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. carolinehelbig June 13, 2019 / 12:32 am

    Good to hear you enjoyed the food so much. I love smoked salmon and the skink sounds fabulous. Ya, you should have tried the haggis (coming from someone who hasn’t).

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lynette d'Arty-Cross June 13, 2019 / 12:39 am

    Smoked salmon is one of my all-time favourites, and I actually like haggis. I find it funny that people will eat hot dogs (a melange of God knows what and preservatives) but not haggis. 😉 It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Scotland, but your series is inspiring me to go back. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. smilecalm June 13, 2019 / 12:49 am

    alleviates my fears that you
    were going hungry
    and not getting
    the local good stuff 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. tanjabrittonwriter June 13, 2019 / 1:13 am

    Let me assure you that yours is not the only mouth watering, Neil. Where, upon awakening in the morning, will I find a scone like the one you describe? Teleporting should be an option. We could meet for breakfast at Mimi’s!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Sheree June 13, 2019 / 1:38 am

    There are some great restaurants in Edinburgh but you really should’ve tried the haggis, you’d have enjoyed it. Just put aside thoughts of its contents.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Cristina Crawford June 13, 2019 / 5:58 am

    Lovely read, as usual. I depart tomorrow for Scotland. A dear friend who had been there years ago said to be prepared for awful food. Now I am feel much better about not starving to death as I cycle for seven days. I’m stoked about it all….except of course Haggis. Ain’t happening! Though I’ll wager my paltry life savings that my husband will give it a go!

    Liked by 5 people

  7. George June 13, 2019 / 8:01 am

    My mouth is watering now too. I’ve just eaten lunch, but I might have to go out for more. I love Cullen Skink, and I love haggis. You must try it next time (I’m pretty sure from these posts that there’s going to be a next time). When you list the ingredients, it’s sounds horrible, but it tastes just the opposite. Think of a herby sausage. Right, where can I get some round here?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 1:36 pm

      Hey there, George. After reading your comment and a few others, I really regret that I didn’t give haggis a try.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. greenpete58 June 13, 2019 / 8:18 am

    Your article has me drooling. I’ll probably at least try haggis when I get to Glasgow. Stovies, smoked salmon, and steak and ale pie are definitely on my list. Thanks for the lowdown, Galloping Gourmet!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 1:37 pm

      Have a good time in Scotland, Pete. Glasgow’s a real good city, I think. Sandy and I wanted to spend a day there, but it didn’t work out.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. joyce hamilton June 13, 2019 / 9:03 am

    All sounds good to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Helen Devries June 13, 2019 / 9:26 am

    You’ve made me all nostalgic for the food of Scotland….you have to go back, if only to sample the rest of the culinary delights.
    A Glasgow morning roll is food for the gods….Arbroath smokies….cranachan…..hot potato scones…lorne sausage…mutton pies…and, of course, the haggis.
    We keep sheep, so I can make my own haggis and it has proved popular with Costa Rican friends – until I reveal the ingredients!
    But, something puzzling. No mention of whisky….

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 1:40 pm

      Thanks for dropping by Helen. Right, Scotland is a paradise for whiskey drinkers. But I’ve never liked hard liquor. I stick to beer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen Devries June 13, 2019 / 2:08 pm

        Well, you sound as if you had plenty of choice there, too! Glad you enjoyed Scottish food so much.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. joylennick June 13, 2019 / 10:43 am

    Hi Neil, No mention of elasticated trousers…but that would spoil the wonderful, hearty picture, wouldn’t it?! The food sounded great. As someone who was born in the UK, I’m only sorry I didn’t get to Scotland, though the other half has been three times on business. Have you come across ‘our’ Seumas Gallacher, from Glasgow? A character, i’m sure you’d love. Look him up on Facebook or Twitter,or Amazon if you haven’t already. He writes murders/thrillers. Salud!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 1:42 pm

      Hello there, Joy. I never heard of Mr. G. I’ll look him up online later today. Take care.


  12. lievelee June 13, 2019 / 12:06 pm

    What an advert for Scotland!! I have only ever been on a very short, soggy weekend trip to Edinburgh, but after reading your food adventures, I can’t wait to make a decent long trip to Scotland. You make the food sound absolutely heavenly – although some of it is probably very familiar to me already – I would challenge anyone to improve on my own homemade scones…


    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 1:45 pm

      Hi Lieve. I’m sure that there are plenty of fancy restaurants in Edinburgh, but we stuck to places that serve up home-cooking types of fare.

