Monday, 24 April 2017

Glasgow Living Part 15 – Dragon-i, Hope Street, Glasgow

Readers, told you it was a busy week of eating out last week! Second instalment of things I got up to.

The lovely Mark and Emma from Foodie Explorers got in touch with an invite to the VIP dinner at Dragon-i – celebrating the original owner Raymond’s return to the venue after a period of a number of years away.  The place is clearly incredibly special to him – heck, he even married his wife there.
As I discovered, Dragon I has a great name amongst locals. I’d no idea how many people knew about it.  It was my first time visiting – it’s right at the top of Hope Street, straight across from the Theatre Royal, for anyone looking to find it! 

The menu is Asian fusion – and for those of you with a keen interest in eating well, there’s dishes featuring macros (high protein for the non-fit amongst us) and even KALE features on a menu that specialises in Asian fusion.

The night kicked off with prosecco and chat, as Raymond introduced us to the concept of Dragon-i, his experience of falling out of love with the restaurant and then a longing to return to it.  It’s a family affair – his brother is behind the scenes creating some amazing dishes, whilst Raymond heads up front of house.  He’s passionate about creating an experience for diners, whilst living in the current age of today’s Instagrammers who want good looking food to shoot before they dig in!

I love some of the concepts – there’s retro for those who used to order numbers 5, 20 and 28 plus a prawn crackers on their Chinese menu, the healthy stuff and some great fusion dishes.  I started my meal with battered prawns topped with strawberry and a champagne syrup.   Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it folks.  IT WORKS.
dragon i glasgow

Next up, I went for duck with a plum sauce, green veg and pineapple. I swapped out the garlic infused rice for noodles.  I love noodles.  Staple comfort food and a good chance I was Asian in a previous life…

dragon i glasgow

I always do this thing of saying I’ll refuse dessert.  Then it never happens.  Not when there was a crispy pancake on offer filled with various berries.  It arrived resembling a giant spring roll and was so delicious.   Unlike me, I only made it halfway through dessert, after overindulging on the two previous courses alongside several glasses of wine…
dragon i glasgow
Dessert

Dragon-i was a great dining experience – it’s a perfect setting for dinner with friends or as a couple.   Find out more by visiting their social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Dragon-i for an exclusive dining events. Any opinions expressed are my own.



Saturday, 22 April 2017

Glasgow Living Part 14 - Dinner at Italian Kitchen, Ingram Street, Glasgow

Readers, it’s been such a busy week of blogger adventures. I’ve had two events on this week which I’ll write about separately, starting off with the blogger dinner at The Italian Kitchen in Merchant City on Wednesday night.

Marco the owner contacted me directly to see if I was interesting in coming along to the VIP night. I’d no idea what to expect, other than we’d be learning about making ravioli and enjoying the Italian food.
 
This was my first visit to the venue – it underwent an extensive refurbishment in January 2017, for a fresh new look with exposed brickwork, an open pizza oven and some really lovely industrial style lights to give anyone interior envy.

It was a cracking small group dinner for 5 of us, starting with Prosecco and a range of homemade breads, olives and oils. The Italians sure love carbs.  As do I.
italian kitchen glasgow


For starters, I tried the crab cakes. They were small and delicate – 3 in total, deep fried in breadcrumbs and finished with a green salad.  I LOVE crab cakes and it’s something you don’t you don’t see on menus here that often.  The Italian Kitchen has an extensive menu of starters, mains and desserts of real Italian food – Marco’s ethos of “like you’d find in Italian, not in Glasgow”.
italian kitchen glasgow

For main, I had a delicious hollow spaghetti – who knew that that was even a thing – with a creamy tomato sauce, sausage and crispy pancetta on top. It was delicious.  I’ve a hatred for overcooked pasta and the chefs did a great job in keeping it with just the right amount of bite.  The restaurant makes all its own pasta – something they are keen to tell the locals who visit. 


