Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Shopping: Butterflies party wear


SHOPPING

BUTTERFLIES PARTY WEAR

Happy holidays for frock sake!


WORD HAS IT THAT AS THE HOLIDAYS APPROACH, SO DO THE PARTY INVITES. WARDROBES AND PURSES ARE EMPTIED IN SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT FROCK. WE ALWAYS NEED AN EXCUSE BUT REALLY, WHEN IS IT NOT TIME TO GET DOLLED UP? IF THIS YEAR IS ANY PROOF AT ALL, US GIRLS WILL FIND A NEW PAIR OF HEELS, A SKIRT TO MATCH IT AND A PLACE TO ROCK IT. ONE WALK THROUGH BUTTERFLIES ON THE GRASSMARKET AND YOU WILL FIND A FAB EXCUSE OF A PARTY TO GO WITH YOUR NEW DRESS IN SECONDS FLAT.


What started out as a bridal shop 16 years ago has expanded to servicing ladies of all sorts: engaged or single, aged 15 or 30, size six or 32. Owner Fiona Brown opened this particular location next to the Butterflies bridal shop, just around the corner from Godiva, in January of this year in order to offer women something different. She wants you to feel so unique, in fact, that she keeps track of what is purchased for area functions and sees to it that no one shows up wearing the same vision.


Some of the pieces are actually one-offs, so not to worry about a woman's biggest fear - encountering your twin on a big night out!Inside the newest edition of Butterflies are three floors of very vibrant excuses for having a ball, from the obligatory Little Black Dress to floor-length gowns to skin-flaunting show-stoppers -- the sassiest ways to raise the game, and the hemline. Downstairs are the fairy tale gowns that beckon a prince and up the staircase are the Diva corsets and old Hollywood-style numbers meant to grace the hips of sirens.



Bite Life's faves include a satin and striped corset-style top with its skirt short flirtaciously ballooning out. Another one by Unique Boutique is irredescent silver with crafty corsages all over and streams of holiday red-coloured chiffon spilling out at the seams. Or go for that LBD , circa 1940-something, that needs only a pair of really red lips to acccompany.Some of the funnest stuff may remind you of Cyndi Lauper, Cinderella, Dita Von Teese or Carrie Bradshaw, but will doubtlessly remind you that all-the-time is a great time to find a party, throw a party or BE the party! Happy holiday party-hoppin'!


Butterflies Party Wear17-19 West PortGrassmarketEdinburgh EH1 2JA0131 228 4401


Also in Nov/Dec issue of Bite Life Magazine

Treatment Review: Dance Base massage


DANCE
TREATMENT REVIEW
Dance Base

HAVE YOU EVER COME TO THE REALISATION THAT YOU NEED A HOLIDAY AFTER YOUR HOLIDAY? SURE IT'S RELAXING BUT THE HEAVY BAGS LOADED AND UNLOADED FROM CARS, BUSES, TRAINS, AND FLIGHTS, THE LACK OF SLEEP ON SAID MODES OF TRANSPORT, THE OH-SO LABOURIOUS NIGHTS SPENT DANCING OBLIVIOUS TO THE DAMAGE IN PROGRESS WILL ALL LEAVE YOUR BODY BEGGING FOR ANOTHER BREAK. AFTER A RECENT LONG-HAUL RETURN, I DECIDED TO PUT THE CHERRY ON TOP OF THE ICING ON TOP OF THE CAKE THAT WAS MY HOLIDAY - I GOT A MASSAGE.

A few days after my return, I was back in the swing of things quite literally. A fan of fitness, the gym and all of the fun classes beckoned me back but my body just didn't feel the same. I knew it was time to pay a visit to the always tempting rooms of massage at Dance Base. Valeska Andrews, onsite therapeutic / accupressure massage extraordinaire, met me in the lobby and led me to through the energetic halls of this house of dance in the heart of the Grassmarket.

A simple and unassuming space, it's not your usual den of frangrant candles with background music of 'Zen'. It's just a place to get your dancin' and stressin' muscles sorted, buffered by the sounds of the building's liveliness. A flamenco class playfully stomped through from above (or beside, it was hard to discern) as I relaxed in a place that proudly boasts all it has to offer, all at the same time.

Valeska forcefully but politely worked through all of the battles plaguing my body, from my toes to my temples. I was definitely at ease and revelling in every demon she could possibly exorcise. She explained to me how applying pressure to some points of the body relieves an entirely different part, just as being brutal to one bit may do far more damage to another bit. She also knew that I had been carrying a heavy bag (my laptop) across one shoulder and made sure that this shoulder knew no trace of such a burden by the time I left.

Valeska is as much of a professional as she is just a sweetheart. I can see why she loves the spirit of Dance Base, and vice versa.

Dance Base is located at 4-16 in the Grassmarket. Download a brochure on www.dancebase.co.uk or get more information on 1031 225 5525.
Also in Nov/Dec Bite Life Magazine

Treatment Review: Hot stone massage


TREATMENT REVIEW

NEVO

Unwinding with hot stone therapy


On the day of my massage, the president-elect of the US had just been determined and although staying up pretty darn late to hear such admirable and exciting results should be a relieving experience, my body felt differently. Maybe it was the nerves clinching and twisting my muscles into an insane knot before the landslide rolled in, and maybe it was time for change indeed, at least for my body. Nevo certainly came to the rescue.
The hot stone thermotherapy is a treatment dating back thousands of years and although many people prefer the holistic version, Nevo's Billy does the more authentic method of using the stones to actually massage your body into oblivion. Instead of gliding the stones across different parts of the body, they are used as tools to liberate any ravaged tissues and muscles from what ails them.
Several different sizes and weights of incredibly smooth basalt volcanic stones are used to massage minerals like iron and magnesium into the body, making for an experience that is far richer than a normal massage. The heat of the stones, which is should be 54-63 degrees Celsius, allows for the benefits of the massage to reach deeper below the skin and enhances the experience altogether. One stroke of a stone is said to be more beneficial than ten strokes by hand.
Nevo's treatment space is serene, the obligatory candles alight and soothing sounds coming from a pair of speakers. Tucked underneath a blissfully warm towel, I am almost asleep before the massage even begins. The next hour proves as remarkable as I had hoped while the comfortably hot stones and extremely skilled hands geniusly work away the stress and pains that had run rampant in my body moments before.
I'm a complete convert to the stones as something that only enhances the pressure applied without it ever being remotely painful. The heat alone that emanates from the stones enhances the relaxation ten fold. If only everyone knew the pleasure of having their calves rubbed with a satisfyingly hot stone, surely the world would be a far less stressful kinda place!One hour is £45.
Word of advice: Drink plenty of water afterwards, and don't plan on being very useful for the remainder of the day!
Nevo
91 Montgomery StreetEdinburghEH7 5HZ0131 556 0432www.renroc.co.uk Opening hoursOpen late Mon-Fri Sat 10am-5pm
Also in Nov/Dec issue of Bite Life Magazine

Shopping: Coburg House Studios


SHOPPING

COBURG HOUSE STUDIOS

CHRISTMAS EVENT

Local artist lowdown


DON'T YOU LOVE IT WHEN YOU DISCOVER SOMETHING COOL, SO COOL THAT YOU DON'T WANT TO TELL ANYONE ELSE FOR FEAR THAT IF THE WORD GOT OUT, YOU'D HAVE TO SHARE? THAT'S HOW I FELT ABOUT THE 'HUB OF CREATIVITY' THAT IS THE COBURG HOUSE STUDIOS. I HAVE STALKED THE WEBSITE AND PLANNED MY VISIT TO THEIR DECEMBER OPENING, ALL WHILE IMAGINING THE ORIGINAL GIFTS I COULD AWE MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY WITH AT CHRISTMAS. BUT HEY, I CAN'T BE GREEDY WITH STUFF THIS GOOD. I DON'T CARE IF IT MAKES ME A SELL-OUT, THE WORD MUST GET OUT.
To be the best Santa your loved ones have ever known, get yourself to Leith the first weekend in December to load up on some outstanding local art. The renowned designers and artists that make up this collection of studios only host open house events a few times a year, so this is a unique chance to get a sneak peak into their creative environment whilst also filling up a stocking or two and supporting some deserving independent talent.
The kind of stuff to be exhibited and sold includes painting, jewellery, sculpture, textiles, silversmithing, printmaking, ceramics, mixed media and sign writing. The collection's creators include Hannah Louise Lamb, Kaz Robertson, Lorna Hewitt, Catherine Aitken, Grace Girvan and over 20 more, most of which will be there so I encourage everyone to show up and shake their hand, they know what they're doing!


Where and when: Coburgh House Studios 15 Coburg Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6ET, 0131 554 6888Friday 5th – Sunday 7th December11am-5pm


Also in Nov/Dec 2008 issue of Bite Life Magazine

Sunday, 12 October 2008

RESTAURANT REVIEW: BROWNS BAR AND BRASSERIE


LOVELY AND LIVELY

As patrons mingle in from the street, it seems as though Browns Bar and Brasserie is the place to be, and it feels great to be amid a vibe so vibrant on this Saturday night. It is my first visit here and I'm surprised that I never knew of the cool elegance abiding in this establishment all along.

The hostesses sweetly usher us in, give us a number and direct us to the bar where we must look out for our number to flash from above. Admittedly thirstier than hungry, this sounds to us a great plan. One Grey Goose martini in, and our cozy corner table beckons.

The flatbread at Browns comes in several tempting variations but we go for the prosciuto, chorizo, rocket leaves and roasted peppers drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction. This is something our attentive waiter recommends, and I certainly can as well. It is gone in seconds and I have already determined that this alone is a reason to return.

My main is an even more sensational mix of flavours- crispy duck, watermelon and coriander salad with plum dressing. Watermelon, you ask? Yes, watermelon, and how genius to complement the duck with such a wonderful, subtle fruit that I rarely see on a menu, much less on a salad alongside other top notch ingredients. With each bite extraordinarily different from the next, it is officially one of my favourite dishes in town and I'm already planning my next attack.

My friend's seafood platter is huge: a chargrilled prawn skewer, smoked trout, sweet roll-mop, marinated anchovies, crab claws, smoked mackerel and Browns crab mix. All of these goodies prompt constant nods of approval, and we decide to share both mains since a. I want an anchovy and b. the many varieties of fish on her palate need a break every now and then.

No room for dessert really but we greedily manage the tart trio (rhubarb, lemon and chocolate), which hits all the right taste buds.

Did I mention we weren't really that hungry? Well maybe we were wrong but thirsty still, a couple of espresso martinis sends us off merrily and with aplenty satisfaction.

Browns Bar and Brasserie
131-133 George St
Edinburgh, EH2 4JS
0131 225 4442

OPENING HOURS
Mon - Fri 8 am-11pm
Sun 9am-11pm
Fri and Sat 8am-12pm
Bar open everyday until 1am

Friday, 10 October 2008

RESTAURANT REVIEW: CAFÉ ANDALUZ


Share the experience, but not the pudding

IN A DARK, WOODEN, BEAUTIFULLY-CARVED BOOTH IS WHERE YOU CAN EXPECT TO MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME IN THIS AESTHETICALLY EXQUISITE RESTAURANT. DETAILS ARE THE ORDER OF THE DAY WITH GORGEOUS HAND-PAINTED PLATES DE ESPANA LINING THE WALLS AND DRAMATICALLY DIVERSE CHANDELIERS DECORATING THE AIR ABOVE EACH TABLE. PILLOWS AND CUSHIONS PROVIDE WEE NESTS AND THE DEFINING ASPECT OF CAFÉ ANDULUZ'S PERSONALITY LENDS ITSELF TO ITS TILED WALLS, AN IMPRESSIVE EXTRAVAGANCE SAID TO HAVE COME FROM THE SPANISH REGION, ANDALUZ, ITSELF. IT IS THE MOST STUNNING DINING ROOM I HAVE EVER LAID EYES ON.

A bowl full of olives with bread and very olive-y oil arrive while I admire the Sunday evening ambience buzzing inside, a deserted and mute George Street outside. On our table rests gargantuan wine glasses that beg to be filled with one of the many wines available on the exclusively Spanish and highly informative list. While I pour over the abundance of choice, a perfect glass of Sangria keeps me happy with flashbacks of warm nights spent at Barcelonian street cafés.

The tapas menu is exciting as it promises the sampling of six to eight things for two people, a tradition for which Spain is adored. The patatas bravas (£3.45) is a nostalgic hit to anyone who has been to the country. The indigenous staple of potatoes are fried with a rich tomato sauce; a cool dallop of soured cream takes the heat off nicely. The berejenas rellenas de pimiento (£4.25), an aubergine freshly filled with cous cous and peppers in herb tomato with melted Manchego cheese, is light but superb.

The pollo rebozado con miel (£4.95) is a highlight - chicken lightly battered and coated with Spanish honey and grain mustard. A Spanish meat feast ensues with the tabla Imberico (£7.95), a plentiful platter of Serrano ham, aged Iberico chorizo and Lomo & Manchego cheese. Our seafood choices include the calamari, or calamares (£4.25), and gambas rebozadas (£5.25), black tiger prawns in a coriander batter, both dishes deliciously alive with squeezes of lemon.

The finish is the chocolino (£4.95), a pot of dense, velvet chocolate mouse with traces of Tia Maria. Word of advice? Defy the tradition, get your own. This baby wasn't born to be shared!

Café Andaluz
77b George Street
Edinburgh
EH2 3EE
0131 220 9980

Also in the November 2008 issue of Bite Magazine


Thursday, 9 October 2008

OUT OF TOWN REVIEW: MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE USA














Memphis blues, barbecue and dreams come true
I suppose you can't really be 'born' an Elvis Presley fan, but I've seen every cheesy Elvis film with my big sister, listened to my daddy's records and relived mama's swooning recollection of the Ed Sullivan Show appearance for as long as I can remember. For this reason, I call myself a lifelong fan, and since I could never overdose on the big E, it was, of course, necessary that I pay a visit to my mothership: Memphis.

With an allegiance also to soul, dirty blues and rockabilly, I needed to see the sites of Sun Studio and Stax Records. And as a devoted foodie, it was high time I get back to my southern roots and feast on as much barbecue and fried foods as humanly possible.

From the moment we pulled up to the hotel and heard One Night With You blaring outside on Elvis Radio ('where we don't just remember Elvis, we never forgot'), mama and I giddily knew that we had arrived. On our way to the Elvis-styled room with 24-hour Elvis movie channels, we walked past the guitar-shaped, yes, guitar-shaped pool, by which I would spend many glorious moments listening to the likes of Suspicious Minds and thinking of how incredibly enviable I must be to those traipsing around an already winter-worn Edinburgh.

Sun Studio was the first stop in the dreams-do-come-true tour. Next door we discovered the first of many fifties-style diners kicking around Memphis. I had an old-school, glass-bottled cream soda before beholding the scene that gave birth to legends like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Spine-tinglin' stuff.

We left Sun in search of grub, so on to Beale Street we went, where the smell of smoky ribs and barbecue permeates the air and the sound of the delta blues spills out onto every corner. Jerry Lee himself was performing for a cool 150 quid at the neighbouring Blues Ball on this particular eve — a heartbreaking rumour, it has to be said!

We settled for a walk through the famous street as the night had a pleasant warmth and a breeze from the truly spectacular Mississippi River. Soon our noses led us to Rendezvous, a recommended no-frills joint and Memphis institution. It's a simple-but-enormous place . I had a vanishing heap of pork shoulder drenched in BBQ sauce, and washed it down with the Champagne of the South — sweet iced tea.

Day two got even better with the tour of (drum roll) Graceland. It's a mighty-fine home on a hill with the ghosts of good times emanating all around, especially inside the kitchen. The man of the mansion's appetite is certainly no secret and no one knew better than grandma Minnie Mae. She catered constantly to his gastronomical extravagances, including his fave sammich: A mashed-up banana with peanut butter on buttered toast, pan-fried. Yum! Shocked that this isn't offered in the on-site Heartbreak Hotel Cafe, we decided to dine on more ever-faithful barbecue with baked beans and ate it all inside a real 1950s Cadillac! Later on, yet another jukebox-fitted diner called the Shake, Split and Dip served up plenty of giant ice cream cones that relieved us from the scorching Memphis sun before we toured the Lisa Marie, the Presley jet plane named after his one and only child.

On our last night, we dined in true Memphis style with a pink limousine Cadillac picking us up from the hotel and driving us down Elvis Presley Boulevard to Marlowe's Restaurant and Ribs, an old Elvis haunt. Wary of nothing, I had the voluminous Blue Suede Shoes Burger topped with one huge fried onion and lots of blue cheese. We also had a side of fried okra and a basket of some truly unrivalled fried pickles. Careful not to make us feel guilty, the menu proudly says that 'because we love y'all, we use fry oil with zero transfat!" The staff was sweet as pie, the owner's daughter chatting away to us about how racism still reigns so blatantly in many parts of Memphis, apart from inside Marlowe's.

On the final morning before my departing flight back to Auld Reekie, we made time for some reflection at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr's assassination changed the spirit of both the city and country. What happened there also reflected the kind of soul coming out of Stax Records, just a few miles up the street inside a neighbourhood rich in character but otherwise, very poor indeed. There we saw Memphis Slim's ol' shack of a house and managed to spot a gorgeous fifties automobile pull up in front of the Stax marquee for just a moment, long enough to impress upon me a surreal snapshot back in time.

One week later, I'm stuck inside my flat with the Memphis blues again. What's a girl to do when the dream is done? What else but put on my Elvis Sun Sessions record, sip on some tea from my Jailhouse Rock-singing coffee mug and thank the heavens that at least I'm not a herd-about tourist anymore — just your average, local Elvis freak.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Mind, Body and Soul: The Lake District






Required seclusion

A FRIEND OF MINE WAS RECENTLY TOLD THAT WHAT SHE REALLY NEEDED WAS "A WALK IN THE COUNTRY." IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ADVICE AND PROBABLY SOUNDED A BIT PATRONISING. MY FRIEND EVEN ARGUED THAT ALL SHE REALLY NEEDS IS "A PACK OF FAGS AND A FEW PINTS!" BUT I MUST ADMIT, I'VE COME TO SEE THE MEANING BEHIND ALL OF THIS COUNTRY TALK, AND AFTER WEEKS OF FRENZIED WORK SCHEDULES AND BARELY COMING UP FOR AIR, I DECIDED TO TREAT MYSELF TO A COUPLE OF DAYS AWAY. ALONE.

I cannot recommend enough going somewhere all on your lonesome. When I mapped my journey to the Lake District, I didn't have to get train time approval from anyone, I just bought the tickets. "Where should I stay?," I thought. "Wherever you damn well please," I answered.

Feeling weightless and without any hassle, I grabbed my fully-charged Ipod, two books, a few cereal bars and headed for the hills of Grasmere. The train ride itself was good for the soul and the hours slipped past nicely knowing that I was distancing myself from my busy little corner of the world back here at home.

In the two days that followed, I discovered the village and its surroundings at my own pace. I had no one to feel embarassed around about the fact that I wanted to go directly to William Wordsworth's grave (three times) and to both of his homes. Cheesy tourist, yes, but it has to be done for certain heros and embracing the spectacle was fun, especially when I had his poetry read to me through headphones at the museum. Imagine the impatient companion I could have brought with me!

During one of my hikes (I did more pausing and wondering than anything), I found myself in front of a waterfall amid staggeringly beautiful, bizarrely rugged hills. The sun had just begun to show itself through the rain and a rainbow only enhanced this unbelievable backdrop for a bit of reading. I even made friends with some sheep as they made their way up the stream that rushed nearby, a sound so sweet that I had to turn off my tunes and enjoy it. And as I breathed in this scene, I knew that a walk in the country was what I really needed.

Also in the Relaxation pages of the Sept/Oct issue of Bite Life Magazine

Designer of the month: Eclectic Shock Jewellery



Get blown away

STUMBLED-UPON TREASURES ARE THE SWEETEST, ESPECIALLY ON A DAY WHEN YOU EXPECT NOTHING MORE THAN A FEW MORE HOURS OF RAIN! ON THIS PARTICULAR SUNDAY, MY FRIEND AND I ALMOST WALKED STRAIGHT PAST THE WEST END'S ARTS AND CRAFTS FAIR BUT THANKFULLY, THE UMBRELLA DIDN'T COMPLETELY BLOCK OUR VISION AND WE SOON FOUND OURSELVES IN AWE AT THE THINGS WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED.

The fair that we found is just one of the many events at which designer Louise Pringle showcases her extraordinary work. When she graduated with a textiles design degree five years ago, her focus was specifically integrating knitted and beaded wires around the cuff and neck area within couture-style garments. What her creations have evolved into now is masterpiece upon masterpiece of reworked vintage jewellery. Every piece is wildly different from the next and therefore makes for truly special stuff as well as a job that never, ever gets boring!

Also working part time as a window-dresser, Louise has an enviable knack for putting combinations together. One necklace can easily have around a dozen of different pieces attached such as a painted brooch, a miniature watchface or a locket. Her parents instilled in her an appreciation for antiques and so she's developed relationships with dealers who know what she likes and hold certain items aside for her next article of ingenuity. It's entirely necessary for her to have a vast amount of material at her disposal in order to compose the perfect piece but once everything is in place, Louise can whip up one unforgettable piece of jewellery in just under half an hour.

Commisions are always welcome and it's not uncommon that she designs extremely sentimental pieces using precious items from a relative's old jewellery box. She calls the service 'Reviving Your Own Jewels' and it's even been used by a certain famous actress after her mother died. Weddings and similar special occasions are also seen as the perfect time to preserve your gems or to simply purchase a previously created piece that is certain to be one-of-a-kind.

Eclectic Shock Jewellery is all over Edinburgh, including at Wisteria Lane, Scosh, Just Scottish and the National Gallery of Scotland.

Eclectic Shock Jewellery - www.eclecticshock.net

Also in the shopping pages of the Sept/ Oct issue of Bite Life Magazine

Spotted at Barfly: Modus



SPOTTED...AT BARFLY

Modus (Mod. Us. Get it?)

TRUE, WE NORMALLY PROFILE AN INDIVIDUAL WHOSE ATTIRE CATCHES OUR EYE, BUT ONCE WE CAUGHT THIS BAND LIVE, THERE WAS NO IGNORING THEIR ALL-ENCOMPASSING MOD STYLE. WITH MISS MODUS AND HER MYSTERIOSO CHARISMA ON LEAD VOCALS, THE GROOVY WAILS OF A HAMMOND THROUGHOUT AND CATCHY SONGS ENTITLED DO THE GO-GO SHAKE AND CLUB SOUL MAGIC, THIS FIVE-SOME BRING ENERGY AND NOSTALGIA TO THE STAGE, LEAVING EVERYONE WIDE-EYED AND DANCIN' FOR MORE. BITE LIFE CAUGHT UP WITH MEMBERS ROD, SCOTT AND MEL TO QUERY THE LOOK THEY'RE SO DEVOTED TO, BOTH IN AND OUT OF MODUS-MODE. IT IS A STYLE DEFINED BY SCOTT AS "THE UNENDING, NEVER-SATISFYING ATTAINMENT OF IMPECCABLE TASTE."

BL: What is your favourite thing(s) about the (mod) style?

Scott: Bespoke hipsters, 4 ½ inch rise, 2 inch belt loops, tapered boot-cut, in black mohair.

Mel: Despite the hijacking of the suit in the corporate world, and its degradation to just a uniform of sorts, nothing really looks quite as sharp, nothing says you mean business on-stage, nothing singles you out from the crowd more than a good suit. If it's a little bit reflective under the stage lights, has just the right number of pockets and buttons, and a nice psychedelic lining, then so much the better

Rod: The neat lines and cool clothes. It seems to have infiltrated high street fashion and is part of everyone’s life now so it looks like I wasn’t wrong!

BL: Where do you shop and what lengths do you go to in order to achieve your style?

Scott: I find clothes everywhere and anywhere, pretty much on a constant shopping spree. Do quite a bit on-line, Costco (great for American import Levis), Jenners, John Smedley in Leeds. I spend about as much on having clothes altered at the tailors as I do on the items themselves; this generally involves having shirts shoulders re-aligned, darts inserted in the back panels, trousers taken-in/tapered.

Mel: Hmm, I've not actually bought a lot of gear, it's sort of been acquired over the years. I take advice from the guys on this but I also love Merc suits, especially the Tonic suits.

Rod: I don’t shop anywhere in particular though there are certain things I search for here & there (not in 2nd hand shops though to destroy a myth). I usually get the stuff made for me, then it's exactly what I want and no-one else has it. I’m lucky enough to be friendly with designers who make shirts for me and a variety of tailors who make my suits and trousers.

BL: Favourite item of clothing, shoes or accessory and is there a story behind it?

Scott: An immaculate 1966, double breasted, high collared, black smoking jacket with lime green silk lining. A once in a lifetime find. The condition of the jacket is amazing.

Mel: I like my blue Merc Tonic suit but it's worn out from stage use...so another is on the cards. Maybe in red ;)

Rod: My black shirt with the red collar cuffs. I love that with a big buckled belt, a pair of black Chelsea boots and some black hipsters I got made in Edinburgh. I got the shirt made in Italy and was so distraught when it started fading (through wearing it too much) that I went over and got another one made. I do have other shirts, another 59 in fact, but I just love that one best.

BL: If you had to name a fashion icon, who would it be and why?

Scott: A guy called Robert. S. Lee. He appeared on the cover of a horrible ‘revival’ album from 1979 called, appropriately enough, ‘Mods Mayday ’79’. It’s a black and white photograph of him sitting on a scooter. It’s been 27 years since I first saw the image and it’s still a valid style reference point for me.

Mel: Phew, tough call. Errr...you know, it's an easy answer but I do think Weller does well for himself these days, apart from the increasingly dodgy haircuts (says me!). Other than that...millennium version James Bond. Who can argue with an Aston Martin and Savile Row's finest? Not quite mod, but sharp all the same.

Rod: Mmm difficult one. I don’t really have a fashion hero as such but if I had to say anyone it would be Paul Weller as I admire and identify with his contemporary Mod outlook without looking like a 60s throwback. He has his fair share of off days though.

Modus will play at Bannermans in Edinburgh on November 4th.

In the fashion pages of the Sept/Oct 08 issue of Bite Life Magazine

Monday, 18 August 2008

Restaurant review: Khublai Khans Mongolian Barbecue




When was the last time you went to a restaurant that placed you in complete creative control of your meal, leaving you just plain giddy for more? I think most dining experiences have an element of fun to them, but as I discovered tonight, Khublai Khans has every ingredient (ingredients like you wouldn't believe) to stir up a good time.
As my friend and I are led to our table, I'm already in awe of the buffet to my right that is the epitome of any cook's dream. It's covered with noodles and rice, raw vegetables of all sorts, bowls upon bowls of herbs and spices, at least a dozen different sauces and best of all, containers full of various raw, exotic meats and fish.
We both have the full feast (entire meal is £19.95, £21.95 Friday and Saturdays), which is the only way to do things here but we certainly are not complaining. To start, we share the ostrich enchiladas (oddly Mexican rather than Mongolian!) and fish balls in hot yellow bean sauce. My first ostrich taste ever is a mouth-watering one; the tortilla is full of the flavourful meat (consistency likened to beef), creme fraîche and cheese. The fish balls don't quite stand up to the treat de ostrich but the accompanying creamy chilli sauce is stellar.
Next we're given a small bowl that is empty, but full of possibilities. Hopeful, we proceed to the buffet I drooled over earlier to construct a meal using any combination of the ingredients before us. We can follow one of the 12 recipes suggested (for the "culinary-challenged") or rely solely on our own creativity. We both trust the recipes (Nomad's Dish with springbok for my friend, Ogedai's Diet with rabbit for myself) on round one before proudly presenting our dishes to the hot plate chef for completion of the masterpieces. It's supremely good and it's all you can eat, so we return for seconds to discover the chefs within, loading up this time with wild boar and crocodile. There are also rarities like kangaroo and zebra that shall not be missed on my next (inevitable) visit.
Khublai Khans is a favourite for parties as they even provide costume, and also do a great pre-theatre menu.
OPENING HOURS:
Everyday 6pm-late
Fri and Sun noon-2.30pm, 6pm-late
Khublai Khans / 43 Assembly Street, Leith, Edinburgh 0131 555 0005 www.khublaikhan.co.uk restaurant@khublaikhan.co.uk Also in the September 2008 issue of Bite Magazine

Festival Review: Stephane Grappelli Centenary Concert


n the final hours of the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, an endearing homage is paid to a late great virtuoso in the Stephane Grappelli Centenary Concert. A mature crowd of jazz afficionados are entranced with a healthy two and a half hour celebration of the career of French jazz violin legend, Stephane Grapelli. A trio composed of accomplished musicians in their own right, (reuniting two of whom worked extensively with the man himself) perform not only orginals, but other songs they knew Grappelli to have adored during his life.

The most noted accompaniment to Grappelli is Martin Taylor, an English solo jazz guitarist who toured with the Frenchman for a decade and who has a classical style that is brilliantly unlike anything many have heard before. Taylor alone draws a crowd and is full of Grappelli stories and anecdotes as well as the ability to amaze an audience with his obvious ingenuity. He is joined tonight by Jean Philippe Viret, a French double bassman who charms everyone with a bow-incorporated solo steeped in splendor, and Romanian gypsy violinist, Florin Nicolescu, whose stunning sound they claim embodies Grappelli's the most.

Together they bring heaps of talent to one stage and do not fail to also, very sweetly, bring to life their unforgotten friend and hero.

