Watch this space on how you could get involved in the massive Loch Lomond Shores Food and Drink Festival in September 2015. We will be looking for experts to provide Masterclassess on Sugarcraft, Chocolate and all types of Baking and Patisserie . You will also be able to bring along on the day your best cakes,breads,biscuits,chocolates,Novelty cakes and just about any type of baking you can think of to be judged by our panel of experts, Should your cakes win - you will go away with your very own "Scottish Baking Award" If you love baking and dont know how or would like a little help in some new skills then this is the venus for you . A Traditional High tea with Award winning Homebaking will be available over this 2 x day event just to round it off. A Fantastic local Award winning scottish band will be keeping the thousands entertained on the stunning loch shores . Why would you miss it ? Keep watching this space for all the details .........
Baking with Melanie Andrews
This week marks the beginning of my Epic treck across Scotland to find the Best Afternoon Tea in Scotland's Hotels . I start with the big guns - The 5 Star Hotels of Distinction. From Ackergill House in Wick North of Scotland to The Scotsman in Edinburgh to Cringlettie House in the Borders and the West - One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow. I will be reviewing over 30 of the finest Hotels in Scotland for Afternoon Tea and will post Live reviews as and when i have them. The Hotels in most cases will not have advance notification until i arrive , no money will change hands in turn for a great review, no membership is required , no media involvement (until after the review of course ! ) I believe we need to get back to earning honest great reviews from Professional people that know what they are talking about. Too many Awards are given for just about anything these days from people and organisations you have never heard of that have no experience or prior knowledge of the industry you are in . This is insulting in my opinion. I am no blogger , Newswpaper Food critic or fame hungry entrepenuer . I am a Professional Chef and Master Baker who has founded a very successful " Scottish Baking Awards " My views are my own but are also Expert. Looking forward to seeing you all !
Next year is the Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festivals 10th Year and is also Scotlands year for Food and Drink. To celebrate in style i will be appearing with a chosen list of winners from our last 5 years Scottish Baking Awards to provide Masterclasses for the 25,000 expected crowd. Not only is this one of the most scenic and beautiful locations in Scotland ( If not the world) it is also one of the biggest and best Festivals in Scotland. This runs over the weekend 5th and 6th september 2015. More details to follow soon.
The last few weeks have been frantic - between filming and organising the 4th Annual Scottish Baking Awards , helping launch the BBC Good Food ,Bakes and Cakes show in London and appearing on Scottish Television Live to name but a few !!
Hi, I'm Melanie Andrews and I would like to welcome you to my website. Please bear with us as we populate our pages with content
This weekend was to be a gastronomic trip for a food addict like myself and it started with Jamie Scott - Masterchef winner 2014. Jamie , age 30 ,grew up in the Dundee , Fyfe area and it made sense to him to start his first venture where he could draw inspiration from . I arrived in the usual pouring rain, synonymous of this country, to be bamboozled as to the correct entry to The Newport Restaurant . Do i enter through the public bar on the left , the back door of the carpark or the Picture gallery on the front? I took an educated guess and leapt through the gallery door at the front , brolly and all ! The lady at the desk directed me through the back of the shop and through into a lovely cosy Dining room with the most amazing views over the Tay . There was a cash register here so i am guessing this was the reception desk . I was taken up a lovely spiral staircase to a further Dining area with an equally stunning view over the Tay . Another level and we are on the floor with the bedrooms. I was given the Nordic room which sounded very Scandanavian and i was expecting a lovely room with a view, but sadly got a main street and a few lamposts . On checking the room out ,as you do , i realised i had ripped sheets on my bed and absolutely no toilet roll in the tiny toilet . This was beginning to feel a bit like Fawlty Towers !! The shower room looked lovely but again very little space and what space there was was very unusual and not giving the impression of space. Anyhow after the slight disapointment of no view i ventured out back down the spiral staircase to the dining area. First in so the roo to myself . The natural wood tables with their natural shape were a lovely