Saturday, 25 January 2014

Arisaig’s Whisky Blending Dinner

Last night I was all set to head home after work to snuggle up on the sofa and hide away from the dull and dreary January weather when I got an unexpected, last minute invite transforming my Friday night plans. My lovely boyfriend, Keiran, works at and was invited to a Whisky Blending Dinner at Arisaig in partnership with the Whisky Ambassador - and luckily he had a plus one invite so I got to go along too!

We trotted along to Arisaig, a lovely contemporary Scottish restaurant located in Merchant Square, not quite sure of what to expect from the night ahead. I dined in Arisaig just two weeks ago for the first time after hearing rave reviews from Fiona, and the food was absolutely delicious, so I knew I was in for a good meal.

The event

We were greeted by the lovely owner Naveed, or Swav Nav as he is known to a select few in the hospitality industry, and seated at the Whisky Blending table, along with fellow whisky lovers and a few friends from 5pm.

Joe and Sue from the Whisky Ambassador then introduced themselves and that began our lesson into all things whisky. The Whisky Ambassador programme is the UK’s only accredited training course about whisky, so we were in safe hands. In between delicious courses, Joe and Sue talked us through the different types of whisky, blending and distilling techniques, along with some funny industry insider anecdotes. 

After our meal, the real fun began. Naveed set us all up with our grain whisky, the base for our own blend, and four malts along with a beaker and pipettes for measuring. We then all set about making our very own blended malt whisky.

Now I’m not a whisky drinker myself, however, mixing the blends and creating something that was truly unique to me, that I also liked the taste of, was so much fun. We even got to name our own whiskies, bottle them up and take home. I named my whisky creation ‘Blended Madness’ as I really had no clue what I was upto! However, I really do love the end result and that’s what matters. Kerian named his blend 'Whisky Revival' after his new band!

What we ate

To start I had the lentil and vegetable soup to warm me up from the freezing, wet journey into town (I must say the soup at Arisaig is the best I have had yet - just don’t tell my mum) while Keiran opted for the haggis patties with an onion gravy (which I managed to steal a bite of – delicious!).

Then for the main I choose the salmon on a bed of crushed potato with buttered greens – the salmon was cooked to perfection and served with a lemon drizzle which added a lovely tangy flavour. Keiran chose the breaded haddock and chunky chips served with mushy peas and homemade tartar sauce – I didn’t manage to steal a bite so it must have been too good to share!

The verdict

When I was assured that there is a whisky out there for everyone, I must admit I was a bit sceptical, however I was gladly proved wrong last night. I had such a great night filled good food, meeting new friends and learning a whole lot about whisky. Look out on the 5pm big deal page for another one of Arisaig’s Whisky Blending dinners and get yourself along for a truly wonderful evening!


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

New York brunch. TriBeCa, Glasgow

It's a rainy Saturday morning(ish) in Glasgow, your boyfriend is off for his first weekend in 6 weeks so you need to do something worthwhile, You're recovering from tonsillitis and are about to start a tour of salvage shops to look for house know this always results in 'healthy' debate. So what's a way to start the day successfully? For me it was a New York style brunch at TriBeCa - and judging by the crowds of happy diners we joined there, it was a good way to start a lot of other rainy Saturday mornings too.

TriBeCa had long been on my radar - mostly down to good reviews and the unmissable USA taxi and American flag permanently on show outside the restaurant, yet I'd never actually ventured in. First impressions were good; cool  decor and cheerful staff bring a touch of New York to Glasgow. The varied crowd is testament  to the venues popularity, ranging from students editing videos on MacBooks to big groups of friends chatting and cozy tables for one or two with the papers.

With a busy but friendly atmosphere, we arrived expecting a queue but managed to snag a table straight away and settled down to delicious hazelnut latte's while browsing the menu. If you've ever been to America, you'll know what to expect of brunch; stacks of pancakes, eggs in uncountable variations, milkshakes, fresh OJ bacon drizzled with syrup and BIG portions. Seriously, we watched astounded from the sidelines as fellow patrons were served with plates that overlapped both edges of the tables they were sitting at. We knew some big decisions were to be made, and it would be a choice between food challenge or leaving some aside. 

