Friday 30 May 2014

New Chips for Sauchiehall Street

Last year the sudden and unexpected demise of Mr Chips came as a dreadful shock to the many thousands of Glaswegians who over the years had come to regard this place as their own. A unique and brilliant vision centered around the chip. Attention to detail was everywhere, Mr Chips showed everyone how good chips could be when created in a purpose built environment. Indeed Mr Chips was internationally renowned because it was so more than just a chip shop, this was a place where artists, musicians, revelers, junkies, prostitutes, beggars and even people from the South Side would collide late at night to swap ideas, create new ones and eat chips.

Now from the ashes of Mr Chips springs Pommes Frites, a Belgian style chip shop. Belgium's famous for chips and I'm pleased to report these are damn good, nice crisp exterior with a lovely fluffy inside. They have loads of extra options but no vinegar and the only free salt is Himalayan Pink Salt which struck me as silly but tasted nice enough, although I felt 60p for a squirt of mayo was taking the piss. Other than that at £1.75 a regular portion was good value. It's not Mr Chips but it's a pretty good substitution.

 Goodbye, Mr Chips.

Below: 1981 and Mr Chips in it's original site with Adam Ant fans queuing overnight to get chips.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Cracking 15 year old Speyside Malt : theperfectsip - Batch #1

 Something great this way comes.

Tucked away in a basement underneath the Glasgow Art Club is 'Inverarity One to One'. Anyone with even a passing interest in whisky, bourbon, rum, tequila, wine or cigars should make an effort to search out the shop's basement entrance off Bath Street.
The two knowledgeable enthusiasts who run the place recently selected their first ever batch of whisky from a single cask. Pete Stewart and Andy Bell chose a 15 year old from Carn Mor distilled at Auchroisk Distillery in Speyside (pronounced Arthrusk) and finished in sherry casks.

Batch #1 has a beautiful viscosity and slight haze, clearly no chill filtering here. For me the smell conjures up nuts, woodsmoke, tart tatin and orange oil. On the palate it explodes into a multiplicity of flavours with barley sugar to the fore. An utterly gorgeous dram that's worth every penny and needs snapping up because they only bottled half a cask.

theperfectsip - Batch #1 15 year old Single Malt: £50

Andy and Pete also do some very amusing tasting videos under the banner 'theperfectsip' and will on occasion offer visiting customers a taste of the limelight.

Click here for the Inverarity Website 

And click here for more loads more videos from theperfectsip's YouTube channel

Saturday 17 May 2014

Bez's Beer

I was introduced to these beers by a friend and couldn't help but notice the similarity with the Happy Mondays album art work.

A few days later I popped along to The Cave on Great Western Road to pick up a couple more bottles and Nikki who works there told me that these beers were specially selected by Bez at the Herrnbrau Brewery in Germany. Mind blown.

Surely the Happy Mondays endorsement of anything that can get you wasted is worth something. As it happens Bez has chosen a mighty fine couple of beers, both the beerspotters blonde and wheat manage a simultaneous amalgamation of refreshment and complexity that makes for a really satisfying glass. Nice one, sorted, top buzz.

Here's the Happy Mondays at their absolute finest. Back in the day when everything started with an E.

beerspotters blonde & beerspotters wheat £1.99 a bottle from The Cave, 421/423 Great Western Road, Glasgow.

And click here to visit the Herrnbrau Brewery just like Bez

Sunday 11 May 2014

Perfect red for a sunny day

Tesco's own label Valpolicella only costs £5.49, a total bargain that went brilliantly with lamb and chicken kebabs on Friday. A light easy drinker with refreshing acidity and a pronounced sour cherry flavour. It's good chilled too and only 11% alcohol, so you can drink loads without getting a thick head. What's not to like? Well sour cherries I suppose so don't buy this if you don't like them, apart from that it's simply quaffalicious.

Click here for a link to Tesco's Valpolicella

Saturday 10 May 2014

An Island Adventure... then off to Balmaha for tea & icecream

A suddenly recalled foot injury led to the announcement and it came an hour after I'd planned be heading up Ben Lomond. I'd delayed on the promise of company up a much smaller hill nearby. Then, from a distant room came a question, "Is there a hill in Glasgow?"... "Eh??"..."Well, I just want to practice walking downhill because I think I'll be alright going up but I'm not sure I'll be able to get back down again".

There were several possible reactions here but mostly a sense of couldn't you have perhaps mentioned this an hour ago sprang to mind. Then suddenly, like a subconscious reaction to cushion the shock, a memory of the wonderful Tom Weir's television programme box set flooded into my head. He was walking around an island near Balmaha talking about the Highland Boundary Fault whilst walking through abandoned graveyards. That man could have made a cow pat interesting.

Thanks to Google and a car within the hour we'd boarded the ferry to Inchcailloch and embarked on our adventure. The boat's a beauty built in the 1930s and we had it to ourselves on the way over, for the five minute journey.

The island's beautiful and in early Spring had a serene quality. Bluebells were bursting out and the woodland floor was hoaching with wild garlic. I picked a rucksack full.

There's a well marked path that takes in the highest point (85m), an old graveyard where the Macsomebody's of Macsomething are buried and a pile of stones that it's claimed was once a farmhouse.

More usefully at the far end of the island, looking out towards the National Park's inaugural shopping centre, there's a beautiful beach with picnic benches, 'barbecue facilities' and dread of dreads, a composting toilet.

At the ferry office they'd recommended spending two hours on Inchcailloch, frankly without a picnic that was pushing it, but there's no denying, medieval shit ditch aside, it's a beautiful place.

We returned ashore parched from our adventure and, after bidding our farewells to the ferryman, headed to the latest addition to the Balmaha complex- a cafe to compliment the shop and pub- and what an addition.

From the outside Cafe St Mocha is a bit bizarre. Mismatched furniture and occasional strips of AstroTurf... yes really. But don't be put off. The first sip of my Darjeeling made me sit up straight and start paying attention, it was outstanding.

I saved the tab from the teabag and later discovered 'Jenier' is a tea company based in Renfrewshire that does mail order. Their coffee's from Dear Green roasters in Glasgow, so it'll be good too.

Then came the ice-cream, wow, the pistachio was sublime, tasting of proper pistachio and with a butteryness that can surely only come from nuts. The cherry yogurt ice cream with it was the perfect foil, fruity, clean and refreshing. All served by a young woman who was enthusiastic and well informed. What on earth is happening to the Scottish tourism industry?

Click here for a link to Cafe St Mocha on Instagram.
It's to the left of the village shop by the Oak Tree Inn and opposite the main car park.

Click here for Jenier's World of Teas
And finally a real treat for fellow lovers of old TV programmes where men in bobble hats get to walk about talking shite for half an hour, here's Tom Weir visiting Inchcailloch: