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Favourites from the GSA Degree Show 2016

When I first started writing this blog post, I was planning to make it part of my Top 5 series. But I can't narrow down the talent I seen at the recent Glasgow School of Art Degree Show to just that. 

This was the best degree show to date I've seen from Glasgow's flagship art school. The GSA is one of the smaller art schools in Scotland and thus, most years it's not been too difficult to pick five favourites (as opposed to picking five favourites from Duncan of Jordanstone, though Helen did manage that feat this year). But the talent from the small pool of 2016 graduates was just so damn good I could not pick. The displays were stunning - and I can see many of the designers finding success in the commercial market (I'm a marketer and my eye is always drawn to the commercially viable pieces - sorry, arty types). 

I've decided to split my favourites into each area of study. The only discipline I'll be missing out is architecture as I wasn't able to make my way that far in time. 

Silversmith & Jewellery: Evgeniia Balashova

I love jewellery with geometric shapes, and I love jewellery that uses pastel colours. Merge those two together and you have the work of Evgeniia Balashova. According to her website, her designs are inspired by the repetitiveness of office life: she takes regular objects and morphs them into a distorted shape. To bring her designs to life she applies 3D printing, lost wax casting and recycled IT parts. Imagine having a a ring on your finger inspired by a motherboard? Nerd jewellery dreams. 

Textiles & Fashion Design: Penny Hewitt

As we've seen from my favourite jewellery collection, I like geometric patterns and pastel colours. My favourite collection in the Textiles & Fashion show doesn't deviate too far away from this preference. Penny Hewitt designs textiles with 3D elements and non-repetitive patterns through hand embroidery - naming her collection Softly Structured. In particular it was this circular 3D pattern that caught my attention - I'd love to turn this into a skirt or a cushion. 

Out of all the collections available, it was the textiles where I felt the talent was strongest and I struggled to choose just one designer. So I feel some honorary shout outs are in order: Sarah Morris and her knitted cushion designs, Rochelle McGuiness who also designs beautiful 3D geometric textiles, Rosie Noon who designed this beautiful fabric, Hilary Macauley with her prints that remind me of doodles painted with watercolour and Emily Stopford with her bright printwork. 

Communication Design: Trudi Hannah

Communication Design is one I sometimes have trouble with. Artists sometimes create great visual pieces that are beautiful to look at, but leave you standing there wondering what the hell it actually is. Without an explanation handy some pieces in the communication design collection can be filed under 'confusing for anyone who doesn't have an art degree'. What I loved about Trudi Hannah's piece was that I understood it from the second I looked at it - without reading the accompanying text I already knew this was an impassioned piece about the effects of car pollution on young children. 

Another communication design project that I loved came from Megan Watkins. Her project was designing a website that helped break-down Alzheimer's so family and friends of those diagnosed could better understand the disease. Her concept was an alphabet where each letter represented a different visual and fact about the Alzheimer's. Not only was her project important, it was brought to life in a visually beautiful manner. 

Product Design: Paul Omoniyi

Product design is always one of my favourites. This year mobile applications were a big thing among the graduates, and as someone who is always looking for a great new app I was heavily nosing round. My favourite though was GSN by Paul Omoniyi, an app that allows students to search for other students who have skills they require for a project. I was a business student so for me personally, there was never much requirement for this. But - as you probably know - Abertay is famous for its games courses and I remember my friends who had an idea for a game, but needed a sound producer/artist/animator/programmer to collaborate with. For them, this app could have helped several projects get off the ground. 

Other apps that caught my eye were Worn Stories (a fashion app) and Cluster (a job searching app that focuses on non-traditional skills that employers might still want to consider). I also liked the idea behind Broken Records by Calum Macleod that celebrates the creation of music and invites music lovers to be an audience during the creation process. 

Interior Design: Merve Kirkpantur

As a foodie, my pick for interior design was the Molecule Restaurant by Merve Kikrpantur. I wasn't previously familiar with molecular gastronomy, but now that I am I want to try this exciting cuisine that is blended with science. The overall design of the restaurant was spot on and fitted the concept perfectly with a bar area with snacks for people who only want to dip their fingers into the menu. She also had a few mock dishes in her portfolio - many of them not containing meat. If she ever opens this restaurant for real in Glasgow I am so there. 

Another design that caught my eye was Danielle van Rhijn with her Box Set cafe/cinema concept

Fine Art: Ash Kitchen

I was never originally going to pop by the Fine Art Show. It was held in the Merchant City as opposed to the GSA main building, but I found myself in the area Saturday afternoon so decided to give it a try. Like Communication Design, it can sometimes make me feel confused as to what I am looking at - I'm firmly in the camp that a canvas with a blob on it is not art. So for me, only students who created something that was of a more traditional persuasion were going to end up on my favourites list. 

