Despite my genuine affection for the products of our sponsor, Innis & Gunn, I hadn't actually consumed an I&G for a week or two, and intent on getting a couple in for the weekend I made the habitual trip to Waitrose - where I was pleased to find the hugely popular Rum limited edition in stock.
And, since I mentioned a while back that despite its well-advertised determination to stock quality Scottish products Waitrose was (with a few notable exceptions) pretty dull, drinks-wise, I was also delighted to see things have moved a great deal forward in the beer department.
There's still a superabundance of bland English standard brands, which I doubt can be shifting terribly quickly, but besides the genuine quality also on offer - for example Fuller's - there are also many more quality Scottish beers on offer.
I won't run through the whole list, but a take-home minicask of Stewart's ale from Edinburgh - which has a growing cachet as the thinking drinker's alternative to the ubiquitous Deuchar's - was a very refreshing change from the ordinary. Jacobite ale from Traquair was there too, besides some of the best beers from Sinclair Breweries, and Inveralmond.
Meanwhile steady success for the core Innis & Gunn Original beer has led to several quality Glasgow outlets asking if they can stock some of the variants, and not only the Rum version. You'll find Original and Blonde in major supermarkets (and Rum in Waitrose), and if you root around in some of the better bar outlets you may be lucky to find some of the well-regarded Canadian Cask variant (brewed to celebrate Canada Day, and to reward Canadians for their huge enthusiasm for quality Scottish beer).
Limited edition batches available in the UK market also include IPA and Triple Matured, each with its own distinct taste credentials, but since we are talking craft rather than mass production you won't find all of these available all of the time.
But I do happen to know some of the best places locally for sourcing Innis & Gunn, and these range from Oran Mor, which I understand typically carries the whole range, to first class offsales and beer specialist The Cave at Kelvinbridge - which from a beer point of view is surely the best shop in the west of Scotland.
You'll also find Limited Edition variants at Uisge Beatha in Woodlands Road, and at the Lismore in Partick, as well as in the Bon Accord at Charing Cross (a pub which does a sterling job on beer generally). Back in licensed grocers, it's also worth checking out Peckham's.
Meanwhile we've received a despatch from the splendid Kinloch Lodge on Skye, run by noted cookery writer Lady Claire MacDonald, who takes that whole quality Scottish products thing very seriously indeed.
Full marks to this establishment for doing in practice what we beer aficionados have been battering on about for years - making a decent selection of beers available as well as the customary wine offer.
In fact various beers are matched with particular dishes they're reckoned to partner particularly well, and in Innis & Gunn's case the dish of choice is a seafood extravaganza. Oddly enough I haven't yet tried this particular combination, as in this rather grim winter weather the general inclination is frequently towards a hearty meat dish (assuming you're a carnivore), but the picture in this section - reminding me of the west coast, balmy and scarcely-believable summers of yesteryear, Arisaig, Tarbert Loch Fyne ... sort of put me in the mood.
Regular readers of this column will be aware we don't really do "reviews", as such, beyond occasionally asserting that such-and-such a place is consistently good, or that it's interesting and imaginative ... or offers a particularly enticing dish. Instead we like to draw attention to new and potentially engaging arrivals on the dining and drinking scene, and pass on the sort of information you'd probably find out all by yourself sooner or later.
However there are exceptions, and while I've no intentions of writing a "review" of Dining In at Mother India (Argyle St, diagonally opposite Kelvingrove), I did venture there very recently for what turned out to be the best Indian meal I can remember in many years.
The concept is of course a chip off the same block as parent venture Mother India (and the Wee Curry Shops), but in a setting which invites questions and discussion about the cuisine even more than in these other restaurants.
At first sight there's nothing remarkable about the place at all. It has a comfortable "cafe" feel to it, and the decor - much as with the Wee Curry Shops - is restrained and unpretentious, but rather cosy. The music playing is, much hackneyed word, "eclectic", and seems pitched at just the right volume to be of interest without getting in the way of conversation.
Apart from the slim but choice dining-in menu there's also a full takeaway menu and a chiller cabinet full of microwaveable Dining In readymade dishes. One nice little touch here is a selection of Fentiman's soft drinks to choose from, because I'd long decided that Fentiman's ginger beer was the perfect accompaniment to Indian food, as is (depending on the dish) its lemonade.
The staff service is exemplary, managing the difficult feat of running a busy shop while engaging in pleasant (and informed) conversation about the cuisine, and what particular dishes are all about.
Being "attentive" when help and information is required and elsewhere when it isn't is something of a waitering art - and at Dining In they have it down to a tee.
It's unusual, too, to have a waitress-manager who not only knows all about the food but is also very obviously passionate about it in a totally genuine way - and able to convey all of that in a few well-chosen phrases.
So it's a nice place (bring your own bottle if you want to drink alcohol) with friendly, intelligent staff, but what about the food?
