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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Yesterday, the sun was shining gloriously in my part of the world.

Being keen to make the most of the fine weather, delightful assistant no.1 and I zipped off Kinross-wards, to the Loch Leven Heritage Trail.

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Loch Leven has quite a bit to offer the visitor.

Not only is it a nature reserve of particular interest to birders, but there’s a castle in the middle of the loch where Mary Queen of Scots was once held captive. You can visit the castle via a small boat trip.

There are over 12 miles of level paths round the loch which are ideal for walkers, cyclists, wheelchairs and motorised scooters.

Perhaps best of all, to my way of thinking, Loch Leven’s Larder – a tip top food stop – sits near the banks of the loch and provides the ideal place for a tasty luncheon.

In order to make the most of the facilities, we parked in the Larder’s car park and went for a brisk walk to work up our appetites.

Tall reeds were growing in the marshy land beside the loch:

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Their golden colour made me dream of summer.

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The delightful assistant spotted some silkily soft pussy willow catkins. We stopped and stroked them, in time honoured fashion.

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There were also some magnificent Scots pine trees, with their beautiful bark lit up by the sunlight:

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Our walk did the trick, giving us the appetites we needed. I was close to desperate for a bite of something by the time we were sitting in the cafe perusing the menu.

I opted for one of the soups of the day, kale and potato, which came with not one, but two, pieces of deliciously fluffy freshly baked bread:

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It was tasty, filling and no doubt very nutritious, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Delightful assistant no.1 also enjoyed her choice of toasted ciabatta with brie and chicken, which came with an interesting looking coleslaw and root vegetable crisps:

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Loch Leven’s Larder is one of those places that has rather a mindboggling selection of sweet treats, and on this occasion the desserts included a special pudding of plum and apple crumble with custard.

Despite the temptation of that, and many other delicious looking items, I couldn’t – as I rarely can – get past the idea of a scone.

The scone options were as follows: fruit, plain, cheese and….chocolate and marshmallow.

I’m pretty sure that before yesterday I had never seen a chocolate and marshmallow scone. Although I did waver for a moment between that and the fruit scone, I grasped the nettle and plunged into new territory.

I teamed it up with a decaf cappuccino, while the delightful assistant settled for a lovely pot of tea and a ‘little taste’ of my scone.

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I wasn’t at all sure how the marshmallow would manifest itself, but it appeared to be a sort of shiny hardened area that I’m afraid I haven’t photographed very well (it’s the slightly shiny bit beneath the pale bit to the left of the photo below):

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Was it a success, this teaming of chocolate and marshmallow in a scone?

Decidedly, yes.

I don’t know how many excellent dining experiences I’ve chalked up now at this fine establishment, but I can assure anyone looking for a decent scone near Kinross that they’re sure to find something highly satisfactory at Loch Leven’s Larder.

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As I’m sure many other people do, I write down quotes that amuse me.

Many of these come from the mouths of the two delightful assistants, aka my mum and dad, and I record them in this book:

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A plain burgundy hardback notebook – it doesn’t look much from the outside but there are treasures within.

It’s quite old, this notebook. In fact, it dates back to the 1960s, when it belonged to my dad.

He had the idea of using it to record the books he’d read and the first 18 pages have a book title on each one.

This is the very first entry, showing a book that was read to him in 1967 (by my eldest brother, he thinks), and then read by him on three more occasions before 1970. He must have really liked it.

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Page one of the burgundy notebook.

I’ve tried to do this sort of thing myself, but I invariably forget to add some books as I finish them and eventually the project dies a natural death.

Much more successful has been my recording of quotes.

Over the years my dear pater has been getting deafer and deafer and some of the quotes that tickle me most are those involving his mishearing of things other people say. The quotes that follow will probably appeal to my immediate family more than anyone else, but you might be able to imagine the amusement caused.

My sister: “I want to see your receipt.”

Dad: “My feet?”

My sister: “RECEIPT!”

Dad: “Oh. I thought you were thinking about getting me slippers for Christmas.”

Mum: “There’s three bags to take to Flora’s.”

