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Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

I would like to start by saying – Glasgow, I could not be prouder!!

Out of everybody that I’ve spoken to on the topic, we had no idea how much the Commonwealth Games was going to affect the city. We weren’t expecting the ridiculous underground queues to be quite so big (use the shuttle buses people), so many people to be milling about in the city but most of all we never expected to feel so much pride. There was a point during the opening ceremony that I was scared that we could pull it off after a massive dose of clichés on my telly. Alas, I needn’t have worried. After all, People Make Glasgow.

 

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I went to two games sessions – athletics and diving – and enjoyed them both even although I’m not particularly sporty. Contrary to what I had heard we found it relatively easy to get to Hampden. The shuttle bus queue was cleared in ten minutes and it was a fast journey. The athletics was action packed with up to 4 events going on at the same time. We had excellent seats in front of the high jump, discus throw and hammer throw. We were also treated to watching the long jump, 100m, 400m and 1500m.

Bobrownicki for Scotland

Bobrownicki for Scotland

We got a train to Edinburgh to watch the mens 1m and womens synchronised 10m diving. Wow, it was crazy hot in there and we ended up eating ice-cream even although it was raining outside. The diving was fascinating to watch, especially the synchronised dives. Such skill.

 

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I spent much of the two weeks working but, any time that I wasn’t in work, I was off exploring the pop-ups and events that were around the city. My highlight was definitely the Merchant City Festival. They host it every year but this year was bigger and better than I have ever seen. Every road was crammed with stalls & food places and there were a couple of stages with live music. Notably, the Brunswick Hotel/Brutti Ma Buoni had a big stage, a BBQ style grill and bar stalls that we spent a couple of nights at. If they do all of this again next year then I think I should ask for that week off and take advantage. The weather behaved too so it felt like we were in a different city!

 

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Pop-up restaurant The Fish Plaice on Trongate went down a storm. This unique place fused Scotland’s freshest catch with live DJ sets under fairy lights. We tried to go a second time but the waiting list was massive – surely a sign that they should become a permanent fixture?! Turn the music down a bit and build a toilet block and you’re ready to go.

 

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Glasgow Green also had transformed into the Live Zone, which had big screens showing that days events, a stage with dancers & musicians and a host of activities. I was not brave enough to try to outrun Usain Bolt in front of an audience but I did enjoy watching others. It was lovely to spot the Three Sisters Bake van but I felt that we needed more local stalls to fully utilise the games for local benefit.

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George Square had the official Commonwealth Games shop and The Big G 3D installation to mark the event. Then Buchanan Street & Argyle Street were full of street performers – from jazz bands to juggling with knives. Certainly made my usual walks more interesting.

 

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There was also the Clyde Trail where you could download a map to find the twenty-something Clyde mascots around the city. I haven’t spoken to anyone who managed them all but Glasgow Food Geek got pretty close.

 

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The city got a bit of a clean up before all of our visitors and I think the new artwork is great.

 

Processed with Moldiv

 

C’mon Scotland! Loved the Wellington Statue getting into the spirit of things.

 

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What a two weeks… with Caledonia now on my phone and a refreshed love for Glasgow I wish we could do it all again.

 

 

Finally, I wanted to share some more of my photos so have a gander-

 

