I know I said that On The Side would be taking a break and wouldn’t return till September. Well, fortunately, this column is more flexible than its editor. I was penning a review and added a section about the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme. It then dawned on me that as this…

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  Duck’s Inn at Aberlady Main Street, Aberlady, East Lothian, EH32 0RE 01875 870682 www.ducks.co.uk The Bill Lunch and Dinner 2 courses £19.95 | 3 courses £23.95 The Score Cooking 8/10 | Service 4/5 | Flavour 4.5/5 | Value 4.5/5 TOTAL 21/25 Malcolm Duck was a fixture on the Edinburgh restaurant scene (latterly Duck’s at…

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You could be forgiven for thinking that I keep a special note of these food days. No, I don’t, nor do they appear automatically on my Outlook Calendar unlike sundry random dates. Good Friday and Easter Monday – fair enough;  St Andrew’s Day and St George’s Day, hmm; but Trooping the Colour and the Battle…

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CHEF WATCH Featuring Stuart Muir, chef and co-proprietor of Dine, Edinburgh   How long have you been a chef? I started work as a commis chef at age 16 so 35 years ago now … Why did you become a chef? I used to go fishing and shooting with my father when I was young…

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The title of today’s column really should be Get Stuffing! That exhortation is less likely to get you a punch on the nose, but equally it is less attention grabbing. Today’s recipe is inspired by a pork fillet  which I bought at the butchers for this weekend. It’s not the most exciting of meats, and can go…

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  Whighams Wine Cellars 13 Hope Street, Edinburgh EH2 4EL 0131 225 8674  www.whighams.com The Bill A la Carte Starters £4.95 – £6.95 | Mains: £10.50 – £38.95  Desserts £5.95  The Score Cooking 6/10 | Service 4.5/5 | Flavour 4/5 | Value 4.5/5 TOTAL 19/25 Envy, if thy jaundiced eye, Through this window chance to…

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I have to say that the readership numbers for the book reviews in this column have been a bit on the slack side. This surprised me a little. If you are interested enough to read this blog, I thought you might appreciate being directed to people who really can write, as opposed to my scribblings…

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Shortbread Small

It is a little known fact that my wife is a top class baker. Little known, because here at Casa Johnston we try not to eat sweet things, we don’t do coffee mornings, and so far as I’m aware afternoon tea is not an event which has ever happened in this house in my time…

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Soleto Bistro Trattoria Italiana 11 Commercial Road, Southampton. SO15 1GF 023 8023 4044  http://www.soleto.co.uk/ The Bill A la Carte Starters: £3.50 – £16.00 (includes sharing portions)  Mains: £12.50 – £23.00  The Score Cooking 8/10 | Service 5/5 | Flavour 4/5 | Value 4/5 TOTAL 21/25 Living south of the border sometimes has its advantages, and…

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It was an early holiday in what is now the not so far east which opened my very blinkered eyes to the topic of fruits from the tropics. On visit to a fruit farm/botanical garden I tasted fruits which I thought I knew. I was amazed that they seemed so different. Slowly it filtered into…

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Peat Inn Exterior

When I first set up the predecessor to this blog, my good friend Michael G, now a proud resident of County Cork, suggested that I was making a rod for my own back. Five years on, I felt well qualified to say I had proved him wrong. That, however, was before lockdown. Other reviewers have…

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Pizza Small

While we are hoping to see Scottish restaurants reopening soon, I predict that for many months to come the eating out experience will not be as we have known it. Having said that, this will be the last takeaway at home column for a while. Let’s get out there and help the beleaguered restaurant sector…

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This column will travel a very long way to avoid political comment; however, I was alerted for the very first time to this possible issue by reading some of the considerable commentary following the death of George Floyd. Black Lives Matter is not a new organisation. As a network, it was formed in 2013 by…

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The article on Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale in this week’s On The Side blog attracted a lot of interest. Many were completely unaware of the existence of the stuff, as was I before a trip to Bologna, capital of Emilia Romagna, and now my favourite Italian city. The highlight was the food tour. Now before you…

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Onion Bhajis Small

Last week I gave you a couple of Chinese dishes which I reckoned you could do just as quickly and just as well at home. Indian* food is a different beast. As any of you who have tried it will know, many good curries benefit from a long slow cook. Indeed, I have seen lots…

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Avocado Small

From time to time on the old website, Tom Cooks! would feature one particular ingredient and develop from there. Many of you have commented over the years that you have enjoyed the *history/useless trivia (*delete whichever you fancy) which went with that. For my own part, I thoroughly enjoy the research, in particular the often…

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Beef and Black Bean Sauce

As you may have gathered by now, I do not rush to embrace takeaway food, with or without a lockdown. In current times, there is no doubt that there is some fabulous food to be had out there, being produced by some of our top chefs; however, many are just sticking to their tried and…

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Balsamic and Cheese

This week I had my first post lockdown pint. The Raeburn in Stockbridge has opened its outdoor bar as a takeaway. They have a large beer garden, which they can’t use just now, so you have the daft sight of people leaning on the street side of the railings, looks of rapture on their faces.…

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Paul Askew Small

CHEF WATCH Featuring Paul Askew, chef and proprietor of The Art School, Liverpool   How long have you been a chef? This year I celebrate forty years in the hospitality business, starting as a 15 year-old kitchen porter. Why did you become a chef? Singapore provided me with one of my first and greatest inspirations…

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Annie Grey

In last week’s On The Side column I reviewed Victory in the Kitchen by Annie Gray. My thanks to Annie, who has very kindly allowed me to reproduce a couple of the recipes which appeared in the book. These in turn came from notes left by Georgina Landemare, the subject of the biography. They have been updated by…

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Narcissism in a professional kitchen? Whoever could imagine such a thing? No point in mentioning names, but anyone with more than a passing interest in food has encountered, either in real life or on screen, a chef who struggles to squeeze his ego through his own restaurant door. Similarly there are many kitchens where there…

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Photograph © Hannah Blake-Fathers. Reproduced by kind permission Last week, journalist Miranda Heggie shared some tips on wine offers available from online drinks companies. This week she turns her attention to beers and spirits. Let’s begin with beer. Beer52: Founded in Edinburgh back in 2013 and now the world’s most popular beer club, Beer52 will…

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We were fortunate that the beginning of the end of lockdown coincided both with some cracking weather and the 70th birthday of a good friend. As a result we were able to fulfill a promise to cook and serve a celebratory meal while sticking to the rules. Nothing shouts swank! more loudly than lobster, so off…

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