Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Eat & Explore Edinburgh, Part 2 (food pic heavy)

For the remainder of our Scotland visit, we considered popular tourist activities like day trips to the Highlands (to sneak a peek at the Loch Ness monster), but settled on exploring the town by foot. We started the day with a delicious Scottish breakfast cooked fresh by Doris & Eddie of Doris Crook B&B. When traveling, we love trying a mix of hotels and cozy B&B's.
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For lunch, we went 3.5 miles north to Leith (Edinburgh's waterfront) for a Michelin star restaurant featured by Anthony Bourdain. I rather trust the man's recommendations, as we share similar passions for crispy-skinned lechon or a hot bowl of pho noodles.

The Kitchin in Leith serves "modern British cuisine" with a big focus on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. After being seated, we each got little maps showing the birthplaces of ingredients used in the current menu. I felt like a kid with a connect-the-dots placemat at Applebees, matching pieces of each course to the map.edinburgh-eats4
Left: Braised ox tripe w/ crispy ox tongue Right: Grilled squid atop braised squid w/ ink

After some veggie crudite, an amuse bouche (pre-appetizer), and warm rolls, these appetizers arrived and stole the show. The ox tripe tasted like a beloved dim sum dish, and the tongue (which I'm normally fearful of) was reminiscent of seared Spam - a guilty pleasure. I couldn't get enough of the flavorful braised squid, which had a meaty, stew-like consistency. It was especially yummy paired with the tender grilled pieces, dabbed in ink.

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North Sea plaice (white fish) served with winkles (tiny snails), nice and light after the appetizers
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Left: Lemon soufflé with crème fraîche ice cream to be dropped through the center Right: Tonka ice cream sandwiches with chocolate mousse & cherries (winner)

We had the set lunch for 26.5 GPB (~$43 USD) per person, which comes with a choice of a starter and a main, plus the pre-appetizer bites. The entire meal took almost two hours, so be sure to plan a long stroll afterwards to walk it off.

On the walk between Leith and the B&B, I couldn't believe how many secondhand shops lined the main streets. A quick online search landed me to this awesome map & guide on where to buy secondhand, where to sell/donate/recycle used items (we passed by several bulk garment buyback stores), and where to get your used items repaired or mended for a second life. It was unusual seeing such a thorough approach to sustainable fashion in the city.
charity shops
Most thrift stores or "charity shops" were clearly labeled with the organization that they support (ie. Pets in Need of Vets - how can you not stop in?), and staffed with volunteers. There were also antiques stores, consignment shops, and vintage clothing stores aplenty. This area sounds like a thrifter's dream, but I didn't have luck finding anything below a ~US 4-6. One shop owner joked that locals "are bred bigger to stay warm."
thai castleAfter miles of daily walking, we treated ourselves to a couples massage at Castle Thai Spa. The masseuses were sweet and accommodating, but my extremely non-flexible body was in for a surprise upon discovering the nature of a Thai massage. Each time Nick started to drift off peacefully, he was jolted awake by my yelps and "oh my gosh, I don't think it bends that way!!"
whiski room_scotch flightWe couldn't leave town without a tasting of Scotch whiskey. Nick was much more into this, whereas I just took obligatory sips of each followed by face scrunching and throat clutching.
brew dog
At BrewDog, a local craft brewery. An affordable flight at 7.55GBP made for a hazy but happy walk home

Dinner tip: many of the restaurants offer a late lunch/early dinner (or "pre-theatre") menu up until 6-6:30pm, where you can order off a prix fixe menu for a sizeable discount. Dining out in general was pricey compared to the States, so I kept my eyes peeled for this option.
cullen skink
Scottish specialty "cullen skink" was high on my list to try, but gotta say New England clam chowder reigns far supreme! Mussels were plentiful everywhere and so big and juicy, we got them at least 4 times at various places.
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Another common offering around town was kebabs, and the winning plate for me was over at  Hanedan. We saw neighboring patrons scarfing down a mixed grill platter with a side of cacik (cucumber & yogurt sauce), and asked for the exact same thing. The seared meat, rice, and yogurt plus a scoop of chilli sauce were the perfect complements, and our plates were wiped clean.

Next up - Travel packing post & London

30 comments:

  1. That two hour course sounds/looks amazing. I love the idea of providing customers with a map of origin,too...what a cool idea.

    I would probably be making the same faces trying to sip the whiskey. But that beer flight looks tasty!

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  2. My fault for reading this late at night... Now I'm craving kebabs with yogurt sauce! Looks like you really planned your restaurant trips well - everything you tried looks good - esp the b&b breakfast ... and the kebabs of course!!!

