Mmmmmmmarshmallow

Team Stovies took a toddle along to Stockbridge Market today and were delighted to find ‘The Marshmallow Lady’ hosting a stall.

We took the opportunity to taste some of her wares and my oh my were they good. Our top two bite sized tasters were passion fruit and lemon meringue, both light, pillowy and very very fruity.

We scarpered home with a bag of Oreo Cookie mallows for the princely sum of £2.50. The proof is in the pudding however as the cookie encrusted clouds lasted less than five minutes and were a world away from a packet of flumps.

We’re looking forward to trying out more flavours soon, especially when The Marshmallow Lady’s cafe opens on Rodney Street at the end of June. Until then we’ll have to hope to bump into her again at the market soon.

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http://www.burghbakes.com/
http://www.stockbridgemarket.com/

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Quite probably the best fish in town!

The Ship, in Leith’s trendy shore area is touted as a ‘seafood restaurant and champagne bar’ and you know, they aren’t kidding either. The fish and chip menu has several unusual and discerning side options on offer – a bottle of Veuve perhaps, Krug? Decadent booze treats aside, The Ship is gradually becoming one one of Team Stovies’ favourite haunts. The surroundings are perfect for any occasion from a long and lazy Sunday lunch, to a romantic dinner with dark wood panelling, fresh white roses on the tables and oceanic charts in place of wallpaper, there’s a real sense of intimacy and calm conducive to good conversation.

Image © The Ship

We were greeted with a warm welcome as always, and left to peruse the menus. This is one restaurant where you never feel rushed. Even when it’s hoaching, which is both charming and refreshing in the churn and burn society we live in. Drinks in hand we settled back to decide on eats. Although we had only intended to have main courses, a half pint of shell on native prawns and some steamed surf clams with spanish ham were too delicious sounding to miss. They didn’t disappoint either. The prawns, served simply with lemon mayonnaise, reminded us why prawn cocktail once ruled the starter world and the clams were amongst the best we have ever had. Rich with bacon, wine and garlic sauce but wonderfully light at the same time! The only problem is they have quite probably spoiled all other clam dishes for life!

As this was the last meal out before Baby Stovies arrived, the good lady opted for a real treat of Shetland langoustines with garlic butter and Ship’s chips. The three grilled crustaceans were monstrous in size, melt in the mouth, meaty and delightfully sweet. On the other side of the table, a classic of lobster thermidor arrived with an apology from the chef – the lobsters were a little small today so he’d served up two halves instead. Was this ok? Oh yes! Rich and cheesy yet still light enough for the plate to be squeaky clean, the accompanying Ship’s chips were just the right kind of chunky to mop up any surplus sauce. Both dishes came with a house salad, which we feel deserves a mention for being so well executed – vinaigrette dressed rocket and green leaves with posh deseeded cucumber, red onion and peppers, it’s always a perfect match to the seafood here.

No space for pudding, She: too full of baby; He: lobstered to the max. We’ll save room for it next time though, when we’re back with the baby.

Fishy good times + drinks £70.00

The Ship on The Shore, Leith. Tel: 0131 555 0409 http://www.theshipontheshore.co.uk/

Parrots eat ’em all!

Tucked away in a basement in Stockbridge lies a real gem of rustic charm known as the Blue Parrot Cantina. No larger than a sitting room and with a fireplace to boot this small but perfectly formed cantina offers a range of delicious Mexican dishes to tantalise the tastebuds. While the menu focusses on the more commonly known Mexican fayre of fajitas, enchiladas, nachos and the like, these are executed with confidence and reliable home cooked charm.

On our most recent trip we kicked off with stuffed chillies; firery but flavourful with garlic and cheese along with a welcome side serving of sour cream to cool the tongue. Paired with a sharing bowl of home fried tortilla chips (light and crispy and quite unlike anything that comes out of a bag) with a creamy and very fruity guacamole that definitely needs emphasis on the sharing – there was more then enough here for four!

For mains we both plumped for burritos, Mr Stovies taking chicken and cashew, Mrs Stovies, Beef. Both were accompanied by a heap of refried beans, brown rice and fresh salsa in by no means stingy portions. The beef version was filled with delicious spiced beef, cinnamon and nuts with cheese and sour cream, very moreish and wrapped in a warm hug from the flour tortilla. The chicken and cashew was moist, flavoursome and warmed with chilli heat. Had there been any space for seconds we’d have had them.

Although on this trip we stuck to the main drag we can thoroughly recommend the Ceviche (fish and prawns cured in lime) and Baja Pescado (baked haddock with a chilli and lime crumb) for fish eaters or crispy chimichangas for meat eaters or veggies depending on the filling. Not to be missed are the Margaritas – either lime or strawberry – which will blow your socks off into tequila merryment pretty quickly.

For a simple and cheap treat the Blue Parrot is well worth a try. Starters come in below £4, main courses under a tenner. At the weekend you will want to call ahead and book as the small dining room means that it fills up quickly. It’s worth bearing in mind that the rustic charm of the Blue Parrot extends beyond mismatched furniture and accessories – the toilets are outside! Not a problem on a summer evening but perhaps not the best adventure if the weather is bad.

