Wednesday, 27 April 2016

North Hop Aberdeen: Top 10 tasters

So after recently visiting my very first Brew Dog AGM earlier this month and sampling a number of BrewDog's craft beers, which I surprisingly enjoyed (not a massive beer fan), to say I am excited for North Hop Aberdeen is an understatement. I love gin, cocktails and quirky foodies - I'm a little obsessed with finding some of the best foodies in Scotland - so whenever North Hop is on, I'm there in a flash.

Over the past two years I've been to every festival and have loved them all for different reasons. So when I found out that North Hop was retuning to Aberdeen for a second year I just HAD to check out what exhibitors were going to be there. With a capacity more than three times bigger than last year's festival, I was convinced the offering would have increased, and boy has it done so!

The festival, which takes place this May holiday weekend on Saturday 30 April from 12 noon - 5pm and 7- 12 midnight, and Sunday 1 May from 12 noon - 5pm at the AECC (Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre), is said to welcome around 3,000 people through it's doors. So to keep you guys on your toes, I've decided to pull together my top ten exhibitors you should definitely check out.

1. Crema caravan
The UK's very first Crème Brûlée van will be making its debut to North Hop in Aberdeen. Serving up some delicious Crema Catalana and Crème Brûlée with some of the finest, wackiest toppings you'll ever see, these guys know how to handle the heat and produce fantastic desserts. Served burnt to order, you won't miss them in Florence their retro Renault van!
Photos from Crema Caravan's Facebook page
2. Six°North
With all their beers unfiltered and carbonated naturally through secondary fermentation - they don't filter anything - nope, not their beer, style, brewers or venues for that matter, natures intent is left intact. Born form a passion for Belgian beer these Belgian brewers of Scotland brew their finest beers in the North-east, six degrees North of Brussels - do you like what they did there?

Photos from Six°North website 

3. Porter's Gin
Aberdeen's first gin to be distilled in the city for over 100 years. A premium gin with a traditional bold juniper body, this is a bottle full of ginny delight that you just have to take home to show off to your friends. Located in the cocktail lounge, join the Porter's Gin team for a sample or two and take home some special gin bottled cocktails created specially for North Hop too!

4. Stew n' Drew's
The Willy Wonka's of ice cream, this fantastically talented duo have nailed the creation of quirky ice cream on the head. With their own ice cream shop now open in Hopeman, these guys continue to wow festivalgoers with their wacky ingredients and funky flavours. From whisky ice cream, to cider sorbet, these guys will certainly sort out those sweet cravings. They're stationed in the Cocktail Lounge incase you're wondering...

Photo from Stew n' Drew's Facebook page
5. The Bay on the Road
Yabadabadoo do the infamous The Bay Fish and Chips have a treat for you! Established in 2006, The Bay has been serving up thousands of portions of sustainable Scottish fish and chips filling many happy tums, and winning a ridiculous amount of accolades along the way. 
For the first time ever, The Bay on the Road will be fishing out the best fish and chips, bringing something completely different to the festival's offering. If you haven't tried their insanely tasty fish and chips or homemade tartar sauce yet, then this is a top must try recommendation from me. GET IN MY BELLY!

6. FreshMex
When I saw these guys were attending North Hop I squealed a little. Since launching last year I have been a massive fan of the dishes this fiery dup have been producing. Serving tex-mex style cuisine, the duo behind this successful business have teased the tastebuds of the North-east using locally sourced, fresh ingredients. 
Customised to your liking, these guys are guaranteed to hit the spot. Pair with a craft beer or two.
Photos from FreshMex's Facebook page
7. Thistly Cross Cider
Onto my favourite Scottish cider, Thistly Cross Cider! With flavours like strawberry, ginger, elderflower, whisky and traditional cider, their fresh, tasty and oh-so-delicious ciders are a winner with me. If you're looking for something sweet and not a massive fan of craft beer then, I suggest you try out the strawberry or elderflower flavours, you won't be able to stay away.
Photo from Thistly Cross Cider's Facebook page
8.  Juniper | Gin Festivals and Events
My tipple of choice, the team behind the Juniper Festivals are hitting up the North-east especially for North Hop, showing off their delightful selection of craft gins from all over Scotland. With the opportunity to try an old, traditional flavour, or pursuing something different, there is a whole range of gins to discover in lovingly made cocktails and serves.
Try them neat, with premium mixtures or cocktails, it's up to you.
Photo from Juniper Gin Festival and Events Facebook page

