Unusual Christmas Festivities
There are so many ways of celebrating  Christmas round the world. We have our Christmas trees, but some other countries do it very differently.
A new tradition has  emerged with Japanese families ordering  a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken!
This includes a Christmas themed standard bucket and a premium roast bird feast!
The Yuke lads – thirteen troll like characters visit children across Iceland over thirteen nights . Children place their best shoes by the window and receive nice gifts from the lads if they’re good, and rotting potatoes if they’re not! Dressed in traditional costume,The michievious lad’s names include Stubby, Spoon-Licker, Meat-Hook and Doorway-Sniffer!
On St Nicholas Day St Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on 6th December, and leaves chocolate, oranges, toys and coins in children’s shoes. He also visits children at home or at school and in return for a poem, drawing or song children are given sweets and toys. Naughty children are threatened with a stick or whip by Nikolaus’s side kick Farmhand Rupert who is a devil like character wearing dark clothes, bells and a dirty beard.
In Norway people hide their brooms  as they believe that witches and evil spirits come out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. People believe they may be stolen!
In Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, residents head to church on rollerskates. Roads are closed to cars to ensure people’s safety and they head home afterwards for tamales which aresteamed wraps made of cornmeal dough stuffed with meat.
On Little candles day which marks the start of the Christmas season, people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows , front yards and balconies in honour of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception. In Quimbaya neighbourhoods compete for the best display.
In Toronto the cavalcade of lights illuminates the centre of Toronto. It first took place in 1967 to celebrate the newly completed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.
So if you are planning to visit any of these amazing places, make sure it’s during the festive season for an entirely different feel to the festive time of year!

Merry Christmas!


This year’s food trends…

In January of this year, Open Table predicted some interesting food trends happening in 2017?
But did they materialise?

Chef Jun Tanaka of The Ninth Restaurant predicted a heavy focus on vegetables , making them the focus of the dish due to their well known health benefits.

Flame, fire pits and grills were predicted to be popular including wood fired grills, and duck cooked over fire.

Purple foods were to be the health champions for nutrient density and oxidents, including purple corn, cauliflower, black rice and elderberries.

Gluten free pasta made from seaweed, edamame and black beans, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas.
American favourites from the Deep South including Louisiana style dishes, po’ boys and char grilled oysters.

Food and wine writer Zeren Wilson predicted Laksa – the next soup based on noodles  containing a paste made from lemongrass, chilies, shallots, galanga, turmeric, spices and dried shrimp, blended together, then cooked in pot with chicken stock, chicken, shrimp, tofu puffs and fish balls if desired and coconut milk.
Usually served with rice, bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, mint, lime wedges, hot chili sauce and a garnish of crispy shallots.


Kenyan business woman launches bakery business with Albacore support.

Brenda Kaiza is originally from a small village in Western Kenya, and relocated to the Kenyan coast to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism as a Pastry Chef in one of the popular beach hotels.
After working for seven years in the same hotel she built a strong reputation for her high standard of desserts and cakes, and to improve her home and work life balance she recently made the decision to set up her own bakery business, preparing celebration cakes and bakery goods from home.
She had the skills and determination however what was missing was a mixer and oven capable of producing the quality and volume of baking products to sustain the business.
Albacore funded the initial deposit for the oven and mixer, and we are delighted that Brenda has already started to receive orders. As her reputation grows, we wish her every success in her new venture.
As they say in Swahili “Tunataka kila mafanikio ktika biashara yako!” “We wish you every success in your business!”


Enjoy your local, seasonal produce this summer!

The long days and warmer, sunnier days mean we spend more time outside enjoying the weather, and socialising with friends at barbeques or picnics.
June and July provide us with some fantastic fresh produce to enjoy now, or, if preserved in jams and pickle, during the autumnal and winter months.
June is when Scottish strawberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and cherries are perfect for eating fresh, and in pies, jams and jellies.

British asparagus is still available, but not for long. It’s also the best time for carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broad beans and fennel.

In July, French and runner beans are delicious, and local salad leaves with fresh tomatoes and cucumber are a perfect accompaniment to any savoury dish, hot or cold. Ripe redcurrants and raspberries are at their peak.

