Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Malmaison Aberdeen - The Sunday Lunch of dreams

There's nothing  quite like getting together with your friends and family, indulging in a good feed, and chilling out in a relaxing setting on a Sunday afternoon. The best thing about eating out obviously has to be the fact that you leave the full cooking experience in the talented hands of a chefs team - and that you don't have to tackle a mountain of dishes once everyone's done.

More and more people are now looking to restaurants to offer up something rather special and when it comes to giving customers what they want, Malmaison Aberdeen does just that with their Sunday lunch. A four course menu incorporating an abundance of stunning dishes, the menu is great for those looking for a good feed, and for those looking for a great foodie experience. 

For only £24.95 per person, you can fill your boots, fill your boots again, and go back and fill them one last time with the unbelievable four course Sunday lunch at Malmaison as my best friend and I found out a few weeks ago.
To kick start your experience you can expect a scrumptious soup of the day, and once you've ordered that you'll then be invited up to the chef's salad table to indulge in a selection of unlimited hors d'oeuvres. With everything from the salad classics like Caesar, Caprese, Greek and numerous other types, to shellfish and seafood cocktails, to hand carved meats including serrano ham, ibérico, salchichon, different terrines and various freshly made artisan breads, not to mention the different cheeses, chutneys and dressings on offer there's plenty for guests to tuck into. With so much on offer its hard not to tempt yourself eating too much during this second course, but with a main and dessert still to follow diners should try be mindful of this - if they can resist that is.

A few favourites of mine had to be the selection of breads and hams, as well as the rocket and parmesan cheese salad and the sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese dish. Not wanting to miss out on sampling the red pepper and tomato soup, I was extremely delighted with the delicious flavours it boasted. Coming in a mug, it was the perfect amount and wasn't too heavy either. Everything was extremely fresh and there was so many different things to choose from it was hard to figure out what I wanted to try out first.
Once you're done with the chef's salad table I'd suggest you take a break before embracing the creme de la creme, the main event. Getting the choice of something from the brunch section, or something from the main's section there's a strong array of dishes available including the classic Mal burger, a whole Normandy corn fed chicken to share, Severn and Wye haddock fish cake, as well as eggs Benedict, malted blueberry pancakes or California eggs from the brunch options.

Deciding on completely different dishes, my best friend opted for the USCA black Angus Picancha rump with thyme and rosemary Yorkshire pudding, whilst I decided on the big brunch breakfast which included pork sausages, sweet cured bacon, mushrooms, Ramsey's black pudding, tomato, Mal's signature steak sauce and two eggs cooked to preference - poached for me. The breakfast brunch option was extremely filling, so much so I had to opt out just over half way through. Delicious it was, I had eaten too much from the chef's table. Looking on in sheer jealousy, there were no complaints from Lauren about her three huge slices of beef and giant Yorkshire pudding which she drowned in the rich, gooey gravy. The jug of gravy lasted forever and went beautifully with the beef.
Moving forward to dessert a wee while later it was a really tough choice. A massive sticky toffee pudding lover, I was extremely tempted to order the sweet sponge dessert, that was until I spotted the Mal hot chocolate. A cup full of marshmallows, white chocolate and vanilla ice cream with a pot of hot chocolate sauce served on the side I was in sugar heaven. Pouring the rich hot chocolate sauce over the cold ice cream it took seconds until they started to mix together, melting to make a creamy chocolate dessert. With a sweet tooth like mine, this was an excellent choice of dessert, however, having ate almost my body weight in food, I found it very hard to eat it all and had to leave some due to being so full - not a bad dilemma to be faced with I guess.

