News Alert: The Sun Came Out in Scotland!

AsianCajuns-Lar-Edinburgh Edinburgh-walk Edinburgh-sunny-day

This is a rare, rare sight: Edinburgh basking in the sun. In fact, we’ve had three consecutive sunny days — and that hasn’t happened since August! It’s still barely more than 45 degrees, but Matt and I spent three hours Sunday morning sitting outside and clawing wiggling our fingers at the vitamin D coming from the sky.

For those of you lucky enough to be in sunny climes, let me give you a few stats about Edinburgh to put our euphoria in perspective:

• Seattle is 50% sunnier than Edinburgh (and we’re much further north, so the sun we do get is quite a bit weaker)

• Oslo is sunnier than Edinburgh 10 months out of the year

• Throughout the year, on average, Edinburgh has less than four hours of sunlight per day

• Atlanta has twice as many hours of sun per day on average than Auld Reekie (see above)

• On the shortest day of the year in Edinburgh, the sun is only 10.7° above the horizon — that’s dusk for most of the world

Edinburgh is a beautiful city, but my-oh-my can she be gloomy and moody.



Dear Cath,

You might have seen President Obama in person, but I saw THE SUN in person! Can you tell my brain has been mangled by the lack of vitamin D? All I can do is dream about sunny climates and yearn to be there. Thank goodness spring is coming or I would have to start walking around with my SAD lamp permanently strapped to my body.

Is it the weekend yet? I want to skype with you!




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Chinese New Year + Mardi Gras = AsianCajun Week!


Illustration by Lar • King Cake photo

Don’t tell me you didn’t know about the international holiday that is AsianCajun Week! Neither did I until Cath mentioned that Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras were happening within two days of each other. And Valentine’s Day also happens to fall on (what I am now officially calling) AsianCajun Week too — which makes sense because we love love and chocolate.  So that’s Chinese New Year + Mardi Gras/Pancake Tuesday + Valentine’s Day. Too much of a good thing? Nevah!

Matt and I celebrated Chinese New Year on Sunday by having dinner at the most delicious Cantonese Restaurant in Edinburgh, misleadingly named Karen’s Unicorn. Yes, that’s right. Karen’s Unicorn. Karen might have been there, but there was nary a unicorn in sight. No mattah. We gnoshed on char siu bao and the most delicious sweet and sour tofu I’ve ever tasted.

Our plans for Mardi Gras and Valentine’s are far more humble — as in, we don’t have any. But I want to hear what you guys have planned for AsianCajun Week (or Valentine’s Day, et al as you may know it). Whatever you’re up to, let the good times roll and may you have a prosperous year of the snake!


Dear Cath,

Did you and Troy eat pancakes last night? Swing some beads around? Bite into a king cake? It seems so wrong that we have managed not to be together during AsianCajun Week. Terrible planning, AsianCajuns!

Are you guys doing something romantico for Valentine’s Day? Matteo and I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s, but we were thinking of starting a tradition: gluten free crepes from this guy and watching a classic Cary Grant rom com.

Gong Hey Fat Choy and Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez and LOVE YOU!




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Do You Still Read Magazines?


Cath and I used to gobble up magazines in our teens and early twenties (good fiber and whatnot), but about 3 years ago I noticed a definite decline in my reading of Vogue, InStyle, Elle, et. al. Instead of adding to my stacks-that-became-night-stands of magazines, more likely I’d be glued to a computer screen reading blogs. I thought, why pay for this stuff when there are all these great bloggerinos out there who share their wisdom and know-how for free?

Well, I’ve had a magazine rebirth* — a magazine renaissance, if you will! But this time around I’m not as interested in the hefty, glossy Condé Nast-ers. Instead I’m hoarding their less famous, independent cousins. And it’s not just fashion I want (or get), but magazines about food and travel and booze. I don’t plan to amass stacks of these guys, I just want to curate a neat little library of inky-perfumed goodness that I can delve into whenever I want to learn something new and tantalize my eyeballs.

