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A little corner of California in Edinburgh

31 Aug

Set in St Stephen’s Street, Stockbridge, Redwood Restaurant has become a favourite with locals and food lovers alike. I caught up with owner and chef Annette Sprague to find out more.

Annette Sprague of Redwood

Annette Sprague of Redwood

What meal did you most enjoy recently?

I’ve just come back from Oaxaca in Mexico. I was particularly impressed with duck breast with tomatillo, pumpkin seed and lentil with mole sauce – wonderful combination. Tomatillo look rather like green tomatoes but are actually part of the Physalis family. There are many variations of mole, but this one included spices and chocolate. Moles are a classic Mexican sauce made from blending dried chillies, spices, nuts, and seeds.  There exist many combinations, with the most well-known being Mole Poblano, which is made with chocolate & chillies (and usually served with chicken).  The mole sauce I had with the duck utilized tomatillos and pumpkin seeds along with chillies et al, but no chocolate (called Pipian Mole Verde).  Absolutely delicious!

What is California Cuisine?

Rather than being associated with specific dishes as Spain with paella or Italy with pasta, California cuisine is about the produce that is grown in abundance in the state and the approach to food that Alice Waters pioneered the cuisine in the 1970s. Until that time ingredients were sourced from abroad, from France, rather than locally!
Although the word fusion is overused it describes Californian cuisine well: dishes are influenced by many cultures, including Italian, Vietnamese and Mexican which come together to create something essentially Californian. We eat outside, we love our meat and BBQs. I think our salads really sum up the essence of California cuisine, fresh and delicious.

Annette's Favourte Salad

Annette's favourite Salad

What inspired you to set up Redwood?

Two reasons, firstly after running a successful catering business for 5 years, I wanted to get away from schlepping all the equipment from one place to another!

Secondly, I was frustrated at the lack of restaurants in the middle price bracket in Edinburgh that provided good consistent tasty food and a good wine list.

How do you create dishes for the menu?

I am inspired by fresh local produce and also my particular passions at the time. I like to develop dishes on themes.  You will definitely see some Mexican influenced dishes on the menu this Autumn!

What has surprised you about opening the restaurant?

I really shouldn’t be surprised by this, but I have found the support from people who live locally amazing. I have many regular customers who recommend the restaurant to friends of theirs and who are loyal fans.

Duck California Style

Duck California Style

What has frustrated you the most about opening the restaurant?

The restaurant has a very small kitchen with no room for a dishwasher. It’s been incredibly difficult employ a good kitchen porters.

How do you promote the restaurant?

We have been lucky enough to receive excellent reviews in many publications including locally based publications such as the List but also through international sites such as TripAdvisor.  We get a huge amount of recommendations by word of mouth.

I particularly enjoy doing cookery demonstrations and classes and plan to do more this coming year. We use Twitter to let our followers know if we have last-minute availability for dinner.

33a St. Stephen Street
Edinburgh EH3 5AZ
0131 225 8342
Booking essential
@Redwood_Edin

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A tale of two lunches .. Edinburgh Fringe

21 Aug

Each year Mr EF and I have one or two days at the Fringe – going to shows, exhibitions and soaking up the atmosphere. An essential element is lunch and that lunch has to be tasty, very tasty. Our two lunches were both delicious, it was the surroundings that were so different. So, do you crave stillness and quiet away from the crowds or do you favour a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of locals? Continue reading

Food Lovers’ Festival Guide (Pt 2)

9 Jul

Ever with food on my mind, I started thinking about foody things to see and do at the Edinburgh festivals and I am pleased to provide tasty offerings that might tempt your palate.  I am going to have to be very brave to dine at 100 feet up though ..

If you know of any must see foody shows, events, happenings, let me know!  @edinburghfoody. Do read  Part 1, in which I suggest great places to eating during the festival.

Edinburgh Festival City

Edinburgh Festival City

Book Festival

Astonishingly, there are still tickets available for Anthony Bourdain – 28th August (remember Kitchen Confidential),  Prue Leith 24th August and Mary Contini – 15th August.

Festival in the Sky

Dare you dine 100 feet up? Join 21 other people and menus that have been created to suit the Festival in the Sky experience by the Cook School Scotland prices from £32.50 per person depending on meal you choose.

Foodies at the Festival

Scant details as yet, but this takes place on 13th and 14th August in Inverleith Park. Cookery demonstrations and tastings are promised. Tickets £10

Events

Taste Whisky and Taste Ale at Leslie’s Bar

Tutored tasting events throughout August with Stewarts Brewing (beer) and ten or so whisky distilleries at this bar which dates back to the 1890s. 45 Ratcliffe Terrace, Edinburgh £10

Whisky at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

28 Queen’s Street and The Vaults, Leith. Usually for members only, discover the delights of single cask whisky. £17, 6 dates only at each venue.

Wine in the City

Edinburgh Wine School on the Royal Mile for beginners and those more experienced.

Wine School at the Fringe

Wine tasting on a barge at Edinburgh Quay, Fountainbridge.

Festival Shows

Each year Mr EF and choose a random show to go to, so I’m including some shows chosen purely and simply on their write up in the Fringe programme – could be interesting!

Faulty Towers

The Dining Experience,
Best Restaurant, 16 Drummond Street – do  you dare?

Chat Masala

Hardeep Singh Kohli cooks curry and talks shop with festival guests. Guilded Balloon

Magic Porridge Pot (for Kids)

Interactive porridge anyone?

Food lover’s guide to Edinburgh Festivals Pt 1

25 Jun

Visiting the inspiring capital for one of the Edinburgh Festivals during August? Food stops need planning as well as your favourite shows. Just to give you a taster, in the first of a series of posts, we will help you plan where to eat. Plan ahead whilst you can! Edinburgh has great restaurants, some say more restaurants per head than anywhere else in the UK (although it has been devilishly difficult to prove this). For the savvy local, this is no problem, but if you are visiting Edinburgh from out of town for the Fringe, International Festival, Book Festival or any of the others running at the same time, you could be very disappointed. Continue reading

Liquid Deliciousness – liqueurs in Edinburgh

26 May

I have a soft spot for Victoria Street in Edinburgh. I love its eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. It’s also the location for one of my favourite places – Demijohn, a liquid deli (right next door to another favourite, I J Mellis). I am biased of course! I first met Angus Ferguson, Demijohn’s owner soon after it opened in 2004. I often took eager Discover the Taste participants along for tastings particularly on Saturday mornings as part of the Farmers’ Market food tour. 

Seville Orange Gin

Seville Orange Gin (for illustration only)

 

If you have the good luck to meet Angus, you’ll find he is one of the most enthusiastic people you’ve ever met – he has such passion for his products. Demijohn is now a great success and has expanded to Glasgow and York. 

Demijohn is a celebration of prime British ingredients – liqueurs, spirits, whiskies and vinegars  – all specially selected from a lady who creates vodkas on her kitchen table to (slightly) larger operations. 

The idea is simple, you choose a glass bottle from all sorts of shapes and sizes and have it  filled with your chosen tipple. Once you’ve finished the bottle it can be refilled with whatever you choose. 

There is always something different to try (and the staff will encourage you to do so). My current favourite is the Seville orange gin – glorious – and the raspberry vodka is to die for.  The fruit types of fruit vinegar are always guaranteed to astonish. 

Oh, and there are single estate olive oils to try too. 

For those of you far from Edinburgh, don’t despair, you can do mail order too! What do you fancy trying

Follow Demijohn on Twitter @demijohnthedeli