Sunday, 3 December 2017

Tenerife Top Tips

Readers, hello! Guess who’s just back from 7 nights in the suuuuunshine… where it was all 26c, blue skies and cocktails?  Also, guess who is back to reality tomorrow.  Yup, me.

Tenerife has a bit of a reputation of a 1970s time warp, pensioners’ paradise if you will.  And yes, without a doubt, Las Americas has a bit of that going on.  However, my totally un-pensioner friend moved out there nearly 3 years ago for the sunshine and year round great weather.  Since then, I’ve been out twice and neither trip has involved old folk, apart from an invite to “grab a Grandad”, but we’ll leave that well alone!

In a myth to dispel the rumours, I’ve done a Top Things to Do list for you all, in and around the Las Americas area… totally avoiding Veronica’s Strip, because I’m far too old for fishbowls and unidentified alcohol.

The Days

Siam Park                   

You CANNOT go to Tenerife and not spend a day here. Voted No1 Waterpark IN THE WORLD on Trip Advisor, Siam Park is definitely an adult waterpark that’s not for wee people.  We’ve now been twice and had the best time.  A lot of rides are for 4 people so keep this in mind if you’re going in a smaller group.  You could be paired up with people you don’t know.  The park’s for thrill seekers – some of the big rides include Tower of Power, The Dragon and The Singha….

Favourite ride goes to The Singha which is a recently built watercoaster that you ride in an inflatable boat like thing.  Prepare for ups, downs and a LOT of water in your face.
Adult day tickets to Siam Park cost approximately 35 euro and the food offerings are reasonably priced for an amusement park.
Image Credit - I Hoppers 

Aqua Club Termal

Now this was a hidden find! Off the beaten track and a favourite with locals, we found this day spa in Costa Adeje. Don’t ask how we got there… take a cab and Google maps.  For approximately £35, we got a pass to the spa for 3 hours and a VIP gazebo poolside, featuring cava and fresh fruit, whilst we dipped in and out of the various pools, sauna, steam rooms and a floatation pool.   A great way to relax with friends, or spend a rainy afternoon if the clouds do appear.

Image Credit - Aqua Club Termal 

 The Nights

Restaurant La Iberoteka

Located inside a small shopping plaza, it’s a courtyard tapas restaurant, where the roof is covered with umbrellas.  For 50 Euro, we were well fed (around 5 different dishes) and had a jug of sangria to share.  The place is tiny – no more than 10 tables – and is run by a French chef who comes over for a chat during service.  Don’t expect your usual tapas dishes here, there’s market fresh vegetables and meats, alongside interesting plates you might not find elsewhere.  We had a great lentil dish with chicken, chorizo and potato… The asparagus, prawn and chorizo plate was also fantastic.
la iberoteka tenerife what claire baked


Owned by the Venture Restaurant Group, this is part of the Safari complex – across from the Hard Rock Café and near Harry’s Bar.  A reasonably priced Italian, with a very white interior… and if you save you’re receipt, you’ll get your first round of drinks at Magic Half Price.
Special mention goes to the amatraciano pasta… so good I had it twice.
Image Credit - Bianco Restaurant Tenerife 

Trattoria Da Fernanado e Anita

The second Italian to get a mention, this place pumps out amazing food from a very small kitchen.  You’ll find it up the hill along Los Cristianos beach in a little section of restaurants called San Telmo. This one came recommended from our local friend and didn’t disappoint.  The small open plan cooking area at the front of the restaurant prepares fresh dishes which smell divine and arrive at your table as and when they are ready.  The pizzas are thin and made in a proper oven whilst the pasta comes with lashing of homemade sauce and parmesan.

Harry’s Bar

The cocktails… that’s all I really need to say.  Extensive menu, properly mixed and guaranteed two will make you feel VERY happy.  A firm favourite from our last trip, we only went once this time, but none the less enjoyed it.

Hard Rock Café Cocktail Bar

Possibly a hidden gem?  Usually I avoid Hard Rock like the flu whenever I’m abroad, as the food is generally average and overpriced, however, Tenerife, you outdid yourself.  There’s a massive stage at the front with live bands most nights and if you take yourself up two flights of stairs you’ll find the open air cocktail bar that overlooks Avenue Las Americas.  A great spot for people watching and a glass of white sangria, mixed with orange vodka is less than 5 euros a glass. 
hard rock cafe terrace tenerife what claire baked

