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Carina in Print: The Scotsman magazine

Carina is delighted to be a regular contributor to The Scotsman magazine, and her latest column, for May, pondered the role of the independent restaurateur in the current food revolution. Read it below….

For my 6th birthday, I was Doctor Carina.  My little doctor’s case, a tiny white tin with a red cross, made me feel like Florence Nightingale.   At school I always had some reserves in my blazer and was on call at all times to look after my patients.  Once, after my friend had got some dust in her eye, I took over (nothing new here) and stuck a plaster over her eye.  When the teacher removed the plaster, Lucy only had one eyebrow left.  Lucy, I hope you’ve forgiven me and it’s grown back in.

Now, if I’d gone down the medical route, I might conceivably still have ended up opening restaurant today but – as a restaurateur – I definitely wouldn’t get away with running a surgery. Medicine may be an extreme example but it got me thinking…

Our food culture is in the middle of a wonderful revolution: never has there been more choice, more creativity, more value and more commitment to sustainability and artisan production.

Much of this change is due to small independent businesses run by individuals who aren’t necessarily trained chefs but are hugely passionate about food. Smith & Gertrude are a perfect example: ex- film industry professionals who now run a great wine bar.  It’s fantastic that our industry can inspire people, regardless of their previous profession, to change their career and open wine bars, cheese shops, and bakeries. And they do it so well because they love their product.

A restaurateur may not be a doctor, but we all have a responsibility to create a healthy, sustainable food chain for our community and all generations.


I’ve only been to Spain once but I can still taste the gazpacho.  Chilled soup is delicious and it’s perfect as a little pre-dinner shot which we serve up at Cannonball with our Tasting Menu.

Serves eight

  • 1 kilo ripe red tomatoes (use plum variety if possible)
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and deseeded
  • 2 small salad onions, white bulb only (keep the green leaves for decoration)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 100ml of olive oil


  1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water to remove their skins.
  2. Blend the tomatoes, cucumber, salad onions, garlic and chilli in a food processor for a few minutes until all blended
  3. Slowly add the sherry vinegar and salt
  4. Using the pulse part of the blender, drizzle the olive oil in slowly and steadily while the blender is moving, as if you were making mayonnaise. The oil will help thicken the soup.  Add more oil if you feel the consistency isn’t stiff enough.
  5. Sieve the soup and discard the rough seeds
  6. Check the seasoning; add more salt if required.
  7. Transfer to a clean bowl or jug, cover with cling film and chill overnight.
  8. Stir the soup before serving.
  9. Serve with some wedges of fresh lime, a little finely chopped coriander, and a few very thin slices of the green part of the salad onions.
  10. You can also serve up with wedges of country sourdough bread, chargrilled and rubbed with garlic and drizzled with a really good cold pressed olive oil.


Pasta Pomodorini  

We make homemade pasta every morning at Contini George St. We use trifoliate in the restaurant which is a small square of pasta that’s twisted like silk. But any pasta will do.

Serves two

  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 baby basil leaves
  • 150g fresh pasta
  • Salt


  1. Have a pot of salted water at the ready as fresh pasta takes far less time than dried pasta to cook
  2. Choose a large frying pan and add the garlic, oil and the tomatoes cut in half
  3. Cook the tomatoes, moving the pan frequently to stop them sticking and burning
  4. The tomatoes will take about 8 minutes to cook.  So when the skins have burst it’s time to start cooking the fresh pasta
  5. Season the pasta sauce and then, when the pasta is cooked, drain (reserving a little of the cooking water)
  6. Add the fresh basil, check the seasoning
  7. Serve immediately


Strawberry Tarts

The first Scottish strawberries are available – it’s officially strawberry tart time.

Makes eight tarts

For the sweet pastry

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 90g cornflour

For the filling

  • 200ml of double cream, lightly whipped
  • 200g Fresh strawberries, husks removed
  • 100g Strawberry jam
  1. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in the sieved flour and cornflour
  3. Transfer to a floured surface and knead together until you have a firm dough
  4. Chill for half an hour so the pastry is easier to handle
  5. Choose a cutter that will cover your chosen size of pastry cases
  6. Roll the pastry onto a floured surface and cut circles that are about the thickness of a £2 coin.
  7. Using a fork, prick a few holes into the pastry to help it cook
  8. Transfer the filled pastry cases in the pastry tray to the freezer and chill for 30 minutes. This will help stop the pastry shrinking
  9. Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 for 20 minutes until crisp and golden
  10. Cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling wire
  11. Place a spoonful of strawberry jam at the bottom of each shell, and a spoonful of whipped cream and finish with a strawberry.
  12. Enjoy right away with a lovely cup of tea – you deserve it.

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