Monday, 11 March 2013

A weekend in Edinburgh

Since leaving university, my friends and I have kept up a tradition of twice-yearly trips to stay with my old housemate up in Edinburgh. It's always an amazing weekend, with plenty of drinking, dancing, eating, and general revelry, and February's visit was no exception.

View from Arthur's Seat

We kicked off the festivities with a big girly dinner at Indigo Yard on the Friday night. The last time I ate there was for a friend's 21st birthday four(?!) years ago, when a big group of us from Durham all headed up to his home town for a big meal, followed by drinks and dancing at a nearby hotel. This visit was a bit more low-key, but just as tasty, and after close to 3 years of London prices I was seriously impressed by how cheap it was, with a set menu offering two courses for just £10!

I began with the charred jerk chicken skewers with coriander and yoghurt dip, which was delicious; the spicy chicken complemented perfectly by the cool, herby yoghurt. Meanwhile my friends sampled the goats cheese crostini with red onion marmalade (I had a bite of this - it was really good!), smoked haddock fish cakes, and chicken Caesar salad.

For the main course, I unadventurously opted for the beef burger and fries (which I enjoyed immensely), while my companions tucked into a variety of dishes including slow roasted pork belly with bubble and squeak, pork and leek sausages with mash and onion gravy, and pan seared salmon.

And for pudding four of us split two desserts - something chocolatey (I'm sorry to say I can't remember what it was!) and a Bramley apple Eve's pudding with rich vanilla custard.

It was a lovely meal - complemented with plenty of red wine and fruity martinis - and we finished off the night with a good few hours of dancing at the lively Opal lounge.

The next day - after a long lie-in and a lovely studenty lunch with one of my cousins and her housemates - my friends and I went for tea at theTower Restaurant. Located above the National Museum of Scotland, this stylish eatery boasts breath-taking views from the open-air terrace (although we stayed nice and cosy inside the main restaurant area). While we only stopped for tea and coffee this time, the dinner menu looks fantastic - I might have to check it out on my next trip!

In the evening, I met with my aunt and uncle and a handful of cousins for dinner at Sweet Melindas, a fantastic seafood restaurant in Marchmont. The mussels - served with Black Forest ham, shallots, garlic and Fino sherry - were some of the best I've tried, and my main course of bream with ginger, lemongrass, sweet chilli and creme fraiche was exceptionally good. Even looking back at the menu is making my mouth water! Afterwards I headed out with my friends for more cocktails and dancing over on George Street.

The next morning - after a hang-over banishing fried breakfast at Snax Cafe (eggs, chips, beans, bacon and sausages) - we went for a wholesome hike to the top of Arthur's Seat. This impressive natural landmark looms over Edinburgh; a craggy and dramatic backdrop to the Georgian elegance of the city. While it may seem distant, it is in fact less than 20 minutes walk from the centre of town to the foot of the peak and only another 20 minutes or so (fairly steep!) climb to the top.

It was a beautiful day, one of the first properly sunny days of the year, and we had a lovely time hiking to the top in the sunshine (clearly identifiable as Londoners by our inappropriate walking attire of heeled boots and oversized handbags).

Before leaving for London we stocked up on tablet (an incredibly sweet fudge-like concoction) and specialty shortbread (stem ginger is a new favourite) at one of the tourist shops on the Royal Mile, and stopped for coffee and cake at the lovely Peter's Yard, a Scandi-style bakery-cum-cafe just off the meadows - a great spot for open-faced sandwiches and cardamon buns.

All in all, a lovely weekend - I'm already looking forward to my next visit!