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Edinburgh Eats

Over a four day jaunt to Edinburgh we ate our way from Michelin Star to Deep Fried Mars Bar via haggis, Cullen skink, shortbread and porridge. The more we ate, the more we discovered what else looked good for the next trip.

Some of the bites we liked best were discovered while we were en route to some of the must see sights of the city. With children in tow it is always good to have a pleasurable food stop up your sleeve especially when energies may be flagging.

One of these discoveries was The Fudge House on Canongate. We walked past its large windows filled with an array of fudge flavours.

A moment later we regretted our haste, retraced our steps and headed indoors. Inside we watched through a glass wall while the fudge makers practised their craft. This was entertaining and educational for the kids to see how the fudge is made. Turning to the finished products beautifully cut and displayed, we struggled to choose between some 27 creative flavours like Turkish delight and lemon meringue pie. The beautifully swirled chocolate and pecan won us over and even the more common vanilla flavour had a pleasant lemony note. It was not long before we were back for a bar of butterscotch and another of triple dark chocolate.

If I lived in Edinburgh I would be in danger of developing diabetes just from this shop alone. They recommend that you eat the fudge within three weeks of purchase. That made me laugh, ours lasted no longer than three minutes! I am trying to avoid looking at the pictures on their website which can make one weep with desire. Yep, mail order is possible and, in my case, probable! Don’t miss it.

The Fudge House, 197 Canongate, www.fudgehouse.co.uk

Being a great supporter of family businesses that do one thing really well, I was pleased to discover Oink which serves up pork, as its name suggests. We encountered the Oink van at the Edinburgh Food Market (kitchenjourneys.net/2012/10/edinburghfarmersmarket/ ) and later discovered an outlet in town too. We queued for pulled port baps with sage and onion stuffing, crackling and haggis with apple and chilli sauces on the side.


The baps are available in three sizes – the piglet, the oink and the grunter. Too many of these will play havoc with your cholesterol, but if you are in town, it makes a quick and delicious lunch on the trot! At least we were – poor pig no longer- but if the taste was anything to go by, it had a good life.

Oink, 22 Victoria Street and the Edinburgh Food Market on Saturdays (9-2); www.oinkhogroast.co.uk

Combining good food with a cultural feed, we had a relaxing lunch at The Fruitmarket Gallery café. Situated conveniently alongside Waverley station, our luggage accompanied us into the café. We basked in the sunshine pouring through the glass wall with a view onto the street. We tried the jerk spiced pumpkin and coconut stew, tortilla, bbq chicken focaccia and a smoked fish platter. A delicious lemon and polenta cake and coffee cake kept us well sustained for the long train journey ahead.

A family friendly environment, creative cooking, plus an exhibition all under one roof.

The Fruitmarket Gallery Café, 45 Market Street, 0131 2252383, www.fruitmarket.co.uk

Tucked away in the Edinburgh Castle is an elegant tea room which is well worth a stop during the many hours needed to do justice to the castle experience. You will need a break in proceedings and The Tea Rooms situated alongside the Royal Apartments makes a good choice. Comfy chairs and a table laden with cakes was all we needed by way of encouragement. Sadly we avoided the tempting cakes as we had a lunch date booked, but we did savour the excellent shortbread which was a far cry from the commercial variety that passes for Scottish shortbread. This was extremely rich, buttery and totally yummy.

That said, if you want to amuse the kids, Edinburgh shops sell a Scotty dog shaped shortbread biscuit which is very cute. But for the real thing, this tea room is worth visiting and I am sure the cakes are good too. They also serve light meals if you are there over lunch.

The Tea Rooms at Edinburgh Castle.

From street food to high end food, Edinburgh is host to 15 Michelin starred restaurants. Although these are pricey for dinner, they serve more affordable lunch menus which enables families to savour some seriously excellent food. We chose to book a table at Castle Terrace, the centrally located younger sibling of Tom Kitchin’s eponymously named Kitchin.

From Nature To Plate is the restaurant’s philosophy and local Scottish ingredients are married with French style cooking. While lobsters were whisked temptingly past our table to a group of businessmen on a conference jolly, we busied ourselves selecting from the £24 a head lunch menu which brought us a choice of 3 starters, mains and desserts.

A plate of tiny canapés was presented and the waiter advised us to eat them in a certain order – a margarita pizza the size of a 50p, followed by a deep fried ravioli of salt cod the size of a large stamp, and lastly, a disc of Caesar salad. This was constructed of a mini flat crouton disc covered by a dark green dome which enclosed the dressing within. The whole was topped with a minute parmesan leaf.

The amuse bouche of Waldorf salad was served in tiny white cups. This consisted of an apple puree, topped with celery foam in which perched two minute bits of apple. On the side was a grating of what I assumed was walnut.

Caastele Terrace Waldorf Salad

My children were intrigued by the tiny pieces of food and were keen to watch the chef at work. It felt like the kind of culinary experience they might have I they found themselves in Alice’s Wonderland.

For starters my men all tucked into thick slices of meltingly tender pork belly topped with half a roasted fig, a small square of pressed fig all served on a port reduction.

Castle Terrace Pork Belly

I enjoyed three ravioli of partridge served with chestnut and pumpkin. The waiter poured over a vial of hot partridge bouillon which was such a deeplyflavoured consommé that, had I been at home, I would have lifted the bowl and drained the plate.

Castle Terrace Partdridge Ravioli

I had serious menu envy when my men’s mains arrived. I was avoiding red meat but their braised shoulder of Inverunie lamb with wild watercress gnocchi and a chorizo foam was so brilliant a dish that I raided everyone’s plate.
I meanwhile had roasted fillet of North Sea hake on a bed of tiny haricot beans and crumbs of Ayrshire pork.

Castle Terrace roast hake

A fine plate of fish indeed but next time I am going in carnivorous mood.

We were so full by now that dessert seemed superfluous but we laboured on through vanilla crème brulee as well as ginger and chocolate cake on an orange sponge base, topped with an orange segment alongside a tulle biscuit filled with an orange crème. The waiter arrived to pour over a chocolate sauce!

Castle Terrace ginger and chocolate cake

Over lunch we discussed food as an art form. The explanations from the waiters about what to eat when and how is probably an aspect of fine dining that I could do without. However, it does focus one’s attention on how one might taste the experience – rather like the notes at an exhibition might enhance the way one thinks about an artwork. My son felt it unfair that this sort of food is not available to all while at the same time rather fancying a job as a Michelin guide inspector. He did wonder though if he would be allowed to pop out for fish and chips between jobs!

Castle Terrace, 33/35 Castle Terrace, www.castleterracerestaurant.com.