Savouring Edinburgh At Your Leisure
Edinburgh’s epicurean facet includes Michelin-starred restaurants offering designer cuisine, as well as chocolate parlours, tea salons and sessions, wine bars, storytelling pubs and boutique hotels for a gargantuan Scottish breakfast, but the city is also great for a luxurious rest.
The watchword is to take things easy. Even if you only have a few hours to enjoy the Scottish capital, savouring it leisurely or rushing about will provide rather different memories. While relaxing over an after-dinner conversation will eat up any time you might have available to visit other attractions apart from culinary venues – on account of their opening hours – there are some tables well worth lingering at.
Edinburgh has more restaurants per capita than any other town in Britain. Indeed, they have lots to spare. Among them, four-starred Michelin venues offering signature cuisine, their chefs alternating gastro menus with more casual tasting arrangements. You’re likely to need an average of 3 hours for lunch or dinner at any of them. At The Kitchin, Tom Kitchin and his crew adorn the table with a map of Scotland which acts as a bill and pinpoints the origins of all the ingredients they use, thus emphasising they’re proud about sourcing local produce. He relies on his classic or seasonal menu and you will come to realise the scope and personality of a chef who is an idol in his homeland. His popularity is up there with Paul Kitching, of the restaurant 21212, where you are treated to something of an experience at a veritable Michelin two-star. Depending on your budget, you could try both venues and compare them, or else opt to combine one haute cuisine with a run-of-the-mill eatery. Chef Martin Wishart, for instance, offers both. While his like-named restaurant is unfettered by avant-garde creativity, The Honours bistro offers cuisine with French harkings in downtown Edinburgh. Be sure to try Wishart’s blend smoked salmon and the impressive wine list as well. It is as ambitious as the one at Bistro du Vin. Don’t think you’ve had too much to drink if you don’t find yourself surrounded by bottles as that’s precisely what sets it apart.
Not very far from Wishart’s “The Honours”, at 111 Rose Street, is Eteaket, where you can savour their different tea varieties and also buy them. The owner coaches the country’s leading chefs when it comes to drawing up their tea lists. If you prefer to sip your tea like a lord, head for the tea salon at Balmoral Hotel where they serve homemade pastries. There is no more tempting confectionery in these climes than their magnificent shortbread.
To explore the local larder of grilled meat and fish, make your reservation at award-winning Blackwood’s. This elegant little salon with just a few tables offers locally-sourced fare, generous portions of garnish and a bar where your whisky will taste different from anywhere else. The restaurant is housed in the exquisite Nira Caledonia hotel, which is good value for money. Set in a landscaped area and made up of two Neoclassical buildings, this boutique hotel has very few but immensely spacious rooms with views and exudes meticulous attention to detail. What better retreat than this hotel in the pleasant environment of Gloucester Place, where you can even have breakfast in the private garden of one of its rooms! If it’s fully booked, their buffet breakfast in the restaurant is not to be scoffed at either. Not to mention their “full Scottish breakfast”, made on the spot, which includes traditional haggis, black pudding, porridge and their scrumptious oatcakes and shortbread.
You will notice that Stockbridge is just a stone’s throw away. It is immediately recognisable from its upbeat atmosphere, its modest bistronomics – which do things properly – and branches of both the I.J. Mellis cheesemongers and Coco chocolatiers. Likewise, such wine bars as the Good BrothersWine Bar (4-6 Dean St), a discreet spot where you can have a fine drink and a great meal, too. Surprisingly good and reasonably priced. So much so you will want to return to Edinburgh.
Book your Vueling to Edinburgh and explore its culinary facet at your leisure.
Text by Belén Parra of Gastronomistas.commore info
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Harry Potter and Edimburgh
Speaking of Harry Potter and Edinburgh recalls inevitably the image of a young JK Rowling huddled in the corner of a coffee, drawing on the paper his imagined universe as time flies and steaming coffee cup empties slowly. Although it is difficult to know to what extent, it is undeniable that Rowling was inspired by the scenery of the Scottish capital in order to populate his world of characters and fantastic places, as itwas in Edinburgh where the first wizard’s adventures took form in the early 90 where Rowling ended the last book in the series in 2007. Many fans of Harry move to the city to follow the first steps of a child who one day received a letter that would change his life.
In 1994, Rowling and her young daughter, still a baby, moved to Edinburgh from Portugal, where she worked as an English teacher. When she arrived in Scotland, the idea of Harry Potter spent years in the making. Rowling had already written the first chapters of the first book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosophical Stone.”
