Foodies Festival – Inverleith Park

I did mean to put this post up earlier this week but didn’t have the time! From my last post, you’ll have noticed I was pretty excited about finally getting to go along to the Foodies Festival this year. I decided to pop along on the Friday & Saturday with the aim of buying goodies on the Friday & enjoying the atmosphere on the Saturday.

Press Pass

I’d only been to one food festival previously, the BBC Good Food Show, last November so I had a rough idea what to expect. The one thing that struck me about Foodies was the emphasis on having a good day out! Instead of focussing on having lots of producers, often selling variations of the same items, they had less stalls of goods than the Good Food Show & a lot of areas for drinking & getting some good food to eat. There was also a bouncy castle & a kids theatre so the little ones could get involved. I particularly liked the pop-up restaurants at the festival, allowing you to get a taste of what local Edinburgh restaurants have to offer. Such a good idea!

On the Friday, we arrived around 2pm & the place was pretty busy. We immediately set off to the ticket stand to see what demos were still on offer & luckily managed to secure a ticket for Mark Greenaway. We grabbed a bite to eat first from British Sausages who had a selection of pork goodies including the posh hot dogs we opted for. Unfortunately my pork & jalapeno one was lacking in any real kick but it was still a tasty sausage. Then it was down to business & seeing what we could find to buy.

There was a decent amount of stalls with goodies ranging from gin (yay!) to cakes to fish, meat & BBQs (although I doubt you’d take it home that night!). As with most foodie festivals, there were freebies on offer, including Walker’s new Deli range of crisps, Lavazza coffee & of course, tasters of  beer, wine & gin. Over the 2 days I bought quite a few items including:

  • Dried chillies from Wiltshire Chilli Farm
  • Smoked salmon & trout from RK Spink & Sons
  • Red Pepper & Chilli dressing & garlic mayo (it is the most garlicky thing I’ve ever tasted, I had to buy it!) from Summer Harvest
  • Macarons from
  • A raspberry gin & a passionfruit fizzx marshmallow from Tipsy Mallows
  • And of course, elderflower gin from Edinburgh Gin

Salmon & Trout, Macarons, Marshmallows, salad dressing & garlic mayo

Over the course of the weekend, I managed to catch 2 demos: Mark Greenaway on Friday & Glenn Cosby on Saturday. Mark’s demo was a blackened mackerel salad with ….. He was accompanied on stage by “Big Sister” Jacqueline O’Donnell from Glasgow’s The Sisters restaurant. Glenn’s demo was a bit scattered as not all of the equipment was on stage but it made for an amusing demo & I was up on stage at one point to taste test the ginger scones that were made for answering a baking question correctly. I was fortunate enough to get some time with Glenn after the demo for an interview which will be on the blog shortly.

Foodies, Mark Greenaway, Pickerings & Glenn Cosby    .

On Saturday, we spent most of the day at the bar area enjoying the sunshine. There were lots of different drinks on offer from champagne to gin (I may have mentioned this!) to beers from all over Scotland & of course cocktails.The vibe on Saturday was really good, with everyone lounging in the sun & enjoying the festival atmosphere. A special shoutout to the guys at Stewart Brewery for making some amazing beer – Red Dragon. As you can see if the pick before, they had some grapefruit, hops & some other fruits mixed together & the pump slowly dispensed that mix to make beer. It was so fruity & I’m a bit gutted that it was a special for that day because it was so tasty! I was disappointed, however, that we were unable to secure any tickets for any other demos. This was due to the policy Foodies have that you cannot book any tickets. That is ok for the Chefs & Cakes&Bakes theatres as you can stand at the back or watch from the sides. If you want to go to one of the drinks theatre tastings, you really need to be there early to secure your ticket.

Chicken Tikka Wrap, Red Dragon beer, potato stack & posh dog

I did have a fun weekend at Foodies & will definitely be paying it a visit next year when it returns. Here’s hoping they return bigger & better!

Highlights

  • Lots of different demos available each day
  • Great festival atmosphere with the different bars available
  • Good variety of different stands to buy stuff from
  • Looooads of food to choose from for eating on the day

Lowlights

  • Not being able to book tickets for demos & afternoon demo tickets only being available from 1pm
  • Queues for the toilets – if there were some at the other side of the site, it would have reduced the queues a lot
  • Not quite a lowlight but there could be more Scottish producers available. I saw a stall selling “Yorkshire biscuits” – there are plenty of biscuits companies in Scotland that could have stepped in!!

Tasting Menu, The Finnieston

We were very kindly asked if we wanted to go along to the tasting menu evening at The Finnieston by their head chef John. How could we refuse?! The Finnieston has established itself as one of Glasgow’s best Fish restaurants since opening in 2011. We had never had the chance to pop along so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. NB: I have lost the pictures I took on the night due to a phone malfunction so all pictures posted are property of The Finneston.

