Showing posts with label scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scotland. Show all posts

Friday, 22 March 2013

A Visit to Donald Russell in Scotland

 I was very pleased to be invited  by Donald Russell,  to go to their HQ in Inverurie near Aberdeen, Scotland.  Donald Russell, the Scottish butchers, was set up about forty years ago when it only supplied the trading industry. As a butcher they don't just supply beef, but any meat you can think of including poultry, fish, game, ready dishes, pasta, meal planner boxes and speciality breads and quiches. Nowadays, their products are available to buy online. You have a choice whether you have your order sent chilled or frozen. They hold the Royal Warrant, supplying the Royal household. They supply many high-end luxury hotel and restaurants around the world as well.
 I was very happy to discover that  my companion in this adventure was the charming Ernest.  It was a long day, we took an early flight which was about 1h30mins from Heathrow to Aberdeen.  We were collected by the lovely Liz Webb, marketing executive and whom I have met before in London. She drove us for another 20 minutes to Donald Russell HQ.  When we arrived we met Hans Baumann, the managing director and Stefan Kolsch, the head of NPD and Outsourced products. Stefan is responsible for all the photography  and development of all recipes for the brand too.  We heard about Donald Russell story including the ups and downs of animal health scares  and diseases that plagued the 90's. We had a good tour of the butchery: sourcing of beef, maturation and merits of freezing. We were shown the route from Intake to maturation, cutting line  and portion which are done by hand by skillful butchers and the packaging area.
I was impressed by the amount of people working behind the scenes. On the tour we were told that all their animals are of UK origin with 80% coming from Scotland farms using the highest  quality control,  maturity. We slightly tapped on the current topic of provenance. Nowadays the consumer wants to know where the food comes from. We were told that they source their meat based on quality and not on breed.  We were told that provenance of Donald Russell's meat can traced to a farmer and a batch number but not a particular animal.

The Tour starts
wet maturation - vacuum packed
air-dry maturation area

Lunch time at Donald Russel can be quite an event with lots of products to be developed and photo shoots the kitchen is quite often buzzing. We sampled some of Donald Russell's non-meat products too. Our chef was Stefan Kolsch

tender chicken korma

tasting  Donald Russell's soups,  above their bestseller Scottish soup cullen skink

tasting meat and learning how to cook meat properly by Ronald Russell:

1. Before cooking, remove the defrosted meat from its vacuum packaging and pat dry with kitchen paper. Allow the meat to ‘bloom’ and come to room temperature for up to 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat the oven and a small roasting tray (with the fan turned off) to 80ºC.
Heat a griddle or frying pan on high; add a little olive oil to the pan or brush the oil directly on the meat to avoid using too much. Sear the meat on all sides for 4-5 minutes in total to brown it all over. This will vastly improve both the flavour and appearance of your meat.
2. Season the meat with salt and pepper (do not season before searing as salt can draw the moisture out of the meat). Place the meat on the preheated roasting tray and set the meat thermometer to the 60-65ºC. Insert the probe horizontally into the centre of the meat and place the meat in the preheated oven with the thermometer cord through the door – the main unit remains outside.
3. Keep the oven door closed during cooking. Opening the door lets heat escape and increases the cooking time. When the thermometer beeps (after 60 – 90 minutes), your meat is ready to serve straight away. There is no need to rest your meat as it has rested during the cooking process – the lower temperature allows the meat juices to circulate continually during cooking so the meat stays incredibly soft and the joint is cooked more evenly.
Hints and Tips for Low Temperature Cooking
- Always preheat your roasting tray as a cold one increases the cooking time. Do not be tempted to transfer the meat to the oven in the same pan used for searing as this will make the meat cook too quickly.
- If your guests are late you can keep the meat warm at 60ºC for around 30 minutes. If your oven doesn’t have a setting as low as 60ºC, simply switch off the oven.
- It is possible to use a gas oven on its lowest setting for Low Temperature Cooking, but the cooking times given will be reduced – using a meat thermometer becomes imperative!

on the way to the butchery masterclass

 above making meatballs in the premises - we've been told : no horse meat added! they also make their own sausages
packing  the orders

Butchery Masterclass


butchering, trimming and weighing the fine cuts

Butchering lamb - valentine's hand cut heart shaped
I have tried this tender and juicy cut of lamb before - read about it here: Valentine Lamb
It was a great day even if a bit cold the temperature is set quite low at the butchery to preserve the meat. I particularly enjoyed learning to cook at low temperature.  Thanks to Wild Card and Donald Russell for organising the trip and for the nice hospitality.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Cucina @ Missoni Edinburgh

Cucina is an award-winning restaurant  situated at the mezzanine at the Missoni Hotel Edinburgh . The restaurant has won best Italian restaurant of the year in 2011 and 2011 at the Scottish restaurant awards. We were staying at Hotel Missoni Edinburgh so on our last day we decided to have a late lunch at Cucina before setting off to the airport. 