Dad: “Did you say something to me about teabags?”

My sister: “I meant to bring slips.”

Dad: “You met Prince Philip?”

Dad: “I think I”ll have a wee sit down.”

Mum: “I think you should have a big sit down.”

Dad: “Yes, I think I will have a biscuit.”

Recently my mum’s started to mishear things occasionally, too, such as the time when there was excavation work being done in the garden and one of the diggers (a JCB) got an oil leak.

Lorna: “Dad gave a hand towel to Derek, the boy with the JCB.”

Mum: “What boy who died of TB?”

Both of the parents can be quite droll.

Lorna: “I know a trick with a cake.”

Mum: “Do you? It’s called the vanishing trick. You vanish with the cake, is that right?”

My brother Fergus: “The Tay and Forth bridges were closed.”

Mum: “Entirely closed?”

Dad: “No, just half way across.”

Mum: “You really are looking slimmer today.”

Dad: “I’m wearing a tight vest.”

Lorna (to Dad): “And what made you change your mind?”

Mum: “Common sense.”

Dad: “Or a nagging wife.”

Mum: “It comes to the same thing.”

If you’ve read this far you’ll be needing a picture by now. Here’s an apple and cranberry scone I had earlier this week at Gloagburn Farm Shop and Tearoom:

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A festive apple and cranberry scone at Gloagburn, surprisingly flavoured with vanilla. Delightful assistant no.1 wasn’t too struck by the vanilla addition but I enjoyed it.

In addition to the book of quotes I’m thinking of collecting together my mum’s wise sayings. These are statements that she comes out with now and then, and in which she appears to believe completely and utterly. For example:

“It’s easier to get a fat person thin than a thin person fat.”

“The hours before midnight are more beneficial than those after.”

When I was at university one of my chums was entertained by the fact that I often wrote down word for word the things our lecturers said. My lecture notes frequently had things scribbled on them in quotation marks, and after seeing me do this she began doing it herself.

Little did I know that she was transferring them into a notebook which she eventually gave me for Christmas, on the front of which she had written “Lorna’s little book”.

I still have that book and some of the quotes inside it are from a rather eccentric chap who taught Behavioural Ecology. He was a bit absent-minded but very sincere and liked to make sure that we understood what he was trying to get across.

“There’s a meeting for those studying biological sciences. That’s biological science students.”

(on describing the behaviour of bee-eaters) “A bird is cleaning out a hole. You could call that hole-cleaning.”

“They move around in groups of one, which isn’t really a group at all, is it?”

Back at Gloagburn, before I ate the scone pictured above I had a very filling and tasty sandwich. If I were to ask you to guess the filling I wonder what you’d say:

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What’s in the sandwich?

The sandwich filling was, in fact, curried banana chutney with cheese.

Lastly, here’s something my dad said to a nurse at the local medical centre recently when he was going for a general health check. I can imagine him speaking in his usual confident manner, and the nurse looking astonished. He says her eyebrows shot up as he was speaking.

Nurse: “How tall are you?”

Dad: “I can’t remember it in metric but I do remember the feet and inches: 8 ft 5. When I went into the army they measured me and said they’d build me up. Do people shrink as they get older? Because I think I’m smaller than I used to be.”

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The delightful assistants: smaller than they’re prepared to admit.

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Nestling quietly down a back street in the small town of Blair Atholl in Perthshire there sits an interesting old stone building.

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Blair Atholl Watermill: a building housing unexpected delights.

A watermill was first sited at this spot in the 1590s and more than 420 years later it’s being used for the same purpose -viz. the milling of cereals. The current building dates to around 1830:

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Blair Atholl Watermill: a robust construction looking tip-top at 180 years old.

Production stopped in the late 1920s, but after renovation work in the 1970s the mill was up and running again, and is now producing a range of flours and oatmeal, all stoneground in the traditional fashion.

Most wonderfully of all, Blair Atholl Watermill has a tearoom:

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The rustic interior of Blair Atholl Watermill’s tearoom, housed in what was once the kiln drying floor.

Yesterday afternoon I found myself there, along with various family members, for afternoon refreshments.