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The tasting menu comprised of 6 courses, all matched by wines from the very informative Franky Bradley from Alliance Wines. Being a seafood restaurant, the majority of course were seafood based with some twists thrown in here & there.

Tempure Oyster

The two courses comprised of Tempura Oysters & Hand Dived Scallops. The Oyster was set on its shell with Jerusalem Artichoke puree accompanying it. The Oyster itself was very fresh & the batter was not too heavy making it an ideal starter for the menu. The artichoke puree also accompanied it well, providing a slight saltiness to the dish. The next course I was a bit apprehensive about as the scallops were served along with rhubarb pickle & an apple crisp. The apple I had no issue with but I do not like rhubarb at all. I have childhood memories of being served sour rhubarb & the taste haunts me to this day. I’m glad I did try the rhubarb as it was fantastic! It had been sweetened so none of the horrid sourness I associated with rhubarb lingered. The apple also added a freshness to the dish which had an all round lovely sweetness to it.

Scallops with Rhubarb

The next course was “Cock-a-leekie my way”, another dish I was a bit apprehensive about as I cannot stand barley. We were presented with a bowl filled with chicken, leeks, carrots & edible flowers. The waiter then brought over a small jug of broth which was then poured over the dish. All quite a bit Heston I thought! The dish was so full of flavour. The chicken was moist, the leeks perfectly cooked & the broth was so tasty. We ended up also eating the remaining broth after noticing we had been given soup spoons too!

Deconstructer Cock-a-leekie

I guess the next dish could be classed as the “main” as it was slightly larger than the others. It contained hake with pork belly, a mackerel croquette, braised fennel, purple sprouting broccoli & a butter sauce. Again each mouthful of this was a delight. The only part I did not really eat was the pork belly as I do not like the texture of it but I did pull a couple of slithers of pork from it & they were nice & smoky. Throughout the dinner we had each dish paired with a white wine & for this one, with the pork, we were given a red to taste. This was a milestone for me as I finally found a red wine that I actually enjoyed! I normally drink white only but the red we were given was so fruity & full of flavour rather than the dryness I would normally associated with red wine. Kudos to Mr Bradley for introducing me to it!

Hake with Pork Belly & Mackerel Croquettes

The final two courses were dessert based. Now I mentioned that one of the dishes seemed very Heston-esque, well that was nothing compared to the next course. We were given a basil-sugar doughnut with raspberry jam. The twist here being that the jam was in a syringe that we had to plunge into the doughnut to fill it with jam! I really wish I had a picture of this as it was so cool. I have never seen anything like it before. The doughnut itself was fluffy & light – the basil sugar was a strange taste to get used to but it did work well with the jam.

Basil Sugar Doughnut with Raspberry Jam

Vimto pannacotta, candyfloss, popcorn ice cream & salted caramel fudge

The last dish we were given was probably my favourite dish (along with the cock-a-leekie) – vimto candyfloss pannacotta, popcorn sorbet, salted caramel fudge & honeycomb & popping candy crumb. Honestly, with every mouthful you got a different taste sensation. It was AMAZING! And one thing this dish did for me was restore my faith in that people do know what real fudge is meant to be like! I’ve eaten far too many pieces of fudge from Artisan producers that resembles tablet. This dish contained creamy, gooey fudge, just like it should be! To top off the night, we were all handed a candy floss lolly pop which was the icing on the cake for me.

The Finnieston do not have tasting nights very often, only 4 times a year in fact. This was our first experience of one & we will definitely be at another as the food & wine was so good. Definitely one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had!

Auchrannie Resort, Arran

Last weekend we visit the Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran. Instead of getting each other a Christmas present, we decided to go away after Christmas & Auchrannie was somewhere I had always had my eye on. By chance, in late November a Groupon appeared so we decided to book a weekend away.

We were lucky with the weather as previous weekends had saw the ferry cancelled & diverted to Gourock. Luckily for us, the sailing was smooth & the crossing took a mere hour. The Auchrannie provide transport from the ferry port so there is no need to bring your car (which costs £55 on the ferry!!). We only had to wait a couple of minutes for the bus to arrive & our luggage was promptly put on board.

Now I don’t know about you but when I think of a house hotel, I imagine a vast house up a gravel path sitting in acres of its own land. This was not the case with Auchrannie which was up a path but it is surrounded by other houses which I found a bit unusual. The resort is made up of 3 sections: the house hotel which is adults only, the Spa Resort which is family friendly & then lodges which are available to rent & buy as timeshares. We were staying in the house hotel which was the first drop off for the bus. The staff were very friendly & provided a warm welcome.

