The Tarboush – Middle Eastern cafe and resturant


It was pouring it down with rain and was damn cold and miserable, so what better than to head for a taste of the exotic sunshine at a Middle Eastern Cafe. Despite the darkening conditions, the Tarboush Cafe stands out on Market Street in Loughborough with its warm Persian colours and frontage. It was really quite inviting.

Inside Tarboush

As you walk into Tarboush you pass through their outside patio area and it is like walking through a middle eastern alley way, you could easily forget that you were in the middle of Loughborough and you could even forget that it was pouring with rain up above. It was too cold though to sit out there on this day so luckily there is still a small cafe area inside with about 8 tables that you can keep warm in.

The flyer that I had from Tarboush told me that “The menu offers an array of tantalizing tastes and light refreshing bites which will take you on a journey from Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Egypt, Morroco to Turkey and Greece and back”. I was hoping so as that all sounded jolly tasty and my mouth was watering just thinking about some middle eastern spiceiness.

Tarboush Sandwiches

Their menu is quite extensive and regional. There were several freshly made Middle Eastern Sandwich and Wrap Meal options. We could not really decide which sandwich we wanted so decided to get two and split them. The owner very kindly offered to split them for us which was great as then we gof half of each of the same plate and both got the sides that went with each. The first sandwich was the “Palestinian Mosakhan Chicken” this was sliced chicken breast marinated with traditional Mediterranean herbs, fried onion and olive oil, all wrapped up in a grilled Lebanese pita bread. It came with a seasonal salad and some homous. The second sandwich was the “Lebanese Arayes Lamb” This was a grilled traditional village bread stuffed with marinated mince lamb, traditional herbs, spices and tomato slices. This also was with the salad, and also a dollop of tzatziki yoghurt.

I liked the Mosakhan Chicken best out of the two, it was well balanced and had a good spicy kick to the chicken. It was a more substantial mouthful and had more contrasting textures. You could eat the sandwich on its own without the accompaniments. I did like the Lebanese Lamb sandwich also, but this was a much flatter affair and I found myself dipping it and mopping up both the tzatziki and the homous as I ate this one. It was a good idea to share the two sandwiches though as you got a more contrasting meal.

If there are a few of you then you could take advantage of one of their platter options, or a Mezzeh selection. They do offer these for two people and even a platter for one, but to be honest that looked like just too much food for me for lunch.

tommy cooper and fez Dr Who and Fez

It was only after we left that I found out that Tarboush is the Arabic name for a fez or a red hat. That now makes sense as there were loads of Red Fez all over the place. I had thought that I was at a Tommy Cooper or Dr Who convention for a brief moment (Just me there then).

Ok so where is Tarboush? It is at 12A Market Street in Loughborough, you can locate them via their website at and they have a Facebook page. In addition to the main cafe and resturant which is down that alleyway, there is also an Express takeaway shop at the front on the street as well.

Categories: Leicestershire, Loughborough | Tags: | Leave a comment

Auld Jocks Pie Shop – Scotch Pie adventure

Located just at the top end of the Grassmarket district in Edinburgh is Auld Jock’s Pie Shoppe. I am not going to lay claims as to whether it is an establishment selling gourmet treats, that was not why I walked in through its door, no I was looking for a Scotch Pie and I was pretty sure that Auld Jock’s would be the place to find one. When it comes to the Scotch Pie my previous experiences have been that the greasier and cheaper the place the better the pie. I wasn’t sure that this place was dingy enough but I was still hopeful.


Inside I was in luck, I could see a pie in the glass counter and up on the menu board too it was listed, just in case my pie eye had been decieving me. I was almost tempted into a haggis pie or a Bridie, but no a Scotch Pie it was to be, I must not be distracted from the mission in hand.


