Taylor Morris Sunglasses at Harvey Nichols Edinburgh*

When it comes to accessories, I am a bit of a sunglasses hoarder. I’ve got pairs from years ago, when ‘blinged out’ embellished legs were all the range, I’ve got vintage classics I sneaked out of my mother’s and I’ve got classics which I can throw on with any sort of outfit and feel vaguely polished.

So, a few weeks ago, when I was invited to see a whole new line of sunglasses from luxury British brand Taylor Morris launch in-store, and have launch with the brand founders, I absolutely jumped at the chance. Taylor Morris are all about an update on classic shapes – their glasses are unisex, and designed to reflect British Design and Hollywood glamour.

Made in Italy to the highest standards, Taylor Morris glasses mix old school design with modern accents. They’re just releasing a new collection which play with colour and pattern on classic shapes, and they’re such a fun way to add a little something extra to your outfit.

Getting the chance to sit down with brand founders Charlie and Hugo was so much fun. I just love getting to hear the real stories behind brands, and why people are doing what they’re doing. Getting insight into Taylor Morris’ marketing was fascinating, and very generously, everyone at the lunch was gifted a pair of their stunning sunglasses!

I’m planning a whole post on them, because, honestly, I’m a little obsessed. So in the meantime, you can find Taylor Morris at Harvey Nichols exclusively here.

Dinner at The Refinery Edinburgh*

If you’re familiar with Edinburgh, you’ll probably have noticed a whole lot of building work going on around St. Andrew Square. A rather ugly 1960’s brutalist monster was torn down, and in it’s place, a marble and brass-clad phoenix has risen in it’s place. Chock filled with new restaurants and bars, it now feels like the obvious place to start an evening out in the city, and I had been dying to try The Refinery who opened just before Christmas.

With views over St. Andrew Square Garden, The Refinery is something of a Pinterest dream come to life. A huge high-land cow mural greets you as you enter, and there is a packed bar to weave past, and up the spiral staircase is the dining room. All warm tones, copper and interior #goals, it’s the perfect place to spend the evening.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Drake & Morgan, so of course cocktails are a big deal here. Of course, there are the classics, but I couldn’t resist when I read ‘Goldfish in a Bag (£7.95).’ Gin, vodka, rosemary and a cute name? It was meant to be. Since I wasn’t driving, I got to have the ‘fun’ drink, but the runner up prize – a spicy Virgin Mary (£4.50) was equally delicious.

As we perused the menu, we munched on smoky almonds (£2.95) and fat Italian olives (£3.65).

Starters were a shared affair, and by chance, we both picked ‘kebab-ed’ options, which made sharing an absolute breeze. Prawn Lollipops (£6.75) were huge, juicy shrimp coated in a light, crispy layer of tempura batter. Accompanies by a sweet chilli dip, these were deliciously moreish.

I couldn’t resist ordering the Chicken Satay (£6.25) to start, and was pleasantly surprised by the generous portion. The chicken was well cooked – crispy on the outside but still moist in the middle. They came with a healthy portion of sweet and peanuty satay sauce and were absolutely wonderful!

Our table was by the window, and we had the most stunning views over St Andrew Square. The service in the restaurant was efficient and friendly without feeling too overbearing, and when we popped in post-work on a Thursday, the restaurant had a steady buzz all evening.

Choosing main courses was tough. Literally the entire menu sounds delicious, so we stuck to old favourites, and happily, they were just delicious! The Fillet Steak (£24.95) sounded too good to miss. Served with chips, watercress and a choice of sauce (an additional £2.95) (we went for Blue Cheese) the fillet was everything you hope for in a good cut of meat. Ordered Medium Rare, the steak was perfectly chargrilled on the outside and still tender in the centre. The accompanying chips were crisp and crunchy with fluffy centres, and the Blue Cheese sauce adds a wonderful richness to the dish.