      Your scones sound fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. cincinnatibabyhead June 13, 2019 / 12:56 pm

    I honestly didn’t know they had food in Scotland. What do you know. Why I hang out with you Neil, you are so smart.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. JT Twissel June 13, 2019 / 1:45 pm

    I don’t think I would have tried the haggis either and my ancestors were Celts. I would have gone for Scottish shortbread without a doubt.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. SandyL June 13, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    I’m glad you lost the argument with yourself. The food sounds wonderful and I’m very hungry now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 2:36 pm

      I’m in the mood for a big bowl of Cullen skink. Thanks for saying hello, Sandy. Be seeing you.


  16. mariezhuikov June 13, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    Haggis, breakfast of champions. You can rectify your egregious error by ordering it in a can over the internet. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter June 13, 2019 / 3:48 pm

    I’ve been a vegetarian since long before we moved to Scotland so i’ve never actually tried haggis either. A lot of places do veggie versions which I enjoy, and my resident expert tells me they are very similar in taste and texture because the ingredients in both are all minced up and heavily seasoned. So if you really can’t stomach haggis (pun intended) you could try an ersatz version!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Isabelle June 13, 2019 / 5:58 pm

    My mouth has been watering since I came across the scone. I’d very much like to have a big bite of it. Warm and tasty. The dishes look delicious. And the Americano, oh irresistible! Scotland is lovely, Neil. What do you think about the Scottish accent? Was it hard to understand?

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Suzanne [Life At No.22] June 13, 2019 / 5:59 pm

    I never knew there was a vegetarian haggis. After a moment of gagging at the thought of the real haggis, I succumbed and surprised myself by enjoying it!

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Alyson June 13, 2019 / 6:10 pm

    So glad you enjoyed our food and drink on this trip – It’s come a long way since last time you visited. As for haggis, it’s a really tasty dish especially if eaten with neeps and tatties (mashed swede and potato) – As for the contents, I would guess that many a sausage in any aisle of a supermarket would contain such fodder but just not as blatant about it.

    Here’s a thing – I have another blog dedicated to my favourite Scottish author and I have a few recipes on it. Scroll down to the girdle scones and I think you could make them at home in Philadelphia in a jiffy!


    Liked by 3 people

  21. chef mimi June 13, 2019 / 7:28 pm

    Fabulous! I had cullen skink, a ton of salmon, great breakfasts…. so much good food in Scotland!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 8:37 pm

      I wonder if Cullen skink is on the menu of any restaurants in the USA. I’d never heard of it before.

      Thanks for the visit, Mimi. See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. viewfromoverthehill June 13, 2019 / 8:02 pm

    Ah Neil: You disappoint me. Haggis is great, and much like stuffed kishke. You can probably get it back home if you look around. It is definitely worth a try. I love Scotland….

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Debra June 13, 2019 / 8:47 pm

    Glad to hear they have good coffee and scones so this vegetarian won’t totally starve when we go to Europe (including Scotland) in 2021. The carrots (turnips???) and mashed potato sides looked good at least. I agree with your friend, haggis sounds just like kishkas (sp?). I can’t believe I used to love kishkas. My sister still loves tongue sandwiches.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 13, 2019 / 9:38 pm

      Tongue sandwiches! How often does your sister eat them?

      There’s a good vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh called Henderson’s. Sandy and me had lunch there one day.


  24. Ken Dowell June 13, 2019 / 10:56 pm

    I think I might have escaped Scotland without any regrets about not trying the haggis.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Ann Coleman June 13, 2019 / 11:23 pm

    I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to try haggis, either. Don’t beat yourself up…you enjoyed all that Scotland has to offer, within reason. We each get to set our own boundaries, and we don’t have to apologize for them either!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 14, 2019 / 6:58 am

      Yeah, but I’ve given it some thought since arriving back home. It’s no big deal that I didn’t try haggis, but if I was there now, I would. Have a fine weekend. See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. tylerus June 14, 2019 / 8:50 am

    I’ve had haggis on a couple of occasions . . . it sounds awful, but it’s pretty darn tasty. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  27. Robert Parker June 14, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    I had Cullen skink at The Haven, a Scottish pub in Boston. At first, I was disappointed when they brought it out, I thought “skink” would be some kind of lizard, but it was one of the tastiest chowders I’ve ever had. Everything you tried on your trip sounds great to me!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 14, 2019 / 4:45 pm

      I’m going to try and find out if Cullen skink is served at any Philadelphia area restaurants. I’ve done some research on that over the last few days, but so far no luck.


