Colin lifestyle with doughnut

Is there anything better than a slice of cake and a piping hot cup of tea? Certainly not much – but M&S have made enjoying an afternoon treat even more delightful with their range of cakes and donuts, all of which lend their support to Macmillan Cancer Support.

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As if cakes which support such a great cause weren’t awesome enough, next Friday, on September 28th, M&S will be helping Macmillan Cancer Support hold the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. For the ninth year running, offices, clubs, cafes and friends across the country will be getting together to host a whole lot of coffee mornings, all with one thing in mind – to raise as much money as possible for a fabulous cause.

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Whether your bakes deserve a spot in front of Paul and Pru, or you’d rather just pick up a special edition Colin the Caterpillar (a classic, you have to agree!) M&S alongside Macmillan are encouraging you to join the party.

Just make sure on the 28th, you enjoy something delicious whilst joining M&S in raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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When a night begins with colour-changing gins, you know it’s going to be a great one! Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to the Edinburgh New Town Cookery School (a spot I’ve been dying to explore) to celebrate M&S’ celebration of 100 years in Scotland. They opened their first store in Dundee back in 1918, and it’s fair to say that they haven’t stopped since!

The night was a celebration of all things Scotland – of course, we’re currently slap-bang in the middle of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, so the timing couldn’t have been better to find out, not only about M&S, but the fabulous Scottish suppliers they use too.

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Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the lengths that M&S go to in their search for the best and most exciting products. Their colour changing gin (I tried the lavender and it was all kinds of delicious) comes from Edinburgh’s own Secret Herb Garden (they’re coming out with a Christmas blend which sounds delightful), whilst a majority of beef and lamb comes from Scotland too. As someone who tries to shop as small, and as responsibly as possible, it’s reassuring to hear that I can pop into my local M&S, and still support local suppliers.

To accompany the gin, we were spoiled with some delicious canapés – hot smoked salmon crowned seaweed crème fraîche on blinis, haggis came delicately breadcrumbed in panko, and onion and potato bhajis came piping hot and served with a punchy sauce.

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After some mingling, and perhaps a little more gin, we headed upstairs to the dining room, where tables were already furnished with slabs of Lochmuir smoked salmon. With a ripe and fruity Sancerre poured, we got to hear directly from the producer, about how he works with M&S, and warned that even more starters were to come!

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Which is where the most heavenly roasted scallop comes in – served in the shell with Langoustine Butter and a still-warm soda bread (made with Scottish stout) this was a real highlight of the meal. I’ve become such a fan of scallops recently, and last nights was among the best – delicately sweet, and still translucent, it perfectly demonstrated the quality of produce on offer from M&S.

Mains were equally delicious – after hearing from Scotbeef – who along with M&S champion traceability (every single piece of beef that M&S sells can be tracked back to the farm and animal it came from and is always British) we tucked into Rib of Beef, Black  Pudding and Ox Tail faggot and accompanying vegetables. Pretty much the perfect version of a Sunday lunch – I don’t think anyone left even a crumb of this. The meat was beautifully tender, and just melted in the mouth – it’s something I’m going to be (trying) to recreate this weekend for sure!

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As if all that wasn’t enough, when it was time for dessert – we were treated to two options – a beautiful Cranachan, filled with Scottish raspberries, oats, honey and of course, whisky, and an absolute dream of a cheeseboard.

With a chance to try Scottish Brie (creamy, and slightly firmer than the French) as well as a Scottish Red Cheddar and Strathdon Brie, it was the perfect note to end on. Positively stuffed full of the best of Scotland, we then got to pick our M&S favourites, (you can find similar choices around stores with staff picks) after a night filled with such amazing dishes, it was a seriously hard choice! What did I go for? I couldn’t resist Colin the Caterpillar!

