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It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the Waldorf Astoria group took over Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel, transforming it into one of the city’s most luxurious spots – so last week I popped through to join in with their celebrations.

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The Waldorf’s afternoon tea, served in the elegant Peacock Alley is something of a city institution. The hotel itself was formerly a train station, and Peacock Alley was the concourse! It’s a stunning space – all high ceilings and rust-coloured brickwork, and it provides the perfect setting for an indulgent afternoon.

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The name for the room comes from the hotel’s history – Edinburgh’s finest would visit the hotel, and would walk up and down the restaurant to show off their most fashionable outfits – their ‘peacocking’ became renowned, and the name stuck!

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As part of the hotel’s birthday celebrations, there was a special take on their famous afternoon tea. Partnering with Edinburgh tailor Walker Slater, we were treated to fashion show between courses of afternoon tea, whilst Edinburgh Gin provided a twist to tea – with a special cocktail and gin-inspired treats.

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Presented by Dougie Vipond, the afternoon was one to remember! The fashion show was presented in two parts and I think it put everyone in the mood for autumn. Sumptuous velvets were paired with smart tweeds, and it was such a lovely introduction to such a fabulous Edinburgh brand, which I (mistakenly) thought mostly catered to gents.

The models sported suitably ‘Edinburgh’ windblown hair, and the outfits have already sent me scurrying around my cupboards, pulling out my tweed blazers with abandon!

It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon! I haven’t had afternoon tea for eons, so this grown-up version was exactly what I needed to kick-start the weekend! We started with a citrus-y gin cocktail courtesy of Edinburgh Gin. Notes of orange and grapefruit worked together to make it supremely drinkable!

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We were then presented with a tea menu to choose from – the Waldorf Astoria have over 40 teas and herbal infusions to choose from, so it took a while to decide! I opted for the Formosa Oolong Finest hailing from Taiwan. Light and refreshing, it was the perfect accompaniment to the goodies on offer!

We  were presented with the first layers of goodies – sandwiches, rolls, and the most perfect little quiches you can imagine! There was something for everyone – egg mayonnaise was served in buttery brioche rolls, whilst a rich cheddar was served as an open sandwich on rye bread.

 

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There were chicken wraps as well as ham and tomato on soft white bread, and perhaps my favourite was the smoked salmon mouse served on granary bread.

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We enjoyed prosecco with the sandwiches, and after the fashion show we moved onto the sweeter options. This is where the pairing with Edinburgh Gin really got to shine!

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Gin soaked cupcakes, and gin infused strawberry tarted were favourites of the table, but the fresh scones with jam and clotted cream were also devoured. It was the perfect way to begin a weekend, and even though the fashion show was a one-off event, you can still book in to enjoy an Edinburgh Gin afternoon tea (and really, you should!).

Afternoon Tea at Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria is priced from £35pp

 

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If you’re looking for something new this weekend, I’d seriously recommend heading over to Harvey Nichols Edinburgh Forth Store to try the limited S. Pellegrino Itineraries of Taste. Until October, the Restaurant is serving dishes from Michelin-starred chef Elizabeth Allan. I popped in a week or so ago to give the new menu a spin, and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed!

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We started the evening with an S. Pellegrino cocktail – a mix of gin, grapefruit and sparkling water which was just delightful. Rather embarrassingly, I had come straight from a full day’s work, so I’m afraid I drank the cocktail before I could whip out my camera.

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The meal started off with Pasta, Egg Yolk, Bacon Dashi, Black Garlic and Chives. A supremely savoury dish, I loved how dramatic the presentation was.

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Once the Dashi was poured in, it created a rich and almost creamy broth, with the handmade pasta as the perfect dose of carbs. Beautiful as well as absolutely delicious, this was a deceptively simple way to kick the evening off!

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The meal continued with Picked Potato, Clams, Sichuan Oil and Caviar – a light, fresh and incredibly punchy course. What looks like noodles, was actually the pickled potato, and the mix of salty clam and spice was absolutely delicious . I loved the salty kick from the caviar too!

Perhaps my favourite course was BBQ Beef, Tare Sauce, Cauliflower Puree, Veal Sweatbread and Raw Mushroom. It sounded like quite an eclectic mix at first, but the combination of tender beef with the cauliflower was just incredible! The richness of the sweetbread contrasted well with the raw mushroom, and honestly, I could have munched on this all night!

