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September 2014

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Last year, I went to Christopher’s first wine tasting event at The Butchershop Bar & Grill. It was a fun filled night, very relaxed, wine paired with food and I left rather tipsy but with the added knowledge of finding a new favourite type of wine; Argentinean Malbec.

Christopher is planning on making these wine tasting events more regular alongside Gary McKernan and it kicked off with a low key tasting at Kelvingrove Cafe where we would we tasting three different wines by Charles Smith. To accompany each wine, small canapés were created to perfectly match each wine. Tickets cost £20 per person which is a bargain for this type of event if you ask me.

Charles Smith isn’t your average winemaker, as Gary told us. Charles, a California native,  previously managed a rock bands throughout Europe after heading to Denmark for a “hot piece of ass”. He later moved back to the States and with his new found passion for wine, opened a wine shop. While on a road trip, he passed through the small town of Walla Walla in Washington State and met a young Frenchman winemaker. The two of them  had the same passion for great Syrah wine and Charles eventually moved to Walla Walla to start making his own wine. The rest is history.

From his collection, we tried Kung Fu Girl Riesling, The Velvet Devil Merlot and Boom Boom! Syrah.

Charles Smith Wines

I had never heard of Riesling before as I do not generally drink white wine. Seemingly, the Riesling had a bad name for many years but is starting to become popular again. The flavour notes in Kung Fu Girl are Fuji apple, shiro plum and lime leaves. It was a very light, crispy refreshing wine. Very easy drinking and perfectly paired with Asian dishes or grilled seafood.

Next up was The Velvet Devil. The flavours we were to expect were dark cherries, cedar, pipe tobacco, anise, stone and cherry blossoms. We were also told that this is a perfect wine to have with Lamb and Roast Duck. The wine felt very full bodied to me and spicy. I wasn’t a huge fan of the intense aftertaste. Sadly not a favourite of mine.

Lastly, we tried Boom Boom! As the name suggests, it was a hit. Flavour notes were fresh herbs, rich black cherry, tobacco as well as hints of lavender. The wine is a perfect match for red meat such as Lamb and Beef. This was by far one of the best red wines I’ve had in a while and my first ever Syrah. It is an extremely easy drinking every day kind of wine. Very smooth, flavoursome and leaves a lovely aftertaste. Judging by the comments of the others, this was also a huge favourite.

I love informal wine tasting events such as this. They introduce you to ranges of wine that you would never normally drink. I also think that you can learn a lot more about the wine you are drinking.

Do you like wine? Have you been wine tasting before? What if your favourite wine?

Photo Credit: Charles Smith Wines

It is getting closer to one of the greatest food weekends in Glasgow, the BBC Good Food Show. One of the perks of being one of the BBC Good Food Show Bloggers is that we get to help judge the Glasgow’s Best Deli competition. After lots of nominations, the shortlist has now been announced. They are:

Billingtons of Lenzie (Lenzie)
Celinos Deli  (Alexandra Parade)
Peckhams (Various Glasgow locations)
Pane e Vino  (Giffnock)
I.J Mellis  (Great Western Road)
Roots and Fruits  (Great Western Road)
Veldt Deli (Great Western Road)
Deli 1901 (Shawlands)
Lupe Pinto (Great Western Road)
Eusebi Deli (Shettleston Road)

Now for the fun part, the blogging community along with Katy Truss from Fabulous Food Finds will be visiting each shortlist candidate as mystery shoppers judging deli’s on variety and range of local and international produce, quality of facilities, customer service and atmosphere too.

The winner will then be announced and will win a free stand at the show this year to showcase their produce. It’s a great opportunity for a local deli who would otherwise be unable to afford a stand or even think about attending as an exhibitor, not to mention knowing that they are the best around vote for by the public!

Last year, Billingtons of Lenzie won the coveted prize and wowed the crowd with their deli. Will they win again? Only time will tell. They have some stiff competition this year!

Billingtons of Lenzie

Are you planning on going to the show this year? Want a 20% discount on tickets? Well, you’ve came to the right website! Use the code BL20 when you buy tickets online until October 3rd. I’ll also be hosting a competition soon to win tickets to the show, so keep a look out!