  • Stephane Grappelli Centenary Concert
  • Queen's Hall
  • 3rd August
  • 20:00

Festival Review: Tea Dance


Tea Dance is a unique opportunity for the ticket holder to BE the show rather than just an attendee. Smack bang in the middle of the open-air patio inside the Pleasance Dome, my dance partner and I are taught the basics of the foxtrot and the waltz by a lovely and terribly patient couple from the Fly Right Dance Company. Embarrassing myself in front of an unexpected audience of festival goers is more exhausting than you think, which makes the arrival of cocktails and canapés all the more welcome. A couple of vodka and ginger beers later, I care not about my two-left feet, the snickering or the pointing of fingers. The next half hour seems a tad less daunting, the footwork a smidgen more graceful and the fear of attention non-existent. You may not turn out to be a regular Fred and Ginger, but it's fun nevertheless and you'll leave feeling fonder of the festival than when you arrived. But with stage fright like mine, I'd recommend a drink or two beforehand-same advice if you're a hopeless dancer! No matter what the apprehension or who you are (spectator or victim), this different way to do the festival could be just about anyone's cup of tea.

  • Tea Dance
  • Pleasance Dome
  • 3rd -25th August (not 11th, 18th)
  • 18:30

Festival Review: La Clique


It's mid-August and the festival is already a bit exhaustive for us reviewers. Some of what I've seen, I've yawned through, watched the clock through or spent the entire time trying to make sense of the incohesive ways in which an act attempts to fill an entire hour slot.

Not at La Clique. During the break, I was already texting friends to say they were crazy not to have come to the most unstoppable show of 2008.

The wow-factor is perpetual at La Clique. Not for a second did my eyes cease sparkling with wonder at the unspeakable trickery and amazement happening before me. I found myself perma-grinning, applauding every chance I got and sitting on the edge of my seat, my body language alone begging for more.

Just like at the circus, you'll love these freaks. In this ferociously fabulous bowl, you'll find the acrobatic gents who defy gravity and balance, a super-duper hoola-hooping beauty and a juggling extraordinaire called Mario who remarkably stays in rhythm with Another One Bites the Dust. There's also a strip-tease magic act where Ursula Martinez really does go there, a hilarious double-jointed trip through a pair of tennis rackets and a Diet Coke advert waiting to happen that involves gymnastics, a bathtub, a lot of splish-splashin' and a half-naked hottie.

Even audibly it is a sensation, from the soul numbers by a sensuous cabareting puppet to Beethoven to Queen to Balkan brilliance-it is all magnificently at high volume and heightens the spirit to an already tremendous show.

Get a ticket now, get there early and be prepared to get soaked, either by bath water or pee-in-your-pants laughter.

  • La Clique
  • Spiegeltent
  • until August 30th (not Mondays)
  • 23:15

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Restaurant Review @ Roseleaf




ROSELEAF CAFÉ
Totally Leith-al

THERE'S SO MUCH TO LOVE ABOUT ROSELEAF. ON ENTRANCE, AN OLD TYPEWRITER DECORATES THE WINDOW SILL, ALREADY ENOUGH TO MELT THIS WRITER'S HEART. IT'S ALL VERY QUIRKY, WITH MISMATCHED EVERYTHING FROM SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS TO THE TABLES AND CHAIRS. OUR PARTICULAR CANDLEHOLDER IS AN AWESOME CERAMIC SWAN AND ONE OF THE TABLES IS ACTUALLY THE HOME OF AN OLD SEWING MACHINE.

The Ginger Jerry (£4), a house specialty, is our welcoming taste to Roseleaf. Made with homemade ginger beer and paired with Sailor Jerry, it's the most deliciously bizarre cocktail my friend or I have tasted and a perfect start to the night.

It gets better, though, with chicken liver pâté (£4.50) and organic bread -an opulent portion that's smooth and rich as it should be. Another starter is a lavish, stew-like bowl of the creamy Cullen Skink (£3.95) - the traditional Scottish dish of haddock, leeks and tatties. To die for.

We polish off the drinks with zero inhibitions and think better of having wine considering the prize cocktails at our disposal. When we ask for the Rosewater 'O' Leith, the girl puts her hand over her heart and wordlessly disappears to retrieve for us, presumedly, the holy grail or similar. What she returns with surprisingly rivals the first round - floral tea cups with ice, straws and a tea pot (with legs and feet!) filled with a hot pink, rose-infused concoction of vodka, red pepper flakes and spices-"sweet and hot, like the staff," as the menu suggests.

Later, we share the ridiculously good Roseleaf Burger (£7.50); it's homemade and topped with onion jam and Gorgonzola on a seeded, organic bap accompanied with 'rosey' slaw and tortillas with a fruity salsa. We also share the special - pan-fried salmon (£9.50) with cubed potatoes, roasted red peppers and a smoked mackerel purée, the latter of which completely nails the dish.

The desserts do nothing to interrupt the sensory extravaganza. A brownie-like chocolate/raspberry cheesecake (£3.50) is notoriously dense and I loved every single calorie consumed. It went perfectly with our affogato of espresso, Frangelico and vanilla ice cream (£5.20). Nope, no complaints here either.

It's a no brainer, a day or night at Roseleaf should be on your to-do list now!

Roseleaf Café / 23/24 Sandport Place,Leith
Edinburgh, EH6 6EW
0131 476 5268
www.roseleaf.co.uk

OPENING HOURS:
Sun-Thurs 10am-11.30pm
Fri and Sat 10am-12.30am

Also in August 2008 issue of Bite Magazine

Restaurant Review @ Bijou


BIJOU
Love Leith yet? You soon shall


I live about four, five minutes away from Bijou and am kicking myself for discovering it only now. Located in the Leith Links, Bijou's bistro is quaint and cute, the staff all smiles and sweetness. Bijou has a different and fun approach to serving food as the menu plays the 'numbers game.' As our dear waiter informed, everything listed (apart from the steak) can be done in bijou (small), medium or large portions. Great concept for the indecisive diner and allows you to design your own meal. How much do you like fishcakes? If your love is medium-sized, then two fishcakes it is. Brilliant, yes? My friend has just the one bijou fishcake (£3.75) to start. From what I gather from its brief existance, it's more fish than cake and yummy indeed. My starter is fresh cream of celearic soup in bijou size (£1.95); I wanted those spoonfuls to never end. It was perfectly salted and did not warrant the pepper I placed on top prior to tasting. Even better though is the Bijou beef burger. A large would have been a triple-decker so I have the bijou (£4.50) of one outstanding homemade burger with capers, relish, a yogurt and mint-dressed rocket salad and chips. I'm a bit picky about my burgers and this one more than excelled in quality, freshness and flavour. My friend has the medium portion of veggie haggis bon bons- they come in sets of three, six or nine! They're tasty and complemented nicely over a bed of lettuce, red onions, apples and a honey and grain mustard dressing (£6.95).

