A Leap In Price

Logie Steading (http://www.logie.co.uk) is a pleasant enough place to spend an afternoon of exploring when you are trying to avoid doing anything more useful.


… and as you can see it is pretty quiet at this time of year.

I would hazard a few guesses as to why it is so quiet and leave it to you to decide which is true:

  • It sells works of art, local crafts, second-hand books, antiques and quality foods which, while not of low quality, are priced as if they were as rare as the lost treasures of the Sierra Madre (Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef – £10? – on Amazon for £2.75!).
  • It’s as hard to find as hen’s teeth.
  • Apart from second hand books, the shops are pretty bare. It’s no Aladdin’s cave.
  • There’s not that much to do really. There’s a garden you can look at for £2 and …. well that’s more or less it….

Well that’s a bit unfair and I would go back.


Well the little Olive Tree Cafe is very pleasant and is not overpriced for good value food. I’m not sure they know the difference between ginger and garlic but they serve a handsome plate of soup


… and the scone is absolutely the best one I’ve enjoyed in a good while. Just the right balance of cake-iness and biscuity-ness. Soft and moist inside, crumbly on the outside. The size of a Manhattan Hotel (sad memory).


They also give you a decent pot of tea for two which would serve three. I like my top ups.

But even better. You can use their car park for free while enjoying a lovely walk to Randolph’s Leap on the River Findhorn nearby.


Yes that is a look of sheer terror on her face and her knuckles are white with the power of her grip on that fence.

She didn’t fall….

… but she dropped a pound coin!!

I retrieved it though….


Clearly I don’t give up my money that easily..




Conned Beef!

Scotland and New York could do with exchanging more things to each others benefit. I have to say, though, I’m not sure New York would come off best.

Take fire escapes. In New York they have the fire stairs ‘outside’ the building where the fresh air and rescuers are, not inside close to the hot flames, the choking fumes and certain death.


The fire hydrants are also sticking up out of the pavement easily accessible, not flat and buried under a millimetre of tarmacadam spread by a team of shifty looking itinerants in a white van.


This one is pictured next to the team who were assembling my lunch sandwich (more on that later)


Speaking of holes in the ground, any reader of the Beano will know that uncovered drains make superb comic devices but also that our real drains are far too small and our health and safety rules far too strict to ever create such a superb moment of hilarity. Not in New York where the unsuspecting out-of-towner is a prime candidate for dropping into the abyss when passing a store getting a delivery.


This is one of the safer ones, mostly they don’t bother with the warning cone.

For those of you who have not read the beano…




It doesn’t get old does it?

And the underground heating system in New York is surely something we could benefit from in the frozen North…


Mind you most of the people on our streets are steaming every weekend so we may not need this feature.

New Yorkers also maintain a good balance of efficiency and politeness that we seem to lack back home. You don’t go up to a counter in a shop without knowing what you want for fear of being tongue lashed in three different languages but at the same time you will almost certainly be wished ‘a nice day’ once you have mastered the pace of retail transaction. In Scotland the end of a retail transaction is almost certainly ‘NEXT!’ or in Glasgow ‘WHOOZ FURRST!’

Okay – enough of the faff – on to the food…

We have been exchanging food ideas for decades with New York but I have to say we have definitely lost a lot in translation and I think I know why.

New York is awash with restaurants (every fifty yards) and, although they are all busy, it is hugely competitive. Good looking men and women walk the streets trying to kidnap tourists into their restaurants offering everything from a flirty suggestive look to 50% off for those who don’t fall for their more obvious charms. In Scotland you have to travel some distance and then go into the restaurant and hope one of the staff finds a sufficient time slot in their social networking tasks to notice that you are interested in eating. Once you finally find one you don’t feel much like changing your mind and going elsewhere (its more trouble than its worth). You end up eating whatever crap they choose to serve you.

Take the humble toastie…

In Scotland…


Looks okay?

Here is a toastie shop in New York


This one is situated on 51st Street between 5th and Madison Avenue close to Jimmy Choo for those of you who wish to keep your women out of the way while you nosh on massive wads of pastrami and corned beef awash with ranch dressing (not our version of corned beef – fat caked cow shavings).



