New website under construction

Thanks for looking in.  The Dining In website is having a complete make-over.

We should be ready with full online booking and ordering facilities before too long.

Please leave a comment below if you’ve got a query or you just want to get in touch.  We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Posted in Dining In

Chocolate from James of Arran paired with Arran Malt

Arran Chocolates and Arran MaltIt was a most onerous task I was set yesterday afternoon. Eating chocolate from James of Arran paired with Arran Malt whiskies. Well, perhaps when you put it like that it doesn’t sound too difficult, but we’re preparing for my Whisky and Chocolate Masterclass at the Arran Malt and Music Festival on Saturday, 02 July.

I arrived at the Distillery just after closing time to meet the Tour Guides of the Arran Malt Team. I’m an enthusiast, but the whisky knowledge these guys have is truly awesome. We gathered in the Tasting Bar with a selection from the Distillery’s range and a box of likely candidates from James’s handmade collection at the Arran Chocolate Factory.

There’s a technique – well of course there is – to extracting the best from a whisky-chocolate match. Dutifully we applied ourselves to the task and, in no particular order, the winners are…

OK I did think about it, but sorry not today. If you feel you can last the pace of such a challenge as eating chocolate from James of Arran paired with Arran Malt, sign up for the Whisky and Chocolate Masterclass at the Arran Malt and Music Festival where Campbell and I will lead you through a riot of taste sensations.

Posted in Isle of Arran

A good knife is for life not just for Christmas

I know superstition has it that you should never give a knife as a gift.  They say the gift will cut your friendship and so the recipient has to pay a penny.  Penny paid, it’s no longer a gift.

Bob Kramer incorporates meteorite into the steel he uses to make his blades.  It’s sound American tradition because the final knife made for Jim Bowie, the famous frontiersman who died at the Alamo, is supposed to have had a bit of a star in the blade.

I thought the Globals I got a few years ago would be my last new knives, but I’m willing to reconsider.  So Santa, if you’re out there, I’ll leave a coin beside your mince pie.

Posted in Reviews - Eating Out and Stuff

Summer Desserts

Lately we’ve been doing some great summer desserts because there’s nothing like a serious bit of something sweet to finish off your meal.  New York style cheesecake with strawberry topping

At Dining In we make no apology for our summer desserts.  They’re sheer indulgence made in the finest traditions of the French Pâtissier.  After all – they have to be worth sinning for.

I once knew a pastry chef who protected her Laboratoire* jealously.  You could go in, but she’d stop work.  Sometimes she’d even cover her work on the bench with the tail of her apron until you left.  You could ask a question, but the answer was always evasive.  Good patisserie is alchemy and recipes are guarded.

Charlotte Russe, Orange mousseI used to think I could never make a pastry chef.  For one thing I hated having sticky fingers.  Now I enjoy the discipline.  I enjoy that you have to follow the rules if you want something to turn out right.

Chefs talk about, “a little bit” of whatever and it’s a judgement call about how much you use.  In pastry a few grams of difference in an ingredient can mess up the whole thing.

When you’re, “cooking” flavour combinations are relatively easy.  Bit of this, bit of that and your palate and experience carry the day.  In pastry you have to know the basics of how to capture a flavour so you can use it for the piece in hand.

Cooking can be quite subjective; a bit hotter, a bit longer, a bit more gentle maybe. In pastry if you want things to rise, things to set, things to go crisp, things to be gooey or things to be light – you have to follow the rules.

There are even rules that to stop your fingers from getting sticky.

All Dining In’s puddings and desserts are made the old fashioned way.  Next time you round off your Dining In meal with a great summer dessert or even a sauncy winter pudding – we think you’ll notice the difference.

* The Pastry Section in a formal kitchen is often housed in a separate room called the “Laboratory”.

Posted in Dining In, Recent menus

Family buffet on Arran

Dressed salmonA centrepiece dressed salmon makes the family buffet.

We don’t often get to do one of these so it’s a pleasure when it comes off.  This dressed salmon was the centrepiece of a family buffet at the weekend in Blackwaterfoot.  People ask why we suggest a 30 guest minimum before we do a dressed salmon.  Well – this old chap weighed nearly 13lbs and would serve easily that number of people and it would be such a shame only to do half.  It’s a wonderful, pale pink centrepiece to make the celebration – here’s to the next time!

Posted in Dining In, Isle of Arran, Recent menus

New private dining summer menu online

We’ve updated our private dining summer menu online.  Take a look at the Private Dining page and follow the link to the full list of dishes.

A meal like this in some other places would cost you much more than this lowly number of Mainland Pounds – and you’d have to go to them!

Posted in Dining In

Self catering doesn’t always mean cooking for yourself.

Seared scallops

Seared Scallops

Self catering doesn’t always mean cooking for yourself.  It’s your holiday so, how good is it that you can have a great, no-hassle option for a home-cooked meal or a celebration dinner without having to go anywhere?

