Friday, 30 December 2011

A Rainy Thursday in Edinburgh - Eteaket and Fajitas!

Invariably when Joe and I come up to Edinburgh most our time is spent eating and drinking.  It's good for us that Edinburgh has an abundance of cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to while away your time - especially when it's freezing, blowing a gale and pouring with rain all at the same time!

On Thursday we had a meeting organised with our wedding planner, Leila, followed by a spot of shopping in town.  We also stopped in for some lunch at Eteaket, a tea boutique and cafe on Frederick Street (pronounced "etiquette" apparently).  It's a cute little cafe with bright pink walls and dozens of teas to try, as well as a nice lunch selection.  It was super busy, even at almost 3pm on a Thursday, so the Edinburgh locals clearly know a good thing!

There are a huge numbers of teas available, categorised into black teas, green teas, oolongs, white teas, herbal etc.  Each comes with a short description and then it is up to you to pick something you fancy.  Joe went for Bollywood Dreams Chai which smelt just like Christmas, while I picked Yellow Gold Oolong (supposed to make you feel a million dollars!).  Really interesting, tasty, and I'll definitely be expanding our tea repertoire. We also had lunch - a feta, sundried tomato and olive ciabatta for Joe and tomato and basil soup for me.  Very nice. 
Bollywood Dreams Chai
Feta, sun-dried tomato and olive ciabatta
tomato and basil soup
Eteaket - a great find
After some more shopping (aka battling people in John Lewis), we headed back to my mum and dad's for some relaxation and some dinner.  I usually insist on cooking for everyone at least once while I'm up and this time decided to have a fajita fiesta!  Arriba!  Home made spiced chicken and peppers, guacamole, tomato salsa, and some tasty jalapenos and cheese on the side - spicy and perfect for a winter evening!  Joe, my dad and I then stayed up for a while, drinking and having a giggle, so all in a great night.
Chicken and pepper fajitas
home made guacamole
tomato salsa
An almost rolled fajita (Joe's effort is much better than mine - I always drop the filling!)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas Day - The best day of the year

This is a retrospective post about Christmas Day 2011. I didn't do it straight away as I had a lot of photos to sort through and I wanted to commit some time to get it right - I have at least 25 expectant readers to impress and for me it is the best day of the year!!

The day started off very well with bacon butties and buzz fizz for me, Jo, Dave Bro, Auntie Karen and Mum (@mrs_ordinary). After raising a toast to Dad, we set about opening our presents and for once I didn't get any duffs!! (joking!) - its fair to say we all did very well and we should all be grateful that we have such brilliantly generous friends and family.

Christmas morning en famille
"this is better than diamonds" - bless!
For many a year now, we have spent Christmas with some of our oldest and best friends - the Hosnys. Shereef and I met when we are at infant school and we have been "brothers from another mother" ever since. Through us, my folks struck up a firm friendship with Rafeek and Amira that is going strong over 27 years later. Going over to their place for Christmas is like going to my second home where there is nothing but love, friendship and happy memories for us all. Over the years people have left us who are dearly missed, but at the same time numbers have grown with babies being born and extended friends and family joining us for the now bi-annual celebration with Jo and I now spending every other year in Edinburgh. 

So at 2pm on Christmas Day, we arrived at Broad Eaves for great conversation, outstanding eating and drinking, followed by the traditional (and best!) part of the day - the sing-a-long led by Dave Bro and Auntie Karen who are the stars of the show with an outstanding support act.....

Us with me in my Christmas jumper - thanks Jo!
Shereef with a gift from his cousins, Nadine and Kareem
Rafeek and Auntie Karen
Two chefs! - Noonie & Andre
Rafeek with his prized sweet potato
The beautiful Christmas table to sit 25
Dave Bro and Annie who is a Christmas Day veteran!
Stephie with a lovely smile
Where it all began!
Kareem and Ryan - the cheese man!
Jo, Shereef and I later in the evening
The best hosts in town! Thanks as ever x
This is a food blog and you have have noticed that food hasn't been mentioned yet....well here it is....what a feast and this is just the meat and fish!!
Posh prawn cocktail
Smoked salmon & salmon mousse
Hot smoked salmon
Turkey with the pigs!
Roast beef
Dennis' Ham
Aerial table shot
My first plate
Seriously, I don't think I have ever seen so much food in my life! After the starter and mains we inevitably got to the desserts which I think are possibly even more impressive!! It was the battle of the puds with Stephie, Amira, Stephie's mum, Barbara, Liz and Jo all producing their best efforts - here we go:

Stephie's Christmas Cake
Stephie's Trifle
Barbara's Chocolate Sable
Barbara's mince pies
Liz's Downton Abbey Christmas pud
Serenne with Jo's amazing glittery Spruced Up Vanilla Cake
And then there was the cheese - look at the size of it!!!

