Baked Potato Report :: Pierinos

There's a potato somewhere under all that onion

Being the one chip shop down The Shore in Leith, Pierinos is the sort of place that is super busy at 11pm on a Friday night.

As well as serving conventional chippie staples such as fish & chips, smoked sausage & chips, and pizza & (do you see where this is going?) chips they also serve baked potatoes.

When I worked in the vicinity, there was some debate in the office about where to get the best baked potato in the area.  Colin suggested I pay a visit to Peirinos for my lunchtime munch, as the potatoes are huge and value for money.

I was reminded of this when James and I popped in for a lazy takeaway a few nights ago; it had been a while since I’d had chips with chippy sauce (mmm Edinburgh chippie sauce; an amazing combo of Gold Star brown sauce and water. I could bathe in it). Although I went for chips, my Irishman didn’t want to break with tradition and decided to get a baked potato.

I asked him what he thought (since he was the originator of the BPR) and even nabbed a bite. So my first real post on the BPR is still kind of written by the boy, but what do you want from me? I’m not a machine.

As you can see the potato had a bit too much in the way of onions. The pieces were quite big and as it was raw onion it was quite strong. It would have been a bit nicer if the onion was diced, and maybe if less of it had been used.

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty; how did it measure up against the original criteria?

Price: At £3.00 the potato leans towards the pricier end of the scale, although this is generally the average price for a baked tattie. This does include a double topping; getting a potato with just cheese would only cost £2.50, but opting for a warm topping such as chilli con carne and cheese will cost you $4 so it can go either way.

Taste: The taste of the potato was sadly overpowered by the flavour of the onions, but the texture wasn’t quite right anyway so I doubt we missed much.

Fluffiness: This potato lacked the fluffiness you get from a proper oven cooked potato. I suspect the potato had been half microwaved, then finished off quickly in an oven.

Skin: Again the skin wasn’t crisp, as a baked potato should be. This was another indicator that the potato had been microwaved.

So despite some recommendations from ex-work colleagues, Pierinos was distinctly below average. There are definitely better potato options out there.

Score: 3/10

 

RECIPE :: Sambal Turkey Tacos

Living in Leith we have the treats of a variety of ethnic supermarkets. The biggest Chinese one at the bottom of Leith walk, Pat’s Chung Ying, is always worth a visit. We popped in just before our holiday to Sardinia as we fancied a Thai Green curry. We’d bought our supplies (rice, coconut milk, thai curry paste) but we still had a few pence to spend before being able to use our cards (does anyone carry cash these days?)

So James picked up a jar of chilli paste, thinking it might come in handy at some point down the line. We’d pretty much forgotten about it until a week or two ago when we wanted to use up leftover taco shells and turkey. We opened the jar and I tentatively dipped my finger in… it’s delicious! Quite sweet and spicy, but not overly so. Kind of like a grown-up version of the Blue Dragon sweet chilli sauce.

I reckon it’s pretty versatile, but here’s how we used it to jazz up some boring old turkey tacos.

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Edinburgh Foodies Festival Summer 2011

There are two things I wouldn’t want to bring with me to a food festival. The first is a dog, and the second is a baby. Surprisingly, I saw lots of both. No photos of kids cos I don’t want to get arrested, but look at these gorgeous labradors!

Woof!

Taking greedy labradors around a food festival is just mean! (unless you’re passing them leftovers, then I suppose it’s okay).  Kids, however, never seem to enjoy food festivals. There’s nothing there for them. Gourmet food, knives and bevvy are usually only interesting to people over the age of 21, and some teenagers. I’m guessing toddlers would rather be off feeding the ducks than getting dragged around a festival full of yuppies sipping from plastic champagne flutes.

Then again, I don’t have children so maybe I’m wrong. I just know when I was that age I’d rather spend a sunny day running about like a nutter, not hanging out with my parents dull friends.