Magic Lounge Club

MUST GO!!!! Magic has been our go to late night venue, pretty much every night on both trips.  Outdoors, there’s usually a singer or a DJ set in the evening on the terrace, where all ages are mixing over proper good cocktails.  Come 11pm the Magic 3 band gets going, playing old school classics as well as modern tunes and after 2pm, the amazing DJ Nato takes to the decks to fill the dancefloor into the night.  Drinks aren’t cheap- 10 Euro on average for a cocktail, however it’s premium spirits, a great night of people watching and there’s a dancefloor to hit up.   For those of you avoiding cheap buckets of booze and Tenerife’s “tacky” image, this is the place to go.   
magic tenerife what claire baked

Monday, 13 November 2017

Koh Samui… When You've Done The Whole Backpacking Thing

Readers, sorry it’s been quiet recently.  I’ve been full on wedding organising in my spare time, which has meant the blog taking a bit of a backseat over the last month or so.  Anyway, a travel post for you all tonight, going back to our Thailand travels in September.   I recently did a piece on Hidden Bangkok which you might want to read up on if you’re going to Thailand but tonight, I’m focussing on Koh Samui in collaboration with Destination2 – the online travel agent for cheap long haul holidays.

So tonight I’ve got 5 top tips for Koh Samui, if you’re more late 20s couple, than early 20s backpacker.  Koh Samui honestly has something for everyone. Yes there’s cocktail buckets, loud beach nightlife if you want it and night boats to Full Moon on the neighbouring island of Koh Phagnan.  But, if you’re like us, more into cocktails and chilled house music, then that’s on offer too and Koh Samui shouldn’t be overlooked.
lamai beach koh samui thailand
Lamai Beach, Koh Samui 

This time around we stayed up Lamai Beach way, where the vibe is a bit more laid back and the age, closer to 30 than 20... I've picked 5 of my Koh Samui highlights to share with you all. 

1. Dinner in a Tipi On The Beach and Chilled Out Beach Vibes

One of our favourite experiences in Koh Samui was having a beach dinner at Dara Serene Restaurant  There are tipis on the beach, seating 2 or 4 people, where you can dine under the stars and hear the waves crash before you.  There’s a great collection of cocktails on offer if you’re into that and a wide menu, with plenty of seafood and traditional Thai offerings.  It’s more expensive, but you’re paying for the setting. And a tipi, cos that’s awesome.

Finish up your night at Elephant Beach Club, just a short stroll along Chaweng Beach. It’s just before you get to the lively Ark complex (trust me you’ll know which one that is) and it’s all about pallet beds, big beach cushions, fire dancers and an extensive drinks menu, playing chilled house music in the background.  We spent a good few hours enjoying drinks and chilling out, people watching.
Dara Serene Koh Samui
Dara Serene, Koh Samui
Fire Dancers out in the sea

2. Lamai Night Market

We stayed over at Lamai for a few nights before our uber exciting stay (see below) and loved this slightly quieter town, attracting a bit of an older crowd. On a Sunday night, residents of Lamai and tourists from across the island come together in the streets of Lamai for what was the biggest (and possibly most crowded) street market I’ve ever been to.   It was amazing.  Freshly made dumplings, meat skewers, cocktails, fried waffle sticks… they had EVERYTHING you could possibly want.   We ate from a few different stalls and felt absolutely fine the next day.  Exercise caution – look for stands where locals eat and are queued out – chances are, they know something is good! 

You’ll also be able to pick up souvenirs, clothes and trinkets at the market, as well as food.

3. Stephanie’s Cook School

A little find on Viator and a birthday present from Mr WhatClaireDid, we had a great Saturday morning at cook school with the lovely French lady Stephanie and her team of Thai cookery assistants.  We met at the market, then went back to her house to cook in her open plan kitchen, with only another couple of people.  We made traditional Thai dishes that were super easy and we’ve since made two of the dishes back home.  We are now PROS at making banana fritters and caramel sauce.
cook school koh samui

4. The Ultimate Luxury Resort

Folks, if you go for a special occasion, this place is worth the splurge.  And if you go, don’t scrimp, go for a private villa.  This is possibly the most special place we’ve ever stayed… the Silavadee Resort.  We’re talking cliffside accommodation, private infinity pool, outdoor beds, a bath the size of a small swimming pool, luxury 4 poster beds and panoramic views across the ocean. 

The breakfast room has panoramic ocean view windows and they have literally EVERYTHING on offer.  Possibly one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.   A real highlight on the island.  Perfect for honeymoon.
Silavadee private pool koh samui
Silavadee Private Pool, Koh Samui 

5. Hiking Up The Hill

If like us, you have a moment of madness from time to time, you might just be up for hiking to the temple near the airport.  You’ll get great views on a clear day – including the planes taking off and landing! Wat Khao Hua Juk is the name of the temple and there's plenty to see inside and out. Most people drive up the steep road, until they see the stairs, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s about a half hour walk up from the big shopping mall in Chaweng. Google maps got us there and despite it being incredibly humid, 34c and being a sweaty mess on arrival, the view was amazing.   But we did have to buy towels at the supermarket when we got back down… it was that hot.
Wat Khao Hua Juk
Hiking Face!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Trip to the Elphinstone Hotel, Biggar

Readers, we’re back from our vacation (you might have caught my last post on Bangkok) and we’ve been off on a staycation this week.