9. Eden Mill
Scotland's first and only distillery/brewery combined. With everything they do small and craft and just a stones throw away from the home of golf, St Andrews, there really is nothing quite like the set up Eden Mill boasts. Beer, whisky or gin, just go try them all.
Photo from Eden Mill's Facebook page
10. Cue Barbecue
Last but not least a smoky affair with a side of serious meat sweats can only mean one thing, Cue Barbecue is attending. If you have a love for the deep South and enjoy Southern US and Latin American styles of barbecue then you're in for a treat. Never sampled them before? Well I can guarantee you'll want to after just smelling the food. 

Would recommend trying out with a craft beer again or a sour gin-based cocktail, be warned, if you're sampling their Angus & Oink sauces the Voodoo Mango sauce is hot, hot, hot. The one to try in my opinion is the BBQ sauce - now that's a winner for me.

With over 30 different exhibitors to chose from, there's something for everyone at North Hop Aberdeen. Whether you love traditional fish and chips, or are looking for the next big thing on the gin scene, or maybe you're looking to sample some of Scotland's finest craft beers, or put your tastebuds to the test with experimental ice cream, everyone will be catered for at the festival. Just try it all, you've got nothing to lose and soo much to gain!

As an added extra for Aberdeen festivalgoers, North Hop, alongside some of the fantastic exhibitors, has created a festival gin and a festival brew which will be exclusively available at the festival. The festival gin is a limited edition chilli and ginger gin created by Eden Mill. This will be available to sample at their bar, or in a perfect serve or cocktail at the Juniper bar. There are only 200 bottles (20cl) available to get your hands on, so you better be quick!

The festival brew is a 6.7% cask American pale ale brewed by Spey Valley Brewery using the Holy Cragg which Dunnet Bay Distillers utilised in their Holy Grass Vodka. So of course it only seemed right to call it Holy Spey APA!

For the full list of exhibitors and for tickets to the event follow the North Hop website link:

  For Now...

 Just Julia

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The Butchershop Bar & Grill (Glasgow): Review

Anyone who knows me well enough (or follows me on social media), knows I am absolutely obsessed with good food and drink. For me, eating out and going to local bars sampling artisan gins or creative cocktails is probably more of a hobby to me. Scotland is home to an outstanding larder, offering up some of the very best local produce, and with a talented array of chef's coming through the industry, our chef's are killing it in the kitchen, becoming more food savvy than ever. Scotland's food game has never been so strong.

A couple months ago when I was down in Glasgow for an impromptu visit I decided to pay a certain butcher shop a visit. This was not any old butcher shop, this was THE Butchershop

I'd heard whispers that this is one of, if not the best place to get steak in Glasgow and knowing my other half's love for a good well-cooked steak, it was necessary I booked in to try out this well recommended steak house located on Sauchiehall Street to put their steak expertise to the test.
Turning up on a busy Saturday night, we arrived a little ahead of schedule to prop ourselves up at the bar and get a few cocktails in before embracing much anticipated meat sweats. After waiting patiently at the bar, conversing with the charming barman who managed to entertain us providing he was extremely busy at the time too, we patiently awaited our waiters much-anticipated arrival. On his approach he addressed us formally and led us to an intimate, cosy booth in the corner of the restaurant. The perfect set up for our celebratory date night.

Contemplating on what we were going to have, I had planted the seed at the bar that I was really keen for us to try out the Tomahawk steak. A cut above the rest, this Flinstone cut of steak was like no steak we had experienced before.

