Tag Archives: Edinburgh

Eats | Chop Chop

Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh

Chop Chop is a bit of an Edinburgh institution. Ask anyone for a recommendation for a Chinese restaurant in the city and Chop Chop will probably be quite high up on the list. However, despite living just round the corner from their Haymarket restaurant I had never been. Shame on me, I know. So I was delighted to be invited along recently to finally see what all the fuss is about.

As is recommended to first-timers at Chop Chop, we went for the unlimited banquet for two – along with a couple of Tsingtao beers of course.

Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh

The set banquet included two options of the dumplings that Chop Chop is so known for – boiled pork and coriander dumplings and fried prawn dumplings. Both were incredibly flavoursome, showing that when dumplings are done well, they’re a pretty perfect dish. A fun touch was that on the table there were ingredients to make your own dipping sauce. I accidentally went a bit heavy on the chilli, but luckily for me, we had a cooling cucumber salad to fight the burn. Alongside this was crispy Northern beef, seasoned chicken wings, crispy squid and aubergine as well as boiled rice and prawn crackers.

My favourite dishes were the cucumber salad, the Northern beef (in fact we had two helpings) and the squid. The beef had a deliciously sweet and sticky sauce while the meat was still tender and not at all chewy which can often be the downfall of these types of dishes. Similarly, the squid was perfectly cooked with a brilliantly crispy coating and I also really enjoyed the green beans that accompanied the dish. A surprise for me was the aubergine. I usually hate aubergine – something about the sludgey-ness of it puts me off, but this one won me over. It’s never going to win any beauty pageants but Chop Chop’s aubergine dish was cooked just enough with a really tasty garlic and spring onion dressing. I never thought I’d say it, but I liked it.

Chop Chop Edinburgh

We were pretty full by the time we got to desserts but we did manage one more dumpling – a chocolate ice cream dumpling. Perfectly sized if you’re someone like me who has to fit in the sweet hit of a pudding even if your stomach is telling you not to! Hot crispy outer, cold creamy inner. Very nice.

I had lots of fun at Chop Chop. The staff are fantastic as well, clearing and replacing dishes promptly and one even showed me how to use chopsticks properly after some good-natured teasing at my lack of skill. This adds to Chop Chop’s relaxed atmosphere where the focus is on making sure you don’t go home hungry. My tip would be to go with an empty stomach – it’ll soon be filled with a wide range of tasty treats!

Chop Chop also has a restaurant in Leith so they have both ends of the city covered, and they do a free membership scheme where you can get discounts and vouchers. The unlimited banquets are £20.25 per person which I think is pretty good considering the quality of the food. I would encourage you to try something on the menu that you’re not sure about, it will pay off for sure. Chop Chop is a great restaurant for sharing a meal with a big group of friends or family so we’ll definitely be back.


*Disclaimer – we were invited along to Chop Chop for a complimentary meal but were not asked to write a positive review. All opinions are our own and reflect our experience.

Joining the Save the Children Display Team

Save the Children Displays

Recently I was contacted by the team at the Mary’s Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children in Edinburgh to come to the shop and learn about what they do. I thought that the best way to do this would be to do a few volunteer shifts and share my experience there. This week’s post will be about the Visual Merchandising team.

First, a quick introduction to the shop. Located in Stockbridge the Living & Giving shop is one of a kind in Scotland. Based on a concept by Mary Portas (her off the telly with the ginger bob), these stores are designed to be community hubs. This shop is also part of Save the Children’s community stores which are entirely run by volunteers. Everything from the banking to the rotas are done by volunteers, including the visual merchandising.

Save the Children Displays

The team meets once a week on a Thursday evening with weeks alternating between planning and changing the window display. Every display is planned with a clear theme in mind. I went along for a few meetings and helped to plan the back-to-basics Save the Children theme.

