Sunday, 18 March 2012

Cocoa Black

{snazzy apron}

This past weekend was spent mainly in the company of two of my favourite people - my Mum and Sister. My Dad had pulled an absolute blinder at Christmas and managed to buy all 3 of us a morning's 'Introduction to Chocolate Making' at Cocoa Black in Peebles, Scotland. Based in the Border's town of Peebles we decided to make a bit of a weekend of it and ended up staying overnight before taking Mum out for lunch on Mother's Day.

The course itself was incredible. For just under 3 hours, we learnt absolutely loads and taste tested equally as much. The kitchen itself is currently tucked away in a little industrial estate and the outside doesn't much prepare you for what lays behind closed doors. The smell of chocolate hits you as you step over the threshold and well and truly wraps you up. Delish.

The morning started off with an introduction to the history of chocolate making - we learnt all about the different types of cocoa bean, how it is manufactured {they're all picked by hand!!} and what cocoa beans and raw cocoa look and taste like. It's not pleasant, I'll tell you that for free. We must've taste tested about 10 different types of chocolate all with varying cocoa contents - nom nom nom - before being talked through the process of tempering chocolate, something that is absolutely crucial when making your own handmade chocolates. Ruth, who owns and runs the courses, is a culinary whizz - I'm sure I read something about competing in culinary olympics! - and she was more than willing to answer all our questions. It was so lovely to see someone be so forthcoming with sharing their knowledge, rather than being precious about the tips she has obviously picked up and developed along the way.

{quite proud of ourselves. This is right before we nearly dropped all of these on the floor...}

We made 3 types of chocolate - though the bulk of the chocolates themselves were prepared for us beforehand and we were simply talked through the method {this was necessary to ensure we could all take our chocolates home on the day}: orange and dark chocolate truffles, pralines and coffee chocolates. All of them were delicious! Then of course, came the fun stuff....decorating. Armed with molten vats of dark, milk and white chocolate, as well as numerous different finishing touches we set to work decorating dozens of chocolates each.

You needed to trim down any excess chocolate. Cue medical grade scalpels and lots of shavings that needed eating. Stat.

There were sneaky taste tests {I got caught with chocolate on my face on more than one occasion}

And the finished product? Well, some of them made it back to Edinburgh at least!

I'd thoroughly recommend this course to anyone, especially if they were the sort that loves to bake or cook. We had so much fun decorating and rolling chocolates and I really do feel like we've walked away having learnt something in the process.

The rest of our stay? Well it was spent wandering around Peebles, drinking fizz, investigating little deli's, delighting in gorgeous Spring weather and polka dot PJs...

And mainly enjoying the company of these two. They make me laugh so unbelievably much - I spent a good deal of this weekend with aching sides. We are so undeniably similar and it makes me so incredibly happy to share things like this with them. The last three photos of some of my favourites from the weekend {though I wish I could make the last one rotate!!}

Love B x

Happy Mother's Day...

To my lovely, lovely Mum.


Love B x

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Apple tart

A couple of weekends ago we popped down to Newcastle to see a friend's band play and we stayed with my parents. My sister was there too so it was a full family affair. My favourite!

We stayed for Sunday lunch {hurrah!} and my mum talked me through making my first apple tart. I love her approach to things - so calm and laid back. Whilst I was concerned about making sure everything was equally spread and whether I was doing it right, she just kept reminding me to relax and stop fixating. Don't spend too much time worrying, she told me, and it will all turn out fine. With that motto ringing in my ears, we haphazardly peeled and cored a few apples before slicing them and chucking them in a copper pan with a hearty helping of butter and brown sugar. We let them caramelize over a medium heat before pressing down some pre-made puff pastry over the top and trimming off any excess. After a quick glaze with some beaten egg, we popped it in the oven as we were tucking into our beef and it soon crisped up.

The result was delicious. Served with custard, cream or ice cream, it was a perfect ending to a Sunday lunch. And my mum was right, it turned out absolutely fine with minimal fuss or worry. Maybe it wouldn't cut the mustard on Masterchef, but it was perfect for a lunch with some of my most loved people.

Want to see...


And the finished product...

Love B x

Monday, 12 March 2012

Shellac update

I booked in for another Shellac manicure over the weekend. I love the long lasting shine and durability of it. Plus, my nails needed shaped. They're at an ok length {even if I would like them a smidge longer} but I always feel better when they're properly shaped and my cuticles are tidied up. This time, I opted for Asphalt, a gorgeous dark grey with just a hint of blue to it in certain lights. It's lovely - right up my street. 

