Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Edinburgh food blog

Edinburgh Festival Food and Drink Experiences 2017

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. 2017 is an extra special year as it marks the 70th year of the Fringe Festival.

If you’d like to include some food and drink themed fun in your plans, here are my top tips for the 2017 Edinburgh festival.

 

1. Ice Cream from Mary’s Milk Bar

Sometimes the sun shines in Edinburgh. Mostly 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 exciting flavours like Fried Bananas in Butter or Fig & Goats Cheese. Check out Mary’s Instagram page to see the mouth-watering treats https://www.instagram.com/marysmilkbar/?hl=en

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2. Fine Dining and Enchantment

If you only do one thing at the festival this year, make it this. The Illusionist’s Table was my highlight of the 2016 Fringe.  The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a brilliant venue and you can look forward to an evening of food, whisky and enchantment. Always a sell out so make sure you get your tickets well in advance. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/at-the-illusionist-s-table

3. Fresh Seafood

Stop by Odine for Oyster Happy Hour! Oysters are only £1 a shuck (5.30 – 6.30pm Mon – Thur, 5.00- 6.00pm Fri – Sat).

https://www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk/oyster-hour/

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4. Have a dram

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:

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5. Foodies Festival

I’ve been along to Foodies Festival a few times and it’s always a great day out with loads to see and samples to taste. This year is set to include appearances from top chef Mark Greenaway, a Vintage Tea Tent and even a Chilli Eating Competition! The festival takes place at Inverleith Park between 4th and 6th 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-the-campfire-feasts-pop-up

7.  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 while you have a great view of Edinburgh Castle. Why not stop off Valvona & Crolla for some gourmet picnic ingredients? Remember to tweet me with your picnic pics @girlversusfood

8. 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

Prestonfield House

Prestonfield House

9. Visit a Farmer’s 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/

10. The Gin Whore Tour

Historical tales of hooch and harlots, paired with the very best gins….sounds like my kind of thing! The one-woman show is back for a second year and will be running from 21st to 27th of August (four gins are included in the ticket price). Here I am with the fabulous Gin Whore herself: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-whore-tour

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11. Thai Cookery Class

Get hands on with this Thai cookery workshop from executive chef Rujira Herd where you will make an autherntic three-course lunch. 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

12. Sample Some Sweet Treats

  • 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; will you go traditional or try the butter pecan? 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

13. Bring Your ‘A’ Game

Highland estate distiller Arbikie will be back with their ‘A Club’ this year bringing the most delicious artisan cocktails and best live music to Merchants Hall. Hop over to Arbikie Club for the full low-down. https://www.arbikieclub.com/

14. Spend time at Summerhall

It’s not just the Fringe that turns seventy this year. Pickerings Gin are celebrating 70 years since their 1947 recipe was created. That makes it a great time to head to their distillery at Summerhall. You can hang out in the gin garden, take a tour of the distillery or even play the gin-themed escape room.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/pickering-s-gin-jolly

https://www.pickeringsgin.com/tours-tastings/lockedin-the-distillery/

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11 Fun and Romantic Dates in Edinburgh

With its spectacular skyline and historic buildings, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; making it the perfect location for a date! Who needs Paris when we have Auld Reekie? But what are the most fun and romantic dates you can undertake in the city?

  1. Catch an Edinburgh sunset. Get up high to a vantage point to see the best views of sunset over the city. My favourite spots are the top of Arthurs Seat or Calton Hill. Dress for the weather and perhaps take a picnic and a bottle of bubbles. You can check the sunset times for each month here https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/edinburgh. If you don’t fancy an uphill trek, you can still see a good sunset from some bars and restaurants.
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    View from Arthurs Seat

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    View from Chaophraya Restaurant

  2. Toast your date with a romantic cocktail in one of Edinburgh’s many bars. Heads and Tales bar have created this special love themed cocktail using Edinburgh Gin’s limited edition Valentines Gin, Orange Columbo, Pamplemousse Rose and Campari.

    Heads & Tales Valentines Cocktail

    Heads & Tales Valentines Cocktail

  3. Take in some culture together. Both the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery have free entry and are brilliant for a wander around. See if you can find any faces that look like your date amongst the portraits hanging on the gallery walls!IMG_4155
  4. What could be more romantic than star-gazing? Experts at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh will talk you through the wonders of the night sky and (weather permitting) you will get the chance to look through the powerful telescopes. http://www.roe.ac.uk/vc/public-events/astronomy-evenings.
  5. From lemurs to lions, Edinburgh Zoo has an amazing collection of wildlife. Don’t forget to check out the Penguin Parade. Bonus points of you spot any of the animals involved in their own ‘romantic liaisons’!image1
  6. There are hundreds of options for a romantic meal in Edinburgh. If you are feeling extravagant, push the boat out and visit one of the city’s four Michelin star restaurants; Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, 21212 or Number One at The Balmoral.

