Over the Christmas holidays I wanted to take the chance to do some cooking, but the two weeks seemed to fly past without anything special, other than some Christmas Pudding vodka my other half made, appearing out of the kitchen.
I did take the chance recently to make this slow cooked beef rendang by Merilees Parker, with a couple of tweaks (tweaks only because I forgot to buy lemongrass and fresh limes really) and some added veggies – I went with baby corn and mange tout.
This was a tasty dish, perfect for a cold windy evening but next time I think it would benefit from the zesty freshness of the lemongrass and lime zest to brighten up the flavours, but it’s definitely one I’ll make again.
Well, after a longer than planned hiatus, my wee blog is back with a bang in the form of a review of the delightful and utterly delicious Jacker de Viande.
Walking though the door of Jacker De Viande means descending down the stairs to a basement unit on West Regent Street and into a dark cavern, which looks rather like the bloodstained interior of an abattoir. Appropriate certainly, but not especially conducive to a relaxed meal.
However, I’d choose good food over sophisticated decor any day, so on to the main event…
We went for the pulled pork in a bun with black pudding and apple puree, and the pulled pork burger. We should maybe have branched out from pork, but as soon as we got a sniff of the food we knew we’d made good choices.
Sides were chilli cheese fries and macaroni. The noises emanating from my dining partner, which could only be described as being a moment from When Harry Met Sally, started as soon as the silver platter bearing our food arrived and only ramped up when he took his first bite.
Everything was very well cooked, from the soft, spicy chilli to the burger with just a hint of pinkness in the middle – every dish was absolutely packed with flavour. For the pulled pork roll, the combination of super-soft pork with a crispy onion ring and bacon was really well balanced texturally as well as being as tasty as it could be. The chilli cheese fries were also very moreish, with the chilli being moist without making the fries too soggy.
Prices hover around the £7/8 mark, which I’d say is pretty reasonable, with other similar options like Meat Bar higher up around £12 per main.
Service was also very good, though I should mention we were the only people there as it had literally just opened at 5.30pm for the night time seating (keen? Us…?), which just added to our overall experience.
This place got a rave review by Ron McKenna in The Herald, and rightfully so – there has definitely been a profusion of burger bar type restaurants in Glasgow over the last year, but I don’t think Jacker de Viande will have to fight too hard to make it’s mark on the food scene. I for one can’t wait to get back and try out some more of the menu (along with a sneaky helping of those awesome chilli fries…).
I was recently tweeted by Bread Meats Bread, asking if I’d like to attend their launch party – well, seeing as the boyfriend and I are massive fans of that kind of American style nosh, it would’ve been rude to say no!
Now, we’re not particularly au fait with launch parties and the likes, so weren’t entirely sure what to expect – we rolled up on a chilly Tuesday night at their new premises on St Vincent Street and were greeted with a lovely glass of prosecco to kick off proceedings.
We grabbed a window seat, and took in the surroundings – I really like the décor (I’m a big fan of a stripped brick wall) and the wooden benches also had cute little display areas at the bottom, which was a nice quirk.
Shortly after we sat down, the lovely waitress started bringing us little baskets of food, sampling plenty of options form the menu and she kindly didn’t stop until we were so stuffed we practically rolled off our seats and on to the floor.
First up was a duo of burgers – the black and blue, and a classic black. I’m not a great fan of blue cheese, but this was a fairly mild one and did compliment the charred flavour of the burger and pretzel style bun. Both burgers were well cooked with a good beefy flavour.
We also tried the New York hotdog – the kitchen make their own hotdogs in house, and this was nicely flavoured, with a texture closer to a regular sausage than a traditional hotdog, and accompanied with nice slow-cooked sweet onions and a mellow yellow (ha, I’m a poet, and I don’t know it!) mustard.
We were particularly delighted to be delivered a piping hot basket of sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo – we’d fallen in love with these when we were in the States, where everywhere seems to serve them, but they haven’t yet caught on in the UK. The waitress apologised profusely as they weren’t as crispy as the chefs wanted (this is a soft opening after all, the purpose of which is to knock out the kinks), but we scarfed them down in double quick time and found no faults.
