7 Most Disappointing Foodie Experiences

When you dine out as much as I do it’s only natural to expect a few disappointments. While getting a crap kebab or a bog standard burger can be a bit saddening, the worst is when you have seriously high hopes for a place only to have them dashed on the rocks of poor customer service. I’ve had quite a few sad foodie experiences in the past wee while, so I thought I’d share them with you lovely people.

The Time We Had To Wait Two Hours for Brunch

Cabslam

We popped into Cabslam for brunch one day because we’d heard awesome things. We sat down at 11am, ordered our brekkie, and we waited. Service was a bit slow, but after an hour I started to notice people who had arrived after us happily tucking into their food: in some cases the same food we’d ordered. Hmmm. I called over our waiter: he couldn’t even remember serving us. Then it turned out he’d lost our order. Cue another hour of waiting. Our food didn’t get bumped up the queue, and we weren’t offered free coffees to make up for the fact that we’d finished our drinks ages ago. The worst part is, to use their free Wi-Fi you have to like them on Facebook. So now I have to drool over their food knowing that I can never go back there because the service was so bad and I have principles. Sob.

The Time the Waitress Ate My Lunch

While we were in the Algarve we visited a restaurant known for its mixed grill. This formidable plate is enough for four people to share, or for two to stuff themselves full and still have some for lunch the next day. Thinking the leftovers would be handy for sandwiches the next day, I ordered it and shared with my dad. We asked for a doggy bag but it never came. As we were leaving my dad asked the owner if we could have our leftovers. She looked embarrassed and said “we must have thrown it out.” BUT! Just after our food was taken away we noticed the staff settling down for dinner. Suspicious! I’m not saying they ate my lunch, but they totally ate my lunch.

The Time We Had to Share a Table with Three French Men

The first sign something was off was that it was ‘Fresh Fish Friday’ but the menu was solely comprised of shellfish. The food was pretty average, but we were looking forward to dessert. Just before we could order it the waiter came over and asked us to budge over as he wanted to squeeze three more customers round our wee table. Didn’t really fancy eating my pudding when the guys sitting beside us were tucking into their garlicky starters, but sadly the waiter didn’t fancy bringing us the bill either. Awkward all round.

The Time We Got Served Raw Chicken

Lizarran is one of my favourite Spanish chains, so imagine my shock when I went into one of their restaurants in Madrid and got served this:

Lizarran Chicken

No apologies from the staff, nothing taken off our bill, nada. When I got in touch with Lizarran head office (via Twitter and email) I was also ignored! Moral of the story is, always cut your pintxo in half. Speaking of pintxos…

The Time We Went for Pintxos in Edinburgh

The arrival of an “authentic” Spanish tapas bar in Leith cheered me no end. But after visiting the place in question I realised this was 100% Edinburgh, 0% Sevilla. We ordered some bread and alioli and got about 3 teardrops of garlic mayo and six wee slices of bread for our £3.20. All the dishes were saucy, so we kept having to order more £3 bread baskets to mop up the juices. When my dad complained about the tiny portions and extortionate pricing he ended up in a Facebook slanging match with the owner. So I won’t be going back.

The Time We Went to a Fado Show

Fado

We had an amazing weekend in Lisbon just before Christmas. We ate so much good food, but sadly the weekend ended on a low note with a trip to a fado dinner show. The food was basically disgusting: my duck was overcooked and my rice was inedible. It was one of the most expensive meals we had all weekend. I spent the next couple of days suffering with food poisoning. Whether that’s the fado show’s fault or the Irish sausages my mum fed me when I got back to the Algarve is up for debate.

The Time We Got Invited on The Restaurant Inspector

Shortly after starting this blog, I paid a visit to Iggs. The food was nice but the service was awful. I complained on TripAdvisor and as a result got invited onto an episode of The Restaurant Inspector. Somehow they’d managed to make the restaurant even worse. We were left sitting for an hour waiting to pay for our drinks while the owner schmoozed with the TV crew. Eventually we just walked out, leaving our address in case they wanted to follow up for payment. They’ve closed down now, which is kind of a shame I suppose?

So, although not the worst meals I’ve ever eaten, these were definitely the most upsetting. What are your worst restaurant experiences?

Another Road Trip: Algarve to Berlin

Driving around Europe sounds sort of romantic, doesn’t it? When we bought our left hand drive car in the summer of 2012 we certainly thought so. Countless hours on French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Polish and Czech roads later and we’re kind of over it. Still, travelling with a car has its plus points. It makes moving house a lot easier, for one. For two, it also means you get to visit a lot of interesting places on your way from here to there.

