> TASTE TEST Vodkas made in Scotland
SIDE DISHES News to nibble on
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Straight Strawberry 25% £15.50 This tall bottle of rosé coloured spirit is the product of vodka brand Berry Good’s innovative Caithness cottage industry. Using Scottish vodka infused with strawberries grown by surrounding farms, the flavour is clean, fresh and soft, but will be too sweet for some. A summery affair that might be classed as a dessert vodka, it was a winner in the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards this year. ●●●●●
Blackwood’s 40% £18.28 Made on mainland Scotland with water from Shetland but inspired by Nordic traditions, this has the smoothness of a premium brand and could certainly be served straight if chilled (handily, the sails on the bottle’s label turn red below 5 degrees). It has a distinctive taste with aniseed the most prominent of the discernible flavours, and with the right mixer is certainly capable of producing a cocktail with personality. ●●●●●
Glen’s 40% £7.89 Produced from sugar beet at Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse in Ayrshire, this may not be the most prestigious of Scotland’s homegrown drinks, but it is the second highest selling vodka in the UK. More vodka than whisky is consumed in Scotland each year, after all. With nothing on the nose and little to taste other than a sour aftertaste, this is the one you’re most likely to mask with a mixer. ●●●●●
Grafitti 40% £17.86 Not unlike the other distilled drink for which Scotland is a little more famous, Grafitti plays up the importance of the grain – in this case a high quality soft wheat – and pure natural water, drawn from 200- feet-deep boreholes. A bit chemically on the nose, it has a smooth but fairly straightforward taste, as befits a more classical style of ‘premium’ vodka. It’s unfiltered which gives it a slightly more viscous character. ●●●●●
Pincer 38% £20.29 Pioneering a new trend of Scottish vodka production is Jonathan Engels, a Glasgow architect who has created a boutique, botanical-style drink in a striking black bottle. Yellowy tinged, the vodka is infused with extracts of elderflower and milk thistle (a well- known hangover remedy). The result is silky smooth and has complex but refreshing herbacaceous notes and a lingering, slightly floral aftertaste. ●●●●● Raspberry Vodka 22% £3.40 per 100ml This product of East Lothian is available in attractively shaped gift bottles from Demijohn liquid deli in Edinburgh and Glasgow. While there’s a clean, raspberry flavour, this vodka isn’t very sweet, giving it a bit more depth and interest once you’ve got past the obvious – and not unpleasant – initial taste of cough syrup. Useful for a raspberry vodka martini or to give a wee kick to champagne. ●●●●●
Ashley J Russell Actor starring as the Teacher in We Will Rock You
I was brought up with my mum always telling me ‘You don’t have to like it but you must always try it’, so thanks to her I enjoy a wide variety of foods. A typical day’s breakfast for me would be something quite healthy and filling like a poached egg on toast with fresh orange juice. My lunch would be something quite light but tasty – a favourite would be some pitta bread with humous or alternatively chicken and rocket salad followed by a selection of fresh fruit. Dinner just depends on my mood and what time I get off stage! It would either be fish, pasta or chicken – who knows? At the moment I am going through a sushi phase. I find the textures and the tastes are truly magnificent and I love the different varieties now available in supermarkets. While I try to keep to a healthy diet I am not averse to the odd treat and find it hard to resist some of the old Scottish favourites like mince and tatties, steak pie and the fabulous square sausage on a roll. ■ We Will Rock You is at the Playhouse, Edinburgh, Wed 4 Nov–Sat 9 Jan. See preview, page 83.
■ GLASGOW’S curry scene is as active as ever with the opening of Dining In with Mother India, essentially an expansion of the Mother India Café on Argyle Street, offering takeaway food, a mini Indian deli and a handful of tables serving a simple menu. In the Merchant City, the large Punjabi-influenced Urban Pind has opened at 18 Candleriggs, while the most glamorous of the new arrivals is Slumdog, a bar and restaurant at 410 Sauchiehall Street named after the Danny Boyle film that marks the return of Charan Gill four years after he sold the Harlequin Restaurants, parent group of the Ashoka chain. ■ FONDLY regarded Spoon Café on Blackfriars Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town is on the move, taking over the first-floor restaurant opposite the Festival Theatre where Nicolson’s was located until a few years back. Ritchie Alexander, who was head chef at Fitzhenry and Rogue before setting up Spoon, will be cooking alongside long-term colleague Rory Fulton in an expanded operation that will be opening in the evenings as well as daytime. The new Spoon Café and Bistro plans to be open by late October.
■ FOLLOWING the recent refurbishment of the Turnberry Hotel, the new signature restaurant 1906 is offering an exhilarating Chef’s Table experience in a glass-walled private dining room. Hosted by executive chef Ralph Porciani and his team, a classical Escoffier-inspired degustation menu at £90 for six course is served including dishes such as white Alba truffle risotto and local pheasant with four textures of beetroot. www.turnberryresort.co.uk 22 Oct–5 Nov 2009 THE LIST 11