Do you have a favourite Glasgow deli? Is it part of the shortlist? Who do you think should win? Are you coming to the show this year?

Coffee. I just can’t get enough and it seems neither can Glasgow. One of the newest coffee shops around is Gordon Street Coffee in Glasgow Central Station. Not only is it a coffee shop, they also roast their own coffee in-house. Not something you see everyday! Situated above Alston Bar & Beef which I previously reviewed, the coffee shop also serves a range of hot & cold filled sandwiches such as the hot pulled beef brisket, sliced gruyere & slaw, breakfast rolls, scrumptious cakes, biscuits & pastries.

The staff roast their very own coffee blend in-​house under the watch­ful eye of the Mas­ter Roaster. Created using specially selected beans, the Glasgow Roast “celebrates the city’s historical trading links with India, Africa & the Americas. It embodies the bold & bright characteristics that the city & its people are renowned for”. The coffee is roasted in-house, where customers can see the whole process in action  & are able to taste a fresh batch of the “Glasgow Roast”. Something you do not want to miss. Alongside the Glasgow Roast, a house blend is also on offer which consists of beans from South America & Africa; the house blend is a medium roast coffee which delivers a fruity flavour that is rich in chocolate.

I was invited to come check out a bean roasting session, a cupping session and to sample the beans that make up the house blend. Watching the Diedrich Roaster hard at work was great. When you get your cup of coffee, you never really think about all the hard work that goes into picking the seeds off the Coffea plant, drying, roasting and then grinding them into each cup we drink. We watched the Master Roaster hard at work ensuring the beans were perfectly roasted. He spoke to us about the history of coffee and the difference between roasts, throughout the entire 13 minute process until we were able to sample a freshly roasted bean. I adore the smell of coffee beans, the smell was to die for. There is nothing like the smell of freshly ground coffee. Well… maybe freshly baked cookies!

Gordon Street Coffee- Coffee Talk with Barista

After watching the coffee being roasted, it was time to see it work it’s magic. We were shown how the baristas make the coffee in the shop from grinding the beans to latte art. Once they had made me a lovely flat white using the Glasgow Roast, it was my turn to take control. I was a little nervous as I had never used a professional machine but it was pretty easy! The hardest part for me was attempting latte art on my flat white. It turned out like Casper the Friendly Ghost instead of lovely swirls. Of course I pretended that it was my plan all along!

It was great to get a different insight into the Glasgow coffee scene. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to sample much of the array of food that was laid out for us, I was more interested in grabbing another cup of coffee after my 6am start that morning and watch STV Glasgow who were filming live from the shop while we were there.

Have you been to Gordon Street Coffee? What is your favourite coffee order? Do you have a favourite coffee shop in Glasgow?

Ever since watching my very first Scottish Ballet performance, I’ve been hooked. This autumn, Scottish Ballet hosts it’s newest production of The Crucible with Ten Poems. To celebrate its upcoming world tour starting at Theatre Royal Glasgow (Thu 25 – Sat 27 Sep 2014), Scottish Ballet planned a jam packed evening for a select few bloggers starting at Glasgow Film Theatre with a showing of 90s cult movie, The Craft.

Scottish Ballet dancers in rehearsals for Helen Pickett’s world premiere, The Crucible. Photo by Andy Ross

I’m ashamed to admit that I had never seen The Craft before. The movie centers around a group of four teenage girls who pursue witchcraft and use sorcery for their own gain. Before the movie started, a ten minute clip was shown giving the audience a sneak peek into the making of The Crucible. It’s always amazing to watch how a ballet production comes to life. I’m always in awe watching the dancers hard at work and this is no exception.

Based on Arthur Miller’s 1953 Tony award-winning play, The Crucible layers rich, evocative characterisations in a story of opposites robed in sexual sin, translating this incredible dramatisation of the Salem witch trials with her inimitable style of dance language. This chilling tale of innocent people destroyed by a malicious rumour will captivate you with its spellbinding sensuality and capacity to provoke and question.

