Edinburgh: Jamie's Italian


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Tired of talking about Christmas food? Me too. Let's talk about Italian food instead. A couple of weeks ago Jamie's Italian invited me along to try out their Edinburgh restaurant so I headed along to sample the menu. Despite having heard lots of good things about it, this was my first visit - so I was looking forward to trying it out for myself!

Quite often, chain restaurants can be quite dull and lacking in any individual character, but that's not the case with Jamie's. The Edinburgh restaurant is located inside the Assembly Rooms on George Street, a rather spectacular Georgian building full of period charm. Jamie's Italian is located on the ground floor, with an impressive dining room (complete with high ceilings, opulent interiors and a big marble antipasti bar in the middle) and a slightly more informal area around the open-plan kitchen. We took our seats in a dark and candle-lit corner of the dining room and perused the menu whilst sipping our drinks - I went for a refreshing Blackberry Mule cocktail to start.

For starters, we opted for the spicy meatball bruschetta and Italian "nachos", which were actually crispy fried ravioli pieces stuffed with cheese and served with a spicy tomato sauce. I was really pleased with my choice of bruschetta, which came topped with pork & fennel meatballs doused in spicy tomato sauce with a sprinkling of parmesan and rocket on top. My only complaint was that the bread wasn't crispy enough, but when it's topped with all that other good stuff who really cares, right?

On the advice of our friendly waiter, I decided to opt for that day's special for my main course. If I remember correctly, it was linguine with parma ham, peppers, tomatoes and a lemon, chilli and garlic sauce. Delish! Pasta dishes can sometimes be a bit heavy, especially when you're having a three course meal, but this one was nice and light with lots of fresh flavours. Owen chose a similarly light and tasty pasta dish, this time from the main menu in the form of the crab spaghetti which was served with capers, anchovies, lemon and herbs. We also shared a side of garlic bread which was perfect for dipping into the leftover pasta sauce.

Time for dessert now. I had another cocktail (the Amalfi Collins, another recommendation from the waiter!) along with my lemon meringue cheesecake. This was soooo good but very sweet so sadly I couldn't finish it all - but I certainly gave it a good try! The chocolate brownie also looked really good, served warm and gooey with some ice cream and caramelised popcorn.

All in all, the meal was really good. The food was tasty, service was friendly and attentive and the restaurant itself felt very luxurious. Despite the fancy surroundings, the prices were very average so you could feel like you were treating yourself without breaking the bank.

Have you visited a Jamie's Italian restaurant before?

Gillian x

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016


2015, you've been a funny old year. I've never really believed in the whole "new year, new start" thing, but this year I'm secretly hoping it'll come true. The 1st of January is just another day but, thanks to the timing of things, it falls at a point in my life where I'm desperate for a change to roll in along with the bells. Back in October, I found out I no longer had a job. It had been a little bit unstable for more or less the whole year but I clung on because not only did I love the job itself, but I was also dreading the thought of unemployment and job hunting. I'd already done it once (an 8 month stint after graduating) and it was soul destroying enough the first time around. This time has felt even worse; I'm that little bit older and more experienced, I feel like I don't deserve to be here again but no matter how many jobs I apply for and how many interviews I go to, I don't seem to be getting any further forward. I'd like to think I'm a fairly confident person, in the sense that I know what I'm good at and I'm happy within myself, but going through this whole process again has just knocked me down completely. There's nothing like two post-interview rejections in one day to make you feel utterly useless.

But, as hard as it is to stay motivated and positive, I'm trying not to let this take over. Everything else about my life is perfect (for me, anyway) and now I just need to find a job so I can feel a little bit more secure and start saving for the future, book holidays on a whim, buy things or go on nights out without feeling guilty, and - most importantly - finally feel independent and useful and worthy. Whilst I've been waiting for that to all slot into place, I've still managed to have a wonderful year full of people I love, big adventures and new achievements.

This year, I have packed up my suitcase and caught planes and trains with my best friends to explore new cities and create new memories. Whether big, like Copenhagen in the spring, or small, like a weekend in York, they have been some of the times when I've laughed the most this year. I've dined in an old brothel, discovered secret cocktail bars, got lost along foreign streets, visited my first Sephora and chuckled at that dragon sculpture. Even when I haven't been on holiday, I have enjoyed every minute spent with friends. From catch ups in coffee shops to hosting my own Dinner Party to hungover Netflix binges with Laura on Sunday afternoons, it has all been brilliant. I know everyone says this, but I really do have the best friends.

This has been my seventh year living in Edinburgh, and I love this city just as much as the first day I set up home here as a bright eyed 17 year old. I have spent long evenings at the Fringe, drinking cider and laughing and not wanting to go home. I have sampled meal after meal and cocktail after cocktail at the new bars and restaurants springing up across the city. I have been engrossed in new museums and delighted in introducing people to old attractions. Most of all, I have been proud of the success of my pet project with Laura, Every Edinburgh. Writing about this city and the wonderful things and people in it has made me fall in love with Edinburgh even more.

And finally, 2015 was the year I fell in love with a boy. I know I don't say it enough (because I am a huge ice queen), but it's true, I love you. The one benefit of being under/unemployed is that we've had so much of that precious commodity, time, to spend getting to know each other, and for that I'm very grateful. We've spent balmy early summer evenings picnicking in the Meadows, long weekends taking advantage of blogging perks to explore new places like Newcastle, weekday evenings getting slightly tipsy when the bars are all quiet and we have the place to ourselves, and cold winter days spent tucked up in bed watching back to back Nicolas Cage films. What more could a girl ask for?

So, 2016, I hope you're good to me because I'm tired of feeling tired. I want to stop moaning about the things that are going wrong, because I really do appreciate the things that are going right.

I hope 2016 is good to you too. What have been your highlights of 2015?

Gillian x

Outfit: A Very Vintage Christmas


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Dress: Dolly & Dotty*
Shoes: Red or Dead
Belt: New Look
Earrings: Accessorize
Bow: Primark
Lipstick: MAC Russian Red

Despite not actually having any Christmas parties to go to this year, I'm not letting that stop me from breaking out the bows and sparkles and novelty earrings. Dolly & Dotty recently sent me this lovely Black & White Evelyn Dress* and I thought it would be perfect for a festive outfit. If you're the sort of person who gets dressed up for Christmas dinner (rather than lounging about all day in your pyjamas like me) this would be ideal for adding a wee bit of a vintage twist to your outfit. I had a hard time picking which dress to choose from Dolly & Dotty as they're all lovely - lots of full skirts, 50's silhouettes and polka dots. Think I need to invest in a petticoat now so I can make the most of this swishy skirt!

As it's Christmas, you have to have a little bit of glitter in your outfit somewhere. I opted for some very festive red sparkly shoes which are from Red or Dead. I borrowed them from Laura and I think I may have to invest in my own pair as I looovveeee them and they were actually quite comfy too! As for other accessories, I put on my Christmas tree earrings which I picked up from Accessorize on the way to a Christmas party about three or four years ago. They were an excellent last-minute purchase and I always dig them out around this time of year to add some festive cheer to an outfit. Particularly useful if you've been invited to a Christmas night out and don't want to go overboard with a ridiculous Christmas jumper and flashing deely boppers, but still want to be a tiny bit Christmassy. I also finished off the vintage Christmas theme with a big red bow in my hair. This was actually part of a hairband from (I think) Primark which was purchased as part of a Halloween fancy dress costume, but it has since been deconstructed and now the bow looks rather lovely on its own.

Also, note to self: iron your clothes before photographing them...

What's your favourite style of Christmas outfit?

Gillian x