Friday, 28 August 2009

Reflections on Communal Eating and Living

This weekend we hand the keys to our flat back to the landlord. This marks the end of my time as a student, and the end of my time living in flats where you get to argue about who left the bathroom in such a mess and who didn't pay their share of the gas bill.

One of the most stressful things I've found with communal living is the upkeep of the kitchen. I never thought I would find this as difficult as I have. Neither of my parents are massively in to cooking, and neither of them are particularly houseproud. I grew up in a house where tidying and cleaning were usually done in a massive hygiene binge the day before visitors were due. We were never candidates for "How Clean is Your House", but at the same time the mantelpiece could have used dusting.

However, the kitchen was always pretty clean. Surfaces were wiped down after dinner, and the washing up done and put away. The fridge was regularly checked for anything that had gone bad, and the bins taken out. My only memory of dirt in the kitchen was the floor, as the kitchen door led out to the back garden, so it would often have muddy footprints or bits of stray grass cuttings here and there. Given that I was quite happy with this approach to cleanliness (surfaces and equipment clean, floor less important), I thought I'd be ok in shared flats.

I was wrong. Over the past 4 years, I lived with people who thought the best place to make their toast was directly on the counter, and then left a pile of crumbs with a smear of butter and jam as a reminder. Or the person who insisted on lining every baking tray with tin foil to minimise washing up, but then tearing the foil and deciding they couldn't be bothered to clear up the layer of grease that stuck the foil to the pan. Even more extreme, there was one person who refused to even use baking trays, reheating their ready meals solely in a tin foil cradle. Which burst all over the floor on several occasions, once infuriating the aforementioned flatmate so much they headbutted the fridge. There are people who use 12 saucepans to make spaghetti bolognese, and those that use wire wool on the non-stick pans. People who leave all their washing up in the sink, and then act surprised that you didn't do it for them. Or wash up under running water, so that when you pull the frying pan out of the cupboard the next day, you notice that while the inside is clean, the outside has half a fried egg stuck to it.

Sometimes the spice rack looks likes this.

Note the broken glass and intended recycling

It's also common for the worktop to look like this.

So close to the sink, yet so far from clean.

I'm looking forward to living somewhere you only have to clean after dinner, not before as well.

I'm also pretty sad to move out. Although some of my past flatmates have been hilariously incompetent in the kitchen, having 3 or 4 other people under the same roof makes for great communal meals. This year alone we've had Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, Anti-Valentines, a mexican night, a tapas night and a chilli cook off. We had a chocolate fondue party, and baked a 2 foot long custard cream. We celebrated Burn's Night with the biggest haggis you've ever seen. There's always willing mouths to tuck in to the latest thing I've baked, usually just because I felt like it.

I've lost count the number of times I've bought too much dinner and managed to offload the leftovers on to one of my flatmates. This year particularly, I've had several texts and calls offering me a communal dinner. There's something great about coming home to a roast dinner and a table populated by some of your best friends, when an hour ago your dinner plans involved a can of baked beans and a serious iPlayer session.

While I won't miss communal cleaning (I've spent the last two days trying to scrape a year's worth of grease out the oven) I will definitely miss the communal eating.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


The other day, I realised I hadn't baked anything for at least a week. Plus my flatmate L was coming back to Edinburgh to move out of the flat, so baked goods were absolutely required.

Snickerdoodles are something that I'd seen a few recipes for, but never actually tried them in real life. I noticed a recipe for the them in Rachel Allen's "Bake", so it was time to give them a go.

The recipe itself is pretty easy, and you can find the Rachel Allen version already typed out here. "Bake" is fast shaping up to be one of the most reliable cook books I own, and my snickerdoodles came out very similar to Maria's.

Snickerdoodles, from "Bake" by Rachel Allen

I was possibly a bit generous with the nutmeg, but this mixed with the creaminess of the butter to create something very reminiscent of an egg custard tart in biscuit form. I wasn't entirely sold on the crispy outside with a cakey centre, but I can see its appeal. I liked the spiciness, and these are very "autumnal". I'd probably remake these as little Christmas presents to give out randomly, but make the spicing a bit more subtle and try to make them a bit thinner and crispier. Although that might move them too far to the realm of gingerbread, but anyway.