I still love me my blog reading, but it’s nice to have something that slows you down a bit. On the internets when I read, I tend to be fairly fickle and distracted; clicking around different tabs constantly and scrolling down pages at a mad rate. Sitting down with a magazine and a cup of tea slows my brain down in a way intertube reading can’t.

How about you guys? Do you still read mags or has that gone by the wayside for you too? If you are reading mags, which ones still manage to pull you away from your computer? Or are you all faincy-pants and do all your reading on a mobile device? What does the future hold for us content-gobblers?

hot-rum-cow-cider magazines read-magazines


* I blame a massive part of my magazine rebirth on two things. 1) I’ve just started working as a designer for an agency that produces lovely magazines: see Hot Rum Cow (also in the pics above). 2) There is a great shop in Edinburgh called Analogue Books that carries a satisfying selection of these tomes — in Atlanta I never knew where to shop for really good independent magazines. If you guys have places in your cities that carry the indies, leave that in the comments as well!


Dear Cath,

Remember our Seventeen magazine days? Or wait! Further back: American Girl, Girl’s Life — hah! Do you remember those? I forgot that we were magazine addicts before we turned 10. I still remember some of my favorite articles: that girl who illustrated that book about a clumsy ballerina (American Girl mag) and a blurp about Kirsten Dunst (at 11) doing Interview With a Vampire, and I remember thinking “kissing Brad Pitt? Eh.” 10-year old me was not impressed easily.

Do you have time to read anything other than case studies and work memos? If not, I’m going to make sure I hang on to all these guys so you can read them when you next come to visit!




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Deelicious Brazilian Food in Edinburgh


Here’s a fun fact (that I made up): Edinburgh’s answer to the food truck is an old police box (the latter recognizable to Dr. Who fans around the world). If you are a long-time reader of AsianCajuns you’ve heard me wax lyrical about my friend’s Indian food police box: the Bollywood Coffee Box. But it doesn’t stop with mouth-watering curries and spicy chili pakoras. All around Edinburgh (and probably other British cities too), entrepreneurial  souls are selling hot drinks, ooey gooey chocolate-filled crepes and aromatic soups from a space no larger than a small American walk-in closet.

Take this guy, for instance:


Awesome, obviously. (He posed like this for the photo — I didn’t just mistakenly catch a fleeting smirk). This guy makes incredible brazilian food from his police box called Tipiniquim. Most days he whips up gluten-free crepes that he fills with your choosing of sweet or savory delights, but on Saturday, oh boy, you are in for a treat. If you haven’t been introduced already, let me tell you about Brazilian bean stew, or feijoada (pronounce fay-jah-dah):

It’s like this: black beans cooked down with sausage and ribs for hours with delicious spices. Serve over a bed of fluffy white rice, ground cassava root (adds a lovely texture and a very light nutty flavor), perfectly tender steamed greens, and a squeeze of orange. Shovel into mouth. Fall into blissed-out food coma.




Apparently feijoada is usually made on Saturdays in Brazil, kind of like red beans and rice Mondays in Louisiana. Have you guys ever had feijoada before? I seriously think Matt and I will be haunting Tipiniquim every Saturday afternoon (stew’s usually ready after 12:30 pm). Apart from the delicious food, standing by the vividly painted police box with tropical fruit hanging in baskets temporary transports me to some place that gets sun more than two days a year. Some people take vitamin D, we’ll just take our weekly dose of Brazilian bean stew.

I love small, independent food movements like these and really am curious what the different manifestations are around the world. Any food trucks or police-box-turned-cafes in your cities?


Dear Cath,

Definitely on the list for when you next visit. And we’ll get gluten-free nutella crepes for dessert. Have you guys been food trucking lately? Not living in the States anymore I was wondering if that was just a trend or if they are still going strong. Matt and I will have to scope out the other police boxes in the center of town. I think most of them are sort of coffee and soup places — I feel completely spoiled by the Bollywood Box and Tupiniquim.

Miss you so very, very much!

