Snacking Highlights of 2016

Well… Hello.

It’s now 2017 and I was so caught up/slightly tipsy through the holiday festivities that it was hard to find a moment to sit and type about all the food and fun being had.

 

I don’t feel like I can properly move into the new year without officially closing off 2016.

 

And there’s no better way to do that then a recap in list form!

 

So, here we go… My favourite new food findings of 2016.

It’s better late than never.

Advertisements

Chaakoo Bombay Café, Glasgow

Even though I was only away from Glasgow for three weeks this autumn I managed to miss a lot of new eateries opening and Glasgow’s first ever cheese toastie festival.

Gutted about the latter.

So, not only am I behind on sharing things about my trans fat adventures stateside, but I’m behind on what is happening in Glasgow.

The first new place I decided to check out was Chaakoo Bombay Café, which has now been open for about a month.

I pass by this location all the time and was immediately interested when I saw that work had begun on what used to be an Irish Pub. I know it’s not supposed to affect the actual taste of the food… but during the early stages of the restaurant I was very much in love with the green and gold styling and the chosen window font.

crwz2tbxyaihaaj-jpg-large-2

If I’m being completely honest the main reason I wanted to try this place was based on that and the fact that it’s a new place in Glasgow. Sorry, I’m a bit of a sucker.

Indian food isn’t my favorite but I do enjoy it. Mostly during cold weather months because the food so rich with cream and spice that it’s very much cozy comfortable eating. So, right now is the perfect season to visit Chaakoo!

img_8188

The menu is set up ‘tapas’ style and is relatively straight forward, offering a good mix of curries, grilled meats and various sides (Naan, please). Strangely enough some Chinese inspired dishes too, with a bit of an Indian twist.

Although maybe it’s not so strange: The menu states that 1950s Irani cafés are the main influence and often had a ‘melting pot’ menu pulling from different Asian cuisines.

Our server recommended 2-3 dishes between us, plus a side. This is what we ordered for lunch:

Daal Makhani
Kerala Monkfish
Cauliflower
Smoked Chicken Tikka
Masahari
Lemon Rice
Peshwiri Naan

All our food arrived at pretty much the same time: a plus for me as I like spooning bits of everything on my plate then tucking in. (Apologies for the grainy photos)

img_8193

My favourites were definitely the Kerla Monkfish and the grilled cauliflower. Monkfish is my favourite fish because of it’s meaty taste and delicate texture. I think it goes really well with curry spices. Chaakoo didn’t disappoint, the little bowl was well balanced and the monkfish was cooked perfectly. I could cut it with my fork.

The grilled cauliflower was a nice surprise.The yogurt marinade added a great texture to the cauliflower that still left it feeling a bit creamy on the palate despite all the charcoal. But the charcoal bits are the best. It was served with some thinly cut vegetables and a lovely green mint sauce that was super cooling and refreshing. Our smoked chicken was also served with the same sauce. I nearly finished both servings of the stuff.

Both the smoked chicken and the chicken pakora (Masahari) were fine- not mind blowing, but good. To be fair, they are rather standard choices – so in the future I would likely skip these and get something a little different.

The Daal was also a good shout if you like a bit of ginger. Smoothly cooked lentils- very homely and delicious.

img_8192

And for the sides… I love carbs. So bread and rice- why not. The rice did have a little lemon zing and a bright yellow colour. The peshwiri naan might not be the biggest naan in town, it’s more on the elegant side.

Perfectly formed, round and quite thin- felt a bit more like a chapati. Not a lot of filling, but a good amount of sweetness and not overbearing. I felt it mixed well with what we ordered and to be honest, I’d be tempted to order one each next time.

It would be nice to see some spicer choices on the menu, but maybe that’s a work in progress.

They also have a breakfast menu from 9am (10:30am on Sundays) offering the classics with an Asian flair. I’m definitely intrigued by the breakfast naan rolls and suspect Mr. Snacks might have already popped in for a try without me.

The service was great- quite attentive from not just our server but other staff floating around and I absolutely love the interior. The colours, the old train signage, the staff uniforms – Everything about it is very stylish and quite beautiful.

img_8191

I’ll definitely be heading back for a little cocktail or two… there’s a full bar and a nice list of around 15 or so cocktail choices. Tiny elegant glasses spotted.

