Archive | October 2019

Add a touch of sparkle to the bleak mid winter at the fourth Fizz Feast 2019, Edinburgh

Diana Thompson launching Fizz Feast 2019 with a sabrage

The only Festival dedicated to Sparkling Wine in Scotland is back for its fourth year in November featuring twelve international producers, presenting around one hundred distinctively different wines including Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Italian Franciacorta, German Sekt and English Sparkling Wine.  To complement the fizz is a tasty selection of artisan food from cheese and chocolate to salami and salmon.

Wine Events Scotland was established in 2016 by Diana Thompson who has worked for over 25 years in the wine and hospitality industry and as a certified tutor runs workshops, tastings and Festivals across Scotland. The company was named ‘Best Drinks Marketing Company in Scotland 2017’ and ‘Wine Event Organiser of the Year 2018.’

‘It’s a unique opportunity to discover something new – you will be amazed at the variety on offer. Winemakers and producers look forward to talking to you about their fabulous fizz.”  Diana Thompson

Every Fizz Festival goer will receive a complimentary Riedel champagne flute on arrival to use as you wander around the stands for tastings. Then take it home, wrapped safely in bubble wrap in your smart canvas Fizz Feast bag.  Those attending a Fizz Masterclass receive a second Riedel glass.

A world of champagne and sparkling wines to sample at Fizz Feast

As we approach Armistice day, 11th November 2019, it is pertinent to recall Winston Churchill’s wartime quote in 1918 “Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!”

Churchill was reputed to have drunk 42,000 bottles of champagne through his lifetime.  His favourite was Pol Roger and when he met Odette Pol Roger at the British Embassy in Paris in November 1944, they became close friends and a case of Pol Roger would be sent to Chartwell each year on his birthday.

We may not be so fortunate to receive such a gift so a visit to the Fizz Feast will offer the chance to sip, taste and learn more about the world of champagne and sparkling wines from the producers and suppliers. Then order and purchase your favourite selection.

1986 Advertisement for Taittinger

One of the most renowned Champagne houses is Taittinger founded in 1734.  Today Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger proudly preserves the heritage of the family business.  His son Clovis is the creative export manager, securing Taittinger as the official champagne at the World Cup 2014, and his daughter Vitalie is the artistic director and ambassador of style.

“This wine of celebration and love is the most wonderful prelude to any occasion.”  Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger

A classic choice indeed for the Christmas season when entertaining family and friends as well, of course as special romantic gifts.  Book up for the special Masterclass to learn all you need to know about Taittinger Champagne with Master of Wine Mark O’Bryen.

The House of Lanson (established 1760) has the prestigious honour of holding a Royal Warrant as purveyor of champagne to the British Court since 1900.  The company is also the official supplier of champagne for the Wimbledon tennis championships. Special Wimbledon branded bottles have green and yellow neoprene jackets to keep the bottle chilled for up to two hours.  Game, set and match!.

Lanson – Wimbledon champagne of choice

Black Label Brut (NV) is described as a tang of green apple along with toasted bread and nutty notes – fresh, crisp and elegant. Lanson Gold Label 2008, is straw yellow in colour with fine bubbles and an aroma of orange and spiced fruits – sounds perfect with mince pies and plum pudding!.

Greyfriars Vineyard in Surrey produces high quality sparkling wines using the traditional method of secondary fermentation and ageing. The vineyard is planted with the three Champagne grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which suit the chalk soil conditions and climate of the North Downs.

At Fizz Feast you may be able to sample a selection from their award winning range: Cuvee Royale, Blanc de Blancs, ‎Sparkling Cuvée NV, Sparkling Rosé  Reserve and Sparkling Fume, NV.

The Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco is named after the Italian village near Trieste.  Established in 1821, Zonin is Italy’s largest privately-owned winery and Zonin Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, native to the Veneto region.

This year Zonin Prosecco Cuvée 1821 won the Gold award at the Sommeliers Choice Awards  and also won the Falstaff Prosecco trophy 2019.  The Judges remarked: “Brilliant white gold color with persistent perlage. Hints of lemon, elderflower and crunchy apple at the nose. Well balanced with an elegant creamy finish.”

In 1500, when the Venetian Republic was at the height of its splendour, the region of Franciacorta in Lombardy produced food and wine for princes, kings and rich merchants. Contadi Castaldi is a famous Italian winery specialising in Franciacorta, a fresh, fascinating sparkling wine  – fresh lime aromas, white peach and green pepper. The taste is vibrant, very easy drinking and with a long finish.

