I’m a Total Food Geek!

Warning! Shameless self promotion ahead!

Well, I’m sure all of you knew about my nerdiness already, but now it’s official because I’m a member of the #TFGE gang.

Jemma Porter;  will geek for food
Me at my TFGEeky Best

The Total Food Geeks have been getting together since the end of last year to talk and write about all things food. The aim is to celebrate all things gastronomic happening here in Scotland, so don’t expect too much snark. The contributor list reads like a who’s who of the Edinburgh food scene: both Lunch Questers, Jenny from Yelp, Aiofe from My Home Supper Club, Hilary from My Monkfish, Leila from Bite… need I go on? Because I could.

If you want to find out more fire on over to Total Food Geeks dot com, I’m super excited to be a member and am nervously planning my first article!

Bite Magazine March 2012
March issue of Bite

In other news, I’ve been doing a wee bit of writing for Bite. I’m pretty bad at promoting myself since I’m only mentioning this at the end of March (d’oh), but if you see this month’s issue (pictured to the left)  kicking about in your local deli or eatery pick it up and give it a read.

In fact I’d recommend picking it up every month, regardless of whether I’m in it or not. It’s a great wee mag packed with articles and reviews of what’s going on in this fine city: kind of like a print version of TFGE.

But hey, if you’re a superfan of mine (lol) I have an article about the brilliant sustainable restaurant association on page 20. You can read it online, too; right here.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I can’t believe how many awesome opportunities have come from writing my little food blog already. What started as a hobby is slowly consuming my life; in the best way possible, of course.

If you want to commission any work from me (paid or otherwise) simply get in touch.

REVIEW :: Home Taste

Drunk and Lurgified: no amount of soft focus can help here!

27 Bread Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9AL
0131 2294343

Ladies and gentlemen, I have discovered the cure for the common cold.

I’ve said it before, so after this I probably won’t tell you again as you should really know by now. The best restaurants aren’t the big bright shiny ones on the main road. They’re not the ones that you read about in The List. Nope. The best restaurants are have steamed up windows, mysterious clientele, and only appear on side streets after a certain time of night.

Google ‘Home Taste’ Edinburgh. I bet you won’t find any information, aside from what I’ve written here, about this hidden in plain sight gem. Just off Lothian Road (on Bread Street, beside a sort of casino with very creepy porcelain dolls in the window) we somehow managed to stumble into Home Taste at half 9 on a Monday night just as a large group of young Chinese students were leaving.

Racist or not, we thought that was a pretty good sign.

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REVIEW :: Iglu

2B Jamaica Street,  Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH3 6HH
0131 476 5333

Since starting this blog, I’ve found myself far more critical of the food that’s placed down in front of me. Foods that I once enjoyed hold no pleasure anymore; salt and vinegar Pringles dipped in sour cream and chive dip, for one. Instant coffee with five sugars another. Eurgh.

It’s with apprehension that I drag my fat bottom out to restaurants, dear readers, because it’s so hard to impress me now. Where before I’d be all “this burger is amazing!” now I’m like “this bun is stale.” So it was a mixture of worry and excitement that James and I wandered up to Iglu for the birthday of our pal (and hockey writer extraordinaire) Austin; I’d heard great things about the place and the menu looked great so I was hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed.

And, well, I wasn’t!

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REVIEW :: Anatolia Chargrill, Glasgow

140 St. Vincent Street  Glasgow G2 5LA
0141 221 8777

Although we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3pm, our strategy was to find it first and then go and get something to eat. Fate (Google maps) had a different idea, however, and sent us in the wrong direction up the street we were supposed to be on. As we wandered along we noticed a Turkish restaurant, Anatolia Chargrill. It was a few minutes later that I decided we must be going the wrong way, and should turn around.

We thought there would be no real point in walking past the Turkish restaurant as we were already quite intrigued, and decided to step inside for a light lunch. At this point our plan was to go out for a proper meal in the Merchant City that night, but due to the sheer amount we managed to stuff down our gullets in the Anatolia Chargrill that ended up not happening.

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Glasgow Hotel Review :: Artto Hotel

the lobby of the Artto Hotel
Artto Hotel lobby, complete with one armed bandit

After staying in the beautiful Duisdale House Hotel, I wasn’t really expecting much from our humble abode in Glasgow. The Artto Hotel is situated behind Central Station and was simply selected as a reasonably priced hub to crash out after rocking out to the Dropkick Murphys.

Now what you might not know about me, since I’ve only started writing these hotel reviews, is that I love a hotel with character. And the Artto didn’t fail to deliver there.

In fact, I’ll be honest with you guys. I didn’t actually take any pictures of the hotel room because it was completley unremarkable. The place was decked out in light wood with a flatscreen telly and was basically the same as a Travel Lodge, except perhaps a little bit more interesting. The bed was really low, which I liked anyway.

No, the reason this hotel had character can be summarised in two words:

Curry. Bathroom.

Being situated right above the Bombay Blues restaurant meant that the bathroom of our hotel room stank of curry. When we first checked in we thought this was understandable as they were probably gearing up for a busy Saturday night of service.

But the smell persisted, even when we arrived back at the hotel around midnight.

In fact the only thing that smelled worse was the haggis supper I’d brought in with me on the way home. It probably smelled so much because, like any good Edinburgh lassie, I need Gold Star brown sauce (AKA chippy sauce) on my chips. As Glasgow is more of a “salt and vinegar” city I had to buy my own.