I've just discovered now that they are also pretty tasty dunked in tea and coffee, and they're strong enough not to crumble too much either.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Thai Steamed Mussels

One thing I am genuinely good at in the kitchen is dealing with left-overs. Although I ignore the golden rule of planning a weekly menu, I always check out the fridge before deciding what is for dinner that night. This has an extra bonus when you have flatmates, as often there are things left in the fridge and cupboards that they no longer want that can be snaffled.

Minimising waste is one of the rules of "Economy Gastronomy", a new show on BBC2. The show is definitely not aimed at me, as I've spent the last four years perfecting the art of eating well on a small budget, but I do enjoy some of the recipes. I also get a bit of schadenfreude off some of the more idiotic meal plans of the participants, but that just probably makes me an evil person.

One recipe that did catch my eye was the Thai Steamed Mussels. I love mussels, and I love Thai food too. When I found myself looking at a fridge containing half a can of coconut milk, it seemed like a good idea.

I made my own red curry paste, using a selection of jars from the fridge. The recipe is probably not all that authentic, but it tasted pretty good, with the right balance of heat, sourness and aromatics.

2 cloves of garlic,
2cm of ginger
1tsp lemongrass (either chopped or pureed)
1tsp tamarind paste
1 heaped tsp Thai shrimp chilli paste
3 small kaffir lime leaves (chopped, and soaked if using dried)
1tsp lime zest
1 red chilli (chopped)
1 spring onion (chopped)
Splash of groundnut oil

Thai Red Curry Paste

Basically, mash everything together with a pestle and mortar. I find it easiest to add the solid ingredients first and then start adding the pastes and liquids, but as long as it all ends up in the bowl it shouldn't matter too much. It takes quite a bit of pounding and grinding to get it all looking smooth, so put something good on tv or the radio and keep going. The recipe above makes enough for 3 or 4 large spoonfuls, and will keep in the fridge a couple of days if you don't use it all in one go.

Thai-Spiced Steamed Mussels

The mussels themselves were easy to make, although I was worried that I might give myself food poisoning by putting a bad one in the pot by mistake. I sorted through the bag, and only 2 failed to close when tapped. They'd also been debearded and scrubbed, although a couple still had the remains of a beard which I pulled out.

As I knew it would be a matter of minutes once the mussels went in the pan, I did a full mise en place for once. Chillies and garlic were chopped, and the spring onion and coriander garnish readied. I mixed up a jug of coconut milk, red curry paste and chicken stock, to pour over the mussels. (It was actually half an Oxo cube and some boiling water, but I didn't see the point of defrosting the real chicken stock for 75mls worth.)

5 minutes later, I was tucking in to a massive heap of mussels, with the fragrant broth awaiting me at the bottom of the bowl. I also had got a mini baguette earlier in the day, and used this to mop up the juices. Lovely!

All gone!

My main criticism would be that there was not much kick to this dish. I guess as Economy Gastronomy is aimed at families they didn't want to make it too spicy for the kids (but which kids do you know that would eat a plate full of mussels? I didn't go anywhere near seafood until I was in my late teens.) However, this would be easily solved by using more red curry paste, or making your own *very* spicy version.

I really enjoyed this meal, and it was very quick to make if you don't have to debeard and clean the mussels yourself. The mussels were not that expensive (£5.60 per kilo) but probably a little more than I would spend on one meal normally. I was also a bit put off by the lack of fruit and veg, but I guess if you had a healthy pudding or starter and a glass of juice that would compensate for the lack of roughage. However, it felt very indulgent and luxurious, and in total probably only cost me about £3.50. Bargain! A perfect way to use up leftovers!

Friday, 21 August 2009

Eating at The Fringe Festival

For the last 20 days, Edinburgh has been busy with the various festivals that are held here during August. There's books, opera, dance, theatre, and a nightly RAF flyover at 9pm on the dot. The biggest of all the festivals is the Fringe, which tends to be mostly comedy with the odd hint of amateur theatricals.

Much of the Fringe takes place in the University Unions. It's very strange to see the bar where you'd go for a cheap drink after lectures packed full of "real" people. Weirder still is that Pleasance Sports Hall is a major venue. Normally, queuing outside Pleasance equals an exam. Queuing with a beer in hand to see stand up messes with my mind.

Most Fringe tickets are unreserved, so you have to stake your place in the queue 30 minutes or so before the show starts if you want a choice of seats - otherwise you can find yourself split up if you are in a big group, or sitting in centre front row for a comedian who likes to pick on the audience. This isn't really a major problem, but for those seeing several shows on the same day, it can mean that once you have traveled between venues, you have little or no time to eat. (Ok, I realise that this is probably only a problem for me, but it is a serious one! You try sitting through an hour of hip-hop theatre when you desperately need some food!)

