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What Our Clients Says
As a group the Total Food Geeks have a few shared wishes; we dream of thoughtful dishes, of welcoming environments and of passionate people working with brilliant Scottish produce.
In L’Escargot Blanc we were lucky enough to find a harmony of all three.
Owner Fred Berkmiller compiled a special menu for the food geeks, bringing together elements of modern and retro French cuisine, utilising the best quality ingredients and showcasing the sensibilities that have secured L’Escargot Blanc and sister restaurant L’Escargot Bleu as firm local favourites on the Edinburgh restaurant scene.
Lavort d’Auvergne fumé
Jésus de Lyons
Macédoine de légumes mayonnaise
Choux rouge au vinaigre de xérès
Carottes râpées au citron
Poireaux tièdes vinaigrette
Concombres à la crème fraîche
Betteraves à l.huile de noix
Blanquette de veau rosė from Sunnyside Farm
Pommes de terre ratte
Sélection de fromages
Camembert, Selle sur cher, Crottin de Chavignole, Reblochon, Bleu de Trmignon.
Griottines au Cointreau et saucisson de chocolat aux amandes et miel.
Our Initial Impressions
My initial (and lasting) impression based on the décor, classical menu and service was: “I am (was) in France!” The restaurant manager Olivier was a typical French charmeur that provided excellent service and did not get tired of all our questions. This experience only was topped by the “patron” who joined us at the end of the meal for an extensive and hugely inspirational chat. All in all, the evening was a delightful and memorable journey back into France’s 70s.
Starters oozed vitamins and home-made mayonnaise simultaneously, and were retro in the best possible way. Cucumber with crème fraîche, diced mixed vegetables in mayonnaise, and warm leeks vinaigrette had us reminiscing about how our parents cooked in the 1970s and 80s – from Larousse Gastronomique, bien sûr! Grated carrot with lemon, red cabbage with sherry vinegar, and beetroot with walnut oil recalled California-style health food of a more recent era. Each dish was a deceptively simple combination of fresh veggies, herbs and dressing (tangy or soothing to suit) – neither the French descriptions nor their English translations capture the brilliant colours, crisp textures and punchy yet subtle flavours.
Having polished off our starter course, we eagerly watched as a large red casserole was brought out from the kitchen and dished up next to our table.
I peeked over the edge of my plate and was immediately thankful that the course before had been salad, because sitting there was a beautiful piece of rose veal nestled in a gloriously rich Blanquette sauce, accompanied by Ratte potatoes bathed in butter and herbs. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of trying this dish yourself, Blanquette de veau is a French white stew in which the veal is cooked very gently in a white stock thickened with a roux and doused in cream for good measure. However, despite the rich ingredients and what I imagine was probably a frightening amount of butter by non-French standards, the dish was in fact delicately creamy rather than cloying and heavy. In my view a perfect celebration of meltingly tender rose veal.
And not just any veal… as if this couldn’t get any better we had the pleasure of meeting the little guy that provided us with our dinner, not face to face of course (it was a little late for that Im afraid), but via photograph shown to us by our host. We were pleased to learn his name was Bertie and judging by the green field in the picture he had led a very happy life on Sunnyside farm. You might think meeting your dinner is a bit strange but wouldn’t you rather know exactly where it came from (what species it is…neigh horse jokes) and that it was well looked after? I certainly would. Bertie, it was an honour.
After the lovely main, a plate with five small wedges of fromage was set in front of me. It took just a few moments for the odour to reach my nostrils, and slowly intensify. Around the plate we had Camembert, Selle sur cher, Crottin de Chavignole, Reblochon, Bleu de Termignon.