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  3. YUM! I love all the food photos, I'm referencing this when we make it to Edinburgh. I'd love to see how you pack for travel - I try my best when I go and have my little tricks but always enjoy and learn when I read about other's.

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  4. Oh my goodness I'm drooling over all the amazing food. The mussels look amazing.

    It's a shame that nothing at the charity shops fit you. That's always frustrating and I was looking forward to seeing what goodies you'd picked up.

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  5. All the food look gorgeous. I've bookmarked this post for the my next trip to Scotland. I live in the UK so it's around a 6 hour drive away!

    www.petitestyleonline.com

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  6. Your food photos are beautiful! Keep them coming!!

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  7. Lovely post, Jean! I was drooling over all the amazing food. The two course looks/sounds amazing. I can't wait to read your post on how to pack for travel.

    I have bookmarked this post for a future trip to Scotland.

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  8. now cullen skink is on my list of things to try (someday)!

    i love that you love spam, haha

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  9. Ah, You went to Scotland. I stay in Scotland. It would have been nice if you did a meet and greet here haha. The food look so good! x

    http://kreamiblush.blogspot.com

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  10. This looks like an amazing trip!

    http://the-glitter-life.com/2013/06/05/chartreuse-tassles/

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  11. My mouths watering at the picture of the braised ox tripe! Looks delicious!

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  12. Haha... I laughed when I read your bit about the Thai massage and whiskey experiences. Surely the throat clutching didn't persist beyond the 4th or 5th sip given your tolerance? ;- )This trip has sounded amazing, can't wait to read the london segment

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  13. the desserts look amazing! (as well as all the other food pics) can't wait for your next post!

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  14. This may sound weird, but how did you feel as an Asian traveler? I've always wondered how cosmopolitan other countries are. I traveled in Asia and sometimes it's weird for me as a person of color who's American. It's like their minds get blown because of it.
    I lived in Japan for a whole and liked it but never got over the feeling that I was always a foreigner. Curious if you received any anti American hostility?
    You've inspired me to try the foodie route on our next travels...it'll be sights and tastes of the country.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Janki - I'm happy to report I didn't feel any anti American hostility (nor anti Asian), but it wasn't too diverse there. I probably saw one Asian person the entire time I was in Edinburgh (and very few in London).

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  15. The desserts look absolutely decadent. One of my favorite parts about traveling is trying all the great foods that the country has to offer. Great photos!

    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  16. How did you guys travel around the city?

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    Replies
    1. Walking....it's a fairly small city and was easy to walk (when it's not raining). We did get the all-day bus ticket once for 3GBP and it was fun to see the city from the upper deck of the buses.

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  17. Yum! This makes me so excited for my trip to Europe in the fall. I don't know why I hadn't considered going to a Michelin star restaurant for lunch to cut on cost!

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  18. Hi - I just discovered your blog because I was searching for reviews of the J Crew Schoolboy Blazer, and a post on your blog came up. Just wanted to say that I love your blog... your photos, style... etc. All great. I will be reading regularly from now on!

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  19. Jean, I always really enjoy your vacation posts and how descriptive they are. Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!

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  20. Looks like you had a great time in Edinburgh! It's where I'm from and I miss it tons! The most beautiful city in the world :)

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  21. The food looks yummy! Beautiful pictures too!

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  22. Wow, this looks soooo different than when I was there in college- studied abroad in London and visited over a rainy weekend, stayed in a hostel, etc. I might have to go back and do it the "grown up" way haha

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  23. Ohh lord, ,its half eleven at night here and I'm not hungry but this post has made me want to turn my kitchen upside down cooking.
    Mouth watering.

    Flora
    www.twowithseven.blogspot.co.uk

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  24. Yum! Beautiful pics :) Didn't know you were passing by London too - glad the weather has been favourable for your trip because it's been awful lately :)
    Love that you stayed in B&B's too. I love them, great way to feel more at home when someone cooks you a hot breakfast. (I've never been to Scotland, thanks for the tips!)
    Excited to see what you got up to in London :D

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  25. I can't believe nobody was willing to help you w/your suitcase -- how rude!

    I've noticed that you wear a lot of yellow, as a fellow Asian gal, I tend to find that yellow looks ghastly on me. Can you do a tutorial on how to pick the right shade of yellow for your skin tone?

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  27. American of Chinese descent working in Asia now.

    Janki, in my experience, there are many racists in the UK, Canada and Australia, but within UK, Scotland is actually the least racist. It is very bad in most parts of the UK, and in Canada and Australia.

    I have found the US to be the least racist.

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