Grey diamante studded tee
Pale pink palazzo trousers - both Toppers
Black sandals - Office
Necklaces - Vintage and from Singapore

Friday Cheat Lunch
Made a batch of homemade fishcakes last week and froze a tupperware full of them,
added a couple to some carrot and cucumber sticks then purchased one of those M&S
salad pots, quinoa and crayfish, splash of fesh lime juice, et voila!
Still 65% homemade!



Lace and mesh dress - Topshop
Chelsea boots - Ebay
Red suede and embossed leather bag - Bolivia travels
Sunnies - Dries again

Nigel Slater's Lamb Wrap
I love the Observer Food Monthly and last month did all of the easy step recipes by the Slater.
This is so simple and tasty, just cook off the mince with the usual subjects, onions, garlic then add spices like cumin
and mix in chopped olives, pomegrante, pine nuts and minty yoghurt.



Silk tank in my fav egg yoke shade - mums
Slim fit 3/4 trousers - from Argentina travels
Multi strap wedges - Oasis
Patent white bag - YSL

Egg and Pork Fried Rice
Double left over meal using the bbq pork and last nights rice in super quick fried rice.
Fried egg, with courgette chunks, peas, corriander and pork served with pak choi in oyster sauce
and a chilli flake, soy and agave nectar drizzling sauce.



Oversized asymmetric top - Topshop
Pale green bleach skinnies - Cheap Mondays
Black suede heeled boots - Zara
Monochrome striped bucket bag - Beacon's Closet
Necklace - H&M
Gold ring - YSL

BBQ Pork Revamped
Warm evenings = bbq and chargrilled leftovers
Last nights pork revamped into pork and noodle asain lettuce wraps.
Chunky carrot, pepper and cucmber slices
with spring onion, soy and sesame vermicilli noodles assembled with the marinated meat make for a tasty lunch.
Sweet chilli sauce and homemade satay sauce also great for dunking the veg!



Since its back to work time, here is round 2 of my what I make of my cupboard and fridge contents. 

I missed heels on holiday so made a bit of an effort on Monday, sure it won't last and with my stomach fully stretched thought a hefty lunch was in order.
Black Scallop Vest
Trelis print chiffon trousers
Nude seude cutwork heels - all Topshop
Dusky pink buckle belt - Notting Hill Vintage
Engraved floral necklace - vintage
Sunnies - Dries Van Noten

Sunday lamb shank leftovers transformed...
to a yoghurt and cardamon based curry
with wild rice, green beans and minty yoghurt dressing.


Scotland Roadtripping III

The sun has got his hat on as we wave bye bye to Oban and hit the winding road again, this time heading northwards to another whisky destination. Trailing round the castle speckled coast passed Fort William and Mallaig and everywhere inbetween, then a hop on the ferry takes us to the Isle of Skye. Major food highs here from 50p oysters and excellent fried breakfast with a loch side view, as well as dramatic scenery highlights.

We filled the days with black sand beach walking, rock roaming and of course eating. We munched our way round Portree to Talisker. Happily stumbling across the odd local gem like the oyster sorting shed in Talisker,  selling oysters for a pittance, served straight up or embellished with a dash of Tobasco if you wished.

When not eating we scooted around from in search of sheep skin rugs, picking up harris tweed scarves and stocked up on Aran jumpers from raiding the odd local chazza shop. Also soaked up a little sun on the northern part of the island at Coral Bay with its sub tropical looking beach and crystal waters, I learnt the hard way however inviting the lapping sapphire waves may be we are still nearer the north pole than the equator! Making the most of the sea we dabbled in a bit of fishing, where I proved to turn around the fishing dry spell and caught the first pollock in over a week!
With our island adventure drawing to a close we set off for a lunchtime treat, to The Three Chimneys. With over full bellies we crossed back over to the main land for a quick stopover in Loch Ness then with sad faces, but relieved arteries we headed through the patchwork rapeseed fields to the Granite City.

Every route is a scenic route - Oban to Isle of Skye
Portree harbour / Ragged rock cliffs
Adidas, grey marl and black sand / Pebble beach
Waterfall /Walking
Cuillin mountain range / The Pollock
Loch side reading / Loch side Full Scottish, you've gotta love the green
Coral Bay and Harris Tweed / Cows on the beach
Homeward bound - yellow rapeseed fields

After clocking up over 900 miles, 4 full Scottish breakfasts, a dozen of castles, 3 chippers visited and dozens of Negroni's later it's back to the big smoke. All I can say is "Visit Scotland!"


Lunch: The Three Chimneys

The Three Chimneys and House Over-by Colbost, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye IV55 8ZT
01470 511258      
2 courses £28.50 / 3 courses £37.00

After the odd lacklustre meal we decided a treat meal to the personally recommended Three Chimneys was in order. The quaint cottage turned restaurant and guesthouse resting by Loch Dunvegan was an idyllic spot. And seemed to be one of two places flexing their culinary local muscles competitively, by utilising the stunning scenery and local produce simultaneously, albeit at a price. (The other one being the sole Michelin star holder on the island Kinloch Lodge.)