The Camembert was lovely and a touch gooey and the blue cheese, which is made at altitude in the south-east of France near to the Italian border, was surprisingly delicate. The winners though were the goat cheeses, Selle sur cher and Crottin de Chavignole, which were an all-out pungent assault on the senses. The Selle sur Cher was a curious one in that it was subtle on the nose but once in the mouth, oh boy, it was a nutty, peppery mouthful with a great acidity that almost catches your breath. I’ve always liked Reblechon from the Savoie region, soft and subtle, and I can’t recommend more highly than my first experience of it as tartiflette – baked in a dish with potatoes, onions, and bacon – trust me, your mouth will love you for the rest of your life.
After the delicious, but, lets say, “dairy rich” earlier courses, the dessert was a most welcome change of direction.
A modest glassful of cherries that visually promised no more than “light and refreshing”, but, like everything before, managed to exceed expectations on the palate.
Grottines are sour cherries, steeped in Eau de Vie for 12 months then, in this case, treated to a wake up call of Cointreau to produce soft, tartly delicious berries with a mild orangy after-taste in a fearsomely boozy liquor. Light and refreshing for sure, with the bonus of mild alchoholic concussion. The dish was completed by slices of chocolate boudin with embedded almonds and a hint of honey. No doubt planned, and indeed successful, as a sweet counterpoint to the sour, but they would work well as petit fours on their own too.
I noticed that, for all the protestations of fullness around the table, there wasn’t a cherry, chocolate or drop of juice left behind.
Simple, but excellent. Actually, that would describe the whole meal; L’Escagot Blanc gets a big tick in my book.
L’Escargot Blanc and The Budding Chefs Project
You may have seen that from 11 to 17 March 2013 the Institut Français d’Ecosse welcomed 12 chefs-to-be from France as part of the Budding Chefs Exchange Programme initiated in 2011 with Fred Berkmiller from L’Escargot Bleu & Blanc restaurants.
The project is now in its third year and the budding chefs had the chance to experience the Scottish larder and work in many kitchens in Edinburgh before rolling up their sleeves and taking over The Hub last Friday 15 March for a Pop-Up Restaurant gathering 250 diners. By all accounts the evening was a great success and if you want to take a look at some of what the chefs and diners experienced you can follow @BuddingChefs on twitter, check out some of the photos shared with #buddingchefs and visit the website for more information.
Stay in touch with L’Escargot Blanc and L’Escargot Bleu
17 Queensferry Street
EH2 4QW Edinburgh
Restaurant: 0131 226 1890
56 Broughton Street
EH1 3SA Edinburgh
Phone: 0131 557 1600
A beautiful night to remember: L’Escargot Blanc, Edinburgh
Last month Total Food Geeks sought refuge from the cruel, cold weather in the warm wonderland of Cranachan & Crowdie, a recent addition to Edinburgh’s locally-focused food purveyors.
What is Cranachan & Crowdie?
The brainchild of Beth and Fiona, Cranachan & Crowdie resulted from the pair receiving frequent requests from visitors to their Royal Mile self-catered apartment to recommend nearby spots to purchase genuine, quality Scottish food and drink. Open just over six months, the shop has already become popular with tourists and locals alike.
Why do we love them?
What we like about Cranachan & Crowdie is that they are so much more than purveyors of Scottish Food & Drink, they give every shopping experience character with their considered recommendations, wonderful stories and passionate approach.
Cranachan & Crowdie also approach their involvement in the Scottish food and drink industry with great invention – respecting the traditions of Scottish fare but also trying to develop new and interesting food combinations.
In recent months they’ve even been working with Ann Scott to develop recipes from their products that vistors can make at home, as well as connecting different suppliers to great ingenious and completely new combinations such as Hebridean Sea Salt and Charlotte Flower Chocolate.
For some of Ann’s fantastic Scottish Canape recipes click here.
OUR CRANACHAN CROWDIE TOP PICKS…
Some of our Cranachan & Crowdie favourites…
- Forage infused chocolates such as the very pretty Charlotte Flower Chocolate.
- Huntley Herb Mini Chutneys (we stole the last two boxes!)