The lovely folks from the Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar invited me along for an overnight stay to experience the local hospitality and food at “The Elph” as it’s known locally.  This was my first trip to Biggar.  Mr WhatClaireDid and I decided to make a weekend of it, driving down on the Saturday afternoon.  We arrived around 4pm in Biggar (lesson learnt, it’s a small market town, where pretty much everything closes at 5pm, so if you’re looking for a wander – COME EARLIER).  The town’s got some lovely little gift, boutique and interior shops as well as a few cafes, which could pass a couple of hours on a decent day.     The rain was on and off on our drive down, but it cleared up about 5pm and we headed off for a walk around the area.  We took our little drone Busby (Instagram) and managed to get some lovely aerial photos of the town.
aerial photo biggar

The Elphinstone Biggar

The Elphinstone is a traditional coaching in with 11 bedrooms.  It serves food over lunch and dinner – mainly traditional pub grub – although it’s home-made (not a microwave job!) The menu is fairly extensive and we were delighted to be able to have dinner and breakfast during our stay.

On arrival we had a few issues trying to work out which door to go in… take note it’s the left one and there’s not a reception desk – check in is at the small bar.  You’ll find a bell on the left if nobody is around.  We were given a big spacious room at the back of the hotel that’s also suitable for a family – with bunk beds (and a second tv for any kids – saves fighting!)  We had a fairly modern en suite bathroom and the room was decorated neutrally. The hotel would be a great stop off point for a couple or family attending a wedding or event nearby – it’s affordable and has parking right outside the front door, if you have the car with you.  Our room was quiet, apart from a little noise from the singer downstairs in the bar which was to be expected on a Saturday night.  It didn’t bother us nor keep us up late.
The Elphinstone Biggar

“The Elph” clearly has a well established fan base locally – we dined in the restaurant at 7.30pm on the Saturday and it was really busy with a mix of small groups celebrating as well as couples.  The restaurant attracts an older crowd – we assumed mostly locals and was probably reflected by the population of Biggar.  Both of us enjoyed our meal.  The menu was extensive and had a wide range to suit all ages.  I went for the chilli and mango battered prawns to start which were really tasty and Mr WhatClaireDid tried the deep fried brie.   Service to our table was quick, even on a busy evening.   Special mention to the young staff who were incredibly busy and apologetic for the things they didn’t know… please don’t worry, we’ve all had a first job!
The Elphinstone Biggar

For mains we both went for traditional pub grub – Mr WhatClaireBaked always uses a lasagne as a benchmark for how good somewhere is – his arrived hot, melty and cheesy from the oven and it was wolfed down.  I had the scampi and chicken combo with chips and salad.
The Elphinstone Biggar

The highlight though has to go to the desserts – the sundaes at £4.95.  We’d been tipped off that these were brilliant and so much so we ordered one each. Mr WhatClaireDid had the banoffee one, whilst I had the Malteser Sundae… which was brilliant.  Portion sizes are hefty here, make sure you come hungry.

We did pop into the bar next door briefly, however, it was busy with locals and we decided to go out and explore instead – stopping for one drink at The Crown down the road. I feel I need to give it a mention here. As a gin drinker, they had an impressive range of craft gins from across Scotland and the botanicals to go with them. My type of pub!  We didn’t stay late, enjoying one drink before heading back to our big comfy bed.

Breakfast was served the next morning in the restaurant.  We went down around 9am as it was a Sunday and enjoyed a full cooked breakfast made to order, before checking out and heading back to city life!
The Elphinstone Biggar
The Elphinstone Biggar

The Elphinstone is located at 145 High Street, Biggar and has car parking outside for those driving to the area.  Rates start from £65 B&B.  Dinner for two (3 courses and an alcoholic drink each) around £50-£60.   For more information visit The Elphinstone’s website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I was invited along to review the hotel.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Hidden Bangkok - An Insiders Guide to the City

Readers, as you may have seen over on Instagram, I’m just back from Thailand. I first went as a backpacker when I was 22.  We island hopped, wore very printed textiles, carried backpacks and went to Full Moon.  7 years on, we had a much more refined couples affair.  I’m hoping to pop a few posts up from this trip, but I’ll start tonight with Hidden Bangkok.

