Food and knitting (priorities, priorities…) in Edinburgh

I thought it was about time I put down some tales of being away….


Day one I sat down to have the full Scottish breakfast. In case this particular experience has escaped you, it’s a plate of toast, potato scones, tomato, mushrooms, eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding. Having said I didn’t want mushrooms, my waiter asked if I would like something else instead. ‘May I have spinach please?’. He looked at me and said if I wanted spinach I could order the Eggs Benedict. Oh.

The funny thing about this breakfast is that it sounds huge, doesn’t it? And yet in practice it is tiny compared with a breakfast of that type in Australia. Second time I had it, when it came out, I was so disappointed. ‘Excuse me, I thought I’d be getting scrambled eggs.’ ‘Well, yes, they are under the toast.’ And sure enough a small triangle of toast was enough to completely cover my eggs. Oh.

I wrote an sms from the train station at one point saying I was eating what passes for nutrition hereabouts: Kettle chips. And this is so true. Did you know that it is in Scotland that the deep fried Mars Bar was invented? That is the Scottish idea of green vegetables. When they found out just how bad they are for you, sales went up. And up. A friend of mine, in Scotland for the first time, was in a queue at the chip shop. The guy two ahead of him ordered chips and pizza. Harry thought, hmmm, okay, not exactly nutritional but…but that was before he discovered to his amazement that the pizza is flung into a deep frier. Chips and deepfried something. The next guy ordered chips and pie, and yes, dear reader, the pie was also deep fried.

You will not be surprised to discover that I found after only a couple of days, I could and did eat this for breakfast: spaghetti bolognaise closely followed by a pizza. Uh huh. That was truly, honestly, breakfast. And it was quite the healthiest, most balanced meal I’d had since I got to Edinburgh.

This breakfast was at Café Artista, just a few feet from where I was staying. Please do go here to take a look at the reviews. On the one hand ‘the best pizza outside of Italy’. On the other…the unexpurgated comments of his customers:

‘We HATE cafe Artista especially that jerk that runs it Bruno. Hes rude, obnoxious, never lets you use the Internet cause hes too busy betting on it, He hates young people, he hates students, he shouts at his poor staff, hell He even shouts at his customers! He gives you shit for not tidying the newspapers, charges you an extortionate amount for easy jet printed logos! We hate him……but God Damn his sausage rolls are good so we take the abuse!‎’

‘I’m never in there for that long really but invariably some minor drama will unfold. Ive never seen anyone one go totally schiz at someone leaning there bike against the …‎’

‘Bruno, the owner, has to be one of the nastiest pieces of work I have ever encountered in the hospitality industry. Having reluctantly given him my custom for the past 2 years (as I live in the neighbourhood), I am now boycotting his …‎’

‘the owner is so rude and has obviously chosen the wrong day job – dont go in to the hospitality business if you hate people – and he obviously does.’

‘It’s rather like being in a soap opera. The food (which is good) becomes totally insignificant when confronted with the drama that is the service. I dont know exactly what the drama is about, but having been in three times and been treated to …‎’

I experienced none of this. The proprietor was on the phone the whole time and my waitress was lovely. And, yes, the pizza was special.

Another few feet away was Toast, much more like Melbourne’s idea of a coffeeshop: . Really quite nice, though this was the place where the serving of eggs was miniscule.

And, all of a hundred yards away is Ephemeris Tea House . Run by a Polish girl who is a mechanical engineer, she has a basket of yarn and needles in the window – well, she had me sucked in. I went home, got my knitting bag and spend a pleasant afternoon on a sofa, sun on my back, knitting, reading, dozing and chatting. She’s just discovered Ravelry where her ID is efemeryda.

You’ll be wanting to know about the yarn shops. There are a couple in the city that look good. So far I’ve only visited one, though I’m hoping to go back to Edinburgh and check out the other as well. K1 stocks yarns that we would not often see in Australia. I ended up buying some of the Manos del Uruguay Silky Unfortunately my colour isn’t up, it’s a gorgeous green. Yes, still addicted to green. And I got some of their Orkney angora blend: 50% angora, 50% wool: I have to confess that in the ball it isn’t that impressive, I wouldn’t want it next to my skin…but they have a beret knitted up from it and that was really lovely to touch, so I’m hoping that I’m going to get that effect. It’s the first time I’ve ever bought yarn on the basis that it is going to improve with the knitting. I’m apprehensive, but…


4 thoughts on “Food and knitting (priorities, priorities…) in Edinburgh

  1. So funny to read about the food in Edinburgh – I lost weight while in Scotland because so many things were dire. If a restaurant has soup, or smoked salmon, they were often the best choices.

    The brown bread was usually delicious, and I went to an amazing, amazing cheese shop in the Old Town. A quick google tells me that it is IJ Mellis.


    • Yes, the cheese shop is great. But I wanted Scottish cheeses and apparently they don’t really make them. I’m mostly staying in Manchester – Didsbury, which has The Cheese Hamlet – and so I didn’t really want to buy English cheese.


  2. So true about all the deep fried stuff! This totally amazed me the first time I visited Scotland.

    Later, when living in North Yorkshire (where nary a vegetable passes the lips of most locals outside the context of Sunday Lunch) I observed that they all look down their noses at the Scots for having a terrible diet!

    Sounds like you had a truly lovely time. Think I will make a beeline for that cafe next time I’m up there!


  3. What an awesome time, I have myself bought those same yarns but haven’t found the perfect project to knit up yet.

    If you are in Edinburgh again, just a few stores up the shop that has meat on the spit with traditional Scottish sauces. Awesome!!

    My other Scottish favourite when I lives there in the early 90’s was deep fried chicken. Soooo good but sooooo bad!! 😀 or Chicken and curry gravy (these could be Glasgow favourites).

    Sounds awesome and I am very jealous of the Rowan that you can get at the moment. Any chance you can mail some over?? With full reimbursement of course.

    Keep on having fun


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