Eating in St Andrews: The sugar overlords and ab destroyers.

If you are here, chances are that you are coming to St Andrews this coming September to commence your studies. Well done! You are coming to one of the best universities in the UK. But St Andrews is not only good for its academic prestige, the town itself is a wonderful little place to live in as well. 

If you are anything like me, the first thing you'd probably want to know before is, 'What is there to eat in this tiny town?' When I first thought of this, I went scrounging all over the Internet for an answer. I was disappointed to only find outdated and generic suggestions on travelling websites. 

Don't get me wrong. I eventually got to try out most of the restaurants on these "Best restaurants in St Andrews" lists, and they are not too far from the truth. Though I feel like as a current resident of this town, and a die hard food fanatic, I can contribute a bit more than the occasional travelers' comments. 

So let's get down to it, what exactly is there to eat in St Andrews?

Honestly, not a lot. Being a small town, there isn't a lot of room for dining establishments to prosper. Having said that, there are a fair number of eateries around. Some more decent than others. I am gonna go ahead and skip over the likes of chain restaurant like Prezzo and Tony Macaroni. You can get these anywhere you go in the UK, you don't have to go all the way up here for this. I am more interested in what is exclusively St Andrews.  

First of, DESSERTS. Because it should be the main course, or in my case, the only course in a lot of my meals. 

1. Sticky Toffee Pudding

I have a confession to make. I never knew what sticky toffee pudding was before I came to St Andrews. I don't (or rather, didn't) have that big of a sweet tooth, and the idea of a heavy, toffee drenched date sponge does not excite me at all. But after a year in St Andrews, I am a changed woman. 

Where do I get my sticky toffee pudding fix in St Andrews? Uhm..just about everywhere. Two of my hands-down favourite places though, are Cromars Fish and Chips Doll's House. I never expected to find my favourite sticky toffee puddings in a chip chop. But Cromars' STP really hits all the right spots for me. It is also the only place that serves it with pouring cream, which I prefer. Sadly, of all the times I have been in for meal, I have failed to take a photo because we inhaled it within minutes of its appearance, even after a large and satisfying main course of fish and chippies. It is that good. 

Here's the STP from Doll's House though. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding from the Doll's House. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding from the Doll's House. 

The Doll's House is one of my favourite restaurants in St Andrews. Its menu is not as extensive as others, but whatever you order, I can guarantee that it will be good. Speaking of menu, they just updated a new seasonal menu for the coming months. The STP is still there (thank God!), check it out here

Another place that's worth coming to try the STP in the Dunvegan pub on North Street. This is a lot less upscale than the Doll's House. And it is perfectly acceptable to just come for a wee sticky toffee treat. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding from Dunvegan.

Sticky Toffee Pudding from Dunvegan.

The STP from Dunvegan is a bit less rich and flavourful but no less indulgent. Taste-wise, I prefer the one from the Doll's House. But in reality I usually end up at Dunvegan because I can't really afford to eat out so often at real restaurants. Pub food is where it's at.

2. Gelato and Ice cream

St Andrews knows its ice cream. We have the local, family-owned Jannettas on South Street. Dishing out novelty gelato and sorbets. On Wednesday they offer waffles and gelato for £4.50. A pretty darn sweet deal if you ask me. :) I've been told their sorbets are amazing as well but have yet to verified this. 

Waffle Wednesday at Jannettas is a must!

Waffle Wednesday at Jannettas is a must!

The other place for crazy delicious ice cream is Nardini's. Situated just down the road on the same street. Closer to the town centre than Jannettas. This ice cream parlour boasts a melted chocolate tap. Yes, a constantly running tap of chocolate that goes into sundaes, hot chocolate and all sorts of things. They don't have as many ice cream options as Jannettas. But what you should definitely try is their extensive menu of sundaes. Oh my world,  I blame Nardini's for 4 out of the 5 kilos that I gained since I moved here.

Apologies for the horrible photo. I have annoying friends. 

Apologies for the horrible photo. I have annoying friends. 

My hands-down favourite at Nardini', the Sticky Toffee Sundae, with warm chunks of sticky toffee pudding in toffee sauce and cream and everything beautiful about this world. 