Meeting James Heatly after his dive

Meeting James Heatly after his dive

Female sync divers

Female sync divers

Tom Daley supporting the other divers

Tom Daley supporting the other divers

Breaking Bread street food

Breaking Bread street food

Limited time Irn Bru shop

Limited time Irn Bru shop

The Big G

The Big G

Brunswick Hotel outside bar

Brunswick Hotel outside bar

Art at the Fish Plaice pop up

Art at the Fish Plaice pop up

Hampden pano

Hampden pano

Hampden athletics

Hampden athletics

Irn Bru poem

Irn Bru poem

Scottish busking

Scottish busking

Ping Wan Coombes on Buchanan Street

Wan Ping Coombes on Buchanan Street

Edinburgh Commonwealth Pool

Edinburgh Commonwealth Pool

Glasgow Green Stage

Glasgow Green Stage

Loved the wee remote controlled cars used to return the discus

Loved the wee remote controlled cars used to return the discus

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Heatly

Heatly

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Laugher

Laugher

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Edinburgh Foodies Festival

On Sunday we nursed our hangovers in a rather novel way. We went to a Foodies Festival in the rain! The atmosphere on the train through to Edinburgh was not very upbeat and I was starting to worry how we’d all get through the day. But it turns out that it was the perfect cure for us – food, fresh air and whisky samples.

We had checked the weather beforehand and it was rain and more rain so wellies and trainers were dug out. I felt like I was back at Rockness using the portaloos in my wellies. Except that they were posh portaloos that flushed and I had actually showered that morning.

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Typically Scottish weather!

Our plan formulated on the train was to walk around the whole thing and then we would start eating and buying things. We stuck to the plan for all of ten minutes after reading the menu at Mark Greenaway’s Bistro Moderne – the tempura soft shell crab had to be mine. It was hands down the best cooking that I have ever had at an outside venue and it has made me want to go to Bistro Moderne – success for both sides.

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We visited the Top Out Brewery stall and found that beer and soft shell crab actually taste good together. An edinburgh company, they have only been brewing for a little over a year but are growing all the time. Expect to see their beers in shops more and more over the next year.

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After catching a bit of Stephen K Amos from Celebrity Masterchef at the chefs theatre we wandered from stall to stall. There was a big selection of mainly Scottish producers and produce varied from oils to seafood, whisky to peanut butter marshmallows. Safe to say we were enjoying ourselves.

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As we were walking round we were taken in by the smell of meat from The Pantry so we stopped to share a roll. Not any roll, this was a Thistly Cross cider braised pork shoulder, red turnip slaw, apple & thyme sauce with a whisky & barbeque sauce roll… drooling as I write about it.

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Back to the chefs theatre because I wanted to see Adam Handling from Masterchef. Clearly passionate about his food, a great guy to watch and I would love to dine in his restaurant.

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There was a champagne tent so we had a couple of Strawberry Bellini’s whilst chatting to the folk at the Discover The Origin tent. Discover the Origin are trying to raise awareness of five key European products: Bourgogne wines, Parma ham, Douro wines, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and port. I’m a believer that you can tell the difference when it comes to cured meat and this Parma ham was delicious. I also loved that they were serving the Parmigiano out of the shell and letting you compare the flavours of different maturities. They don’t even charge you as it is a big campaign to raise awareness.

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Moreover, because there was four of us on the day, we could buy one food item and share it so that we had the opportunity to taste more producers food. The gents were angling for more food and I honestly have never seen them as happy as when they spotted the Gaucho BBQ. Meat on the bone, barbequed and smoky – they were in dream land.

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There were plenty of drinks companies to keep us entertained too. Lots of craft beer, gins, whisky, wine and cocktails. The Riot Bar provided much needed shelter from the downpour and there was also a sheltered eating area but I’d love if they made this bigger for next year.

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The live entertainment stage provided some tunes to bob your head along to whilst munching and shopping.

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I have to mention my personal favourite stall of the day – Goya 23. Iberico ham on the bone coupled with quality red wine, all served by a friendly and knowledgeable gentleman. After listening to much chat from us self-confessed pork obsessives, he even gave us some free samples of the other meats he had.

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Shopping wise I seemed to have an oil obsession on the day because I came home with three oil themed items. Summer Harvest is a company based in Perthshire that turns the bright yellow fields into gorgeous rapeseed oil products. We first came across them at the foodie day at Hamilton Races and now I keep an eye out for their stuff. This time I bought a garlic mayonnaise (proper yellow fresh mayo to eat asap… yes I’ve started) and a chilli & red pepper salad dressing to liven up our Autumn meals. Then I saw the Supernature stall, which is also rapeseed oils and Scottish. Based in the Lothians, they are all about coldpressing rapeseed oil so I got a bottle of the garlic one after extensive tasting on the day of every flavour.

