moules ‘n more

For some time now I have wanted to try my hand at photographing moules mariners but the opportunity has yet to present itself in any of my commercial shoots. So last week I finally gave up waiting and instead decided to make my own moules mariners to photograph. Having made the decision the next step was to buy some mussels and that of course meant a drive out to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. Although Loch Fyne is only an hours drive away from Glasgow (assuming that the A83 is not closed by yet another landslide as the road climbs up to the appropriately named Rest and Be Thankful) it’s a world apart, this is especially true at this time of year when roads are relatively quiet and the hills are looking their best; there is no soft cloak of green to mask the landscape and the snow on the hills some how always makes them seem closer and higher!

KG150204291WPLooking across Loch Fyne to the Ardkinglas Estate and beyond to the Kinglas valley and the Arrochar Alps

KG150204296WPThe view from the Oyster Bar at the head of the loch with its steep deeply furrowed hills which hem in the loch on both sides.

Loch Fyne Oyster BarThe Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in 2011 before its 2013 renovation – the Farm Shop has become a deli and there is a new main entrance but otherwise little has changed outside apart from the addition of some giant sized funky New England style chairs a theme which is taken up inside too with the bar stools.high bar stools at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar

The Oyster Bar first made its appearance in 1988 and it has developed as a popular stopping off place as well as a destination in its own right. For more information about the history of Loch Fyne Oysters please visit the company’s web site: http://www.lochfyne.com/about/

Of course any visit to the Oyster Bar inevitably involves oysters so in addition to mussels I also returned home with half a dozen oysters. Eaten au naturale with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of Tabasco sauce accompanied by some good crusty buttered bread and a glass of dry white wine there is little to beat it.KG150205362bWP

As for the mussels. There are innumerable recipes for moules mariners all of which essentially come down to remove the beards, wash and discard any shells that are broken or do not close, cook for 5 to 10 minutes in a large heavy bottomed pan with a lid containing diced onion, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme and a glass of white wine, plus or minus an equal quantity of cream. Discard any shells that don’t open and serve. For a more detailed recipe see http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/655746 or any of several dozen more that you will find with a simple Goole search.

moules marinière

moules marinière

The mussel shell next to the black bowl in the picture below is all the cutlery that you need – use them like tweezers to pick the plump meats from the other mussels and while the bread is used to mop up the juices.Moules, bread and white wineMoules with chunks of fresh bread and a glass of sauvignon blanc a perfect combination.

The moules tasted great; with such great ingredients its hard to go wrong. As for the photography I am reasonably pleased with the results. I like the way that the plump  orange meat of the mussels contrasts with the shells and the black bowl. I also took the opportunity to take some shots form directly above the dishes, a shooting angle which is increasing in popularity, I like the cropped shot where we just see the curved shapes of the pan and the bowl and the way the back pottery contrasts with the stainless steel pan both of which work well with the white boards of the background. In the non-cropped shot more attention should have been given to the placement of the bread board so that it didn’t overlap with the pan handle. A plain wooden board would probably have worked better. The wine glass needs to be brought more into the shot and photographed more directly from above, as it is it looks as if it is falling over, the lines between the white wooden boards need more attention too as they are distorted by the lens, they should be parallel! I would also have liked to have seen more detail and colour in the shells, which would have meant a different lighting setup. All in all it looks as if I have an excuse to make another trip to Loch Fyne in the not too distant future!

As is always the case with seafood take the very best and freshest ingredients, prepare simply and…. enjoy

Advertisements

Foraging in Glasgow’s West End!

