Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Adventures Away: North Berwick

These sunny days we've been having in Scotland seem to come and go, but they certainly are beautiful.  North Berwick is the perfect day trip to enjoy on days such as these, less than an hour away from Edinburgh by train or car and with a very pretty journey to get there.  Not only does it have a lovely family & dog friendly beach, but it's also a great place to wander around, look at boats, visit some shops and have some chips, and maybe a wee ice cream.  Here are some of my favourite things to do on a North Berwick visit:
 - Have a stroll down the High Street - plenty of cute wee shops, lots of fresh seafood, nice places to stop off for some pub grub and more cafes than you can shake a stick at.  A new favourite is Why Not? - a lovely indoor market selling a variety of items from artisan breads to handmade cards and vintage fur coats.  They are also rumoured to have some of the best cakes in North Berwick (if not Scotland) which sold at their cafe in the back of the shop.
- Take a peek at Bass Rock - you can either look through the binoculars near the Seabird Centre or take a boat trip out there and examine up close whether there are puffins, guillemots, razorbills or even the odd seal hanging out there.
- Visit the harbour and Lobster Shack - there's something peaceful about listening to the waves against the rocks and looking at the boats.  Improving this experience hugely is a visit to Lobster Shack.  Their fresh seafood is outstanding and there's nothing like cracking open a lobster shell when you're by the seaside. 
- Have an ice cream - a tradition you can't pass up and with both a Mr Whippy and an S Luca van near the harbour you are spoilt for choice!
- The Fringe by the Sea Festival is taking place from 4-10 August.  Like a mini version of the Edinburgh Fringe but minus the craziness and overwhelming amounts of people - and crucially, by the sea.  How perfect does that sound?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Grey Goose Boulangerie in Multrees Walk and Party at The Devil's Advocate

Grey Goose Boulangerie Francois is an artisan French bakery carionnette van which is the most unlikely and intimate Martini cocktail bar you'll find. The super-lux vodka brand's van has popped up on Multrees Walk near Harvey Nichols and will be there until Wednesday 23 July. You can book an appointment for a bespoke Martini to fit your taste via their twitter account @GreyGooseRSVP. We went along to their launch at The Devil's Advocate last week and it was as as awesome as we were expecting it to be! With five Grey Goose cocktails to try based around the tastes of sweet, salty, sour, umami and bitter, there were plenty of opportunities to 'appreciate' the drinks. There was a great atmosphere on the night and it was fabulous to be amongst such a glamorous Edinburgh crowd.  We were particularly thrilled to spot Rose Leslie (aka Ygritte from Game of Thrones), who looked stunning in a slinky black jumpsuit. Ah, to be so beautiful! We waylaid our envy the only way we know how - by eating more delicious canap├ęs of tuna tartare towers and chilli oysters.  Later in the evening we tried our own bespoke Grey Goose Martini, mixed for us by the charming London-based brand ambassador Omar Sequera. Made with various herbs and a touch of magic, it was bitter-sweet, intoxicating, and absolutely delicious.  Definitely worth trying to get a slot at the Boulangerie van this week!

Le Fizz
The Grey Goose
Rose Leslie, Omar Sequera and Louisa Theo

Friday, 18 July 2014

Saturdays in Style: The In Fine Style Exhibition and Gareth Pugh Q&A

Edinburgh’s most sociable month is almost upon us, and some of those looking to board the ED FRINGE PARTY TRAIN may feel like laying low in a preservation of pennies, sanity, and liver function before August’s rollercoaster sets off. Well, pish to that I say, especially when a deliciously glamourous event like the In Fine Style exhibition sparkles on this weekend’s social calendar.

