Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saigon Saigon Edinburgh

I really don't know what top say about this Edinburgh hot spot right off Princes St. Its full of Chinese and usually one thinks "Oh it must be good", but frankly I was disappointed. Its not that they can't cook dim sum for example, its that the quality is about what I would call C class its ok but nothing special. The yangchow fried rice was the best dish I ate there, succulent and tasty. The staff were friendly in that limited we can't speak English way and brought us dishes we didn't order and then apologized but put them on the bill anyway. It was 80 pounds for 5 of us and we ate a lot, I think we could have been well fed for 60 as we over ordered, and unlike some restaurants nobody said anything. Steer clear of the prawns with chives, its heavy on chives and tastes like grass. The mixed meat and the prawn dim sum were good. They cannot cook sticky rice in lotus leaf it was awful, the filling is supposed to be like a pow but it was tasteless. Overall I won't go back and would rate them 6 out of 10

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Giacopazzi Eyemouth

This is the first fish and chip shop in the whole of Scotland and England, where I have taken one bite and thrown the whole 6 pounds worth straight in the trash. This is the worst fish and chips in Britain far. The fish was soaked in oil so that as you lifted it up it dripped oil, and the taste was of old oil and awful. The chips were so greasy and oily I could not eat more than one. The mushy peas however was good but how does one make a meal of mushy peas?

We had been here before and we had found it awful about a year ago, but we gave them another try as our friends said they were very good. What a disappointment and Eyemouth is so nice to visit.

Their website

However just a few miles away in Tweedmouth is a lovely fish and chips that continues to deliver first class food, and at a lot less cost 4.30 for fish and chips versus 5.95 at Giacopazzi.
Their website

I did receive an email from Giacopazzi management who were very disappointed to hear of my bad experience and offered to make it up if we came back. You can't say fairer than that and as I told them in my email, maybe the staff were a bit frazzled as their was a lot of customers that day.

Eggs and Scientists

I read with amusement this morning in the newspaper that "scientists" have now discovered that eggs are really very healthy. I am amused because prior to about 1980 everyone knew eggs were good for you, they even had an advert "go to work on an egg". Then some other "scientist" discovered eggs had cholesterol and adverts appeared everywhere telling people to stop eating eggs as they were harmful. Eggs appeared on Doctors list of banned produce and dietitians shook there heads and said no don't eat eggs.

Now a new group of scientists have discovered what our grandmothers knew, eggs are packed full of good cholestorol, vitamins, protiein and other good things and we should eat them up. BUT meanwhile a generation or two has grown up avoiding eggs as a problem food. 

Nanny State Destroys British Institution

I have spent a few days identifying the best caravan for my family to take regular weekend vacations. Unfortunately I then looked at the rules and realized that the LABOUR government in 1997 changed the rules so that after that date anyone who wants to go caravanning has to take a complex manual test. Now in my opinion that means that caravanning is dead, and a great British tradition of taking the family out for inexpensive holidays has died with it. What a shame indeed. It also means that millions of caravans will become virtually valueless as younger drivers decide (as they will) not to bother and older drivers get older and leave the fraternity.

The implications are much bigger. The tipping point of 1997, 15 years ago, means that drivers of about 32 now need a test. 32 is about the age when you have a couple of children maybe about 6-10 years, the ideal age to start camping. You also have enough disposable income to buy a van. Now how many people are employed all over Britain in van sales rooms, van manufacturing plants (Britain is a major caravan maker), van accessory plants and caravan sites.  There is perhaps a 20 year window and no one will caravan at all, other than motorhomes, during this 20 years Britain will kill another industry and put thousands of workers on the streets.

