Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lighting porn

Oh my oh my.  I’m looking for wall lights for my spare bedroom, and somehow wandered into the glorious Graham and Green site.  I think I’m in love…

Cage au Folles


Tour Eiffel

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More exercise and less food – simples!

Oh yikes.  I have been so caught up with everything else, dieting and weight loss has been at the back of my mind.  Home renovations, friends visiting and Fringe nonsense got the better of me and now I need to make up for lost time.

So here’s where I’ve gone right.  I like to start with good news first: I’ve started going to Zumba classes 3 times a week.  The classes are at various venues, progressively increasing in intensity from Monday to Wednesday.  Tis a strange coincidence, but the Monday evening class is the most chilled out.  Most perfect to ease me into a week of jumping about!

I’ve found I actually really enjoy it.  I’m surprised, because I’m more of the ‘exercise needs to hurt, no pain no gain’ camp, as the old wives say.   I used to go to kettlebell training regularly and loved it, so Zumba was totally out of my comfort zone.  The music is supremely cheesy, and normally the idea of a room full of women would bring me out in hives, but somehow it works.  I’m not really a “girly girl”.  I love shopping, shoes and fashion mags, but I don’t have a Sex and the City mentality, and my friends and I are more likely to be sipping whiskey than frothy pink cocktails.  I am also the worst dancer in the world, with the coordination of a one-legged cat.  But Zumba is fun, and this feels like the kind of exercise I can actually get into.

I’ve been making the effort to walk everywhere, which has actually made my life easier manouevring the Festival crowds than my usual bus or taxi route.  It’s amazing how much easier dodging tourists can be when you are not crammed in a crowded bus like sardines.  Besides, the (sporadic) sunshine has done wonders for my mood.  I’m perkier, and hopefully, my thighs will be smaller.

Unfortunately, I have slacked off on my Callanetics classes the past couple weeks, mostly as I just couldn’t face it recovering from being ill with food poisoning (thanks, malfunctioning fridge from hell).  I’ve still got a few sessions left of my 10 classes, and I really do want to keep it up.  So either tonight or tomorrow, I’ll be back at the barre, inflicting all sorts of pain on myself but with the knowledge the inches will be falling away.  I’ve tried Callanetics before and I know it works, but I keep falling off the wagon.  I’m so undisciplined!

Well, now I have the good news and the bad news out of the way, the only other thing left to mention is I am going to try to ease myself into changing my weigh in day from Thursday to Tuesday.  This sounds silly out of context, but basically the Thursday WW weigh in at Meggetland is a bit of a pain in the butt to get to, and I’ve found a meeting at the Merlin in Morningside that is just more convenient.  I find it easier to stay motivated on WW when I stay for the meetings, but with the Meggetland meetings I’d have to rush back straight after, rather than a leisurely saunter from Morningside from the Merlin.

I joined WW a few years ago and found it really worked for me; my Leader was fabulous and really gave me the kick I needed to shift the poundage.  She was super-active and actually encouraged us WWers to get fit, rather than just cut our food intake alone.  My current WW Leader is a big advocate of tracking, but she doesn’t seem to promote much in the way of exercise.  A few girls at the meetings go to the gym, but a few weeks ago at meeting I’d gained half a pound, and I mentioned I’d been doing a lot more exercise (cardio to be precise) – I am well aware muscle is denser and weighs more than fat.  Her advice was just to track religiously, and that exercise Pro Points weren’t as important as reducing my food intake.  I’m not sure I am happy with that advice!

So I’ll stick with my Zumba classes and Callanetics, thankyouverymuch!

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Review: Urban Angel, Hanover Street

I’m at Urban Angel again for lunch, as I’ve errands to run in town and it’s so convenient. It also helps the food is fabulous!

I’m eating alone today, having left the boyfriend at home. We have our usual sharing dishes we order every time, like the homemade bread with olive oil and dukkah, but as I’m on my own I thought I’d try something different.

So today, I am having the crispy polenta bites with tomato and Parmesan, and the whole mackerel with a fennel, apple and blue cheese salad.


The polenta was perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy with just the right amount if texture within. It came with shavings of Parmesan and a fresh tomato salsa comparable to Lupe Pintos. All served on a bed of rocket.

My mackerel was a generous portion of fish, complete with head and tail! It was expertly cooked with a crispy skin and tender flesh. The salad combined sweet, crunchy apple with the tanginess of blue cheese and delicate slices of fennel. Fabulous!

I finished my meal with a slice of their New York baked cheesecake, my usual treat. This is the cheesecake against which all other cheesecakes are compared. Rich and creamy, not too sweet and with a cake base. Beautiful!

I’m now happily stuffed and ready for an afternoon of messages and some sneaky shopping.

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Review: The Apartment, Bruntsfield

The boyfriend and I decided to have a late dinner at The Apartment yesterday evening; it’s one if our ‘regular’ eateries about town, and being close to home made it the obvious choice.

The Apartment was where I ate my first meal in Edinburgh, with a good friend and the lovely lady who is now his wife. This was before I’d moved here, and it was a special treat to go for a night out in the city. He’d suggested we try this place as it was one of his favourites, and it didn’t disappoint.

Yesterday was no different; we turned up at 9:30 and were greeted like old friends by the lovely waitress. At that time of night, some some restaurants are finishing up their last orders, but we didn’t feel rushed at all.