As you can probably tell, we had a grand old time. Mr S even said to me that he wishes they would have this every month – he was extremely impressed. It is a yearly event so we will be getting tickets for next year without a doubt. I think that this sort of event would really work in Glasgow too, and I would love to see it there next year with some of my favourite local producers and food-to-go places from the West coast.

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3 sisters bake

3 sisters bake

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fresh coconut water

fresh coconut water

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Foodies Festival sent us complimentary tickets for the event so that I could be an official blogger for them. As usual, all opinions are my own and honest.

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Fanny Trollopes

My big sister was down visiting me and we were going to a show at the Hydro. I was looking for a restaurant to book and chose Fanny Trollopes.The location was right and I have been a handful of times before and liked it. I had not been for a while after having a mediocre meal but every meal before that left with me raving about Fanny’s so this return visit was long overdue.

 

A bottle of red was ordered but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. We both liked it though. The red wines are all priced between £14.95 and £19.95 – pretty decent prices.

We had a little pre-starter of salmon with salad, crème fraiche and capers. Not usually one for salmon, I tentatively put some on my fork but it was actually lovely. I’d have happily eaten it as a starter with a few more leaves and will keep an eye out for it next time.

 

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We both chose the pre-theatre menu, which is £12.95 for two courses. Our first starter was smoked salmon kedgeree with crème fraiche. It was delicately spiced so the salmon flavour still got a look in and had a slight smokiness. The crème fraiche was nice to bring some zingy creaminess into the dish.

 

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I chose spicy mince koftas with a cucumber and mint dressing as my starter. The cucumber and mint dressing was just like the tzatziki I was eating in Greece earlier in the year and I liked the aromatic koftas. The meat was a little more cooked than I would have done at home.

 

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I’ve had gammon here before and really enjoyed it so as soon as I spotted baked ham on the menu my main course was decided. My sister was convinced by the colcannon so we both had the same. It was good, in fact I’d say great. Comforting, tasty and meaty. The honey and mustard on the ham almost melted into the gravy and the ham itself was melt in the mouth.

 

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We still had a fair bit of wine in the bottle so thought we might as well share a dessert. The weather was rubbish so we stuck with the comfort food theme and ordered sticky toffee pudding. The sponge was soft and there was lots of sauce to scoop up with each mouthful. We struggled to finish it but that wasn’t a reflection on the food – eyes bigger than our bellies.

 

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Fanny Trollopes is another place in Glasgow that often flies under the radar and, as much as I want to keep it to myself, I also want to share it. Our waitress, Harriet, was friendly and accomodating. The pre-theatre menu is remarkably good value for money and they nail the neighbourhood bistro brief.

 

 
Fanny Trollopes on Urbanspoon

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Scran and Scallie

I’ve had The Kitchin restaurant in Edinburgh at the top of my most wanted list for a long time. They have a long waiting list (I’m not the best planner that far in advance) and it would need to be saved for a special occasion so we have not made it yet. Then I heard about The Scran & Scallie, a gastropub in Edinburgh owned by Tom Kitchin & Dominic Jack. They do not accept reservations so there was no real planning required except from getting there before peak dining time because I’d heard that they fill up pretty quickly.

There are a lot of 30th birthday celebrations going on this year and this was one of them. Therefore we arrived in Edinburgh later than planned as we took a gin and tonic detour! To set us up for the walk to Stockbridge we nipped into Harvey Nichols fourth floor Window Bar to enjoy a cocktail with that amazing view.

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It took us about half an hour to walk to Stockbridge but I enjoy looking at all of the old buildings and indulging in a bit of house lust. We arrived about 4.30pm but we were told that they don’t start serving food until 5pm (they also serve lunch earlier) so we could sit and have a drink until service starts. The bar area is quite small and appears to be more for people having a drink waiting for tables than an actual bar.