I read occasional reviews of new city centre ventures and ask myself why most of them bother - other than to make a few quid from the undiscerning. This place is the berries. A single spoonful of a Dining In chicken curry (for the sake of argument) makes you feel almost daft for having dined at some of the more average establishments among Glasgow's seething Indian restaurant scene.
It's a bit old-fashioned to ask for pakora as a starter, and I don't think they were even on the menu, but out of curiosity I asked if there was any going and was presently served a portion of mixed pakora, as light as air and as unlike the stodgy standard fare of years gone by as can be. The fish pakora (something I've never previously much fancied) was so exquisite we ordered two portions to take home to enjoy next day.
Everything else about that meal was superlative, from its low key but confident presentation to its astonishing repertoire of subtle flavours and textures.
Meanwhile it's nice to see that the Edinburgh branch of Mother India (in Infirmary Street) has just won the Indian Restaurant of the Year award, beating some fairly stiff competition - the only example of a Glasgow-based Indian restaurant enterprise registering a resounding success in the capital that I'm aware of.
I could rattle on about Dining In all night, and go into much more detail about the cuisine (but have a look at their website and you'll get the general idea about what's on offer), but my final point on this one, at least this time, is how utterly reasonable it all is.
Many restaurants of the sort which feel entitled to have a guid conceit about themselves bung a few quid on to the prices, and perhaps etch the menus with gold filigree, but at Dining In the prices are absolutely average.
For our fairly lavish meal for two that night, albeit we didn't drink, we spent more or less exactly the same as we would have at a restaurant offering a much less memorable experience.
It emphatically is not the sort of place, then, which you would only visit for a special treat, and is well within the range of even modest budgets.
I know from a previous conversation with owner and all-round Indian chef extraordinaire Monir Mohammed that there are no plans to greatly expand the current collection of around nine outlets (including Edinburgh), because they are not a "chain" in any conventional sense and his feeling is that quality could be under pressure.
I don't know if Dining In is the best Indian restaurant in Glasgow, but it is certainly well-placed within an elite list of maybe a dozen which are "serious" Indian food propositions, and is one I'd cheerfully recommend to absolutely anyone.
I had a chortle about the most recent chattering-classes restaurant review in the Herald's Saturday magazine, where bouquets and brickbats are regularly dished out with apparent equal enthusiasm.
This week it was about the Athena Taverna in Argyle Street - immediately adjacent to Crabshakk - but said very little about either the restaurant or its cuisine, offering us for example the fact that the cuisine, in this Greek restaurant, was "Greek" ... which sort of implies once you've been to one Greek restaurant you've been to them all. There are certainly loads of common reference points and standards in Greek cuisine, exactly as with Italian or (most) Spanish restaurants, but they're certainly not all the same. I still haven't found a good Sfakian goat stew in Glasgow ...
The Athena Taverna, run by the grandson of the chap who ran the original (and sadly missed) Taverna in Pollokshaws Road boasts a traditional family kitchen ethos, and anecdotal reports I've had from friends who are seldom wrong suggest it's a cut above the average. I'll explore it as soon as I get the chance.
But most of the review centred on the alarming frequency with which ventures have been launched and then disappeared in the could-be Restaurants Heaven of Argyle Street, although it fairly pointed out that Fanny Trollope's is a "stayer", one with a massive and under-publicised reputation.
It also called Argyle Street itself "scuzzy" - which sounds vaguely Italian - and I sort of know what is meant here. Depending on your point of view it's a traditional Glasgow shopping street or part of an "improving area", and boasts some not-very-attractive shop fronts which add character or lower the tone ... depending on your point of view.
From personal experience I know traders are on the whole guardedly optimistic about the area's future, which I think would be booming by now had it not been for the rude interruption of the recession.
The Herald reviewer (Ron McKenna), rightly observes there are some "jumping" bars in the area, for example Lebowski's, the Ben Nevis and The Goat - all three of these are very different one from another too - and I've said myself several times that the street should really be seen as part of an "area", like Woodlands, since literally two minutes' walk round the corner brings you to places like Big Slope, Mother India and Konaki which are all, in their own particular ways, superb.
Ron had asked someone if they knew what the Athena site had been in its most recent incarnation, and was left guessing ... wrongly, as it happens.
In fact the immediately preceding venture was Andre's Bistrot, before which it was the short-lived Kelvingrove Cafe.
I can't remember what was going on in there before that - it has a more complex history, possibly, than the seven cities of Troy.
Ron seemed to think this chequered past presaged a tricky time ahead for Athena, but I'd cautiously suggest the new owner has arrived with the right concept at the right place and the right time.
However, he's right in that the whole area would benefit from some sort of marketing and improvement "action plan", and could easily be "developed" as a destination venue for visitors - and in peak season there are always several hundred visitors from overseas staying at local hotels, nearby, even before you consider Glaswegians looking for somewhere a bit different to their usual weekend haunts.
