scotland

Spanish Style Catch Ups At La Boca

There were going to be 9 of us and a pram. Oh yes. Not the sort of table that restaurants want (trust me, I know!) but La Boca welcomed us with open arms. I didn’t even have to promise that we’d behave, tell them that all nine of us have worked or work in restaurants, plead our case. 

You see, we were having a big catch up with our Glasgow nearest and dearest, and we wanted somewhere central, informal and that we were familiar with. I’ve written about La Boca before (here) as Mr S and I went on a few date nights there. Tipsy lunches with sangria and tapas then walking home in the sun, they were good days. 


Pimientos de Padron

It was the first time that most of them had met baby L so we didn’t order for a while since she was being passed around. Luckily the staff were patient with us and sorted us out with vino and juice in the meantime. We all ordered from the pre-theatre menu that is competitively priced at £10.95 for three tapas. It has a varied selection of meat, fish and veggie dishes and we all easily found things that we wanted to eat. 

Pimientos del Piquillo

Boquerones and bread arrived quickly to nibble on before the rest came out in dribs and drabs. The friendly staff made sure that we had everything needed throughout. 

Boquerones

 

Chorizo al Vino

All of the dishes seemed to go down well, notably the padron peppers and chipirones. I’m a massive tapas fan and La Boca delivers for me on this – lots of tasty little hits of Spain. 

 

Croquetas Caseras

Morcilla


Chipirones

The restaurant has a lively atmosphere that I love. It isn’t all about the food for me, it’s about the whole experience and I felt that they delivered. 

Patatas Bravas

As well as ordering from the pre-theatre menu we ordered a Secreto Iberico tapa from the main menu. It is a large tapa and you could easily have just that and some bread and olives and lunch would be dandy. We have it every time we go to La Boca and this won’t be changing. The description labels it as ‘secret cut of pork from Spain’s famous black pig, outstanding flavour’. They aren’t lying- the taste is truly fantastic. It is a savoury meaty and salty taste that rivals a good steak. 

 

Secreto Iberico (£7.50)


As far as I could see, they don’t have a baby changing unit. I managed at the time on the toilet floor with the changing bag mat but now my little L rolls about I don’t think I’d want to. Hopefully they’ll get one soon or signage if they have it. 

There’s no doubt about the fact that we’ll be returning to La Boca but since we are not as local as we once were I need Glasgow folk to keep it open for me in the meantime. Phone a friend and arrange a catch up, it’s a good place for it. 

Carnivore Club Champions Scottish Charcuterie 


If you’ve been reading for a while then you’ll know that I love meat, I love local and I love trying new things. So when I was emailed by a company that send you boxes of Artisan British charcuterie it immediately piqued my interest. Each month uses a different charcuterie company and this months box contained meat from a Highland business called Great Glen Charcuterie. 



Great Glen Charcuterie are based in Roybridge, which is down Spean Bridge/ Fortwilliam way. I’d heard of them and been wanting to try their meat so this was a great taster box. They specialise in charcuterie using wild Scottish venison that they make by hand and air dry. 


The Carnivore Club is essentially an online company that send you meat. They use different British charcuterie companies every month so that you can try meat from smaller companies that you might not have heard of. Good for small businesses to get the word out. You can order a box as a one-off for a gift or start a monthly/bi-monthly/quarterly subscription. 
Perfect timing as it’s much easier for us to have a nice dinner in than out right now with a little baby. 

It arrived by courier and the meat was encased in a sturdy gift box. Inside there was a leaflet with information about the box and serving suggestions and five different products to try: two salamis, two chorizos and a venison bresaola. The aforementioned were venison pork salami, green peppercorn salami, chili venison chorizo & venison and pork chorizo. 

The first meat that we tried was the pork & venison chorizo. We used it in place of bacon on treat night in a creamy seafood pasta… delicious! We then used the venison and pork chorizo in place of our regular chorizo in our affectionately named ‘sexy pasta’ that uses roasted Mediterranean veg and herbs. Again, it was lovely. We liked both of the products and the only thing we found was that the chorizos weren’t as oily or paprika-y as normal chorizo so adjust recipes accordingly. 

