Tag Archives: scotland

Dreams Come True

This is my favorite photo from a recent trip to Scotland.

Mar Hall, Scotland

My niece Kindal and nephew Chace (twins) had never met their grandfather (my dad) OR traveled overseas. He lives in Bridge of Weir, Scotland (near Glasgow) and I’d dreamt about taking them for years. After much saving and planning, we finally made the trip a few weeks ago, right after their high school graduation in Glendora, CA.

The photo was taken at the spectacular Mar Hall, where Dad plays piano every Sunday.

I’m currently editing over 7,500 photos and video from our recent UK trip, but wanted to share this special moment now.

Dreams do come true, and I am so damn grateful.

Cheers, Jo

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Filed under Travel

On Being Thankful.

As most Americans prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow,  I’ll be arriving in London en route to visit my dad in Bridge of Weir, Scotland.

Of course he and my stepmum don’t usually celebrate turkey day, but we’ll gather in their village kitchen and cook a Scottish/American feast together. I know, for sure, there will be some sort of turkey and glorious HAGGIS BALLS (equal parts stuffing & haggis mixed together) that I love to make year round.

In Bridge of Weir, Scotland with my dad 2002For a food fanatic like myself, Thanksgiving is absolutely the best time of the year. Not just because of all the tasty bites, but also a time to exhale, be grateful and reach out to family and friends.

Back in April, my mother passed away and I had to fly to Miyako Jima (near Okinawa, Japan) to take care of her funeral and estate.

The trip was absolutely dreadful (except for a few delicious moments) but it would have been worse if we hadn’t reconciled the year earlier.

My mom and I hadn’t spoken for over ten years, until two years ago when a friend of mine, over lunch at Jitlada (my favorite Thai restaurant), demanded I call my mother. If it weren’t for my friend, I’d never have found peace and comfort of knowing my mother a bit better. She had retired from the business I abhorred (more later), and was just a funny, old lady I chatted and laughed with long-distance.

My dad and I were also estranged for many years (international divorce and spending ten years in a children’s group home can do that), and it took decades for us to want to be in each other’s lives again.

Although it wasn’t always easy (I used to hold on to anger)… IT WAS definitely WORTH IT. I fly back to Scotland to visit him once a year now, and I’m so grateful for every moment together.

If there’s someone in your life you’ve been waiting to call or visit, please stop and JUST DO IT.

Life is short. There’s always time to heat up the leftovers tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love, Jo

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Filed under Family Stories, Travel

The Gorbals

My brother Greg was in town recently (from Glasgow, Scotland) to attend the NAMM (music trade) conference. He happened to be free for dinner on “Burns Night” (Jan 25th), a Scottish holiday celebrating the birth of Robert Burns.

The weekend before, Peter and I had already gone out for our annual haggis-eating, whisky drinking, deep-fried banger fest with friends. It’s always a music-filled, raucous Burns Night party at Buchanan Arms in Burbank.

The Gorbals restaurant is located inside Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Chef Ilan Hall named his restaurant after the gritty neighborhood where his father grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. I’d had bites of chef Hall’s cooking at various food events; mostly his popular bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (his mother is from Israel), but this was my first visit to his popular eatery. The food was perfect for a night of drinking. Needless to say, having my brother there with me was a celebration in itself!

A few of our favorite bites:

Bacon wrapped matzoh balls
Bacon wrapped matzoh balls

 Chips & Herbs
Chips & Herbs

Gribenes (CHICKEN SKIN) Sandwich
Gribenes (CHICKEN SKIN) Sandwich

 Bánh mì Poutine
Bánh mì Poutine  (We were drinking lots, more chips needed!)

Crispy Poached Egg & Sausage
Crispy Poached Egg & Sausage

Shortbread & Scotch
Short Bread & Scotch

Entrance to the Gorbals

My brother Greg w Chef Ilan hall
Chef Ilan Hall with my brother Greg

GorbalsThe Gorbals
501 South Spring Street
Los Angeles,  CA 90013
(213) 488-3408

Follow Ilan Hall on Twitter

Read Jonathan Gold’s 2010 Gorbals review here

Gorbals, Glasgow

Buchanan Arms

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Filed under Eating Out

Persia (Glasgow, Scotland)

Photos: Dinner with my family at Persia Restaurant in Glasgow’s charming West End.

Persia Restaurant
Persia Restaurant

Jalepeno Hummus at Persia Restaurant
Jalepeno Hummus: Jalepeno peppers flavoured with garlic in sesame seed paste and mixed with cooked chickpeas.

Persia Restaurant
Merza-ghassemi (Caspian Aubergine): Mix of sweet aubergine, tomato and garlic, topped with fried onion. Classic Hummus in background.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus at Persia Restaurant
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: A mixture of pureed chickpeas with sesame seed paste and roasted red pepper.