Thinking I’d eaten more than enough, I didn’t expect dessert, but the menu made its way over to us.  Luckily, we had some activities planned with the chefs – a lesson in making ravioli – so the waiting staff took our order, whilst we went over to the open kitchen to watch and learn. Turns our ravioli isn’t difficult to cook if you have the right tools – a pasta machine, ravioli mould and serrated cutter are enough to get the job done effectively.  We were given a portion of the ravioli to take home with us… lunch for Thursday was sorted.

Not one to shy away from a crème brulee, I ordered up my dessert, which came with a strawberry, homemade shortbread AND a perfect crack on the top.  There’s nothing more disappointing than when it arrives with a soggy top.  Thankfully, this one lived up to my expectations!
#italian kitchen glasgow

The Italian Kitchen was incredibly welcoming.  Service was outstanding – from knowledgeable staff who knew the menu and took pride in their job.  For a Wednesday night, the venue was fairly busy, but if you were down at the Merchant City end of Ingram Street after work, you might be lucky and get a table as a walk in mid week… Unlikely at the weekend.

The restaurant has been owned and operated by Marco since 2002 and is a staple of the Merchant City dining scene.  For more info, visit their social media pages on Facebook and Twitter
italian kitchen glasgow


Disclaimer: I was invited to an all expenses paid dinner at Italian Kitchen. Any opinions expressed are my own.



Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Glasgow Living Part 13 - Reviewing Bloc+, Bath Street, Glasgow

Readers, hello, how are you all?! Spring is coming… it’s no longer dark early.  Yay!  Which means I’m more likely to want to get out and about in the evenings. Last Monday, Mr WhatClaireBaked and I went to review Bloc+ on Bath Street.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a bar, music venue and food joint rolled into one. There are LOADS of options for vegans and for two meat eaters like ourselves, the burger and hot dog options were endless.

Hot tip – go for the tables on the right as you go in, for a good seat if you are eating food.  It’s a little more tucked away, but you can still see what’s going on and hear the tunes.

We started off with meat, meat and more meat… I had the Durty Burger, which came with none other than old school snacks, Smith’s Bacon Fries on the top, trailer trash cheese and onion gravy.  It was huge.   But SO GOOD.  If you are going to Bloc, turn up hungry.  The food was great.  My burger was fresh, loaded with extras and finished on a brioche bun.
bloc durty burger

The team also got wired into Scheme Poutine – cheesy, gravy-y, season-y fries.  Too much for one, but at £3.50, it makes for a good sharing dish. 
poutine bloc glasgow

Debating on dessert, an executive (me) decision was taken to share the chocolate brownie with pistachio and chilli.  It. Was. Amazing.   Warm, gooey and topped with ice cream which is generally how I like my brownie, just in case you wondered.

bloc brownies

I’d never been to Bloc+ before – but would be back.  It had a good vibe for a Monday night, busy at 6.30pm but not rammed. It’s a good shout for after work bites with colleagues (probably ones who are mates, not ideal for a night with the boss), or getting together with friends before you head to a gig. Bloc+’s good value for money.  We could have done dinner for two with drinks for around £30.   Not bad for a city centre venue.

Bloc+ also does deal nights during the week, so for any students reading this, you can go out (not that you needed much tempting, I know).
review bloc glasgow


Visit Bloc+ at 117 Bath Street, Glasgow or to find out more about their fun and frolics, follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Chicken Stuffed with Findlater's Venison Pate

Readers, I’ve been working away on a few ideas with Findlater's Fine Foods recently.  For those of you who don’t know them, they are based in Linlithgow and are proudly flying the flag for Scottish ingredients and produce.  They do an amazing range of fresh pates and dips, make with some fantastic ingredients. 

Findlater's recently sent me a selection of their pates and dips to try out some experiments in the kitchen.  I’ve done some pate on oatcakes (it’s a classic, who wouldn’t?!) but wanted to post up a recipe of something a bit more unique.  Yes folks, I’ve stuffed a chicken ballotine with venison pate. 

