Monday, 30 November 2015

Alright Treacle

"Alright Treacle?"..

Not just a typical greeting you might receive if you tapped on Danny Dyer's door to borrow some sugar. Naturally I was delighted to connect with Edinburgh based supper club, Alright Treacle. Totally blown away by their creative partnership and desire to offer an alternative dining experience for our city, I was quick to snap up my place at their table; sample the varied, visually stunning menu and chat with founder and kitchen goddess, Anna.

The Crew

The Alright Treacle team come in the form of dynamic duo, Anna Hamilton (R) and Lydia Honeybone (L). Anna did something of a "side-shuffle" from previous career choices and discovered her love for creating vibrant menus and a passion for the community dining experience. With no real formal training in the kitchen, she found her natural affinity and flair in menu design, culinary creation and hosting - all this with Lydia as her trusty right-hand gal.

Edinburgh is a fine canvas for such a concept. Alright Treacle do it all: private event catering, collaborations, special birthdays or hosting themed supper clubs at a quirky flat in the historic Old Town, otherwise known as Alright Treacle HQ.

Culinary Community

Setting a theme for any event is the perfect way to draw different crowds together and keeps the company and concept fresh. I found that hosting the supper club in a flat created an intimate, socialable and personal dining experience. There is something delightful about community dining.

Carefully selected menus and themes naturally attract a wide variety of different guests each with their own tastes and interests. This social "melting pot" is the perfect environment to spark conversation and keeps a natural flow to the entire evening. If that does not occur naturally it is almost impossible to generate. It is organic and cannot be forced. In truth, forcing it would really detract from the very element that makes it so fascinating.

I adore that each event is entirely individual, whether you want to relive retro dishes with a twist, enjoy chocolate in every course or get into the spirit of the festive season, Anna is bursting with ideas that will lure you in and ensure that you never want to leave.

As I chatted among guests I found a mix of loyal Alright Treacle veterans and newcomers which bound the evening together in an intricately woven social tapestry. Further time with Anna illuminated that through the group dining process new friendships blossomed. Over time, newbies would integrate themselves into the group allowing long-lasting friendships to be forged. This makes it quite different than rocking up to your favourite restaurant to eat, pay and leave.

At my event it became abundantly clear that Alright Treacle were as passionate about the GREET as they were about the MEAT. A veritable feast of gourmet cuisine, creative party panache and a hostess with the most.

I volunteered to attend "Meat Head" on a chilly October evening which the wise among you will deduce promised a meat feast with meat taking centre stage in every course, including dessert. Just thinking about it brought me out in the meat sweats. Not an evening for our veggie friends you might agree, but certainly a carnivore's heaven.

Time for a tipple

Why, it would seem rude to refuse, wouldn't it? On arrival we were greeted with an Elderflower and gin fizz cocktail. What a fine welcome! I think I could get to like it here. A few bubbles were all we needed to set us off on the right course.

Snack Attack

To kick things off Anna presented a home made bread fresh from the oven which had a hint of pancetta, cheddar and shallot, accompanied with fresh pesto.

I try not to eat bread too often, so this felt more like an occasional treat. Honestly, I would have enjoyed going to town on this alone, but I had to leave room for all that was to come.

Just For Starters

First plate of the evening was a venison carpaccio with parsnip puree and crisps, fig, parmesan, pistachios, pickled shallot rings, mustard frills and a pomegranate molasses dressing. I enjoyed the incorporation of seasonal produce into this visual masterpiece.

Such a tasty titbit to whet our appetites. Each one of Anna's dishes are a sumptuous work art.

Quite fitting that I captured each kodak moment before I devoured every morsel of these delectable delights.

The Main Event

For main, Anna served up beef cheek, blue cheese and walnut pie, rare filet, celeriac purée, chanterelles, poached pear, blackberries, pea shoots, buttered beef and all topped with porcini gravy. The meat was tender, the flavours alluring and complementary and guaranteed to bring pizazz to any palette.

Just Desserts

You know what they say about saving the best for last?

I never quite knew that bacon and cheesecake could be friends, but apparently they get along quite famously. The cheesecake was made using a hazelnut base with a salted caramel and bacon filling. This was topped with tart berry and served alongside a beetroot sorbet which offered a sharp contrast to the dish. A more daring dessert you will not find.

A brave attempt and an Alright Treacle première, but the table agreed that this bold move more than paid off. You could say that sometimes you can risk it for a biscuit (base).

Each course was sublime, with company to match. Sadly Alright Treacle are approaching their "last supper" for the moment as Anna embarks on fresh horizons in New Zealand with her beau. However, should she find herself back in "Auld Reekie" I would urge you to act swiftly to ensure that she has set aside a place just for you. I truly hope she continues to develop her creativity on different shores and that this will enable her to bring back fresh flavours and a concoction of new ideas on her glorious return.

Bon Voyage Alright Treacle, so nice to meat you...

