Aberdeen Inspired Nights Food and Drink Festival

Aberdeen Inspired Nights is a new food, drink and cocktail festival in the city of Aberdeen! As a blogger, I was gifted two bands to enjoy the festival so myself and Jamie took advantage of lots of discounted food!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

The festival ran for 9 days and included offers at restaurants and bars all over the city. Since I only moved to Aberdeen a couple of months ago there are lots of restaurants we haven’t had the chance to try. So this event was perfect for us!

To kick off the festival, a night festival was organised to showcase lots of different food vendors from around Scotland. We arrived a little early, eager to eat as much food as possible so went to find some local street art while the vendors set up and started their grills!

E1BFA419-8F6A-463D-B408-DDEBAC51C858

It was nice to visit a new part of the city, see the art and sit in the sun while we could smell the food being prepared. We already knew what we wanted to eat so get ready for lots of food snaps!

Night Food Market

We started out at the CuBao Box, a dumpling and Bao vendor which made the most amazing halloumi bao. We had to wait about 10 minutes for the food to be ready, but it was worth the wait! I tried the halloumi and Jamie had the pulled pork bao. Both were amazing (but I have to say mine was better!)

We decided to share a portion of vegetable dumplings too, which completely exceeded our expectations. Even though CuBao only had a small stall, they steamed and pan fried the gyoza to give them a really authentic taste! We were tempted to buy more, but knew we needed to save room to try other food.

C6228AD2-657F-4E5D-B785-023B8389E135

After our gyoza, we grabbed a drink and tried not to feel too full! The Pizza Geeks had travelled from Edinburgh to serve up themed pizzas (e.g the ‘mario’ and ‘bravehart’ pizzas). Even though we really wanted to try, we knew that we couldn’t eat a full pizza between us. I had tried the Pizza Geeks before too at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

46D5B35D-012C-4357-90D4-46ED798AFD1D

Right next to the pizzas, we couldn’t resist trying out a Melt grilled cheeses. We tried the classic toastie with homemade chilli jam to see just how good their cheese toasties were. The classic included two cheeses and a homemade cheese sauce combined with the optional chilli jam.

8FF4014E-3DFB-49AF-87D2-486B5B54537F

Unsurprisingly, we loved the grilled cheese sandwich! It was cut in half and ready for us to share, the chilli jam was the perfect addition too.

As you can see from the photos, we had a lovely day for the market. There were lots of other vendors from bbq foods to seafood, there was something for everyone. We felt so full from the dough and bread though! We just couldn’t try anything else! Although we did have room for a Brewdog beer in the sunshine before we left.

 

Yatai Izakaya Restaurant

We came back into the city a few days later to go to our favourite Japanese restaurant in Yatai Izakaya for a discounted dinner trip! We love this place because there’s a big menu to choose from, unique dishes and always great specials to try.

We started out with gyoza and edamame as we nearly always do at this type of restaurant!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

As soon as the food is ready it is served, so we always had plenty of food at the table. We chose a sushi special which included flash seared halibut and salmon (it was so soft and fresh) and prawn tempura rolls too.

C8F7EDB6-37BC-4C81-84BB-8B2A9EA7B0EC

After sushi we tried another (unusual) special dish which was a pan friend pigeon dish! This one was Jamie’s choice and it definitely wasn’t my favourite. If you like duck and other meats which can be served rare, I think pigeon would actually be enjoyable. But sadly it just didn’t appeal to me! The meat was served with vegetables and flowers, it looked like a pretty dish even if it wasn’t to my taste.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Boozy Cow Bar/Restaurant

Once we’d finished out meal, we decided to head to the Boozy Cow next door. This is one of my favourite cocktail bars and the food is fab too. The Boozy Cow has bars/restaurants in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, this was my first time in Aberdeen but as a student I visited a few times in Edinburgh.

C6657932-8F3F-4CDA-9BC6-B38B096C4970

Since we had already eaten, we were just visiting for drinks. The Inspired nights wristbands meant that we were entitled to a special discounted cocktail which tasted like fruit salad sweets. We decided to get one of those and a ‘that dude ain’t russian’ coffee vodka and Malteser boozy shake. Both tasted amazing! If you get the chance I would recommend drinks at the Boozy Cow!