Assembly Rooms on George Street has a pretty standard cafe on the premises, and the Pleasance complex has a small barbecue van that does ok burgers and sausages, and a small cafe. Pleasance Dome also has the guys from the Mosque Kitchen serving decent curries for bargain prices.

However, the most interesting eating at the Fringe is to be had in Bristo Square, in the courtyard of the Guilded Balloon (otherwise known as Teviot to the locals). With all the American blogs and food sites going mental over gourmet food trucks, it's good to see a few food vans that aren't just burger and chips here in the UK. They're great to grab a snack at in-between shows, and everything is portable should you need to queue and nosh simultaneously.

La Creperie - Not that exciting, but sometimes you *need* a pancake with Nutella.

Wee Hut - Serves several types of wurst, I am going to try the smoked wurst next.

La Favorita Pizza Oven - Features a real wood fired pizza oven (you can see the black chimney at the the top of the photo). Generally very tasty and stays open late. (Although they had a sign today proclaiming themselves "Athur (sic) Smith's Favourite Pizza")

Well Hung and Tender - Comedy name, but seriously good burgers. T was put off by the open air relish station, but I enjoyed using coffee stirrers to sample all the condiments before deciding that the mustard mayo should grace my burger.

Fish Mussels - Not quite in Bristo Square, but around the corner at Hullaballoo. Doesn't serve fish, but does serve mussels in a classic white wine and garlic type sauce.

It also serves these bad boys...

I wasn't sure whether I liked oysters or not. I can't remember ever eating a raw one, and when I can remember eating one, they've always been deep-fried. The oysters are freshly shucked as you order them, and garnished with a squeeze of lemon and a drop or two of Tabasco. However, since plucking up the courage to try one the other day, I've been back for more. Very delicious and a really unusual streetfood option!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Orangey Honey Buns

My obsession with the latest Valentine Warner book continues. The Orangey Honey Buns had caught my eye straight away, and the quest to use up as much stuff in the cupboards before moving meant I had a packet of instant yeast wanting a home.

The buns were pretty easy to make, although the dough seemed to want to travel up my whisk in to my mixer instead of staying on the beaters. After a few attempts to scrape it out of the top of the beaters, I gave up and mixed it by hand.

The dough rose easily, and tiny blobs in each of the muffin holes soon grew to almost overflowing. Given my last attempt at baking with Valentine Warner ended in a burnt meringue, I went for the lower timing estimate.

Valentine Warner must be testing his recipes using the coldest oven in the world! I never normally have trouble with baking (my oven is pretty new and accurate) so I rarely check things too closely. After 12 minutes the buns were very very very black. Oh dear. However, after letting them cool, they hadn't hardened up too much. Even though they weren't golden, they didn't seem to be charcoal either.

Orangey Honey Buns

I forged on with making the syrup, which was very easy (and so tasty that I had a few spoonfuls while making it... just to test obviously). I served a couple of the buns straight away with the hot syrup, and put the rest in a jar in the fridge.

The buns were a little chewy on the outside, but the inside was still soft and spongy. It reminded me a lot of a rum baba. While it would have been slightly tastier (and much prettier) without the black tops, it didn't really completely ruin the dish either. The sticky syrup soaked in to the buns quickly, and they crumbled easily when attacked with a spoon. The ones that have been left to soak are almost liquid inside, with each bubble in the sponge containing syrup instead of air.

I'm having to resist eating these all the time. The jar in the fridge is calling me. I even ate some for breakfast, which is definitely not good for my health. The recipe suggests serving with whipped cream, but I think a nice blob of vanilla ice cream would also be lovely, especially if the buns are still warm. I've been having mine with creme fraiche and a chunk of the candied orange peel used in the syrup. The sourness of the creme fraiche cuts through the syrup well.

Still golden inside

I would recommend this recipe, but if you have a halfway decent oven, I would check the buns after 8 minutes and then proceed carefully. Don't worry too much if they do get a bit dark, but if food aesthetics are important to you, watch closely...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

The Dogs (revisited) and Philosophy

When I first started studying photography ten years ago, digital cameras were insanely expensive and only used by top professionals and early-adopting amateurs. Although film was fairly cheap, it still cost £4 or so to buy and develop a roll of pictures. This had the advantage of making people think twice about clicking the shutter.