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We rounded off the evening with Buttermilk Pannacotta, Shiso, Sorrel, Pickled Cherries and Honey Jelly, which was an absolutely delicious way to end the meal. Much lighter than most puddings, the buttermilk lent an almost yoghurt-y tartness to the dish. I was absolutely obsessed with the the shore granita on top, and I can’t even tell you how great the pickled cherries were!

Getting the chance to hear from Elizabeth Allan and hearing her take on the dishes was such an incredible experience. She is such an accomplished talent, and I can’t wait to hear about her new restaurant which is opening up in London!

You can enjoy the dishes in the Forth Floor Restaurant until October!

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When I read up about the Principal Manchester, one of the (many) things which stood out about the hotel was the restaurant, Refuge by Volta. A huge space serving food all day, it’s one of those places you can pop in if you fancy a bite, or head to when you’re in the mood for something a little more special.

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The concept of the restaurant is an interesting one – globally influenced, you can pick from tapas-style dishes which range from salads to steak and everything in between.

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Since the menu has so much to offer, we opted to enjoy some olives (£4) and Dad’s Persian Lime Sodas (£2) as we perused the menu. The joy of these small dishes is that you can order a real mixture of flavours, and they’re brought out as and when they’re ready, rather than in the more traditional courses.

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The first dish to arrive was the Crispy Duck, Watermelon and Pomegranate Molasses (£8.50). Absolutely delicious – the mix of juicy watermelon, crisp duck and peppery rocket was a perfect way to start the meal.

Then came some of the biggest, juiciest tiger prawns imaginable served with chilli, and lime butter (£9.50).

To mop up some of the chilli’s heat, we opted for the cooling Mutabal (£4) a middle eastern style dip with beans and aubergine, as well as Bread for the table (£4.50). The mix of breads was delightful – the flatbread felt perfectly paired for the dip, whilst slices of soft herby bread dipped into the olive oil was delightful. My favourite though, was the slice of coal black charcoal bread. It had a soft, almost cakey texture and subtle charred taste, it was like nothing I’ve ever had before.

We couldn’t resist 6oz Flat Iron Steak (£11) with a portion of hot and crispy Fries (£4). The steak was perfect – nicely pink in the middle with a flavourful char on the outside. Served with a hollandaise sauce, it was the perfect duo.

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We had the best of intentions when it came to dessert, but then the waiter left us with the  pudding menus, and honestly we couldn’t resist. The promise of Cardamom Creme Brûlée (£6.50) just sounded too delicious to miss. When it arrived we were far from disappointed. The burnt sugar top smashed delightfully revealing the creamiest of custard, delicately scented with cardamom.

The Ice Cream Sandwich (£6.50) also sounded too good to miss. Two of the biggest chocolate cookies held three scoops of ice-cream (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), it’s no wonder the waiter told us this was his favourite dish on the menu!

Thank you so much to Refuge by Volta for having us – we will be back soon!

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This summer, Michelin-starred Elizabeth Allen will elevate the senses with an evening banquet in celebration of the newly launched S. Pellegrino Itineraries of Taste – a global platform dedicated to exploring the very best in food, style and design across the world. .

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Diners will be able to indulge in an innovative and creative menu developed by Elizabeth Allen of Pidgin fame who will be exploring her own Itineraries of Taste through a menu that showcases her Unique culinary journey into the world of gastronomy.

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S. Pellegrino, the ambassador of Italian culture and style – synonymous with fine dining – will transform the Harvey Nichols Forth Floor Restaurant into an Italian piazza, capturing the convivial nature of Italian cuisine as guests discover how to live life in good taste.

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In addition to the banquet, guests can dine from a bespoke menu, created by Harvey Nichols’ chefs each day of the residency. Served with a complimentary bottle of S.Pellegrino, the menu will offer typical Italian delicacies, evoking warm Italian summers.

THE S.PELLEGRINO ITINERARIES OF TASTE BANQUETS:

Elizabeth Allen: Having received a Michelin star for Pidgin, Elizabeth is working on her new project, Kaizen House with a view to building her own restaurants. Elizabeth will be showcasing her fusion dishes at the Edinburgh Harvey Nichols Forth Floor Restaurant on Monday 21 st August.

Tickets for the S. Pellegrino Itineraries of Taste banquets are available now here.

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Living in a place means that you can get kind of blinded to what’s around you. I know that I’m guilty of always heading to the same coffee shops, restaurants and bars.

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About a year ago, the Principal Hotel popped up on George Street, occupying 5 of the street’s historic townhouses, it brought with it a rather fabulous restaurant in the form of the Printing Press, and a great little coffee shop – Burr & Co.