Brazilian Bean Stewly Yours,


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Just Like Downton Abbey

They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK for obvious reasons, and Matt and I spent last year’s turkey day eating Mexican food and pretending we weren’t missing our families. We totally made up for the lameness of last year by acting like the Granthams (minus the downstairs staff). We rented a manor house (that comfortably sleeps 13) on the west coast of Scotland for a few days and lived like lairds and ladies (lords and ladies that cook and clean for themselves, mind you).

How? Just check out the Landmark Trust properties website, choose a castle, estate, tower that suits your fancy and book away. What’s incredible to me is that the rates are totally reasonable and our chosen house (Saddell House — click to see more pics) was huge, warm (for an old Scottish house), incredibly clean and had amazing showers (again, something you wouldn’t expect even in a refurbished house from 1774).

Just take a gander at all this loveliness:

Apart from exploring the house and the surrounding estate (including a castle, abbey, beach and hills), we spent much of our get-away eating delicious food (thank you, Sara!), watching movies, making s’mores in front of the fireplace, and drinking copious amounts of mulled wine and gin and tonics in tea cups:

This is not a sponsored post:
The Landmark Trust have no idea about AsianCajuns. I found out about them because my smarty friend Sara (the lady in the blue shoes in the photo above) found out about holidaying with Landmark Trust, and we decided to book a massive house for Thanksgiving (not celebrated on these green isles — so rates were even cheaper during Thanksgiving week). It was just £500 for four nights, and there were just five of us — the house had enough beds for 13 people. Amazing, non?


Dear Cath,

Isn’t Saddell House awesome?! The whole time I was thinking about how all those house museums that we went to growing up are newer than this place. And remember how we used to always dream of living in one?! All the secret passages, basements, attics, expansive grounds, big rooms — Saddell had all of it.

We are hoping to explore more Landmark sites around the country this year, but we definitely want everyone to come over some time so we can meet up at one and stay for a week. A shooting party (rah-di-rah-di), without the shooting and just the eating and walking and dozing on feather-down couches in front of crackling fires.

Hope you had a wonderful turkey day. Miss you ever so much!!!



p.s. JUST 20 days!!! See you sooon!!!


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Edinburgh Is Sa-weet!

1 • Hanging out with Sara of Suki Bakes at the Edinburgh Chocolate Festival

2 • The best hot chocolate in the world (orange, chili, clove) at Love Crumbs

3 • Nutan at her Bollywood Coffee Box during Diwali, plating up her home-made gulabjamun

4 • The plum cake at Bon Papilion

5 • The palate cleanser (ooolala) at Wedgewood

6 • The Bircher muesli at Falko Konditormeister

For someone who has been trying to cut sugar out of her diet, I’ve done a swell job. Darn you, sweet tooth! Foiled in Edinburgh on every corner. . . but it’s sooo worth it.


Dear Cath,

I thought this would be a good post to squeeze in right before Thanksgiving — get your taste buds prepped for feasting. Hope you have a fun short work week! Are you Black Friday shopping? I’ve always been such a weenie when it comes to that stuff — and too much in a Peking Duck haze to want to shop (good thing I have your prezie already).

I’ll be back in wifi land by Friday evening. Skype date?




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Replace Your Elephants and Donkeys with Ponies and Piglets

Sara, Rianne and I calmed our pre-election nerves by taking a trip to Craigies Farm just a few miles outside of Edinburgh. There’s not much growing in November in Scotland, but we were repeatedly urged to visit the “wee piglets” — ooo how I love a Scottish accent! What is cuter than piglets? Wee piglets! Oh and wee ponies.


Dear Cath,

Aren’t these ponies so cute?! I want a pony AND a piglet!

Matt and I are so out of it today because of staying up until 5 am this morning to hear the returns. So much good news to go to sleep to ;) : first openly gay senator (also the first female senator in Wisconsin), first female Asian American senator, and more female senators than we’ve ever had in the history of congress. WOOHOO!!!

Can we skype sooooon?!

Piggly Wiggly,


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A Cozy Pub and A Walk to the Sea

A walk to the charming little seaside village of Cramond via Lauriston Castle, and then a hearty pub lunch by the fire with furry friends.