Road trip lagos

Our latest road trip took us from Lagos in The Algarve (Portugal), to Neukoelln in Berlin (Germany).

The road trip before that (Berlin to Valencia) took three weeks, but that was far too long. This time we settled on seven days. That seemed just right. Seven days, seven stops. We tried to keep each day’s driving down to about five hours, any longer than that and we get serious road fatigue.

I’ve summed up the highlights of our trip, although to be honest we didn’t  get a chance to see or do too much as we were mostly driving, listening to podcasts, and trying to avoid the temptation of junk food.

Lagos to Granada (via Silves and Sesmarias): about 6 hours

Granada

Our first day on the road started later than we intended. Both sets of parents are based in the Algarve (mine for six months, James’ permanently) and it would be rude to leave without saying goodbye. Two pit stops and countless cups of tea later, we were on our way. We didn’t reach Granada until 9:30pm, where we encountered a bit of grid-lock on the by-pass. Thankfully our hotel was near the motorway exit, and was also a short stroll from some excellent tapas bars. Dinner time doesn’t start until 10pm in Andalusia so we had plenty of time to freshen up.

Granada to Valencia: 5 hours

Drive to Valencia

Living in Valencia didn’t work out for us, but we’ll never regret our time there because we got to meet Mike and Juergen from For 91 Days. It would be rude of us to drive across Spain without popping in to say hi, so we had a pit-stop in Valencia (and quite a few glasses of vino tinto). We still really need to give Valencia a proper second chance, as one night on the way to Berlin (and one month living by the beach) wasn’t enough.

Valencia to Girona: technically, 4.5 hours. Really, 8.5.

Girona

We were all set to hit Girona by lunch time when disaster struck. That’s for another longwinded blog post, : all I’m going to say is that if you’re going to break down in Spain, don’t do it on a Sunday. Once we arrived in Girona it was too late to walk into town, but we did wander up in the morning and oh my lord what a wonderful little city. It’s so beautiful, and the Catalan flags hanging from every window reminded me a bit of Leith last September, with the saltires hanging from almost every window.

Girona to Beaune: 7 hours

Beaune

When we were planning our route I suggested Beaune. For some reason I thought my favourite cheese, epoisses, came from there but I was wrong. It is, however, the wine capital of Burgundy. Guys, you should have seen the supermarket here. There was a GINORMOUS epoisses that I sadly wasn’t allowed to buy because Mr Sensible pointed out that it would make our car smell of dog farts. I was allowed to buy a magnum of cremant de bourgogne, however, and a few bottles of champagne and white burgundy.

Beaune to Strasbourg: 4 hours

Strasbourg

This is when we saw snow for the first time all winter and wondered why we were driving north anyway. Are we mad? After wandering around the city for ages looking for somewhere to eat we eventually stumbled upon Académie de la Bière: two people were just leaving a table and we managed to grab it. The beer was fantastic, as was the flammkuchen. Good music, great atmosphere, and exactly what we needed after a few long days on the road. I’d definitely recommend popping in.

Strasbourg to the Czech Republic: 5.5 hours

Cheb

We decided to mix things up a bit by driving straight across Germany to stay in a hotel just inside the Czech Republic, a short drive from a town called Cheb (heh heh heh). The hotel, called Seeberg, was just… wow. The views were fantastic, the decor was quaint, and we had a huge two person bath tub in our room! The breakfast was really good, too. The only down side was dinner: it got to 7:30pm and we decided to check out the restaurant across the way. It was closed, and it was the only place nearby. The hotel owner seemed confused that we wanted dinner, and said she could give us some cold meat or something. We decided to drive into town but it was the same story, nothing open.  I was gutted as I was really looking forward to trying some hearty Czech cuisine.

Czech Republic to Berlin: 4.5 hours

Berlin

Our last day of driving and the weather made us suffer. It started raining, but as soon as the rain hit our windscreen it froze. Our windscreen fluid had also frozen, and our wipers were needing replaced, so we pulled into a service station to grab some anti-freeze. While we were cleaning our windscreen a guy came over to us: at first I thought he was some kind of scammer but he was just looking for help. His car’s battery had drained and he needed someone to give him a jump start.

His story was quite interesting. He was checking out a flat in Leipzig for his Scottish flatmate, who he lives with in Wales, and only had 8 hours to make it to Denmark to get a ferry to Newcastle: where he’d be driving to Aberdeen to pick up his mate, then back down to Wales. He was deaf, and I felt a bit guilty that I can’t sign. We gave him a boost and he went on his way: if you’re out there dude, I hope you made it!

