Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

12 Ways to feel festive in Edinburgh 2016

  1. The spectacular Street of Light is back for 2016 and this time it can be found on George Street. Between the 21st of November and the 24th of December there will be a twice nightly shows where the lights will synchronize to the music of local choirs and bands. This is a free event but you need to book your tickets in advance here http://www.edinburghschristmas.com/whats-on/street-of-light#calendar-11-2016

    Last year's Street of Light

    Last year’s Street of Light

  1. Sample some festive cocktails. How about a Hot Buttered Rum containing dark rum, muscovado, butter and cinnamon? Try Dine on Cambridge Street which has a great selection of Christmas cocktails starting at £7.50
  2. The Signet Library is one of the most beautiful venues in Edinburgh and it’s also one of the top places for afternoon tea. A Festive Afternoon Tea in this glamorous setting includes mini game pies, turkey club sandwiches and coconut snowballs http://www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/news-events/festive-afternoon-tea/afternoon tea
  3. Get wrapped up and take to the circular ice rink in St Andrews Square. Tickets from £5.
  4. Try something a bit different to the usual Christmas night out. Yuletide Games is new for 2016 and involves your group moving through a series of fun rooms where you will play mini golf, take part in a sensory game show and race mini buggies http://yuletidegames.co.uk/
  5. Dinner, cocktails and a classic Christmas film… sounds like a perfect night! Every Monday in December, Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Bar are offering the chance to enjoy festive cocktails, a three course meal and a feel-good movie like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ in their very own micro cinema http://www.harveynichols.com/news/2015/08/26/movies-shakers/?restaurant=edinburgh-dining
  6. He’s behind you! It’s not Christmas without a panto. Jack and The Beanstalk is on at The Kings Theatre this year http://www.edtheatres.com/jack
  7. Dine in the Grill Room of The Dome on George Street and enjoy the view of one Edinburgh’s most famous Christmas trees. http://www.thedomeedinburgh.com/christmas/IMG_0412
  8. There are two fabulous Christmas markets to choose from. This year the Scottish Market will be in West George Street, next door to the Street of Light, and will showcase some of the best gifts, food and drink that Scotland has to offer including local gin and craft beer. The Scottish Market runs from 26th November – 24th December. Opening hours are Monday – Thursday12pm -10pm and Friday – Sunday 10am – 10pm.   The European Market is located in East Princes Street Gardens from 19th November until 7th January and has over 140 stalls from Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Belgium. From bratwurst and Glüwein to handcrafted jewellery, Christmas ornaments and carved wooden gifts, there’s lots of goodies to try and take home. The market is open between 10am and 10pm daily.scottish-market
  1. Foodies Christmas Festival brings Scotland’s top chefs and award-winning producers to Edinburgh for a fabulous festive feast. The show takes places between 25th and 27th November at the EICC http://www.foodiesfestival.com/xmas-edinburgh/
  1. Want to brush up on your Christmas cookery? The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School have a range of classes from Christmas baking to sessions demonstrating the perfect canapes http://www.entcs.co.uk/calendar
  1. Do something fun for charity and burn off a few of those mince pies – The Christmas Charity Festival takes place over the 3rd and 4th of December in Inverleith Park. You can take part in a range of events from the Santa Parade to the Tinsel Walk http://www.christmascharityfestival.com/

A Pate Party

A few weeks ago, I got some fantastic news; one of my best friends got engaged. In Vegas, no less! Very exciting! So what better way to celebrate than by getting the girls together for some delicious food and wine?

Of course we got the evening started with a customary glass of bubbles!

The lovely people at Castle MacLellan had sent me out five different pates from their range to sample and have my very own Pate Party. The pates we tried out were:

  • Orkney Crab Terrine – enriched with crème fraiche, lemon juice and Galloway mustard.
  • Chicken Liver Pate – smooth creamy chicken liver pate enhanced with Scottish heather honey.
  • Oven Roasted Mushroom Pate – with full fat soft cheese, crème fraiche and a hint of garlic and thyme.
  • Scottish Smoked Salmon Pate – a blend of smoked and poached salmon enriched with cream, lemon juice and horseradish.
  • Rannoch Smoked Duck Pate – smooth duck liver pate with pieces of Rannoch smoked duck complemented by apple jelly and aromatic tarragon.img_1794

I served the pate with butter, oatcakes, fresh bread, red wine and a selection of other nibbles. The delicious selection of pates were definitely a welcome addition to our girly get together and made a change from the usual ‘crisps and dips’ cliche.

