Friday 11 November 2016

New York New York

On the Highline

The City of Dreams ....

This city is by far my favourite place in the world, I've been three times and it never gets old or boring. My most recent trip was with Mr EmmaEats, he had never been to good ole NYC and was dying to see it (probably because I never stop saying how amazing it is). We decided to go for a week towards the end of September as neither one of us are great in extremely warm weather.

For me one of the most exciting parts of planning a journey is getting the Lonely Planet Guide - I know, I know, with information so freely available on my phone now why do I need the guide, but I just do. I think it stems from when I went backpacking around Australia for a year. The Internet was not the same back then, there was no wifi, it was all dial up and I couldn't even send text messages from my Oz phone to people at home (you'd swear I was talking about 50 years ago or something like that but it was only 15 years ago). So I got the lonely planet and it affectionately become known as 'the bible'. I did a lot of travelling around in the year and on the inside cover I wrote each address that I stayed at, it became very sentimental to me and I still have it to this day. So I think this is where my need for the lonely planet stems from. Anyway I handed Mr EmmaEats the lonely planet and told him to look through it and let me know where he wanted to visit. As I had done most of the major attractions I only had a few must haves which were: the Highline, cycling around Central Park and exploring the neighbourhoods on foot. 

Central Park

Central Park

With regard to accommodation I must admit we didn't do much research - accommodation in Manhattan is not cheap and you don't get much bang for your buck so I knew not to get overly excited. To go slightly off topic, we thought we would have to do an overnighter in Glasgow and had a look through hotels, one that caught my attention was the CitizenM - it just looked great, anyhow it turned out that we didn't have to stay overnight but whilst I was on the website I did notice that they had a hotel in NYC. So that was it, once we decided we were going to NYC we checked the cost of the CitizenM and it was in our price range so without looking at any other hotel we booked in here. 

View from Top of the Rock

View from Top of the Rock

I just love the build up to a holiday, I love doing the stupid things like going into boots and getting all the necessities, mind you this time around I was in Ireland until the Wednesday and had to come back and sort everything for the holiday in two days. So the holiday eventually came around and we set off to Glasgow airport for our flight with United Airlines. I'm not going to rate United or get into too much detail but it's safe to say I won't be flying with them again (unless I really have to). There was nothing wrong with the flight itself but I have had better facilities and service from other airlines. We only flew with them as they were the only airline who did a direct flight from Glasgow. Both myself & Mr EE do an awful lot of travelling and spend a lot of time in airports so we were trying to limit our exposure to them - I would reconsider this position if I was flying Stateside again. 

View from the Empire State Building

Times Square

Anyway onto the exciting part - NYC itself. The check-in process to the CitizenM was seamless - it was by far the quickest check in process EVER. We were up in our room in less than 5 minutes from entering the hotel. The room was small and compact (which is what I've come to expect in NYC) but it was very tastefully done and it looked all new and clean (which is not what I'm used to in NYC). The room itself reminds me of a flat pack room - or a room from IKEA - the bathroom was just fitted into the bedroom and was tiny with just a toilet and a decent sized shower. The sink was in the main room. There was a superking bed which was super comfortable. Everything in the room is controlled by an iPad- which is why Mr EE loved the concept of CitizenM. So whilst the room is small (and a lot of people have complained about no where for their suitcases on tripadvisor) there is loads of storage. We didn't travel light as we were travelling for a week and we were able to unpack everything and store the suitcase out of our way. House keeping was great, the room was always left lovely and clean. There is a roof top terrace and bar, a bar downstairs, loads of relaxing areas, a canteen and an area with a number of mac's and a printer. This hotel has it all. If you asked the staff for something they sorted it there and then for you. I would say that this hotel is just a city break hotel though - it is not somewhere you would go for a nice romantic luxury break away. Towards the end of the stay I was feeling a little claustrophobic but we didn't really spend much time in our room to be fair, it is perfect for a city break. 

Walking the Hudson River Park

Walking the Hudson River Park

I'm not going to go day by day as to what we did and saw but I'll just list them out:- cycling around Central Park, walking around Times Squares, walking through all the neighbourhoods, walked the Brooklyn Bridge, battery park, the Hudson River park and the Highline, went up the Empire State Building, Trump Tower (just to set the record straight this was not on my list), Rockerfellor/Top of the Rock, Bryant Park, National Library, Grand Central Station, used the subway, Ellis Island, Statue of LIberty, 9/11 memorial, the memorial pools, St Paul's Chapel (it was closed for renovation so could only see the outside), St Patrick's Catherdal, the uptown and downtown hop on hop off bus tour, went to Madisson Square Gardens to see an impromptu UFC press conference with Conor McGregor (a fellow Irish man), Macy's, a boat trip on the Hudson at night, Interprid and just generally eating my way around the city.