So what is a Scotch pie and why was I seeking one, well essentially it is a small, double-crust meat pie usually filled with minced mutton. The pastry casing is baked twice so it is solid and can be eaten easily by hand and it doesn’t collapse when you bite into it, so it is great hand held food and good for munching on as you wander around the streets. I first fell in love with this particular pie when I lived in Aberdeen and our lifestyle was so healthy that we often had a scotch pie for breakfast washed down with a can of Irn Bru. Sadly I am not even slightly ashamed to admit that. In those days the pies came from the Toon Cafe in Old Aberdeen. The grease slid down your chin and the pastry flakes stuck to your sweater. But now then back to Auld Jock’s effort. It was a pretty good pie, it looked good was solid and the meat was quite peppery and not at all dry. I could have added some ketchup to flavour it, but I was sticking  to tradition and eating my pie dry. It did bring back some happy if unhealthy memories, but I am glad that my breakfasts have moved on since those days as I dont think I could eat such a dense pie everyday anymore.

Auld Jock’s Pie Shoppe is located at 118 West Bow, Old Town,  Edinburgh just in the Grassmarket district.

Categories: Edinburgh | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

When the mist comes down, one has to go and get some Fish and Chips – Marshalls in Tynemouth

One minute the sun is shining and the beach is full, the next minute the mist blows in, the beach emptys and everyone heads back up the hill in search of somewhere warm to get out of the damp mist. Some hit the pub, most seemed to hit up Marshalls Chip Shop.


The queue for the take-out was long and boisterous, there were a few free tables inside for sit down , so we headed into the dining area to snag one. Personally I like to eat my Fish and Chips with my fingers out of the paper sitting on a park bench. I am not really a fan of sitting down and eating them with a knife and fork off a plate but it was pretty miserable outside and I was going to be glad of the warmth sitting amongst the ‘very’ common man inside the cafe.


There was only one decision that I needed to make and that was whether I was going to get mushy peas or baked beans to go with my Haddock and Chips. In the end we went for both, I went for beans, but my companion went for peas, and to be honest they looked much nicer. This meal was way too big, the fish took over the entire plate and I hardly got anywhere near my chips. It had all been freshly cooked with a total absence of grease, it was really damn good. The batter was nice and crispy and the haddock fell apart in big silky flakes as you cut into it. Moist, juicy, and still light to eat.  About 20 minutes later the plate still seemed full, even though all the fish had been all eaten, I failed badly with the chips. As I looked around the cafe I could see that I was not the only one defeated by these mammoth platefuls.

All in all a nice little sojourn to the coast and to be honest I was quite glad that the mist came down as I did then have a good excuse to gorge on some fish and chips.

Marshall’s Traditional Fish & Chips, restaurant and takeaway is located at 33 Front Street, Tynemouth, just head east from Newcastle and when you hit the coast, stop you are there.

Categories: Northumberland, Tynemouth | Leave a comment

“Butcher, Baker, Sausage Roll Maker” Carter’s in Bamburgh


When the sun shines in Northumberland it is transformed into one of the most wonderful places.It has beautiful sandy beaches that go on forever, the best is you will pretty much get them all to yourself.  At the village of Bamburgh the castle towers over the the long golden beach and the village green and is a perfect spot to stop, draw breath, have a stroll and find a snack for lunch.

Alongside the green is a row of small shops and nestled within them was Carters with one of the best and most enticing, inviting signs I have seen for a while.


How fantastic a sight was that to some slightly hungry eyes. Inside there were plenty of cheeses, meats, and pies on offer but it was just a couple of sausage rolls that were needed.


After waiting in line for abour 10 minutes we emerged with a small bag of sausage rolls and headed over to the beach for  a stroll and a munch for lunch.


Just a tiny little treat but it was just right for a beach stroll picnic. Although the sun was shining there was quite a stiff breeze which was perfect for blowing away those flakes of pastry that fell with each bite. The sausage meat inside was a good herby chunky bite. The pastry golden and slightly greasy, the sort that leaves just a thin layer of grease on the lips and mouth that needs wiping off, always tricky on the beach as sometimes that wipe includes the wind trapped sand grains. Overall this was a most excellent detour to the village of Bamburgh in Northumberland.

Carter’s established in 1887 is a small yet very successful business located in Bamburgh Northumberland at 2 Front St, with website at .

They are noted for their sausages in particular they are the home of ‘Northumberland’s Finest Sausage’ “The Northumbrian Bamburgh Banger.”