027E3E71-2C69-4EA5-83BC-0B4C4BD9DC51

 

Angus and Ale

Our final food festival stop was on the final day of the festival at Angus and Ale. We had never visited before but were given 10% off our bill with the Inspired Nights wristband. Although it was only a small restaurant, the staff were lovely and there were only a few couples in the restaurant in time for a late lunch.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We weren’t sure what to expect from here because no one we know has been before. Thankfully our expectations were exceeded and portions were much larger than we had expected.

To start I chose Cullen Skink (if you don’t know that’s a traditional Scottish soup which includes haddock and potatoes), which was lovely. Jamie chose cauliflower wings which were deep fried pieces of cauliflower in a buffalo hot sauce. I couldn’t believe how good the wings were, I hadn’t expected to like them, but next time we visit we will share a portion to start!

67023D32-42E3-48E9-A18D-0353FEF07DC1

Our starters were huge portions and we knew once we’d finished that we wouldn’t be able to finish our mains! I opted for a small sirloin steak, whilst Jamie had a monster burger called ‘The Big Jock’ which included a beef burger, piece of steak, onion rings, salad and a token gherkin on top!

D7D0DABF-7D0F-4F91-B085-56D383BF7231

As I said, there was no way we could finish all that food, we ate as much as possible before heading off to the cinema for the evening to watch Solo!

It was a shame that we couldn’t have spent more time at the food festival, but of course work and exams meant that we were away from Aberdeen for 2 of the 9 days! I think we did pretty well though and managed to try out plenty of food. I can’t choose my favourite, but I loved getting to try lots of different foods at the market!

Hope you enjoyed all of the food pics, think I need to go for a walk just looking at them all again!

6 Days in Berlin (Days 1-3)

For our latest trip, we decided to visit Berlin, I’d never been to Germany before so was really excited! I’m sure like me, you have heard good things about Berlin, so we booked our flights back in February and two days before flying we picked a hotel. Flying from Edinburgh went smoothly as usual and we took around two hours to fly into the German capital.

Day 1

Once we reached the terminal in Berlin, we realised this airport was much busier and warmer than in the UK. Thankfully we managed to find our way to the bus stop and an English speaking member of staff helped us use the ticket machine. We boarded the airport bus like sardines, packed in even though the bus arrived every 6 minutes. On the hot bus I wasn’t in the best mood, but the sun was shining and I couldn’t be annoyed for long!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We walked a few minutes to our hotel and were pleasantly surprised to find our hotel in a small courtyard near lots of restaurants. We stayed at CALMA Berlin Mitte which was a modern, minimalist, lovely place to stay. When we arrived we hadn’t eaten so we found a local shop and picked up a few essentials (by that I mean some german meats, cheeses and soft pretzels) to snack on before we went for Asian food that night. On our way home we decided to stop off for our first taste of German beer, we bought a Berliner each and enjoyed the sun for a while.

That evening, we walked to a nearby restaurant which I had pre booked for our first night in the city. We walked to Nordbahnhof Two Buddha’s which exceeded our expectations entirely! We had prawns, fish, vegetables and a little bit of sushi. I loved the decor and there was a huge wine menu which made it the perfect place in my mind!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Even though we were in Berlin, after eating we managed to stumble across a Brewdog bar. We decided to spend the evening here, sitting on wooden boxes, dog spotting and looking at which attractions we wanted to visit during our stay.

Day 2

Our first full day in Germany was filled with sightseeing and visiting attractions. We started out at the South of the city and visited the German Museum of Technology. We had to visit at least one place where Jamie could see aeroplanes and helicopters so we chose here. We had a fab time! There was so much to see, from planes and trains to computers and telephones. If it’s electronic it probably makes an appearance in this museum.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

The best part was reaching the top floor which showcased lots of aeroplanes, including some from WW2. We could walk out onto the top of the building and see a huge aeroplane set over the edge of the museum.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