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Williams Bros £1.95 & Orkney IPA £2.50 (half pints)

Tables have to be back in an hour and a half in the restaurant area. To me The Scran & Scallie is not a pub because in a pub that does food they usually serve meals all day, you’d wouldn’t be told to give the table back so soon on a Wednesday and there would be more people using it as a boozer. It felt more like a restaurant. Not a problem but that is how it appeared to me. If we had arrived an hour earlier I would have been annoyed that the website did not state the food service times and table back policy. We’d come all the way from Glasgow for it- the least they can do in return is be upfront. That is not to take away from the place because the decor and feel of it is a delightful mix of Scottish and Scandinavian with simple furnishings and lots of wood. I really enjoyed our visit.

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Warm bread arrived in a mini sack and I had soon forgotten about our table wait.

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Their whole ethos is ‘from nature to plate’ so I knew that the squat lobster ravioli with asparagus would be freshly made. The three ravioli were in a creamy but fresh sauce and the asparagus was fantastic with it.

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Ox tongue on toast should be the new comfort food, it certainly ticks the rich and satisfying boxes. The bone marrow continued the theme with its jellied meatiness. And the egg, I’m not sure it was even needed, but I never question a soft egg on my plate. Especially a flavoursome, proper farm egg.

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Steak pie, hogget, steak pie, hogget? Choices, choices. I really wanted the ham and chips but I didn’t want us to order the same main. I had never tried hogget before so I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity. It is a slow cooked meat and had an even softer texture than lamb shank. Darker in colour, it is more intense than meat from a younger sheep. To be honest, I found it too strong in flavour for me. I liked the peas surrounding it but felt that some mash would not have gone amiss. I ordered a side of potatoes as well but they did not really match up with the dish and just notched the already expensive (£19) price up.

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The ham, egg and chips came with a side of contented silence. The presentation got top marks from us, the taste of the ham also got top marks. The homemade pineapple salsa is something that we’ve tried to recreate since but have never managed to get it exactly correct. In my opinion the egg did not need the breadcrumbs but that’s being pernickity. I hope that this dish never comes off the menu.

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As I mentioned before, the hogget was rich and I couldn’t manage the whole thing so took it home with me to give to Mr S. Bar my vaccum packed steak at Chez Bruce, it was the fanciest looking doggy bag I’d had.

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Apple crumble came with its own jug of custard. Great balance ratio of fruit to crumble with a slight crunch on top.

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I chose lemon curd and meringue & it came in an elegant champagne coupe. It was a cross between a lemon posset and lemon curd with a layer of biscuity crumble and then delicate piped meringues sitting on top. Lovely.

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It is undeniable that I was impressed by The Scran & Scallie. The food was all of a high standard and the presentation impressive. I still feel slightly confused by the marketing but maybe that’s just me. I won’t be back for three courses because I felt rushed at the end but the ham, egg and chips warrants a second visit.

The Scran & Scallie on Urbanspoon

prices: starters £9

mains £18/19

desserts £5.50/5.75

Eat Cafe

The Pollockshaws Road & Kilmarnock Road area is full of cafés & restaurants that are intriguing & that I want to go to. A few months ago I visited Eat Cafe in Shawlands for the first time – we wanted somewhere nearby that can accommodate a pram and sells delicious food. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the food because it looks like a nondescript cafe from the outside & the name is rather uninspiring. I realised once inside that they have a ‘proper food in relaxed surroundings’ ethos – if only more cafes upped their food game like this. So this time I was back for a second visit to see if it was a one trick pony.

It was a birthday celebration so we started with Sauvignon Blanc – delicious and reasonable at £14.95 a bottle.

I was set on having risotto with smoked haddock, leek and a poached egg from the off (£8.50/£12.50). They also give you the option of having black pudding, which I did. I was very pleased with my pick – rich risotto loaded with smoked haddock surrounded by sweet leeks. The egg was runny and the black pudding should definitely be added if you are at all carnivorous.