Save the Children Displays

After a quick bit of brainstorming we set about making backgrounds to hang in the window to create coherence and make it stand out. One of the team had the idea to do kid’s drawing – perfect for the theme and resulted in a pretty fun hour drawing on the floor. They then drew up a planogram and shared it with the rest of the team via their Facebook group so we could get right into changing the window the following week.

Save the Children Displays

I was given the task of making a dress for a mannequin using Save the Children bags and stickers and a little bit of red ribbon. I think I did OK!

Save the Children Displays Save the Children Displays

Meanwhile, there’s nothing else for it, you gotta climb in that window and get sticking, hanging, cutting and adjusting…

Save the Children Displays

…And more adjusting. And looking. And adjusting. Until it’s perfect.

Save the Children Displays Save the Children Displays

In keeping with the brand, we went for a red and white theme and used the words “Donate”, “Volunteer” and “Care” to really drive the message home alongside collection buckets and children’s soft toys. A lot of the fine details such as the clothing and the toys purely depend on what is in the shop at the time but we managed to achieve our overall goal.

Save the Children Displays

Sadly I don’t have a picture of the windows in the daytime but I think you can agree it’s fairly striking?

Overall, I was really impressed at the freedom that Save the Children gives it’s volunteers to do something like this. The window display is a real point of pride in the shop and the team work really hard to keep it looking good. Stockbridge has a lot of fab charity shops so they use the displays to stand out and draw people into the shop and they do this with aplomb. For only 2 hours a week I was able to contribute to this fantastic store and it gave me a real sense of pride to see what we put together.

As well as contributing to the charity using your time and skills, this is also a fantastic opportunity to gain experience if you are interested in retail, design, merchandising etc. Or even if you are just looking for a creative output or to meet new people. It doesn’t take a huge commitment and you might be surprised at what kind of stuff you might get to do by approaching your local charity shop. I definitely want to continue with the Visual Merchandising team. And 2 hours after work on a Thursday – I’m sure I can manage that!

I also spent some time with the shop floor team so next week I’ll be sharing my experience of this. Everything from serving customers to taking donations, it was certainly a varied job!

For more information about the invaluable work of Save the Children, visit their website here.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland 2014

Eat Drink Discover Scotland

One thing I think we can all agree on is that Scotland has some pretty awesome food. Forget about your stereotypes of deep fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru (forgive me Bru, I love you really), Eat Drink Discover Scotland showcases Scottish cuisine at its best, it’s freshest and it’s most creative. For me and David, it was a chance to treat ourselves so we headed along to the Royal Highland Centre last Sunday with empty bellies and full wallets, planning to reverse this sharpish.

Eat Drink Discover ScotlandEat Drink Discover Scotland Eat Drink Discover Scotland

The exhibition hall was divided in geographical regions, from Orkney to the Borders, with a bonus island of “Chocolate Zone” as well as a couple of stages with chefs demonstrating recipes, an education area, and a masterclass area. We didn’t sign up for any masterclasses, but we did enjoy wandering through the stall, listening in to some of the presentations and chatting to the exhibitors. Between trying samples and filling our shopping bags we also stopped for a buffalo burger from The Buffalo Farm in Fife and a scoop of my favourite honeycomb ice cream from Mackies from the Grampian area.

Wanna see what we bought?

Eat Drink Discover Scotland haul

Predictably it includes chocolate, cheese and cake.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

This caramel shortcake cheesecake from the Handmade Cheesecake Company in Ayr is without a doubt, the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life. The BEST. EVER. IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Really. It was perfect. And that caramel sauce – oh holy hell, that was beyond perfect. It was dream-like. Luckily for us, they deliver nationwide. Who will send me a profiterole cheesecake for my birthday? Profiteroles! On a cheesecake! I need it!!