Bought for $8 (about £5 – the cost of a toastie in local pub?)

Of course just as their health and safety practices leave a lot to be desired so does their attention to pricing (in some areas – such as the Broadway tourist trap – not Toasties to be clear).

I obtained two slices of fairly average pizza from http://rayspizza.com/ on Broadway for my dinner tonight.


I couldn’t quite fathom the menu so I grabbed this expecting the usual three to four dollars a slice. My change from a twenty was eight dollars. Now either a slice of pizza at Ray’s costs $6 or I was short-changed. This article I read later may be enlightening


It’s not the first time I have felt that my accent suggests a lack of awareness of currency. If the five I got in my change was a ten that would be about right. It’s frustrating when you get caught out like that, especially the embarrassment of feeling that some chancer has got one over on you. It’s down to experience now.

But at the time I had wished the ground would open up and swallow me.


A Monthly Review

It is an empty feeling I have in my heart just now. It may be that both daughter number one and daughter number two have now flown this satellite nest in New York leaving me alone with days and days before sister number two arrives to fill the void (sister number one has chosen to avoid the food madness). That may be it (you know where this is going don’t you?) … but it may be more to do with the fact that I am not being treated to a complimentary seat at every dining table my visitors book.

That’s it, I am hungry of course.

I have undertaken to eat sensibly for a week and that kind of leaves this diary hanging. Perhaps a recap of the major eating achievements of the last month will keep you interested enough to bear with me while I detox.

Way back in the beginning daughter number one and I plotted a route to Shake Shack (they are not getting link – you will know why soon) and ended up at http://www.smithsbar.com/ where we treated well enough but kind of stung for not having walked enough streets to be handed a 40% off voucher. I would have sang its praises if I had gotten such a reduction. They are to be had I am told.

Shake Shack was later visited by Princess Madison and her Fatman and their disappointment undermined any thoughts I had for a visit. Big queues here to get half the burger and half the milkshake you can get at http://www.steaknshake.com which is much closer to me.

http://www.angelospizzany.com in 57th Street was just fantastic and a repeat visit with daughter number two reinforced that this is great pizza at very good prices. Service was again top notch.

Other pizzas have been had since of course but this is easily the best. A slice of pizza…yeah…yeah…so its New Yorky. I want the lot!

Mexican and Chinese efforts so far have not been worth it, but Thai was excellent at  http://www.topazthai.com although bear in mind that the cocktails were thrown in for nothing. This Thai has been the subject of much more discussion


You have to make sure they know you are from Scotland, in case the accent is missed.

http://www.ellensstardustdiner.com has now also had two visits and it doesn’t grow old. It’s still great to be serenaded by your waiter while you wait for dinner and have them clean up after you. It’s just like being married.

Go on … ask my wife … she is treated like this all the time!

This will strike fear into her.


She thought she was coming to New York for a break but I got this for sixty dollars delivered to my door!

http://www.tfyogurt.com/  is also worth reminding you of. This is the magical frozen yoghurt dispenser that whisks you to a frenzy. Been here twice now and the flavours had changed. No more sausage, Shepherd’s Pie added 😉

But the final word here has to go to the poorest serving I have come across. That of the New York Yankees.

I have in these last few days been treated to evening drinks and local conversation at two Queens bars that do not have websites (not that type of bars) and shall remain nameless (I want them for myself!). The inside track is… I should have ignored the hat design and gone for the Mets. Their stadium is better and they are playing a damn sight better.

It’s okay, I did not betray my loyalties. I had to remind them I am Scottish and that we are the proudest losing nation in the world! if the Yankees want to be cr*p that’s fine by me. I will be back for more. Not because I bought the tickets before I realised they were hopeless or because sister number two paid for them. I will go because I committed myself and I am confident they will fill the emptiness I will feel by the end of this detox week. I will go because I have faith, I have strength and I have a desire to see it through to the end.

I also have the hat.