A Foodie Escape to Fife Arms

The Fife Arms in Braemar is a very special hotel, and I am lucky enough to say I’ve now visited twice. Three years ago, before the anxieties of the pandemic I took a one night trip up to the Highlands to experience this artistic hotel (from Hauser & Wirth founders) when it had just opened. Last month I took the journey up North again, this time with my partner and toddler in tow, and once again it surpassed all my expectations.

Fife Arms

As my previous post details all the magnificent features of the hotel I thought I’d use this blog update to tell you about why this hotel (and it’s surroundings) should be on any food obsessed travellers radar…

Fife Arms

The hotel itself has exemplary food and drink options, from the elegant Clunie Dining Room to laidback pub The Flying Stag, Elsa’s pretty-in-pink cocktail bar and the brand new whisky emporium, Bertie’s Bar.

At Elsa’s bar art deco design reigns supreme, velvet stools and accents of pink to mark Elsa Schiaparelli’s signature style and love of shocking pink. Meanwhile the dark and cosy Bertie’s Bar offers whisky fans a unique experience… Named in honour of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, King Edward VII, also known as ‘Bertie’, the bar showcases 365 whiskies, one for each day of the year, unusually arranged by flavour profile: Fragrant, Fruity, Rich and Smoky. Book in to do an educational (and delicious) tasting.

Fife Arms

An elaborate breakfast is served downstairs, or can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own room. Highlights of the morning meal for me were the fat fluffy Scotch pancake with creme fraiche and marmalade and the moreish Broccoli and spring onion fritters with bacon, poached egg and sriracha yoghurt. All served with fresh fruit juice and strong coffee.

Fife Arms

The restaurants at The Fife Arms are now overseen by chef Adam Johnson (who previously worked for Raymond Blanc), and he is beginning to make his changes to The Clunie Dining Room menu, while still highlighting the best produce of the region (don’t miss the local venison on the dinner menu).

This trip I was particularly impressed by The Flying Stag, the atmospheric pub at The Fife Arms. The menu has comforting classics like steaks, salads and burgers. The fish and chips we enjoyed here was one of the best I’ve tried for a long time, perfectly cooked chips and beautifully light and crispy battered fish. Pair your meal with pint of The Flying Stag ale.

Fife Arms

When you feel like venturing out of the hotel there are some real foodie gems in the area to discover. I loved the cakes from Hazelnut Patisserie (the lemon meringue pie pictured here was sublime), and chocolates from Braemar Chocolate Shop – though be warned they are only open at the weekend.

For a tasty lunch nearby Tàrmachan Cafe is just 15 minutes drive from the hotel… don’t miss their perfectly poured coffees and the irresistible Venison sausage rolls, I could have eaten several!

Then if you driving up to The Fife Arms from Edinburgh, Aran Bakery (opened by ex-Bake Off contestant Flora Shedden) for immaculate viennoisserie, focaccia bread and other treats.

Fife Arms

Thank you for another special stay Fife Arms. Such a charming place for the whole family, welcoming babies and dogs with open arms is rare for such a prestigious hotel, and Fife really do it in style.

More information and book a stay at The Fife Arms here.

(Organised press stay).

Mango & Lime Salad with Abrafrutas Brazilian Fruit

As the weather warms up I like to make and eat more salads, both savoury and sweet. With salads the quality of the ingredients is vitally important, and Brazilian fruit is truly unbeatable for flavour, sweetness and quality.

Last month I was invited to London Produce Show to learn more about the Abrafrutas Association, who are working hard to bring Brazil’s finest fruit to the UK. The variety of Brazilian fruit is incredible, from recognisable grapes and melons to lesser known unique fruits like cashew fruit and jabuticaba.

After receiving a box of fruit from Brazil I created a recipe that shows off the produce. Here’s my super easy but exciting Mango and Lime fruit salad-

Brazilian fruit

What you’ll need

1 Brazilian Mango

2 Brazilian Limes

A Small Handful of shelled pistachios

10 Mint Leaves

2 teaspoons of chopped stem ginger (in syrup)

Brazilian fruit

Method

Chop the Mango and remove the skin. Place in a bowl and squeeze over the juice from one lime. If you like your fruit salad extra citrusy you can also put the zest from the lime in.

Toast the pistachio nuts, either in the oven for a few minutes or in a frying pan.

Finely chop the ginger, mint and nuts and sprinkle over the mango. Serve immediately.

The perfect, easy but exotic dessert to add a touch of Brazilian sunshine to any dinner party.

Brazilian fruit

If you spot some Brazilian fruit in the supermarket I highly recommend picking it up, you won’t be disappointed with the quality and flavour. And though you can use the Brazilian fruit in any recipe, it’s best to use it uncooked so the flavours can really sing!