I've had three very different experiences each time I have been in NYC, the first time I was on my own (I had been there to attend a conference with work and stayed on for a week) so I didn't really venture out at night too much. The next time I was there with my mum and aunt (who were both in the 70's) so again we didn't venture too far at night either. So this trip with Mr EE allowed me to experience a whole different side of NYC. 

NYC Skyline on a dark day

Lady Liberty

High Points:-
  • Being there with Mr EE (you don't often find me being all sentimental about stuff like this but I loved sharing my favourite city with him)
  • Cycling around Central Park - it was the first time I got the opportunity to explore the entire park - it was great.
  • The weather in general was perfect for us. Sunny and warm during the day for the most part and just a day that was overcast. It only rained on the day we were leaving. 
  • Catching up with my cousin and some friends who live in Manhattan (I'm so envious of them).
  • Just being there, walking through the streets. I found that I didn't take so many photos this time around as I have loads and Mr EE was snap happy with his new GoPro so I didn't really need to. This was actually really enjoyable and I felt I was able to live in the moment and enjoy the experience. 
  • Seeing celebrities such as Liev Schiebner and Conor MacGregor
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Low Points:-
  • I put on a least a stone ;-) - only kidding (about it being a low point - I did actually put on a stone)
  • The 9/11 memorial - don't get me wrong I liked it (well I liked some of it) but I just wasn't too comfortable with all the crowds walking around the site. I do find the whole site very emotional so I wanted to do the 9/11 memorial - it is underground and the first part of the tour is fine - it's all open and airy but then we went into a particular exhibit - that showed all the media coverage from the day and some artefacts - this place was like a bloody cattle mart and I didn't really like that aspect of it. I don't suffer panic attacks but I literally had to just get out - it really unsettled me.
Ticket for UFC Press Conference

I really didn't do much research on where to eat as I didn't want to be tied to any place. We didn't have an itinerary of what we were going to do we just kinda decided the night before and each day was pretty fluid, we chopped and changed our minds - so I didn't want to lose the relaxed vibe by dictating where we needed to be for food. We were trying to see as much of the city as possible and in that regard I didn't focus too much on where to eat. In saying that there were a few really nice random finds and one of them even had a celebrity in it. 

Walking the Highline

I really do love this city and I will definitely be back. I have yet to see it at Christmas time so I think that is the season I will go for my next visit but that won't be for a few years. I'm done with long haul flights for a while.

Drunk on the North Shore Lobster Company Boat

Thanks a mil for reading.

Emma mai xx

Monday 7 November 2016

Lunch, Artisan Lounge, Ayr, Ayrshire

Unusually I found myself eating solo for Saturday brunch/lunch so I decided to stay local and went into Ayr. I had seen a bit about the Artisan Lounge so decided to give it a go. The restaurant is billed as ‘a warm welcome and hearty food awaits, many vegan and gluten free options’. I arrived to the restaurant at around 1 and thankfully was able to get a table.

The menu here isn’t extensive but you still have plenty to choose from. They have a mains menu and a sandwiches and burger menu. I decided to go for the quesadilla which is described as ‘quesadilla, served with organic mixed leaf salad, freshly prepared salsa and tortilla chips'. As you can see from the photo this was a huge portion. I enjoyed the quesadilla, it was tasty but it was a very messy dish, with just way too much filling (I know, I’d be complaining if there wasn’t enough filling). The one thing that wasn’t to my liking on the plate was the salsa, it did actually taste fine but it was so cold, it was straight out of the fridge. The little container it was in was also really cold so it is being stored like that. I’m sure it's for health and safety reasons that it has to be stored in a fridge but I just hate food straight out of the fridge.

Because I was on my own I decided to treat myself to a dessert … so I went for the raw vegan banoffee pie. This was really, really delicious - I know raw desserts are not everyone's cup of tea (or dessert of liking) but I actually really like them and don’t feel so bad eating them. I also had a lovely latte to go along with my dessert. Food rating: 3.5/5.  