Your journey around Fizz Feast will also take you to Bavaria where the 17th century Hans Wirsching Estate is run by the 14th generation of the family. It is a member of Fair’n Green, certifying sustainability and environmental protection.

Last year, the German food and beverage magazine “selection” named the vineyard “Silvaner Wine Estate of the Year” and Andrea Wirsching as “Female Wine Maker of the Year”.

Lena, Andrea and Dr. Heinrich Wirsching

Andrea Wirsching is coming over from Germany especially for Fizz Feast to share her passion for wine to visitors. She will also present a masterclass about the family estate with tastings of German Sekt which include the Hans Wirsching Silvaner Extra Brut and Hans Wirsching Cuvée Brut.

“Central and Eastern Europe is a hot bed of vinous reinvention at the moment, wine producers are now making bottles every bit as good as their counterparts in the West”  The Guardian, September 2019

Croatian Fine Wines in Cheshire is the sole importer of Croatian wines into the UK and are suppliers to M&S, selecting wines from Croatia as well as Serbia, Slovenia and Bosnia. Sparkling wines are made from the same traditional method as Champagne. Kabola Re 2015 Brut Sparkling Wine is “a lively bubbly with an expressive but refined nose with hints of apple, wild raspberry fruit and meadow flowers”

Several Edinburgh and Scottish wine merchants and off licences will also be exhibiting their professionally selected champagnes and sparkling wines: Lidl, Bellisimo Vino, Woodhouse Wines, Wine Society and Goldenacre Wines.  A valuable opportunity to see their stock to pick up in store or make an order.

Fizz Feast also presents producers of appetising Artisan gourmet food, particularly suitable for Christmas parties and presents which complement these fine wines.

It would not be the festive season without Scottish smoked salmon and the Tobermory Fish Company will be there to showcase their quality locally sourced seafood and other island produce.  Their hand crafted fishy dishes inspired food writer, Eilidh Forlan to invent a delectable breakfast bagel, featuring Tobermory smoked trout, avocado, wilted spinach and a fried egg.

Bagel with Tobermory Smoked Trout, fried egg and avocado and spinach

Cheese too from a family dairy farm on the Isle of Mull offering Cheddar, Hebridean Blue, and wax-coated Ledaid Whisky-flavoured Flavells from their local Tobermory Distillery.

What could be more appropriate with a glass of Prosecco than a platter of Sardinian charcuterie.  Sample a selection at Shardana Catering which specialises in authentic, modern Italian cuisine, catering for corporate events, private parties and weddings,

Growers Garden farmers’ collective produce healthy vegan Broccoli crisps

Wine and crisps go (literally) hand in hand and Growers Garden Crisps has created a healthy. gluten-free, vegan brand made from Broccoli grown by a farmers’ collective in the Kingdom of Fife. The low calorie crisps (naked, chilli, sour cream & chive and cheese flavoured) contain 27% broccoli.  Perfect with your choice of dips (guacamole, hummus, salsa) and of course a glass of fizz.

Growers Garden Broccoli crisps

Wander around the venue to sample and buy Caorunn Gin, (best served with tonic, ice and slices red apple), Trotters spicy Condiments, Hoods Honey and Pacari Chocolate  – fair trade, vegan, palm oil free, organic and kosher.

As well as the speciality wine masterclasses, sign up for a diverse choice of informative talks on Caorunn Gin, Hoods Honey, Tobermory Fish company.

Brighten up the winter chills and enjoy a truly sparkling day out at Fizz Feast 2019 – the ideal place to be inspired and start planning the delicious food and drink for your festive season.

Fizz Feast 2019

Saturday 16th November, 2019

The Edinburgh Academy, 42 Henderson Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5BL

Two sessions: 12-3pm and 4-7pm. Tickets start at £25 per person

Choice of wine, gin and food Masterclasses 

https://wineeventsscotland.co.uk/events/fizz-feast-2019/

Festive Fizz for a sparkling Christmas and New Year 2020

The smash hit revival of “The King and I” waltzes into Edinburgh with glamorous Broadway pizzazz

First staged in 1951, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” is based on Margaret Landon’s novel, “Anna and the King of Siam”, based on the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, a British teacher who, in 1862, became the tutor to King Mongkut’s harem of wives and dozens of children at the Royal Palace Bangkok.

This Broadway revival in 2015 received four Tony Awards, a sell out season in London now on a UK and world tour.  As the melodic overture fades away, the shimmering gold curtain opens to reveal the stunning sight of Chow Phya, a paddle steamer “sailing” into Bangkok harbour, with Anna and her young son Louis on deck.

