Rural Bites

I’ve been perusing the list of places featured in the many categories of the Scottish Restaurant Awards and decided that I have to give some of the out-of-the-city places a bash. We eat out ‘rurally’ when we go hill-walking but usually just anything filling and hot that can be grabbed from a pub after coming off a mountain. Any yet, Scotland is full of excellent restaurants, hiding away in national parks and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it villages. So I’m making a pact with myself to try out all of these in the next year. It’s not much of a chore, I must admit.

First up was the Angler’s Inn,  in Guildtown, just north of Perth. I can honestly say it’s one of the best lunches we’ve had in ages. Granted, we were the only people in the dining room so the atmosphere was somewhat calorie-free but hey, we can entertain each other, can’t we? (We took magazines, naturally).
My main dish of beef medallions and thyme dauphinoise was a slightly stonking £18.95 but was really, really very good. The Inn also has a specials board to be proud of, full of interesting dishes and really fresh seafood options, with 2 courses for £12.95 and 3 for £16.95, a definite bargain for the quality of ingredients and cooking on display. I didn’t see the specials deal until I’d ordered but MrT made the most of it by ordering stalker’s pie (stuffed with gamey delights) and so his bargain lunch made up for my splurge. If you get the chance – have the berry and cream tart too. In fact, have it twice.

My main gripe, not just with the Angler’s Inn but most of the rural restaurants on the list, is the rather limiting service hours – here it’s noon til 1.45pm and 7pm til 8.45pm. Not ideal if you happen to stumble across the place while on a leisurely tour of the area and fail to rock up during the particular hours deemed suitable for lunch and dinner. It just doesn’t seem very hospitable, y’all.

Here’s the rest of my list, if you’re interested.
Blackaddie, Sanquhar 
Ardeonaig, near Killin
Bardoulet’s Restaurant at the Horseshoe Inn, near Peebles. 
Cail Bruich, Bridge of Allan 
 The Cross, Kingussie  
Captain’s Galley, Caithness  
Angler’s Inn, Guildtown 
Peat Inn, near Cupar, Fife.
Glenapp Castle, south of Girvan, on the coast.


This is something I heard about over at Meg’s Sew Liberated and decided I need to be a part of. Currently we shop at a farmers’ market and I have dithered with the idea of vegetable box delivery but it doesn’t work terribly well when you work 5 days a week and live in a second-floor flat with no safe spot for a box of greens to wait until you come home to munch them. I like the idea being ‘forced’ to eat more seasonally though and synching with what’s growing well and what’s tasting best.

I’d love to have an allotment too (and am very envious of a certain Knatter that does) but I have zero knowledge about vegetable growing and the waiting list for a plot is Glasgow is years long just now. Plus I have no real time to dedicate to it which is glum-making but true.

The gist of a CSA project though is that instead of a farmer growing produce and selling it on at a price of £x per kilo, or even £x per vegetable box filled with available produce, the farmer sells a ‘slice’ of each season’s produce. So, for example, several families (or couples or individuals, obviously!) pay a monthly standing order, or a lump sum for a ‘season’ and get a share of the goods harvested (or it could be dairy and meat too). The farmer has a dedicated base of custom which affords him a bit of secure income to develop and improve quality on the farm, which in turn means better, happier, local food for supporters. Information on how the system works can be found here , a list of Scottish CSA projects here  and a case study on a project near Edinburgh here.

I love the idea of going to pick up my food from someone I know has grown it ethically, that that person and my diet and my community is thriving on it all. There is a real emphasis on community, supporters are encouraged to visit the farms to learn about the way livestock and produce live and are grown, even to participate in some cases – there are also social gatherings meaning you can forge a relationship with your farmer, your fellow supporters and your food. What more could a food-obsessed girl want?

Sure, sometimes the strawberries will fail and I’ll have to forgo my Eton mess but that’s the way it works, isn’t it? I can always make apple pie instead!

 I’m gutted there’s not currently a project in place anywhere near me – I’m going to start speaking to some people to gauge interest and see if something can be started up though. Happy food, happy growers and happy eating for Glasgow!

Visiting the Shawlands Farmers’ Market in Queen’s Park was one little item my 101 list but it’s now become a big part of how we eat.
The market comes every fornight and I buy what I need for the next two weeks and plan our meals around that. It means there are fewer nights of realising there’s nothing in the fridge and dashing to M&S with a sweaty £20 note in my hand. Or ending up having beans on toast (again). Or of wasting food because I’ve forgotten it was there before it goes off or deciding there’s nothing to ‘go with’ it.

So, in the spirit of being more organised and adventurous with recipes, I write a list of the dinners we’ll have for the next 14 days (taking into account eating out etc) and try to slip as many new things in as possible. And since most of the main parts of the dishes are from the farmer’s market, it tends to be pretty seasonal too.

Here are a few highlights of what’s coming up:
Moroccan Spice and Lemon roast chicken
Chicken and sweet leek pie (recipe says turkey but we’ll have chicken leftovers)
Mirin-glazed salmon
Lamb curry (via Jamie Oliver and his mate Peter)
Sea bream with pesto and roasted tomatoes (Recipe is for cod but I have sea bream to use!)
Finally, I have some smoked mackerel so will be trying a couple of these babies.