Cucina offers an innovative lunch, pre-theatre, a la carte, regional and seasonal menus at a very reasonable prices. Our staying coincided with the Royal Highland Show and the Film Festival so we booked a table as the hotel was very busy. We got to the restaurant a bit later than expected, but that didn't seen to be a problem. The staff was very accommodating and relaxing.  The menu and deco is in keeping with the iconic brand throughout, from the black and white tableware to the colourful painting and walls.

We order the Film festival set menu two courses at £14.95/ per person as we were running a bit late. I had  the speck con polenta fritta e bagna cauda and the beef with roasted potatoes and  pesto di rucola. Angel had the crespelle with mushroom and bechamel sauce and the porkwith zucchine and tomato sauce.We shared a portion of the world best zucchine fritte, according to our waiter Carlo, who has very friendly and helpful.  The food was simply cooked and presented but hearty and tasty.

The executive chef Mattia Camorani, works closely with creative advisor Chef Giorgio Locatelli. Mattia presented a very fresh, simple, seasonal menu using the freshest ingredients. We really enjoyed the experience. Pity we didn't have time to try the deserts. Mattia also holds a series of masterclasses at Cucina.

Verdict: Highly recommended at very modest prices and fantastic location.

Hotel Missoni Edinburgh

1 George IV Bridge  
t: 0131 220 6666


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Hotel Missoni Edinburgh

THis hotel has changed name: G&V Royal Mile Hotel, still have some of the Missoni accents through out the hotel. Hotel Missoni is a unique branch of 5 star luxury lifestyle hotel chain from the Italian fashion empire by the same name and Rezidor Hotel Group. The first ever Hotel Missoni is located in Edinburgh and opened in 2009 at a stones throw from the Royal Mile making it an ideal place to stay in town. I haven't been to Edinburgh for ages but I've heard about Hotel Missoni in Edinburgh many times so when I was invited to  the Royal Highland Show in the city I took the opportunity to stay there with a friend visiting from Brazil.

As soon as we arrived, covered in mud as it had been raining during that Saturday afternoon at the outdoor show, the staff rushed to checked us in. Probably not to dirt the impeccable and streamlined reception area. The 5-storey building has been creatively interior designed by Rosita Missoni with black, whites, browns and splashes of bold colours. The staff is all dressed head-to-toe in black & white Missoni outfits and the doormen wear  bespoke Missoni patterned kilts.  Once through the sliding glass doors the very slick and modern bar you are welcomes you and the reception booths are on your left. Some Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture including his famous ladderback chair can be seen in the reception and bar area.  The service is so friendly, helpful and seemless. 

The lift is decorated in a horizontal rainbow of striking colours. Our room, the Missoni, was situated on the 4th floor with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and stunning views over Edinburgh historic rooftops. Quite a contrast with the modern hotel. The deco is black and white with bursts of colours. One interesting feature was the subtle white pearlised stripe wallpaper covering two walls and the ceiling of the room. The bathroom was tiled in small silver and black glass mosaics. White towels, sink, strategically placed big mirrors and coloured glass panels makes this room very funky. We had the use of new Nespresso coffee machine, Missoni coffee cups, towels, bath rope and the bedding was specially designed for the hotel. 

Once we were settled we had cocktails at the very trendy and busy Missoni bar which serves an impressive cocktail list including classics and modern Italian take on classics drinks created specially for Bar Missoni. Non-alcoholic cocktails, light lunches and afternoon teas are served at the bar too.

The following morning we had breakfast at Cucina, the hotel restaurant. Plenty of choices from the cold buffet at £13/per person it included 4 differen choices of juices,  cold meats, cheeses, fresh fruits, granola, compote, breads and pastries and more. Hot meals are cooked to order at £19/per person, whic includes the cold buffet. A bit steep but worth it! The food was fresh and delicious. The service was very attentive and quite fast too.  I loved the very colourful tablecloths too.