 

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The cajun chicken burger (£10.95) next to me looked like a well executed dish and the silence told me that it was. I avoid chicken burgers because they are usually dry but as she cut into this there was juice coming out. Not being a slaw fan she offered it to me and I wolfed it down.

 

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Another burger was put down opposite me for the birthday girl but this time a steak burger (£11.95). This burger was the reason that we were in Eat Cafe for lunch so I think that says everything! The fries were skinny ones that were well seasoned.

 

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We were having birthday desserts, of course we were. The caramel shortcake was balanced with the three elements and heated so it was gooey.

 

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A bakewell slice was served with creme fraiche to cut through the sweetness.

 

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Mrs H had a little tart with ice-cream, if I remember correctly it was citrus. I remember it was custardy so possibly a portugese tart but whatever it was she ate it all.

 

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I don’t think that I’m lying when I say that I had the best dessert. It was a gooey, warm chocolate brownie with toffee ice-cream and my own mini jug of hot toffee sauce. Oh yes. One of those dishes that you make strange noises when you have your first couple of mouthfuls.

 

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Eat Cafe is a marvellous example of Glasgow’s cafe culture. Perfect for a south-side lunch or casual bite to eat.

 

 

 

 
Eat Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Cubatas – Brave Glasgow Tapas

Glasgow is awash with new places to eat and drink. I’m sure that I am not the only one that feels torn between being faithful to the old favourites and the buzz of something new. Trying to balance it is tricky so only the best will survive. It’s almost like restaurants are auditioning for the city in those first few months. I feel for new passionate restaurateurs that are trying to turn their dream into a stable day to day living. It’s brave. So to applaud the bravery I have to try every new place (I can’t be unfair now). I first heard about Cubatas through Yelp and other bloggers and it was all compliments so more than enough to convince me.

Cubatas tapas bar & restaurant is in Elderslie Street in the old Ashoka curry karaoke building, that is in the Finnieston/Charing Cross area of Glasgow. Argyle Street now has so many great restaurants, cafes and bars that it is starting to spill over into side streets like Elderslie Street. It also came with the bonus that we could park right outside.

Tapas always appeals to me because I always want to taste a bit of everything so the menu was always going to work in my mind. Cubatas did throw some non-Spanish curveballs in there like nachos, chicken curry, beer chicken and chilli con carne – I’m reserving judgement on them until I try them but another blogger did recommend the beer chicken.

When choosing our dishes we weren’t sure how many to pick because some of them are much cheaper than what you’d expect. For instance – their chicken skewers are priced at £3.50 when most place would charge £5-6. This is reflected in portion size in most of them and allows you to try one or two more.

We ordered pan de ajo (garlic bread) and olives to stop my tummy rumbling enough to make some food decisions. The size of the olive portion was far larger than we’d expected for £1.50 but we were not complaining. The garlic bread wasn’t too pungent and definitely home-made. Their draft beer is Kozel, a Czech lager that I’d never heard of but that was well suited to a mix of dishes.

Tortilla Espanola is usually what I use to suss out what I think of a tapas restaurant. Cubatas version looked small because it was cut up but I think if it had arrived whole I would not have noticed. This is clearly a well practiced dish with its well-seasoned, flavoursome characteristics. It is the best version that I’ve come across in Glasgow.

For indulgence we ordered bacon wraps with chicken and melting cheese. These were also served on cocktail sticks like a pincho is. Again, the flavour scale was impressive and we were impressed.

The menu has a whole rice section and, instead of the usual paella, we tried the spicy Mexican rice with onions and peppers. In retrospect I wish that we’d had paella because I think it suits a tapas meal better. The rice was pleasant but I wasn’t convinced that it held its own against the other dishes and I would have enjoyed it better with some jerk chicken or something similar.

The last dish to complete our first set was torpedos de chorizo – chorizo wrapped in pastry and oven baked. Quality chorizo warm from the oven with the slight crunch of pastry. This is such a simple idea and we thought they were great.