Thank you so much to M&S for having me! It was absolutely fascinating to hear about the work they put into providing the very best products for customers, and it’s so lovely to hear their enthusiasm about Scotland! You can also find out more about M&S’ history at their upcoming Food Festivals which will be hitting the road:

  • 28 September, Dundee
  • 6 October, Edinburgh
  • 20 October, Aberdeen
  • 3 November, Inverness
  • 26 January, Glasgow

 

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Dalkeith’s Restoration Yard has been a real favourite of mine since it opened. Far enough away from Edinburgh to feel like a bit of a day out to visit, but close enough to be convenient Restoration Yard mixes the best of food, beauty, lifestyle and fashion, all in one (very photogenic) package. If you’re lucky enough to have a dog that needs walked, there are rolling parklands around Dalkeith House (an absolutely stunning country house) whilst little people can run off any extra energy at Scotland’s finest treehouse – Fort Douglas. We were feeling a like a bit of indulgence though, so we headed to the Restoration Cafe for lunch.

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Having just released a brand new lunch menu, our timing couldn’t have been better! The Restoration Cafe aim to source as much local produce as possible, and neither of us could resist ordering the beef Restoration Burgers (£14.75). Coming in a pretzel bun (my favourite, and something rarely seen outside the US) along with a fresh salad and hand cut chunky chips, this was a meal to be savoured!

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Grilled to perfection, the burger was smothered in oozing cheddar, and would make the perfect antidote to post-walk munchies. The fresh salad served alongside cut through the richness of the dish, whilst the chips were piping hot and perfectly crisp.

We couldn’t resist trying a couple of side dishes, so opted for a bowl of Buttered Veg (£3.50) and an RY Salad (£4). Both absolutely delicious – the veg was a perfect mix of green beans, courgette and broccoli, whilst the RY Salad felt like summer in a dish thanks to the heirloom tomatoes, hunks of beetroot and lettuce leaves.

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Even though we had absolutely stuffed ourselves on burgers, we couldn’t resist the dessert menu. After chatting over fresh mint teas, we made our choice – Restoration Cheesecake with ice cream (£6.25) and Orange and White Chocolate Panna Cotta (£6.45).

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Served alongside strawberries and some homemade shortbread rounds, the Orange and White Chocolate Panna Cotta was a study in indulgence.

Wonderfully rich and creamy, the panda cotta was silky smooth, and I loved the richness of white chocolate contrasting with the freshness of orange and fresh berries. The shortbread melted in the mouth, and the whole dish felt perfect for summer.

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I couldn’t resist a slice of Restoration Cheesecake served alongside a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. I think the type of cheesecake might vary by the day, but when we popped in it was Vanilla and Raspberry. I had been craving a proper pudding for weeks, so this certainly fit the bill!

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Despite looking quite hefty (who are we kidding? It was a huge slice!) the cheesecake was incredibly light, with clouds of cream cheese sitting atop of a salted biscuity base. The raspberries on top were suspended in a crystal-clear jelly, alongside a scoop of the most delicious vanilla bean ice-cream. It was the most indulgent way to end a meal, and it was so fun to be able to relax, enjoy some incredible food, then enjoy a little shopping after our meal.

Thank you so much Restoration Yard for having us! You can find out more about Restoration Yard here.

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When finding places to eat in Edinburgh, it can sometimes feel like there is somewhere new popping up almost daily. The newest, and most buzzed about restaurant to open in recent weeks has to be 83 Hanover Street. Located bang centre in the middle of town, at you guessed it, 83 Hanover Street, the restaurant is an easy location to reach for Edinburgh locals and alike, which is a good thing, because you’re going to want to visit. A lot.

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The brainchild of Juan José Castillo Castro, and a sister restaurant to 99 Hanover Street, 83 is the city’s new favourite foodie spot, combining Chilean cuisine and Scottish produce. The combination may sound like an odd one, but weirdly, it makes a whole lot of sense. Castro’s dishes are seasonal, emphasising what’s in season, and subbing in local fish and meet for their South American counterparts. He has also flown his mother on from Chile especially so she can teach kitchen staff the proper bread-making methods. If that’s not dedication, I’m not really sure what is! A table of Edinburgh’s most enthusiastic foodies, we kicked things off with an introduction from Juan himself, cocktails, and a bowl of salted Scorched Padron Peppers covered in Grated Pedano (£5). Soft and delicately singed, these were the perfect nibble to enjoy over introductions.

