Eating, Dining, and Drinking in Edinburgh

One of the many places on my bucket list of places to visit has been Scotland. In each place on that ever-growing list, there’s usually a food or drink that is associated with the place, that makes it even more compelling for me want to visit it.

Okay, who am I kidding? There are usually a number of things (invariably, edible) that make me want to visit a place. In this case, the main one was Scotch whisky, something I wanted to learn more about. Sure, you can buy a few bottles and read up on it. But I’ve learned from visiting places, such as the Jura to see how Comté cheese is made, to Normandy, to watch copper cookware being hammered out, that the best want to understand something is to see, and taste it, where it’s made.

Last fall, I was staying with my friends Paul and Lani in Philadelphia, who are about to head on a multi-year voyage around the world with their three kids. They’d done the trip twice before (and yes, joining them for a month on the boat is also on my bucket list, too), and are packing up to hit the open seas again for a few years. Over breakfast one morning in their kitchen, we started going through places we both were interested in visiting, and Edinburgh rose to the top of the list.

My friends own a tour company, Context Travel, and have experts on the ground in many places, including Scotland, and I was clear when we were finalizing places to go in Edinburgh, that I wanted to focus on food and drink.

Because they had to head home to pack up their lives, Romain and I, and their family, just had a few days in Edinburgh, which we packed with meals, tours, and tastings.

It was grey and rainy most of the time we were there, which didn’t bother me. I’m from San Francisco, and live in Paris, so I rarely pay attention to the weather. I’m also one of those people who are used to it, and doesn’t mind the rain. So I fit right in.

Due to flight schedules, once they tucked the kids into bed, our first night we dined late at Le Roi Fou, which was a little posher than I’d imagined. Swiss-French Chef Jérôme Henry is known for using local products in his modern cooking, that doesn’t veer too far from tradition.

We started off with an outstanding platter of Loch Fyne Scottish oysters, and then a bowl of hand-harvested scallops.  Jérôme Henry’s mastery of classical techniques was evident in the excellent fennel-saffron sauce that was pooled under the exceptionally fresh scallops, which we all agreed were excellent. Two in our group ordered the Isle of Gigha halibut with capers and brown shrimp, which could have been taken off the heat a little earlier, but we ended the meal with a lively lemon sorbet topped with candied bergamot and a shot of local gin to douse our tangy scoops. Or drink separately.

The next morning we stopped at Archipelago Bakery and I immediately honed in on the flapjack.

A local said, “Oh, those are very rich…lots of butter!” which I wasn’t so sure of. I mean, a flapjack is a relative of the granola bar, which are usually packed with dried fruits, grains, and oats. (Which I’ve never been able to master.) Then I looked at some recipes and found out she was right. Most recipes didn’t skimp on the butter. Fortunately, Edinburgh is a hilly city, so we worked off (most) of the flapjacks while we were there.

[Update: The owner of Archipelago bakery contacted me to let me know that there is no butter in their tasty flapjacks. They also have no eggs, flour, or sugar, and only contain dates, oats, bananas, and seeds. So it’s okay to eat ’em up!]

After the bakery we met up with Nikki Welch, who co-authored The Pocket Guide to Whisky, a handy, easy-to-reference guide to the world of Scotch whisky. (Like in Canada, whisky in Scotland is spelled without an “e,” which is driving my spell-check bonkers.) In her tour, we focused on pairing Scotch whisky with local and Scottish specialties. She arrived armed with six bottles of Scotch, which she valiantly toted around town with us.

(It’s also helpful to have some local assistance with the whisky, as some of the names are quite a mouthful; Bunnahabhain, Craigellachie, Tamnavulin, Tullibardine, etc…)

Our first stop was The Pantry for some porridge – and Scotch – at 9:45 am. This friendly little cafe offers up simple but hearty food, the kind you want/need to eat in the morning before a morning of tasting Scotch (and chocolate, cheese, cakes, and fish & chips), along with a selection of house-made cakes, croissants, and local breads, which were being delivered as I tried to explain ‘porridge’ to Romain, which doesn’t quite translate. In fact, the French just call it porridge as well. A few porridge bars and cafés serve bowls of it in Paris, but I don’t think many eat it for breakfast. And I’m certain they don’t accompany it with a belt of Scotch, like we did.

