Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ship on the Shore Leith

Our family visited this restaurant last night after our first choice Chop Chop was unexpectedly closed. Its a nice place well decorated and lots of polished wood. The staff are attentive and we were lucky to go un-reserved as many after us were turned away and sent to lesser establishments.

The menu is odd I find, no warming fish soup or chowder and very expensive "plats" of fresh crustacean. However a bit of work found a lovely big 1 kg pot of mussels with big chunky fries that were excellent. My wife had local lobster although it was a small half was well cooked. My son had sea bass done Asian style which while the sea bass was nicely cooked was not the best choice. My advice stick to simple things and you will be very well pleased with the night. We were. The desserts were sweet and chunky to match the chips and the glass of Belhaven Best went down a treat with the mussels.

Just along from here is Shore which we tried twice on the advice of Rick Stein and were disappointed both times. They are all owned by one group, but this particular place has done it right.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cafe Cassis - Top Secret

As one approaches Edinburgh from the South East via the A7 one comes into Old Town by the gates to Arthur's Seat park. To the left is Salisbury Road and on that road is the rather excellent Cafe Cassis one of Edinburgh's secret best restaurants. It is hidden away under a small hotel down some stairs.

The chef is French and the food is best described as quality home cooking. Go at lunchtime weekdays for a three course meal absolutely top class for £10 a head! Wow is all I can say as I go back again like it is my grandmothers table. At weekends and in the evening it rises quite a bit to about £25 a head maybe £30 if you choose dishes unwisely.

Cassis is a real find, the place itself is a bit old fashioned as so many French restaurants are, but the food is just worth going back for, whether its Toulouse sausages, or well cooked fish, its what you might get in a small town say 50 miles from Paris, where locals congregate because the food is good and reasonable and most important reliable.

Cafe Cassis website

Off Grid - Almost

Since we acquired our little cottage in the Borders we have been doing small improvements and upgrades while we wait forever for the Borders Council to approve a very minor extension to our house. We applied in July and still not got the final paperwork and warrants.

Meanwhile we had to alter our use of energy. We were paying £150 a month electricity and £2500 a year for oil for the Stanley range cooker. Plus £300 on coal from our open fire. In total £4600 a year energy costs.

Our solution is in two areas. We installed solar pv and a biomass boiler using pellets and changed the open fire into an Aga insert wood burning stove.

So far our experience is that the wood burning stove which converts about 80+% of fuel into heat versus our open fire of 20% is magically good. I light it on cool evenings and it uses about 4 logs all night and warms not just our lounge but also all the corridor. Now with coal we used to feel very little heat at all, it as all about the cosy flame.

The PV is early days but from my calculations we have gone from paying £150 a month to earning £60 a month and free electricity. Of course we have had good weather this autumn so we will see over a year. So far though this looks like a real winner. We have a computer device that turns excess energy into water heating through the immersion.

The biomass is new so all I can report is that it warms the house through and heats the water so it works!. Pellets are £250 a ton which is 100 bags. We are using 1 bag a day but in the winter this may get to be a lot more its hard to be sure yet. But in the summer the PV heats all our water, so we should hardly use the biomass. Even if we use 3 tons thats £750 versus £2500. Plus the government wants you to convert to eco friendly renewable heat so they load the deck by paying you for the install over 7 years. Cannot be bad.

So I am hoping that by next year we will look back on turning £4600 costs into about £1500, saving over £3000pa.