Foodies Festival is at the EICC this weekend and thanks to Crabbie’s, I have been for a preliminary scout to find out what’s worth seeing whilst you are there. Continue reading “Festive Fun at Foodies Edinburgh”
Valentine’s Day feels like the perfect day to blog about champagne. Associated with celebrations, good news and success, when you are enjoying a glass you should be feeling delightfully happy, or at least that’s what I believe!
Today it’s all about Perrier-Jouët Champagne, tried and tested by myself and Mr. F&P at a fabulously indulgent, five course champagne tasting event we were invited to at Gusto in Edinburgh. I advise you pour yourself a glass of something fizzy before you delve into this post, because if you don’t feel like one now, you certainly will by the end.
On arrival we we’re taken upstairs to the mezzanine level where there was a gorgeous set up with candles, rose petals, white table cloths and heavy cutlery – we were in for a real treat! Gusto do not typically do fine dining. Downstairs is a relaxed setting with families, friends and couples tucking into wholesome looking Italian dishes. Our firm feeling by the end of the evening was that Gusto should consider doing more fine dining! The food was wonderful, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Perrier-Jouët is owned by Pernod Ricard. One of the largest champagnes houses in the world, Perrier-Jouët produce about three millions bottles of champagne a year, and are famous for their stunning glass artwork on the bottles. A little more about the artwork further down.
As we dined, the Perrier-Jouët Brand Ambassador, Jonathan Simms, told us a little bit about a the history of the house and talked us through the individual champagnes we were trying.
On opening the menu, there was no denying we were in for a five course feast.
Proceedings kicked off with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut and a seared king scallop in a hazelnut butter, with red pepper & spinach. The first glass was good baseline for what was to come, it was light and refreshing, and quite soft to drink.
The scallop was large, juicy and seared perfectly.
Jonathan assured us that champagne need not be kept for special occasions, and is very much a drink that can be throughout a meal, and not simply served with canapés. Needless to say this is an idea I can quite happily get on board with.
Next came an incredibly delicious plate of smoked duck carpaccio, with pomegrante and a sweet Marsala reduction, served with a glass of rose – the Perrier-Jouët Blason Rose.
The sweetness of the rose fizz worked really nicely against the smokey duck – not a dish I had tried before, and definitely one I would opt for in the future. Again, Jonathan dispelled the myth that rose can only be enjoyed in summer time, and typically because of the colour, by females. He also pointed out it is the red grape which gives it it’s colour, hence this particular glass of fizz working with a darker meat such as duck.
Next up we were introduced to the Mumm Cordon Rouge, the official champagne of Formula 1 and another member of the Pernod Ricard family. It was interesting to taste alongside the Perrier-Jouet; this champagne was much heavier, and fuller in flavour. For that reason was paired with a truffle flavoured risotto with white crab meat. Mr. F&P was in heaven!
We must have both enjoyed the Mumm as it was gone before I could snap!
For our fourth course, they brought out the big guns. We were treated to a glass of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc, poured from the iconic floral bottle. The artwork was born form Art Nouveau moment in the early 1900s, when Emile Galle collaborated with the house to produce their first decorated bottle of fizz. Over the years the bottles and dainty glasses have become collectors items, and the today the Perrier-Jouët house still have a strong affiliation to the art scene, supporting young up and coming artists, sponsoring creative events and to this day crafting beautiful champagnes all in inspired by art and nature.
The artwork completely encapsulates everything about the brand – champagnes known for their elegance, floral notes and delicate flavour.
This champagne was served with one of my favourite dishes, a fillet of beef. Cooked medium rare, it melted in the mouth and was served with an artichoke tortellini and carrot puree and a red wine sauce. After swooning over the glass for quite some time, I remember to actually taste it! This esteemed glass of fizz did not taste a sweet as that had gone before. It was much drier and crisper, and to my surprise worked really well with the red wine sauce.
Finally onto the last course, and glass of Zacapa Rum to finish us off. I must admit that I’m not a fan of dark rum, so I won’t wax lyrical about it, however I could see the sense in serving a vanilla panna cotta with this tipple as the vanilla favours all married quite nicely.
A well cooked panna cotta, light and full of vanilla, was a lovely end to a decadent five course dinner. I really adored was the poached ginger rhubarb and was intrigued by the chocolate soil… if I weren’t such a chocolate lover I might think it didn’t add much, but I’m always pleased to see some chocolate with a dessert, and it added texture to an otherwise quite soft pudding.
After some teas and coffees we headed home, full of fizz and feeling extremely happy. The fizz of the night for me was the Perrier-Jouet Blason Rose, but just for glassware, I also fell completely in love with the Belle Epoque Blanc.
