Le Serre Nuove – Thoughts from Glasshouses

Food Stories and Recollections

Category Archives: edinburgh

Golden Pint Awards

As I am a bit of a closet beer fan, and the growth and changing reputation in the UK of beer is simply fantastic,  I thought I would add my twopence worth to the Golden Pint Awards, an annual viewpoint of the state of the beer scene organised by the Beer Bloggers. This year has been very telling for me because I have dramatically changed the way I have drunk beer, not least by being a ‘Brewdog Punk’ and investing in the Equity for Punks scheme, and all the people I’ve meant, new places I have gone to, Brewery’s I have discovered, Beer I have drunk. I look forward to the continued developments of the UK beer scene next year, and trying some more fantastic beer!

Best UK Draught Beer Probably the hardest one for me, the most common beers I drink on draught are from Stewart Brewing and Cairngorm, but the most distinctive I’ve had was Marble Ginger. Simply extraordinary.
Best UK Bottled Beer Kernel Centennial IPA – IPA’s are my favourite style of beer and this one is exemplary.
Best Overseas Draught Beer Sweetwater IPA
Best Overseas Bottled Beer Odell St. Lupulin EPA
Best Overall Beer Great Divide Titan IPA
Best Pumpclip or Label Knop’s Musselburgh Broke
Best UK Brewery Dark Star
Best Overseas Brewery Odell
Pub/Bar of the Year The Rake or The Blind Tiger
Beer Festival of the Year Craig Garvie’s Beer Tastings
Supermarket of the Year Waitrose
Independent Retailer of the Year Cornelius Beer
Online Retailer of the Year MyBreweryTap
Best Beer Blog or Website http://drinkcraftbeer.com/
Best Beer Twitterer Cgarviereg
Best Brewery Online Brewdog
Food and Beer Pairing of the Year Foie Gras and Kernel London Porter
In 2011 I’d Most Like To… Drink more Marble Beers
Open Category: Most Depressing Thing of the YearThe Cask v Kegged debate. Keg beer is not the future just another way to enjoy beer.
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How to Warm Up: C&C Soup

Tonight I got cold. I have been quite lucky with the weather recently, because I am fortunate enough not to have to worry about getting to work, mainly because I walk and it takes about 25 minutes whatever the weather, or other daily banalities as I can do must things that way. Edinburgh is nothing more than an ice rink at the moment, this probably sums up the worst weather in 50 years the best, with temperatures averaging about -10 (14). Of course, there are worse places in the world to be but the bureaucratic efficiency of this country has shown its hand again. But the one thing I wasn’t expecting was the heating to break. That really got me today. And I really started to feel it. Even the dogs couldn’t keep me warm. The thing I turn to most when I am really cold is soup. I find there is nothing better than warming me up. I don’t really care what it is, be it tinned Tomato Soup, homemade pumpkin Soup or Beer and Cheese Soup, but it hearty soul food.

With that in mind I attempted to dissect the contents of my cupboards. There isn’t really a lot in there at the best of times, as my wife and I have a habit of getting every few days to try to keep things fresh and varied, and just what we are going to eat. I don’t often eat Celeriac, and I really enjoy it as an accompaniment to fish, The bitter flavour’s help give it a nice sharpness, and I love the combination of this with cider, it is common to see it with apples but I like the added sweetness of the cider.

Cider and Celeriac Soup

500g Celeriac
400 ml Cider (or more to taste)
35g Butter
400 ml vegetable stock
40g Onion (or 1 medium)
90 ml Double Cream

Melt the butter in a pan, and add the onions. Cook for a minute or so until translucent, and add the celeriac. Cook over a medium heat, ensuring the celeriac does not brown, for about 5 minutes. Add the cider and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend. Stir in the cream just before serving to give it additional richness.

Perfect for when you get really quite cold.

