Kombucha – get your buch on!

Flavouring for Mrs Bite's Kombucha

Why would you? That was my question when I first tasted this homemade vinegary beverage proffered by a friend. I was intrigued though, one thing led to another and within a few months I too was happily fermenting this tea-based fizz.

Bite contributor Karen Dorrat reported on a kombucha workshop hosted by the Edinburgh Fermentarium and then Mrs Bite was invited to one run by the restaurant Aizle. I tasted a number of brews and was given a starter kit of SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and instructions. It would have seemed rude not to give it a go.

What you need
3L glass jar, scales, muslin, black or green tea (not herbal infusions), thermometer.

Heat 700ml of water to 100c (black tea) or 80c (green tea)
Brew the tea of choice for 4 mins in the hot water.
Strain tea (leaves or bags) and dissolve 125 gms of raw unrefined sugar. Add 100 ml of cold water and wait for temperature to drop to between 22-24c
Add scoby
Cover jar with muslin or other breathable fabric and leave for 5 days to 2 weeks depending on how sweet or dry you want you final drink to be.

Spicing and second fermentation
Pour ¾ of kombucha into second vessel (Mrs B uses bottles with ceramic flip tops like Grolsch bottles) and leave scoby with ¼ of liquid to begin next brew.
Spice your bottled kombucha as you like. Aizle suggest 125gms of grated ginger, 150 gms of Muscadet pumpkin (chunks) and one grated nutmeg. Mrs Bite has been using grated raw ginger, stem ginger and raspberries and finds that fruit generally works well.

I now always try to have a bottle of buch on the go. There is no proven research on the benefits of Kombucha but it puts good bacteria in your gut and that is what boosts your immune system and results in the other reported anecdotal benefits. I have found that it gives an energy boost and improves skin and digestion.

For commercial kombucha Bite can recommend Leftfield Yunnan Black which has won a great taste award. Buy it at Hanover Health Foods or Jan de Vries. It is also on tap at the vegan bar Harmonium in Leith. It’s delicious and puts a spring in your step.

I hope to see more kombucha on tap and on sale in cafes and pubs this year as it is a great alternative to beer and alcoholic drinks and I would certainly recommend trying it if you are planning a healthy kickstart to 2018. (S. Wilson)


Review of The White Horse Oysters and Seafood


DONhkZqWkAAEVxxThe White Horse is THE most exciting addition to the Edinburgh restaurant scene.

Seafood is an integral part of Scotland’s heritage. Oysters were once a staple food of the poor in Edinburgh and the herring girls in their striped skirts found seasonal work in Newhaven.

The White Horse is believed to be the oldest Inn in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, born 1742, and it has been revived by the group that own Chop House, West Room, Sygn and Monteith’s. The refurbishment is sympathetic to the bar’s history; the exterior resembles sharp rough oyster shells whilst inside the wood is dark, the waiting staff aproned and the table tops are made of sea green marble. It doesn’t take much to imagine Samuel Johnston and James Boswell lodging and partaking of the victuals here before embarking on their adventure around the Hebrides.

Four types of oyster are available, Loch Fyne, Caledonian, Lindisfarne and my favourite, creamy Carlingford. The tempura oysters I devoured were simply phenomenal and came with ponzu dressing, wasabi mayo and pickled ginger.

It’s impossible to list all the goodies on offer here. You would be as well looking at the small, seemingly simple but oh so classy menu. If you like seafood and oysters you will be in heaven as you choose from small plates, tempura, platters, mains and sides. Seaweed, samphire, fennel, grapefruit, wasabi only the most sympathetic accompaniments to fish and seafood make the grade.

Sesame tuna and monkfish satay are dreams come true whilst king crab legs with charred lemon really wow. Imported from Norway they have a softer shell than langoustine, are at least twice the size but the tender white flesh is similar. Dunk them in mayo.

Fizz by the glass, a ripe tropical Chenin Blanc, martinis with Edinburgh Seaside Gin and pickled samphire, an ultra elegant Espresso Martini in a slim legged coupe  – it’s all here for you to indulge in.

So much so that I protested against dessert but was shouted down. Burnt lemon crème brulee, cheese, a digestif of bitter Fernet Branca followed.

You can pop in for Buck a Shuck Monday to Thursday from 4pm-6pm when oysters are £1 each. Lobsters and fries are £22 on a Wednesday and surf ‘n’ turf with rib eye, lobster and fries is £30 every Sunday.

Personally I am thinking of moving in. (S. Wilson)

The White Horse Oysters & Seafood
266 Canongate,
Royal Mile,
City of Edinburgh,

0131 629 5300



How to choose wine in a restaurant

22221729_1520074578029410_2004412086558406767_nAt Bite we are lining our stomachs in preparation for a host of seasonal tastings. Such events are a great way to sample  wines but with the restaurant wine list you don’t always have the opportunity to try before you buy, so how do you choose a good wine?

We asked some of our wine friends in Edinburgh for their tips on navigating the wine list and also asked which wines they were enjoying at the moment. 