All in all I felt like this seven day drive was a bit of a whirlwind, and it made me realise that two nights in a place is better if you really want to see it. Stupidly I didn’t take time off to travel, so I was trying to squeeze in a few hours of work around driving and exploring.

This Sh– is Bananas

B-A-N-A-N-A-S!


No? Ok.

Anyway, I’ve been on a wee bit of a health kick since January. Instead of following a fad diet like I usually do, this time I’ve decided to try something pretty darn revolutionary. I’m eating healthy food (aka more fruit and veg, less processed stuff) and I’ve cut out alcohol. I’ve also started running.

At first I thought I wouldn’t lose any weight on this regime. I thought if it was this simple, why would diets like Atkins exist? But after dropping 3 and a half kilos and 5cm off my waist and bust in a matter of weeks, I’m starting to think there might be something to this.

Over the past month or so I’ve realised that bananas are basically the best thing ever.Not only are they a tasty fruit you can munch on the go, they’re also perfect for days when you fancy eating something unhealthy. Ripe bananas are basically my best friends now. So if you’re eating clean and fancy some low calorie alternatives to high calorie food, look no further my friends!

Yep. This is a round up of my favourite one (or two) ingredient banana recipes.

Banana Ice Cream

Step one: Chop up a banana and freeze it.

Step two: Wait until it’s frozen

Step three: Blend it!

Step four: Enjoy your ice cream.

The best thing about this (apart from the fact that it’s totally vegan) is that you can customise it by adding other flavours. Blend in some frozen strawbs, or some peanut butter, or stir in some chocolate chips at the end. It’s so creamy and sweet, just like proper ice cream.

Full recipe: Tree Hugger

Banana Pancakes

Coimbra 014 (2)
Step one
: Mash up a banana

Step two: Whisk in an egg

Step three: Drop a tablespoon full of mixture into a greased pan. Make the pancakes small cos they’re a bitch to flip.

Step four: Enjoy a stack of pancakes like a true American!

These pancakes are rich, sweet, light and fluffy. If you can get the fact that you’re basically eating a banana omelette out of your head, they’re pretty much the perfect breakfast.

Full recipe:  Top with Cinnamon

Banana Cookies

IMG_2595

Step one: Pre-heat your oven to 180 C

Step two: Mash up a banana

Step three: Add 100g of porridge oats (and any extras like cinnamon, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc)

Step three: Form into roughly 16 blob shapes, flattening them onto a greased baking tray.

Step four: Bake them for 15 minutes

Step five: burn your mouth because you’re too impatient to let them cool 🙁

These are so quick and easy to throw together, and so tasty. Usually I bake up a batch and James and I will just munch our way through a whole plate of them over a cup of coffee for him and a green tea for me. The texture is slightly different from a traditional cookie, but I think they’re lovely jubbly. It’s a shame they never seem to last… maybe I’ll double the quantities next time…

Full Recipe: The Burlap Bag

Banana Parfait

AKA lazy Jemma breakfast.

Step one: Chop up a banana and stick it in a big wine glass

Step two: Plop some Greek yoghurt on top

Step three: Slice a strawberry on top if you’re feeling decadent.

Seriously, this is such a good way to set yourself up for the day. It’s creamy and yummy enough to basically be comfort food, and it’s healthier than buying those Greek yoghurts that have jammy compote lurking around at the bottom. At least that’s what I like to tell myself.

February Round-Up

February1. Beautiful day at the explorer’s tower 2. Enjoying date night at The Old Pharmacy 3. Wandering 4. The Electricity Factory 5. The Caves pay a visit 6 & 7 lovely graffiti 8. Enjoying the view 9. Mum’s birthday!

February Highlights

Celebrating our ‘anniversary

It’s hard to believe, but James and I have been together officially for three years now! I’m not sure if I can deal with all this long term commitment stuff.  As the day itself fell midweek, and we’re still sticking to our diets, we were fairly good and just popped down to the LX Factory for a quick steak sarnie. On the Friday though, we really pushed the boat out. We went to the excellent fish restaurant Frade dos Mares, and then stumbled up to Bairro Alto for some bubbly. Lovely evening, though a wee bit marred by my sore ankle.