During the winter of 1994, Rowling started to frequent several cafes in town, where she spent hours writing in a notebook while her daughter was dozing peacefully beside her after walking her around the streets of Edinburgh.
In the beginning, Rowling went to a cafe today disappeared, Nicholson’s Café, in Nicholson Street. Counts the history that, for the price of a coffee, she was allowed to spend the whole evening writing on site. Today another cafe, Spoon,takes its place.
The Elephant House , on George IV Bridge is the cafe that more closely relate to Rowling.Although in an inscription and a drawing on the glass The Elephant House claims to be “the birthplace of Harry Potter ‘, the fact is that did not open until 1995, and by then the first book in the series progressed fluently. But it is true that the author wrote many evenings at a back table in the cafe, by the window, whose splendid views over the castle and Greyfriars Cemetery inspired her to build the story. Throughout the years, fans of the series have filled the walls of the toilettes at The Elephant House of entries:
Rowling went on visiting the cafes of the city long after her books became a bestseller, but while writing the fourth volume, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, her growing fame forced her to give up this practice.
It is said that Greyfriars cemetery, one of the best known in Edinburgh because of the alleged apparitions by odd dwellers from beyond and the legend of Bobby the Dog, inspired the mythic and dreary graveyard scene from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, in which Voldemort returns to its physical shape and fights a duel with Harry.
There are two places not to miss in this cemetery. First one is the grave of William McGonagall, a writer who’s been awarded the title of worst poet in British history. It is rumoured that the name of Professor Minerva McGonagall comes from here as Rowling noted it was a curious contrast between this minor poet and a brilliant woman as the teacher. The second intesresting place is a tombstone in which lie a father and a son called Thomas Riddell. In English books, Voldemort’s real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle and although written differently, father and grandfather “who must not be named “ also shared the name of Tom/Thomas, and Harry visit their graves in novels
George Heriot’s School
Quite close to Greyfriars cemetery stands the stunning Gothic building of George Heriot’s School, whose founder, George Heriot, planned as a schoolwhere orphans received free education. Today is a prestigious private school, and Rowling said she was inspired by it to create the unforgettable Hogwarts. In fact, students at George Heriot’s School are divided into four houses, as the wizards of Hogwarts: Lauriston (marked by the green color), Greyfriars (white), Raeburn (red) and Castle (blue) . Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw? During the course, each student aspires to earn points for their respective house, which are achieved thanks to a good academic performance, among others things. Usually the school can not be accessed, but sometimes opens its doors in days like the Open Doors Day.
While the first books of Harry Potter were born in humble cafes, Rowling wrote the last lines of the novel that closes the series in a luxury room in Balmoral Hotel, one of the most prestigious and expensive in the city. She was staying in Suite 552 while finishing the book and, when completed, let the following words written on a marble bust, “On January 11th, 2007, JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ in this room. ”
There are many other parts of the city somehow related to the author of Harry Potter’s saga. For example, just before the publication of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, a draw was called and 70 children, who were winners, enjoyed a weekend in the castle of Edinburgh, dressed in Hogwarts for the occasion. Rowling met children who came to the castle in carriages, and answered their questions, gave them signed copies of the new book and invited them to various events and banquets.
Furthermore, it is believed that Rowling created the lively Diagon Alley, where magicians come to stock up on all the material needed, inspired by a popular and colorful street in Edinburgh, Victoria Street, which is also packed with shops, such as a popular joke shop in the style of the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
It is also said that J.K. Rowling based the Sorting Hat, a hat of thousands years old that young wizards get on arrival at Hogwarts to have a house assigned, in a tradition that takes place in the graduation ceremony of the University of Edinburg , in which the students rise up the stage one by one as the Provost give them a knock with that historic hat in the head.
In one corner of the Edinburgh City Chambers on the Royal Mile, hands belonging to outstanding personalities of the city are immortalized, and JK Rowling was the second to receive this honor, after writer Ian Rankin. Today, Rowling still resides in Edinburgh most of the time, so if you’re in the series, keep your eyes open, because she might be seen around town.
If you walk a Saturday through the park of the Meadows, you will find football games, rugby … and Quidditch trainings! Although it began as a fictional sport , soon it became real and for years many American and British universities have their own team. One of the features is that is played on a broom, but, unlike the books, not flying.
Most tours of Edinburgh mentioned the Harry Potter tour at some point, and there is also a specialized tour Magician Potter, which, despite being a nice route that will provide information and take you to the sites listed above, does not give access to any private building or having a high added value with respect to a ride that you yourself designed for you by the center (see map for details).
Picture by Eiscir
By Angie from Más Edimburgo
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