Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Wedding Planning... The Menu!

The food was always going to be an important part of our wedding day. One of my most favourite meals ever is Christmas dinner and we wanted our wedding meal to reflect that. Some good, hearty comfort food to be shared around the table, everyone tucking in and fighting over the roast potatoes like one big happy family. Eat Beetroot brought this to life with their "family dining" buffet concept, which creates a really relaxed environment and gets everyone talking. It went down a storm with our guests!

Menu design by Vivi Paperie

Obviously I was a little too busy to snap photos of all the food on our big day, although I couldn't resist a couple of cheeky snapchats! Once a food blogger, always a food blogger. Most of these pictures are from our epic menu tasting - which, coincidentally, landed on my birthday! Some of the food varied slightly on the day from the version we were served at our tasting but it was all down to serving sizes/presentation/dodgy hired ovens and we enjoyed it all the same.


GF Toasted Flatbread, Red Pepper Hummus, Dukkah
Highland Smoked Venison, Green Peppercorn Rosti & Cherry Jam
Mushroom & Pine Nut Wellington

We opted for a choice of three canapes to be served during our drinks reception. I feel like we kinda missed out on this aspect as it all happened while we were whisked away to snap our professional photos. Chris clearly knows me well though and saved us a slateful for our grand arrival!


Vegan Sweet Onion & Broad Bean Cous Cous Fritter with Seasonal Vegetable Salad

Local Black Pudding & Quail Egg Scotch Egg, Homemade Brown Sauce / Monkfish Scampi Cones with Tangy Tartare Sauce / Aged Beef Brioche Slider, Bacon & Bourbon Jam / Sticky BBQ Chicken Skewer

Starters were probably one of the hardest parts for us to decide on. Choosing a menu that will please the majority of your guests is tricky, but it's even harder when you throw in a couple of vegans and some gluten free folk. Eventually Chris helped us to decide when he offered us a "sharing platter" of some of their canapé options, while our vegan family were served cous cous fritters! Surely each guest would like at least one thing from this selection?!

I can't even pick a favourite from our starters, they were all so tasty, but I need you to know that those were the best damn sliders I've ever eaten in my life. I still dream about that bourbon jam. It took every bit of willpower I had not to stuff myself to the brim with these alone! There were so many of each item on the day that we actually ended up going from table to table with extra platters, offering them round our guests, photographers and bartenders!

Main Course

Vegetable & Cornbread Pie (Vegan)
Beef Rump, Shin & Cheek Steak Pie / Scottish Chicken, Smoked Ham Hock & Leek Pie
Roast Tatties, Roast Veg, Mash & Gravy

Our main course was a proper family favourite. With a choice of steak or chicken pie (or both!) with flaky pastry, there was something for everyone. Both pies were served in a large dish at each table ready for guests to dig into and pile their plate as high as they like, alongside all the trimmings! Some tables missed out on the pastry which I assume was down to the oven issue! We shared classic sides of mashed potato, proper roast tatties, roast veg and gravy. Vegans enjoyed their very own vegetable pie topped with an epic cornbread crust!

Photo by Laura.


Dark Chocolate Tart, Choco Pop Rocks & Raspberry Fizz Sorbet

To make life simple, we decided to have a vegan dessert option served to everyone. Except Gordon, who had his very own sticky toffee pudding! I find sticky toffee boring (it's a sponge with sauce!) but it's his favourite dessert in the world and Chris made it specially. Lets pretend he wasn't too full to appreciate it properly on the day!

We omitted the word "vegan" from the dessert description on our menu to avoid any fussy eaters becoming suspicious. It was literally just a dark chocolate tart - well not just a chocolate tart, it was an Eat Beetroot chocolate tart! - but nothing too unusual or anything to be scared of. Some found the tart quite rich but it was perfect for me. I ate the lot - TWO at the tasting! The sorbet was beautifully light and refreshing, with just the right amount of fizz making it the perfect accompaniment to balance the flavours. The chocolate popping candy added a little surprise to the dish!

Evening Food

Cue House Sausage Dawgs, Fried Onion, American Mustard, A&O Sauces
Vegan Tacos

Around 9pm, I just about had room to eat again. We'd hired the Cue BBQ Hut for the evening with American style hotdogs on the menu to go with our New York theme! A meeting at Cue had ended with us choosing to serve Angus and Oink's very own sausages, with fried onions and a choice of ketchup, mustard or Angus & Oink hot sauces!