Sadly, the numbers game (we had fun with this!) ends here but desserts took our mind off of it, namely the raspberry marscapone cheesecake and the chocolate cherry mousse (both £4.25). They are rich and full of guilt and make me particularly thankful that I didn't indulge in that triple-decker moments earlier!

This hidden gem is better than I can even tell you and you get far more than what you pay for. Bijou also does smoothies, breakfasts, BYOB and carry a Wi-Fi connection. Don't just pay them a visit, tell all of your friends to as well.

Bijou / 2 Ristalrig Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8BN 0131 538 0664

www.bijoubistro.co.uk

OPENING HOURS
Mon-Fri 8am-9pm
Sat 10am-9pm
Sun 10am-5pm

Also in the August 2008 issue of Bite Magazine

Saturday, 14 June 2008

OUT OF TOWN: PARIS




Don't you hate it when you're on holiday and you have nary a clue as to where to go for genuinely fabulous food sans the ripoff? That's travel for you; it can be hit or miss.

I had no plans for my three-day stint in Paris last month. The only thing I was sure of? I wanted to eat. Constantly. Visions of tartare, pâté, cheese and crêpes danced merrily about my palate and I could almost taste the Nutella. I even had a recommendation, and so I was set. A friend said I should go to Chez Pa Pa on Rue de Lafayette for the duck with peaches as "it is quite simply the most amazing thing you will ever eat."

We arrive to Chez Pa Pa with our tummies bare only to discover that, in true French fashion, the workers are on strike. A shame, yes, but now we had a story to tell. With proof now that you can plan on nothing, we wandered away hungry and aimless.


From this moment on, we relied on the streets for suggestions. Parisians love to flaunt their culinary creations with windows full of edible masterpieces and every street vendor emanating scrumptious scents. We snacked on Grand Marnier crêpes and feasted on hotdogs nestled inside baguettes, covered with melted Gruyere. Colourful cakes, too artistic to eat, lined the glass displays, and we found that there is no better lunch than one eaten on the sun-blessed, grassy hill of Sacré Coeur.
Street cafés in France aren't clich
é: they're genuinely typical, and entrancing. The best afternoon ever was spent having wine outside a corner café while watching the stunningly beautiful locals pass, armed with fresh herbs, baguettes and flowers. A neighbouring street fair assured us that plenty of smelly cheese and farmhouse pâtés awaited. Our waiters were all charismatic comedians, and our favourite (a bow-tied gent at La Cigale, Montmartre) even remembered that we were the coffee-with-croissant girls every time we returned.

Eventually I satiated my cravings as I ate my way through Paris, but that duck with peaches still sits anxiously on my palate. Maybe Chez Pa Pa and I will meet at last, but if not, I know there is a crêpe stand on every corner that will never let me down.

Also in Bite Magazine July 2008



Sunday, 18 May 2008

Review: The Villiage


The Village / 16 South Fort Street, Edinburgh EH6 4DN 0131 478 7810

Buried in a quiet Leith neighbourhood is a bustling and friendly little pub, The Village, with its stylish purple exterior and a reputation for being a remarkable wee venue too. Leithers aren't exactly hurting for a quaint place to bang back a bevy, but it's always good to get acquainted with any unsuspecting gems that carry on right around the corner. My flatmate and I make our way there on foot using a tip or two from Google Maps on one of the nicest evenings of the Spring. We arrive pleased with our discovery and make our way to the bar to begin the casual and relaxed evening. Tonight's indulgence involves one (okay, maybe three) Guinness (2.75) and one (or two) large white wine (3.75) served by not one, but two cheeky bartenders. This pub immediately feels like home with a couple of faces in the room that I recognise and banter going around from the ones I don't. We mingle through to the adjoined room with local photography that lines the walls, several cozy leather sofas and a good two dozen live acoustic afficionados listening intently to the entertainment the Leith Folk Club has to offer tonight. It's a sweet sight and it's confirmed that this is the perfect place to enjoy some of the acts lined up for the upcoming Leith Festival that will feature 150 events in 50 venues within a one mile radius. Over the course of the night, rumours make their way around of the special guests coming soon and they include New York Americana folksters, Sherman (June 4th), Kevin Mongomery - son of a couple involved with Sun Records (June 5th) and Tommy Allsup, a man that they say played with Buddy Holly (June 5th). The festival runs from May 30th to June 8th and The Village in particular plans to host a healthy amount of appearances by various Leith Folk Club artists plus an evening with East Coast Bluegrass on June 10th along with a long list of other acts. The Village is a crackin' little joint that is an obvious fan of its community and all it has to offer. Go to www.leithfestival.com for a complete guide to all the upcoming festivities. OPENING HOURS: Mon-Sat 12pm-1am Sunday 12.30pm-1am

Also in Bite Magazine June 2008

Food Review: La Cerise


SHOP OF THE MONTH

LA CERISE

Sex on a Plate!

La Cerise/199 Great Junction Street, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 5LQ 0131 555 6065

As owners Martin Wilson and Claire Coussmaker like to contend, Great Junction Street just got "even sexier!" With the recent unveiling of their baby, La Cerise patisserie, Leith gets a titillating taste of pure, sugar-coated pleasure.

