Monday 31 January 2011

I know this great little place in... Shettleston!

Amid the discount booze outlets and fast food emporiums that litter Shettleston's edgy streets nestles a foodophile's gem. A while back I'd read about Eusebi Deli... grilled fish with lemon and garlic, beef in Barolo and all good things Italian... and thought 'I've really got to go there'. Then I saw the address and, somewhat unfairly, Eusebi slipped down my list of things to do.

Then about a week ago a friend posted on Facebook that he'd just had the 'cannoli moment' in Eusebi. Anyone whose had it will know what that means. The profound, life changing experience that comes from your first taste of great cannoli. After years of trying mediocre ones and wondering what all the fuss was about, my moment came some years ago in Valvona & Crolla. Sweetened ricotta dotted with candied fruits and wrapped in pastry transcended its earthly components becoming manna from heaven. I've been chasing that high ever since.

Despite almost knocking the door off it's hinges I tried to play it cool by looking about and pretending I was browsing. It lasted all of fifteen seconds. "Hello, do you have any cannoli?"..."Oh, I'm not sure there's any left. Giovanna, do we have any cannoli left?" she shouted through a door to the back. "No, it's all gone" came the reply. Crushing. Now I really would have to browse. I'm glad I did.

The lady behind the counter was called Gina. She told me the family used to have an ice cream factory in Partick and a cafe where Billy Connolly came to play the juke box. Photographic evidence adorned the walls.

A man stood around eating and chatting told me he comes in every day for his lunch... and he lives in Troon. They just heat it up for him and he eats it there. As he spoke I found my eyes fixing on some individual 'fondues'...

Gina's daughter Giovanna came out from the kitchen. It was her voice that had delivered the cannoli coup de grace minutes before. She was clutching a piece of freshly made pasta and explained that if I telephoned ahead they'd be happy to prepare not just cannoli but anything else that might take my fancy. Now that's what I call a service.

I was treated to a very nice espresso and while I stood around more dishes kept appearing. Gina explained that they keep cooking new dishes throughout the day so it's all super fresh. As she spoke Giovanna appeared with a cod dish that looked so good I almost dribbled...

This is a wonderful place, it even smells great, well worth the effort getting there. Aside from the great food and warm welcome, there's the sheer oddity of finding yourself in one of the best deli's in Scotland in an area that's always being reported as having one of the worst diets in the western world.

Infuriatingly I'd already bought my dinner, this after all had been a cannoli mission, so I picked up some deserts and a couple of bottles of wine. I'll definitely be back, not just for the cannoli, the Valentines Menu's worth the trip alone... even if you are alone... just pretend you're not and that way you get to eat 'their' share too.

The Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake and Torta della Nonna, just £2 each, were first rate. The wines too were excellent at £15 for 2.

The Gavi's really good. Taught and surprisingly minerally.

I'm a big fan of Dolcetto and this was a good example with that lovely sour prickle which makes it very moreish.

So that's Eusebi Deli. Go go go. But call ahead if there's something you really fancy, they're only too happy to make it. Oh, and if you get the last cannoli let me know, I'll make you an offer you can't refuse.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Mzouda Restaurant - a Moroccan in Glasgow (***Update 7/6/11: NOW CLOSED DOWN)

Mzouda sits in that strange bit of Glasgow's West End, once known as Sandyford and now generally referred to as 'behind the Mitchell library'. If you're in the area and don't fancy Karaoke with your curry, or an alcoholic drink, then it's worth a visit.

The food's described as being Moroccan with Spanish leanings. I booked it through for the frankly astonishing promise of £8.95 for two courses. I can't cook my own dinner for that price.

In the absence of alcohol we went for a couple of delicious and authentically very sweet fruit cocktails @ £2.50 each. One was mint and vanilla and the other raspberry and rose. Seriously good.

It's a small set menu but interesting enough and who's complaining at this price? Here it is:


Harira, wholesome soup with chick peas, tomatoes and coriander

Fish Roulade, fresh Mediterranean fish rolled in crispy filo pastry,

Briwat, goat cheese and spinach wrapped in crisp filo pastry (v)

Ensalada de Pollo, leaves, goujons of chicken with honey & mustard dressing

Lentejas estofadas green lentils, potatoes, garlic and bay leaves (v)

Mzouda Lamb, tender fillet with honey, raisins & almonds, with sweet rice

Bacalao Pil Pil, Cod with garlic, chilli and parsley, served with mashed potatoes

Mechoui, tender kebabs of marinated chicken and chunky chips

Alcachofas Estofadas, artichoke, potato and pea casserole (v)

Djaj bel Hamed, Chicken, preserved lemons, olives & potatoes


Really enjoyed the Fish Roulade, it tasted like salt cod creamed with garlic to me.