Whatever you decide to do with your seasonal fruit and vegetables, make sure you shop local, and support local businesses!
Bon appetit!



Our Chefs are passionate about making use of the local produce we have available in Scotland, and it’s a particularly good time of year to look at our weekly menus, and incorporate some fantastic fresh ingredients into our diet.
I read an interesting article in the Vitality Health magazine championing the nine foods we should all be eating this spring, and championed by three well known British Chefs.
Martin Wishart trained under classical French cusine masters before returning to his native Edinburgh, where he has four restaurants. Inspired by his surroundings, his seasonally changing menus make the most of Scottish produce such as shellfish and game.
1. Spinach
“I really like spinach because it’s so versatile, simple to prepare and quick to cook. It’s excellent in salads and, like watercress, works so well with bacon.”
Kitchen tip: Try spinach as a side with white fish or go simple and pair it with poached eggs.
2. New potatoes
“Ayrshire Earlies pop up after Jersey Royals have had their time in the spotlight. They’re creamy and sold unwashed to help protect the skin – just give them a quick rinse and boil them whole for a fantastic flavour.”
Kitchen tip: Serve them with butter and mint as a side dish for lamb or use them in a fresh potato salad.
3. Sea trout
“Sea trout fillets are beautifully firm and pink, it’s really quite difficult to make a bad dish with them!”
Kitchen tip: Cut the fillets into long 1cm-thin escalopes, then quickly sauté the slices in a hot pan with a drizzle of olive oil, cook so they’re still pink on one side. Add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon, before serving with salad leaves and sliced avocado.
From New Zealand law student to chef-patron of Tredwells in London, Chantelle Nicholson has risen through the ranks of Marcus Wareing’s restaurant empire. She has set up, run and cooked in some of London’s most popular restaurants and she loves creating healthy and inventive dishes.

 4. Lamb

“Spring lamb tends to appear towards the end of May and is incredibly tender. The flavour is savoury, nutty and earthy. I like to use lamb chops as they are so full of flavour.”
Kitchen tip: Fry your lamb chops in a very hot pan. Serve with a mint and malt vinegar salsa, peas, green beans and kalamata olives.
5. Garden peas
“Fresh peas are a wonderful addition to any salad or as a side for a spring roast dinner.”
Kitchen tip: Keep it simple by podding your peas, drizzling in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper then serving.
6. Apricots
“Apricots are so juicy at this time of year and they have an aromatic, honey-like flavour, which makes for a tasty and fresh dessert.”
Kitchen tip: Try lightly pan-frying them in a little caramelised honey, and serving with crème fraîche or Greek yogurt, amaretti biscuits, almonds and a little rosemary.
Michael Caines was at the helm of the two-Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park for 21 years and appears on television shows such as Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef regularly. He loves French cuisine and has recently opened his new country house hotel Lympstone Manor.
7. Morel mushrooms
“Morel mushrooms are prolific in springtime and have a beautiful texture and slight smoky flavour.”
Kitchen tip: They’re great served with chicken and a fricassee (white wine) sauce.
8. Asparagus
“The first English asparagus of the season is something I always look forward to. It’s so tender and goes great with salmon and seafood as well as poultry.”
Kitchen tip: Drizzle with olive oil and grill or pan-roast. Or cook it in boiling salted water with a lovely beurre blanc or hollandaise.
9. Wild garlic
“I love the smell of wild garlic wafting through the hedgerows when it grows in early spring. It’s not related to garlic, but it has a similar taste. Make sure you wash it before cooking.”
Kitchen tip: Pair it with spinach, or try it in a stir-fry. It’s also great puréed or in soup.

We hope you enjoy these ingredients while they are at their finest – and don’t forget to BUY LOCAL!