The new bakery is wall-to-wall eye-candy from its beautiful refurbishings to the darling confectionary window displays. Lime green and red walls with funky lighting give it a trendy edge that invites you even before beholding the dainty art of the bakery itself. "We wanted to create more than a product but a place just as appealing to be in," Martin said.

La Cerise is a sweets boutique full of pretty things like passion fruit and lemon tarts, carrot cake, mousses and Fruits of the Forrest cheesecake. Fresh savouries including quiche, tortillas and soup are healthy alternatives to the ordinary sandwich. The shelves are full of other products they love such as Isabella's preserves from Aberdeen and croissants from The Breadwinner in Bruntsfield. And coming soon, homemade ice creams (think black currant, chocolate and strawberry flavours) will help us revel in every bit of Scottish sunshine we are lucky to get!

During my visit, I was amazed by a homemade scone topped with Isabella's strawberrry preserves and cream, the perfect afternoon treat. The cream itself was one of the best things I have ever tasted, just one of chef Claire's genius accomplishments. Martin gives her credit for everything from business ideas to the chocolate twirls that decorate their cakes!

It's obvious that they both take pride in everything La Cerise. Their commitment to quality is evident in their products being additive-free, organic and fair-trade. Here, you'll find no flavour enhancers, artifical colourings or preservatives. Even ingredients like yogurts and buttermilk are made in-house as an even greater sign of the craftmanship that can be found here.

La Cerise and its cherried logo sit sweetly on the corner of Bangor Road and Great Junction Street with an invitation for all to stop in and hang around for a bit of culinary seduction!

OPENING HOURS: Tues-Sat 8am-6pm

Also in Bite Magazine May 2008

Review: Forth Floor Brasserie @ Harvey Nichols


REVIEW FORTH FLOOR BRASSERIE Summer in the city Forth Floor Brasserie, Harvey Nichols / 30-34 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD 0131 524 8350 If you've ever crossed the street just to walk in the sun, then you're also probably the type of person that gets excited about summery culinary fare. Now that it's becoming feasible to feast outside on sun-splashed balconies, Harvey Nichols' Forth Floor Brasserie has a new Summer in the City prix fixe menu on offer that perfectly complements the warmer weather we're having.

The brasserie is adjacent to the restaurant, with no apparent differentiation apart from the white table linens a few feet away. I'm politely seated at a window revealing a brilliant view of the castle that gets more magnificent during sunset. I can imagine that in a matter of weeks, the deck on the other side of the glass will be packed full of sun-seekers and cocktail drinkers feeling the euphoria of sunshine and city-wide festivities.

Already pleased with great company and a great seat, my friend and I celebrate with a stunning glass of the 2005 Alain Geoffroy chablis while we decide on the rest. This is a menu that exhibits not just your ordinary recognition of summer with a vegetable here and a fish dish there; there's actually some imagination and class that has gone into creating a list of foods I'd gladly come back for, perhaps with a visitor needing a refreshing view of the city.

It's not hard to decide on my chicken and sunblushed tomato terrine with roast corn and avocado to start. The texture is perfect, not heavy at all and so good that I know it's my favourite before I am brought anything else. My friend's summer veg antipasti is refreshing with small sheets of fresh parmesan making the dish all the more delightful. For my main, I'm all up for the summer beans fricassee accompanied with roast sweet peppers and crispy shallots-the additional crunchy factor proves a big winner (recommended with the Tavel Rose £6). My friend's grilled trout fillet over a sea of shrimp, capers and wilted greens is a bewildering mix of flavours prompting a moan here and there to signal she's a fan (with the recommended Spice Route chenin blanc £5.70). The only part of the meal that is as memorable as the terrine though is the mull cheddar and oatcakes with honeycomb, simple but sensational. The creme brule is okay but I imagine some fruit or sorbet would have been better. The menu (2 Courses £13.95 or 3 Courses £16.95) is definitely a great value but the experience is surely at its finest when sat at a table that makes the view seem like your very own. OPENING HOURS: Mon-Sat 10am-10pm Sun brunch 11am-5pm

Also in Bite Magazine June 2008

Review: The Orangery Restaurant at Dalhousie Castle and Spa



IT'S A SHAME THAT WE GET SO DISTRACTED AND SUCKED INTO OUR SEPARATE CORNERS OF THE CITY THAT WE HARDLY EVER WONDER ABOUT WHAT GOES ON JUST A FEW COUNTRY MILES AWAY. ONE OF THE BEST KEPT SECRETS OF THE HILLS, DALHOUSIE CASTLE IS A WONDROUS PLACE THAT IS REALLY WORTH THE MEASLY HALF HOUR BUS RIDE TO BONNYRIGG.

Inside the castle and adjacent to its luxury spa is The Orangery Restaurant, a casual dining room with an ancient but modern quirkiness about it. Entirely windowed, it protrudes onto the landscape to make you feel like you're sitting in the center of a postcard.

My friend and I are led into this room from the spa one afternoon still wrapped in our comfy dressing gowns. We're sat at a table with a picture-perfect view of the castle grounds, the kind of backdrop that makes you forget the task at hand...oh yes...the food!

While awaiting the starters, we're brought a few slices of gush-worthy chorizo bread. Moments later, I get the starter portion of a grilled tuna niçoise salad mixed healthily with a light vinegar, peppers, eggs, haricots verts and anchovies (£7.10). Meanwhile, my friend enjoys smoked Scottish salmon (£7.50) with a citrus mayo and the unlikely hero of the dish, beetroot.

My main is a roast sea trout (£17.30) with dill and lime butter, prepared to perfection. This is my first sea trout and am surprised and pleased at how similar it is to the Atlantic salmon. The creamed polenta accompanying the dish is mind-bogglingly good and something I know I will never forget. My friend gets to steal a bite or two of my polenta while feasting on an enormous bowl of herb risotto, baby spinach and an expertly poached egg (£6.50).

It’s all washed down with my melon-soaked, remarkable glass of Spy Valley sauvignon blanc along with my friend’s lunch-time pinot grigio staple by Zenato (£5.25).

To wind down and break the routine, get on a bus and stroll over to The Orangery for a relaxing and tasty venture.

Also in Bite Magazine May 2008