Monday, 1 December 2014

Passenger at Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Passenger put on an absolutely cracking show on Wednesday night. I had been slightly worried about going to see "just one guy with a guitar" and also not knowing too many of his songs. I'd listened to his new album Whispers a couple of times and knew the tunes but none of the lyrics. I really needn't have worried, I had a brilliant time!
The support act was a three piece group called 'the once', hailing from Newfoundland, Canada who were fantastic. Gerry has an amazing voice and Phil's banter was priceless! Funny how sexy voice and creepy voice are the same.. just depends on what you're saying!! Andrew must have played three different instruments in the half hour they were on stage, so kudos!
Not only was Passenger fantastic but the entire crowd were great as well. The atmosphere was electric! Everyone just really got into it, singing, clapping, holding up their phone torches and most importantly, being quiet when asked. So if you are reading this and you were in the audience that night. THANK YOU!! You were part of what made the night so fabulous!
Passenger, or Mike.. Was just so personable, it's always great to get a bit of banter and to hear the stories behind some of the songs. Apparently 'Let Her Go' was written in 45mins as he sat in a dressing room before a gig.. Whaaat?!?

He has a long history with Edinburgh, as a busker on the Royal Mile to playing gigs at The Caves and he seemed genuinely happy to be in the city & glad to be playing The Usher Hall.
 Not only did he play and sing, he had such energy, it was infectious and at one point the entire crowd was up on their (our?) feet. The illustrations on the backdrop were adorable and showed a couple meeting, dating, having a family and getting old together.
It was my first visit to the Usher Hall and it did not disappoint! The building is just as gorgeous and intricate on the inside as it is outside, if not more so. The seats were comfy and roomy enough for those with long legs. The levels were tiered sufficiently so there was no peering through heads and no fear of being stuck behind a tall person.
Passenger & the once on stage together for the encore
All in all, it was a fantastic evening in a stunning venue!! Wish I could do it all again!! Ben Howard has some big shoes to fill on Saturday!!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Quick Update after my visit to The Salt Cave


I was quite skeptical whether I would feel any effects after only one visit to the Salt Cave but I must admit that I have noticed a few things. I can often feel a bit congested when I go to bed at night but last night I felt my airways were really clear and I could breathe very easily. I was rather phlem'y today, which is a part of the detox process but my nose was definitely a lot less runny. Normally in the colder months, I always need to have a tissue in my pocket to chase after my runny nose but I noticed I needed it much less today. I did feel more thirsty than usual and tried to make sure I drank lots of water and avoided caffeine & had no alcohol.

I also felt like my muscles were less achey, but not sure if that's just my body getting used to being back at the gym or if it has any correlation to the salt therapy.

I will see if things improve more tomorrow as the effects should be most evident in the first 24-48 hours, but I am looking forward to my second session on Tuesday to see if these changes continue!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

First visit to The Salt Cave

I am writing as I sit in a room filled and covered with salt while finely ground salt is pumped into the room... Listening to the sounds of birds, panflutes and crashing waves..

What exactly am I doing? You might wonder? Or you might just think I'm completely off my head. That's OK, you wouldn't be the only ones. I got some pretty funny looks when I told people at work that I'd be sitting in a salt cave for an hour this evening!
The Salt Cave, oddly enough is somewhere I'd walked past and thought, what on earth goes on in there?!? I'd looked it up and thought.. OK, right.. It looks quite interesting, I should check it out sometime, then promptly forgot about an hour later.

So when it popped up on a voucher site a couple of months ago, I thought, why not!? The plan was to come with a friend who had also bought a voucher but as there is no talking in the treatment room, it's just as well we didn't come together planning on a catch up session and having a good blether!

I was worried it might be quite chilly but the room is very comfortable and I'm quite happy in just a t shirt though there are blankets over each chair for those who tend to get cold.

I didn't expect to be walking on salt as well as being sat in a room with salt on the walls. Though to be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect! They ask that you wear a hairnet and little booties as well, though I chose to take my shoes off so I have booties on over my socks. It's a good look, trust me!
See?!?
There's a total of 8 chairs in the adult treatment room, each with a footstool if you want to put your feet up.. I did! There's also a table of magazines though I came armed with a book and my tablet.

They ask that there's no food or drink in the treatment room, but there is a water machine in the lobby area if you want a drink before or after. Also, no talking on phones! The idea is to relax and breathe and let the salt do its thang!

It can cause some irritation to eyes, dry throat or itchy skin but I've not experienced any of that, aside from feeling a little thirsty. Salt is said to help prevent muscle cramps so I'm hoping it might help my poor aching legs after my return to power plate training this week. There is nothing attractive or fun about walking around like a baby giraffe/geriatric! I've never hated walking down stairs or going to the bathroom quite so much!

The rather unconventional therapy is said to help a variety of problems from asthma to psoriasis. Respiratory diseases benefit the most as the salt is breathed into the throat and lungs, helping kill infection and dry out any lingering bacteria.

I'm not sure what difference I will feel after only one treatment but I get another visit on my voucher so I shall keep you posted.

In the meantime, breathe deep!!


