Continuing from the gastronomic delight that the food trail had been, one would think I was done with my food adventures in Scotland. Tsk tsk… never underestimate the capacity of a food-loving traveller. The food trail experience was like the cover page and synopsis of a book – meant to capture your attention with such intensity that you end up buying the book to read and satiate your curiosity. The trail with Eat Walk Edinburgh had only served to fan my appetite for food.
And a lot more there was, as was evident from the increasingly snug waist band of my trousers as the holiday inched towards the last day. The price of gluttony!
Here is some more from my Scotland food diary…
Harry Potter in a cafe? Yes please!
A shout out to all lovers of the wizard; most of you know that the author J K Rowling was based in Edinburgh when she started writing the series and I’ve mentioned the Harry Potter tours and inspirations you will find tucked around all of Scotland. Rowling is said to have started writing the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, at The Elephant House on George IV Bridge. The red facade, say locals, remains unchanged as does the atmosphere of the place – the prices of course have zoomed up. There is no plaque that says ‘Rowling sat here’ – at least I didn’t see one – but the long queue for the simple fare will alert even the uninitiated that there is something magical about The Elephant House. I stood in line for almost 20 minutes (or more).
And whether you need to or not, you MUST visit the loo. How else will you see the visible proof of Potter mania, scribbled in words and art on the restroom walls? I spent 20 minutes in the loo reading everything, stepping out only when someone knocked on the door.
If you have the time, you might want to pop into the Spoon Cafe that was earlier the Nicholson’s Cafe where Rowling would reportedly sit at the window seat and write.
Fresh fish/Fish supper If you love fish, then you must enjoy the fresh produce when in towns like Portree and Fort Augustus. All restaurants source from local fisherman. The seasonings enhance the freshness of the fish. Oh, and the fish and chips/fish supper here is stellar! If you do not have a massive appetite or want to try more than one thing off the menu, then I recommend you find a friend to split supper with. Or request the staff to serve you half portions or child portions. Why? Take a look at the plate of fish supper will you? That massive piece of fish is placed on a mound of chunky home-style chips. I gave up halfway through and asked them to pack up the rest. I tucked into some fresh salmon with turnip risotto one night… slurp. Mussels and lobsters are highly endorsed.
Ice cream I am on a mission to eat ice cream wherever I go, irrespective of the weather condition. Because handmade ice cream tastes different everywhere and well, that’s an excuse to eat a lot of ice cream! I had my taste of my favourite dessert at Mary’s Milk Bar in Edinburgh (tea ice cream) and the Scotch Corner in Pitlochry (a scoop of whisky ice cream with a scoop of vanilla). The coffee ice cream from Desserts in Glasgow was pretty lush.
Irn Bru Orangier than any orange drink I’ve ever had – and I mean the colour here – this aerated drink pops in your mouth and is bound to add a zing to your step. All the gins and whiskies aside, this is one local drink that you must try.
Shortbread Utterly butterly and oh so delicious, shortbreads are biscuits that come in different shapes, sizes, and are the perfect accompaniment to your cuppa – be it tea or coffee. I love to snack on them and my sister has a standing order to get a pack (or two) whenever she comes home. You can pick up packs of these at most stores selling ‘Scottish gifts’ and carry them around to satiate that sudden hunger pang while travelling. These also make for good gifts; can be picked up at the airport duty free.
Scottish Tablet These are a must try for all those who have a sweet tooth. My father loved the Scottish Tablet that I picked up from Pitlochry so much so that I ended up making a batch at home, leaving some for my father and using most as Christmas sweets. You can check out the recipe in my post X’mas tales with some Scottish Tablet.
Sticky Toffee Pudding I could write an entire post on the gorgeousness of this dessert. Instead, let me just ask you to make sure you eat a sticky toffee pudding and try making it home if you are up to it. You cannot go wrong with dates and toffee sauce; recipe On a date with Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Some other stuff that I did not try but you definitely should
* Scottish porridge – made of oats (obviously, it seems!)
* A full Scottish breakfast – similar to a full English breakfast but includes black pudding, lorne sausage, tattie scones and occasionally some haggis.
* Fried Mars bar – deep friend Mars bar. Yes, THE MARS chocolate bar dipped in batter and deep friend. Something I was unable to locate. Or perhaps I did not look hard enough.
* Cullen skink – a rich fish broth
I’m sure there’s a lot more to Scottish fare than what I’ve shared in my limited list. Perhaps I should start making a food list for my next visit – whenever it happens!
Photos: Rapti Bhaumick