The chicken goujons had a healthy dose of cinnamon and tasted almost Chinese.

Couldn't decide between the cod or the artichoke for mains, so after considerable dithering, I blurted out "Lamb".

Glad I did. Delicious, rich and tender. Just the thing for a cold, damp January night in Glasgow, although it left us far too full for deserts.

For the price, the food and service is very good. The interior needs a bit of work though.

'Tenting the ceiling?' was one suggestion, some Moroccan rugs on the walls might help too and more subdued lighting would be good. Tonight there were only two other tables in, so the atmosphere was a little lacking, but I'd still recommend a visit because it's truly remarkable value for money.

141 Elderslie Street,
Glasgow G3 7AW
0141 221 3910

Mzouda on Urbanspoon

Sunday 9 January 2011

'Damien Hirst Style' Fish Soup

Got invited to a rather spiffing party last night. An artist called Stephen's birthday bash in his flat, part of an old Gothic style mansion high up in Hyndland and looking out across the whole of Glasgow. There was only one stipulation... bring some food that'll look good on a light box. After a bit of brain racking I slipped off across Kelvingrove Park to the fishmonger.

A Tom Yam soup cube was dissolved in water, strained through a coffee filter then added to melted gelatin leaf. Next the uncooked prawn and his partner in jelly were popped in and the lot got chilled for a few hours.

The idea being that when ready to eat, the whole lot gets popped in a microwave to cook the fish and liquefy the jelly.

I popped my fishy offering amongst the other food and part of a massive mosaic he's currently working on. Over the course of the evening just about everything got munched, just about...

Monday 3 January 2011

An Elixir of Extraordinary Powers

Roll up, roll up. 'Dr' Wine Splodge proudly presents his 'restorative tonic'. Capable of reinvigorating livers and humours amid the aftermath of that digestive carnage called Christmas. Indeed, regular usage of this wonder draft has even been proven to aid both cognitive capabilities and attraction to the opposite sex. What's more, as a reward for the goodness of your custom, I shall be parting, not with bottles of this most precious of potions, but with the very recipe itself!

This is all you will need. Oh, and a drop of this....

Squeeze the pomegranate as you would an orange, then pass through a sieve into a jug.

Top with Prosecco et voila. A droplet of Angostura aromatic bitters works wonders with it too.

This elixir will, I promise, cure all afflictions known to man, woman or child. Alas though, it's not yet suitable for teddy bears.

'Teddy Bears Picnic' by Omar Zingaro Bhatia. Otherwise known as "My Christmas Present to Myself". CLICK HERE FOR OMAR'S BLOG.

Sunday 2 January 2011

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Some places seem timeless. You can feel the genteel force of an all absorbing continuity making sure things go on more or less the same and more or less forever.

Everyone arriving here gets surrepticiously assimilated. Linger just a little too long and generations of your family will live and die beneath the Iron Age fort on Table Mountain.

Llangattock church tower was built by the fierce, expansionist Normans some 900 years ago.

Today it's policed by contractionist Christians repelling invaders through smugness rather than battlements. It's just a short stroll across the graveyard and across an ancient bridge, to Crickhowell.

Here I still regularly bump into the descendant of a man who fought with Henry V at Agincourt (himself born just down the road in Monmouth). Often in The Bear Hotel, founded 200 years after that famous trouncing of the French. Recently it's crackling fires warmed Johnny Depp's breeches after a hard days filming at Tretower Court, a medieval manor near by. It's a lovely bar with real ale, passable food and a good wine list. There's a slightly different experience to be had across the road where the pretty exterior of the 18th Century 'Brit' belies what lurks within.

The last time I opened this door on a Boxing Day it was packed to the gunnels with people dancing, singing and screaming... high on life and quite a lot else. I was bear hugged by an old friend not seen in years who shouted in my ear, "Bloody marvellous to see you! I got married!"... before pointing to a woman lifting her top while dancing on the pool table and shouting, "That's her there". Well, what do you say?

Continuity don't do it for me. Maybe that's why I'm so fond of wine. Variability, surprise and endless contradictions all make life more fun. Amid some Jacobean warmth this was the finest wine I drank all Christmas...

From the 1990 vintage. Over the years the power and tannin of Cornas has given way to a beautiful, complex, fragrant wine more Burgundy than Rhone. I could drink it for breakfast. Not that I'll get the chance. The wine maker Robert Michel retired in 2006 and sold his vines to various concerns. There will never be any other wines like these.