There was so much extra monkfish from our starter selection that they ended up serving scampi at night too. Veggie tacos were our vegan option. These were served straight to the table where our vegan family members sat, which was unplanned but I was happy with it at the time. Unfortunately I forgot there were additional vegans among our evening guests. It was a real shame as it probably would have been a nice surprise for them to see they'd actually been catered for, and I'm sure the tacos were awesome!

What would you choose for your wedding day meal?

All in all, this was one of the best foodie days of my life and I reckon we did a great job of catering for everyone, apart from that last tiny slip up! At the end of the day, there you can't keep everyone happy, but we did our very best as did Chris and his team who I can't thank enough. Unfortunately Eat Beetroot is no more but you can find Chris and his tasty tacos rocking the kitchen at Rye & Soda!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Winter Menu Preview at Orchid, Aberdeen

Orchid is one of Aberdeen's best known, and well loved, cocktail bars. Home to the creative genius behind Porter's Gin, Orchid plays host to many an award winning bartender and has established itself as one of the most popular haunts in the Granite City for those who truly appreciate a well made cocktail! Classic, contemporary, unique... whatever your style, the guys at Orchid will cater for your individual tastebuds. 

Surprisingly it's the only bar on Langstane Place I hadn't had the pleasure of visiting, until now. 

I was invited along to try out the new winter menu, launching mid-November and I have to say - I'm impressed! A glass case proudly boasts Porters memorabilia at the entrance, alongside a collection of awards. Candlelight creates a cosy, intimate feel to the stylish bar, which features comfy seating by the window, stools along the bar area and some large, invitingly warm leather booths up a couple of steps at the back. The deceptive layout hides the unexpected space, which appears quite small on first impressions.

Gin Tasting

Our evening started off with a gin tasting session. Sean talked us through the story of gin, from the Genever days in Holland at the very beginning, to the Old Tom era of London Dry, before moving onto modern day gin tales with a taste of Orchid's very own Porter's Gin. The first gin to be distilled in Aberdeen in over 100 years!

Modern distillation techniques have allowed them to create a well balanced tipple with delicate botanicals - the refreshing citrus notes of Buddhas hand and pink peppercorn as two of the main, unique flavours. According to the guys at Porters there's no such thing as a perfect serve - it's all down to personal preference - but you should choose one that compliments the already present flavours of the gin. That sounds like a good excuse for another taste test to me!

You can buy a bottle of Porters Gin from local stores (including The Whisky Shop, Rye & Soda, Borsalino's!), online, in Harvey Nics or from Orchid itself.

Religious Robbery
Honey Rider

Winter Menu

Nickintroduced us to the exciting new menu concept that Orchid are launching next month. The cocktail list will feature 8 drinks, each one associated with a different location in Aberdeen. Inspired by a cocktail adventure in New Orleans (and an aversion to the idea that there's nothing to do in the Granity City) the menu creates a sort of treasure hunt, to encourage people to get out and explore, and appreciate what's on offer in the local area. Each drink will be served with a badge and customers will be encouraged to snap a selfie in that location with the badge. Anyone who completes all eight will have their name featured on the next menu, and might even have a chance of winning a prize! The team have a few tricks up their sleeve on this one - you may have to rely on word of mouth rather than google maps!

 Onto the drinks... We were lucky enough to taste three cocktails from the new menu, each one completely different and delicious in it's own way.

Religious Robbery is a gin martini/pina colada inspired drink, stolen from a bartender friend on London's Worship Street. The mixture of Porter's gin, pineapple and coconut juice makes for one silky, smooth cocktail which is, naturally, associated with the Porters Gin lockup.
Honey Rider is an old fashioned style beverage, flavoured with mango infused rum and linked with Fittie for it's pirate credentials. (Rum/Sea... Get it?)
The Beerlinni, was one of the most intriguing drinks of the preview. The combination of Camden Hells lager and grapefruit sherbet makes for some unexpected flavours and as a non-beer drinker I found myself surprisingly enjoying it! The idea of beers in the park with friends has connected this one to Duthie Park.

Other locations include the Music Hall, the beach and 13 King Street for it's place in Chivas Regal history - you'll have to check out the menu to find the rest for yourself!