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Baked Potato Report :: Number 1

As promised, the rest of my boy’s famous Baked Potato Report which I will be taking over from here on out. Yep, he only managed to get two posts done; although to be fair to him it was coming up to New Year and he decided that a slow carb diet was the way to go. Poor show, I say! -Jemma

Number 1 doesn’t look like much, but in my opinion it’s one of the best lunchtime and breakfast take-aways down The Shore. Add to that, it has an excellent Facebook page which keeps workers in the area informed about lunchtime specials which they’re running each day; a godsend when you’re not really sure what you want and it’s too cold/rainy/miserable to wander around until you find something perfect.

We may have a winner here. Not only was the potato a high pointer in all categories but the server called me ‘sweetheart’, ‘pal’ and ‘love’ all in on serving.

Price: Flying in at a mere £2.20, a baked potato from No. 1 is one of the cheaper options out there. That’s a whopping 60p cheaper than Loaded, or or roughly 1 and 1/4 extra baked potatoes per week.

Taste:No. 1 can’t be faulted on taste – everything about it was just right.

Fluffiness: The true mark of a great baked potato and again No. 1 had this perfect. Obviously using a much better quality potato than last week’s contender despite being 60p cheaper.

Skin: The skin was firm and crispy. Personally I think it could have done with another few minutes in the oven just to perfect it, but perhaps this isn’t too everyone’s taste.

Overall No.1 scored highly – taste, texture and price – it hit all the right spots. My only niggle, and this is a sign of their success, is that you have to get there before 1pm as the baked potatoes sell out fast.

However considering the marks it achieved in the Baked Potato Report, I’m willing to make that adjustment to my eating times, particularly since ‘Oliver I’ll moan like a little girl if we eat before 1 o’clock Gaywood‘ is no longer here.

RECIPE :: Black & Blue Burger, Scottish Style

I’ve always been a fan of fusion cuisine, and I though this Scottish twist on an American classic would be interesting.

Generally, when I think of a black and blue burger I think of cajun spiced ‘blackened’ beef with blue cheese and all the fixin’s. As regular readers will know I can’t really handle my spicy food. Also I’ve had pretty bad experiences of American food with some of the main restaurants in Edinburgh being pathetic examples of the genre (TGI Fridays, Hard Rock Cafe, the Ill Fated Old Orleans).  Of course there are great restaurants too, but more on them later.

James and I decided we wanted burgers for dinner, but wanted to do it a bit differently. So we decided to make black and blue burgers; Scottish style. We kept a Southern element by making some sweet potato fries.

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REVIEW :: Kampong Ah Lee

28 Clerk St  Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 9HX
0131 662 9050

On behalf of Edinburgh, I would like to offer an apology. To anyone coming from London, New York, any of the big cities that have 24 hour eateries. If you want something wholesome (not a kebab or chips after 9 at night) you’re options are very very limited. As in, you don’t have any.

So although this review is for ‘late night nibbles’, what I’m really talking about is the fact that Kampong Ah Lee is open until 11pm even on a Sunday, and we got a table when it was knocking on for 10pm and Edinburgh’s better known restaurants were closing their kitchens for the night.

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Baked Potato Report :: Loaded

From Loaded's websiteMy second guest post already! This review of Loaded’s baked potatoes was written by my other half last year when he began the Baked Potato Report on his personal website. Unfortunately it was left unfinished, but he’s decided to pass on the torch and I’ll be taking over the BPR. He’s very kindly agreed to let me host the reviews he completed, too.  – Jemma

Loaded does well for itself when it comes to lunchtimes. The deli offers cheap but warm stodgy meals such as macaroni and cheese, stew, haggis and meatballs, all for just under £3. It also offers baked potatoes, and is the first deli on the baked potato report (BPR).

Price: At £2.80 the potato was mid-range in terms of price, which included beans and cheese, not a topping I would usually go for but the beans aspect sounded quite warming.

Taste: There was something not quite right about the potato. The quality seemed low, drier than usual perhaps and quite bland.

