Asia Style has been on the lips of Asian-food aficionados in Glasgow for years. It's one of the few places that gastro explorer Ron MacKenna has reviewed twice, just because he liked it - and their soft shell crab - so much. This week, I finally got to see what all the fuss was about.
I had made a few attempts to visit before, the first time the queue snaked, Chinese dragon-style, so far out of the door that I suspected I would have had to wait until the year of the 'pig's might fly' to tuck into some satay, so we left, tummies rumbling. The second time we tried to go and do it Asia Style, the place was closed for refurbishment.
Despite the shiny new (plastic) tables and chairs, many regulars feel that this recent upgrade has led to Asia Style losing it's sparkle. The prices have gone up, portion sizes have been zapped (possibly by microwave) into smaller versions of themselves and many of the classics - like the soft shell crab - seem to be missing from the menu.
However, as a first-timer I thought it was good, authentic Asian food. We had Salt and Pepper Squid which was lightly battered, and were like little clouds of delicious flavour. For our mains, we over-ordered. Sichuan Crispy beef, Malaysian Beef and Chicken Satay, Pak Choi with Garlic and Ginger and, because I have been known to have a paddy if there isn't enough rice to mop up the sauce, two whopping big bowls of coconut rice.
The service was impeccable and they even brought us some extra, unordered treats 'just to try'. Our bellies were so full by the end we decided we couldn't walk home, so spring-rolled into a taxi instead! I thought it was quite expensive (only countered by the lovely extras they gave us) and although definitely one of the best Asian restaurants I've been to outside the Far East, perhaps, no longer THE best in Glasgow. Fingers crossed it's just a blip and this, once fabulous, restaurant finds it's Asia Style again.
Up until recently, the closest I had been to going to see any opera was watching Pretty Women on repeat. I thought it looked tremendously glamorous, but I also suspected it might be just a tad boring, so I had never really thought about putting it on my to do list.
Then The Sloans Project came along. The Sloans Project is an opera, but an opera like no other. It was dreamt up in the downstairs bar of Sloans by Gareth Williams from NOISE (New Opera in Scotland Events). He had often sat nursing a pint, listening to the well-worn tales of the pub's history: from the ghostly landlady that haunts the first floor to Peter Manuel - infamous Glasgow murderer - being a regular through its doors. The story began to take shape, the bar would make the perfect stage, folk could walk from room to room with the performers and have their own role in Sloans' history. And, what's more, they could do it with a drink in their hand! Now that sounds like my kind of opera.
This week, I went along for a special performance and fundraising dinner. And it was so good, I've found myself harping on a bit about it! I finally understand what opera is all about, and not just because it was all sung in a Glasgow twang! Sadly, it was the last performance in the pub of this run, but hopefully The Sloans Project will, in time, become one of it's regulars.
This year, my dad hasn't been very well. It's been tough for him and a coming of age for me. Largely, because it means that I have had to start telling him (lovingly) what he should and shouldn't be doing! Although not the cause, certainly a factor was how much the man does. He would often go up and down to London several times in a week (sometimes back and forth in a day), rushing around from meeting to meeting. He is the chairman of so many organisations, I would need a column just to tell you about them! They are all incredibly important to him, though, so reducing his commitments has been hard.
I wanted to find a way to help. So, when he mentioned he was meant to be presenting the Quality Scotland Business Awards, I thought 'Hey, I could do that!'. We decided we would do it together. I might have enrolled him in the wee plays I performed on our landing when when I was little, but this was the first time, as adults, we have performed as a double act.
Like all great duo's, however, there has to be a fall guy… and because of my ridiculously high heels, that guy was me! Yup. I nearly stacked it on stage. Even so, the event was a huge success and we found ourselves slipping back into more familiar roles, as he told me that I really ought to wear more sensible shoes!
Wee Bird Recommends
To prove that Glasgow really does have bags of style, city centre stores are giving away a free, limited-edition tote to late night shoppers. Each bag depicts an image from a well-known Scottish designer about what Glasgow means to them. Wee Bird recommends popping along, weekdays 5-7pm, till the end of the month to get your hands on one, because, as the young 'uns say, they're totes amazing!