Edinburgh in a Day

dsc07335dsc07349dsc07330dsc07333It seems like only yesterday I was writing my last blog post apologising for my absence but here we are again and needless to say it’s been a chaotic few months. I’m working on a post currently to give you guys a full catch up, but in the meantime I thought I’d show you what I’ve been getting up to! My boyfriend recently moved to Glasgow to work and so I thought I take a little holiday to visit him, and while there’s a special Glasgow post coming soon, I thought in the meantime I’d share my top places to visit from our recent trip to Edinburgh!

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Urban Angel

First port of call on our arrival in Edinburgh was food and a quick google took us to Urban Angel. We realised later that this popped up in Zoella’s recent Edinburgh blog post, so we were inadvertently already on to a winner. There was a little bit of a wait when we arrived but we managed to snag a table in the cafe to have a little pre-brunch coffee before it seemed like the whole of Edinburgh arrived, and soon there was a queue down the street! We eventually got taken through into the restaurant which has a beautifully simple, rustic vibe which really reflects the menu. I went for the poached egg and avocado with homemade lime ricotta which was so amazing whilst the boyfriend went for the traditional eggs benedict we both agreed that it was definitely worth the wait and the perfect choice to set us up for our day of adventures.

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Mary’s Milk Bar

Now I know that going an ice cream bar isn’t the most first thing you think you when planning a trip to Scotland but the fact that this place is packed come rain or shine means you know it’s something special. The gorgeous pastel front gives you a hint of the treats inside and the sheer variety meant we spent a good five minutes at the till while we tried to decide! In the end we went for salty peanut, cinnamon and chilli (strange but we couldn’t help but going back for more), chocolate mocha sorbet and violet, which was definitely the favourite although we couldn’t help but tuck in so quickly that I didn’t even have time to grab a photo! I definitely recommend checking out their Instagram though for some drool worthy shots.

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Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

This is definitely the most touristy item on the list but with rave reviews from everyone I asked we figured it was worth a go and boy were we proved right. As the name suggests it’s full of optical illusions and tricks which means it’s perfect for a fun and silly day out and the perfect place to get some great photos!

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National Museum of Scotland

Now while my boyfriend is very big on museums and galleries, I’m a bit more picky and being the big kid I am, I tend to prefer the museums that are big on interaction. So I can’t lie when we arrived I was dragging my heels initially, but within 10 minutes I was running amongst the 8 year olds having the time of my life (needless to say the boyfriend was a bit more composed about the whole situation). It’s such an interactive museum that it reminded me of when I was little and how fun science and history seemed. I’ve been to quite a few of the “big” museums of the world but this one has definitely become one of my favourites, and it was free! Even if you’re not a typical museum buff I can’t recommend it enough as there’s something for everyone, and it’s worth a trip for the interiors alone!

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Civerinos

Now we didn’t actually eat here on this trip as we were still so full from brunch, but it’s one of my favourites to visit when I’m in Edinburgh so I couldn’t leave it off this list. It’s a relatively simple menu but everything is made with the freshest ingredients (the pesto especially is my absolute favourite) and it is aaaaall good! Plus its self proclaimed mix of “high art and low culture” makes it one of the coolest Italian restaurants I’ve been to and makes it perfect for everything from a casual lunch to a night out with friends. Not to mention they do a mean nutella calzone…

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Other honourable mentions;

Paper Tiger-The perfect gift/stationery shop with everything from Rifle Paper Company to Ohh Deer, it’s great for picking up some souvenirs and presents.

Red Door Gallery-Another brilliant spot just off the Royal Mile it’s like the Etsy shop of your dreams, especially for pop culture junkies with pieces inspired by everyone from Steve Zissou to Dana and Scully. Whether it’s jewelry, cards, stationery or prints it’s amazing for quirky, individual pieces from local artists and I can’t recommend it enough!

Coco Chocolatier- A chocolate shop with a difference, it has everything from the more classic Espresso to the slightly more adventurous Haggis Spice, Earl Grey Tea and Bergamot, and even Lavender. The packaging is beautiful and although you have to keep a eye out to spot this hidden treasure it’s a treat in every sense of the word!

