Thursday, 8 October 2015

'Bella Birra’: Beer & Italian food pairing masterclass at Tennent’s Visitor Centre

Move over vino, birra is the way forward

The Tennent's Visitor Centre is to play host to an exclusive event with Giovanna Eusebi, owner of the Eusebi Deli, Glasgow's flourishing new deli chain in the East End with a new store soon opening in the bustling West End of the city.

The experience begins with a tour of the iconic Wellpark Brewery, finishing in the Innovation Suite for a beer and Italian food pairing hosted by Giovanna.

Giovanna will guide guests through regional Italian produce and exquisite authentic dishes and compliment these with Tennent's products and other sample beers, discussing the individual characters of each beer and how they work with paired dishes.

The 10 beers which will be tasted include exclusive products not available anywhere else including:

• Tennent's Lager

• Tennent's Whisky Oak

• Tennent's Extra

• Lemon T

• Tennent's Stout

• Menabrea Blonde

• Menabrea Amber

• Caledonia Best

• Black T

• Sidro Montano

To finish off, guests will be given the opportunity to pour their own pint of Tennent's in the home of Scotland's best selling beer.

Places are limited to join us now for this Italian food and beer extravaganza!

Date: Sunday 11th October, 2015

Time: 1pm – 4pm

Length: 3 hours

Cost: £30.00 per person plus VAT (£36.00 including VAT)

Venue: Tennent’s Visitor Centre

To book, please go online to:


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Lunch Box Day - Friday 23rd October

Take part in Hospitality Action's first ever Lunch Box Day on Friday 23rd October! They're asking all companies that provide lunch for its employees to encourage their staff to bring a packed lunch to work on this dedicated day. The money saved by the company will then be donated to HA. Alternatively employers can simply make a straight forward donation to us on behalf of their team.
If your employer provides lunch for you, why not bring your own lunch in and ask your boss to help support a fantastic cause?
Don't forget to take photos of your lunches and share them on Twitter #SandwichSelfie @HospAction


Sunday, 27 September 2015

5 Questions - Avenue Coffee Roasting Co.

A few weeks ago, myself and Nicola paid a visit to Let's Eat Glasow, a fantastic food and drink event that showcased some of the best restaurants in Glasgow, as well as playing host to a pop-up market where independent producers from across the central belt turned up to promote their brand and sell their wares. 
The pop-up market was well attended with producers that we had met previously as well as a few that were new to ourselves. One business that caught our eye was Avenue Coffee Roasting Co who were turning a roaring trade by serving up freshly ground coffee from their own local roastery. 
We decided to grab a cup of coffee and whilst Nicola waited on her coffee brewing, I had a brief chat with Todd Whitemore, the general managed of Avenue Coffee Roasting Co, who spoke so passionately about the work that the team at Avenue do at their West End roastery and two coffee shops, that it was only natural that I had to put my 5 Questions to Todd.

Here's Todd's story;

How did you get started?

It's not uncommon to hear of people in the coffee industry who just kind of 'fell into it' - which is what I did: I started as a barista while I was studying almost ten years ago, and found it quite a nice transferable skill - I went travelling round the world with my girlfriend (now my wife) and was able to pick up work quickly using that skill. I worked in coffee in New Zealand and learned more in three months there than I had in eighteen months in Scotland, and it really made me want to develop and grow and learn more in the industry when I returned.

What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?

Keep it simple. That's more from looking back on the last 5 years and realising that we've probably made things a bit more difficult for ourselves than they needed to be - but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? My mate's mum said to me once 'If you're not making mistakes, you're not making anything' which makes me feel ever-so-slightly better about it - we've definitely learned a lot in the last five years, but if we were to start from scratch again I think we'd make things a lot simpler. So yeah - keep it simple. Decide what you want to do, and focus on doing it really well.  

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?