Les & Mary come to visit

James’s mum and dad popped up to Lisbon for a visit and we had a great time wandering around in the sunshine, showing them some of our favourite places, and just generally having a bit of a catch up. One of the highlights was doing the “touristy” thing in Belem. On Sundays the national monuments are all free to enter, so we wandered around the Monastery of Jerónimos and climbed up the Tower of Belem. We also had a browse of the flea market and then finished off with an excellent kebab in Pao Pao Queijo Queijo.

Exploring more of Lisbon

We don’t have long left in this beautiful city *sob* so we did what anyone would do and dedicated more time to wandering around it. We made it up to trendy Principe Real but unfortunately the uber cool O Prego da Peixaria was too busy for us to sample one of their famous fish burgers. Instead we lounged about on the terrace of Lost In, a sort of Indian inspired hangout that I felt was lacking in atmosphere. We found an awesome travel book shop in Santos, and even managed to wander around those famously winding streets of Alfama that everyone loves so much. I really liked walking into town along the waterfront; lots of cool graffiti and big empty warehouses.

Surprising my mum in Edinburgh

It was a big birthday for my mum this year, she turned the big “five-oh” at the end of the month. I decided it would be awful to let it pass without incident, so I decided to surprise her by flying home on her birthday and taking her out for afternoon tea the next day. I didn’t tell her I was arriving (although my dad knew) and seriously, it was so worth it just to make her cry on her big day! We went out for dinner at Purslane, had an utterly fabulous afternoon experience at the North Bridge Brasserie, and then spent about 8 hours in Jeremiah’s Taproom because my mum decided to start her celebrations at 4pm. She’s a crazy lady, that one.

Anyway, that was my February in a nutshell!

 

January Round Up!

Let’s face it, I’ve been bloody dismal at updating this here weblog. I’d like to say I’m too busy living my life to actually blog about it, but the truth is that when I’m not working (aka writing) I prefer to spend my free time lazing around the house.

Inspired by my good friend Lynne, I’ve decided it might be fun to do a little monthly round up from now on so that even if I forget to blog all month, you guys can still find out what I’ve been up to. So January! Here’s how it was for me.

JANUARY
1. Ringing in the new year on the banks of the Tagus 2. Selfie with Jesus 3. Scrabble with our friends 4. Coimbra’s beautiful cathedral  5. Around the university in Coimbra 6. Dramatic skies in Coimbra  7. Westernmost point on mainland Europe 8. Mid-run selfie 9. Wine and cupcakes

Highlights of January 2014

Having our friends out for new year

It’s become a bit of a tradition that wherever we are for new year, our pals will follow. While last year we were in dull as dishwater Tarbes, this year we’re in Lisbon, a city that keeps winning tourism awards for generally being awesome. Sadly when our friends arrived the binmen were on strike and it was pouring with rain, but that didn’t stop us from having a great time!

We went on a three hour walking tour and learned all about Lisbon’s colourful history, got horrifically drunk in the Bairro Alto, had a steak dinner over the new year bells down at the Docas, took a ferry over to the great big statue of Jesus, and even ventured to Sintra where we stood at Cabo Da Roca: mainland Europe’s westernmost point.

We also played a game of Scrabble where I foolishly put down the word “shat”, which let Sam and Shara play their trump card: “cunts”. Yes, we are twelve years old.

Starting a diet and exercise plan and sticking to it…

Every so often I decide it’s time to lose weight and become a skinny minnie again, but usually I either lose motivation or just can’t be bothered. This year, surprisingly, I’m managing to stick to it. I’ve ditched the fad diets and instead I’m eating more fruit and veg, less cheese and bread, and avoiding alcohol six days a week.

I’ve also ditched the Couch to 5k podcasts because they just don’t work for me, and I’ve downloaded Zombies, Run instead. It. is. AMAZING. I actually get excited about going for a run now. I’ve gone from barely being able to run for a bus to being able to do 4.2km no problemo. I’ve lost over a kilo so far, and my skin is looking fresher and healthier than it has for a long time.

…Apart from on date night

One night a week, I let myself be naughty and have a meal off. This is Friday night, and it’s date night, and it’s a night where I can eat hundreds of calories and guzzle wine and not feel bad. Although it sounds like it’s obviously going to hinder my progress a wee bit, it actually helps. If I find myself craving pizza and wine on a Thursday, I think “I’ll have that tomorrow.” Much better than giving in, stuffing myself, and then saying “that’s the diet ruined! Might as well eat some lard”.

It also means that we’re more likely to go to awesome places like Tease rock ‘n’ roll bakery. Massive cupcakes and huge glasses of vino? That’s what cheat night is made for! This month date night has taken us to swanky cocktail bars, trendy Russian restaurants, and an Irish pub where we listened to live music and drank pints of Kilkenny til 3am. God bless date night.