3. Cakes and Afternoon Tea

Okay, I can't profess to be an expert on this since I rarely ever buy cakes/sweet things in town. I like baking my own things. But I have spotted a few places in town that does good baked goods in case you want to treat yourself but can't be bothered to get in the kitchen. 

Gorgeous Cafe on South Street does big and wonderful scones. And I do mean, big. Its upstairs seating area has a cosy 1940s theme to it. It's a small place and a strong favourite for locals and students alike so if you want to have a huge gathering with your friends, this is definitely not the place for that. Also it's a cash only cafe. A word of warning though, stay away from the big breakfast fry-up. It's all bought-in food that you can throw together in your kitchen so don't bother wasting your time and money. 

Make sure to try the Special Scone they have on the menu. :)

Make sure to try the Special Scone they have on the menu. :)

North Point on North Street is another popular place to afternoon tea and brunch. It's one of the only places in town that offers all-day pancakes. Which I find weird, because when is a good time to not have pancakes? I heard the scones there are also a must-try. But they tend to run out of them when I come round. So that probably says something. Overall most items on the menu is pretty decent, and the smoothies looks good. The prices are a bit steep for my meager student bank account though. But if you ever have £6+ to spend on breakfast. This is a good spot to spend them. 

One of my fav here, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs Toast. The scrambled eggs at North Point is really good. 

One of my fav here, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs Toast. The scrambled eggs at North Point is really good. 

Some of the other places that has good baked goods are Cottage Kitchen, Bibi's and, according to popular opinions, Fisher and Donaldson. The last one is an actual bakery (the only one in town actually) whereas the other two are cafes. Personally I think the things they make at Fisher and Donaldson are a bit too sugary for my taste. But like I said, it's kind of the only bakery in town and people seems to like it.

Last but not least, a shameless bid for self-promotion. Call me biased, but one of the best baked goods in town are (lovingly) made by yours truly, the St Andrews Baking Society. You will see us around hosting bake sales, baking classes and all sorts of foodie events. So when you see us around with our aprons and our cakes. Come say hi and grab a bites. We're loving (non self-absorbed) people, I promise. :)

Homemade baked goods for a bake sale last year. 

Homemade baked goods for a bake sale last year. 

That concludes my first food review post for Two Picky Pigs. I am working on the second part with less sugary stuffs and more real stuffs (read: MEATS!!). That's me for now, until next time, however far off in the future that is. 

*I haven't put any addresses in because, uhm, we literally have 3 main streets in St Andrews. So it'd be pretty impressive if you can't find these places. Also, Google Maps is a wonderful creation. And as a dear friend of mine said, 'If you get lost, you'll just find another good place to eat.'

Game of Thrones Inspired Fondant Cake: Assembly.

Okay, this will be a massively wordy post since I didn't get the chance to take many pictures during the making of the cake. If you follow my Instagram (@pickypigatuni), you will probably have seen this. 

Source: @pickypigatuni 

Source: @pickypigatuni 

So this was my attempt at making yet another Game of Thrones inspired cake. Yes I have made others before. See below.

That was a prototype I made for a previous Baking Society event. Hence the strange/choppy arrangement of plaits. In any case, I ended up with a whole lot of fondant from said event, and decided I would get one of my friends to come round and make yet another Game of Thrones cake with me to celebrate the end of lectures and the new season premiere of Game of Thrones.

The throne on the prototype cake is a lot more detailed than the one we made for the cake, but it did take 9+ hours to assemble that alone compared with the 6+ it took for us to bake all of the cake tiers, decorate the cake, making the throne AND somehow cooking dinner because much as we'd like to, we can't live on sugar. 

This is where a disclaimer may be appropriate, I think. Daisy, the friend I dragged into this sugary, baking madness is the one who made most of the cake (and dinner). My participation consists of finding the recipe(s) + design, some parts in modelling the fondant, and mostly clean up duties. :D 

It was..an experience not being active in the baking process. But just being involved in the assembly is massively fun as well. So without further ado, here is how we assembled our Game of Thrones inspired fondant cake. 