Anna and Louis arriving into Bangkok harbour by paddle steamer

Greeted as “Sir”, by the Prime Minister, she realises the problem of an educated English lady fitting into the patriarchal society of Siam. The King retains strict rules of hierarchy in his court where everyone must kneel before him. Anna is astounded that she must live in the palace and treated like a servant – what ensues is a conflict between Eastern and Western culture and sexual politics.

A procession of the princes and princesses come to meet their governess, most of them obediently bowing to their father, except for two little girls who skip around with mischievous giggles – the ensemble of cute Royal children are delightful to observe.

Anna and the Royal children

Annalene Beechey captures Anna’s feisty yet feminine personality with period elegance, a strong independent mind and sense of fun; with such clarity of diction and vocal range, her performance is impeccable.   Her son Louis is played with such a cool, confident manner by Joseph Black, a young Victorian gentleman in his tailored, tailcoat suit.

Jose Llana portrays the King with arrogant, majestic swagger but his musical soliloquy, “Puzzlement” reveals private doubts about following ancient traditions and his harem of women in modern society.  Anna is infuriated by his chauvinistic attitude, accepting a slave girl Tup-tim as a gift from the King of Burma, as she expresses in song:

You think, like ev’ry woman, I have to be a slave or concubine.
You conceited, self-indulgent libertine!
… I do not like polygamy or even moderate bigamy!

If she cannot educate the King to understand western civilised values, she can teach his wives and children English, science and geography. Showing them a world map, they are astonished to see how small Siam actually is in comparison to the vast continents across the globe.

A geography lesson for the Royal children

The King is keen to listen and learn too and after hearing the expression “etcetera, etcetera,” he repeats it at the end of every sentence with joyful hilarity.  As a theatrical narrative with musical interludes, the dialogue is peppered with wonderful humour as we observe their entertaining battle of wills and sharply observed wit.

The clash of cultures between The King and Anna dramatised with fine humour

“The Small House of Uncle Thomas”  is a stunning work of choreography by Christopher Gattelli,  based on the original ballet by Jerome Robbins, with a parade of exotic costumes and well crafted characterisation through mime and movement. Rather like the Mousetrap in Hamlet, this play within a play reveals Tuptim’s views of slavery to catch the conscience of the King.

“The Small House of Uncle Thomas” ballet

The palatial, quick changing, set takes us from the Royal Court to the garden, schoolroom and Anna’s boudoir, each scene designed with ornate furnishings, pillars, drapes, flowers, lanterns and a giant gold Buddha.

A highlight of the show is, of course, “Shall We Dance?” when the King and Anna , in a magnificent crinoline gown, twirl, swirl and whirl around the ballroom in a breathtaking, fast paced polka.

Shall We Dance? asks the King

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were the dream team during the golden age of American musical theatre – the Mozarts of the 20th century. The lyrics drive the plot forward, enhancing characters within the storyline and developing the storyline into a strong drama.  A fourteen piece orchestra perform the sweeping melodic score which flows seamlessly along.

Here are all those familiar, timeless songs – “I Whistle a Happy Tune”,  “Hello Young Lovers”, “Getting To Know You”  – and a lovely rendition of “Something Wonderful” sung with such passion by Cezarah Bonner as Lady Thiang.

“I doubt I’ll see a better production in my lifetime” said the Wall Street Journal and it’s perfectly true. Directed by Bartlett Sher with imaginative, dramatic vision, taking us on a magical, dreamlike journey to 19th century Siam.

Nearly seventy years since its premiere, this is a spectacular show enriched with lavish, lush theatricality, song and dance,  sweet romance and oodles of Broadway pizzazz. In a word, faultless.

The Edinburgh Playhouse

Thursday 17 – Saturday 26 October, 2019

http://www.atg.co.uk

UK tour:  https://kingandimusical.co.uk/uk-tour-dates/

Annalene Beechey and Jose Llana as The King and I.

A trio of artists at the Dundas Street Gallery take us on a trip from the Scottish Highlands to Transylvania

Dundas Street Gallery – an attractive showcase of pop up exhibitions year round

Filly Nicol, Tessa Whitley and Brenda Martin  have been sharing studio space for some years, encouraging and criticising each others’ work, so decided it was time to show their work together.  The Dundas Street Gallery is the ideal spacious pop up venue to exhbit their distinctively different yet complementary landscape and figurative paintings, floral and still life sketches.

