> TASTE TEST Biscuits

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SIDE DISHES News to nibble on

Duchy Original’s Sweet Oaten and Heather Honey 12 biscuits (150g) for £1.99 With the Duchy crest stamp there’s an refined elegance to this one, though whether it’s more than an upmarket digestive is open to question. As with a number of Duchy biscuits, it’s actually made by Walkers up in Speyside. The flavour of heather honey is apparent and a little disconcerting. A fairly soft biscuit and quite dry overall it’s a bit so-what. ●●●●●

Island Bakery Organics’ Oat Crumblies 12 biscuits (150g) for £1.80 Definitely in the posh biscuit league, even though it’s really just an oat biscuit that’s a bit flasher than a flapjack. It has a rich, golden colour and that knobbly, home-baked appearance. Soft and light to eat, with all the benefits that oats offer to taste and texture, the sweetness is of a honey-treacley nature rather than the brash sweetness found in cheaper biscuits. ●●●●● Shortbread House of Edinburgh’s Handmade Shortbread, Original Recipe 10 biscuits (200g) for £3.65 Shortbread has to be in consideration because of its associations with afternoon high tea. There’s any amount of shortbread out there but it remains one of those things that is never as good as when it’s made at home. These are both brittle and buttery, with a slight lemony tang. Still, at this price, restraint is required. ●●●●●

McVitie’s Rich Tea Lights 36 biscuits (300g) for 80p The website nicecupofteaandasitdown .com (yes, it exists) maintains that the Rich Tea stands for ‘humility’. Others call it boring. With less sugar than the others, it’s really about the flaky, crispy texture, though it does ball up in the mouth. McVitie’s sells an anemic looking ‘Light’ version which has marginally less fat, though marginally more sugar that’s modern food marketing for you.●●●●● Simmers Abernethy 32 biscuits (400g) for £1.05 Made by Nairn’s in Edinburgh, these are a bit of a cult favourite, though that might be because of affectionate nostalgia for tea at your gran’s. Simple and unadorned to look at, they have a shortbready flavour and a lingering buttery aftertaste. According to the traditional recipe, Dr Abernethy added a little caraway seed, though there’s little sign of that enhancement in the factory-made version. ●●●●●

McVitie’s Hobnobs 22 biscuits (300g) for 88p Although the chocolate-covered version tends to be held in greater veneration, we kept chocolate out of this taste test. Hobnobs rely on the reliable appeal of sweet oats as there’s no butter in the recipe. Golden brown in colour, they’re fairly coarse in texture with a crystalized crunch. A cheeky indulgence for a nice cup of char rather than anything more refined. ●●●●●

ROY BRETT, chef-director of the Dakota Hotel Group, is to open up his own restaurant, Ondine (the name of a mythological water nymph), within the new Missoni Hotel on George IV Bridge in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Brett previously worked with Rick Stein in Padstow, as well as helping to bring a number of restaurant awards to the Grill at Dakota Forth Bridge. Ondine is due to open in September this year. A DAYTIME café-restaurant with a strong modern Scottish theme, Cranachan has opened on level 2 of Princes Square in Glasgow. Situated next door to Fifi & Ally, it’s serving breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas featuring Scottish ingredients and some classic recipes, including clootie dumpling, Orkney crab and prawn sandwiches, and Cullen skink served with Tapa’s Struan loaf. It’s licensed, has table service and is open 9am–6pm every day except Thursday, when it closes at 8pm. 0141 248 6257


Patrick Harvie Green MSP

As someone who stays in bed till the last possible minute each morning, too many of my breakfasts are missed, or consist of whatever I can grab on the way to the day's first meeting. This morning that means a Pret baguette and a black coffee from the station before I dash for the train to south Lanarkshire. I'm on my way to visit a group of protesters who've set up camp at the site of a proposed opencast coal mine. By the time I get there it's clear that they have a far tougher job of feeding themselves than I do, spoiled as I am by city centre choices. Their house specialty is vegan curries of course, and though I didn't have the chance to sample it I'm sure it beats any Glasgow takeaway hands down. Lunch will have to wait till I get to Holyrood around 4pm. If Parliament was sitting this week I'd be missing the delights of the canteen there, where I often find myself sticking with soup and salad. But as we're in recess food tends to be fitted in around whatever I'm doing, and the train I get on has nothing to offer. Later, after a drink in the Regent, I'm heading back to Glasgow and deciding whether to wait till I'm home and cook properly. There's some mutton waiting for me which will make a marvelous stew for dinner. scottishgreens.org.uk

LEITH Lynx Bar and Brasserie on Constitution Street is the latest venture from Brian Donkin, whose back catalogue includes various Oyster Bars around Edinburgh, the Cameo bar and La Camargue. A large, flexible menu and drinks list includes lots of seafood from baby clams to lobster thermidor, burgers, pasta and a speciality list of Belgian beers. It’s open seven days, from noon. 0131 538 4796, leithlynx.co.uk WAITROSE have confirmed that they are to open a store in Glasgow, taking over the Somerfield site at the top of Byres Road with a November opening planned. While it’s news that’s bound to have the West End’s chattering classes chattering, do remember that it’s still a supermarket, and just one more in a chain of over 200 stores around the UK.

23 Jul–6 Aug 2009 THE LIST 11