Categories: Bamburgh, Northumberland | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Oink Oink – How much is that Piggy in the window? Hog Roast Heaven

Ok so you are walking through the historic streets of Edinburgh looking for some traditional Scottish fare and suddenly out of the corner of your eye you espy something of interest. A whole hog roast sitting in the window practically begging you to eat it. This is Oink in Edinburgh’s Victoria Street, started by two working farmers from the Scottish Borders, first on the markets thenopening a shop with a great name, selling simple but quality fare. If you want a roast pork sandwich with crackling then this should be your first and last port of call.


I was still hoping to source more than just this single snack on my wanders of Edinburgh so I was restrained and went for an Oink, I got it with a spread of Haggis and some crackling in a white hoagie roll. I resisted the offering of apple sauce in favour of the haggis, took my sandwich and headed out into the sunny, cobbled streets to consume this glorious find.

Now it may not look much, but it was really good, a bit of crunchy crackling to add a crisp bite and texture to some great moist juicy pork, and a salty smear of haggis to add another dimension to the sandwich. Its time like this that one regrets living thousands of miles away in another country. Whatever anyone says, Britain has some good simple food, this is healthy fast food at its best.

Oink is located at  34 Victoria Street, Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2JW, you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook via there website at

I can honestly guarentee a tasty sandwich, I can’t promise the sunshine that I was lucky enough to see

Oink on Urbanspoon

Categories: Edinburgh | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

I am in Scotland I have to have Haggis

Many years ago I lived in Aberdeen and I was introduced to haggis on one Burns Night celebration. Was it good? I honestly could not remember, what I did recall was the warming glow of the malt whisky with which I was plied prior to eating this offal based treat. I think I liked it, but just to check  I was keen to see if I could get another taste while I was over the border, hopefully of some good quality haggis.


Staying for a couple of days in Carnoustie, more famed for its Golf Links than for its culinary excellence, I chanced one night upon the Aboukir Restaurant, situated just 5 minutes walk from the Carnoustie High Street, we were staying at the Kinloch Arms, and for a brief moment there was a danger that we might have had to settle for a fish supper from the local chip shop.

After a brief perusal of the menu there was only ever one choice that I was going to make, and that was the Chicken stuffed with Haggis & Peppercorn Sauce for £11.95. When it arrived I was quite surprised at the elegance of the plate. The moist and succulent chicken was stuffed with the tastiest haggis I had even eaten, it was more like a savoury stuffing. The jue or gravy was sweet and salty, and there was just about enough to cover the limited but perfect amount of veg, just a little bit of cauliflower, broccoli and carrot, all fresh and cooked just right. The potato was not my style, but it was in keeping with the style of the resturant.

Despite my poor attempt at resolve, I was drawn into accepting a desert or pudding. I was tempted by the White Chocolate Creme Brulee & Shortbread. It was almost heavenly, crispy hard sugar topping, perfect filling and in the base a rich soft gooey pool of white chocolate. I am not sure what the shortbread was for, but it was also consumed quickly.

Finding this place to eat was a real unexpected treat, and if I ever manage to get a tee time at Carnoustie I will pop back over here for something to eat after the round.


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Craster Northumberland – North East Smokehouse, Pub, a Crab and Kipper Lunch


The last time I visited Craster in Northumberland I sat outside a cliff side pub watching the house martins fly from their nests drinking a pint of good local beer. Eighteen years later en route to St Andrews in Scotland I found myself stopping off for a spot of lunch at the same pub and was tempted by their locally sourced seafood options. The House Martins were still there nesting in the eaves of the pub, and the views of  Dunstanburgh Castle were much more spectacular than my memories.

The Jolly Fisherman is just across the road from Robson’s, producers of the famous Craster kipper.


The food seemed to be more or less the same in terms of content but the presentation was more upmarket than I recalled, in common with many places the food came served on wooden boards and was probably priced a little higher than in a traditonal pub. We kept it local and went for the options of crab and kipper

The Local Crab came in a Sandwich on plain white bread, it was simple but that was the best way to serve it so that you could really appreciate the quality of the crab meat. It was accompanied by a simple leaf salad primarily of rocket and some crisps. It was good but not as good as the kippers.