Tuna salad was next and we both felt it lacked a zingy dressing. I noticed that they have updated their menu recently so they might have changed this already.

Just to really make sure that we got our carb intake we had gone for patatas al graten. This translated into potato gratin and it is a dish that I choose often as its too indulgent for me to justify making at home. It arrived on the table and we were confused because it was not a gratin – it looked like potato skins. We gingerly tried it and it was really very tasty. Like the ingredients of a gratin had been shook up, modernised and put into some potato skins. A certain success but the menu could do with a description change.

A short gap and desserts were calling us. We ordered crema catalana and a mixed ice-cream. I’ll get the negative out of the way first – we felt that the vanilla ice-cream let the pack down. It was not as smooth and rich as the other flavours. On the other hand, the chocolate and strawberry ice-creams were a delight and I would happily order them again.

The crema catalana was the real star here. It was superior to most with notes of citrus and a delectable creaminess.

After that first visit I wanted to take my husband in to experience it too. We shared a cheese and meat platter (ridiculously good value for money), patatas bravas, pork skewers, mixed greens, calamari, gambas pil pil and mushrooms with black pudding. The only one that we weren’t bowled over by was the greens. The rest were delicious and proved to me that my first visit was not good by chance. We had planned to have a pint in the beer garden that the manager was building when I had visited the first time but it was bucketing down. If the sun stays out then we might get to do it soon.

Cubatas has some purse friendly lunch and pre-theatre menus that will entice me to return. It is a casual place and the staff made us feel very welcome. I was watching how the serving staff were interacting with other customers & they were always smiling. It looks like a good place to work and they seemed proud of it.

Glasgow is fierce in more ways than one. We protect what we like and don’t accept any rubbish. The eating out scene is multicultural and varied with Spanish food joining the pack. Personally I love tapas for an informal meal so I can graze on a piece of one food then nibble on another. Tapas may not be in fashion right now but it’ll never go far away in my thoughts. It’s a yes from me.

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I was invited to Cubatas for a complimentary meal. We paid for the second meal after enjoying the first. All of my opinions are honest as usual.

Cubatas Tapas Bar and restaurant on Urbanspoon

Beefing It Up At The Butchershop

I always like when a second visit to a restaurant is even better than the first. It shows me that the first success was not just a fluke and that the place should have longevity. We visited The Butchershop Bar & Grill on Sauchiehall Street last year for lunch and have been meaning to return ever since. There are just too many good places in Glasgow so it has taken us a while to get back there. Two months ago we decided a wee date night was in order so we booked in for an early dinner. I’m a bit behind so it has taken me this long to finish writing about it.

 

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Their pre theatre menu offers two courses for £13.95 (£3 supplement for steak) or three for £17.95. The starter choices were soup, salmon gravlax, meatballs, chicken liver parfait or a beet & blue cheese salad. I didn’t feel in the mood for any of them so I saved myself for my main course but Mr S chose the soup de jour. It was tomato soup and came with bread & rock salt butter.

 

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Enough about the starter, Butchershop is all about the steak. The first time we visited we both had burgers so we were looking forward to trying out their speciality. As well as steak, the pre theatre mains included chicken breast, sea bream, beef burger or leek cannelloni. Unsurprisingly we both had steak – 250g Scottish 28 day aged rump steak to be exact.

 

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First of all we were impressed by the shape of the steak. Might sound strange, but as most steaks come in a thin square or rectangle they can dry out. Not this one. Both were cooked perfectly to our specifications and were juicy inside. The menu stated that it comes with garlic butter or peppercorn sauce but I asked if I could swap this for bearnaise. I barely used any of it because the rump had so much natural flavour that it was surplus to requirement. The Sicilian Statua Negroamaro red wine was a great match for the steak. The fries were nice but in retrospect I should have asked for a side to up my veggie intake.

 

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Mr S spotted sticky toffee pudding for dessert and I settled upon the creme brulee. Both were solid dessert efforts and rounded off the meal nicely.

