Nonna’s Kitchen – a family affair.

Nonna’s– well well well. What a glorious surprise.  On Morningside Road, right next to The Churchill Theatre the perfect spot for us for an early Saturday dinner as we were off to the Edinburgh Gay Mans Chorus at 8pm – more of which later.

A family owned and run business. Running the show now is Gino Stornaiuolo but when they say family they mean family and the whole family are here smiling, working and welcoming. Gino’s father the chef at Nonna’s – Mimmo has worked that stove for over 40 years and he cooks like a dream with a lightness of touch that makes your heart sing.  If you think even for a moment that a chef of a certain age might be in danger of being stuck in the past, think again.

 

Nonas exterior does them no favours – brown,  grey slate tiles which hardly made my heart sing as we pulled up outside. But the second we were over the threshold at 6pm on Saturday ye old adage ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ tripped into my brain. The place was packed with a great buzzing atmosphere, tables and chairs are light, the walls clean and bright with pepperings of photographs of Italy, family a lovely warm, welcoming, modern space.

Smiling staff showed us over to our table and with it a drink was offered. Gavi for the wine lovers and for me a glass of Prosecco which arrived quickly with a fresh strawberry bobbing about in it.  Perfect gargling material as we perused the menu – which is great full of favourites pizzas, pastas, salads but the remarkable, eye watering, amazing thing is the waiter Jimmy who came over and listed the specials. It was like a Victorian memory man show. There must have been over 20 specials including starters, mains and desert – and he reeled them off without hesitation.

This is a family business and Jimmy has worked with them for about 30 years. He started with them at The Patio in Hanover Street and then when they moved up to Nonna’s Jimmy moved too. What a guy  – with a memory like that Britain’s Got Talent may very well snap him up.

Seafood was dominant and as he listed each item I fancied the lot. Decisions had to be made. To start I had king prawns with chilli and tomato, chilli which arrived in a flat dish with a lip and a soup spoon as you wouldn’t want to leave one drop of this unctuous flavoursome liquid. Others kept swooping in with their bread to taste as I fought them back with my fork. Long suffering husband loved his scallops & black pun, Dyna had tomato and mozarella salad, thick coins of cheese with tasty red tomatoes with fresh basil neatly laid on top and Bridezilla the dressed crab which he declared was wonderful too.

Main course seafood linguine for two of us with fresh clams, garlic, tomato and chilli – they were struck dumb as they sooked up the delicious spaghetti and popped the sweet, tender clams into their smiling chops. The other two  we we had the seafood platter – grilled. Salmon, scallop, squid, hake, all sorts of white fish lightly grilled and served salad and a chunk of lemon. I swear it couldn’t have been better. Bridezilla had chips too and we the fresh bread and butter replenished. We were excited and already planning to come back but were on a count down to the concert at The Churchill Theatre so could we fit in a pud – well bring it on. Special again! Chocolate mousse and ice cream sundae with cream, nuts and chocolate sauce – two specials four spoons. Four sticky happy faces as we paid and ran for the door. Realising the bus that goes right past them goes right past our place on the other side of town we are all now seriously considering a season ticket.

To sum up. This is a cracking Italian restaurant – the dishes you expect are there – pizza, pastas, meaty delights and the specials are really special – last night on top of the plethora of fishy offerings were T Bone steak or rack of lamb amongst others. If you can’t find something you love on this menu then you should not allowed  out. A great family owned and run local restaurant. If you’re not local to the area – travel it’s worth it.

Nonna’s Kitchen

45 Morningside Road

Closed on a Monday

Tues – Sun – 10-2.45pm  5pm – 10pm

 

Nailed. Well and truly.Nailed.

Every time I book a train it is as if the great God of nail biters is up there and decreeing. ‘Right if she’s sitting in carriage J seat 21 I will sit opposite her, a woman or a man who cannot get enough of chawing down on their finger nails’

I am writing this through clenched fingers, teeth and even hair as the woman opposite me munches on down on her digits. It’s driving me M A D. The past few train journeys I have ended up opposite voracious finger chewers. It’s not something I have even thought about on any level since I was in Primary 5 and my pal Elizabeth Henderson used to have her thumb painted with some evil tasting formula to stop her sucking it. It worked. Thumb sucking. Finger chewing. I just wish now I had paid more attention to what that vile paint her mum painted on her thumb was, so I could keep a vat of it in my handbag for moments like these.

Men eating their finger nails was the theme until today and so when I sloped onto the train I deliberately selected to sit opposite a woman who looked quite organised, and well fed. I could feel my entire body decrease in size as I tensed up when before we even pulled out of the station my fellow passengers arm was thrust upwards in order to move the jumper up past the wrist for maximum investigation of the finger eating, nail nibbling and rag nail chewing potential for the journey. Then 5 minutes out of the station. It was as if someone shouted. On your marks get set. GO! And she did. And she is. Aaaargh. So what do I do?