Bangkok used to get a bit of a bad name as a seedy city, covered with neon lights and dodgy backstreet alleyways. Now, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, there are still some “interesting” streets and sights, but on the whole, it’s a bustling metropolitan city and a fusion of east meets west.  This was my third visit to Bangkok and this time, because I’d seen most of the main tourist sites, felt we could dig into the heart of the city a little further.

Today I’m featuring some great hidden spots in Bangkok that you might not fall over on the tourist trail…

A  Place To Lay Your Head

This time we stayed in Chinatown – it’s a bit off the transport links – nearest metro is about a 10 minute walk at Hua Lamphong and not near the Sky Train, but don’t let that put you off.  The cheapest “superior” room at the Shanghai Mansion is about £50 a night and for that you’ll get a big bed, decent en suite and a clean, Chinese themed hotel with a jazz bar in reception, good cocktails, an on site spa and some huge fish in pond.  It’s also right on the main street of Chinatown – with street food galore (see next point).

Embrace The Street Food

As mentioned above, the heart of Chinatown is the perfect place to try some of Bangkok’s famous street food.  There were endless choices available on Th Yaowarat and a short walk down the street – out of the hotel, go right, cross the road, led us to the best Pad Thai we’d had all holiday.  I can only describe it by the family affair with some plastic chairs, where somebody makes the dumplings and next door the girl and guy are cooking up the pad thai at lightning speed.   If you manage to find it based on those instructions, I’ll be delighted.   I also had the best spring rolls of my life – about 8 fried beauties for 70p.  Now, even harder instructions – the spring roll lady is fairly elderly and her stall is down one of the side streets.  If you come out of Shanghai Mansion, go right, head down the road Th Yaowarat, it’s on that side, in one of the side streets off to the right. Again, if you find it, I’ll be delighted.
chinatown streetfood bangkok

Don’t be scared to embrace street eating – just take a safety first approach.  Look for vendors that are busy and are feeding locals as well as tourists.  If it’s roasting hot and there’s no signs of refrigeration, watch meats and seafood. Perhaps your first attempt at Oysters should be from a restaurant?! We were absolutely fine and ate street food many times during our stay in Thailand – everything from traditional dishes to fried potato with pizza seasoning, then dumplings, gyoza, waffles on a stick with sprinkles, spring rolls and ice cream.  For those on a budget, you’ll get fantastic cheap eats – our favourite pad thai was less than £5 for BOTH OF US and that included a couple of beers and a side portion of dumplings. Bargain.
pad thai streetfood bangkok

Visit a Sky Bar

With all the money you’ve saved on food, you can afford to splurge on one night out that’s a bit special. Bangkok has a number of great sky bars where you can buy a drink and sit out on the terrace admiring the skyscrapers and twinkling lights of the streets below you.  I can’t speak for them all, but we visited the Speakeasy at the Hotel Muse located on the 24th floor.  Uber is dirt cheap in Bangkok, so even if you are a bit away, it’s worth the journey.  Everything is dark wood, 1920s themed indoors – the cocktail bar is out on the terrace – and the music is good.  We went on a Friday night about 8.30pm and managed to get a table outdoors however, it had started to get pretty full as we left to go to dinner.
bangkok skyline
Views from Speakeasy on 24th Floor of Hotel Muse 

Beers by The Chaoporya

The famous river that runs through the city is a hotbed of water traffic – from commuter boats to neon lit dinner cruises.  If you fancy a beer off the beaten track (and some food if you are hungry) look no further than the Samsara bar.  It’s about a 5 minute walk from Th Yaowarat and not that far from the Hua Lamphong MRT Metro Station.  It’s literally a cabin type structure with about 6 tables – some of which are right on the water.  It’s a little difficult to find as it’s a bit of walking down an alleyway, searching for the right door, but this all adds to the fun.  There are a fair few cats living in the place – pets I presume.  The venue has a small handwritten menu and once they are out of something it’s scored off.  We didn’t eat dinner, but we did enjoy a beer by the river and some hot nuts whilst enjoying the view and watching the river cruises sail into the night. 


A great spot attached to a hostel, Wanderlust is an Aussie style cafe with good coffees and has an epic brunch menu.  We were the only people in when we got there, but the brunch was amazing. It’s on the way to the Golden Budda, so if that’s on the list to visit, keep Wanderlust in mind.  They have craft sodas, free wifi, a bit of a hipster vibe and serve on wood and in skillets (sorry plate lovers) but the food is freshly cooked and is worth the wait.   See photo.
brunch at wanderlust bangkok

Monday, 11 September 2017

Jazz Apple Cinnamon Crumble

Readers. I've returned safely from my Thailand adventure (blog posts coming soon, promise) and for now have a lovely little easy recipe for you to try, in conjunction with Jazz Apples.