The salamis are rich and tasty, a fantastic addition to an antipasti board alongside cheese, olives and proscuitto. 
The bresaola is being kept until date night because it is the one we are looking forward to the most. I’ll be doing it the traditional way with rocket and shaved Parmesan on top of the slices then drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it. 

I thought that the box was good value. It’s £29 if you subscribe and £32 for a one-off and if my maths were right the box had £27.41 worth of products (not to mention the nice gift box) plus Great Glen charge £4.95 delivery so you’re making a saving. Since getting the box I’ve spotted Great Glen charcuterie at The Storehouse & Corner on the Square and they are (obviously) a little more expensive than buying direct so The Carnivore Club are competitive price wise. 

To get it every month you’d have to be a true carnivore, I would say that I am more on the bi-monthly part of the scale. The boxes are compiled using British companies & I hope to see and try more Scottish charcuterie in the future as I like to support local. 
We have friends scattered all over the UK and I’m constantly wracking my brain over what to buy them as gifts that are easy to send but still special so this will really help me out. It’s also a nice idea for new parents who might not go out for a while so that they can treat themselves at home.
I can be somewhat sceptical about these subscription services that send you things because I don’t always feel that they are good value for money but I can honestly say that the box I was sent by the Carnivore Club felt like it was. I’ve seen photos online of another box and it also looked like you got your money’s worth. A nice way to spend some disposable income on or to gift someone. Just not to a vegetarian! 

 

N.B The Carnivore Club kindly sent me a box to try. There was no pressure to be nice about it so I just gave my honest opinion. Im very selective about what I write about so research anyone who contacts me first. I’m actually about to order another box! 
This content has also been posted on my sister blog Highland Foodie 

Glasgow is Italys Paesano  

  
Everyone has an opinion about pizza. Whether you are a self proclaimed ‘foodie’ that goes to the award winning restaurants, the one who has visited Italy, the student who eats them all the time or Joe Bloggs… you probably have an opinion on what a good pizza should be like. For me pizza was affordable as a student and I felt comfortable treating myself to dinner out at an Italian restaurant. It was a gateway into going out for dinner more, branching out and trying new foods. Topping combinations have got ever more inventive over the years too. Sometimes too crazy in my opinion – they lose sight of what the classic pizza is. 


My dad describes pizza in Italy as having big blown out doughy sides and minimal cheese and toppings. Quality not quantity. I should get to experience it myself next year but in the meantime a new kid on the block had opened in Glasgow claiming to do authentic Italian pizzas. All independent Paesano sell is pizza and a few sides – 8 pizzas to be exact. It’s now acceptable to only offer one thing – and minimal choices of – in a restaurant, on trend in fact. Some people may not like it but, if you’ve read other posts of mine, I’m an advocate of doing less things well. 
  
The restaurant inside has an industrial feel. It’s in a big building on Miller Street & the seating is wooden benches and canteen style tables. Urban chic if you will. Definitely not somewhere for you if you like a cushioned seat with a structured back. Dare I utter the words that this is a ‘young’ place. Oops, I might as well have said hipster. Please forgive my sweeping generalisation but here goes. I only mean that in the sense that most twenty year olds that I’ve encountered couldn’t care less what they sit on, how loud a place is and generally like a large social space. On the other hand, most sixty year olds that I know want comfy seating and to be able to have a conversation without having to raise their voice. I am 31 years old and I’ve started to care about it more and more! Luckily Paesano didn’t have music blaring and the seats were comfy enough to feed my bambino. 
 

White Anchovies

 
We had warmed our bellies up with some white anchovies and now it was all down to the pizza. It was lunchtime and they arrived quickly so this is the sort of place that you could come to in your lunch hour. 