Sadly, however, the city council is in the throes of painful cutbacks, entailing job losses, and while it has assiduously developed visitor traffic for the city centre and its shopping attractions has done absolutely zero for the west end - still less poor old scuzzy Argyle Street
At the moment the area is still something of a guilty secret, not quite sure whether it's arriving on the map or stuck in permanent shabby genteel limbo.
It has a different problem from the potentially excellent nexus of streets around the Tron Theatre (King St, Parnie St), where art galleries, collectors' shops and print studios suffer from proximity to the occasionally downright dangerous Saltmarket.
But it does at least have established local assets and the capacity to generate more,
and every time a bar, restaurant or cafe stays the course the whole proposition gets a little stronger.
Much more on the individual outlets in this hidden jewel of Glasgow dining in future columns.
The oddest dining experience I've had recently was in the West End Cafe at Kelvinbridge, which many will remember as Trattoria Trevi of years gone by.
Aware that it was being relaunched and was "new", in some sense, I dropped in one day to see what was on offer.
There were no menus in view that day, and when I asked for one I was just a tad surprised to be handed a completely Persian menu - not just a couple of token dishes, either, but a complete repertoire of starters and mains from the land of Omar Khayyam.
Bamboozled by choice, and recovering rapidly from the discovery that my cuisine options had fled Italy in the direction of the Persian Gulf, I opted for Zereshk Polo Ba Morgh - chargrilled chicken breast served with saffron rice, forest berries, pistachio and almonds. I loved it, particularly the sultanas in the exquisitely prepared rice.
Unless I am very wrong sultanas are anathema to Indian rice cookery, which is odd given the near proximity and culinary interaction of Indian and Persian cuisine styles,
and I now want to find "how they do that", by way of getting the consistency of each constituent ingredient exactly right. The chicken fell off the bone and was clearly the product of a sophisticated marinade.
A creamy and reassuringly slightly sour home made yoghurt was offered as a complimentary side dish, and it rounded off a very tasty surprise lunch.
There's much more I could say about the Persian options, which many lamb dishes (as you'd expect) but - apart from appetisers - no vegetarian dishes - however on further investigation it turns out this venture also has a full traditional breakfast menu, even including the appalling but ever-popular roll and Forlorne sausage, and has also since launched a quite separate prix fixes lunch menu, at two courses for £7.25p.
This has options such as that old French standard coq au vin, braised duck leg, a homemade beef and lamb burger (with chunky chips), and pine nut linguini.
There are also side dishes of rosemary and garlic foccacia, mozzarella and basil salad, and garlic bread, while starters include chorizo cous cous in a spicy tomato sauce with crusty bread.
The new incarnation is obviously still finding its feet, and there may be some new flourishes to the menus since I visited, but unless they've done it already I'd strongly recommend putting something really overt in the window to advertise the Persian cuisine, which is the star of the show.
Meanwhile farther up Great Western Road at the foot of Cecil Street the former Aladdin's takeaway and cafe (which did a very nice chicken kebab) is reopening as Persia ... so, added to Paradise on Kelvinbridge (and for that matter Sherezade deli in Bank Street; and the Persian cafe in Partick) we're suddenly being treated to a whole "new" cuisine.
We've also got Mediterraneo in Byres Road, a cafe-restaurant which offers a superb Turkish mezes among its many other attractions.
Last time I called, however, I had a burger and chips, it being a freezing cold day, and it was first class in every way - including its accompanying salad.
It reminded me not a little of the fabulous fare (including burgers, dim sums, etc) to be found at Lily's Cafe (run by the talented Lily Sung) in Ingram Street.
Eh? It means "new Polish shop", if you can't read Polish, and it's at 142 Queen Margaret Drive. After studying the indecipherable entries on its leaflet for a minute I realised the whole thing appeared in English on the other side - and the offer includes fresh Polish bread delivered daily, sweet rolls, traditional sausages, freshly prepared fish, home made pierogi and bigos, and a wide selection of ready meals, herbs, sweets, juices and "lots more, at a low low price".
This sounds like a very welcome new arrival, complementing the Polish deli in Hyndland Street, and of course also adds to the area's now incredible selection of high quality delis with the added attraction of a distinct national cuisine to enjoy exploring. It's open 11am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, and is closed on Sundays.
Among many other things the West End is cornering the market in exotic pub quizzes.
For example at Uisge Beatha in Woodlands Road (where substantial cash prizes can be won some weeks) part of the contest also includes gaining a particular score on the dartboard.
But (again back on the Argyle Street beat) The 78 in Kelvinhaugh Street has come up with a genuine Something Completely Different for its quiz night on Tuesday, March 9 (at 8.30pm).
It's a literary quiz night, which sounds a bit intimidating but might be fun, and all the proceeds go towards Oxfam's continuing work in Haiti.
All are welcome (so you do not in fact have to be an English Lit undergraduate, though it may help), and teams can be any size. There will be prizes on the night, too, with a raffle for a special prize.