- Elderflower Sparkling drink by Cairn O’mhor (first tried during a perfect recent visit to Pomegranate)
The TFG Edinburgh Open Night
During the course of our Open Night for new and passionate foodies we enjoyed sampling everything from shortbread to infused oils, mulled Thistly Cross Ginger Cider and Cairn O’mhor Elderflower non-alcoholic fizz with Edinburgh Raspberry Gin. It was wonderful to meet so many new faces and find even more TFGE kindred spirits!
We would like to thank Beth & Fiona for all of their help in organising such an enjoyable evening. We would also like to thank all of the lovely folks who turned up – you’ll be seeing a lot more of them on the site in 2013! And don’t just take our word for it… check out the delightfully named Hungry Romantic blog post about the evening here.
NEW YEAR’S DAY EVENT@ CRANACHAN & CROWDIE
Cranachan & Crowdie will be opening their shop from 12noon today, New Year’s Day and offering all their visitors free drinks and, of course, samples of their products!
VACANCY: FOOD & DRINK EVENTS INTERN
Cranachan & Crowdie are looking for an events intern to help then think about 2013 and particularly evening events in Feb and March when it’s far too quiet on the Royal Mile. For more information please email Beth & Fiona on beth.edberg [at] cranachanandcrowdie.com
Photo credit: The lovely Emma at Hungry Romantic who attended the blog – check her beautiful blog out here.
Tradition: Cranachan & Crowdie, Edinburgh
Total Food Geeks seeks, celebrates and shares news and foodie finds from Edinburgh’s food scene. Come to our Open Night to meet with fellow geeks!
Welcome to the Total Food Geeks Open Night!
Tuesday 11th December from 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Twice a year we open our doors to the food obsessives of Edinburgh – This December join us at Cranachan & Crowdie.
Total Food Geeks is a 26 strong group of food writers, bloggers, enthusiasts and activists – and we’re always looking for new people to join our group, enjoy our monthly dinners and get geeky about food!
If you’re interested in getting involved, or simply want to indulge in your geekiness for the evening – join us at the lovely Cranachan & Crowdie.
Cranachan & Crowdie is a unique Scottish retail experience on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile that carries fine food and drink from Scotland. So come along and indulge your inner foodie.
The lovely folks at C&C are also offering 10% off any purchases over £20!
RSVP here: http://twtvite.com/FoodGeeksNight
EVENT: Total Food Geeks Open Night – December 2012
As food enthusiasts there is a well known occasion that most of us will (or perhaps won’t) admit to…
You are with friends, colleagues or family, you’re eating and drinking, as the resident ‘foodie’ you are asked to identify an ingredient or flavour …and you have no idea. Absolutely none.
This can be an exciting game where you learn something new, or a moment of red-faced angst as you guess your way through to try and maintain your ‘foodie’ image.
Now take that situation, and remove one of your senses: sight. There’s a real challenge.
Last week, The Living Room in Edinburgh spent the evening putting a small group of bloggers through their paces in a blind taste testing to launch their Autumn/Winter menu.
Smelling, Licking, Poking, but no Peeking
From starters, mains and desserts to less typical choices such as butters and cocktails, we worked our way through samples of their new menu. After each dish (eaten entirely blind) we had to answer pop quiz style questions, “guess the spirit in Y”, “which meat is included in Y” etc.
Favourite dishes for me included the Green Tea Daiquiri (though it tasted more of fresh lime than green tea), a Coconut and Passion Fruit Creme Brûlée (pictured) and a Blue Cheese and Butternut Squash Tart. Though in truth, almost all of the samples were to my taste.
The event was well organised, with a thoughtful, fun host, a talented sever (imagine how difficult serving blindfolded hungry bloggers is!), friendly fellow guests and a snap happy photographer; an enjoyable evening overall and it was great to see seasonality playing a big impact on the menu choices.
Congratulations have to go out to Caroline (below) from Edinburgh Foody who narrowly beat TFG to the winning position with her educated tastebuds
The premise of the event, however, started me thinking about our experience of food in general, and how, for me, the visual impacts my memory and experience of the food almost as much as the taste.
