EDINBURGH DINING SUMMER 2015

Edinburgh dining summer 2015photo credit: Ben Carpenter

At the turn of the year we were inundated with ‘food trend’ articles, what we should and shouldn’t be eating, what’s cool to eat this year, what isn’t, where we should be seen drinking the latest artisan gin and which artisan tonic we should be mixing it with.

Food trends and predictions come at us from every direction, some are informative, some make us think, some are intriguing and some make us book the next big thing pronto in case we’re ‘missing out’ .

Thanks to Burger Meats Bun

There are more independent burger joints springing up every week, craft beer is still on the rise, Mexican tacos are making a comeback, in fact they’re already back. ‘Ugly’ vegetables such as celeriac and kohlrabi are becoming ‘cheffy’, bone broth is the latest on trend ingredient, big named chefs are opening more casual and fast food outlets, and if your venison hasn’t been smoked then why are you eating it?

Want broccoflower (broccoli crossed with cauliflower)? You can have it! Want more condiments? You may have them! The idea of more ‘on table’ accessories to customize your meal is about to hit the UK, big time. Good old salt and pepper, and red and brown sauce are about to be joined by mustards, dips, dressings, purees, flavoured salts and seasonings. You will be spoilt for choice.

So, are you bothered if you’re on trend or not when it comes to food and drink? Well, to a certain extent you should be as these trends will have an impact on your Edinburgh dining opportunities for the rest of this year, and next year, and the year after that. We have already witnessed the street food revolution in our capital city and this will continue to thrive during the summer months in particular when more of us will attempt to dine al fresco in between the rain showers.

edinburgh diningLondon ‘pop-up with a Scottish twist’ Dram & Smoke will be setting up shop during the festival. Expect scran, bevvy and general ‘flumgummerie’* gin cocktails, single malts, and a weird and wonderful location. Edinburgh based Jelly & Gin will continue to present us with exciting dining experiences, if you managed to get along to ‘Watch & Wolf’ late last year you will know what to expect. Eating isn’t enough any more, multi sensory gastronomy is where it’s at.

© 2015 Jacek Hübner (www.jacekhubner.com)The Secret Herb Garden is hosting a series of ‘full moon’ dinners that continue until late October. You can enjoy foraged, fresh and local produce matched with natural wines in their beautiful glasshouses under the light of a full moon. Now that’s something you can’t do every day.

Timberyard continues to be an absolute must visit for locals and tourists alike. With an 8 course tasting menu featuring delights such as smoked beef, sea buckthorn, artichoke, truffle, mallard, wild leek, smoked lobster, elderberry, spelt, they are producing some amazing dishes and are really ahead of the game when it comes to Edinburgh dining. And don’t just visit for the food either, while you’re there you can enjoy some of the finest cocktails in town in an urban warehouse that wouldn’t be out of place in Shoreditch, East London.

There is no doubt that many of these trends come north following success in London but that’s OK, as long as we get them eventually. London is a food and drink hub with a huge population who continually demand more so they tend to develop the trends that we then find out about.

When the trends head north they tend to be exclusive, in a kind of secret society type way, you think you’re the only one who knows about something when in reality you’re not. But that doesn’t matter, you should just feel lucky that we are enjoying a buzzing food scene, with so much choice it’s hard to know where to go first. Make a ‘to do’ list, tick it off, then make another one because one thing you can be certain of is that there will be more new and exciting places to eat and drink next month that you didn’t know about.

We can guide you in your choices sure, but don’t let us tell you what’s hot and what’s not. Get out there and make your own minds up. Remember, you, the customer set the trends, not the food critics or the journalists or the food bloggers or me.

*hijinks, tomfoolery, antics, you get the gist

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN FOR THE JULY 2015 EDITION OF ION MAGAZINE.

An abbreviated version can be found online HERE

STEAK REVOLUTION

STEAK REVOLUTION
COMING TO A BIG SCREEN NEAR YOU…..SOON….

STEAK REVOLUTION


Just spotted this new film on the Apple Trailers site and thought it  was definitely one to share. In a similar vein to the brilliant Netflix series ‘Chef’s Table‘ it looks into the subject of steak in great detail. A lovely bit of film making from Director Franck Ribière it  features exclusive conversations with chefs, farmers, butchers, steakhouse owners, journalists and experts about the many variables that affect the quality of our meat.