Article from The Independent 27th January 2017:
Healthy eating trend inspires surge in demand for almond milk, e-cigarettes and avocado

Sales of e-cigarettes rose by 30.1 per cent last year and sales of avocado added 28.3 per cent

Almond milk, e-cigarettes and avocados enjoyed the biggest surge in demand among UK shoppers last year, as a trend toward healthy eating gathered pace, according to one research firm.
Figures from data provider IRI, which specialises in helping retailers to understand consumer demand, £62m was spent on almond milk in 2016, a 32 per cent increase on the previous year.
Sales of e-cigarettes rose by 30.1 per cent to £81m and sales of avocado added 28.3 per cent to a whopping £187m.
Fortified water, coconut water, peanut butter, smoothies and popcorn also experienced a surge in demand, which IRI attributed to a widespread ambition to lead a healthier life.
“2016 was the year of so-called ‘clean eating’ led by a group of lifestyle gurus, food bloggers and Instagrammers who are highly influential among consumers, particularly younger shoppers,” Martin Wood, head of strategic insight for the retail sector at IRI said.
“It encourages people to eat non-processed foods like fruit and vegetables, whole grains and protein, and drink lots of water,” he added.
Mr Wood said that usually we see an up-tick in sales of healthy products, like fruit and vegetables, at the start of each year, triggered by New Year resolutions to be more healthy, “but this was clearly more sustained growth over most of the year”.
He said that consumer habits only veered toward the less healthy at the end of the year when Christmas shopping was strongly geared towards buying spirits, wine and other seasonal treats.

Demand for sparkling wine, rum and gin increased by 14.8 per cent, 12.7 per cent and 12.5 per cent last year.
How to feel good in February…

With January behind us, we look forward to spring – but it still seems a long way off, and with the wet windy weather and continuation of dark nights, there doesn’t always seem much to look forward to… UNTIL NOW!

Here are ten things to brighten up your February…

1 Prepare your garden borders for planting hardy annuals such as limnanthes, convulvus tricolor and borage. Plant roses along with deciduous shrubs if there is no frost or snow on the ground.

2 Celebrate Chinese New Year by cooking a delicious stir fry of seasonal vegetables

3 Buy some spring flowers such as tulips and daffodils to bring colour and freshness to your home.

 4 Choose a favourite winter walk near your home – preferably with a great pub at the end of it to look forward to!

5 Have a spring clear out – it’s amazing what clutter can build up in your home after Christmas!

6 Buy a bird table or feeder and gain pleasure from watching the huge variety of wildlife enticed into your garden.

7 Make an extra effort on Valentine’s day to prepare and surprise your partner with a romantic meal!

8 Plant a pot of spring bulbs indoors and take pleasure from their growth from green shoots to flowers

9 Make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and eat with sharp tangy lemon juice and sugar while they’re still hot!! 

10 Plan a trip away – whether it’s a summer beach holiday, cruise, or city break - it will be something to look forward to as the days lighten and the summer sun starts appearing!

Happy February!


Healthy New Year!

Look forward to January with our top tips to boost your energy and your approach to the start of the new year!

As the festive holiday draws to a close and your list of new year resolutions are still fresh in your mind,, it’s difficult to resist heading for caffeine and carbs when you’re heading out to work on a  cold dark morning returning to work for the first time this year.
Instead of diets, detoxes and juicing which just don’t fit into your busy lifestyle, try eating the foods which boost energy levels and raise our positivity levels.

Bananas are a great source of tryptophan, carbohydrates and vitamin B6 which help produce mood lifting serotonin. Tryptophan assists the body to make melatonin to help us sleep well. It also contains magnesium, which is linked with reducing the likelihood of depression, insomnia and poor concentration. And it’s perfect to carry around as an instant snack!

Oats in a bowl of porridge or muesli help to stabilise your mood as they release energy slowly into the bloodstream , and the addition of autumn berries, seeds and nuts provide antioxidants and phytonutrients to boost your mood.

Spinach contains folate which is a B vitamin required for the production of serotonin and dopamine which help to boost your mood. Additionally it contains iron for energy, and is delicious lightly steamed with a squeeze of lemon juice, which contains vitamin and helps to enhance iron absorption.

Oily fish is great for the brain and should form part of your diet three times a week as the omega-3 mood boosting fat it provides can only be obtained through food. Omega 3 is also obtainable from chia seeds and flaxseed oil in salad dressings.

