My lovely friend Erica and I share a love of food. We’ve been on loads of trips together, share (and publish) our favourite recipes, and generally spend far too much time thinking about dinner. Recently we’ve been talking about the food in her home town of Edinburgh, and Erica’s also planning a new website on the subject, so when she suggested I came up for a visit, I jumped at the chance. And so, Foodinburgh 2013 was born.
Erica’s a serious planner and had created a proper itinerary for our trip – a long weekend. We’d decided not to include fine dining restaurants basically to avoid bankrupting ourselves, but also to highlight the great range of casual dining options in the area, however I’m still planning on going back, especially to visit The Kitchin and Erica’s other recommendation, 21212, both with one Michelin star. She’d also planned visits to nice food shops and markets. I was raring to go!
Here are my recommendations (thanks to Erica) for a fabulous foodie weekend:
1. Castle Terrace Market
After flying in to Edinburgh on Saturday morning, we headed straight to our first stop, and I got my first glimpse of Edinburgh Castle. The farmers’ market, on Castle Terrace, has a great range of stalls and we spotted Edinburgh Gin, amazing seafood, and sampled Scottish tablet (a firm, sweet fudge) and local honey. I was slightly hampered by my hand-luggage-only 100ml allowance, otherwise I would have bought loads home!
2. The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile (or ‘high street’ if you’re a local) has loads of lovely shops and restaurants. We were lucky to bump into a proper piper (very exciting), popped into a fabulous Whisky shop and pressed our noses against the window of the famous Witchery restaurant. I loved Cranachan and Crowdie which is packed full of lovely bits for the kitchen and dining room, often with a Scottish theme and all sourced from the area.
We headed down Victoria Street (after ogling the very attractive kilted chap standing out the front of the Missoni hotel) and popped in to Oink for a massive pulled pork sandwich (ask for extra crackling), which Erica has recently reviewed and I was dying to visit.
After all that walking, we’d worked up enough appetite (just!) to pop into Mother India’s Café for some Indian tapas dishes. The café is bustling with all sorts of people and the interior is a great mix of traditional (flock wallpaper), and modern (glossy green tiling and stunning black and white images). This is a brilliant way to eat, picking lots of small dishes and trying lots of new things. We loved the chilli chicken dosas (served with an amazing daal), saag paneer and a fragrant type of korma called giri. The price was very reasonable (less than £15 each) and the setting is just delightful. Highly recommended.
5. A full Scottish
Sadly, I can’t recommend an establishment for this one as I was treated to a full Scottish breakfast by Erica’s lovely husband. We went for the full Scottish monty: gorgeous Scottish black pudding and a slice of haggis too (my first time – delicious). The potato scone was a lovely reminder of all our Irish breakfasts. Scrummy.
6. Stockbridge Market (photos at header)
This was one of the many highlights of our weekend. Stockbridge is in a beautiful part of Edinburgh, the sun was shining and the stalls were just amazing. We stocked up on delicious fudge and hand made salted caramel chocolate, admired fruit, veg and gleaming fresh fish and tasted fruit teas, cakes and marshmallows.
7. Harvey Nichols
Moving on to the newer part of Edinburgh, we headed to Harvey Nichols, which has an amazing top floor food hall. It’s worth a visit just for the diversity of produce, from every alcoholic drink you could possibly imagine, through every luxury item and diverse ingredient you’d ever need, to novelty things such as this delicious chocolate covered scorpion. Yum.
8. George Street
George Street is definitely worth a wander. We discovered Anthropologie – a huge store with the most AMAZING crockery and kitchen bits. We also popped in to Cath Kidston and a beautiful Scottish interiors shop called Anta where we lusted after the beautiful tartan interiors.
9. Café Andaluz
After all that window shopping, it was time for a late, lazy lunch (I know, AGAIN!) and out of the options Erica gave me, I chose the beautiful Café Andaluz, which is rather like stepping off George Street straight into a lovely Spanish courtyard tapas restaurant. The place is huge, and beautifully decorated, and the tapas was utterly delicious. Every single one of our choices: a stunning goat cheese dish with Seville orange, chilli and marmalade, paella, crisp chicken and potato croquettes, soft meaty pork cheeks, crispy chicken pieces with honey and mustard… were perfectly cooked and delicious. We stayed for ages, chatting and enjoying our food. 3 tapas plus dessert was just £14.95 too. Great value. Mr English would have particularly enjoyed Café Andaluz – a good excuse to return.
10. Mimi’s Bakehouse
Sadly before we knew it, the weekend was over. But we couldn’t leave without a visit to that famous baker of incredibly cakes, Mimi. Mimi’s Bakehouse is a beautiful place to visit and the selection of cakes was incredible. Erica and I chose a huge slab of soft, moist red velvet cake. Utterly delicious. Mimi’s also do incredible breakfasts, so I’ve heard!
I needed a good week to recover from my eating excesses, but we’re already planning Foodinburgh 2014 with MORE friends and MORE restaurants and MORE eating. Massive thanks to my generous hosts, Erica and her lovely family.
Look out for Erica’s new Foodinburgh project (@foodinburgh and www.foodinburgh.com), coming very soon.