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We’re smiling

Good morning lovely people,

Regardless of all the stuff that’s thrown at us, life is good and we need to celebrate even the little things but Tuesday was surprisingly and particularly great.  (I can hear you; it’s not all doom and gloom).

Firstly, I saw several friends that I hadn’t seen for over 18 months.  In our old world it would be unthinkable not to have these people in our lives, sometimes daily, but travel restrictions and health concerns have taken loved ones from all of us.  I’m still not hugging but smiles with our eyes in real life are almost as good.  Secondly, the FM confirmed no Covid Passports would be introduced, at this stage, for hospitality venues.  Excellent news, at this stage!  Internal rumours were rife and we really were expecting this policy to pass.

I know some of you would have welcomed this move but for business it would have just been another level of administration, with very little evidence justifying its implementation.  I would like to thank the FM for acknowledging the benefits would have been far less than the potential economic harm,  praise where praise is due.

Research shows 80 – 90% of Covid transmission is taking place in people’s homes not in theatres or cafes.  This must have been similar when hospitality venues were closed or forced to operate under curfews.   The FM told parliament the primary objective of the vaccine certification was to drive up vaccination rates.  What may be clear is that those who haven’t been vaccinated aren’t being motivated any further to do so by the threat of a passport.  The few members of our team who are not vaccinated are still as adamant today as from day one.  Industry lobbying and all the demonstrations across Europe may have helped the decision but introducing them at this late stage, I can only imagine would have caused a much bigger spike.  For us, hospitality continues to be a well regulated environment to socialise.

We tried a vaccine passport scheme at home.   Nonna G had to show her barcode every time she needed to go from her sitting room to the dining room.   We can conclude, in the over 90’s age group, habits don’t change, if anything it was a novelty and got her up and about more often. Where there is a passport there’s pasta.

The bigger news, which I missed in the FM’s original announcement, was the recommendation to lateral “flow before you go” shopping or out enjoying yourselves.  This decision may be based on the COP26 data, as transmission apparently was reduced as a result of daily testing.

If you can afford to say “I’ll stay at home or I’ll work from home” this policy has merit.  My only issue is what happens to those who can’t work from home, and can’t afford to make that choice?

Only 5 of our 80 plus team would be able to work remotely.   If you’re sick, you’re sick but asymptomatic symptoms of Covid maybe should just go untested if we have the desire or need to just live with this virus?  Good practices of washing hands, keeping our distance, less cuddles and yes maybe wearing masks a little more may have to be enough.  I appreciate this is controversial for some and the risk of infecting someone who may be vulnerable is there but with support lacking for many of the financially poorest they may not have the luxury.   The Self Isolation Support Grant is still available but not everyone will be eligible or will know how to apply.

The tragic loss of 27 migrants in the English Channel is heartbreaking. There are people applying to work with us, but after interview and job offer, we find many don’t have the necessary paperwork.  As a descendant from economic refugees who fled Italy due to poverty after the First WW it feels inhumane not helping these people. It also feels stupid that there is a willing workforce but we’re not allowed to employ them.  Surely there is a better solution?

With so many other ails and illnesses, mental and physical, part of me thinks we’re just spending too much time on Covid.  Cancer, diabetes, heart failure, depression can affect us all and ultimately put equal pressure on the NHS.  One report has said we’ll be living with Covid until at least 2026.  With new threats of a South African variant, this isn’t going away.

Back to our happy note today, I hope you’ve got December and all the festivities sorted.  The city is busy and we’ve seen lots of shopping bags which is good news for our retail neighbours.    If you’ve been inspired by Giuseppe in the Great Bake Off I’ve included a wee Italian inspired Scottish classic recipe for you.  Happy baking.

The only Christmas present we want is to use our passports for a trip to Italy.  Victor says he’s got it sorted, July 2026.

Keep well and keep safe and thank you all, especially when you stop to talk, that’s what keeps life good.


Key dates might be full but we will always try our best to fit you in so if you can’t get a slot online do give us a call (avoiding peak service times if you can!)

For last minute private dining for any size group, 8-180 guests please email

Our late night Saturday’s at The Scottish Cafe are ideal for families visiting the Christmas market or for those who may not be spending Christmas Day together. Join us for the perfect festive dinner or sparkling afternoon tea. We’ll be serving mulled wine and warm mince pies on our terrace too!


Remember to order your Contini Christmas at Home delivery for Edinburgh addresses 22nd to 24th December. We only have a limited number left so order today to avoid disappointment.

It’s the perfect treat for the whole family and relieves any stress and pressure on the cook, simply put our handy containers in the oven and pour yourself another glass of bubbly….

In addition we have added our popular Panettone and loads of little treats to brighten up your December. Have a look here

Our Hampers will be going live on 1st December and they went down a treat for both corporate gifting as well as surprising loved ones last year. Have a look here


For the mince meat

Makes 500 gr jars

100g dried cranberries
100g sultanas
100g ground almonds
1/2 unwaxed lemon, juice and zest
1/2 unwaxed orange, juice and zest
1/2 teaspoon ground spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
100g soft brown sugar
100g Bramley cooking apples, peeled and grated
100g unsalted butter, melted
50ml AmarettoMix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, adding the freshly grated apple at the end to stop them discolouring and then finish with the melted butter.

My favourite pastry – makes about 12 pies

250g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
Pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp ice-cold water


First make the pastry and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and brush a shallow pie tray oven proof glass pie dish with melted butter. Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Cut the pastry in half. On a floured surface, roll out to about 3mm.  Cut circles that are larger than the tin holes as you need to make sure the whole tin is lined with pastry and holds the filling. Spoon a dessert spoonful of mixture on top. Roll out the remaining pastry and use a slightly smaller cutter to cover the pies. Use an egg wash to make sure they stick. . Make one slit in the top to let the air escape and brush with egg wash.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.  Cool only for a few minutes and then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with caster sugar