Over the course of the evening, dishes came thick and fast. 83 Hanover Street is open from 12pm-12am daily, with a menu split into Bites and Plates and Charcuterie Boards. The result is a menu made for sharing – order some wine, a few plates, and enjoy the evening.

Hot on the heels of the Padrons, came Sopaipillas and Pebre (£4) – fried savoury donuts with a sour, zesty salsa. A Chilean street food classic, they were deliciously moreish.

Pork Belly Chicarrones with Roquito Pepper Jam (£6) were up next.

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Swiftly followed by the Braised Lamb Croquettes and Lima Bean (£7). The crisp breaded outside gave way to fluffy lamb interiors, and the lima beans created a sort of Chilean hummus – delicious!

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The Fried Calamari with Merken Aioli (£6) was one (of many) highlights of the evening. I’m not usually a fan of squid due to texture issues, but 83 Hanover Street soak theirs in milk overnight to tenderise it, and the result? Melt in the mouth morsels, delicately seasoned and enjoyed with a spiced aloe and fresh chilli.

Next up came the Ceviche with hills, Lime and Coriander (£8). Everyone at the table remarked that it was possibly the freshest fish they’d ever enjoyed in Edinburgh, and I adored the zesty flavours.

The seafood continued with Grilled Swordfish and Chorizo Skewers with Mojo Rojo New Potatoes (£12). The spicy sausage paired perfected with the meaty fish, and the spiced potatoes were an absolute revelation too!

The night’s showstopper, was, undoubtedly the Charred Octopus with White Bean Escabeche (£11). Again, I never usually order octopus, but this was divine. Meaty tentacles were crisp and charred, and the white bean escabeche was the stuff of dreams.

We ended the evening on a suitably indulgent note – Tres Leches Donuts (£5) served in a condensed milk sauce. Light as air, these street-food favourites were spiced with nutmeg, and no one could resist going in for seconds!

Thank you so much to 83 Hanover Street for a fabulous evening – you can find out more about the restaurant here.

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If you’ve been anywhere near Edinburgh in the past week, you’ll know the city is fully in the grip of festival fever. You can’t even think about George Street without facing hoards of shuffling tourists, and if you walk from one end of Princes Street to the other, chances are you’ll find yourself clutching hundreds of flyers. Properly enjoying the festival takes a whole lot of planning, and of course, a few planned pitstops along the way.

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The Radisson Blu’s position in the heart of the Old Town, can’t be beaten, and if you’re exploring the area, it’s a must visit. Not only is it a luxury hideaway in one of the capital’s buzziest spots, but they’re also running a rather cleverly titled ‘Burger’s and Fringe’ all month long.

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We popped in last night to give the menu a go, as well as to discover the new Daffy’s Gin pop up which appears every event from 6.30pm. Coming straight from a day full of meetings in Glasgow, we couldn’t resist kicking things off with a bowl of Nachos (£7.50).

Piled high and loaded with melted cheese, dollops of sour cream, guacamole and a sweet and tangy salsa, if you’re craving some Tex-Mex, these are for you! A word of warning though, we ordered a bowl of these to share, and still didn’t quite reach the bottom – portions at Radisson Blu are the definition of healthy.

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If you’re a burger connoisseur, the Radisson Blu is a must-visit. For Burger & Fringe, there is an entire menu of them – from mushrooms to classic options – there is something for everyone.

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We both opted for the Blu Classic Burger (£9) – a beef patty smothered in melting cheddar cheese, bacon, and a smear of ‘Blu sauce’ this was a offering perfect for beating post-Fringe hunger pangs. For more adventurous palettes, there is the aptly named ‘Sticky Fingers’ option, where a burger comes served up with candied bacon on a grilled ring donut!

You can pick a selection of sides to enjoy along side your burgers (£7 for 2) so we opted for skin-on skinny fries and sweet potato fries.

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After dinner, we headed over to the Daffy’s Gin Den, also in the Radisson Blu, where live music and fabulous Scottish gin flowed freely. There is a menu of cocktails to choose from, and really, is there a better drink than a G&T in the height of summer?!

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The Radisson Blu’s Burger & Fringe event, along with Daffy’s Gin Den runs until August 23rd, and more information can be found here. Thank you so much to Radisson Blu for having us!

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