Christmas Wish List

Let me show you you exactly what inspired this blog post…

emma bridgewater catalogue

shellfish platter

I came home to find the Christmas Emma Bridgewater catalogue sitting on my kitchen table, just daring me delve in and start ordering online! This stunning platter was the first thing that caught my eye, isn’t it absolutely stunning?! I’m already finding an excuse for a party and planning the oodles of seafood treats that I could fill it with. Actually, who am I kidding, that platter deserves a party all to itself. There are also rather charming lunch plates with crabs and langoustines… I could really make room for the whole Shellfish collection.

So what else am I lusting this Christmas?

I am a little late to the courgette as pasta party, but I’ve made it here none the less and now I need a spiralIzer in my life.

Why do I want such a contraption? The idea is simple – you can tuck into bowl after bowl of yummy spaghetti bolognaise (one of my favourite winter dishes) without a moment of guilt as your pasta has been swapped for freshly cooked courgette spaghetti. Plus, come January, what better way to get back in shape after all the festive feasting we will be doing! Perhaps not the most glamorous looking of gifts, but I can assure you pasta lovers like myself wouldn’t be disappointed.

Next on my list is an old classic from Le Cresuet – a good quality, heavy, cast iron casserole dish that can go straight from the hob to the oven. One of these beautiful dishes will surely last a lifetime, and it is that thought that makes the price tag bearable. The question is which colour to choose?

Gifting with booze always goes down a treat, so make way for Edinburgh Gin’s new Christmas Gin. Buy this for friends and family and you will be treated like royalty when they find out it’s made with frankincense and myrrh. I also think this Gin would be delightful if you added a splash to a pot of mulled wine, or used it to make an little hot toddy after a blustery, winters walk.

Finally, I have slowly but surely started to build, what I hope one day, will be a wonderful collection of Anta goodies. At the moment I am incredibly lucky to own an Anta cube and our kitchen cupboards were recently filled with four beautiful Anderson Anta mugs.

If you ask me, the mugs are just crying out for friends in the shape of these bowls…

Hopefully this has given you some Christmas inspiration to get started with! I’ll continue to add to the list but in the meantime, happy shopping!

Arbuckle’s Farm Shop – on to a berry good thing!

Last day in May and we finally are seeing a glimpse of summer in Scotland!
Last day in May and we finally are seeing a glimpse of summer in Scotland!

If I had my way, I’d be in full summer mode from mid April… flip flops, floaty shirts and the occasional walk into work minus a jacket. However, anyone living in Scotland will tell you this is a dangerous move, as it’s fairly common to experience all four seasons in one day, feel colder than you did in February and the idea of flip flops in May let alone April is probably a pipe dream. BUT it’s May (well June tomorrow) and today I am in flip flops and shorts, and loving it!

And with the good (or at least better) weather comes our delicious, Scottish berries. Home for me is Dundee, and ever since I can remember, summers growing up would include trips to Star Inn Farm just outside town, where the Arbuckles have a soft fruit farm, to load up on their home grown berries.

Berries

A trip home last weekend for the May bank holiday included a nostalgic trip to the farm, and we couldn’t have picked a better day – it was Day One of Arbuckle’s Farm Shop. This new business venture is being run by Stewart Arbuckle, the oldest son of Pete and Susan. The family have been farming at Star Inn for generations, and Stewart is no stranger to the hard graft that’s gone into making the farm a thriving business.

“Arbuckle’s is a family run farm business, and we have traditionally been all about growing the tastiest and most nutritious food and produce that we can. Every year Dad has been tweeking our methods slightly to develop the sweetest strawberries, juiciest rasps, and now the tastiest veg, and it’s taking over 50 years of fruit growing to get where we are now.”

The Arbuckles realised that all the effort that goes into perfecting and producing the best possible berry is lost when customers are only able to sample the produce three or four days after picking on supermarket shelves. What it all comes down to for Stewart is FRESHNESS. That’s what the Farm shop is all about, giving people the best possible berries and now vegetables straight from the farm, and of course supporting other local businesses.

“It’s  not just our own produce, it is also about supporting other local producers and promoting their fresh produce through our shop. As well as some of the best tasting local goodies we could get our hands on.”