Chippidy-doo-dah!

There was only one thing for it:

The remains of the chippy were put into the bathroom so that the odours could fight to the death. In the morning, whichever one stunk the most would win!

We rose from our beds at 9am. James went into the bathroom…

Curry was the ultimate champion!

Other than that the hotel was wholly unremarkable.

The Baked Potato Report :: SpudULike

The Princess Mall, Princes Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 2AN

It’s been a long time coming, but finally another addition to my unloved Baked Potato Report. I’ve been trying to cut down on baked potatoes recently, as apparently potatoes aren’t very healthy. I’m still on the fence about this one, because what’s healthy seems to change from year to year. One person says you need 5 pieces of fruit a day, another says it can spike your blood sugar and lead to diabetes.

I just don’t know what to believe anymore.

So I headed down to the Princes Mall as I noticed that they’d opened a Spud-u-Like; when I worked at Tesco in Corstorphine I used to sometimes jaunt to the Gyle and eat at this particular chain so I thought it would bring back memories. Although they had some excellent calorific options (chilli topped potato with two slices of garlic bread? Yes please) I went for my usual order of a potato with cottage cheese and chive.

It may look like a burst ulcer but trust me, it's delicious

I grabbed some extra salt and pepper and sat down, ready to attack this beast.

The first thing that’s apparent is the sheer amount of filling. There was at least half a tub of cottage cheese and chives on here; the perfect amount as it meant that I had plenty left to dunk the skin in once I was finished. The flesh was soft, the potato was hot: let’s see how it measured up compared to the others.

Price- From memory it was £4 odd for a meal deal; that’s a cottage cheese and chive potato and a bottle of Irn Bru.

Fluffiness- The flesh was fluffy and buttery; although it was hard to taste much through the sheer amount of filling.

Skin- The skin was well cooked, although it was more chewy than crunchy.

Quality of Fillings-  It was more about quantity than quality here: although it’s hard to go wrong with cottage cheese and chive. The filling was fine and there was loads.

General Yumminess- It was pretty satisfying.

All in all I’d give Spud-u-Like a 6.5/10.

It’s pretty consistent with its sister shops over at the Gyle and in Dundee’s Overgate Center (the only other two I’ve tried) so I’d imagine that the whole chain is pretty samey. The best baked potato in Edinburgh? Possibly not. Supporting local business? Definitely not (although the  chain was founded in Edinburgh, fact fans). But a  safe choice in an unsafe world? Definitely.

And I’d bet it’s a healthier option for pre-train dining than the Burger King in the station. Just sayin’.

Spud-U-Like on Urbanspoon

6 Things You Must Do In Glasgow

Some might be inclined to argue that the West coast is the best coast: of course as an Edinbugger I have to disagree, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy jollies to Scotland’s second city.I think the reason I enjoy it so much is because Glaswegians are similar to Southern Europeans, i.e. Italians and Spanish: no concept of personal space, extremely friendly, and highly passionate. We ‘burghers are a little more like our Northern European friends: the Swiss, Germans, and Londoners.

My favourite trip to Glasgow was the day that Brad Pitt was filming in George Square. I thought about going to visit him on my way back to Queen Street Station, but my mind went blank and I forgot how to get there (for those unfamiliar with Glasgow, George Square is literally outside the front door of the station. I always use the side door, beside the taxi rank. I’m special).

James and I decided to have a wee one nighter in Glasgow a few weeks ago, as we had tickets to see the Dropkick Murphys. We had a much better time than we anticipated. Here’s my guide on how to have a rockin’ time in Glasvegas.

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REVIEW :: Tex Mex II

64 Thistle St,  Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 1EN
0131 260 9699

I’m still on my quest to find the best quesadilla in Edinburgh, and because I’ve heard so many good things about Tex Mex II (Number 1 restaurant on Urbanspoon, no less) I thought it should be only right that they were the next ones to come under judgement from my greedy pallette.

I also remember tasting their famous frozen margheritas at Edinburgh Foodies last year, and that left a very pleasant taste in my mouth (unfortunately I think cocktail drinking at lunchtime  is still frowned upon by society: boo society, you suck!)

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REVIEW :: Cafe Arriba, Portree

Quay Brae,  Portree, Isle of Skye ,IV51 9DB
01478 611830

Wikitravel calls Café Arriba “the perfect spot to sit out a rain shower” and that’s exactly what James and I did, when we parked my car in Portree and were met with a torrential downpour of that essential Scottish rain. We didn’t fancy the look of anywhere around the square, so we were lucky when we wandered round the corner and were faced with the jolly signage of Café Arriba.

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Skye in February :: My Favourite Photos

Until last year, I had never been to the Scottish Highlands. I’m an Edinburgher born and bred, and I suppose in my head I just figured that they’d always be there and there was no rush to go and see them: particularly when the beaches and cocktails of Europe were calling my name.

But after my road trip from Edinburgh to Skye, I have a new found appreciation for my gorgeous country. But it’s not just the Highlands that are beautiful: I got some amazing snaps when I was in Skye, all from my iPhone. I’ve been using a cool Pro HDR app which cost a couple of quid but in my opinion is worth every penny. Take a look at my photos of Skye and see what you think.

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