There were a number of tempting looking cakes on offer, and after some deliberation I dived headlong into a slice of chocolate cake:

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Chocolate cake with creamy looking icing.

I’m sometimes a bit wary of icing, since it can be very sweet and sickly, but to my utter delight, the icing on this cake was a sort of creamy fluffy chocolatey mousse, light and airy and almost like a pudding in itself.

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Two puddings rolled into one: cake with mousse on top.

Had I not gone for the chocolate cake, I would probably have plumped for a fruit scone, which was what my brother had:

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I have had a fruit scone here before, and what I particularly remember about it is the lustrous blackcurrant jam it came with.

Thankfully I have a visual record of it:

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Glossy blackcurrant jam glistening atop a fruit scone.

My mum had a slice of Victoria sponge, which appeared to have been made with some wholemeal flour or perhaps brown sugar, or both, and was devoid of decoration but pleasingly tall:

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Large and upright: a decent sized slice of Victoria sponge.

My dad chose the carrot cake which, like my chocolate cake, was topped with a creamy looking wodge of icing:

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Carrot cake topped with a thick layer of creamy icing.

My sister had a piece of tiffin (a chocolatey biscuity traybake) but I’m sorry to say the picture I took of it is rather out of focus. Instead, let me show you the magnificent latte with which I slooshed down my cake (the tiffin can be glimpsed peeking out in the background to the right, behind the latte):

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A fine latte filled beyond the brim.

One thing I like when it comes to a hot beverage is a decent full cup, and the Blair Atholl Watermill scored top marks in that department.

My latte had a noble bearing, knightly one might say. I imagined it having begun life on its knees, so to speak, when the coffee was put into the glass, and risen to stand proud when filled up with milk and capped with foam. The barista invested it with a flourish of chocolate sprinkles, the insignia of the Order of Coffee Toppings. I may be getting a bit carried away here, but it was a very fine beverage.

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Arise, Sir Latte.

Had the weather been different, it might have been nice to sit out in the tea garden, but alas it was a trifle dampish:

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The Tea Garden: a little too damp for al fresco dining.

A railway line runs through Blair Atholl, and to get to and from the Watermill you have to cross it. Although I always hope to see a train, I tend to be a bit nervous about driving across railway lines, in case there’s a fault with the lights and a train’s coming but you’re not alerted to the fact:

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Blair Atholl railway crossing.

Last time I was there, on the other side of the crossing, the lights came on and a train whizzed past.

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Barriers down and lights flashing at Blair Atholl railway crossing.

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A train whizzing through Blair Atholl, I was very glad the barriers had come down.

Yesterday, the nearby railway bridge was looking attractive with autumnal colours in the trees and mist rolling across the hillside:

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Autumn colours at Blair Atholl railway bridge.

If you’re thinking of visiting Blair Atholl this year, and hoping for tasty bites at the Watermill, you’ll need to be quick because it closes for the season at the end of this month.

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One day last week the weather forecast showed the whole of Scotland under cloud apart from one little triangle in the Aberdeenshire/Banffshire area on the east coast.

Chasing forecasts often proves a futile business in this country, but as it happens on this occasion the forecasters got it bang on.

Delightful assistant no.1 and I hopped into the motor and sped off in the right direction, stopping en route at the splendid Balmakewan, where we partook of light refreshments.

A flat white with coffee and walnut cake for my delightful assistant:

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Imagine sinking your teeth into an extremely light, soft and delicious coffee sponge cake with unbelievably fluffy icing that melts as soon as it hits the tongue, and you’re part of the way to having the Balmakewan coffee walnut cake experience.

I had a very hard time choosing what to have, as Balmakewan always has a painfully extensive selection of delectable goodies on offer, but in the end I plumped for this coconut affair with blueberries and raspberries through it, accompanied by a first class decaf flat white:

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We decided to share these two items and while the coconut cakey thing was certainly very palatable, we agreed that the coffee walnut cake was outstandingly good.  I’m sure I’ve never had fluffier butter icing in any cake.

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A delicious duo with first class flat whites to wash them down with.

