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Archive for the ‘Producers’ Category

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First of all… people of Britain, if you’re travelling to London from Scotland or vice versa, pay attention. Service station food can be edible! Not all service station food, and in fact not most, but if you are travelling on the M6 between junction 38 and 39 you’re in luck.

We were driving down to London for the weekend and I couldn’t face the thought of a six hour drive punctuated by fast food that tastes like cardboard so I went searching for foodie spots close to the motorway we could stop at instead. It turns out there is an independent service station in Britain! With a farm shop! And cake!

Westmoreland (aka Tebay Services) is accessible in both directions and it has a cafe which we were pleased to find serving proper breakfast and baked goodies with a stunning view of the countryside. I’ll be honest my scone wasn’t brilliant (think it had been baked a while earlier and got a bit tired and heavy by the time I got to it but I never understand how anyone gets scones to stay fresh for more than an hour out of the oven) but the cooked breakfast using fresh local ingredients was delicious. The only thing we didn’t like was the black pudding but it serves us right for trying to eat it outside of Scotland (sorry England its just better here).

tebay services

And despite the hour the farm shop next to the cafe was open, complete with butcher, shelves full of interesting jars and loads more baked goods to take with you (good if you happen to hit the cafe at an hour when your stomach isnt quite ready for the table full of cake – or in reality you’re greedy enough to need seconds later on). I’m so pleased the Dunning family decided to create this place and looking forward to my next trip south!

Right now second of all…. you need to stay on that M6 and get yourself to London even if only for one day. However, it must be a Sunday. This is non-negotiable. Now get to Waterloo and head for Blackfriars Street and The Laughing Gravy, for the best Sunday roast in… no just the best Sunday roast full stop.

This is not a gross exaggeration I promise. Friends took us here for the first time this weekend and I spent most of the journey back to Edinburgh trying to decide whether it was frivolous to spend the rest of my salary on weekly trips to London just to spend all my Sunday afternoons in front of their plate of Roast Aberdeen Angus beef onglet.

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This beef is prepared with love. Talk about slow food… its soaked in a locally brewed London porter beer, itself based on a 100 year old recipe that the brewers researched… for a week. I have checked this again with the pub since I got home to make sure I wasn’t so punch drunk on beef happiness that I was hearing things and its true I promise.

Besides the unusual cut of meat and the week long marinade in porter, the beef is served in a heavenly red wine gravy that starts off in a pot big enough to bath in and reduces down ever so slowly to just  a few litres. The exact recipe is a secret of course. To top it off there are beef dripping roast potatoes alongside fresh vegetables and a big spongy delicious Yorkshire pudding to dunk. I also recommend you start your Sunday brunch with a Laughing Gravy Bloody Mary or a Bloody Shame (the non-alcoholic version and not a shame at all) and you add a portion of their slow roast tomatoes which are equally delicious. This is a meal worth travelling for.

So hopefully I’ve convinced a few new customers to go and support these places so they’re still there when I next want to pop in and hopefully a few chefs in Edinburgh will read this and take on the challenge to better the LG Sunday roast so I don’t have to bankrupt myself with weekly trips to London (pleeeeeeaaase)!

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This is a very quick update to my last post about Cocoa Boutique.

I completely forgot to add a link to their monthly competition, which enters you into a draw to be a taster – you get free chocolates, and in return you score them as you would if you were a permanent member. I can safely say its good fun, requires barely any effort on your part and frankly… you would have to be a bit weird not to want free chocolate.

So it would be remiss of me not to share the opportunity.

http://www.cocoaboutique.com/free-chocolates

And if that plan doesnt work there’s also an introductory offer on the paying membership (£9.95 instead of £34.95) if you click here.

Right I’m starting to sound like a salesperson so enough of that. Recipes to feature again soon I promise.

Happy Tuesday! ♥

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Hello people. I’m back from two weeks of doing nothing in the sun and frankly still getting over the shock of having to do anything more strenuous than fall out of bed and transfer myself to a lilo.