Pink Orchid


Our next port of call was a mini mixology lesson! Creating a perfect cocktail can be a real challenge but these guys have it down to an artform at Orchid. Matthew started by shaking up a classic daiquiri and telling us a little about the history of this well known drink. It's a dry, refreshing and simple cocktail, ideal to cleanse your palette. These days, most bars will feature some sort of daiquiri, strawberry being one of the most popular! But no matter the flavour, the structure of the drink is always the same. Combining a base, a modifier, and a mixer - usually sweet and sour to create a balanced flavour profile.

The girls got to try their hand at making the bar's signature cocktail - the Pink Orchid! Combining vanilla vodka, raspberry Chambord, lime, sugar, cranberry and egg white. Yes - egg white! A little bartenders trick that gives the drink that foamy texture we all love. Iga, Julia and Claire did a fab job and I enjoyed sipping on one of their masterpieces!

Our Beauregarde Sours

Cocktail Challenge

Next was the chance to come up with our very own cocktail. With a little help from Matt we invented the Beauregarde Sours! A mixture of Porters gin as our base (of course), a violet liqueur as our modifier, lemon as our sour and agave syrup as our sweetener. Think Parma Violets in a cup! We tried our best to get it featured on the new menu... We could even have the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens as our "place" for the challenge!

We'd been split into three groups for the evenings events and each had made their own cocktail. Unfortunately the Beauregarde Sours was disregarded and another team won with their strawberry and peach concoction, taking home a mini bottle of Porters each!

My first experience at Orchid was fab and let me tell you, it will not be my last - I fully intend on completing that selfie challenge!
Look out for the new menu launching soon!

If you fancy trying your hand at bartending, a mixology lesson can be booked by contacting Orchid on Facebook. If gin is more your thing, check out this epic half price Gin Tasting deal currently available at Itison!

*I'd like to thank Fraser Media & Orchid for the invitation to this event. As always, all views are 100% genuine.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Wedding Planning... The Playlist!

After a recent music themed #abzchat on twitter, I've been inspired to share some of the musical aspects of our wedding day!

A house party at ours, always ends with a sing a long of our favourite songs with our favourite people, a few guitars, some drums and occasionally even a harmonica or a tambourine! Our wedding reception was pretty much exactly the same but on a much larger scale. It started with Gordon's cousin Kenny playing our first dance, followed by dancing til my feet ached and singing til my throat hurt, and it ended with his Aunty Kathy doing a spontaneous solo of an old family classic! It was literally the best party I've ever been to.

Down the Aisle: Fleetwood Mac - Landslide

Oh what a fiasco this was! Our venue was basically just an empty shell for us to do what we wanted with. This meant there was no official system or staff to organise the music aspect. After much deliberation, Gordon went out and bought a great big speaker, and we charged one of our Best Men with the task of playing the right music at the right time. The plan just about went without a hitch...

They pressed play on the song by mistake, but quickly realised it didn't matter when the door swung open and the first bridesmaid made her way down the aisle! Talk about good timing! The same can't be said for stopping it - they hit the stop button literally the second I reached the top of the aisle, cutting off Stevie Nicks mid chorus! It really didn't matter at the end of the day and it still makes me giggle thinking about it! Landslide is and will always be my favourite Fleetwood Mac song!

Ceremony/Meal Playlist

We made use of our new speaker and had it playing music in the background while guests arrived for the ceremony and then shifted it to the yurt to play while we enjoyed our epic dinner. The playlist was made up of an eclectic mix of our favourite songs. We included most of the softer, slower music in this as we felt the chilled out vibes were more appropriate through the day. Our guests were treated to everything from The Beach Boys to the Beatles, Jet's "Move On" to Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough" and a bit of Damien Rice.

First Dance: Mamas and Papas - Dream a Little Dream,
followed by Deep Blue Something - Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I'm not even sure why we chose Dream a Little Dream to be honest. It's a song we both like and often sing (badly on my part!), but we just decided on it when it came on in the car one day. We'd already decided we'd like Kenny to perform our first dance song as a little personal touch and we'd heard him sing it at a gig before, and that was that. First dance sorted.

As it wasn't a particularly dance-y tune, we thought it'd be good to go into something upbeat straight away. Breakfast at Tiffany's was the obvious choice! I once dressed as Holly Golightly for a fancy dress party, and it was the theme of my hen night! It's one of the songs that always gets played at our house parties and we knew it'd fill the dancefloor pretty quickly. 

Photo by Laura.