With a passion for travel way off the beaten track, Filly experienced an extraordinary authentic trip on a local boat, rather than a touristic cruise.  Along the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar are traditional riverside villages and local markets selling vegetables and fish.

After Shopping, Nyaungshwe, Filly Nicol

Using oil and beeswax on canvas or board, here is a selection of well crafted paintings to illustrate people and places reflecting the timeless culture of former Burma, the sights and sounds described in Kipling’s poem, the Road to Mandalay.

Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay ?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

.. ..spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay
.

Strolling along the Teak Bridge, Filly Nicol

Water in particular fascinates me as do people going about their daily lives .. the sounds, smells and colours and their animals … I take in the plays of light and wind in skies, on land and on water, the atmosphere and scenes.  Filly Nicol

Described as the Fairy Tales lands of Transylvania, the tradition and tranquility of rural Romania is charmingly portrayed in pastoral vignettes to show shepherds and cowherds busy at work and also an elderly woman at leisure in Knitting in the Sunshine, Viscri.

Knitting in the Sunshine, Filly Nicol

Viscri is a famous village due to its ancient Saxon heritage, and Filly is keen to preserve a painterly vision of peasant farming life here unchanged over the centuries, before it disappears over the next generation.

The Scottish winter is a key inspirational theme for Tessa’s landscapes with an expressive, intuitive use of various shades of white on off-white on buttermilk with a smudge of grey, blending snow and heavy laden skies; almost abstract in the manner of flourishing brushstrokes like a thick layer of icing in paintings, such as Winter Hill.

Winter Hill, Tessa Whitley

The soft light is beautifully depicted as the eye follows shadowy tracks snaking through snowy fields, as seen in Flotterstone and Nine Mile Burn – like this this painterly winter scene with pink-tinted sky and real touch of the cold air, which really chills you to the bone!

Field and Track under snow, Tessa Whitley

Travel on north to the remote wilderness of the Highlands, from the west to east coast in a series of scenic views in oil pastel on paper, from Helmsdale to Achiltibuie with its view over to the Summer Isles.

Achiltibuie, Tessa Whitley

After graduating from The Royal College of Art, Brenda worked as a designer in the fashion industry overseas before returning to the UK to work as a BBC costume designer.  Also inspired by the Scottish countryside, she spends a good deal of time in a cottage on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, observing the changing light over Loch Sunart, the hills and forests beyond, as viewed on a summer day and evening dusk.

Most impressive are these mixed media work framed as diptychs, the panoramic views as seen quickly sketched on her drawing pad, en plein air.  

Blue Hills across Loch Sunart, Brenda Martin

Sweeping seascapes such as Storm over Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, and other glorious sandy beaches and empty shorelines, in which the bold blue sky dominates the stunning composition.

Storm over Bamburgh Castle, Brenda Martin

With her background in fabric and fashion, Brenda uses fluid paintbrush strokes to fill the canvas with vivid colour, tone and texture to capture blossoming flowers, gardens and the unspoilt natural beauty of Highlands and Islands.

The Empty Wheelbarrow, Brenda Martin

This trio of landscape artists take the visitor on an evocative journey from the Highlands of Scotland to Romania, Isle of Mull to Helmsdale and Northumberland coastline to Kipling’s river in Myanmar with a marvellous, atmospheric sense of time and place.

The Dundas Street Gallery

6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ

10 – 15 October, 2015

Open Daily: 1000- 1700.

Green Crayons, Brenda Martin

Scottish Art: Bonhams, Edinburgh, 16 October, 2019 – an illustrated preview.

Founded in London in 1793, by Thomas Dodd, a famous print dealer of the day, Bonhams is an international auction house with nine salesrooms including London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Edinburgh. Today it is renowned for its expert reputation as connoisseurs in fine art, antiques, furnishings, decorative art, motor cars, wine, whisky, books, jewellery and collectibles.

Sales of Scottish Art have been held at the Edinburgh showroom twice a year since around 1996.  Always a key date in the calendar, it has been a delight to browse through the illustrated and informative catalogue in advance of the next auction on 16th October, 2019 at 11am at Bonhams, Queen Street, Edinburgh.

Royan Harbour, Samuel Peploe

A recently discovered painting, “Royan Harbour” by Samuel Peploe has a most interesting provenance. It was purchased around 1910-1915 by Mme Marie Marguerite Soulie, the wife of English novelist and playwright Arnold Bennett, and since then passed on through the family. Royan is a resort town and marina on the West coast of France.