Lauren decided to tackle the warm Valrhona caramel chocolate brownie with brown butter pecan ice cream. She loved every bite of the moist brownie which was soft on the inside and boasted a slight crunch on the outside, she even managed to polished off the last morsel on her plate with great ease.
Turning to the coffee menu I admitted defeat and we sat gossiping over some juice instead, relaxing in the Brasserie area where majority of the food is served within the hotel. The restaurant was buzzing and was really starting to fill up. It was clear we weren't the only two in Aberdeen who had got the memo on this incredible lunch and I was glad we'd managed to bag a big comfy booth where we could watch the other diners experience this dining extravaganza.

Deciding to head home, we gave up our comfortable table for the net lucky customers to snag.

If you haven't already I urge you now to don your stretchy pants and get a table booked - trust me, you won't be disappointed.

And if you're not sure what you'd order you can check out the full lunch menu here - I guarantee there will be something on it you'll be dying to get your teeth into.

   For Now...

Just Julia

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Lost In Food: Supper Club

The best thing about blogging is the community and great friendships you can make because of it. Whether that be local bloggers, others who live across the UK, or those International pen pals you can establish.

When I met Lesley Garden and Michelle Rolfe a year or two ago we hit it off right away. They were budding foodies and I was a girl who loved to eat out and learn about food, it was a match made in heaven and we've been good friends ever since. Gin enthusiasts, we've bonded over countless goblets of our favourite spirit and they're great at giving me top foodie tips on how to spruce up my dishes.

So when the duo behind the popular food blog, Lost in Food invited me and one of my other good blogging pals, Sarah of Blogs Vlogs Etc along to try out one of their infamous Supper Club experiences I immediately accepted and blocked the afternoon out on my diary. 

Jumping on a train to Inverurie last weekend, one of our fabulous hosts, Michelle, picked us up from the station and whisked us away in her car dropping us at Lesley's house. Not only did the house smell incredible on entering, her home was absolutely beautiful - and her kitchen, wow, there are no words.

On arrival we were treated to a delicious cocktail devised by Lesley's husband Keith who seems to knows a thing or two about making a mean cocktail.
Boasting Wild Island Gin with limoncello, lemon curd, and sugar syrup the drink was scrumptious and was polished off quite promptly. The table was decorated beautifully, and with an elegant set up and personalised menu for the event, it was a very professional and sophisticated affair.
For starters we received a bowl of three pieces of sun-dried tomato and ricotta ravioli, topped off with a beautiful tomato consommé which had been carefully devised by Lesley, who had taken inspiration from someone who had made it on Masterchef a few years ago. Having experimented with a few different recipes she decided to make her own stock combination. She simmered the vegetables for two hours, passed the stock through a fine muslin cloth overnight to ensure it was a clear, clean stock. The dish was extremely delicious and the taste of tomato came through very strong. The creamy pasta partnered with the light consommé was stunning and I ate every last morsel. As much as I wanted to ask for seconds, I held off knowing fine well the cornfed chicken which was sizzling away, would soon be on a plate in front of me.
Each course was perfectly paired with a wine and to accompany the rich flavours Lesley had picked a côtes de provence rosé to go with the consommé. It was very light and refreshing and went extremely well with the slightly heavier pasta dish.

Moving on to mains, Michelle and Lesley ventured back at the stove overlooking the chicken they were cooking. Taking us onto the next course was a beautiful corn fed chicken breast which was served with fondant potato, buttered leeks and asparagus. The chicken melted in my mouth, as did the potatoes which were incredibly more-ish. The asparagus and buttered leeks provided a crunchier texture to the dish and were cooked to perfection. I was very impressed with how well the different ingredients complimented one another. To top off this delicious dish, we were served a tasty jus which was just unbelievable. 
With this course we delved into a limestone coast chardonnay which had a much fuller body than the rosé to compliment the chicken. It went really well together and was very crisp on the palate. 