The pates had a lovely texture and the quality of the locally sourced ingredients really came through. Castle MacLellan have long term relationships with lots of their suppliers like John Mellis who produces the heather honey for the chicken liver pate.

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My guests loved the variation in the selection from Scottish seafood to the creamy mushroom pate. What really surprised me was that each of the five girls picked a different favourite. Personally, I was torn between the smoked duck pate and the Orkney crab terrine. They were both so different but equally flavoursome.

I really like that there were recipes ideas on each pack, which you can also check out over on the Castle MacLellan website.  I’m definitely going to have a go at making the Spiced Monkfish en Croute.

Oh and given that we were celebrating an engagement, it would be rude not to include a final photo including The Ring. So here we are… duck pate and diamonds!

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10 reasons to visit the BBC Good Food Show 2016

This year will mark the tenth BBC Good Food Show Scotland. It’s always a cracking day out that showcases the very best in food and drink which is why I’ve attended the last five years in a row! So whether you’ve been before, or are completely new to the show, read on to hear what to expect from the 2016 BBC Good Food Show.

 

Oh and exciting news! I have six pairs of tickets to give-away to the show courtesy of Supertheatre sponsor Aldi. If you’d like to win a pair of tickets for Saturday 5th November, just sign up to my newsletter here.  Entries close 6pm Sunday 30th October,

Here are my top 10 reasons to visit the show 4th – 6th November 2016:

  1. Some of Glasgow’s best restaurants are coming to the show this year in pop-up format; The Finnieston, Gamba and Porter & Rye will all be making an appearance. This is a brilliant opportunity to try their signature dishes in taster size. The Bone Marrow Mac and Cheese from Porter & Rye is legendary!
  2. The Finnieston will also be hosting a pop-up Boutique Bar every day of the show with amazing sounding cocktails like Tiki Down featuring Sailor Jerry, Charred Pineapple, Lime Solution, Coconut, Apricot Brandy. Yes, please!finnieston
  3. It’s easy to get there. The SECC has its own dedicated railway station and there are 6 trains an hour from Central Station so you can leave the car at home. Alternatively, there’s ample parking in the multi-story car park. Check out the travel page for more info https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowscotland.com/visit/opening-times-and-travel
  4. From cheese to craft gin, there’s samples galore so it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new. Lots of the stands have special show prices and offers so you can pick up a bargain.
  5. Get inspired watching demonstrations from celebrity chefs like John Torode and Michel Roux Jr in the Supertheatre sponsored by Aldi.
  6. Great British Bake Off fans, you can meet The Blue Eyed One in person and have him sign your book. Paul Hollywood is one of a host of celebs taking part in book signings over the weekend. See the line-up here.
  7. And while we’re on the subject, did you know there’s a whole area of the show dedicated to all things baking? See demonstrations and source all sorts of specialist ingredients and equipment in the Cake & Bake Village.Bakes--26-Cakes-Village
  8. The Producers Bursary Awards helps small-scale local producers to attend the show. This means that we all get to try tasty treats like Venison Haggis made by Lanarkshire based Servus Haggis and Seville Orange and Malt Whisky Marmalade by Wild Fig.
  9. The Show Guide you’ll receive has a floor plan which is great for making sure you don’t miss any gems! It also has lots of tasty recipes to take home and try out.
  10. Looking for some top tips to impress your dinner party guests? Now’s your chance to ask the experts for their advice on the Interview Stage. Amongst those taking questions is Scottish chef Tom Kitchin, who was the youngest ever winner of a Michelin star for his Leith restaurant, The Kitchin (which also happens to be my favourite ever place to eat).

 

Tickets can be bought at the door or online here https://www.bbcgoodfoodshowscotland.com/visit/ticket-info

 

Hope to see you there! GvF x

 

 

Chocolate, Gin and other reasons to visit Fife

Being invited along to enjoy a ‘Feast of Fife’ has to be one of my blogging highlights for 2016! I’m always excited to try local produce, so I was intrigued to find out what delights Fife had to offer. I took the train from Edinburgh and the journey itself was a pleasure; crossing into Fife over the iconic Forth Bridge and along a coastal track, contemplating a day of gourmet treats ahead.

