"No love sincerer than the love of food"

Leave a comment

Vive la France!



Mireille Guiliano famously wrote a book some years ago entitled ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’.  I’ve read the book and think that she may have forgotten to mention the magical willpower of the average French woman.  I am not big on willpower and  I was well on the way getting very tubby following two weeks eating in France. It is the only explanation I can think of!

Our French adventure was in the Calvados region of France in beautiful Normandy.  B was ecstatic as to him it was all about trundling round WW2 museums and seeing lots of tanks and gunning placements, whereas for me it was all about mucking  around on stunning beaches and eating lots and lots of food.

France has often been hailed as one of the great food centres of Europe, however until now I have been seriously underwhelmed.  In Paris we sat through several bad meals and indeed my only fond food memory from the French capital was a rather fine Croque Monsieur served without fuss in a simple café.  In Carcassonne the food was no doubt wonderful, but as I’m not a fan of cassoulet I was rather out on a foodie limb in that particular region.


Normandy was a game changer as far as my ratings of French cuisine goes.  All along the spectacular coast there are a string of beautiful seaside towns, unsullied by arcades and the‘taps aff’ brigade. The beaches are stunning and all about wholesome seaside fun – think sandcastles, kite flying, swimming, candy floss and boules.  The pretty resorts most importantly are also  littered with great places to eat  …. and eat we did.

Here are a few of the highlights for your digestion…



As we were just along the coast from the  Brittany, home of crepes, we did expect them to be rather on the good side and we were not disappointed.

Some notes about this very French speciality – first off a crepe has a sweet filling, those with savoury fillings are called galettes. I ate both in abundance. Second interesting fact is that most of the galettes in Normandy are made with buckwheat flour, which is gluten free.  This allowed me to ignore the cream and cheese involved in some of the fillings and focus on the fact that it sounded healthy – it ought to be noted that most of my crepes included cream and indeed cheese in some form or fashion.

There were many, many fillings to choose from but my BFF crepe was filled with crème fraiche, potatoes, lardons, onions and mushrooms,  and I am betting a hefty daud of garlic too.  I ate this particular offering all over Normandy – from the delightful Le Crabbe Vert in St Aubin sur Mer all the way to the best example in a café in Bayeux.

The wee grumbling tum is notoriously hideous at eating on holiday, normally zoning in on one food stuff she will deign to eat for the entire trip.  This holiday we lucked out with her decision to  eat two types of food, once of which was Crepe with Nutella.  She ate this daily and as she has a little tiny tummy, mummy often had to help out – shucks!

The best crepe I sampled was in the lovely Crab Vert restaurant in St Aubin Sur Mer. topped with beautiful freshly stewed apples and calvados.  We are not talking a hint of calvados in this after dinner treat – it was full on blow your head off calvados – and it was rather splendid.



When in Normandy!  With around 600 cidre producers in this region and hand painted road signs directing you to where you can buy and taste every few miles, there is little doubt that this is Normandy’s national drink.  This is a part of the Norman culture that I embraced with open mouth!  I like cidre anyway but the Normandy version seemed so much better than the brands available in Scotland.  Not overly fizzy yet not flat like scrumpy – somewhere pleasingly in-between. Or maybe it was just the sunshine!

Coming in three varieties – dry, sweet and corked (twice fermented with more sparkle) – cidre is not traditionally served in a glass but in a bowl.  A cidre bowl is rather like a large round coffee mug or a small soup bowl.  I am not sure if this enhances the taste but it sure is fun.  As with most local drinks when travelling, cidre is pretty cheap to buy and we were well stocked up for the whole trip ……. and beyond.

We were however a little over-enthusiastic on our return and have run dry, so if you are planning a trip to Normandy …… could you?



Normandy is a haven for lovers of Moules et Frites.  I have never in my life eaten as many mussels. I pretty much stuck to the same version of this classic every time I ordered– Moules Normandie. This is a variation of the classic mussels and white wine, instead the  mussels are served with cream, onions and cidre. Everywhere I tasted this the mussels were  beautifully plump, amazingly fresh and the sauce was to die for.  Perfectly crispy frites were reserved for dipping in the creamy sauce, it really is the best of all foods.

There is a garlic version of this dish which I attempted one evening and trust me when the French feel the need to include the word garlic in the description of a meal it is Def Con One on the garlic breath alert.  I spent the rest of the night trying hard NOT to speak to anybody and there was definitely no snogging for me.

If you like mussels (and I do) then you will never ever be disappointed in a Normandy restaurant.



The discovery of a particular pink patisserie in the heart of the beautiful city of Bayeaux was when it all went wrong for me.  It was the beginning of the end of any pretence that I was trying to be healthy.  This particular patisserie was a sight to behold –  beautifully decorated in bright fuchsia candy stripes, pink regency style chairs, elaborate plump feather cushions and the largest patisserie counter I have ever seen.  We were dumbfounded and incapable of any decision making.  The poor waitress had the  patience of a saint as we asked a 6 year old to choose from about 100 sweet treats (eidgets!).  It all became rather stressful at one point.

Eventually I settled on an almond cake which was divine.  Sweet perfection.  The game was now a bogey as far as a cakeless trip was concerned and this was the first on many sweet downfalls …….. the first is always the best!



The official cheese of Normandy – Camembert.  If you are going to have an official cheese then what a variety to have.  Camembert is served up in so many different ways in Normandy – from crepe fillings and moules camembert to salads, whole baked cheeses and pizza toppings!

My all time favourite Camembert creation was in a restaurant  in the beautiful town of Honfleur.  We sat by the harbour in the baking sun drinking ice cold cidre and eating a gorgeous crisp fresh salad topped with pieces of Camembert lovingly wrapped in filo pastry and deep fried  until the filo was warm and crisp and the cheese was molten.  The salad was topped with salty warm bacon. The best use of Camembert ever!


It is impossible to ‘whizz’ around a French supermarket or ‘pop in quickly’.  French supermarkets are there to be savoured and one must take ones time drinking in all the delicious food there is on offer.  We were relatively near a Hyper U and spent more time than is normal wandering around the ailes.  The cheeses, the array of cold cuts, the riot of colour in fresh produce, the wine, the cidre.  In an ideal world I would have dumped the husband and the kid  for an hour or two, and spend a few hours procuring items to take home with me in a spare suitcase sized cooler.  A girl can dream can’t she.