Now, this is in part down to preference (I’m very nosy), part to the inner workings of my brain (I learn visually), and in part down to culture (see the success of last week’s #FoodPhotoDay2012), but I’m interested…
Would you still be a food blogger, or such a food enthusiast, if all food looked the same?
Let me know what you think. At the moment, I’m undecided.
Photo credit: The Living Room, Edinburgh
Snap, Crackle, Pop: Dining in the Dark at The Living Room
I have two meaty things to share with you today!
On the 23rd of November I will be one of the Lloyds Banking Group staff taking over all the Save the Children stores across the country for the day. My company has partnered with Save the Children as its charity of the year and our challenge for this event is to see if we can top the amount raised in each store on the same day last year. But what’s that got to do with steak and Edinburgh?
Win £60 voucher to spend at STEAK, Edinburgh
My team will be working in the shop on Morningside Road and we’re doing our best to increase our takings in every way we can… here’s where the foodie element comes in. We went out to local restaurants and producers in Edinburgh to ask for help and thanks to the lovely people at Steak, we have a voucher for £60 to spend in their restaurant which we’ll be giving away in a free prize draw in the Save the Children Morningside shop on Friday.
The food at Steak is even better than the elegant setting it is served in and I can say this with confidence having dined there myself. Discerning diners and meat lovers should jump at the chance to win this prize and its helping to raise funds for charity at the same time so its definitely worth popping into the shop on Friday to come and get a ticket. You can browse the shop at the same time and hopefully find yourself a new outfit to wear out to dinner or maybe some pre-loved bits and bobs to decorate your Christmas table.
We’re hoping to have some more prizes from other local shops and there will also be face painting to entertain the little ones so it would be lovely if you could pop in and show your support.
At the same time as planning for the charity event, I have been working on a recipe for a favourite South African accompaniment to steak – Monkeygland Sauce.
Don’t panic, it has nothing to do with monkeys or glands, this is purely its odd title (you can google the origins but I’m not sure I believe any of the long tales on offer completely) and its really a slightly mad sounding mixture of store cupboard ingredients that goes very well with a slab of red meat. Given the coincidence it seems appropriate to post the recipe now. So if you don’t win the voucher you can still make your own version at home with your own home-made sauce!
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1/4 cup mango chutney
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp french mustard
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce
- 5 tbsp port
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 150ml chicken stock
Blitz the onion and garlic in a food processor or chop very finely.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until soft and translucent.
Mix all the other ingredients and pour into the saucepan.
Cook over a medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
Use immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Easy! Good luck and hope to see you on Friday!
Competition: Eating for Charity & Monkeygland Sauce Recipe
Our Foodies Festival Competition is now closed! We asked you to let us know what three things you geek out over and we are delighted to share the 10 winning entries that each receive a pair of tickets to this weekend’s Foodies Festival in Inverleith Park!
Without further ado, the lucky geeks, in no particular order, are…
I geek out over rhubarb, coconut and amarone wine.
I geek out over garlic, homegrown veg and wholemeal seeded bread making.
I geek out over local food, sourdough, and trying every new, interesting ingredient/recipe/restaurant I can find!
I geek out over making my own burgers, trying new restaurants and writing food reviews.
I geek out over trying new restaurants, making homemade soups and strong cheddar cheese.
I geek out over Italian cooking, bread and french patisserie.
I geek out over langoustines, home-made Mexican food (using dried chipotle, habanera & de arbol chillies) and lavender crème brûlée.
I geek out over giant food halls, real ale and The Great British Bake Off.
I geek out over scrumptious spicy noodles in hot broth, my mums puffy profiteroles with cream oozing out and anything that comes with Edinburgh gin.
I geek out over fresh ingredients, new utensils and chocolate!
Congratualations! We’ll be emailing you all shortly to confirm details and make sure you’re all set for a weekend of food-based delight so look out for a message from us – we hope to see you there this weekend!