Enter Ash Kitchen. Her oil paintings had elements of pop culture so obviously that caught my eye, but they were demure enough so they wouldn't look out of place in an average person's house. I'd legitimately buy a print of her work for my living room wall. 

The Glasgow School of Art Degree Show has now finished but make sure you put it in your calendar for next year. If you don't live in Glasgow, check out when your nearest art school's degree show is - it's always a good chance to check out some upcoming talent.

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What common cocktails are vegan?

I've always been a cocktail person. 

Even when I was sneakily drinking underage I was still more likely to try and concoct a cocktail out of my parents drink cabinet rather than just nicking a bottle of cheap vodka. My parents are not massive drinkers and alas there was never that much alcohol in the house. It's only as I've gotten older that I've convinced my mum that more expensive alcohol is worth paying for (my mum drank Gordon's, I don't even drink gin and even I know no respectable gin enthusiastic recommends Gordons but, erm, I apologise if anyone reading this does drink Gordon's). The point of that anecdote was just to let you know that I like cocktails, so much that I even drank them when I a poor student who should have probably been drinking the promos. And that my parents house isn't a good place to go for piss up. 

Fast forward to legal drinking age (plus seven years) and I found myself working in bars. Now I'm going to tell you something that will make a lot of bartenders feel sort of confused: I liked making cocktails. They're daunting as daunting gets the first time you're tasked with making a drunk person a French Martini in a busy bar. But once you nail it? So good. Well I thought so (and people who order complicated drinks are more likely to tip well, so that's always a plus). 

But now I also know what is in all major cocktails. Which helps when you've got dietary requirements because not all alcohol is vegan or vegetarian (some of it is filtered using fish bladder...scrumptious). So I'm accumulating my knowledge from previous bar work and creating a handy to guide to what common cocktails are vegan-friendly!

N.B. Different bars will make their cocktails slightly, well, differently. This is only a guide to what cocktails are typically vegan. 

Woo Woo/ Sex and The Beach
The only thing that differs a SOTB from a Woo Woo is a splash of orange juice. All the other ingredients are vodka, Peach Snapps, cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime. All good to go vegan wise.

Bahama Mama
There's a bit of debate as how to make these. At Bunker we made them with Morgan's Spiced Rum, Malibu, orange juice, pineapple juice and Agostura Bitters. Some places stick to white rum, some only use orange juice and some use grenadine. Good news though? I've not mentioned one non-vegan ingredient in this entire paragraph.

As a former barmaid I can tell you that these are one of the hardest to make, but as a cocktail-drinker I know they're one of the nicest to sip on (if it has been made correctly, as I said they're difficult to get right). Typically prepared with Bacardi, crushed ice, mint leaves, lime juice, sugar and soda water, the only thing you have to worry about is if they use a non-vegan sugar.

Long Island Iced Tea
A medley of several types of alcohol, everything that goes into this cocktail is vegan (luckily, as a lot is mixed into it). Cola, tequila, gin, vodka, triple sec, sugar, bacardi and lime.

Espresso martini
While this frothy cocktail might look like it has some kind of dairy mixed in, it's actually free of daitu (and any animal-product)! Usually made with a coffee liqueur, a shot of coffee, vodka and topped with coffee beans (though some places add a dusting of chocolate powder so ask to keep it off).

I'm a snob when it comes to margaritas; and only order them when I'm in a classy upmarket bar. You see, they're meant to be blended with ice but many cheaper bars skip this step. And then there's the taste of cheap tequila. I can drink cheap rum and I can drink cheap vodka but NEVER pass me cheap tequila - it could be the last thing you do. Saying that, margaritas will likely be vegan; even if you're drinking a cheap (and not properly made) one.

Tequila Sunrise
It's vegan but you won't catch me drinking one unless I'm in an upmarket bar because of the aforementioned point: how can people drink cheap tequila?

Piña colada
Just like the espresso martini, a piña colada looks like it would have dairy in it and just like the margarita it needs to be blended for it to taste just right. The ingredients are pineapple juice, white rum, and coconut cream - good to go!

Saving the best until last; this is probably my favourite cocktail. A mix of cranberry juice, lime juice, Cointreau and vodka - make yourself the fifth member of Carrie's girl gang. 

Try and avoid

White Russians
Probably obvious since they contain milk (in Glasgow you can get soya versions in 13th Note and Broadcast) but throwing it out there anyway. I haven't yet come across a coffee liqueur that isn't vegan-friendly, though some places offer White Russians with fancy adaptions so be careful if you're ordering a "Mint Choc Chip White Russian". 