Sadly, by the time we got round to the samples of the smoked beef brisket we really were needing rolled out the door, but the half I did manage to eat was absolutely fabulous – super smoky and very soft, in a fantastic brioche roll.
Based on the food and service we experience on this ‘soft launch’ night, Bread Meats Bread is somewhere I would happily pay for a full meal, and have suggested it as the venue for the next girls’ night out – good company, a few beers and fantastic food. Perfect!
Many thanks to the Bread Meats Bread team for their kind invite.
Smoak is not immediately obvious, hiding as it is in a wee corner of the Variety Bar, but it is without a doubt worth seeking out. We went for pretty much opening time on Sunday as I’d hear horror stories about them running out of the goodies way before closing – imagine!
The surroundings aren’t salubrious, and no doubt there are wads of chewing gum under the table and a sticky floor but you go here to enjoy the amazing meaty treats.
I went for the Guadalupe Peak, a colossal tower of pastrami, pulled pork, BBQ brisket, slaw, pickles, onions, spicy mayo, jalapenos, sauerkraut, Emmental served in a brioche bun with a side of nachos. Ian went for the 3 mini brioche sliders, with a mix of brisket and pulled pork.
From the first bite, there is a massive explosion of flavour and texture – soft meat, melted cheese, a bit of a crunch from the sweet and spicy jalapenos. This food took me straight back to being in the States in 2011, where I tasted the best shredded brisket ever, at Hearst Castle (not a place one would suspect of such tasty meaty treats), from cows reared on the estate.
As Ian is in the food industry and I’m a bit of a foodie, being able to watch the chef at work in the compact (i.e. tiny) kitchen was a real kick, and I can honestly say that this was one of tastiest and most enjoyed meals we’ve had out in a long time.
One word of warning – perhaps don’t go here if you don’t want your companion to see you with a giant soggy bun in your sauce-covered hands, and with a good dribble of meats juices running down your chin. And certainly don’t go here if you haven’t got much of an appetite, as portions are generous.
Smoak seems to be another display of the Man vs. Food effect currently taking over Glasgow’s eateries, but I am complaining? I am heck – bring on round two!
Ps – news hot off the press, Smoak are now going to be serving at Pivo Pivo on Waterloo Street as well!
Having spent years slaving over a hot stove, I’m not too modest to say I think I’ve finally found my holy grail chilli con carne recipe, and I present it here in all its smoky, spicy glory replete with pinto beans, chorizo and liquid smoke.
I’m not for a second going to pretend this is authentic (my rough understanding is that both tomatoes and beans aren’t authentic, and that’s before we even get started on adding chorizo…) which does make me somewhat of a hypocrite as I do tend to look for authenticity when eating out, but hey ho – this is damn tasty stuff even if I do say so myself. My boyfriend even got me to instruct him on the recipe via email from Bristol as he was so keen to make it for his buddies, and when I got home the pot had truly been licked clean which I think is pretty high praise.
On holiday last week I caught a bit of Rachel Ray making Argentinian Chilli with Chimichurri and thought that was rather a good idea – I’ve stuck to my own chilli recipe but with a healthy dollop of this herby, sharp sauce to top it off (plus some cheese and sour cream on a wholemeal tortilla) – it makes a really nice change to the usual jalapenos, while add a similar freshness and bite
Next time I think I’ll guild the lily some more and make chilli cheese cornbread (more is more with me when it comes to food sadly!) instead of the tortillas.
If you make this, please let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Ultimate Chilli Con Carne
I’m going to be upfront here and say I don’t measure out the spices, going by eye instead – it also depends on how fresh and potent the spices you’re working with are, but I’ve included some approximate measurements.