We left Balmakewan feeling that our day had got off to an excellent start. The weather was not particularly good but we had high hopes for our destination.

Around about lunchtime we reached the twin towns of Banff and Macduff, which lie on the Moray coast, and headed for Duff House.

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Duff House is a rather magnificent Georgian building designed by William Adam in the 1730s:

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Today it’s used by the National Galleries of Scotland to house some of their artworks, with the building being maintained by Historic Scotland and Aberdeenshire Council, but it was originally built by a chap called William Duff (aka Lord Braco, later 1st Earl of Fife).

William Duff had a large family, and even though the side wings Adam designed were never built, I expect the 50 rooms they ended up with were quite sufficient.

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Room for a small one?

I thought the building had many lovely features, but the curving staircases at the front were a particular favourite:

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Due to a broken pelvis that continues to heal slowly, going round the inside of the house with all its floors and stairs wasn’t really possible for my delightful assistant, but there was one area of the building she was very capabale of reaching.

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A sign to gladden the heart – tasty morsels this way!

Inside, the tearoom had the same sort of feel I’ve noticed in other National Gallery tearooms, being light, airy and tastefully decorated. The history of Duff House was written up on the wall in a timeline with photographs, which made for interesting reading.

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The menu was not extensive, nor did it cater particularly well for vegetarians, but there were various sandwiches to be had and I opted for egg while my delightful assistant went for tuna. I’m pleased to say that the sandwich far exceeded my expectations, being freshly made on very tasty brown bread and served with a delightful little carrot salad.

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One very nice surprise was that there was ‘proper’ tea, by way of leaf tea popped into long teabags of the sort that appear to be getting more popular in Scotland’s tearooms.

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We ordered a pot of Assam and a pot of Darjeeling and they were both tip-top. I often find I’m squeezing out the last cup from a teapot when I take tea, but in this case I had to leave some as there was so much to begin with (I managed three cupfuls):

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I don’t take sugar, but I liked the way it was served at Duff House, in a little kilner jar with lid (no flies landing on these lumps) and tongs on the side (hygenically encouraging people not to dive in with their dirty great mitts):

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The facilities at Duff House were another fine feature of the building, being nicely tiled in green and white with pull chain cisterns above the loos:

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After lunch we waved goodbye to Duff House and made our way along the coast to have a look at the two little villages of Gardenstown and Crovie, but I’ll save those for another post.

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As you may be aware, a British royal baby is due to see the light of day in the middle of July this year, first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge playing at being Canadian Rangers.

Coincidentally, Twinings have brought out a bit of inspiration for anyone wondering how to toast the new infant, in the form of three new caddies featuring their Earl Grey, English Breakfast and Peppermint teabags.

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Rather splendidly I’ve received one of each of these delightful caddies, along with a Twinings pinny. The pinny pocket can, at a squeeze, accommodate all three caddies.

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You may already know the origins and rituals of afternoon tea, but if you’d like a little education or instruction, Twinings have helpfully devoted a page to the subject, entitled English Afternoon Tea, on their website.

I don’t know what time of day the average aristocrat gets up in the morning these days, but I suspect that in the Victorian era they liked a lie-in. I deduce this from the fact that they took their dinner rather late in the evening, which was what prompted Anne, the 7th Duchess of Bedford to popularise the business of taking afternoon tea.

The Duchess was Queen Victoria’s personal assistant, and I daresay that meant she had to eat her main meals at times dictated by the monarch. However, she found the stretch between lunch and dinner too long to bear without sustenance, and so she came up with the idea of taking tea and a few snacks mid-afternoon to keep the wolf from the door.

I can understand the Duchess’s problem, for I myself begin to get hunger pangs at the traditional afternoon tea stage (between 4pm and 6pm). However, I deal with this by eating my evening meal shortly after 5pm, and getting tucked up in bed nice and early, around the time the Duchess would have been sitting down to her evening repast. Due to dining so early, I don’t often indulge in the tradition that is afternoon tea, but I have a cunning solution that makes sure I don’t miss out, viz. every now and then I take afternoon tea in place of luncheon.