At Paesano they pride themselves on proper imported Italian ingredients being cooked in a wood fired oven that comes from Naples. Initial impressions were positive – big blown out sides of fired dough with scattered toppings in the middle. They use fior di latte mozzarella (unless you upgrade to Buffalo), which I prefer to buffalo mozzarella as it has a creamier and less smoky flavour. 
  
You could tell that the toppings used were of a high quality, from the tasty cotto ham to the sweet tomato sugo. The pizzas had a delicious crispy sourdough crust that contrasted with the soft centre. 

The middle of the pizza was soft and might challenge what you are used to. On first thought the word soggy came to mind but I generally use that word negatively and this wasn’t a negative. Sure, it was the kind of pizza that is best eaten with cutlery but I think that we’ve just gotten too used to cardboard like bases on our pizza over here. I’ll be the first to admit that a pizza with a soft middle can put me off but this one was different. It was soft because the balls of fior di latte have a softer texture, because the sugo isn’t pumped with filler to make it thicker and because the toppings were chosen on flavour and not on moisture levels. 
  
The ice-cream bowls are cute and score points with me. I’m hoping they have a few short bowls for children because it’s a disaster waiting to spill in a tall dish. 

The soft ice-cream has that milky tone to it as opposed to overly creamy. Something that is important in Italian ice-cream from what I understand. Anyway, I liked it and the sauces gave it a retro feel. 
  
For fellow parentals, there is baby change and the staff were accommodating and courteous about the fact that I had a little baba in tow with pram and all that comes with it. 
We encountered waiting staff and management and found them all to be friendly and approachable. 

I’ll get my dad to visit next time he’s in Glasgow to see if they get the authentic seal of approval. He talks about real Italian pizza all the time so he’s my man in the know. 

It was a tasty pizza indeed and I enjoyed my experience. We went for lunch but it’s also the kind of informal place that’s ideal for a few friends post work to enjoy pizza and a beer. With my hearing it’d probably be too loud on a Saturday night but I’ll be back midweek with my own paesano. 

Tantrum Doughnuts Made My Day

 


I would class myself as a doughnut lover. When I was pregnant my sister, niece & I drove a five hour round trip to satisfy my pregnancy cravings of doughnuts and peri-peri chicken so I’m pretty sure that I qualify. 

Without sounding too like Nigella, there’s something about a warm filled doughnut that can’t be beaten – it’s so naughty and indulgent. 




The newest doughnut shop to hit my radar is in on of my favourite spots in the city, the hip without being polished Finnieston. So many foodie places have opened in the area in recent years that you don’t want to miss it. Tantrum Doughnuts is set a couple of minutes walk away from Kelvingrove Art Gallery where Cushion & Cake used to be. They appear to be primarily a takeaway but have some seats inside if you can’t wait until you get home to eat. Coffee, milkshakes and handmade doughnuts are the menu entirety and I was sure they’d do it well. 
Their Facebook page had been teasing me for weeks so I was determined to try them out. They make their own marshmallow for goodness sakes! 
 

some of their facebook photos that had been enticing me in

 

We were going to a friends house so we bought a selection of creme brulee, peanut butter & jelly and jam filled. In retrospect I should have bought a sneaky chocolate number for the next day. 
  

The doughnuts were divine! The creme brulee even cracked as you bit into it and the dough was light enough and tasty. 
  

I love their slightly unusual flavours and hope that they continue to rotate them to show their skills. The owners have a history cooking in top restaurants and it’s evident when you go in. Even the denim dresses worn by the staff go with the feel of the place, the attention to detail is incredible. 

Keep up the good work Tantrum, maybe one day in the future I’ll be back with more pregnancy cravings. 

Tick Tock Unlock

Last Saturday we rallied the hungover troops for a different kind of adventure. On the corner of St Vincent Street & Hope Street lies a secret door that leads to rooms of puzzles and problem solving. Our first challenge was finding the place – I’ll solve this first one for you & tell you that it’s above Martha’s. 