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So that’s it for my tips on how to spend 24 hours in Edinburgh, I hope you guys like it and if there’s anything I’ve missed please let me know as I’d love to have some new places to explore for my next visit!

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A Trip To The Market

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Borough Market is one of those places that has long been on my wish list to visit as it is the ultimate treasure trove of different and fresh produce, the Aladdins cave of wonders of food if you will. Since the 13th Century it’s been bringing lovers of food from all around the world to share in the best of British and international produce. So with one of my best friends by my side who happens to be a chef and highly experienced in traversing food markets, I was ready and willing to be led on a culinary journey (and to eat my own body weight in food along the way).DSC06095DSC06096

Walking through the market I was overwhelmed, as it’s truly a sensory experience like no other where you are encouraged to touch and smell everything so you can truly immerse yourself in the fresh produce.
DSC06098DSC06103DSC06105DSC06094 On our travels we couldn’t help but swing by the Ginger Pig to get something to take away for later, as a massive fan of their cook books I couldn’t miss the chance to try their sausage rolls straight from the source! We tried a sweet chilli as well as a pork and stilton  one, which was my favourite thanks to the quality of the meat as well as the richness of the stilton, topped off with the buttery flakyness of the pastry. Needless to say it’s a stall that I’ll definitely be revisiting again!DSC06106

The best part of going anywhere like this with someone who works with food everyday is the sheer amount of knowledge they bring to the table. It truly richens your experience as she was able to tell me what to go for depending on what was in season and the signs to picking the best produce, not to mention answering all my questions about things I didn’t recognise. For example those longer, grey looking carrots? They’re called salsify which can be cooked similarly to any root vegetable but have a kind of oystery taste. See, learn something new everyday!

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Not to mention the sheer quality and beauty of the produce makes it a beautiful experience in itself, I mean just look at the colours! This is something that you definitely won’t see at any supermarket. It makes for a foodie’s paradise, strolling through the stalls imagining and dreaming of everything you could make.DSC06109DSC06110DSC06116

But finally came the time to stop dreaming and start eating and my friend promised me we had saved the best till last, and judging by the 30 people strong queue I was inclined to believe her. We went for the salt beef sandwich by The Northfield Kitchin, which I was assured was one of the best stops in the market. The smell of the freshest local beef combined with pickle and just enough spicy English mustard to provide a bit of a kick meant I was drooling at the mouth before we’d even got close.
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Each one loving prepared in respect owed to the excellent quality of product means that you can taste the care and devotion in every mouthful, which combined produces one hell of a sandwich and one that was worth every second of waiting.

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From the look on our faces you can tell it was pretty much love at first sight bite.

DSC06136Thoroughly stuffed and satisfied we took a moment to revel in the magic of what we had eaten until we decided it was finally time to move on to see what the rest of the market had to offer, and you never know, potentially pick up a couple more snacks along the way.DSC06140

The best part of the market is that for those of you that aren’t quite so carniverous there’s still plenty of treats to tempt you, from fresh scallops to fallafal and haloumi burgers that would make even the most devout meat-eater go weak at the knees. Unfortunately due to my fixation on sandwiches and sausage rolls I didn’t take any photos of these treats (bad blogger award I know) but be sure to check out @boroughmarket’s instagram for more drool worth photos.DSC06142DSC06144

I couldn’t help but pick up a few of my all time favourite blood oranges along the way, which might be making their way to a recipe soon…DSC06151DSC06156DSC06157DSC06161DSC06162One last look around the treasure trove and I had finally literally had my fill of Aladdin’s cave of wonders. But of course we couldn’t leave without taking a jewel or two for the road…

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I would love to know if you’ve been to Borough Market and what your favourite stalls are or if there’s any other markets around the UK that you love to visit please let me know! In the meanwhile I’ll just be dreaming about those doughnuts for a little while longer…