The production is also twinned with an emotive recording of ten Dylan Thomas poems read by Welsh actor Richard Burton. Ten Poems builds on the melodic rhythm of the famous prose, loved as much for their musicality as for their themes of lost innocence, nostalgia for childhood, and death.

Sophie Martin in rehearsals for Helen Pickett’s world premiere, The Crucible. Photo by Andy Ross

After the enchanting movie, we walked to The Salon Bar at Blythswood Square for cocktails and antipasti platters. As I was driving, I sadly couldn’t drink one of the Pink Swan cocktails, but our lovely hostess replaced it with a delicious raspberry & elderflower Fizz. Our antipasti platters consisted of a selection of cheese, bread, cured meats and succulent king prawns. A delicious selection to pick away at while chatting about The Crucible with Miriam (Educational Officer for Scottish Ballet). She spoke with such animation about The Crucible, how the Scottish Ballet brought it to the stage and the visions of choreographer Helen Pickett.

Andrew Peasgood and Constance Devernay in rehearsals for Helen Pickett’s world premiere, The Crucible. Photo by Christina Riley

I for one cannot wait to see the latest Scottish Ballet production. Have you been to the ballet before? What is your favourite production?

Photo Credit: Photo 1 & 2 by Andy Ross. Photo 3 by Christina Riley.

Way back in July when Glasgow was the host to the amazing Commonwealth Games, I popped over to Royal Exchange Square and had Afternoon Tea at the John Lewis pop-up Tea On The Green. Celebrating 150 years and being the official department store of the Games, the pop-up was created to be a calming green sanctuary in the heart of Glasgow where you could unwind, refuel and enjoy some delectable treats while soaking in the atmosphere around you, for free.

We walked into the little Oasis and were met with super friendly staff who showed us to our tables. Using furniture and accessories from the department store, the décor was beautiful. Hats off to the Interior Designers because they made such a small space look fabulous. Each table had views of the giant TV that was broadcasting sporting events live along with a variety of different clocks displaying the current time in various Commonwealth countries. A lovely touch.

John Lewis Tea On The Green- Table Setting

John Lewis Tea On The Green- Cutlery

We were given a little drinks menu where we had the choice of juices, non-alcoholic cocktails, teas and coffees. Since it was Afternoon Tea, I opted for the Peppermint Tea and some Orange Juice. A short while later, we were met with a wonderful array of Sandwiches and Cakes. My eyes lit up instantly when I saw them, almost too good to eat. I decided to be good and have a little sandwich first. Unfortunately for me, Smoked Salmon sandwiches were on our plate. I’ve never quite liked Smoked Salmon so I left those sandwiches for Ross to devour and stole all the Egg & Cress ones for myself. That’s only fair, isn’t it? Oh yes.

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John Lewis Tea On The Green- Peppermint Tea Closeup

John Lewis Tea On The Green- Afternoon Tea

Choosing which cake to have was the worst part, it almost came down to flipping a coin to see who would get the little Millionaires Shortcake. I won, naturally. I let Ross have the Scones, fairs fair!

John Lewis Tea On The Green- Afternoon Tea Scones

John Lewis Tea On The Green- Afternoon Tea Cakes

John Lewis Tea On The Green- Afternoon Tea Sandwiches

It was a delightful afternoon watching the world go by for an hour, if only we could have Afternoon Tea every weekend. Could we make that a new law? Do you love Afternoon Tea? Where is your favourite place to go? Do you fight for sandwiches and cakes like I do? Or am I just greedy?

Healthy isn’t one word you’d use to describe me. My boyfriend however, is a complete health freak. He rarely eats carbs at home, doesn’t snack on junk and loves going to the gym. I’ve been trying to get a little healthier in what I eat so when Indigo Herbs sent me a bag full of goodies to try out with Ross, it was the ideal opportunity to start getting my act together. It was time to acquaint myself with Acai, Wheatgrass, Spirulina and Hemp Superfoods, to name a few!

Indigo Herbs is a small family run business based in Glastonbury which has been operating for around 20 years. Their mission is to inspire and empower people to take responsibility for their own health by providing the finest natural health products at affordable prices. Will I be converted? 