    Scallops with escargot butter at The Kitchin

    Scallops with escargot butter at The Kitchin

  7. Share a sweet treat with your sweetheart. If ice cream is your thing then check out Mary’s Milk Bar. Mary’s soft gelato is freshly made each day and comes in wonderful flavours like Goats Cheese & Honey and Whisky & Pecan.
  8. Edinburgh has a spooky and at times gruesome history! A ghost walk will get the heart racing and give you the opportunity to cosy-up to your other half. There are a number of guided ghost walks that allow you to experience Edinburgh’s closes, graveyards and underground vaults.
  9. If you or your other half are cat lovers then Maison de Moggy is the must visit cat café in Edinburgh. Have some tea, cake and share your date with the prettiest kitties in town.
  10. Camera Obscura is a fun date with six floors of illusions and interactive exhibits. The rooftop chamber contains the camera obscura itself where you will see live images of Edinburgh projected onto the viewing table.
  11. Share some laughs together at The Stand comedy club. The Stand has seen some famous faces perform over the years including Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle but regardless of who is on the bill, you’re in for a great night.

Which other favourite spots would you include on the list? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

How to Host a Burns Supper

Robert Burns birthday on the 25th of January brings a night of celebrations across the country (and further afield) in memory of the great poet. It’s a brilliant night of food, drink, verse and good company but it can be a bit daunting if you’ve never planned your own before. So here’s the Girl Versus Food guide to hosting a Burn’s Night at home.

The Food

It goes without saying that your guests will be expecting haggis, neeps and tatties! Getting good quality haggis is important; I’d suggest ordering one from your local butcher. For something a bit different, Servus Venison Haggis is very good.

Will you be serving your haggis traditional style with champit tatties and bashed ‘neeps? Or will you look to incorporate the national dish into your menu in another way? I’ve previously created these Haggis Scotch Eggs and will be posting a recipe for Haggis Beef Wellington later in the week.

Last year for my Burns Supper, I went classic with a haggis main course and designed the rest of the menu using as much fantastic Scottish produce as possible. The full menu was as follows;

Amuse Bouche:

Lobster Tail with truffle

Starter:

A Plate of Game – game terrine, venison tartar served with a quails egg, game pate

Le Trou Normand (palate cleanser):

Edinburgh Raspberry Gin Sorbet

Main:

Haggis wi’ bashit neeps an’ champit tatties

Pudding:

Heather Honey and Whisky MousseBurns Supper

 

The Drinks

It’s traditional to serve the haggis with whisky. With it being our national drink there’s plenty of options to choose from and each has its own unique characteristics. Food and drink writer Fiona Beckett has an article here https://www.matchingfoodandwine.com/news/pairings/which-whisky-pairs-best-with-haggis/ about which whiskies pair best with haggis, but a Talisker 10 year old would be a safe bet.

Not a big whisky fan? How about a lovely Scottish gin instead? Just like whisky, each gin is very different depending on the botanicals used. A few of my favourites are Rock Rose, The Botanist and Strathearn. Rock Rose have distilled this beautiful limited edition Lassies Toast Gin for Burns this year.Lassies Toast Gin

The Toasts and Poems

It’s great to get all your guests involved in the fun. You might want to ask them to pick out a favourite piece by Burns in advance that they would be happy to give a rendition of on the night (since nobody likes to be put on the spot). You could have guests reading their verses between courses or after the meal.

The Selkirk Grace is said at the beginning of the meal. This is a short and easy verse so would be ideal for someone who is nervous about reading a poem aloud.

When the haggis is brought to the table (ideally accompanied by bagpipe music) Address to The Haggis is read and the cooked haggis is cut open.

After the meal, there are three pieces performed which have been written especially for the evening by the hosts or another appointed person.

  1. The Immortal Memory is a tribute to Robert Burns where the speaker picks out interesting aspects of The Bards life or works. This is the most serious of the speeches.
  2. The Toast To The Lassies is a light-hearted performance and an opportunity to tease the female guests in a good natured way. It should always end with a genuine thanks to the fairer sex and a heartfelt toast.
  3. It’s only fair that the girls get a chance to respond and so follows The Reply to The Toast To The Lassies.

The Visit Scotland page has some great short videos with advice on writing your toasts here https://www.visitscotland.com/about/famous-scots/robert-burns/burns-night/

At the end of the night, it’s time to get your guests together, join hands and sing along to Auld Lang Syne.

Remember, it’s your night so if there are any sections you want to skip or extras you want to add in then go ahead and tailor the evening to you and your guests.

Everything Else

If you can talk your guests into wearing tartan then all the better… kilts, tartan trews and dresses will really set Burns mood.

A tartan themed table and place cards will look beautiful too! As an added touch, you might want to think about a wee favour on your guests’ place settings. Scottish tablet or an alcohol miniature perhaps?

tartan table

Too Much Hassle?

If this all seems like a bother or hosting isn’t your thing, get yourself along to an organised Burns Supper in your area. And nobody will ask you to do the dishes at the end of the night! Here’s a couple of options in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Edinburgh

Glasgow

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/

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