Oh what a beautiful morning Oh what a beautiful day
God I love Scotland and most of the time I am the proudest Scot of all but occasionally, today being one, I am horrified at the service our lovely country deems fit to offer visitors and locals alike.
In East Lothian today I took my Mum for lunch. We’d heard good things about Konditerei in Gullane so off we went. It certainly looks the part we agreed as we sat down. It was 12.50. After a look at the menu and a few minutes passed I approached the counter.
‘It’s table service’ barked the woman behind. OK I smiled thanks and sat down
Another 5 minutes went by when a young girl came up.
‘What would you like?’
2 sandwiches with salami and cheese please.
‘We’ve no rolls left’.
‘We’ve no rolls left.’ (just a recap – it’s before 1pm on a sunny Saturday lunchtime)
Oh Ok, have you got any bread?
Well bread would be fine thanks.
‘But you can’t have bread, we only give sliced bread with soup.’
So we can’t have any salami and cheese in bread then.
She shuffled off and we looked at each other. WHAT?
Not in this case it seems. A cafe that runs out of rolls at 12.50pm on a Saturday lunch time. Of course there was bread but we weren’t allowed to have that.
So we left the building and the urge to do anything other than tell people to steer well clear. Konditerei my arse.
I do love a happy ending though. Off we went hungry and irritated to Merry Hatton Garden Centre where we had the best chicken and tarragon soup I have ever tasted. Real chicken stock was the deep, flavoursome base of this wonderful home made soup with a huge sandwich of tuna mayonnaise on the side. It’s got a great shop, planty bit and is the perfect place to hide from the cold wind whipping round East Fortune Market on a Sunday or even just to restore your faith in the service industry. If you have been somewhere that makes you cringe and your visitors flag down the nearest taxi to take them to the station you could do a lot worse than take them here as going by our experience today they would be guaranteed to leave with a smile on their face,a big full tummy and a half dozen pansies to boot.
All these humans and dogs are obsessed foodies and 3 double up as obsessed cookies too. So as we unpacked our endless bags of clothes, thermals, wellies, fishing rods, dog beds, children, toys, DVD’s and other gubbins it became apparent the majority of the trockle on board was food, edible bits, sauces, marinades, snacks, butchers bags, pots, herbs and secrets. There was a frisson of excitment as a wadge of Stinking Bishop was slammed onto the counter closely followed, and some
I’m not sure whether it was due to the weather, the wine , a surfeit of competitive DNA or all 3 but as the stacks of boxes, bags and cool boxes were emptied a casual food challenge was issued We’re here for 3 nights we should see who produces the best dinner. How we laughed. What a ludicrous idea! we snorted as the colllective brow furrowing and furtive fridge opening confirmed that we were all well up for it.
Night one friend Tracy started the batting with smoked salmon, not just any smoked salmon, no no , this was the one she caught on the River Lyon last summer. She took it home, smoked it and has been biding her time to bring it back for us to scoff on Sunday night. Oh God Yes. Fabulous. Light, delicate, melt in the mouth. A top start. As her main she produced a lamb tagine (lamb from Sinclair the butchers at Torphins, Aberdeenshire ) , excellent, sweet, sticky, tender as the night and we wolfed the lot.
Night 2 was my night. Banishing Dave from the kitchen, as a chef he can’t help but poke his great hammy finger into my food, so throwing the odd olive through the door to keep them at bay I served some hot smoked salmon I’d taken up from Armstrongs fishmongers in Edinburgh followed by chicken from the Gullane butcher in East Lothian which had been marinading in hoisin, garlic, root ginger, soy sauce & runny honey for 3 days. Roasted til sticky, sweet & caramalised we wolfed that down with mashed tatties and buttery carrot batons. Rhubarb and pear crumble with vanilla custard finished the meal and then we slumped in the hot, toasty lounge to drink wine and play Articulate. It was the food your
honour I promise but we were far from Articulate at this point – teenwolf won hands down doing all his turns in the persona of Gary Tank Commander which had us all challenging the strength of the pelvic floor with laughter.
After a day of torrential rain and all suffering from cabin fever. The dogs bouncing off the walls, the kids threatening to strangle one another and the adults fighting the urge from lunchtime just to open a beer and run wild. Dave took refuge at the hot plate – or to be more accurate the small electric hob and ancient oven. The swatty horror produced baby trout fishcakes – caught yesterday morning in the swollen river Lyon. Melt in the mouth 10/10 Next up a venison casserole a great hefty beast he had a hand in shooting last year which has been taking up most of our freezer ever since. Delighted to have a shelf back in my freezer for ice cream and frozen peas I gave it a round of applause even before I tasted it but it was rich and delicious and his profesional qualifications were in evidence though it pains me to say it.
His piece de resistance was a fruit tart. I claim some responibiltiy for this triumph because if I hadn’t over egged it on the drink last night that pastry would have made some bacon and egg pies for lunch, as it was I failed on the lunch challenge and took them to the Bridge of Balgie Post Office for their splendid homemade scones with cream and jam. So I couldn’t refuse Dave when he asked if he could use the puff pastry. My puff pastry. Bitter moi?