I opted for the Wagyu Burger (£13.75) which came with blue cheese and relish. I’ve heard a lot about these burgers, and I have to say, it was fabulous. The burger was so rich and succulent, it was everything  you crave when you’re in the mood for one. Since you order it on it’s own, I opted for a portion of Roman Fries (£4.50)

Scented with Truffle Oil and topped with rosemary and parmesan, the fires were fabulously hot, crisp and savoury. They paired well with the savoury notes of the burger, and honestly, I think I’ll be ordering all chips in the future with rosemary, truffle and cheese!

Even though we were absolutely stuffed from dinner, a quick look at dessert menu persuaded us into enjoying one more course. The Refinery even has dessert themed cocktails (it was a school night, so we couldn’t indulge) as well as drinks from Edinburgh based establishments, which we both thought was a lovely touch.

 

A slice of Pecan Tart (£5.95) came with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, and was a seriously satisfying pudding. Rich and sweet, this was such a delicious, and surprisingly unusual (for the UK) way to end a meal.

I couldn’t resist ending the meal off with the rather indulgent Creme Brûlée (£5.95). Topped with a satisfying ‘crack’ and three buttery morsels of shortbread, the pudding was everything you could wish for.

Rich, and full of vanilla goodness, the Creme Brûlée was absolute perfection, and the little flowers which decorated the pudding were just adorable! We savoured the last course for as long as possible, then it was time to head home.

Reluctantly we headed back to the car, but not before promising each other to return soon – perhaps sitting outside, where each chair comes equipped with a blanket to fight off the Edinburgh chill!

Thank you to The Refinery for having us!

Dine Out at Tigerlily Edinburgh*

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Tigerlily is one of Edinburgh’s George Street icons – if you’re trying to arrange to meet people, everyone knows where it is, and it’s central enough to be a great base for nights out in the capital. They also have rooms upstairs, so if you’re in the mood for a bit of a luxurious night away, you know exactly where to go!

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Last week though, we popped in after work to give Tigerlily’s brand new Dine Out! menu a spin. With a dinner menu that’s only £15pp for two courses, we couldn’t resist!

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In a bit of a food blogger fail moment, we both ended up ordering the same meals, but you can’t blame us! To start with we ordered the Belhaven smokehouse chilli lime
& coriander hot smoked salmon with caper berries. I’m on a massive smoked salmon kick at the moment, and eat it about three times a week, and this didn’t disappoint!

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The salmon was soft and sweet, and paid beautifully with the briny, fried caper berries, which added a bit of crunch. It was a lovely, light, almost summery feeling starter to the meal, and I loved the light crispiness of the caper berries!

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Then it was time for the main event. I had been toying with the idea of the pork belly, but it had been too popular, so we both plumped for the slow braised beef shin, celeriac & parsnip puree with kale & pancetta jus. This was the most wintery, comforting dish you can imagine. Rich, tender meat was paired well with gravy, and the celeriac and parsnip purees were absolutely delightful.

We also indulged in a portion of truffled chips to share. Topped with a mushrooms and slivers of parmesan, they were toasty hot and crispy, and delicately scented with truffle oil.

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The Dine Out Menu is such a great addition to Edinburgh’s dining scene! It’s so nice to be able to just pop out during the week and enjoy a supper out – especially somewhere as pretty as Tigerlily!

The Dine Out Menu is priced at £15 and can be viewed here

Dinner at Taisteal Edinburgh

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If you’ve been in Edinburgh recently, chances are you might have heard about a rather exciting restaurant opening up in Stockbridge. It’s an absolute jewel box of a restaurant, located on Raeburn Place, and named after the Gaelic to journey or travel. This little hint should give you clue for what’s on the menu – wonderful, Scottish produce in dishes which are inspired by global cuisine. It’s a genius combination, and one which Head Chef Gordon Craig pulls off with aplomb!

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The restaurant only opened in January, but it’s already become something of an Edinburgh destination. It was fully booked on the Tuesday evening we went, and it was the perfect place to while away a rather drizzly evening. If you’re in early enough, there are two menus to choose from -a Market Menu which includes two courses for an incredible £10 per person, but we opted for the A La Carte offerings.

