At last, the dish that named this blog. I’ve been revisiting childhood foods over the last couple of years. Fried spam pieces, Fray Bentos pies. This was lunch at my Gran & Granddad’s every Saturday when I was growing up and was my dad’s favourite. It’s a Scotch pie in a bowl of oxtail soup. Like fried spam sandwiches and Fray Bentos pies it is fucking disgusting (although I do use spam a lot in fried rice or with noodles etc).
I cannot express enough how completely unpleasant tinned oxtail soup is. I enjoy a wee cup of Heinz tomato from time to time, so it stood to reason that the oxtail would be ok, but it really is not. I think there’s definite potential here though. All I need to do is find decent beefy soup. Or make my own oxtail. And find the best pies in Glasgow. I’ve heard the Newlands Bakery is good.
Buddy’s BBQ and Burgers: it’s so hot right now! I was lucky enough to nip in and get their last two racks of ribs, chicken wings, chips and onion rings before they closed for their week’s break.
The guy seemed well harassed when we were in, he looked like a shadow of a man. He hadn’t slept for four days and in the 15 minutes we were there he had to turn away several people, some of them looking pretty pissed off. Regard some of the mental comments on Facebook to get a sense of the bizarre backlash.
Anyway, despite what my not very flattering pictures would suggest the food was great. I love all meat on the bone so there was no risk of disappointment for me. My dining companions however are not fans of the wing, but 2 out of 3 of them loved these. They were massive, with loads of eating on them, the coating was ultra crisp and the honey chilli garlic sauce was tangy and yum. We’re all pretty hardcore rib fans and none of us were let down. There were assorted meat/sauce/rub options, we had one baby back and one spare, both with dry rub and both fantastic. The rub was particularly moreish. Are you ever really delighted when you’re eating a bag of crisps and you get one with millions of flavouring? Are you ever tempted to lick that stuff right off? Same thing.
The onion rings were great too, homemade not frozen, and really crunchy. The chips were chips.
As I said, we got the last of what he had, but while we waited the guy was assembling a couple of burgers with a lot of love and care and they looked heck a slammin.
They reopened last night and I hear they sold out of food again. When I walked past at about 7 there was a crowd of people outside, including two policemen who I assume were there for crowd control (or possibly responding to a death threat from someone who was upset to miss out on pulled pork again). I would say to get yourself down but if you’re the sort of person who gets antsy in a queue or has any entitlement issues I’d maybe give it a couple of weeks until the rush dies down.
Buddy’s BBQ & Burgers
44 Skirving Street
Finally fulfilled a life long dream last week when I won a competition *for eating*, and took home a glorious trophy. So, I was only competing against about 10 other people, I drew with Briony from The Glasgow Food Blog and I only got 20 points out of a possible 40, but I’m taking that win.
The event was a blind tasting at The Living Room. We were all given very serious looking blindfolds and carefully fed samples from their new menu. After each mouthful we answered surprisingly tough questions on an intimidating 4 page booklet of questions.
I ate in The Living Room once when it first opened about 8 years ago, and although it was the sort of heavily styled, glossy wood, lots of mirrors I don’t usually go for I was impressed by the food, which was more or less faultless. I’ve been in for cocktails a few times since (also faultless), but for some reason I’ve never been back for food. I was really impressed by the little mouthfuls I tried at the event though. The Living Room always feels like a really nice bar to me, and the menu feels like really nice bar food. The black forest ham, fig and goats’ cheese mousse starter was smokey and fruity and lovely; and the pork and chorizo burger was lush, served on a brioche bun (how trendy?). I especially liked the duck, with szechuan pepper and plum chutney, which I wouldn’t have usually ordered, being suspicious of whether it would be over cooked, but it was perfect. Another random highlight were the flavoured butters that accompany their steaks (unfortunately we didn’t get to try steak). Much more interesting than the standard diane sauce. I’ll be having the blue cheese and port butter in future.
We also got to try puddings, cheeses and cocktails (yus!). The basil grande eton mess was the sort of girly pile of pink cream I’d be embarrassed to order but secretly love. The cocktails were as good as I’d expect having been in for cocktails before. I’m always astonished by how many places mess up cheese, given the only thing you really have to do is buy some nice cheese. The Living Room’s selection was solid and even better it wasn’t fridge cold, and they’d made an effort to match the biscuits to the cheeses.
