Sleeping-in. One of my favourite things. But when I am in Edinburgh? Not necessary. Too much to see, too little time.
A free walking tour just so happens to be departing as I pass through reception on my way out to see Edinburgh Castle. I honestly couldn’t have timed that better myself – sign me up! Funnily enough our guide was an Australian actor (with absolutely no ties to Scotland) however he had a wealth of knowledge and the tour basically became a theatrical performance. Perhaps he was hoping an undercover talent scout was amongst us? Regardless, it was highly entertaining.
But how’s this? After chatting to him for 10 minutes prior to the tour starting I asked him “Where about’s in the UK do you come from?” to which he replied “Mate, are you kidding?”. Oh, I wish I was, it seems I can’t even recognise my own kind beyond the border. I quickly changed the subject following an awkward moment of sheer embarrassment. And there was no excuse, he sounded pretty Austrayan.
The tour passed through the cemetery from which J K Rowling drew inspiration when naming many of the characters in her Harry Potter books. I had a major cringe moment when we arrived at the grave of a ‘Thomas Riddle’ (whose name inspired the character of Voldemort) and someone pulled out a replica of Voldemort’s wand that they had recently purchased from Harry Potter world.
This triggered at least 15 individual photo shoots whereby people posed with this plastic wand in front of a headstone of someone who just happens to share the same name as a fictional character. I was asked by the guide if I wanted a photograph with the wand? Are you kidding me? Absolutely not. Has society completely lost the plot? To say I was embarrassed would be an understatement.
Scottish Food Highlights
Following that ordeal it was time to get a little pork on my fork. Oink – a wicked little lunch bar with a whole roasted pig on display. Slightly confronting, yes, however once they serve you up a fresh pulled pork roll direct from the source, you really couldn’t care where it came from. And to top it off, there was a range of delicious sauces to complement! Obviously I chose apple sauce, you know, being a dedicated ‘I Quit Sugar’ follower and all…I loved this place, the concept was simple, well executed and the roll itself – yum scrum.
The Arcade Bar: Haggis & Whiskey House also in Edinburgh stayed true to Scotland’s national dish serving up a layered feast of mashed turnip, potato and haggis. Whiskey sauce was an optional extra (non negotiable in my opinion) and tied the three components together beautifully. For those who don’t know what haggis is, it is made from the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep minced with; onion, beef fat, spices, stock and oatmeal and then encased within stomach lining. Haggis is rich in flavour (if done well), has a lovely texture and I would certainly order it again. In fact I did whilst visiting the town of St Andrews – a burger layered with beef patties, haggis and whiskey sauce…. I am hungry just thinking about it.
Driving up through the highlands I became transfixed by the ever-changing textures, colour and reflections across the undulating landscape. Scotland really is beautiful and the people are some of the friendliest I have come across.
The gorgeous little lady at Hettie’s Tearooms in Pitlochry (located on the fringe of Cairngorm National Park) insisted I took home an entire bag of fresh scones free of charge as she was baking more later that night. At the time I glanced down toward my pant extenders and considered momentarily “Do you really need these, Thomas?” before quickly abolishing those rational thoughts with images of clotted cream and strawberry preserve.
And yes, I gave the scones a pretty decent nudge that evening! My hot little tip however, if you do call through here, is the very decadent dark chocolate layered fudge cake with milk chocolate shavings! Need I say any more…
Actually, speaking of that region. Call through the Cairngorm Brewery – they brew a wicked Citrus, Wheat & Elderflower beer! Goes by the name ‘Trade Winds’…
Now before I go – I want to share with you my little secret. We headed down to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, it would have been around 9pm, and spent hours laying on the grounds, looking out over the imposing castle and glistening lake. Not a sound could be heard, not a person in sight.
Scotland. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most rewarding….
Drop us a line in the comments below if Tom’s Scottish food post has inspired you to visit the land of kilts!
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