As part of the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival, the evening celebrates the lustrous style of the rich and famous in the 16th and 17th centuries, and its influence in modern fashion today. Against an exquisite backdrop of paintings and costumes at the Queen’s Gallery in Holyrood House, curator Anna Reynolds will host a Q&A with Vogue-lauded designer Gareth Pugh (whose creations have graced the not-unpicky celebrity backs of Beyonce and Lady Gaga) in an exploration of the “ageless pursuit of dressing to impress.” Accompanied, naturally, by plenty of fabulous drinks and music, and even the chance to try on a ruff (in a cool and insouciant manner, obvs), it’s due to be a night our Tudor and Stuart fashion forebearers would be proud of.
Helena Christensen and Rankin are amongst the celebrities due to be in attendance, so if you fancy a heady Saturday night cocktail of culture, decadence and schmoozing, then In Fine Style will be just the ticket. We shall be there with bells on, provided that a quick Google search confirms that bells were indeed in fashion in the 16th century.
So go forth and be fashionable! The event this Saturday 19 July is down at Holyrood Palace at 7pm. Tickets are just £10 (and include refreshments) and must be booked in advance – you can get yours online at the Royal Collection website or by calling 0131 557 2500.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Edinburgh Cocktail Watch: Paradise Palms Launch

We were invited to the launch of Paradise Palms last week, a new venue opened recently on Lothian Street (where Assembly used to be).  Part cocktail specialists, part dive bar, part cabaret lounge, it's a place ready to put the fun back into Edinburgh's bar scene - just in time and perfectly placed for the festival.  It's styled somewhere between a leafy tiki-bar and retro nightclub with bunting, fringing, mirrors and green fringed plants aplenty and a mix of comfy couches, booths and wooden tables for both small and large groups.  We got to sit back and enjoy some of their signature cocktails, including some delicious and rather alcoholic margaritas (with flavours of black cherry, lime and pineapple), and munch on some bite-sized tacos and other treats from their Mexican street food styled menu, as well as enjoy the evening's entertainment.  PP had an excellent line-up of entertainment for us, MC'ed by burlesque legend Gypsy Charms, with magicians, comedy, dancing girls/boys and music.  Looking at their Facebook page you can have a peek at what they've got coming up including a sure-to-be-packed August as a venue for Laughing Horse during the festival. A super-cool, but relaxed addition to the Old Town and a fabulous new drinks destination for sure! 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Beer Glorious Beer: Black Wolf Brewery Launch

A few weeks ago we were delighted to be invited along to the launch of Black Wolf Brewery, and, as Edinburgh Etiquette's fledgling beer aficionado, I felt it was my not-very-tiresome blogging duty to head along and try and out a few ales or five. As my beer buds are still under development (though, fear not, are undergoing intensive training) I made sure I had a couple of practiced drinkers/self-professed beer snobs (my sister Ali and her boyfriend Ronan) in tow to help pick out the stars of the bunch.
The Stirling-based company, formerly Traditional Scottish Ales, bring a 12-strong collection to the thriving Scottish craft ale scene, comprised of their craft, premium and relaunched Heritage ranges. With endless beer, erm, on tap, we managed to sample them all, with tutored tastings on a selected few, and plenty of classic soaker-uppers on the side - fish and chips wrought miniature and platters of dinky sliders.
And so to the standouts. As a lover of a light and refreshing offering, my particular favourite was Gold Digger, a zesty and crisp blonde beer from the Craft range. We all loved Tundra, a summery and rounded golden wheat beer made for BBQs (even if they get rained off, in true British style). Florida Black was treacly, dark and smoky and although it wasn't personally to my taste, both Ronan and Ali pronounced it an excellent stout. The crown jewel of the collection, however, has to be the Valente's Double Espresso of the Premium range - a gold winner at the 2012 World Beer Awards, it was thick, smooth and packed with coffee flavour. Ronan is a particular fan of espresso coffee beer and having tried a few, he said it was the best he'd tried.
Black Wolf Beers are popping up in pubs all over Scotland, but for more information, including an online shop, check out the website, Facebook or Twitter. A huge thanks to Black Wolf Brewery for having us along - here's to many happy pints to come. 

