Thursday, 31 March 2016

Union Square: Safari Supper Club

When someone mentions a 'proper hamburger' immediately my ears prick up. Full on mouth-wateringly scrumptious burgers are something I find my mind wondering off and daydreaming about regularly. Invited to an exclusive Safari Supper by Union Square with a mention of burgers was always going to be an event I would be unable to resist, and with the addition of cocktails too, I was there in a flash.

Union Square is one of Aberdeen's most popular shopping and eating destinations. With so much under one roof it can sometimes prove extremely difficult to decide where to eat, especially with an abundance of choice showcasing cuisine's from all over the world. The Safari Supper Club consisted of an evening of food and drink, whilst catching up with my blogger friends as well as meeting a few new faces. The idea of the club was to encourage the group to hop from one restaurant to another for every course, this excited me a lot as I've never thought of doing anything like that before, and I was intrigued to see how well we could execute this exercise as a large party. Nonetheless, our foodie adventure impressed on all levels.

First stop, Las Iguanas. Cocktail menu's at the ready I opted for a pink passion fruit; Pink Pigeon vanilla rum, apricot liqueur, Funkin passion fruit purée, vanilla sugar and pineapple juice. Passion fruit is one of my favourite flavours within cocktails - I usually opt for a Pornstar - however, wanted to try something a little different and I can certainly tell you that I wasn't disappointed.
Nest stop, Yo! Sushi. After previously visiting the launch of Yo! Sushi's new menu, Welcome to Tokyo, a few weeks ago in the Bon Accord Centre I knew exactly what I wanted before the manager had even handed me the menu. My ultimate favourite, popcorn shrimp tempura, glazed shrimp in creamy miso sauce, and a newbie to the menu, maguro katsu, tuna mixed with mayonnaise and onion rolled in breadcrumbs and served with a wasabi sauce. Two absolute menu winners for me.  I also decided to try out their miso soup for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised as to how refreshing it tasted. Not something I would have usually have went for but I'm glad I did. (You can also check out my other favourites from the new menu on my blog post from the launch - click here!)
Third stop, burger time. Heading along to Byron Burger for the first time I was intrigued to see how they would bring their #burgergame, and to what extent it would be brought. Being pretty full from Yo Sushi, I was starting to regret my starter choices, but nothing was going to stop me from going all out on my burger main. Choosing my burger was easy. As soon as I see the words BBQ sauce, it's game over for any other option on the menu. B-Rex, a 6oz hamburger with onion rings, streaky bacon, American cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onion, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise, was about to meet its match. When eating red meat usually I have it cooked medium-rare, however, when it comes to burgers I nowadays will always ask for it to be cooked well done. I'm obsessed with foodie documentaries and although some of you meat heads may disagree, I feel well done is the wisest of options when eating out. Personal preference and all. 

Brad, who was hosting the event, kindly ordered some french fries and sweet potato fries to accompany our delicious burgers, and after seeing so many positive reviews online over the past few weeks about Byron, I now understood just what all the fuss really was about.

Of course, as always at any American diner which serves up burgers, you almost always have to order a milkshake, especially when they are as good as the one's Byron serves up. Reese's peanut butter cup milkshake all day every day. A few Reese's peanut butter cups mixed up with some oh-so-creamy vanilla ice cream, nothing could bring me down from this ice cream high. The Oreo cookie milkshake also looked very tempting...that's a definite must try for next time.
Last but not least, dessert, and that came in the shape of sorbet from Italian restaurant, Carluccio's. I must confess, 9/10 I would never opt for sorbet or ice cream on their own for a dessert, I almost feel like it's a waste of calories, and in my case, the more calories the better. I'm a real fan of chocolate desserts, the chocolate torte and the warm chocolate pudding were tempting, alas, my eyes were much larger than my tummy and I had to surrender the luxury of a chocolate dessert. Looking for something light and refreshing, the melon and lemon sorbet hit the spot in cleansing my palette and refreshing my tastebuds after a heavy eating stint throughout Union Square. The melon was divine, but the lemon was very tart, not subtle in the slightest, which made it that much more refreshing on my tongue.
All in all the Safari Supper Club was a huge success, with bloggers from all over Aberdeen piling out of the restaurants full to the brim. A massive thank you to Brad from McFrank PR and Union Square for organising and conducting a brilliant evening of food and drink for us all to indulge in. I've never thought about restaurant hopping on a night out but after my Safari Supper Club experience, I may very well have to try this concept out with my friends.

  For Now...