STEAK (R)EVOLUTION unravels how small-scale operations have impacted—and raised the bar—of the entire industry, and how meat producers have implemented sustainable farming practices across the board. Both informative and utterly tantalizing, STEAK (R)EVOLUTION is a must-see for any steak enthusiast. And that means us at Monkfish Towers, huge fans of great steak and always looking for the best we can find.

Mouth watering stuff, enjoy.

DELIVEROO!

image001Really want to go out to eat but
a) don’t have the energy
b) no babysitter
c) would have to get changed from your joggers and hoodie (depending on restaurant of choice….)
d) can’t drag yourself away from the last series of Game of Thrones so eating on sofa is the only option….

If any of those apply then click on Deliveroo and let the food come to you… Oh yes sofa surfers, this is probably the best thing that has happened all year (for you!).

Your favourite local restaurants – think Bodega, Smoke Stack, WannaBurger, The Basement – can now come to you! As indeed they did to us on Mrs M’s birthday – what?!? A takeaway on your birthday?! Yep, we dialled, we clicked, we ordered, it arrived. A bag full of goodies from Pomegranate, a Lebanese restaurant in the East End of Edinburgh arrived via a lovely smiley courier bang on the time we asked it to arrive. You can’t get better than that.

We must add at this point that we did go out “PROPER OUT” for Mrs M’s birthday….we dined at Timberyard and thoroughly enjoyed the best tasting menu in the city (in our opinion), that place just gets better and better but, when TV and joggies are the order of the day there’s no need to dress up for dinner anymore. Deliveroo is for you. Get clicking.

DeliverooTwitter:
@deliveroo_edi
@deliveroo_gla

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Deliveroo

Caroline Hazlehurst, Regional Manager for Scotland & North East England said:

 “We’re really excited about bringing Deliveroo to Edinburgh and Glasgow.  The food scene in Scotland is enviable and the restaurant scene thriving, yet up until now food delivery services haven’t catered for those who want to enjoy premium restaurant food at home or at their desk.  We’re working with a superb and eclectic selection of Scottish restaurants so it’s time to treat food-lovers in Scotland to the flexibility and level of service that Deliveroo is known for.” 

Founded in 2013, Deliveroo has already seen impressive growth in the UK. Over the last two years, it has accelerated to serve a customer base of over 100,000, deploying a team of over 800 drivers who deliver from over 1,500 restaurants. They have ambitious plans to expand the business to other Scottish cities in the next 12 months. Deliveroo currently operates in London, Birmingham, Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Bristol, Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Berlin, Dublin and Paris with further plans for rapid growth. The two-year-old company has created a regional hub in Edinburgh that manages operations for Scotland and the north east of England.

For more information, please visit www.deliveroo.co.uk.

VDEEP EDINBURGH – REVIEW

Read our review of VDeep, a brand new curry-and-craft-beer restaurant on Edinburgh’s Henderson Street, brought to you by Scottish celebrity Hardeep Singh Kohli. Sit underneath the disco ball, and don’t leave without trying the dhal makhani…

vdeep edinburgh

in a nutshell

An Edinburgh go-to for sharing plates of great curry matched with craft beer. Energetic, a slightly mad front man, a disco ball and strictly no mango chutney.

vdeep edinburgh
who’s cooking? 

Chef Spencer Barrie previously of The Kenmore Hotel.

menu know-how

The menu is a one pager with all the comedy puns you’d expect from celebrity owner, Scottish writer and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli. Bubble & Sikh (spiced potato cake with seasonal greens) and a Full Indian to name a couple…. read more at Olivemagazine.com

vdeep edinburgh

The full review of VDeep Edinburgh was written for OLIVE magazine and appears online HERE

Photos courtesy of Mymonkfish and Paul Johnston at Copper Mango.

FARM TO TABLE

farm to table

We’re delighted to be able to introduce a guest blog post this week written for us by Chet Sharma, of TRULY Experiences. Chet has previously worked in the kitchens of L’Enclume, Mugaritz and Le Manoir aux’Quat Saisons.

Here’s what he has to say on the subject of….

Farm to Table

The past decade has seen a push from chefs, the media and aristocratic foodies alike for more sustainably sourced food, preferably coming from local producers and vendors. I should know – I’m one of them. Having been involved in setting up Britain’s largest restaurant farm, I take every opportunity to champion the ‘farm-to-table’ movement.

