Review: Fonab Castle

As I mentioned in my last post, we recently stayed overnight at Fonab Castle in Pitlochry. I’d spent ages trying to find a decent 2 night break for my husband’s birthday at the end of Feb but I kept finding niggles with everywhere. I kept coming back to Fonab & decided to book their winter special DBB deal.

castle

The castle itself is tucked away just off the A9 at Pitlochry. Although the hotel is a castle, it has a modern block build onto to which does slightly detract from the novelty of staying in a castle. Inside the hotel, the decor is very modern with splashes of Scottish thrown in with thistles on the wallpaper & stags heads for coat hooks on the doors.

decor

The reception staff were very informative, giving us the low down on where all facilities were in the hotel & taking our reservation for dinner. The hotel has 2 restaurants – a bistro & a more formal dining experience with tasting menus. As part of our deal, we had dinner included in the bistro & being the foodie I am, I had perused the menu beforehand & already picked my dishes!

We had booked a room in the castle (ticking another thing off my bucketlist!) & our room was situated on the third floor. Unfortunately our room overlooked the carpark which didn’t provide much entertainment as you’d expect! The room itself was gorgeous. It had a large oversized king bed, feature wall, nespresso machine, smart tv & ipod dock! What more could you ask for?! Oh yeah, a bath! That was the one disappointing element about the room – the bathroom only had a large shower. Although, the shower head was the largest I had ever seen – it was wider than my head! The toiletries in the bathroom were Thierry Mugler (of Angel perfume fame) so that did make up for no bath slightly as well.

room

We ventured over to the newly built spa building across the carpark for an afternoon dip. We struck lucky & the pool was deserted! It was obvious that the hotel were finding their feet with the new pool as we had to leave the jacuzzi as the chlorine levels were too high. In the changing rooms, there were more small touches to add to the experience such as luxury toiletries & bathrobes to use.

pool

Since our trip coincided with my husband’s birthday, we brought some champagne along with us. On past trips, when we’ve asked for an ice bucket, hotels have wanted to charge £5+ just to bring the bucket to the room. We knew asking for one, we might face a similar charge given the high class of the hotel. When we asked for one to be sent up, the porter also asked what type of glasses we would like. That’s service you don’t get in a travelodge! And to make it better, we were not charged for it. I’ll admit that it took every ounce of restraint to not take the tray that the bucket & glasses were brought up on. I mean check it out – who could resist that?!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Before dinner, we went for a drink in the lounge which overlooks the Loch. The bar has a mix of chesterfield & oversized fabric sofas which made it feel quite homely. One wall of the lounge is covered in a mirrored bottle rack, with the second largest collection of wine I’ve ever seen, only rivalled by the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong.  The hotel prides itself on its gin collection & did not disappoint! It was the first place I have ever seen to stock Rock Rose gin which made me a happy bunny!

bar

Despite picking out my dishes, the menu we were presented with had some changes to the one I’d viewed online. For starters, we had smoked salmon & avocado on brioche & confit of duck. I was slightly disappointed with the salmon as I was expecting either slices or chunks of avocado on the dish. However, the avocado was more like a mousse which made me feel a bit short changed. The whole combo was delicious, along with the lime creme fraiche that accompanied the dish. Duck is not a meat I’m overly keen on but it would have been rude not to sample a bit of the confit. I was pleasantly surprised to taste a smokey & tender meat with no trace of fat. Duck may be another meat I’ve been converted to!

The main I’d had my heart set on, braised ox cheek, was not on the current menu. This left me with a dilemma of having chicken or taking a leap & trying venison. I’d tried venison a few years back but found it too gamey for my tastes. I decided to take the risk & I did not regret it! The venison was slightly pink, making it really tender. For me the taste was between lamb & steak with the sweet yet meaty taste. The dish was accompanied by braised cabbage & a bramble jus which just left me with a taste explosion with every mouthful. It was by far the best dish I’ve had in a long time.

dinner

The other main, spiced monkfish with sweet potato & lime & coriander puree, was also a hit. The dish contained the biggest monkfish tail I’ve ever seen! Considering the dish was priced at £19.95, it was a complete bargain for the quality & quantity of food on the plate.

