The city of Edinburgh is best known for its Burns and bagpipes, kilts and ceilidhs, tartan and tourist. Not to mention all the culture, art, festivals, literature, shopping, hotels and history. But it is the ever increasing culinary acclaim that brings me on this journey to the capital city of Scotland.
Nestled in the east coast of Scotland, the climate and environment offer ideal conditions for the highest quality produce. With the freshest of ingredients on its doorstep the chefs of Edinburgh’s restaurants have everything they could want for at their fingertips and Edinburgh’s restaurants are teaming with a vast and diverse array of locally sourced goods from Scotland’s natural larder. From hand dived scallops found at the sandy bottomed sea lochs, berries slowly ripened in the long daylight hours of summer and venison from the open hill ranges of the uplands, Edinburgh is perfectly positioned for the food enthusiasts amongst us.
Edinburgh offers a unique culinary experience with more eateries per head of population than any other UK city and with something to suit every taste bud; visitors are certainly spoilt for choice. Leading the way in Urban fine dining, Edinburgh holds the most Michelin Star restaurants in the UK outside of London. With cutting-edge, nationally acclaimed chefs such as Martin Wishart & Tom Kitchin choosing the city as the perfect location for their establishments.
Michelin Star restaurants, bistros, brasseries, cafes, coffee houses, gastro pubs, family restaurants, take-aways, Edinburgh has it all.
In June of this summer, Martin Wishart, voted ‘UK Chef of the Year’ by the AA awards, will open the doors to his new bistro ‘Brasserie’ offering European and Scottish classics such as cockaleekie soup, potted crab, oysters and Scotch Beef. “We are not seeking awards; we are looking for great food – a European style of brasserie”. A key aspect will be an extensive menu, with pre-starters from £2-£6, starters from £5-£14 and main courses from £12 upwards. There are also plans to open for breakfast so one could literally spend all day feasting here.
The Kitchin restaurant opened in 2006 by husband and wife team Tom & Michaela is beautifully positioned on Edinburgh’s waterfront. As one of the 5 Michelin Star establishments in Edinburgh it is only natural that I decided it was my duty as a food fanatic to go along and check it out. Dining at The Kitchin is relaxed and extremely welcoming; there is nothing standoffish or fussy about it. The focus is simple –good quality fresh food “From nature to plate’ is how you could sum up our philosophy,” said Kitchin.
A Foodies Playground
It is of course no surprise then, that I have chosen the summer months to visit the City that hosts ‘The Royal Highland Show’, ‘Taste of Edinburgh,’ ‘Foodies at the Festival’ and the ‘Whisky Fringe’.
Royal Highland Show: 23-26 June 2011
With almost 100 exhibitors at the show there is something to tempt everyone and with almost 190,000 people attending it’s really just as well! Whether you have a hankering for Scottish beef burgers or a weakness for fresh Scottish strawberries you will find it all there at The Royal Highland show Food Hall. But it’s not just food at the show, it’s the UK’s largest agricultural shows, so make sure you set aside a full day for this one. There’s entertainment in the form of bagpipes, Scottish country dancing, show jumping, livestock competitions and traditional Scottish games. With a huge area dedicated to shopping you can take home some traditional Scottish crafts with everything available from designer knitwear to bespoke jewellery pieces.
Taste of Edinburgh: 1-3 July 2011
The cream of Scottish culinary talent comes together for an annual outdoor food festival celebrating the best the capital has to offer with everything from local farm produce to Michelin Star restaurants. I took the once in a life time opportunity (or annual if you go back each year!) to brush up on my somewhat modest cooking skills with a lesson from Martin Wishart’s Cook School. The festival has developed a recipe for success (pardon the pun) and attracts household names including Nick Nairn, Hugh fearnley-Whittingstall, Tom Kitchin and Alan Murchison.
Whisky Fringe: 6-7 August 2011
Quite simply put this event is whisky heaven for those who enjoy a wee dram. Tickets are sought after and in short supply so make sure to get in there early and book well in advance. In the magnificent setting of the beautifully restored former church, Mansfield Traquair, sampling the offerings of a wide variety of distillers and bottlers feels almost spiritual!
Foodies at the Festival: 12-14 August 2011
Michelin Star and award winning chefs cook up a storm at events, workshops, masterclasses & demonstrations in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park in a celebration of all things culinary. It’s a perfect day out for all the family with live entertainment and even master classes for the budding young chefs.
The award-winning Edinburgh Farmers Market takes place every Saturday at Castle Terrace under the imposing backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. With over 55 specialist producers from around the country it is one of the largest markets in the UK.
Butchers vs Supermarkets:
Don’t panic, if like me you are better equipped to eat than to cook food, you needn’t be scared off by all this wonderful produce, wondering what to do next with it! A growing number of independent Edinburgh food outlets are successfully playing the ready-meal market at its own game. Crombie’s butcher shop has launched specialist “ready to cook” dishes – devised by staff, prepared using its own produce and all aimed at luring back customers seeking to balance flavour and convenience without actually having to cook.
Butchers across Edinburgh have broadened their range. Fishmongers are also rising to the ready-meal challenge. Armstrong’s of Stockbridge already beats the supermarkets by claiming to deliver any kind of fish a customer wants – from red snapper to swordfish – within 48 hours. Now it also delivers fish which is ready prepared with spices, pre-cut for fish pie and even speared on barbecue kebab skewers to make life easier for the customer.
The Raeburn Place fishmonger will even smoke your fish just how you want it at their in-shop smokehouse.
So I think you will agree that for any bona fide food fanatic Edinburgh is a must see destination. But it’s not only for the foodies. Edinburgh offers world-class, luxury accommodation, designer shopping, top-notch cuisine and exclusive entertainment promising the quintessential experience. For further information on the City go to www.thisismyedinburgh.com.
Copyright © 2011 Claire Morrison