Alison Craig: Not a turkey in sight in top tips

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Christmas is coming and this goose is getting fatter.

If it was only mistletoe and wine I might stand a chance but it’s the selection boxes, the advent calendars, the wee chocolatey things that are given out on saucers at the side of your coffee at this time of year, and of course the Christmas nights out which I love and during which we’ve had some corking food and fun.

I have avoided turkey completely on the run-up to the big day this year but have had some really great food so I thought I might share a few wee tips if you’re out and about.

• Best eggs benedict on the planet alert. I am a huge fan of eggs benedict – not every day but at the weekend and particularly after a big night out. I have eaten them everywhere but I have to say my socks were clean blown off with the buttery hollandaise and perfect poachers I was served when propping up the bar in the packed Leith establishment of The Roseleaf in Coburg Street.

It was a Saturday lunchtime and the place was jumping. A smiling, engaging team behind the bar make sure nothing is too much trouble. The coffee was a delicious delight too – one on the list to spend more time in this coming year and next time I intend to be feeling robust enough to indulge in a pint of something chilled and delightful too.

• More food – well I am obsessed – we had a girls’ Christmas dinner at The Pantry on North West Circus Place. There were dishes of brussel sprouts and chestnuts, delicious roasters, moist and wonderful turkey and roast ham that would have you licking your lips at a hundred paces.

Then for pud it was sticky toffee pud or cheese and it was BYOB no corkage! Danger zone. The meal was delicious from start to finish and the shocking thing was we were the only people in the place. They are just open during the day normally and opened in the evening for the run-up to Christmas. If they do it again I would rush back it really was excellent.

• The Magnum on Albany Street was another hot spot this Christmas. Always spangly and bright from the outside it’s the cosiest friendly spot for a meal to fight off the winter blues.

Their Christmas menu was a delight too, with hot spicy tomato soup and the best vegetarian dish I have had in years. Chargrilled aubergine rolled up round a nutty cheesey filling and smothered in a tomatoey sauce with melted Strathdon Blue on top. Yum. As you can tell, the diet is not going well at all.

CHARLIE IS MY DARLING!

I am deeply disappointed in myself that as per usual I have still managed to get to Christmas Eve without doing any present shopping but I have a good excuse. I have been looking after a baby. A wee hairy low-slung baby dog. He comes in the shape of a sausage, a small, bijou sausage called Charlie Chorizo.

As confirmed dog addicts, when our dear old Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home rescue souls Flora and Sam died earlier this year we were naturally devastated.

The plan was to hold off until things were organised, plus it doesn’t seem seemly to get a puppy when the waft of the aged ones’ blankets still permeate the air. And then I came face to face with a miniature dachshund puppy and was smitten. Smitten and in love.

So meet Charlie Chorizo Sausage Dog. A dog is for life and not just for Christmas and I would never recommend getting a puppy for Christmas but the last three months I have been dogless for the first time in my life and I was miserable. Even as a student I had a scruffy mongrel sidekick and to not have one was like my oxygen had been turned off.

On impact this wee hairy chap has turned our lives around and thus our Christmas this year will be spent chasing the wee sausage round the house as he nips tree decorations off the lowest branches and makes good his escape. They are not called dachshunds for nothing.

My only worry is he is so small it will take just one false move from a large human foot and he will be transformed from a link sausage to a lorne in a moment. Eyes down at all times – we are in love. I will be writing about Charlie on my blog at www.alisonsdiary.com and sharing photos of the hairy wee tearaway.