10 December 2009


Had a hell of a busy week, starting off with the Steve Earle gig at Perth Concert Hall. I went with Claudia Massie and her brother (and the Spectator's political blogger) Alex Massie. Steve Earle has just released an album of Townes Van Zandt covers and was great. Very good banter, especially his tale of Townes' horse Amigo and the trips they used to make across mountain ranges. Steve said that the day Townes had to sell Amigo was the day "he started dying". Quite emotional stuff as Townes was Steve's hero and became a mentor, collaborater and friend. Great gig and another winner for Perth which seems to do well for a northern-central small Scottish city.

Then off to Edinburgh to catch a lecture at St Cecilia's Hall on the Cowgate entitled "Scotland's Historians: the Development of Eighteenth Century Historical Studies" with Tom Devine, Chris Smout, A.I MacInnes and C.A Whatley all speaking, chaired by Brian Lenman. All very august and distinguished professors in their field and a fascinating subject, but having been spoilt by the much more dynamic Richard Oram and Michael Penman at Stirling University, these men seemed rather stuffy and spoke awkwardly and frankly, badly. Typically, many academics who look so good on paper are very disappointing when put in front of an eager audience. By the end of the talk (I left before the questions) I counted at least five very suspicious nodding heads - by that, I mean amateur historians driven to deep and untroubled sleep by the woeful presentation on show. However, I encourage you all to read these professors books - they are wonderful.

After this made a rather dismal paella round at Fleur MacIntosh's house, the lady behind Godiva and go-reborn about which I have written reams. Check out the go-reborn shop in the Princes Street Mall and Godiva on the Westport off the Grassmarket. The large quantities of wine used to wash the paella down seemed to do the trick, then I was out and the night of Edinburgh was my oyster.

I prised it open and took a big, voluptuous bite.

Back in the country now and up to my eyes in mud, horses, dogs and fog, all of which I will write more about later.

04 December 2009

The Return of the Food Blog: Moules & Kedgeree at Dudley Drive

Took a trip to Glasgow to catch up with an old friend and his Spanish girlfriend, and was immediately waylaid by a table-full of tapas – ensaladilla rusa, smoked salmon on toast, chorizo, Parma ham, blue cheese on biscuits, pizza, olives and feta, and a nice bottle of Rioja. The next day a plan was formed to venture to the Kelvingrove Museum where we were treated to a rousing organ solo (plus a close up of the organist’s feet) and a reverential visit to the skeleton of the Baron of Buchlyvie. He was possibly the most famous Clydesdale stallion to stalk the fields of Stirlingshire and is spoken of in hushed and hallowed tones in Buchlyvie itself, where blogger resides.

We went to the Alan Beveridge fishmongers on Byres Road and purchased smoked haddock, smoked salmon, kipper fillets, a bag of mussels and left grinning inanely. Then it was next door for a handful of limes, a bag of flatleaf parsley, onions and garlic.

The plan was to make a big steaming bowl of moules with garlic, white wine, cream and parsley and wash it down with the Martin Codax Albariño I got at Peckham’s and follow it an hour or so later with a steaming bowl of kedgeree and some more rioja. Some call us greedy. Some call us blessed by the hand of a foodie god. Whatever. Here´s what we made, and by golly were we a happy bunch of sailors. Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish purportedly taken to India by Scots and traced back to some Macdonalds in the 1790s. This seems somewhat apocryphal to me and I prefer to believe it was invented by Indians and stolen by the Victorians. Diana Rigg´s mother Beryl, stationed in Jodhpur in the 1930s, made it with sultanas and tinned sardines. Our version is slightly richer and inspired by Delia Smith´s recipe from her book ‘Fish’ (BBC 2003). Also, managed to get hold of some enormous duck eggs on Byres Road which ups the ante a wee bit.
The moules were unable to be photographed as they leapt wildly down our throats.

The food was unreal:
Fry garlic and onion gently in olive oil
Add huge amounts of white wine
Add mussels, put lid on
Wait til they open
Add lashings of cream and loads of flat leaf parsley
Cook a wee bit more
Eat with loads of bread and white wine
Poach the fish in milk for 10 minutes
Hardboil four humongous duck eggs
Seperate fish and keep milk aside
Fry garlic and onio in olive oil
Add rice
Add fishy milk to rice and some hot water
Leave rice to simmer on low heat for 15 minutes
Flake fish and chop up positively gigantic duck eggs
Add loads of flatleaf parsley (chopped)
Top with a gutsy dollop of creme fraiche
Put wine in glass
Photos by Andrew Faraday Giles and David Daker. Wine not included.