Thursday, 23 April 2009

S1E7 - UK 2009: Where the boys talk pretty! That's right - Scotland.

Supernatural fan girl hysteria is starting to die down, and I am getting back into the swing of things. I believe we left off with plans to make our way to Scotland. And indeed we did! Though we drove through some more of The Lake District and up to Hadrian's Wall. We were planning on stopping in Hexham for lunch at a place mentioned in Happy Cow, but when we got there we couldn't find it anywhere! So we decided to continue snacking on our trusty hummus, pitta, chips and the like and push on to Edinburgh.

We stayed at Budget Backpackers, which was OK. The room was really big and had twin beds (no bunks - hurrah) and a shower (no toilet), but there was only one teeny little bar heater and the windows weren't 100% cold proof, so it was a bit chilly. That night we were hungry and so set off to go to The Baked Potato shop for dinner. Except they had had a HUGE tourist group through and were completely out of potatoes! On noes! Woe! We ended up going to Pizza Express - my lovely vegan friend Nicole had informed me of their vegan options.

So, I also got some olives for a starter because I had a craving, but I don't have a picture of them. Only of my main course. Which is a Leggera - a pizza with a hole cut in the middle and filled with salad. I got the Vitabella (£8.40), which had mixed chargrilled vegetables and asparagus. I asked for it without cheese and without dressing on the salad, and with mushrooms on the pizza because mushrooms are awesome. It was OK, not bad. I was in the mood for something a bit lighter as I was planning a big day of eating the next day! There were only three sad spears of asparagus on it though. And they charged me extra for the mushrooms, even though I was getting it without cheese or dressing. Evil! Hee.

The next day was our strolling around Edinburgh Day. We hadn't had much sleep as the hostel is very central and Scotland was playing in a soccer game the previous night, so I am sure you can imagine the noise that went on. Also, Budget Backpackers have the WORST PILLOWS EVER. I am not kidding, they are lumpy, uneven and just hysterically bad. I have no idea what they are thinking!

After visiting the castle in the morning, we decided to try out luck at The Baked Potato Shop for lunch. Hurrah! Potatoes were BACK.

When in Scotland, eat Haggis. This was a vegan haggis on not one but two baked potatoes (3.60). They are very commited to filling your belly. It was delicious! I also bought a slice of vegan mango and kiwi cake to take on the road the next day, which was only 1 pound for a very thick slice! (Sadly, the cake was a bit dry and the icing very sugar headache inducing, but it was OK). Anyway, if you love potato and are in Edinburgh, do go here! It's on Cockburn Street I think.

More Edinburgh strolling during the afternoon after a quick kindy nap, and then we headed to our fancy pants dinner at David Dann, which got a lovely write up on both Happy Cow and Lonely Planet. Umm... how was it, you ask? Well, it was not as good as the Brighton experience, but it wasn't too damn shabby either...

They give you a nice little roll when you take your seat.

Just to prove that you can never have too much potato in your life, here is our shared starter - Chunky chips (3.50) served with homemade apple and tomato ketchup and hummus (the vegan option, normally it has sour cream). It was a tough call in terms of what to choose for a starter. Their smoked tofu looked wonderful, and the thai fritters came highly recommended. But in the end we went for the potatoes because of reasons you'll see next! So the apple and tomato ketchup was just fabulous and tangy and amazing! I am not sold on the whole hummus on chips thing though, it doesn't really work for me. Just get an extra pot of the ketchup!

And here is the main event. Udon noodles with ginger red pepper sauce and home smoked tofu (10.50) - Tofu smoked with aromatic spices, fried and served on wheat noodles with pak choi, shiitake mushrooms and a sauce of roasted red pepper, fresh ginger, garlic, lime, chilli, soy, mirin and coriander. Topped with mooli and cucumber. Hence the reason I didn't get a smoked tofu based starter. But I am kind of sad I didn't because holy smokes (hee) this is the best smoked tofu ever in the wholest widest world. I can't quite explain how great it is, other than that it will blow your mind with its awesomeness. Hee!

And to finish it up, a scrumptious dessert. Warm plum and pineapple with coconut creamed rice (4.90) - Fresh plums and pineapple lightly cooked in caramel and served with coconut creamed rice and pineapple sauce. The fruit was just perfectly cooked - warm but not smooshy. And the coconut rice was so creamy and definitely the best part.

Belly full? Check!

The next day we headed for an insane drive around Scotland, which involved heading up to Inverness and then driving from Loch Ness to Loch Lamond, through the outskirts of Glasgow and back to Edinburgh. It took us a LONG time. But was amazing! Up near Inverness we stopped at Culloden Battlefield, and while in the canteen there not even bothering to look for anything I could eat, I stumbled across a tasty surprise! Lazy Day Foods are a company that make fabulous cookies and the like for people who are vegan and they are gluten free to boot! I have enjoyed their fruit shortbread, ginger snaps and millionaire shortbread (oh. so. good. caramel. yum.) and I have a tiffin still awaiting consumption. They mail order to anywhere in the UK and I am currently seeing if they can mail order here!

When we finally tumbled back to our hostel, our dinner was pretty uninspired and I have no photos I am sorry to say. We cooked in house and met a very drunk Irish boy who told us all about his dog Lizzie and asked us what we were doing at uni, which made us feel happy as we are in our mid-late twenties (eep). I had a tin of vegetable and rice soup with a pita bread, and we also heated up some hot potato chips (must have potato!). So really not exciting at all!

Tomorrow we start heading out way back down to London. But before we get there, York and Cambridge are to come!