We ordered one of their signature ‘chunky healthy lines’; skewers of salmon, king prawn and scallop marinated in a sweet chilli dressing. This came with a generous portion of salmon, tender and complemented by the sweet dressing. There were whole caramelised roasted chillies and shallots. Even my boyfriend, who usually steers away from fish, couldn’t resist.

We had the same main course of sautéed duck livers on sourdough toast with roasted pears. Now I’m a sucker for a roasted pear (The Apartment’s gnocchi with roasted pear, pumpkin and rocket is one of my favourites, as is Ghillie Dhu’s lamb chops with roasted pear and new potatoes), so this special was an obvious choice.

The livers were fabulous, crisp on the outside, sweat and tender inside. The caramelised pear and crisp toasted sourdough finished the dish perfectly. We had to restrain ourselves from licking our plates clean!

We’d ordered some sides to accompany our meal, but due to a delay in the kitchen (and there was a very large party of tourists in at the same time), they arrived a little later. The waitress was super-nice about it though and took them off the bill, though they did arrive and we polished them off as well.

The Apartment is definitely one of my favourite places to eat in Edinburgh, with consistently fabulous food and great service. It’s chilled out and unpretentious, and feels like you’re at a very, very good dinner party.

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Recipe: Strawberries and cream crumpets


I’ve been craving warm, golden crumpets lately. Maybe it’s the turn of the weather and the cooler evenings, or just sheer laziness and a need for speedy, satisfying sustenance. All I know is I’ve eaten a whole packet in two days, and everything in the fridge has become a potential crumpet topping.

I’ve professed my love for Brenda Leddy’s Stichill dairy apricot and ginger soft cheese before, and melted on crumpets under the grill it’s absolutely beautiful.

Strawberries and cream crumpet

(serves 2 as a snack if you feel like sharing)

2 crumpets
2 tsp Stichill dairies apricot and ginger soft cheese (or plain soft cheese blended with honey)
4 strawberries

Preheat grill to high. Spread crumpets with the soft cheese, and top with sliced strawberries. Grill for 7-8 mins or until crumpets are warmed through.


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Half man, half beast?


As seen on the Royal Mile.

I’m not in the habit of taking photos of the Mile, a hobby usually reserved for tourists.

This guy really put in the effort though!

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Review: Koyama Japanese restaurant, Forrest road

After a late start to the day, and a fabulous croissant from Valvona and Crolla with a generous dollop of Claire Leslie’s strazzberry jam for brunch, I’m ready for lunch.

By the time I made my way across the Meadows, there was a growl in my belly. I’ve had Japanese food 3 times in the past week; first dinner at Yes Sushi on Hanover Street on Friday, then Number One Sushi on Home street on Sunday evening, and finally Izzi on Lothian road for lunch yesterday.

Today I thought I’d try Koyama on Forrest road. I’ve been past it on my way into town many times, but have always been in too much of a rush to go in.

My first impression on entering was this place is much larger, with a set up similar to sushi restaurants in Canada and the US. Some booths as well as small tables, red paper lanterns, and Hokusai prints on the walls.

Although I’d consider myself adventurous in what I eat, I must admit I have my ‘usuals’ when I eat Japanese. Unagi (eel) nigiri and hand roll, sea bass sashimi and some sort of noodle soup.

The problem was, today the menu outside was very different to the menu I was presented with. Quite a few things had disappeared, including the hearty noodle soups and the unagi hand roll. In fact, the only mention of eel was in a maki roll and in an unagi don style rice dish. I was told this was the ‘Festival menu’, and no, the chef could not make any of the missing items from the regular menu. Not a good start, as that just had me thinking the sushi was not freshly made.

I ordered sea bass and salmon sashimi, and decided to try the eel maki. For my main dish I had the mixed seafood yaki udon.


The salmon sashimi was sliced a bit thick for my taste, less delicate pieces of fish and more generous mouthfuls. The sea bass sashimi was fine, topped with firm roe and sliced thinly.


The eel maki had a bit too much rice and not enough eel, though there was a nice crunch of cucumber. Disappointingly, there was barely any eel to speak of.


My udon came with panko-fried prawns and pieces of various other seafood,  which tasted suspiciously like scampi! The prawns had a nice crisp crust though, which was the high point of the dish. The noodles were slightly overcooked and limp, and the sauce lacked robust flavour.

To top things off, I was then informed by the waitress that despite the sign advertising a 10% student discount, this only applied if I paid in cash! I spoke to the manager and she allowed me the discount, but I think it’s a little misleading as there was no mention of cash payments only on the sign in their window!

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here as it is Festival season, and normal rules don’t apply, evidently. It was a disappointing experience and a mediocre meal, but I may go back and try their wares when it’s back to the normal menu.

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Paint the roses…

Honeysuckle in Bruntsfield has some beautiful painted roses, like Alice’s Red Queen in technicolour.

Ice cream

I remember this stuff from my childhood.  My parents used to buy that 3-tiered ice cream for me from the supermarket, and I used to call it Napoleon ice cream.  Took me until I was in junior high before I realised it was “Neapolitan”.

Freeze drying it was a stroke of genius, as my mum hates mess and there are few things messier than a child with rapidly melting ice cream on a hot July in Toronto.  You had me at freeze-dried.

That and my phonetic pronunciation of Garfield’s lasagne; and my inability to differentiate between pheasants and peasants as a child.  Endearing, non?;