But the French are no strangers to cheese and cheese is almost as popular in Scotland as it is in France, as evidenced by the crowds at I. J. Mellis, a terrific shop that specializes in farmhouse and artisan Scottish cheeses, and makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich, to boot.

Of course, we had to try them with Scotch, which I have to say, is just as good as wine with cheese. Two of my favorite whiskies were the 16-year-old Lagavulin and Talisker. I also liked the Scapa, which is produced in the Orkney Islands on the Northeast coast of Scotland, and I could swear I tasted a bit of the salty sea breezes in the glass.

Scotch whisky is produced from barley, which is dried over a low fire. If peat is added to the fire, the whisky is “peated.” (The word is tourbé, in French.) The very tough pieces of decomposed peat give the barley a smoky flavor. Not all Scotch whisky is peated; some like it, some don’t.

It’s a matter of preference and while it doesn’t usually say it on the bottle, a good spirits merchant should be able to give you some idea of how heavily peated the Scotch is when you’re buying it. In Scotland, you don’t need to ask as I found they’re usually more than happy to give you a taste. At the airport, they had about thirty bottles of Scotch open for tasting, and almost forced me to work my way through them. (Hence the three bottles I bought. One bottle was a full liter of Scotch, which the clerk was especially excited about. So I had to buy that one as I didn’t want to disappoint her.)

Scotch can be pretty high proof – a few we tasted were 65% alcohol, or 130 proof. (A standard bottle of whiskey, vodka or gin is usually 80 proof.) To properly taste it, sometimes a little water is added to dilute the alcohol, which brings the flavors forward. A little pitcher of water may be on the bar, or brought to the table. Ice is acceptable as well. The only thing I was told wasn’t acceptable to add to Scotch was Coca-Cola, which they didn’t have to worry about with me.

While it’s not added to Scotch, cheese is a perfect pairing for the spirit, especially a Somerset cheddar or Stilton. It’s just as good as wine, if not better because you don’t have all those tannins (especially with red wine) to compete with the cheese. It’s all personal preference, of course, but if you have a bottle of Scotch whisky on hand, next time you’re serving cheese – or grilled cheese sandwiches, try pouring a few sips of Scotch. With three bottles that made it back to Paris with me, future guests will be treated to a little Scotch tourbé with their fromage.

And yup, Scotch goes with chocolate, too, which we found out at Coco Chocolatier.

Coco blends Scottish flavors into their bars of dark and milk chocolate.

Haggis chocolate piqued our curiosity, which, fortunately, was flavored with haggis spices, not the mix of innards that is a challenge for some (…or most?) visitors. The rest of us were happy that the bar of chocolate just had the spices, Romain eats andouillette, so he’d probably be up for it. It’s one of those things you have to be born French to appreciate. The Wikipedia page said it has a “strong, distinct odour”…which is underestimating it.

We did like the Haggis-spiced chocolate with the Scotch. The mix of black pepper, allspice, nutmeg and cloves went well with the slightly smoky sips. My favorite chocolate at the shop was the bar flavored with caramel, hazelnut, and Isle of Skye sea salt, although the gin & tonic was the one was we were most eager to experience, flavored with juniper oil, as well as lemon and lime. We didn’t have any on hand, but I should have brought a bar home to pair with some gin.

The following day, I spent the morning with Charlotte Maberly, who created the gastronomy program at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Scotland, of course, has excellent products, such as Scotch whisky, fish, cheese, meat, and butter, but like other places, people sometimes forget that they can buy vegetables and fruits (when in season) locally.

While we shopped the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market, a compact market by Edinburgh Castle, we talked about the U.S. and France and how people shop, as well as what’s changed over the years, and what’s available.

The produce at the market in April was heavy on the potatoes and root vegetables, which is to be expected, considering the climate and weather.