500g lean, minced steak
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
250g chorizo sausage ( I like the fresh chorizo sausages stocked in Sainsbury’s but I’ve also used the usual stuff too) chopped
2 tins/ cartons of beans (I used pinto and kidney, but have also used borlotti)
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
300 grams of chopped peppers (I use frozen for ease)
3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
A splash of liquid smoke
500ml beef stock
2 good tablespoons of chipotle puree
2 generous tablespoons of smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, hot chilli powder
Fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft, then remove to a side plate. Brown off the beef thoroughly, draining off any fat as you go.
Once the beef is nice and coloured, add back in the onions and garlic. Add the chorizo, then fry for a few minutes to release the gorgeous fragrant paprika oil.
Add the tomato puree and fry for a minute or two – this helps take the raw edge of the puree, and pull the sweetness out. You can then add in the spices, and fry until fragrant.
You can now put in all other ingredients – the beans, peppers, sugar, liquid smoke, beef stock and chipotle, and bring to a simmer.
I like to then transfer mine to the over, around 180c for at least an hour and a half (the longer the better, ideally) but it can also be done on top of the stove.
About half way through the cooking time, I like to have a good taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary – as I mentioned above, I add the spices by eye and I often find other chilli recipes a big lacking spice-wise – the beans really need quite a bit of seasonings to make them really tasty.
Chimichurri (taken from Rachel Ray)
1 cup packed herbs, coarsely chopped, including any mixture of: parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil or cilantro leaves (I used basil, coriander and parsley)
2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
About 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Crusty warm bread, for serving
Put the herbs, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, vinegar and oil in food processor bowl. Pulse-process until finely chopped but still a loose sauce. Sauce can be made fresh or refrigerated for a few days in airtight container.
Transfer the hot chili to serving bowls and topped with Chimichurri sauce. Serve with lots of crusty warm bread. You can also top with finely chopped seeded tomatoes, if desired.
Last week saw our second visit in a month to Gamba, one of Glasgow’s premier fish and seafood restaurants. Both times we were with the same couple – one visit just hadn’t been enough!
First time round, I had the watermelon prawn cocktail and on our second visit, this was the starter that still most appealed, so I went for it again. The fresh juiciness of the watermelon was a great counterpoint to the creamy dressing and kick of fiery chilli. This is one I’ll be recreating at home, though perhaps with a bit less of a kick – my lips were on fire!
The mains were a success across the table, with the gents ordering the roast hake with a crab, saffron, leek, onion and mussel stew for both meals. My friend also repeat ordered, and went for the baked sole Thermadore. On our first visit I’d had Loch Duart teriyaki salmon with fragrant rice and wasabi – this wasn’t the most visually appealing choice, but the flavour far outweighed the aesthetics, with a reserved dot of wasabi adding a bit of heat and some needed colour on the plate.
On our second occasion, I was only one that deviated from my previous mains order, going for the sea bream, feta, asparagus and sesame salad. The fish was beautifully cooked, still retaining its moistness while having a gorgeous crispy skin – a combination that showcases the skills of the kitchen. The combination of in-season asparagus and feta was lovely with the flavoursome fish and felt like a really special, though healthy, option.
On our first visit, we’d pushed the boat out and gone for the soft chocolate cake, cheeseboard and white chocolate crème brûlée for our dessert course. This visit, only two of us were going for dessert, having spotted the passion fruit crème brûlée, which sounded just too enticing to pass up. Sadly, we then noticed the time and didn’t get to try it as we were rushing off to see Iron Man 3 (brilliant, sharp and witty – a must see, and one we’ll be purchasing on DVD. Plus, Mr Downey Jr is also rather alluring as the title character despite the questionable goatee).
On our first visit, my friend Jurgen was lucky enough to be given the Gamba cookbook after tweeting a photo of his main meal – sadly, the book is nearly impossible to get hold of now, but Jurgen has promised me the recipe for the hake with saffron sauce, as this was the star dish of the meal and one I’d love to recreate at home.
Staff were attentive throughout both meals, and in fact recognised on the second visit. A small touch, that really made us feel valued customers.
In all, Gamba is one we will definitely be visiting again, though we might wait until they refresh their extremely good value pre-theatre menu with some new options.