Upon entering there was a whiff of vague pompousness about the place and the atmosphere was much like a library. However I the look of the set menu was undisputedly inviting; there was promise on the horizon.

We ventured straight to the mains and whilst we waited I gazed at the charcoal walls and slate plates then spotted the odd sea life creature glass figurine. I totted up that we were being served by three suited waiters but also three awkward water pouring girls. It seemed to be textbook; right down to the toilets and the uneconomical use of individual towels replacing the pedestrian paper towel. It was evident that the misleading criteria of what makes an award winning restaurant was being rigorously adhered to. I preferred the hints of humbler more amateur beginnings that still peaked through.

When the hake arrived it had a pleasant charred dimension but lacked the expected crispy skin. The accompanying squid was sweet but monkfish was for need of a better expression, was a bit meh. I was fond of the bed of mellow purees. Although the potato add on could have benefited with crisp edges to add a crunch to the other more subtle segments.

The smoke of the bacon was a perfect friend for Andrew’s woody pigeon, shame it didn't stay and party for longer than the first note. The scones sat on the side like soggy jus drenched wallflowers whilst the purée and turnip sticks made a notable effort to step up to the boldness of the attention deserving pigeon.

Now this was more like it. Cheese platter: good. Perfect quartet of a smooth and strong local cheddar, lightly soured crowdie, Strachmore blue and Brie overflowing with ripe ooze plated up with homemade oatcake triangles, spicy pear chutney and red grapes.

The hot marmalade pudding sent me straight off the comfortably full fine line. It was molten and moist like the top of a sticky toffee pud but perked up by zesty slithers.  The Drambuie custard was as much to blame for my suffering, the spiced booze edge made me consume spoonful after spoonful far too easily.

Petit fours arrived with our heftily flavoured espressos. Although the chocolate madeleine’s and tablet squares wouldn't have been missed, both lacked the copious amounts of butter they are celebrated for which give them their characteristic moistness and silken texture respectively. The mini chilled bounty balls and thin shortbreads were quite lovely though.

Lunch was enjoyable but if I could give a message to Michael Smith and his team, it would be to lay back and fortify. To fine tune the good thing they already have but lay off the obligatory high class dining stuffiness (praise to the younger blonde chap who was a delight) and to action the less is more mentality on the flavours. Simplicity and more smiles please.


Scotland Roadtripping II

Monachyle Mohr is what so many boutique hoteliers aim to be but through lack of genuinity fail quite far off the mark. Lewis and team succeeded above and beyond, even convincing me that country life, at Monachyle Mhor anyway, was the life for me! It was a very sad Sunday when we left, the weather was sad for us as we headed for the west coast the legendary Scottish showers followed us. Not to worry the grey clouds did not defeat us, thanks to AC DC and Fleetwood Mac.

After dumping our bags in our new b&b home we headed for the Oban shoreline, with one colour in mind. Green. For green is where the hut lies and the seafood dreams begin...

half dozen oysters / a pot of shrimp
white and brown crab meat plus claw / razor clams

Ambiguity aside, Andrew had heard of the legend of the green hut, that has been a local hub for dispensing seafood from the boats (into hungry mouths) before the restaurants get their mitts on it for longer than our years. The staff led by courdrouyed and flat capped founder Johnnie feed the eager and the greedy demanding the change in your pockets in exchange for succulent sea treats. Our inital order was for half a dozen oysters, pot of shrimp and some mussels - made to order by Johnnie, who throws in a good story whilst he heats them with tomatoes garlic and ahem "sparkling white wine".

We perched ourselves on the adjacent benches and watched the ferries and fishing boats come in and out, until we got word of a small lot of razor clams were coming. So to bide the time we tucked into some crab needing only a squeeze of lemon. The small order ended up being nearly ten but not enough for two portions so we agreed to have them all, like the mussels they were tossed in butter and garlic and served with some brown Hovis. As simple as they come and as fresh as possible. Everything was succulent and bursted with sweetness, and all for a peasantly thirteen pound coins and maybe some silver!

Other Oban activities included a boozy ferry trip to the Isle of Mull to see Duart Castle and "fly cup" (mid morn tea) at the WI run tea room. Fantastic homebakes as you would expect. Also the first out of two whiskey distillery tours and tasting. All very good, but no so good is the chipper with Rick Steins face in the window, a prime example of false advertising.