A stone's throw away from Glasgow's place to be, Finneston, The Butchershop Bar & Grill is home to some of the best cuts of beef in the city and quite possibly the region. At 1.2kg, the Tomahawk is a huge steak presented on the bone and should not be consumed single handedly. However if you're up to the challenge then be my guest...
My first cocktail at the table was the showstopper of the drinks menu that evening in my eyes, bringing me straight back to my childhood all those years ago. The Parma Violet, a vodka based cocktail with Pincer, violette liqueur, lemon, sugar and egg white (£7.95) was by far my favourite drink, tasting exactly like the parma violet sweets you used to get whilst out trick or treating. A sweet and sassy drink, it suited my tastebuds perfectly and kept me preoccupied whilst browsing through the mouth-watering menu.

After discussing our dining options, and debating if we should or shouldn't dare take on the monstrous Tomahawk, starters were now a distant memory and the idea of facing the infamous steak cut grew ever so predominant. We were committing. Tomahawk for two please.

After finally taking the plunge and ordering our 45 day aged steak, it was time to turn our attention to our side dishes. A portion of onion rings, two pots of steak chips and two jugs of peppercorn sauce later, we had successfully ordered our mammoth main.

The restaurant was filled with intense smells from the kitchen and everyone seemed in good spirits. The staff were ever so joyous and when questioned about anything, seemed very educated in the produce the restaurant had of offer which was very refreshing.

On arrival our mouths dropped as we realised the huge, possibly impossible challenge we had signed up for. I don't know if you've ever imagined what a 1.2kg heap of perfectly cooked medium-rare meat would look like placed forgivingly in front of you, but ladies and gentlemen, this right here is what any meat lovers dreams are made of.
Tucking into the steak which was oh-so succulent and cooked to perfection (medium-rare for us) I drowned some of my meat in the rich, creamy peppercorn sauce which tingled my tongue as the steak and sauce melted in my mouth. The chips were also cooked to my liking and I enjoyed that they still had the skin on the outside supplying another texture to our meal. Good chips alongside a beautiful steak is very much appreciated in my books. Obviously after consuming half of 1.2kg of steak, dessert was off the cards. Nevertheless we both managed to tuck in to a few more cocktails, slowly continuing our way through the menu.
Our experience of The Butchershop Bar & Grill was that of an epic meat lovers love story. With all of the meat locally sourced, locally butchered and locally grilled it is clear The Butchershop Bar & Grill takes its offering extremely seriously. Home to the biggest, the baddest and the best steak in Scotland, this restaurant goes up and beyond to ensure guests are well looked after, whilst offering up some of the finest Scottish produce I have tasted.

A cut so extreme it's named after a deadly weapon, the Tomahawk is a cut that conquers all. I would highly recommend The Butchershop Bar & Grill to anyone looking for the perfect steak and would also recommend it's fantastic cocktail offering too. With cuts available both on and off the bone, The Butchershop Br & Grill caters to all tastes and offers a number of sharing steaks too for those looking for a more of a romantic experience.

Mouth wateringly tasty, I cannot wait to visit The Butchershop Bar & Grill again, and now that I'm moving to Glasgow I will definitely be returning without a doubt. Well done you absolutely fabulous steak cooking rascals, impressed is an understatement.

  For Now...

Just Julia


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

AMARA LIVING: Luxury gifts and designer homeware

Spring has certainly sprung and with new seasons bringing some much-needed inspirational trends with them, interioristas (yes I think I just made up a word) around the globe are already looking to the Autumn/Winter '16 trends for even more interiors inspiration.

Keeping up to date with the latest trends and hunting out the latest styles making their way through the industry is extremely hard work. Inspiration is something I find mostly in my surroundings, be that by people watching, observing how others are styling themselves and their homes, and looking to nature for some serious colour and texture inspiration. Nowadays, home interior trends are almost as influential and important as the latest fashion houses portfolio's, however, it wasn't until I came across Amara Living online, that I could ever have imagined becoming a style influencer in my family home.

Obsessed with all things black, white and grey, with a minimalist outlook regarding my own bedroom in my family home, I jumped at the chance of getting involved in redecorating our living room, pulling together a mood board to help guide my mum and I on our interior decorating journey. A woman who loves neutral colours and red, I was convinced she wouldn't buy into my black and white with a possible hint of silver outlook, however after stumbling across the huge monochrome trend online and showing her some serious #interiorsinspo, she was much easier to convince. With a hint of jungle chic and matte paints on our minds, we were sure we were on to a winner.