Now, everyone has a digital. Even a basic mobile phone will have a camera with a decent number of megapixels on it. Although this has allowed people to capture moments they wouldn't have been able to afford to catch on film (such as action shots where 30 pictures are blurred but 1 is amazing), it also makes people quite unthinking with their cameras. I once went on holiday with a friend who obsessively documented the whole trip. While she got some nice snaps of the Sagrada Familia, I was less happy about being constantly photographed in the airport, on buses, eating my dinner and while trying to apply suntan lotion. Sometimes it's better to just put the lens down and experience what is happening first hand.

I've been following the recent chat on the WoM blog about modern etiquette, and I still think that taking pictures of your dinner in restaurants is generally bad form. The only blog I have ever deleted from my RSS reader was 90% pictures of restaurant meals, and as well as making me feel that the blogger would be the most irritating person to go for dinner with, it was just boring. Why do I care what a salad in a restaurant 2000 miles away looks like? I want to know what made the meal special, and in the case of far-flung restaurants, if there are unusual flavours or methods I can recreate at home. I can forgive photography on very striking looking dishes, but most of the time I am not a fan. Looking back over my past reviews, most of the ones with photos were taken either when I was on my own, or hastily snatched while dining companions visited the bathrooms.

So it is for these reasons that this article contains only one photograph, and one that was not taken by me.
Dining Room at The Dogs (from their website)

After raving about The Dogs all year, I finally dragged my flatmates along there for dinner. Things got off to a bad start, with us arriving late for our reservation and two people short. Just as we were about to give up and order for him, E arrived from his waiting job just around the corner. The waitress was very nice about the delay we caused, and gave E plenty of time to peruse the menu, while the rest of us worked our way through a bottle of house red and some very tasty warm bread.

For starters, E had the mushroom and vegetable pate, which was had a large dose of woody, mushroom flavour in it. The pate was deliciously rich and thick, although the portion of pate outweighed the slice of toast that accompanied it, forcing E to leave half his portion as he had nothing to spread it on! A had a whitebait salad, which was a small mound of leaves covered in a giant portion of tiny spicy fish. Again, the main complaint that it was a little too large as a starter, nonetheless A was very pleased to receive such a good amount of fish instead of the stingy toppings you sometimes get with salads. I ventured in to offal territory, and had lamb sweetbreads on toast. I've never tried them before, so have little to compare them to. They had the texture of the melting fat you get with pork crackling, but without the greasiness. My portion was well sized, but the drizzle of sherry sauce meant that some parts of the dish were a little bit dry and bland.

At this point, we also got a portion of chips cooked in dripping to share. While the chips on my last visit had been good, this portion was transcendental. The thick cut chips were perfectly crunchy on the outside, almost shattering when cut. Inside was creamy and smooth. They were possibly some of the most delicious chips I have ever eaten.

Given E's current experience working in the restaurant industry, we also spent a lot of the meal discussing the ethos of The Dogs. On some levels, the informality is almost off-putting. The cutlery arrives in your water glass, and a jug of tap water is given to every table as soon as they sit down. Instead of the restaurant staple of cracked pepper, each table sports a salt and pepper shaker, in the same glass cone style beloved of the greasy spoon. Yet the food is far more adventurous than restaurants of a similar price range, and often far better cooked. My humanities degree lead me to suggest that The Dogs is in some way a deconstruction of what makes a good restaurant, with some accepted conventions deliberately ignored and challenged. This is perhaps taking it all far too seriously.

Moving on to the main course, L (who had skipped the starter) opted for the tomato barley risotto. The plate was filled with fat grains of barley, and large chunks of tomato. The barley added a layer of nuttiness to the tomato sauce, and was very tasty indeed. It was also very filling, and anyone without an enormous appetite is probably best sticking to the small portion.

A ordered the vegetable and pulse bake, which came with a goat's cheese mash topping. This was also declared delicious, although rather stodgy and heavy. Again, not an option for the light appetite.

E ordered the tomato seafood stew, which came with a large hunk of soda bread. I found this rather sour tasting, and E complained that the mussels had overwhelmed the other ingredients. This potentially could be a great dish, but it just didn't seem to come together the way it should on this occasion.