The good news, I made this on a weeknight, so it honestly doesn’t take long to prep and cook.  Also, if you are struggling with time, here’s a tip – use frozen vegetables.  They are prepped, are a timesaver and you can even buy frozen mash (who knew?) All of these could help you prepare a home cooked meal in half the time.  People are quick to dismiss frozen – but it’s much  better than having a microwave meal “for speed”.
Chicken stuffed with FIndlater's Venison Pate

This serves two, but is easy to double up to feed four as a dinner party main.

Happy Cooking!

Chicken Stuffed with Findlater's Venison Pate

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 chicken breasts – butterflied and bashed flat
1 tub Findlaters Venison Pate
Selection of frozen vegetables
Mashed potato
Gravy of your choice

Method

  1. First, prep your chicken. Butterfly each breast in half and using a rolling pin or something heavy, bash the chicken to flatten out.
    Butterfly each chicken breast
  2. Fill each chicken breast with two teaspoons of Findlater'sVenison Pate, then close the chicken breast so the filling is in the middle.
    Stuff chicken with pate
  3. Take a piece of clingfilm, seal lengthways and then swing around holding the ends (like a sweet wrapper) until a tight seal is formed then tie the ends together, so no water can get inside the package.  Repeat with the second chicken breast.
  4. Turn on a pan of water to a medium heat and once boiling, drop in each parcel to the pan and cook for around 20-25 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken.  Remove from the pan and once cool enough to touch, remove the clingfilm wrap on each. 
  5. Heat a frying pan with 25g butter and once melted, add each chicken breast to the pan, cook for 5 minutes until golden, turning once.  Remove from pan, slice and serve.
  6. Cook vegetables to your liking, prepare gravy and serve alongside the chicken.
findlaters pate with chicken


Disclaimer: I was sent a selection of samples from Findlater's to try.  Any opinions expressed are my own.


Monday, 6 March 2017

Competition Time! WIN a copy of The Mountain Cafe Cookbook

Readers, it's competition time!

From now until midnight on 31st March, you can be in with a chance of winning a copy of the wonderful (and newly published) The Mountain Cafe Cookbook by Kirsten Gilmour!

I've been so excited for this book coming out - it's packed full of recipes inspired by Aviemore's famous cafe and I can't wait to get cooking and baking.  From cakes to cafe favourites, there's something to inspire even the novice home cook. You'll find loads of hints and tips to make your recipes gluten free if needed.

This book is an absolute essential for any 21st century kitchen and please, stay tuned later in the week as I try my hand at recreating Kirsten's mum's famous chicken pie!  I've been sent my very own copy from the lovely team at Kitchen Press  and can't wait to make my own highland treats.

For now though, if you're feeling inspired to cook up a storm, feel free to enter the competition by commenting below in the comments section and answering the following question...

"I'd love to win a copy of The Mountain Cafe Cookbook because..." 

We'll chose the best response as the winner and be in touch to let you know. 

Good Luck!

Image credit:  Kitchen Press 

Monday, 27 February 2017

Glasgow Living Part 12 – #BloggingTheRubicon at Crossing The Rubicon, West End, Glasgow

Readers, I’ve had a great month catching up with fellow bloggers and attended a great event at Crossing The Rubicon on Great Western Road, Glasgow, earlier this month.  We even had our own hashtag… #BloggingTheRubicon

It’s the first time I’ve been at the venue and I loved it.  It’s got a really lovely neighbourhood venue feel, with some nice wall art and warm colours inspired by India and jewel tones, I assumed.
crossing the rubicon glasgow
Outside
This was a chance for us all to try out food and craft beer for one night only and it can’t be denied, there was a LOT of food. Being the bloggers we are, we made a big effort with the food, polishing off as much as we could!

This venue is perfect for veggies and vegans alike – with some great curry options on the menu.  The staff are all really knowledgeable on the menu choices, so if you aren’t sure what is and isn’t suitable for special diets, just ask.

We had a range of pakora to start – my favourite being the chicken.  We also had some amazing dips with mini poppadums and kept the dips back (and ordered more) to have with our starters.
Next up, the curries arrived with a range of sides including raita, Indian salad, a delicious dhal, chapati and basmati rice… phew.