After discovering Amara Living a few months ago I have continued to fall in love with the incredible pieces the online luxury gifts and designer homeware website has to offer. When Jessica, an Amara Living community manager contacted me to collaborate I was extremely excited to tell her about our decorating plans and immediately took her up on her offer.

Desperate to incorporate some sort of jungle chic into the living room I went straight to the website in search for a Polis Potten pineapple, which, to my delight, was available in a number of different colours. Opting for the matte black option (another big trend in 2016), you can see from the pictures below exactly how we've decorated the room and styled the Polis Potten pineapple to sit handsomely on our feature fireplace, which we also happened to revamp throughout the decorating process.
Throughout my research into trends online, I found that funky feature walls are also going to be a top trend this year, even papering the ceiling seems to be extremely popular (not something I would be keen to try and execute myself), and with this in mind, we decided to paper our main feature wall bringing some much-needed character into the room whilst making it appear much larger too. My advice when papering a feature wall is to ensure you are 100% certain on it. Good quality wallpaper isn't cheap and can be challenging to place onto a wall so make sure it's definitely what you want before committing. Wallpaper is for life, not just for Christmas. Ok it's really not, but you get the jist...

I think if I had my way I would look into replacing the brown wooden floor we have with a grey hardwood floor. Placing a luxurious faux fur rug in the middle of the floor would also help bring the room together a little more, providing a centre to it and balancing it out.

This Amara acid burnt cow hide in white/silver and the Natures Collection Argentinian cow hide in grey rugs would look fabulous under a nice modern coffee table in the centre of the room.

I also love the Helen Moore throw that is available in a number of different colours which would go  excellently with the monochrome theme (Charcoal, Ermine, Ebony, Opal and Jet), as you could sit perfectly on the back of a black sofa, brining an element of serenity into the room and making it feel a little more homely.
Throughout the refurbishment we also decided to paint our off-cream fireplace grey (Paris grey to be precise) with Annie Sloan chalk paint. This high quality paint is amazing and works wonders if you're ever looking to revamp any old furniture or in our case, paint a fireplace.

Accents of silver can be found throughout the accessories and lighting in the room, sprucing up the living space and adding a little more jazz into the modern room. Our TV is a silver-grey colour so we decided to ensure the other accessories would compliment it seen as it one of, if not the main appliance in the living room.
This week we are anticipating the arrival of a new black suit for the room which, alongside one or two more accessories, will complete the refurbishment project, bringing the whole look together - to say my mum is ecstatic about this is a complete understatement.

I adore this Lord Lou luigi croco sofa available on Amara Living and could picture myself sipping a fine cup of peppermint tea out of this cute Rory Dobner cat in the hat mug on a warm Spring morning far too easily. These stunning Helen Moore faux fur cushions would also look right at home on our new sofa too, and would again add a homely feel to the room.
New blinds and curtains were also invested in, further pulling in the monochrome theme and bringing new patterns and shapes into the  room too.  It's important when decorating a room, not to go too over the top with trends and whilst its fun trying to fit them all in, you are best sticking to one or two themes to ensure the room isn't left looking like a disaster zone.
I think now the only thing I would look to change in the room is our clock. Our present clock is quite modern, however, I would quite like to replace it with something a little more traditional like the Newgate gallery clock in the future. The Vogue hardcover book would be a great addition to any coffee table, and I have always wanted to buy an ice bucket and feel this Kenneth Turner stag ice bucket would be the perfect addition to any home providing it played host to more than one bottle of champagne in its life!

With a monochrome theme featuring a smidgen of jungle chic, I think my mum has done a fantastic job in featuring one of 2016's top trends in our family home. Other top trends for 2016 include; natural kitchens, sophisticated up-cycling, folk infusion - especially in the kitchen and dining areas, matte glazes and chalk finishes - chalk paint is perfect for this, and the best news for me... minimalism is in.

So if you're looking for interiors inspiration this year, then look no further because Amara Living is here for all your interior needs. Not only will the website keep you up-to-date on all the latest trends, it also has some beautiful gifts available online, perfect for special occasions, birthdays, and engagement/weddings gifts. A one-stop-shop for all your interior and gifting needs and wants. Trust me, I've already started my own Amara Living wish list, kitting out and designing the interior themes for my very own future home.