Service here was very friendly and attentive. The waitresses had loads of time for each customer and constantly checked that everyone was ok. Service rating: 4/5.

The atmosphere is a bit funny here, not in a bad way, just a bit unusual. It is quite bare and stark, with not many tables .. I suppose it’s a bit rustic and to be honest I didn’t get a cosy feel from the place. I was also a little chilly sitting there but I think it might just have been me, as I am the coldest person going. Atmosphere rating: 3.5/5.

I forgot to get my receipt and I can’t remember the exact price but it was just over £12 which I thought was really good value. My lunch portion was pretty big. Price rating: 4/5.

Last words
Whilst the food, service and price were good I do feel that the atmosphere let it down for me. It wasn’t really somewhere that I would imagine going for a long cosy, comfortable lunch. For me I suppose it’s more of a in and out kinda place. But just because the atmosphere didn’t do it for me, doesn’t mean that others won’t like it. Total rating 15 out of 20.

Date visited: Saturday, 22 October 2016.

Restaurant Details:-
13 Old Bridge Street,

Website: click here
Telephone: 01292 288699

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If you want to know more about raw desserts check out my post where I wrote about a raw vegan dessert workshop that I attended by clicking here.

Thanks a mil for reading.

Emma mai xx

Thursday 3 November 2016

Blogger Event - Pizza Punks, Glasgow

Photo Credit - Pizza Punks

I love getting those emails inviting me to an event and when one flashed up inviting me to a blogger event at Pizza Punks I was thrilled. I had seen some amazing photos of the food & milkshakes from here but I just hadn’t had the opportunity to visit. For those of you who haven’t heard of Pizza Punks yet it’s a new pizza joint (the clue is in the name) on St Vincent Street. The website states that they are inspired by their love of pizza and motivated by their drive to do something different, something unique. What is unique here is that you can decide what toppings you want on your pizza without paying more, it’s called Punk Up Your Pizza - now there is a USP.

Photo Credit - Pizza Punks
Photo Credit - Pizza Punks

So what was this blogger event all about? Pizza Punks wanted to bring us all together to sample some pizza and beer and then have a chat about it … it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it. Myself and my good friend, Lisa (aka Little Miss Glasgow Girl) headed to the event. We were told that we would get to sample three different pizza’s and three different beers. So on the pizza list we had:- 1. lemon thyme roast chicken, speck, spring onion, panna & scarmoza; 2. hot smoked salmon, herb creme fraiche, capers & lemon; and 3. chipotle + chocolate pulled pork, jalapenos & roast corn salsa. Our beers were matched with our pizza’s and I have listed them accordingly - pravah; blue moon; and chieftian IPA. Before each pizza & beer came out we were given a little bit of information on both, which was great. I really enjoyed hearing the background to the beers. I’m not a beer person but I did sample each beer and actually drank more than I thought I would … maybe this is the start of the slippery slope.

The Food
Anyway, onto the main event - the food. What can I say, the pizzas were amazing.

Lemon thyme roast chicken, speck, spring onion, panna & scarmoza

This was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. (yes it really deserves the capitals) - it had a white sauce base rather than the normal tomato. Everything worked really well together, the flavour was great. The base was also fabulous.

Hot smoked salmon, herb creme fraiche, capers & lemon

Now if you read my blog you will know that I’m not the biggest fish person (but I am trying to introduce more fish into my diet) so when a fish pizza was put down in front of me I wanted to cry. The funny thing was when we arrived we were asked did we have any dietary requirements and I said no because who the hell puts fish on a pizza … well pizza punks do. So as a good food blogger and invited guest I did the right thing and tasted the pizza and I’m really glad that I did, it was actually fine. The pizza base, sauce, creme fraiche etc were really tasty and to be honest I did actually eat a good bit of it. However, I don’t think I would order it again.

Chipotle + chocolate pulled pork, jalapeƱos & roast corn salsa

This pizza was just like the first one - D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. and so unusual at the same time. Again everything worked really well together.

The Menus
On the main menu you can get everything from snacks, salads, mac & cheese, ribeye & of course pizza. Everything seems to be reasonably priced. Click here to see the main menu.

There is a very extensive drinks menu which you can see by clicking here.