What is so silly is that like me millions will now buy a huge 6 wheel motorhome which cost three times as much and are just like a big lorry on the road....but is legal. Nanny state what a stupid idea.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Golden Dragon Gerrard St, London

There are many good places to eat in Chinatown. This is one of them. The food was top class and the staff were friendly to the point of telling us we had ordered too much food for our lunch!. We had fish in blackbean sauce, charsui pork, egg fried rice and choisum in garlic sauce. The cooking was superb, the choisum perfectly al dente. Can recommend

Sketch Restaurant London

We were recommended to this wierd place by our hotel. Its one of a new wave of "different" London restaurants. Its on Conduit Street just off Regent St. The decor is bizarre, a mix of old London classy (It was originally home to Dior London), and modernist hip. I wanted to use the bathroom and I was presented with two doors both illuminated with lights in glass doors half mirrors like something one might find at the Tate by the leading modernist artist. One was red and the other blue. After some hesitation I chose blue. The pisseur had a wall of water falling into it down a mirrored wall, the place was stunning, the walls like a night sky with stars and worth a visit to the restaurant just to see. I asked the waiter and he said well blue is for boys sir....hmmm.

The food was equally wierd. The chef can cook. The actual food itself was good, a superb piece of pork, the best I have ever eaten. My friends steak perfect. But the starters and the mains were surrounded by frilly stuff, a superb oyster covered in white foam, a tender langoustine surrounded with little blobs of some odd sauce, a wonderful lobster bisque, a not so good crab salsa. I chose a bottle of Costieres des Nimes at 25 pounds as most of the wine list (150 pages I'm sure) was over 100 pounds a bottle! Despite its position near the bottom of the list, it was the best Costieres I have ever drank, estate bottled and just the right gameyness.

 I cannot classify the place, pretentious waiters who when you ask them real questions stutter and don't know the answers, a deft and experienced Maitre'd who is unctous and arrogant at the same time, but who I liked and knew his world very well. They are truly an experience, and on reflection that is what they aim to achieve, and they do it well. I would recommend a visit just so you could see a totally different world at work. Downstairs the young and fast set at play, and upstairs the young and wealthy fast set drinking champagne like there is no tommorrow. For some reason I was reminded of Berlin just before the second world war, frenetic pleasure, people partying like there will be no tomorrow. Scary but nice.

London Trip

I went to London this week to see an old friend from Trinidad passing through. A good trip both ways on East Coast rail from Berwick. London is just so busy and so wealthy I was shocked living now in my lttle Borders village. We went to a bar called Aqua supposedly one of the top new places, just off Regent St. I had a beer and my friend had a short and the bill was 16 pounds. Next to us sat 4 young people, maybe early twenties drinking Dom Perignon at 400 pounds a bottle! I looked around and everyone was drinking champagne. We were the only "po" people there!! The streets were packed with people at 9pm and the restaurants were all full. What a place.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Lovely Local Meal

I bought some halibut in Kelso. It was just so fresh and nice but 25 pounds a kilo. The girl saw my face and weighed it and charged me 15 pounds for the piece which was nearly a kilo. I also bought some Samphire, a sea edge vegetable which has a short season.
We cooked the halibut with a simple seasoned flour and pan fried it until the skin was crisp and served it wioth the Samphire tossed in butter for 1 minute, brocolli and new potatoes with parsley sauce. One of the best meals I have had since we came to Scotland.

Appalling Weather

Since I visited Edinburgh in mid June with friends the weather up here has been awful. Rain every day and cold at nights. We have had fires at night and cannot even get in the garden to cut grass. At night I have had to close my greenhouse to stop the cold (getting down as low as 5 degrees) affecting the plants.

Chip for my Car

This week I bought a chip for my car, a diesel VW Sharan from a local tiny garage called Westend in Charlesfied near St Boswells. It was 50 quid and installed in 2 minutes. Today my wife and I went to Kelso for a drive to get some fish and I was amazed as my gas mileage is normally about 44mpg and it went up to nearly 60mpg. As I spend about 2000 pounds a year on gas I think this investment will save me about 3-400 pounds a year....and it improves acceleration!. The garage man told me install it and if your not happy bring it in any time for a full refund. He says he has installed many and no one ever came back. The unti apparently fools the master computer rather than the expensive reprogramming that is offered for about 300 pounds.