Scott choose food contest and ordered a burger (it was nearly 12PM after all) and I settled on the Williamsburg brunch option promising creamy scrambled eggs, toast and smoked salmon. Sounds quite sophisticated, no? Sophisticated was not a word you'd use to describe what I was served; grand, monumental, super-sized are all better suited. But totally delicious nonetheless. Super-size was the general theme across the board, so unless you're really hungry I'd recommend splitting with a friend upon visiting  (single slices of toast border on quarters of a loaf!) - although even if you're like me and could manage around half a 'portion', I'd say the prices are very reasonable even when sans a friend to share with. 

Since I don't eat red meat I can't report on Scott's burger...but I will say that the following Friday he offered to take me back for lunch, thus was his enthusiasm for what he'd been served. Can you believe after all that we were tempted by more? That milkshake like thing you see there is the Oreo Cookies 'n Cream Snow blizzard we shared - an audible talking point for us and everyone else who ordered one due to it's sheer size and abundance of toppings. I'm going to try out a slightly healthier version at home with frozen bananas to stave off temptation for weekly visits. 

It's an absolute must-go for brunch in Glasgow, and it definitely lived up to my friend's reviews. It did take a while for the food to arrive which the staff were apologetic about, but it's not something I'd consider a problem over a leisurely brunch - we were just happy to people watch over our coffees while waiting. I hadn't been before it was recently taken over by the new owners, so I can't provide a comparison, but it promises 'hearty' American food and a great all-round experience and that's what we got (especially the hearty part), so there are no complaints here. We'll be back!

Where is your favourite place for brunch?

Fiona x

Saturday, 14 September 2013


Happy Saturday everyone!

I just wanted to quickly pop on the blog to say good luck to everyone who is taking part in Miles for Macmillan in Chatelherault Park tomorrow - I cannot make it as I am off on a long weekend to Ibiza (alright for some) but as it's for a cause close to the hearts of many of us, and with Glasgow being known for its parks and green spaces I felt it only right to share my own favourite walk this weekend.

I am lucky to stay close to the beautiful Alexandra Park in the East End of Glasgow, and these are a few of it's best features:

The fountain - Oh, the fountain. Apparently it is an A listed Saracen fountain from 1901 and one of the finest iron fountains in Europe. And whoever decided to relocate it from Kelvingrove Park (which already has enough fountains and fancy features) and place it in Alexandra Park, I salute you. It's just beautiful walking down the grand entrance of the park (a flower filled and beautifully gardened promenade) to meet this beauty at the centre point.

The duck pond - just because I often have a lot of bread left over, and throwing it to the ducks is quite a peaceful activity. Be sure to steer clear of the menacing swans.

The viewpoint - at the peak of Alexandra Park is a bench and viewing point. It's a little extra work to get there (especially if you happen to be running), but once you are there the view over Glasgow is just stunning on a clear day. This is a great mid-way point for any walk, and is definitely an inspiration to get your trainers on!

The people - I suppose lots of parks have a distinct character based on the people that live around it, and Alexandra Park is perhaps the most varied I have come across in Glasgow. On a hot day you can find well-dressed students reading books next to the fountain while old men (likely to have lived in the East End all their life) gather to sip a sneaky beer on the benches around the pond. Young families scoot by in a trail of bikes and scooters while masses of dog walkers, who all seem to know each other, take a variety of different breeds and sizes of pets for a wander. And who could forget the stumbling, drunk gentleman who kindly shouted 'Good running hen....just keep gaaaauuuuuin' as I jogged past, subsequently giving me one of the fastest speeds of the summer just to get away from him quickly!

A wander round the park almost instantly puts things in perspective when I'm feeling stressed, and has an energising effect when things get a little cloudy. Feeling a bit hopeless? Take a ten minute walk and I'm guessing whatever issue you were chewing over in your head will feel a bit lighter. Walking with a friend lightens that load even more as it's the perfect excuse for a lengthy chat - my friends and I often put the world to rights on our walks. It can get DEEP.