Maverick Martini/Pornstar Martini
This is the one that comes with a little shot of prosecco (that you sip slowly as you drink the main cocktail, not shot it like I originally thought you did). Prosecco and wine is regularly not vegan because it's is filtered using animals, however the 'main' cocktail contains honey-infused Chambord. Unless you know they're using a different raspberry liqueur then this two-part cocktail is off the menu. 

Chambord Royale
A tall glass of prosecco with some Chambord layered at the bottom. Off limits to vegans for the same reason as above. 

French Martini
Similar to the Maverick Martini, unless you know brand other than Chambord that is being used as the raspberry liqueur then it's (very) unfortunately out. The other ingredients of vodka and pineapple juice are usually okay.

A mimosa is a cocktail built on Champagne, so just like it's wine-based cocktail friends above it is out of the vegan pub-crawl for a very similar reason.

Old Fashioned
The base ingredient of this manly cocktail is whiskey - an alcohol that will sometimes be filtered with animal ingredients. When drinking at home you can ensure you use a vegan whiskey, but out at a bar you can just never know what whiskey they chose when designing the menu.

Another whiskey-based cocktail, which makes it too risky a choice when trying to drink vegan. Manhattan's also contain red vermouth - another type of alcohol that can or can't be vegan.

Just like the Manhattan above, this cocktail contains vermouth. Sometimes vermouth is vegan, sometimes it's not. It's a risky one.

Bloody Mary
I've never had a Bloody Mary in my life; the whole concept just sounds...unpleasant. Even before I went vegetarian I never had any desire to try one and even if I did develop that said desire - I wouldn't be able to act on it (unless I made them at home). Bloody Mary's contain Worcestershire Sauce and it's a little known fact that this sauce isn't even vegetarian (let alone vegan). But psssst, there's a vegan Bloody Mary in the 13th Note if you are so inclined. 

P.S. I'm planning to write a lot of blog post based around my knowledge of bar work (and alcohol). So far I have a 'tips for your first bar job' and 'best places to get a cocktail in Glasgow' posts in the works. If there's anything you want me to cover, give me a shout. 
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Vegan eating at Paesano Pizza

The vegan pizza option at Paesano Pizza

If you've spoken to my friend Charlotte recently (or stopped by her blog, or any of her social media accounts) you'll have become accustomed to her raving about one of Glasgow's newest pizza places. Paesano Pizza in the Merchant City is a rustic Italian pizza joint with stylish decor, wood-fired ovens and, as Charlotte has promised, some of the most delicious pizza around. When myself, Charlotte and Hayley caught up in Glasgow a while back Charlotte naturally convinced us to try it out for ourselves. 

If you've been following my own blog (and social media accounts) for a while you'll know I'm always on the look-out for scrumptious vegan pizza (heck, it even says so in my Instagram bio!). Paesano Pizza by chance has their own vegan pizza offering so it didn't take much convincing from Charlotte to try the place out.

Hayley and Charlotte's pizzas

The vegan offering on their menu is topped with their signature tomato sugo sauce, garlic, oregano and evoo (it's basically olive oil, I had to look that one up). Admittedly, I did feel a bit disappointed that Paesano - even though they had something vegan on the menu - hadn't come up with something more interesting. When I ordered it the waitress reminded me that it didn't come with cheese - or anything else, really. And yes, when the order arrived it did look a bit under-privileged compared to Charlotte and Hayley's pizzas. 

HOWEVER, once my taste-buds became acquainted I totally forgot about my negative pre-conceptions. This pizza was BLOODY FUCKING DELICIOUS. Not even delicious for a plain pizza, just actual delicious. The base is a hybrid of yeast and sourdough and resulted in a stretchy thin base - I imagine this is what Italians eat. The tomato sauce was also as flavoursome as flavoursome gets - I'm not sure what they do to it in their kitchen but I want that recipe. I've since learnt (through the writing and research I do for work) that cheese-free pizzas are commonplace in Italy, so I was actually getting quite an authentic experience.

Sun-blushed tomatoes and artichokes side

As a side I ordered the artichokes and sun-blushed tomatoes. These were lovely though the tomatoes were a bit...chewy? The artichokes were spot on however and reminded me why they are one of my favourite vegetables. They also have a small but impressive beer menu with many brands that aren't commonly served in the UK. 

As for the rest of the restaurant, it was rustic, had benches, was dimly lit and perhaps a little hipster. It was stylish but the benches were a bit uncomfortable and the lighting )or lack of) meant I couldn't get a good photo (#bloggerproblems). The queue can also get long - which supports my review, really. So try and organise a visit during a slower time (our catch-up was right after I finished work but by the time we finished at 7pm the queue was at the door). It's located at 94 Miller Street just down from the Gallery of Modern Art and Royal Exchange Square.  

So yes it was a plain pizza, but because the base and the sauce were spot on I didn't mind at all and would recommenced it to the vegans of Glasgow. 
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