Cafe Circa, Abernyte, Perthshire

There’s an antique and arts centre in Abernyte, which is on the road between Perth and Dundee that OH and I often visit on wet weekend days. It’s a big building full of different antique dealers, new furniture, clothes and a kitchen/deli section. Yesterday, after checking the weather forecast, we decided it was one of those days to visit.

As we wandered around we were stopped in our tracks when we spotted a beautiful chaise longue that would go really well in our living room. It was a good price and it’s a piece of furniture I have always wanted but did I really need one and did I really need it right now? We decided to have something to eat at Cafe Circa the restaurant in The Scottish Antiques and Arts Centre to discuss and mull it over.

The menu was in sections Breakfast, Light Lunch, Mains, Cakes and Bakes. There was also a special boards. In the mains sections it was listed as a set 2 or 3 course meal and didn’t have individual prices so a set 2 course lunch it was. Smoked Haddock Chowder with baked seeded crusty brown bread and butter jumped out from the list of starters, which included tomato, mozzarella and parma ham, salmon bon bons and salad.

The chowder was far too hot but tasted fabulous. It was so thick and creamy you could stand your spoon up in it. It was jam packed full of fish, peppers, potatoes and sweetcorn and the smoked haddock pieces were so big I think I had a whole fillet in my bowl. The bread was also far too tasty and I really wanted to eat both slices but I knew I was already going to struggle with my next course as the chowder was so filling but ever helpful OH didn’t see it go to waste.

For my main I had Tempura Battered Sea Bass and King Prawns
on a rocket and pea shoot salad with lemon and thyme potatoes. The plate arrived with half a field of potatoes and a jungle of green.

The batter was light and crisp and the sea bass and prawns were obviously straight from the fryer. The accompanying soy sauce dip was the coldest thing on the plate so it immediately cooled the king prawns, which were chunky and tailless (that’s a good thing btw, the contrasting cold dip not so much). Unfortunately, the abundance of potatoes were on the hard side and the jungle was in such a tangle there was no delicate way of eating it so both were left on the plate. This was not really an issue though as I was needing an excuse not to eat anymore.

OH had Pulled Beef and Wild Mushroom Wellington
with port gravy, roast potato, green beans and mashed turnip. The pastry was golden and crisp (he says there was no soggy bit, which is my favourite bit ) the mushrooms were under the pastry and around the pulled beef, which melted in the mouth. He had no complaints about his potatoes, which were roast and the veg went well with the dish. He too was struggling to finish (and remember he’d also had a piece of my bread) but to his credit (and thickening waist line) he managed.

There was a dessert menu but for once OH didn’t even want to look at it. However, what jumped out was a Chocolate and Cherry Tartlet with creme fraiche sorbet, which sounds divine.

I would definitely go back but next time I would only have the chowder….and maybe a sandwich.

Two 2 course set lunches, a bottle of locally brewed Abernyte Festbier and a Ginger beer – £40.80.

And in case you are wondering. We didn’t buy the chaise longue.

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York Tweet-up

So no sooner was I back from Tunisia than OH and I were on a train hurtling towards York for a tweet-up. If you don’t know what a tweet-up is it’s when all the axe-wielding murders from Twitter you’ve spoken to in sentences of no more than 140 characters meet up in real life and look at their phones whilst sitting next to one another in a pub.

To be fair, these were very nice axe murderers and OH and I had met them all before.  On the first night we met them in a pub called the Kings Arms which is a Sam Smith’s pub and sells all their own brand stuffs (including mixers and spirits) which means it’s very reasonably priced. As it’s on the banks of the River Ouse it often gets flooded and according to the chart at the door the water level was over 6ft in the bar!

I won’t bore yoImageu with the lovely Shambles, the Mins2014-06-21 16.21.54ter and all the pubs we were in but suffice to say Id had a few by the time we went to Flares and I can’t not mention it. Flares is a 80s themed disco. It is reminiscent of all of those clubs you used to go to when you were either almost or just legal in the 80s with your highlighted mullet, padded shoulders, stiletto heels and neon accessories. It was brilliant and awful all at the same time. Thankfully the floor was far too sticky to sit down and dance to “Oops upside your head.” To be honest I’m not sure how I got home but it was a great night!

One of the highlights of Saturday was a visit around the York Brewery. When we arrived we were given tokens, which we could use to sample the different ales they had on offer that month – they have core beers that are always on draught and on top of that they have specialty ones that are just for the month.  We all had one before the tour and left 4 to have afterwards. Each token was worth a third of a pint. The ales were Guzzler, Terrier, Decade, Velocity, Final Whistle and Centurion’s Ghost Ale. All the ales were very different. The one called Decade smelled of grapefruit and tasted lovely but I was glad I only had a third of a pint. The Ghost Ale had a chocolate flavour to it and was the strongest but for me it was a toss-up between Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier.   I’d recommend the tour which is very short and informative but mainly because sitting in what looks like your nan’s front room afterwards trying to pick a favourite is a great way to pass an afternoon. Especially if the chat is good, which it was.

As there was a mix of English and Scots we got into the nuances of dialect and colloquial phrases. Matt, one of the English contingency, pointed out when the Scots say there’s a wee chap at the door it’s not necessarily a small bloke but someone knocking. The Scots reply was “but if you don’t use the word chap like that what do you do when you can’t go when you’re playing dominoes?” Like a double zero the English faces were blank.

Matt went on to say that a long lie isn’t an elaborate untrue story to a Scot but the chance to stay in bed for an extra hour. Well that’s it, I’m never moving to England if you can’t get a long lie!

However, what killed me was when he started talking about the language you need to learn to be able to order from a fish and chip shop in Scotland. “No matter what time of day it is, whether it’s morning, noon or night, if you want chips with your fish it’s a supper! AND if you don’t want chips with it you’ve to ask for a single fish. THEN, if you want two fish you don’t ask for double fish, you have to ask for 2 single fish.”

“Naw!” the west coasters immediately shrieked indignantly, “you get 2 fish if you ask for a single!”

Not one of them thought this was odd.

Another random line that made me smile, which came from a conversation about people walking into places was, “Have you got a plaster? I’ve just been stabbed.” I have no words.

After the brewery tour we split up and 3 of us (2 of us being very Scottish) borrowed the other’s open top bus tour tickets and toured the walled city. Well it would have been a shame not to use them again!

After this OH and I found ourselves in Cafe Rouge for dinner and watched the world go by as we sipped red wine. The views were amazing as different hen and stag parties passed by. Women in stupidly high heels with hands out to balance themselves tripped by looking like t-rex on the prowl.  One t-rex passed limping and returned wearing flats and holding an Office bag.

Later that evening we went on The Original Ghost Tour which left from the Kings Arms. It was highly entertaining but I’m not telling you anything about it as you really need to try it for yourself.

After the tour we felt it apt to pay the Golden Fleece a visit, the most haunted pub in York (as seen on Most Haunted). Amazingscary stories were told but unfortunately we didn’t see any ghosts but we did imbibe quite a few spirits.

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If you haven’t been to York before you really need to visit. It’s a wonderful place.

AND if you’ve never tweeted  before you really need to start.