So as a result of that Dave won the culinary challenge. That and he’s a professional, that and naturally teenage boys have a natural affinity with the hairiest chimp in the pack oh that and it was to be honest it was a lot better than mine.
The final verdict was: Daves trout cake starter. Tracys lamb tagine. & Dave’s puff pastry tart. My crumble didn’t even get a mention in dispatches but I don’t care .
I’ve got The Stinking Bishop and I know how to use it.
My pal’s husband was playing golf on Saturday at Archerfield in East Lothian. She’s not a golfer so had arranged to meet him for lunch at the golf club afterwards. On arrival she got herself a drink and sat staring into space waiting for him to arrive. As she did so she spotted a Ronan Keating look-alike. This happens a lot in her head – she is a die hard Boyzone fan. It was this point her husband drew up a chair and with her eyes boring into this poor unfortunate she said ‘God doesn’t he look like Ronan Keating’ whilst snorkling into her gin and tonic. ‘Oh That is Ronan Keating.’ he said calmly as she brought most of the gin out through her nose. It seems he was there raising money for Breast Cancer with Ian Botham and various other well kent faces. Her husband barely noticed – unlike Helen who is still there on the off chance he comes back.
Proof that pal Anne did Gorilla run in London at the weekend. They had to pick their own acvcessories so they could distinguish one from the other. I think the saltire is very fetching. She did it, survived and then went on an all day bender during which she left her handbag in someones house so she borrowed a tenner from a pal and spent the rest of the night rushing from party to party with nothing but a make-up bag cobbled together rfor emergency gorilla facial issues and a change purse. She ended up at someones 21st which thanks to the suit no-one guessed she was in fact 40 something until due to heat exhaustion she had to take th head off and throw another drink down her hairy throat. What fun. She flew home on Sunday waking up with her head on the shoulder of the man next to her and a dry throat, proof positive she had been snoring since take-off. Stylish.
Chained to my desk today by mid-day going MAD, I always have the radio on and flick from channel to channel but today I was listening to pal Darren Adam interviewing American singer, Idina Menzel, star of “Wicked” on Broadway/West End who has a new album out.It was a great chat and all going swimmingly until he asked ‘what music do you listen to, to pleasure yourself?’ I spat my coffee out as he realised what he had said and burst out laughing. Clearly he had meant to ask ‘what music do you listen to for pleasure’. He giggled for the next few minutes as I did until the singer got a grip but I daresay she will dine out on that one for a while. I would.
Doing some events for Spinal Injuries Scotland so have a lunchtime meeting today at Chez Pierres in Edinburgh. For £6 each we have salad, a snacky thing, maincourse, sweet and coffe and it is delicious. I am moving in. Pierre himself was in the kitchen and during the credit crunch he will do well and deserves to what amazing value.
I have flogged my gas guzzler and am now the proud owner of a deisel golf – yes my carbon footprint just shrank considerably. As we drive around it tells you on the dash how many MPG which I can’t help but read out loud it is so good. 68, 71, 99 – God are you going to do that constantly? asks Teenwolf it’s really lame. ‘OK you can walk then’ I say as I pull over. He shuts up and then as we take a run out of town I hear a voice in the background saying ‘ 121mpg Mum that’s incredible’. I catch his eye in the rear view mirror – we both laugh – he is as impressed as I am despite his teenage brain saying ‘must not agree with mother. Must take mickey out of mother’.
My birthday today, 110 years old. Having a quiet one this year just Dave, me, Louis , Mum and old pal George who is staying with us. I said no presents this year as we are credit crunched and unfortunately Dave listened. Not amused. To make up he takes us to Bar Roma for tea. He is forgiven as we swig down a big glass of white and the girl from the next table comes up to say ‘hello I read your column every week’ and then turning she points at her man ‘ he picked me up from work at 3.30 and hadn’t even notice he was wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe!’ We had a good laugh about that then I wheeched my camera out and took a photo of the shoes and of them – Robert and Karen – -who will be moritifed to see this! It’s good to know I am not alone with shoe disasters and accosting people in bars!
X Factor. Yes I am hooked. I love Cheryl Cole she is so normal and clearly getting up Danni’s nose which makes her all the more likeable in my book! Have a flumpy night,
I made a big curry which has been in the fridge for 2 days marinating. I like a marination. I put it in making a bit of a song and dance about the herbs and spices that will have permeated the meat making it a thing of beauty. As the credits for X factor roll, I get the curry out of the oven and we settle on the couch. Within 2 minutes all 3 of us are in the kitchen engulfing as much water as we can get into our faces – it seems my hand slipped when putting in the chilli sauce – so it is more the X-pletive factor until after a tub of yoghurt each we return to the couch with a family bag of crisps and the phone number for the local pizza delivery. Never see Nigella doing that.