I love the Edinburgh Festival. In August the city is transformed into a cosmopolitan melting pot. The streets are packed and, happily, all these people need to eat. Ondine is close to the Tattoo and some of the biggest Festival venues so we are jam-packed all month.
As if that wasn’t enough, this year we are staging our own food festival with guest chefs and performances every Sunday. We will also be serving traditional high tea for those heading to early evening performances.
In August, famous faces rub shoulders with tourists in the restaurant, but we must keep our regular customers happy. We also need to think about fast, fresh dishes that can be a light bite before a show, as well as the full lunch or dinner experience.
It’s holiday time for everyone else, but the busiest time of the year for us, as we are serving big numbers. Though the staff are at full stretch, I have a brilliant team and August is when we perform at our best. Luckily, the Festival coincides with a fantastic time of year for produce in the kitchen. I’ve chosen some favourite dishes from our current menu and I know you will enjoy making them at home.
4 sea bream or black bream fillets (scaled, pin-boned and diced)
1 ripe mango (finely diced)
1 ripe avocado (finely diced)
1 red chilli (finely diced)
1 bulb of root ginger (very finely diced)
50g coriander (shredded)
juice of 2 lemons and 1 lime
80ml olive oil
200g prepared squid
12 assorted Heritage tomatoes cut into wedges
1 cucumber (cut into cubes)
80g Greek pitted black olives
half a watermelon (cut into cubes)
200g feta cheese
1 lemon (juiced)
1 pinch of chilli flakes
60g mint, basil and oregano
100ml olive oil
seasoning to taste
25ml apple juice
200g washed strawberries (topped and halved)
200g washed raspberries
3 leaves of gelatine
50g freshly picked mint
120g cucumber (peeled and diced)
1 orange (sliced into rings)
This South American recipe was created by one of my young chefs, Dominic. He is such a talent and felt he wanted to create this joyful dish to offer a cleansing and refreshing starter to match the summer weather. It’s a pleasure to see his lovely idea brought to life.
1 Simply add the diced bream to your citrus juices and olive oil. Allow to sit for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.
2 Divide equally between four plates and garnish with a little coriander. We serve it with a little cucumber sorbet but diced cucumber will also bring a pleasurable texture.
CHAR-GRILLED SQUID WITH FETA, TOMATO, CUCUMBER AND WATERMELON SALAD
This salad always features on our menus at this time of year. My dear friend Anna Laming introduced me and my family to Greek cookery many years ago and I learned about simple, beautiful flavour combinations from her. This dish, our most popular salad to date, is dedicated to Anna. The tomatoes we use are called Heritage, though Clyde Valley Tomatoes are also producing very agreeable varieties.
1 Remove the body from the tentacles of the squid.
2 Cut off the tentacles and remove the beak. Run your finger under the membrane and remove the wings, then scrape clean. Remove the quill from the body.
3 Cut the body down one side and open up.
4 Wash well, scrape off any membrane and score in the inside of the squid to tenderise.
5 To make the olive salt, which is used to season the squid, simply chop or blend the olives with a spoonful of sea salt and allow to dry overnight.
6 Heat up a heavy-based non-stick griddle or sauté pan.
7 Brush the squid with the olive salt, then add a sprinkle of olive oil, salt and pepper and chilli flakes.
8 Place the squid scored side down into the pan along with the tentacles.
9 When you turn the squid it will curl up into a cylinder, cook for a further minute then remove from the pan.
10 For the salad, mix together the tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon and feta. Add a little lemon juice, chilli flakes and olive oil and mix lightly. Now add half of the mixed herbs to the salad. Adjust seasoning to suit.
11 Divide the salad between four plates. Slice the squid into rings and arrange on the salad. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, lemon juice and the remaining herbs.
Having watched Andy Murray’s inspiring victory at Wimbledon, we set about creating a pudding that was both refreshing and satisfying. My pastry chef Rob felt we needed to give it an extra kick so we did, with gin. We serve our jelly with a different sorbet every week. I suggest trying S Luca of Musselburgh as it makes delicious sorbets that will work well with our recipe.
1 Soak the gelatine in a little cold water until soft.
2 Heat up the Pimm’s, gin, lemonade and apple juice in a thick bottomed pan.
3 Infuse the orange slices and a pinch of the picked mint.
4 Once the boozy liquid is lukewarm, whisk in the gelatine. Set aside.
5 Arrange the fruit, mint and cucumber in whatever container you are setting the jellies in.
6 Ladle in the boozy mix over the fruit, and allow to set in the fridge for at least six hours.
7 Turn out the jellies on to your desired plates.
8 Serve with a little shredded mint or orange peel and sorbet of your choice. Ice cream is as satisfying if you can’t get sorbet.
• Roy Brett is one of Scotland’s top seafood chefs. In the past he has worked with Rick Stein and Mark Hix, but now he runs his own award-winning restaurant, Ondine (ondinerestaurant.co.uk) in Edinburgh. Last year it made it on to the National Restaurant Awards’ list of top 25 restaurants in the UK.