Dinner: Monachyle Mhor

Monachyle Mohr Hotel - Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, FK19 8PQ       
01877 384622 
5 course meal £47
Everything about the Mhor had exceeded all expectations, the complimentary homemade shortbread was buttery and textured, and service was faultlessly friendly, atmospheric morning mist and view as standard and not one interior design faux pas! With all but one box ticked, I was pretty certain Lewis would not disappoint on the main event.
I was fairly happy to trade in the gortex for chiffon and heels but a bit too overzealous for dinner to commence. So much so that we had to wait for our table and ended up catching the rest of the sunset with a glass of crisp white and a trio of nibblets. The creamed salmon balancing on the blue potato crisp was devoured in a oner so too were the others, but not to worry we were escorted to the ivy coloured dining room just in time to embark on the rest of the well crafted feast.
After a gander at the menu I was giddy. The mini courses sounded food enough to eat as a main – how could you not want more than one oyster and razor clam finely diced and dressed in garden herbs?  Perhaps because your head is telling you that you have four, potentially five other plates ahead of you before you flop into your bed and into the finishing line. Thank you wise old head for stopping me from having one and not three of the freshly baked mutli seed buns, leaving more room for my pork belly confit starter and apple snaps and for a bite of Andrews open wild garlic ravioli.
A refreshing shot of blended mint, pea and lettuce later we were primed for the next round. The famed Scottish beef in the short rib form went to Andrew and I went surf with sole and romesco sauce. The fish was milky and delicate but amply jazzed up by the nuttiness of the sauce, the velvety Shetland black potatoes and the bite of the sprouting broccoli.
I eat anything once, but return for flavours I know I like or a combination of, that I might like more when put together. Banana, is a grey area, I tend to eat it for nutritional value but not really for flavour. The desert was tricky territory, a slightly grown up twist on a banana sundae - vanilla parfait and homemade banana marshmallows with chocolate lattices. Another round of applause for Lewis, it was spectacular! Waxy banana was banished and in its place were aerated clouds of tropicalness, cushioned between familiar vanilla notes and brought to attention by shadowy dark cocoa. 
Sweet cubes of homemade chocolate fudge and Scottish tablet arrived with our espressos, and sent our taste buds adrift on waves of silky sweetened cream. Obesity would have surely beckoned if faced with a box of these. With bellies satisfied we retired to bed taking our cheeseboard with us, to have with some home mixed Negroni's! As that’s the beauty of having a destination restaurant at the bottom of the stair case, a couple of dozen steps to looser clothes and a feather down bed.

 I would have quite happily detoured from the main road for an hour or so to sample the above, the drive and backdrop to the glorious food is a third of why I recommend the Mhor in spadefuls. The second is the spot on food (and impeccable thoughtful service) and the fact that a meal of that calibre cost me a mere forty something British pounds!
Lewis has made the best of his seclusion amongst the glens by pioneering the use of local produce and the slow food movement which he holds at the core if his food. Resulting in the best ingredients cooked honestly. It's as if all the culinary components were long lost friends joyously reuniting on the plate, bouncing off each other merrily without the need to vie for attention. This is Monachyle Mhor’s forte, to plate up flavours made for each other but in an uncomplicated way, simply because the ingredients don't need it.


Scotland Roadtripping

Despite the regular scheduled posts I have been on holiday and swapped keypad tapping for roadtripping around Scotland. From Perthshire to the west coast across to the Misty Isle and home via Loch Ness. With dramatic scenery to match Canada, Scotland attracts all those active fleece wearers, however I did not partake in heavily weathering up my converse any further but did enjoy calorific full breakfast fuel and the loch side resting.

Dangerously famed for fish n chip suppers and hearty fried breakfasts but also for some of the finest seafood in the land I felt it was only fair to sample all of the above in excess. There is a sparsity in outfits as I lived in comfy loungewear, a lot of elasticated joggers, in muted snake print and bleached denim or navy chinos with a slouchy marled t-shirt mix up and the trusty leather biker.

1 out 3 fish and chips I sampled - Mhor Fish tops them all
1 out of 4 occasions I slurped oysters - incredible at all locations
First leg was to a far flung corner of the Trossachs National Park to Monachyle Mhor Hotel, the centre piece of the mini franchise of chef cum farmer Tom Lewis. Made up of a collection of postcard perfect miniature farm building conversions decked out in moody stone and bark hues, with vibrant tartans and an envious highland horn collection, all resting on glens flecked with sheep and overlooking the placcid Loch Voil. 

Just some of the interior highlights in the very cosy snug.
Best of all: Black Betty!

Morning, noon and night Lewis serves up food dear to his heart and heritage, sourced either from his back garden or the wider local fields and farms, resulting in fresh and satisfying meals all dished up with a generous helping of the glen side view. A little further down the road is his quaint teahouse and a little more afield in Callander lies the Mhor bakery and chipper, all serving up some of the best food of the holiday bar the green hut which comes a wee hit later. 

Since breakfast is THE most important meal of the day Lewis likes to serve up 3 courses of it!
First up are freshly baked scones with marmalade or on Easter Sunday a hot cross bun the size of a party balloon!
Followed by homemade compotes like cardamon spiced fig, then...
A choice of the Main Deals:
Smoked salmon and scramblers - Classic and the best I have had to date.
Super creamy eggs and smouldering salmon

Number 1 out of 4 Fried Scottish Breakfasts:
Duck Egg, Haggis and the usual suspects. All perfection
Three courses to kick start the day calls for a light 9 mile walk to build the hunger for another multiple coursed meal...