The beach scenes that Peploe painted at Paris Plage in 1906, 07, 08, are dominated by the blue of daylight.  The high point of this development came in the small paintings of the harbour at Royan in 1910. Peploe, aware of both Van Gogh and Les Fauves, turns up the colour key just so far … the experience of intense sunlight.”  Duncan Macmillan “Scottish Art”.

This detailed impressionist composition in various shimmering shades of blue, ochre and buttermilk, using broad brush strokes to depict a charming ‘smudge’ of figures as they promenade along the waterfront to see the yachts and lighthouse in the bright summer sun.

Beach scenes and seascapes, from the Western Isles to the South of France, was a recurring theme for the Scottish Colourists. Another harbour view, “Cassis”  (1927) by Leslie Hunter is delicate ink and crayon sketch of boats reflected in the water.

Cassis, Leslie Hunter

In 1912, Francis Cadell visited Iona for the first time, immediately inspired by the light of sea, sky and sand.  “Mull from Iona”  is a serene scene, looking over the roof of a white-washed house across the narrow turquoise-tinted Sound under a pale sky.

Mull from Iona, Francis Cadell

A wide selection of Scottish seascapes here,  such as “Inch Kenneth and Loch Na Keal, from Iona” (1922) by William Mervyn Glass, which leads the eye the foreground of the rocky shore far into the distant misty hills. “Sannox Bay, Isle of Arran” by John Maclauchlan Milne is also a fine perspective looking across a sweeping bay, the white surf lapping the shore, and golden leaves on the trees with a sense of a breeze in the Autumn air.

Interesting indeed to compare these early 20th century works with the contemporary painting, “Fishing Boat, Corse” by Archie Forrest, with a similar palette of azure to depict the bright light of the Mediterranean.

Fishing Boat, Corse, Archie Forrest

There is a distinctive trademark to the abstract landscapes of Barbara Rae – a dramatic explosion of brash, bold colour and a vitality of movement. With a soft, moody ambience, “Sea Marks”  has an extraordinary watery quality with a splash of moonshine.

Sierra above Carataunas, Barbara Rae

Rae travels the world to capture a topographical sense of place: “It’s the culture and history that fascinates me,” and returns regularly to Spain. “Sierra above Caratuanus” is observed through a rainbow palette to enhance the contours of the terrain with a warm luminosity.

A significant collection of twelve works by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham is a true highlight of this sale. As a member of the St Ives School, she was a key figure in developing Modernist British painting in the mid twentieth century.

“Black and White” (1954), part of her Geoff and Scruffy series, captures with such simplicity, the curving shapes of a moon and beach. She developed her own inventive abstract language fascinated by the geometry of nature of the rocky Cornish landscape.

Expanding Forms,(with orange), Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

The precise discipline of structural composition is evident in “Expanding Forms (with orange) and “Untitled – “Firth of Forth,” the rust red girders of the Rail Bridge in close up.

Scorpio ii, no. 38, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

In contrast, are two later works, acrylic on paper, from the Scorpio series (1997); vibrant patterns of interlocking squares, diagonal stripes and circles, quite hypnotic in their painterly freedom of expression.

My theme is celebration of life, joy, the importance of colour, form, space and texture. Brushstrokes that can be happy, risky, thin, fat, fluid and textured.” Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

The Scottish Sale features a fine selection of portraits painted over the decades, from Sir Henry Raeburn to the masterly figurative study by Francis Cadell –  “Miss Don Wauchope in the George Street Studio.”  

Miss Don Wauchope in George Street Studio, Francis Cadell

 Miss Wauchope was a friend and regular model of the artist, several featuring this dramatic black hat.  Cadell’s studio on George Street, Edinburgh was a Salon decorated in white, grey and lilac with  black floorboards. Furniture, mirrors and artwork were placed like a theatrical setting for this fashionable lady.

Chris Brickley, Head of Scottish Art at Bonhams, comments: “Intimate in atmosphere and fluid in technique, the Wauchope pictures transcend the norm of conventional portrait-painting and become abstract studies of the elegant high society of early 20th century Edinburgh.”

Glamorous men and women with vintage style is the forte of Jack Vettriano.  His moody film-noir portraits reveal a private, intimate world behind closed doors, such as “Private Dancer”  (1998) – lady in black, escort in white, with a glimpse of another couple behind, reflected in the mirror.

