Having conquered some of my childhood food fears (mushrooms, seafood et al.) I started up my blog Leil'Appetit as a way of combining an obsession with good food, restaurants and cooking, with that of writing. Married to The Silver Fox, mummy to Felix the cub, events manager, blogger and lover of social media. Tea Jenny. Gin soak. Sometime Vespa-riding girl about town. Follow me on Twitter @
Edinburgh's finest al fresco cocktails
Ah, sweet, sweet summer in Edinburgh. The wind. The rain. The odd fleeting glimpse of blue sky. Should you happen to be in town and the sun decides to grace you with her presence, there’s not much better to do than seek out a terrace and enjoy a cocktail or two. There are many beer gardens around the town, but not all of those places have the mixing magic. The list below promises a combination of marvellous mixology, great views and hidden corners around the city. 56 NorthSituated just along from Potterrow, 56 North is a class bar on all counts but is best-known for its Wow-with-a-capital ‘W’ collection of gins. Let the bar staff guide you towards your perfect serve of gin, garnish and tonic water and you’ll soon find juniper-led refreshment. They have a massive outdoor terrace that fills up sharpish as soon as the sun breaks through the clouds. This August sees the return of the Tanqueray Secret Gin Garden pop-up behind the main bar. The olive tree decked garden courtyard will be buzzing throughout the festival. Tanqueray Perfect 10 Martini served in a silver goblet? Don't mind if I do. 56 North - Jinzu red apple, hibiscus flower, Fever Tree, Tanqueray 10, Pink Grapefruit, Fever TreeLeila Kean 56 North - (front to back) Pink Grapefruit Fizz, Tanqueray Perfect 10 Martini, Haig Club Poster BoyLeila Kean Paradise PalmsA relative newcomer in the university area, Paradise Palms is a little bit tiki, a little bit cabaret and an awful lot of fun. Very much known as a late
Gallery: Ghost signs around Edinburgh
If there's one thing you tend to do a lot of when visiting a city for the first time, it's looking up. Looking up at buildings, street signs, monuments. Anyone who's ever visited Manhattan will know the neck ache that inevitably follows after a few days' sightseeing. As a local, you sometimes forget to look around and you miss what stands out from the ordinary. In Edinburgh we have been gifted a city jam-packed with outstanding architecture, and it goes without saying that most of these buildings will have seen a fair few changes in their use over the decades. Indeed, over centuries in some cases. Ghost signs, the remnants of hand-painted advertising signage past, are a way of checking in on another era. Above doors, on stone walls, never intended to last forever, they offer nostalgic appeal, a piece of ephemera relating to a particular shop, trader or business in times gone by. Often revealed during refurbishments, you'll sometimes catch one for a week before new signage is banged up and it'll be out of sight for another few years. Sometimes they've been well preserved, other times just a faint hint of lettering remains. A recent walking tour of Leith revealed everything from flour and cereal importers to tea merchants, hosiers and stationers. Hanover Street still has the faded Pianoforte salesroom, The Royal Mile reveals wireworks manufacturers and Nicolson Square boasts probably the best example in the city, N Martinot's Manufactures, which once sold all sorts of things in
A taste of Italy is coming to Summerhall
If you yearn for a little taste of la bella vita this summer, then Birra Moretti’s Italian-inspired Moretti Gran Tour will be right up your strada. The tour kicks off in Edinburgh before heading to London and Leeds, bringing a pop-up street food market to Summerhall over four nights. The Gran Tour promises a flavour of Italy’s varied regions showing off their famed culinary heritage and renowned specialities. You can get stuck into a range of tasty eats care of Scottish food purveyors including La Favorita, William Street’s Maialino Deli and truffle-maestros Bonny Vita. Masterclasses on how to source ingredients for Italian cuisine - and of course how to cook it - will be on offer throughout the festival. Chilled beers, Italian street food and tunes care of local DJs; this is one of the summer's al fresco events not to be missed. Gran Tour, July 9-12, 6pm-11pm, Summerhall. Tickets (£10pp plus £1 booking fee) include two beers, two plates of street food and a gelato per person. Additional food and drinks can be purchased on the night. Want more Italian cuisine? See Time Out's guide to Edinburgh's best Italian restaurants.