Have you tried them before?  They are a cross between a Braeburn and Royal Gala apple and are grown in the UK.  They are tangy, yet sweet and are perfect for both snacks and for cooking with. They can be kept in the fridge (meaning they will last around 4 weeks) and you'll find them available year round.

This very easy, 6 ingredient crumble is made without dairy, so suitable for a range of diets. It’s slightly lower in fat than a traditional buttery crumble, but makes for a tasty, filling and warming Autumn dessert.  This recipe will make between 4-6 individual crumbles, depending on how full you make each ramekin. 

jazz apple cinnamon crumble


6 medium Jazz apples (I found mine in Sainsbury’s)
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Crumble Topping
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
2 heaped tablespoons porridge oats
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 heaped tablespoon coconut oil (solidified)
Pinch of cinnamon


  1. Peel, core and chop 6 Jazz apples and add to a medium sized saucepan with a lid.  Add the sugar, cinnamon and water.
  2. Heat the hob to medium and add the pan of Jazz apples, sugar, cinnamon and water to the hob.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for around 20 minutes. Keep the lid on the pan for the first half of cooking time, you can remove halfway through if the apples are looking a little watery.  Stir during cooking and remove from the hob once you have a soft fruit stew.  Allow to cool.  The mix should be fairly smooth and sweet.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and grease 4-6 ramekin dishes. Whilst the oven is heating, make your crumble topping.
  4. To make the crumble topping add the flour, oats, cinnamon and sugar to a bowl.  Mix together. 
  5. In a separate cup, melt the coconut oil in the microwave for approx. 40 seconds until melted and liquid. 
  6. Add the melted coconut oil to the dry mixture and stir to bring the crumble together. 
  7. Add even amounts of stewed apples to the ramekins, to between half and three quarters full.  Then, add the crumble mix on top.  Pat down until flat on top of the apple.
  8. Add the ramekins to a baking tray and transfer to the oven.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden on top.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.   Serve with vanilla ice cream, or if keeping to dairy free, serve with raspberry sorbet.
jazz apple cinnamon crumble

This post is sponsored by Jazz Apples

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Glasgow Living Part 26 – The Dhabba, Merchant City, Glasgow

Readers, August has completely disappeared… as witnessed by my lack of posting. I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been on holiday.  It’s not.  Although, I am going to Thailand in September, so not all is bad with the world!  It’s a long overdue break. With an upcoming wedding and a million things on the go at work, I very much look forward to chillin out for a week. 

But back to the present and the latest exploits from my Glasgow food blog.  Last Thursday, Mr WhatClaireDid and I were invited along to The Dhabba.  They’ve recently updated around a quarter of their menu and as I learned last week, have been a Merchant City institution for 15 years now.  There was a real mix of guests - most slightly older than us – groups of workmates and a big party arrived as we were leaving.  I’d say The Dhabba is one of those places that people keep coming back to. 

I love being a Glasgow food blogger, because it lets me try so many so many great local food places. 

The Dhabba specialises in north Indian cuisine – if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to visit India, you’ll know that roadside diners over there are known as dhabbas.    The food was amazing.  It was beautifully presented – with care and attention.  The waiting staff were also good fun, having a bit of a laugh as we didn’t know the chaat pakodi was meant to be eaten with our hands.  I also had never had gulab jamun (why oh why, I don’t know… it was delicious) but more about that later!

Our waiter brought us some mini poppadums and chutney to enjoy as a snack, whilst we waited on drinks and starters.  Just enough to leave us happy, but not too full!
the dhabba glasgow

I kicked off my meal with koliwada jheenga – king prawns with a spicy savoury glaze which were ever so slightly crispy.  They were brilliant – clearly a popular item on the menu as I saw a number of other diners getting stuck in.  Mr WhatClaireDid went for gol gappa chaat – bite sized crispy puffed bread, spiced potato and chickpeas which afterwards we learned were designed to be picked up and eaten in one mouthful. The culture lesson was appreciated – we’ll know for next time!
starter at the dhabba, glasgow

I went for a dish from the tandoor oven for my main – the smokey flavour from the chicken was incredible.  I thoroughly enjoyed my malai murg and went for a rich mild sauce with my chicken.  The portion size was just right – as was the ratio of chicken to sauce.  Mr WhatClaireDid went slightly more daring with a lamb bhuna – perhaps India’s most famous lamb dish.  
main course, the dhabba glasgow

We shared sides and this was more than enough – a portion of cumin basmati and a traditional plain naan, to scoop up any leftover sauce.
main course, the dhabba, glasgow

Usually, after an Indian, I’ve no room for dessert, but honestly, the gulub jamun was worth keeping space for.  It’s a traditional Indian dessert, although I’d never tried it before.  Little reduced milk dumplings are soaked in sugar syrup and served warm with vanilla ice cream.  The mix of hot and cold was great and it was a bit like a tiny donut in texture.   After saying he didn’t want anything, Mr WhatClaireDid definitely sneaked AT LEAST HALF OF MINE. 
dessert, the dhabba, glasgow

The Dhabba’s latest menu update is only the third time since 2002 that it’s made changes to the menu.  It’s testament to a loyal customer base that enjoys its timeless classics and traditional menu that doesn’t date.