When I posted a picture on social media, a few pointed out that avocados and tomatoes weren’t likely local. I, too, am guilty as charged, and often buy avocados, rhubarb, tangerines, and oranges (but not tomatoes) that aren’t local. I miss the abundant citrus we had in California but I don’t live in a climate where most of those things are grown, so have to resort to picking up those things at market stands that aren’t producteurs (growers).

Also, it’s helpful to realize that not everyone, or every culture, is at the same place. Scotland has wonderful local ingredients, but like most other countries, as Charlotte pointed out, getting people to change their habits and shop at farmers’ markets can be a challenge and often it’s a gradual shift.

Edinburgh isn’t California, and even people in New York City (which has fifty greenmarkets and are very strict about how far away produce and other items can come from ), people will still shop at the supermarket when they need limes for their gin and tonics. In fact, this morning I’m going to the supermarket to get yeast, because I don’t know anyone around here who cultivates their own yeast ; )

What the Edinburgh Farmer’s Market really specializes in is seafood and meat, smoked and fresh. Very fresh, as in, these langoustines were still crawling.

There was some lovely fresh (local) fish, but what really got me excited was the smoked fish. The selection was amazing. I was traveling light (carry-on only) but made sure that I had room to bring a few things back. When I reached for a package of black pepper-smoked mackerel at Skipness Smokehouse stand, Charlotte said “Oh. Aren’t you going to get the one without black pepper, so you can taste the mackerel better?”

Uh…I hadn’t thought of that. Tempted to put it back and reach for one without black pepper, I decided to get both, and was glad I did. When I got home and tasted the black pepper-smoked mackerel, it’s was incredible. No doubt the best smoked mackerel I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t wait to open the one without pepper. Can’t imagine it being any better.

I’m also glad I tasted, and brought home (in spite of the lad at the airport who inquired about the “smoky-smelling black bag in my luggage,” who understood when I told him it was smoked fish, and let me go on my way), a few Arbroath Smokies, which I’m sure he would have approved of…if I could have remembered their name when we spent a few minutes talking about smoked fish. They’re worth having to fumigate my carry-on for after hauling all that smoked fish home.

The Scotts are no strangers to fermentation and to counteract the Scotch whisky-flavored candies we gobbled down at the Paper & Jam booth, (the picture above is of the non-Scotch infused ones, since they were for the kids), Lani and I did shots of kimchi kvass, fermented kimchi juice from the Edinburgh Fermentarium, that was delicious – and revitalizing.

We needed to be revitalized before we hit Pinnies and Poppy Seeds, a bakery that specializes in Scottish shortbread. Using Mungoswell’s organic flour that’s milled 15 miles away, and Graham’s Family butter, these saucer-sized shortbreads are big, and rich. One local told me they eat one every day, which I might file under “life goals.”

One curiosity on their shelves in the shortbread shop (and when I say “shop,” it’s a single counter with a kitchen, an oven, and a couple of bakers behind it), were tins of smoked sugar. On one hand, I didn’t know what I’d do with it. But on the other hand, how could I not get it?

[Stay tuned for part 2 of Edinburgh Eating, Drinking, and Dining, which I’ll be posting shortly.]

 

 

 

 

 

A tasty trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, with bakeries, restaurants, food shops, whisky tastings, and more!


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74 comments

  • Judy H
    April 6, 2018 2:53pm

    Wow…now I’m hungry and want to visit Scotland even more. Reply

  • Cherie Visconti
    April 6, 2018 2:58pm

    Smoked sugar sounds amazing ! As does candied bergamot ! Reply

  • mkf
    April 6, 2018 4:58pm

    This is wonderful! Thanks for your report. Look forward to part 2. (I’m Scot-Jewish by the way, so was very excited to read about all the fun food.) Maybe I need to plan a trip!! Reply

  • Bonnie
    April 6, 2018 5:14pm

    I can’t wait to see how you used the smoked sugar! Reply

    • April 6, 2018 5:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      Looking for ideas! I think it’d be great in a cocktail, but perhaps roll cookie dough in it? Or sprinkle it over an apple tart before baking? Or make smoked ice cream with a chocolate swirl? Or… Reply

      • Becky
        April 6, 2018 6:06pm

        I think it might be just the thing for a bowl of chili or any other savory dish that benefits from a dash of sugar. I loved this post, David! Reply

      • Sarah
        April 9, 2018 1:24am

        I love this post!