 

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It was certainly the best rump steak that I’ve had in a long time and the service was efficient & friendly. They run a ‘burger vs steak frites tuesday’ promotion where you get two steaks or burgers and a bottle of wine for £30. Sounds like excellent value to me and a good excuse for a tuesday feast.

 

 

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La Boca – Pretending We’re In Spain

La Boca literally means ‘the mouth’ in Spanish – a strange name for a restaurant I first thought until I came round to the blatant simplicity of it. Feed me, feed me now.

Having heard of this new place online, I convinced Mr S that this was what we needed to do on our day off. Arriving in between lunch and dinner meant that it was fairly quiet but that’s how I prefer it. Draught Estrella was ordered and we began trying to eliminate items from the menu to narrow down our choice. Our waiter had the rubbish job of telling us that their bread delivery had not arrived yet. A new restaurant has such hiccups and it really is not their fault but with so many places selling bread nearby I couldn’t help but think a quick shopping trip could have remedied it. I like to use bread to mop up sauces in the little dishes so I was pretty gutted. If I hadn’t heard such good things I probably would have suggested drinking up and coming back another day but I’m glad now that I didn’t.

 

Instead we stuffed our ‘boca’s’ with queso & jamon (platter £10). The queso in question was sliced manchego and the jamon was of my preferred iberico variety. No cooking required, just quality ingredients, but such a pleasing dish. The iberico had the richness that only iberico jamon has – this is perhaps my most favourite meat ever.

The rest of the dishes came in dribs and drabs as it would in Spain. We ordered sangria and enjoyed the experience. Gambas pil pil (£4.50) had big, juicy prawns and packed a punch – I even enjoyed it without bread. We dunked our fries (£2.50) in and wondered why we had never done this before.

Bread appeared soon after with our brocheta – a skewer of chicken, pepper and onion from the grill (£6.00). A good marinade and barbeque like flavour lifted this simple combination. The roasted salted tomato on the side was very much to my liking and I hope they keep it up with little jazzed up accompaniments.

The star of the show was the secreto iberico (£6.00). We had never tried this before but we had something that sounded similar in Pizarro in London so it immediately piqued interest. When our waiter finished his description with a wide eyed ‘you have to try it’ we knew that he was right. In fact, the meat comes from in between the shoulder blade and the loin of an Iberico pig. It looks like a piece of thin pork, has the texture of really good quality pork with a cooked taste of iberico jamon. It is special indeed and La Boca have excelled themselves by putting this on the menu.

 

The desserts change regularly and the waiter described them for us. One sounded like crema catalana but with biscuit on top instead of burnt sugar so we chose this. When it arrived it was indeed like a rich tea on top with cinnamon but it complemented the crema. Unfortunately the crema was not at all set so after a few spoons we were not enjoying it so much. The owner came over to our table and asked about it before seeing how runny it was and apologised before removing it from the bill. He was so passionate about everything being authentic (he used to live in Spain) and this really impressed us.

 

La Boca could be described as typically Spanish, informal and fun. It is the sort of place that we will take friends to for a catch-up with lots of laughs. Now just to check that they sell port to round off the night…

 

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Competition Time: Win Tickets For Edinburgh foodie Festival!

As I mentioned in my blog’s first birthday post, Girl Around Glasgow is running its first competition!

Foodies Festival is back in Edinburgh’s Inverleith Park on Friday the 8th, Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th of August. It is the biggest celebration of food and drink in the UK and I can’t wait to go as one of their official bloggers (and write about it afterwards). Inverleith Park is half an hour walk from Waverley station or a short taxi journey if it rains.

 

I won’t be taking part in the chilli eating contest but I will check out the (mild section of the) chilli food market and you’ll find me boogie-ing it on down at the vintage tea tent dances. Then I definitely won’t miss the real ale & cider farm. The feasting tent and BBQ area will be where I spend most of my time, no surprise there. Finally, street food avenue with its foods from around the world sounds fantastic.