Hope you guys have a lovely weekend!


Dear Cath,

Is there a pub/bar in Decatur where you can take Tobs, Wheatie and Boo to sit by the fire with you whilst you drink your pint? Okay, maybe Toby wouldn’t enjoy the pub scene so much (Gah! Noise! People! Indoors! Sounds!), but I think Wheatie and Boo would revel in it.

Oh and I just realized we’ll both be festivaling this weekend, right? You at the Decatur Wine Festival and me at the Edinburgh Chocolate Festival!!! I’m helping Sara out at her booth Suki Bakes — and by helping, I in no way mean standing with my mouth open under a chocolate fountain. Nope. Not. At. Allll nom nommm. . .

Miss you like mad! Oh, but let the countdown begin… what is it? Six weeks and counting!



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Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling Would Eat Here

I have a stressful week coming up and I might be getting a little grumpy about it. Don’t you hate how the grumps sneak up on you on Sunday evenings? You’re having a perfectly lovely weekend and then *Bam!* you turn into Cranky Pants MacGee for — what you think — is no reason. Then you do a few deep breaths in an attempt to harness your inner zen master because you are starting to feel bad at the crankiness seeping out of your pores and onto innocent bystanders (sorry, Matteo!). And because of said Buddha Breathing, you realize the crankiness is stemming from the anxiety you feel about stressful thing X that is happening this week. And somehow that doesn’t make you feel better because X must be done and there’s no wiggling out of it. Gahhh. Sometimes I hate being a grown-up.

So instead of being zen, I’m going to stare at pictures of chocolate cake, kiss my husbando (instead of throwing a tantrum) and revisit the Feminist Ryan Gosling tumblr.

Hope you guys are Sunday/Monday grumps free, but if you aren’t, I strongly recommend that winning triumvirate of chocolate cake, kisses (to yourself works too — maybe even better than unsuspecting husbands), and a heavy dose of feminist menfolk. To be taken twice daily, or until cranky symptoms subside.


Dear Cath,

Don’t you love that sign in the door at The Forest Café in Edinburgh? I don’t think it was open yet when you were here in August, but next time we’ll make sure it’s on the to-do list. It’s a very low-key, vegetarian, artsy mecca run by very nice volunteers (who also are low-key, vegetarian, and artsy).

And I can NOT believe you got to meet the Beekman Boys this weekend! I was pretty sure we would be best friends if we ever met: taking trips up to their gorgeous farmhouse for pumpkin and beetroot soup and goat petting.

Much loves and a little something for your Monday/Tuesday mornings!

Via Feminist Ryan Gosling



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This Farmers Market Has A Castle

I mentioned last week that Matt and I are going to stop taking this living-abroad thing for granted, and soak in all the touristy wonders of Edinburgh until our fingers are pruney. So last week was Roslin, this week is the Edinburgh Farmers Market. You might think ho-hum, Lar, we have organic arugula and overpriced broccoli sprouts too. But do you have a castle looming over your tasty veg and gluten-free-dairy-free muffins?

To impress (or annoy?) people with Edinburgh’s beauty, you can pretty much respond with that question to any statement of fact about other places:

You: Of course, we also have H&M (and Starbucks, and Topshop)!

Me: But is it in the shadow of a large medieval fortress?

You: We also have pretty parks and outdoor cafés.

Me: But is it right next to the dramatic looming cliffs of history?!

You: We have beautiful warm weather and it’s sunny more than 10% of the year!

Me: …. Touché, my friend, touché.


Dear Cath,

I’m so glad we got to skype yesterday! I feel like I haven’t skype-seen you in forever. Did you guys have fun at the concert?

Do you see those muffins in the pictures? They are made by two ladies who own a company called Organically Yours. The coconut muffins are sooo good and they make deeelicious gluten-free and dairy-free cookies too! Now every Saturday morning I wake up and ask Matteo if we can go get gluten-free muffins — that always has him not leaping out of bed at 8 am on Saturday.

Gluten-free Cookiesly Yours,



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