What with getting these lovely tea caddies, and the sun blazing from a blue sky on Saturday, the delightful assistants and I plumped for an afternoon tea picnic in the garden.

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We drank our fill of Twinings English Breakfast tea and, not for the first time, it occurred to me that this tea is misnamed. English Breakfast seems to me to be much more an afternoon type beverage than a morning one, and it certainly slipped down a treat with our teatime fare.

It was the perfect opportunity to make use of my tea and toast sets (or, as I like to call them, teacuplates), saucers that merge into plates, providing an ideal afternoon-tea-size treat area.

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There are certain things one ought to produce for an afternoon tea, namely tea, dainty crustless sandwiches (I saved the crusts to make breadcrumbs), small scones and nibbles of cake. (Twinings have more afternoon tea ideas on their website.)

Here we have some finger sandwiches made from soya and linseed bread with spinach and roasted ‘chicken’ (actually meat-free Quorn):

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Fluffy white bread sandwiches with sliced Quorn cocktail sausages, and cheese scones:

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I enjoyed making butter curls for the scones with a clever little metal gadget.

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The cheese scones were available in two sizes – small:

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and tiny:

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My dad perched a blueberry on one half of his tiny scone to give an idea of scale (the cutter I used has a diameter of 3cm):

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The reason I made savoury, rather than sweet, scones was because afternoon tea tends to veer towards the sweet and I often find myself craving a bit more savoury to balance all the cakes out.

On the topic of cakes, we had mini raspberry buns (a vanilla cake mix with a blob of raspberry jam in the middle of the bun), topped with whipped cream and a raspberry:

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On a few of the buns the jam was visible from the outside, owing to me being somewhat heavy handed with the jam.

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There were also chocolate fruit and nut clusters (melted Cadbury’s Dairy Milk with as many currants and chopped nuts as I could squash into a petit fours case),

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small slices of Border tart (a rich fruit tart in a pastry-type base, which I discovered is very difficult to cut into thin slices), and my mum’s excellent seed and peel cake.

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I can’t remember how old I was when I first developed a taste for tea and small treats, but I feel fairly certain that this somewhat disgruntled photograph was taken when I had been put into my pram for a sleep while my parents were sitting down to afternoon tea without me:

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And this one was taken on a far happier occasion, when I was informed that I was to join them in their tea taking:

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I hope that the new royal baby will have many happy years ahead of him/her devouring a wide variety of afternoon tea treats, and that he/she will become an excellent ambassador for the institution that is a good British* afternoon tea.

*Great British traditions such as taking afternoon tea, obsessing about the weather, apologising when someone bumps into you in the street and supporting the underdog at Wimbledon are some of the things that might just tip the balance against Scotland becoming an independent country next year. I like being Scottish but equally I like being British and I don’t relish having to choose between the two.

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Quite a while ago I drove through the village of Muthill in Perthshire and noticed a very interesting looking establishment:

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Birdhouse Bakery: a bakery that looked to me enticingly like a tearoom.

It appeared to be a tearoom, which is always a sight that fills me with joy, but it looked as if it had been closed for a while. It was mid-winter and I assumed that this was the reason, but perhaps it had closed down for good.

Muthill is not a place I pass through very often, but ever since that first sighting it’s been at the back of my mind to have another bash at visiting the Birdhouse Bakery, in the hope of finding it open and serving the punters.

A few days ago, in the company of my two delightful assistants, that ambition was realised.

Since it was about 12:30 and the tearoom looked fairly small from outside, I was worried it was going to be packed out. Luckily, we sneaked in before the lunchtime rush.

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Delightful assistant no.2 going to look at the blackboard menu and taking in the cake display en route.

One of the things that immediately caught our attention was the wallpaper on one wall, which was chock-a-block with birdhouses and birds. We found a nice little table for three perched up against it.

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Close-up of the Birdhouse Bakery wallpaper

There was a little bird nesting on our table, too.

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After perusing the blackboard, delightful assistant no.1 and I ordered the day’s hot special: vegetarian quiche with salad,

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while delightful assistant no.2 opted for chicken and avocado salad,

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which came with some very tasty home-made soda bread.