If you come across the opportunity to attend a tasting evening with Perrier-Jouet, absolutely sign up there and then. It was such an gorgeous way to spend an evening, and I learned so much about a champagne house I was previously quite unfamiliar with.
As for Gusto, at the moment they are prepping for an opening in Glasgow, and I am definitely keen to return to the restaurant in Edinburgh for a more casual evening of dining. That said, now I know my Perrier-Jouëts, I’ll be turning straight to the champagne list – who said fizz can’t be for casual dining!
I love planning. I love organising my diary, I like to know exactly what’s happening and where I’m going when. If I say “see you later” I’ve probably already got a good idea in my head of when that’s likely to be. So this past weekend was one I had been looking forward to for weeks, marked in the diary, the whole Saturday and Sunday blocked out, with absolutely no chance of anything getting in my way. The catch up with my fellow blondes, my journo girls, had arrived.
Location this time around was Glasgow, so two of us set off from Edinburgh to join the 3rd amiga. A minor exploding tyre incident on the M8 west involving two policemen and new 4 car tyres delayed our arrival somewhat, but once we got there we set about doing what we’ve always done when we are together – chatting, eating and drinking!
Our hostess with the mostess had the kettle on and we found these little treats in our room! I was already keen to come back!
Having lived in Glasgow’s West End for four years, I am no stranger to the awesome menagerie of foodie options the city has to offer, but on this visit time I ended up trying out not one, but two new restaurants. After welcome cups of tea, we turned to some fizz and nibbles and got ready to head out.
I love this idea of using cute china tea cups as dishes for nibbles.
For dinner we headed to the new Ox and Finch in Finnieston, at the west end of Argyle Street. When I lived in Glasgow a few years ago, this part of town was had started to get going, and The Crabshakk was the first of the new up-and-coming restaurants that I can remember to take up residence in this surprising part of town. Now Finnieston is FULL of great places to eat and drink.
The Ox and Finch describes itself as relaxed contemporary dinning, and the menu doesn’t distinguish between starter and mains. It is a smorgasbord of sharing plates, and for three foodies like us, this style of dining is perfect. We order a bottle of wine and start to rank the menu from must -have-my-mouth-is-watering dishes to if-we-have-room close seconds.
On ordering we are told that the dishes simply arrive when they are ready, unless we specify otherwise. We kick off with some light and crispy fried squid – a freebie due to a mistake in the kitchen, not a mistake that bothered us!
From then the dishes arrived at a steady pace. The beetroot cured gravadlax had us all in awe of the fun, bright colour, and for an extra £3 came with a shot of cucumber vodka. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! It was really refreshing and more like a cucumber juice than a shot of vodka. The tomato and mozzarella salad was light and creamy, so for a cheese that doesn’t often taste of much, they had done well.
From the seafood selection we chose the scallops which were big and juicy and came on a bed of cauliflower purée. They went very nicely with the side of asparagus with a poached egg and pancetta – this dish hit the spot with us all.
The star of the evening was the hanger steak. It was perfectly cooked, still really pink, and just melted in your mouth. On top were the yummiest, thinnest, lightest onion rings I’ve seen in ages. So delicious.
The lamb meatballs were ok, but we all agreed nothing to write home about.
And we just couldn’t resist getting some creamy dauphinoise potatoes…
Room for desert? Probably not, but after a little break we decided to share the dark chocolate cremeux, which came with popcorn (nice gimmick) peanuts and banana ice-cream. I could have done with the chocolate tasting a little darker and stronger, but the banana ice cream was great. By this point we had spent so long grazing our way through the menu the sun had set and so the light is not very good in the pudding picture!
Coffees followed and we moved on to a tapas bar called Rioja for another drink. Some more nattering and and after having put the world to rights and we were finally ready to call it a night. All of the above, a bottle of sauvignon blanc and two coffees came to £27 per person. We all agreed this was a really reasonable price for a yummy evening of eating.
On to our next foodie adventure – Sunday brunch at The Central Market in the Merchant City. We walked in and I knew this place was for me – Veuve Clicquot bottles lined the bar and an Oyster bar sat in the middle. Girls, you can just leave me here…
An afternoon at the shops beckoned, so we needed to fuel up! French toast and bacon with maple syrup featured, as did scrambled eggs and bacon on toast. A side of chips and a pain au chocolate between us all was probably a step to far, but we did have a lot of shops to get round.
After a good few hours of retail therapy, our chatter had not yet run out but unfortunately the weekend had, and it was time to say goodbye. Great girlfriends are the ones you can just pick up with where you left off after months of not being together, and I’m so lucky to have found that in my journo girls.
All that’s left now is to get another date in the diary, and er, maybe go for a run once the food coma has passed!