Wednesday, 30 January 2008

mama san and kd lang in glasgow

Originally uploaded by silamuta
Mel and I had tickets to see kd lang in concert last night which was fab by the way. Check out her new cd Watershed and her website
Anyhoo before the gig we decided to have dinner at a fairly new venue in Glasgow's Bath St called Mama San. The idea behind it all is asian fusion food served in a tapa like stylie. Reading reviews of a restaurant before heading to it is not always the best idea but the couple that I had read said stick to the "tapas" and avoid the mains. So we did.

The bar/restaurant itself is mixture of contemporary Japanese pop art with a little bit of Chinese kitsch thrown in for good luck. You are welcomed by a bar and have a choice of booths (brightly lit) or more dimly lit tables. At the rear high backed leather black sofas are available to those who want to hide away. We were greeted promptly and offered a seat in one of the brightly lit booths. Drinks followed quickly along with the menus. We ordered prawn and galangal steamed dim sum, sea bass and prawn dim sum, salt and pepper fried squid dim sum, thai fishcakes, the fried Korean beef dim sum, salmon nigiri, california rolls and 2 portions of nasi goreng rice. It took bout 10 mins for the food to start arriving; bordering on a little too long for our liking but they made the cut off mark, just. Outstanding dishes for me were the sea bass and the prawn and galangal steamed dumplings. Mel couldn't finish her california rolls as they were huge and her only complaint about the salmon nigiri was it didn't come with soy sauce. We had to ask for it. Other than that we had no complaints. The portions were big and we couldn't finish everything. The bill came to £39 including drinks. It was kinda quiet when we were there but then it was a Tuesday night at 6pm. Besides k.d. was waiting for us.

MAMA SAN / 190 Bath Street, Glasgow / 0141 352 8800

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Burns Night with a Twist

January 25th in marks the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. To honour his legacy, many people host or attend a Burns' Supper. A typical Burns' Supper consists of Cock-a-leekie soup, followed by Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, and ends with a dessert like trifle or cranachan. Throughout the evening Burns' poetry is recited, the highlight of which is the Address to a Haggis.

Last night we hosted a Burns Supper with a Twist. The twist was for everyone to take a non-traditional approach to any aspect of the celebration. We pulled down some poetry books from our shelves and read favourites to each other, ate lots, drank more, and had a fab evening with some really cool folk.

Here's a selection of what we had:

Haggis tartlets with red onion marmalade

Haggis nachos

(this is a photo of the nachos in progress)


Cranachan parfait

(this was the STAR of the evening courtesy of our good friend Ian)

(ok this has no relation to a traditional Burns supper, but i've been wanting to try out the recipe!)

We also enjoyed Spicy parsnip soup and haggis mousaka (courtesy of our friend Perry) which was all washed down with the Thistle cocktails. (a blend of scotch, angostora bitters and sweet vermoth) Slainte!

Friday, 25 January 2008

granada tapas

Isnt it funny how sometimes when you are talking or thinking about one thing how it suddenly pops up right before your eyes. While posting the last post about my teapot and glasses I was instant messaged by a friend that I shared a flat with while living in Granada in the early 90's. My friend no longer lives there but now lives in Barcelona. (more on that later!) Anyhoo, she was telling me that she recently visited Granada and went to a tapa bar that we used to go to all the time. It is, in fact, quite well known with locals and tourists alike. The bar is la bodega castaneda, (i need to figure out how to do the tilde above the n) and there are actually two in the city. Bear in mind one gives free tapas, the other doesnt. Its quite easy to figure out which one doesn't. Buy a drink and see what happens. Now if you only had a couple of hours to spare in the city of Granada and you wanted to eat and drink I would say go to this place. This place is oozing with character; wooden panelling and barrels and hams hanging from the ceiling. I guess some would say you get a sense of the real, old spain. Whatever that may be. The free tapas are outstanding. You never really know what you are gonna get. It could be as simple as a small plate of bread, cheese and chorizo and if it is you can bet it will be an outstanding plate of cheese, bread and chorizo. Often you get tortilla which, quite frankly blows all other tortilla I have tasted out the water. One time I remember we got a plate of calamares. Wow its good. Generally you can buy bigger versions of the tapas which are called raciones. But if you go I would recommend getting one of their tablas. esp the smoked fish one. If you want to sit catch the waiters eye soon because this place is busy all the time. Thanks to my friend Asela for the photo she sent me of the bar. We might be visiting her soon in Barcelona. Another food heaven.

Moroccan teapot and glasses

morroccan teapot and glasses
Originally uploaded by silamuta
I took this shot to primarily to test out my homemade light tent. The teapot and glasses were bought in Granada which is in the south of spain. A lot of Moroccans live in Granada and some of them open up little tea shops which are a great place to hang out. Granada is home to some of the most wonderful tapas you could ever imagine. Perhaps one of the most wonderful aspects of them are that they are free. By free I mean in the sense that you visit a tapa bar, get yourself a drink and wait for your free food to arrive. The choice varies from bar to bar. Some will specialise in a particular tapa. If you stay in the same bar evey time you order a drink the tapa will change. Great way to pass the time when youre a student and dont have a lot of money to spend on food. The cuisine of the south of Spain is one of our most favourites and we will be posting further evidence of that in the future. So stay tuned!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Piedmontese Hashed Beef with Polenta

Tonite was leftover night. I was working late, Kels was editing a video and our freezer is getting hard to negotiate. We've been getting a UK Organic box from Grow Wild. For the past two weeks it's been cabbages, neeps, beetroot and the occasional leek, carrot, or parsnip.

This recipe from Marcella Hazan's Italian Kitchen was a good way to use up all the cabbage we have.

I made a big batch of this last week, we ate two dinner's worth then, and froze the rest. We had enough leftover for another two dinners this week. Marcella recommends you serve this over a bowl of polenta or, boiled rice. I prefer polenta. I'm including a scaled down version of her recipe for polenta from the same book here.


For 6 to 8 persons

1/4 pound pancetta, chopped very fine to a creamy consistency
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbsp garlic, chopped very fine or mashed
2 pounds beef mince, coarsely ground
2 pounds Savoy cabbage, shredded into thin strips
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1-1/2 cups red wine
black pepper in a grinder

  1. Choose a large, lidded saute pan. Put in the pancetta, oil, butter and garlic. Turn on the heat to medium high and, leaving the pan uncovered, saute the garlic until it becomes colored a pale brown.
  2. Add the meat, breaking it up with a fork, and brown it well over high heat.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage, bay leaves, cloves and fennel seeds. Continue cooking over high heat, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the wine, stir, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Season with salt and grindings of pepper and serve.

For 3 servings

3.5 cups water
3.5 oz. polenta
black pepper

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Pour the polenta in the water in a steady stream while whisking to avoid any lumps.
  3. turn the heat to low and stir continuously with a wooden spoon for 30-35 minutes. Make sure to stir at the edges of the saucepan to avoid the polenta catching. You'll find after about 20 minutes that the mixture has thickened. A sign of it being ready is that as you stir it pulls away from the pan.
  4. season with grindings of fresh black pepper and serve immediately in shallow bowls.


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