The Craster Kippers from over the road were transformed into a Homemade Craster Kipper Pâté (Made with the famous kippers, served with melba toast). The pâté was creamy and had a good strong kipper smoked flavour. The salad was a good side but on the whole the dish could have done with a bit more toast to go with the large pot of pâté.

Both were good and I was keen to get over the road to see the shop from which they were sourced.


Inside it was all that you could ask for. Plenty of smoked kipper and a great smell, the sort of smell that was more like a flavour hanging in the air like an invisible smoke.


The kippers looked great, they were selling some as ‘seconds’ which was a curious term, they actually looked a lot tastier to me, so I dont know what was wrong with them or what defines a ‘second’ in the kipper world. Sadly we had no chance to buy any as we did not have access to a fridge for a few days. Although they  (Robsons) have a website where you can order all of their products online I was glad that we had sampled at the pub as I doubt that I will be able to get a shipment back over to Chicago.

L Robson and Sons Ltd is a 4th generation family business, famous across the UK and the world for oak smoking kippers and salmon. They are in the heart of the tiny fishing village of Craster in Northumberland and have been there for over 130 years.

The Jolly Fisherman is located at Haven Hill, Craster, Alnwick in Northumberland

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Austrian Sausages in Derbyshire England? Well why not!


A Sunday afternoon drive in the Derbyshire countryside should have been accompanied by a traditional sunday roast dinner in a country pub, but in the village of Bakewell I was drawn into sampling some sausages at the Tiroler Stuberl Austrian Coffee shop and Sausage Importer. Tiroler Stuberl is a small Family Business that has been serving the local community as well as many visitors to Bakewell for nearly 20 years.
They have a nice outdoor eating area and on this past weekend it was even nice enough make use of that space  to eat out.


As I checked out the menu I swear that the wood man head on the wall was giving me the evil eye, was I going to make the right choice or would I blow it by making the wrong selection? I was confident that I had all the sausage related answers, but I was not going to blink, just in case. There were a whole selection of Austrian sausages on offer. Kaesekrainer – smokey with lumps of Emmental cheese, Puszta Wurst – coarse, spicy with peppers, garlic and paprika, Hungarian Style, Waldviertler – very dark beech wood smoked, a hearty sausage, a traditional Austrian Bratwurst, Wiener Wuerstel – lovely smokey and meaty Frankfurters with a chutney bite,Debreciner – slightly spicy, smooth with garlic and paprika, a Hot and spicy Debreciner – about 10 inches long with a good bit of heat, a Knackwurst – big and chunky, and a Landjaeger – air dried and firm.
I would have loved to have had some sort of sampler plate but in the end we restricted ourselves to a pair of Kaeskrainer, and a Bratwurst on a toasted bun.


Together with some yellow mustard these were both fantastic choices. The Bratwurst somewhat unfairly had to compete with the Kaeskrainer, it was never going to be able to win.  Although it was solid, smokey and meaty, the Kaeskrainer was spicy and oozed cheese as you cut into it. It reminded me of a venison sausage that I once had that was stuffed with jalopeno cheese. Although the picture shows some ketchup I can assure you that was not my doing, it was ‘dressed’ that way when it arrived. Clearly the same rules do not apply in Vienna as in Chicago where ‘you never put ketchup on a hot dog’.

Although I would not suggest flying over just to sample these sausages, if you hit up Austria or find somewhere in the states to but them then I recommend trying them.

It might be worth checking out Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square

Tiroler Stuberl Austrian Coffee shop is Located at Water Street, Bakewell, Derbyshire

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“Toad in the Hole” inspired by ‘The Fabulous Bakers Brothers’

One of the benefits of returning to the UK is that I have been able to catch up on my UK Cookery programmes and get introduced to some new chefs. It’s amazing how quickly someone new can arrive on the scene. My new favorites are the “Fabulous Baker Brothers”- Henry and Tom Herbert. They have a show on Channel Four featuring recipes from the Hobbs House Butchery and Bakery, and a cookbook of the same name ‘The Fabulous Bakers Brothers’ which I now own.