Until then.

xx

img_8187
Chaakoo Bombay Café 
79 St Vincent St
Glasgow
G2 5TF

Paesano Pizza, Glasgow

So, don’t think of this as a review, this is more about bragging rights. Glasgow has some legit pizza and I just want to show it off.
dsc_1655
Serving by far the best pizza in town and definitely better than a few pizzas I’ve had in Italy. It is my go-to eatery for practically any occasion. In fact, I’m just going to say it: Paesano Pizza is my favorite place to eat at in Glasgow.
Word. You can’t go wrong with pizza and this pizza is authentic, simple, cheap… and most of all absolutely delicious.
Here it is all about tradition. They had their wood-fired ovens brought over from Naples and adhere to pizza guidelines of the AVPN ( Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana). You can read the detailed rules here but basically it’s specific to the type flour and cheese used. San Marzano tomatoes are a must.
Paesano prides itself on its fresh and native Italian ingredients, of which the menu makes good use. Keep it simple and keep tuna and sweetcorn out of the building.
dsc_1685
It’s very rare that I wouldn’t be in the mood for pizza, Mr. Snacks and I have been round Paesano pretty often. I’ve had a chance to try all the pizzas on offer there, give or take a few specials which often involve a slightly different cheese or Ndjua. My absolute favorite thing to order is the Margherita pizza, plus chillies. I do love a bit of spice.
Also, the fennel sausage with peppers. I mean, I’ve not had a bad pizza there ever. Even the anchovies are alright for a slice. Do check the specials. If Parma Ham is an option, order it. Immediately.
img_0012
Oh… and see when part of the crust gets a little burnt and forms this little charred crust bubble?

More of that please!

Kimchi Cult, Glasgow

IMG_0842

Go on in.

Get your hands down to the ground, worship the almighty stained glass cabbage.

Don’t worry, Kimchi Cult is safe to join and the benefits… Delicious fresh food, homemade kimchi and the crispiest fried chicken in town. 

So, why wouldn’t you want to join in on the fun?

IMG_7745

Kimchi = fermented cabbage. It’s been all the rage for a while but I wondered how excited could I possibly get about cabbage… I already love sauerkraut, do I have room in my life to love another?

Yes. 

This kimchi has multiple flavor senses going on – sour, spicy and a satisfying crunch. It’s light in texture and taste, with a little afterthought of heat due to the red chillies.

I have been into Kimchi Cult a few times now and I’ve never been disappointed. When you walk in, you’ll be lucky if one of four tables is available, but if you get a seat it might just be your lucky day. 

A small, but very efficient menu is offered doing what Kimchi Cult states is ‘punk riffs on Korean classics’. 

Bibimbap is served cold or hot in a traditional stone bowl. Anytime I’ve been in the staff always ask if you’ve eaten bibimbap before and if you say no, they will tell you to break the egg yolk and stir everything about. The bibimbap feels fresh, the veg was thin and crunchy. I double checked with my personal Korean food expert and apparently it looks on the authentic side. 

IMG_2592

Flavor wise it is relatively healthy and tastes that way…If I was eating it in the house though I would add more sriracha and probably tablespoons of soy sauce. But I am addicted to Kikkoman. 

I tried the bulgogi bibimbap and I’ve had the same meat in tiny bao buns. As you know I am obsessed with bao lately, and KC’s bao is a good shout. The bao dough was heavier than some others I’ve had around Glasgow, but the beef is really tender and well-spiced (but not spicy).  It definitely has the fall-apart factor.

IMG_2283

Oh, and these kimcheese fries.

IMG_2551

So, by personal preference I’m not mad keen on cheese fries. It really seems like I should be, but if I was – these would be a staple in my diet. The fries at KC were far superior to what I was thinking . They were cut fresh, a bit of skin on the potato, and plenty of salt. I really enjoyed them… so next time I’ll might skip the cheese and ask for double kimchi. 

And the best for last… Fried Chicken!

IMG_2553

I know I love a lot of things and I’m always on about missing things from Texas but… damn, the fried chicken at Kimchi Cult takes me back to the south. If the south used gochujang or soy instead of gravy. 

The chicken is so crisp and comes out pipping hot and juicy. So hot, that I usually stab it with a few chopsticks to cool it down.  The crunch from the chicken skin is by far the best part- great breading and both the sauces are excellent, but not overpowering. I can’t actually decide which I prefer: sweet or slightly spicy. Order both, I’m pretty sure there is no obligation to share.

IMG_2282

The fried chicken is definitely my favorite part of the menu… but, I’ve yet to try the bulgogi fries.

I just wanted to add that there seems to be a lot of love and care into KC’s service and brand. The staff is always working away in the kitchen but always welcome customers with a ‘hello’ and come across as very attentive, even though it’s not a restaurant atmosphere. 

***Note if you dine-in there is no toilet! But… there’s always Deliveroo***

KC is fun on the social media front as well, often reaching out to their customers and showing sneak peeks of prep work.