Never underestimate the beauty of the simple croque monsieur.  I have had several and they never disappoint. Okay I do admit that this is really a glorified cheese and ham toastie but glorified it is none the less. The cheese is a fabulous gruyere, the ham is generally of superb quality, the bread is sweet and fluffy and it is fried up with a bubbling bechemal on the top. I find it hard to knock the humble croque monsieur.

In Arromanches I had the most wonderful Tarte Tatin I have ever tasted (not that I have tasted that many).  The pastry was so light and airy and the apples were ludicrously fresh and sweet. All of  that plus caramel and a dusting of icing sugar – divine.

In Falais, home to William the Conqueror I ate the most divine cheese cake of my life . The key was in the base which seemed to be made from a buttery salted caramel biscuit.  It was simultaneously crunchy, moist, sweet and salty.  This was a show stopper.


I could of course go on …… but I am sure you have read enough so I will leave things there. Suffice say that the food in Normandy possibly surpassed Italy and that is saying something.  We are returning to France next year – this time to Brittany – watch this space….







Leave a comment

Feast Time at Tony Macaroni



There has been a bit of a lull on the old blogging front, but I  am back following an invite from the lovely people at Tony Macaroni in Dunfermline.

I have been to Tony Macaronis on a number of occasions and not just in Dunfermline, my macaroni net has been spread far and wide –  from St Andrews and Livingston to Edinburgh and back again.  I am well acquainted one might say.

We popped along to the Dunfermline branch last Sunday evening, not traditionally the busiest night for a Dunfermline eatery.  We were therefore extremely surprised and pleased to see that it was choc-a-bloc with happy pizza/pasta lovin’ families and couples munching away as far as the eye could see.  I love a full house – not only does it suggest that the food is good but you know that the inevitable capers of your lively 6 year old will go largely unnoticed, which is always a relief.


Tony Macaroni’s Dunfermline restaurant is a relatively new affair, situated within Fife Leisure Park, but with 11 sister restaurants under their belt I reckon this crew know what they are doing. Righty ho –  six words to describe the restaurant:  warm, friendly, pristine, kiddie-friendly, airy, Italian.  In short it is perfect for families like us who want somewhere comfortable to take mini GT whilst still feeling like we are in a proper grown up environment.

Onto the main event …… the food


We decided to eat from the Sunday Presto Menu.  Often menus which offer special deals are limited in their choice, not so at Tony Macaraonis.  I have no idea what extras are available on the a-la-cart menu but there really is no need to find out as the Presto menu is extensive to say the least.

First up prosecco.  I like a wee drink as soon as I can. Any parents out there with ‘spirited children’ who are not fond of eating will understand why this is necessary when eating out, it seems to help.

I ordered:

Funghi Fritti – Mushrooms coated in crispy golden breadcrumbs stuffed with cheese, served with garlic mayonnaise. Followed by Roast Pork Belly – stuffed with Italian sausage, served with sautéed potatoes and for the record I topped it off with delightful desert of thin shards of puff pastry with creme Anglais and chocolate sauce and washed it down with a few glasses of Multipluciano.


B ordered Arancino Carne – Traditional deep fried Italian rice balls coated in breadcrumbs made witha a bolognese sauce, stuffed with peas and cheese and served with a spicy ketchup dip. Followed by Risotto Mediterraneo – Risotto rice with mushrooms, peas, peppers, garlic and cream, finished with butter and parmesan. Then I tricked him into having fruit – HA!


So how was it?

I forgot to mention that for some bizarre reason B decided it would be a simply fab idea to get some bread to munch on as clearly we were not going to have enough food already.  The so-called bread he ordered was actually a full-blown garlic pizza topped with mozzarella.  It was basically the equivalent of another main meal. It was lovely but I was almost full by the time my meal arrived.  I soldiered on however like the brave blogger I am.

My mushrooms were toasty hot and crispy on the outside with lovely stringy mozzarella oozing from inside.  Lovely way to start a meal and a really decent portion (like I needed it), and lets face it who does not love garlic mayonnaise?  As usual I find it a bit of a struggle to keep up with what my dining companions are thinking but the noises coming from B suggested the arancino was up to scratch.


The main course reminded me of eating out in Florence where the food is extremely rustic – you pretty much get what you ask for plonked on a plate but hey it tastes great.  The Pork Belly on potatoes was just what it said on the tin.  Spades of it on a big old plate. It wasn’t pretty but who cares really as long as it tastes good and is cooked well. I was going to have rocket salad to add a bit of colour but there has been a national rocket shortage.  I know this because not only had Tony run out but our online Asda delivery later that evening was sadly sans rocket.  I digress – the pork belly and italian sausage had a fairly strong herb flavour- sage perhaps – but I liked it.  I imagine it may bit of a marmite dish …  I was a lover. For once I did not manage to polish my plate.  Weighed down by the giant pizza bread and the large portions I was struggling.  When it comes to food however I am nothing if not committed.  Bring on the dessert …..


I can’t remember for the life of me what this was officially called but basically my final course consisted of a very pretty plate of puff pasty shards all beautifully arranged and covered with a gentle dusting of icing sugar.  Tucked into the pastry was generous helpings of creme anglais and chocolate sauce was liberally drizzled over the whole affair.  A nod to good health came in the form of a few raspberries but it was all too little too  late for such gestures!  Brian munched on fruit.  What can be said about that.  It looked nice and he looked smug.  Damn!


Oh can they fit in a coffee  in this marathon ………….yes they can!

The crane arrived at around 8pm to pick up the Camerons and hoist them home where they rolled into the house and groaned alot.

Tony Macaronis is a fantastic venue for families and couples alike.  Their food is great but pizza and pasta is where they excel in my opinion . Beware the portion sizes – they are very generous as we discovered much to the dismay of our waistlines.

We will be back to Tony Macaronis very  soon albeit for a slightly less ambitious feast!

















Leave a comment





“So I have booked the Guardbridge Inn for 12.30 on Sunday” (B)

Short silence is followed by ” Oh right” (Me)

“It is meant to be very good” (B)

Short silence followed by “hmm okay” (Me)

Faced with the myriad of gastromic delights that the town of St Andrews has to offer my lovely husband decided in his wisdom to ferry our family out of town to the local pub in Guardbridge for a belated mother’s day lunch. Guardbridge is to me a place that you pass through very quickly on the way to Leuchars train station and in more than 20 years of eating out in the St Andrews area I had never once considered dining there.