Taking a holiday in Coimbra

For his birthday last year, James’s parents offered to pay for a weekend break for the two of us. The big day was in August and we’ve just got round to accepting their kind offer this month. We caught the train from Entrecampos up to the beautiful university town of Coimbra, between Lisbon and Porto. We had a great time wandering around admiring the architecture, listening to fado in a bar that used to be a chapel, and eating our fill of suckling pig and goat stew.

That’s the great thing about holidays. Food has no calories when you’re away from home.

How was your January?

What’s On at Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh This Winter

I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but I seriously love the festive season. I’ve got a pair of Rudolph slippers on right now and it’s still November. I also love it when restaurants hold special events. Events where the menu is a bit different, events where you can get together with friends old and new to enjoy something new.

So when Hard Rock Cafe (those of tasty ribs fame) got in touch to tell me about all of their upcoming events, I thought it would be nice to share it with all of you lovely people. They’ve got some excellent things coming up at the Edinburgh branch. Unfortunately I’ll miss most of them because I’ll be in Lisbon, but you guys go right ahead!

Thanksgiving

Hard Rock Cafe is an American company, and so to celebrate they’re bringing their pumpkin pie and turkey and all that good stuff over to Edinburgh (and LDN and Manchester) for a Thanksgiving feast. I’ve always wanted to go to a Thanksgiving party. Probably because it’s known as “the foodies holiday” and I’m a fat pie.

Thanksgiving Celebrations – 28 November
Timings: From 2pm
£15 per person for two courses

Christmas 

I think the weekend just before Christmas is my favourite, actually. There’s this weird electric feeling in the air, like the calm before the storm. This year Hard Rock Cafe are celebrating that weekend by giving families the chance to have Breakfast with Santa. Buffet breakfast, games with a party entertainer, and a visit from the big man in red.

21 and 22 December
Full English breakfast, party games and a visit from Santa
Timings: 9am
Children – £12.95
Adults – £9.95

Hogmanay

What are you guys up to this New Year’s Eve? Would you like to stand on Princes Street in the freezing cold with all the tourists?

Or would you rather sit in the nice warm Hard Rock Cafe munching on a three-course meal with a glass of Prosecco? It’s a no brainer.

I think now is a good time to mention that in France, people spend New Year’s Eve in a restaurant. In France the more you eat on New Year’s Eve, the more prosperous you’ll be the next again year. And France and Scotland were allied for centuries. So really think about this one!

Superbowl

Superbowl parties are another big American event I’d love to get in on. Not because of the sport, I hate sport, but because of the food! And on 2 February 2014, Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh will be showing ‘The Big Game’, “the un-missable spectacle that is the Super Bowl NFL Championship Game”. Come along, grab a Bud, some Chilli Nachos, and enjoy the half time performance.

2 February 2014
Watch the Super Bowl, NFL American football championship game
Further information to be announced soon!

If any of that tickles your deep fried pickle, you can find out more information on HRC’s website.

Will you be hitting up the cafe for any of these festive events? Let me know in the comments!

Essential Edinburgh Eats

Well, I made it back to Edinburgh in one piece and what a whirlwind trip it was!

The first night home we had dinner reservations with most of our friends. I made myself sick by filling myself with curry and wine, and then proceeding to bounce around the place with excitement and joy. The next morning, I drank a can of Irn Bru and then I got my luscious mane of hair all chopped off: it made me happy, but what do you guys think of it?

Hottie or whattie?
Hottie or whattie?

The rest of the week was spent getting drunk and watching Game of Thrones with my folks, visiting my beautiful friend Sarah and her gorgeous wee lad Aston, grabbing lunches and vinos with a rather random selection of pals, and stuffing our faces in some awesome places.

My mum was excited to have me home, so insisted on cooking most nights. Thankfully I still managed to pop out and eat in a few places that I haven’t mentioned on here before. I decided to pull together my favourite places from this trip and make a wee list of awesome places to grab a wee bite, if you only have a few days to spend in my home town.

The Sicilian Pastry Shop

Despite living on Albert Street for six months, and living in Leith for even longer, I hadn’t been to the Sicilian Pastry Shop until this particular visit to Edinburgh. We wanted to thank my parents for letting us stay for the week, and my dad loves cake, so we popped in and picked up a box of treats. Everything was delicious, and everything cost around £1-£3. An absolute bargain when you think about the prices in places like Patisserie Valerie. I loved the croissant with strawberries and cream: so simple but so good. Everything was amazing though.