I'd love us to be mentioned in the same breath as some of our more well known contemporaries in the UK and beyond - we have a fantastic product, so the work now is in getting some awareness and a bit of an audience. We're really proud of what we do, and we want to bring that to people. A couple more coffee shops wouldn't hurt either - it'd be nice to have a wee presence in some other coffee communities: Glasgow has a ton of momentum behind it coffee-wise, and it'd be nice to have that same feeling in a different city or two.

If you could only have one of your own coffees, what would it be & why?

Rocko Mountain Reserve from Ethiopia. Nailed on - I don't even have to think about it. When people first get into speciality coffee, it's often from tasting a delicately roasted Ethiopian coffee - one like this - it can be a mind blowing sensory experience. When you open the bag it smells like a bag of sweets, so fruity and complex and just the best thing ever. So I'd happily drink that every day and nothing else. 

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

If it's my last meal EVER then I wouldn't want any serious chats (or, honestly, to learn anything - because I wouldn't be able to do anything with that knowledge) - just laughs and mischief and the wife ticks that box pretty well so I'd sit with her and have some macaroni cheese to start with, then a big ol' steak with sweet potato mash, broccoli and a nice peppercorn sauce, then some ridiculous dessert with peanut butter and salted caramel. Probably have two of those because why not? And then a nice Rocko to finish with. Then a couple of single malt whiskies and a cheeseboard. Done.

It's no surprise that the crowds were queueing around the Avenue Coffee stall because the coffee was deliciously rich and full of flavour. In fact, I need to pencil in a date to get across to the West End and pop in for lunch and maybe even get to see the roastery in action.

If you're a huge fan of the coffee bean and you're always trying to recreate your favourite coffee at home, the team at Avenue Coffee run Home Brewing Classes where you can learn to brew like a professional barista, making sure that you can always impress your guests with your newly found skills.
I would like to thank Todd for taking the time to answer 5 Questions and wish him and the team every success in the future. You can keep up to date with Avenue Coffee Roasting Co on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Quick Review - Entrepuentes City, Marina Lanzarote, Av. Olof Palme, Arrecife

The weather in Lanzarote was hot, humid and hazy so instead of waiting on the sun making an appearance from behind the clouds, myself and Nicola took a drive through to Arricife for a little bit of retail therapy. After grabbing a relaxing drink in the Star Bar on the top floor of The Arrecife Gran hotel, we drove round to check out the recently redeveloped Marina Lanzarote hoping to find somewhere that we could stop for lunch.
Opened in 2014, the marina is a great mix of shops, restaurants, bars and tourists attractions, is already making Arrecife a key stopping point for some of the biggest cruise liners that sail the oceans. We wandered along the length of the marina and found that there were restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets but as we were only after a quick lunch we didn't want to break the bank. After a quick glance at the menu for Entrepuentes, we knew we had found what we were looking for.
The menu at Entrepuentes is filled with sandwiches, bocadillos, burgers, salads, pizzas, pastas, and small tapas plates so we were spoiled for choice. What caught our eye though was the menu deals which include a sandwich, French fries or salad, and a drink from as little as €5.90! Nicola opted for a bocadillo with chips and a glass of wine from Bodegas El Grifo in Lanzarote, the oldest winery in the Canaries. I ordered had a bocadizza with salad and an ice cold 1906 Reserva Especial, a beer from Estrella Galicia to celebrate the brewery's centenary.
Do what is a bocadizza, you might ask? Well, my lunch sandwich was a light focaccia that was filled with chorizo, red peppers, cubed ham, a tomato sauce and lots of cheese. This was then toasted and sprinkled with dried oregano just before serving. I love pizza and in essence, this was a pizza toastie. All of the flavours of a good pizza were here but trapped within the lightness of the focaccia bread. I had ordered a Caesar salad on the side which was crisp and fresh with plenty of cubed chicken breast pieces in a rich creamy ranch dressing.
Nicola loves a bocadillo and her toasted baguette filled with a whole breast of chicken, fried onions, cheese and mayonnaise, definitely hit the spot. The bucket of French fries on the side were a great accompaniment to the bocadillo although I couldn't resist stealing a chip every now and again.
It should be easy to serve up a quick and easy food at lunchtime but so many places get it wrong by over complicating what is essentially a simple sandwich. The range of choice on the menu at Entrepuentes is fantastic and I'm still struggling to get my head around the fact that we only paid €15 for two sandwiches, chips and a salad, plus two premium drinks. The food was full of flavour, the service was polite and unrushed and based on this visit we will definitely be heading back to Entrepuentes again before our stay in Lanzarote is over.
Keep up with the Entrepuentes team on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