Despite my reservations,  first impressions were pretty positive.  The Inn itself is in a lovely traditional building and inside it is very cosy and well …. pub like.  They do have a nice bright room for meals but you can also eat in the bar which was much more inviting with its’ cosy wood burning stove ablaze. The bar has about five tables so it feels quite intimate (in a good way) and the overall vibe is very relaxed and friendly. Despite becoming increasingly happy with my surroundings I did expect a rather hum drum pub menu with standard quality fare. It was then that I started to clock the dishes being scoffed by the very  happy looking folks around me and it became clear that there was nothing hum drum about it.  B looked smug! I hate it when he looks smug!

I was pleased to see a modestly sized menu (beware the restaurant who gives you a million choices –  it can’t possibly all be freshly cooked) which included such non pub grub delights as seared fillet of salmon on beetroot & kale risotto and roast chicken stuffed with cream cheese & spinach and wrapped in parma ham, served with a garlic cream.   These nestled happily along side more traditional options such as fish and chips, well it wouldn’t be a Fife menu without them now would it?

Before the food fest a note about the staff.  Bloody fantastic!  They are open and friendly, brilliant with kids, accommodating, informative and everything else that you could possibly want from restaurant staff.


Now to eat: I started with Thai Crab Cakes with a sweet chilli sauce and B opted for the rather unusual sounding Mushroom and Turkey soup.  The Crab Cakes were delicious however B’s soup packed a flavour that made me consider shouting fire so that I could sneak into the kitchens and half inch the recipe.  Far fetched perhaps,  but nailing a soup like that would make me a very happy lady indeed.  This delicious creamy soup was finished off with an elegant swirl of fresh pesto making it look as delightful as it tasted. Now I was properly impressed.


Both B and I ordered the beef roast dinner as our main course on the basis that the lady next to us had it and it looked utterly divine as far as roast dinners go.  We were not disappointed.  They didn’t make the fatal mistake of piling mounds of roast dinner titbits on the plate Jenga style.  Instead there were a few beautifully pink slices of roast beef, a lovely Yorkshire pudding, a few roast potatoes and a medley of cubed swede, carrot and celeriac.  All items were cooked beautifully and were extremely flavorsome.  The whole shebang was finished off with a rich red wine gravy which was extraordinarily nice.  A daub or horseradish cream and we had a winning combo all round.


Never one to stop at a modest two courses we pushed forward to the dessert menu.  I really could not get past the idea of hot banana sponge with toffee sauce and hazelnut ice cream from local ice cream emporium Luvians.  So  imagine if you will a sticky toffee pudding which lacks the heaviness of the dates.  A sponge with a delicate banana flavour which is so light it is in danger of floating away.  Then imagine a warm silky toffee sauce cascading over it and a generous helping of the creamiest hazelnut ice cream you are ever likely to encounter.  Toffee, bananas, nuts and cream – heaven.


I barely registered what B was having for desert.  A glorious parfait involving exotic fruits.  It certainly looked the business and he appeared to be smiling – but oh the banana sponge!  After coffees with a little piece of tablet (full to bursting) we waddled back to the car.

I am quite shocked that for over two decades of eating out in restaurants in and around St Andrews, this wee gem had never entered my head as a dining possibility despite having driven past it literally hundreds of times. Next time I want fresh local food cooked to perfection in the St Andrews area I know where I will be heading – and so should you.



Leave a comment

Quesadillas, an obsession?

A quesadilla is a wheat tortilla or a corn tortilla filled with cheese, a savoury mixture, and/or vegetables, often cooked on a griddle, then folded in half to form a half-moon shape. (Wikipedia)


In the last few months the humble quesadilla has become my absolute go to food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  Smashing the boundary of what can actually be termed a quesadilla I am constantly finding more and more interesting ways to serve them up.

The obsession really ramped up a gear when B trotted off to Argentina for a week leaving me in sole charge of the six year old (gulp). We did grand me and the nipper but by the time I had put her down at night and tidied up a bit there was little time left to whip up something tasty for dinner, even pasta seemed like too much trouble.  Enter the quesadilla – a bag of tortilla wraps and a seemingly inexhaustible range of fillings saved the day. Add to that a chilled bottle of San Miguel and I had a meal fit for a queen.

Before long my notoriously picky daughter got in on the fried sarnie act.  Once you find something this one will eat – you stick with it and with it and with it.

I don’t really need to tell anybody how to make a quesadilla.  You get two tortilla wraps and fill them like a sarnie then fry them in some oil so that the filling is nice and toastie and the tortilla is nice and crispy craspy – simples!

I will share some of my favourite fillings:




Cook some finely chopped red onion, garlic and chopped chillies in a little olive oil.  Once softened add cumin, lime juice and a can of kidney beans.  Smash the lot up with a fork or a mini-masher (do you get such a thing – if not then you should).  Use this as your filling and top with cheese.  Serve with lashings of soured cream.


Left over chilli with grated cheese and thinly sliced avocado.  Go easy on the meat mixture or you will have to eat it with a knife and fork.  Can get a bit on the sloppy side.


Sliced cooked chicken breast with grated parmesan and a healthy dollop of pesto – what is not to like


A personal favourite – a few slices of prosciutto topped with a hard or semi hard goat’s cheese.  Crumble some walnuts over the top and finish with a drizzle of honey before serving.


Grated cheese, sliced cooked chorizo, sliced avocado and liberal dusting of paprika


Mini Grumbling Tummy Favourites:

Quesadilla filled with mashed banana and nutella for a breakfast treat.  Treat! Who am I kidding? This is now a staple

Cheese and beans – again like the chilli go easy on the beans due to the slop factor

Cheese and ham or cheese and sliced frankfurters

I realise the little one’s choices are lacking in worthy ingredients like kale or even the odd carrot chucked in – but then they wouldn’t be her favourites would they? Besides when this kids eats anything with gusto we go with it.