Starting the day with cheeseJane Stewart

Jane Stewart from the St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company was an absolute pleasure to listen to. I loved hearing about how Jane and her farmer husband had branched out to start making cheese from their dairy herd in 2008. Myself and the other foodie bloggers got to sample four different cheeses produced on the farm; Anster, Red Anster, Smoked Anster and St Andrews Farmhouse Cheddar. They were all delicious but the smoked cheese really did it for me! The crumbly cheese is smoked nearby at St Monans using oak and beech chips. A great place to try St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese is at the purpose built coffee shop; it’s light, bright and has gorgeous views out to the Firth of Forth. If you visit on a cheese-making day (3 days out of 7) then you’ll be able to watch the action through the viewing gallery. I’m also definitely going to have a go at making the cheese scone recipe which is featured on their website http://www.standrewscheese.co.uk/our-cheese/recipes/

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Lunch in a barn

Next up was a visit to The Balgove Steak Barn. I’d never seen a restaurant quite like this before! The rustic looking barn has walls made of potato crates and a shrubbery lined entrance. Inside there are long communal benches and a fire pit which adds to the cosy atmosphere. Along with my fellow food writers, we started by sampling a selection of the Steak Barn’s tasty starters including chicken skewers and battered prawns. Then it was time for the mains, which of course included fantastic 28 day aged steaks, as well as burgers and huuugee onion rings! The meat is all cooked on the wood fired barbeque which provides a focal point for the restaurant. Whilst I’m normally a red wine with steak kind of gal, I took the opportunity to sample three different beers from the St Andrews Brewing Company. The Crail Ale, a crisp pale ale was my pick of the bunch.

I really enjoyed looking around the Balgove Farm Shop too. It’s a proper foodie paradise with lots of locally produced gourmet ingredients. I couldn’t resist taking home a jar of Venison and Cognac Pate.

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Gin and chocolate

What does everyone need after lunch on a Saturday? Definitely gin and chocolate. We headed to Eden Mill to sample the range of gins paired with chocolates from The Highland Chocolatier. What a treat! The Eden Mill range of gins are recognisable by their ceramic bottles and bold branding. I had the chance to sample four gins; the Original, Love Gin, Hop Gin and Oak Gin.

  • The Original Gin is a London dry gin which was paired with a White Lime and Chilli Truffle. The chilli flavour was subtle and the lime worked really well with this classic style of gin.
  • The dark chocolate Ginger Truffle was an excellent accompaniment to the Oak Gin. The caramel and vanilla flavours in the Oak Gin along with the ginger in the truffle made me think of cosy autumn nights by a log fire.
  • The pale pink Love Gin was served with Rose Lemonade and this made it a little sweet for me, but I have tried it with tonic previously and it was delicious. The White Raspberry and Heather Honey Truffle was just beautiful with a thistle pattern on the outside. It tasted just as good as it looked!
  • Last up was the Hop Gin with a Passionfruit and Mango Truffle. The Hop variety is definitely the Marmite of gin and there were some mixed reactions around the table. Eden Mill have a great range of craft beer and this gin is a bit of a cross-over product which features Australian galaxy hops. I found the smell of this one a bit overpowering but the flavour definitely grew on me.

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Fife Foraging

Over the last year, I’ve developed a growing interest in foraging, mostly brought on by my experience with The Botanist Gin which you can read about here. I had mixed results at the beginning of the summer in my attempts to make elderflower cordial and champagne but that hasn’t put me off! A great way to finish my day in Fife was a guided foraging trip. Along the way we found lots of edible plants and berries and also learned what to be wary of. It’s amazing what you can find on a country walk. I’m now inspired to make some elder berry wine and sloe gin…. stay tuned!

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This was an absolutely brilliant day out in Fife and I would definitely recommend checking out all the fantastic producers in this area! Throughout the day, I saw so much passion from the producers; theyare quite rightly extremely proud of the fantastic food and drink scene in Fife.

£20 lunch with bubbles at 111 by Nico

I recently tried out a hidden gem in the West End of Glasgow that I just had to share with you! 111 by Nico has been my favourite lunch this year and it is also incredible value. Their Taste lunch is available Friday to Sunday and for £20 you get an amuse bouche, three courses and a glass of prosecco. The menu is inspired by nature and designed to give you a taste of the garden, land and sea.