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In something of a food blogger fail, we ordered the same starters and main courses, but it was a tough choice. Everything on the menu sounds incredible, but neither or us could resist the lure of Pan Fried Scallops with Satay Sauce, Black Pudding and Pomegranate. (£9).  The portion was generous, with five perfectly cooked scallops placed amongst morsels of rich black pudding, pomegranate seeds and delicate peanut tuille. The combination of the buttery scallops, and black pudding, is of course, a classic, but the inclusion of pomegranate and peanut was genius. It was a starter which really exceeded all expectations, and was an absolute joy!

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The mains were an equally tough choice, but the Maple and Five Spice Gressingham Duck Breast with Grilled Pak Choi, Edamame Beans and Shitake Samosa (£17) was absolutely dreamy. The combination of rich, moist duck with the charred greens, fresh edamame and mushroom samosa was just too good to resist!

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Honestly, I don’t order duck as often as I would like to, but this was absolute perfection – the meat was tender, juicy and flavourful, and the 5 Spice sauce it was served to was absolutely divine. Gently spiced, there was an almost coffee-like note which was just divine.

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The Shitake Samosa leant the dish a savoury note, and it was one of those meals which you just hoped wouldn’t end. The mi of flavours was just wonderful, and I’m not sure we chatted much, instead just motioning at out plates and declaring how good they were!

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Honestly, when we had popped in, we both thought we were going to skip pudding – it was only a Tuesday night after all! But after the absolute joy of starters and main courses, we both just kind of looked at each other, and agreed we couldn’t leave without finishing the meal off right! I opted for the Chocolate and Yuzu Fondant, with Orange Curd, Powder and Sorbet (£6.50), because honestly, Yuzu is one of my all time favourites, and I never see it on menus in Edinburgh. What came was the most perfect Fondant you could imagine – cut with a spoon, it puffed out a stream of molten chocolate sauce, which had been lightened with the hint of citrus. This coupled with the scoop of Orange Sorbet was just perfection. Warm, rich and gooey, it was absolutely heavenly.

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We also couldn’t resist a slice of the Lycheesecake with Stem Ginger Ice Cream (£6.50). This was, again, divine. The rich, whipped cheesecake was delicately flavoured with Lychee (again, a childhood favourite of mine) with a rich biscuity base. Studded with popping candy, it was an absolute joy of a dish – with the subtle perfume of the lychee contrasting with the ginger-studded ice cream. The desserts were an absolutely perfect way to end one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, and I can’t wait to go back!

 

Byron’s Calvin Haggis Burger*

If you’re not from, or live in Scotland, chances are, you might not have come across Burns Night before. It’s something of a localised celebration, which is probably celebrated with more gusto by expats outside of Scotland than the most of us in it! But Byron is changing all of that, with their Calvin Haggis special, which is being served exclusively in their Scottish restaurants until January 29th (Sunday).

I popped in yesterday, and I had had one of those days where I hadn’t had a second to think, let alone have lunch, so I was absolutely starving by the time I arrived at the North Bridge restaurant at 7.30pm. So, prior to getting to grips with the special, we ordered a plate of Nachos (£5.95) which came piled high with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and melted cheese. Absolutely delicious as always, the Nachos are the perfect mix of zesty, creamy and crunchy.

To drink, I feel like there is really only ever one option at Byron – their Vanilla milkshakes are just too good to resist, and, even though it was a school night, we opted to add a shot of bourbon (£7.50). Honestly, the Hard Shakes are just dreamy, and the mix of bourbon and vanilla is just perfection!

Then it was time for the main event – the Calvin Haggis burger. The brainchild of one of Byron’s Glasgow employees, it was originally thought-up as something of a hangover cure, and it might just be the most stocked burger I’ve ever tried.

The Calvin Haggis consists of a 6oz hamburger, haggis, bacon and onion relish, tattie scone, American cheese, dry cure bacon, fried egg and onions, all finished off in a glazed bun with some Byron sauce. Honestly, it’s an absolute monster of a burger, but it’s surprisingly delicious! I ordered my egg well done- and the mix of all the flavours was an absolute revelation.

