Milk does Café Party at Jupiter Artland – don’t feed the peacock!

Jupiter Artland, the open-air art gallery, closes at the end of September and won’t open again until May 2018. That means that there are still two weekends to visit this year. Here’s what to expect and where to eat.

Roast courgette wrap with quinoa and other goodies. The red cabbage was good too!

Roast courgette wrap with quinoa and other goodies. The red cabbage was good too!

Jupiter Artland is about 20 minuntes bus journey from where I live. Not that we took the bus – we drove. It’s close to Ratho, in the middle of fields and farms. A small road leads off the motorway and to a lane where a bright, shiny gate leads the way to the gallery.

Pieces in a landscape

After parking and getting tickets, we wandered along to the steading where the ticket office is, as well as the café. There’s an obvious path through the exhibition which we followed but you can stroll freely about. Artworks are placed in pleasant parkland with wooded and more open sections. We’ve been before but saw things differently this time. The time of year and day affect what you see. Firmament is a large structure of metal struts. The first time I saw them they were entirely abstract, perfect for climbing on (but don’t!). This time I saw a man swimming or burrowing into the ground.

Percy, proud and unencumbered by showy tail feathers.

Percy, proud and unencumbered by showy tail feathers. He’s not art, he’s a peacock. For art, you’ll have to go there.

My favourite pieces are the Weeping Girls. Five small girls standing around crying, faces hidden behind long hair. (They bring to mind Sadako from Ringu. Eek!) Like all of the artworks they interact with the environment in a more direct way than you normally see in a gallery. Some, like the knitted net called Over Here comment on the landscape in a rather charming way. It’s a box of delights.

Enough art, bring us the food!

After the walk, we wanted coffee. And lunch. And cake. Luckily, Café Party (run by Milk this season) provides all of these. We sat outside at the back in a enclosed section where Piss Flowers grew on the immaculate grass. Inside, the café is stylish and fun with attractive printed table tops and crockery to match. The menu contains soup, frittata, a daily hot dish as well as sandwiches and wraps. The kids menu has good options that include a lunch-box. Dishes are clearly marked labeled with vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and so on – even superfood.

Edinburgh Gin cured salmon sandwich. Oh yes.

Edinburgh Gin cured salmon sandwich. Oh yes.

I had a cafe latte and an open Edinburgh Gin cured salmon sandwich with avocado. Christopher had the roasted courgette wrap with chickpeas, spiced almond butter and greets. all wrapped in a flatbread, and an Americano.

While we ate – heaven is soft, translucant salmon on good bread! – we watched kids running around not touching the flowers, and, more importantly, mostly not chasing Percy, the resident peacock. When we last met, Percy was molting. He kindly dropped a feather just for us (OK, not for us, but close enough to our table that we nabbed it before anyone else could). This time Percy looked cute with a fluffy bum, gaudy display feathers felled for this year.

We finished with cake and another round of coffees. Christopher ventured inside to see what they had. I asked for ‘something nice’ which is never a useful request. I had a white chocolate and raspberry cake that set me up perfectly for the rest of the day.

Refreshed, we strolled back to the car park the long way, taking in the popcorn in the Ballroom. I spent a few minutes staring in awe at the stucco in the ceiling. The apples there are as attractive as the apples on my cake plate.

Cake! On a really nice plate! The last al fresco cake of the season.

Cake! On a really nice plate! The last al fresco cake of the season.

Jupiter Artland

Bonnington House Steadings
Wilkieston, Edinburgh EH27 8BB
Hours: Varies – check before you go.
Telephone: 01506 889900

Twitter: @jupiterartland | Instagram: @jupiterartland | Facebook: JupiterArtland

Café Milk

Twitter: milk_edinburgh | Instagram: @thecafemilk | Facebook: milk.edinburgh

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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