Foodies Festival Competition Winners!
August is a month for new discoveries in Edinburgh; be it shows, venues, eateries or shops.
Some of us will spend the month playing the role of tourist, whereas others will wish for nothing more than to escape the city centre in order to avoid the crowds.
Whether it’s late night larks at the Spiegeltent or a bit of peace at a lesser known Edinburgh spot that you’re looking for, our geeks will be sharing their experiences of the unexpected great finds that they come across during this exciting month.
And if you fancy a bit of geekery yourself, why not join us for our first TFGE Open Picnic in the Park? More details and a spot to RSVP here.
P.s. Our photo this month is from slightly further afield – this is the stunning street food that was Georgia’s ‘Unexpected Find’ while travelling through El Salvador. All for under $5!
Unexpected Finds: August 2012
The Summer is rolling on, the festivals and the sports-event-that-cannot-be-named are kicking off, so to brighten up your Summer just a little more we have another exciting competition for you lovely people. We’re offering ten food geeks, yes TEN, the chance to win tickets for them and a friend to attend Foodies Festival Edinburgh this year for free!
Foodies Festival is now in its sixth year and returns to our fair city in a new location for 2012 at Inverleith Park on Friday 10th, Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August. There are activities and features aplenty over the three day event including: food and drink masterclasses, chefs’ demonstrations, celebrity appearances, exhibitors, restaurant tents, bars, a producers’ market, a ‘city beach’, live music and much more. You can take a look a the bottom of this post for more info and festival details can be found at foodiesfestival.com.
Several of the TFGE squad went along to last year’s event and we can highly recommend it to food obsessives and casual cooks alike – So what are you waiting for?
How to enter
To enter, simply send an email to email@example.com telling us which three things YOU are a Total Food Geek about in the format below.
‘I geek out over ___, ___ and ___’
Is there something you just can’t get enough of? Something that keeps you experimenting with new recipes and trying things at home? What food, cuisine, ingredient, chef, technique are you mad about?
If you’re stuck for inspiration you can take a look at the three things each of the TFGE crew ‘geek out over’ on our meet the geeks page and we’ll be sharing the winning entries right here on the TFGE site as they’re announced!
The competition will close at 5pm on Wednesday 8th August 2012 and we’ll be announcing the winners that evening so get your geek on and get in touch! *
Foodies Festivals began with a single event at an Edinburgh hotel venue in 2007 as part of the festivals season in August. This successful inaugural event attracted 5,000 people and in 2009 Foodies expanded to Brighton and Hampton Court, with Oxford added in 2010. In 2011 a further 3 locations were included at Tatton Park, Bristol and Battersea Park, London, bringing the total number of annual events to 8 in 2012, including the Christmas Foodies Festival in Edinburgh. To date, over 500,000 food-lovers have visited the events, making Foodies the biggest food festival in the UK.
Top chefs including Michelin-starred Jeff Bland from The Balmoral Hotel, Great British Menu contestant Mark Greenaway, Mattia Camorani from Cucina at Hotel Missoni and Scottish Chef of the Year 2011 Neil Forbes from Cafe St Honoré will cook signature dishes live in the Chefs’ Theatre and explain how amateur cooks can prepare the same dishes at home.
As well as culinary lessons from the experts, Fringe acts Lucy Porter, Tim Vine and Stephen K Amos, who has competed on Celebrity Masterchef, will be donning chef hats and giving comical demonstrations.
Times: Fri – 11am-7pm, Sat – 10am-7pm, Sun – 11am–7pm
If you aren’t our winner, tickets for Foodies Edinburgh are available from www.foodiesfestival.com or by calling 0844 995 1111.
*Please note, in order to be eligible to win you and your guest must be over 16 years of age and available to attend the event on 10th, 11th and/or 12th August 2012 in Edinburgh. No alternative prizes will be offered. Winners will be notified via email and then announced on totalfoodgeeks.com. If one of the selected winner does not respond to email communications regarding claiming of their prize then an alternative winner will be selected.
