Apologies for the long absence folks but the blog's back at last. I suspended it for a wee while because it looked like I was enjoying myself too much when I was off sick! (And I was!). Anyway. I'm back at work now so normal service can resume. I'll try and give you a quick catch up as to what I've been up to and where I've been eating but I'll also try and keep up the 'regular' blog posts going forward.
September saw the start of the rugby season which means that I'm more often in the excellent Prestoungrange Gothenburg in Prestonpans and quite regularly eat there either before or after matches on a Saturday. (We're lucky at Preston Lodge RFC because it's also our clubhouse). The food's excellent and at the time of writing this, they've just won the Radio Forth 'Best Local Pub or Restaurant Award', as well as being runners up in the 'Best Pub Meal' category in the East Lothian Food & Drink Awards. They were also voted 'Best for Customer Care' in this category and that is definitely well deserved. You can't get any better looked after than you do by the staff at The Goth. Well done everybody and my Tip of the Month to anybody reading this is 'Go To The Goth'. It's fab.
Another project that I wasn't able to tell you about earlier was that I was asked by the Editor of the East Lothian Courier if I would be interested in doing some restaurant reviews for his paper. Of course I said yes and the first (and I'm afraid the only one so far) was published in September. We went to Duck's Restaurant in Aberlady and had an excellent meal. I've added the text of the review at the bottom of this post.
This is a time of change in East Lothian and this month, we've seen the arrival of about 30000 pink footed geese - always a spectacular sight to see them arriving each night against the backdrop of a spectacular late summer sunset. There have also been torrential downpours which saw the River Tyne in spate and close to bursting its banks. The picture shown here was taken at the Linn Rocks at East Linton.
On the domestic front, my friend Heidi came out to see me before I went back to work and I made a Lemon Polenta Cake. I don't think I've made a cake without flour before so it's good for anybody who has a gluten allergy. It's texture is a bit gritty so use the finest polenta yo can get but it's definitely worth a try - here's the recipe:
Lemon Polenta Cake
250g butter , softened250g caster sugar
100g Quick cook polenta - the finer the better
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
3 lemons (zested and juiced)
3 tbsp icing sugar
- Heat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter and base line a 23cm springform tin. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use an electric hand whisk). Add the eggs one by one and beat between each addition. Fold in the polenta, almonds and baking powder. Mix in the lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon.
- Bake for about 50 minutes-1 hour until the cake is risen and golden (cover the top of the cake loosely with foil after 30 minutes to stop it browning too much).
- Make the syrup by warming the juice of the other 2 lemons with the icing sugar until the icing sugar has melted. Serve the cake warm cut in slices with a drizzle of the lemon syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche.
Duck’s Kilspindie - Review Published in the East Lothian Courier, September 2011
Since opening his restaurant with rooms at the former Kilspindie House Hotel in Aberlady, proprietor Malcolm Duck and head chef Johnny Dunbar have worked hard to create interesting, locally sourced menus in both the restaurant and bistro while the wine list is as impressive as any that might be found in far more established eateries in the capital.
We were fortunate enough to eat in the restaurant which at the moment may lack something as far as modern décor is concerned but plans are afoot to rectify this in the near future. The staff were friendly and welcoming but the most important thing is the food and that certainly didn’t disappoint. The a la carte menu is uncomplicated with four or five choices for each course and as the drive up the East Lothian coast had featured a stunning sunset worthy of Andalucia, I couldn’t resist trying the crab and brown shrimp gazpacho. Its colour matched the aforementioned sunset and the flavours were crisp, fresh and very tasty. A good choice on a warm evening. My dining companion was equally impressed with her choice; purple sprouting broccoli with a crispy poached duck egg. We were interested to see how a poached egg could be served crispy and it proved to be a clever trick from the kitchen where the freshly poached egg had been coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. This was a real treat and the only complaint was that the twice cooked yolk had become slightly overdone. The local broccoli was perfect though and both starters were nice and light introductions to set us up for the main course.
With pork belly, fish, lamb, beef and risotto on offer, all of the obvious options seemed to be covered, so it was just a case of making the right choice. I needed something meaty, so I plumped for the sirloin of mature Buccleuch beef. It was served with a soft, fondant potato, a haggis fritter, celeriac puree and chanterelle mushrooms that had been foraged within a mile of the restaurant. The beef was tender as you would expect and the peppercorn sauce complemented it perfectly so there were no complaints as I cleared my plate. Mrs. C went for the halibut, cod and Shetland scallop and was only disappointed in the fact that there was only one scallop. However, all of the fish was cooked perfectly and well matched with beurre noisette, salty capers and samphire which interestingly, was also picked from within a mile of the restaurant.
A break was needed before dessert and Mr. Duck was seen visiting each table of diners to ensure that they were enjoying their visit to his establishment. We took the chance to ask him about the local produce on offer and he explained that the menus change with the seasons depending on what is available at that particular time.
We also asked him for a look at the comprehensive Donald’s Bistro menu which offers a wide choice of typical but interesting pub food. The a la carte menu in the restaurant is perfect for that special occasion but the Bistro offers a very good, affordable option for those less formal nights out after a hard day at work or on the golf course.
But the final courses beckoned – rich, decadent chocolate fondant with a sharp but refreshing raspberry sorbet for me and sweet, silky vanilla pannacotta with sweet Belhaven strawberries for Mrs. C who insisted that her pud’s perfect ‘wobble’ should be mentioned specifically. These choices topped off an excellent and enjoyable meal and all in all, there were few faults with the entire Duck’s experience.