Brazilian fruit

Visit chef Luciana Berry’s new restaurant, Mano, to sample the best of Brazilian fruit.

More information about Brazilian Fruit here.

This post is in partnership with Abrafrutas.

Things to do in Malta

There is something reassuring about the compact size of Malta, especially in today’s climate, as we ease ourselves back into the world of travel. I have missed European minibreaks more than anything else over the last 18 months, nothing can replace that exhilarating feeling of waking up in a new city, with a whole new culture to discover. Malta’s capital Valletta is just a 3 hour flight from London but boasts sunny weather for much of the year. There is lots to entertain you in town but also many natural sights to see under an hour away by car or bus. Here are my favourite things to do from a long weekend in Malta.

Best Malta hotel

To Stay

Iniala Harbour House – With an advantageous location on the St Barbara Bastion this luxurious hotel boasts spectacular vistas of the Grand Harbour. There are 23 elegant rooms and suites, a relaxing spa, world-class cuisine and wonderful service. The hotel is housed within four historic Maltese houses, immaculately restored and lavishly decorated inside to ensure you have the most comfortable base while exploring Malta.

Malta

To Eat

Ion the Harbour – The fine dining destination atop the Iniala Hotel. This beautiful rooftop restaurant has recently welcomed one of my favourite chefs, Alex Dilling, to the kitchen. Save time and appetite for the memorable tasting menu, featuring some of Alex’s most iconic creations, such as the divine ‘Hunter Chicken’ with Sauce Albufera. The menu draws on Maltese influences and local ingredients, but is classically French in style. The restaurant was recently awarded its first star, and I predict a second will follow soon. (Other fine dining spots worth visiting include Noni and Under Grain).

Guze – This friendly restaurant serves local Maltese dishes with a twist. Found in a 400 year old historic building, dinner here is atmospheric and special. Expect refined rabbit dishes and stylish desserts from the kitchen of this celebrated bistro.

Legligin – A great spot to get acquainted with the local cuisine. This cosy restaurant offers a tasting menu with a variety of delicious homely cuisine, using the finest Maltese ingredients. Book ahead as it’s always busy.

San Paolo Naufrago – Sit on the steps outdoors and order a pizza and glass of local wine. The pizzas are generous and delicious and the atmosphere is great fun.

Museum Cafe – Established in 1921 the Museum Cafe is the best place in Valletta to pick up the local delicacy of Pastizzi.

Manouche Bakery – Head to this petite bakery (Malta’s first craft bakery) for indulgent viennoiserie and French baked treats.

Malta

To Drink

Lot Sixty One – My first stop in a new city is always a local speciality coffee shop, and Lot Sixty One is the only place in Valletta serving really good coffee. Everyone recommended it to me and it did not disappoint. Open long hours and serving their own roasted beans, the coffee here is strong and delicious. Perch on the al fresco tables with a flat white and plan the rest of your Maltese adventure.

Alchemy – If you are a cocktail fan this is the place to visit. Alchemy is serious about mixology and the knowledgable staff here will create you a totally unique and delicious drink. Open daily from 6pm and found tucked away on the revamped Strait Street.

Bridge Bar – A lovely outdoor spot for an evening drink and a bite to eat while listening to some live jazz, overlooking the Grand Harbour.

Malta

To Explore

Barrakka Gardens – Found at the top of the city of Valletta the magical Barrakka Gardens are well worth a visit while in town. The colonnaded gardens were created in 1661, and were originally the private gardens and exercise grounds of the Knights of the of the langue of Italy, they were opened to the public in 1824. It is a romantic spot to sit and admire the view.

Blue Grotto – There are a number of sea caverns on the south east coast of Malta and the term ‘Blue Grotto’ refers to the collection of them. It is a short taxi ride or bus journey from Valletta, and makes a great half day trip. Head down to the water where you can swim or take a boat ride to see the inside of these incredible caves.

Mdina – This fortified city (and Unesco World Heritage site) is known as ‘The Silent City’ and is 20 minutes drive from Valletta. Here you can wander round by foot, take a charming horse and carriage ride, and enjoy delicious ice-cream from Fior di Latte. Before heading back walk over to the neighbouring town Rabat to pick up traditional Pastizzi lunch from Is Serkin – for just 40 cents you can get a delicious savoury pastry filled with curried peas, cheese or chicken.

Boat to the Three Cities – Take a boat from the Valletta waterfront to explore the Three Cities (Birgu, Bormla and Senglea). I spent most of my time wandering round Birgu and stopped for comforting Italian food at Terrone, run by ex-River cafe alumni.

I was a guest of Iniala Harbour House and Ion – the Harbour restaurant.