Scotland + Spice Girls

Earlier this summer my husband indulged me on a crazy whim. The Spice Girls had reunited for a brief 2 week United Kingdom tour and I bought tickets. Yes, I woke up before the sun and ordered tickets months ago for a reunion concert for a 90s girl band...in Edinburgh. Life is short, enjoy the ride. So this June we packed our bags, boarded a plane and headed for Scotland. 


The excitement for the Spice Girls SPICEWORLD Reunion is amazing!

The excitement for the Spice Girls SPICEWORLD Reunion is amazing!

The city of Edinburgh is (in my opinion) an incredibly easy city to walk. That being said everything always seems to be at the top of a hill or giant staircase. Sensible walking shoes are a must. Some of our favorite things to do within the city include: 


The Royal Mile

This stretch of touristy shops really is a must do. It slices through the heart of Old Town Edinburgh and leads up to Edinburgh Castle. Lined with every wool and tweed shop you can stock up on all your souvenirs in one span. Lochcarron of Scotland was the label I really loved. It is made in Scotland and the line had beautiful weights of shawls and scarves.

The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile

Check out the Tartan Weaving Mill and Experience, once you are allllmost to Edinburgh Castle look to your right and you will see a typical souvenir shop— but wait! It is three levels and it is here you can by yardage (or meters) of true Scottish tartan that is woven on site! While they don’t carry every clan tartan, they do have all the usual suspects as well as some overall Scottish ones. 

Edinburgh Castle

While we are down in this area, the castle is well worth the trip. If you plan to visit multiple castles I would recommend the Explorer Pass to avoid the lines. Once you are in make a beeline for the tour group station in the main courtyard (to the right next to the gift shop)and enjoy your time. The tours are completely free and you get a full walking overview of the castle grounds. They can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and it is a great way to see all the highlights and hear the stories. They also have a great tea shop on the premises. If you get there at opening and all the exhibit lines are crazy, make your way to the cafe and have an early lunch. 


Whisky Tastings

You are in the home of Scotch whiskies. Do yourself a favor and pop in to a local bar or tasting room and order a flight. They are incredibly knowledgeable on the different flavor profiles and can guide you through the different regions of Scotch whiskies. We headed to the Whiski Rooms and tried different flights. I’m new to the Scotch world… so peaty things are rough for me, I much rather preferred the Speyside single malts. All the whiskies we were served came with a pitcher of water you could choose to add to your glass (note: there are purists who drink it straight, purists who swear if you add water it makes the whisky bloom, and purists that might throw you out if you ask for ice). 


Tea Rooms

When you are in this side of the world you must make time for tea. We had a few different experiences I would love to share. First is the budget friendly tea. This is a great option for a late breakfast while you are wandering around and just need some extra pep in your step. A cream tea is a tea service (usually a pot for one person that has 2-3 cups in the pot) as well as scones and cream. It is perfect amount to tide you over after looking at 14893 woolen shops and museums, but not fill you too much to miss a haggis lunch. The second is truly a wonderful and extravagant experience. Book yourself a table at the Signet Library at the Colonnades. Built in 1822, the law library envelopes you in gorgeous bookcases and carpeting. There are sweet little alcoves and sofas. Start off with a champagne toast and enjoy as trays of savories and sweets are served to you on china fit for a queen. Remember that you can always ask for a secondary tray of either, as they are complimentary! 


We hope you enjoy a trip to Scotland soon. They are truly some of the nicest and friendliest folks we have had the pleasure of meeting. Don’t be scared to drive either! Although they drive on the left, everything (after the first roundabout) went smoothly and the drivers are incredibly patient. 


Happy travels, 

xx. 

Em


Summer Drinks

It’s time for some Summer cocktails!


I have been loving some refreshing drinks this summer I want to share with all of you. Now, let me start off by saying I hate a fussy drink. Most months out of the year I can be found on a Friday night with a glass of red wine. As much as I love the idea of a Frose I don’t have time for that. I never seem to have any of the specialty bitters or syrups handy either for whatever is the cocktail of the moment. These are minimal stepped drinks, perfect for a refreshing day by the pool or a cocktail while grilling up steaks. In just a few steps they can be special treats if you throw a dinner party or help celebrate a friend for a birthday. Pull out the fancy wine glasses and grab a specialty ice cube tray from Home Goods and make a drink with me!