Morning at The Mac

One of my favourite things about Belfast are the amount of hidden gems there are hidden around the city, and The Mac is one of the best of them. Hidden away in St. Anne’s Square it has played home to collections of greats such as Andy Warhol and has recently been shortlisted for the Art Fund Museum of the Year award.
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Opened in 2012 it’s still a relatively new addition to the ever blossoming cultural scene in Belfast and with three art galleries, two theatres, an artist-in-residence studio and workshop spaces it’s definitely helping to ensure it continues to. Not to mention it’s a perfect way to lose an afternoon as you wander around the amazing space, so we picked up our brochures and followed the rainbow.
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The current exhibition is curated by Gregory McCartney which explores the end of things; of personal and social empires with art from Adrian Ghenie, Pieter Hugo and Olaf Brzeski. I first found myself in the photos taken by Pieter Hugo which were haunting glimpses into his violent landscape of his native South Africa and I have to say I have never experienced photographs with the ability to conjure such feelings. You truly got a sense of the brutality and conflict that Hugo was trying to convey through the pictures which made me so uncomfortable but thus emphasized it’s brilliance.DSC02811DSC02813

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The strangeness of the booklet I feel best surmises the atmosphere of the exhibition, with the strangeness of the masked man conveying the other worldliness of the environment of the photo with a slightly eerie, potentially violent inference to be made due to the man’s choice of a mask.

DSC02820    To try and clear our heads we wandered down to the lowered gallery where the vast space was taken up by an explosive sculpture. Olaf Brzeski’s art is described as representing iconic situations having gone awry, such as the below “Dream – Spontaneous Combustion” reflecting Olaf’s attempt to clean out his chimney. Although this explanation renders any possible imaginings harmless, it was hard for me to shake my initial reaction which was noting the marked similarities between the sculpture and the mushroom cloud made by nuclear explosions. Although I am certainly nothing close to any semblance of an authority of art, I’ve always thought that anything that can conjure a genuine human emotional reaction has succeeded and this exhibition, no matter how darkly definitely succeeded in that.DSC02831DSC02795

It’s fair to say though that after all that exploring we were physically and emotionally exhausted, and that meant only one thing, brunch! Luckily for us The Mac cafe is often heavily featured as a recommended place to eat in Belfast, and with this spread it’s easy to see why.

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After being thoroughly spoilt for choice we decided to stick with the classics (and come back for cakes later). With produce from local farms and bakeries it’s probably one of the most authentic breakfasts you can have in Belfast, and believe me the freshness of the food makes it one of the tastiest. And I bet you can’t guess which breakfast is mine….DSC02780

Of course I had to go for my ultimate breakfast choice of eggs benedict and it didn’t let me down being one of the tastiest (not to mention prettiest) ones I’ve ever had.

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With plenty of food and tea to revive us we discussed what we had seen before finally taking one last look at the beautiful building and heading out to see what the rest of the day had in store for us.

Every time I go to The Mac there is something bold and imaginative to be seen and I can’t recommend it enough even if you’re not an art fan to just pop into the cafe and then have a wander because you never know what you might see.
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Culture at Cultivo Lounge

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As I write this I am packing for my final trip to Belfast to graduate (when did that happen?), so you can expect some posts from there popping up soon. In the meantime I thought I’d share with you all I recent trip I made to one of my favourite haunts when I’m back home to catch up with one of my oldest friends for some delicious food and a catch up!

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Proof that everything is amazing on the menu, I couldn’t decide between a cappuccino and their specialty sherbet lemonade. An amazing mix of lemon juice, sugar syrup, soda water and crush sherbet lemons, it’s something i’ll definitely be trying to recreate at home!

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Warning: The following picture may arouse severe food cravings.

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Urgh look at it, able to draw a stomach pang from even the pickiest of eaters. Eggs benedict is my absolute favourite and Cultivo Lounge nails it with super gooey eggs and a perfect, not too sharp hollandaise sauce and the inclusion of salty, crisp bacon really takes it to the next level.

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In the summer they just fling open the doors so you can sit out on the balcony, which is perfect for whiling away the hours people watching. With a menu that caters to both vegans and coeliacs it’s one of my favourite places to take people day or night, and luckily for me I have a lot of friends to catch up with….

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Breakfast with Besties

Every so often life brings a gift in the form of a bank holiday, and when you get that opportunity you have to grab it with both hands and run with it. With University, work and all life’s other chores … Continue reading