Private Dancer, Jack Vettriano

“Lounge Lizards II” (2009) is another sexual encounter, which clearly expresses the subtle, seductive glance of the girl, cigarette holder in hand, waiting for a light from the tall dark stranger.

.. the manipulation of paint in veiled glazes and meaningful shadows, the music of colour and the dramatic focus of composition .. such an identifiable personal style.” W. Gordon Smith. “Lovers and Other Strangers, Jack Vettriano”

In a very different mode are the much admired character portraits depicted by Pat Douthwaite, such as this pastel and chalk drawing, “Female Model.”

Female Model, Pat Douthwaite

This wild, Bohemian lady with a mass of hair, blue eye shadow and pouting lip is typical of Douthwaite’s quirky, crazy Baconian caricatures with a hint of a darker psychological undertone lurking beneath the humorous image.

From the pioneering Colourists to the eminent work of Stanley Cursiter, Sir Robin Philipson, Anne Redpath, David McClure and Elizabeth Blackadder, et al., this diverse showcase of Scottish Art at Bonhams is an inspiring, comparative survey stretching more than a century.

Bonhams

22 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JX

Scottish Art – Wednesday 16 October 2019 at 11am.

The Viewing Dates are as follows:

Friday 11 October            10.00am-4.00pm

Sunday 13 October           2.00pm-4.00pm

Monday 14  October       10.00am-4.00pm

Tuesday 15 October         10.00am-4.00pm

Wednesday 16 October     9.00am-11.00am

On line catalogue – https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/25370/

For more information – www.bonhams.com/scottishart   Tel.  0131 225 2266

(IIustrations of works courtesy of Bonhams)

Roma Mediterranean Restaurant, Glasgow: Pizza and a glass of Pinot Grigio – the perfect pre-theatre treat

The idea of a Mediterranean cuisine originates with Elizabeth David’s  A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950), who defines the region as “those blessed lands of sun and sea and olive trees” – a healthy diet rich in olive oil, fruit, vegetables, salads and seafood.   Italian food is arguably the most popular cuisine enjoyed worldwide, characterised by its simplicity, fresh, quality, seasonal ingredients in such dishes as risotto, pizza and pasta.

On a visit to Glasgow recently to see Scottish Ballet at the Theatre Royal, I booked a table for an early supper at Roma Mediterranean Restaurant on Bath Street, a five minute stroll from Queen Street station and afterwards, just a short walk around the corner to the theatre.

Roma – a taste of Italy on Bath Street, Glasgow

Roma offers an enticing, set price, pre theatre menu, ideal before going to a matinee or an evening performance.

The well designed restaurant is so attractive, creating an authentic Italian ambience decorated in the national colours of red, green and white, glamorous lights and “ancient Rome” artefacts. Caricature models of a waiter and a chef placed at the entrance offer a warm welcome.

A welcome from the Maitre d’ at Roma!

Comfortable seating from the row of tables for two at the window, to cosy booths and spacious banquettes around the side walls, ideal for drinks, lunch or dinner party with family and friends.

Flexible seating in booths and banquettes for two, four or large party group.

Settled into my booth like a vintage railway carriage, time to study the menu over a chilled glass of Prosecco. This is served as a mini bottle (200ml),  Vino Spumante, the perfect aperitivo!

The cool Cocktail list features a Cosmo, the favourite of the “Sex and the City” girls, Vesper Martini, invented by Ian Fleming for James Bond (gin, vodka, kina lillet, lemon peel) and house Roma Special– (vodka, peach schnapps, Amaretto, orange) and many more tempting tipples.

Vesper Martini – created for James Bond

A wide choice of starters – Minestrone soup, Mussels in Beer, Crostini Caprino (garlic bread with peppers and goats cheese), and Aletti de Polo (chargrilled chicken wings)

Mussels cooked in Beer with garlic and chilli

I selected Gamberoni Fritti. These fat, juicy prawns covered in a thin crisp batter, just lightly sauted, were simply delicious, served with a red, green shredded cabbage salad. Unlike the ubiquitous coleslaw in mayo, the crispy cabbage was just drizzled with a herby vinaigrette.

Gamberoni Fritti, succulent, king prawns

By 5.30pm Roma was getting busy with other early diners, couples and friends meeting after work or shopping before going to the cinema or theatre.  A buzzing atmosphere, as the music switched gradually from popular Italian tunes and romantic American songbook to orchestral versions of pop ballads. A well selected soundtrack which is more upbeat later on in the evening and at weekends.