asset to the room and very trendy nowadays with this style of dining. The waiters and waitress's were all very efficient and soon i had the menu choice in front of me . I had the choice of a 5 course taster menu or an 8 course. I opted for the 5 course as i knew the eating involved in these tasting menus.Soon i was presented with the first small plate of a carrot tart , nice but not memorable . This was followed by a simly devine half artichoke with a satay sauce. The Beef tartar and coal was not to my liking as it brought back memories of my pregnancy and my craving for eating coal !!!! The razor clam was pleasant and refreshing on the palate and perfectly seasoned. The next few plates were more substantial ,but it wasnt until the treacle bread that i sat up and took notice. This was the most perfectly flavoured bread with the crispiest outer crust and the moist treacle flavour in the inside , not overpowering but just perfect. A triumph. The following course that shouted out to me was the carnoustie pork cooked 2 ways . It was simply bursting with flavour and the pork fat scratching was to die for. The dessert plates that followed were a chocolate frozen ball with not much flavour or much else. The Macaron however was inspired and was a take on a Banoffee pie, with a filling of soft caramel, cream and banana . The Macaron was perfectly baked and this worked for me , excellent. The last dessert was a homemade sticky toffee pudding slice with a mead sauce. It was edible but had no wow factor. All in all ,the dishes presented seemed like they had all been made well in advance and then all placed together on the night .There seemed to be no passion, love or creativity. I did happen to know there was a food festival taking place at The Newport the following day and i just wonder if the emphasis was more on that than on the fee paying dining customer. ? I could be wrong . I also have a pet hate of being served luke warm food and with exception to the sticky toffee pudding , it was all luke warm . I hear all you Chefs now screaming out - It has to be the right temperature for flavour on the tongue etc etc and for the meat to be rested etc etc , but it should also be warmer than luke warm! I may have to go back a 2nd time to confirm this review as i know the standard of food that Jamie is capable of , just wasn't present on this night sadly. Till the next time -Slainte
Part of my gastronomic tour of Dundee continued with lunch at The Tayberry Restaurant in Broughty Ferry . Chef Adam Newth is also proprietor of this great new addition to Tayside's culinary scene . The Restaurant opened in November 2015 and offers a relaxed fine dining experience without hitting your pocket . I arrived on a brisk cold December lunch time and was immediately taken by the lovely view overlooking the mouth of the Tay . I was welcomed by friendly waiters and shown upstairs to a dining area that showcased the view perfectly. There is also a Dining area on the ground floor also overlooking the water . The menu was fresh and varied and appears to change frequently. To begin with i was offered Chefs lovely homemade bread . I started with an oak smoked salmon tartar which was beautifully and delicately dressed with wasabi which was perfectly balanced with apple and cucumber . The plate looked so attractive and it was a shame to eat it. My next course was a venison pie which was quite simply unique. It was dome shaped ,crusty and glazed on the outside and perfectly cooked on the inside . The Venison was braised and had the texture of pulled pork ,lightly spiced and mouthwatering. On the top of this dome was a further little dome shaped black pudding fritter - delightfully light , crisp and bursting with flavour. There was velvety mash potato , winter greens and a jus to loose your self in ,along with seasonal little cubes of vegetables . Simply fabulous . The dessert was every Chefs nightmare - A chocolate fondant .... but this Chef new his stuff . The Chocolate Fondant was perfectly cooked to the last second ,and when cut open, oozed with soft rich chocolate sauce. There was quenelles of sorbet, red honeycombe pieces , spiced apple and quenelles of rich cream to add to my delight. When you order a Chocolate fondant you know that had to be prepared right there and then and i love that this was cooked so well .The beauty about the whole meal was you felt the Chef had been present and it was cooked to order ( as it should be, but not always is) The meal was lovingly prepared and it showed in the presentation and the length of time it took to get to the table. I really dont have a critical thing to say about this great lunch cooked and prepared by a talented young Chef overlooking a stunning coastal location. Onwards and upwards The Tayberry until we meet again- Slainte.
SO I FIND MYSELF ON A DREARY ,WET TO THE CORE SUNDAY, AND TWO HOURS TO KILL – LUNCH !