I have to admit, I did eat my burger with a knife and fork because it was so packed with cheese and sauce, but the mix of savoury flavours, thanks to the potato scone, bacon, cheese and onions was mouthwatering, and I’m sure that Byron will have to make this a regular Burns Night special, because everyone seemed to absolutely love it!

Many thanks to Byron for having us!

 

 

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Orange Thins*

I feel like this year has been the year where I’ve indulged in rather a lot of rather fabulous chocolates, but perhaps my favourite out of the selection has been Carbonnel et Walker’s Milk Orange Thins. They feel like an update on the classic golden coins we all got for Christmas, and honestly, delicious is an understatement!

Coming packaged in a double box which feels like a jewel box to unwrap; the Milk Orange Thins are creamy discs of smooth milk chocolate, delicately flavoured with orange. The snap of the discs is seriously impressive, and I love enjoying one with an espresso for a mid-afternoon treat!

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Chocolate Thins are £12 per box and are available here (UK) and here (US)

Prestat Stockings & Baubles*

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Ok, so I don’t think there is anything better than waking up to find a gift from Prestat under the tree, and their most seasonal of gifts has to be their Stockings and Baubles Gift.

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Packaged in an absolutely stunning Prestat Jute bag, which would make the most darling little lunch bag, and it’s absolutely chocolate-a-block (pun intended) with gorgeous little treasures which are perfect for Christmas.

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All the boxes can be hung on the Christmas tree, and they are just the cutest thing imaginable. Then, once you crack them open, there are the most divine little truffles inside!

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The Snowman Baubles is filled with coconut truffles. Dusted in coconut, and filled with a rich creamy centre, these are the very best snowballs you can imagine!

fullsizeoutput_c5fIf you prefer something a little more chocolate-y, the Santa Bauble is filled with milk chocolate truffles. These are a crisp outer shell with an almost gooey chocolate centre. I love one of these along with a good cup of coffee – super decadent, and very delicious!

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The stocking of Praline Truffles is just a dream. The truffles inside have crispy outer shells, which dissolve into a chocolate-nut heaven. Again, these are a must-have little treat with a well made espresso!

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Last up are the Sea Salt Caramel Truffles, which are the absolute definition of indulgence. A dark outer shell holds the most perfect, gooey salted caramel centre. These are an absolute joy of a treat!

Prostate Baubles and Stockings is priced at £35 and is available here

Dinner at the Restoration Cafe at Restoration Yard*

Working in Edinburgh, it can sometimes feel like all the good spots are in the city. But, I do rather like getting out and about at weekends, so when I heard about the new Restoration Yard at Dalkeith House, I was keen to get out to see if for myself.

The new Restoration Yard is pretty much the perfect day out. If you have children, there is a whole playground that looks like something out of Hogwarts, with slides and the most incredible tree house, and if you’re up for a bit of fresh air, there are trails where you can bike or dog walk.

When we went, we were after something a little more warming, so after having a good nose through the Restoration Yard shops, we headed to the Restoration Cafe. It’s an absolutely glorious spot which has the most mouth-watering menu you can imagine.

As we got to grips deciding what to go for, we enjoyed a glass of prosecco (£4.50) and soaked up all the quirky little details of the restaurant. Each table is like a treasure chest – with tiny little relics from Dalkeith House all tucked inside. Out table had a Lady Dalkeith theme, with retro lipstick cases and old telegrams inside.

To start with, we went for pretty classic options. The Smoked salmon ballontine, cucumber & caper relish, (£8) was a wonderfully fresh start to the meal. Flavoursome morsels of salmon with crisp cucumber set the tastebuds going.

I went for the more substantial option of the Chicken liver parfait, Restoration Yard chutney, sourdough toast (£6.50). Honestly, this could have been a lunch in itself, and it was absolutely delightful!

The mix of rich, savoury chicken liver parfait was expertly balanced with the spiced Restoration Chutney. Filled with Festive spice, the chutney was filled with slabs of fruit and fig, and the parfait was wonderfully rich and smooth.