Pollo al Pepe, Chicken in a black peppercorn creamy sauce with rice

On the Pre -Theatre menu, main courses include classic Lasagne al Forno, Pollo al Pepe, Risotto Funghi, Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Shrimp with garlic), Branzino com Gamberi, ( Seabass in a butter sauce), and carnivores will no doubt select the 9 oz Ribeye Steak with salad and chips. (just a small extra charge to set price).

Ribeye Steak with salad and fries

Amo La Pizza!  So what to choose as my topping on Pizza Margherita.? Salami, ham, spicy chicken, onions, courgette, aubergine, peppers, cheese. The Pizzaiolo (the Pizza chef) is extremely proud of his home-made, hand-baked pizzas, preparing the small round balls of dough, 24 hours in advance which are then chilled.   Gluten-free dough is also available at Roma.  Pizzas are made to order, rolling out the dough in a sprinkle of flour on a cold marble table top in the kitchen. Tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella plus your selection of toppings, before it is stone baked in the oven, at a temperature of 320 degrees Celsius.

Pizza Pollo Picante + a wide choice of toppings

For my Pizza Margherita, with peppers, courgette and aubergine, I add a special request that it has a soft base with no hard crunchy crust – into the hot oven and out again.!

As this is being hand crafted by the Pizzaiola, I sip a glass of Sicilian Pinot Grigio – a light, dry white wine with a citrusy tang.  The wine list is very well priced, £4 to £5  or so a glass, and choice of bottles to share under £20.  Many wines from Italy, of course, as well as South America, Spain and South Africa.

Fine wines at Roma

My pizza is out of the oven, perfectly baked to my preference – creamy melted mozzarella, with a scattering of healthy vegetables – I love the inventive touch of spicy paprika on the tomatoes. Already sliced for me, I was able to pick up and fold over a delicious soft, cheesey wedge and eat with my fingers.!

Delicious pizza to eat with your fingers!

Desserts too for those with a sweet tooth – Tiramisu, Sticky toffee Pudding and Ice cream with perhaps a cappuccino or espresso to finish off a fine meal.

The pre-theatre menu (or indeed post-theatre menu after a matinee), is excellent value at 2 courses for £12.95 and 3 courses for £14.95, available seven days a week, from 12 pm to 7.30pm.  You can expect a team of smiling, helpful staff,  stylish setting,  cool music, lively ambience,  freshly made food and wide choice of drinks.

So good – just one slice left!

The Restaurant is open  every day from 12pm to 12 midnight which is so convenient and flexible to call in for lunch, pre theatre meal, and a leisurely dinner late into the evening.  Everyone is clearly welcome  – couples, families, children, girls’ night out and party groups.  Alternatively, call in for a glass of wine or cocktails  – you do not need to order a meal if the restaurant is not busy at say, Aperitivo time,  5 – 7pm.  Chin Chin!

No wonder Roma was selected as the winner of Glasgow’s best Italian Restaurant, 2018,

It is not too early to think about planning your Christmas celebrations and Roma is open for lunch and dinner serving a special festive menu from 18th November to 5th January, including Christmas Day.

“Roma honours tradition while creating unique, inspiring dishes.  We hope that once you have arrived, you will feel it was well worth the journey.”

Yes indeed.!   Whenever you plan to visit, you can expect an authentic Italian experience – design, hospitality, classic dishes and delicious wine, cocktails, spirits and beers.

Read on to see what other diners have to say!

We enjoyed our Penne Rustica and Tagliatelle with Shrimp and Asparagus. Nice selection of wine and beer.

Lunch at Roma before going to the theatre. Fantastic food, great service, reasonably priced. 

Dinner with my family – the waiters were so polite and all the food was amazing. I recommend this place to everyone.

Roma Mediterranean Restaurant

46 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 1HG

Website: http://www.romaglasgow.co.uk

Telephone: 0141 332 9641

Colouful cocktails and a warm welcome at Roma Mediterranean Restaurant

 

Leo du Feu, Susan Smith and John Williams: the natural world in paintings and prints @ The Life Room, Edinburgh

Half way down Dundas Street, Edinburgh is a hidden gem of a gallery – a pop up space for artists to showcase their work as well as art class studio.  With vintage lamps, a Chesterfield sofa and ornate fireplace,  it’s like being invited into the living room of a friend’s home. Hence the name, The Life Room.

This week, a trio of artists who all share a passion for nature and the outdoors have joined together to exhibit their contrasting yet complementary artistic style and subject matter.