Ok so I didn’t know this before I went along to Pizza Punks but you can get breakfast here. Yes they have a breakfast menu and Yes it has pizza on it. Why oh why did I have to find this out - if a restaurant is selling pizza at breakfast it means it is completely acceptable to have pizza for breakfast... doesn't it?? To see their breakfast menu click here.

There is a children’s menu and a dessert menu. To see the children’s menu click here and click here for the dessert menu.

I love the decor of the restaurant, it’s cool and funky. I love the neon pink signs. From the front the restaurant is very deceptive, I won’t say that it looks small but it certainly doesn’t look very big either, however once you are walking through the restaurant you notice there is another huge area down the back. So even if the front looks full always pop in as there is plenty of more seats out back.

Final Thoughts
I really like the look and the feel of this place. The pizzas were amazing and I will definitely be back here. I’ve seen photos of their milkshakes and I’m dying to try them out too.

Thanks guys for a great evening and I wish you all the best.

Photo Credit - Pizza Punks

Date visited: Thursday, 27 October 2016.

Restaurant Details:
Pizza Punks,
90 St Vincent Street,

Website:- click here.
Telephone:- 0141 2378020

To keep up to date with my dining adventures and to never miss a new post follow me on my social media accounts, just click on the links to go directly to my accounts Instagram, Twitter & Facebook.

Thanks a mil for reading.

Emma mai xx

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Dinner at The Newmarket, Ayr, Ayrshire

I had visited the Newmarket shortly after they opened, I think they had only been open around 3 weeks and thought it was lovely. So when friends suggested that we meet for dinner in Ayr I immediately suggested that we go to the Newmarket. We were once again given a lovely warm and friendly welcome and shown to our table. Once seated we were given the drinks and food menu.

The first thing I noticed was that the menu was different from the last time, with a few new additions and some dishes taken off the menu. It is still a very extensive menu and takes some time to look over. For starter three of us went for the BBQ beef with chorizo crisps & chorizo crumbs and one went for the roasted red pepper and coconut filo tart, tomato coulis. I had the BBQ beef and what really sold the dish for me when I was looking at the menu was the amount of times chorizo was mentioned, for me, this wasn’t the case, there was probably too much beef on my plate and not enough chorizo. However the beef was melt in your mouth and delicious.

For mains we went for the slow roast lamb shank with dauphinoise potatoes & red currant & rosemary jus; pan seared sea bream with bombay potatoes, curried cauliflower, crispy kale & raita; 8oz Sorn Mains ribeye steak with creamy mash & peppercorn sauce, the boys had the steak and had asked for fries instead of mash. We didn't go for any side dishes and I'm glad that we didn't as the portions were very generous. The boys really loved their steak and they were cooked to their preferences (med/rare & med/well done). The sea bream got thumbs up. I had the lamb shank and I thought it was nice, I don't think I was particularly blown away by it, but it was still nice all the same.

We decided to be really bold and have dessert, well three of us decided on dessert (& clearly I was one of the three). Two of us went for the homemade banana marshmallows with profiteroles, chocolate & toffee sauce and then there was one for apple, cinnamon & raisin crumble with custard. I had the banana marshmallow for two reasons, firstly it sounded so unusual and secondly I just love marshmallows and I can tell you the dessert did not disappoint - it was the winner of the night for me. It was so tasty - everything worked really well together. The crumble also went down a treat. To top it all off we had a number of coffees. Food rating: 3.5/5.

Service here is very friendly. Food is brought out promptly but not too quickly either. I think we were there for nearly three hours and didn't feel rushed to get out. Service rating: 4.5/5.

As I’ve said before, this place is lovely, really warm and welcoming. It was a cold, miserable Sunday night but it was lovely and cozy inside the Newmarket. I really love the interior of the restaurant, it is really well decorated. There was a number of other tables occupied which created a lovely buzz about the place. Atmosphere rating: 4/5.

The total cost of of meal was £135.05 and this was for a sparkling water, a glass of wine, a bottle of cider, 4 coffees, 4 starters, 4 mains & 3 desserts. I thought this was great value for the food. Price rating: 4/5.

Last Words
I really like this place and as I’ve said before it is certainly a welcome addition to Ayr. The staff and the restaurant in general has such a welcoming feeling about it. It is somewhere that I definitely think you should visit. Total rating: 16 out of 20.

Date visited: Sunday, 23 October 2016

Restaurant Details:-

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Thanks a mil for reading.

Emma mai xx