To finish our three course we tucked into a gorgeous lemon panna cotta with raspberry jelly, crushed pieces of honeycomb, topped with lemon thyme. Boasting a sweet tooth, I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the dessert, and unbelievably, I didn't manage to finish it as I was so full - this may have been as a result of eating far too much homemade honeycomb before sitting down to dessert. The lemon flavour was very prominent and the sweetness of the honeycomb took the sharpness off of the raspberry jelly which popped with colour. The dessert was absolutely lovely and was presented beautifully.
Pairing a dessert wine, it was a sweet and smooth premières côtes de bordeaux which took centre stage. The sweetest and richest wine of the evening, it was served in a smaller glass and was much darker in colour in comparison to the other two lighter wines.

Taking inspiration from classic cooking, the food was perfect for our lunch occasion. Meandering through the menu, the duo had incorporated a hint of French bistro into their offering which appealed to me greatly. Following basic recipes they had and putting their own twists on them, Lesley and Michelle went over and above to showcase just a handful of the incredible talents they both boast.
Working in synch, they pulled together a spectacular afternoon showcasing outstanding food and drink. To say I was very impressed was an understatement and it was great to see these two in their element. The whole experience was very professional and I'll definitely be looking to ask them to create a bespoke menu for my next dinner party with friends, oh, and hoping they don't mind cooking it too! This is one club I'd definitely like a VIP membership for.

  For Now...

Just Julia


Monday, 15 May 2017

Malmaison: An Aberdeen staycation

It's not often I decide to take on the role of a tourist in Aberdeen. So often I get to experience the exciting things going on within the city and  regularly visit some of our much-loved landmarks, however its clear to me that I guess I've never truly appreciated just how great our beautiful Granite City really is.

The hotel industry is one of the biggest in Aberdeen with numerous incredible establishments located across the City and Shire. It's very rare for me to visit one of these brilliant hotels, so when Malmaison Aberdeen invited me to check out their humble abode located a stones throw away from my home, I accepted at haste and booked my best friend and I in for a sleepover.

A staycation is not not something I've experienced before really, but it's definitely something I would do again after staying at the hotel a few weekends ago.

To me, it was obvious that as soon as we'd stepped into the reception area that this was a weekend we were truly going to enjoy....

Front of house was busy, and I could hear laughter filling the bar located just to the left of the reception area. Welcomed by two extremely friendly faces, they swiftly checked us in and directed us to our room.

One floor up we meandered through the stylish corridor passing over the brassiere on the ground floor and fell into our room and straight onto the bed. It was comfy, too comfy, and we just lay there in a heap relaxing and gossiping. 

I was pleasantly surprised at how big the room was. It was modern, beautifully decorated and had hints of tartan throughout which I very much enjoyed. There was a mini bar, a snacks rack, great storage space and plenty of mirrors - ideal for two girls sharing - not to mention the chocolate which went down a treat.

As well as the room being very spacious, the bathroom was really big too. It boasted a four-piece suite with an amazing power shower which I could have stayed in all day, a number of Malmaison toiletries and big fluffy towels which were perfect for wrapping ourselves in whilst we got ready for our night in.
Located on Queen's Road, its ideally located and is just a short walk away from the city centre making it a great hotel to stay in if you're looking for something central but not bang in the middle of the busy centre. With 79 bedrooms in the establishment, the building is quite deceiving form the outside and what's truly fantastic, is that it's got complimentary parking to the front and rear of the property.

Where comfort meets style we slowly got ready in our trendy room prepping ourselves for our evening meal. Trying out the new spring menu we had the appetite for it it and we were really excited to get our teeth into it.

Heading down to the Malbar for a cocktail or two, I questioned the knowledgeable bar staff about which drinks to try out, what was popular and what I should try be adventurous with.  A few cocktails later, we were invited through to the dining area, passing the  cute whisky snug as we ventured through to the brasserie for dinner.

Having launched the spring menu a few weeks ago, I was looking forward to trying it out. Featuring everything from spring lamb Benedict to fresh spring vegetable and wild garlic risotto, not to mention grilled masala spiced mackerel, we were spoiled for choice.

