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April 2014

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If you’re thinking of a beach holiday this summer, try Wales. In a recent Trip Advisor survey, Rhossili Beach in Gower was named one of the top ten beaches in the world, and number one in the UK for the second consecutive year.

Cornwall, Devon and Dorset tend to hold a bit of a monopoly in terms of the UK’s best beaches, so it may come as a surprise to some readers that our best beach is located in Wales. The accolade is excellent news for the Welsh tourist industry and may change many preconceptions of Wales.

Rhossili is a half-hour drive west of Swansea, on the Gower Peninsula. Locals often refer to it as Llangennith Sands. The bay stretches for three miles and is characterised by its broad sweeping expanse of sand, backed by verdant sand dunes and dramatic cliffs.

Rhossili beach has the kind of vast geographical drama you might associate with the great Australian beaches. If you haven’t seen it before, you’ll be taken aback by the fact that this beach forms part of the Welsh landscape.

The title of ‘Best Beach in the World’ went to Baia do Sancho which is on the Brazilian owned archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. The Baia do Sancho has a stunning backdrop of sheer cliffs and it represents a very different character to Rhossili. It’s a big beach, but more of a cove than a long sandy stretch.

Rhossili comes in at ninth in the world list, and charts as third best European beach, behind Rabbit Beach in Sicily and Playa de Ses Illetes in Formentera.

Everyone has a slightly different view of what makes a good beach and it’s nice to see that people have the imagination to pitch Rhossili Bay alongside the turquoise waters and white sands of the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Sometimes beaches have a rugged beauty or a dramatic charm, rather being simply ‘idyllic’. The Welsh coastline certainly exudes these attributes, but at the same time one might be forgiven for mistaking Rhossili for somewhere far more exotic.

For anyone touring the UK’s best beaches, you’d do well to focus your efforts on the South West. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t hire a car from Hertz and travel from Cornwall to Dorset and then Gower, or you could even get a train to Swansea before catching a bus to Gower.

If you’re travelling by car, you could visit beaches like Perranporth and Porthminster in Cornwall, before heading for Woolacombe Beach in Devon. Finish your tour on the majestic sweeping sands of Rhossili.

Photo Source: Tasmin Bahla

At the beginning of April, I was invited to check out the new Metod Kitchen range at IKEA’s Glasgow store. As an avid lover of all things IKEA, I couldn’t refuse to check out the new range and see what they have done to surpass the older Faktum model.

Back in the early 1990’s, I had my first IKEA experience at their store in Kuwait. It was HUGE and I loved roaming around checking out all the things I could buy for my bedroom. Years later, I was exploring IKEA in Paris with my parents looking for kitchen counters, cupboards and drawers to completely revamp the kitchen in my dad’s Paris apartment. We used the Kitchen Planner tool to work out how the kitchen was going to designed ensuring that all available space was used to it’s advantage.

Fast forward to present day and after six years of development, the new Metod Kitchen range at IKEA has been unveiled. The design team went back to basics when starting the redesign, spoke to customers, staff and even went to customer’s houses to view various sizes of kitchens and how IKEA’s kitchen range could work in even the smallest of kitchens. The results have meant that the new range is fully functional and flexible so that any kitchen no matter how big or small can find the perfect kitchen just for them.

METOD RINGHULT HERRESTAD Kitchen

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What I like about the Metod range is that there is something for everyone. If you lean towards modernism then you can have bright red cupboard doors, hidden espresso machines and all the latest kitchen gadgets. For traditionalists, Belfast sinks with single lever kitchen faucet along with wooden counter tops and dark framed wood is available. The beauty of it all is that you can pick n mix depending on your style. If you like elements from one demo kitchen, you can implement them into an other. Gone are the days that you have to stick with one pre-built kitchen. It’s your home and you can choose how you want it to look.