First up is our fussiest drink... but it makes a full pitcher and is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd. It is the classic Pimm’s cup! We enjoyed this summer treat on our trip to Scotland, and I now understand why it is the favorite summer drink in Great Britain. A botanical gin based cocktail similar in taste profile to an Arnold Palmer it is great on a hot day by the pool. It is showy enough to make a statement at a party in a glass pitcher too. 


pimms.jpg

Pimm’s Cup

From The Modern Proper

Makes a pitcher for 4


1 c Pimm’s Cup

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cans of sparkling lemon soda (we use San Pelligrino Limonata but if you are trying to slow down on that sugar intake try a lemon flavored sparkling water)

1 cucumber, sliced

6 strawberries, quartered

Optional : Herbs from the garden, like basil or thyme


Add strawberries, cucumber, Pimm’s, herbs, and lemon to pitcher. Let sit 10 minutes. Add lemon soda. Serve over ice. 


The other big drink for The Guild family is a gin and tonic. This is new to us this summer. I always assumed that all gin tasted like Christmas trees. Not what I am looking fo in a drink. Even in the holiday season... imagine my surprise when we landed in Scotland and one was ordered. It didn’t taste remotely like Christmas. No pinesol fresh flavor. What?! Gin can taste like florals? Botanicals? Citrus? I am in! Also... did anyone else know tonic is chalk full of sugar? Refreshingly Light Indian Tonic by Fever Tree is fantastic. As of right now I don’t know of a gin flight menu so you will have to trust me or head to Total Wine and ask for help there. We are currently loving Hendrick’s Midsummer Solstice and Esme. Here’s the key. What makes it extra and shine. Pour in desired amount of gin (no judgement) then, and this is important, slice up 2-3 slices of cucumbers and squeeze 1/2 a lime. Don’t skip this. Cucumber and lime make the gin taste fantastic. If you have an herb garden and want to feel fancy throw a sprig of something in there. It isn’t necessary but does add a hint of glamour. Then add ice and tonic. 


Wishing you cool nights and no hangovers

xx,

Em

Please drink responsibly


Fig Jam + Bastille Day

So for those of you who have been to The Guild you have probably picked up on the fact that I love France. I am sure in another life I strolled along the Champs Elysees and bought fresh baguettes and cheese and argued with the local fishmonger. I also love a party. Heck… I started a business that doubles as an event venue; so it should’t surprise anyone that I feel the need to celebrate Bastille Day.

In case you aren’t familiar with this French holiday, please allow me to share the briefest of explanations. Bastille Day, July 14th, commemorates the storming of the Bastille (a French prison in Paris) during the French Revolution. Think of it as the equivalent of our Independence Day. In France they have fireworks and good wine and amazing foods. They have parties into the night. The blast La Marseillaise (the national anthem) and cheer at military parades… in short, they party like it’s the Fourth of July.

Here at The Guild we thought what better way to celebrate Bastille Day than to share with you my favorite French thing, fig jam. Hear me out, this is a truly wonderful way to remember the French and how they are able to elevate the humble fig into a truly golden flavor explosion, perfect for spreading on a buttered croissant or coupling with a creamy brie. I for one fell deeper in love with figs about 2 years ago in the south of France. My dearest friend had us down to celebrate our birthdays and I still think that it is one of the greatest trips I have ever taken. Throughout the trip figs were seen everywhere, perfect little jewels ripe for the picking. I spent half the trip trying to decide if I would get in trouble snagging a few off a limb while simultaneously trying to decide how good my French was in case I got caught. Our hosts always had a bowl of them ready each morning at breakfast, as well as the greatest fig jam I’ve ever had. Made by a canal lock operator, his jam was heaven sent, and each morning I would slather it on a croissant and try to guess how he did it? How did he keep the figs whole? How did he get the complexity of flavors? Did he use vanilla bean? Cardamom? Cinnamon sticks? I was a really fun guest, I swear, but the canner in me had to know. We came home with jars of it. I only let my husband have bits under the most special of occasions. I poured over books and YouTube. I watched videos (in French) on canning. I have been making jams for 10 years and I had yet to make a recipe as amazing as his. Why couldn’t I be his apprentice and live in France making gallons of this stuff?

