Tag Archives: edinburgh

August in our Festival city

31 Aug

 

August is traditionally quite a month for me. It’s my birthday at the end of the month. I remember as a child my parents always used to take us to the Tattoo (now the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo) and there was a part of me that believed them when they told me it was put on specially for me, for my birthday.

Then when I was slightly older I had a memorable birthday night lying on a picnic blanket in Princes Street Gardens sooking champagne through a straw out of a bottle placed beside my head, and gazing up in wonder at the incredible fireworks – the fireworks concert at the end of the Edinburgh International Festival is something quite spectacular.

In the last few years all I’ve wanted to do on my birthday is sleep. Or eat¬†broccoli. You see my birthday comes at the end of a month of pretty intense festival time in Edinburgh. And since 2006 my job has been working for one of those festivals: initially at the Book Festival, and now at the Festival Fringe, the largest open-access arts festival in the world. And when we say largest we’re not kidding – it is way bigger than anything else, with 2,695 shows in 25 days and nights (with over 40,000 performances of those shows) and over 21,000 performers taking part. That’s almost twice as many performers as there were athletes at the Olympics. And we do that every year. In Edinburgh. In August.

Sometimes I wonder why I would ever want to live anywhere else. But in a weeks time I’ll be leaving Edinburgh, to live in the country, in the Clyde Valley. Currently it’s my weekend home, but soon it will be my forever home and I’ really VERY excited. Of course I’m not really leaving Edinburgh forever, as I’ll still be working there. But it will all be very very different.

But before I forget it all I thought I’d summarise what I saw this year at the Festivals: a total of 22 shows over three different festivals, and covering a few different genres, although mostly (and unashamedly) theatre. In sort of chronological order…

  • Appointment with the Wicker Man
  • Letter of Last Resort & Good with People
  • The Daniel Kitson show at the Traverse
  • Two Worlds of Charlie F
  • Das Vegas Night
  • Magic Faraway Cabaret
  • I, Tommy
  • Anne Enright (Book Festival)
  • Jeanette Winterson (Book Festival)
  • Razing Eddie
  • Macbeth on Inchcolm Island
  • The Red Hourglass
  • Re-thinking Food Debate (Book Festival)
  • The Kitchen Cabinet (BBC Radio4 recording)
  • And No More Shall We Part
  • Dream Plays (Scenes from a play I’ll never write) by Tobias Manderson-Galvin
  • One Hour Only
  • The Rape of Lucrece (Edinburgh International Festival)
  • Wonderland (Edinburgh International Festival)
  • The List
  • (remor)
  • Leo
  • Translunar Paradise

My favourite show is impossible to call – there were several truly great shows, and particularly some stunning performances. However, Two Worlds of Charlie F and And No More Shall We Part were both incredibly moving (yes, I shed a tear or two) and deserve special mention. Leo was gravity defying – clever and funny and quite incredible to watch. And (remor) was ridiculously intense, not to mention hot and sweaty – a dance/physical theatre piece performed in a prison cell with 15 audience members crammed in watching (and sweating). In fact I think it’s safe to say that my Fringe this year has been intense.

 

 

Pomegranate – middle eastern street food

18 Jul

I like eating out. In fact I love eating out. OK, I just love eating. But there’s something really great about eating something that someone else has made for you. And if you’re going to eat out, you might as well eat something you wouldn’t be likely to eat at home.

And of course, as I work in the Arts, I’m generally looking for somewhere that is reasonably priced, and if it’s BYO with no corkage even better.

So, when Pomegranate opened recently it was only a matter of time before I sampled what it has to offer.

And what an offering!

We opted for the Mezze Special Рyour choice of 6 different mezze dishes and naan for £27.

Deciding on only 6 dishes was the challenge, but we went for:

Baba Ganoush: smooth and smoky smooshed up aubergine, with tahini and garlic. Perfect for dipping scraps of naan into.

Green Olive Salad: more perfect flavour combinations – green olives cut up fine, with a few wee nibs of walnut and lots of garlicky olive oil

Fatoush: I’m really fond of this fresh flavoursome salad. I used to make it with great big chunks of pitta bread, but this was a much more delicate affair – the usual lettuce, tomato and cucumber, but with teeny cubes of pitta croutons and the zingiest lemony dressing

Baly Merishke: Barbecued chicken wings sprinkled with a spicy, zesty mix. Perfect finger food

Bayengaan: baby aubergines, baked and stuffed with spiced rice. All soft and unctuous and meltingly sweet

Halloumi: Grilled squeaky cheese on a salad of lettuce, tomato and olives. Those flavours were no surprise, but the fresh minty dressing wasn’t expected, but will be copied at home now I’ve tried it.

And a basket of naan. But not naan like I know them, they were light crispy flatbreads, which were far more than simply a method of delivering the baba ganoush and green olive salad.

This array of textures and flavours should be enough to tempt you. But if not, think about a relaxed restaurant with fresh modern decor, friendly, efficient staff and your choice of wine. You can bring your own bottle, and you won’t be charged corkage. We had a fruity granache, which held its own with the strong middle eastern flavours.

 

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