Nice to be back after a rather long Christmas break.  Now I am off to fry up a quesadilla.


photo credit: <a href=”″>Sharp Cheddar Quesadilla with Fresh Apple Salsa via photopin (license)

Leave a comment

December Shout Out



Without a shadow of a doubt THE best mincemeat pies on the market today are ALDI’s  Specially Selected Luxury Mince Pies.  At £2.99 for six they are slightly more expensive than your average ALDI offering but by god they are worth every penny.  I am not a lone voice either,  the Independent judged them third best in their list of 15 great mince pies for 2015.  For me what makes them super special is that they are not huge yet very deep filled, topped with almonds and somewhere in there, there is a smattering of marzipan.  How can you resist.  Well I haven’t which brings me on to the next thing on my list of shout outs for December.



Well if one is stuffing one’s face with ALDI mince pies and squirty cream most nights of the week then it is wise to at least attempt to be healthy at the start of the day.  My husband bought me a Breville Active Smoothie Maker from my birthday in November and it is one of the best things I have ever been given.  It is simply the most quick, simple and clean ways to make a smoothie.

A blueberry and banana combo are top of the smoothie pops at the moment but I can also recommend going for banana, mango and coconut milk for a truly tropical taste.

If you say you don’t have time for breakfast then you must buy one of these bad boys.  It is really a case of ‘blend and go’ with stylish little bottles which are great to shove in your  hand bag/man bag to drink on the move.



In November I was invited to a My Secret Kitchen event by my friend Vickie, who despite running around after three small kids, one big kid and running her own training business  has somehow managed to squeeze another venture into the mix.  As an agent for My Secret Kitchen  she offers an extensive range of spice blends, oils, vinegars, tea blends and other yummylicious treats which are a delight to the senses.

I love cooking but I am also just a little bit lazy and therefore spice blends are ideal for me. Something that can transform Monday’s mince into a mexican treat bursting with flavour in the blink of an eye gets a huge thumbs up.

I would have liked to order pretty much everything displayed on the table at the party, however products as lovely as this do not come with a bargain price tag …….. but as my granny use to say, you get what you pay for.  She possibly never said that but I am rolling with it.


In the end I ordered a bottle of Lime Oil – used liberally in a range of couscous inventions thus far.  Fajita spice blend – used in a chilli, a smashed bean and lime tortilla and just sprinkled over a fried cheese flat bread sarnie.  Finally I purchased a Shawarma blend which I have used in little lamb patties.

I also signed up to a rather exciting option called Flavour Stacks. Each month I will receive four mini pots of MSK products each with a recipe card.  Thrilled by the idea of NEVER knowing what is coming my way.

I suggest having a little look at the website to view all of the amazing products on offer or contact Vickie if you are in the Fife/Edinburgh area. Vickie from My Secret Kitchen



WOO HOO!  Check me out frequenting Michelin Star restaurants this month.  I actually thought that I was off out for a pub lunch and shoved my jeans on.  “Is that what you are really wearing” chimed in my rather anxious looking other half.  Though I thought he was very rude I changed into a skirt anyway.  Turns out he had only booked us into Martin Wishart’s in the Port of Leith for a lovely spot of fine dining!  He is racking up the brownie points at the moment, that husband of mine.

“Classically French, proudly Scottish,and simply delicious cuisine.”

So is it worth the hype.  Well in a word YES.  All of the dishes look heavenly as you might imagine and each meal has an intensity  that you only find in a handful of restaurants across the country. You can also expect an explosion of flavour with every single mouthful at Martin Wisharts.  The food was a joy!

We were presented with a lovely selection of amuse bouche prior to our main meal, and for me the stand out ‘bouche’ was the Beetroot Macaroon with Horseradish Cream. One word – clever and anther word how? Intense flavour and lovely textures with a delightful horseradish hit.

The Artichoke Veloute with the surprise layer of chestnut puree on the bottom was an amazing starter made even better with the addition of langoustines.

I am not a fan of ‘foam’ in my meals in any shape form or fashion.  I do understand that foam is rather a benchmark of molecular gastronomy,  but really I do find it a pointless and rather distasteful food trend.  HOWEVER I could overlook the addition of foam on my main dish of cod due to the fact that the fish was cooked to perfection and the flavours surrounding it were superb.  A fantastic delicate dish.

And to finish  – a bitter dark chocolate tart with popcorn and salted caramel ice cream.  Well what can I say.  Stunning, absolutely stunning.

I took no photographs or notes (hence the vagueness of this review).  It just didn’t seem the right setting to start clicking away. I regretted my decision towards the end of the meal when I spotted a woman with a camera roughly the size of her own head feverishly clicking away.

The lunch menu is only £28 which is amazing value for a restaurant of this standing.  One or two wines however and you will soon see your bill rack up.  So go along and have some lunch and water – it is a fantastic experience.

So off  I go into the holidays where I shall no doubt gain several pounds eating multiple mince pies, chocolates, prosecco and anything else I can lay my paws on with the cry of “ach well it’s Christmas” seeing me through to the New Year , at which point I shall finally stand of the scales. After rocking and keening for a while I shall set upon a new diet and start the process all over again.  Hurrah for Chirstmas!!

Leave a comment

Simple Fishy Pie


Despite growing up in a small fishing village as the daughter of a fisherman – I am not a big fish eater.  This was I suspect a great source of irritation to my dad who could not quite comprehend why the only fish related product I would eat whilst growing up was scampi and fish fingers.  I now realise that I like the taste of fish but unfortunately I was so heavily influenced by my mum’s terror of finding fish bones and choking to death that eating fish for me is a laborious task.   It tends to involve a process of detailed poking, prodding and swirling the fish around endlessly in my mouth to triple check for bones .  It does not involve much enjoyment at all.  The only fish I do eat with any regularity is salmon and this is the base of this very simple (if not quite standard) fish pie.  You can pretty much use any fish that you like as I am sure you are not as phobic about the humble fish as I am.


I am unsure if this is technically a pie but it is certainly pie-esque and best of all it is speedy, taking less than 30 minutes to prepare and get into the oven for cooking. It tastes delicious and with much chat about Popeye the Sailor man to combat spinach objections, I have even got my incredibly picky daughter to eat it all up.  It is also stonking reheated the next day for lunch.  I hope you enjoy it.



300g salmon fillet, 500g potatoes,  150ml creme fraiche, one onion, sprig of fresh thyme, half a glass of white wine, clove of garlic, bag of spinach, big handful of frozen peas, 40g grated cheddar cheese , gm breadcrumbs.


