Back in August, myself and fellow blogging comrade KK (whose photos I have appropriated for this blog post, FYI) were invited to try Hemma’s brunch menu for the first time. I’m sure you all remember me waxing lyrical about the unforgettable Eggs Brando, and if you don’t, here’s a reminder – IT IS EXCELLENT (no I won’t make that tired old pun. So don’t tempt me. Ok fine. IT WAS EGGCELLENT) and you must try it.

So when we were invited back to sample the restaurant’s new additions to the menu, we quite literally ran into the place. Joining fellow bloggers Leanne, i.e., L’appetite foodie and the girls from Edinburgh Food Club, we sat down to an array of foodstuffs I can only describe as positively saliva-inducing.

First off, we had a couple of sharing plates. The first was a simple but tasty mini bread tower with mixed olives, red pepper pate and pea and avocado smash.

The other sharing plate had fishcakes, mushrooms on toast and terrine (which I didn’t try as I have an inexplicable mental block about it and can’t eat it, but it seemed to be pretty popular!). Lastly there were molten wedges of deep-fried brie, served with cranberry sauce.

Yes, it was as good as it sounds. I have in fact been returning to that brie in my dreams for many nights since. Joking, joking. Okay maybe like once or twice.

So although Hemma does a great range of healthy foods, including salads and vegan/gluten-free dishes, I of course chose a less healthy but more glorious Croque Madame. I am obsessed with these things. Especially when they’re done well – and I’m pleased to report back that Hemma has indeed ticked that box.

In case you’ve been living under a rock until now, a Croque Madame is the piece de resistance (imo) of traditional French bar cuisine, and is basically a ham and cheese sandwich covered in bechamel sauce and crowned with a fried egg. It can also be referred to as the Meal of Hungover Dreams.

I mean just look at it.

KK went for the avocado, pea and mint smash on brown bread with crumbled feta on top. It may be more photogenic than mine but I think the two performed pretty equally in terms of taste and textures. (Getting a bit giddy poring over these photos again…)

I imagine at this point in the post you’re starting to worry we won’t have room for dessert. Well let me allay those fears, dear reader.

Champs that we are, we fitted in an array of delicious sweet treats, including vegan chocolate brownie (yum), carrot cake (yummier) baked vanilla cheesecake (ooooft, so good) and a new one for me – “Kladdkaka”, a Swedish cake whose name translates to English as “sticky cake”. It’s made with chocolate and served with caramel sauce. So of course it got a 10/10 from me.

Finally, we were treated to one of Hemma’s new range of winter cocktails. I can’t remember the name of ours, but basically it was (heroically) modelled on the taste of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. We expected it to be really rich and creamy but when it arrived it was transparent and tasted absolutely gorgeous. The fact it wasn’t really heavy was potentially dangerous, as I could’ve quite happily sunk half a dozen of those bad boys.

Thanks, Hemma, for another beautiful meal, and the welcome opportunity to escape a few hours of the day in your cosy, homey, delicious surroundings.

If you haven’t checked them out yet you are, quite frankly, mad.

We will be back v.soon….

Skål!

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Sweden has always been on my visiting hit list, but it remains a country my heavy heart has not yet made it to. However, it is my good fortune that I live in Edinburgh, which has been the receptacle of a Scandi takeover for some years now.

The culprit behind Scandi-gate? Swede Anna Christophersen and her husband Mike, who together run Akva, Sofi’s, Joseph Pearce’s, Boda and Victoria. I love all of these places individually, but today’s blog post is about one I hadn’t visited until very recently…. The glorious Hemma.

Hemma – meaning ‘home’ in Swedish, is the perfect marriage of name and concept. Located at the bottom of Holyrood Road, this gorgeous venue is spread out over two spacious floors. On the bottom floor, you’ll find various cosy little corners with mismatched furniture, and huge windows the length of one side. The spiral staircase in the centre of the floor leads up to shelves filled with books, antique lights, lots of plants and vintage-style decor.

While I always appreciate a well thought-out aesthetic, myself and fellow blogger (and honourary Swede) KK, had a much more urgent mission: to see what the new brunch menu was all about.

There are quite a few options, so we sought the advice of our lovely waitress, and together decided on three things: Eggs Brando, the full vegetarian breakfast and a sweet potato and lentil salad.

Let me tell you a thing or two about each.