Eat Drink Discover Scotland hau

OK. I’ve calmed down now. But only slightly, because Mackies is making chocolate now! They had a wee deal so I got all four flavours. I would say that the traditional milk chocolate one is not that special but the rest are amazing, especially the dark and the mint. I can see the mint bar being a regular addition to my shopping basket.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

To Orkney and obviously I had to try some cheese and oatcakes. I can’t get enough smoked cheese in my life so we picked up some from The Island Smokery. Very nice indeed! But you can’t eat cheese by itself so we also purchased some rough oatcakes from Stockans and for a fancy addition, some pate from Castle MacLellan all the way over in Dumfries and Galloway.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Over in the Edinburgh section, David was drawn to these little sachets from Flavour Magic. The Chilli and the Smoked packets are flavour infused rock salt for jazzing up your cooking and they pack a lot of flavour in there. We’ve had the smoked rock salt on steak last week and it was lush! The Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that is wonderfully complex and unique. Both the Togarashi and the Chilli have an intense afterburn! Great for spice lovers as the heat hits you after the flavour has a chance to build, so the flavour is not overpowered – very impressive.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

From Perthshire we got these absolutely delicious oils and dressings. It was a mix and match selection so we got a cold pressed rapeseed oil and two dressings – chilli and red pepper and apple and walnut. These are seriously good! I’ve been having the chilli dressing drizzled over spaghetti for a super quick dinner and it’s just lovely.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Lastly I got some coconut ice from Handmade Tempting Treats in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area. Love coconut ice. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Didn’t we get a good selection? I was also tempted by the Edinburgh Gin stall, the cider and alll the meat, but I had to control myself. Overall, it was a great day out. Buy local! It’s good.

Eats | The Huxley

The Huxley Edinburgh

Located at the west end of Princes St, The Huxley is a bar that I’ve always passed but never gone in. Well no more! Last week, on a bit of a rainy day, me and David popped in on the hunt for burgers and cocktails – as we always are!

The Huxley Edinburgh

The menu is not massively extensive, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The Huxley is known for it’s burgers and especially for it’s hotdogs. On this occasion though, we both went for a steak burger.

The Huxley Edinburgh

Oh. My. Word! This is the Piggy burger – a steak mince burger with pulled pork, maple glazed bacon and pork scratching crumbs. Truly, a big dirty, greasy burger. It really hit the spot. Recently I’ve been big on pulled pork and this one easily measured up against all the rest. I enjoyed the sweetness of the bacon but mostly I loved the crunch that the pork scratching added, the first time I’ve had this on a burger. This mountain of food was only £8.50, cheaper than we were expecting but with no compromise on quality.

The Huxley Edinburgh

For drinks we went all out. I started with a Kentucky Threesome – Makers Mark bourbon, mint and sweet cherry. I actually didn’t enjoy it, the cherry was over-powered by a oddly strong orange peel so it wasn’t what I expected. I followed this up with the far more successful Cool Rummings which was a blend of rum, tropical juice and garnished with sweet passion fruit. David started with a classic Innis & Gunn swiftly followed by a Grape Gatsby martini with elderflower and Absolut Kurrant which went down far too easily.

Gourmet burgers are very much in vogue at the moment with more and more burger joints popping up in Edinburgh. The Huxley more than holds it’s own against the newbies. It’s a trendy atmosphere with very reasonable prices, and comfortable surroundings. I loved the burger but the next time I go back I’ll definitely be hitting up the hotdog options – chilli cheese dog, get in ma belly!

Where is your favourite burger joint? I wanna try them all!

In Other News | September

What’s been happening | what’s the plan | and all that other shizz

I never really know what to do with Sunday style posts so trying something different for a bit. “In Other News” will be mostly monthly and cover anything from events I’ve been to, what I’m looking forward to, links I’ve been loving, wishlist type stuff. All kinds of things really. A bit like a diary.

Edinburgh Bloggers event

First, an event from last month. Edinburgh Bloggers is a newly formed group on Facebook and blog which aims to create a network for bloggers in this fine city. Recently they held an event at The Rosehip. It was a really nice afternoon with cupcakes, a chance to meet other bloggers and a raffle that raised money for McMillan. If you are a blogger in Edinburgh (of any genre) do come and join the group here.