That's why I think walking on mass is a great way to help make a difference when it comes to life's bigger problems, no one should have to face a problem alone and a walk is one way to stick together. I hope everyone walking for #milesformacmillan has a great day and raises lots of money to help fund cancer care and support projects for a wonderful charity. Don't forget to tweet your highlights using #milesformacmillan!

  • Sign up for a walk near you here
  • Tweet about your route or find a walking buddy using #milesformacmillan
  • Find out more about Macmillan cancer care and support here
  • Miles for Macmillan is sponsored by Boots

Fiona x

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lancome x Alber Elbez and Teint Idole Ultra 24h

Oh my goodness, how could I pass this by in Frasers? Previously only available in Selfridges in limited edition, I'd thrown to the side hopes of owning this...which partly explains why it led to a big impulse purchase and rediscovery of a much loved foundation.

Positioned at the door, the Lancome sales assistant quickly noticed my subtle interest. In other words, she thought 'Yipeee' as I ran up and fawned over the beautiful Alber Elbez designs, exclaiming that I needed one in my life that instant. One sale in the bag for Lancome lady.

Then I learned that I'd get a free full size eye make-up remover when I bought any other item. And I really did hesitate at this one, but I have a long standing love for the Lancome eye make-up remover - I used to sneakily use my mum's as a teenager. So there I was in Frasers, helplessly being thrown into nostalgia when I noticed the Teint Idole foundation. Uh oh.

This was the foundation I somehow managed to use all the way through university, scrimping and saving to afford it. How as an 18 year old student I came across it in the first place I can't remember, but I couldn't be without it's full-coverage matt finish and powdery scent. I switched to chemist brands a few years ago when I interned after university and found a few I really liked, so hadn't made a move back to high end...until that moment.

Fast forward, oh I don't know, fifteen minutes and I'm back out on the street, Frasers bag in hand feeling like I don't quite know what happened. In for Bobbi Brown concealer, out with £50 worth of Lancome. It's just a good thing that packaging is super cute and representative of my feelings for the brand's products, eh? 

So if you're thinking of walking past a Lancome counter any time soon, arm yourself with these reviews:

Lancome Hypnose Doll Eye

The first thing to notice about this mascara is the Christmas tree shaped brush, which really does a great job of widening and lifting the outer corners for a pretty, doll-eyed effect. With delicate bristles, the mascara goes on subtly but quickly builds to a full-lashed, spidery effect. It takes a bit of work to get mega volume but the finished result is bewitching; with each individual lash listed and pronounced and wide, fluttering corner lashes to boot. 

The only thing holding this mascara back slightly is, strangely enough,  it's big selling point. That Christmas tree brush is all fair and well for the corners of your lashes on the right eye (or your left, if you're left-handed), but what happens when you switch sides? Let's just say it takes a bit more concentration to neatly mascara my left lashes and leave it at that.

Lancome Hypnose Teint Idole Ultra 24H

So I mentioned this was a big favourite of mine in my uni days, and interestingly the formula has been reworked since I last bought it. When I used the previous Teint Idole it promised 14 hours of coverage, while this one offers a massive 24 hours. Well no one is testing that theory if they value spot-free skin - but it does last a long, long time and there tends to be no need to top up after a full working day or night out, which is all I really ask for in a premium foundation.

The matt finish is still beautiful as ever, but you do need to remember a dab of moisturiser or primer underneath otherwise it can take longer to apply smoothly or show up dry skin. That being said, I have typically dry skin and it sits beautifully (I use Monu moisturising primer underneath) so don't let that put you off. Full coverage and Lancome's standard powdery scent infused and my impluse buying nerves are calmed; I made the right decision.

Lancome Bi-Facil eye make-up remover

The image above gives it away, I've gone through this quickly. And I'll be sad to go back to my normal eye-makeup remover when it runs out - but this would be an expensive habit to keep up even with promotions. Simply shake and sweep, it's that easy to remove even the toughest mascara (and my latest fixation, the non-budging Maybelline Colour Tattooos). It stemmed a number of dupes in it's heyday, but this will always be my favourite for gentle, quick eye-makeup removal with no smudging, no missed-bits and that GREAT Lancome scent.

What beauty packaging has won your heart lately?

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