  • Ideal for a first-night meal, extra people to feed or just a night in.
  • Avoid the busy-night struggle for a table in the right restaurant.
  • No queuing or competition for service like at some restaurants.
  • No need to find a trusted babysitter.
  • No one has to be a nominated driver who won’t drink and there’s no lottery for a taxi home.

You’ve done all you can to make your holiday the best it can be so – let Dining In cook for you.

A Dining In Family Meal delivers an easy way to share a casual, fun and tasty home-cooked meal.  It’s about as far from a supermarket ready-meal as you can get.  We cook real, fresh food using real, locally sourced ingredients.   We deliver to your fridge in time for your arrival, or hot in time for dinner.

With Private Dining we offer all the luxury of an exquisite, restaurant quality dinner with staff and the options of fine linen and candelabra.

Whenever you make it a “Dining In Night” you never need a babysitter, there’s no designated driver, the atmosphere is as casual as the dress code, and you always get the best table in the house.

Dining In is the no-hassle option for a restaurant quality meal without you having to go anywhere.

So remember, Dining In is the new eating out.  Whether it’s a first-night meal, family get together or Private Dining – there’s no place like home.

Book online now.

Posted in Dining In, Isle of Arran

Arran Lamb for Easter

Kalamata olives, lemons and wine from Edessa.I’m not proud when it comes to where I find inspiration.  I’ll take it wherever it turns up.  This week, when visitors have just come from Greece and they brought some goodies it’s so obvious it’s a pure bonus.

There are perfumed lemons picked from the tree mere moments before they’d left Athens.  There are sharp and bitter purple Kalamatas and a bottle of Boutari Naoussa, red wine from near Edessa way up north.

The lemons have soft, thick skins and so heavy with juice slices had to be diverted to the gin and tonics.  But what to cook?  We’ve got some great lamb here on the Rock so Kleftiko seemed the obvious Greek inspired Arran lamb for Easter.

Maybe I’ve introduced a couple of variations into my Kleftiko, but I bet every Greek house has it’s own wee foibles that make their recipe unique.  Kleftiko is an easy, one-pot lamb recipe.  It’s great at this time of year when the lamb’s a bit older or when you’ve got a cheaper joint that needs to be slow-cooked.  I got a shoulder of Arran lamb for Easter at the Arran Butcher down at Blackwaterfoot.

Once it was hot, I put some cooking grade olive oil in my favourite le Creuset and seared the joint all over.  I browned a chopped onion and some garlic in beside the meat before I added chopped oregano leaves and poured in a glass of the white wine I had in the fridge.  One of those juicy lemons got chopped and added to the pan complete with skin.  Salt and pepper, lid on and into the oven for a couple of hours slow cooking.

Kleftiko made with Arran lamb for EasterAbout 30 minutes before we needed it I added chunks of potato and quarters of red pepper with the skin blowtorched off along with a handful of olives.  There’s no problem if Kleftico waits while the gins get finished.  Slow cooking in wine and lemon juice steam makes the lamb meltingly tender and it’s best eaten as it’s cooling down.  Taste the gravy, adjust the seasoning and Robert’s your father’s brother.  The casserole goes in the middle of the table, everyone arms themselves with cutlery and they help themselves.

Greek wine?  Yeah, other people had that same, skeptical, enquiring look.  And yes, at first sip the wine did seem a touch thin and disappointing.  After a taste of Kleftiko, ‘though; it came to life and soared.  My sister’s a strong advocate of, “terroir”, the principal that things that grow together go together.  She’d have loved this combination.

Arran lamb for Easter?  Inspiration’s a fine thing wherever you find it.

Posted in Dining In, Isle of Arran

Dining In Pies Perfect Party Food

Dining In pies are the perfect party food.  It’s Pi day, so what better day to shout about Dining In’s handmade pies.

Dining In's cottage pie

When you write today’s date in the American format mm/dd/yy you get 3.1415 – the value of π, Pi.  That’s the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference.

As with everything Dining In we don’t do stingy.  Dining In pies are packed with the best ingredients.   When we say, “steak” we mean steak, not gravy with bits in.

We take time to get the fillings just right and use the same cooking methods you’d use in your own kitchen.  It may take longer, but the result is brilliant.  If we were buying a pie, this is how we’d like it to be.

Dining In has a philosophy about proper cooking.  We just use the best ingredients we can find, treat them with respect and put our heart and soul into the end result.  We make Dining In pies ourselves so we know everything that goes into them.

Yep, Dining In pies are the perfect party food.  Serve one each or enough for people to climb.  Eat them in your hand or dressed up with veg and mash.

Ya stoater!

Posted in Dining In, Isle of Arran

Autumn menus and a new look

Seared scallopsOur new Autumn menus are available and the website has had a wee facelift.  Hope there’s something here to whet the appetite!

Posted in Dining In, Isle of Arran