Eating / Drinking, Edinburgh
The best description I ever heard is the one where a Haggis is a furry sheep-like animal, with 2 shorter legs on one side so they can run around the scottish hills... and it tastes like chicken... unfortunately, that one isn't true.
The scottish national dish.
Haggis is .. well .. if you really want to know, keep reading. If not, stop reading and order it when you get to Scotland anyway. It does taste good. Dont go easy on the black pepper though!
(Where to get a good haggis, I'd say Maison Bleue on Victoria Street. Thats a sure thing!)
1 sheep's pluck (stomach bag)
2 lb.. dry oatmeal
1 lb. suet
1 lb. lamb's liver
2 1/2 cups stock
1 large chopped onion
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, Jamaica pepper and salt
Boil liver and parboil the onion, then mince them together. Lightly brown the oatmeal. Mix all ingredients together. Fill the sheep's pluck with the mixture pressing it down to remove all the air, and sew up securely. Prick the haggis in several places so that it does not burst. Place haggis in boiling water and boil slowly for 4-5 hours. Serves approximately 12.
Anyone interested in beer and ale shoud definately go to Edinburgh (or anywhere in Scotland) to try a few good pints of this yellow/brownish/black drink! During my time there I found some very tasty ones. Wasn't even that fond of beer before I got to Edinburgh.
Some local goodies are:
BELHAVENS BEST (Mmmm!!!)
Based just thirty miles east of Edinburgh in the coastal town of Dunbar, Belhaven Brewery is the largest regional brewer in Scotland.
Best Extra Cold
St. Andrews Ale
CALEDONIAN 80 (YUM!!!)
The sole survivor of 40 or more breweries in Edinburgh is the Caledonian Brewery.
Golden Promise (the 1st organically brewed beer)
This fine ale used to be brewed in the heart of Edinburgh but closed in late 2004. Building still stands in Fountainbridge.
The beers (still available at some pubs)
McCowan's brewhouse Edinburgh. Started in December 1999, owned by Scottish Courage. According to a member of the bar staff it ceased brewing at the end of May 2003 but restarted brewing in spring 2004.
Alexander's strong ale
Auld summer shiner
This delightful bar is beside the Bruntsfield Links and The Meadows - a wonderful parkland which makes Edinburgh special.
You can play golf on the mini course here - many do.
The bar is lovely inside - like so many bars in Edinburgh. I'm not showing favouritism.
(Notice the flames at the door?)
When I told one of my friends I was going to Edinburgh, he said "You must try haggis!" I asked him what it was, but he told me (ironically) that I'd better just ordered it in a restaurant in Edinburgh.
I looked the meaning up in the Longman dictionary, which read: "haggis: a food eaten in Scotland, made from the heart and other organs of a sheep cut up and boiled inside a skin made from the stomach".
OK, I ordered haggis in Deacon Brodie's Tavern and it was quite good, tasted like spicy meat pate.
By the way, waiters usually look very happy, when a foreigner orders haggis, or is it funny?
Anyway, if you wish to learn more about haggis, you will find some haggis history here:
some haggis recipes here:
and you can even order haggis here (mind that it's forbidden to import haggis to some countries, like the USA, for example):
A popular hot take away meal in Britain is Fish and Chips. This tasty combination is usually eaten with salt and vinegar; in Scotland sometimes with a special brown sauce.
The favourite fish is Cod, followed by Haddock and Plaice. Prices are about 1 GBP for the Chips and about 2,50 GBP for the Fish.
Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep's heart, liver, and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and mixed with stock. Sounds disgusting but it really was delicious. It came traditionally served with "neeps and tatties", which is suede and potato in a gravy. We ate this meal in the Royal Mcgregor, a pub on the Royal Mile. I can thoroughly recommend it there!
For many locals the Scottish pubs are their second home and a perfect place for conversation and the latest gossip.
British Pubs usually don't have a waiter service. You have to go to the bar, buy your drinks and pay immediately after your order.
The beers for sale are either on draught (on tap), in bottles or cans. Famous types of British beers are: Ale, Mild, Bitter and Stout.