Farm shop featured image

Arbuckle's logo

Farm shop interior

shop panoramic

On top of the amazing fresh produce on sale, all the display stands are made from recycled materials from the farm. Old pallets and apple crates make perfect display cabinets and add to the home-grown feel of the shop. Even the central display table is made up from a giant wooden wheel that solar panel cable was delivered on! Quirky, cool and business savvy, I can tell already this shop is going to do well.

Display cabinet

And now onto the berries…There is simply no comparison to the berries you can buy here to the ones from the supermarket shelves. They are so juicy, so sweet and so vibrant in colour. The smell from one punnet of berries alone is enough to make your mouth water! Stewart had a tasting stand set up with strawberries and balsamic – an amazing combination that just wouldn’t work with watery, shop bought berries.

Strawberries

Strawberries 2

Balsamic

Blackboard prices

I mentioned veg as well. Just as we were leaving Stewart was coming in with a crate of fresh courgettes he had just picked, complete with gorgeous flowers. Not sure what to do with a courgette flower? Check out some ideas here.

Courgette

courgette flowers

courgette flower

Everything sounds amazing right? Well you don’t need to worry about buying more than you carry out to your car, pick up one of these jute bags and you are good to go.

jute bag

So what’s it been like for the Arbuckles getting everything set up for Day One? Crazy busy, a lot of hard work, but also a lot of fun. Stewart has studied and then worked in Edinburgh for years, and now he is really enjoying being home and focussing on the shop.

“Farming is a busy job, and doesn’t leave a lot of time for new ventures, so it helps that I have come back to join the family business and lend an extra pair of hands to lead the charge on the farm shop front, while Dad can concentrate on doing he does best. It puts us in a great position for being able to deliver more and more farm freshness to the people of Dundee and the wider area.”

Stewart is onto a great thing here. Being just a short drive from Dundee city centre, and on the A90 Dundee road in from Perth, he also has fantastic spot for this new venture.  I can’t wait to find out what else Aruckle’s Farm Shop has in store for the summer months, and I know it will be a regular stop off for me on my Edinburgh – Dundee travels.

Aruckle’s Farm Shop is on the A90 Dundee to Perth dual carriageway at the Benvie/ Fowlis turn off, 1 mile east of Longforgan. Just look out for the signs! Stewart also keep the Farm Shop’s facebook page up to date, and you can check out some of the delicious, fresh produce he’s putting on the shelves.

Aruckle’s Farm Shop
Star Inn Farm
By Dundee
DD2 5EJ

City girl goes North!

The Storehouse

This post is not about somewhere new I have discovered, but it is about somewhere YOU need to go and discover. It’s about an old favourite which keeps getting better every time I visit. In fact, if you read this and go see for yourself, part of me might feel a teeny, tiny bit jealous that you are getting to take it all in for the first time…

First things first – look out the Barbour jacket, hunter wellies and any other “country accessories for a city gal” that you, like me, feel The North Of Scotland requires, and head to Inverness, the captial of the Highlands. The sausage dog unfortunately stayed put this time..

Hunters and Barbour jacket

Just a little North of Inverness, you’ll find The Storehouse of Foulis. It is a foodies dream location. The family run restaurant and farm shop sits on the shores of the Cromarty Firth, a gorgeous location all year round, with dramatic views across to the Black Isle.

The couple in charge of this operation are Quintin and Michelle Stevens, (Mr F&P’s sister and her husband) and it really is a family run business in every sense. Millie, their gorgeous working cocker spaniel can often be found moseying around whilst Michelle works in the office upstairs, and Quintin can be found at the Storehouse every day, and as a result knows all the regulars well. Their boys, 4 and 2, are also often around, adding to the friendly, relaxed family atmosphere of the place.

Storehouse sign

The restaurant at The Storehouse is open 7 days a week and offers an extensive brunch, lunch, supper and snack menu. With so many fresh, delicious plates on offer, it’s no surprise I’ve never been when the place isn’t buzzing. On Sundays there is no better place for a roast, as Quintin and his staff turn the food counter into a full blown carvery.