Ross & I decided to use the ingredients provided to make a couple of drinks and something you can eat for breakfast or as a snack to re-fuel and boost your energy. I had never tried any of the ingredients before so this was the perfect way to be introduced to them. Below are the recipes and the reasons behind choosing them.

Fruity Acai Bowl

Indigo Herbs- Acai Bowl

Indigo Herbs- Acai Bowl

This is a perfect beginning to your day. You can top the bowl with anything you like but this bowl is full of berries so you can easily get your 5 a day. It also helps boost your energy levels, great for 6am starts that I’ve been having this week!

Ingredients:
  • 1 Frozen Banana, slightly thawed
  • 150ml Almond Milk
  • 10g Acai Powder
  • 5g Bilberry
  • 1 Capful Natural Vanilla
  • Handful Blackberries
  • Handful Strawberries
  • Handful Goji Berries
  • Handful Pumpkin Seeds
  • Handful Shaved Dried Coconut
Method:

Add banana, almond mik, acai, bilberry and natural vanilla into a big bowl and blend until smooth. Transfer into a smaller bowl and top with your favourite toppings, in my case berries, pumpkin seeds and coconut.

Post Workout Recovery Smoothie

Indigo Herbs- Post Workout Recovery Smoothie

God knows I need everything possible to help me feel ‘normal’ after exercise. Whenever I go to the gym or go on a long walk, I love nothing better than an ice cold drink. Water, as good as it is, won’t help put nutrients back into your body so this is a good way to instantly inject yourself with the good stuff. Who needs Lucozade and their electrolytes.

Ingredients:
  • 20g Hemp Protein Powder
  • 5g Beetroot Powder
  • 5g Banana Powder
  • 200ml Coconut Water
  • Handful Blackberries
  • Ice Cubes
Method:

Blend all ingredients together and pour into a large glass or cup. Don’t worry about the ice. Your blender should be able to cope!

Green Green Grass Shot

Indigo Herbs- Green Green Grass Shot

A healthy shot that may not taste the best, but is rammed full of greeny goodness. Ideal to give you a boost if you’re tired.

Ingredients:
  • 5g Spirulina
  • 4g Wheatgrass
  • 75ml Coconut Water
  • Ice Cubes
Method:

Mix everything together and add ice cubes. Drink it all in one.

Being a blogger, and focusing a lot on food, photography is one of the most important elements that makes up the perfect blog post. I don’t own a dSLR and it has only been in the last few months that I’ve finally come out of using auto-mode on my Olympus XZ-2 Bridge Camera and am trying to master how to use my camera properly. I want to be able to take amazing photos, I want to be better but sometimes it’s hard to find the time to sit down and properly learn.

That is where Joe Blogs comes in and rescues me from eternal auto-mode! Joe Blogs invited me to a photography workshop called “Toast of the Town” aimed at teaching fellow bloggers the ins & outs of manual photography all whilst learning to celebrate Glasgow. The workshop was hosted by and held at the Millennium Hotel next to George Square with Stuart and Hamish from Dreghorn Photography Studio giving us much-needed tips & tricks as well as being on hand for one on one help if needed.

Our day started with finally switching off the auto-mode and turning our dials to ‘P’ (programmed mode). This was so we could control the object we wanted to be in focus, in this case, my thumb. I then started photographing random objects on the table just so I could get comfortable with this before moving on. One of the biggest tips we were given was the rule of two-thirds. Why keep photographing objects in the centre when things can be more interesting off centre? To do this perfectly, position your object in the centre of the frame, press the shutter button gently to focus and with the shutter still pressed, move to the side a little then take your shot. I agree that it does make your photograph more interesting. We then moved on to taking portrait photographs of another blogger we were partnered up with, ensuring you used the rule of thirds. Luckily for me, my camera has a snazzy LCD screen which will show you a grid line split into three separate parts to break it down for you.