      • Robert Parker June 14, 2019 / 6:44 pm

        There’s one English pub here in Milwaukee, but nothing Scottish that I’ve seen. I didn’t make it to the Highland Games in Wauwatosa, a couple weeks ago, but they had scones and a haggis taco-eating contest.

        Liked by 1 person

  28. chattykerry June 14, 2019 / 3:18 pm

    That brought back lots of memories, It has been many years since I tasted stovies – yummy! Alas, haggis is horrible. I first tasted it at a Burns Supper at Glasgow University in the late 70’s. Gah! Glad you had such a wonderful trip.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 14, 2019 / 4:50 pm

      Hi, and thanks for adding your memories about Scottish food. Before the trip I’d never heard of stovies before, or Cullen skink. I’m glad I had the chance to eat them!


  29. Jacqui Murray June 14, 2019 / 4:05 pm

    That food looks great. I don’t mind trying ethnic food because I’m pretty sure “it won’t kill me” (to quote a blogger I enjoy).Who am I to argue with myself? Or You? I found in my travels to Southeast Asia that my appetite was robust–a good 50% higher. Maybe yours was too? So you could try all of these foods.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 14, 2019 / 4:53 pm

      Hi Jacqui. Yup, I put away a lot of food during the trip. And I’m still thinking about some of the meals I had!


  30. Donna Cameron June 14, 2019 / 8:54 pm

    In my humble opinion, you dodged a bullet by not trying haggis. When I went to Scotland about 10 years ago, I ordered it at a restaurant that had a reputation for great haggis. I convinced myself that because of my Scottish heritage, haggis was a must. There are not words to describe the depth of unpleasantness–the taste, the texture, the smell, and the overall optics. And it was a taste that lingered. Literally, for months, my mind could summon the memory of the taste and aftertaste–it was a pretty effective appetite wrecker. Other than that, though, my memories of the food throughout Scotland are quite positive. And the country was fabulous–I’d go back in a minute!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 14, 2019 / 10:21 pm

      Hi Donna. Many thanks for stopping by. Your description of the haggis-eating experience is making me reconsider my plan to give haggis a try some day!

      Enjoy the weekend. Take care —

      Liked by 1 person

  31. alhenry June 14, 2019 / 11:31 pm

    Well, I will never blame you for going haggis-less. In my view, the intestines and other gutsy parts of beings belong in those beings and not minced up in a skillet and served with a sprig of some green thing. Yuuuuuccck! A good Scottish friend, when she was domiciled for the length of a marriage here the States, had a big Haggis party. I managed a trip to the loo whenever the haggis was in my vicinity.

    BUT–and I hope I will be redeemed here in the eyes of the Scots–you were so right to try the scones. The English and the Scots have not only nailed the scone, they do it PERFECTLY, and there are few pleasures in the culinary world greater than a warm scone with clotted cream and/or jam oozing over it. Unless it’s TWO warm scones with etc.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 15, 2019 / 7:30 am

      Morning, Amy. The comments attached to this story show a wide range of opinions about haggis. There’s a big pro-haggis camp, and a big anti too. One of these days I’ll have to eat some haggis and find out which camp I’m in.

      I’ll be having breakfast very soon. I wish that scones were part of it. Enjoy the weekend. See ya!

      Liked by 1 person

  32. draliman June 16, 2019 / 2:06 am

    Funny, I’ve spent a lot of time in Scotland (my Mum is Scottish) but I’ve never tried haggis! I love smoked salmon though, and have been to Cullen many times (it’s only a few miles from Lossiemouth, where we used to stay with Granny).

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 16, 2019 / 7:21 am

      Hi. Smoked salmon is delicious. A classic meal is bagels with cream cheese and lox (Lox is the Jewish version of smoked salmon).