I started with a glass of fizz and an amuse bouche of mushroom consume. The consume was silky smooth; I could easily have had a full sized bowl of it and still asked for more! The restaurant had a great atmosphere and I enjoyed watching the open kitchen.amuse bouche

Next up was a goats cheese salad. The goats cheese mousse was incredibly light and fluffy and the walnuts and summer vegetables were a great accompaniment. You can add matched wines to the lunch for an extra £20 and I was served a fantastic South African white with the goats cheese dish.IMG_0811

It was then time for a taste from the sea in the form of a beautifully cooked piece of stone bass with mussels, pak choi and sweet potato. The fish had a nice crispy skin and I loved the slightly spicy Thai sauce. The matched wine this time was a refreshing white from Sardinia which was a great alongside the stone bass.

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The final savoury dish was a piece of pork belly and ham hough with apricot and beetroot. The slow cooked meat was really flavoursome and the crisp Cotes du Rhone red served with the dish was a perfect match.

ham hough

For a small supplement, you can add dessert to your lunch. Fresh strawberries, meringue, cream and prosecco jelly; what’s not to love? The dessert was not too heavy and satisfied my sweet tooth at the end of the meal.

dessert

The restaurant has only been open for a year but has quickly built up a loyal fan base, the table next to me during lunch told me that they regularly travel from the other side of Glasgow to sample Nico’s delicious menu. Not only is he turning out exceptional food, Nico is an all-round good guy who is passionate about giving an opportunity to young people who’ve not had the best start in life. A prime example is Modou who is now head chef at the restaurant. Modou had been sleeping rough when he applied for a job as a kitchen porter and Nico, seeing his work ethic and determination, trained him up to be a skilled chef.

The Taste lunch is a great concept which translates even better on the plate. 111 by Nico is most definitely worth a visit; and is now a firm favourite on my list.

Chef Nico

Chef Nico in action

 

Review of the Italian Caffe and Ways to Spend £20 at the Merchant City Festival

The Italian Caffe Enoteca invited me to stop by this weekend and sample the delights of the restaurant while checking out the Merchant City Festival (30th July – 7th August).

The Albion Street restaurant is light, bright and I received a warm welcome from the team when I arrived for lunch. Enoteca is an Italian word which translates literally as “wine repository” and that is clearly reflected in the Italian Caffe’s extensive wine list. The list contains more than 34 wines from various regions of Italy and most of them are available by the glass. This is great news if, like me, you want the freedom of being able to match wine to your food without committing to a bottle.

Italian Caffe

The Italian Caffe has a great selection of small plates to choose from including meat, seafood, pasta, pizza and risotto dishes (check out their Facebook page and Twitter for special deals). My dining buddy and I opted for two dishes each – langoustines, smoked haddock risotto, pork medallions and a parma ham pizza.

Italian Caffe food

I was pleasantly surprised at how generously proportioned the ‘small plates’ were; two dishes were enough for a filling lunch. The langoustines in garlic butter were fresh and perfectly cooked. The risotto with haddock and asparagus was creamy and the smoked fish flavour really came through. The individual sized pizza had a light base which was topped with lots of parma ham, rocket and drizzled with olive oil.

Staff were engaging and attentive throughout the meal and made sure to check back on whether there was anything else we needed. Oh and the toilets were spotlessly clean!  Overall I really enjoyed my visit and would definitely return for lunch or dinner and to work my way through more of that gorgeous wine list!

The Italian Caffe also challenged me to see what I could get for £20 at the Merchant City Festival. The festival is running from now through to Sunday 7th August and has a programme packed full of street arts, music, theatre, comedy, food & drink and family activities.

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There’s lots of fantastic market stalls selling everything from street food and sweet treats to hand made arts and crafts. It’s easy to spend an hour perusing the stalls while soaking up the festival atmosphere. So what did I pick up for £20?

  • A beautiful forest green scarf for £5. There were lots of lovely accessories to choose from!
  • Scottish cheese from the Inverloch Cheese Company, based in Campbeltown Argyll – £4.50
  • Lemongrass and Ginger Beard Oil from Twa Burds, a Glasgow based maker of artisan soap company – £6.99 This was a gift for Mr GvF and it smells devine!
  • Some greetings cards. I picked up a wedding day card for £3.50 on a stall featuring Scottish themed cards. I also got a cute ‘Belter’ card from the Marseille/Glasgow inspired pop-up PoundShop which has lots of quirky products priced at £1, £3 or £5.