METOD LAXARBY Kitchen

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IKEA Glasgow have overhauled the kitchen department showcasing various kitchen sizes for both modern and traditional clientèle. The ceilings have been lowered to help reduce background nose, counter tops are adjustable so that wheelchair users (and children) can get practicality out of the demo’s and see what options are on offer for them. If you have a small galley kitchen, there are various options in place to help maximize space, even finding a space under stairs for built in fridges and microwaves. My favourite part of the demo kitchens was seeing an espresso machine tucked away behind cupboards and a baking counter with storage. I may not currently have the huge kitchen of my dreams, but thanks to IKEA, I now know exactly how I’d want it to look.

On Mother’s Day, I decided to treat my mom to lunch at Cameron House. A few weeks beforehand, I was researching various restaurants around Glasgow and what Mother’s Day Menu they had. In the end, I narrowed it down to two places; Cameron House (a 20 minute drive away) or Mar Hall (which is practically 2 minutes away from my house). After looking at both menus against each other, Cameron House stood out the most to me and the fact they gave each mother a free gift (which we later discovered was a bunch of colourful tulips). Always a good thing!

We walked into the Cameron Grill at 2pm and lunch service was in full flow. Tables were packed full of families and the waiting staff were bustling around ensuring everyone was happy. We ordered some drinks and then made they rather easy choice of what we wanted from the menu. The rather good menu.

To start with, I opted for the Creamed Cauliflower and Mull Cheddar Velouté with a Parmesan Grissini. This was a rather unexpected choice for me as cauliflower is on my food hell list, however, I have to hold my hands up and say that the velouté converted me. The combination of the creamed cauliflower with mull cheddar with delectable. It was creamy and rather flavourful. The added Parmesan Grissini was a welcome addition which I subsequently dipped into the velouté. If I had to pick a fault with my starter, it would be the fact that it was served near boiling point. This meant that it was far too hot to eat for approximately 5-10 minutes and I had to keep stirring and blowing on it to make it palatable. By the time I was able to eat the velouté, my mom had already finished her starter.

Creamed Cauliflower and Mull Cheddar Veloute

My mom chose the Grill Seafood Taster to begin with after seeing that it contained smoked salmon and shrimps. Two of her favourite things. It was a rather simple dish with a shrimp cocktail served on a bed of cos lettuce, a slice of oak smoked salmon with capers and a hot crab bon bon (more like a fish cake). My mom was pleasantly surprised at the size of her shrimps as in the majority of restaurants in Glasgow, small shrimps are served which “look like maggots” as she says. The smoked salmon was rather small in size but made up for itself with the deep smooth flavour and texture. Crab is one thing my mom normally stays away from as she doesn’t like the brown crab meat, however, she enjoyed the flavours of the crab and potato within the bon bon. Great first course.

Grill Seafood Taster

For our main course, we both decided to have the Roast Rib of Donald Russell Beef and Yorkshire Pudding with Goose Fat Potatoes, Market Vegetables and a Red Wine Sauce. I could honestly sit and talk about this dish all day long. When we ordered, we were informed that the beef is either cooked pink or well done. Pink was definitely the right choice as it was by far the best piece of meat I have ever tasted. The beef was cooked to perfection. It was soft, succulent, our knives glided through the meat while cutting and mouthwatering upon first taste.  The goose fat potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy inside along with the extremely large Yorkshire puddings. Delicious.  I could have honestly ate this dish all over again. I just wish there was more meat on our plates because it was just THAT good, but to be fair, it was rather filling.