5 Questions - Tony Rodd, Masterchef 2015 Runner-Up

The last series of Masterchef finished in April and whilst watching the show, there were two contestants that I picked out from the start as possible winners. As the show marched on to finals week, my two favourites Simon Wood and Tony Rodd were still there. John Torode and Gregg Wallace had a hard time splitting the two but in the end, Simon was crowned the 2015 champion just ahead of the gracious Tony.
The whirlwind that follows the Masterchef finalists is unrelenting as the contestants try to carve out new careers on the back of the show so I was delighted that Simon was able to find time to answer 5 Questions recently and thrilled that Tony could squeeze time into his busy schedule to return his own answers.
Here's Tony's story;

What do you hope to do with your career now that Masterchef has ended?

I'm still exploring the possibilities since finishing MasterChef and have been undertaking a range of events from private dining to supper clubs and from cooking demonstrations to Christmas parties. I think in the long run I will try to take the business in the direction of private dining as if allows me to be creative with every menu, work with some wonderful chefs and in great locations, and work closely with my diners. It will also afford me time to dedicate to writing a book or getting involved in exciting new projects.

What was your favourite challenge on the show?

My favourite challenge had to be cooking for the Red Arrows. I'm a big kid at heart so getting to cook for the team in Lincoln was a dream come true. We were under immense pressure and there was a lot at stake but at the end of the challenge, I was so proud of the food we produced, especially considering our kitchen was a tent on a runway. It's something I'll never forget. We worked so well as a team and I'm proud to have worked alongside Simon, Pete and Sarah in that challenge.

What is the biggest thing that you learnt about yourself over the process?

You learn a lot about yourself during MasterChef and amazingly it's not always just about your cooking skills. I think I really found I developed as a person, how I handle stress, challenges and disappointment. My cooking has come on leaps and bounds since, but I'm also more rounded and able to tackle anything that's thrown at me now.

If you could only cook one of the recipes that you cooked over the Masterchef process again, what would it be & why?

I cooked a Caramel Frappuccino dessert in an early round and since finishing the show it's what most people ask me about. It was my first real chance at creating a bespoke dessert and something I'd never really done before but it's also what's now forged my reputation for puddings. I was very pleased with my feedback and would be happy to keep producing plates of food of that quality.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Such a tricky question as there are so many to choose from including my grandmother who really started my passion for food, but I think it would have to be Michel Roux Jr. It's his style of food that I most admire and aspire to and although I try to create my own style, I would be very interested to hear what he thinks of my food. As for the menu, I think it would have to be a Pigeon dish I have been developing over recent weeks and my Pimm's and Lemonade dessert which demonstrates technique, flavour and has a real sense of humour in it's presentation.

Since the end of filming, Tony has been on the go non-stop with private dining events and supper clubs, as well as cooking demonstrations at food festivals and is now looking forward to hosting the first of two private dinners at The Ivy in London's Soho followed by an event at L'Escargot. During the show, Tony was known more for his dapper bow ties and memorable moustache but I'm sure that the diners who are lucky enough to attend Tony's events will be telling their friends about his cooking skills rather than discussing his quirky styling.
I would like to thank Tony for taking the time out to answer 5 Questions and wish him every success in the future. Keep up to date with Tony on Facebook and Twitter or if you fancy booking Tony to cook for your own private dining event, why not drop him an email and he will be happy to discuss your requirements.