Friday, 22 August 2014

5 Things

5 happy moments from this week:

1. Two breezy, busy days in Edinburgh
4. Tarator
5. Stretching

And one unhappy evening in A&E and the following day in bed.

Hope you have a fabulous holiday. I'm off to Italy for some sunshine. Ciao for now!


Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Gardener's Cottage

We snuck away to Edinburgh for a bit of festival fun over the weekend. Days were packed full of shows, coffee, walking, cake, photos and food.

The foodie highlight was a Monday lunch at the Gardener's Cottage. Maman and papa were so excited to take us to this place. This was reassurance enough that it was going to be the perfect Monday afternoon.

We turned off the main road and snuck up a garden path. The chef was in the garden, planning a menu for the evening. One thing for sure: the food here was seasonal and fresh. From the garden to my plate. Expected in the countryside. A wonderful discovery in the city centre.

Bread and butter and carrot & ricotta dip with a glass of warming red when we had stepped through the door, away from the Edinburgh chill.

Industrial metal lights hang over long tables, the kitchen spills into the main room, a magical private room sits next door, and the loo is hidden through the kitchen (perfect for us nosey people). 

I'd heard wonderful things about the lobster (T had had it a few days before), so that was my decision made. As if I needed an excuse to order a Scottish lobster. B went for deer with potato dumplings and maman some barbecued leeks.

Everything took a little while to appear, but it was beautiful when it did. Not rustic farmhouse cooking. Prettily presented, balanced, thought-through plates for happy, hungry faces.

Just because we couldn't resist, we delved into a beautiful summer tart. I think the colours and height in this picture tell you enough.

Highlight: the beautiful garden.
Lowlight: very slow.

The Gardener's Cottage, 1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5DX 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Raw Duck

Raw Duck was another one that was stuck on my list of places to go for far too long. Although, this wasn't entirely my fault: there was a restaurant disaster and the whole place fell in a hole. This put my visit off for a while until it was resurrected.

The original site was abandoned and a new site created, far away from the threats of diggers and drills. I only peaked my head into the original Raw Duck, but that was enough to tell me that this new site is an entirely different venture. An open, light, airy, white, plant-filled space with long concrete tables, wooden sharing tables, white lights, walls filled with pickling and fermenting fruit and vegetables, vast wine racks, and the ever-trendy open kitchen.

There is a slightly funny smell to the place, but I guess that's the result of lots of kimchi hanging around in the same space for an extended period of time.

We traipsed through the rain on a miserable weekday evening to find an almost empty restaurant. The rain was keeping people hidden away in their homes, making the restaurant quiet and echoey. We were grateful for the music.

What was to come was a mixture of ferments, pickles, and fabulous combinations. Several plates shared, and a couple of glasses of natural wine. Which I am yet to fully understand. Let's start, shall we?

Miso carrots. The most underwhelming dish of the evening. The miso had made the carrots soggy. I love miso, but I don't really want a carrot which has just been dunked in it for far too long. Thanks.

Labneh, dukkah and olive oil. Stunning. Superb simplicity.

Malenca, iceberg and buttermilk dressing. A little too citrusy pour moi, it threw the whole plate of balance a little, but almost, almost there.

Buttermilk fried chicken & fermented soy & chilli sauce. The buttermilk fried chicken seems to be a competitive environment these days. And this one fares very well. Not greasy, but crispy with tender chicken and plenty of dark, umami-rich soy.

Salt cod & pea fritters, cucumber, curry leaves & sumac. The star of the show. Those curry leaves were brilliant.

Grilled aubergines, miso, ponzu, green onion and sesame. Now this is how to cook with miso. One I will be trying my hardest to recreate at home. 

Bellies were full, wine wasn't quite finished, and the rain had ceased, so we left for home without pudding or tea. We'd had enough pickles, ferments, drinking vinegars, and rather unfriendly service by this point. But not for ever. It's back on my list to go for breakfast or brunch. Let's hope for no more building works to completely ruin this plan before then.

Highlight: Pretty plates.
Lowlight: Funny smell.

Raw Duck, 197 Richmond Road, London, E8 3NJ