  1. Boil the potatoes
  2. At the same time pop your salmon with a little drizzle of oil into the oven (180 degrees) to cook for around 20 minutes
  3. Whilst all of this is cooking away chop up the onion and cook in a little oil with the garlic and thyme
  4. After about 10 minutes of cooking the onion pop in the glass of wine and cook for a further 4 or 5 minutes
  5. Add the spinach to the onion and wine and pop a lid on to allow the spinach to wilt – this only takes a few minutes
  6. Meanwhile whip out the salmon and mash the tatties
  7. Mix the spinach/onion concoction with the tatties and add the creme fraiche and seasoning.
  8. Add the peas to your nice creamy mashy mix
  9. Flake the cooked salmon and fold this in gently
  10. Pop the mix into a shallow casserole dish
  11. Mix the grated cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the fishy mash
  12. Cook at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes at which point the top will be delicious and crispy and the inside of the pie toasty hot and delightful.







Leave a comment

Brace Yourself for Soup and Slops


If you are expecting a post full of luscious foodie finds or fabulous restaurant reviews then perhaps this particular post is not for you.  No …. this is a post from deep within a puddle of foodie despair. For some it may seem like a cry for help, to others it is simply a whinge fest.

At the ripe old age of 43,  vanity and dental advice has led me to get adult braces.  The 6 Month Smile sounded like a lovely simple option which would result in a beautiful straight teeth after a fairly short period. When the lovely dentist mentioned my deep bite and pointed out that I would need a bit of filling material behind my two front teeth I didn’t give it a second thought, I was just dazzled by the prospect of straight teeth. I did not realise (possibly because I am a numpty) that this would mean that I would be essentially unable to chew for a good chunk of the treatment.  Indeed as only my two front teeth make any contact with another tooth my chewing currently is limited to what I can squish with my tongue and the roof of my mouth.  I don’t even want to think about the elastics which come into play in a few months (don’t ask).


As well as the non chewing situation it is actually pretty horrid to eat with braces on.  Everything feels a bit wrong and anything more sturdy than soup gets stuck in the little blighters.  I can’t even seek solace in the bottom of a full bodied and comforting glass of red for fear of staining the nice white wires.

For many of the ‘food is fuel’ brigade the implications are not terribly tragic and I totally understand it if you think that I  am being a tad melodramatic about the whole affair.  After all half of America seem to be in braces not to mention the legions of British school children who went through this rite of passage. Food wise  I am trying to be creative but between you and I it’s a tough gig and I would definitely welcome any mushy recipes from you guys.

So here are my highs and lows of brace life so far:


  • There is a total amnesty on the consumption of pudding.  A big fat chocolate melty pudding with chocolate sauce and clotted cream is doable and mushable and god dammit I will eat it.
  • At the risk of sounding ridiculous – the thought of Christmas without mulled wine is appalling and try as I might mulled cider is not holding the same appeal.  I may learn to love it but for now the idea of missing out on that deep red warm hug of winter is more than a bit of a shame.
  • A similar Christmas downer is the outlawing of nuts. Crisps I can suck but I can assure you that sucking a crisp in not quite as satisfying as crunching it.  I guess the clue is in the name.
  • NUTSEaster as a festival will be a chocolate fest this year.  Chocolate melts in a warm mouth and therefore no chewing required.  I have discovered I can motor through a  pack of chocolate buttons at break neck speed using the insert, melt, swallow routine. I intend take this to the max this Easter.
  • I love soup so trying lots of new varieties will be really interesting PLUS soup is one of the few foods which doesn’t irritate the pants off me whilst eating it.  This week I am making a lovely split pea, chilli, lime and ginger soup from Nigella which should shake things up a bit.  On the downside I have to pretty much order soup every single time we go out for lunch in a cafe.  It might cut down on menu browsing time but it does get a little dull (and its only been a week).
  • I have lost weight which is always welcome.  In fact it is one of the best diets I have ever been on as is stops grazing in its tracks. Week 1 and I have lost 4lb and no will-power required.  Like most diets however it is not one you can stick to for life.
  • I am drinking a stupid amount of white wine and not sure if this is an upside or a downside.   I am sure it will all calm down or perhaps I will just get through the next 6 months in a wine induced haze.
  • Holidays are normally about food – eating out, trying new things.  The foodie shine on my upcoming holiday at Ribby Hall, Lancashire is tarnished.  Eating out is now preceded with a rising level of anxiety.  Why stress about eating out when I can have mac cheese made from teeny tiny ‘soup pasta’ at home.
  • MAC CHEESEThe return of nursery food is oddly welcome in autumn.  Our household menu is full of mashed potato with cheesy creamy sauces, shepherds pie (with the veg pulverised), soft flaky poached salmon. macaroni cheese, silky soft risottos and lots of soft mashable sponge with custard.

6057076521_a3d285f24aWhat am I missing and what will I eat when it is all over?  Well stornoway black pudding for one.  It is nice and soft but oh the carnage of poking black pudding out of my brace for the following 2 days makes it an absolute no no.  MEAT –  pulled pork is something I would love to eat at the moment or a juicy steak. Cashew nuts will be top of my list as will bread and pizza.   Strangely I miss salad and biting into whole fruit.  Mainly when it is all over I am looking forward to running my tongue over my teeth and not over a contraption and being able to eat whatever I choose but most of all I am looking forward to having great teeth.

In the mean time if you have any interesting recipes for sloppy food then let me know – be delighted to receive them.

Leave a comment

Finds of the Summer

By in large its been a bloody awful summer hasn’t it?  I have sat in my garden exactly twice so far which makes me regret all the flowers I bought to tart it up a bit for the season.  And now I read that August is set to be a wash out.  Well pooh to summer – just bring on boots season and be done with it I say.  At least I can take solace in the discovery of three new places to eat this summer.

The Crepe Shack at Tentsmuir

IMGP1197 (2)

This is possibly my favourite discovery this summer.  The Grumbling Tummy collective headed off sometime in June for a healthy walk in Tentsmuir Forest.  On the way I was berating anybody who would listen about a lack of bottled water and moaning generally about our rubbish preparation.  As we drew into the car park we saw that our crisis would be averted as there seemed to be a mobile food van parked up.  Brilliant I thought  – water and a greasy burger for after the walk.  I honestly was rather excited by the prospect.  However as we drew closer I was – well quite gob smacked to see that the mobile was indeed something called the Crepe Shack.  It was like an oasis – not only was it adorably shabby chic but the owners had popped a few bistro chairs and tables out in front for their patrons.  More importantly the crepe shack menu was to die for.  I can tell you that walk was so much easier knowing that the Crepe Shack would greet me at the end.  I just about broke an ankle dashing to the shack on the way back.