I had a the grilled trout with green salad broth. I did not have any food envy at all! The trout skin was crispy, while the flesh underneath was tender and flaky. The green salad broth was heavy with the scent of mussels, and tasted like a salad that had seafood dressing. It was quite a strange sensation to eat! There were also a couple of fat mussels hiding in the broth, which also featured chunky celery, cucumber and potatoes. Unfortunately one of my mussels was a bit gritty, but apart from that it was a stand out dish.

We finished up with a bowl of ice cream, raspberry rice pudding and lemon thyme posset. I am officially in love with posset, and I couldn't fault the creamy texture with the zing of lemon. The dish was topped with crystallised strands of lemon zest, which gave a crunchy contrast to the posset, which was studded with chopped thyme. E's rice pudding was also a hit, with A proclaiming that the taste took him back to childhood in the same way that Anton Ego's ratatouille did in the eponymous film.

Overall, I would describe a visit to The Dogs as similar to visiting an eccentric aunt and uncle, who happen to be channelling Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater to various degrees. The food will be delicious, with the occasional major triumph and minor slip, and the atmosphere quirky but friendly. It is a very strong contender for my all time favourite restaurant, and I dare you to find a better chip!

The Dogs on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Vanilla Fairy Cakes with Caramel

I am not a major fan of the cupcake trend. They are definitely cute, and sometimes very tasty, but too often they are just over iced, dry and a feeble excuse for cake.

Having said that, I do bake cupcakes regularly. My urge to bake is far greater than my urge to eat, so I'll often hand out bits of cakes to friends, family, and my (gradually expanding) flatmates. In the past, if I've baked a traditional cake, instead of just eating a slice, one flatmate (who was permanently on a diet) would just shave smaller and smaller pieces off it, until all that was left was a misshapen, dried out crust. By making individual cakes, most people take one, and greedy people take two. Everyone is happy, and there's no grief over who cut the cake in to such a weird shape that it is no longer slice-able.

Vanilla Cupcakes with a weird vintage effect...

So, in my efforts to vanquish the cupcake, stand up for British food, and yet remain with the sharing friendly pre-portioned sizes, I went for fairy cakes. (This was not at all to do with the sudden realisation that I'd forgotten to buy muffin cases.)

Even though it's not updated much, Cupcake Bakeshop is still one of the best sites I've found for cake recipes. The flavours are also much more adventurous than you'd normally find. On this occasion though, I went for the 3 Vanilla recipe. The main changes are as follows:
  • 1 whole vanilla pod in the batter, as I bulk bought some and have a jar of 50 pods in my cupboard. I'm pretty free and easy with them.
  • As my cakes were much smaller, I got 24 cakes out of this easily, and there is still some batter in the fridge, probably enough for another 5 or 6.
  • I didn't have any cream cheese, so I just made a simple buttercream with icing sugar, vanilla essence (home-made with vodka and brandy... yum), butter and a splash of milk.
  • Before icing the cakes, I cut out the centre, and filled it with the caramel left over from the biscuits I made at graduation. As it was packed with sugar, it was still fine to eat, but needed a little warming up to get it to a spoonable consistency.
  • As they were fairy cakes, there wasn't much room for filling, so the caramel soaked in to the cake a bit, making it extra moist and yummy.
  • I used home-made vanilla salt to garnish, which isn't as brown as the Malden version.
Vanilla Cupcakes with Caramel

These are pretty damn good, although I found them a little starchy. I think I probably overmixed the flour. I am not really a fan of the Dry-Wet method of cake mixing, but a lot of American cakes seem to use it. I also should have put a bit of vanilla salt on the caramel filling, and mixed some in with the icing, as the salt-kick wasn't as strong as I wanted. T declared them his favourite cake ever, and wants them for his birthday next month. I already have a cunning plan for then, but I should be able to incorporate these in to it...

P.S - I can't tell if I'm rubbish at iPhoto or if Blogger is doing strange things to my photos. Maybe both.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Festive Cocktail - Elderflower Martini

Although the Edinburgh fringe doesn't start officially until the 7th August, the city is already in full festival mode. Many shows are doing previews, and I'm off to a couple tonight. I've also got tickets for shows for the next few days, my mission this year is to go to at least one show a day!

A big problem with the Fringe is that there is just so much to see. I've had a programme guide for a couple of weeks, and picked up Fest magazine too, but I am still none the wiser about what I want to see.

While contemplating the hefty tome that is the full Fringe listings, I've often been sipping on an elderflower martini. I first tried this drink at the bar where my flatmate works. I think it was a special, as I haven't seen it there since. Although I know a proper martini shouldn't have a non-alcoholic mixer as it's main component, I can't quite remember what this was called in the bar, and googling doesn't bring up a similar recipe. I'd watched the barman quite closely as he'd made the drink, so although I can't remember the name, I can still guess at the recipe!