Sunday saw a trip to the Wildside or more precisely to Kelvinside as an intrepid band followed Mark Williams along the banks of the Kelvin on a foraging trip with a difference. Mark lives in Gatehouse of Fleet, that forgotten corner of SW Scotland where the vastness of the Solway Firth dominates the southern border and to the north are the remote hills and forests of Galloway. Mark is a forager with a difference, working under the name Galloway Wild Food, he doesn’t so much forage to sell to chefs and delis, as is usually the case, but instead he spends much of his time teaching people how to forage and to recognise the hidden treasures that are literally on our doorstep! Mark had been encouraged to head north to “the Big City” by Chris and Paul Charlambous owners of the Cail Bruich restaurant in Glasgow’s West End to take part in a combined foraging walk and a meal featuring many foraged ingredients. The walk was a revelation, did you know that the roots of one of our common hedge row plants tastes just like cloves?! I didn’t and as you can see below clove root (Geum urbanum, Wood Avens, Herb Bennet) was only one of the many plants that we discovered here in the heart of Glasgow!

Mark’s “Nature Table” of Foraged GoodiesMark's Foragers Nature TableMark extolling the benefits of hog weed!KG130728001aWeb1 Pineapple weed growing in abundance along the banks of the River Kelvin.KG130728008aWeb1And you do what with it?!KG130728010aWeb1Paul discusses the merits of pineapple weed with Mark but looking at the picture now I am reminded more than anything else of the Bob Newhart sketch “Introducing tobacco to civilisation

“Welcome back” – Elderflower champagne and proseccoKG130728014aWeb1

And now for part 2!

The Menu!KG130728013aWeb1“A drizzle of elderberry vinegar”KG130728021aWeb1Elderberry vinegar, sweet yet sour and sticky is an absolute revelation and a must have! The elderberries will soon be ripe so don’t miss out and follow the simple recipe now!

Sushi filled with foraged goodiesKG130728023aWeb1Congratulations and thanks to Mark, Chris and Paul for a really enjoyable day.

To learn more about Galloway Wild Food please follow the link

To learn more about Cail Bruich restaurant please follow the link

To see more photos and learn about Greenshoots Photography please follow the link

Good food – it’s all about sharing. ENJOY!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Glasgow Street Feastival at the Barras.

While Glasgow’s famous (infamous?) Barras market was rapidly winding down by 4pm on Sunday afternoon, leaving the area looking more like a hot, dusty abandoned Western film set, things were just beginning to come to life in the Barras Art and Design Center where the second day of the first Glasgow Street Feastival had just started. Half an hour later (the clock on the wall is still on GMT!) the place was really filling up.

First  Glasgow Street Feastival at the Barras.

A wide variety of food and drink stalls were present including Williams Brothers Brewery (previously featured in this blog), the Hanoi Bike shop complete with rickshaw were serving a variety of delicious treats including prawns in rice paper rolls for just £3! Hanoi Bike Shop pop-up restaurant at the Glasgow Street Feastival Hanoi Bike Shop pop-up restaurant at the Glasgow Street FeastivalLondon based Kimchi Cult with their Korean style take on fast food were also there, for an in-depth review go over to James Lees’ blog James vs Burger!  Kimchi Cult Korean style fast food at the Glasgow Street FeastivalOthers present included: The Ubiquious Chip Wine Club, The Babu Bombay Street Kitchen, the Caribbean Fire in Babylon Roots Kitchen as well as those well-known Glasgow restaurants the Stravaigin and the Finnieston.

Even Yelp were there hosted by fellow blogger Briony from the Glasgow Food Blog

Wheel O'Yelp at the Glasgow Sreet FeastivalCongratulations to all involved and especially to Kiltr who hosted the event and I am looking forward to another one soon?

 Sharing at Glasgow Sreet FeastivalGood food – it’s all about sharing. ENJOY!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Restaurant Closed!

Before I start a nationwide panic I should say that I am referring to The Loch Fyne Oysters at Cairndow and not the nationwide chain of Loch Fyne Oyster Bars!

After days of snow, ice rain and wind Saturday dawned bright and clear and from my kitchen window I could see Ben Lomond capped with snow in the distance. The highlands were calling!

