Friend of IT Nathalie Jordi is just back from a jaunt to Edinburgh, where she was impressed by the city’s foodie heritage. There’s more than just haggis on the menu, for sure.
Edinburgh is a city more closely associated with hoary men in kilts, dimly lit medieval alleys and pub spillouts, a sort of Venice for Vikings, than it is with good food. But don’t write the city off! Behind the artfully arranged, artificially smoked slabs of factory-farmed salmon and piles of Walker’s Shortbread boxes on the Golden Mile are a new generation of shopkeepers and restaurateurs who are busy presenting Edinburgh with the fruits of its own lands and those further.
Broughton Street is a good place to start. Immediately left is Crombie’s, the most famous of Edinburgh’s remarkable butcher shops, with several options for haggis–which, when properly done, is actually very good stuff. Buried in a basement storefront further up lies the excellent Villeneuve wine shop, with its carefully curated selection of single malts that come alive through impassioned soliloquies by the opinionated but sensitive merchants. Across the street sits Pani Solińska, a smart Polish delicatessen that offers its kielbasas and potato salads to those seeking the comforts of home as well as Scots eager to discover delights like the fleshy, pink Polish Parma ham, which probably violates multiple trademark laws but is absolutely delicious.
For coffee, there’s Artisan Roast; for fish, Something Fishy; for wheatgrass, Real Foods; and, for a potted history of where good food in Edinburgh began, there’s Valvona and Crolla, an Italian delicatessen opened in 1934, a short hop over on Elm Row. Past the cavernous trove of cold-pressed olive oils, artisan cheeses and salumi is a sweet little café that serves some of the best Italian food in town.
Also on Broughton Street: Edinburgh’s Rapido Fish Bar, alleged home of the deep-fried Mars Bar. O, terroir! Some things are best on home turf, after all.