Here's another photo for good measure

Here's another photo for good measure

As you can see, the cake has two separate tiers. the top bit is actually a vegan lemon cake I found on Pinterest, from a miss Sofia Von Porat. For the base tier I adapted Buttered Side Up's Lemon Cake with Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. An incredible amount of lemon zest went into these cakes, but both of them lacked a strong lemony zing. But it was probably my fault because I didn't have any lemon extract on hand. Either way, I compensated for this by brushing both cakes with a Lemon-Brandy syrup to help keep them moist and add more lemony flavour. It didn't work very well, sadly, I would 100% recommend more lemon zest than what both of these recipes called for.

For the throne, I followed The Icing Artist's Youtube tutorial here. I also draw inspiration from this Pinterest photo.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Sadly, I couldn't find the tutorial for this cake, so I attempted to recreate the dragon scales pattern you see above. It didn't turn out very well in comparison with the original. I basically stacked square-ish bits of fondant on top of each other, which appears to be what they did, it didn't turned out the way is should. Maybe the squares need to be thinner. 

Anyway, when that's over and done with I sprayed the bottom tier with some shimmer spray and left the top tier its original matte grey colour. I also made a braid out of the white fondant I had left, covered it with some shimmer spray and attached it around the second tier to hide the horrible fondant job I did on that one. But you can probably still tell from the cracks that by that point the fondant was pretty dried out and not ideal for covering cakes. :/

So yeah, that was an account of how two amateur home bakers went about their Sunday. We had a lot of fun making this. Fondant is definitely not my favourite thing to work with. It is superficially pretty (if you do it right) but absolutely gross to eat (sugar bits with corn syrup, yum). The taste always comes first, for me, closely followed by look. But I have matured a lot from my younger days, (19 is basically the menopause of teenager-dom), I realise now that baking is not just about finding you perfect and disapprove of everyone else's. It more of understanding people's taste and combining their ideals with my own. In this case I was happy to finally have an opportunity to make a vegan-friendly cake, play around with fondant (and failing :D ), and in turn introduced people to Swiss Buttercream Frosting (aka one buttercream recipe to rule them all) and my own way of making a layer cake. (Because apparently it's not a thing to bake a whole cake and cut out the layers?)

I don't know what about you but I felt like this was a day well spent. :) Many thanks to the amazing bakers and fondant artists that helped make this cake happen. And since I don't actually watch or read Game of Thrones, I hope you guys enjoyed the new season premiere and don't you dare comment spoilers on this post because I have so much to catch up on. 

As always, questions/advice are welcomed. Happy baking! :)

 

Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies Recipe

Peanut butter and banana is hands down my all-time favourite food pairing. And now I discovered how to make it in cookies form. Soft and fluffy, this is banana bread and peanut butter cookie's love child. 

'banana bread and peanut butter cookie's love child'

'banana bread and peanut butter cookie's love child'

Hi all! As you know I'm Sam, your (incredibly lazy) Picky Pig's co-blogger. Though I do feel that calling myself a 'blogger' is stretching it, since this is actually my first post, ever. *woop woop* So I finally got my finances together enough to purchase a tripod, and this post is to celebrate that. :D 

Cookies is actually not my forte. As in, I can't remember the last time I made cookies. Unless you count the floppy gluten-free shortbread that I attempted last week, which was a massive failure. 

Why am I writing a food blog again?

Why am I writing a food blog again?

So yeah, definitely not my forte.

I am, however, lucky enough to have baking friends who kept me well-supplied with weekly bags of chocolate chip cookies. Foodie friends are awesome like that. But, since it's spring break, my cookie supplier left for home and I had to take matters into my own hand. So here we are. 

This is a recipe from Gimme Some Oven, aka one of my favourite food blogs ever. If you don't know Ali, check her out here. She's awesome. A lot of my recipes are adaptations of hers. You can find the original recipe here. Here's what I did. 

The dry ingredients.

The dry ingredients.

Measure out the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. I didn't bother mixing it since I'm sifting it in the wet ingredients later anyways. But if you can't be bothered to sift them, give them a mix. 