Photos supplied by Black Wolf Brewery c/o The Big Partnership.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Edinburgh is Delicious - The Haven Cafe

The Haven is one of those special wee places close to my heart that I simultaneously want to tell everyone about, but also kinda want to keep all to myself.  Not that it's a well-kept secret - it's been lauded on TripAdvisor and weekend visits have to be well timed to ensure seats are secured (bagsy the comfy chairs by the fireplace).  Located on an unassuming street in Newhaven, it's super-local for me, however its popularity means that I need to adjust my slacker lifestyle to get my brunch fix for the weekend.  It is totally worth it though, their brunches are amongst the best around.  Proper no-nonsense full breakfasts can be found here: bacon, sausage, black pudding, haggis, fried egg, tomato, mushrooms, beans, tattie scone, toast AND a mug of tea for £6.95.  Can I get a hellsyeah!?  The veggie breakfast is equally fulsome with no sign of any pesky rocket on the plate either.  Other brunch options include filled rolls (at a bargain £2), pancakes, eggy-bread and bacon, porridge and croissants.  There's also a pancake special of the day with options like choc-chip, banana, raspberry and blueberry - all available to order with bacon and syrup so that you can pretend you're in New York.

But the Haven is not just about great brunches, it's also about great cakes.  The lovely ladies who work there make gorgeous cakes, slices and scones - in fact they're so good that I asked them to make some cakes for my wedding.  You can check out the frequent updates on their Facebook page.  They sell all the usual favourites like chocolate, victoria sponge, after-eight slice, empire biscuits and scones, but have some deliciously inventive cakes too - like marshmallow topped rocky road brownie cake, coconut cake filled with home-made pineapple jam, and their own creation, Slice of Haven, a chocolate slice stuffed with Oreos.

On top of all this, it's also a pretty nice place to hang out. There's a cool vintage aesthetic but it's homely too - stuffed full of mismatched crockery, vinyl for sale, art-deco mirrors, old typewriters and vintage photos.  They also host the occasional event, such as the recent Etsy Craft Party and you can check out some of the photos on this Vivid Please blogpost.  I'm already looking forward to visiting again soon!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Edinburgh Etsy: premium vintage picks from Sartorial Matters

We are super lucky to have plenty of well-stocked charity shops and vintage boutiques in Edinburgh. It's an awesome way to spend the day, wandering around Marchmont, Stockbridge or the Grassmarket.  If you're not able to get out and about though or take a fancy that you need a 1950's taffeta prom dress as soon as possible, this is where Etsy shop Sartorial Matters steps right in.  Based in Edinburgh, Sartorial Matters picks the best of our vintage threads and puts them right there on Etsy for your delectation and only the cream of the crop will do.  Beautiful dresses from the 1940s, 50s and 60s seem to be a specialty, with rockabilly, steampunk, figure hugging siren dresses, 80s batwing and fairisle jumpers all covered too.  I'm definitely envisaging a summer in some airy 1950's summer dresses.  One of the difficulties of shopping vintage online can be vague sizing and dingy photos but all of the items for sale have photos, measurements and the approximate modern size which is helpful for dummies like me to figure out fits. Here are our favourite summer picks from the shop!
Cocktail dresses
Tip top Tops
Floral dresses
Bold vintage dresses

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Edinburgh Events: Things to do in June

June is here!  This is where festival season begins again and some of our favourite ones kicking off are the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, International Film FestivalLeith Festival and Leith Lates.  Here's our pick of the other events happening in town that might tickle your fancy. 

Various dates / Cameo Cinema, 38 Home Street, EH3 9LZ
As part of their summer programme, the Cameo is showing a number of films about music.  It kicks off on Saturday 7 June with the Pulp film of their last ever concert and interviews with folk from their hometown of Sheffield, along with a streamed live Q&A with members of the band.  On Thursday 19 June is the Saint Etienne soundtracked How We Used To Live, a look at images and videos of London from the post-war era into the harsh realities of Thatcherism, ever developing and changing, with a live Q&A with Travis Elborough too.  Shown alongside this will be short film The Heart is Highland from 1952, a British transport film showing life in the Highlands and linking developments in transport and industry with the dramatic past.  Other films planned for later in the summer include the long awaited Belle & Sebastian film, God Help the Girl and Beatles classic A Hard Days Night. 

Meadows Festival
7-8 June / The Meadows, EH9 / Sat 10am-6pm & Sun 11am-6pm / Free
This free festival is back again, with all kinds of stalls, food, music & more.  It's great for having a wander around with an ice cream and browsing vintage bits & bobs, particularly if the sunshine holds up; a trip to the Meadows in the sunshine is one of the finest things you can spend your time doing in Edinburgh.