Stories from the City

To badly paraphrase a P.J. Harvey record, and whilst walking the dog one evening, I wondered about the food history of Edinburgh and the food that has been made famous here. There are a significant number of Scottish dishes that we all know and love, from haggis to deep-fried Mars bars, and the outstanding quality of the produce you can find is second to none but what is Auld Reckie famous for?

My mind almost instantly turned to a couple of things: chippie sauce on your fish supper and Cock-o-Leekie soup. Even then I only really know Cock-o-Leekie soup as an Edinburgh dish because it has local twist to it: adding whisky. There is also a variant on oatcakes, that get called ‘Midlothian Oatcakes’, which are not as heavy on the oats, and use flour in the recipe producing a crisper texture. Of course, lest we forget that you can get Edinburgh Rock, but for the most part that’s all I could find. Chippie Sauce doesn’t really count as a ‘recipe’, although it is a strange Edinburgh custom. It’s a mixture of Brown Sauce and Malt Vinegar, and a fish supper would be poorer without it. I once mistakenly asked for it in London and got Kebab sauce. You live and learn.

Even consulting the bible of Scottish Cooking – The Scots Kitchen: Its Traditions and Lore with Old-time Recipes – Florence Marian McNeill, first published in 1929 and probably the Scottish equivalent to the Silver Spoon, did not really yield any more results. There is also another book, Edinburgh ‘A La Carte’ – The history of food in Edinburgh – but I think I will need to root round the second-hand bookshops to have any luck in finding. I did eventually find one other dish, something which I have not heard of before and certainly not tried – Edinburgh Fog. It sounds like a play on cranachan, but I hope that it might be tasty with the almonds.

Edinburgh ‘Fog’

300ml double cream
30g castor (fine granulated) sugar
50g small almond ratafia biscuits (macaroon biscuits are a normally substituted for these)
Almond essence
Drambuie / Whisky to taste
30g flaked almonds

Whip the cream until it is stiff and fold in the sugar, almond essence and whisky.  Crush the macaroon biscuits,  and mix well with the cream.  Serve well chilled as a luxury dessert. Sprinkle the almonds over the desert before serving.

What other dishes do you know that originate in Edinburgh? What other dishes should I try? Do you like Edinburgh Fog? Do you have a copy of Edinburgh ‘A La Carte’?

Hefeweizen and Goats Cheese Soup continued…

Following on from my previous post about the Beer and Cheese soup, here is a pictorial guide to my efforts this afternoon. I changed a couple of things compared to the original recipe, as this was proving to be very sweet, so I had to find ways to cut through it, and jingle with the ingredients.
First off… Goats Cheese:

Lots of Goats Cheese

I am quite lucky really to have a great Cheesemonger, Ian Mellis, at the end of my street. They have a wide variety of Cheeses to choose from, highlighting the best you can get in the UK, and I spent an age tasting them. I plumped for the Golden Cross in the end, as it has a good richness to it, but was not too sweet.

Beer and Cheese

As I have mentioned in the original post I was going to make it with Stewart Brewing’s new version of the Hefewiezen. First time I sampled it in bottle, and the carbonation really cuts down the banana flavour. It works a lot better in the bottle, and will be something that I have to search out a bit more.

I decided to cut down the amount of flour and milk in the recipe as well, as I did not want to use as much cheese as if it was a hard cheese. The soup would tend to be a bit floury otherwise. I also decided to add a bit more mustard too (a further half tbs), and to season it at the very end, which helped cut down the sweetness significantly, and balance it a lot more. The key was to cook the soup relatively slowly which prevented it from spoiling. I also added the ingredients gradually to ensure they did not overpower each other – this was particularly important when adding the goats cheese. In order for this to avoid lumps too from the Goats Cheese I removed the wax, and grated it, breaking down the texture.

So here are some snaps:

Melting the butter: the start of it all

Stock, veg, flour

Adding the Beer

Let it simmer

Blend

Adding the Cheese

This turned out to be a very warming soup, the flavours of the beer and cheese worked well together, without being too sweet. My wife had a number of reservations that this would not work – Thankfully I managed to proved her wrong!

Soup!

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