Sicilian Pastry Shop on Urbanspoon

M1 Sandwich Shop and Deli

We had a lovely day wandering around the boutiques on Easter Road; my parents were both baffled when I pointed out the ‘Dugs n Pubs’ stickers on the doors, and told them that it means they can bring their gremlin Ziggy in. My mum even shouted at my dad in Cornelius, and the poor guy behind the till had to say “no, dogs are welcome here!” anyway, I’m getting off track.

PicMonkey Collage

Aidan (James’s wee bro) told us that M1 make a lovely espresso for 80p, so we ended up popping in every morning for a wee shot of coffee. Lovely and rich, it reminded me of the espresso I’d been drinking in France for the past 8 months. They also have some fresh made jam, cakes, and sandwiches: although we always used to pick up a lovely sourdough loaf for dinner. My dad still pops in there every day. If you want a cheap, tasty coffee: in you go.

Cafe Renroc

I used to walk past this place all the time on my way to James’s house, but I haven’t actually been in until this year when my parents moved into town and started frequenting Renroc all the time. They’re on first name basis with the staff: although I think that’s down to the staff’s friendliness, more than anything else. My folks took us out for a nice Sunday breakfast.

renroc2

It was delicious. I had a ‘full monty’ (full english, basically, ’cause I’m a fat pie) while everyone else went for something a bit lighter. What can I say? I love me some baked beans! As well as having tasty food and friendly staff, the place is also beautifully decorated with a nice big downstairs. There’s a really lovely atmosphere, and I’d love to come back one night for dinner and drinks. I know that in the summer they put on entertainment, so y’all should make this your new after work hang out spot!

Café Renroc on Urbanspoon

Amigos

This wee takeaway is perfect for a late night snack. I got a vegetable wrap (potato wedges, chilli sauce, garlic mayo, awesome) and chips.

Jemma Chips

 Unfortunately my mum didn’t think it was awesome, although I think James’s dad got jealous when he saw just how many chips I got to stuff into my fat face! It was super cheap too, and probably one of the best takeaways on the East End of town. Give it a bash next time you’re staggering home.

Amigos Edinburgh on Urbanspoon

Sushiya

There’s some debate over which sushi restaurant in Edinburgh is the best, but for me it’s always going to be sushiya. Nothing beats their rainbow roll. It’s the first place I ever tried proper sushi, back when I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to nibble it or chuck the whole thing in my gob in one go. I’ve had amazing dates there, I’ve dined there after kicking ass at laser quest: it’s one of my favourite wee places to pick up a bite in the ‘burgh. We popped in for lunch and the food was just as great as it usually is, although I didn’t take any photofaffs.

Sushiya on Urbanspoon

Where should I visit next time I’m in Edinburgh? Let me know what I’m missing out on!

My Favourite 5:2 Diet Recipes

When Euan was out here at New Year he told me about the 5:2 diet. Euan’s the sort of person who loves fad diets (he once lost a few stone on  the lemon detox) so I wasn’t paying much attention. But then after he left, I decided to Google it and see for myself.

Basically the idea is that you eat normally for five days a week, then for two days you restrict yourself to 500 calories like some kind of monk or something.

Those of you who know me personally will know that I have no willpower whatsoever. I tried the four hour body diet once, with disastrous consequences. Who in their right mind wants to eat nothing but pulses, meat, and vegetables for six days a week?

The thought of calorie counting all the time makes me a sad panda, so I figured this way I could have my cake and eat it and not have to throw it up in order to fit into a pair of size 10 Baxters **

**eating disorders are no laughing matter, kids!

I decided to try the diet for four weeks and see what all the fuss is about. Because I’m too lazy to count calories and come up with my own 5:2 diet recipes, I decided to look online. I’ve written this blog post to catalogue the 5:2  diet recipes I’ve tried during the first four weeks of eating like a supermodel for two days a week.

It’s mostly just a resource for me to look back on, as well as giving some great recipes a wee bit of love.

Jac’s Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup – 123 calories

Photo care of Tinned Tomatoes

I love Tinned Tomatoes! I’m not a big fan of soup, usually, so I only whipped up a batch because it’s 123 calories a portion, it looked easy, and James was nagging me to make him lunch. I made a couple of changes; I put two cloves of garlic in because we love it, I ommited the turmeric because we don’t have any, I used green lentils instead of red ones, and I used chicken instead of veggie stock cubes.