How do I connect with Alright Treacle?
Facebook: Alright Treacle
Twitter: @alrighttreacles
Instagram: alrighttreacles

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Milkman

If you have lived in Edinburgh for any length of time you will quickly realise that we have no shortage of hot coffee haunts in this town. However, I am always willing to make exception for the new kid, and the kid in question is "The Milkman".

Rumour has it that most people tend to have a love affair with the milkman at some point in time, so let me tell you a little bit more about mine...

The Dude

Cast your minds back to a time when milk was delivered by horse and cart around the dusty streets and into family homes. The original "Milkman" was owner Mark Donald's great-grandfather and he did just that on the streets of Huntly, in rural Aberdeenshire. He was keen to show me old images of his great-grandfather, perched on a cart and sporting the trademark flat cap and pipe which he had captured from photo albums after a saunter down memory lane.

It was immediately clear that this character was very close to his heart. Mark chose to name his business baby after him and is determined to incorporate the logo as part of his branding in various ways around the coffee shop so that he can keep family close to help guide his own footsteps in this new venture.

The Milkman espresso bar sits in prime position in Edinburgh's quaint Cockburn Street as it cascades down to Waverley bridge. When the property became available Mark knew in his heart that it would be the perfect pitch for a coffee bar and not just because his other half runs the popular and quirky Miss Katie Cupcake just a hop, skip and jump along those legendary cobbles. Nawww...

Once Mark had secured the spot, the beginnings of lovely idea began to fall into place.

The Delicacies

I adore when the artisan food scene in any city work in collaborative to supply each other with quality coffee, baked goods and sweet treats.

There is something quite special about a sense of comradery that exists within a start-up community, who shy away from rivalry and competition and instead desire to share in and celebrate the success of the other.

To offer humble opinion, I think this could quickly prove to be the way forward, especially with many budding businesses in the city.

The Milkman supplies only the best, high quality java by Dear Green coffee with thanks to friendly neighbour, Glasgow. The bakery items are fresh daily and all from my own personal local bakery, The Manna House.

Other sweet treats are supplied from Pinnies and Poppy Seeds and unique flavours of craft soda are available courtesy of popular fellow Edinburgh newbies, Kitsch.

The Design

What I found most intriguing about this budding entrepreneur was his thirst for original design within the shop and restoring existing and curiously hidden features to their former glory. From exposed copper piping to shutter pulleys for his windows, Mark wants to further uncover the history that dwells within the four walls of "The Milkman". I found that this further adds to its quaint charm and instant likeability.

He has the rare gift of envisaging potential to re-purpose what others may have casually cast aide and seeks to put them in the spotlight,rather than on the scrap heap. A perfect example of this would be the street light that hangs from a wooden beam in a cosy corner of the shop. The glass panels have been removed and ivy drapes from this eye-catching piece which now enjoys a new lease of life in its new indoor abode.

His doors have flung wide to locals only a few weeks ago but his cup is literally brimming with ideas about how to further improve the shop feel. Mark is also keen to seize opportunities and funding to join with architects and design professionals in Edinburgh to bring his ideas to life and showcase this happy little corner of Edinburgh's beautiful Old Town.

Next time you have a free morning to spare; want to huddle from the December chill or need a latte as you run to catch your train, stop by "The Milkman'. Personally I would rather linger a while to soak up the ambience and appreciate everything that makes this space unique, rather than just simply skim the surface.

Spoiler alert: the staff are relaxed and friendly, the snacks are fresh, the atmosphere is warm and the coffee is flowing. Other coffee corners in Edinburgh sit up and take note as "The Milkman" is destined to be legen-dairy....

How can I connect with The Milkman?
Facebook: The Milkman
Twitter: @The__Milkman___
Instagram: themilkmancoffee


Thursday, 12 November 2015


Finally fashion meets function and they appear to be getting on like a house on fire. Rogues have a swanky style, are on trend, keep your feet comfortable and will ensure that you stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Blogosphere magazine kindly approached me in the hope that I would review a pair of these colourful beauties from new shoewear brand, Rogues. Unfamiliar with the brand, I found that I didn't need to delve too deep in order to discover that they were whipping up something of a vibrant storm on the fashion field. Their approach is simple, but seemed to offer something that I felt personally was lacking in footwear arenas.

Often within women's fashion, high heels create something of a false ideal for your average girl-about-town. One size doesn't necessarily fit all. This being said, we can't deny that our footwear is one of the most personal elements of our style. The platforms and pointy stilettos of Parisian street-style aren't practical for a daily look and if you are lucky enough to find trendy alternatives your feet will be first to thank you, and breathe a large sigh of relief.

On a recent jaunt to Copenhagen, I was blown away by those great Danes in how effortlessly they marry style and comfort. Could they really have it all? With more bicycles than people at estimate, Danish dames need to reflect trends whilst maintaining a practical edge. After all, one would find it pretty tricky to cycle across the city in stilts, agreed? Taking this as my inspiration, I feel that Rogues further accentuate that "style-savvy", practical aesthetic whilst echoing current and emerging trends.