The main weekend activity seemed to be increasing our stomach capacity, therefore we learnt a few phrase differences. Over to TOBY (an ex-Edinburgh resident) for an insiders guide:
"In the chip shop you get suppers not 'something and chips', i.e. fish supper. If you ask for fish and chips, you'll get a blank look and then probably end up with a fish supper and chips. Also you'll be asked 'salt 'n' sos?'. Sos is individual to each shop, they make it to their own recipe and usually sell it in litre bottles from behind the counter, should you have an insatiable desire for it. You don't get ketchup / brown sauce, just sos.
Then there's neeps and tatties (Neeps are what the Scots call turnips and they're used a lot in meals, Tatties being potatoes), Lorne sausage (square sausage sold in slices) - one of the probing questions asked by the Big Issue in Scotland of it's interviewees is 'Square sausage or round?'.
The Scotish also batter and deep fry ANYTHING. Mars Bars, Pies, Pizza's, ANYTHING. I heard a radio interview where somebody wandered into a Glasgow chippie and asked if they could batter and fry his trainers. They did".
When in Edinburgh, you should try one of the best beers in the world, the Innis and Gunn.
Brewed locally in oak barrels, this beer has a very rich taste, mixing vanilla-like sweetness and the strength of the oak (okay, it may be the 6.6% alcohol content going to my head).
I found it went particularly well with seafood and I tasted it with a particularly evocative pudding (with almonds and vanilla).
It is hard to find and a little bit on the expensive side as it is so enjoyable. Try it alone or to enhance the flavour of your food.
Contrary to what the name seems to imply, a "free house" is NOT a place where the booze is free. So what is it?
In Britain, most public houses, or "pubs", are owned by a brewery. Of course, they serve mostly the products of that brewery. Typically, that includes several beers, such as a lager, a bitter ale, a stout, and perhaps a strong cider.
A "free house" is an independent pub, serving whatever the owner (the landlord or publican) chooses to serve. It often has brews made by smaller breweries, what many Americans call microbreweries. So if it's variety you want, then check out a few free houses. Just don't expect the drinks to be free.
On saturday night lots of people go to pubs for live music. We listened to a good band in the dirty dick's pub, they did cover and people sang and laugh... I think it was really funny even if i didn't understand much :)
I was really surprised to see 15 to 40 years old people drinking, singing and dancing all together. It was a really funny saturday night, I wish it was the same in Italy too.
Haggis is not something eaten on a regular basis in Scotland (so I understand) but is offered in many cafes to keen travellors looking to try this 'national dish'. At formal ocassions there is great ceremony over the carving of the haggis including poem as the formal speech. If you are keen you try this dish just so you can say that you have. It is often served as Haggis, Tatties & Neaps or Haggis with potatoe & turnips (both mashed).
haggis is a lovely scottish dish, made from mutton, meal, and spices, it is usually served with creamy mashed potatoes, and neeps, which is turnip. Sometimes a whiskey sauce is added.
Iron Brew is a soft fizzy drink that is bright orange in colour, the receipe for which is supposed to be a secret. Locals who have had a bit too much to drink the night before swear to it being good for a hangover (not that I would know of course)
One of the pasttimes is to partake of the local Scottish Brew, beer or ale, in one of the many local pubs. Its a fine way to sample Scottish hospitality and music. Scotland is famous for its Whiskey too. So if your a hard-core drinker (which I am not), you can try some of the Scoth the region is known for.
In addition to the many pubs, there are various shops to visit if you dont wish to sate your thirst.
While in Edinburgh, my friends and I participated in a thing called the "Pub Crawl". You start at one pub, receive a card with a list of other pubs, and move from pub to pub(buying a drink at each) collecting a stamp. You end this affair at the World's End Pub near the Royal Mile. If you get stamps from all the pubs, you recieve a t-shirt.
I believe we started our trip at the Black Bull Pub, near the St. James Shopping Center. You could also hop in a taxi and just ask for the Worlds End Pub and start there.
This was a great way to see Edinburgh natives in their natural environment and to try the local brews. We also made friends along the way as we searched for the next place on the list.
DO NOT attmept this journey in one night. You might regret it the next day.