Options:

Scream

Scowl

Leave my seat to take my chances elsewhere.

Beg her to stop.

Pull the communication cord Drink.

Drink heavily.

Get off at the next stop and go home.

All options but no no I will sit here averting my eyes, staring out the window, or at my laptop waiting to get online do the lottery, to win it and buy my own bloomin’ train carriage the entrance of which will have a massive sign which will read NO NAIL BITERS. FINGER SUCKERS. RAG NAIL SWALLOWERS ALLOWED.

Until then I am off to loiter round the end of the carriage to calm my fevered head.

I may be some time.

West Lothian Council awards…

Great night was had by all. At the Howden Centre which is a lovely theatre in the heart of Livingston, 300 red velt seats in an intimate auditorium great atmosphere.
They have a Primark opening soon – and over 150 shops – a good idea for the Xmas shopping if you can’t face city traffic and throngs of folks puffing and panting in and out of the busy central shops.
Horse playing tonight….may just go bck.

Rosting, fun, lots of chat, saw this sign in the dressing room. Was a little worried my mum Pat knows nothing about electrics. Gawd help us.

Edinburgh babies go green!

New Mums!

A great place to head with your delightful bouncing babies and toddlers.

The Jack & Jill Market (Baby & Children’s Markets)
The Jack & Jill Market comes to The Edinburgh Academy to provide local
mums with an ongoing opportunity to recycle and make money selling
quality items they no longer use, and to save money buying quality-brand,
nearly-new items at less than retail price. Every nearly-new item bought
and sold reduces landfill and helps the important fight against climate
change.
A series of Jack & Jill Markets will be held at the Edinburgh Academy
throughout the year, the first one being held on Saturday, 5th February,
10.30am-1.30pm, in the Dining Hall. There will be over 20 stalls of
quality, nearly-new maternity, baby, and children’s items for 0-9 years –
clothes, toys, games, buggies, bikes, cots, high chairs, and much more.
For more details or to book a stall, phone Nicole Diamond on: 01721 725
879 or visit www.jackandjillmarket.co.uk

Supermoon will occur Saturday night -especially if Scotland win the rugby!

‘Supermoon’ Will Occur Saturday Night

CS - Full Moon Optical Illusion Gordon Gillet / ESO

On Saturday afternoon, the moon will be the closest it’s been to Earth in more than 18 years. The “supermoon,”as observers have dubbed it, will appear Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET at a distance of 221,565 miles away. It will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than your average full moon, weather permitting. The reason why the moon will be so much closer is due to a fluke of orbital mechanics. But don’t be alarmed: Although the supermoon will result in a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides—which could result in flooding problems if combined with a coastal storm at the same time—it won’t cause a natural disaster.

You’d be Cuckoo not to love this new bakery.

Edinburgh is packed with great places to eat and drink, so as locals we are seriously spoilt for choice. Given the current climate it takes someone with cajones to open a new venture but Graham Savage has done just that. A theatre marketing guru from London his dream was aye to open his own cafe/bakery and after meticulous planning the doors of his enture Cuckoo’s Bakery opened on 14th Febuary this year. Appropriately Valentines Day as I am sure you will love this place.

Barely 4 weeks since he opened his doors at the foot of Dundas Street already the buzz from the locals reached my cranium flaps so went off on a moody cold Sunday to have a nose.

A light, tranquil space the branding and design is impeccable. Every detail has been thoroughly thuoght out from the personally designed crockery depicting scenes redolent of Edinburgh life – the rail bridge, the dreaded parking meters, the one c’clock gun. The crockery has got folk all in a flap as they all want to buy it – so after only 4 weeks of being open they have decided to stock and sell it. What a great non cheesy souvenir from Scotland’s Capital.

It’s the annual heart string tug.

Prepare your heart to burst.

If you like dogs.Which I do.

Well if you are a regular Alisons’ Diary reader you will know that is an understatement. I love the little blighters.

So when I saw this photograph in yesterdays Daily Mail


(Left to right) Dasher, Cupid, Prancer, Donner, Dancer, Comet, Blitzen and Vixen are a litter of eight mongrel puppies at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home looking for somewhere to live in the New Year

 

 

I had to be physically restrained from getting on the next train to London to rescue the lot of them.

Well living as we do at the moment in a 2nd floor flat without a garden it really might have pushed me over the edge. And the other two long suffering geriatric mongrels I share my life with. Oh and my husband and son.

But look at the little darlings.

Battersea dogs home is where to find them.