Cream the butter and sugar together

Cream the butter and sugar together

Confession time. Here was an example of sloppy baking. I only had 90g of butter that has been softened so I used spreadable butter because I couldn't wait to take another butter block out of the fridge. This is a potential problem because the difference in fat content can affect the spreadability of your cookies. If you want an example of spreadability going really wrong, refer to my shortbread disaster above. So guys, make sure you have your ingredients ready before you start baking.

Add in the egg. Then the mashed banana and the peanut butter.

Give it a good mix.

Give it a good mix.

Sift in the flour mixture and gently fold into the PB-Banana mixture. This step is optional. I have eaten cookies where the flour was just dumped in and they taste fine. But, if you really want that fluffy, cake-y texture in your cookies, sift the flour, and handle the dough gently from this point on.

Cookie dough.

Cookie dough.

Finito! Consume with a spoon, or your hand. Go crazy. 

Mmmm yeah, that was good. :)

Mmmm yeah, that was good. :)

Haha okay, just kidding. Roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 min in the freezer. Then bake according to recipe. 

Cooling on the rack.

Cooling on the rack.

Now you can eat. :D

Now you can eat. :D

And that's it. You're done. Your kitchen smells awesome. Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy. :)

I made too much. Now I'm contemplating where I can take these cookies. Peanut butter cookie sandwich? Cookie pie crust? Blend them into a milkshake? Hmm ideas ideas..

10.JPG

Heat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and cinnamon until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, egg, banana, and vanilla, and continue mixing on medium speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 

Measure out a rounded tablespoon-full of dough, roll it into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Use a fork to press down the top of the ball and make a criss-cross pattern. Repeat with remaining dough. Chill dough balls for 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/peanut-butter...

Meat-lover's Dream: The Cannibal, NY

In retrospect, this is probably one of the best meals I've had all summer, second only to the unforgettable sushi lunch at Morimoto during #NYCRestaurantWeek.  We headed to this spot to celebrate the last day of my (stupendously awesome) summer internship @ Chicory , a young and fun food+tech startup that focuses on making online recipes shoppable. As I was on a strictly no-carb diet to gain back the slim body I never had, my marketing manager suggested going for a fancy lunch at this meat-loving restaurant on 29th St. (Thank you, Hillary. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!)

 

The Cannibal, as its name suggests, focused mainly on transferring different protein into mouth-watering dishes that we cannot wait to dive headfirst into. There is an insane price gap between the least and most expensive dishes, with the dry-aged rib eye costing more than 100 bucks per serving. I don't know how good this rib-eye can be, but there's not a cat in hell's chance of me trading it for 20 delicious popsicles at Popbar. 

 

 

I opted for what seemed-like-it-had-the-least-amount-of-carbs on the menu: Pig head & Maitake Terrine with Pickled Celery ($11). & my co-intern flipped out when she thought I was ordering the General Tso' Pig Head that sets us back a good $85 :) As good as it may sound, my past experience with General Tso' Chicken at Chinese takeouts left a mental scar that was to be felt for life. I swear my Chinese friend would kill me if I ever call sauteed broccoli or General Tso' Chicken authentic Chinese food...

 

Pig Head Terrine with Maitake and Pickled Celery ($11)

 

The terrine itself was pretty decent, with chunks of pork fat and pig head creating a nice, soft, and bouncy texture. The sweet and sour pickled celery really helps cut through the fattiness of the pork, ensuring a mouthful of different flavor explosions. I wish there'd been some ground pepper though, since that would have made this dish perfect.

The Cannibal, without a doubt, knows how to make good pates and terrines. Hillary loved her Chicken Liver Paté, and Joey's Pate Grand Mere with Blueberry Mustarda was soooo good I wish I could eat carbs (yes, blueberries have sugar, hence carbs *sob sob*).

Chicken Liver Pate with Spring Onion and Black Pepper Jam ($11)
accompanied by three slices of toasted bread

Pate Grand Mere with Blueberry Mustarda ($11)

 

I know Pate is traditionally made from ground meat, fat, and cattle's organs, but what the hell is Pate Grand Mere? There was not a wikipedia entry for the origin of this dish, but some basic google translation gave me "Grandma's Pate" as a consolation prize. More reading will have to be done when I finally get my hands on a good Pate making book. As long as it's not in French...

