Scotland is blessed with a fantastic larder of some of the best natural produce in the world and is synonymous the world over with quality produce. Soft fruit and vegetables are locally grown in many parts of Scotland and with the country famous for good quality meat and excellent seafood, you do not have to look far to find a true taste of Scotland. Edinburgh is one of the best places to find quality food and drink and here are four for starters.
Haggis – the most traditional Scottish food of all – is a dining-out staple in Edinburgh and you have to try it at least once. Although some would say it’s an acquired taste, haggis is both a delicious and traditional food, that can be enjoyed in a number of restaurants. For a more upscale experience, head to Hadrian’s Brasserie at the Balmoral and enjoy traditional haggis with neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes). With an executive chef that has held a Michelin Star for 12 years, you know it will be delicious no matter what.
And when in Scotland’s capital, don’t forget to experience Scotland’s national drink – whisky! The city is awash with places to learn about the “Water of Life” and if it’s a whisky cocktail you fancy, bringing a twist to the dram, then head to The Whiski Rooms at the top of The Mound, where you can watch the world go by whilst sipping on an Old Fashioned or Whisky Sour. You do not need to walk far in Edinburgh to find a pub where whisky will always been on the menu.
The rise in craft gin production has really put Edinburgh on the gin map. Don’t leave the city without visiting Edinburgh’s first exclusive gin distillery in over 150 years, Summerhall Distillery. Housed on the site of an old animal hospital and now producing small batches of hand crafted, beautifully balanced Pickering’s Gin, the distillery is a great example of the artisan approach. Alternatively, try the Edinburgh Gin Distillery on Rutland Place, or the glamorous gin bar in the Sheraton Hotel. If you can’t make your mind up, visit the Juniper Festival which takes place every June and celebrate World Gin Day with an array of gins from Edinburgh and further afield.
Cheese connoisseurs cannot leave Edinburgh – a veritable magnet for turophiles – without wandering the award-winning Edinburgh Farmer’s Market at Castle Terrace, where handmade organic cheese is always on sale. If your taste buds favour Italian cheeses, try the city’s famous Italian deli, Valvona & Crolla, whose parmesan and gorgonzola (and its Irish, French and Scots cheeses) will have you drooling.
Alternatively if you’re in the centre of town, just follow your nose and you’ll wind up at cheese heaven, otherwise known as I J Mellis in Victoria Street. Founded in 1993, after Iain Mellis became frustrated by the lack of quality farmhouse cheese available, the cheesemonger now supplies many of the city’s best restaurants.
There is plenty in Edinburgh to titillate your tastebuds and while this is just a taster, a visit to the city will present you with the many thousands of cafes, bars and restaurants where you can try the finest in Scottish food and drink.
Douglas Walker is Chair of Unique Venues of Edinburgh.