My haul from the stalls

With the number of free events in the Merchant City Festival programme, you could have a great day out for nothing, but here are three more ways that I would choose to spend £20:

  1. Celebrate the music of David Bowie and Roxy Music with an evening featuring the artists they have inspired. Includes Bowie and Roxy Music themes karaoke and face painting. (Tickets £15.00 – Saturday 6th August) http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/vintage/Pages/Oh!-You-Pretty-Things.aspx
  1. Enjoy a guided walking tour of iconic Merchant City venues with Glasgow Music City Tours and learn about the history of the Glasgow music scene. (Tickets £10.00 Thursday 4th – Sunday 7th August) http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/Event-Info.aspx?k=d3b74de9-7a99-4ee9-b1a2-a63400a1058b Then stop by the Vintage DJ Bus on Bell Street for a refreshment at the bar while listening to some retro tunes (Saturday 6th August).
  1. Roll up, roll up, the circus has come to town! This circus variety show is set to dazzle with spectacular aerial feats and acts hailing from both sides of the Atlantic. (Tickets £12.00 – Sunday 7th August)  http://www.merchantcityfestival.com/Pages/Event-Info.aspx?k=fb5a793c-96d3-4641-8371-a63300bf7de6

20 Fun Food & Drink Activities during the Edinburgh Festival

August is one of the most exciting months in Edinburgh’s social calendar. With The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe all going on, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to comedy, music and theatre options. But what if you’re looking for some food and drink themed fun to include in your plans? This is a guide to some fantastic food and drink activities you can include in your itinerary for August 2016. Scottish food and drink are an absolute passion of mine and whether you’re a local or visiting for the first time, I hope you’ll find something to tickle your taste buds!

 

1. Scottish Craft Beer and Food Matching

The Gait Bar on the Royal Mile is hosting Craft Beer and Food Matching events. Each week of the Fringe will feature a different brewery including Drygate and Stewart Brewing. You can try four to six courses paired with beers from Scottish craft breweries. http://www.gait.bar/events/2016/8/4/festival-fringe-scottish-craft-beer-food-matching

Alternatively Edinburgh New Town Cookery School is running a session on 16th of August. The cookery school has a great reputation for their courses and offer something for everyone from newbies to trained chefs. This two-hour session will let you sample some excellent craft ales from the likes of Innis & Gunn and William’s Bros along with smoked salmon, venison, haggis and Isle of Mull Cheddar. Find out which is your match made in heaven! http://www.entcs.co.uk/beer-and-food-matching-course

 

2. Ice Cream from Mary’s Milk Bar

Sometimes the sun shines in Edinburgh. Often it doesn’t. Either way, make sure you sample the delights of Mary’s Milk Bar! The soft gelato is freshly made each day and comes in inspiring flavours like Fried Bananas in Butter or Fig & Goats Cheese. Check out Mary’s Instagram page to see some of the mouth-watering creations… https://www.instagram.com/marysmilkbar/?hl=en

 

3. Whisky Tasting

Scotch whisky is famous across the world and with good reason! We have over 100 distilleries in Scotland so why not take the opportunity to try out the national drink during the festival this year? Here are some of the planned tasting sessions available:

 

Scotch Whisky Experience

Scotch Whisky Experience

4. Locked in the Distillery

Escape room games have become incredibly popular over the last few years. If you haven’t heard of this concept, it basically involves being locked in a room with a small group of friends/colleagues and working together to solve a series of clues and puzzles in order to ‘break out’ within a set time limit. Mentally challenging and lots of fun! The Locked In escape game comes to Summerhall for the first time this year. Can you solve the mystery behind who is plotting the downfall of Pickering’s Gin? Your team have an hour  to find and solve clues… and most importantly SAVE THE GIN! http://festival16.summerhall.co.uk/event/locked-in-the-distillery-escape/

 

5. Foodies Festival

I visited Foodies Festival last year and it was a brilliant day out with loads to see and samples to taste. This year is set to include appearances from top chefs Paul Wedgwood and Mark Greenaway, a Vintage Tea Tent and even a Chilli Eating Competition! The festival takes place at Inverleith Park from 5th to 7th August. http://www.foodiesfestival.com/edinburgh-food-festival/