Made from Scotland

If you’re a fan of Scottish designers and producers then you ‘ll be interested in the pop-up shop from Made From Scotland, situated on Rose Street for the next two months. Selling a range of items, from homewares to fashion, it sells a huge variety with a mix of traditional materials and designs to modern reinventions and pop culture references. I particularly like the stationery from Gillian Kyle, the fun prints from The Grey Earl and of course, the tweed bunting by Couthie.

I went along to the launch evening and met up with some of the lovely bloggers I met at the tea party (see, you should totally join the group!). Afterwards, we headed along to the newly opened Cask & Still pub on Leith Walk. Typically, I was too preoccupied by whisky and pork pies to take photos but oh well. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s a place worth checking out. Whisky, craft beers and gin cocktails are the order of the day with a laid back but trendy atmosphere. Top.

Charity Shop

I’ve also been doing some volunteering at the Save the Children shop in Stockbridge. I’ve had a couple of shifts with the visual merchandising team and on the shop floor. I’ll be sharing more about this very soon, but let me know if you have any questions about volunteering, donating or anything else and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’m excited about the rest of the month as I have a few things to look forward to such as Eat Drink Discover Scotland, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival and Still Game Live. What else? Oh yeah, that small matter of the Referendum. I’m enjoying the debates – even if the BBC’s creeping bias is becoming cringe worthy. Yeah democracy! I’ll be holding my breath for the results next Friday that’s for sure.

What is September looking like for you? Hope it’s shaping up to be a good month.

Eats | The Stockbridge Restaurant

The Stockbridge Restuarant

Stockbridge is a veritable hive of trendy bars, cool boutiques and fancy restaurants, so there is some stiff competition for attention down those well maintained streets. The Stockbridge Restaurant stands out by keeping it simple. No gimmicks, no pretence, just good food, good wine and a good atmosphere. Nestled in a basement property on St Stephen Street, look out for the fairy lights leading you in and setting the mood.

We were invited along last week and offered the “Chef’s Choice”. We told them a few foods we don’t eat and how we like our meat cooked but otherwise the choices were left entirely up to the chef, Jason Gallagher. I wouldn’t say I’m a fussy eater, but I’m not particularly adventurous, unlike my dining partner, so I was looking forward to this experience.

The stockbridge Restaurant review

I don’t think that bread normally warrants a mention in a restaurant review, but in this case, it does. The bread was freshly baked that morning and tasted delicious, but the real star was the chive and chervil dip that came with it. So fresh and light tasting, it was ideal for whetting our appetite.

The stockbridge Restaurant review

This was followed by a perfectly proportioned amuse-bouche of seranno ham, mozzarella and tomato. A classic combination that was much appreciated.

The stockbridge Restaurant reviewThe stockbridge Restaurant review

Starters were cod with chips and tartar sauce and scallops with butternut squash puree, apple salsa, walnuts and serrano ham. The fish ‘n’ chips as a starter was a bit of fun but with no compromise on the quality. Soft, flaky fish, crisp batter and well cooked chips, it was better than some I’ve seen served as a main meal. Meanwhile, the scallop dish played into my sweet tooth perfectly. The sweet, plump scallops were well balanced by the tart, crisp apple, chewy walnuts and smooth puree. A definite winner.

The stockbridge Restaurant review The stockbridge Restaurant review

For mains, David had the Gressingham duck breast with a duck sausage roll, potato terrine and Savoy cabbage and bacon. As he didn’t say much while he wolfed it down, I think we can take that as a good sign! I did get out of him that the duck was perfectly cooked and that the dish was very flavoursome. He enjoyed the sausage roll, again another playful touch that showed that fine dining should be fun as well as satisfying.

I had the rack of lamb with braised lamb flank, roast potatoes, peas and spinach. I don’t normally eat a lot of lamb, I’ve only had it a handful of times and in fact, I think this was the only time I’ve really enjoyed it. The lamb rack was cooked to medium and was incredibly tender. This was a dish that I wouldn’t have necessarily tried so I’m glad that this was picked for me as it was very tasty – I’m a lamb convert now thanks to Jason!