Just Julia

Monday, 28 March 2016

Revolution Aberdeen: picnic basket review

Two weekends ago I was kindly invited along to Revolution Bars Aberdeen to sample the very first Revolution picnic basket ahead of its official launch last week. That's right, I was the first person in Aberdeen to try this out, so as you can imagine, I really didn't have a clue what I was walking into, which made the experience that much more fun!

Arriving on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon - yes I kid you not, sunshine in Aberdeen and it's not even July yet - I brought along my boyfriend, my sister and her boyfriend to tuck into what was much needed hangover food in the form of a cute, quirky picnic.

Since refurbishing recently, it is clear Revolution Aberdeen wants to create the atmosphere of a picnic in the park (conveniently the bar looks out onto Union Terrace Gardens). The concept is fun, and is something different, offering the people of Aberdeen a unique picnic experience in a well-established bar without having to worry about preparing or tidying up. Sounds like picnic heaven.

Deciding to pace myself, I opted for a virgin Bloody Mary, whilst my boyfriend also decided on a mocktail. With our heads sore from the prosecco we devoured the previous night I was excited to get tucked in to some awesome food.
Unbeknown to me, two bottles of prosecco landed on our table (this was part of the picnic ) and I immediately liked the look of how things were starting off. With a bottle per couple, we decided to only open one initially, seeing how brave we were toasting to a glorious day of beautiful sunshine and fine food.
When the picnic basket arrived on our table we were very intrigued to see what was inside. We had all been guessing what may or may not be in the basket, and I can safely say all four of us were wrong in our predictions. 

What you can expect to find in your picnic basket:
  • Freshly baked baguettes
  • A selection of cold meats
  • A selection of cheeses
  • Houmous
  • Sundried tomatoes and nocellara olives
  • Potato salad
  • Selection of condiments including some beautiful chutney and grapes
  • One bottle of Bolla prosecco (rosé )
You can also add a desserts package for £5 extra per person including brownie, cheesecake and strawberries and cream.

Once we had pulled everything out of the basket, inspecting every single item with such curiosity, we were digging into our picnic within no time (after I had paused consumption intermittently whilst I got happy snappy - the story of a blogger's guest's life). The bread was delicious, and still warm inside which meant the butter and cheese melted perfectly, which made the mini sandwiches we were all assembling that much more divine. The selection of meats and cheese's was also very generous, as well as varied. I'm not a massive fan of blue cheese so I avoided this after initially tasting a small piece, however, everything else tasted extremely fresh and was more than enough for the four of us. 

The chutney was the show stopper for me, as was the potato salad. This simplistic, yet flavoursome lunch was exactly what the doctor had ordered and was very filling which surprised me as initially I thought the four of us would have easily have eaten the lot, my mistake. The only thing I would have added more of was the baguette, due to the fact it's the one main component of the lunch you use as a base in creating mini tasters of everything. However, when we asked for more bread this was no fuss whatsoever and the waitress at the time gathered our recommendations and fed this back to the chef immediately, which was very reassuring.

Alongside the picnic, we also indulged in one or two of Revolution Aberdeen's cocktails. I decided on Absolute Soup which features Absolut vodka, Teihenné coconut schnapps, apple juice and grapefruit served in an iconic Andy Warhol tin can, and my sisters boyfriend chose the salted caramel mudshake with Stoli vodka, white chocolate and salted caramel popcorn flavoured vodkas - half and half, and chocolate sauce topped with whipped cream and more chocolate sauce, super muddy.
At £25 per person, based on two people sharing the picnic concept is hella fun and also rather tasty too. The would be the perfect starting point for going out at the weekend, or even just a relaxing afternoon basking in the sun with your friends enjoying a glass or two of prosecco indulging in your picnic. With spring in full flow and summer just around the corner, I can guarantee you'll want to try this wee beauty out.

A massive thank you to Aicha from Revolution Aberdeen who invited me down to enjoy the perfect Sunday picnic overlooking the park. A great concept for those looking to go out for lunch and a few drinks with friends, I'll definitely be getting my girlfriends involved in this next time we go out for a few!

   For Now...

Just Julia

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The world of MINE: A sneak peek...

When I heard the latest word on the street was that a new pop up jewellery shop was establishing in Aberdeen, I was straight on Facebook, investigating what was to come...

MINE, brainchild of local creative, Amy Donaldson, is a fashionable online boutique, with a quirky twist, offering up a monthly pop-up showroom right in the heart of Aberdeen.