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Since then, I’ve visited both Burr & Co and the Printing Press numerous times, all whilst dreaming of the rooms within. I got a sneak peak at the bedrooms late last year (post here), and I’ve been pretty obsessed with the hotel since!

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So, a couple of weeks ago, I booked a Monday off work, packed my bags, and headed through for a night of luxury.

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As you can see from the photos – the room was absolute perfection. We were in a deluxe double in the newer portion of the hotel. With views of Stockbridge, heading down to the Forth, it was the cosiest way to spend a Sunday evening you can imagine.

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We had been well looked after by the Principal Edinburgh – when we got into the room, there was the cutest little picnic basket all packed up for us! With goodies from Burr & Co (including possibly the world’s largest, most delicious brownie you can imagine) as well as drink vouchers for downstairs – it was just what we needed!

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Not to mention the tuck box – a tin of goodies found in every Principal Hotel room. It’s the cutest idea – rather than the usual overpriced mini bars, Principal Hotels offer tuck boxes which are filled with little treats you can enjoy at no extra cost.

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So, we unpacked, ran downstairs for two cups of Edinburgh’s finest hot chocolates and headed back up to enjoy a night of comfy luxury!

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I can’t even tell you how comfortable the bed was – the perfect mattress was topped with the softest, snuffliest bedding, and I had the best night’s sleep!

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All too soon it was morning, and we padded down the the Printing Press for breakfast. I’d only ever been for supper in the restaurant, but I’m already planning a return am trip!

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The buffet on offer was positively groaning under all the delicious offerings.

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Whether you’re a pastry-lover, a toast-cruncher or a cereal kind of gal, there are options for everyone. Even though I’m not normally a regular breakfast-eater, I couldn’t resist The Principal’s offering!

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In addition to what has to be the best breakfast spread in Edinburgh, there is also a menu full of delicious hot options. As we chatted over freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee, it occurred to me that somehow I’ve never ordered a traditional cooked breakfast.

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So, there was only one option for it – we both ordered a Cooked Breakfast. Promising slices of Gildener sweet-cured smoked back bacon, a Gloucester Old Spot sausage, Stornoway black pudding, grilled plum tomatoes, buttered mushrooms, Heinz baked beans, as well as free-range scrambled eggs, it was a rather impressive plate to receive!

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What arrived was an absolute delight! Enough to feed a small army, it was an absolute feast! The bacon and sausages were real stand outs – rich in flavour and subtly sweet – it was absolutely delicious!

Thank you so much to the Principal Hotel Edinburgh for having us! Rooms at the hotel start at £212 per night, you can visit for breakfast too at £15.95 per person.

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A couple of weeks ago I was on my way to Cheshire and decided it was about time I stopped off at The Hart’s Head, as I had received some tempting emails from their PR company.

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The Inn is currently under room renovations but if the interior is set to be anything like the dining room I will 100% be back to stay!

The food is stunning and the staff are so pleasant which really makes a difference. The rustic, homely vibe is somewhat reminiscent of a traditional log cabin (which if you know me, is my thing)! Think walls adorned with antlers, rustic wall lamps and lots of wood.

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If you love traditional, British pub food which is high quality and seasonal then you’ll love the food at The Hart’s Head.

I’m curious to visit the other venue’s which are owned by the Cricketer’s Inn Group (I’ve got my eye on the Plough at Lupton next) and see how they compare to the Hart’s Head Inn.. The only downfall? I wish I lived closer!

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If you’re at a loss for what to do this weekend, I would seriously suggest a wander around Edinburgh’s West End. It’s filled with stunning little boutiques, chic salons and the cutest cafes and restaurants.

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Exploring can be hungry business, so knowing where to eat is crucial, and we were well taken care of with a reservation at Kyloe – Edinburgh’s first dedicated steak restaurant. Located upstairs, right at the heart of Rutland Street, with views up Princes Street and a peak at the castle, it’s a favourite of tourists and locals alike.

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The menu boasts every cut and variety of steak you can imagine, including a brand new lunch menu. Available Monday-Saturday from noon until 3.30pm, it’s a great option if you’re looking for a quicker option than the restaurant might ordinarily serve.

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We both opted for the Steak Frites (£15) – well, you couldn’t come to Kyloe and not indulge in a little beef! Served with a fresh salad, the frites were chunkier than anticipated (I’m a fan of something closer to the French style) but they were wonderfully hot and crisp. The steak was juicy and flavourful, and the salad and peppercorn sauce were great additions.