The Band: Wonderland - 20 Favourite Songs

Our band Wonderland literally made our evening! They played a mixture of music themselves, as well as some tracks that we'd "requested" and walked us through a few classic Scottish dances. I'm useless at the Gay Gordons at the best of times - more so with my dress wrapping itself around my heels at every turn - but it's always so much fun, you get to dance and connect with strangers and everyone always ends up laughing! Of course, like every good Scottish wedding, it ended with us being lifted up on shoulders for Loch Lomond and the big Auld Lang Syne finale!

Steve had asked us to send them a list of 20 of our favourite songs and they'd download the ones they didn't know to make sure they catered for our tastes specifically! No Amarillo or Don't Stop Believing at this party, thank you. We tried to pick songs we knew our guests would love as much as us, songs that were mainly upbeat and had meaning to us. I reckon a few of our choices must of been so obscure they couldn't find them as I don't remember hearing them on the night, but they did their best and even played Dance Magic Dance from the Labyrinth! I loved it, our guests loved it and the dancefloor was rarely empty - if ever! It didn't matter if our guests knew each other or not, they were all dancing together and so many have told us since how much they enjoyed the music.

What was your first dance song?
What would you choose to walk down the aisle to?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Top 3 Pizzas in Aberdeen!

There are 2 types of people in this world - those that like pizza... and liars!

Aberdeen seems to be getting a huge pizza action right now. With the launch of two new specialised pizza joints, plus Rev's new menu additions - the Granite City has gone margharita mad! I've had a grand total of 3 pizza dates this month alone, and thought I'd share a slice of them with you!

Nick's Pizza & Wine Bar

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch party of the new pizza bar on Back Wynd earlier this month, hosted by none other than the Michelin starred chef himself. A charming and down to earth man, Nick Nairn tells it like it is! Located downstairs from the well known cook school (which we got a quick tour of - I'm dying to try a class!), Nick admitted that the use of this space as a shop just wasn't working and they needed to try something different. After a fairly successful café launch, they decided to add the pizza and wine menu - keeping the concept casual with a minimalistic Scandinavian design.

We tried four different pizzas from the short menu - all priced from £7 - and I have to say they were all pretty damn good. The garlic mushroom was my personal favourite, closely followed by the fiery nduja sausage. Local produce features heavily on the menu with the wine selection put together with a little help from Doug of WoodWinters, beer from nearby Six Degrees North and mozzarella sourced from a Scottish buffalo herd!

Nick Nairn Cook School & Café, 15 Back Wynd, Aberdeen.

Slice N Easy

My next pizza adventure took me back to the place I stayed the night after my wedding - the Bauhaus hotel! Gordon and I admired Bob Harper's rock n roll artwork over breakfast when we stayed there, but now owner James Cummings has expanded on the theme with the launch of their new pizza joint and bar!

They've captured my taste in music perfectly, with a mix of Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones and Blondie playing in the background while we tucked into pizzas named after the legends themselves! We started with a deliciously moreish focaccia, and followed with a taste of Elvis, Jagger, Hendrix and Prince. The Boss was the stand out for me - mac n cheese with crispy bacon, on a pizza! It's a total chilled out, good vibe kinda place - I suggest bringing your friends so you can try the lot.

N.B. - Slice N Easy is now closed. Updated 10/2/18

My "Where the f**ks my pizza" face.

Brewdog Dogtap

Last but not least - the final pizza the puzzle. My husband loves a good craft beer and Brewdog is a firm favourite. With their brewery located just a short drive away from us in Ellon, we made Friday night Date night and headed out for pizza and beer! As designated driver I stuck to the fritz-limo and coffee - did I mention I like mochas now?

Another relaxed location, we made ourselves at home, took advantage of the free wifi and created our wedding "thank you" cards while we were there! The bar was busy, with the new additional seating upstairs and some tours on the go. I think they forgot about our pizzas but when they did finally arrive (an hour after ordering) I have to admit they were worth the wait! Gordon's stone baked pizza was a classic - spicy, meaty topped with nduja sausage, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella. Mine was a little more unusual with kassler pork and artichokes giving it an almost sweet flavour. Delicious!

DogTap, Balmacassie Industrial Estate, Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

Where's your favourite place to grab a slice in Aberdeen or shire?
What toppings would you go for?

*I was invited to Nick's Pizza & Wine Bar and Slice n Easy in exchange for honest reviews. As always, all opinions are genuine.
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