        I smoke my own sugar, and honestly it’s fantastic in all of your suggestions. I also highly recommend it in shortbread, lavender vanilla crème brûlée, whisky ganache for chocolates, or muddled into an Old Fashioned. If you’re like me, have the Old Fashioned last, or nothing else will get made. Reply

      • dory
        April 9, 2018 4:10pm

        add it to coconut cream Reply

      • sandra
        April 9, 2018 10:12pm

        Candied bacon? Reply

    • Joan Hersh
      April 6, 2018 5:48pm

      i’d combine it in a simple shortbead, along with chopped up smoked almonds…. and salt. Reply

  • April 6, 2018 5:17pm

    Terrific photos! Please send one of everything. :) Reply

  • Cara
    April 6, 2018 5:28pm

    I have been to Edinburgh and studied Medieval Scottish History so Scotland in general is pretty high on my list…the Highlands are next for me and are amazingly beautiful! So glad you got to spend time there and from the looks of it, enjoyed some great food and whisky! My favorite is Macallan 18yr. Reply

  • Fenella
    April 6, 2018 5:36pm

    Now you’ve met Scottish tablet, you have to make it, David!

    Proper tablet knocks fudge into a cocked hat, or cockade, perhaps, given you were just in Enbr. Reply

  • Clarice
    April 6, 2018 5:43pm

    We were in Edinburgh a few weeks ago for the first time and fell in love with the city. We had the most delicious dinners! Looking forward to your next post to see if we went to any of the same places… Reply

  • Anne
    April 6, 2018 5:46pm

    You’re lucky that you just had the haggis spice chocolate instead of haggis itself. I had it when we were in Edinburgh and wasn’t a fan.
    My husband’s favorite scotch is Glendronach which was a wonderful old-school distillery to visit. I don’t know if it’s even still made there.
    Looking forward to your next installment! Reply

  • Vicki
    April 6, 2018 5:48pm

    This was a wonderful read. Eating and drinking your way through Scotland sounds heavenly! Reply

  • Bernadette
    April 6, 2018 5:48pm

    Ah David I am so happy to see this blog entry! Beautiful photos as always. We are heading over to Edinburgh then the Highlands and then finishing up on the west coast in June. Gladly checking out some of the links you posted to add to my ever-growing lost. I’m also curious about the smoked sugar.

    Andrew Zimmern featured the shop owner of Pinnies and Poppy Seeds on Delicious Destinations, I have had her on my list since I saw the program. Have to see how an American in Edinburgh does compared to my beloved shortbread recipe.

    Eager for part 2! Reply

  • Gayle
    April 6, 2018 5:49pm

    A bit of a project, but I bet homemade truffles rolled in smoked sugar would be interesting. Reply

  • Diane
    April 6, 2018 5:55pm

    I’ve had the pleasure to visit Edinburgh a few years ago and now I’m dying to go back and follow your “food tracks” ;-) Merci! Reply

  • Beki
    April 6, 2018 6:21pm

    Wow, too bad this wasn’t published before I went to Edinburgh. We really had fun at Makar’s Gourmet Mash Bar and there were so many great choices of all sorts. So jealous of your friends heading out in their boat. Maybe they’ll be on FB Yacht Club. Reply

  • Judy F.
    April 6, 2018 6:29pm

    Thank you for the food and drink tips on Edinburgh.Bill and I will be going there in early August. Reply

  • Linda Uhrig
    April 6, 2018 6:33pm

    Oh, David. Thanks for taking me on a quick trip to Scotland today! Been there a few times and LOVE it! You are tempted by and shop for the same things as I am! The smoked sugar really intrigues me. Curious to find out what you end up using it with. Looking forward to Part Deux!!