You can find out more about Edinburgh’s West End here, and see Kyloe’s menu here

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Going out for dinner, although delightful, can sometimes feel a little same-y. You sit somewhere nice, get a glass of something, and have a good chat with whoever you’re out with. It’s nice, but it’s predicatable. So, when I was invited to Steak on Stones a couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. Housed in the same building as Edinburgh favourite Steak (review here), Steak on Stones is a slightly more casual offering, and, as you might have guessed from the name, steaks come served on volcanic rocks, allowing diners to cook their meals themselves, and control how ‘done’ you have your steak.

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We popped in on a Friday night, starving after a busy day at work, so started with a Mezze Platter (£15). It sounded incredible on the menu, and what we were presented with was even better.

A huge board heaving under it’s contents, we kind of wondered how we would manage a main meal after all these goodies!

We dipped the crisp garlic bread into the pots of garlicky hummous and rich Baba Ganoush. I was obsessed with the mix of olives and grilled hallumi – it was pleasantly salty and very moreish. The inclusion of pickled vegetables rather than the regular raw crudite was a welcome change too!

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After savouring the Mezze platter, it was time to move on to the main event – which of course, was steak! Steak on Stones have a surprisingly exotic menu. In addition to the cuts of steak you might expect – rump, sirloin filet etc, they also offer Kangaroo! There is even the option to choose ‘Meat Roulette’ where you and a dining partner can share a selection of Kangaroo, Mystery Meat as well as Rump. The restaurant prefer not to let you know what you’ve been chowing down on until you’re done,

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Since we are both cowards (and we know how good Steak on Stones’ steak is) we both opted to grill our own Fillet Steaks (£30). Lean and flavourful, we both found that layering a little salt on the grill, (and letting it cool down a touch) resulted in the most fabulously tender and flavourful steak!

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We couldn’t resist a couple of portions of fries too! Hot and crisp, we alternated between mouthfuls of Beef Dripping Chips (£3.50) and Sweet Potato Fries (£3.50). Although the chips were great, the star of the show were the Sweet Potatos, which were absolute perfection!

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Even though we were both stuffed, neither of us could resist giving a couple of desserts a go! The Treacle Tart served with Ginger Ice Cream (£6) was delicious. The ice cream mixed creamy richness with firey ginger, whilst the tarts were deliciously sweet.

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I opted for the Creme Brulee served with Shortbread Biscuits (£6) and it was a delight! Rich vanilla custard wobbled under the glassy top, and the buttery shortbread was delish! I’m not going to lie, we couldn’t finish our desserts (although not for the want of trying!) and we positively rolled out of the restaurant!

Many thanks to Steak on Stones for having us! You can see their whole menu here

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Did you know we’re currently in the middle of English Wine Week? Me niether! But, it’s a rather important one, as English winemaking has come leaps and bounds in the past couple of decades. Previously a bit of a joke in the wine-world, English vineyards are now challenging their French counterparts, and Surrey’s Greyfriars are my first dabbling into the idea of English wines. They’ve also come up with some rather fun pairing options for their wines:

1) Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea doesn’t get much more luxurious than when served with a glass of chilled English sparkling wine. Full afternoon tea includes a selection of freshly cut sandwiches, delicious homemade cakes and warm scones served with clotted-cream and fruity preserves.

Alongside the tea, and for a little more indulgence, enjoy a fine glass of Greyfriars Rosé Reserve.

This award-winning sparkling rosé has a delicate pale colour reminiscent of a rosé from Provence. Hints of vanilla and Summer fruits on the nose with the fresh fruity flavour of berries pair beautiful with sweet treats and scones topped with lashings of cream and jam. £21 per bottle.

2) English Cheese 

Floyd is a new soft hearted and distinctively fragrant cheese from the Surrey Hills. Made by Francis and Pam Gimblett not far from Greyfriars Vineyard in Haslemere, Floyd is a soft, washed-rind, cheese produced using milk from a small Jersey herd close to the dairy.

Greyfriars NV Sparkling Fumé pairs perfectly and brings out Floyd’s flavours. This light crisp wine has distinctive Sauvignon Blanc aromas of gooseberry and citrus. £15 per bottle.

3) Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips is an iconic British dish and sparkling wine is the perfect pairing with deep fried food. Greyfriars Classic Cuvée works well with the richness of the dish and the bubbles break down the starch giving a lighter crispier taste to the fish and chips. The Classic Cuvée for the classic British meal. £21 per bottle.

