Saturday, 17 October 2009

Peter's Yard

So we'd had a chilled out morning. I'd left the boy to snooze while I popped into to work (yes, on a Saturday) to get everything started. I came back to my cute little borrowed flat to find him watching one of our lazy Saturday favourites, Saturday Kitchen. It's a nice foodie way to start the weekend and normally inspires us out of bed for breakfast.

Now it was a question of lunch. I'm living extremely close to the Quarter Mile project which is home to, amongst other establishments, a fantastic Swedish bakery called Peter's Yard. Again, its a place that people have waxed lyrical about so a late lunch seemed like a good enough excuse for a visit.
I haven't mentioned the weather yet, have I? It definitely deserves an honorable mention. It's been beautiful. Clear and sunny every day, such a treat! It's almost as if it knew I would be having a special visitor and made a real effort to be nice for us. Self-centred, eh? Anyway, it seemed natural to gravitate to the Yard's outside seating area out front. But first, we had to go in and take our picks... Peter's Yard is quietly cool inside. It's a huge dose of Scandinavian simplicity with a hint of Ikea chic. Very stylish. The food has the wow factor too. Baguettes and sandwiches laid generously thick with fillings and the most amazing cakes. I dithered. I couldn't help it! Predictably, we chose pudding first. Blueberry 'Mousse' for him and Tiramisu for I. Then the savories... hrm. I go for a turkey sandwich while the Boy goes for a cheese baguette. We managed to resist the mouth-watering smoked salmon open sandwich but only because we had a fishy dinner to look forward to. Our meal was accompanied by our usual beverage - hot chocolate!

The real revelation for me was the beautiful freshness than was obvious in everything we ate. Our lunch wasn't cheap - £10 a head for two courses - but the quality and generosity of ingredients blew me away. My sandwich contained about four thick slices of fresh turkey while the Boy's baguette was stuffed with three delicious cheeses and the bread... well, it was all fantastic. Our cakes were also marvellous.

The Blueberry M0usse (above) was in fact a very handsome cake with blueberries and cream squidged between nutmeggy sponge. Quite a revelation. The only disappointment was the hot chocolate; not sweet enough for my taste.

Quote of the Day

"Let's face it; chocolate is a mysterious, seductive yet confusing world."
The Hairy Bikers, 'The Hairy Bakers' BBC One

Friday, 16 October 2009

..and a lovely evening

One of the things I have been at pains to organise for the Boy's visit was a lovely meal. He's travelled all this way on a train so he definitely deserves it. Another star of the city that I had been told about was The Tower restaurant. On our way into Edinburgh, my colleague (who is an Edin alumna) pointed out a hotel called the Prestonfield, which is apparently renown for it's amazing food and astronomical prices. The owner, Jason Thomson, also runs The Tower which conveniently is about a three minute casual stroll from my attic flat in the old city. With the same fantastic food and price-tag, they also have a very reasonable pre-theatre supper for £13.95 per person for two courses. With the bill sorted in my financial brain, I must emphasize the beauty of its location a little more. Yes, it's close to where I'm living which is useful but more so, it's situated on top of the National Museum of Scotland, a strange and disjointed modern building. Now, I don't know if I'm completely sold on the architecture but being perched on top of such a building gives visitors lovely views of the city.

Without further ado, I booked a 6:30 table. I was a bit canny on this one - it was the latest table we could get to make the most of the reduced price menu but late enough so that we could watch the sun go down as we ate. You enter the museum and are greeted by a security guard to checks your reservation and takes you up to the restaurant. You're then greeted by name (a nice touch) and taken to your table. I knew immediately that this had been a good choice - the atmosphere was lovely with dimmed lights and soft music. The view was rather spectacular too. We started with some drinks and complimentary olives which were very good. Beer men out there will be happy to hear that they serve Budvar though they did so in a glass which made me feel really rather grown-up!! I had a Hendricks and tonic with a lovely slice of cucumber. Very nice indeed! We mulled over the menu, which was limited for the pre-theatre supper but looked very good. I had a glance at the wine list, which also looked very comprehensive indeed but decided against it to save my pennies. We were offered a selection of yummy breads first - a choice of white, tomato or walnut. I went for a lyonnaise salad to start, while he had the parsnip and cauliflower soup, which were both fantastic. The salad was surprisingly summery while the soup was a real winner; warming and sweet and delicious. The service was very prompt and no sooner had we finished our starter, our mains were placed in front of us. He had deep fried 'fish' - slightly ominously named but nether the less, delicious served with mushy peas and some pretty salad. I enjoyed a meatball and barley stew which again was surprisingly summery despite being warm and filling. We also went for a side order of chips which we took as a bit of a flop. Don't get me wrong, I like chunky chips but these were peeled quartered potatoes which didn't really ring my bell. We also didn't really need them as his main seemed to have the mushy peas supplimented with mash and my stew was quite carb-filled with the barley. Our waitress was lovely and a very sweet character who kept us comfortable. It was nice, also, that having asked for a glass of tap water, they continued to fill our glasses whenever they started to look empty from a large jug. Our plates were cleared and we were offered desert but we'd had a very elegant sufficiency already so I decided to try, surprise surprise, their hot chocolate (picture above). All in the name of research, of course. It was fab!!

We then went on to enjoy an evenings company with The Improverts at the Bedlam Theatre, care of a member of the team I have working for me here in the city. The players provide improvised comedy from suggestions from the audience. My favourite was probably "Should've Said" but they were all great fun. A real laugh and well worth the teensy entrance fee.

