Monday, 31 October 2016

#aberscream: Halloween bloggers social

What do you get when you put two blogging besties together with a common love for Halloween and a passion for bringing fun blogger events to Aberdeen? You get a recipe for the most Spooktacular Halloween event of course. Add another two awesome bloggers into the mix, and a bunch of awesome business' and abracadabra you've got one pretty insane bloggers Halloween Social.

It all started when I texted Sarah the most ridiculous idea, "Let's host a Halloween Social..." Mwahaha did she know what she was getting into or what...

A few weeks later Sarah, Laura, Karen and myself would go on to host our first #AbzChat event and to be honest, I think it went pretty ruddy well.

We were extremely lucky in securing Bos'n as our fantastic venue and Père Magloire Calvados as a drinks sponsor - big shout out to Adrian Gomes of 10 Dollar Shake for this! Equipped with the perfect venue, kick ass food from Rye & Soda, a drinks menu created by the guys at Bos'n, a spooktacular bag of goodies, and bags full of Halloween decorations, we transformed the venue bringing Hallow's Eve to Aberdeen a week early.

Costumes at the ready and a series of tricks and treats set up, we welcomed our guests into the madness. With a fancy dress competition, sweet treats, raffles, cocktails, dunkin' for apples, a selfie station and our Halloween playlist with some cray moves on the dance floor, there was plenty for our blogging babes to get involved in.

Sarah bagged best dressed with her crazy cat lady outfit, Iga took second place and Georgia was awarded third. There were some amazing outfits and it was ace to see everyone getting in the festive spirit.

The food and drink was amazing. We had three signature spooky cocktails: A'wight Treacle with toffee sauce and pressed apples, The Wild One with Elderflowe cordial and lime (this was my fav), and the Bad Blood wth fresh lemon, egg whites, red wine and bitters - another very popular one. Chris Tonner, head chef of Rye & Soda had created some incredible black pudding scotch eggs (I'm still telling people about them), a trio of fish, chicken and veggie tacos, roasted pumpkin seeds and barbecue mac and cheese balls.

You can check out my photo diary of the event below...

Big thanks to Adrian Gomes, Chris Tonner, all the staff at Bos'n and Rye & Soda. Not forgetting our incredible sponsors/goodie bag donations, we truly wouldn't have done it without you all!

Sponsors included:

  For Now...

Just Julia

Monday, 24 October 2016

The Fairmont: Savoy Afternoon tea (review)

When you think of decadent afternoon tea's within Scotland I would be surprised if the Fairmont St Andrews wasn't on your top five list.

Now host to the prestigious Savoy Afternoon Tea, which originates from The Savoy Hotel in London (also managed under the Fairmont group), afternoon tea has never tasted, or looked so good.

After a recent multi-million pound refurbishment to the hotel's aesthetic and public areas, the five star hotel has completely changed its look. With the concept of bringing the outside inside, it is clear there are notes of the sea and land beautifully captured within the hotels interior design. One showstopper within the airy atrium lounge is the 60-metre lighting sculpture 'Zephyr'. Designed by artist George Singer, the sculpture resembles a fish in the sea, changing colour as the lights hit it - truly stunning.
Not wanting to starting the afternoon off with a pop too early, I opted for a stunning exotic Oolong tea - an oriental honeyed, sweet tea which is famed for being one of the Queen's favourite teas. My guest for the afternoon, the gorgeous Sarah of Blogs Vlogs Etc, decided on a traditional breakfast tea, although was almost tempted to try out one of the floral teas too. Maybe next time...

I indulged in my fancy tea, whilst the staff talked us through the experience and the delicious food we were about to devour.

To start, we were treated to a delicious selection of finger sandwiches which included; Ayrshire ham with wholegrain mustard and apple chutney on wholemeal bread, coronation chicken brioche rolls (these were divine!), a rich classic egg salad with watercress on white bread and smoked Scottish samlon with herb cream cheese on mated brown bread. The winner for me was the mozzarella, beef, tomato, pesto and balsamic glaze on herb and spinach bread - who would have thought green bread would have tasted so damn good. I'm officially converted.

The sandwiches were accompanied by baked raisin and plain scones too, which I lathered in Cornish clotted cream, strawberry preserve and homemade lemon curd too obviously. They were heavenly, melting slowly in my mouth with every bite.

Next up was probably my favourite part of the experience, the delicate tea pastries which were utterly more-ish. I  hate to admit it, but I had already loosened my belt buckle in preparation for this - no cake was going to defeat me.

The choices included; 
Seasonal gateaux with pistachio sponge and black cherry Bavarois,
Lemon curd tart with candied lemon sponge, Italian meringue, coated in white chocolate.
Classic opera cake boasting intense coffee butter cream, jaconde biscuit, and dark chocolate.
Lavender éclair infused with vanilla cream in a choux bun.
Strawberry sable with a lightened vanilla custard, fresh strawberries and sweet tartlet.

And in true Julia fashion, I tried them all.

These sweet treats were incredibly beautiful, and not only tasted delicious, they also looked so delicate and were perfectly positioned on the silver platter in dashing military fashion.

