Friday, 8 September 2017

Giraffe World Kitchen (Aberdeen) - Review

When it comes to traveling, there's nothing I enjoy more than scoping out the best foodie havens and indulging in some great local dishes. Although it may not be as exotic as a restaurant on the marina of St Tropez, Giraffe World Kitchen in Aberdeen has now launched its brand spanking new-look with a food and drinks menu boasting dishes from across the globe.

With a fresh new brand, a revamped name, and a food and drink menu to suit all tastes, Giraffe World Kitchen is back with a bang and putting some serious life, (and spice) into national chain restaurants.

Stepping inside the restaurant takes you on a journey around the world, uncovering new, exciting places the further you venture in. With bright, bold patterns, lots of interesting wood work, intricate detailing and modern lighting, the new and improved look is definitely now on par with its diverse menu offering. Having always been a restaurant focused on the diverse food offering the world boasts, Giraffe has now re-branded to bring the look of the restaurant and the food available together so that they both compliment one another - and that they do.
The restaurant was busy, probably the busiest I've ever seen it and guests were having to be turned away due to it being completely full - A great problem for any business of any size to have.

Luckily for us we had booked a table and were greeted and seated promptly. Whilst browsing the food menu, we ordered a couple of drinks. A Mexican Sunset (£6.95) for me, and freshly made lemonade with mint (£2.25) for my sister. 

Having a new love for Mexico's favourite spirit, the tequila based drink was extremely refreshing. With Aperol, pineapple, lime, sweetened agave nectar and soda over ice, it was lovely and sweet and the perfect drink to start off my dining experience at the new-look restaurant.
Our server for the night talked us through some of the popular dishes, which made choosing a dish all that more challenging, but after much deliberation we eventually managed to order. To begin I decided to go for the steamed duck gua bao buns (£6.95) and Nicole chose the prawn saganaki (£6.95).

The two steamed duck gua bao buns were beautifully soft and fluffy, and were packed full of crispy shredded duck, cucumber, spring onion and topped with chopped red chillies. The peanuts in the buns provided a real crunch to the dish, and the rich hoisin sauce finished it off perfectly.

Saganaki is a cheesy Greek dish which is created in a small frying pan and was exactly what my sister needed after a long day at work. The Greek comfort food was served with juicy king prawns in a delicious garlic, chilli, white wine, red onion and tomato sauce. The prawn saganaki (£6.95) was covered in crumbled feta and was served with a toasted flatbread on the side - perfect for dipping into and scooping up the leftover sauce. She loved the dish and there was plenty prawns in it too which suited her fine.
Polishing off both starters, our my, attention drifted back to the cocktail menu. This time I decided to order a gin based cocktail, with the Bramble Garden (£6.95) catching my eye. Featuring a healthy serving of London Dry gin, cucumber, apple, blackberries and elderflower, topped with soda and served long over ice, the gin sour hit the spot.

Taking on the role as driver for the night, Nicole tried out the Sunshine Coast Iced Tea which was ridiculously fine. With ice cold chamomile and green tea, mango, limeade and fresh mint it boasted all the characteristics of the base of a good cocktail (£2.95).
Next up was our Japanese and Asian inspired main dishes. Bowls for the soul Katsu Chicken (£11.95) for me, and Thai Duck Stir Fry (£10.95) for Nicole.

The Katsu Chicken was divine and went great with the noodles. I'd usually have paired it with rice at home, but the noodles worked really well and the mild peanut and coconut sauce, the bok choy, tenderstem broccoli and crunchy wok-fried vegetables. The lightly breaded Katsu chicken was very tasty, and the freshly squeezed lime on top added a real citrus hit to it.

Nicole's Thai duck stir fry was served with shredded duck, noodles with chilli jam, bok choy, crispy onions and wok-fried vegetables all tossed in teriyaki sauce. Both dishes were demolished quite rapidly.
Taking our time, we eventually decided that dessert was a must. Drifting to the shores of Spain,  my heart was set on the Churros (£4.95). The Spanish doughnuts came coated in cinnamon sugar with a choice of chocolate orange dipping sauce or dulce de leche on the side - of course I went for both...

