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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

All the Delicious Food from Edinburgh

Remember when I posted about how a majority of travelers go out of their way to not eat local food? Well, I was so upset about that, that when I went on vacation, I made the deal with myself to eat all the food I couldn't get at home and not worry if it was going to be gross or not. The worst thing that would happen is I'd not like it and order something else. Believe it or not, I did this, and it went so well that I'm just sad that I am at home eating regular boring food.

Everything I tried was so good, which was crazy. Everything in Edinburgh is locally-sourced when possible and all the places you go have maps to tell you where everything came from. They take their local food very seriously in Scotland, but you can taste it in every dish. In fact, you can go see how all the animals on the farms just roam free and have a great life (you know, until they get eaten). 

This was the haggis cannonballs and tomato salad from Cannonball Restaurant on the Royal Mile

What haggis cannonballs look like inside

Everyone will hear the word haggis and make a cringe-y face. Not me! I would have eaten it at every meal if I could. Eric's cousin's boyfriend and I had a great conversation about how people aren't appreciating all the amazing food we were surrounded by, especially when it came to haggis.

Full Scottish breakfast from Scran Bistro

I also ordered a full Scottish Breakfast on my first full day there. I've never had black pudding before, but I. AM. In. Love. I'm still looking into making it myself at home, though the main ingredients are pig's blood and lard. There's also oats in there. You'd think it was really iron-y tasting, but it isn't. In fact, I didn't even realize it had blood as an ingredient until I was almost at the end of my trip and I looked it up to see if I could make it at home. Apparently, it's very fatty though, so I guess me eating it every day for a week was probably more than enough.

Avocado toast with salmon - The wild-caught salmon in Scotland is to die for

I had been following some restaurants in Edinburgh on Instagram for a wish list of what and where I wanted to eat on my trip. Scran Bistro had such lovely photos that I knew it was on the top of my list for breakfast and they did not disappoint. This is where I discovered that British sausage is so much different than sausage at home, where I don't eat it. I was surprised, but pleasantly, and I ate everything on that plate up there, and also half of my brother-in-law's black pudding. 

lamb sweetbreads
veggie haggis
So, the lamb from Scotland is incomparable. You will see them running wild through giant open farmland, literally, only a few miles from the city. I ate as much as possible, because I love lamb. I had scoped out a place called Under the Stairs near Victoria Street that I 90% picked based on the name, and then decided the menu sounded so good that it was worth the short walk. All 5 of us (me, Eric, Eric's sister, her husband, and Eric's brother) ordered something different. I ordered from the specials menu: lamb sweetbreads (made with lamb pancreas) and veggie haggis (which I was told not to order when I talked to someone elsewhere, but I loved it). 

I, generally, don't order dessert out for lunch, but we had been walking a ton, much of it uphill, so I wasn't overly concerned about a bunch of extra calories. I also saw the special dessert for the day was a salted oat chocolate cake. I've never seen such a thing and had to order it. The 5 of us split it, but I almost wished I had my own slice. This was probably one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever had out. 

This is what it looks like when 7 people who love food go out together and have already eaten half of the meal :)

Do you like Indian food? I do! We had a family night out where a bunch of the cousins met up for dinner (we were in town for a wedding) and we went to Dishoom. This is a British small chain and the first location outside of London. There are three levels and they feature upscale Indian cuisine. We pretty much tried everything on the menu and it was all wonderful. My standout was the lamp chop though, and also the chai latte is awesome if you want something warm and you like spicy. I wouldn't say this was cheap, as we ordered all the food and much it was tapas style, but you could probably do two large dishes and share and make it more affordable.

A perfect breakfast sandwich

On Saturday morning, Eric and I woke up and headed for the Edinburgh farmers' market. Though it's small, it had a lot to offer, plus it was situated at the bottom of the hill of Edinburgh Castle, so the backdrop was amazing. The morning was nice and I had the chance to talk to some lovely locals, including a woman who made me a breakfast sandwich with pigeon (we would call is squab, if we can even find it anywhere), bacon, black pudding, and caramelized onions.

I wanted to eat ALL of this meat.

I then hit up a stand where a lady who owned a nearby farm was selling all manner of meats I'd never tried before. It all looked amazing, but I decided on smoked goose breast strips that looked like bacon. She said I could eat it straight out of the package. I took it back to our Airbnb and ate it later that evening and aside from being super greasy (goose is really fatty), it had a unique and lovely flavor that I loved. I'd eat it all the time if I found a place near home to sell it to me. This was a universally loved flavor in our travel party, since I made everyone try it. 

Before leaving home, I had a small list of foods I wanted to try if I found them. I never found blood sausage or jellied eel, but I did find fish pie at a few places and ordered at a place called Scran and Scallie. This was a highly recommended restaurant and I wasn't disappointed. I was surprised though, because I assumed it would be a cod pie, but when I began eating it, I found several different kinds of fish. The wait staff informed me it contained cod, haddock, shrimp, and salmon. Unless you're starving, this can easily be split between two people.

The other pies and entrees are just as large. I also tried their haggis appetizer, and I loved that as well. This is a splurge restaurant if you plan to visit and not split dishes, but you can also get two meals out of it, so don't be afraid to take leftovers with you if you can.

The House Grazing Board with garlic maple chicken wings, venison chipolatas, fried brie,
black pudding haggis (so yum) and house pickles

I had a list of places to dine even before I left home, which I chose based on what I wanted to do, Google Maps, and reviews. When I look for places to eat at home, I plug in where I'm going into Google Maps and then search for restaurants nearby. Once I find ones that look promising, based on Google reviews, then look at the restaurant website for menus, and finally 
I look up more reviews on TripAdvisor. If that all checks out, I add a pin to my Google map for later. This is how I found Devil's Advocate in a close off the Royal Mile. It had a ton of steps to get to it, but it was worth the exercise. (See photo #9

We chose to order a starter and a main (then also had a dessert for good measure). The main was one of their grazing boards that featured chipolatas (a small sausage) and black pudding haggis, which was the best of both worlds to me, as well as some really yummy chicken wings. We ordered the small, and it was still huge.

For our main, we chose the lamb neck. We both love lamb and neither of us had ever had neck before. It was super tender and done really well, and also on this big pile of veggies that were amazing, so everything about this meal was a win. We finished off the meal with a butterscotch panna cota that I somehow don't have a picture of, but it was light and a perfect end to a pretty perfect meal.

So, if you're headed to the UK, some of my favorites that I suggest you eat are haggis and black pudding if you're an adventurous eater, any salmon, Scotch beef or lamb dish if you only want to branch out a little bit. Stuff your face with mountains of fresh veggies, too. You won't be sad. 

Cheese scone and tea at the Tea Room on the Royal Yacht Brittania

If you like tea, you are going to be really happy. And if you like coffee, skip Costas, Starbucks, and Cafe Nero to go to better local places for amazing brews. I enjoy both, which meant it was often a struggle to choose, though I was always pleased with what I ordered. I, honestly, can't wait to get back to the UK, and Scotland in particular, so I can try all the other wonderful food I didn't get to on this trip.

What are some of your favorite foods from your travels?

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