Specialising in jewellery initially, the online boutique will host a number of exclusive, unique designers, giving the people of Aberdeen the chance to indulge in some very unusual pieces.

Arranging a catch up with Amy ahead of this weekend's exclusive launch on Saturday 26 March at 33 Huntly Street (Profile hair salon) from 1 - 7pm,  I just had to quiz her on all things jewellery and

*A quick heads up to anyone looking to sample the exclusive cocktail Porter's Gin has created for the event - be there prompt because once they're gone, they're gone!*

So you've named the business MINE, where did the inspiration behind the name come from?
"It really was just down to pot luck. I'd been thinking about names for a while and really liked the idea of venturing down the metal theme. It took a long time to finally decide what I wanted to call the business, (originally I'd been thinking Ore), but in the end played on the concept of a gold mines therefore MINE was born. The concept of MINE is great as it allows me to play on the idea of sharing and swapping jewellery, kind of a 'what's mine is yours' which I'm hoping to develop in the near future."

Why Jewellery?
"I've always loved jewellery. A hairdresser by trade, I love to jazz up my work clothes (which are predominantly black) and jewellery allows me to showcase my personality. I sometimes go a little over the top with it, but that's the kind of person I am. I think the type of jewellery you wear can say a lot about your tastes - just like any fashion!

"I've only got one of my ears pierced and was looking for somewhere that sold singular earrings online and couldn't find anywhere. I stumbled upon this cute place in Brick Lane, London, who sold individual earrings and I fell in love. So much so that they were the first place I approached to stock on my website. I'm really excited about working with them and giving the people of Aberdeen something a little different when it comes to accessories.

"As well as being a hairdresser, I also attended a Silversmith course at Robert Gordon University and did a course on how to make jewellery in London too."

Photo rights owned by MINE 

What is it?
"MINE is really a hobby I've had for years that I've now decided to turn into a quirky wee business. My love for jewellery developed into a passion for sharing my experiences of different shops and brands with my clients, which many of them wanted to buy pieces from.

"I used to make wedding bouquets and incorporate pieces of jewellery into them, and I also decorated picture frames with old jewellery too.

"MINE is primarily an online business, however, we will be hosting monthly pop-ups in the salon and potentially across Aberdeen, which is all very exciting!"

What artists/designers can people expect you to be stocking?

"Les Nereides which specialises in luxury costume jewellery, the quirky pieces this company boasts are ridiculously cute! Think flowers, kittens, unicorns and anything else deemed girly.

"For those who love a little grunge, Black Pearl, in London, is perfect for bespoke pendants. Like mixed metals or sterling silver and enjoy moons, stars, anchors and precious gems!? These pieces are definitely worth checking out. With prices ranging between £15 - £40 there's something for everyone...

"Sarah Winther is based in Stockholm and isn't available in any other shop in the UK. She extremely talented and has a fantastic eye for real beauty."
Sarah's pieces were some of my favourite when I got a sneak peek of the collections MINE is stoking, the stunning raw rock rings and the hooped earrings are a must.

"All the way from Berlin, Angela Gomespieces are sublime, with a focus on bass and silver, these fashionable pieces portray strong, bold shapes.

"And we will also have graphic and modern jewellery designers, Wolf and Moon alongside many other designers too."

As well as selling and showcasing a number of unique, artisan jewlers, which Amy handpicked herself, she has also created an exclusive MINE range of her own. With her artistic flare and passion for jewellery, you have no doubt that the collection is going to be incredible.
Photo rights owned by MINE
"I wanted the collection to portray who I am as a creative, whilst showing off my edgier side. Jewellery is a very personal thing, so much so that it's very unlikely that two people have exactly the same choice. MINE gives people the chance to play around with fashion in a fun, informal way, and I think the fact we have so many different creatives involved in MINE's offering, that there is definitely something to suit everyone's tastes.

"I am obsessed with individual earrings, so I've created a mix 'n match earrings range so that those looking to be a little more adventurous with the length of their earrngs can have something completely different. There's heaps of different charms and I can't wait to show them off to everyone!"

Amy has also created a wooden collection with the help of her boyfriend who is a joiner. 

"The wooden collection is really funky. I've utilised an old label maker to create labelled jewellery so I can personalise any of the wooden pieces to indiviuals' tastes, which I think is going to prove very popular. I've already created some for my friends and a few local businesses so I'm looking forward to surprising them with their gifts."

Favourite piece?
"My favourite piece of jewllery of all time HAS to be my skull ring, I've had it for years and it is the only piece of jewllery that I wear every day."