 

Foodies Festival fun

Foodies Festival fun

6. Dram & Smoke Pop Up Dining

Meet new people and try some Scottish seasonal delights at this pop-up dining event in a former biscuit factory. You can expect a welcome cocktail and a four course dining experience followed by live music. The coolest way to have dinner during the festival! https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dram-smoke-pop-up-dining

 

7. Evening of Literature and Liquor

Edinburgh Gin’s Brand Ambassador, Ewan Angus, will guide you through a boozy literary history from the late 1700s through to the modern day while you enjoy three delicious cocktails. An Evening of Literature and Liquor returns for a second year after last year’s sold out dates. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/edinburgh-gin-s-evening-of-literature-and-liquor

 

8. A Picnic in Princes Street Gardens.

Princes St Gardens were created in two phases in the 1770’s and 1820’s following the draining of Nor Loch (where they used to drown Edinburgh’s witches…. go on a ghost tour to hear more about this).  The Gardens are a lovely place to sit and people-watch with the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Why not stop off Valvona & Crolla for some gourmet picnic ingredients? Tweet me with your picnic photos @girlversusfood

 

9. Dining and Cabaret Show

A four course meal and evening of traditional Scots fiddle and bagpipes will make for a great night out at Prestonfield House. I’ve visited Prestonfield before and I was really impressed by the grand 17th-century building and the delicious food. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/famous-taste-of-scotland-cabaret-dinner-show

 

Prestonfield House

Prestonfield House

10. Visit a Farmers Market

There are weekend Farmers Market in Stockbridge, Leith and the Grassmarket which stock a wonderful variety of local produce. Check out the website for details. http://www.stockbridgemarket.com/

 

11. Vegan Festival

For all you vegan and vegetarian lovelies, the Vegan Festival is running 20th and 21st August at the Roxburghe Hotel. Returning to Edinburgh after being fantastically well received in 2015, the festival is set to be really popular again with vegan food, drinks, clothes and gifts available. Get your tickets here: http://veganfestival.co.uk/

 

12. Gin Cruise

Set sail with a Juniper Cruise on the Union Canal on 13th, 20th or 27th August. Gin experts will guide you through a two hour canal cruise highlighted with premium gin and tasty bites. The barge is covered, meaning you can enjoy a bril day out come rain out shine! http://www.solid-liquids.co.uk/#!juniper-festivals–events/c1sll

 

13. Fine Dining and Enchantment

Magicians. I’ve never really been sure how I feel about them! But after a recommendation from a friend who was absolutely amazed by this guy last year, I’m very much looking forward to checking out this show! Following sell-out runs from 2013-2015, the Illusionist’s Table returns for an evening of food, whisky and enchantment. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/at-the-illusionist-s-table

 

14. Thai Cookery Class

Get hands-on with this Thai cookery workshop from executive chef Rujira Herd. Rujira has been running the Thai cook school from an Edinburgh town house for nearly 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge about the traditional cuisine of her homeland. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/thai-cookery-workshop-with-lunch

 

15. Seafood and Bubbles

Oysters and champagne. I’m not sure I can think of anything better! The Cannonball Restaurant, a 16th century building on the Royal Mile is offering an opportunity to taste three oysters from places including Lindisfarne, the UK’s oldest hatchery along with Pommery Champagne. I recently tried Cannonball’s oysters and champagne for myself and cannot recommend them highly enough. They also have an impressive whisky bar…. just sayin’! https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cannonball-on-the-rock-oysters-and-champagne

Cannonball oysters

Cannonball oysters

16. The Gin Chronicles: a Scottish Adventure

How about some gin-infused culture? This play is set in the 1940’s and involves a gin shortage (shock, horror!) and a train journey to Scotland. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-chronicles-a-scottish-adventure

 

17. Sample Some Sweet Treats

Need an afternoon sugar fix? Here are some of my favourites:

  • Check out The Marshmallow Lady for the fluffiest of marshmallows made from Scottish butter, cream and Fair Trade Sugar. Most are gluten free. Prosecco and Rose Petal Flavour? Yes, please! http://www.burghbakes.com/
  • Shortbread has a long tradition in Scotland. Try this biscuit at its best at the fabulous Pinnies and Poppy Seeds bakery; the dark chocolate & orange and the toasted coconut varieties are on my hit list! http://pinniesandpoppyseeds.com/
  • Mimi’s Bakery on the Royal Mile is a great place to go for cakes, traybakes, brownies, cupcakes, muffins and scones. Mid-afternoon sugar fix sorted! http://mimisbakehouse.com/pages/mimislittlebakehouse-oldtown

