Monday, 25 January 2010
T on the Fringe, August 2007
Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh
It's rare that an opening act blows the headliner out of the water but this is certainly the case tonight in the final hours of T on the Fringe. Dan Deacon is the said opener who composes an imaginataive and marvelously maniacal set of electro-futuristic sounds while turning his hospitable audience into his very best mates. He begins with a chat that confirms his insanity before transforming the performance into an audience participation playground. After a crowd-assisted countdown, there's also a dance-off that the kids embrace whole-heartedly. Deacon is intriguingly fun and his approach to his cosmic creations has a contagious quality that can make ya feel really damn good.
What an impossible act to follow, particularly for The Teenagers. Profoundly dull and tragically talentless, it's hard to imagine how these detestable scenesters secured their names to appear in such large print. With juvenile lyrics that are self-indulged and nauseating like "I fucked my American cunt", there's really no reason any thinking person should ever consider The Teenagers to be as cool as The Teenagers esteem themselves to be. If an hour spent on this band is to ever be remotely forgiveable, perhaps they should steer clear of sharing bills with bona fide artists such as Deacon.
Also published on edfestmag.com in August 2007
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
The tastiest Thai around
EVER SINCE BITE INTRODUCED ME TO SPICEBOX TAKEAWAY OVER A YEAR AGO, I HAVE NOT, NOT EVEN ONCE, BOTHERED DINING OUT FOR THAI. HAVING FOOD DELIVERED TO YOU IS ALWAYS A TREAT BUT WHEN IT'S YOUR FAVOURITE KIND OF CUISINE AND IT'S BETTER THAN ANY RESTAURANT AROUND, WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE THE FLAT?
So since I am partial to a few favourites on the menu, I request, for unbiased review purposes, to have a bag of surprises delivered to my door. The first of the mystery boxes held starters of gai hor bai teoy (£4.65), tod mun pla (fish cakes, £4.25), por pia jae (spring rolls, £4.05) and por pia gai (also spring rolls £4.25). The gai hor bai teoy is favoured especially - Thai whisky, sesame oil and spice-marinated chicken is already perfectly juicy and flavourful before wrapped in Pandanus tree leaves. The sesame honey dip is a perfect complement and the presentation of the dish alone is worth it.
The tasty fish cakes are packed well with cod, salmon and haddock that are fresh from Eddie's Seafood Market. Our spring rolls are filled with first veg, bean sprouts and glass noodles and wrapped in pastry with a sweet basil leaf, and the latter is made with the traditional fillings of delicious chicken and herbs. Starters are often my favourite part of a meal and this is no exception.
Probably the sweetest surprise is the 'salad' we receive - the yum nua yang beef (£6.45). It's a rather ample and hot dish resembling the likes of a curry more so than a salad. Strips of beef are cooked on a flame grill and entwined with a leaf salad with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, shallots and an outstanding Thai salad dressing. This dish is a hot one and layered with flavours, each bite unravelling a different taste. Tremendous. Eat it as a main with a side of lovely jasmine rice.
The final fave is number 39: gaeng ped yang (£8.95). Said to be a central Thailand fave, it's made with red curry paste, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, grapes (yes, grapes!!), chili and sweet basil. The many complexities of this dish is what makes it a must, and yes, the sweetness of the grapes with the cherry tomatoes help to nail it.
Orders usually take an hour as they're made from scratch but I'd have waited longer to consume the best Thai in town in my own living room. (KELLY RAE SMITH)
0131 662 4411
Tue-Thu,Sun 4:30pm-11:30pm; Fri-Sat 4pm-12am
Warming for both heart and belly!
THE SNOW THAT BLANKETED THE CAPITAL A FEW WEEKS AGO BROUGHT WITH IT TRAVEL FRUSTRATIONS, A LOT OF SHIVERING AND A FEW FALLS, BUT I THINK WE CAN ALL RECALL IT WITH FONDNESS TOO. CERTAIN MOMENTS WILL LINGER FAVOURABLY IN OUR MINDS, LIKE THE PARTICULARLY FREEZING JANUARY NIGHT THAT I FOUND A HAVEN OF WARMTH (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE) INSIDE PANI SOLINSKA ON BROUGHTON STREET.
With enlarged black and white family photos (circa WWII, Poland) aligning the walls, the promise of comfort abounds. The owner, Dorothy, welcomes my friend and I and explains the tasting board we are about to share while we settle in with a Zubr (a tasty, citrusy beer), Redd's apple lager (both £3.50) and a basket of Polish bread. Soon we begin the feast complete with a Polish vodka tasting that will ensure that we stay nice and toasty for the remainder of the evening.
The range of vodkas (six altogether) fare wonderfully with the Polish meat board (£19.95 per person for the board plus vodkas). The classic Polish vodkas are all very distinctive and are as follows: Krupnik (sweet, smooth, cocoa), Żołądkowa (orange), Starka (whisky-flavoured), Śliwowica (plum, fiery), Wisniowka (cherry, great finish) and, from the freezer, Żubrówka (nutty, marzipan-like).
On the charcuterie board, we have Wiejska, a Polish village sausage that's smoked, garlicky and peppery with a nice, crisp skin; Kindziuk, salami-style cured sausage, rich with all-spice and brilliant flavour; Debowa, a more delicate-flavoured ham sausage; and long-aged, smoked Parma ham-style cuts of pork. All is served on an impressive, hand-made board with salted gherkins and mustard. We also try the smalec, a very traditional dish of pork fat fried with onions and served with bread - immense; a side of horseradish and beetroot salad that refreshes the palate sweetly; and finally the dish I have yearned for since my arrival, bigos. Hunter's bigos, a 1300 century recipe, is a stew-like, sour and savoury bowl of cabbage, Polish sausage, prunes, red wine, juniper, all-spice, sauerkraut and mushrooms. Nothing could have been more well-suited for below-zero climate than a warming bowl of bigos washed down with a series of exciting vodkas!
A couple of hours later and you can't kick us out of the place. Dorothy's passion shines through discussions of each flavour we've tasted (from the meats to the bigos to the vodkas), of the family-oriented decor and, essentially, of her precious Polish origins. We're not the only ones who feel so at home; because so many locals have endearing, ancient family tales from their Polish homeland, storytelling nights are arranged every so often. The next one is on the 23rd of February. (KELLY RAE SMITH)
-73 Broughton Street
-0131 557 6900
ALSO IN THE FEBRUARY 2010 ISSUE OF BITE MAGAZINE