Favourtie accessory?
"Individual single earrings - especially the longer ones!"

2016 Spring/Summer Trends?
"In all honesty, I don't tend to follow trends, I like to make it up as I go I guess. But what I have noticed, especially for Spring/Summer 2016, is that triangles and semi precious stones are hot in the fashion world. The unfinished, unpolished look on jewllery is also really popular just now, I've even heard that rougher diamonds are becoming much more popular too.

The jewlery business is also turning much more green, really pushing into the eco-friendly, fairtrade markets which is very refreshing. I like to know where my jewellery has come from and I think it's so important to understand how your suppliers work in order to remain true to your business ethos, and yourself really. It's exciting finding out the story of the pieces and it really inspires me so I think this is a huge thing for the fashion industry."

You can catch up with Amy at the official launch of MINE this Saturday and be blown away by the stunning collection of quirky, unusual, yet very stylish pieces.

For Now...

Just Julia



Thursday, 17 March 2016

Eggscellent Cadbury's Creme Egg beverages

Creme eggs and cocktails you say? Oh darling, I do say! With Easter egg hunts galore and sugar high's anticipated throughout the chocolate-friendly Easter period, it would be rude to not indulge in all the chocolatey fun. With a sweet tooth, and my favourite tipple of choice a creamy, rich cocktail, I've decided to pull together some eggscellent Easter inspiration for all the adults to enjoy. Get your Eater off to a cracking start with these utterly delicious, and oh-so-gooey creme egg inspired beverages.

Creme egg Martini (serves two)

  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 4 Cadbury creme eggs
  • 4 shots of chocolate vodka
  • Mini cadbury's creme eggs to garnish (add as many as you like!)
  • Chocolate syrup to line the glass
  1. In a pan, heat the milk over a medium heat until it is warm (be sure it doesn't boil!)
  2. Add the Cadbury's creme eggs (one at a time) and move them around until they completely melt.
  3. One all four eggs have melted pour the liquid into a container and put in the fridge for an hour to cool. Whisk occasionally to prevent any separation of the ingredients - I did this three or four times.
  4. With the chocolate syrup, line two martini glasses. Then, pour about 250ml of the milk/creme egg mixture and four shots of chocolate vodka into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, and shake for about 10 seconds. (We also tried it using Thornton's chocolate liqueur - available in all large supermarkets- which also worked well).
  5. Strain slowly into the martini glasses and garnish with the additional mini Cadbury's creme eggs. You can get as creative as you like and top with thick chocolate shavings too to create a nest effect.

Creme Egg Mojito (serves one):
An oldie but a goodie. Created last year by the Head mixologist Jack Williams for bar owners, Late Night London, this unbelievable beverage just HAD to shared with you all...rum, chocolate liqueur and a Cadbury's Creme Egg, what more could you ask for at Easter!? Although I can't take credit of this one, it's a definite must try.

  • 25 ml Bacardi Superior run
  • 25ml Mozart chocolate liqueur
  • Sprig of mint
  • Dash of lime juice
  • Dash of soda
  • Two chocolate Cadbury's Creme Eggs
  1. Slightly bruise the mint spring and then put in the bottom of a tall glass with the rum and chocolate liqueur.
  2. Add some sugar syrup and lime juice to the mix, then add some crushed ice and a smashed up Cadbury's Creme Egg - Stir.
  3. Add a little more crushed ice, and top with a dash of soda. Garnish with an gooey half of a creme egg and hey presto, one Creme Egg Mojito coming right up!
Creme egg mojito photos credited to Sick Chirpse 
Cadbury's Creme Egg Milkshake (serves one):

  • 2 cups of vanilla ice cream (four scoops should do, and I'd recommend Madagascan Vanilla from Mackies - keep it local people!)
  • 3 Cadbury's Creme Eggs
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (liquid is best for this)
  1. With a blender, combine the madagascan vanilla ice cream, the three Cadbury's Creme Eggs, the milk and the vanilla extract together.
  2. Blend until the mixture is smooth with minimal lumps and pour into a tall glass (if you don't have tall glasses then small tumblers would easily do - and that means you can share!)
  3. To complete, garnish your milkshake with a cut in half Cadbury Creme egg (this is where using tumblers will benefit you, a half creme egg garnish per person).
You could always top off with squirty cream and a light dusting of cocoa powder on top like I did...but only if you're really feeling peckish!

So go on...put your creme eggs where your mouth is and indulge in Easter, adult style. Don't forget to send me your delicious creme egg beverages!

For Now...

Just Julia

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