 

18. Food Safari

Who knew you could go on safari in Edinburgh? There are two options for this fun foodie walking tour; the ‘Fine Dining Stockbridge Safari’ and the ‘Bohemian Broughton Street Safari’. The tours, designed by TV presenter and food columnist, Nell Nelson, have received rave reviews on TripAdvisor. Oh and no camouflage gear is required!  http://www.edinburghfoodsafari.com/

 

19. The Gin Whore Tour

Historical tales of hooch and harlots, paired with the very best gins….sounds like my kind of thing! A fantabulous one-woman show taking place on the 27th and 28th of August (four gins are included in the ticket price). https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-whore-tour

 

20. Pop Up Champagne Bar

During August, the stunning Signet Library on the Royal Mile will host a pop-up Champagne Café Bar. You can enjoy champagne, cocktails, afternoon tea and more within the Lower Library of the grand Georgian building each day of the festival. http://www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/

15 reasons to visit the Royal Highland Show 2016

I visited The Royal Highland Show for the first time last year and it was a fantastic day out! Now in its 176th year, the Royal Highland Show has the very best of food, farming and rural life. Maybe you think the show is only for farmers? I’ve put together some  top reasons to visit the show regardless of who you are! The RHS is on this weekend 23rd – 26th June 2016.

  1. It’s easy to get there. There are special buses are running regularly from Edinburgh city centre. Check out the travel page for more info http://royalhighlandshow.org/travel-information Why not leave the car at home and enjoy no.5 below?
  2. There’s tonnes of fun activities for kids. Each area within the showground has attractions suitable for wee ones; don’t miss out on the animal parades and huge tractors. Youngsters can get close to creatures in the poultry tent and the bee marquee where they can learn the bee dance and make candles! The RHET Education Centre is open to the public all four days of the show, with school groups also booked into some of the activities on Thursday and Friday.picnic
  3. There’s live music. Have a boogie to the UK’s top Abba tribute band; Abba Gold. If that’s not your thing, how about some toe-tapping ceilidh music with the Ian Muir Ceilidh Band or some traditional pipes and drums?
  4. The people. Visitors come from all over Scotland and further afield giving the show a buzzing, friendly atmosphere.
  5. The show includes three exciting new bars this year. The Botanical Garden will provide a gin lover’s sanctuary with artisan Scottish gins and expert mixologists. Alternatively, The Stetson is a lively, country music themed bar where you can show off your line dancing moves. Yeeha! Or why not take a break from shopping on the 13th Avenue Arcade and sip some bubbles at the new Prosecco Bar? Sounds right up my street!
  6. The livestock. Not just sheep. You can see highland cows, donkeys and tiny ponies to name a few. Be prepared for a whole lot of cuteness!R
  7. You can be confident about grabbing a bite to eat. The food outlets throughout the show ground have signed up to the show’s food charter. So whether you fancy a buffalo burger or some fresh Scottish seafood, you can rest assured that wherever possible it has been produced using local and ethically sourced ingredients. #eatlocal
  8. Scotland’s Larder Live is foodie heaven, featuring over 100 producers and showcasing the very best produce from Scotland and further afield. If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the Fudge Kitchen and Equi’s ice cream stalls; yum!larderlive
  9. Be amazed by demonstrations of forestry skills like chainsaw carving and pole climbing. Do not try this at home!
  10. You can dance the night away! There are Show Dances with a different theme each night from Wednesday – Saturday. Tickets available here https://highlandshow.ticketsrv.co.uk/
  11. There’s plenty of opportunities for a spot of retail therapy at the relaunched 13th Avenue indoor shopping area. There’s 1,100 shopping outlets in total across the show including luxury country fashion brands like Barbour and Hunter.
  12. Gin! Lovely Scottish Gin. Strathearn, NB Gin, Pickerings and Edinburgh Gin all have stalls at the show. Have a wee sample and find out which is your favourite.
  13. Get some top tips from amazing chefs in The Cookery Theatre. You can see chefs such as David Haetzman, John Rutter and David Barnett. There are opportunities to ask questions and sample what the chefs have cooked up.
  14. You can watch talented sportsmen and women take part in activities like show jumping in the main arena. Over 2,200 riders are expected to compete in an impressive array of equine challenges.
  15. You could become an internet sensation – this year’s show is being streamed live online here http://royalhighlandshow.org/lives-streaming Last year the show was watch by thousands of viewers in 47 countries.horse