Well, I am happy to report that after a summer (or two) of trial and error I am pretty stinking close. And for those of you out there who may be going crazy like me, or you have a fig tree in your backyard and are wondering what the heck to do with it… please run grab your canning supplies and make this! And guys, it really couldn’t be easier. I was totally overthinking and overcomplicating it. I should have known that the French would go the simple route and let their ingredients shine.

Fresh figs in syrup on buttered toast. It is also fantastic on brie, goat cheese baguettes, or simply drizzled over ice cream. Bon Appetit!

Fresh figs in syrup on buttered toast. It is also fantastic on brie, goat cheese baguettes, or simply drizzled over ice cream. Bon Appetit!

Confiture de Figue

(from Bayou Woman)

12 cups ripe figs

4 cups water

6 cups sugar

4 lemon slices, seeds removed

Wash figs in cool water. Remove stems. Boil a pot of water and gently place figs in. Remove from heat. Let sit 3 minutes and drain. In a heavy bottomed pot, combine sugar and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly until it makes a clear syrup. Add lemon slices and figs. Lower heat to medium and simmer figs for 2-3 hours, swirling rather than stirring occasionally. Pour into jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Now if you don’t have a fig tree ripe for the picking chances are a friend doesn’t know what kind of the gold mine they are sitting on… but if you still are striking out I would love to recommend Matt Family Orchard in Tomball. They are an easier drive up HWY 99 and have a hug fig tree orchard (as well as other fruits). Please check their website for picking hotline and hours.

Wishing you a happy Bastille Day and canning adventures,

xx,

Em

And so it begins

Welcome to The Guild inaugural blog post! Let me start off by telling you a little about The Guild and how we got here. 

My name is Emily, and I, along with my husband are the founders of this little boutique event venue in Historic downtown Richmond. We have an artist in residence, Phaedra Taylor, who teaches workshops every month as well as curates our gallery wall. We also partner with Chef Chris Zettlemoyer to provide a monthly farm to table dinner.

Full disclosure: this started out as a ridiculously large scale area. I'm talking 80 acres, alpacas, hundreds of ducks, citrus orchards, tiny cabins.... like I said, crazy big. It was one of those dreams you talk to your better half about after 3 glasses of wine and he says, "Yes! Honey! Even though you have never operated a tractor in your life and have an irrational fear of birds, I think you could nail this!" ...but then over coffee says..."oh, you were serious?!" I had picked out the perfect plot of land (one I had never set foot on- but inherently knew it was perfect) and then Harvey happened. Now stick with me on this winding story...

We were beyond lucky during Harvey. We evacuated per orders and only had minimal damage to our home. We took our family to Austin to stay with my sister and regroup. Immediately we knew things had to be done. We were two Richmond natives, but mommas of small children. Mucking houses and staging boat rescues were out of the question. But playing supermarket sweeps at every available big box store in the Austin area to load a uHaul to bring back? Yes. We'd been training our whole lives for this. Daughters of the most practical and logistical man we knew everything to grab. Aimee of Blockhouse Coffee was able to help out and give us a place to bring all our haul and even managed to find space for Attack Poverty and All Hands. We were a triage of donations and distributions, working with every local nonprofit to get the appropriate supplies in the appropriate hands. My cohorts, Aimee and Zach, were and are amazing visionaries. I had a sounding board during this time for my crazy dream! While we handed out bleach and bottled water I told them about the citrus orchard. The canning studio. The fig trees! We pulled up the property on line....OPTION PENDING! Gut punch. Aimee heard my sad pitiful cries, ripping out imaginary blood orange trees and finding homes for my dream ducks. Y'all. It was pathetic. 

And you know that thing about closing doors and opening windows? Aimee did just that. 

A: Do you think you could make this dream in a smaller space?

E: How small?

A: 1000 square feet? 

E: Where will I put the ducks?

A: No animals. Can you do it?

E: ......I could put it to bare bones I guess?

And so a new dream was born. A platform for artists to teach and share their skills, a place for people to create memories, and somewhere for me to share all the things I want to share. 

So that is how The Guild began. It is an ever changing space fueled by so many wonderful visionaries. We hope you visit us for one of our farm to table dinners or an art workshop...or plan an event of your own soon! 

 

Best, 

Emily