TODAY I TOOK THE LONG SUFFERING HUSBAND AND THE 16 YEAR OLD SUBWAY ADDICT TO GLASGOWS FOODY CORNER NEAR KELVINGROVE. OX AND FINCH IN SAUCHIEHALL STREET HAS JUST GAINED A BIB GOURMAND RATING AND I WAS KEEN TO FIND OUT WHY ? COULD THIS BE THE ONE , THE PLACE THAT CAN ACTUALLY DELIVER ON A QUALITY DESSERT TO FOLLOW A QUALITY MEAL ?
THE TEAM IS HEADED UP BY A FORMER CHEF OF THE MCLAREN FORMULA ONE TEAM – JONATHAN MACDONALD.
ON ENTERING IT WAS VERY MUCH IN KEEPING WITH ALL THE OTHER TRENDY BAR/BISTROS IN GLASGOW.
WE WERE WELCOMED ON ARRIVAL AND SHOWN IMMEDIATELY TO OUR TABLE WHICH WE WERE ADVISED BEFORE DINING, TO VACATE AFTER 2 HOURS .
THE MENUS WERE IN PAPER PRINTED ON OUR TABLE AND ACTED AS A TABLE CLOTH AND SPILLAGE COLLECTOR , ALSO GOOD FOR REMEMBERING TO ORDERING EXTRAS IF STILL HUNGRY.
THE WAITRESS WAS EFFICIENT AND KNOWLEDGEABLE AND WE WERE ADVISED TO ORDER ABOUT 2 OR 3 SMALL DISHES EACH TO START WITH .
THE TABLES ARE VERY CLOSE TO EACH OTHER SO WE WERE ABLE TO SEE THE OTHER DELIGHTS THAT PEOPLE HAD ORDERED BEFORE US , HELPING US CHOOSE FROM A VARIED MENU.
THE OX CHEEK , COCONUT, TAMARIND AND PICKLED SALAD WAS INSPIRED AND SIMPLY MELTED LIKE BUTTER IN THE MOUTH .
THE VERY SIMPLE BASIL , HERITAGE TOMATOES AND BUFFALO MOZZARELLA WAS ALSO EXCEPTIONAL . THE QUALITY OF EACH INGREDIENT SPEAKING VOLUMES FROM THE DISH .
THE SOURDOUGH WAS VERY GOOD BUT I WOULD HAVE PREFERRED NON PIPED/OILED BUTTER TO BE SERVED ALONGSIDE.
THE DUCK CONFIT WAS EXCELLENT AND FELL OF THE BONE . THE LAMB WAS THE MOST TENDER I HAD TASTED IN LAMB AND ALSO BEAUTIFULLY COOKED.
THE DESSERT COURSE WAS THE REAL REASON I WAS HERE AND I ORDERED 3 . I HAD A PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE , A RASPBERRY MILLEFEUILLE AND A CHOCOLATE AND TAHINI CREMEUX , CHERRIES AND SESAME TUILE.
MY SON APPROVED STRONGLY ABOUT HIS UPSIDE DOWN CAKE . MY HUSBAND ENJOYED THE VERSION OF MILLEFEUILLE THAT HE WAS OFFERED AND I ALSO ENJOYED MY CREMEUX. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD TO HAVE HAD REAL CHERRIES ON A CHERRY DESSERT AND I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE HAD A STRONGER FLAVOUR OF CHOCOLATE ON A CHOCOLATE DESSERT , BUT THE SESAME TUILLE WAS ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT AS WAS THE CHERRY SORBET STYLE CREAM . A VERY CHEFFY DESSERT !
ALL IN ALL ,IT WAS A GOOD LUNCH IN AN OVERCROWDED FOODY HAVEN IN GLASGOW .
THE NEW AGE THAT WE LIVE IN IS NOW A FOOD AGE . WE EAT OUT MORE THAN EVER BEFORE AND EVERY SECOND SHOP IS A FOOD OUTLET . EVERYBODY IS OR WANTS TO BE A CHEF . TO THIS END WE FIND OURSELVES HAVING TO RAISE THE BAR IN EVERY NEW FOOD VENTURE .
THE PRICE FOR THIS LUNCH WAS JUST SHORT OF £100 WITH ONE BEER AND TAP WATER
I FEEL I HAVE TO SAY I FELT RUSHED SADLY , EVEN AT THIS LUNCH TIME DINING AND NOT BLOWN AWAY .