We arrived at The Storehouse late morning, meaning we attacked the brunch menu with gusto. I tucked into an enormous scone with blackberry and pear jam, whilst Mr F&P enjoyed muesli, fresh fruit and yoghurt, followed by a sensational bacon, gruyere and rocket sandwich – a fitting breakfast feast for a man who ran up Ben Wyviss at the crack of drawn that morning.

Muesli, fresh fruit and yoghurtScone with blackberry and pear jamGiant sconeBacon, gruyere and rocket sandwhichsandwich up close

After a perfect brunch, it was time to head to through to the farm shop. Just outside the main shop, there is another little wooden hut – a second treasure trove of gifts, but we will come to that later.

Inside the farm shop, Michelle and her team have the shelves and display cabinets bursting with attractive foodie treats. Alongside a deli counter and a Black Isle Dairy ice cream counter, you will find locally sourced meats, fruit and veg, preserves, biscuits, cheeses … everything you’d hope to find in a well stocked farm shop and more. Good relationships with local suppliers mean Quintin and Michelle can ensure both the food hall and restaurant are stocked with fresh produce all year round.

Deli The StorehouseCheese counter The StorehousePreserves at The StorehouseDisplay chest at The StorehouseIce Cream at The StorehouseWide view shop The StorehouseFruit & Veg The StorehouseCrockery The Storehouse

Impressive right? Make sure you factor in ample “wandering around the shop” time in your visit, because every time you look at a display cabinet you see something else you like the look of!

Now, you’re wondering what on earth could be left to go in the gift shop outside? Let me show you…

Gift Shop outsideGift Shop The StorehouseMore gifts at The StorehouseLadies accessories The StorehouseMore scarves at The Storehouse

And look at these little guys just chilling outside!

Garden animals The Storehouse

Finally after a wandering around the shop, you can pop down to the pebble beach and take in the highland scenery. In the summer months, when the sun is shining, the seating area outside is packed and little tots with sticky ice creams cones on the beach are plentiful. Perhaps it’s because I’m not from this beautiful part of Scotland, but for me, these views never get old.

The Storehousewpid-img_20140513_200546.jpgwpid-20140510_115127.jpg

For now, it’s back to base in Edinburgh, but I am content in the knowledge it won’t be long until I’m packing up my wellies and heading North again.

 

The Pantry

The Pantry, Circle Place, Edinburgh

Until last weekend I have often passed The Pantry on Circus Place on the way to Stockbridge and thought, due to the steamed up windows and packed tables, it looks like the type of cafe I could happily enjoy some food, a large pot of tea and have a good natter! After a lunchtime visit on a particularly blustery Edinburgh afternoon I am pleased to report it was exactly that. Inside there is a lot of exposed wood and tartan pillows on benches and the walls are littered with cute sayings and interesting posters – the type of posters in frames I lust after on Not On The High Street.

It’s always great to see independent cafés full at the weekends, and my friend and I were lucky to get a table as soon as we walked in. If you’ve read my blog before you might have picked up that I’m a bit of brunch fiend. Usually when confronted the option for an all-day breakfast, I find it hard to deviate from eggs or pancakes, however The Pantry menu had me fully engrossed in the sandwich options. I went for pulled pork sub with homemade slaw and home cut chips, and my friend had the roast beef on rye bread.

Pulled Pork Sub with homemade slaw
Melt in your mouth pulled pork sub!

Our chatter stopped for a full five minutes when the food arrived – always a good sign! The pulled pork was melt in my mouth delicious and the fresh sub was packed with salad leaves and a lovely bbq relish on the bottom which had quite a kick. The star of the plate was the home cut chips, they were so light and crispy I could have eaten a whole plate full. On to my friend’s plate – she said the roast beef on rye was not at all dry (she worried after ordering it might be) and like the pork, melted away.

Pulled pork sub with homemade slaw and chips
Pulled pork sub with homemade slaw and chips
Roast Beef on Rye Bread
Roast Beef on Rye Bread

What would have made it *absolutely perfect* was if there had been some mayo to dunk the chips into. There was mustard mayo on offer (it came with the roast beef), but for the non-ketchup lovers out there, how good is mayo with your chips?! Perhaps that’s just my mayo addiction coming through there. That aside, there were lots of interesting options on the menu, and you really could have had breakfast, lunch or even an early dinner. I’d happily sum The Pantry as one of those places where there is something for everyone.