A Trip To Scotland, Part Two: Food And Beverage Time!

Soon after publishing A Trip To Scotland, Part One, I pretty well decided that Part Two of my wife Sandy’s and my recent adventures would be all about Edinburgh’s wonderfully beautiful Princes Street Gardens and the very astonishing Scottish Highlands. You know, nature stuff.

But things can change rapidly when least you expect them too. “Yo, Neil!” I said to myself when I sat down to begin composing this opus. “Many things got you stoked during your sojourn in Scotland. And, obviously, you can’t write about them all. I mean, this ain’t a memoir you’re creating here. But a few food and beverage items impressed the hell out of you and Sandy, and they’re practically begging you to devote a bit of wordage to them. Would it kill you to do that? Nope, it wouldn’t. Well, hopefully that last statement is true.”

Who am I to argue with myself? Princes Street Gardens and Scottish Highlands are now being rudely shoved aside by yours truly. Food and beverage have won out. But worry not, nature fans. The Gardens and the Highlands will be featured prominently, and possibly exclusively, in Part Three.

Sandy and I ate and drank awfully well while in Scotland. Plenty of salmon, plenty of beef, plenty of cheese. Not to mention plenty of beer and wine. Our meals often were hearty, and always were satisfying. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Haggis (Photograph credit: foodfolio/Alamy)

Yet I regret one thing, culinarily-speaking: I should have given haggis a try, even if only one or two forkfuls. Haggis is maybe the quintessential Scottish dish, after all. In one or more of its various permutations, it was on the menu of nearly every eating establishment we settled into.

But I didn’t. Haggis, a fairly complicated preparation of minced, cooked ingredients, contains oats, which I like. It also usually contains lamb or calf lungs, hearts and livers, none of which I’m eager to ingest. One or two forkfuls of haggis, however, wouldn’t have killed me. Well, hopefully that last statement is true.

Here, then, are a few of the various dining experiences that made a deep impression on me. All took place in Edinburgh.

Let’s start with coffee, a beverage that I down every single morning without fail. Sans coffee, I’m no good. Never did I expect to, but I had the second-best coffee of my life at the Southern Cross Café, where Sandy and I ate breakfast five times during our eight day vacation (the best coffee I’ve ever had was in Rome). SCC offers several styles of coffee. What we drank were large cupfuls of their Americano, which is made with espresso. Rich, fragrant, slightly sweet, it was delicious.

Scones at Mimi’s Little Bakehouse

When it comes to scones, the one I ate at Mimi’s Little Bakehouse one afternoon wasn’t the second best I ever encountered. It was the best. Sandy had a scone there too, and she thought it the greatest. The scones I’d previously had in my life were squat, dry and crunchy. Teeth, watch out! And I liked them. Mimi’s scones, however, were tall and unlikely to chip the choppers. Nicely airy, yet proudly firm, our scones came to our table warmed. They were delicate in taste, and comforting as a warm blanket. We spread butter and raspberry preserves on them. My brother, after I sent him a picture of the scones, asked for my opinion about them. Perfection is what I told him.

Bowl at top contains stovies. Bottom plate contains steak and ale pie.

At Deacon Brodie’s Tavern for dinner, Sandy and I ordered traditional Scottish food. Stovies for her, steak and ale pie for me. Stovies is a stew that always contains potatoes. Pieces of beef often are in the mix, as was the case with Sandy’s order. My entrée, loaded with potatoes and beef and an ale-infused gravy, was encased in a nifty crust. Ah yes, we enjoyed our choices very much. Home-style cooking is hard to beat.

Still, the steak and ale pie wasn’t the top dinner that I had. That honor goes to the two dishes I consumed at the Whiski Bar & Restaurant. Sandy sampled them that night and was so impressed, she ordered them when we returned to Whiski several nights later.

A lousy photo of 1) a bowl with a few remaining drops of Cullen skink and 2) part of a smoked salmon platter

I’m talking about Cullen skink, and a smoked salmon platter. I was in an adventurous mood during the first visit to Whiski, because I sure as shit had never heard of Cullen skink before. Skink, I later learned, means soup. And Cullen is a Scottish village where this creamy chowder, made with smoked haddock, potatoes and onions, originated. Man, it was something else. And I mean that in a good way. Salty and alive with flavor, it went down the ol’ gullet smoothly and happily. As tasty a soup as I’ve ever eaten.

And the smoked salmon presentation? Superb. Scotland is known for its salmon, of course. Whiski took a large piece of fine, crusty bread and topped it with baby greens, capers and thick slices of smoked salmon, dressing the bread lightly with crème fraiche and a salty sauce. After eating the soup I figured that the next course would inevitably be a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t. In fact, I might have swooned over the salmon creation more than I did the Cullen skink.