Sunday 8 June / 1-2pm / Dalmeny Street Park, Leith, EH6 8PG / Register with donation
Us Edinburgh Etiquette ladies are big fans of le pooches so love the sound of Scruffts: an alternative to the snooty dog shows on telly with family crossbreed dogs taking centre stage and sounds much more fun than a regular dog show.  Competitions to enter your dog into include Waggiest Tail, Long Distance Biscuit Catching, Best Trick and Best Dressed(!).  If you've got a pup and fancy a day out to show them off or if you don't and want to go somewhere to see dressed up dogs and pat a whole heap of them, it sounds like the place to be.  Hot dog stand, home made treats stall, face painting and the usual stuff for humans there too.

Sunday 15 June / 1-6pm / Summerhall, Summerhall Place, EH9 1QH / £15
A food festival in Edinburgh - interesting on a conceptual level, with Summerhall being transformed into a virtual menu with spaces such as the Cheese Lounge, Main Course, Pudding Hall and Beer Lab.  These spaces are mostly curated by Edinburgh-based companies, pubs and shops.  Visiting each stall, you can create a mini banquest with treats such as charcuterie from meat specialist Kyloe, specialty smoked seafood from George Campbell & Sons and molecular soup from Union of Genius - very intriguing. There'll also be gelato from Affagato (fingers crossed for salted caramel!), pudding cocktails from the Roseleaf and gourmet marshmallows and teacakes from Zukr Boutique.

Friday 20 June / 3pm-1am / Hemma Bar, 75 Holyrood Road, EH8 8AU
It's that time of the year again when the Swedes go crazy around the maypole - midsummer, Swedish style!  Expect the usual decorating the maypole, dancing, Aquavit, herring, the Little Frog dance and plenty of singing.  If you're not Swedish or have any Svensk pals and this means nothing whatsoever to you, all the more reason to go along, make some new friends and find out what it's all about.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

It's Braw: yummy Scottish homewares you need to own now

Dear Braw, delectable new range of top-quality, Scotland-inspired linen homewares, I’d like to say a big thank you. Thank you for the gift of time, because you’re making this blogging malark terribly, terribly easy. All I really need to do is upload some snaps of your gorgeous products, which I plan extremely soon to be draping all over my home, and then add the tagline “THEY’RE JUST BRAW”, and I’m pretty much done. Which nicely brings the waffling portion of this blogpost to a close.

ONLY JOKING. It’s still me! The fact is, courtesy of a burgeoning love of off-high street boutiques and an internet of all the wonderful things just a couple of clicks away, we have more access than ever to a huge range of stunning independent design. So what makes Braw so very braw? Well...

(1) Braw's designs feature beloved Scottish icons, but wrought anew – a modern, affectionate and quirky take on the classic Heilan Coo, Scottie Dog and the Western Capercaille (that’s a grouse, to uninformed people like moi), as well as with an ode to Edinburgh’s famously stunning architecture, all lovingly hand-illustrated.

(2) The quality is awesome. A true labour of love for Braw’s creative director Gabrielle Schoenenberger, she painstakingly sourced the perfect components for each item, from thick, top-notch Wexford linen to the best apron ties that will knot just-so in the perfect bow (seriously, there was an actual testing process). Produced in by an independent, family-run business in the UK, it’s super ethical as well.

(3) You get all the above without spending the earth - tea towels at £12.50, bags at £20, totes essential cushion covers at £29 and my FAVE, aprons at a mere £25 (I want ALL, that’s ALL the aprons Santa take a memo for December please thank you).

I utterly love every piece in Braw's collection - but here are some of my faves. Feast your eyes on these, then fetch your purse.

Helian Coo cushion (£29). The wee scones.

Edinburgh Illustration apron (£25). Oh me oh my. Gaby used different calligraphy pens to capture the architecture's fine detail.
I'm can't resist the Singing Capercaillie one too (also £25). Look at them tootling away.

Scotties and sausages, together at last (£20). These cotton hopsack beauts come in both book bag size and a roomier beach bag.
 I tried to pick a teatowel, but couldn't. I love them all. A snip at £12.50. See the full collection.

You can pick up these beautiful wares over at the Braw website, and Edinburgh dwellers can head along to Clementine in Bruntsfield. You can also follow Braw on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.