    Linda; Austin, Texas Reply

  • April 6, 2018 7:06pm

    Such a great post! Makes me want to go this summer. Also, that WAS Petulia I saw in your stories!! Reply

  • susan
    April 6, 2018 7:19pm

    OMG, Edinburgh is my most favourite city and I almost had a heart/stomach attack looking/drooling at all the things i miss. Lagavulin and Laphroaigh are my 2 faves. I lived outside of the city for a year…sigh. Reply

  • Sandra Zaninovich
    April 6, 2018 7:20pm

    My 2 favorite restaurants in the world are the Pierhouse in Appin, in the western highlands of Scotland, and Divino on my dad’s native island of Hvar. Edinburgh is a charming city, but cannot compare to the highlands in natural beauty, history, and sheer magic. The Pierhouse is at the end of a long and winding road that I discovered when searching for the best view of my favorite castle, Castle Stalker, which is perched on its own teeny island in the middle of glorious Loch Linnhe. Reply

    • Fenella
      April 6, 2018 8:04pm

      Port Appin, right! The Pierhouse is right opposite the pier, and you go through Appin to get there. Know it well. :) Reply

      • Sandra Zaninovich
        April 6, 2018 8:28pm

        The most beautiful part of the world I’ve seen…and I’m from the gorgeous Croatia! Reply

  • Mari
    April 6, 2018 7:21pm

    Scotland was not on my bucket list until now. Wow what a great article! I now want to go to Edinburgh especially. Can’t wait for the the second installment. You are the greatest! Reply

  • Terry Hickman
    April 6, 2018 7:43pm

    OMG those oak smoked garlics! Those alone would get me to Scotland (had I the money). I really shouldn’t read your column before breakfast … Reply

  • April 6, 2018 7:44pm

    I “worked” in Edinburgh for a month back in 1995. Filthiest public bathrooms I have ever seen. Got free lunch at the company cafeteria. Had to ask what everything was. “Fried White” was a holiday favorite. This was a deep-fried log of oatmeal. Had to pass on that. Beer was all warm. No women in bars and the guys all wanted to fight. Fun, huh? I walked around in what I thought was pouring rain dressed in a rain suit-blue pants and coat with a hood. Everyone looked at me as those I had just descended from Mars. Everyone pretended that it was sunny and bright. Rain pouring down in buckets. Their hair wet and plastered down. Nobody wearing a raincoat and certainly no umbrellas. Then when the low winter sun did come out, I put on my California sunglasses and again everyone thought I was weird. Found a bakery that made Irish scones. That was great in the morning. All the light switches were out in the hallway. Spent the entire evening in the dark. Hot water for the shower was another disaster. The main power switch was hidden out in the hallway again. Brrrr. Clothes were stuck in a washing machine that wouldn’t give them up. Instructions in Italian and international icons made no sense at all. Had to break the door open and water flooded the room. Had to iron the clothes dry, which took most of the night. A machine was big enough for underpants, one pair sox and a handkerchief. Also, discovered that the thing did the drying, too. Then there was the fried fish, which was the best in the universe. Scotties die young from cholesterol. Whaddaya gonna do. Eh? Reply

  • April 6, 2018 7:55pm

    Thank you for this Scotland post David. I really enjoyed reading it! My husband is part Scottish and we’ve been meaning to go visit Scotland (hopefully next year!), and this post is getting me excited for it :)
    Looking forward to part two!
    P.S: I enjoyed your book l’apart very much. I’m sorry to know that renovation was such a hassle for you. Hopefully the things that worked in your kitchen bring you joy every day :) Reply

  • Laura
    April 6, 2018 7:59pm

    I absolutely adore Edinburgh, and the last time I was there, I had some really great food, including Kurdish, Moroccan, and some excellent Scotch eggs at the Saturday farmer’s market. And, yes, a lot of great whisky as well! I can vouch for the chocolate from Coco Chocolatier – I’ve tried about every bar they make, along with their white chocolate drinking chocolates (the lavender and lemongrass version is delicious). I think I still have a bar of their Gin & Tonic dark chocolate in my cupboard! Reply

  • Debbie in Toronto
    April 6, 2018 8:15pm

    Can’t believe you did all that shopping and just a carry on!