  

Now, all I knew about what we were doing was that it’s a group activity that can take up to 6 people per room and that we would be using teamwork to get out of the room. They start you off with a background story then you use a series of clues to find your way out of the room in an hour. 

  

Once inside, we had a ball trying to work them all out. Teamwork is key here as one person might find part of a clue whilst someone else is holding the answer to the rest of it. The game would be ideal for a team building exercise or work night out, but I’d also recommend it for hen & stag do’s. They told us that they have been popular with families travelling to Glasgow and looking for something a bit different too, just make sure the kids are old enough to understand what’s going on- I’d say nine years old plus. 

  

We escaped in 57 minutes – hooray! – but if you don’t manage it in the hour I’m told you can play on to get the rest of those niggling clues solved. Staff are watching you on a screen so can help you if needed. 

  

After getting all Sherlock Holmes, you can get dressed up with their selection of props and take some group photo momentos of the day. It is priced at £14-£16 per player, depending on how many are going into the room and takes about two hours in total. They have two gameplay rooms so if you have a bigger group then you can split into two teams and play consecutively. 
I went along with five friends and the feedback from everyone was that they loved it & want to go back to do another challenge. We thought it would be refreshing on a hen or stag to have something other than going straight to the pub to get the day started & that it would be a good ice-breaker for people that don’t know each other too well. Miss Marple watch out, because I’ll be back to Tick Tock Unlock soon! 
 

Disclaimer: we were given a complimentary game in return for a blog post but all views are honest and my own. I’ll happily pay to go back. 

Number 16 – Should Be Up Every Glasgow Street

 

Not every dinner that I write about involves masses of time taking photos and researching – life is for living after all. The night in question this time was spent in Number 16 restaurant on Byres Road, in the heart of Glasgows West End. Unbeknown to me, this meal was the last restaurant blow-out that I would have for a while involving copious amounts of vino now that I’m on a nine month plus sabbatical so I’m glad it was such an enjoyable night. 

The photos are terrible due to low lighting issues and prosecco, but they’re the only ones I have so I’m including them anyway. 
The first starter to arrive is a dish that showcases what I would describe as Number 16’s signature style – they excel at Asian cooking as much as they do Scottish & you’re always flipping a coin in there over which route to go down. It was Asian spiced beef tempura with wasabi mayonnaise, sweet chilli, coriander and pickled radish. Tempura doesn’t often look pretty but they managed it here, and kept the batter light and crisp. Scooping a bit of each element of the dish into each mouthful was important here to appreciate the sweet, spicy, acidic flavours as one & it was a fantastic dish. 

 

Tempura £7.50

 
  

Crispy ham hock terrine won as the starter of preference with two of the table choosing it. No 16 served it with vanilla & apple purée, sweet & sour raisins and piccalilli but the accompaniments sounded too sweet for me. The two of them thought it was delicious and, having tried some, I changed my mind too although I’m not one for vanilla with savoury. 

Terrine £6.50

 I’ve had soup in here before and they always pull it off so I don’t feel hard done by looking at other starters as I sometimes do in other restaurants with soup. This time it was cream of wild mushroom with tarragon and white truffle oil. Consistency and depth of flavour were exactly perfect for me and the tarragon shone through without eclipsing the mushrooms. The truffle oil added an earthy element and further emphasised the shrooms in the dish. 

Soup £4.95

 The mains were up and meat had won again with two of us picking the carnivorous menu option. The piscivores face lit up at the sight of his pan seared loin of yellowfin tuna with smoked haddock brandade, fennel & red onion salad served with warm vierge dressing. The tuna looked perfectly cooked, the smoked haddock brandade (or olive oil emulsion- we googled it) accentuated the rich fish flavour with the aniseedy salad providing some bite. The plate was clean in about five minutes so safe to say it was successful.

