Monday, 25 June 2012

Cocktail bar reviews: guest blogging at Social and Cocktail

I don't get so much time for my blog anymore but my love of interesting eating and drinking escapades - and writing about them - hasn't waned at all. So I was delighted when new online cocktail hub Social and Cocktail contacted me and asked whether I would be interested in doing a couple of bar reviews for the Edinburgh section of the site. Such a chore...but somehow I managed to drag myself out to try a tipple or two at a couple of Edinburgh's top cocktail purveyors. Watering holes up for review were snug indie basement bar/gran's living room Under the Stairs, and the darkly-luxe party 24/7 hangout 99 Hanover Street - so head on over to the Social and Cocktail site to check out my verdict now!

Whilst you're over there, do have a poke around the site as it's a true digital playground for cocktail lovers - cocktail recipes galore plus some great (and very honest) reviews from some of Scotland and the UK's top food and drink bloggers.

Happy reading - and hopefully supping too!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Guest Post: Deli-cious food spots in Edinburgh

It's been an age since I last posted, but I've decided it's time to clamber back onto the blogging wagon. I'm easing myself in very gently though and am delighted to introduce my first guest blogger - none other than my padre, Ian Sommerville, who also writes an Edinburgh food blog (and much more regularly I might add). My parents are Aberdeen-based, but have owned a flat in Edinburgh for 10 years and know their way blindfolded around the local deli spots in Tollcross and Bruntsfield. So without further ado, I'll hand over to my dad to impart some pearls of deli wisdom for the supermarket shy (please don't embarrass me).

Deli and local food shopping in Tollcross and Bruntsfield
Most visitors to Edinburgh stay around the centre and spend their time in the Old and New Towns. There are great restaurants there but if you want to shop for great food and cook for yourself, try venturing south up Lothian Road or across the Meadows to Tollcross and Bruntsfield for a wonderful selection of food shops.

Old hippies will love Real Foods of Brougham Street – since the 1970s, they’ve been the best source of wholefoods in Edinburgh. As well as brown rice and lentils, you can also get baking ingredients, organic alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and a great selection of chocolate.

Doug - the 'Hat Man'
Lupe Pintos
Round the corner in Home Street, you get to my favourite Edinburgh deli – Lupe Pintos. This is not your run of the mill deli with the usual selection of cold meats and expensive pickles – rather, it specializes in American, Mexican and Spanish ingredients. Their chorizos (try the spicy ones) and guacamole are outstanding and they have 30+ varieties of different chillis. Doug (the Hat Man) is an expert on Spanish wine and if the shop is not busy, he’ll chat to you for hours about it. My recommendation is the Con Class Sauvignon Blanc – but all the wines are great value for money.

Saundersons is a highly regarded butcher’s shop just up the road from Lupe Pintos which has a good reputation but my favourite butchers is in Bruntsfield. Wm Christie has been a family butchers since 1889 and the current owners have been there since 1967. They really know their stuff, sell great quality meat and I think make the best sausages in Edinburgh. Try the Cumberland sausages or the pork and black pudding sausages for a real treat.

The best sausages in Edinburgh in Wm Christie.
For bread and pastry lovers, Bruntsfield is the place to go. Falko is a German ‘Konditormeister’ which means ‘expert pastry chef’ and his shop in Bruntsfield sells fantastic German breads and pastries. If you prefer La Belle France, La Barentine specializes in French breads and patisserie – their fruit tarts are wonderful. Falko’s and La Barentine are both also coffee shops so grab a table if you can and try their pastries.

You can also indulge your sweet tooth in Coco of Bruntsfield – an artisan chocolate shop. Their chocolate creations look and taste wonderful and they also have a small counter serving thick and rich hot chocolate – there’s nothing to beat this as a winter warmer on a windy Edinburgh winter’s day.

Peckhams is a deli chain that started in Glasgow but their Bruntsfield branch has been an Edinburgh institution for 15 years. They have an eclectic selection of ingredients from around the world, good cheese, excellent wine and a very wide selection of Scottish and international beer. Sadly, there are rumours of a Sainsbury's takeover but hopefully that won't happen.

I’m running out of space but Tollcross and Bruntsfield also have a traditional fish shop, a greengrocers, a Thai market, and a French deli. There are shops selling running gear and bicycles and a small bookshop as well as numerous gift shops restaurants and cafes.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Festival Fooderies: Eating the Fringe on the Wing

It’s been four months that Jane Eats Edinburgh has been left to languish rather mournfully in a mothball-filled corner of the interweb...job hunting, a subsequent career change and a new home being my excuses for my pretty major blogging lapse. A jampacked summer schedule of wallpainting and dishwasher shopping means that I don’t anticipate having as much time as I’d like to dedicate to some good meaty restaurant reviews…but Edinburgh’s got a wee arts festival *comedy cough* about to kick off, and so - in the wham-bam spirit of the Fringe – I’ve put together a whistle-stop tour of some of my top dining picks over the past few months.

Part 1 is below – check back for part 2 soon!

(1) Best for Japanese cuisine - Bonsai, West Richmond Street

Edinburgh’s first, and in my opinion, best Japanese restaurant. The sushi is fresh, tasty and generously apportioned, but what’s great about Bonsai is that you’re not backed into a teriyaki corner if you fancy something a bit different, with a wide range of non-rice (and non-fish, for that matter) options available. Make sure you try the okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese potato and vegetable pancake that comes served with what I can only describe as HP Brown Sauce’s much more delicious cousin. I would also recommend the mixed tempura, which comes in a light-as-air batter, and the agenasu, a chilli-spiked aubergine dish.

Near to: festival comedy behemoth The Pleasance, which has a buzzy courtyard that does a fine line in cider in plastic cups, fairylights and minor celebrity spotting.

(2) Best for luxury grazing and boozy festival lunching: Hotel Du Vin, Bristo Place.

I’ve recently fallen in love with the Starters and Savouries selection at Hotel Du Vin, which offers a departure from the rather staid menu stalwarts of pâté and soup – perfect if you’re in the mood for a quick lunch or an indulgent spot of tapas-style grazing (I usually get two - or three if I'm feeling especially gluttonous - which leave me pleasantly full). I love the cheese soufflé, the roast marrow bone on toast and the salt-and-shake whitebait – which comes in a sweetly gimmicky brown paper bag with salt and vinegar.

Very reasonably priced for the superb quality of the food (although the wine is eye-wateringly expensive), and if you prefer more a traditional dining format, then there's also a great dinner deal – two courses, a bottle of wine and coffee for £17.50 a head.

Near to: A giant inflatable upturned purple cow - aka Channel 4's Udderbelly – and just a short walk again from my erstwhile employer Assembly’s new pitch at George Square Gardens.

(3) Best for hangover cures (or hamburgers): The Cambridge Bar, Young Street.

If you fall foul of Edinburgh’s 5am festival club licences, I recommend fighting off the grimy hangover fuzz at gourmet burger heaven The Cambridge Bar. The hamburgers here are teetering skyscrapers - I’ve struggled to finish mine in the past on account of their gargatuan size - but happily there's plenty of quality along with the quantity - plus there’s a fantastic range of unusual toppings to choose from. You have to pay separately for sides, so it's not the cheapest soaker-upper you’ll find in Edinburgh, but it's well worth the few extra pennies.

Near to: the incredibly popular Edinburgh Book Festival– a more sedate but still bustling pocket of festival action at Charlotte Square. You can check out what’s on here, but tickets sell like hotcakes so if you spy something you fancy you’d be advised to get down to the box office pronto.

Check back for recommendations next week!