VEGETARIAN BREAKFAST 
Veggie haggis, poached eggs, veggie sausage, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and hasselback potatoes and toast

Although I’m not a veggie, I’m not a humongous meat eater either and quite often choose veggie options because they look the most appealing to me.

Hemma’s veggie breakfast did not disappoint: everything tasted amazing and the veggie haggis in particular was beautiful. Traditional breakfast food can sometimes be dry and tasteless, but this was all TYdelicious and the textures worked together really well (after my second sausage, perhaps slightly too well…)

 

 

 

EGGS BRANDO

Sweet potato scone with scrambled eggs, feta, chilli and honey

This dish was something I can only describe as a palatable epiphany.  Oh my God. Seriously. One of the best brunch dishes I’ve had the fortune to consume.

A hardy Scottish food, the tattie scone normally takes on the role of the accompaniment. Kind of like the best friend in a movie, tattie scones are often only there to complement its other breakfast plate pals. So to experience it stepping up to the plate (hoho) and taking that leading role for itself was something of a revelation to me – and ooooft did it perform well.

 

I’d never think of mixing this particular combination of things together (though I’m not a hugely adventurous cook so this is probably not overly surprising) but it worked together like an absolute dream. I can say fairly certainly it’s the dish that will feature heavily in any of my future brunch visits to Hemma. Srsly. Go try it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow roast tomato, sweet potato and lentil salad
With asparagus, toasted pine nuts, feta, chorizo, rocket and basil dressing

This is the perfect salad for any time of the day, and for any season. The sweet potato and lentil bulk it up so it doesn’t leave you feeling unsatisfied (nothing worse than salad sadness, amirite). The pine nuts and feta are a winning combo, and the chorizo gave it hemma salad 2that added spice so it wasn’t at risk of any blandness. Fab. Yoo. Luss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course it wouldn’t be an indulgent brunch without a splash of alcohol… assume your positions, Bloody Bodas.

Made with the same base ingredients as a traditional Bloody Mary (tomato juice, Worcester sauce, tobasco, salt and pepper) – the Bloody Boda has a Swedish twist. Instead of vodka, the drink is made with Aquavit, Sweden’s national spirit. Although I’d been warned Aquavit is somewhat of an ‘acquired’ taste, the Bloody Boda tasted absolutely delicious, proving itself as the perfect accompaniment for our brunch medley.

 

Want to experience the brunch of dreams for yourselves?

Find them at 73 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh.

Follow them on Instagram at @hemmabar or check out their website.

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With a prime spot on the shore, a (potentially) sun-drenched beer terrace and highly Instagrammable outdoor seating, The Salvation certainly has an aesthetic that commands attention. I’m invited along for a spot of feeding and watering to see if its dishes match up to its design. View Post

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It could be that I’m just getting old, but these days I definitely get more excited about eating at a table than dancing on one. (Though if a weekend can incorporate both then it’s a hands down – or up, however you wanna boogie – winner.)

Like an anti-Trump ralley, the Six Nations rugby or the husky tones of Bob Marley, brunch is one of those things that just brings people together. As soon as anyone mentions the word, you just know your day’s on the incline.

So, as we slide serenely into the Easter weekend, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite little spots for this inbetween-y magical eating time. I’ve sampled many such spots around Edinburgh, but for the sake of retaining your interest and bigging up the ‘hood, here are my favourite Leith bruncheries. View Post

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Scandinavia is having a big moment. First it infiltrated our roads (the stoic Volvo), then our living rooms (two words: Poang chair). Now it’s on our televisions, in our bellies (their pastry game is just too strong damnit) and – with the rise of the somewhat middle-class trend of chasing “Hygge” – it’s even begun to inform our psyche.

Edinburgh, and Leith in particular, has become home to various Scandi bars and cafés over the past few years. So it seems only right to dedicate a blog post this Tuesday to my favourite Nordic eating and drinking spots in our almost-Nordic capital. View Post

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January gets a bad rep. It’s a month we’re determined to suffer but when considered fully, surely this four-week festive nemesis is the one that suffers us. Because what wrath is greater than a tide of cold, skint, disenchanted civilians?  January counts abused sales racks, withered Christmas trees and empty pubs among its various unfortunate identifying factors – yet perhaps the biggest ailment of all that poor January suffers is its fresh crowd, nay stampede, of newbie gym-goers.