 

Running for its eighth year, chefs will include MasterChef the Professionals runners-up Adam Handling and Scott Davies, Great British Menu’s Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters, Mark Greenaway of Bistro Moderne, TV Chef Tony Singh, The Pompadour by Galvin Head Chef Craig Sandle, Café St Honore’s Neil Forbes and Glasgow’s The Three Sisters bakers Gillan, Nichola and Linsey. Catch them all at the chefs theatre cooking up their favourite dishes.

 

Courtesy of those generous Foodie Festival folk, I am giving away 5 pairs of day tickets. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is follow this blog by e-mail. You can do this at the right hand side of this page near the top. On a mobile device just scroll down the page and under categories it says ‘follow blog by e-mail’ and fill your e-mail in. Once you have done this, head over to your email inbox where there should be an email from WordPress waiting for you. Click on it to confirm you want blog emails. If you already follow my blog by e-mail then like this post on wordpress or comment on it to be in with a chance of winning.

 

I will announce the winner on Tuesday the 16th of July. Good luck!

If you don’t win then Foodies Festival are giving all of my readers 2 for 1 tickets if you quote FOODIES241 when you book.
I can’t wait to hear what you thought & tweet me (@girlaroundglasg) with any photos.

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Guest Post: West End Festival Fun

I was in Corfu (BBQ’ing a baby pig no less) on the West End Festival Parade Day. As it is such a great event, and a huge part of Glasgow’s summer calendar, I did not want to miss out so I asked Nicola & Lindsay from Cakehounds to cover it for me. This is what they thought of this years event…

 

Glasgow’s West End Festival kicked off our unofficial start of summer with the its 19th annual Parade Day on Sunday 8th of June. Hoping for sunshine but preparing for all seasons, we packed our sunglasses and cagoules and headed off to join the fun.

We’ve been to the parade before, but this was our first in our new-found blogger capacity, so we were keen to explore and see as much of the action as we could – plus it gave us an excuse to try more of the food and drinks that were on offer. Thankfully we escaped the one huge downpour while we were en route, and the rest of the day was sunshine-filled, perfectly matching the atmosphere in the West End. Byres Road was buzzing, and filled with families, dogs, children and performers, and it seemed like the whole city had turned out to witness the parade.

After a quick drink in the Ubiquitous Chip, we made our way round Ashton Lane and up Byres Road, taking in the performers, musicians and street stalls that covered the roads. The smell of street food from the local cafes and restaurants was mouth-watering, and we knew we were going to have a tough decision later when it came to where to eat. We stopped to enjoy the table tennis at Hillhead Book Club and treated ourselves to a glass of bubbly from Booly Mardy’s pop up bar before finding a spot on Byres Road to watch the parade.

The 500-strong parade kicked off at 3pm, and it was a riot of colour and noise – we could barely take photos fast enough! Based on the theme of Identity this year, the community groups and organisations involved were dressed in everything from bellydancer costumes to rollerskates. Some of our highlights included Sambayabamba, the Glasgow Steampunk Society, cabaret dancers, aliens, giant Irn Bru cans and an amazing Chinese Dragon. The energy was fantastic and we were only sorry when it was over and continued on down Byres Road, followed by a huge crowd of spectators eager to join in.

We took the opportunity for some well-earned sustenance, and after a careful scout out of the surrounding food stalls, we decided upon Smoak in Ashton Lane. We both opted for the 12hr smoked pulled pork in a brioche bun with slaw, onion and gherkins. At £5, it was worth every single bite – we were glad we passed by the burger vans and waited for this! After that it was off to Butterfly and Pig West to end our day with a couple of cocktails – all that parade action was thirsty work, after all…

 

You can see Nicola & Lindsay’s tales on Cakehounds here. Recent posts include a visit to Three Sisters Bake (I really want to go), a Glasgow cocktail tour and a recipe for strawberry daiquiri cupcakes.