One aspect of the museum we hadn’t expected was walking through the trains and finding a carriage from the Holocaust. We were able to walk into the old wooden cart and see where so many innocent people walked to their deaths. It was such a profound, unexpected experience that even though it was empty I felt a little claustrophobic!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Once we left the museum, we walked along the river and decided to visit some more popular attractions like the Topography of Terror. Much busier than the museum, but thankfully due to the time of year, it wasn’t too busy. We were able to see everything we wanted. We spent around 2 hours walking through the exhibit which displays a huge amount of information about the Nazi’s reign of terror across Europe. Starting with the beginnings of intimidating opposition, we followed the journey of persecution and murder through to the end of the war. This attraction isn’t for the faint hearted, some pictures were distressing and individual stories were heartbreaking. The attraction is super informative though and we learnt so much about the realities of the war. Although heavy and sometimes upsetting, I can’t recommend this place enough. The information covers all groups who were persecuted (not just Jewish groups) and really describes how day-to-day life was impacted by the war.

Outside the building we also got to see our first glimpse of the Berlin Wall, although not particularly artistic (it wasn’t the East Side Gallery after all) it was interesting to see and we were able to read some basic information about the wall.

275BB5AC-2C92-483E-ADA5-DC1A4A55ABDC

Only a few minutes walk away, we visited the infamous Checkpoint Charlie. Now I don’t know what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t a small shack in the middle of a busy road! I was a tad disappointed, but I guess I had set my expectations too high! None the less, it was interesting to stop by on our way to the underground station.

51F7920E-2726-41A8-A4BF-54AAC23ACD23

After a day of walking, we headed back to our hotel to change before dinner. I had booked a restaurant called Clarchens Ballhaus which I had read about online. Internet reviews described the place as fun and one of Berlin’s best kept secrets, so I couldn’t wait to visit! When we arrived I was so happy we had booked, outside tables were filled with food, fairy lights hung overhead and you could hear the music from inside. We had booked a table inside the old ballroom and walked in to see a ballroom dancing lesson in action on the dance floor!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We were taken to our table and still able to watch the lesson, the place was packed, people of all ages were eating, drinking and dancing. The place had an amazing atmosphere and we were completely drawn in. The menu at the Ballhaus was traditional German food, I managed to take a photo of our starters but when the main arrived we had already drunk a few too many glasses of wine and I forgot!

CD692B06-F7B8-4E26-BB73-CC94F96344B6

Our food was delicious, I chose slow roasted beef which was amazing. I do need to mention now that if you plan to visit here, you should set aside the whole night for the experience. There was a significant amount of time between courses, but it made the night more social and the food felt freshly prepared. When we were eating our mains, the dance teacher encouraged people from the tables to join his lesson and taught more people to dance. Unfortunately we were eating so didn’t take up his offer!

Once we had eaten, a DJ was setting up and people of all ages were dancing. We were people watching and drinking for a while before we decided to join in. Being so full of food, we thought we would be dancing for about 10 minutes… but 3 hours later we were still dancing and a live band was setting up! By around 10pm, all younger people had left and it was only Adults, there was still a huge range of people and ages which made the night even more fun!

After 10pm the Ballhaus charges people to enter like a club, but if you are there earlier no charges apply. So thankfully we spent all night there for free. After midnight, as I said, a band set up and we danced for another hour or two before deciding our feet hurt too much to carry on. According to my fitbit we had walked nearly 30,000 steps so that was a sign it was time to head home and take off our shoes! When we stepped outside we realised that we had been shouting and singing so much we could barely talk and we were partially deaf from the music. I can’t recommend this venue enough, the Ballhaus was one of the highlights of the trip, me and Jamie had the best night. We had planned to only stay for a few hours and were there until the early hours of the morning. If we hadn’t been so active in the day we would have stayed even longer. If I go back to Berlin this will be one of the first things I prebook!

Day 3

After some much needed sleep, we woke up a little worse for wear (I blame the wine) but thankfully because we had breakfast included in our booking, that motivated us to still get up early and head down for some food. Ok I say that but after eating lots for breakfast we got back up to the room and I ended up having a nap instead of getting ready for the day!