The Blue Parrot Cantina, 49 St Stephen Street, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 225 2941

Over the sea to Skye

Image © Duisdale House

A little while ago we disappeared off for a grown up break to Skye. When Stovies Junior arrives stays in posh hotels will become a distant memory so this one was a little extra special. It’s quite a trek from Edinburgh to Skye, especially if your SatNav takes you the long way across the top of Laggan, but the scenery and the welcome are well worth it.

Tucked away on the Southern peninsula of the island is stylish country retreat Dusidale House, set in well tended grounds with the biggest Monkey Puzzle tree you’ve ever seen (no monkeys to be found unless you count Mr Stovies).The hotel itself is decorated stylishly with a modern twist inside, although it’s really all about the views.

We just had time for a quick wander on the beach and a nap before heading down to the drawing room for pre dinner drinkies and canapes. First up was a surprisingly light blue cheese mousse with grape and quince on crumbly home made oatcake, tres bien and swiftly followed by a sweet, spicy and aromatic micro onion bahji. By happy fate we’d saved the best to last – rich confit duck en croute with sweet pops of pomegranate which cut through the meat perfectly.

Shortly after polishing off the canapes we were shown to the dining room and treated to an amuse bouche of slow braised ox cheek. Rich, unctuous meat with a nicely herbed taste, a whole bowl full would have made the best beef stew ever, but a mouthful was fabulous.

Next on our eating odyssey were starters of Scallop & Rosemary Brochette with celeriac purée and Oak Smoked Salmon Roulade with apple and quails egg salad. Perfectly cooked scallops offset by the purée were fresh and light however Mr Stovies wasn’t sold on the rosemary skewer. The salmon roulade was subtle yet satisfying, working very well with the tarte apple in the salad

For mains we opted for Loin of Dunvegan Venison with mash, cabbage, roasted garlic and parsnip. Beautifully cooked meat atop creamy but not over rich mash, with a hint of star anise in the cabbage a delicious discovery. Roasted cloves of garlic and a rich port jus made for a well rounded, meat lovers meal. On the other side of the table pregancy cravings were sated by moist Roast Chicken Breast with Dauphinoise and a superb, slightly sweet madeira sauce. Classic and flavourful.

A short but welcome reprieve before pudding – the dining room was now quite full of happily munching guests. A large selection of cheeses were available to choose from and were accompanied by fruit, celery, quince AND chutney, a real treat, especially with a glass of white Port. The homemade oatcakes made a welcome return too, if only we’d been able to take some home….

Mr Stovies is a sucker for eggy puds, so the Baked Custard Tart with sesame cream was gone in a flash. Lovely pastry, tasty filling and a very interesting sesame cream which looked thick but was a fluffy as a cloud. Best of all served with homemade puff candy. Spiffing.

It was an epic but thoroughly enjoyable dinner, we topped it all off with coffee and Petits Fours too. Blimey. Thankfully we were staying the night, moving more than a hundred yards would have been impossible!

Dinner for non resident guests £45 per person. Visit the hotel’s website for DB&B rates.

Dusidale House Hotel, Isle Ornsay, Sleat, Isle of Skye. Tel: 01471 833202
http://www.duisdale.com/

Exit stage right

Image © The Kitchen

There seems to be a lot on the telly box right now about service, we’ve been enjoying Mary Portas’ undercover shenanigans but even more so Michel Roux’s Service on BBC 2. Tonight’s episode emphasised the ‘theatre’ of dining out and that good service combined with delicious food is the key to a great meal.

The Stovies team are opening up the floor to Mother Stovies for this review which seems apt as she’s definitely got to take some responsibility for our enjoyment of eating out….

We decided to try the The Kitchen Restaurant in Inverness out as it occupies a beautiful building facing the river.  It’s also the sister restaurant of The Mustard Seed which we have visited often, never being disappointed.

We arrived to find the ground floor empty and were shown upstairs, passing the also deserted middle floor to a table quite literally at the door on the top floor.  With the waitress station just in front of us the river was far from in view and we couldn’t help feeling the table had been pushed in as an extra.

Perhaps because the atmosphere felt little lacking we skipped starters and moved straight to mains. My partner tucked in to halibut with a cheese crust and crab mousse. The fish was well cooked and fresh but the crust more a cheese sauce but was enjoyable nonetheless. I chose venison with potato rosti. Two of the three medallions were deliciously medium rare, the third was inedible and unfortunately, the rosti on which they sat was a hard, tasteless, soggy lump. The attentive waitress noticed that my plate was far from clear and asked if there was a problem with my meal. I explained about the rosti and she in turn explained to the chef. A few moments later she reappeared and informed me that the chef said this was what rosti was.

For desert we shared a cheeseboard. It was fairly standard, but there was no explanation of the different cheeses. Tea and coffee were followed, served with a nice piece of homemade tablet .