Roast Rib of Donald Russell Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Lastly, I didn’t even have to take a second look at the menu to decide what I was going to have for dessert. As soon as I saw pistachio ice cream, it was fate. We had ordered the Milk Chocolate Tart with Pistachio Ice Cream and Raspberries. This dessert didn’t let me down. The tart was beautifully smooth and creamy, while being surprisingly light. This was down to the good quality milk chocolate that was used. If a dark chocolate had been chosen instead, it would have been far too rich and heavy. The pastry was cooked perfectly and was lightly sweetened. The tart was complimented with not only a wonderfully smooth flavoursome pistachio ice cream (one of the best I’ve ate around Glasgow!) but with a clotted cream-esq quenelle on top of the milk chocolate tart. Different textures of raspberries were also presented on the plate for decoration but also as an extra sweetened kick. It worked wonderfully. While writing about the dessert, it is making me want it so much more. By far one of the best desserts I’ve had in Glasgow and it’s surrounding areas.

Milk Chocolate Tart with Pistachio Ice Cream and Raspberries

For £27.50 per person for three courses of this calibre, it is value for money and then some. I would have paid even more. The quality and care put into each dish was evident and I would quite happily devour this meal all over again. Maybe this time with a slightly cooler velouté.

Cameron Grill is deserving of a visit if you’ve never been before. The hotel is situated on the banks of Loch Lomond, one of my favourite areas which is full of childhood memories for me. A truly wonderful place.

Cameron Grill
Cameron House
Loch Lomond
Alexandria
Dunbartonshire
G83 8QZ
Tel: 01389 722 582
Web: Cameron House Restaurants

Pancake Day, to me, is one of the greatest days of the year. To make it oh so much better, Ross & I decided to make Pistachio Pancakes. I adore anything pistachio based, I even have pistachio shower gel! We didn’t originally set out to make these pancakes, but when I had some leftover pistachios and some green food colouring… it was fate.

They turned out delicious, so delicious I ate more for breakfast the morning after! Next time though, I think I’d add more food colouring as they were a little “too” light in colour. But don’t they sure look pretty?

Pistachio Pancakes

Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachios
  • Wet Ingredients:
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, separating egg yolk from the egg white
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green food colouring (I use Sugarflair Food Colouring Paste in Holly Green)

Method:

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Separate the eggs into separate bowls and whisk the egg whites until stiff (usually when you can turn bowl upside down without them moving)
  3. In another bowl, add the wet ingredients including the egg yolks and egg whites and gently fold them together.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Be careful not to over beat the mixture otherwise the consistency will dramatically change. The mixture should be lumpy so don't worry about trying to make it smooth. Add some food colouring with a cocktail stick and stir mixture until incorporated.
  5. In a pre-heated hot griddle pan, pour batter into the size you'd like your pancakes to be. Cook for a few minutes until bubbles start to form and the bottom is golden brown. Flip pancake and finish cooking the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used.
  6. To keep pancakes warm, have a dish towel nearby to place the pancakes in and cover over until all pancakes have been cooked.
  7. Serve pancakes with your desired toppings. Mine were (more!) ground pistachios, strawberries, bananas and lots of maple syrup!
https://ananyah.com/2014/04/02/pistachio-pancakes/

As much as I love my Macbook Pro, one thing I dislike is the default folder icons when you create folders on your desktop or sub-folders. The first thing I did when I got my Mac was to learn how to change the default icons to something more “me” in which I’d be able to recognise the folders with greater ease, plus they look better!

Now you can too with my YouTube tutorial on how to change them as well as detailed instructions below. I get my icons from PixelGirlPresents or DeviantART. You can really get them from any website that designs icons as long as the file extension is .icns

Instructions:

  1. Open the folder where your icons are stored
  2. Right click on the folder whose icon you’d like to change, selecting Get Info
  3. Click on the upper-left icon until it highlights and drag & drop your preferred icon to the highlighted area to replace the default icon
  4. To remove the icon if you don’t like it, click on the upper-left icon within the Get Info window and press the backspace button.

A longer version without dragging & dropping icons is:

  1. Copy the icon you’d like (edit > copy)
  2. In the Finder window, select the item you want to have a different icon
  3. From the File menu, choose Get Info
  4. Click on the upper-left icon of the Get Info window to select it
  5. From the Edit menu, choose Paste to replace the default icon