When you stay at a hotel on a DBB deal, it’s usually stated how much allowance you have for dinner. At Fonab, there was no such information given to us which made us unsure if we could have a dessert or not. I’m finding myself being more drawn to desserts these days & the treacle tart on the menu, I couldn’t resist! We ordered that along with a dark chocolate fondant to finish our meal.

The treacle tart arrived & looked scrumptious. One bite into it & I remembered why I don’t order desserts. It was so disappointing. The tart was quite dry & didn’t have the wow factor I had expected. The dark chocolate fondant was a hit with my husband who devoured the gooey pudding.

breakfast

At breakfast the next morning, the hotel offered a 3 course feast. The offerings include your typical breakfast items such as a full breakfast, eggs benedict & kippers. I decided to branch out & try some of the more unfamiliar items. To start I had caramelised pink grapefruit which was followed by toast. My main breakfast item was steak & eggs. I swear I did not eat late afternoon after such a feast!

viewThe view at breakfast was a nice ending to our brief stay. The restaurant overlooks the Loch with a vista of the snowed covered hills in the background. A reminder of why it’s sometimes better to make the most of what’s on your doorstep 🙂

Get Stuffed Chronicles – The Food of Love

Or should that be the love of food? It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the foodie front (I know I’ve skipped a week) that involved some good meals & more foodie fails!

Valentine’s day was definitely a day of foodie love that started out in BRGR in Glasgow’s West End thanks to some amazing Tarantino themed specials they had posted on Facebook that seemed too good to pass up. Ok, and there may have been a bit of overindulgence the night before that needed mopping up! We opted for one each of the special – A Royale with cheese (as it sounds) & The Big Kahuna burger. Both burgers were amazing as were the sweet potato fries & ‘slaw we munched with it.

BRGR

That night we went to Porter & Rye for the first time since it opened. I won’t mention too much about it but it’s a MUST visit for steak lovers. You can read my review here.

Living in the West End of Glasgow has its obvious perks & one of them is the farmer’s market in Mansfield Park every couple of weeks. There’s a good range of produce from fresh bread, meat & fish to Spanish & Indian dishes. We visited the market & picked up, what I would class as the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, Hairy Beast burgers from Cedar Country Foods. The burgers are made from Highland Cattle & are the leanest burgers I have ever eaten. I swear, they are so moreish, you’ll be looking for more once you’ve finished one! We also picked up some fresh Tarka Dhal which has quite the kick to it from Jaldikatessan (sp?) & a monster scotch egg from Aye Love Real Food.Market Wares

There was obvious foodie excitement last Tuesday with Shrove Tuesday making its annual appearance. It’s strange how most people only eat and make pancakes once a year even though they are so delicious! As I’m watching what I eat, I opted to try out some pumpkin pancakes using Libby’s Pumpkin Puree. What a mistake that turned out to be! Instead of the wonderful, fluffy pancakes the recipe promised, I ended up with squishy, soggy pancakes. Such a disappointment! However, it has made me determined to try & find a decent, healthy eating friendly pancake recipe soon so I can enjoy a better batch.

Pancakes

At the weekend gone, I decided I would try to make kedgeree for breakfast whilst also whipping up a batc h of creme egg brownies (they are as amazing as they sound) & a loaf to take to lunch at our friends. Well, let’s just say sometimes you can take on too much & I very much so underestimated how much time I had! The kedgeree, made with oak smoked haddock from our fishbox,  was the only item I didn’t have an issue with! The brownies, which I made several times last year, were missing a vital ingredient – caster sugar! I completely forgot to put it in but thanks to the amount of sugar in the chocolate & the topping used, they still went down well with my taste testers. And looked quite good, even if I do say so myself! The bread did look like a nice loaf & was edible but because I didn’t have enough time to prove it & had to transport it whilst warm, it was quite doughy inside. Let’s just say I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to baking & I’m not happy unless it’s 100% right!

Weekend Cooking

Foodie Bucketlist

There’s been a lot of chat this week in the foodie world about bucketlists with the Herald’s article of 15 Scottish foodie adventures & fellow foodie blogger Foodie Quine discussing Scottish foodie adventures on this week’s the BBC’s Kitchen Cafe. Needless to say, it’s got me thinking about my foodie bucketlist & experiences that I would like to have.