It was great to try so many things on the menu – the curries all had different strengths of heat.  So if one was too hot, you could move on – not always possible when you order a curry in a restaurant (hence me always sticking to what I know… safer that way!).  Special shout out must go to the butter chicken and the korma I tried.  The korma was light on spice but super aromatic and paired perfectly with some chapati and basmati rice.
Above - amazing korma.  Below - butter chicken.
 

We were super full (I think the guys at Crossing The Rubicon recognised this) and brought out a small vegan friendly chocolate pot for Emma, Michelle and I to share at the table.  It was delicious and there’s no way I would have guessed it was vegan.  Guys, if you are reading this, PLEASE share the recipe with me.  How do you get it so floofy?!

Crossing The Rubicon’s craft beer and curry can be found at 327-375 Great Western Road, Glasgow, G4 9HT.  For more info, check out their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
crossing the rubicon bike glasgow


Disclaimer: I was invited to the event to try out the Crossing TheRubicon menu in exchange for a blog post and social media coverage. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Glasgow Living Part 11: Valentine's Day Romance at Tony Macaroni, Glasgow Fort

Readers, it’s been a weekend of love – a friend’s wedding yesterday and an early Valentine’s Day lunch for us today. We were asked in January to visit the new(ish) Tony Macaroni at Glasgow Fort so decided to pop by today on the way home from Edinburgh, to enjoy a bit of lunch and a spot of shopping.

Kevin, our lovely server, showed us to a table up a few stairs, which was a bit quieter than the main floor – the restaurant had a really nice buzz for a Sunday lunchtime, including some happy 6 year olds having a party.   We were offered the main menu or the two or three course Sunday Presto menu – eyes bigger than bellies, we considered the 3 courses for £14.95, but in the end, only managed two after some epic sized portions.  £10.95 per person, plus two soft drinks each, came in at just over £30 for both of us – good value and we didn’t leave feeling hungry.

I started with the mozzarella bites – my favourite whenever I go. 4 bites arrived, with a chilli tomato sauce and side salad.  They were crispy outside and full of gooey cheesy goodness inside.  For the over 18 readership, feeling slightly fragile after a late night, these sorted me out right away. Mr What Claire Baked was all about the pollo fritto – chicken strips, deep fried with a herby batter and served with garlic mayo.  As usual, the wandering fork made it over the table.  Also delicious.
tony macaroni glasgow fort
Mozzarella sticks.. omnomnomnom


Next up, we went for pizza.  We’re in an Italian restaurant with a big stone oven… it would be rude not to.  I also have a terrible confession to make.  I’m part of the pineapple on a pizza club.  I believe it’s got its place with ham.  As I wasn’t sharing, I went all out and ordered the Hawaiian.   Mr What Claire Baked was so excited to find a pizza that came WITH FRIES ON IT that he couldn’t not have it. Pizza Tirolese just in case you also feel the need to order something served with cheese, sausage and fries on the top.
tony macaroni glasgow fort
Pizzas galore... spot the fries on the one below!

tony macaroni glasgow fort

The food arrived quickly, was hot and fresh and Toni Macaroni have a great initiative – to prevent food waste, they’ll give you your extra pizza away with you for a small donation to Cash for Kids.  Our Tony Mac pizza box arrived with our extras inside.  We’ll be enjoying it as a snack dinner shortly. Bonus – we’ve saved the cost of food for dinner tonight as well!
tony macaroni glasgow fort
Sorted for later

All in, the restaurant was clean, service was efficient, but not rushed and we had a bit of time between courses to let our starters settle before the pizza arrived.  The layout of Tony Macaroni at Glasgow Fort has an open kitchen, so we enjoyed watching pizzas going in and out of the oven and up onto the pass. At £30.00 for lunch for two, including 2 soft drinks each, for the amount of food we got, it was great value. 


Tony Macaroni (for all you other lovers out there) has a special menu running for Valentine’s Day, including a pizza served with edible flowers! 

Find out more about Tony Macaroni on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Disclaimer: we were given vouchers to visit and review Tony Macaroni at Glasgow Fort.  Any opinions expressed are my oen.