Once upon a time in the early nineties, a new term was coined and lo, the "gastro-pub" was born. It was new, it was adventurous, it was exciting but what did it mean? Sadly, in a lot of cases it meant the faithful and terribly underestimated ploughman's lunch was scrapped, while a handful of good old British pubs began giving their food as much thought as their ale.
Aged 22 I was a naive cliché. Maybe I still am. I thought I needed to find myself - do something daring or out of the ordinary - so I packed a rucksack, booked a ticket and set off to South America for six months solo. It was the best decision I ever made and I wouldn't change a single minute of it.
We are blessed in Scotland to have such a vast wealth of produce reared here and exported far and wide. And we are lucky that plenty of the good stuff remains at home. One such example is obviously our beef. Scottish restaurants have been serving incredible steaks for decades and when The Meat House first opened in Dundee, it gave us another destination when a decent côte de boeuf or a hearty burger was called for.
It’s that time of year again when the sun gets higher and the layers of clothing get fewer.
As the lazy susan of foodie trends keeps on turning, we have already cheered the welcome return of dishes such as chicken kiev and prawn cocktail. The rise of all things kitsch is another encouraging comeback - Bake-Off bunting is flying high and all the trendiest tables are once again adorned with gingham and pastel-shaded enamel.
I hope someone out there has a time lapse camera set up in Dundee, not just to document the progress of the V&A but also to capture the rest of the city. Every time I drive through, something new has sprung up, or been cleaned up or planted. Dundee is evolving and it's such an exciting time to live here.
Sometimes even a weekday lunch can be special, whether there is an occasion for it or not. And once in a while a Tuesday needs a little bit of sparkle. I had just such a Tuesday recently and decided to try the "reborn" Seafood Ristorante in St Andrews.
The Apex is a landmark in Dundee, a bright, modern hotel where the clientele happily mixes business and pleasure. I have attended plenty of functions there in the past which all seem to have rapidly descended into tipsy chaos – the kind that involves cheesy dancing and that feeling of dread the following morning when you realise there may well be photographic evidence.
Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have been invited to some posh do’s and I am always especially excited when I hear Wilde Thyme are doing the catering because I know the canapés will be amazing. It does means there will have to be extra planning involved as I’ll clearly need to position myself close to the kitchen in order to make the most of the passing delights but the effort always pays off.
The crocuses are out, the birds are singing and even the daffodils are showing willing. Is it tempting fate then, to say that spring is on the way? Is it too soon to start dreaming of summer, of long walks in the evening sun, of icy cold glasses of rosé and fish suppers on the beach?