I find Edinburgh to be a marvellous place to visit.
It has history, it’s cosmopolitan, and is the home to some really great food places which are run by people who are passionate about their trades and crafts A recent trip there on a food fact finding mission confirmed this to me.
Two of the best butchers in the Britain – possibly the best butchers in the world? – have their homes in Edinburgh.
Crombies of Edinburgh, on Broughton Street, who have the very enviable website address www.sausages.co.uk opened in 1955 and is now run by second and third generation, Sandy and Jonathon. Multi award winning Q Guild butchers, they produce some highly respected sausage, homemade haggis and Scotch pies. The shop is bright, smart and you get a feeling of real quality when walking into the place. Sandy and Jonathan are welcoming and I always come away a wiser man having visited them.
John Saundersons butchers on Leven Street is also a member of the prestigious butchers Q Guild and this shop has traded here since 1958. Now run by third and fourth generations of the family, this is another typically traditional butchers business serving the city people. The shop is filled with antiquity, hanging rails and meat hoists in the front of the shop and a traditional office still in place above customers heads, originally giving the shop secretary a view of the days work from high up whilst filling in the ledgers. Scotland is famous for its local resources of beef and venison amongst others, and these are in evidence on my visits. John is another proud producer of haggis, and rightly so. www.johnsaunderson.co.uk
Wedgwood is a spectacular restaurant on the Royal Mile
www.wedgwoodtherestaurant.co.uk It is smart yet not too stiff, and run by Paul Wedgwood, it is turning out some very fine dishes. Pan fried pigeon breast on haggis, tatties and neeps is amazing, and crusted rack of mutton makes use of a meat which I believe is sadly under used. This is fine dining without the price tag normally attached to it. Staff are courteous and attentive, and the surroundings are simple and unfussed. I enjoyed my visit to this restaurant very much.
One of the most famous delicatessens resides in Edinburgh: Valvona and Crolla is situated on Elm Row, just outside the city centre.
They also have various presences dotted around the vicinity, but the Elm Row store is the first and most impressive site. Created by Italians in 1934, this is a true destination for the food lover. From outside it looks rather ordinary, however once inside, you realise that the accolade of ‘No 1 Uk Deli’ is well deserved.
The walls are stacked from floor to (very high) ceiling with jars, bottles and dried foods that you scarcely see outside Italy. The counter has an amazing array of cheeses, cooked and cured meats, and as you walk further into the store, you discover many more delights for the epicurian. A vast array of wine is on offer, as well as tastings and classes available. www.valvonacrolla.co.uk. Whilst being solidly Italian, it also has a good selection of local produce as well.
So what did I learn on my trip to the Scottish capital? There are some very fine and strong food places, turning out specialist produce, which they are justly proud of, and, like cassoulet and foie gras in France and chorizo in Spain, haggis is celebrated and adored. It’s unusual for a British food to be so highly regarded in the same way as it is on the continent. More often than not, it will be sneered at.
The next thing is to raise our regional Yorkshire dish to celebrated status – pork pie and mushy peas!