Watching late one night I was inspired to attempt to make their Toad in the Hole recipe, quite a feat for someone who has failed to make Yorkshire Puddings for umpteen years. But there was just something so tantalisingly tasty about the recipe when they made it on television. I had some really great big fat herby sausages from Spring Lane Farm at Mapperley Top in Nottingham to use, and we had the rest of the herbs and onions from the back garden. I won’t reproduce the recipe here but you can find it at the following link.


First off we had some really nice fresh thyme and red onion from the garden, this was added to a hot tray on the stove top to gently brown the sausages. This took about 10 minutes, and while they were cooking we prepared the batter mixture for the ‘hole’part of the dish.


The batter is principally flour, fennel seeds, freshly chopped rosemary,and a dollop of dijon mustard. To this add a couple of good eggs and some milk.


After whisking up the mixture, it then gets added to the pan with the sausages and onions, then is swiftly thrown into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Now if I had any sense I would have adjusted the positions of the sausages so that they were equally distributed across the pan, but I didn’t and I don’t. It was enough to resist the temptation to open the oven for a peek, but resist I did, and the reward was a firmly cooked Toad in the Hole 30 minutes later.


Out of the pan and onto a plate with some mashed potatoes, peas and gravy was the perfect place for this dish to reside. Even better was its final resting place in my stomach.

This Toad and Hole was a really great variation of the dish, I was slightly dubious at the different herbs mixed in, but once cooked they gave it a great flavour, you did need really thick quality sausages, and most of all the ability not to peek.

I will be bringing this recipe out at some Chicago supper clubs once I return, just to prove that English food is not bland or boring.

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Desperately Seeking Hot Dog – “preferably of the cheap and nasty variety”


I should have known better, and I did know better, but that did not stop me pretending to believe that I could get a nice hot dog from a random kiosk in the UK.  I was strolling along the banks of the River Trent and feeling quite good that I had chosen my lunch hour to get some brisk exercise and fresh air, so I thought “OK so we know that kiosk over there is probably going to have nothing to eat in the gourmet department, but it will probably have some really cheap nasty fast food that when smothered with ketchup or mustard will taste great as you eat it, even if it gives you indigestion for the rest of the afternoon”. I had convinced myself and conned my brain which had a mildly romantic remembrance of such cheap eats from years gone by.


This Kiosk, “The Trent Bridge Kiosk” has been situated down on the banks of Trent by Trent Bridge for as long as I can remember. I am not sure what it has always been called, but it has seen the pub alongside change names from “Town Arms” to “The Avairy” to the “Casa”and now “The Riverside”. Over the years the kisok has fed the good people of Nottingham on their way to see Notts County FC, Nottingham Forest FC, and Nottinghamshire Cricket club, as well as many summer revellers on the bankside. I suspect that the food on offer has not changed much either in that time.


The Menu choices were of no surprise, although I was disapointed that despite a nice chalk board drawing of a child requesting a “frankfurter” that was not on the board. I expected that the chalk picture of the owner glaring at the kid and asking “is that on the board? no it isn’t so why did you ask?” was on the reverse side, probably expleted in much more colurful language. For the record I didn’t ask for a Frankfurter, although I was tempted, instead I gulped, took a brief nod to the Gods and asked for a Hot Dog with onions.

In the end this hot dog was not quite as bad as I had conditioned my mind to expect. Having said that I doubt there will be many people jelaous that I was able to get such a delightful lunch here in the UK. But where are the onions? I hear a savvy reader ask. Well they are tucked away insdie the bun beneath the ill fitting sausage. That is so that you cannot see their burnt, greasy, sloppy nature (even though they were very tasty). I was surprised as I would have thought that you would want to disguise as much of the sausage as you could.

I am being harsh of course, it was not awful, it was quite acceptable, and I did not get heartburn or indigestion. Mind you I did have a stinking cold and could hardly taste anything either. On the plus side I am really looking forwards to getting back to Chicago for a Maxwell Street Dog with all the fixings.

Categories: Nottinghamshire, West Bridgford | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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