After a well deserved nap (at least thats what I tell myself) we ventured to Museum Island to see the Cathedral and visit the Neues Museum. We took our first trip on a tram and learnt the hard way that you need to use coins to pay. We only had enough money to pay for 1 ticket but thankfully no one checked! We were dropped off at the end of the line and walked over the bridges to the beautiful Island.

The first thing you notice is how amazing the architecture is. We arrived at the south of the island so were immediately able to see the beautiful Cathedral. The sun was shining, people were singing, playing guitars and blowing bubbles. I felt like we were living in the 1980’s and I was loving it!

40DB9513-A010-44EB-A708-BB7B00A0F3E6

We walked over to the water fountain and around all of the nearby buildings to see how impressive they were up close. I also wanted to walk around in the sun to tan more, but thats another story.  We walked through a huge pillared walkway and eventually found ourselves at the Neues Museum. The majority of this museum includes collections from Ancient Egypt (something I find particularly interesting) which is why we chose to visit, but there are so many to choose from, you can find one which piques your own interests.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Thankfully we didn’t need to queue for tickets due to the time of year. But if you visit in the summer, I would recommend pre-booking because it can become crazy busy. We had a great time at this museum, again the architecture and building interior were stunning. It included the best collections I had ever seen. From original papyrus to golden sarcophagi, we saw so many well preserved pieces and learnt lots of new facts. I think the highlight of the museum for me was the Queen Nefertiti bust which is world famous. We weren’t able to take photos in that exhibition but if you google it, you will know which statue I mean!

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

We managed to make our way around all of the museum despite the time I lost napping earlier that day. When we left at 5, the sun was still shining so we decided to walk along the river and visit the north side of the Island to see the beautiful Bode museum. There was a busker outside the museum so we sat with the crowds on the walls of the bridge and soaked up the sun. It was a beautiful place to relax and I was sat next to a one-eyed dog so I couldn’t have been happier!

4CBAAE7E-3777-472B-890C-3C893BA608C5

Once it reached around 7pm we decided to walk back towards the hotel and stopped off for sushi along the way. We had a lovely time at Kuchi Mitte which served us lots of good sushi. It’s useful to know that the staff are happy to speak English too if you’re worried about ordering sushi in German!

C350893F-D80B-4CCB-A56F-321F7953B71D

We spent the rest of the evening having a few drinks and relaxing, it was so nice to be out in the sun until the late evening. I hope you enjoyed reading about the first part of our action-packed trip. I will post next week about the second half of our Berlin adventure which was even busier than the first!

Omakase in Scotland

Omakase is a style of Japanese dining which I only recently heard about. After an online search, we decided to try it at Yatai Izakaya a Japanese restaurant in Aberdeen. Their website stated that Omakase means ‘trust us’ and leads to a unique dining experience where your waiter picks all the food you eat. We were excited to try this style of dining as we hoped to try new dishes we wouldn’t usually pick and maybe find some new favourites!

We arrived at the restaurant at 5.30 on the dot meaning that we had all evening to try out as many foods as possible. The restaurant was small but thankfully we had booked a table in the fully booked restaurant.

We were seated at a two-seat table, however if you visit as a group of four you can be seated right next to the grill and watch as food is made. We were happy to be away from the grill as it meant that all of our food was a surprise. We had no idea what to expect until the waiter arrived at the table!

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

I loved the décor, a mixture of geisha artwork, Japanese drink advertising and traditional calligraphy. As we walked into the restaurant some of the herbs the restaurant grows were also on display.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We ordered drinks and chose to eat Omakase style, for those who wouldn’t want to risk it, you can select food from an a la carte menu. The waiter asked if we had any dietary requirements and whether we had any likes or dislikes. We decided not to emphasise any favourites in the hope we would get a broad selection of foods. We were then asked how much money we would like to spend (approximately) per person. Since it was our first time, they suggested we set a limit of £35 per person and simply ask if we wanted more or less as the food arrived. It transpired that £35 was the perfect amount for us. We were full by the end and felt like we had tried lots of different food.

We sat (im)patiently for our first course to arrive and thankfully we weren’t disappointed. We were given a food we had never tried before! Unfortunately named Octopus Balls, we were given dough combined with octopus which was fried and topped with ginger, katsu mayo and bonito flakes.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Octopus Balls

They were crispy on the outside, but doughy on the inside, kind of like an octopus doughnut. I would have never ordered this from the menu and having 3 each was quite a heavy way to begin the meal, but it was fun to try and I would actually order them again too!