Savoury options included wonderous fillings such as brie with home made chutney and wilted spinach, halloumi or goats cheese with spinach to name but a few and oh the sweet fillings.  OH MY  as that silly girl from 50 Shades would say – Mr Gray had nothing on these sweet pancakes my dear I would retort.  Nutella and banana or nutella and coconut, honey with banana and oats, classic maple syrup, lemon and sugar and more……

IMGP1265 (2)

BUT did they taste any good? Ladies and Gents, these were the best darned crepes I have ever tasted anywhere and that includes Italy and France – so there.  They were absolutely divine and as you have had a big old hike they are 100% guilt free.  Also good to note that if you are one of those people who like me should really make an effort not to eat gluten to avoid looking permanently up the duff  (maybe that is just me) then these guys make it easy with gluten free crepes on offer.

The Walled Garden – in-between Kincardine and Dunfermline


My new boss over at Kidney Kids Scotland told me about this place only a few weeks ago and I have been twice now and lining up the next visit.  I found it hard to believe that such a place existed in such close proximity to my home without my knowing about it.  A walled garden with a fantastic cafe/restaurant and a little produce shop.  Surely not!

The walled garden is the brain child of Keith Laing and Anne Crawford who up until a couple of years ago had their cafe in one of the potting sheds in the grounds.  Now they have an airy and stylish 70 seater cafe/restaurant that welcomes visitors with gingham table cloths, patchwork upholstery, fresh flowers and a plethora of beautiful wood.  I also spotted a wood burning stove which bodes well for the winter months.

The setting is stunning as is the range of cakes under shiny glass domes that greets you.  Onto the cakes later …..


The menu is fresh as fresh can be and they always seem to have a lovely range of specials.  On my first visit I opted for a salad with warm black pudding and avocado.  This beautifully simple little salad also included freshly podded peas which transported me back to my granny’s back step aged 9, eating more than I put into the bowl for tea.  There really is nothing to beat a freshly podded pea – you can tell one a mile off.  B chose a simple baked tattie with tuna, cheese and salad and as filled bakers go it was a winner.  I had the delight of fresh local strawberries and cream for dessert but nearly fainted with pleasure when I tasted a little bit of wee GTs empire biscuit and a forkful of Mr GTs lemon cake.  This sort of cemented my return a mere week later.  This time we brought friends who were equally impressed.  I chose the lemon cake on this coffee/cake venture and my companions chose chocolate cake, coffee and walnut cake and a scone with jam and cream.  All cakes were delicious.  My lemon cake (and this seemed to be echoed around the table) was so light and fluffy and not a bit dry.  I learned that Joyce who works in the cafe  pitches up early in the morning to bake all of the beautiful sponges on offer.  By god that home made freshness shows – thank you Joyce.


This is a brilliant hidden treasure.  After a walk in Devilla forrest it is the perfect place to head for lunch or an afternoon treat.  Can’t recommend the Walled Garden highly enough.

The Stage Door Bistro in Dunfermline

Dunfermline is has not really been known for its top class nosh in recent years so this new kid on the block has rather blown me away.


This Bistro (one of the finalists in the Scottish Food and Drink awards this year) is wonderful in every way and former accountant Deborah and award winning Bib Gourmand Chef Michael are a fantastic team.  Deborah, whose Rockabilly style is utterly perfect gives her diners a fantastic personal service and is extremely knowledgeable about both the food and wine.  The interior is very French bistro with fantastic jazz tunes from yester-year playing in the back ground – perfect. Behind the scenes Michael has created the most marvellous French  menu and the only issue for me with was deciding what to have. I literally could have eaten every single thing on the menu  – though not in one sitting.

How do you choose between slow cooked pork belly with butter beans, sauteed spinach and grain mustard; slow cooked beef bourguignon served on creamy mash with green beans;  the blade steak special;  pan fried supreme of chicken with peas a la Francais and butter carrots.  There was more !!

Choose one must however.  I kicked off proceedings with a rather amazing Duck Rillete with Artisan Bread and Chutney. You probably know this already but a rillette is:

“a preparation of meat similar to pâté. Commonly made from pork, the meat is cubed or chopped, salted heavily and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be easily shredded, and then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste.” 

This dish was every bit as full flavoured and rich as it sounds – I could have eaten this forever.  It was my first rillette but not my last.

Slow cooked pork belly was always going to be the winner for me – hard to resist really.  The pork belly was absolutely perfect.  Still with form but falling away easily the meat was perfect and what a lovely match butter beans  and spinach were with this dish.  The sauce (not too much) was rich and delicious and I have no idea what might have been in this feat of genius – but that is what it was to my taste-buds.

The wine was flowing and despite having two very rich meals I opted for Sticky Toffee pudding with cream.  Well you simply can’t go wrong with that can you?  No you certainly cannot.  It was fantastic – enough said.

I WAS STUFFED – all a good way but lets face it that was one rich feast.  It was marvellous – great company, beautiful wine and three absolutely excellent dishes.

I hope that they win their award and I hope that the bright lights of success don’t draw the team away from Fife.  My third hope is that the good people of Dunfermline who spend too much of their time high tailing it over the bridge to Edinburgh try out this fantastic restaurant and realise that what they have on their door step is every bit as good as the best restaurant they can find in the capital.

Its late and I have warbled on enough – my other top tip if you are interested is the Fire Station Creative in Dunfermline but more about that another time …

Leave a comment

A Jaunt Around the Highland Show


Last month we took a jaunt around the Royal Highland Show.  The sun was being a wee bit shy though thankfully the rain was kind enough to stay away from the proceedings on the day that we attended.

I have gone to the Highland Show for quite a few consecutive years now and the main focus of my attention is always the Food Hall which is impressive both in terms of size and quality. There are always plenty of familiar faces to be spotted and its great to stock up on products that I only seem to see from show to show.  Then there are the new faces with delectable foodie delights that I have never tasted before and that is always a real treat.