I’m just a little in love with their look. Full-on B movie font, the kitsch style of the painted walk-in walls and multiple homages to the cabbage. 

IMG_4037

It’s all good budget-friendly fun! And of course, tasty. 

But, because there is alway one…

My KC wishlist:

1. Push the limits with the spice factor – I need more!
2. KIMCHI BULGOGI TACOS
3. Chicken wings – chicken thighs are so messy to eat with others are watching, eep!

So, Kimchi Cult thanks for moving from the streets of London to set up a tiny little hotbox in Partick. 

It’s been one year since the move and they are celebrating with a £1 kimchi hot dog party on August 18th. Sounds like my kind of party!

xx

Mook Pancakes, Amsterdam

Mmm pancakes… so often you are on my mind. 

I just seem to have a craving for them lately which has me thinking about the last time I ate them…at Mook in Amsterdam.

DSC_2401

Mook is a very much on the hip side. Plywood wood walls and Ikea greenery create the look and very relaxed atmosphere. It has some nice big windows letting a good amount of light in for you to enjoy your fresh food. 

DSC_2395DSC_2394

They offer a small menu, less than ten choices of sweet and savory pancakes. Apologies for not getting a photo – too much excitement to be on holiday. Anyway, I am definitely a sweet pancake type of person, so I surprised myself a little bit by making a savory choice. 

What influenced me was the insanely delicious fresh pineapple juice. It was actually one of my favorite consumables from the weekend away. It was very sweet, I must have got a ripe one as there was not a lot of acid in the pineapple. A beautiful color and really satisfying to drink on a hot sunny morning.

DSC_2389

The juice had so much natural sugar I thought more fruit and syrup might be a bit over an overload. So, salmon and creme fresh it was. Mr.Snacks ordered the hummus and roasted veg pancakes.

While we did enjoy our pancakes I can’t help but feel we made the wrong decision. The salmon was lovely and fresh and there was a seriously giant helping of it, but overall it felt a little on the dry side. It might have been in my mind, but it also felt strange eating salmon with thick fluffy pancakes.

IMG_1780

Now the pancakes were definitely neutral. Mook uses spelt or oat flour for their pancakes and I didn’t get any hints of sugar. Same for the hummus pancakes. Nice smooth homemade hummus, but with pancakes it didn’t quite match up.

And even as I type this now I’m thinking, yeah… why would that match up? So, I take full responsibility for these poor decisions. 

I would definitely pay Mook another visit because DAMN that pineapple juice… but also because of the overwhelming amount of regret I have. I should have been one of the many to order chocolate covered pancakes with berries overflowing. Seriously craving this now.

Note, it’s not the cheapest place for breakfast, but it’s not terribly unreasonable either. You are getting a rather large portion. 

Unit next time.

xx

Mook

De Clercqstraat 34,
1052 NG AMSTERDAM

Ekeko Eats Pop Up at Dukes, Glasgow

So, I love Dukes. 

IMG_2650

It’s probably one of my favorite bars not just in Finnieston, but in Glasgow. I almost hate to write about it for fear that at some point I’ll go in on a Saturday night and not get a seat.

Dukes has a very comfortable feel, which might be down to the padded seat cushions, but really it’s just the entire atmosphere. No matter what time or day I’ve wandered in there’s always a seat or standing room at the bar. I’ve never felt like my personal space was debatable. The bar itself is located on a cozy little corner of Old Dumbarton Road, hosting various pop ups and often live music. On offer they have a small selection of beers, wine and a decent menu for cocktails. Oh, and board games!

There’s an ultra lax vibe – normally dim lit, a couple of turntables out playing various eras of music, friendly staff and if you’re lucky there might be a dog or two lurking about.

This time I was lucky because Ekeko Eats was doing a kitchen takeover from July 15th -17th. 

IMG_2651

If you follow this blog, then you’ll know I first fell in love with a Ekeko Eats via a last minute decision to split a pork bao at the Restless Natives Festival

So, on a Saturday Mr. Snacks and I popped into Dukes as very keen beans and were close to first in ordering two bao. Tiger eats Pig and Tiger eats Veg.

Now, I do love my vegetables – especially when deep fried (it’s the Texan in me), but the pork was yet again spot on. Really soft and nicely seasoned, but not too soggy with sauce. Both bao really benefited from the crunch of fresh veg and I really enjoyed the bit of kimchi on the veggie bao. I’m not entirely sure what veg made up the fritter… I want to say courgette was present… it was delicious all the same.