I'm still tempted to upgrade my current gel manicure set with Shellac products - they have such a wide range of colours and I think they'd be easier to apply seeing as they're a nail varnish brush. Does anyone have any experience of this?

Love B x

Sunday, 11 March 2012


So it's Sunday, and I'm trying not to think of the working week that is looming far too large. It was the most beautiful Spring morning here so we decided to wander into town rather than waste a gorgeous day sitting inside. Lucky we did, as the view seems to have gotten decidedly more grey as I sit curled up with a cup of tea.

It's been one lovely thing after another here. Sandy bought me these earrings in the prettiest shade of turquoise. I love the colour!

We wandered through the Grassmarket which was so quiet and calm {probably a million miles away from how it had been the night before} and took in some of the views. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city and Sandy was laughing at how much we must have looked like tourists but it is far too easy to take it all for granted. Whenever I do actually look up, I'm always stunned by what I see.

Victoria Street in particular is so pretty. I love the various hues that colour the street. It's so unexpected and sweet. The whole street is filled with little independant retailers and it's here we finally picked up our lunch. 

Oink. I've wanted to go here since I passed the building once. They have a giant hog roast in the window everyday and basically serve hot pork sandwiches all day until the pig literally runs out. It's local produce from a farm in the borders and they set up shop having originally ran a ridiculously popular hog roast stand at the Farmer's Market that happens every Saturday {visiting that is next on my to do list, especially if the weather is picking up!}. You pick a sandwich size based on a piglet, oink of grunter sizing chart {our eyes were bigger than our bellies so we picked an oink and a grunter respectively}. You can pick from a variety of toppings too - haggis, sage and onion stuffing, crackling, apple sauce...the list goes on! We both opted for haggis and apple sauce and even though they offer {a limited amount} seating, we opted to take ours to go and headed back home.

It's safe to say we weren't disappointed. The sandwich was absolutely delicious! Tender and full of flavour. I just wished we'd opted for crackling to give it a bit more texture. At least it gives us an excuse to go back....

Needless to say, we may have supplemented our pork sandwiches with dessert. Told you I'd be working of the banoffee pie for days {weeks at this rate}.

Perfect. I hope you too have had a lovely weekend.

Love B x

Weekend Recap

Well, it has simply been the loveliest weekend around here. Exactly what we needed after the longest week {I was ready for it to be over by approximately Tuesday morning? And that's a generous estimate}. 

Friday night was spent in the company of Netflix {new to us and possibly our new favourite thing!} and we knocked up a variation on Gambas pil pil.  Usually consisting of King prawns in hot oil with lashings of chilli and garlic, and served with a generous portion of fresh from the oven baguettes, we made it our own by adding plenty of chopped chorizo. Delicious. It's probably one of my favourite, and easiest meals.

Alongside that, Sandy was determined to make up one of his favourite desserts - banoffee pie. Absolutely lethal decision - I'll be trying to work it off for days - but absolutely worth it. It was delicious. And huge.

We made sure to enjoy all of this cuddled up infront of "the fire". The fairy lights made their home amongst the logs at Christmas and I couldn't bring myself to put them away. I love the cozy glow and it puts a smile on my face when we talking about 'putting the fire on'. It adds such a warm touch to the fire place, and looks so pretty with the candles too.

Saturday was quiet. Domestic. Enjoying little things like the flowers dotted around our home this week. I've been a lucky lady.

Saturday night was spent in the company of plenty of friends, watching this handsome chap play on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Maybe I'm biased but I can't help but sing his praises {see what I did there!? So witty...}

This is turning into a rather looooooong post, so I think I'll let Sunday bask in the limelight and have its very own post...

Love B x

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ring finger manicure

Lovely lazy weekend mornings spent doing my nails {when really I should be doing housework. Whoops!}. I used OPI's skull and glossbones and then Revlon's grey matter on my ring finger. I love it!

I've finished it off with a topcoat of Nail envy. I must write a post on it - I've been using it a couple of weeks and my nails are stronger than they have literally ever been. I bought it after I removed my Shellac and they have yet to snap or bend. Brilliant! Absolute wonder product.

We're off to Newcastle tonight for a friend's band's single launch - very excited. They played on the introducing stage at Glastonbury last summer and I'm looking forward to seeing them life. First time in a while! Check them out here.

Happy happy Saturday!


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