The stockbridge Restaurant review

After all that rich meat, we were given a palette cleanser of a passion fruit sorbet before dessert. Zingy and refreshing, it was exactly what we needed.

The stockbridge Restaurant review The stockbridge Restaurant review

For dessert, David was treated to a plum and nut crumble with praline ice cream and vanilla sauce, while I had the banana tart tatin with vanilla ice cream and butter scotch sauce. The caramelised bananas with the cold ice cream and hot sauce was heavenly – like an upmarket banoffee pie. David’s plum crumble was a tasty nod to the upcoming autumnal season and again, went down very well.

I can highly recommend The Stockbridge Restaurant as an exceptional dining experience with a warm atmosphere – perfect for a romantic date night. The hospitality was first class and we were made to feel very welcome by the proprietor, Jane and her team. There are lots of little touches that make it that little bit special including listing their suppliers on the menu and adapting the menu and wine list seasonally. It is an ideal choice for a special occasion or if you just want to treat yourself. Go on, you deserve it!


*Disclaimer – we were invited along to The Stockbridge Restaurant but were not asked to write a positive review. All opinions are our own and reflect our experience.


Shopping | White Stuff of George Street

The White Stuff Edinburgh

Recently I was invited along to the White Stuff‘s flagship store on George Street for a tour and to hear about what was going on there. As well as their regular line-up of special events and promotions, during August they became a Fringe venue and hosted the Craft Scotland Summer Show.

The White Stuff EdinburghThe White Stuff EdinburghLucy Roscoe

The White Stuff EdinburghUrsula Hunter

Taking place across the second floor, the Summer Show featured makers from all over Scotland specialising in everything from textiles, to ceramics, jewellery to papercrafts. The White Stuff also hosted Meet Your Maker events where the public were given the chance to hear a free programme of talks from selected artists.

The White Stuff Edinburgh

Next I got a tour of the changing rooms. Bit confusing as these are clearly wardrobes. However, each one is a Narnia, opening into an individually designed room. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but here are a few of my favourite details:

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The last room – Under the Sea – and a few others were designed by kids in a competition. Their original drawings are hung on the door which is a really sweet gesture.

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These kinds of gestures continue throughout the store. Everything is considered. As you first come into the store there is a tea-stop where you can rest your weary feet. There are chalkboards where the staff write about what else is happening in Edinburgh that week. By the changing rooms there is a fort for kids to play in and watch a cartoon. The men’s section boasts a vintage pool table. Dog bowls are available for our pooch pals. There’s a book club with books provided by the company. Overall, there is a real community spirit in the shop. There’s no hard sale here, it’s just very nice.


Another major plus is the sweet shop. You know me, can’t resist something sugary! In all seriousness though, the sweet shop, along with additional fundraising activity such as bake sales, raises money for Lothian Autistic Society. The store has raised over £16,000 since 2010 which is amazing.

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And let’s not forget the clothes. The White Stuff is known for quality pieces with a focus on good design and construction and cheerful designs. With the season changing, let me tell you, there are many jumpers, scarves and jackets that I very firmly have my eye on.


The White Stuff team very kindly gifted me a goody bag which included two of the recent reads from their book club. What a great selection! Need to get myself on the waiting list.


Lastly – the selfie mirror! This is located in the changing rooms and emails you your pic to share to Facebook (or your preferred form of digital communication) and instantly canvas opinions on your new outfit. Genius!

Massive thank you the entire team at George Street for inviting me along and especially to Vita (their fantastic Marketing intern) for the tour. The White Stuff is truly a unique shopping experience. The staff seem to really love working there and I think that is so important for the atmosphere of any shop. I highly recommend you pop along and check it out. With an eclectic mix of events (bit gutted I missed the free gin for National Gin Day), you’re guaranteed to stumble across something special happening, as well as some gorgeous clothes!