahead as the place was packed when we arrived just before 6pm. We were quickly seated and ordered drinks from a great selection - my choice, a pint of Brooklyn.
Somewhere we'd return? Yes though wiser about the portion sizes. At one stage we did think we'd accidentally ended up in an episode of Man Vs Food.
A great atmosphere, some really nice touches like the big beer tanks in the middle of the room and good service.
Full details here: manchestersmokehouse.co.uk/
We've finally finished our cakes with a bit of a flourish with peaked royal icing, reindeers and silver pearls!
Over the last couple of months right from the mixing of the ingredients through to the last silver pearl being placed we've recorded how all this came together. We've also had a bit of fun too doing some timelapse videos - basically speeding up the boring bits - if only we could do this in real life!
So enjoy our final timelapse high speed video from our Christmas Cake - doing the icing - and if you want the full final flourish then as usual go to our YouTube channel.
PS - we'll let you know how they taste too!
So following on from our last video a few weeks ago it's time to re-visit our Christmas cakes that have been tucked away waiting for the next stage of preparation.
I'm pleased to say that both look, smell and, yes they even taste superb too, however as good as they look we do need to ice them to finish them off properly. The first stage of this is to get the marzipan on before we get to the white stuff!
Our latest video shot using our DJI Osmo Mobile is below. Look out for the final stage in the next week or so when we get creative with the icing (and probably a bit messy too!).
For the full version of this the go to our YouTube channel
It's that time of year again!
We've baked our Christmas Cakes for this year and we thought we'd share this with you so we've put a little video together from our YouTube page.
We haven't decorated them yet - they're still actually warm from out of the oven as I'm writing this so we'll be finishing them off in a few weeks and we'll update this page then.
Mmmm some great smells coming from the kitchen!
We started our meal off with 3 diet cokes and a bowl of nachos to share priced at £6.95. the anticipation of your food arriving is so exciting and when you realise your order is on its way down the track it’s time to get your mobile out and film it! You would think that with all this excitement the actual food might be over priced and poor quality but that was not what we found at all. The nachos tasted fresh and came with a delicious salsa and guacamole. They were also surprisingly filling – the bowls look relatively small on first look but three of us shared them and could easily have served four. The bowls of food and drink come racing down the track and arrive at your table with your rollercoaster named numbers on. Below the track is a giant lazy Susan with everything you need available – napkins, cutlery, crockery and sauces. It is a very relaxed and exciting way to eat! For our main courses two of us had the “ULTIMATE ROLLERCOASTER BURGER” described on the menu as a 6oz beef patty, smoked bacon, smoked Cheddar, onion rings & Rollercoaster slaw priced at £14.95 whilst I chose the Grilled Salmon Caesar Salad priced at £12.95 and a bowl of seasoned fries priced at £2.95.
The food was delicious, which I must admit was a surprise to me. We had thought it might be ‘all about the theme’ but actually the menu choices and quality of the food was very good plus the ordering system and delivery of the food is innovative and again very exciting! The restaurant is stylish and unusual but again all eyes are looking up watching bowls of food hurtle down the tracks. The tables were cleared regularly and the young people serving made sure everyone was understanding the method of ordering and enjoying their meals. We had a great time and can’t wait to go back with friends and family! Obviously it goes without saying that you do have to be in the park in the first place, but if you are there then we definitely recommend you give it a try - or maybe that should be whirl?
The ordering and delivery system in action.....
Food with friends is one of our favourite social activities - at home or out. It's always a good time to have a chat and put the world to rights!
Local restaurant The Paddock which is part of the Derby House shopping complex, was the venue for this week's lunch with friends. It's a lovely place to eat- part of a small group of shops in Wrightington. We are regular visitors to Derby House, mainly due to the food hall and especially the butchers there selling meat from Taylors of Ormskirk - great value and excellent quality meats, plus the added bonus of Graham the nicest butcher ever who goes out of his way to make sure you have exactly the right cut of meat you need and Maxine who is always on hand to pass on her cooking tips and meal recommendations as well as serve you with a smile!
The restaurant is beautifully decorated - modern and stylish with a lovely outdoor terrace looking out on to green fields with the M6 just about visible in the distance! During the year they have a multitude of special events from Bavarian nights to Tapas evenings. The staff are friendly and extremely helpful. My 79 year old Dad goes for a morning coffee with them every Friday and they take extra special care of him. He loves it! But a word of warning it gets very busy at peak times so booking is a necessity to ensure you don't have a long wait for a table.
Anyway back to this week's lunch! They say friends have similar tastes and unsurprisingly we ordered the same meal of fish finger butties priced at £10 and described on the menu as 'battered haddock goujons, served on buttered white bloomer with baby gem lettuce, tartar sauce and hand cut chips.'
They came beautifully presented and the menu doesn't do the fish fingers justice as they were two beautifully cooked pieces of haddock . The chips served in a silver bucket were tasty and thick and the whole meal was delicious. Our only complaint was the tartare sauce which had been liberally spread over both pieces of bread. We both love tartare sauce but there was a large quantity of it and if you weren't a fan and hadn't thought to ask to leave it off you might have been very unhappy!
Overall it's a lovely place to eat demonstrated by just how busy the restaurant gets during the day. Always book to ensure you don't have to wait for a table and then sit down to enjoy whatever you choose off the wide range of meals on the menu.
Our table was booked for 8pm and we arrived about 20 mins early which gave us time for a drink at the bar. The place was packed inside and outside with a really good lively atmosphere. Diners of all ages and everyone looking relaxed and happy.
We were seated at our table just after eight and promptly served by the first of a steady stream of young, friendly and very professional staff. Our table was great – situated at the front of the busy room with a good view of the restaurant and the outdoor eating areas alongside. Comfy seats, stylish decorations it was a very good start to the evening!
We finished the evening off with one portion of warm mini Eccles cakes priced at £6.00 described as “traditionally baked Eccles cakes from Richardson’s bakery served with black tea syrup and Cornish clotted cream” – local produce always a good choice – and a portion of chocolate brownie bites priced at just £3.50 described as “little chocolate chip and pecan brownies, for when you can’t manage a full dessert!” I sampled the tiny mouthfuls of the brownies and they were exquisite – with the most delicious salty caramel sauce surrounding them. They were the perfect end to the meal – and although described as a small option we shared them between three of us!