Verdict? 10/10! It’s quite a watery soup but I actually quite like that. It’s refreshing, warming, filling, and very easy to eat. I would even eat this on a ‘feast’ day 

Karen’s French Tarragon Chicken – 227 calories

Photo by Lavendar and Lovage

I don’t like chicken breast. This has resulted in some comedy moments, for example my best friend’s mum thinking I’m vegetarian and then looking very confused as I stuffed my face with bacon rolls.  Instead of buying a big pack of chicken breasts I just bought a normal chicken and took the breasts off it myself. This meant we had one breast each, and two legs and wings to marinade in piri piri sauce for the next day’s barbeque. Yummers.

Anyway, back to this recipe: I didn’t have fresh tarragon so I just used jar stuff, but it tasted fine. I also substituted cottage cheese for creme fraiche,  and forgot to put the lemon in (d’oh!). Served with a garden salad.

Verdict? 9/10! The chicken was tender and moist, the sauce was light and zingy. Only complaint would be that the portion is rather small but what do you expect for 227 calories?

BBC Good Food’s Healthy Egg ‘n’ Chips – 218 calories

Photo by BBC

See what I mean about having your cake and eating it? This lovely brekkie for dinner boasts 218 calories, and is packed full of flavour. I added some grilled tomatoes and roast garlic cloves, and James got an extra egg because he’s a fat toad I love him. And he’s allowed 100 more calories than me, the sod. I parboiled the potatoes for around 5 minutes first because I was a bit cynical about putting raw tatties in the oven and only cooking them for 30 mins.

Verdict? 9/10! Super yummy and filling for a rainy grim day

 Karen’s cheese & tomato omelette – 170 calories

Photo by Lavender and Lovage

I’m so chuffed that some of my favourite food bloggers are doing the 5:2 diet. Otherwise I might never have thought to put a sprinkling of parmesan on an omelette. Parmesan is so strong that for a wee 22 calorie sprinkling you get a big hit of cheesy flavour. Unfortunately we only had three eggs in the house, so ended up only having a 1.5 egg omelette each. I also added a sprinkle of oregano.

Verdict? 7/10. I’m not a big fan of ommelettes, but this was pretty tasty.

BBC Good Food’s Squash and Chorizo stew – 264 calories

Image by the BBC

I used potimarron ( the seasonal squash here) but it’s a bit more like pumpkin than butternut. I also only had about 400 grams of squash, so I made up the other 100g with mushrooms after quickly googling a calorie counter to make sure mushrooms aren’t some kind of devil food.

For some reason I thought this would be nice, but I hate eating meals that don’t have any carbs in them. For that reason, I didn’t eat all of it and ended up only eating about 250 calories for the day in total, including my omellete. This made me go very quiet all night, and I had a bugger of a headache the next day, making it difficult to work. For some reason I didn’t think to take an ibuprofen until about 5pm.

Verdict? 1/10. Big fat NOPE.

Jemma’s Garlic & Mushroom Chicken  – 272 Calories 

I said I was too lazy to come up with my own recipe, and then I went and blindsided y’all with this low calorie chicken recipe! Oh yeah, I’m good.

This was inspired a bit by the aforementioned Lavender and Lovage  tarragon chicken recipe. Basically we had a whole chicken sitting in the fridge, and a pot of cottage cheese. I wondered if I could do something a bit different from the tarragon chicken and decided to use garlic instead and pad the dish out with mushrooms.

Verdict? 10/10 if I do say so myself! The chicken was moist and tender, there was plenty of sauce, and the garlicky mushrooms gave the dish a wee bit of oomph.

Mumsnet’s cumin and lemon roast cauliflower -51 calories

When I made my garlic mushroom chicken I’d had a big bowl of Jac’s 123 calorie tomato soup for lunch, meaning I could have a wee helping of cauliflower with my dinner. Because  cumin, pepper, and lemon juice basically have no calories, you can have a whopping 200g of this for only 51 calories.

Verdict? 9/10. Remember I said that I don’t like eating a meal without any carbs? Well, this tricked me into believing I was tucking into  a plate of roast potatoes. My only comment would be that I couldn’t really taste the cumin or lemon juice.

So does the diet work?

I did the 5:2 diet for four weeks and although I quite enjoyed the feeling of zen that I was getting on the fast days, and although I felt like my size 12 jeans were falling down a bit, the warm and fuzzies abruptly stopped when I jumped on the scales and saw that I hadn’t really lost any weight, half a kilo at most. I don’t know why I was expecting miracles, since on my feast days I was stuffing my face with baguettes and gooey cheese, but there you go.