We were shown to our room which was just up the stairs from the reception. On entering, the receptionist mentioned that she found the room a bit cold but it should heat up soon. The room was well decorated & actually a bit bigger than other hotel rooms we had stayed in. The phone suddenly rang & it was reception informing us that they felt the room was too cold so they were upgrading us to a suite for free! You hear of this happening to other people so it was a total shock for it to happen to us! Our suite was AMAZING! It had a bedroom & lounge as well as the biggest bathroom I’ve ever seen! We quickly settled in before heading off for a wander.

Bathroom

The house hotel has 2 restaurants: Brambles & eighteen69. It also contains a small bar in the main lounge, a 20 metre pool & small gym. In the Spa resort, which is a few minutes walk away, there is the Cruize bar & brasserie, a 20 metre pool, a kids play area, spa & gym area.

That night we decided to have dinner in the Cruize restaurant. Going for dinner around 6:30 it was quieter than we are used to but since it was low season, the whole resort was generally quieter than normal. The Cruize restaurant is aimed at a more laidback dining experience with a varied menu with a gastropub feel to it. We ordered salt & pepper prawns & an antipasto board to start followed by a cajun chicken pizza & burger with japalenos & Arran chilli cheese (when in Rome etc). The meal overall was delicious! The prawns came in a light but not quite tempura & the salt & pepper seasoning was subtle enough not to take away the taste of the prawns. The antipasto platter did not have as much meat as I would’ve have liked but it meant that it was light enough for me to enjoy my main. The ciabatta that accompanied it was lovely & fresh. Our mains also did not disappointed. The burger patty was moist & quite large. The jalapenos & chili cheese went with the standard tomato relish that accompanied it. The pizza was a delight. It was quite large & full of peppers, onions, cajun chicken & jalapenos. It was also drizzled with sour cream which I don’t normally like but it contrasted well with the spice.

Tempura PrawnsAntipasto

BurgerCajun Chicken Pizza

We followed dinner with some drinks in the bar area which has normal chairs & table as well as a den like area which has a tv if you wish to watch something whilst having some drinks. I sampled a few cocktails off the menu which were a tad pricey (most over £7) but they were well mixed & tasted lovely. My particular favourite was the Auchrannie bramble – their twist on the classic bramble which was so fresh & fruity.

White Russian

Our rate did not include breakfast so we had the choice of either the house hotel or spa resort. We opted to head over to Cruize as it was slightly cheaper than the house hotel breakfast. We were greeted with a standard hot breakfast buffet with a continental selection which had a good selection of fish & Arran cheeses. The breakfast was nice & there was nothing you can really complain about. Only thing I wasn’t too keen on were the links which had leek within them. I found that a bit weird.

I could document our day but I’d rather not bore you with the details! That evening we had booked into the Brambles restaurant. We arrived on time but had to wait 5-10 minutes as our table wasn’t ready. We ordered drinks & were given menus to peruse so the wait didn’t feel too long. We promptly ordered after being seated – prawns were on the menu again with tempura prawns & the “famous” fishcake for starters & fiery hot chicken & pepper kebabs & tomato & chorizo mussels to follow. The tempura prawns were lovely, accompanied by a tasty tomato & chilli jam. I ordered the fishcake which I was apprehensive about since I have childhood memories of dry, tasteless fishcakes. I had nothing to worry about with this! The fishcake was filled with smoked salmon & haddock & accompanied with a sunblushed tomato aioli. It was filled with fish which meant you didn’t really notice the potato within the fishcake. It was a bit on the large side for a starter so I did struggle to finish it. Our mains arrived & I have honestly never seen mussels so big in my life! They were massive! The tomato & chorizo sauce was so flavoursome which makes a change from other restaurants were the mussel sauce can be a bit bland. The kebabs were not as hot as had been advertised. They came with tortillas, sour cream, guacamole & salsa. The accompaniments were very fresh, the salsa being very tasty but the guacamole had too much lime in it making it slightly difficult to eat as it overpowered the other tastes.

Salt n Pepper PrawnsFishcake

MusselsMussels

Kebabs

That evening we decided to have drinks in the house hotel bar. The lounge area is decorated in a traditional Scottish style with a large fire. The bar itself is small but well stocked. I ordered a margarita later in the evening & although they didn’t have all of the ingredients there, the bartender went to get lime juice & I had my drink 10 minutes later. The staff were also quite chatty & willing to chat away with the residents sitting in the lounge.

We left the next morning but I could’ve stayed there another night or 2. Overall, we loved our stay at the Auchrannie, I mean who couldn’t with a room like that! But in all honesty, the facilities were fantastic & the restaurants were definitely worth the visit. We will more than likely return & actually make use of the pool & spa facilities next time!!