Tuna £17.95

I would have been happy with any of the mains on the menu that night but the braised ox cheek drew me in. It was a dish for a cold day, and that it was. The garlic & chive mash and red cabbage were both punchy in their own right, but coupled with the ox cheek and jus, it was a flavoursome mouthful. The dish was perhaps a touch too sweet by the end but there are worse things.

Ox Cheek £16.50

 
Last but not least, a risotto of butternut squash and sage was no drab veggie option. The mascarpone was rich and creamy, the pine nuts threw in some texture whilst watercress gave a peppery element to the dish. A small amount of balsamic left enough of its acidic trail to prevent the dish from being too cloying and the rice had just enough bite. This is the second time I’ve had one of their risottos and both have been mentionable. 

Risotto £13.50

 

Not being able to finish my main course, I wasn’t about to order a dessert but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t eat any. A light cheesecake provided all the ooh’s and ahh’s that a dessert is ever going to get and a delicate coconut ice-cream was far more than just that.

 
 

 

 

I would put Number 16 into the brasserie category in the sense that it is high quality food and wine in relaxed surroundings. The kind of place that you go to for a special occasion but equally as often on a week night for a pre-theatre pick me up. It has a feel good factor in the air that you can’t manufacture and the locals can’t get enough.

 

   

You can read about my first visit to this restaurant here and how it was part of our Hogmanay 2013 here

Argento

I may not be a beauty blogger, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not passionate about all things girly. Those savvy folk from Argento jewellers sent me a Valentine’s surprise box and I definitely got all girly opening it!

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Argento’s roots go back to Belfast in 1997, when Pete Boyle decided to create a welcoming, casual jewellers. Now he tends to focus on quality fashion jewellery and is best known for taking Pandora to the UK. I used to shop at Argento in Glasgow’s West End but I have also been to the Belfast store. Inverness has a Pandora shop in the Eastgate Centre or I can buy other jewellery online – or make an excuse for a Glasgow trip!

The August Woods trio flower pendant necklace that they sent me retails for £25. A bit more bling than my usual style, I think this would be suited to wearing with a plain top or dress to show it off.

IMG_0094 (How it looks on the website)

Since I was on the website, I started browsing and found a gorgeous August Wood dress bib necklace that would look great for cocktails with the girls.

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I also like the chunky style to this ring…

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They sent me a selfie stick to celebrate that they are giving away selfie sticks on orders over £50 whilst stocks last – I’m a novice so excuse the photography.
Argento have offered to give my readers 20% off their next order* – handy if you are buying a Valentine’s gift this year. Just enter LOVE20 in the promo bit at the checkout.

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Along with my Argento goodies, I was sent some Vita Liberata self tan mousse in medium shade. It was excellent to get self tan that didn’t leave me smelling like biscuits and the mitt made it easy to apply. I found that it went on quite light in colour but you can layer it up for a darker result, although this could work out an expensive option. It is organic and definitely a luxury item with it retailing around £20 but it claims to last 2-3 weeks. I’ll update the post when I get to that stage. It would suit people with lighter skin and you don’t need to moisturise before putting it on.

Remember to enter LOVE20 at the online checkout* if you’re buying anything from Argento to get your discount.

*not valid on Pandora or Nomination

The BBC Good Food Show In Glasgow

In October we went along to The Good Food Show at the SECC to find some new loves. Camera issues delayed this post but better late than never! In 2015 it will be running from the 6th to 8th of November so ask it off work now just to be sure.

The queen of baking, Mary Berry, was there doing cooking demos so the first thing I did was stand transfixed watching her make something lovely. Paul Hollywood didn’t even get a look-in with me… There’s definitely something about Mary.

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I managed to catch blogger Emma from Food & Drink Glasgow on the interview stage before more gin samples. I felt a little bit proud to see my local, Drygate, (all the way from Dennistoun) at the show and couldn’t turn down an Outaspace Apple ale sample.