What I was most impressed by at the Living Room though was the enthusiasm of the general manager, Graham and his team. There was a real sense of delight and pride in what they’re doing and that really comes across in the food and atmosphere. I think it’s easy to assume that that’ll be missing from a unit that’s part of a group like The Living Room, but clearly that doesn’t have to be the case.
I’d definitely go back and I’ve spied on their website that they do Sunday lunch and they seem like exactly the sort of place that would kick ass at that, so I might wander along for a wee bloody mary and some roast beef one of these weeks.
I was blindfolded during the tasting, obv, so I have no photos. But Alfred Foodography has some beautiful ones, so check them out.
The Living Room
150 Saint Vincent Street, Glasgow
If, like me, you feel like you’re getting to a point where you feel like you need to legitimise your drinking I encourage you to consider ‘tastings’. I’ve been to a couple for gin at the Good Spirits Co. recently and they’re a great alternative to a night in the pub. Or an appropriate precursor to a night in the pub.
The evening begins with an introduction and a little chat about gin from your friendly guide (but nothing too major), then the drinking begins. You sit down to six gins (full measures likes, there’s a bucket in the middle of the table, but no one used it), numbered and labelled, and the group works through them together. You get a wee bit of background to the drink and some tasting notes, then you get about it. While you’re working through each drink (you’re encouraged to try it neat first, and then add tonic if you like) the Good Spirits guy wanders from table to table asking you what you think and dropping knowledge bombs on you.
It’s fun and if you’re interested in flavours at all it’s really interesting to compare six different drinks. The first evening I went to covered some great gin and tonic gins, including my favourite, Martin Miller’s and the excellently named Old Raj. The second evening featured some more interesting spiced and citrus flavours, which would be great in cocktails.
You’re seated in groups of 8, so if you’re going with 7 other people it’s perfect. Otherwise there is a mild stranger danger risk, although we were sitting with some lovely people both times. Age range is from early 20s to 50s, so you’re probably covered.
If gin’s not your thing, why not? It’s awesome. They do do tastings for just about everything though, check it aowww..
Good Spirits Co, 23 Bath Street Glasgow, G2 1HW
Spent Saturday wandering around Edinburgh in the sun, eating half a kilo of chilli, one tiny tub at a time, as part of Lupe Pintos’ annual chilli cook off. Tickets were £10 (which goes to Cash for Kids) and as you make your way around the trail you mark each offering for taste, texture and originality, then return your card to Lupe Pintos.
Last year I did the Glasgow one and even though it was pissing rain there was an amazing carnival atmosphere. Edinburgh didn’t quite manage to replicate that (Glasgow smiles better after all), but I can’t think of many ways I’d rather spend a Saturday afternoon.
None of the restaurants had tried to do anything too wacky, there were a few mixed meats, a pulled pork and quite a few featuring chorizo. My highlights included Hyde Out’s, which was just a really good, solid chilli. Lebowski’s chilli was fine, but the verdita they topped it with was fantastic, grassy and garlicky. My favourite was from Indaba, with the secret ingredient of ox tail (which I correctly identified, smug face), giving it a richness and that thick, glossy gravy. I know a lot of people thought it was too much like stew though. There were a couple I didn’t like so much, one was too hot for me to eat, and a couple had a weird sweet and sour element I wasn’t digging.
The winner was Bennets, my second favourite, pictured above. It was a good, classic chilli suped up with a grand spread of toppings, including some rocking homemade sweet/salty bacon bits.
The Glasgow event is this weekend, but it’s already sold out, soz.
Free cheesecake day, yeah! I was psyched to be offered some samples from the Handmade Cheesecake Company the other day.
They were delivered to my office and moved by the wistful glances of my colleagues I cracked open two and shared them around. The caramel shortcake was good, lovely toffee flavour in the cheesecake filling, nice buttery biscuit base. The chunks of caramel shortcake made it look the part, and the caramel sauce was good, but unfortunately sitting on top of the moist cheesecake filling meant the shortcake wasn’t as crispy as I’d have liked.