You’ll find out more by paying a visit yourself to the venue in Candleriggs, Merchant City, Glasgow. 

You can also keep up to date with The Dhabba via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter 

Disclaimer: I was invited along to The Dhabba to try the revised menu.  Any opnions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 24 – Lunch Menu at Ardnamurchan

Readers, as you’ve probably gathered, it’s been all go on the blog this month.  I’ve done a fair few reviews as well as recipe postings which has kept me busy.

I had another Glasgow food blogger adventure, to a new opening on Hope Street.

Today I’m talking all things Arnamurchan – the amazing Scottish restaurant and bar at the top of Hope Street (across the road from the Theatre Royal). As a Scottish food blogger, it’s always an honour to be asked along to try out new places.

This was actually my second visit to the restaurant – a few weeks ago, I visited with some friends for the pre-theatre menu, booked through 5pm (honestly, try it, you won't be disappointed).  We had such an amazing experience, I was delighted to be invited back to review.  Pre-Ardnamurchan this place was a big pub that I’d never felt the urge to go into.  The new owners have invested heavily in the décor – moving the bar, exposing the brickwork, putting in industrial lights but still keeping a Scottish feel with just enough touches of tartan than it’s modern, not twee.
interior at ardnamurchan glasgow
Booths are available for larger groups

kitchen at arnamurchan glasgow
View to the open kitchen 

I had really high hopes for lunch here after our lovely dinner a few weeks previous – note – the wine list is fantastic and the guys behind the bar know their stuff – they’re well trained and polite. 

This time, as we were in for a lunchtime visit, I went purely for a soft drink and got stuck into their new lunch menu.   The choices are for 1,2 or 3 courses, starting at £7.95 for one course.  We’d definitely recommend the two courses at £9.95 – with the portion sizes, there was no way we’d have got to dessert as well.  We didn’t feel we needed it.  Quite a few dishes have supplements but these were only £1.00 each, so not breaking the bank if you do want to try some of the more premium offers. Although this could add up quickly, if you chose them for each course.

We both tried different starters – Mr WhatClaireDid keeping it classic with chicken liver pate, toasted bread and fig jam.  Pate to bread ratio was great (he reported this back, we discuss it every time one of us orders pate in a restaurant). 
starter lunch menu Ardnamurchan

My starter was amazing – venison Bolognese hache – think venison meatballs, deep fried in breadcrumbs with a bolognese sauce.  They were SO GOOD.  Crispy outside, soft inside,  tangy sauce for dipping. Recommended as the stand out starter on the menu.

starter lunch menu Ardnamurchan
Next up, Mr WhatClaireDid went for the venison burger served on brioche with a red onion relish and skinny fries – it came with a toasted bun and the venison was cooked properly – still pink in the middle.  It looked great, but for the purposes of avoiding “double venison” – I looked at it longingly across the table.

I love a chicken and bacon club – the Arndamurchan version came in a ciabatta rolls with mustard mayo and was also served with skinny fries. I went for this as my main.  It was incredibly filling and coupled with a decent sized starter, made for good value for less than £10 a head.

The waiting staff told us that the sticky toffee pudding was the best in Glasgow – we’ve yet to prove this, but if anyone else has been to Arnamurchan, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts!
lunch menu Arnamurchan Glasgow

Also for coeliac and gluten free friends – there are a few options for you which are highlighted on the menu.  Fear not!  

For more info, or to book, visit the website.  You can also keep up to date with the restaurant on Facebook, and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I was invited along to enjoy lunch for two in exchange for a review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Beer Snacks & Low Alcohol Beer with Krombacher

Readers, I’m back experimenting in the kitchen again as it’s officially Summer (also known in Glasgow as TAPS AFF) and beer and bbq season.   The lovely people at Krombacher were in touch recently, to see if I’d be willing to do some kitchen experiments with their low alcohol beer.

This is the first of two planned posts showcasing interesting things you can do with beer as well as drink it.  Take note, these recipes have both been made with Krombacher low alcohol products – from the biggest family owned and operated brewery in Europe.  You’ll find these beers to be produced according to the Germany Beer Purity Law of 1516.  Both the Pils and the wheat beer I’ve worked with here are low alcohol and actually taste like beer.

krombacher low alcohol beer

These are great for drinking as well as cooking – various statistics are showing adults are shunning alcohol or attempting to cut down as part of a healthier lifestyle.  In Scotland, we have fairly strict drink driving rules, so one of these low alcohol beers at an afternoon barbeque could be an option – especially when you’ve had too many carbonated soft drinks like you're at a a children’s party!