You will need these ingredients

Elderflower Martini - per person:
25ml sweet vermouth
25ml elderflower cordial
125ml cloudy apple juice

Put everything in a cocktail shaker, with plenty of ice cubes. Shake it up until the outside of the shaker gets cold and misty.

Cold and Misty

Strain the drink in to a glass and enjoy! It's not particularly alcoholic, so it's refreshing while still having a bit of a kick. I am a massive fan of gin and other "aromatic" type drinks, so I loved the floral flavour of the elderflower mixed with the herby tones of the vermouth.

Time to study the options!

There's a couple of other summer drinks I've been drinking a lot lately, so watch out for those recipes soon...

Click here for more Martini information - Martini on Foodista

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Peter's Yard. The Quartermile

Reading through some of the previous review posts on here, I seem to always be very positive. Though this may indicate that I only eat in the most fabulous places (or that I have a thoroughly undiscerning palate), it's actually because I don't want to bother reviewing places that have rubbish food! Especially as they are usually places that you know will be rubbish, but you have to go ahead with it anyway because it's your friend's birthday and they wanted to go there (I'm talking to you, Wetherspoons). Although if I do eat somewhere that is hilariously bad, I probably will blog about it for comedy value.

Somewhere I have mentioned on here a couple of times, and I have been meaning to review for ages, is Peter's Yard. It's in the new Quartermile development, although to me, it'll always be on Middle Meadow Walk. A few weeks after it opened, a Starbucks sprung up 2 doors down. I did not hold out much hope. Well over a year later, and Peter's Yard is still thriving.

I love this sign - it tells the truth.

Peter's Yard isn't a typical Edinburgh cafe. For starters, it's not in a pokey converted tenement front room. It's industrial, with exposed pipes, concrete, lots of glass and half the space taking up by a very imposing looking bakery area. The menu is written on brown paper rolls that hang from walls, with no option of a frappucino with soy whipped cream and extra sprinkles.. In fact, you can't even choose to supersize your coffee, it comes in standard only. The furniture is stylish but utilitarian. This is not the third place.

Instead there are the usual coffees, including an honesty station, where you can pour your own filter coffee to take away, leaving your money in the jar next to the flask. The coffee is very good indeed, and often comes with some very impressive examples of latte art.

Latte Art at Peter's Yard

However, the thing that hooked me in, and drew me to Peter's Yard when I knew I should be in the library studying, or saving money by eating at home, was the food. All the baking is done on the premises, and they produce some of the best bread in the city. The cakes are also particularly good, with the parsnip cake and the Valrhona muffins being among my favourites. Often after a miserable day at uni, I would attempt to cheer myself up with a bowl of their soup, and a big hunk of fresh bread. They also sell quite a lot of grocery food too, such as packets of Swedish cookies, the teas and coffee blends they serve, and some seriously good chocolate, including Valrhona, Amedei and Michel Cluizel.

After a fun afternoon spent queuing at the council office to pay for a parking permit, I stopped once more at Peter's Yard. Deciding it was too hot for soup, and I wasn't hungry enough to justify a massive open sandwich, I went for a cappuccino and a slice of pecan pie.

Pecan Pie and Coffee at Peter's Yard

The coffee was delicious as usual, although I think that today's barista was still in training given the slightly poor attempt at latte art! (Some kind of musical notation? Or just a random swirl?) I love the way the top is really bitter, but the main coffee drunk through the milk is almost naturally sweet.

The pecan pie was rammed with nuts, and had an intriguing construction. Bordering the pastry was an almost cake-like layer, which I guess was probably made from ground nuts. On top of that was a hefty layer of whole pecans, and then the top was glazed with apricot jelly. This tasted quite strong when eaten alone, but when eaten with the pecans gave the pie a satisfyingly fruity aftertaste.

Peter's Yard is more expensive than a lot of other places nearby, especially given that it is a stones throw from the George Square campus. However, the quality of the food and drink is such that I think it justifies a slightly higher charge. If lunch at Starbucks is going to cost £5, then I'm totally ready to pay £6 and have something much much better. Given that Peter's Yard is often packed while the neighbouring Starbucks is almost empty, it seems many Edinburghers agree with me.

Peter's Yard on Urbanspoon