Taste-wise, the Pate Grand Mere had not a single flaw to it. Unlike the pig head terrine where I felt I would have appreciated a touch of pepper, this dish is perfect to the T. Despite my initial reservation for the sweet + fat combination, the fattiness of the Pate works splendidly well with the slightly sweet and sticky blueberry paste. Google didn't give me any results for "mustarda", but "mostarda" could have been what the restaurant were really thinking of. It's basically a compote, where candied fruits are mixed with a mustard-flavored syrup (probably giving it the name "mostarda"?).

Steak Tartare with Bearnaise and Crumpet ($16)
Didn't get a chance to taste this but it sure looks amazing. Bearnaise is a fancier variation of Hollandaise sauce, where white wine vinegar is used in place of lemon juice.

 

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Slow Cooked Egg  & Country Ham XO ($8)
This dish is simply to-die-for

Cannibal Dogs ($15) = "Tiger Style" Hot Dogs with Spicy Tripe Chili, Scallion, Crispy Fried Shallots and Chinese Mustard (whatever that means lol)
The restaurant was also offered us a free House Jerky and Pork Rind platter since Amanda and Gary's Grilled Cheese was taking *forever*

Grilled Cheese with Bacon, Cheddar and Gruyere ($12)

 

I couldn't snap a decent photo of this Grilled Cheese since Amanda was too busy attacking it and the Half-hearted Vegetarian Gary diligently picking out the bacon from his = _ = " ( no offense, Gary!) They both swore it was the best Grilled Cheese they've ever had, so I guess it was on par with our other amazing dishes.
All in all, I and the gang left Cannibal with the best meat-lover dream (ok, exp for Gary lol)


The Cannibal
113 E 29th St
Midtown East, Flatiron

 

Mini Cheesecake Recipe

Once upon a (luckily long gone) time, I actually hated cheesecake. My experience with this delectable treat in VIetnam was filled with little more than disappointment, from the dense and hard bakes cheesecake to the excessively gelatinous no-bake ones sitting in the local bakery’s front display. Not until I came to America did the world of cheesecake truly unfolded, and I’ve become a die-hard cheesecake fan ever since.

I came up with this cheesecake recipe through a fortunate accident, a.k.a my absent-mindedness in forgetting to buy sour cream. I simply substitute sour cream with heavy whipping cream, and found a smooth and creamy texture that was (of course) more palatable. I also added some lemon juice for extra sourness, and found it to be much more adjust-able than sour cream.

You can also make a batch of coffee cheesecake by adding 2 tbsp of instant coffee powder and cut back on the lime juice.

For the caramel sauce, I recommend using The Pioneer Woman's Easy Caramel Sauce Recipe.

print recipe
The Best Mini Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients
    For the crust
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • For the filling
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • a pinch of salt
Instructions
1. Let your (beloved Philadelphia) cream cheese sit til it’s room temperature. Meanwhile, whip heavy cream to just a little under stiff peak, cover with cling film and let chill in the fridge.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Pour melted butter into graham cracker crumb. Add vanilla extract, sugar and mix well with a rubber spatula. Crust mixture should feel damp but not too wet.

3. Prepare cupcake liners. Divide the wet crumb mixture into individual molds and press well to create a flat and even crust.

4. Preheat oven to 350F, make sure rack is positioned so that cupcake pan is in the middle of the oven. I tend to use both upper and lower heat for baking.

5. With a hand / stand mixer (trust me, your arms will thank you), beat cream cheese with sugar on high speed until soft and fluffy, gradually add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add salt, lime juice (adjust to your liking) and vanilla extract. Mix well.

6. With a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream until just combine.

7. Divide the filling into lined cupcake molds. ( Tip: use an ice-cream scooper ). Bake in preheated oven (350F) for 18-20 minutes, cool for 15 minutes in the oven with door slightly ajar.

8. Once the cheesecake has cooled, make the caramel sauce and drizzle on top, garnish with a good sprinkle of salt.