The five churros were crisp on the outside and nice and fluffy inside and were extremely sweet. The chocolate orange and the dulce de leche sauces were very more-sih and creamy, a real sugar fix to round off the meal.

Nicole decided to embrace the Rocky Road (£5.95) dessert, which, if I had to pick somewhere, would have probably have hailed from the big ol' US of A - I could be completely wrong, but that was my interpretation. The tall sundae glass was filled with vanilla and salted caramel ice cream, layered with chocolate brownie chunks, chocolate sauce, mini marshmallows and lathered with whipped cream on top. She ate ever last morsel and even tried to pinch a few of my churros - not on my watch.
Bellies full it was time to call it a day on our foodie outing, and with the restaurant still very busy, we decided to promptly get our bill and free up our table so other customers could experience the new and improved version of Giraffe.

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised at just how much Giraffe World Kitchen impressed me. From the knowledgable staff, to the funky interiors, to the scrumptious and varied food on the menu and the diverse drinks offering, this was one chain restaurant which ticked all the boxes.

The restaurant is big on catering to families and offer free kids meal promotions quite regularly. With the opportunity to dine out in a comfortable restaurant which also encourages youngsters to try new foods from around the world, it's no surprise the restaurant was so busy. Hats off to Giraffe.

 For Now...

Just Julia

Friday, 25 August 2017

Boozy Gin Brownies - Recipe

Oh gin, you popular wee thing you. The boom in this particular drinks trend is far from over, and with more than 70% of all gin in the UK now produced in Scotland, it's no surprise half of us have gone gin mad. 

It just so happens that I've now decided to eat the stuff, never mind consume goblets of it at the weekend.

Not the most experienced of bakers, I wanted to incorporate one of my favourite spirits into a simple recipe which bakers of all levels would be able to tackle. And with a slight addiction to chocolate, I opted for my very own Boozy Gin Brownies.

There are of course numerous different ways you can make brownies, and if you've got your recipe nailed then that's totally cool. But for those who don't, I've pulled together a recipe for simple, slightly gooey brownies below.

And as well as gin, I've also added some white chocolate chips and mini marshmallows for those who really want to have fun with this recipe.

To make the boozy gin brownies you will need the following...

  • 200g dark chocolate (I used Bournville)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs (or five medium)
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 60g plain flour
  • One handful of white chocolate chips
  • One handful of mini marshmallows
  • Any premium gin (I used Cocoa Gin from Hotel Chocolat)
You will also need one square/rectangular baking tin lined with grease proof paper to bake the brownies in.

Below is the step-by-step method you will need to follow - however I've left out the gin and tonic I'd poured myself to drink whilst baking.

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line your baking tin - set tray to the side.
  2. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate gently over simmering boiling water in a pan, or microwave the chocolate in bursts of 30 seconds. Set the chocolate aside to cool.
  3. Put both the butter and the caster sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one after the other. Add in the vanilla essence and beat well.
  4. Slowly pour some of the melted chocolate into the mixture and mix it in. Do this until all of the melted chocolate has been added. If you would like, feel free to add white chocolate chips and marshmallows at this stage - or any other confectionary you would like.
  5. Sift in the cocoa powder and flour and gently stir into the mixture ensuring it has completely combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tin and put into the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Once cooked, place the brownies on a wire cooling rack. Leave the brownies to cool for about 8-10 minutes and then, depending on how strong you would like your brownies to be, pour/drizzle your favourite gin over the brownies. The mixture will soak up the gin. For this recipe I used Hotel Chocolat's Cocoa Gin which is infused with cocoa shells.
  8. Cut into pieces and serve.
To confuse things a little, I decided to make two batches when baking these brownies - both containing gin, however only one contained the mini marshmallows and white chocolate chips.

These brownies are a great fine piece to take to any tea party and can be made with numerous other spirits including rum, reposado tequila and even a dark beer. I used Hotel Chocolat's Cocoa Gin due to it being infused with cocoa shells, but next time I'll definitely think of using a more floral gin or one with lots of botanicals from the sea, as I think they would work extremely well. I can imagine the Gin Bothy amaretto gin liqueur would also be a winning combination too.

Enjoy your boozy baking folks, but remember, please bake and drink responsibly.

  For Now...

Just Julia

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