Competition: Win one of 10 pairs of tickets to Foodies Festival Edinburgh 2012
Our competition is now closed so many thanks for all of your entries. We have selected our winner at random from all of the correct entries received and the lucky diner is …. Nadya Stewart! Congratulations Nadya, we hope you have a great time and look forward to hearing about it!
Well Food Geeks, Summer appears to have finally made an appearance and there are some fab food (and drink) events to fill the warmer months on the horizon. One such event is next month’s Slow Food week, taking place from the 18th to 24th June, and to celebrate we’ve teamed up with Edinburgh restaurant Cafe St Honoré, in partnership with Highland Park single malt whisky, to offer you lucky folks a chance to win a special dinner and a bottle of the good stuff! Exciting, eh?
One food geek will win an invitation for themself and a friend to attend a special Slow Food and Highland Park dinner at the restaurant, prepared by Neil Forbes on Wednesday 20 June from 7pm. The winner will also take home a bottle of Highland Park 18 year old to enjoy however they may wish.
As well as the chance to sample some of the very best Scottish produce from a menu created by Scottish Chef of the Year 2011, each course will be matched by an expression of Highland Park single malt whisky, including Thor, which is the first whisky to be released from Highland Park’s new Valhalla Collection; a range of four unique whiskies, released annually, taking inspiration from the legendary Nordic gods of old. If that wasn’t enough, guests at the dinner will also experience a special tasting from one of Highland Park’s experts so you can impress your friends with some new found knowledge.
Have we tempted you yet?
How to enter
To enter, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org answering the following question:
How long does a whisky have to mature in an oak cask in Scotland before it can legally be called a Scotch Whisky?
The competition will close at 5pm on Friday 8th June 2012 and we’ll be announcing the winner the following week, so get your thinking caps on and get in touch! *
The Slow Food UK Chef Alliance in partnership with Highland Park whisky is engaging Britain’s chefs in actively supporting the aims of Slow Food UK, by championing small scale producers and sustainably sourced quality produce. With shared values and beliefs, the partnership with Slow Food UK underlines Highland Park’s passion for flavour, time old tradition and true craftsmanship.
Some of the UK’s culinary greats have signed up to the Alliance including Cafe St Honoré’s very own Neil Forbes, Richard Corrigan (Corrigan’s of Mayfair), Brett Graham (Ledbury) and Michael Roux Jr (Le Gavroche), Raymond Blanc (Le Manoir Quat’Saisons) and Michael Smith (The Three Chimneys).
If you aren’t our winner and want to book yourself a spot at the Cafe St Honoré Slow Food dinner on 20 June, please call 0131 2262211 or email email@example.com
*Please note, in order to be eligible to win you and your guest must be over 18 years of age and available to attend the dinner on 20th June at Cafe St Honoré in Edinburgh. No alternative prizes will be offered. Winners will be notified via email and then announced on totalfoodgeeks.com. If the selected winner does not respond to email communications regarding claiming of their prize then an alternative winner will be selected.
[CLOSED]Competition: Win a Slow Food Highland Park Dinner cooked by Neil Forbes at Cafe St Honoré
Total Food Geeks Glasgow – Tuesday 12th June
On Tuesday 12th June the food geeks of Glasgow will get together for the first time for dinner, drinks and chat about all things food.
The city has a thriving food community with bloggers aplenty, wonderful farmers markets, artisan suppliers and great restaurants with passionate chefs.
Total Food Geeks Glasgow will offer a meeting place for this vibrant community and an opportunity to meet new people and put a face to Twitter handles.
Why not come and join us?
Just tweet Graeme at @ScotsLarder for more information.
Photo Credit: Queen’s Park Farmer’s Market - Graeme Taylor
New Event: Total Food Geeks Glasgow [#totalfoodgeeksglasgow]