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Archive for the ‘101 in 1001’ Category

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.

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Farmers’ Market

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.

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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.

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A friend of mine is giving up caffeine for Lent. We’re not even 12 hours in and I can see him twitching with coffee withdrawal symptoms – a bad sign. I decided to support him by giving up chocolate.
40 days and 40 nights, people! I don’t know what I was thinking either. I don’t think I’m particularly chocoholic by nature but knowing I’m not supposed to eat it means that the only thoughts in my head are thus ‘Oooh, Green and Black’s maya gold… no wait, a Twix! Do Oreos count? I want a Flake!’ So cliched.

In an effort to draw my panting brain away from that, I’m concentraing on savoury delights. Recently I’ve made a couple of very easy, yummy things. One, these crash potatoes. They were part of a meal but I’d happily sit down to a big plate of just these chewy, crispy, sticky delights. (Fab blog there too.)
Next, this oven-baked thai rice curry. Not terribly exciting I suppose but I was bowled over by how easy and quick it was to make (very hand off!) and really rather tasty (thrown together for surprise visitors. I say surprise – they’d told us of their intentions to come over a week before but I’d forgotten. Hence ‘surprise!’)

And finally, I’m so looking forward to making this (going to do it for Mother’s Day lunch next month). I haven’t cooked ox cheeks before but have seen them in Waitrose and never been quite sure how to make them taste good. I’m hoping I’ll have conquered that soon…

NEWSFLASH: Just realised it’s National Chip Week! Chocolate, begone!

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Catching up

Right, I’m back at it. (Why is my life currently been run at a 30mins per hour speed so I only manage to ever do half of what I intend…? Including blogging.)

However – I have found a wee bit of time to do some of those things that I’ve really been meaning to do but, as they aren’t shouting loudly enough for my attention, have been languishing at the bottom of my list.

So – I have an address book! And it’s filling up nicely.
And I have a travel journal. I decided not to write retrospectively so it’s only got our trip to the Cotswolds in it so far but I’m sure that’ll pick up soon too (more on that later!)

I went to my favourite new antique place on Saturday and bought a fab 1930s mirror for my bedroom. I’m working on redecorating that room this week so here’s to three nights of sleeping on the sofa… (photos to follow! Not ones of me sleeping.)

I learned a poem for Burns’ Night. One that I felt was quite apt for the moment, with me being so needy and all. I studied this poem at school when I was eight years old and the idea of the friends you had then being your friends until you were really old seemed completely plausible. In fact, I couldn’t imagine not being friends with my ‘bestest pals’ forever. (Must facebook those people, it’s been a long time!)
So it’s recently I’ve come realise how special long-lasting friendships are and how hard we should all work to hang on to them.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And mony a cantie day, John,
We’ve had wi’ ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we’ll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

And finally, in the spirit of indulgence and, importantly, 101 list ticking – I went for a lovely massage  at a new day spa . I may have dozed off at one point. I may have drooled very slightly onto the floor from where my face rested in the hole in the table. I may never admit to this though.

So. What have you been up to?

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A place to make

I’ve finally got round to finding a wee nook for all my craft stuff. What a relief! I say ‘all’ my craft stuff, and that’s not quite true. There’s a load of lesser used material in a trunk in my bedroom but for the moment, here is the new home of my day-to-day sewing stuff.

Just need to paint it white and put on a beautiful new jewelled drawer handle I got at Bombay Duck and I’m done! Hmm, maybe retake the shot in daylight (when we get some) – it’s every so slightly fake-tan orange, no?

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Figs and Pigs

Cheeseburger. Supreme of chicken in rosemary and garlic. Rocket salsa verde. Chips. Wine.

It’s been a good 24 hours, gastronomically, here at badsparklythings Towers. Three days into my 101 in 1001 challenge and I’ve ticked two (of five) new Glasgow restaurant visits off my list. The Two Figs was the better of the pair, the chicken and rocket salsa verde were perfectly cooked and much more flavoursome than you might expect from chicken and leaves. Really great service too.
The Blind Pig was also good, albeit rather chilly (nowhere isn’t cold today, I suppose?), and the burger was a bit on the greasy side. And the bun, oh the bun – not the best. Make good buns. Seriously, a burger is not a good burger without an excellent bun. This one was too fluffy and fell apart. And buttered. WTF?
The Two Figs’ chips were also superior, although that was a close (and very happily-researched) call.

The lovely Laura chummed me to Byres Rd today, as dining companion as well as shopping assistant, helping me plough my way through the little treasure trove, Vintage Guru.
A delightful way to spend the most freezing afternoon since 1962. There may also have been some ‘just because’ gift purchasing but that’s for another day.

And finally, number 42 of the list was neatly ticked off – dentist duly visited, chompers are looking very shiny! Quite a productive day all in!

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