Leo du Feu graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2006 and now enjoys exploring the natural environment is his passion with a special interest in ornithology, armed with his binoculars, sketchbook, pencil and watercolour box.

“People often only find time to look quickly then move on .. we forget to study and wonder;  Drawing forces you to absorb your subject.  Scotland – a wealth of landscape and wildlife that needs to be appreciated and protected.”   Leo du Feu  from “Landscapes and Birds of Scotland, an Artist’s View.”

Discovered Worlds is the title of Leo du Feu’s selection of landscapes, birds and animals observed with imaginative vision.  Two intriguing images, a Tiger’s Eye and a Penguin’s head, close up and personal, enhance colour and contour to create a different abstract image.

Hilltop, Leo Du Feu

Panoramic views depict the geological shape and texture of a dense forest, desert, islands, a valley of hills.  There’s a dreamlike, surreal otherworldliness in these empty, tranquil spaces and places, immediately characteristic of Salvador Dali: likewise these are stunning in their bold, bleak, melancholic mood.

Lion Rocks, Leo du Feu

Hill Panorama, Leo du Feu

Several charming small abstract landscapes too – a crimson-tinted sky and a gold sunset featuring a tiny fir tree.  These these miniature paintings are superb.

Du Feu is an artist with the eye of a botanist and geologist, going off on rambling trips in the countryside and beachcombing for leaves, seeds, fir cones, pebbles, seaweed, drift wood. These jars of found treasures of all shapes and texture then inspires the decorative design in his artwork such as “Celery Moon.”

Celery Moon, Leo du Feu

Susan Smith studied Fine Art under Sir Robin Philipson at Edinburgh College of Art and specialises in painting, printmaking and sketches.  Bringing a glimpse of the countryside into the gallery, here are charming floral paintings, fields of bright poppies and elegant tall tulips.  Pretty rural scenes too featuring a peacock displaying flamboyant feathers and a kingfisher perched beside a river.

Summer Poppies, Susan Smith

An impressive selection of lino-cuts illustrate rabbits, hares, sheep, foxes, owls, crows and herons – taken from memories of her childhood, playing in the fields and meadows around her farmhouse home in Aberdeenshire.

The Fox, Susan Smith (lino-cut)

These are exquisitely crafted, capturing the cheeky characterisation of these birds and animals in their wild habitat.

Hare in Snow, Susan Smith (lino-cut)

A publisher should commission Susan Smith to illustrate a children’s story book featuring a cunning fox, a cute wee rabbit or a wise owl – or a menagerie of her meticulous sketches of animals and birds.

Dancing Crow, Susan Smith, (Iino-cut)

“For my tenth birthday I received a box of watercolours and I’ve been painting ever since – in 2013 I began to pursue a full-time career as a contemporary Landscape Artist.  I would describe my painting as impressionistic with degrees of abstraction.”  John Williams

A selection of evocative land and seascapes by John Williams draws you into the scene with their dramatic depiction of light and darkness, from day to night.

A most effective figurative painting is called “Meandering” in which a young woman stands, with a shy, yet joyful smile around her mouth, as if looking directly at a camera lens – and therefore looking at us, the viewer.

Meandering, John Williams

Wrapped up in a cosy turquoise sweater, you can almost feel the winter chill in the air; look beyond to a corn field, purple heather-clad hills and bare trees with the glow of a salmon pink sunset in the distance.

“The Lighthouse” is wonderfully atmospheric, with wild, sweeping storm clouds and jagged slash of coral across the sky. Such fine detail here in the composition with the splash of white surf over the gentle rolling waves.  Look carefully at the far horizon to see the tiny glint of a red light and the white tower of the lighthouse on a rock.

The Lighthouse, John Williams

Williams says that he learn in his craft by following the work of such masters as Van Gogh and Gauguin and here you can see the same impressionistic flourish of brushstrokes for a swirl of colour to add tone and texture with a shimmering blend of blues, grey and indigo.

“I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens” Vincent Van Gogh

A more naturalist image depicts the iconic pudding shape of the “Bass Rock”, with glistening streaks of green and turquoise; it’s almost as if the island is placed within a Rothko abstract of horizontal stripes, where sea meets the sky.

Bass Rock, John Williams

As well as this extensive collection of paintings, sketches and lino-cuts, there are small prints and cards by each artist, at very affordable prices. Do visit The Life Room soon to explore the beauty of the Scotttish landscape, animals and birds, travelling from the countryside to the seashore.

The Life Room

23b Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QQ

11am – 6pm daily
Saturday 5th – Thursday 10th October, 2019