The total bill for two mains, one cheeseboard, tea and coffee and a bottle of Pinot Grigio was a reasonable £58.  While taking the payment the waitress was apologetic and seemed to feel exposed when responding to customers’ concerns. We feel that we know food, we cook a lot, we eat out frequently here and abroad. We search out restaurants with a good name.  On this occasion, our first visit, The Kitchen let itself down, not simply in serving up a substandard dish – this happens – but more in the limp response to our mildly expressed comments. So disappointing after the Mustard Seed

The Kitchen, 15 Huntly Street, Inverness. Tel: 01463 259119

http://www.kitchenrestaurant.co.uk/

Old friends and new

We toddled off to William Street to meet friends after work tonight only to find Bert’s Bar and Teuchtars rammed to the rafters. In need of a seat and a really good selection of beers we made a forray into the newly opened Sláinte Mhath. Formerly the Randolph Bar this is a real gem, spacious, but with several cubby holes and booths. For a Friday night things were a lot less raucous than the nearby ‘shiny-shoe’ bars of the West End, but it started to fill up later on with a live folk band due to play.

We weren’t in eating mode but did have a good look at the menu. Far from the usual Lasagne, Steak Pie or Fish & Chips offerings many pubs make Sláinte Mhath’s kitchen serve up Mussel Pots, Confit Duck and Daube of Beef to name a few. It’s definitely on the hit list to eat in soon.

Sláinte Mhath, 3-14 Melville Place, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 220 1919
http://www.slaintemhathbar.co.uk/

Later we did need to go in search of food. Not being overly hungry we were pondering a pizza from the ever busy Pizza Express when we realised we were standing right outside our old friend Howie’s Cellar. When we started the blog we were really impressed by the new menu and refurb so we popped in to see how things are going a few months on. In a word: Swimmingly!

The restaurant was full and all of the faces at the tables looked happy as larry. The menu has changed with the seasons and a selection of larger dishes for one have been added to please the tapas wary.

The food was just as good as our other visits, a selection of smaller dishes filled the spot but didn’t over-stuff. The atmosphere was buzzing but still intimate thanks to the small interconnected rooms and the bill was as easy to swallow as the pints earlier in the evening.

To read the full Stovies review click here….

And now, time for bed. Good night!

A-har me harties!

Image © Seadogs

The Stovies team were recently invited to an evening out with friends at Sea Dogs in Edinburgh. Not ones to miss a trick in eating somewhere new we jumped at the chance, especially as Sea Dogs had been in our sights for a while…

We started the evening meeting for drinks in The Underdogs, the ‘waiting room’ of sorts for the Dogs’ collection of restaurants around Edinburgh. If you haven’t been in it’s pleasantly kitted out with ramshakle lamps, mis-matched sofas and doggy themed artwork; great for lounging with a large G&T. The short walk up to Rose Street helps to work up the appetite too.

We here at Stovies LOVE sea food (odd that we have few fishy recipes though, we must work on that) fried, baked, steamed, curried, raw – line it up and we’ll demolish it. The idea behind Sea Dogs is that it’s a fish and chip shop that you can dine in…in comfort. The decor is simple, relatively stylish and has some awesome crustacea based wallpaper! Our (somewhat large) group were seated and drinks orders placed.

The menu is fairly small but manages to fit in a healthy range of fish based dishes – there were even a couple of non fish options available (of which I am informed that the veggy paella was particularly tasty). Team stovies ordered spiced whitebait and a cullen skink to start with. The whitebait was lovely, still moist and served with a very punchy aioli. The cullen skink was beautiful, rich and smokey and would put my grannys to shame, thankfully she doesn’t have the internet so will never find out I said that….

Mains arrived after a nicely timed eating break, well, most of them arrived. One of our groups order had been left off but thankfully our waiter dealt with this perfectly and was very apologetic. As mentioned at the start Sea Dogs is a fish and chip shop. The twist is offering a selection of fish and coatings to choose from to make your optimum fish and chip selection. I opted for smoked hake in beer batter, battered and fried smoked fish being one of my favourite things and something rarely seen outside of the Stovies kitchen! The batter was beautifully crispy, the portion size was spot on but the delight here was the massive pile of mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce. Fishy, chippy, heaven. I even convinced the non fish eating member of the group to try some. Score one for the pescatarians!

Mrs Stovies chose stuffed salmon with lemon butter. Although tasty the dish as a whole was very rich and a little heavy. The skirlie stuffing was a hit and the salmon was perfectly cooked but the purple potatoes didn’t go down so well. I suspect she was having a fussy moment as another member of our our group had the same and thought it was spot on. We are sad to report that nobody had space for pudding…

Sea Dogs is an excellent option for dining out in Edinburgh, simple, no frills but good, honest food. The service we received was great and problems were dealt with efficiently. The pleasant surprise at the end of the meal was how reasonably priced it was – £27 a head including tip for 2 courses and lots of vino. We even had a flurry of kisses blown at us from our waiter as he finished his shift and left, priceless!

seadogs, 43 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2NH. Tel:0131 225 8028

http://www.seadogsonline.co.uk/