IMG_2637Both steamed buns were nice and fluffy… but one bao is not enough for my gut. We went back for chicken wings. I would have ordered the miso corn as well, as miso is such a great flavor, but I have some serious qualms with eating corn on the cob in public. I’m a messy eater, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

Anyway… chicken wings. The slaw was simple and tasty- nice vinegar (rice vinegar?) taste which helped off set the the fried aspect of the chicken. While I did enjoy these very much I think the wings could have been covered in a bit more sauce as there was a little tease of some, but I would have preferred some bolder Asian flavors there.

IMG_2643

I can’t complain too much though, such a delicious little colorful lunch. Beer and Bao. It’s a good combination. 

And, I just love this.

IMG_2652

Ekeko Eats is currently running the kitchen at McCune Smith Cafe until July 31st. If you can, I’d suggest making a trip out east to see what’s on offer.

xx

Dukes Bar

41 Old Dumbarton Rd, Glasgow G3 8RD

Maître Choux, London

Before going on holiday, I do my research.

Usually, I’ll get a coffee, a slice of cake and browse the travel books of Waterstones like it’s my own little library. Writing a list of restaurants and bars in my travel notebook or if I’m feeling modern taking note on my phone. 

I’ll then look at reviews online and thanks to Instagram I can now look at everyone else’s food photos. Or just search whatever city I’m going to visit with ‘food’ after it and thousands of amazing photos will pop up. Easy peasy.

Before visiting London, Maître Choux is one of the first places that I pinpointed as wanting to visit. Strange, as I’m not big on eclairs… but I absolutely adore profiteroles. (Yeah, I don’t know why either).

front

As shown here and on countless other Instagram accounts, the eclairs at Maître Choux are stunning. The colors pop and each flavor of eclair is identically and delicately decorated. It’s a standard of patisserie that isn’t common or local here in Glasgow and as soon as I found out they had a pistachio flavor that was me sold.

So, we went for breakfast (I did say I have a sweet tooth) on our last day in London. This location in South Kensington was a bit out of the way from us, so we decided to dedicate our last morning to it and I cannot say I regret it or the amount of calories I consumed.

I feel like we were the definitely some of the first customers of the day. While we were browsing and quietly debating what to get, the staff was friendly and offered us one of their chouquettes each. This is basically just plain choux pastry with pearl sugar on top, but it was insanely delicious. I was expecting it to be really tough, especially with no filling to moisten the pastry, but it was incredibly light and had a very slight crisp to it. I could essentially eat them like a bag of crisps.

So, it was really tough to choose between everything, but I was already keen on the pistachio before arrival. We decided to split three whole eclairs between us- Pistachio, Raspberry with a Macaron top, and Coffee. As we were sitting in, we also ordered two cappuccinos. 

Image-2

I wouldn’t say the coffee was anything special, just normal. I get the impression this isn’t really a place to ‘sit in’ – it’s a very small narrow shop with two little tables crammed at the back. We both had carry on suitcases with us which added extra awkwardness. If you can, I’d suggest taking them away.

But, as we were sitting in the staff provided us with two additional chouquettes on our slab of pastry. Which of course we ate. No regrets.

In terms of the eclairs, I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews between amazing and overrated. The word overpriced was thrown in a lot. To me, I didn’t have too much of an issue with the price, because the appearance is part of what makes these eclairs so photogenic. Obviously you want them to taste amazing as well, but there is a lot that goes into the decor and the preparation so to me, 5-6 pounds while I’m on holiday… that’s fine. You’re definitely not going to eat these every day.

IMG_2351

So, out of what we had the chouquettes and the raspberry eclair were the best. The raspberry eclair and a nice light texture because of the macaron top, but also had the strongest flavor because of the fresh raspberry puree. The vanilla creme was really smooth – it all worked well. This one is special. 

The pistachio was the next favorite, but the flavors were a lot more subtle. I wouldn’t say this one was mind blowing, but delicious all the same. Lots of creamy filling, but it just needs a little more pistachio flavor. 

IMG_9538

The coffee eclair, sadly was my least favorite and in fact wasn’t too impressive flavor wise. Again, the coffee taste was weak and I’m definitely a triple shot kind of girl. The inside was a creme pat/whipped cream mix and I think there just too much dairy weakening the coffee taste. 

IMG_2350

That being said, it still gets top marks from me. On all the eclairs the choux pastry was sturdy, but not crunchy or too tough. These little lovelies would make for a very fancy Friday treat or in my case a very decadent breakfast of champions. It transported me to France, if only for a few bites. Honestly, the colors… and those little chouquettes. Magnifique! 

If there ever is a next time I’d be tempted to get the raspberry one again and try something chocolatey. Chocolate is always rich in flavor. 

Image

xx

Maître Choux
15 Harrington Rd, London SW7 3ES