    #lifegoals Reply

  • Rita Margolies
    April 6, 2018 8:29pm

    This article really, really makes me want to go to Edinburgh. Sounds like a fabulous few days. Reply

  • Kathleen
    April 6, 2018 8:40pm

    I’ve taken many Context tours in Europe, great company! Love Scotland as well; have been there three times and found the food much better than expected, including the best fish ‘n’ chips of my life in Leith. If you ever have the chance to visit Islay you can enjoy the most wonderful distillery immersion since it’s “single-malt heaven” on a small island. Reply

  • April 6, 2018 8:54pm

    Hello David! I loved this post and so glad you enjoyed Edinburgh – a city that will always hold a piece of my heart! As you enjoyed Edinburgh, I think you should add Skye and Orkney to your list! Seriously some of the most incredible scenery, seafood and whisky – I had one of the best meals of my life on Skye. Truly one of the “up and coming” food destinations IMO! Reply

    • Sandra Alexander
      April 7, 2018 12:07am

      We’ll be in Sye in June (huzzah!). Where did you have your great meal? Thanks! Reply

      • Fenella
        April 7, 2018 11:07pm

        I can heartily recommend The Three Chimneys on Skye. Gorgeous, low key, friendly, but amazing food, lots of wonderful local fresh seafood creatively prepared. Reply

  • Betty
    April 6, 2018 8:56pm

    Thank you! This could not be more timely–I’ll be in Scotland in May. I’d like to take along hard copy of your informative text. The photos are lovely but printing them will eat up too much very expensive color ink. Please let me know if there’s a way to do this. Reply

    • Fenella
      April 7, 2018 11:08pm

      Betty – you’ll find that there’s free wi-fi anywhere and everywhere in Scotland, so don’t bother printing it; save the trees and take your phone or tablet! Reply

  • Janet
    April 6, 2018 9:12pm

    My parents both were born in Scotland and came to the U.S. as kids. I’ve been there twice and would be booking another trip today after enjoying your email if I didn’t have too many other trips booked this year! But I made do by eating the millionaire shortbread I made for Easter while enjoying your writing! Reply

  • Bebe
    April 6, 2018 10:02pm

    If you happen to have an ugly cough, a spoonful of Glayva, a liqueur with Scotch, mead and other ingredients, is just the ticket. Recommended to me by our driver, who was sick of my hacking, it is a treasure. The bottle came home with me. There’s a wee bit left. Must find it here… Great stuff. And no narcotics. Reply

  • Bebe
    April 6, 2018 10:06pm

    As for Scotland, it is otherwordly beautiful. The contrasts are striking, especially when one drives – as we did, round trip – from our hotel on Loch Linnhe to Edinburgh in one day. On this trip I was driving and ended up in Edinburgh at their Rush Hour, circling Holyrood Castle for quite a while trying to get out of the roundabout and back on the highway.

    The Highlands are brooding. Dark. Wonderful. And then there are the vast green areas…

    A wonderful place to visit. Reply

  • Patrick
    April 6, 2018 10:56pm

    I think these are my favourite photos of any you’ve had on your blog. They really captured the spirit of Edinburgh. Reply

  • Sandra Alexander
    April 7, 2018 12:10am

    Thank you David, thank you! Perfect! We’ll be in Scotland in June, start with four days in Glasgow, then round trip and finish with four days in Edinburgh. Hanging out for your second post. Thank you! Reply

  • Irene Duncan
    April 7, 2018 12:13am

    I’m an ex-pat Scot from Glasgow living in Wales, but even I will admit that Edinburgh is a fab place (but you should try Glasgow as well, it’s beautiful too!). Glad to see a picture of Scottish Tablet – the nectar of the gods! I’ve got a fab recipe, if you or anyone else is interested. It took me YEARS to actually try haggis, and I have to admit it isn’t at all bad . My friend loves Laphroig whisky (I’m ashamed to admit I can’t stand the smell or taste of whisky ) Reply

    • Janet
      April 7, 2018 12:43am

      I’d love a recipe for tablet! Reply

      • April 8, 2018 9:53am
        David Lebovitz

        I didn’t know they were called Scottish “Tablets” but here’s a recipe. If you try them Janet, let us know how they work out! Reply