Toast of the Town Photography Masterclass- Aperture

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Portrait

We then stopped for lunch and caught up with other bloggers you knew along with meeting some new ones. It was also the ideal time to chat away to Stuart and Hamish regarding photograph and their own careers. The  Dreghorn Photography Studio carry out a range of photography classes from novices to the more professional snapper, something that I’m definitely  thinking about. I really want to learn more about lighting and aperture.

After lunch, we learnt all about shutter priority and how numbers can affect how the photograph is taken. Our prop to highlight the differences was a remote control helicopter high in the air. Firstly using a high shutter speed, we were able to freeze the blades so it looked like it was static. We then changed to a much slower shutter speed which allowed us to capture the blades moving and made for a more interesting photograph. Perfect for capturing people walking, water flow and moving cars.

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Shutter Speed Helicopter Test

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Shutter Speed

After being overloaded with theory, we ventured out into the mean streets of Glasgow putting everything we learnt to the test. We headed to George Square, Royal Exchange Square and Buchanan Street to capture our favourite sights. I think I managed to capture some great shots, even getting the courage to ask some strangers if I could take their photograph.

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- George Square Lion

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Duke of Wellington Statue

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Old Man on George Square

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Royal Exchange Square

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Construction Ingram Street

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Beggars Royal Exchange Square

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Couple on Buchanan Street

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Flowers on Buchanan Street

Toast of the Town Photography Workshop- Little Map of Glasgow on Buchanan Street

It was a lovely day full of learning more about a subject I love, inspired me to learn more and to start taking better photos. Do you stick to auto-mode or have you been able to conquer the dreaded manual settings? What is your favourite thing to photograph? What camera do you use to take the perfect photos?

Disclaimer: I was invited to this free photography masterclass at Millennium Hotel by Joe Blogs in partnership with Millennium Hotels. Thanks again for the invite! To read more, check out this blog post.

 

I love a good cocktail. My favourites? French Martini and Mojito. Both are refreshingly light and when I’m in the mood for a drink, they are my ideal choice. When Waitrose Cellar contacted me to create my own Summer Cocktail using a Waitrose branded spirit, I challenged myself to try something different. While clinging to the hope that Summer may extend itself this year, I  challenged myself even more, I decided to make three different cocktails for different palettes. I incorporated fruit that I love into each cocktail as well as Polish Rye Vodka and the end result was great! I thought that the Rye Vodka would be a great spirit to use as it has a citrus flavour to it as well as being smooth.

Waitrose Summer Cocktail Polish Rye Vodka

Below are my three recipes and they should be quick & easy to make! Each recipe makes 1 cocktail (depending on your glass), so double up if you’re making more. Sharing is caring!

Grapefruit Fizz

  • 75ml Fresh Pink Grapefruit Juice
  • 50ml Pink Grapefruit Lemonade
  • 50ml Polish Rye Vodka
  • Sugar for the rim of your cocktail glass (I coloured mine with some Pink Food Colouring)

Pop all of the liquid into your cocktail shaker with a handful of crushed ice. Shake well. Dip your cocktail glass into the coloured sugar to coat. Strain the cocktail into the glass & enjoy!

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Waitrose Summer Cocktail Grapefruit Fizz

Pomegranate Pamplemousse

  • 50ml Polish Rye Vodka
  • 100ml Pomegranate Juice
  • 25ml Fresh Pink Grapefruit Juice

Pop all of the liquid into your cocktail shaker with a handful of crushed ice. Shake well. Strain the cocktail into the glass, garnish with a slice of pink grapefruit & enjoy!

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Waitrose Summer Cocktail Pomegranate Pamplemousse

 Peach Passion

  • 1 Peach, cored and de-skinned
  • 50ml Polish Rye Vodka
  • Small Handful of Raspberries
  • Small Handful of chopped Strawberries
  • Handful of Crushed Ice
  • Lemonade

Pop the peach into a food processor or blender and blend until it has reached a purée consistency. Add the purée to your cocktail shaker along with vodka, strawberries and raspberries. Shake well. Add ice to your glass and then pour mix into the glass, topping up with some lemonade.

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What is your favourite cocktail? Do you make cocktails at home? If you’re looking for some new inspiration, Waitrose Cellar have an online recipe page to help you create your perfect cocktail.