Mharsanta on Bell Street showcased the best of Caledonian cuisine on Saturday night.

I was there for a special dinner to launch the new recipe book from Scotland's National Chef, Gary Maclean.

A fascinating compendium of local flavours, the new publication leans into Gary's own experience of food while growing up in Glasgow and running restaurants on Sauchiehall Street and the West End.

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The menu kicked off with a rich and hearty bowl of Cullen skink with a buttered Glasgow roll for dipping.

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Roast celeriac mixed with pearl barley followed studded with spots of carrots, pickled shallots and dill vinaigrette that brought bursts of flavour.

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The classic combination of a hand dived scallop, Stornoway black pudding with garlic, potato and green apple before Gary's Scottish symphony of roast lamb, haggis pie, peas, leeks, lamb fat potatoes, chanterelles and Arran mustard sauce. To close, gin and red berry tart with raspberry and heather honey sorbet.

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While Gary was in the kitchen, I spoke to Mharsanta owner Derek Mallon who explained the downstairs area was playing host to a group of American tourists that night. For two years, people from all over the world have been denied the opportunity to explore our city and now visitors are making up for lost time. Expect international visitors a bigger presence in the weeks and months ahead.

Our marooned city state has the chance to show off its best people and places once again.

With that in mind, here's my own, personal checklist of favourite Glasgow attractions.

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Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Argyle St, G3 8AG

Generations of Glasgow kids have slid across the marble floor of the Centre Hall on their knees, beneath the grand pipe organ that is still used for lunchtime recitals.

Built in a Spanish Baroque style, there’s a sense of magic to the place, beyond the collection of exhibits that includes outstanding artworks by Monet, Renoir and van Gogh.

It opened in 1901, for the Glasgow International Exhibition held in Kelvingrove Park - taxi drivers will tell you the building is the wrong way round but that’s an urban myth. Visit to see a Spitfire suspended from the ceiling above a stuffed elephant, furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, collections of armour and the enigmatic presence of Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross.

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Riverside Museum 100 Pointhouse Rd, G3 8RS

Get a sense of where the city is coming from, and where it’s going. The transport museum started when someone had the foresight to decide Glasgow’s trams should be preserved after they stopped running. In an odd moment of synchronicity, the collection opening coincided with a wave of closures at shipyards on the Clyde with some 250 ship models soon finding a new home, then came hulking locomotives representing the city’s railway heritage. You’ll find the oldest surviving pedal cycle and a collection of Scottish-built cars and trucks. Look out for the Star Wars figures cabinet. A meticulously assembled street scene allows you to step into Glasgow of the past.

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Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis Castle St, G4 0QZ

The oldest building in the city marks the site where St Mungo was buried in 612 AD. Its soaring Scottish Gothic architecture took shape between the 13th and 15th Centuries. Sir Walter Scott references the High Kirk in his novel, Rob Roy. More recently the cathedral has found new fame as a backdrop in the television show Outlander. The nearby Necropolis can be reached by crossing the Bridge of Sighs, part of the funeral procession route. Glasgow’s city of the dead, the Necropolis cemetery is a remarkable Victorian display “dedicated to the genius of memory”.

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The People’s Palace Templeton St, G40 1AT 

A cultural centre for the East End and a repository of folk memory. The collection includes pictures and depictions of working-class Glasgow life through the ages, particularly in the 20th Century, with a one-room tenement home and memorabilia from the Barrowland Ballroom. Billy Connolly’s banana boots are one of the most popular exhibits.

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The Govan Stones 866 Govan Rd, G51 3DL

A fascinating collection of early medieval stones carved in the 9th-11th Centuries is housed in the atmospheric surroundings of Govan Old Parish Church. The Govan Sarcophagus is the only one of its kind cared from solid stone from pre-Norman northern Britain. The churchyard is not done giving up its secrets. Three years ago, a community archaeology dig uncovered long-lost gravestones from the Middle Ages featuring Celtic interlace designs to commemorate the Kings of Strathclyde.

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Britannia Panopticon 113-117 Trongate, G1 5HD

The world’s oldest surviving music hall. At one time a boisterous crowd of up to 1500 would gather to watch the singers, dancers and comedians. Eccentric showman AE Pickard installed a carnival in the attic and a zoo in the basement. Now, a charitable group promotes the legacy of building and continues to organise events, including silent movie screenings. Stan Laurel made his debut on this stage in 1906.

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Botanic Gardens 730 Great Western Rd, G12 0UE

Sitting at the junction of Great Western Road and Byres Road, overlooked by Oran Mor, the Botanics is a much loved bit of West End greenery. It features several glasshouses, the biggest of which is the Kibble Palace - a wrought-iron framed glasshouse designed for John Kibble and moved here in 1873 - which houses the UK’s national collection of tree ferns. There’s an old Tardis-style police box outside the gates that’s home to a tiny coffee takeaway.

READ MORE: 'I kind of forgot that this might be amazing': Review Deacon Blue at the Hydro in Glasgow

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There are certain points where the story of Deacon Blue and Glasgow, their city muse, intertwine. The Big Day concert at Glasgow Green in 1990 was one of them.

Glasgow was Europe’s Cultural Capital at the time and there was a sense of optimism in the air.

It seemed to give an added energy to the opening bars of Real Gone Kid as they were broadcast live on television.

The relationship between the band and Glasgow was renewed last week when Ricky Ross led them on stage at The Hydro, the first opportunity to play the hits here since the pandemic. It felt like another moment when Deacon Blue could strike a hopeful note ahead of a summer of music.

That connection to Glasgow is strong. “When your debut album is called Raintown and the artwork is an Oscar Marzaroli print that includes the Finnieston Crane, then that’s a statement of intent.

Ricky would say it isn’t really a concept album but the characters are rooted in stories that have sprung from the people of Glasgow" Paul English explains.

He is the author of the band's first official book, To Be Here Someday, which features extensive contributions from the band and those who have been around them over the past 35 years.

“Similarly, with Fellow Hoodlums, which is their third album, there were songs going in quite a different direction musically, but it is a Glasgow album.

The songs reference streets like Kelvin Way, Queen Street and pubs in Glasgow like The Budgie and Sloan’s. So those albums are very much connected to the geography in which the characters in their songs are living in every day."