Fresh Baked Naan at Persia Restaurant
Fresh Baked HUGE Naan Bread.

Naan! Persia Restaurant
The Naan being cooked in the downstairs tandoor (clay oven).

Persia Restaurant
Koobideh Combo: Skewers of minced lamb and chicken, Saffron Rice & Grilled Tomato.

Persia Restaurant
Karne Yarik: Stuffed Aubergine with Minced Lamb, Celery, Parsley, Peppers and Garlic, Baked In Tomato Sauce.

Zulbia & Bamiya Dessest at Persia Restaurant
Zulbia & Bamiya: Cake Mix & Plain Dough pan-fried in vegetable oil then dipped in Saffron & Honey Syrup.

If you’re looking for a terrific (yet casual) evening out in Glasgow’s West End, I highly recommend Persia Restaurant. So many of the flavors reminded of my friend Afaf’s Syrian cooking (I miss her food!).

Thanks Lindsay & Greg for sharing one of your favorite spots!

Persia RestaurantPersia
665 Great Western Road.
Glasgow, G12 8RE
Phone: 0141 237 4471

Dining Date: 9/9/11

Persian Cuisine, a Brief History

More Photos on Flickr


Filed under Eating Out

Fox & Hounds (Scotland)

Fox & Hounds 2010A trip home to Bridge of Weir, Scotland would not be complete without a family meal at nearby Fox and Hounds. It’s not just an old pub (built in 1779) that serves Scottish, comfort food. “The Fox” (as we call it) is also an award-winning brewery.

Photos from our recent lunch:

Fox & Hounds 2011
Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie

Fox & Hounds 2011
Tucking into the Steak, Mushroom and Ale Pie

Fox & Hounds 2011
Caesar Salad w Charred Chicken

Fox & Hounds 2011
Ale Battered Haddock

Fox & Hounds 2011
Killer Onion Rings

Fox & Hounds 2011
Houston Brewery’s Peter Well on the left and Warlock Stout on the right

Fox & Hounds 2011
The Fox and Hounds
South Street
Houston, Renfrewshire PA6 7EN
Scotland, UK

Phone: (UK) 01505 612448






More Fox & Hounds Photos on Flickr

Fox & Hounds 2011


Filed under Eating Out

Home to Scotland

I’ll miss Peter and the dogs, but I’m so excited to get back to Bridge of Weir this week to visit my dad, step-mum and little brother. Not surprisingly, my favorite moments are always in the kitchen with my father, and on this trip we’re going to focus on traditional Scottish recipes.

In Scotland with my dadRumbledethumps is a traditional dish from the Scottish Borders. The main ingredients are potato, cabbage and onion. Similar to Irish colcannon, and English bubble and squeak, it is either served as an accompaniment to a main dish or as a main dish itself.

Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup made of smoked Finnan haddie, potatoes and onions. Lacking the traditional ingredient, any other undyed smoked haddock will suffice. This soup is a local speciality, from the town of Cullen in Moray, on the north-east coast of Scotland. The soup is often served as a starter at formal Scottish dinners.

Clapshot is a traditional Scottish dish that originated in Orkney and may be served with haggis, oatcakes, mince, sausages or cold meat. It is created by the combined mashing of potatoes and swede turnips (“neeps and tatties”) with the addition of chives, butter or dripping, salt and pepper; onions in some versions.

Stoved Howtowdie with Drappit Eggs: Boiled chicken with poached egg and spinach.

Chappit Tatties: Mashed Potatoes with little finely shredded onion or chopped chives (optional).

Up Yer Kilt!Skirlie is a traditional Scottish dish. It is eaten on its own, used as a stuffing for a mock-sausage, the mealie pudding, or used as a stuffing for chicken (most commonly) or other fowl. Oatmeal was a staple ingredient of the Scottish diet, it absorbs other flavours and is filling, so it was found in many dishes of Scottish cooking. Skirlie was used to ‘pad’ out a meal in which meat would have been scarce. In the North East it is eaten with mince as well as with chicken. It is still a much loved dish in Scotland today.

Scotch Eggs: A Scotch egg consists of a shelled hard-boiled egg, wrapped in a sausage meat mixture, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep-fried. Scotch eggs are commonly eaten cold, typically with salad.

My dad didn’t have Scotch Eggs on his list, but I’m going to make sure we make a wee batch! Of course I’ll share details and photos upon my return.

Cheers! Jo


About Bridge of Weir

“Haggis Hunt” (a bit about my dad)

Food descriptions via Wikipedia

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Filed under Family Stories

The Scotsman!

So very proud of this article by Peter Ross published in Scotland recently.

Link to full article

Photos of recent visits to Scotland

More articles by Peter Ross

(Many thanks to Jonathan Gold for recommending me to Peter Ross!)


Filed under Little Bites