Scottish full breakfast and eggs benedict
The hotel has three private rooms available for meetings or events, each stylishly designed in keeping with the Missoni interiors. The breakout area can be used by hotel guests for informal meetings.
Bar Missoni
 Cucina outside area
We loved our stay at the Missoni Edinburgh. The deco is very stylish, daring, creative and full of flair. The service was warm and hospitable.  It's a unique experience, a nice treat in a great location. If you are a fashionista this hotel is right up your street!
Room prices varies and all rates include breakfast, laundry, turn down service, high-speed wireless Internet, free local calls, movies on demand, Bang Olufsen TV  and the entire contents of the minibar! Fantastic deal!  
I heard they are expanding and a property in Bahia, Brazil, in 2014 is on the cards.  I can't wait to go!
For further information and current prices go to:

Hotel Missoni 
1 George IV Bridge  
 EH1 1AD
t: 0131 220 6666

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Mulroy

I've been informed that this restaurant is now closed: 'For Sale' sign, I've been on line and the message is 'Moving to new premises'. When and Where?? Who knows??

After a long day at a very rainy and muddy Royal Highland Show we deserved a nice dinner and some glamour. May, from SlowFoodKitchen,  booked the The Mulroy which is located at basement of a period building about five minutes walk from Princes Street, Edinburgh.  My friend and I arrived at the restaurant about 15 minutes late to meet May. Edinburgh city center ongoing major road works meant no cabs could get through to that part of town so we had a lovely walk from the hotel to the restaurant. When we arrived no one was at the reception, eventually front of the house came to greet us. We were shown to our table, where May was already waiting for us, once  seated we were given the menus  by a pleasant waiter. There was a good twenty minutes pause till the waiter came back to take down our orders. By then, we had decided not to have wine and we ordered three a la carte menu. 

The Mulroy has been refurbished by the Patron Clemens Hoss-d'Estenfeld-MacDonald's wife, Patricia who used to run an interior design business in London for many years. The place is divided in three rooms, the reception where you can have a pre-dinner drinks, and the other two rooms are the fine dining rooms. The deco is  elegant country house with lots of silver, impeccable  white crispy linen, candles and other decorative ornaments. They have created a bright, airy and relaxing atmosphere.

   a la Carte Menu

£39.50 for three courses / £34.50 for two courses

Beautiful silver service

watercress soup
Border beef oxtail ravioli ‘a la Provencal’, ceps and burgundy snail fricassee, dry pancetta

Seared Gigha Scallops, parsley root, curry and coriander salad, a very sharp green apple vinaigrette, watercress, rice tuile
Roast Barbury duck breast, confit leg and potato “pressed”, crushed courgette, delicious aubergine cannelloni, mousserons jus - The plate was so hot that the jus edges was dried at the edges by the time it got to the table.

Roast saddle of Inverary Roe Deer venison, spring carrot puree, its own fabulous pie - the pie was filled with minced venison and pork, pistachio, thyme and garlic - dauphine potato, local rhubarb jus

Fillet of Sea Bream, courgette, black olives and confit tomatoes, lemon chutney, Northumberland potato and fenel ‘tian’ - pretty!

My Desert
Fresh apricot and pistachio frangipane tart, fantastic rhubarb sorbet, vanilla creme anglaise
The Bill

The French head chef, Damien Rolain, has provided outstanding dishes using seasonal, fresh, locally sourced and the finest Scottish produce. The food is very imaginative French with a Scottish twist. It was delicious and elegantly presented. The service was adequate to begin with but then it all went a bit weird, with some long pauses in between orders.  Not sure what happened but we had to wait over twenty minutes to get our bill in an almost empty restaurant. After another long wait for May's change, we headed to the front desk and got it on our way out.  No the ideal end to a delectable meal.

The chefs menu at £48.50 for 5 courses and The Petit Menu  £16.50 for two courses : Luncheon: Monday – Saturday 12:00pm – 2.30pm  and pre-theatre available for 30 mins on Thursday-Saturday: Pre-Theatre: Monday & Wednesday 5:30pm – 6:30pm & Thursday – Saturday 5:30pm – 6:00pm

The Mulroy (closed)

11a-13a William Street 

Edinburgh EH3 7NG 

Tel: 0131 225 6061

Mulroy on Urbanspoon
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...