To enjoy all the parfait and relish – homemade toast. Still warm, it was a seriously comforting start to the meal.

Then it was time for the mains, and I think we ordered the two heartiest choices on the menu. First up with the Braised beef cheeks with creamy mashed potato & seasonal vegetables (£13), which just tasted like winter on a plate. A huge hunk of slowly braise beef cheek rested on a mound of creamy mashed potatoes and winter vegetables. It was so good, I’ve actually gone out and bought a slow cooker to try and replicate the whole thing myself at home!

I had opted for Veal Ragu with Papperdelle, and it was an absolute triumph of a dish. Shot through with sweet nuggets of winter vegetables and chestnut mushrooms, it was absolute perfection.

The veal itself had been slow-cooked, and was wonderfully sweet and flavoursome. Combined with the pappardelle, which was al-dente perfection, it was precisely the kind of dinner you want to enjoy on a cold evening. We were seated beside the windows, and it was so lovely to get to sit and enjoy such wonderful food as dusk descended around us.

After sitting savouring every mouthful of dinner, we couldn’t resist a few mouthfuls of pudding! When we saw Sticky Toffee Pudding, our minds were made up! We shared a huge slab of moist sponge, bathed in Toffee Sauce and crowned with a rich swirl of Vanilla Ice Cream.

It’s the kind of dessert made to be enjoyed on a lazy Sunday evening, and once again, it was an absolute delight of a dish. The sponge was wonderfully moist and shot through with fruit, whilst the sauce was richly sweet. We couldn’t manage the whole thing, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying!

We finished things off with a couple of coffees which were piping hot and absolutely wonderful!

By this point, we were among the last stragglers at Restoration Yard, and it was time to head out of Dalkeith.

The Restoration Cafe has to be one of the area’s best kept secrets, even though it’s only 20 minutes outside of Edinburgh! To say I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement – I’ve been back twice already!

 

 

 

Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne Baubles*

Can you believe that this time next week it will be Christmas? I certainly can’t! So, I thought that I would share one of my favourite little Festive treats – Charbonnel et Walker’s Pink Champagne Tree baubles. Subtle enough in decoration to hang on the tree all week long, you can crack them open to reveal a handful of truffles inside. I’ve mentioned before about how delicious these are, and I think it’s so fun to hide little treats on the tree and have people discover them when they’re round for drinks.

As you would expect from Charbonnel, the chocolates are absolutely delicious, and I think I’m going to be adding them to gifts too!

 

Cheesemas at Byron Northbridge*

Ok, if you’re in Edinburgh tonight, you have to drop every plan you’ve made, and get yourself over to Byron on North Bridge. Not only is it the best burger spot in town, but to celebrate Cheesemas (the most wonderful of holidays) there are 200 hundred free burgers, as well as free Brewdog beer for everyone!

I popped into the North Bridge restaurant last night to see what all the fuss was about, and honestly, the Cheesemas burger isn’t one you want to miss! Two beef patties are piled high, and draped with melted Cheddar cheese, crowned with an onion ring, and smothered in bacon island sauce. It’s ridiculously good. We went for the Cheesemas along with Cheese Fries (delicious) and two Bourbon Vanilla milkshakes. It was an absolutely delicious mid-week treat, and honestly, we’re both still full from indulging!

Cheesemas starts at 6pm – see you there?

Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne Truffle Mini Cracker*

I feel like everyone is really in the Christmas spirit this year, and I’m pretty sure it’s because 2016 has been a bit of a tough one. I’ve been loving all the fun little extra touches and flourishes around the house, and one of the most stylish has to be these Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne truffle crackers.

Packaged in the brand’s harlequin print, I love hiding these in the tree for inquisitive guests to stumble across. Tucked inside each cracker are three of Charbonnel’s heavenly pink champagne truffles, which are the most indulgent little bites. Equal parts creamy chocolate with a bite of alcoholic champers, I love one served alongside a strong espresso.

Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne truffle crackers are priced at £5.50 each and are available here.