Everyone else seems to be having awesome results, so don’t let me stand in your way! Go forth and eat low cal.

Diamond Jubilee Street Party Food Ideas

Image credit: Uproxx

I reckon the best thing about having a Royal Family is all the extra bank holidays we get. Last year it was the Royal Wedding (and a trip to Brussels for James and me) and this year it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Although last year I was a little cynical about the whole Royal thing, this year I’m actually thinking it could be fun to have wee soiree in the street.

Nobody does street parties like Edinburgh. And it would be the ideal way to get to know my neighbours: the faceless people who hold doors open for me in the corridor, or who post a letters through saying things like “terribly sorry, but one of our socks has fallen off our balcony onto yours. Can we have it back?”

I’m not sure if my neighbours would agree with me. Tensions have been running high since a controversial parking scheme was introduced. I wouldn’t want to risk my trestle tables getting a ticket from an over enthusiastic parking warden! 😉

If I did live on a street that was taking part in the Big Jubilee Lunch, here’s what I’d bring to the table.

Continue reading “Diamond Jubilee Street Party Food Ideas”

Edinburgh Food Blog Valentine’s Day Round-Up

I’ve noticed a lovely trend recently where bloggers publish a list of their favourite posts from the previous week. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and when better to start sharing the love than Valentine’s Day?

I studied public relations at university, so please enjoy this Valentine’s Day post as I tenuously try to link my favourite Edinburgh food blog posts of the past week to the most romantic of holidays!

1) Total Food Geeks – All I Want for Valentine’s

This lovey-dovey post by Edinburgh Foody laments the lack of hand delivered romantic goodies for surprising loved ones on Valentine’s Day – or any day for that matter – in Edinburgh. I’m a big romantic at heart so would definitely love a service like this: last year I sent cards to my platonic friends (and even made a rather stunning mug for one thanks to Moonpig).

2) The Broughton Spurtle – Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This recipe for the Red Velvet layer cake (arguably the most Valentine-y of all cakes) is written by local domestic goddess Fiona Harvey of Made By Fi fame. The rich red colour of the sponge provides a beautiful contrast to layers of white butter cream. One to try if you want to impress your other half tonight.

3) Edinburgh Cake Ladies – Tealicious Edinburgh Pops Up Sunday 4th March

Pop up restaurants and supper clubs are all the rage in Edinburgh at the moment, so it’s with great joy that the Edinburgh Cake Ladies announced the launch of a pop up afternoon tea, Tealicious, run by two local cake ladies Katey (of Edinburgh Eats) and Michelle. Tickets for the first event have gone on sale, with the promise of floral treats aplenty (rose petal jam; YUM!).

4) Edinburgh Eats – Baking Sunday: Chocolate and Raspberry Mini Cakes

If you can’t make it to Tealicious, you can always try Katey’s recipes at home. This recipe for chocolate and raspberry mini cakes is just begging to be tested in my own kitchen. I’m not a massive fan of cupcakes, so having a wee mini layer cake all to myself would be far more preferable. There’s just something so evocatively romantic about pairing soft, red, fruits with rich, dark chocolate…

5) Regular Wino – Valentine’s Day Wines

I may be slightly biased because he’s my boyfriend, but I genuinely did chuckle at James’s round up of crazily names bottles of wine that would make, er, “creative” Valentine’s Day presents. Bubbly Bitch rosé and Fat Bastard Shiraz, anyone?

6) MyMonkfish – Beer and Food Matching

For those who aren’t into wine, you can still have a romantic Valentine’s Day meal with a perfectly matched beer. This guide from The Monkfish recommends some very tasty Innis & Gunn beers to match with cheese. It’s a very informative article, but I’m excited about things to come: Monkfish promises further beer matching ‘tails’ so this post is one to watch!

….and not a food blog, but still worth some love!

 

7) Budget Traveller – 6 Movies That Made Me Fall in Love With Europe

I noticed this quirky post this morning on Twitter and couldn’t post a round-up without mentioning it. Indian born travel afficionado Kash runs through the films that encouraged him to pack his backpack and really see Europe on a budget. I have to admit there’s quite a few films on his list that I haven’t seen- although I’m surprised that Trainspotting isn’t on there. Surely Ewan MacGregor’s toilet diving scene would encourage anyone to come and move to the ‘burgh?

That’s it for my first blog round up! If you like heart shaped cakes (for some reason I really associate cakes with Valentines Day: perhaps because I bloody love them?!) then check out my Valentine’s board on Pinterest.

And if I’ve missed out any ace posts, please feel free to leave a link in the comments!