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We all chose tea to drink, which came in a teapot with an avian chum atop it,

and some pretty teacups.

On this occasion, we decided to pass up the cake counter in order to drive on and see other places, but I have promised delightful assistant no.1 that one day soon we’ll go back just for the cakes. I must say, the scones looked very promising.

I’m delighted to have sampled this tearoom at last, and am looking forward to a return visit. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to include it in my tearoom guidebook because I think it should certainly be in there.

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As mentioned in my last post, the delightful assistant and I took ourselves to a new tearoom in Callander the other day. (New to me, that is, although the delightful assistant was sure she’d been there before.)

I’m not sure why, but I had been anticipating something quite refined, possibly with starched white linen tablecloths.

The reality was quite different, with mismatched old chairs and something of a studenty feel about it.

It took me a few minutes to readjust my thinking, but when I had, I settled in very nicely.

This tearoom is part of a larger Mhor family, incluing Mhor Fish (a fish and chip shop in Callander) and Mhor Hotel (a luxury boutique hotel).

In 2007 the Lewis family, who own and run the Mhor businesses, took over the Scotch Oven bakery, which had been supplying bakery items to the good people of Callander for over 100 years.

In its current guise, the bakery offers artisan breads as well as traditional Scottish bakery goods. All of the bread is handmade using locally milled flour, and I was very much looking forward to sampling it.

Given the cold weather I opted for the Soup of the Day, which was chilli, sweet potato and honey, and came dished up with chunks of locally made bread.

The delightful assisant decided to have her bread toasted, with poached eggs on top:

Before our meals came, cutlery was delivered to the table, along with some upmarket butterpats.

I got two of these for my bread, and the delightful assistant was cock-a-hoop to get no less than three for her toast.

With my first mouthful of chilli soup, steam came out of my ears and I began to breathe fire. ‘Tingled’ hardly covers it, but that was what the roof of my mouth did, and I was very glad I’d ordered a glass of tap water. I quickly slooshed some of the water down to dowse the flames, and stuffed bread in to dampen the raging inferno.

At that point I really thought I wouldn’t get through more than perhaps 3 or 4 spoonfuls of soup, but as I slowly persevered, stuffing in bread and throwing back water, I gradually became adjusted to the heat and did, in fact, manage to finish the whole lot.

As a culinary experience it was somewhat alarming at first, but it most certainly warmed me up, and the bread was absolutely top notch.

To get to the tearoom you have to go through the bakery. We did this quickly on our way in, but on our way out we lingered and observed the wares. There were pies aplenty:

There were also cakes and puddingy things. A pear tartlet (bottom right, below) was selected as a souvenir for delightful assistant no.2:

Last but not least, the bakery had some fine looking loaves on display in the window. I was tempted, but resisted.

Nicely warmed up and filled by our luncheon, we took a stroll along Callander’s main street, calling in at the rather splendidly housed tourist information centre:

We passed some interesting buildings, including this one with its name painted onto the wall:

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We were bound for a place I had specifically wanted to visit:

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This little place has quite a reputation amongst bibliophiles. It’s a well stocked and very reasonably priced second hand bookshop whose owners not only sell, but also bind, books.

I’m sure the sign in the window is applicable to a fair number of Callander’s visitors:

Inside, I was delighted to find a copy of a book I had been considering buying full price at £9.99 recently. I got it at Kings for the bargain price of one shiny new pound:

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There’s nothing like a bit of comfort food on a cold day, and when I saw these on Alice’s delicious blog, girl in a food frenzy, I was keen to make them.

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They should, by rights, be sticky on top, but due to my impatience they didn’t get the icing they deserved and had to make do with melted butter sprinkled with brown sugar instead:

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I’ve been missing my blog a little lately, but have been attempting to concentrate on writing my novel (coming along nicely, thanks for asking).

This Christmas malarky is also taking up considerable time and effort, and I’m looking forward to the new year when everything’s settled down and we’re heading into spring again.