A heavenly day...

We have been out exploring Edinburgh. Among our wanderings around the Castle and the Royal Mile, we have also searched for Plasir du Chocolat - a chocolate shop who's reputation preceeds itself. When I mentioned I'd be visiting the fair city, the first thing that was mentioned to me was this amazing little place that does amazing hot chocolates. After wandering around Thistle Street and the surrounding lanes, I asked after this fantastical place and found out from a passing helpful person that Plasir du Chocolat has actually closed down. In it's place is a very fetching kilt shop. Sadly they don't do hot chocolate. We weren't upset for long though as we found ourselves outside Henderson's Deli. It was rather busy as it was lunchtime so the place was full of zippy professionals "just grabbing some lunch and a skinny latte" before getting back to the 9 til 5 grind. Henderson's is another of the organic+hippy=good breed of café delicatessens. This isn't necessarily a bad thing however as it seems like Hendersons have done good with the concept. Everything looked incredibly fresh and healthy - along with sandwiches and caffeine hits on sale, they offer fresh bread and organic produce too.

We chose two hot chocolates (naturellement), a piece of almond chocolate cake (gluten free - tempted to buy a whole one and send it home to ma mere) and a peach danish. The hot chocolate was mundane and nothing to write posts about though I'm happy to rave about the chocolate cake (incredibly moreish and flour-free) and danish of delights (actually the best I've tried yet)!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Elephant and Bagels

I have been lucky enough to get the chance to travel to Edinburgh for work. My job takes up a lot of my time and comes with its own stresses but one of the perks is that I get to travel. So here I am, in beautiful Edinburgh. I managed to escape the confines of my sweet little top floor flat for a lunch break today and skipped my way to Nicholson Street. I did a little food shopping, including popping into a great butchers, to prepare for the arrival of the Boy. He's coming all the way up to Scotland from near Bristol to see little old me so I've planned a weekend of treats. Can't give the game away just yet though; you'll have to wait to hear all about it soon.

So, with my bags bulging with various goodies, I traipsed my way homeward. This is of course the moment that I a) feel like I should've limited my purchases to spare my digits and b) begin to feel horrendously hungry. Making my merry way through the streets I spy a sign proclaiming the finest mexican hot chocolate. Well, this was just too tempting to resist, particularly with my chocolatey theme this week. The place, it turned out, was Elephant and Bagels. As soon as I stepped in the door, my stomach started to rumble as, not only did they offer chocolat chaud but also, (as the name suggests) a tantalising selection of bagels.

Standing in the queue, I dither. What to choose? I plump for not one but two bagels - one for me, one for my colleague. Oh, and a hot chocolate as well, of course. Then I trot back to my building and up the 91 steps - no, I haven't counted them. Someone else did it for me! Still warm, I halve the bagels to share. One 'deli-style pastrami' with peppered pastrami, cream cheese, dill pickles and mustard. The other filled with brie, bacon and sweet pickle. Mm-mm!

And the hot chocolate? Well, I might need to try another to be sure!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Hotel Chocolat Treats

I was a very lucky girl on my birthday this year. A good friend of mine sent me a rather mysterious looking package; three little boxes taped together came through the post with my name on causing much speculation amongst my family as I was away. With shaking (with excitement!) hands, I tore open the wrappings to reveal three cylindrical vessels bearing the Hotel Chocolat name. A good start! On closer inspection, I discover that these are filled with various alcohol soaked, chocolate coated fruits. Now I'm not normally mad for fruity-chocolately-ness - take it or leave it - however these are VERY different.

One box was filled with drops of pure sunshine, namely beautifully plump rum-soaked raisins coated in white or milk chocolate. They melted on the tongue then gave off a delicious, and remarkably strong, rum hit. There wasn't too much of a boozy tang because they were so small. Very very moreish!

Another pot held strips of dried mango soaked in schnapps then enveloped in dark chocolate. These were quite a surprise with the initial bittersweet bite of cocoa followed swiftly by a sweet fruity flavour. It wasn't until you chewed that you got a hint of alcohol that tempted you back for more. These were a little more work as they'd been dried and then rehydrated but this actually worked really well and made them all the more satisfying.

The final vessel was home to firm kirsch infused cherries enrobed in dark chocolate. A truly classic combination which proved very successful. They were surprisingly filling but were a real treat nether the less.

All in all, Hotel Chocolat are on to another winner. Even if you're not normally a fan of chocolate combined with fruit, this is definitely one to try.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Monday, 12 October 2009

Green & Blacks

I have recently converted to dark chocolate. I didn't used to like it but I'm now a real fan of the its intense chocolately hit and slight tangy bitterness. I was awarded a taster pack of Green & Blacks after doing well at work and when I got around to trying the various flavours, my immediate favourite was a surprise. It was their cherry version - a bar of dark (60% cocoa) chocolate with whole dried cherries scattered throughout. The sweet and sourness of the cherries mixes with the chocolate as soon as you start to chew a piece and it compliments the smooth, bold flavour of the cocoa. Amazingly tasty! An eating chocolate rather than one to cook with.

National Chocolate Week!

I'm not usually one for the multitude of 'National Wash Behind Your Ears' Day however I have found one in particular that I can be confident and passionate about. This week is officially National Chocolate Week! I hope you don't need an excuse to enjoy chocolate however it's nice to be able to say that I'm doing it in the interests of "research". Awesome! I will be enjoying and celebrating this week of sweet treats with daily posts on the subject. In the meantime, check out the chocolate week website and get munching!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...