It was here that I got my first taste of Scotland. Venison Bangers and Mash with a deep Port jus and golden onion rings on top.
That evening we found ourselves a pub with a beautiful selection of alcohol, and christened our first night with a mini pub crawl. It was here I had my first taste of Potato Leek soup, one of the two dishes which would ultimately get me through this week.
The next day we took a morning trip to Edinburgh Castle. Once done several of us stopped for lunch on our way down the mile to Holyrood Palace. A friend and I had really wanted to stop and have lunch at the Witchery, but the pricey menu had everyone else looking for something cheaper. We ended up in a little sandwich shop further down the mile, which had once been the workshop of a famous good Samaritan turned serial killer from the 17-1800s. It was here that I learned all sandwiches in Scotland come with butter. As we would put mustard or mayonnaise or oil, they put butter.
On our next free day, several of us decided to take a trip to Portobello, on the north-eastern edge of the city. Portobello was a rather familiar sight for those of us who have lived within 2 hours of the Jersey Shore our whole lives—as it was essentially the Scottish version. Seagulls trying to steal food from small children, trash buried into the sand. The buildings lining the walk are just older than those in NJ.
Near the sands and the waves of the North Sea, we found a little restaurant for lunch. As was the case in much of Scotland (and in Ireland) the menu was very limited—bad news for a picky eater like me—so I ended up with what you see below. Scottish Nachos. A little burnt, but that sour cream is worth every stab of those sharp chips! As it was in Ireland, so too are the dairy products in Scotland.
For lunch we went to an Italian restaurant—because why not?! There I ate a bowl of penne bolognese which was enormous, but satisfying.
After lunch we walked our way to Glasgow Cathedral, which was one of the most beautiful and gothic cathedrals I've ever seen. Beside the cathedral was the Necropolis, a graveyard and park set on a high hill. After a beautiful walk through the cemetery, and being harassed by a quite handsome, but quite crazy, scotsman about the political witches who controlled the world, we stopped at a pub for a break and some grub. There I got the second of my staple foods for my time in Scotland—Onion Rings. Beer battered, light, flaky and delicious fried onions.
After our excursions in Glasgow, I walked with my professor to the next town over to have dinner at the Sheep Heid Inn, the oldest surviving (and still operating) pub in Edinburgh. I ordered the pork chops, which were thick cut with nearly as much fat as meat! Served over mash and cabbage with a very good gravy.
The next day we had a day-trip to the edge of the highlands. First we went to Sterling Castle, followed by lunch at Loch Lomond. I had a delightful shepards pie, served over yorkshire pudding. After lunch we climbed the steps up the mountain to see to view of the lake. This was the part of Scotland I loved the most.
Our next stop on our tour of the highland edge was the Glengoyne Distillery. We went on a tour of the Scotch distillery, which was enlightening and delicious. For those alcohol connoisseurs reading this, if you ever find yourself in Scotland or Ireland with nothing to do, take a tour of a distillery. Included in your tour is a tasting of several different years.
|The 12 year old Scotch they started us off with before even setting foot on the tour route.|
This was the 18 year old Scotch we received at the end of the tour.
Our final night all together, my cohorts and I went out to a spanish tapas restaurant where we indulged in some pretty delicious places. While I do not eat much seafood, I was surprised when one of my colleagues ordered prawns but didn't know how to go about eating them once they arrived. I did my best to offer instructions from what I've seen on the Food Channel.
The star of the meal, by far, was the Paiea. Rice, onions, chorizo, chicken and saffron never tasted so sublime. If they'd have let me I would have eaten the entire pan.
All in all my adventure through Scotland was slightly more limited than Ireland, though I learned some valuable lessons. The Scottish put butter on everything, even cold-cut sandwiches and burgers, they ALWAYS cook their beef well-done, they don't offer many choices, and they don't always understand the concept of salt or seasoning. However the regional dishes, such as Haggis, are worth a try as they are the best food you might have. Surprises lay around every corner.
Until next time, keep experimenting in those labs and kitchens!
XOXO- The Zombie Cook