I didn’t love the limoncello, it could have been a bit more zingy, and I thought that the glaze on top tasted a bit artificial, but a couple of my workmates preferred it and would eat again.
I took the butterscotch pavlova and turkish delight home to share with Tweed Spectre. He lucked out because these were the best ones. The butterscotch pavlova had that lovely butter/caramel flavour in the cheesecake filling, the chunks of meringue on the top were a perfect crispy contrast to the creaminess and the ginger biscuit base was a nice surprise.
The Turkish delight was an absolute dreamboat and my favourite. Smooth and creamy cheesecake with a subtle and delicate rose flavour, neatly dodging that old lady’s dressing table fragrance rose sweets sometimes have. The glaze added a little more rose flavour and the shards of turkish delight and dark chocolate on top provided a contrast of texture and a nice bittersweet note. I will definitely order this in the future if I’m having people for food and don’t want to make a dessert myself.
The Handmade Cheesecake Company is based in Ayr, but they deliver by overnight courier all around the UK, and their large cheesecakes are a very reasonable £14 - £17, serving 12 and making them a great alternative to picking up a fancy dessert from M&S or one of the supermarkets. They also do ‘wee yins’, which are generously sized individual portions (what they sent me), and ‘teeny wee yins’, which are canape sized and would be fantastic at events, or bbqs or whatever.
If you want to torment yourself with regular pictures of their gorgeous desserts you could follow them on twitter @handmadeccc.
I have a £25 voucher to give away, which will get you pretty much anything off The Handmade Cheesecake Company’s website. To enter just tweet a link to this blog, or like this post on tumblr, or like my brand new Facebook page I just set up (there’s nothing on it yet, but I promise not to be all aggressive with it and fill up your timeline with loads of stuff). I’ll choose a winner using a complex random process on Friday the 26th October.
Totally wild for this place right now. Finding a cafe that does good homemade soup and sandwiches is a rare treat when you work in the city centre.
Royal Exchange’s soup is proper homemade, it tastes like your gran made it. They have two or three choices a day and I can recommend the broccoli, split pea, lentil and butternut squash. If you’re swithering they’ll give you a wee taste in an espresso cup. For £3.50 you can get a soup and a sandwich, toastie or salad. The fillings are simple, chicken mayo, tuna mayo, brie and cranberry, but everything’s really fresh and the bread is soft and yummy. Who doesn’t love just a classic sandwich? We can’t be eating wacky sandwiches all the time.
Exchange Coffee Shop, Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow
I don’t drive, so one thing guaranteed to disturb my calm when folk are coming over is a trip to the supermarket to pick up hundreds of ingredients. I can only physically carry so much. There have been times I’ve had to make one trip on my way home the night before, and then a second trip at ass o’clock the following morning. Minimising my shopping list has become my primary objective in menu planning for guests.
These tarts cover this base with only 3 ingredients, plus hit so many other spots. They’re vegetarian, they’re good hot or cold, they’re mostly fussy eater friendly being free of all the good things that can freak people out (olives, capers, blue cheese, anchovies etc).
Tomato and soft cheese tarts
Serves 6 not too greedy people for lunch, with salad on the side and maybe a piece of cake or something after. Serves 3 slightly greedier people.
1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
1 thing of garlic cheese (I used a pack of Boursin, you could use Philadelphia, or any soft cheese really, and if you don’t like garlic you could use another flavour of cheese)
about 5 nice tomatoes
Preheat your oven to gas mark 7
Open out your pastry and cut it into 3.
Score about 1cm around the outside of each third.
Mash up your cheese to make it a bit softer and then spread over each third, keeping it inside the scored lines.
Thinly slice your tomatoes (you want them to be fairly thin because if they’re too thick a lot of juice will come out when you’re baking them and make the pastry soggy).
Layer the tomatoes over the cheese, overlapping each previous slice by about a third. Give each one a couple of twists of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil (if you remember).
Bake for about 30 minutes. Serve hot, warm or cold. Salad is good on the side. I just opened a bag and threw some sliced apple, celery and walnuts on the top.