Ah, Edinburgh...what a city!
Last August, I spent five days there for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - which I wrote about here - and last week I spent another five days in what is swift becoming one of my favourite cities. This time around, I went on a budget trip with my boyfriend Cormac and we stayed at my sister Laura's house. Laura's studying fashion design there and lives very near the old town so we spent most of our time ambling around the cobbled streets, gazing up at the castle in awe, and checking out the many quirky little bookshops tucked away down alleyways.
It being Vegan MoFo, I had my eye out for tasty vegan food when eating out for the weekend (which inevitably we did every day besides a trip to Cormac's granny's house in Glasgow). A caveat: if you're a vegan and eating out in the venues I mention here, you might want to double-check that every item is vegan as I don't want to mislead anyone. But when I realised something wasn't vegan (as in the case of an aspect of one or two dishes) I point it out below.
I had a plan for when we arrived in Edinburgh: once we got off the bus at Waverley Bridge, we were to head up Cockburn street (my favourite street in the Burgh!) and head straight to The Tatty Shop...for a baked potato with vegan haggis.
Cormac is half Scottish (his dad is from Glasgow), so his childhood food memories from trips to Scotland include lots of Irn Bru and haggis - he was in his element here! Given that Irn Bru has 'sunset yellow' in it and has a warning that it 'may have an affect on attention and activity in children', I gave it a skip.
From what I could see, the vegan haggis is made with red lentils, barley, oats and lots of black pepper. It turned out this wasn't the only veg haggis I'd eat during my holiday....
The next day, we got up bright and early and headed back to the Old Town for a wander around. Here we are in our winter finery!
Lazy Days range of gluten-free vegan cakes, so stock up on them if you visit.
At the top of the Royal Mile, just before the castle, is the Scottish Whisky Experience. Lured in by the promise of yet more veggie haggis (and non-veggie for Cormac) we went to their Amber restaurant, which is quite a posh yet affordable little place. I went for a hot whiskey while Cormac browsed the whisky menu - yes, menu - which included more than 300 whiskys from around Scotland. I had no idea there were so many whiskys in Scotland!
With our bellies full of food and whisky, we wandered up to the castle grounds and took in the unbelievable view:
That night, we went to the Italian restaurant Piatta Verde in for a bite to eat. I went for the bruschetta (as I discovered, you need to ask for it without butter) and the spaghetti aglio e olio - garlic, chilli and olive oil. Simple but scrumptious!
We went back to Piatta Verde on Sunday night for pizza - I had it cheeseless and with garlic oil and peppers. Cormac tried his cheeseless for the first time (which for him is huge as he loves cheese) and loved it - it probably had something to do with the fact it wasn't veggie though, ahem ;)
On Saturday we took the train to Glasgow to visit Cormac's relations - who are really lovely and welcoming people - and then we headed to the city centre to visit Mono. This, quite frankly, is my dream: a veggie restaurant AND record store. If I won the lotto I would open one of those tomorrow! Mono has a bar, a full vegan menu and absolutely delicious food - it was so hard to pick what to eat...so we went for the mezze option! That included thai noodles, deep-fried vegan haggis (amazing), falafels, chilli, Indian spiced potatoes and hummus. Total foodgasm.
Underground Solushn in Edinburgh I just went for the Jim Sullivan record, UFO.
Not content with all of our eating out adventures, on our last full day in Edinburgh we went to Mother India's café, which serves Indian tapas. To say we were stuffed after this huge meal is an understatement. We went for four tapas options - three veg and one meat - and shared (obviously I didn't eat the meat, lest you wonder!) vegetable samosas, chickpea and potato masala, dosa stuffed with saag aloo (spinach and potatoes). The dosa (a lentil and rice-based pancake) came with dahl on the side while the samosas came with chickpeas on the side, so we got even more food than we had bargained for. And it was all absolutely delicious...so filling. A word about their paratha - they definitely come with ghee on them (clarified butter) so you need to ask for them without butter when ordering.
As you can guess, after all of that eatin' and drinkin', I'm in the mood for a bit of a detox this week! I'm off to the shop to stock up on veg and make some soup. But I give a big 'bottoms up' to Edinburgh for its veggie friendly food and beautiful city. And a huge thanks to my wonderful sister for being a fantastic host! Miss you Laurs xx