I’ve been fortunate to experience some of my foodie dreams already such as:

  • Eating chinese street food with the locals in Hong Kong
  • Wolfing down some Pad Thai at a Bangkok market
  • Dining in an authentic Spanish restaurant with a mountain of paella for our main
  • Al dente pasta under the stars in Rome
  • An evening of bowling & food in a retro bowling alley in Brooklyn

Taking inspiration from blogger Glasgow Mummy, a few months ago I created a 30 by 30 bucketlist of items I wanted to achieve before I turn 30 in a few years time (no sharing of what’s on that list here I’m afraid!). There are some foodies items on there that I’ve included here but I’ve now ended up with a whole other bucketlist, both of which will definitely keep me busy (and poor) for the foreseeable!!

Fish & Chips in Anstruther

Sometimes there’s nothing more wonderful than walking along the seafront, with the sun shining down, gulls overhead munching a bags of chips! Ok, ok this may be a bit idealistic of me as the sun shining down often only happens on a cold winter’s day. The Anstruther Fish Bar has won several awards of the years for their produce & it’s a no brainer that if you’re looking for a decent portion of fish & chips, this is the place to go.

fish

Have a picnic

I remember during my childhood going on family days out to Millport or a park & we would take along some rolls & crisps for our lunch. However, I’ve never had a proper picnic, the type were you have little plates, plastic glasses & lots of wee nibbles. Probably another idealistic foodie dream of mine but it’s one I’m hoping to achieve this year on one of Scotland’s gorgeous beaches or country parks.

picnic

Dine in Duck & Waffle at a ridiculous hour of the day

I’m a big an of Saturday Kitchen & Daniely Doherty, executive chef of the Duck & Waffle was a guest, discussing the concept of the restaurant. The Duck & Waffle is located on the 40th floor of a skyscraper in London, focussing on serving local & seasonal produce in a sharing manner, they are open 24/7. Being open all day, every day, there are obviously a story or 2 to be had about the restaurant (so much so they’ve even released a book) & the whole concept just sounded so cool, I instantly wanted to go. Another bucketlist item I’m hoping to achieve this year!

duck

Dine & Stay Overnight in Gidleigh Park

Gidleigh Park in Devon is a country house that is the home to the wonderful Michael Caines. Being one of my favourite chefs, I would absolutely love to have an overnight stay here & experience the tasting menu on offer. As it’s a five star hotel, I better get saving!

gidleigh

Learn how to make consistently good bread

I’ve dabbled a bit in bread making but it’s always a bit hit & miss, especially why I tried a sourdough starter. It’s obvious that I need to attend a real bread making course such as Richard Bertinet’s to get the advice & experience I need to get bread just right.

bread

Take part in an eating challenge

As with a lot of people, when Man vs Food hit the UK screens, I was hooked! His journey of travelling around America eating ridiculously sized portions was fascinating. I am a big spice fan & have those days where I can just eat for Britain so I think I’d be able to tackle some form of challenge that combines both. With more & more eating challenges popping up, I’m sure I’ll be able to find the perfect one soon.

challenge

Drink a pint of Guinness at the Guinness factory

A pretty generic one I know but Guinness is one of the few beers/stouts that I like. Plus it’s an excuse to finally visit Ireland!

guinness

Eat Real Mexican food 

If you haven’t already seen from previous posts, Mexican food is in my top 3 & I honestly cannot eat enough of it. Add on the fact that I have several Mexican Dia De Los Muertos tattoos (including a sleeve in progress), a trip to Mexico is definitely on the cards. I’ve also heard a lot of people who have either been to Mexico or are from America state that the Mexican food on offer in the UK is not a patch on the real mccoy – another excuse to head over!

mexican

Go Foraging

I toyed with the idea of foraging last year as we were gifted a sloe gin kit for our wedding by friends but have not put it to use yet. However, I have no idea how to go about it or where to go. I mean, do people really just go for a wander & pick what they see?! It’s something I think would be worthwhile doing, especially for speciality foods like wild garlic & sloes when they are in season.

forage

Eat an insect

This might seem a bit of an absurd bucketlist item but insects are a massive deal with millions, if not billions, of people eating them as part of their daily diet. When we went to Thailand & Hong Kong, I thought I would be greeted with lots of street food stalls laden with insects. Sadly, that was not the case so my hunt for trying authentic insect dishes goes on!

insect

I’d be intrigued to find out what’s on your foodie wishlist?