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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Christmas Baking

WP_20141121_22_02_10_ProWP_20141121_22_09_29_Pro WP_20141121_22_02_37_ProWP_20141121_22_08_43_Pro  As a devotee of The Great British Bake Off and an aspirational baker myself, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year to whip out that mixing bowl and get baking. There’s nothing I find more homely than a house that is full of the smell of baking and seeing as our student house celebrates Christmas a little earlier than usual, I thought it was the perfect time to share some of my favourite Christmas recipes with you to practise just in time for Santa.

My first is a chocolate chip cookie recipe which is a firm favourite for me as it’s what Santa received from our house every year when I was younger. My personal favourite are those gooey, chewy versions so I borrowed this recipe from Tanya Burr’s website,adapting it slightly for a little less chocolate as I didn’t want too much added sweetness. Not to mention it’s incredibly adaptable so you can include any of your favourite chocolates that you like!

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My second recipe had to of course be gingerbread, as what is Christmas without gingerbread?! Although I am a great favourite of the gingerbread house, I tend to cheat nowadays in favour of the ikea flatpack version but I am still a traditionalist when it comes to the original cookies themselves. Thanks to this cookie recipe from the good old BBC themselves and some cookie cutters from the oh so glamorous Poundland, I ended up with these beauties.WP_20141121_22_08_54_Pro

If you give either of these a go or have any of your own traditional Christmas bakes let me know as I’m always on the lookout for some new offerings to leave for Father Christmas under the tree!

Don’t be frowny, make some Brownies!

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Brownies must be the ultimate guilty pleasure food, I mean think about it, when have brownies ever been offered and someone’s said no? Never I bet, and if you answered yes then maybe get that person checked out as they are definitely an alien. Brownies are the type of food where there’s a type for everyone, whether you like them gooey or firm, from dark to white chocolate,with Oreos or nuts, brownies are the easiest pleasing bake there is.
Mine are adapted from Sam Stern’s book (who is great for simple, tasty dishes that aren’t too intimidating or contain crazy ingredients), and his “truffle bars” provide the most gorgeous gooey snacks.

I substituted all dark chocolate for half and half with some milk chocolate, just because I prefer a slightly less rich taste that you get from all dark chocolate, but without the sweetness that all milk gives. I also used slightly less vanilla extract as I was using vanilla paste which is much more potent than the liquid form. This is something I would definitely recommend being careful about as depending on the quality of the vanilla extract you’ll find you might need slightly more or less than suggested. But the good news is that this gives you the perfect excuse to taste some of the mixture as you go along!

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So there they are! While the original recipe suggests some piped icing over the top I prefer them with a light dusting of icing sugar or even with some fresh berries and vanilla ice cream for a delicious chocolatey, refreshing pudding. I hope you all like the recipe and if there’s anything you’d like  to see me bake in the future then comments would be much appreciated!

Gemma xx