        • Gayle
          April 8, 2018 8:45pm

          Tablet because the whole sheet is called a tablet before it is cut up, David. But I love the idea of each being a tablet/pill!! Great post. Reply

      • Irene
        April 8, 2018 7:09pm

        No problem! It is very simple and very forgiving :-)

        INGREDIENTS:
        1/2pt milk
        4oz (225g) butter
        2lb granulated sugar
        1 tin condensed milk
        1 tablespoon golden syrup

        INSTRUCTIONS:
        Stick it all in a (large!) pot (it will bubble up, so make sure you use a big pot)
        Stir over a low heat until everything is dissolved, then increase the heat and keep stirring until it’s the colour you want (mid-brownish).
        Whisk for 10 minutes or until thick.
        Set in trays.
        Eat! Reply

  • Paul Huckett
    April 7, 2018 12:22am

    Every two years we fly into Glasgow from Melbourne, Australia, head to the Highlands for whisky, rambling and nature trips, down to Dundee to visit friends, munch on Arbroath Smokies, down to Edinburgh for fine food and a bit of culture, fly to Paris and spend a week soaking up the atmosphere, the food and wine. Then a week touring the countryside and then fly home replete ! France is so much more to me since I discovered your blog David . It gives me wonderful travel tips aside from the recipes . Scotland and France share more than a long history, it’s that proud independent spirit that drives both nations . Reply

  • Lisa Barr
    April 7, 2018 1:26am

    Edinburgh has long been on my bucket list as well, especially since my grandfather was born and raised just outside the city. I’m thrilled that we will finally be heading there in the spring of 2019, so I’m saving this post. But first: off to Paris for my very first visit. I’ve been reading your posts about Paris restaurants for weeks. Reply

    • April 8, 2018 9:54am
      David Lebovitz

      Enjoy your trip to Paris! Reply

  • April 7, 2018 2:01am

    This is perfect: I’m headed to Edinburgh in August to be in the book festival and you’ve given me everything I need for my days off! Thank you. Reply

  • Sarah Nielsen-Jones
    April 7, 2018 3:54am

    Loved your descriptions and photographs; Edinburgh is now on my bucket list too. I got excited when I saw the photograph of the custard tart. My English mother used to make custard tarts. Would love a recipe. Reply

  • April 7, 2018 4:01am

    Ahhhh, who doesn’t love Lagavulin 16? My husband is partial to Laphroaig… I love the scent of it, but I’m not a fan of it any closer than that. Edinburgh was a tasty place… the smoked salmon was my favorite thing. Reply

  • Marcia
    April 7, 2018 6:17am

    I wonder if you got around to trying Caboc? Its a triple crème cheese, packaged in a blue and green tartan wrapper,almost like butter rolled in pinhead oatmeal.

    It’s addictive and well, unavailable in Canada, sadly Reply

    • Fenella
      April 7, 2018 11:12pm

      Marcia – you can make caboc at home: google it, and try the first recipe that pops up – it’s dead easy, and tastes pretty authentic – it’s on With All Your Life blog. Reply

      • Marcia
        April 9, 2018 11:23pm

        Thanks, Fenella.

        I’ll put it in my favourites. Sounds like the real deal. Reply

  • April 7, 2018 11:41am

    oooh love haggis, had it last night as a filling for a stuffed jacket potato, yummmm Reply

  • Kai
    April 7, 2018 12:43pm

    Glad you had a chance to try Archipelago David. Everything is made with such love and care. You dinnae need to fash about the flapjack though!! Someone gave you the wrong info there. Zero butter in that. It’s free of pretty much everything, just full of oats, coconut oil, seeds and sweetened with ripe bananas, dried fruit and a smidge of maple syrup. Completely vegan. Feel free to go back for seconds :) Reply

    • Fenella
      April 7, 2018 11:14pm

      Coconut oil??? I think not!!! Butter all the way, please, or it isn’t real flapjack. All you need is Golden Syrup (not corn syrup), sugar, butter, and porage oats. Nothing furrin and fancy like bananas or maple syrup, either. Snorts in horror. Reply