I will report back on which recipes make it onto the ‘OMG, can we have that again this week??’ list.

Food and Dance

I say dance – that’s a very loose description of me doing ‘zumba’. I’m completely addicted though – a Latina dance/aerobics mish mash. It’s extremely fun. Imagine doing exercise without realising you’re doing it. That’s zumba. If you look like a drunken baby giraffe whilst trying to keep up, that’s ok. In fact, that’s mean you’re doing it right.

Since I’m burning off that massive amount of calories while prancing about a bit twice a week, I’ve had to find new places to consume deliciousness. I have found Cookie – an Italian restaurant in Shawlands, with a difference. It’s ethos is to bring good food and cooking back into our own kitchens, not just something we have when eating out. It runs a range of cookery classes, loads of food and wine events (a movie night where they serve dinner while you watch a film!) plus a fab deli and grocery section. And the staff are always very happy to tell you where to buy the best ingredients and how to make amazing Italian food at home.
One the night we went in, there was one waiter who managed the whole place admirably and one chef, who managed to get really great dishes out of the kitchen while rustling up a lemon and polenta cake for the next day and baking some rosemary and dried tomato bread rolls. Wow. The shin of beef dish was pretty wow too.

In the spirit of Italian cookery, I made this bolognese sauce the other night. Now I know, spaghetti bolognese is generally nothing to write home about but this so is. Seriously, whip out that fountain pen and get scribbling, the folks will want to know all about it.

Five years ago someone (my fifty-year-old male boss actually!) told me the most efficient way of folding a fitted sheet. Simple brilliance! It really shouldn’t still give me a tingle of wonder when I fold a sheet now but the Fifties-housewife domestic goddess hidden, deeeep, inside me loves it (she’s a slattern, by the way, she should be ashamed of herself.)

Anyway, a second ray of illuminatingly obvious storage perfection shone on me today. I’m slightly apprehensive about mentioning it in case everyone already does it and the only possible comment that one could leave on this post is ‘Seriously, you don’t do that? Give your so-called inner housewife/slattern a slap from me’. But here we are anyway:

So, when you’re putting your (freshly pressed? Pfft!) underwear in your underwear drawer – in order to keep matching bras and panty-garment-type things together, to save the ‘getting ready in a rush sweary panic’ whereby all underwear scarpers, leaving you with one stripey sock, those pants with the snapped elastic and a terrifying tangle of opaque black tights – simply fasten the back strap of your bra through the leg hole of said panty-garments. Hurrah! They are now locked together forever in a tidy and organised union, or at least until your deign to wear them.

I know, it’s pathetic. I know I need to take delight in more significant things. I know this makes it seem as if the only delicates I wear are perfect matching sets (so not the case). But it made me happy!

Things what I wants

I’m considering taking some holiday from work in the next couple of weeks so I have time to get making (and redecorating my house as we’re hoping to sell it soon but I’ll bypass that chore for now).

I don’t have a child by I can imagine a few who’d be delighted to have this completely amazing play kitchen made for them. Help is at hand here , thanks to the lovely Jane Little (there are other versions in her photostream too, v pretty!)

Please, someone tell me why I haven’t yet painted my own Matryoshka dolls ?

Or bought this pretty book on remaking dresses and set immediately to frantic work?

I also want to bake this cake. Now Then eat copious slices of it.

Gah, the leap from 4 working days to 5 has really taken its toll on my crafting time. Must rememdy that. Stat.

I made it.

I feel like I’ve dragged myself here, to Friday, with sheer grit and brute (brute=hamster) force. I think it was the promise of spring last weekend, a broken promise that turned into a rather grey and busy week that has made it seem so lengthy.

But here we are. On Annie’s recommendation, I had Hasselback potatoes with dinner last night (delicious, by the way!) so I am heading into the weekend with satisfied taste buds. I’m also going to try Nick’s on Glasgow’s Hyndland Road for lunch on Sunday and have high hopes for that.

My lovely cousin is coming for lunch on Saturday, we’ll be eating this and then going out for coffee and cake and a visit to my favourite florist, here. Cake can be consumed freely as I’m now a fully-fledged gym member and celebrated this fact last night with a Zumba class. I was utterly atrocious at it (think attempting Latino-dancing, booty-shaking and much whooping… while also jogging on the spot) but it works, in that I left out of puff and red of face. Next week: circuits. I’ve been warned, sinisterly, of the horror of circuits. I’m brave though – see above for reference to sheer grit and brute/hamster force.

And finally, I’ll be scampering around town on the trail of my Glasgow Film Festival schedule – to see Rookies tonight and American:The Bill Hicks Story tomorrow night. Gentleman Broncos (last Monday) was really very good. Funny and weird, leaving you distinctly unsettled and unsure why. Very similar in style to Napoleon Dynamite, I’d say.

And so my lovelies – what are you doing with your weekend? And if it involves ironing/child-wrangling/walking around cold, wet forecourts looking for a new second-hand car – then what would you rather be doing with your weekend?