I am a great believer in the rescue dog. My first rescue dog Stumpy was from Batterseas Dogs Home.  An idol afternoon spent with one of my flatmates at the time we naively thought a wander through Battersea would be interesting. 1 hours later as we wrestled the very lively Stumpy – named because he had a ridiculously long back and very short legs, he was white and frankly one of the ugliest dogs I have ever seen – and he was on death row – onto the bus.
So the Stump. Well he lived with a house full of Scots and Irish party animals in Clapham until I went North when he came up to Aberdeen with me and was adopted by a pal who lived out in the country. So it was sort of early dog rescue.

 

Merry Christmas - who needs a puppy?

When I started reminiscing about dogs and well lets be honest puppies my two scrubbed up this morning in festive gear. Feeling a little threatened you can tell, they did it, because they had to, not because they wanted to. Which makes me love them all the more.

Sammy my current Labrador/half wit lovely old sausage but nae the brightest was thrown out just before Christmas and when we met was a resident of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. They reckon she’d been chucked out to make way for a new puppy for Christmas. Well their cruel and stupid decision was our gain. She is a fabulous animal. As is Flora – half dog half womble – found wandering the streets of Edinburgh , pregnant and bald! She was on a drip for weeks and survived to be a mum only after a caesarian saved her life as she had been wrestled to the ground by a huge dog and her pups were about 3 times the size of her at birth.
So what am I saying? Well if you do consider getting a dog go to your local rescue centre. There will be one with huge eyes, a thumping tail and a heart just waiting to fall in love with you and you will have no choice other than reciprocate.

Groupon – Group off!

Anyone fancy setting up an anti-Groupon movement?

Group off.

It seems the more we find out about the operating system of this company the more they seem determined to pick on the small-medium size business and force them into discounting so heavily that they often make a loss. Really.

They then take 50% of whatever the profit no matter how small is.

They are bottom feeders.

Feeding off the free enterprise and creative energy that someone else has applied in order to start their business.

Nobody likes a vulture.

Allegedly this was the meeting that ended up in the formation of Groupon. As you can see vultures – the lot of them.

 

 

 

 

The Debt – get into debt to see it.

 

Helen

I haven’t been to the cinema in …………..eh…………..can’t even remember the last time. Probably last winter to be honest. There is something about sunny, or at least light days that make the light deprived Scot that I am gravitate to standing in open spaces with my face upturned to the sky in the hope a UV ray might find it occasionally. Today there was little point in doing that as I would have been rewarded with a few gulps of rain water, and a face like a well slapped bum.  Hello Autumn I thought as  we endured lashing rain, wild wind and light plummeting to dusky hues of gloom by 11am.

A chat with my frantic pal Frazer whose wee dog had spent the night lying on the floor in a fever with a dodgy hip and splootering tum proved he was also in need of some light relief. Then film buff pal Catherine also got in touch so we agreed to meet in a bar at 5pm and then head to the cinema.

After a soft drink – well it is Monday – we sloped into Vue Cinema.  By the time I bought a bottle of water, about 10 chocolate covered brazil nuts from the pick n mix and the ticket the shock of the bill nearly caused a seizure.

However, with dogs gastric problems and vile weather awaiting us at outside meant we threw caution – and our hard earned cash – to the wind and in we went to see The Debt.

Now I love Helen Mirren. I love her cos she’s a great actor. She’s got a great sense of humour. She looks amazing for her age and she hasn’t filled every crevice in her face with silicone by-products so has an expressive and beautiful face. That was the reason I wanted to see the film – yes I am that deep.

Well, it knocked my socks off. From the moment is started even my hair was clenched. A story in a nutshell is of 3  Israeli agents whose mission it is to capture an evil Nazi War Criminal and smuggle him  back to Israel in the 60’s to face charges of unspeakably vile crimes against humanity.

The young Mirren  has to confirm his identity and in order to do so she poses as a woman who cannot conceive thus allowing  herself to be be examined by this vile man. The speculum and stirrups had me diving into a box popcorn to stuff it into my face and distract myself. But if thrillers are your thing – then go. It’s seriously excellent with the cast consisting of acting royalty.  Here’s the trailer and don’t you think the guy on the right – Sam Worthington looks like a young Pierce Brosnan? Yum.

Technological break through or breakdown

Testing testing 123 I have been a bad lazy blogger. Why? Well – have been having a love in with my Blackberry. Yes I – the hypocrite who bemoaned the inevitability of getting one and swearing my life long allegiance to a Sony Eriksson or some other lesser technological being am now well and truly hooked. So much so I now spend considerably less time rooted to a chair in the studio. Now I stride the streets of edinburgh googling, twittering and emailing. What a pillock tis true but this is me now breaking my Blackberry blogging cherry. Can I update it whislt lying on the couch as the long suffering husband jubilates as Andy Murray wins through to the last 4 in the US Open and I wonder why he doesn’t get sponsored by someone who would let him wear a shirt that didn’t look like an Aberdeen FC club shirt. Oh and will someone please feed annabel croft?
Ok let’s see if it works then…..

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