4) Chicken Tikka Masala

Greyfriars Pinot Gris really hits the spot with spicy food, especially Indian, like the British favourite Chicken Tikka Masala.

This aromatic English still white wine with refreshing acidity pairs perfectly with spicy dishes. The acid in the wine tones down the heat and leaves room for the fruitiness to express itself. £13.50 per bottle.

 5) Rhubarb and Custard

Rhubarb and Custard is a quintessentially British dessert and works perfectly with Greyfriars signature Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. This light fresh crisp wine has subtle hints of vanilla that match perfectly with the creamy custard.

As well as serving a chilled glass of the sparking wine on the side why not poach the rhubarb in the wine too to create a decadent adult twist on this much loved dessert? £21 per bottle.

During English Wine Week, pick up a bottle or two of Surrey’s finest wines and prepare to wow your palate.

ABOUT GREYFRIARS VINEYARD

Greyfriars is a range of sparkling and still boutique English wines of world class quality, made by Mike and Hilary Wagstaff and their family on the North Downs in Surrey.

The vineyards span 50 acres over three sites with 75,000 vines. The facilities include a state-of-the-art winery, chalk underground cellar, shop and tasting facilities.

The wines have won much acclaim and several major awards and medals at international wine competitions.

The Greyfriars collection comprises a vintage sparkling Rosé, Blanc de Blancs (oaked and unoaked), Classic Cuvée; non vintage Cuvée, Rosé and Fumé. The still wines include a vintage Gris and Fumé.

Grayfriars Wine can be found here.

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When it comes to must-haves, coffee is pretty high up there. I’m not going to lie, I have at least a cup of the stuff each morning, and quite a few cups to keep me going through the day. I can be a little picky about which coffees I drink though, and getting a cafetiere together can be a bit of a faff.

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So, when Lyons sent through a box of their new Coffee Bags, I was more than a little intrigued. Packaged individually, and looking rather like an overgrown tea bag, using the Coffee Bags couldn’t be easier.

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After boiling the kettle, I just pop one of the Coffee Bags into a cup, pour the boiling water over them, give them a quick stir, then pop the bag into the bin. It’s as easy as making a cup of tea, and it provides a much-needed, great tasting jolt of caffiene whenever I need it!

Lyons Coffee Bags come in 3 different roasts, and are priced at £2.60 per box, and I’ve bought mine at Waitrose.

 

 

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The Voyage of Buck opened recently in Edinburgh’s West End, and it’s been making some serious waves. The barman has won a clutch of awards, and it might just be Edinburgh’s most inventive establishment to date. Based on the travels of the fictional William ‘Buck’ Clarence, the restaurant melds together a fun sense of whimsy, with some serious attention paid to drinks.

We popped in on a Friday night to start the weekend off on a high, and we were not disappointed. It was around 6pm by the time we got in, and the place was packed. It had such a lovely, buzzy atmosphere with a real mix of patrons. Whilst crowds jostled merrily at the bar, the tables were clustered with families, couples and friends all toasting the weekend.

Before we even got to grips with the food side of the night, we had to make the difficult choice of which cocktails to order. The drinks menu at The Voyage of Buck is more like a book – following Buck’s travels throughout Paris, Taipei, Havana and Cairo. We opted to visit Paris in the form of a Cumber and Mint 75 (£8) and Havana with An Old Cuban Pineapple (£8).

The presentation of the drinks was spot on. The Old Cuban Pineapple are with a slice of the dried fruit clipped in to glass, and it was an icy, fruity delight. The mix of mint, guava and pineapple felt so summery, and if you’re looking for a spot to enjoy a summer evening – you should definitely order one of these beauties!

Our second cocktail choice was a rather Parisian take on a good old g’n’t. The mix of Hendrick’s Gin and cucumber is a classic, and served icy cold with a splash of prosecco was an absolute delight.

The food menu at The Voyage of Buck changes monthly to really make the most of seasonal product. They separate the dishes into small and large plates. Since we were just in for a nibble, we stuck to the small options. Out first choice was scallops served with salad which was a light and zesty dish.

I opted for a plate of King Prawns which came on a bed of sweet butternut squash, and is was delicious. The shrimp were large, juicy and super flavourful, whilst the butternut squash was incredibly moreish. So, after enjoying a buzzy couple of hours at The Voyage of Buck, it was time to head back into the real world of Edinburgh, although with a drinks list like that – I’m sure it won’t be long until we’re back!

We had a fabulous time – thanks so much to The Voyage of Buck for having us

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