Food for a fiver in Edinburgh

With its posh shops and upmarket bars and restaurants, George Street might not be the first place you’d think about for reasonably priced food in Edinburgh. So I was surprised (in a good way) to find out there’s somewhere on George Street where you can get a main course and a drink for less than a tenner! Where is this hidden gem, you ask? It’s Candybar which I’ve been to for cocktails plenty of times before but never thought to eat there. It turns out that Candybar has all food priced at £5 every day and a range of other deals like fajitas and a margarita for £9 on a Wednesday. Surely there’s a catch, I thought? Candybar recently invited me along to check the place out for myself and here’s what I thought….

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Candybar, at the west end of George Street, is at basement level but there is also some outdoor seating at pavement level (which you can’t miss due to its fluorescent green colouring!). I visited on a Wednesday evening and the place was really busy and there was a buzzing atmosphere. The clientele seemed to be mainly small groups of friends enjoying mid-week catch ups.

The menu had loads of tasty options and I was torn between starting with the pulled pork nachos, mac ‘n’ cheese fritters or the coconut chicken. In the end, my macaroni cheese obsession won and I opted for the fritters. This was a good choice if I do say so myself; crispy golden breadcrumbs, hot gooey macaroni on the inside and a delicious spicy sriracha sauce to dip them in. Yum!IMG_9553

Next, I was in the mood for a burger. Looking down the menu, the #PBB caught my eye. A homemade Scottish steak burger on toasted brioche with crispy maple cured bacon and peanut butter. Peanut butter on a burger? That was a new one on me and definitely something I had to investigate. My friend also fancied a burger and went for the Chicken Katsu Burger. The burgers were served on a mini tray and came with salad and skinny fries which were crispy and nicely seasoned. Both burgers were delicious and the peanut butter totally worked!IMG_9556

After that, I had no room for dessert but decided to finish the evening with a cocktail from the extensive Candybar list (there’s over 100 to choose from). I also clocked the decent selection of craft beers and made a mental note to inform Mr GvF of this!

I really enjoyed the food and drinks in Candybar and I think this is the perfect venue for a midweek get-together or dinner before a gig or night on the town. If you are planning some Edinburgh Festival fun this summer, Candybar would be a great option for keeping costs down and still enjoying some delicious, good quality food.

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Do you believe in second chances? Yes Chef!

Are there any decisions you took growing up that you now regret? Things that you might do differently if you had a second chance? For some young people, bad choices have had serious implications on their lives, resulting in them spending time behind bars. Action for Children Scotland’s Moving On supports young men as they prepare to leave prison, helping them to deal with issues and rebuild their lives in order to reduce rates of re-offending. I was impressed to hear that 84 per cent of young men involved did not return to prison within two years, compared with a national average of 50-55 per cent.

One of their initiatives is Yes Chef; a 12 week training programme where participants learn from some of Scotland’s top chefs. The programme is sponsored by Tennent’s Training Academy. This weekend I was lucky enough to be invited along to sample the results of 12 weeks of hard work as the two teams of chefs went head to head to produce a three course dinner for hundreds of guests at the stylish Glasgow Marriott. At the end of the evening guests were asked to pick a winning team based on the dishes they had produced.

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During the evening we heard from a number of guest speakers including Craig Barrowman, a former Yes Chef participant who gave a heartfelt speech about how taking up opportunities through Action for Children has helped him to turn his life around. Leaving prison he took the decision not to return to a life of gang violence and his since secured a role as a Support Worker with Moving On. Craig told us there is no such thing as bad boys, just bad choices.

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It was a tough choice but in the end the Red Team won with their tasty soup, slow cured ham and vanilla cheesecake. The great news is that young men from both teams will have the opportunity to complete further placements in restaurants across Glasgow.

The evening raised more than £22,000 for Action for Children. If you’d like to find out more about how you can get involved click here https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/

 

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