So as well as enjoying these as part of a low alcohol lifestyle, I’ve cooked up a few recipes to share with you all for Summer entertaining season – all perfect snack foods to enjoy with a low alcohol Krombacher or two!

Keep an eye on this great German brand by following on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 

Beer Battered Fried Chicken with Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol

Ingredients (makes 8 pieces)
8 mini breast fillets
Plain flour for coating

Batter Mix
½ cup plain flour
½ cup Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol
1 egg beaten
3 cups veg oil for frying

  1. Dry off each chicken fillet with a paper towel then season with salt and pepper.  Then, coat each fillet in plain flour.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat one egg, add in the flour and Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol and mix together until a smooth batter is formed.  Then dip each floured fillet into the batter, coating on both sides. Shake off any excess.  Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for ½ hour before frying to settle the batter.
  3. Next, add the oil to a DEEP heavy based sauce pan and heat the oil to 350F – check using a temperature proof kitchen thermometer.  Don’t let it get too hot.  Alternatively, if you have a deep fryer, you can cook in there (I don’t have one).  Please be careful handling pans of hot oil.  It can be dangerous. 
  4. Once the temperature is reached, aimed to maintain this during cooking.  Cook fillets 2-3 at a time, turning throughout cooking.  Cook time for breast meat should be 8-10 minutes. Turn during cooking.  Remove from pan using a slotted heat proof spoon, then drain on kitchen towel.  Cut through one of each to check meat is white and fully cooked.  Serve immediately with bbq sauce.
  5. Be careful – do not touch the oil and pan until it is fully cooled down and dispose of the oil responsibly.
    krombacher beer battered fried chicken

Mini Steak & Beer Pies with Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol

These take a good bit of time to prep but are worth it.  You might end up with leftover meat – fear not, it can be frozen and used at a later date.
krombacher mini steak pies

Ingredients – filling (will make a minimum of 10-12 mini pies)
400g diced beef
1 bottle Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol
2 beef oxo cubes
1 onion (sliced)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
Dash Worcester Sauce

1 egg beaten (for egg wash)
Pastry – 2 rolls of pre rolled puff pastry

  1. Slice the onion, add to a large heavy based pan and begin to fry and soften before adding the garlic.
  2. Toss the meat in plain flour and add to the saucepan, start browning. 
  3. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix, then straight after, add a full bottle of Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol.  Mix together and cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes.  Once starting to boil, transfer to a slow cooker and cook meat on low for around 7 hours.
  4. Once your meat is cooked, begin to assemble the pies.  Start by greasing a muffin tin and preheat your oven to 180c (fan).
  5. Take your pre-rolled pastry and cut out a large circle and a slightly smaller circle for the lid.  The large circle should fit in the muffin tin and reach the top on both sides. I used a wide topped cup as my guide and a narrower mug for the lid of the pie.
  6. From the two rolls of pastry, prepare 12 large and 12 smaller circles.  If desired, you can re-roll the pastry to make more. 
  7. Place each of the larger circles into the muffin tin to make a case, then spoon in your cooked meat to each to around ¾ full.   Next, using a damp finger, go around the top of each case and put on the smaller pastry circle – making sure it is well sealed to the case around all edges.
    How to prep and fill each mini pie
  8. Repeat with the remaining mix until all are topped and sealed.   Wash each with a pastry brush and beaten egg.
  9. Transfer to the oven, bake for around 20 minutes, or until pastry is golden and the meat is hot.
  10. Remove from the oven and muffin tin, then serve immediately.

Disclaimer – this post has been sponsored by Krombacher beers. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 23 – Afternoon Tea at Willow Tea Rooms

Readers, I took my mum on an adventure last week for afternoon tea at the Glasgow institution which is the Willow Tea Rooms.  They have two sites in the city centre – one on Buchanan Street (enjoyed by the tourists) and one within Watt Brothers on Sauchiehall Street.

This time, I took my mum with me on my latest Glasgow food blogger adventure. 

We visited the Buchanan Street Tearoom and were seated upstairs in the Chinese tearoom – painted blue.  Go up the stairs and you’re treated to a two level tearoom, with Rennie Mackintosh inspired furniture and his signature style dotted throughout the venue. It’s incredibly traditional and charming, with the waitresses dressed in black dresses and white aprons.
Willow Tea Rooms
Interior of Willow Tea Rooms 

We went for the afternoon tea at £12.95 per person – which visitors flock far and wide for.   You start by choosing your tea from the vast selection of loose leaf (I went for the Cranston blend), then pick your choice of cake from the cabinet.  But more about the giant strawberry tarts later.