For Vitamin D (which is associated with mood disorders such as SAD where there is a deficiency  in the body) try wild salmon, and exercise outside as much as possible.

Finally, unbelievably, it has been proven that dark chocolate (dark contains 75% cocoa solids containing all the wonderful health benefits) not only stimulates the production of endorphins which give feelings of pleasure, but also boosts levels of serotonin acting as a natural antidepressant. Additionally, the antioxidants in the chocolate help to lower the stress hormone.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and healthy 2017!


The Roseleaf

After fifteen years of uninterrupted, loyal service my kilt has finally given up its' attempts to keep my increasing girth at bay.  I decided to take it down to the kilt-maker to get it adjusted.  The ever polite assistant gave me a sympathetic look and with well practiced sincerity said, "Ahh,  I see your kilt has shrunk,  don't worry we will fix it."

With the reassurance that I still had the same waist line as I had when I was 21, I skipped happily round the corner to one of my favourite cafe/pubs in Edinburgh for a celebratory breakfast.

The Roseleaf pub used to be The Black Swan near the shore in Leith.  The street was infamous for the night time business of prostitutes, but recently it as been cleaned up by the arrival of blocks of new apartments and the ladies of the night have moved on.

The whole place is filled with a mix of crockery and bits 'n' bobs which all match perfectly.  Odd tea cups and cutlery make for a homely, yet stylish feel.  But, as always, it is quality of the food that attracts me.

The brunch menu had some great local and hearty dishes but I could not resist the "Big Yin" breakfast.

 Their own, baked beans, potato scones and bread filled half of the sizzling, cast iron skillet. The gaps filled with a fine pork sausage from Henderson's Butchers, bacon, a fired egg, roast tomato and meaty flat cap mushroom.  To assuage the guilt  I ordered a lovely freshly squeezed OJ.

 Family friendly, reasonably priced and relaxed the Roseleaf has to be one of my favourite places to have breakfast.  As luck would have it my kilt will not be ready until next week which means I may have to stop in for breakfast again......

Wagamama Dinner

I organised a dinner for the chefs and managers at Albacore. We often go out and have a dinner together to share ideas and chat about food. The New Wagamama in Edinburgh had just opened,  offering the chefs a chance to get a flavour of a whole bunch of Asian cusines.

Earthy Food Market

Earthy Food Market is one of my favourite places to shop, full of local, organic and seasonal produce.  My nearest store is on Ratcliff Terrace in Causewayside however, they have two more stores in Portobello and Cannonmills.  They have a simple philosophy of buying great local produce and presenting it in season.  Below the store there is a great wee cafe serving yummy cakes and salads.


Dundee flower and food festival

We recently visited the Dundee Flower and Food Festival in Camperdown Park to the west of the city. A week of heavy rain meant wellies were the fashion accessory of choice – but the sun shone and made for a gorgeous day.

The theme of this year’s festival was “Chilli” which was introduced by mother and daughter team Patricia and Stacey from 'Chillilicious' and featured the indoor 'Chilli Village' - where we saw products from Scotland’s first ever Chilli Farm and took the chance to try a variety of chilli products including preserves & in the spirit of taking part, Chilli Wine!

Food writer Mary Berry (Great British Bake Off) was on hand to offer advice on all things sweet, whilst chefs Tom and Henry Herbert, (The Fabulous Baker Brothers), shared samples of their wares with an eager Dundee audience.

We also sampled multi award winning Scottish Harvest 'Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil' - a real “chef’s favourite” because it is;

Healthy, with only 6% saturated fats, a high Omega 3 content, naturally occurring vitamin E and no trans fats.

Versatile - can be used in salad dressings, salsas and marinades. It has a high burning / flash point of 240oC so can also be used for roasting, baking and in stir-fries.

and 100% natural.

 We were most impressed by the selection of fresh local fruit and vegetables on display in the judging marquees – these local enthusiasts really know their onions!

In the beekeeping marquee we saw real (winged!) honey-producers at work, and sampled their end products – flavoured honeys and wonderfully hand-carved wax crafts.

To complete the “Chilli” theme we were entertained by the wonderful Red Hot Chilli Pipers.