Incidentally, for fellow bloggers, I’ve noticed over the past day or two that when I try to comment on other blogs my comments aren’t showing up the way they used to. I’m trying to get to the bottom of this, but if anyone has any bright ideas about how to fix it I’d be glad to hear them.

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There is a tearoom in the quiet village of New Galloway that comes worryingly close to perfection.

The idea of a perfect tearoom worries me on two counts:

1. I feel quite certain that it would overwhelm me

2. I suspect it might curb my enthusiasm for visiting other, lesser, tearooms

I’m afraid my photographs don’t do this place justice; ideally you’d experience it for yourself first-hand in order to soak up the refined and elegant atmosphere, but I realise that not everyone can do this so here are a few snaps to give a little flavour of it:

Everything about Kitty’s is top-notch, from the service, to the comfort, teacups, food and beverages. I sat beside the coal fire in the above picture one cold winter’s day and it was a most satisfactory experience.

My most recent visit was made a couple of weeks ago, when the delightful assistants and I zoomed our way (I was very excited to get there) from our holiday home at Culmore Bridge Cottages, to arrive in time for a spot of luncheon.

Kitty’s is situated on the main street in New Galloway, with green paint and a little flag outside that fills me with happiness:

No matter what the weather or your emotions at the time, when you cross the threshold of Kitty’s, you will almost certainly notice an elevation of the spirits. The delightful and well-presented staff are so welcoming that you could easily imagine they’d leapt out of bed that morning with the fervent hope that you, and you alone, would shimmy in and permit them to shower you with their delectable treats.

Each table is spread with two cloths, upon which teacups, milk jugs and sugar bowls with silver tongs are laid out most attractively. I was particularly pleased with my teacup on this occasion:

Kitty has a fine collection of china, displayed in glass-fronted cabinets and on shelves around the tearoom. I suspect she rotates the china laid out on the tables, because I don’t think I’ve ever been dished up the same design twice.

The china is just the start of things, and it only gets better once you peruse the menu and order your choice of grub.

Delightful assistant no.2 began his meal with cream of carrot soup, which came in a lovely wide Art Deco bowl:

He also had an enormous glass of cloudy lemonade which came with a slice of lemon in it, and followed his soup with a cheese and onion toastie:

Delightful assistant no.1 opted for the dreamily smooth and delicious leek and cheese quiche, which came as a large warm slice with salad, and was washed down with a glass of cloudy apple juice:

I very nearly went down the quiche route myself, encouraged by the waitress who was singing its praises, but all morning I had been reliving the memory of a certain dish that I’ve had here before, one of those that ranks up in the top echelon of meals enjoyed.

After a slight quichely waver, I wisely plumped for the dish of my dreams, the delectable Fat Naan – a naan bread stuffed full of curried vegetables, served with salad and a truly magnificent minted dahi (yoghurt):

It would be no exaggeration to describe this dish as divine.

After that, somewhat tragically, none of us had room of pudding. This almost made me cry because it meant I missed out on an opportunity to consume the stupendous sticky toffee pudding (I’ve had it here before and it remains in my mind as something unusually superb). However, I did enjoy a beautiful pot of Lapsang Souchong tea with my meal:

As an example of how caring the service is, along with the hot water pot in the middle of the above picture, I was given a cloth to wrap around the handle so that I could pour from the pot while maintaining a comfortable temperature in my fingers:

If you happen to be in the vicinity of New Galloway any time soon, I would strongly recommend a visit to Kitty’s Tearoom, not only because it’s an outstanding tearoom but because Kitty herself is retiring and the tearoom is now up for sale. Who knows how many more meals will grace those generously clothed tables before Kitty and her outstanding culinary skills tootle off into the sunset?

I fear that it would be a very tall order indeed for anyone to take over from her and maintain the same standards, and so I can only assume that this is the end of a truly magnificent era.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Kitty and her lovely staff, for providing me and numerous other diners with exceptional tearoom experiences over the years. I feel blessed with profoundly happy memories that I hope to retain for the rest of my days, chief amongst them those miraculously flavoursome fat naans and truly unforgettable sticky toffee puddings:

The temptingly named ‘Mata Hari’, Kitty’s delicious sticky toffee pudding

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On holiday in Galloway last month, my delightful assistants and I visited Logan Botanic Gardens:

This is a pilgrimage each of us makes, usually at least once a year. Being members of the Royal Botanic Gardens (which comprises a set of four lovely gardens in Scotland, including Logan), like true Scots, we want to get our money’s worth.