Our afternoon tea arrived shortly after, served on a traditional three tier display with finger sandwiches on the bottom.  Top marks to our lovely waitress who shared the selection of sandwiches with us when we ordered and allowed us to make a few swaps (we’re not a family of egg mayo lovers).    They were cut into dainty finger shapes, crusts removed and on fresh, soft bread. 
afternoon tea willow tearooms

afternoon tea willow tearooms

Next level up, our cream scones were waiting – a choice of plain or fruit – with traditional clotted cream and jam.   A little shortbread round was also on the plate, to enjoy with our tea.  After much debate on the cream versus jam, which goes first on a scone, we tucked in.  Let it be known that you’ll get proper home baking at Willow Tea Rooms. There’s no “bought in” cakes here.   It’s a real bugbear of mine when you go for an afternoon tea and are presented with untidy sandwiches and frozen cakes (I’ve been somewhere before, where there was definitely ice in the middle).  Not here though, the scones were home-made. 

Back to the strawberry tarts.  These things were HUGE.  We’re talking several strawberries, big dollops of cream, delicious short pastry and loads of strawberry tart jelly which I love. They easily filled the top level of the cake stand and were worth waiting for.  I always feel a summer isn’t complete without the arrival of a Strawberry tart (favoured around Wimbledon season, just in case you are wondering!)  For me, these were the highlight of the afternoon tea.
strawberry tarts the willow tearooms

Mum and I both enjoyed our visit to this Glasgow institution – a favourite with both locals and visitors to the city.  You’ll find Willow Tea Rooms Buchanan Street at Number 97 – towards the lower end of Buchanan Street - for people who are new to Glasgow.  Head up the stairs and you’ll be greeted by friendly waitresses showing you with a table.  Be prepared for a short wait if you haven’t pre-booked, especially during peak times in the day.  And don't forget to try the strawberry tarts! 

For more information, keep up to date with Willow Tea Rooms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer:  I was invited along to Willow Tea Rooms as a Glasgow Blogger to try their afternoon tea menu in exchange for a write up.  Any opinions expressed are my own.  

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 21 – Pre Theatre Menu at Alston Bar & Beef

Readers, I’ve had a great month of reviews and socialising with other bloggers.  I also love how much of a community there is in Glasgow.  

My latest adventure was to Alston Bar & Beef. Alston’s new manager was really keen to engage the blogger community, so brought in a few of us in small groups to try out their new pre-theatre menu.  I went along with Foodie Explorers and EmmaEats for a night of socialising!

One thing to be clear about – this is for people who lovvveeees their meat.  No rude jokes at the back please.  The clue is in the bar and beef name.  Alston for those of you who don’t know, is UNDER central station in Glasgow.  No joke.  You go in through the main entrance to Glasgow Central, it’s on the left, down the stairs.  Terribly unassuming from the outside, but once down underground, there’s some cool blue and purple lighting and a great buzz.

Don’t be put off by the fact it’s inside a train station.  This is NOT station food.

The set menu – pre/theatre is served Monday to Thursday 12pm to 6.30pm and Friday and Saturday between 12pm and 4pm.

We started our night with a cocktail each from the extensive menu.  I  love my gins as you probably know.  I started with a little raspberry gin cocktail (Raspberry Royale) before moving onto Argentinian Malbec to go with the steaks.
alston glasgow
Raspberry Royale Cocktail

I started with the tweed valley brisket and smoked cheddar croquettes (think posh potato croquettes) which were delicious.  Soft and smooth in the middle, then crispy on the outside.  I felt I couldn’t go to Alston and not order steak so went for a classic 227g bavette and chips.  I’d also recommend a focaccia to share at the table if you’re happy to get your carbs on. 
alston bar and beef glasgow starter

steak alston bar and beef glasgow

By this point I was starting to feel full and was concerned I wasn’t making it to dessert, but undeterred I continued on.  I cheated slightly, only going for lemon sorbet for dessert, but was assured by my dining partners that the poached pear and chocolate brownie on the menu were also delicious.

dessert alston glasgow

For value, you’re probably best going for at least 2 courses – one course will set you back £10, 2 courses are £13 and if you’ve room for dessert, 3 courses are £16.

I loved the vibe of Alston – the low lighting made it feel like a proper night out, even though it was a Thursday – and it was fairly busy around the bar and restaurant, creating a great atmosphere for everyone in the venue.
alston bar and beef glasgow

 For more info, visit the Alston website or visit their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Disclaimer: I was asked to visit Alston to review the new menu. Any opinions expressed are my own.