Teapots topped up, I was beginning to feel rather full, but there were still two final cakes to sample...breathe in...breathe out...
With a deep breath and the loosening of another buckle, I was ready to take on the Atrium Lounge signature cakes. A triple chocolate brownie cake and a refreshingly light Victoria sponge cake, one at a time the cakes made their way into my mouth. I was in afternoon tea euphoria.
After relaxing in the Atrium for a while after our Savoy Afternoon Tea experience, we were lucky enough to get a quick tour of one of the standard rooms at the hotel. Large rooms with a spacious bathroom and huge shower, I was envious of the guest who would be stepping into the hotel room a few hours later. Whoever you are, I hope to god you used that bathtub as it looks lush!

My first visit to The Fairmont at St Andrews was exceptionally pleasant and I couldn't recommend the Savoy Afternoon Tea enough. At £25 per person it's brilliantly priced and for a little extra you can also include a glass of Moet & Chandon NV or Moet & Chandon Rose NV.

This is the perfect experience if you're looking to get out of Aberdeen for the day. Only an hour and a half(ish) drive from Aberdeen, you could easily spend all day getting lost in the beauty of the hotel. I would absolutely love to stay and try out the other facilities the hotel has to offer including the spa,  and the bar and grill restaurant, however I think I will give the golf a miss. Maybe that's one my boyfriend would be interested in - although he'd more likely enjoy being pampered in the spa too!

  For Now...

Just Julia


Friday, 14 October 2016

Feast of Fife: Day 1 PM - Kingdom of Fife tasting dinner

For the second part of day one on the Feast of Fife bloggers conference we were whisked away to The Newport Restaurant for a real taste of the Fife larder. Based on the banks of the River Tay the restaurant, which boasts two floors seating 60 covers comfortably, offers some of the most stunning, panoramic views in the area.
On arrival, we stepped into the restaurant reception, which is home to a beautiful open gallery with unique paintings hanging on every wall. Hosting a drinks reception, both Eden Mill and Kingsbarns Distillery produced delicious welcome drinks for all of the guests to enjoy. Not the greatest of whisky fans, I turned to Eden Mill which had created a tasty gin-based cocktail with their new Golf Gin 2016. It was spot on, and yes, I had far too many of them.

Turning our heads to dinner, we were then invited to the bottom floor of the restaurant which boasted an outdoor demonstration area. Head chef and Masterchef professionals winner 2014, Jamie Scott, organised a pre-dinner cookery demonstration, showcasing two of the dishes which were on our Kingdom of Fife tasting dinner menu. 

As he cooked away, he educated us on the incredible offering the restaurant has on its doorstep, from wild seaweeds and beach plants, to berries and leaves further in-land, and told us about the local foragers who collect some of the most unusual ingredients for him and his team to get creative with in the kitchen. I loved the idea of using nature so close to home in the kitchen, and as much as I would really enjoy cooking with foraged ingredients, it's extremely important you know exactly what you're foraging as many things which look safe, can actually be very toxic and poisonous - good thing I was going foraging the next day and could pick up some top tips.
Moving upstairs for dinner we got a glimpse of the menu for the first time. Intrigued as to how these dishes would taste, I can honestly say Jamie and his team did not disappoint. The favourite dish of the evening seemed to be the salad, which is incredibly unusual, however speaks margins for the standard of food which was produced. The meat was cooked perfectly, and the homemade bread melted in your mouth. A delicate, delicious meal at that.

Course one consisted of numerous canapés including an Anster cheese goujere, Puddledub pork bau - which was unbelievably juicy, buckwheat, flowers and curds, and a St Monans crab rarebit - this was also delightful.

The second was a light, Autumnal Salad featuring a selection of the seasons offerings, including fresh locally foraged produce - my favourite dish of the evening, and for someone who usually never orders salads, this was unexpected.

Course three was Pittenweem mackerel with Pittormie tomatoes, oyster and basil. This dish was also very refreshing and light.

The fourth course was Starr farm beef featuring a lovely piece of smoked shoulder, short rib, which was cooked rare, my personal preference would have been medium rare, but the rib was beautiful and soft, served with a selection of alliums - flowering onions, garlic, shallots and many other types of plants including chives and leek too, just in case you didn't know...

And finally, course five was Newport plums and popcorn panna cotta with white chocolate and a liquorice sauce. Probably my least favourtie dish due to my undying hatred for black liquorice, but nonetheless the plate was almost clean - I love dessert and minus the liquorice, this would have been one of my top dishes.
Overall the menu was absolutely incredible. Jamie and his team went up and beyond to ensure every dish was served with the utmost of perfection, be that both in taste and in presentation. His passion for the local larder oozes throughout the menu and his dedication to the food and drink industry is very admirable. With his outstanding palette and attention to detail, Jamie brings a fresh outlook on food and drink to Newport and works hand in hand with local producers to create some of the best dishes Fife possesses. A huge thanks to Jamie, his team, and the staff at Fife Tourism and Fife Council for organising this fantastic event.

Big shout out to my fellow Aberdeen bloggers Lesley and Michelle from Lost in Food who were also on the trip, these fabulous ladies had both Sarah and I in tears of laughter throughout the meal.

  For Now...

Just Julia

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