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Sustainable Restaurant Association's - Ingredients for Success


Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend the SRA's event held at The Scottish Cafe. Many thanks to Mrs Monkfish from Mymonkfish for taking me as her guest. It was very much appreciated!
Guy Grieve, Ethical Shellfish Co.
The keynote speakers were Richard Lochhead MSP, James Withers, Carina Contini and Guy Grieve. The most memorable thing to take away was Guy's speech regarding sustainable fishing practices and needing to protect our oceans and seabeds. A point which really rang true for me was that people often don't realise the damage which is done by trawling as the bottom of the ocean is not somewhere which is visible to most people. As a recreational diver I'm lucky enough to have seen how gorgeous the bottom of the sea can be and to have a little understanding of the impact of some fishing practices.
IQ Chocolate, Heritage Potato, Summer Harvest Rapeseed Oil, Peelham Farms & Cuddybridge Apple Juice. 
It was great to get a chance to meet some local sustainable suppliers as well as sample some of their amazing product. Who knew there are so many different types of potatoes!!??!! Seabuckthorn is officially something I'm in love with as well... It's just so.damn.TASTY!
Top left: Peelham Farm slow cooked mutton stew with Phantassie cavolo nero, organic prune creme fraiche and rosti potato from Carroll’s Heritage Potatoes
 Top right : Doves Farm organic spelt risotto with Phantassie Squash, crispy Jerusalem artichokes and Scottish Kitchen Garden sage
Bottom left : Pan seared grouse breast from Ochil foods with honeyed Phantassie celeriac puree and red cabbage pickled in Summer Harvest bramble vinegar
 Bottom right : IQ chocolate pots with Speyside 12 YO Glenlivet Whisky with Innis & Gunn and organic oatmeal biscuits and Phantassie spiced quince jam 

The Scottish Cafe did a great job showcasing the ingredients in canapés and small bowls throughout the evening and Liberty Wines brought along some delightful wines as well. With their wines travelling by sea and rail to reduce their carbon footprint!

xx CazThanks very much to The SRA and The Scottish Cafe for hosting such a great event and again to Mrs Monkfish for taking me along.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Can one be a Foodstagrammer? An InstaGrammer? And what makes a Foodie??

So, I was recently at an event as a +1 and although I didn't feel out of place being at the event, I found it hard to justify why I was there.

With each introduction came the invariable, so are you a blogger too? Well, hrmm.. I update this blog far too rarely to call myself a "blogger".. And to just say " I'm a foodie" seemed like it lacked some kind of substance.. What exactly IS a foodie?? How does one qualify as a foodie?? Or it is something you can just.. BE?



My host very graciously offered that I have a very good Instagram feed.. Can one be a Foodstagrammer?? Is having a good Insta feed enough to get you on an invite list?? It is for some people! But for the average Jane Bloggs, can one now be an "Instagrammer"?? As one can be a blogger? Or do people still want/expect you to produce some form of written content in return for putting your name on the list?

I mean, there are certainly a lot of IG accounts with huge followings and not all of them have a blog they compliment/supplement.. so surely, one can just be an InstaGrammer? But is this enough???

xx Caz

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tonight's Tipple.. Caledonian Brewery, Newcastle Werewolf


This bottle has been kicking around in the fridge for a little while and noone seems entirely sure who put it there, after a bit of research online it would appear that it was a 'limited edition' beer from 2011/2012?!? Although it definitely has not been in my fridge for that long!!

The labels profess a 'blood red ale' with 'mellow overtones of sweet berry fruit' then 'a bite of bitterness suddenly cuts through, long, deep and lingering'.

It delivered on the sweet berry notes at the start and there was a lingering bitterness at the end but I'm not sure the change was sudden and I found the bitter notes quite sweet.

I found it quite light and easy drinking on a warm summer's evening even though it's sold as a 'Fall' beer. I'm not sure it really has the body to get you through a Scottish autumn.

As far as red ales go, this one is fairly middle of the line. The rye malt means it's not overwhelming hoppy, which is all good by me.

Perfectly fine as a session beer, the flavours are light, it's inoffensive and at 4.5% it won't completely blow your socks off once you've had a few.

xx Caz

Afternoon Tea at The Turquoise Thistle

Afternoon Tea


I was delighted when I received an invitation to the launch of the afternoon tea menu at Turquoise Thistle, it'd been on my list of places to try for a long time, so it was great to finally find a time to go.

The setting is fantastic, the dining room with large windows on to York Place offer plenty of natural light even though it was slightly dreich the day we were there. 


I was very impressed with all the savouries on the afternoon tea, rather than the usual sandwiches, we were presented with egg vol-au-vent, salmon on a tattie scone, cucumber on rye crispbread and ham & brie on a croissant. Everything was fantastic and I couldn't pick a favourite out of the lot.

The scone was fabulously fluffy, the shortbread was crunchy and buttery. We were off to a good start!! Unfortunately, I felt the sweets were a slight let down.. The lemon drizzle cake needed a bit more zing, the filo pastry on the fruit tartlet was slightly greasy and as the cranachan cheesecake was served in a tall shot glass it was much more cranachan and not really any cheesecake.  

The chocolate profiteroles had caught my attention from when the stand was delivered but maybe due to it having sat out for a good while, the pastry ended up a bit wet. The chocolate truffle looked promising but was a bit doughy and dry.

What was the most disappointing was that we didn't actually have TEA when our afternoon tea was served..With there being quite a large group of us, it's not always easy to get the timing right for things, but surely getting people's tea orders should be high on the list?! My tea didn't arrive until after I'd got through most of my savouries and although the menu promised a selection of loose leaf teas my earl grey was a tea bag.  Having served afternoon tea in a previous lifetime, I am a firm believer that 50% of an afternoon tea really does lie in the quality of the, well, TEA... You don't need to serve a large range, but you really should have both English Breakfast and Earl Grey as loose leaf.

Overall, I loved the savouries and look forward to finding a time to return for dinner and would happily return for afternoon tea if a few tweaks were made to the sweets. 

xx Caz