26/05/2016

Welcome to Orkney

The beginning of April saw me embark upon a very exciting adventure; I was off to a place I had wanted to visit for years {and I was going not just for a few days, but for nearly 4 weeks!} It had previously been described to me as remote, peaceful, rugged and beautiful, with some of the best scenery and wildlife in the world.

Where was I going?


The Orkney Islands!

Made up of over 70 islands, with around 20 of those inhabited, the archipelago of Orkney is found just off the northern coast of Scotland. With its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, there is plenty of history to soak up; I was to spend my time visiting several of the islands, and couldn't wait to start exploring, walking and snapping away on my camera.

I landed in Kirkwall on a beautiful sunny day, with the most stunning views greeting me as our small plane swooped over the isles. With a comfortable seat and complimentary tea and Scottish shortbread on board, it was the perfect flight. {Thank you Flybe!}

24/05/2016

Chelsea Flower Show Inspiration

Image credit - www.rhs.org.uk

Today marks the start of the Chelsea Flower Show! 

23/05/2016

Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding

Image credit - The Cotswold Company

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to cook a traditional Sunday roast for my parents and Mr Maggie May. I do this fairly often, but due to our recent travels and gallivanting, it had been a while since I last hosted lunch - so the phone call was made, a time was set, and a free range chicken was purchased. The only question which remained was arguably the most important one - what to make for pudding?

I love pudding. I have such a sweet tooth {people are often shocked by how much I crave sweet treats} and find myself regularly poring over recipes in my numerous cookbooks, anguishing over what to bake next. But this time, the decision was easy - because Mr MM wanted a classic bread and butter pudding. 

I had made bread and butter pudding only once before, and couldn't really remember what I had done or how it turned out - so I was determined to give it a good go, and make a pudding that would put a smile on all three of my loved ones' faces!

I decided to mainly use Gregg Wallace's recipe from Gregg's Favourite Puddings - it's a brilliant book which my sister-in-law bought for me a few years ago, chock-a-block full of good, old-fashioned British puds. Having done my research carefully, I simply tweaked the recipe for chocolate bread and butter pudding slightly, adding double cream to the mixture {I know, I know! I'm so naughty} I opted for the chocolatey version as my dad and I are huge chocolate fiends - so that was an extra little treat for us.

18/05/2016

Undressed

The sun has been shining in London! We've had a glorious couple of weeks {albeit with a few showers here and there - well it is Britain, come on} and it appears that summer is finally on its way.

One of my favourite places to soak up some sunshine in the city is the John Madejski Garden at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and so as the weather improved, my grandmother and I found ourselves taking a trip to the V&A one afternoon.

Our timing couldn't have been better, as we realised on arrival that a very special exhibition is currently running...

Silk satin, lace and whalebone corset, 1890 – 5, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear has taken London by storm, with its fascinating, frank and somewhat humorous account of  underwear through the ages, from the 18th-century right up until now {even David Beckham's H&M pants are there.}

Honestly, we didn't quite know what to expect as we stepped inside.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

10/05/2016

Field Southside, Edinburgh

It's been a while since I posted a restaurant review! But my recent visit to Field Southside in Edinburgh warranted a write up.

Image credit - https//food.list.co.uk

As the name conveniently suggests, Field is situated in Edinburgh's South Side on West Nicolson Street. I affectionately described it to a friend as being like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter - it's nestled in between the neighbouring buildings, and you'll only see it if you're actively looking and hoping it will appear. 

This place had been strongly recommended to me multiple times, both through Twitter and through the Michelin Guide for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Desperate to try it for ourselves, Mr Maggie May and I decided to pay a visit during our recent trip to the city.

The restaurant is small and intimate, with a sophisticated atmosphere and attractive, modern d├ęcor. We were shown to our, admittedly, fairly small table, and served a glass of mint-infused water as we decided which dishes to choose. The addition of a freshly baked bread roll, warm from the oven, was a nice touch. 

Their menu is simply lovely; the variety of meat and fish creations range from the traditional {sea bass, served with new potatoes, peas, broad beans, asparagus, and a wild garlic pesto} to the slightly more adventurous {their roast fillet of cod is served with a wild mushroom and sweetcorn fricassee, and crispy chicken wing}. If I'm being critical, vegetarians may be a bit disappointed by their limited choice, with only one starter and one main being suitable, but perhaps communication with the staff prior to a booking could remedy that if required.

Excited and intrigued by the seasonal, Scottish produce, Mr MM and I both opted for the ham hock rissole to start, with parsnip puree, parsnip crisps, and apple. In a word? Delicious. The sweetness of the apple complimented the saltiness of the ham beautifully, and the textures provided by the crispy batter of the rissole and the crunchy parsnip crisps combined to create a wonderful starter. Smacking our lips, we were delighted by our first course.

It was not only food we were enjoying at this stage; Field pride themselves on their wine list as well as their menu, and the 2015 Chenin Blanc was a lovely accompaniment to my meal. 

Image credit - fieldrestaurant.co.uk

05/05/2016

Bonjour Beaune

We had decided to end our European adventure with a few days in France; one night in the wonderful ski village of Valloire, with chalets littering the mountain-side, and then on to a town we had stayed in before.

We had fond memories of this place, with its beautiful centre, its rustic ways, and of course, its wine.




And unsurprisingly, the town of Beaune is one of my parents' favourite places to visit.


03/05/2016

Falling in Love with Firenze

After spending just under a fortnight in our Greek paradise, it was time to wave goodbye to Corfu and set off back towards our beloved England. We were however going to take our time doing it...

We travelled across the Ionian Sea on a faster boat than the one before, cosied up in our cabin with thick white duvets and fresh cookies from the on-board cafe. After a 14 hour crossing, we found ourselves back in Ancona, and extremely excited for the next part of our holiday.

At around 9.30pm, we crawled quietly into the street where our accommodation was situated, and gasped with glee as we caught a glimpse of a beautiful dome in the evening sky... Where were we staying? Well Florence, of course!


Mr MM and I had wanted to stay in Florence for a very long time, and so it seemed like a great idea to squeeze in a visit on our way home. We would only have a day there, but we were going to make it an amazing one.

We rose early, filling up on Italian coffee and freshly baked local delicacies at our gorgeous bed and breakfast. After a quick trip to the nearby tabbachi to buy a ticket, we hopped onto a bus with the locals, bemused and slightly disorientated by the babble and chatter around us, but enjoying the journey all the same.

Our first stop was the Piazza de San Marco, from where we walked to the Galleria dell'Accademia. Founded in 1784, it is one of the most well-known museums in the world - and I think I can stab a guess at why that is...
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