  • Becky
    April 7, 2018 5:38pm

    Wonderful photos and descriptions – what a great post! Thank-you!! We were there two years ago at this same time of year but they had a “heat wave” and the blue of the sky and the light were otherworldly – absolutely wonderful, especially viewed from the top of Arthur’s Seat. Then it snowed! I never got up the nerve to try Haggis (my husband did, though), despite enjoying a similar dish that is made here in Northern Germany (Knipp). So jealous my daughter is spending next week there (but we will be in Paris at the end of May so I can’t complain TOO much.) Lastly, happy to hear you enjoyed those smoky-peaty whiskies – my favorite!! Islay is on my dream-vacation list… Reply

    • April 8, 2018 9:56am
      David Lebovitz

      I think some food items are cultural, like Vegemite, peanut butter, haggis, and other things. I was dining with a Belgian friend in Paris, who was happily downing a plate of andouillette. When I asked him how it was, he said, “It takes like sh*t,” then offered me a taste. I declined, but he finished off the plate : ) Reply

      • Beth
        April 10, 2018 1:49am

        Andouilette and haggis are not really comparable. Haggis is made with lamb, oatmeal and spices and is very accessible. But I guess you have never tried it. Reply

  • Shelly
    April 7, 2018 7:25pm

    Dear David, I just finished reading L’appart and your story will stay with me awhile. I remember reading your blog posts at the time and I commend you for maintaining your cool, at least in your blog. How you kept from going bonkers or getting arrested for murder and mayhem, I will never know. I will go back to the photos.
    May your home be your sanctuary always. Reply

  • witloof
    April 7, 2018 10:14pm

    Thank you, this was lovely to read! Reply

  • Francesca Last
    April 8, 2018 1:13am

    It seems so odd for people not to know about buttery flapjack, porridge and black pepper smoked salmon, staples of my childhood! When I was in Edinburgh I wasn’t vegan yet and I had the most delicious venison haggis (morals and feeling pain that now aside, I can’t deny it was delicious). So glad you fell in love with Scotland like most do! Reply

    • April 8, 2018 9:58am
      David Lebovitz

      I think flapjacks deserve wider recognition. One issue, though, is that in the U.S., flapjacks mean “pancakes,” so they might have to be renamed. How about “Scottish bars”…or “Scotch bars,” although the second one, people might think they have whisky in them (which might not be such a bad addition!) Reply

  • April 8, 2018 1:55am

    I didnt know about these when I was in Edinburgh. Must take a trip back. Thank you. Can I translate your article into Vietnamese for my friends to read it? Reply

  • Elspeth
    April 8, 2018 1:56pm

    Wow -excited you made it to my home city. Some great tips here but lots more to try another time especially in Leith if you didn’t get to the Shore or to the Manna House and Polentoni on Easter Road. Come back and run a workshop or book-signing for us! Reply

  • Sylvie
    April 8, 2018 5:36pm

    Great pictures. Makes me want to visit! Reply

  • April 9, 2018 3:16pm

    Oh David you came!!! I LOVE the farmers market on Castle Terrace and frankly, the more that people do to shop there and horrid Tescos the better. I hope you had time to try 12Triangles bakery too. And did you meet Stan Blackney? I append my mother’s Tablet Recipe (below) – If you are at loose ends or are looking for a present for someone, here’s my mother’s recipe. It is incredibly sweet – a little goes a long way. Great with a large cup of coffee, and a book.

    2 lb Granulated Sugar
    1 Tin Evaporated Milk
    4 oz butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
    1 tablespoon golden syrup (you can substitute honey if you like)

    Using a heavy bottomed pan, combine all ingredients except the vanilla essence. Cook slowly until a boil or 245 degrees Fahrenheit or it makes a soft ball if tested in cold water. Stir continually. Once boiling, reduce down the heat until it starts to darken. Remove from heat and add vanilla essence and beat until thick. Pour onto a tray which is lined with parchment paper and score into squares when the mixture is almost cold. Once it’s cold, if you don’t feel it is achieving a satisfying level of hardness, return to the pot and reboil. Reply

  • April 20, 2018 12:54am

    David, love your take on Edinburgh! Of every account I’ve ever read, none have ever mentioned the things you did. Reply

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