Okay, that’s enough oohing and aahing. Still, before I bid you adieu I have to tell you that my mouth has been watering for the last 10 minutes as I relived the Whiski Bar experience. That makes me realize, though I really didn’t need any reminding, what an excellent trip Sandy and I had. Food and drink aren’t always standout occurrences on vacations. When they are, it’s a bonus. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to Scotland. But if we plan another visit to that land, I’ll look forward to being very well fed.

(Don’t be shy about sharing this piece or about adding your comments. Gracias.)

(If you click on any photo, a larger image will open in a separate window.)

134 thoughts on “A Trip To Scotland, Part Two: Food And Beverage Time!

  1. Steve Higgins June 23, 2019 / 5:30 am

    Cullen skink, salmon? I don’t think so, I’m not much of a fish eater. Last time I stayed at a hotel in Scotland I came down for breakfast and ordered the full English. The waiter looked at me sternly and said ‘you mean the full Scottish sir?’
    Yes, it was an English breakfast plus black pudding. Nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 23, 2019 / 10:07 am

      Hi Steve. Have you ever had haggis? If so, what’s your opinion of it.


      • Steve Higgins June 23, 2019 / 4:18 pm

        Liz has had haggis, she reckons it tastes like a whisky flavoured black pudding. Personally I’m not really that adventurous in restaurants, I tend to favour tried and trusted dishes!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Crystal Byers June 24, 2019 / 8:40 am

    I suppose I’ll go brew myself some coffee now. In Houston. At least it’s raining this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Mike June 24, 2019 / 10:10 am

    I love haggis. But then, raised in the South, with Scots-Irish folkways still alive and kicking, I had more than my share of livermush growing up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 24, 2019 / 12:04 pm

      Hi. You know, I had to go to google to find out what livermush is. It’s a close cousin to haggis.


  4. Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess July 1, 2019 / 9:54 am

    I am just relieved that “skink” meant soup and did not refer to the cute little blue “skink” lizards that live in all the nooks and crannies of the outside walls around here. You’d probably have to eat about 100 of those skinks to get full … and, really, I’m just glad that skink over there meant soup.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2019 / 10:35 am

      I know. It’s an unfortunate word to be used for a soup. It might derive from Gaellic, though I’m not sure. Thanks for stopping by, Jackie. Enjoy the week.


  5. antonia_ July 2, 2019 / 12:05 pm

    Never been to Scotland but those scones look fab!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. joylennick July 2, 2019 / 1:06 pm

    Hi Neil, Isn’t it amazing how the subject of food puts a certain light in so many people’s eyes… Although ‘im indoors’ and I love our grub, sadly – now we’re older – we just can’t eat the amount we used to,but still do it some justice. Have you tried Spanish cuisine? The various tapas are delicious. We’ve lived in Spain nearly twenty years now and their paella, et al goes down a treat. Such a shame we missed out on the Scottish food scene though! Bon apetite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 2, 2019 / 2:18 pm

      Hi there Joy. I’m not too familiar with Spanish cuisine. I need to try more of it! Thanks for stopping by. See ya!


  7. John Son July 4, 2019 / 9:52 am

    Attracting trip, very nice, thanks for sharing :))

    Liked by 1 person

  8. janetsm July 17, 2019 / 3:28 pm

    Your post made my mouth water. The salmon in Scotland spoiled me for ever enjoying it anywhere else. The haddock was also very good. I enjoyed trying everything Scottish except for the black pudding and kippers. Don’t want either of them again. Yes, you should have tried the haggis. If you ignore the ingredients, it’s not so bad. Scotland usually gets a bad rap about its food, but I had some truly great meals there. Thank you for bringing the Scottish food back to my mind today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 17, 2019 / 4:40 pm

      Hi. I’m still thinking about the Cullen Skink that I ate at Whiski Bar, and the scones at Mimi’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dave Ply July 19, 2019 / 11:39 pm

    Trying the local food is often one of the more enjoyable aspects of traveling. As we often travel with tours it may be one of the better ways we get a “local flavor”. I did have a chance to try haggis when we were in Scotland, I was somewhat surprised to find I liked it. I’m not so sure about skink, I didn’t try that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 20, 2019 / 6:42 am

      Hi Dave. I’ve tried to locate Cullen skink in my area. So far no luck. I might have to go back to Edinburgh!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. nictheclic August 7, 2019 / 5:58 am

    Haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) are a must try when in Scotland. I recall, many years ago while living on the west coast of Scotland, trying the dish for the first time in Auley’s Bar in Oban. I went back….

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.