Monthly Archives: October 2011

Edinburgh

So last week I went on a trip up North to the mighty city of Edinburgh and some of its rural towns. I was there for a wedding but spent a few days getting reacquainted with one of my favourite places. I’ve already told you about the fantastic breakfast I had at Urban Angel. I didn’t mention it but I went back for the exact same thing again the day after. It was that good.

I also had to stop by Peter’s Yard at the Quartermile and have coffee with a cardamon bun. It’s the classy version of my usual choice – the cinnamon bun – and is every bit as good. The perfect elevenses choice. (My sister would be so proud of my embracing hobbit like eating habits.)

 

More coffee is to be found at Artisan Roast on Broughton St. Superb flat white makers and general coffee loveliness in the tiniest of spaces. Finding good coffee in Scotland is something of a trial – people here seem to think milky, watery coffee tasting mulch is good and I mostly just avoid the stuff but I will go back to Artisan Roast again (and again and again) because the coffee is fantastic. The tiny shop is warm and welcoming too and makes for a good escape from the ever present Scottish rain.

 

I also sampled the latest cupcake bakery to hit Edinburgh. Bibi’s comes originally from St Andrew’s where it has a cult like following. It’s store, on Hanover St, is all pink happiness and there are a number of different flavours on offer every day. I selected red velvet. It was good but not bowl-me-over amazing. The sponge was a little dry for my taste but the icing was nice. Other flavours we sampled included mocha, peanut butter, oreo cookie and vanilla.

 

Last on my list of things to eat was haggis. I know I know. Many of you have run away from the computer in disgust already. But, I confess, I actually like haggis. Its spicy, meaty goodness is the perfect feel good food against the cold. I had mine in a pub which is possibly the best place to eat such fare, with a large cider to wash it all down.

Eggs

How much do you love poached eggs? I love them most because I find the proper poaching of an egg to be beyond my skill level and patience. Finding a proper poached egg is rather challenging though and it’s even more challenging finding a poached egg enrobed in a good hollandaise. However I succeeded in finding both last week on my trip up North to the lovely Edinburgh. I had a few places and items on my list that were must do’s but a trip to Urban Angel was definitely at the top. And I’m glad to say they did not disappoint.

You can choose the accompaniments to eggs Benedict at Urban Angel, and you don’t have to have it with the traditional ham. I had mine with crispy bacon. And a side order of roasted tomatoes so that I could pretend I was being healthy. So winning. The whole thing would have made a nutritionist have a heart attack but it was so good I can’t help but think it should be included as part of a balanced diet at least once a month. I now have the incredibly difficult task of finding something similar to satisfy cravings here. Or alternatively making frequent trips to Edinburgh when the craving becomes overpowering.

Potato Salad

Potato salad seems to be a dish of some controversy. I don’t think it needs to be, it’s just that people seem to have very strong opinions about it. Like whether the mayonnaise needs to be home-made. Or what herbs to include or exclude. Whether there should be raw onion or shallots or spring onions. If you should include eggs. The potato salad. It’s a minefield.

I don’t often eat potato salad. It wasn’t something that featured a whole lot in my childhood and it’s featured even less since then. It reminds me of summer Sunday lunches where everything is cold and eaten off paper plates in the garden, and you spend half your time trying to a) sit elegantly on the grass without tipping your plate sideways and b) warding off the dog who’s doing his damnedest to push you over. I can’t really think of a good reason why potato salad is such a non-event in my life though. It’s super easy to make, requires few pots and pans and is decidedly satisfying in that way that dishes made solely of carbohydrates always are.

This particular salad occurred to me last week when I bought a bag of baby potatoes and then promptly wondered what to do with them. They’ve been skulking in the back of my cupboard every since, waiting for me to remember to buy mayonnaise. (Sorry but life is short and my skills at this particular moment do not stretch that far…) I like my potato salad still slightly warm so that the mayonnaise is almost melting into the potatoes. I also like it with a lot of parsley (flat-leafed), some shallot, finely chopped and some salt and pepper. I made enough today so there would be left-overs for lunch tomorrow. I kept trying to remind myself of that as I stole more from the pan. I also like to add a soft boiled egg. It just adds an extra something that makes this whole meal seem slightly decadent.

There is no actual recipe for this. Boil enough potatoes for whomever you are feeding. I like baby potatoes and normally do about 4-5 per person, dependent on potato size.
I leave the skin on. Once they’re cooked through, drain and replace on the heat for 30 seconds just to dry them ever so slightly. Then stir in about 2 tablespoons of mayo, again you’ll need more for more people. Add to that some chopped parsley, shallot and salt and pepper.
Serve whilst still warm with an egg if you’re so inclined.

Breakfast with Figs

I’m getting all excited now about my trip this weekend. I’m heading up to Edinburgh for a friend’s wedding and I’m going to get to catch up with a myriad of old friends, drink a rather large amount of wine and eat at all my favourite places. I’ve got that restless-can’t-settle feeling that causes you to clean your bathroom and hoover the entire house in an effort to keep busy. It also means that I’m neglecting the already mountainous amount of work I have to do (and the frightening amount that will await me when I get back) because I can’t concentrate. Not now. Not when there is so much excitement and anticipation in the air.

It also means, in my case, clearing out the fridge and eating anything that might go off in the small time that I’m away. This amounts to a fair amount of food as it happens. I went a little crazy in the grocer last week and I’ve already gushed about how excited I was about the figs I found. (Obsessed much, me?) So the remaining two figs have been looking at me guiltily all week and I finally made them into breakfast yesterday. I didn’t need to go in to the office yesterday (one of the many joys of being a PhD student) and so I took my time over breakfast.  I thought about the breakfast so much, I was even organised enough to start it the night before.

Yes. I am that person. Anyway, starting it the night before entailed putting the oats into a bowl and covering in with milk before storing it in the fridge overnight to swell. Hardly an effort. The next day the oats was all silky and plump. I transferred the oats to a pan and heated it very slowly with a little extra water until it was cooked. Whilst that was happening I sliced my figs, drizzled them with honey and a little butter and baked them in the oven until they were falling apart and mushy. Queue figs onto porridge and heaven. In a manner of speaking. Totally winning start to the day.

Balsamic Fig Salad

I love me a fig. There is something so voluptuous and sexy about them. That is if fruit can every really be either voluptuous or sexy. The fig comes pretty close in my opinion. I got all excited yesterday when I found some on offer that were perfectly ripe and purple and exquisitely beautiful in every way. The fishmongers in my new village doubles as a grocer and has fantastic produce at a fraction of the price of the supermarkets – all round winning indeed.

Anyway, I planned to have the figs in a salad for lunch but I got completely sidetracked and then went bouncing around the Goose Fair so they were relegated to dinner. Not that this is a bad thing. I had sliced the figs open and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Then, because I got sidetracked, they sat marinating for a few hours on the kitchen counter. When I returned home from the Goose Fair (exhausted and over-stimulated by lights and noise) I put the figs into the oven at 180C for half an hour. The result was a perfectly cooked fig with a syrupy balsamic glaze. I had already thrown together a salad of rocket leaves, feta, avocado, salami and toasted pumpkin seeds. Atop this I added the figs and drizzled some of the balsamic oil from the pan. Easy, fabulous dinner with minimal effort.