The whole no sugar malarkey has not been going too well for me to be honest and events like the Royal Highland Show do not help, especially when businesses like THE BROWNIE BAR exist. The Brownie Bar was set up by two Geordie sisters and the business is still based in Newcastle (I am grateful for the distance as are my scales). They bake the perfect gooey brownies in the widest range of flavours. Everything from chocolate, bailies and nutella through to raspberry and almond are incorporated into their sinful treats.  I tried to walk past them because well – they are pretty evil.  But then I spotted an unusual item on their stand.  Was it a cookie or a brownie? Hell it was both.  They call it the Corker – a chocolate cookie with a gooey brownie core.  Who would do such a thing?  The bloody Brownie Bar that is who.  My resolve was dissolved as I wrapped my gob around a super tasty brownie cookie concoction.  The taste was amazing … like really amazing with only a small after taste of guilt.


One of my favourite old timers at the Royal Highland Show are SUPER NATURE who do a wonderfully diverse range of flavoured oils.  The one oil that I am always very keen on and always stock up is Lime Oil which is just fresh, zingy and screams summer. Supernature cold pressed rapeseed oil is produced, harvested and bottled at Carrington Barns. Unlike most oilseed rape grown in Scotland, they choose a spring rather than a winter variety, which is planted in April and harvested in September. Its natural rapid growth means that there is no need for the use of any herbicides or fungicides.  All as natural as you can get – hence the name.

What on earth is it good for?  Well I am glad you ask.   Here is what I have done with my small bottle which has run out already (need some more).

  • I rub it on salmon or chicken before shoving in the oven along with other herbs and or spices
  • I drizzle it on all of my salads
  • I add it to cous cous when it is cooked to give a lovely zing
  • I pour some in a little bowl and dip pitta breads into it whilst nibbling on feta or halloumi
  • I marinade prawns in it before a bit of flash frying
  • And the list could I am sure go on …….. buy it and try it


I am a big fan of SUMMER HARVEST and  I always plump for their oils and vinegars but this year I went feral and opted for a mayonnaise  – wild I am! I was attracted to their mayo largely because of the colour – a beautiful smooth yellow and I am also aware that my love of Hellman’s is probably not the healthiest.  Made with rapeseed oil this mayonnaise looks and tastes so, well homemade.  I would love to make mayonnaise but frankly I don’t really have the time and this is absolutely the next best thing.  In fact scrap that – this is much better.  It is smooth rather than thick and gloopy and tastes delightful.


This week I made my friend a wee al fresco lunch of salmon salad drizzled with Summer Harvest mayonnaise and it was divine.

The guys behind Summer Harvest hail from the Strathearn Valley in Perthshire.  Everything needed to make the rapeseed oil used in their products comes from their 400 acres – from the crop growing to the pressing of the oil.


My final pick of the pops is a company called Organic Blending who produce a fab range of organic sprinkles, spices, marinaes, gravies and stuffings from their HQ in Glasgow.

They were cooking up a storm from their stand at the Highland Show – chicken, onions and pepppers with one of their sprinkles, Organic Sweet Chilli Exposion.  This is described as a sweeet burst of organic chillies and peppers with a kick! It sure was.  I asked what else went into the dish they were preparing and the only other ingredient was a touch of olive oil.  Offered this heady concoction of good taste and time saving simplicity I was sold.  I have since cooked every week with this fantastic sprinkle – I have rubbed it on fish and I have done the do with the chicken and peppers and served it up with cous cous.  It is delicious and a great addition to the kitchen.  For somebody who does not always have the time to chop up chillies and garlic and a dizzy mix of other spices this does the job nicely.

I admit at some shows to writing about products I genuinely loved to taste but did not perhaps end up buying (you can’t buy em all) but this year every one of these products (apart from the brownies as that would be wrong) has landed in my cupboard and are either finished or well on their way.  Most of them are time saving ways to deliver REAL flavour to my cooking without me having to do all the work.  They are this cooks best mates and maybe they can become yours too ….. go on give them a try.

Leave a comment



I may be sitting here in chilly drizzly old Scotland but my heart is still meandering along the shores of beautiful Lake Garda.  I was again lucky enough this summer to spend just over 2 weeks based in Peschiera Del Garda – soaking up the sunshine, watching the beautiful people and eating like a king.

Yes this is the Italian edition of the Grumbling Tummy, packed with mouth watering highlights from my trip.



Most restaurants in the pretty towns and villages in Lake Garda are quite traditional in their style so it was lovely to experience something a little different when we visited Vecchio Mulino Beach Bar and  Restaurant.  This is only a 20 minute walk along the lake from the town of Peschiera – a walk that takes you past stunning homes, paddling spots, pedalos, swans and a little harbour.  The lakeside location is stunning!  There is a real buzz about this cleverly designed restaurant – it is airy and stylish “beach chic”.

The menus come in the forms of hard backed books with stunning full page photographs of each and every dish – it was a real page turner.  This stylish take on a menu made everything look so lovely it was hard to choose – but choose we did. I opted for salmon with pancetta covered in corn meal and accompanied by roast vegetables in thyme oil.  B chose stuffed anchovies.



The highlight of my main course was the veg.  Slices of courgette, peppers and aubergine standing to attention in a beautiful glass jar and generously doused in fresh tyme and good quality olive oil – the aroma was tantalizing and the taste was none too shabby either.  The salmon was perfectly cooked and altogether this was a lovely balanced healthy meal.  I am always delighted when abroad to see fruit appear so liberally in the dessert menu and not just atop a chocolate torte but with pride as the main performer.  It takes the guilt away from having a dessert and I do wish British restaurants would follow suit.  On this menu there were some simple yet stunning fruits doused in a little dark chocolate  …… you need no more than that to please me.  Delicious!  The meal seemed healthy until wee GT got her dessert in the form of a GIANT candy floss.  Wonderful gimmick for the kids and unfortunately parents find it hard to keep their greedy paws away from it too.



We were so impressed with this restaurant we returned there for our last meal, and despite there being a family of  dogs (the size of small horses) in attendance (with their owners of course) it was just as lovely.



This is what keeps you alive as a peely-wally Scot tottering around Italy in a mini heat wave.  To the common man this is really a Slushy – but oh they do them so well in Italy.  I have no idea if they are abound with sugar and chemicals but they taste much more natural than the specimens we have here.