Fluffiness: Definitely lost a lot of points here. As I mentioned above, I think it’s down to the quality of the potato and — as I guess with many of their meals — Loaded had skimped on quality in order to reduce costs.

Skin: A good baked potato should have a firm, slightly crispy skin. It what makes up a great deal of the taste. Unfortunately Loaded’s potato skin wasn’t crispy but slightly rubbery.

Overall this was a very average tattie. I can understand Loaded cutting back on quality, and so also on fluffiness, in order to cut costs but the skin should have been an easy win and a way to gain back some points. If this had been at the lower price end of the scale, I would probably have given it more points but at £2.80 there are definitely better options out there.

5/10

RECIPE :: Chicken Normandie

It’s summer, it’s the Edinburgh Festival, and these traditions call for one thing; cider!

To avoid Edinburgh Festival prices I’d recommend avoiding the bars in the venues and heading to an off license or a supermarket.

Unfortunately for James and I last Wednesday we made the mistake of buying an organic cider which smelled and tasted like a pig sty mixed with tooth decay.

I poured the rest of the open bottle away, but we didn’t want to waste the full and unopened bottle we still had lurking in my handbag.

Being the resourceful types (and realising there was no way we could drink it ‘raw’) we decided to try cooking with it.

This is our approximation of Chicken Normandie.

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REVIEW :: Nile Valley Cafe

6 Chapel Street  Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 9AY
0131 667 8200

This is a quickie; I wanted to review the Nile Valley while the festival is in full swing, because I’ve been twice and both times have received fantastic service and delicious food.

The first time I visited was in January with a couple of friends. We turned up a bit tipsy, with a few bottles of wine we’d procured from Tesco (It’s another Muslim restaurant, so BYOB my friends).  Needless to say, I can’t remember much of that evening.

The second time I visited was last Friday; just before the Fringe kicked off for real. We’d been out drinking in the Urban Garden then decided to wander off and find some food. Passing the Nile Valley, we decided to pop in and see if they had a table. As luck would have it, one party had made a booking and not turned up so we grabbed theirs.

We ordered a starter to share, and two lamb based dishes for ourselves. The starter we ordered was falafel, hummus, and fried aubergine. For mains James ordered grilled chicken and I ordered a mixed grill of chicken and lamb.

Lamb & Chicken

The meat was tender, juicy, and very spicy. The vegetables and salad were fresh and tasty; we also ordered a side of rice which was rice. I would definitely recommend getting the side order, though, as you don’t want to burn your mouth!

The one disappointment was that our starter didn’t arrive, but our waitress picked up on this and immediately went to the kitchen and sorted it out. Once our starter arrived alongside our main, the manager appeared and apologised profusely for the mixup and offered to remove the cost of the starter from our bill. I thought this was a really nice touch, good customer service really goes a long way and it left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

I also left a bigger tip than I might have done otherwise, too.

Like I say, this was just a quickie to say that if you’re up in the Bristo Square area watching some shows and you want some fresh, tasty scran with good service and decent prices remember to buy your own bottle of vino and hit the Nile Valley Cafe. You’ll be glad you did.

Nile Valley on Urbanspoon

REVIEW :: Hanam’s Middle Eastern Restaurant

3 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh
0131 225 1329

It feels as though the 2010 Edinburgh Festival only finished yesterday; I remember spending sunny days drinking Crabbies in the Pleasance beer garden, scoring cheap tickets for Russel Kane on preview night (before he made a name for himself imitating Beyonce), Greg Davies running two shows a night, the disappointing Comedy in the Dark, and staying out very late indeed to watch a midnight pirate musical.

I almost can’t believe that a whole year’s gone by, yet here we are again.

For the first night of preview shows (last Wednesday) James and I got our paws on some tickets to see Tom Green; Freddy Got Fingered is my favourite film of all time, fact fans.  Since he wasn’t on until near 11pm, we decided to go for dinner first. James has been recommending  Hanam’s to me for ages, so we booked a table and headed up to the High Street.

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