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Martina Korkmaz June 16, 2019 / 8:25 am

    Love Scotland. Spent a year there and of course tried the Haggis. Edinburgh reminds me a lot of Prague. Castle on the hill, historic architecture and good food. But of course the weather is more moody in Scotland. Looking forward to returning to Edinburgh. Glad you both had a wonderful time. 😊

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 16, 2019 / 10:29 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Martina. “Moody” is the right word for Scottish weather. Plenty of days have periods of rain. Nevertheless, Scotland is a fine place to be in.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. andrewcferguson June 16, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    So glad you enjoyed our cuisine, Neil – it has come far since Mike Myers described most Scottish cooking as a dare. Great natural ingredients, weighted towards the heavier side to keep out the cold and damp… and well done for sticking with the native cookery when there are so many fine restaurants in Edinburgh serving great stuff from the rest of the world!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 16, 2019 / 7:15 pm

      I haven’t found out yet if Cullen skink is on the menu somewhere in my region. But if it is, I’m going to find it!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. roughwighting June 17, 2019 / 6:25 am

    I think you HAVE to return to Scotland for all the wonderful things you saw/did there, but the best scone and second best coffee is perhaps the strongest pull. 🙂 Interesting post, Neil. I’ve only been to Scotland (Edinburgh) once, in August, and would have to admit my lasting memory is how darn cold I was. Our old-ish inn had no hot showers, so I spend an hour in an old dilapidated tub in our room every early evening….!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 17, 2019 / 8:12 am

      Hi, and thanks for stopping by. Generally it’s not warm in Scotland, that’s for sure. I was there in late May, wishing that I had brought a warmer coat and my earmuffs. I could have used them on certain days.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. jeanleesworld June 17, 2019 / 6:38 am

    Oooo, Haggis! Well if you ever return, you know what you’ll have to eat. 🙂 I remember having blood pudding in Ireland and enjoying that a good deal. And skink! I’ll have to remember this one. Thanks for the culinary tour!

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Paddy Tobin June 17, 2019 / 8:22 am

    Good food is an essential part of a holiday and can make or break it. You made good choices!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 17, 2019 / 9:26 am

      Hi Paddy. Not sure if I totally agree with what you say. I wasn’t knocked out by the food in Amsterdam, for instance. But I had a terrific time there. Great city. Enjoy the day. See you!

      Liked by 1 person

  38. cath June 17, 2019 / 9:04 am

    One of my sisters-in-law comes from Inverness, and likes to serve up all sorts of traditional Scottish recipes, so I’ve had haggis a few times – its very tasty – though I find it best not to think about the ingredients list.

    Besides, judging from the ingredients labels on mass-produced processed foods, we regularly eat ingredients with some horrendously chemistry-lab names. I’ll go for haggis over those things, any day.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. ckennedyhola June 17, 2019 / 5:59 pm

    “Unlikely to chip the choppers” is the best restaurant/food review I’ve seen! I think it works well for dentists’s offices too. Great post:) Cheers!

    Liked by 3 people

  40. johnlmalone June 18, 2019 / 10:30 pm

    yes, I’m a great fan of salmon but like you I would have given haggis a wide berth 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 19, 2019 / 7:33 am

      Hi there. A tasty dish is an omelette made with smoked salmon and onion pieces. I haven’t had one in a long time, and I’ve put myself into the mood for one right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • johnlmalone June 19, 2019 / 4:34 pm

        enjoy; I’m about to tuck into breakfast and gird my loins for a long day ahead 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  41. Still the Lucky Few June 19, 2019 / 9:55 am

    Good coffee in Scotland—now there’as an original thought! Thanks for the culinary tour, Neil. It’s years since I’ve been in Scotland, and obviously, food has experienced a transformation!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 19, 2019 / 1:46 pm

      Hi. Before going to Scotland I hadn’t given much thought to the food. As the essay shows, I was very happy with what I ate.


  42. eden baylee June 19, 2019 / 11:26 am

    We have the only Scottish pub in the city within walking distance of our house. It’s called the Caledonian. I’ve tried haggis there, but am not a fan.

    You should try it one day just to say you’ve had it!


    Liked by 3 people

  43. Silver Screenings June 21, 2019 / 3:51 pm

    Everything here looks fabulous, but that Steak and Ale Pie has me drooling on my keyboard. Excuse me while I get some paper towel…

    Liked by 3 people

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