Opting for something light to start it was the fresh burrata with creamy mozzarella cheese and heritage tomato salad with yellow and red tomatoes topped with a herb puree that caught my eye. My date - Lauren - decided on the spring lamb Benedict which included slow braised Dorset lamb shoulder, American glaze and mint Béarnaise on a thick slice of brioche bread. The salad was extremely delicious and was bursting with flavour. Lauren's lamb was succulent and cooked perfectly. Partnered with a generous slice of brioche bread the savoury dish had a slightly sweet hit to it which she absolutely loved.

For mains we had both eyed up the chicken milanese, however Lauren changed her mind at the last minute to the fresh spring vegetable and wild garlic risotto. It came with pea shoots and extra virgin olive oil to finish the dish off. 

My flat breaded chicken breast was accompanied by a Burford Brown fried egg, delicious, heavenly truffle mayonnaise and rainbow chard - the whole dish was utterly scrumptious and the egg was perfectly cooked so when the yolk was burst, it oozed across my plate. On the side came a plate of anya potatoes with chive vinaigrette which we shared. They were beautifully cooked.

Turning to dessert, we held off ordering for a while to give ourselves a breather. After all, there was a chocolate brownie with my name on it.

Trying hard to order different dishes, it was merely impossible for the both of us to turn down a chocolate brownie, so two warm Valrhona caramel chocolate brownies with brown butter pecan ice cream it was. The rhubarb trifle and seasonal fromage slate sounded divine too but in the end we just couldn't resist the sweet taste of chocolate. Coming alongside the brownie was a jug of warm melted chocolate sauce which we doused our brownies in. No words can describe that dessert - it was lovely and creamy, and just gorgeous. Rich in flavour and texture it melted in my mouth.
Throughout dinner we ordered a few cocktails off of the spring drinks menu, with the grapefruit and lychee collins and the rhubarb and basil gimlet being firm favourites. The grapefruit cocktail had Finlandia grapefruit vodka, lychee liqueur, grapefruit, lemon, sugar, elderflower tonic and cranberry bitters in it - it was refreshing and quite sweet even despite having grapefruit vodka in it.

A gin lover, of course my cocktail was going to include the juniper-based spirit. With Brockmans gin, Chase rhubarb liqueur, lime, sugar, cranberry bitters and a basil leaf to finish it off it was the stand out cocktail for me.

On the menu there was a selection of Maltonics which included numerous premium spirits paired with the best tonics which had been carefully selected by the bartenders of Malmaison.

The brassiere was busy, and although there were many big tables in, the staff looked completely composed and made us feel relaxed. The high ceilings and the stunning decor in the restaurant is something I've always loved about the space, and the fact there's a partly open kitchen area for diners to watch the chefs in action boasts another tick in my book.

Heading back to our room we got into our pyjamas and did what most best friends would do when sleeping over - we chilled out with a box of chocolates (with very few touched) and talked the night away. A couple of bottles of prosecco, one too many laughs and a sore bottom after somehow missing the bed and landing in a heap later, we headed to sleep to get a good nights rest.

The beds were so comfortable I didn't want to move, and the curtains hid the sun beautifully ensuring we we weren't woken up too early. We decided to spend the morning in bed flicking through our favourite magazines discussing the latest fashion and beauty trends - or more to the point, how impressed we had been with the hotel.

Malmaison Aberdeen had been an excellent experience and the idea of a staycation has really spurred me on to find out more about the different services the hotel offered. From popular afternoon teas, to relaxing and therapeutic spa packages to romantic weekend away packages and outstanding dinner and drinks options, there's something to suit all tastes at the contemporary, stylish hotel.

With Sunday brunch booked for later on in the afternoon we headed to reception saying our farewells to our gorgeous room. And just like that we were sat in the lounge area, raring to go on our next Malmaison adventure...

P.s If you love brunching, then you'll want to check out my next blog post on Malmaison Aberdeen.

  For Now...

Just Julia
© Just Julia

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