Diana Thompson  Wine Events Scotland and organiser of Fizz Feast “Go for something different; it’s always fun to try something new especially if you’re somewhere which specialises in a country or region as they’re likely to have access to wines which may not be found elsewhere.  Always try to speak with the wine waiter or sommelier – they’ll normally have tasted most of the wines and will be only too happy to share their knowledge and tell you something about the wine.”
Wine of the Moment: Any wine from Napa Valley.  Their whites are all superb and Cabernet Sauvignons world class.  However, I recently tasted Doug Shafer’s Shafer Vineyards Merlot which is superb.  Doug is a bit of a Napa Merlot pioneer.  It’s difficult to track down a bottle in the UK so the second best option and a very pleasurable one would be to go along to Californian Calistoga Restaurant in Rose Street.

Andrew Lundy Director and Co-Founder of independent wine store Vino Wines “Ask staff for advice bearing in mind the food you have selected”
Wine of the Moment: Moss Sparkling Glera Vino Frizzante Bianco 750ml

David Ramsden Proprietor of wine bar The Fat Pony said “Choose a wine you’ve never had”
Wine of the Moment: REDE Vinho Branco. Douro, Portugal.

Silvio Praino Wine Manager of Divino Restaurant & Bar  “When you choose from  a large list always ask your waiter they always  know what is best wine and surely they want to impress you.”
Wine of the Moment: Lacrima Di Morro,red wine from central region of Marche in Italy. This wine has ascent of rose petals and wild strawberries and a lovely balance between tannins acidity and alcohol

Silvio Pasquarella, Director of Bacco Wines“The first thing I always look for are the name of the wine, winery, vintage and abv if these details are not on the list I  will go for a beer! If I am eating something traditionally Italian will likely choose a medium-bodied wine with good tannins.”
Wine of the Moment: Sangiovese is always a safe bet.

Fiona Lynch Portuguese Wine Importer  “Read through the wine list and see where my eyes are drawn back to. As long as it’s not outrageously expensive.”
Wine of the Moment: Cataratto

Tobia Salvai Director of wine company Red Barrel”Something that I know from a producer that I don’t know or something that I heard of but never tried before.”
Wine of the Moment: Barolo Terlo L’Astemia Pentita 2011.

Sharon Wilson Editor of Bite Magazine. “I decide what I am going to eat and base my wine choice on that although it can be fun to do it the other way round! I choose food and wine from the same country so with risotto I will go an Italian wine.
Wine of the Moment: I was lucky enough to taste Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2009 recently so I would snap at that if I could a) afford it and b) get my hands on it as it is now scarce. At the other end of the price point I like Croft Twist a ‘ready to drink’ sherry spritz which is great with nibbles.

IMG_0293Elizabeth Bowman Bite Contributor and Wine Student  “I would look for a grape or style I like and then look at the year/vintage. However, I may go completely off piste depending on my mood or situation! “
Wine of the Moment: I have just enjoyed Petit Chablis, “Domaine des  Marroniers” at Bistro Deluxe. Intense, long finish, very enjoyable with the meal – including the wild Gigha halibut.



Old Curiosity Gin

salt curiosityFriend and contributor to  Bite, the lovely Eleonora Vanello visited the Scottish Café and Restaurant recently to sample this gin. Here is her report …

“In recent years Scotland has witnessed the flourishing of many gin distilleries all focusing on a variety of botanicals in their recipes. Us gin lovers are spoilt for choice, with high-quality gins able to match the most demanding palate. The competition is tough and gin companies have to be original to get their market share.

The Old Curiosity surely won’t go unnoticed

From the genius of Hamish, founder together with his wife Liberty of the Secret Herb Garden and the ‘Gin Master’ Steven a new gin concept was born.

The Old Curiosity Gin selection is colourful, scented and magic. The names of the different gins take inspiration from the plants and flowers used to infuse the alcohol.

At the launch of The Old Curiosity, which was held at the Scottish Café and Restaurant, guests sat in front of a placemat with five glasses with a different coloured liquid each for the unveiling of five gins: Chamomile and Cornflower, Apothecary Rose, Lavender & Echinacea, Mallow & Geranium and Damask Rose. Hamish with his charming passion enlightened us about the flowers used and their characteristics. He described how the flowers are the first component and the gin “the passenger”, why he decided to use these two types of roses and how some petals give the colour and others the taste. The catchy marketing phrase for Old Curiosity is “it’s a curious thing a color-changing gin…” And they really are! When Hamish announced it was time to add the tonic water, strictly Bon Accord, the magic happened and our gins changed colour in the glass! The smell of the gins was enhanced and colours and scent transported us to a spring garden!

Chef Marcin from the Scottish Café and Restaurant had crafted some bespoke and very tasty nibbles for pairing. That was a smart move which gave us an extra opportunity to appreciate and discover new flower notes.

If you want to add a little bit of magic to your G&T order The Old Curiosity Gins, you will be enchanted.  Pinky promise!”

Croft Twist Sherry Spritz

Salt SpritzMrs Bite settled down in front of the telly recently with some root crisps and a bottle of this sparkling, low alcohol sherry spritz.

It was nice to have a night free (Mr Bite was out) to relax into the sofa and indulge in something fizzy and tasty without any next day nasties.

Croft Twist is an aperitif, a refreshment, a Fino spritz. I can see how it would have been a lovely refreshing summer drink but I think it works equally well on a winter’s night.

Luscious and lemony Croft Twist combines aromatic elderflower, cool garden mint and zesty lemon with the crisp taste of a premium Fino. Perfect to wash down snacks and tapas. Plus it’s  ready to drink and just 5.5% in alcohol.