I was sent the "Sherbet" style from the collection. On opening the box, it is clear that Rogues are no wall flower. They command attention from first glance to first prance. If you are looking for a subtle, discreet, retiring violet- jog on. Rogues seem to have executed a cunning plan in their clever selection of colour and print for Autumn/Winter 15. They demand to be noticed, but not like that loud, embarrassing girl at a party. With hot hues, plush materials and a mix of textures, these shoes are somewhat of a full sensory experience.

The brand endeavoured to create the comfort and fit of a trainer whilst retaining the upper appeal of a brogue. Brand pioneer Katie Harland created Rogues after a quest to seek her own swag solution. Unable to find her perfect fit, she believed that Rogues offered an alternative style when others weren't deemed fit for occasion. When what you desire isn't out there, others seek to create and innovate and this is a process that I will always be first in line to support. I fully expect that after gaining a little traction from fashion week exposure, they will be hot-footing it into many wardrobes all across the country. Sumptuously smooth leather from refined Portuguese technique, pony skin and vibrant laces are a few of the features you will find when slipping into a pair of Rogues. I think you will be quick to agree that they are onto a winning formula.

Rogues can be styled in any way you choose, it really depends what jives with your usual look. I find that a pair as vibrant and eye catching as the "Sherbets" are best paired with a more neutral, almost monochromatic palette. Throwing too many colours into the mix in any one outfit can often feel distracting and overdone. If you select a few neutral basics-white, grey, black, navy- a pair of Rogues act as the "pièce de résistance" that will ensure that your outfit is complete. A black winter wool coat, grey polo, blanket scarf and black skinny jean are instantly offset by these happy little conversation starters.

They were comfortable from first wear, after the standard pacing around your home to break in any new pair of kicks. This is all thanks to the sole. They are ideal for an autumnal crunch around my usual stomping ground in beautiful Scotland and I feel that they are the perfect option to brighten even the darkest, dreary night of the Autumn/Winter season.

Flats are firmly back on the map. Be yourself. Wear what works...Take a walk on the bolder side and colour your world.

A generous thanks is extended to new brands like Rogues that want to stand up and be counted. This brand have captured public attention at London Fashion week and don't intend to tread softly. I predict that this could be one rogue I am prepared to love...

How to connect with Rogues?
Twitter: @roguesshoes
Facebook: Rogues
Instagram: @rogues_uk
Pair featured: Sherbet, £150 *currently on offer for £79*


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Ted & Muffy store launch

Last Thursday, I shuffled my little shoes down to Castle Street to attend the opening of the brand new and rather lovely Ted & Muffy. With existing stores in Bath and London, they simply had to bring the brand to Scotland's capital city and I was more than keen to take a peek.

Having previously existed as Duo they decided it was time for change. A few long discussions and a trendy face lift later, Ted & Muffy was born. The namesakes of the store were the original founders of Duo and felt that the brand had strayed a touch too far from the original vision and so decided that in order to put their best foot forward, they might need to start again.

The team behind the new store kindly extended a warm invitation to Edinburgh based bloggers to come along one evening for a few nibbles, fizz and a bit of a chat in the hope of leaving with their fairytale fit.

As trendy-savvy bloggers poured into the renovated shop front to escape the Edinburgh evening chill, they were greeted with an array of treats and the infamous "key tree". Each blogger had a personalised key that delicately dangled on the branches of a sweet little tree decked out in fairy lights. The idea being that bloggers would each claim their key and then parouse the various different styles and select a few to try with one of the skilled fitters. Once you had chosen, the details of the order were written on the tag and all you had to do was hang it up before you leave.

The fancy fitters were eagerly standing by with measuring tape in tow to jot down a few key measurements and then hurry quickly to the stock room to find something that might be just right.

Ted & Muffy are committed to finding your perfect fit so will factor in such details as foot width/calf measurements etc so that they can tweak the selection to suit you. This extra mile attitude ensures an entirely bespoke service.

After pawing over various brogues, ankle boots and other offerings I opted for a flat, black, leather riding boot with asymmetric detailing in the "Huntsman" style. I watched as other ladies went for more daring options with bucket loads of sass, but I was quite confident that I had in no way settled for second best. These little babies are practically perfect in every way and ideal for pounding the pavements of our beautiful city.

Thrilled with my choice, I used the rest of my time in store to adore the newly styled shop fit, snazzy lighting and slick, modern interior; help myself to some more fizz/treats and chat with other bloggers about their sites.

The really great thing is that even within this relatively small cross-selection of women, it is strikingly apparent that we are all unique. Everyone is naturally drawn to different styles that appeal to their inner shopaholic and truly complement their individual sense of style. I love that!

For instance, I would never choose the thigh-high Freia lace-ups, but I can fully adore them on another gal and see how they bring a twinkle to the eye and put a spring in her step. Suited and booted? Wonderful.

A big thank you to all involved in the launch evening. Please note that I am literally counting the seconds until my boot-iful beauties arrive...

How can I try or buy?
Twitter: @tedandmuffy
Instagram: @tedandmuffy

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