Most years I like to acknowledge my muffin top misery in regretful swathes, often through mouthfuls of comfort carbs or gulps of supermarket wine. Every January I have the best intentions to improve my (admittedly poor) fitness levels, but somehow when faced with the cold and dark, such goals never quite come to fruition.

Excuses for not doing cardio exercise have slowly grown into a haphazard Grinch mountain of self-deceit. I’m too poor to join, and don’t own any nice gym clothes. Office work is tiring, and  one can’t simply skip an overdue hair wash. The mountain has reached such a height that I enter 2017 feeling a distinct threat of avalanche.

So as 2016 ended with more of my zips flying low than a budget airline, I decided enough was enough. At 5pm on the 2nd of January 2017, I entered into unknown territory. This was not just a gym I walked into. It was a Pure Gym. In name; in nature.

For those who like to make a sport out of people-watching, look no further. This strip-lit grey mass is an anthropological porno; a bleak purgatory, a lure for the socially disparate, bound by a collective desire to sweat out their sins.

As I walked into this newly discovered heaven/hell waiting room, I was able to quickly discern the different tribes. Since I am running late for my next gym date, these will follow in my next post…. Wish me luck.

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Since returning from a two month adventure around South America, I have gained a new level of awareness regarding the “clean eating” trend currently sweeping the western world. This is probably because I was forced to eat, well, “dirtily” for much of my time in Brazil and Bolivia (Peru, this does not include you, you were fantastic, and I promise I will call you again sometime). Unfortunately the effects of this substandard diet did not go unnoticed; lingering spots, lethargy and a general sensation of feeling “not quite a hundred percent” were some of the physical ailments I suffered between meals of fried chicken, pastries, chips, tinned frankfurters and rather suspicious looking grey meat…

This urged me to begin a regime of healthy eating as soon as I got home, and I started trawling online blogs to find recipes for healthy smoothies and what not (yes yes health wanker, I know, go on, hit me) which was when I noticed how popular ‘#cleaneating’ really was. From Facebook to Instagram, magazine supplements to billboards, the message to “eat clean” is an almost urgent one. With numerous blogs dedicated to the cause, not to mention the vast array of disciples behind them, it seems that 2014’s new dietary trend may be here to stay.

While I openly approve of this trend, and indulge in regular Instagram hashtag trawls (#greenjuice, #healthysmoothies, #goodbyeforeverstreetcred) I have certain niggling issues with the whole shebang. Primarily, it seems that there is a worrying correlation between “eating clean” and “being thin”, two phrases which are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to much of the population, especially females. Instagram accounts too often feature a withered, bony looking claw, clutching a jar of green liquid, or stick legs sprawled out on a sun lounger with a bowl of salad balanced precariously between the thigh gap. Underneath said images sits a variety of hashtags promoting “healthy living”. In an age which already glamourises the skeleton, young people really do not need the added pressure of being told to eat in a certain way – especially not when our media culture continues to pump out the unrelenting message that we have to look a certain way, too.

Depressingly, it seems that “clean eating” is well on its way to joining the ranks of the acitivist vegans and the radical church when it comes to conversion tactics. Under the rather misguided presumption that eating healthily will change your life for the better, “cleaneating” hashtags are often found beneath photographs of lean, lithe, tanned, YOUNG bodies in order to better promote their regime. This, to me, gives the whole thing a vague air of elitism; the idea that if one creates meals from raw ingredients and religiously steams their vegetables, while documenting the whole process via social media, they are far superior to the person beside them in the supermarket, agonising over which plastic-packaged ready meal they should select for their dinner tonight (yes, the latter has been me. Yet I find this sad fact easier to accept than if I had fallen into the first category.)

However, as a young person hailing from a country famous for battered delicacies, and an unsurprising yet shocking obesity rate of 26.1%, it doesn’t take a genius to see that clean eating could have an extremely positive effect on nations like ours, whose lives in the fast lane mean being the first customers at McDonalds drive-thru. Yet equally as important is to avoid living a life overshadowed by the dos and don’ts of eating that are so readily distributed to the public – first by our government and now, apparently, by the western population. So people, don’t lose sight of the fact that as long as your diet comprises of some vaguely nutritious factors, a slice of cake won’t bloody kill you (otherwise I’d be long dead) and even if all you ate was burgers, well, it’s your life so do what you bloody well want with it. I for one shall be attempting to lead a harmonious dietary existence, where cake can be eaten peacefully with an accompanying pint of green juice and we can all just shut up about it.

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