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They had some non stick pans that actually looked amazing, and if we weren’t about to just move house, we would have bought a set. My in-laws bought some at the show last year and they actually do what they say. We settled on some saucisson instead…

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The sheer volume of produce that I wanted was just too much. I can’t wait to go next year (not in the middle of a house move) and buy bags of lovely things and boozy Christmas presents.

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At the back of the theatre there was the BBC Good Food kitchen, where you could pick up freshly cooked lunch to really make a day of it.

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Mr Hollywood was signing copies of his book. There was a long queue of ladies as you can imagine.

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C’mon the Highlands!

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Venison is a lean meat that is fairly healthy – need I say any more?

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Some of the stall holders had used interesting decoration to draw people in – this veggie sausage stall was one of my favourites.

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The boss of the meat world was there with a selection of black pudding, bacon, sausages and white pudding.

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All in all, we spent the best part of a day here. You could easily go for breakfast and stay for lunch or do all-day grazing. I admit that I thought most of the producers wouldn’t be local but I was wrong & found several local producers that I’d never heard of.
If you get your tickets early then they include a ticket for the super theatre to see the celebrity chefs. See you there in November.

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I Miss Bread Meats Bread!

So the flat is no longer ours, we’ve started our jobs up in Inverness & unpacked enough boxes at my folks to do us until we get in the new house. Being up here has some perks – I spent last night at a friends drinking wine with the girls – but I’m yet to find a new Bread Meats Bread. If someone can point me in the direction of a pink burger in a brioche bun I will be running straight there.
Fine, I admit it, I’ve become a burger snob. It’s Glasgow’s fault for giving me such an amazing range of good-quality burger places. So until I find somewhere up here like that (or make a Glasgow trip), I’ll reminisce over my last visit to BMB.

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The last few times I’ve been here I’ve had a fullhouse burger or a smokey and this occasion was no different. You’ve heard it all before but I wanted to write about it again for new readers – and I guess when I feel that they are doing what they do so well, I want success for them. Anyway, the burger was a pinky medium (you can ask for it cooked through), the cheese was all gooey, the slow cooked meat was peppery and tender & the brioche bun kept the whole thing together.

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The cheeseburger next to me was going down equally as well & ‘the wolf’ across the table was being savagely wolfed down.

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The side orders are big enough to feed more than one so a chips and a sweet potato fries was enough for the four of us. If you have tried sweet potato fries yet then do it without hesitation. We added some onion rings too just because we couldn’t resist.

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Their house draught beer (Beer M Beer) is Scottish lager and a 2 pint jug will set you back £7. They also have bottles of two of my favourite beers – Samuel Adams and Blue Moon.

I write this full of hope that someone, somewhere will read it and open up a similar one in Inverness. If you’ve got the money I’ll run it for you! I know that I’m not the only person that raves about it and it’s well deserved. I miss you Bread Meats Bread.

Glasgow You’re Slipping Out Of My Reach

I’ve got a confession to make. I’ve felt terrible not saying anything on here about it but this morning I decided that the time has come… I’m leaving Glasgow!
By the end of the year I will no longer live in this amazing city and I’m feeling sad about it this morning. Being away from my friends & family up north finally pulled me back to Inverness when a job offer up there came about.

So that’s why things on here have been so quiet recently. Between painting and decluttering the flat, sorting out getting the flat on the market, working full-time & spending as much time with friends down here as possible, it’s been a busy month.
I have a bit of a backlog so I’ve still got some lovely meals to tell you about and the BBC Good Food Show Glasgow. To be honest I’m not sure how I’m going to live without Celino’s, La Lanterna and Tempo Tea (among others) so I’ll be up and down the road regularly for the first year at least to wean myself off these delicious addictions.

I intend to still blog on here whenever I’m down visiting folk so make sure you’re signed up for e-mail notifications. It will just mean relentless eating and drinking in a small space of time- I think I’ll manage!

Until then, keep reading what I’ve been up to recently and follow my second blog, Highland Foodie, as I begin this new journey.

I’m going to miss you more than words can say Glasgow.

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