For Now...

Just Julia

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Linton & Mac: Nail bar experience

Stop what you're doing.  Sassy nails are coming, and boy is the nail game strong with this one.

Since bursting onto the Aberdeen scene just over six months ago, local hair salon Linton & Mac has been making waves in the industry, welcoming some of the hairdressing industry's top professionals to the salon.

Established by creative directors, Joanna MacDonald and Jennifer Linton, the duo have progressed the business excessively, adding a number of new salon services as customer demand increases. 

A few weeks ago I was invited along to the salon to try out the its nail bar, and obviously I couldn't resist getting my sass on and taking them up on the offer immediately. Having already experienced the salon's style bar I was really excited to try out another service the salon has on offer. As well as a nail bar Linton & Mac also boasts a make up artist, their infamous style bar, hairdressing services and a brow bar too! And by the looks of things, I'm slowly making my way around the whole salon!

Welcoming me one Saturday afternoon, Kayleigh, Linton & Mac's resident nail artist, took me to her station where her new funky nail bar was situated, fixed me a drink from the refreshments menu and offered me a selection of quirky tasters of popcorn, popping candy and cashew nuts incase I was feeling peckish. Talking me through my appointment, Kayleigh discussed the new IBX treatment she recently brought into the salon, telling me about the wonders it would work for my nails whilst chatting me through the different nail styles and fashionable colour trends.

Not the place for someone as indecisive as I, the nail colour choice available for customers at Linton & Mac is second to none. With over 50 colours to chose from there's something for everyone. Opting for a dark purple/burgundy colour I was still spoiled for choice and managed to narrow my decision down to three potential finalists. Bella's Vampire, Majestic and a dark grey colour (just to mix it up) called Metro. 
Before starting my acrylics appointment, Kayleigh offered me the IBX Repair treatment, in order to help the growth and conditioning of my nails. IBX Repair is used to repair severe nail damage and sets the stage for growth. Not only does it toughen the upper layers of the nail plate, the IBX treatment also fills up deep grooves resulting in a smoother nail plate too. The natural colour of the nail and the appearance of the nails is also improved as well as the strength and condition of nails, which in turn will help nails grow stronger and longer.

My nails were in a terrible state before my appointment, however, Kayleigh reassured me about the treatments and I immediately saw my nails transform from the worn out, dull, lifeless state they were in to moisturised, healthy looking nails.
I had decided (with some guidance) to get a set of acrylics which Kayleigh sculpted onto my nail freehand. I've only ever had this done once so was a little sceptical in how the end result would turn out, but in the hands (quite literally) of experienced nail artist, Kayleigh, I would definitely recommend this way of applying acrylics due to them not damaging my nails as much as previous acrylics have. She suggested I go for an almond shape, slightly pointed, as I wanted to make my fingers look longer and not so stumpy. She did a great job and chatted away to me throughout the whole appointment which I really enjoyed. I can't keep my mouth shut for five minutes to it was reassuring to have someone so friendly carrying out a longer appointment. The colour turned out fantastic after two or three quotes, which I would say is pretty standard in developing any nail colour, and I was extremely pleased with the overall result.

With my claws ready to paint the town red, I left Linton & Mac a new woman, with nails so on fleek even Bey would be stopping in the street (insert sassy emoji girl here), I strutted my way out of the salon to meet my friends for coffee to show off my fabulous new talons.

Recommending Linton & Mac is far too easy for me. From the homely welcome at reception, to the carefully developed customer experience undertaken by the friendly staff, to the high quality products and services they provide, the salon really has nailed all aspects of its offering.

So if you fancy pampering yourself and want your nails on fleek, then definitely get in contact with Kayleigh. Not only does she offer acrylics, gel nails and manicures, she also offers some cute nail art and has an incredible selection of never-ending colours which are definitely worth checking out. Prices are varied for different treatments with some treatments costing as little as £15.

Fancy having a nosy of Kayleigh's work? Well check out the Linton & Mac nails Instagram account here to see exactly what she can offer.
   For Now...

Just Julia

© Just Julia

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig