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Archive for July, 2010

I’ve never had much space to grow vegetables and I’ve most just grown various herbs in the garden. I always thought potatoes were potatoes and that bought tatties (as they are called in Scotland) were not expensive and just as good. This year though I wanted to clear a small patch of ground and it was suggested that I plant some tatties as this meant the ground would be dug a few times. We’ve just started eating them and what a revelation – they are SO much nicer than the ones from the shops. Twenty minutes from earth to plate makes a difference and maybe the variety – Arran Pilot – an old fashioned tattie that I’ve never seen in the shops. Freshly dug tatties with cheese and butter – absolutely wonderful lunch.

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I’ve been travelling on business and on holiday in Portugal and France with lots of positive eating experiences. A couple of them were outstanding – if you find yourself in Lisbon or Bergerac then I’d definitely advise these restos.

Lisbon: 100 Maneieras, Rua do Teixeira 35. This resto is in the old part of Lisbon (take the elevator from Baixa-Chiado metro up a VERY steep hill). It’s in an unprepossessing location but the food is fabulous. They only do a 10 course tasting menu  – no choice. We had (1) dried salt code with Madeira sauce (2) Smoked ham and melon ravioli with vichysoisse and raw egg yolk (served in an eggshell) (3) Soused sardines on toast with vegetable and anchovy tapenade (4) Tuna with cinnamon and wasabi along with tartare of butterfish and scallops (sublime) (5) Coconut risotto with mango and a chilli king prawn (6) Emulsion of cod, potatoes and croutons with cream (7) Shot of lime and coriander sorbet wit champagne (8) Slow-cooked shin of veal (9) Cherry marinaded in port which chocolate ice cream and coffee foam (10) Fake peach cheesecake – peach puree with honey and toffee foam.

We had a wonderful gin (G-vine) and tonic to start and vinho verde to drink.  With coffee it was about 120€ in all – much much less than you would pay for a comparable meal in Edinburgh or elsewhere in the UK (or I guess in France).

Bergerac, France: La Tour des Vents.  We found this restaurant by accident on our first visit to the area in the late 1990s and always wanted to return. It is in a wonderful setting, overlooking the vineyards and the Dordogne valley. And the food matches the setting. We went a couple of times – first time I had the 38€ menu then on our final visit, the 48€ menu. The starter was a trio of foie gras, then perfectly cooked fillet steak, some wonderful cheese and a dessert of millefeuille of red fruits. See the menu on the web site for a proper description – English does not do justice to it. Yes, it’s expensive but its quintessentially French and certainly cheaper than comparable places (it has 1 Michelin star) in the UK.

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