Our second course was quite a safe option – Squid Tempura. Thankfully, the squid was cooked perfectly and a small amount of batter was used to make this choice much lighter than the last! The dish was served with salt and lime which was the perfect accompaniment.

IMG_8457 2
Squid Tempura ft. Jamie

Before we’d managed to finish the Tempura, our next selection was brought to us. My personal favourite Salmon Maki Rolls were delivered! To add a small twist, the roll was accompanied with pickled cucumber which added a zingy twist to this simple dish.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Salmon Maki Roll

When I had been browsing the menu when waiting to order, I noticed a salmon based dish topped with a sweet miso dressing. This was something I had been wanting to try and I was excited when it arrived. Unfortunately, I was disappointed and this was one dish I couldn’t get behind. The salmon was perfectly cooked on a skewer, but the miso sauce was the texture and thickness of strawberry jam. The flavours were nice, but I couldn’t finish my skewer, the texture just didn’t work for me!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Salmon with Sweet Miso

Our next dish was one of the restaurant’s daily specials, a full fried soft shell crab served in a steamed bun with Sriracha cream sauce. Now, I had mixed feelings about this. First, I’ll put the picture below so you can see what the dish looked like.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Fried Soft Shell Crab Bun

So literally a crab, fried and put onto a bun. I had to psych myself up to eat this one. Now I like crab – when it’s from a hard shell and you’re not expected to eat the shell. This crab was still fully dressed in his shell and I had to eat the tiny legs and claws! So, turns out, soft shell crab legs taste as you would expect. Like a fried shell. Pretty awful and bland. Thankfully the body made up for it, I quickly pulled off the legs and claws to the dismay of the lady on the next table and ate the rest of the course.

I’m actually glad we got to try this dish. Firstly because it was a special, so next time we might not get the chance and secondly because I can’t say I’ve ever eaten a crab inside it’s shell before. I do have to admit though, I won’t be ordering this dish again soon!

I need to admit that at this point in the meal I needed a break. I had just eaten a pretty large steamed bun and plenty of food before that. Somehow it seemed that the waiting staff knew and we were given a short break before our last couple of dishes were cooked.

After our break, we were sharing our fifth dish which was Prawn Katsu Maki Rolls. I’m greatful that we were only given 4 pieces to share, since some restaurants serve 8-10 Maki pieces! This dish was tasty as expected and was a kind of sushi I would have ordered if we’d chosen the a la carte option.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Prawn Maki Roll

Our sushi was followed by our first and only chicken dish of chicken meatballs. Sounds simple enough right? But in the small dish next to our skewers we were presented with a raw egg yolk on top of soy sauce. Immediately my salmonella alarm was making me think twice about the dipping sauce. But Jamie mixed it and tried it first, promising that it didn’t taste like the chicken was covered with raw egg.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Chicken Meatballs

It transpired that if you mix soy sauce and egg yolk it pretty much tastes like extra salty soy sauce (at least it did to me). I can also report a day later that I don’t have salmonella if you were wondering..

Now I have to admit, our last course was a seared salmon nigiri, it was amazing but as soon as it arrived, we threw it in our mouths and forgot to take a picture! This was one of our favourite dishes (and it obviously looked amazing too!) but we demolished it in one bite!

After getting over excited about the sushi, we had reached our £35 limit. It was up to us whether we wanted to continue or finish. We of course chose to finish since we were completely full!

Well, I say that, but we were tempted by the homemade truffles and decided to finish with a glass of wine and truffles.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Homemade Truffles

When we left, we realised we had been at the restaurant for over 2 hours! The staff were great with us and checked whether we enjoyed each course. The Omakase style was perfect for us since we love to try new food. I would recommend the experience to anyone who wants to try something different or find new favourites. But, handing over the choice to your waiter is definitely risky if you are a fussy eater!

We can’t wait to go back to the restaurant and try it all over again! We love this type of dining experience, so let me know if you have visited anywhere fun like this yourself!