Ben Lomond and the mountains beyond

The roads were dry and the driving was easy as I headed north across the ErskineBridge and on through Dumbarton to the shores of Loch Lomond. From there it was on up to Tarbet and across to Arrochar and onwards along the A83 towards Rest and Be Thankful, though as I approached the climb up to Rest and Be Thankful there was a sanity check with a car lying upside down beside the road, a victim of a patch of ice which had formed where water had being draining across the road and frozen. Driving more carefully I made my way towards the summit, working my way through the road works which seem to be a permanent feature of this road where landslips regularly close this vital link to the west and north of Highland Scotland. At the summit I turned off along the B828 heading for Lochgoilhead and then turning off before reaching Lochgoilhead and heading along the B839 for the Dunoon road before rejoining the A83 for Cairndow and Inverary. Apart from giving a quieter and more scenic route to Loch Fyne my real purpose was to prospect for some new locations for taking photos along the streams and in the oak woods that are so much a feature of this route and while I found some good sites they will have to wait another month or two as the winter sun is still too low to reach into the deep valley bottoms to make photography really worth while. However, while I wasn’t to get any new pictures I was at least assured some oysters once I reached the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. However, as I approached the shop the normally busy car park was almost deserted and the restaurant was clearly empty! Heading into the shop the reason soon became apparent the restaurant was indeed closed while the shop was preparing to close on Sunday in preparation for a two month long refit. The plan is that they will reopen in time for Easter. Luckily I had got there just in time and they still had oysters though I am at a loss as to know what I am going to do for the next two months!

Shop, Smokery and Restaurant, Cairndow has it all.

Clearly I will be counting the days not only for my regular supply to be re-established (mail order is still a possibility for the whole Loch Fyne range but at this stage at least ordering half a dozen oysters by mail order would seem a little decadent even for me!). It is also going to be very interesting to se how the remodelling works out. It has always seemed to me that both the shop and the restaurant fail to make the full use of their potential and while there is no doubt the demand for a full formal restaurant (the place is always busy) I think that there is an opportunity for a brasserie style restaurant offering a wide range of small dishes (just as Harvey Nichols does at their Forth Floor restaurant in Edinburgh) backed up by an extended range of products, especially seafood, in the shop. Anyway we will just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile I carried my oysters home and had a very special brunch of oysters au naturale together with a dash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon accompanied by a few slices of Ciabatta and a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

Loch Fyne Oysters naturally!

Loch Fyne Oysters naturally!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Puffer Bar and Restaurant: Congratulations!

There can be little more disheartening than set off full of anticipation, driven for 3 hours, crossed the Bridge Over the Atlantic and then all the way across Seil Island to catch the ferry over to Easdale Island to be met by the following notice:

Image

As I had travelled west the Puffer Bar and Restaurant staff had headed east to the Scotland Food and Drink Awards dinner in Dunblane where they were the well deserved winner of the Food Tourism award; just the latest in a series of awards for this remarkable bar and restaurant.

Of course the moral of this story is phone ahead and make a reservation!

However, having come so far I decided to still go over to this amazing island with its giant, now flooded slate quarries, some of which are up to 300 foot deep and its rows of neat white quarriers cottages. The island is so small that it takes less than an hour to walk all the way round it but there is so much to see and explore en route that it can easily take much longer; either way if you arrive at around lunch time you are there for at least an hour as the ferryman stops for his lunch at 10 to 1. I vividly remember my first visit to the island and walking up the slip way to be met by a higgledy pigledy collection of wheel barrows and hand carts, one of the even had the insignia of the Royal Mail on its side – which was the give away, in a community where there are no cars this is how things are taken from the ferry to the cottages! On this visit however I was shocked to see that a quad bike has now made it over to the island this could be the beginning of the end?!

Image

Seil Island Transport Systems – wheel barrows and in the middle distance the ferry from Easdale.

After a couple of enjoyable hours on the island it was back to the ferry and the long and hungry drive back to Glasgow, though I did stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in Cairndow to buy half a dozen oysters for dinner – which was definitely on – I was cooking! However, I will be back out to the Puffer Bar and Restaurant, after having made a reservation of course – it is just too good to risk missing it twice in one year!

Copyright

All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.