SO ,ON TO THE NEXT GOURMET DELIGHT JEEVES ,AND DONT SPARE THE HORSES !!
My quest for Scotland's Best dessert, led me to Tom Kitchens Restaurant in the capital city, Edinburgh today . The Kitchin is located in part of an old converted whisky warehouse in Edinburgh's stylish waterfront.
I had been looking forward to Toms place for a while now as he is a Chef I know quite a lot about but never had the privilege of dining at any of his Restaurants.
Tom opened The Kitchin in 2006 along with his wife Michaela and between them they have an impressive CV ,not to be sniffed at !
Tom is from Edinburgh and has worked with some of the greats of the culinary world , including Pierre Koffman and his 3 Star La Tante Claire in London.
Tom is also Scotland's youngest Michelin Starred Chef/Proprietor and earned his star at the tender age of 29.
He may be more well known to you and I from appearing as a judge on the Masterchef Final on BBC.
Tom's influence and style is typically French using the very best of Scotland's larder -How could you fail ?
The philosophy is a simple one – From Nature to Plate .
I arrived early to a very slick , efficient team organising my every move from door to table.
The restaurant feels warm and inviting and the open kitchen allows the diner to watch the amazing creations taking shape.
I was served with an absolutely perfectly baked miniature sour dough bread ,already scored and steaming hot with a quenelle of soft butter . Being a baker, I was especially impressed with this bread as it was as light and crispy as you can get in a sour dough ,which can be hard on the nashers if not executed well.
My first course was brilliant , 3 x large plump,fresh Orkney hand dived scallops served In the shell with puff pastry encasing the rim. Once opened expertly by the waiter ,the creamy vermouth sauce and aroma of the scallops was jaw dropping. The flavour can only be described as the taste of the sea – absolutely wonderful.
My second course, I thought ,would have to be brilliant to beat that and it was , Medallions of perfectly pink Roe Deer served with the best tasting pink soft Rhubarb, root vegetable quenelles and a dark sticky red wine sauce – oh lord the flavours of everything were just so intense that I was in heaven.
My third course was dessert and Tom in his wisdom decided to go full throttle on this course and deliver me all of the desserts on the menu to sample . These were not sample portions so this was no mean feat . I had to eat them all you understand or I would have offended this great Chef .
First up was the warm Apple tart which was not unlike a Tarte tatin . It was simply devine with little apple pieces which had been melon balled and dipped in caramel. The caramel was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. They were arranged around a pastry circle and served with quenelles of vanilla ice cream and hot caramel sauce.
Next up on the hit list was an unusual dessert of Buckthorn consomme served around a farm yoghurt Panna cotta and Granny apple sorbet . The Panna cotta was perfectly formed and texture was excellent ,the apple sorbet was sharp and full of flavour and the consomme was bitter and different to anything i have tasted before.
The Chocolate souffle with the chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream was my dream dessert. The chocolate was quite obviously a high cocoa solid, dark and grainy . The souffle light and well risen and the chocolate ice cream smooth and like velvet on the palate .
But my favourite of the night came in the shape of the Knockraich crowdie cheesecake served with farm rhubarb ,rhubarb sorbet and pink pralines .
The rhubarb was earthy and softly poached , pink and bursting with flavour , definitely the star of the plate .
The cheesecake was light and full of creamy flavour . A little pink cheesecake macaron perched gently on the top of the crisp praline on the top. It was quite simply a work of art not only to look at but to enjoy.
I was offered, at the end of this extravaganza of desserts, a further Chocolate and caramel tart but had to take a doggy bag on this occasion , what a let down Melanie!
What i came away with, at the end of this evening, was the reminder of how our food should taste . The earthy full flavour of fresh organic rhubarb , the taste of the sea oozing from the giant scallops , the intense flavour from the Roe deer and the Rich , dark and bitter flavour of the excellent chocolate .
The price of this Michelin star Restuarant in the heart of the city , offering simply excellent dining, was very reasonable and affordable compared to most i have sampled so far. The gratuity once again was not added to the bill and left to the diner to decide on whether to tip or not . I was very impressed all round. Slainte