However, in the midst of trying to readjust myself to the local temperature and having daily responsibilities to deal with, I got a little foodie gift to help improve my mood. The artisan chocolate club, Cocoa Boutique, sent me one of their selection boxes to review in exchange for sharing my thoughts… so here you go…

Each month the people at Cocoa Boutique produce a new selection of handmade chocolates from both master chocolatiers and up and coming local talent, which they then send out to their subscribers. The arrival of my monthly foodie magazine is a happy moment in my life and I have to say I quite like the idea of getting a beautifully packaged delivery of chocolate to eat at the same time.

Besides the quality of the chocolate itself, the difference between this and your bog standard box of choccies is that as part of your membership you’re invited to score each one, which lends an air of sophistication to your scoffing. I recommend getting a partner, making an afternoon of it and tanning the whole box in one go.

The good news is the chocolates are worth writing home about too. Some didn’t particularly stand out from the crowd but I had one or two real favourites and even the plain chocolate drops had decent flavour. Pleasingly the local British contributions were just as good as the master chocolatiers, in fact  in some cases better  in my humble opinion.

The fun is in doing the tasting yourself so I wont bore you with endless twatty descriptions of each chocolate but I will mention my favourite.

If you decide to join the club for one reason and one reason only, then the Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels should be that reason.

Nom,

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I don’t know which I’d rather have… a wander round the goodies at a farmer’s market, or a wedge of really good cake.

The good news is I got both. I finally made it to Earthy Foods yesterday for a spot of indoor market shopping and lunch in their cafe, and since we were nearby we dropped in to Tea at 94 afterwards for a spot of cake.

These photos don’t need much explanation but if, like me, you think bliss is browsing mountainous piles of fresh veg, charcuterie, home made condiments and preserves and a deliciously stinky cheese counter (the cheese not the counter or the staff behind it I should clarify), then Earthy is worth a nose.

The market cafe downstairs serves some equally delicious lunch and some seriously good looking cakes. The only reason we chose to have our cake elsewhere was because it was a little draughty* so we started to get a bit chilly by the end of our meal but had I been in a slightly warmer jumper I would definitely have stayed for the chocolate cake. Next time… I’m on it.

So instead we rounded things up at Tea at 94 with a scone and a slice of Raspberry Cloud (a curious but tasty combination of pastry base topped with sponge cake and raspberry icing). This cosy little cafe isn’t as trendy or as busy as places like loopy lorna’s yet but personally I would rather get a seat, charming service and decent cake.

Nom nom nom…

* Earthy just advised me that their door heater is on the blink and hopefully fixed soon so don’t worry about an extra jumper if you plan to visit!

You can find Tea at 94 at 94 Buccleuch Street or on facebook or twitter.

The Earthy Foods website has all you need to know about their market shops and how to find them.

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I got an early Christmas present a couple of weeks ago when a drenched postman turned up at our door with two huge boxes full of individually wrapped goodies from Tuscany.

The exact source of the treasure chest is Fattoria La Vialla – an Italian family farm which, thankfully for us, delivers their beautiful produce by postal catalogue to your doorstep. Because they turned out to be so delicious, I’m taking a short break from mince pie making to spread the word. No sponsorship. No freebies. Just good enough to write home about.

I ordered some of their home-made biscuits, wine, cheese, preserves and the best panetone I have ever laid hands on. I’ve already eaten half of it on my own (as well as nearly two packets of biscuits if I’m being truthful). I should add that the salamis also arrived much larger than the little bits that were left by the time I got around to photographing them.

Each wine is comprehensively explained in the beautiful catalogue with details of the grapes and tasting notes. As promised, the Chianti was perfect with the strong pecorino cheese and sweet pepper jam but my favourite of the wines is the Spumante Le Chiassiae (named after the Italian word for sound – “chiasso” – after the sound of a hoe on the vineyard stones) which seems to go with just about anything, including the sweet biscuits and panetone, and is refreshingly light and fizzy (and low in sulphites so its easy on the head!).

So if you haven’t finished stocking your Christmas cupboards and you want to treat yourself with something special and still relatively inexpensive based on the quality, you can order a catalogue from their website. The catalogue is in itself a work of art and a drool inducing read so I recommend you have a look. They are extremely helpful and were more than happy to oblige my request for a bespoke order of bits and pieces instead of the standard packages and hampers.

Happy shopping!

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