The big bonus for me is that Logan also happens to contain one of my favourite tearooms in Galloway.

At first sight the striplights and tiled floor might seem a little stark and utilitarian, but I find this place warm and welcoming and I like the bright cleanliness of it. As soon as I step through the door I get a sense of having come home.

On this occasion, we had come here not only to enjoy the tearoom and look round the garden, but also to attend the Annual General Meeting. Despite all having been members for some time, none of us had ever attended any of the AGMs, and since this one happened to be on while we were in the area, we took the opportunity to pop in.

The meeting wasn’t being held until 2pm, so we rolled up in time for morning snacks, intending to munch those, mooch round the garden, have lunch and then drop into the meeting.

I noticed behind the counter that scones were being cut out of dough, and knowing that scones only take about 10 minutes to cook, I wondered if we might partake of these when they were ready. The lovely lady who was making them said that if we didn’t mind waiting she’d bring some over to our table when they were cooked, and in the meantime fetch us beverages to be getting on with.

So, we sat down with our drinks, and a few minutes later delicious piping hot scones appeared:

They were quite small and dainty, but perfectly formed and absolutely delicious. When the bill came I was surprised at how little we were being charged, and when we queried it we discovered that they’d cut the price of the scones as they were smaller than usual.

Thus refreshed, out we trotted for some fresh air and greenery.

I could do a whole post on this garden, but I will instead limit myself to showing you a hotel complex for minibeasts:

These hotels are at the top end of the market, the minibeast equivalent of a right royal residence:

I wondered if it was Prince Charles who came up with the hotel name. I saw him at Logan Botanics a few years ago when he had turned up to open something, although I can’t now remember what. I remember it was a lovely sunny day, and he was very tanned and wearing a sandy coloured suit that made him look like a pukka sahib abroad. (He was sort of abroad I suppose, having come from England).

After our garden stroll we strode back into the tearoom for a spot of luncheon prior to the meeting. We all opted for soup, the two delightful assistants taking lentil, while I chose minestrone.

Lentil soup:

Minestrone (it was probably the best minestrone soup I’ve ever had, I can still remember how good it was a month later):

The bread was also surprisingly good. I usually prefer brown bread, but this was very tasty, really crusty and crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

We did wonder if there might be biscuits at the AGM, but in case not we had a little sweet thing after our soup. We got two pieces of Malteser slice to share between us:

I find it endlessly satsifying to break through the middle of a Malteser:

Nicely filled and not requiring the AGM’s biscuits, we filed into the meeting along with 20-odd other punters.

The sight that met my eyes caused me to gasp. Spread out inside the room was a magnificent buffet consisting of trays of sandwiches, scones, biscuits and cakes, and there were several pots of tea and coffee next to a stack of teacups. We looked at each other in a distressed way and wondered what to do about this situation.

Despite having no room for more food at this juncture, I simply could not pass up this veritable feast. I chose a small fruit scone (this was what the lady in the tearoom had evidently been making them for) with butter and jam, helped myself to a cup of tea and sat down in the back row next to delightful assistant no.1 (who was so full of lunch she couldn’t even manage a cup of tea).

After a bit of toing and froing with people finding seats and selecting goodies to nibble on, the chap in charge offered us another chance to take some treats before the meeting began. I really hadn’t room but I just couldn’t leave all that food there uneaten and looking deliciously at me. I thought perhaps that as the meeting went on I might develop an appetite, and so I topped my teacup up and helped myself to a coconuty cakey pink thing, which I laid on the windowsill beside me. Needless to say, it had gone by the close of the meeting:

After the meeting, which included a most interesting talk on ferns by a very enthusiastic fellow, we bid a fond adieu to Logan and its inhabitants, and are already looking forward to our next visit.

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