Sunday, 31 May 2009

Taste of Edinburgh

T and I went along to Taste of Edinburgh yesterday. I was a bit annoyed to find out it was in Inverleith Park, as the last couple of years it's been in the Meadows, which is about 5 minutes walk from my flat. Now we have to get a bus! To add to the fun, there was a cycling event which had shut off half the city centre, so the bus took twice as long as it should have.

Anyway, my main purpose of going (apart from eating more food than I should) was to scope out some of the restaurants with an eye to persuading my parents that they should take me out somewhere fancy for dinner when I graduate in July. Of the restaurants there, I quite fancied Forth Floor at Harvey Nichols, and Number One, Princes Street.

We began by wasting loads of our money on some Kopparbergs. I love a bit of pear cider, and was absolutely gasping for drink after 40 minutes on an airless bus in the heat, but £4 is way too much. I made sure I got my money's worth of the free ice. We ambled round a bit, and saw a guy demonstrating a mould that could make heart shaped sushi rolls. I tried a apple and cinnamon chocolate, which was a bit fudgey and chewy for my liking. There were 50 or so produce stalls as well as the miniaturised restaurants, so it was fun checking out some of them. We got some madeleines from the Bonne Maman stall, a free Tanqueray G&T, and then spent ages playing with a frying pan with a quick release handle.

Glazed Pork Belly with Braised Apple & Scallop with Stuffed Trotter

After we'd wandered round the whole site, it was time to crack on with the food. We ate quite a lot, as on a couple of occasions the staff forgot to ask for payment, so we had extra vouchers to spend! Yay! Here's a list of what we ate:
  • Slowly cooked lamb shoulder with aubergine caviar, seasonal ratatouille, olive and lamb jus
  • Smoked chicken roulade - with avocado puree, tomato salsa and onion seed crisp
  • Honey and five-spiced, glazed belly pork with braised apple
  • Seared scallop - with stuffed trotter and salsify puree
  • Roast suckling pig with caramelised onion mash, apple and sage compote and meat juices
  • Chocolate torte with cream
  • Scottish berry Pavlova with whisky cream
  • Dark chocolate moelleux with avocado cream (only tried a small sample of the moelleux, no avocado cream)
  • Cannolo with sheep ricotta cream and candied peel
  • White peach Bellinis
I would love to tell you how it all tasted. I really would. Unfortunately, I chose this weekend to come down with a stinking cold. So I have no sense of taste at all. In a way, it was interesting, as I judged the food purely on texture and mouthfeel. I found the crispy trotters went well with the soft scallop, but the dish was marred by the chilled salsa on top. The suckling pig also suffered from hot food being chilled by a cold sauce. T, who still had a sense of taste, enjoyed the glazed pork belly, and was pleasantly surprised by the aubergine caviar (usually he will do almost anything to avoid aubergine, but described the puree as "bearable"). He was also very enamoured by the chocolate torte. I scored a tiny personal victory when I persuaded him to try the tiniest bit of scallop. I think his previous exposure to seafood is mainly based around prawn crackers and sesame toast.


We didn't really take much interest in the cookery demos, mainly because unless you are right at the front you can't see anything. However, we managed to snag seats in the front row of Mat Follas, cooking sausage and beans. Oh yeh. The secret ingredient was anchovy paste. The crowd were allowed to sample the sauce before and after the paste was added, and even me, with my minimal sense of taste could tell the difference. Umami indeed (is it just me that thinks umami sounds like something from Shooting Stars? Eranu.)

Berry Pavlova with Whisky Cream

T and I had a great evening out, and although it was a tad expensive (we got through about £60 including tickets) we got to sample food from restaurants we couldn't normally afford to visit. We'd also pay the best part of £60 just to go to Pizza Express once you add in wine and service, so if you look at it as dinner out rather than a "festival" then it's not too bad value. It's also close to my ideal eating experience: lots of tasting plates rather than one large plate. I'd be up for going again next year, although perhaps in a larger group, so we can try more things!


Jess said...

I am glad you had a good time. I haven't been back since I went to Birmingham in 2007 and despite the minor controversies in the foodie camp this year I still want to go back.

It is just as well so many of the vendors are a bit slow. Makes the price seems loads better. And it adds a certain level of excitement. Are they going to charge me, so is this going to be my last dish? Do I have enough desserts I want to try in case it's not??