Just the tonic for gin fans - The Scottish Juniper Festival is coming
In celebration of World Gin Day, Summerhall is hosting The Scottish Juniper Festival from June 12-14 for a weekend-long celebration of what is currently the most fashionable of spirits. Martin Duffy, the Edinburgh event’s founder, is well-known as one the city’s most enthusiastic proponents of the juniper-based drink and looks forward to building upon the success of last year’s inaugural event. Gin is going through a real moment, and it’s clear to see that the gantries of Edinburgh’s finest bars and the drinks on their cocktail lists have been revolutionised by a new wave of gins. Small-batch, bathtub, craft - independent distillers are cropping up across the whole of Scotland, each with their own secret blend of botanicals. Gin has moved on from its somewhat 'iffy' reputation of yore, and across the globe, the pursuit of the perfect serve is one taken with due consideration. The brand of tonic water, the shape of the ice, the slice of fruit. These will all have an effect on opening up each individual gin’s aromatic flavour profile. Launched in 2014 and also based at Summerhall, Pickering’s Gin comes recommended with a slice of grapefruit. They will be running tours of their distillery throughout the weekend event. cyclonebill flickr.com/photos/cyclonebill Your trusty scribe here is all over a dry martini, but whether you prefer yours on the rocks, mixed, or with ice and a slice, the Scottish Juniper Festival promises a programme of events to educate and entertain. There wil
Take the plunge at Portobello's Turkish Baths
You know what it’s like when you’ve returned from a trip abroad - you enjoyed the local food and hooch in bustling little hole-in-the-walls, wandered off the beaten path and in all, had a superbly authentic experience living like local. None of those tourist clichés for you! Now you’re back and you want to share your tales and experiences with the folks at home. Well, back in the 1850s, a Scottish-born politician, diplomat and occasional travel writer called David Urquhart did exactly that after a spell in Constantinople. He became almost evangelistic in his championing of Turkish Baths upon his return home, having enjoyed the health benefits of the hammam after his travels in Spain, Morocco and Turkey. The first example of the Victorian Turkish Bath was built in Ireland, and within a decade had ignited the flames of a bona fide fad in Victorian Britain, with around 600 operating in their heyday at the turn of the century. Latterly, the public’s fascination diminished, and these days very few remain across the UK. Here in Edinburgh, we have the last remaining publicly open ‘hot-air’ Turkish Baths in Scotland; the other is housed in Glasgow’s members-only Western Baths. Adrian Bialasek Located within Portobello Swim Centre, a grande dame of Victorian architecture with its traditional swimming pool, the Turkish Baths themselves are one of Edinburgh's ‘best kept secrets’. With Moorish-influenced design (albeit somewhat let-down by contemporary plastic furniture) a select
The life of pie: where to find some of Edinburgh's best pies during British Pie Week
British Pie Week runs March 2-8 and is pulling no pastry punches in its promotion of the not so humble pie. Whether you like a traditional Scotch pie made with mutton and onion gravy, the double-carb delivery of mac and cheese, or a creamy roast chicken and leek number, there’s something undeniably tempting about pies. As a food concept, they’ve been around for millennia, initially created as a way to transport food from A to B. These days the classics sit easily with modern versions featuring fusions of international ingredients and culinary heritage. From Scotch to game pies, here's a few to try in Edinburgh: The Dogs, 110 Hanover StreetThis restaurant is famed for its rustic, hearty eats, friendly service, great beers and wines. Currently on the menu: a mutton, apricot and root veggie pie which sounds pretty tempting. L’Escargot Bleu, 56 Broughton Street / L’Escargot Blanc, 17 Queensferry StreetFred Berkmiller's duo of French bistros regularly feature homely pies full of Gallic flavour made with Scottish ingredients. Think Gartmorn Farm duck, game such as Highland venison, pheasant and partridge, or veal. Steak and kidney piehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/cpj79/ Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies, Edinburgh Farmer’s Market at Castle TerraceHand-made pies from their bakery in Biggar, Simple Simon's individual pies have been a favourite at the farmers' market for years. Check out their stall (1st & 3rd Saturdays of the month) for a sele
Skatetown comes to Edinburgh
A retro revival is coming your way: the roller disco is making a comeback. A craze that started in the US in the 70s, the nightclub on wheels hit these shores and had their heyday in the 1980s. Those of a certain vintage will remember Coasters, Edinburgh’s very own hotspot for a night on the quad wheels. If you fancy harking back to a time of Farrah Fawcett hair, glitterballs, 'Boogie Nights' and loud patterned shirts, check out Roller Stop’s monthly Saturday night events at Edinburgh’s Meadowbank Stadium. The first session is great for families and beginners to the wheels so they can get their (ball)bearings. Session two is for adults and lets those with a bit more experience show off their moves and learn some tricks with activities like slalom and speed-skating too. We’re hearing these are great nights under the disco lights. Sequins and co-ordinated finger pointing to 'The Hustle’ optional. Roller Stop’s next Edinburgh event is on Saturday March 14. Sessions 6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm. Prices £6/£4 concessions. See rollerstop.co.uk for full details and info on locations around the central belt. See more things to do in Edinburgh from Time Out.
Put a spring in your step at the Ryze trampoline park
If the interminable winter has left you feeling a bit ‘meh’, perhaps it’s time to inject a little spring into your life. Edinburgh’s first trampoline park, Ryze, opened a couple of weeks ago and has already been drawing the crowds who fancy making like Tigger and spend an hour or two flipping, twisting and generally cavorting around like a lunatic in a giant warehouse. Situated just outside of the city in Dalkeith, Ryze is open seven days a week, with various sessions for kids and, er, even bigger kids. Activities range from trampoline dodge ball, the super slam basketball court and the ‘bounceboards’ (something akin to a foam snowboard). There are also evening sessions on Fridays and Saturdays (8-11pm) where you can jump along to a clubby soundtrack. Believe us when we say an hour in this place will put you through your paces, from the exertion and the unavoidable chuckles as someone pulls a trampoline ‘fail’. Expect those abs to feel the burn the next day. Ryze Edinburgh, Dalkeith. Open seven days, advance booking recommended.