After the cheese comes the sing-a-long with Dave Bro and Auntie Karen taking centre stage with their voices and guitars, and the rest of us forming the backing group. The day wouldn't be complete without the singing and it goes on until the early hours with the boozing and celebrations continuing to flow.....Jo and I headed home at 12.30 and left the other to carry on until 3am!

A million thanks again to Raf and Amira for their hospitality and I very much look forward to the tradition continuing for the next 27 years!!! Joe x

Ps. I wasn't able to get photos of everyone (the day went so quick and I got to drunk) so apologies if you have gone without a mention - there is always 2013!!

Wednesday Coffee and Lunch at Iris - Jo Girl (coffee bit by Joe)

We generally don't plan too much when we come up to Edinburgh - it's nice to relax and play things by ear occasionally, but Wednesday was different!  Mum and I were up bright and early to go wedding dress shopping, whilst Joe was dispatched to the sales.  Of course, being Edinburgh, no sooner had we got out of the car than the heavens opened and the hurricane winds started up - my poor umbrella was powerless against it and I was quickly sporting the "drowned rat" look.

Joe was slightly more sensible and ditched the sale shopping fairly quickly, instead preferring to check out some of the recommended coffee places..........

On recommendation from Alex the great Leeds coffee house La Bottega Milanese,  I took refuge from the torrential rain at The Wellington which is in a great location on George Street. It's an independent coffee house that makes up for its lack of size with top quality of the coffee and friendly/ prompt service. While perusing the paper I had a seriously good flat white followed by an espresso which packed a full bodied punch. When there was a gap in the down pour, I ran across to my next destination which again was on recommendation - thanks Richard from Stag Espresso (another very good coffee house in Edinburgh). The Thistle Street Bar is a traditional bar that serves good beer, plays good music (Stevie Wonder when I popped in) and has a roaring fire - again, highly recommended as a pub in the center of town that stands out from the crowd - thumbs up.

My flat white

Post dress shopping/coffee tasting, Joe, my mum and I headed to Iris on Thistle Street to have some lunch with my god mother and mum's close friend, Cary.

The drowned rat look - mum and I
Iris is a small, modern restaurant on the stretch of Thistle Street between Frederick Street and Hanover Street.  Immediately on arrival, dripping wet with very damp feet, we were ushered in, encouraged to leave our umbrellas by the door, hang our coats up and dry out.  For what is a very modern space, it is cosy and welcoming.

They have a lunch deal at the moment, with two courses for around £15, which included starters such as moules in white wine, calamari, duck spring rolls, and main courses of beef and haggis olives, smoked haddock fish cake, chicken with a leek and cray fish sauce, or an aubergine stack.

All four of us opted for the moules to start which were lovely and plump, with quite a garlicky sauce.  They didn't appear to come with any bread for dipping (a must in my book!) but our waitress was quick off the mark when we requested more.

 Mum and I then went for the beef and haggis olives, while Joe and Cary had the smoked haddock fishcake.  The fishcake was, to quote Joe, "big and fishy and not quite as dainty as expected".  It came with a poached oeuf and a parmesan sauce.  Joe went for fish because he thought it would be less substantial than a meat course, but was deceived!  The beef olives were also deceptively filling, stuffed full of haggis and served with a very peppery sauce! They were very good, but I could have easily shared my main course.  We also had a couple of salads and potatoes on the side, both of which were excellent.  After all of this, none of us wanted any dessert (very unusual for Joe!). 
The fishcake - good poached egg, not for those looking for a light lunch!
Beef olives - man sized!
Mum and Cary
 All in, a good lunch at Iris - definitely a place to go if you're starving - not so much if you're after a light lunch.  A very welcoming, relaxing atmosphere, where I was happy to while away a prosecco fueled three hour lunch.  My only criticism - no need for all the parsley decorations!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tuesday 27th December - Edinburgh!!!

On Tuesday we escaped the Wirral madness to what we hoped would be a slightly calmer Edinburgh.  Having decided to take the train rather than drive after our eventful holiday driving last year, we made the short journey back to Leeds and then hopped on the train.  Unfortunately (but rather entertainingly so) the train was also full of very early revellers heading to Glasgow for the hogmanay celebrations - fair play, only 5 days to go until new year!  I don't think I've ever seen vodka being swigged from a bottle, followed by a swig of coke - it looked fairly rancid.  We managed to have a very quick catch up with my Uncle John and Cousin Rosie, who collected us at the station, and spent the afternoon playing with Baby Tom and drinking all of mum's wine! 

It's lovely to be back in the 'Burgh for a few days between Christmas and new year, catching up with family and spending some time sightseeing.  We're also making the most of scoffing some of my mum's food, and were treated to some very tasty monkfish with roasted vegetables and chorizo - looks like my mum and I have similar cooking tastes! She also stuffed us further with a very nice apple and dried fruits crumble - thanks mum!

monkfish tails with vegetables and chorizo
Monkfish and potatoes - yum
Apple crumble
crumble with cream - dessert of champions