And, on the surface, it’s working. Just pay a visit to one of the numerous food and farmers’ markets to see this revolution in effect. As we speak, crowds are flocking in the thousands to buy the season’s finest broad beans, peas and asparagus. It’s easy to conclude that the years of campaigning for more sustainably sourced ingredients have produced lasting change.

Except it hasn’t. For all of its successes, farm to table hasn’t changed the way the majority buys and – most importantly – has changed little other than the marketing ploys used by top supermarkets to make us feel better about what we’re eating.  There’s still a long way to go before we see a real shift in the landscape of dining.

The reason farm to table hasn’t been able to change the way our food is grown is because it still doesn’t yet make sense from an economic standpoint. The growth of the farming industry has almost entirely been at either end of the scale; the giant multi-nationals and small family farms bearing the fruit. The sustainable medium size farms – the ones that could feasibly supply restaurants and discerning food-lovers – have been closing in the tens of thousands, year-on-year, for more than a decade.

Marrying this duality is near impossible. We are bombarded by all forms of media telling us that eating ethically sourced foods should be at the forefront of the public zeitgeist. But this push for how we should cook and eat is up against a deeply entrenched status quo.

This is most prevalent across the pond; the conglomerate grain producers account for less than 2% of farms in number, but over 50% of the American farming industry’s annual revenue. They are producing high-yield crops, bred to require little in resources from the soil and the farmer, meaning that they can be planted more or less back-to-back, so that every square inch is producing maximum profit year round. Commercially operated smaller farms simply cannot compete when the economy of scale is so far out of their reach. Worse still, the majority of this grain is actually used for non-human consumption.

farm to tableIt isn’t all doom and gloom, however. There are people out there still making a difference. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the River Cottage Empire is one. Manresa’s David Kinch is another. But it is Dan Barber who really sits at the precipice of the public consciousness.  Chef Patron of upstate New York’s Blue Hill at Stone Barn, Barber sees a bright future for farm-to-table dining, if farmers could adopt a more holistic, more connected approach to their crops. Barber advocates the planting of commercially viable cover crops such as mustard, followed by legumes such as kidney beans and cowpeas and a hardy grain like barley. This allows the land to be cleansed for the primary, resource-draining crop, while also producing sustainable crops as the soil is replenished.

Great in theory, the problem is that it requires an individual farm to not only specialise in producing a single product, but to specialise in ‘produce’ as a whole. For that to work, there needs to be a market for the cover crops, legumes and hardy grains that are being produced in between seasons. For this more traditional system of farming to be profitable, we need to create a market for those ‘less desirable’ crops; which is a market that just doesn’t exist as yet.

The positive thing is that we’ve seen it happen before; it used to be that fillet steak was the popular preferred cut of beef, but by showing the public that non-prime cuts such as flat iron, hanger and skirt can in fact be equal in quality to the fillet, we’re making better use of the animals now than at any point since the industrialisation of farming. And this mentality is spilling over into large-scale food manufacture; the only point at which we start to see a true shift in the economic drivers key for change.

What it comes down to is a re-education of how we can use native crops which renew the soil. Why do foodies reach for the exotic quinoa when the rotation crop millet can be grown locally and is far more beneficial for the soil? [1] Chances are that it’s because most people don’t know what the latter is. Sadly, this is an indictment of the current state of food education.

Farm to table can’t be seen as a passive activity – for it to thrive, we’ll need to create the most important economic driver; the demand which creates a new market. This means educating ourselves on how farms actually operate, and how use produce that can put back into the earth what we so greedily take out. Only at that point will there be a demand for farmers to grow the less fashionable crops which can save their business.

This needn’t be a revolution – the platform has already been set. We simply need to engage more closely with what it means to be truly sustainable.
farm to table


[1] (This is before we even enter the ethics debate about a food product that is now so expensive that the natives who have eaten this for the past 3000 years are unable to afford it)

If this subject wets your whistle then take a look at the recent Netflix series ‘Chef’s Table‘ – one of the episodes features Dan Barber and Blue Hill Farm – look it up, well worth a watch.

Till next time, happy eating :) And huge thanks again to Chet for this wonderful blog post.