The flavours are fantastic – cherry, mint, strawberry, mango, melon and then of course the obligatory bright blue one (definitely chemical) which wee GT seemed to gravitate towards.

On a hot day they are nectar and on the day we decided a 5 mile lakeside walk in 84 degrees  was a good idea they were a life saver.



The fabulous thing about food in Italy is the freshness and simplicity of everything.  Brian ordered Tuna on our final day and what arrived was a plate of very simply char grilled tuna topped with toasted sesame seeds.  The tuna was was so fresh it was almost jumping off the plate.  Having only ever cooked supermarket tuna (shameful but true) I believed that it was meant to be a brown gray colour – isn’t it?.  Turns out this is not true – it is indeed meaty pink and mouthwatering.


Veal is something which I remember eating as a young girl but as you know it is a meat which fell seriously out of favour in the United Kingdom.  Not so in Italy where veal appears on just about every menu.  One of the most popular ways to serve veal is with a Marsala sauce accompanied by some simple roast vegetables.  If you have not tasted veal it is  pink and tender with a sublime taste all of  its own – somewhere between pork and beef –  It is quite subtle.  The sauces in every restaurant were so fresh and intense and entirely lacking the glutinous texture of so many  encountered here. I loved being reunited with veal.  I know that in the UK  we had an ‘ethical’comeback in the form of Rose Veal, but it is not really common place and people are generally still quite anti-veal.  We are missing out.



You cannot write a blog on Italian food without writing about the nations favourite GELATO!  You don’t have to seek out ice cream in Italy, simply cast your eye down any street and you should be able to spot countless places to tempt you with their array of beautiful flavours.  I find it hard to get past creamy pistachio and wee GT opts for the disgusting blue number (what it is it about blue food and this child) every time but there is a serious number of tempting flavours to be had and as well as traditional ice cream there is frozen yogurt and an array of sorbets on offer. On a hot day to somebody with a sweet tooth there is nothing more pleasurable than wandering along the narrow streets of a charming Italian town happily licking an enormous ice cream.


Uno Crepe con nutella is a much used phrase when in Italy.  Crepes are of course French , however the Italians seem to have embraced this sweet snack with gusto and there are crepes available on every street corner and on many menus.  The most popular filling by far is nutella and you know how I feel about nutella – yum.  The next best thing to wandering around a charming Italian town with an ice cream is wandering around a charming Italian town stuffing your face with warm crepe, gooey chocolate spread and a dusting of icing sugar.


When your husband looks at you over a meal and delivers this line “this is so good it makes me want to cry” you know you are somewhere good.  Last year we stayed in a fairly awful airport hotel in Milan on the way  home.  The surrounding area of Milan’s Malpensa airport is not exactly ritzy and there is nothing much going on . On arrival we headed out to the only restaurant near the hotel and all I could say was thank the lord it was closed.  It looked less than appealing with its dirty white plastic chairs in the outside dining area. This shabby eatery looked more caff than restaurant.

Fast forward to this year when we were staying at a much better hotel and had done our restaurant research.  Trip Advisor praised a little restaurant called SARMANCANDA, awarding it many stars and rave reviews, and  so  the hungry travellers went on search of this oasis in a desert and lo what did we find – tatty restaurant from the year before.  This time it was very open and called SARMANCANDA.  We ventured in.  The place was absolutely buzzing with a mix of airport hotel folk and lots of locals. The interior was really pleasant and not overly traditional with a proper bar area and the kitchen in full view –  and let me tell you there was nothing manky about it.  It was actually a pretty romantic candlelit hideaway if it was not for the five year old at our table.


We had a deluxe anti-pasto of meats and cheeses to start.  It was beyond fantastic  (I think this was where B delivered his killer line) There was pancetta which was edged in cinnamon, an array of other fantastic local meats and three or four stunning cheeses. We asked the waitress about the cheeses and she was amazingly knowledgeable but not having expected this level of fabulousness I wrote nothing down.  Sorry!  The platter was set off perfectly with honey and an intensely flavoured carmalised onion chutney as well as a mild mustard dip for the hams.


Had I not wanted a pizza quite so much I might have tried some of their special meals,  which included rabbit, lamb and various amazing fish dishes.  But I had a pizza which was beautiful and Bs Calzone was the size of his head and tasted marvellous. However the star of the show as far as I was concerned was dessert.  In the more tourist orientated Lake Garda there is a standard fare of gateauxs, cheese cakes and ice cream sundaes in restaurants and I am not sure how much of these are actually made on the premises.  On this menu we found some beautiful home-made offerings including short crust pastry ravioli, filled with a ginger jam, delicately floating on a lake of vanilla, mint and thyme custard.  This dessert was nothing short of sublime and the decision to share one portion was a bad one.


I would recommend this restaurant to everybody who finds themselves floating around the area of Malpensa airport in Milan – go seek it out.


The Italians are very child friendly –  forever ruffling their hair or tickling them under their chin whilst murmuring bella bambina.  Restaurants also welcome children with open arms but step away from the non tourist areas and you will not find a ‘children’s menu’. This is because in Italy children eat what their parents eat and don’t get the chance to opt for the dinosaur shaped nuggets and chips.  Now I am not being high and mighty about this as my child lived off  frankfurters, ,chips and air on holiday, I am in awe more than anything.  As well as not cow towing to fussy eaters in restaurants you will not find much in the way of kid branded food in supermarkets. No spaghetti in the shape of letters, animals or peppa pig characters (god knows we looked!).  Kids seem to eat …… real food.  They are also welcomed into restaurants for dinner when our pre-schoolers are entering the land of nod because they tend to eat with the family and if the family is going out to eat at 8 then hell so are they – and it is really nice.  They do have a siesta which helps them to stay up a lot later however I was more interested in the inclusion of kids in family meals.  All too often I rustle up something for the wee one that “she will like” before packing her off to bed so that I can have something devilishly hot and spicy to eat and some peace and quiet. Perhaps I can learn something from the Italian way. My little girl has serious eating issues due to a medical condition so we might not manage to steer her away from the sausage so easily but we will be eating out with her in the evening more at weekends and also making sure that we all sit down together at least a few times a week for a family meal. I am sure I am not the only one who could improve in this area.

So that’s it from Italy  ………………… next stop Dublin!