Back again, and just back from a weekend break in Edinburgh which seemed to revolve largely around finding comfort food or, to be more specific, soup. We had soup for lunch three days running, which is definitely unusual for me. I mean, I like soup a lot but I usually get distracted by toasted ham and cheese sandwiches when I’m out and about for lunch. But not so this chilly January weekend – all I could think of was soup. Good soup, like thick, warming smoked haddock and potato soup (‘Cullen Skink‘) in the Balmoral on Princes St before climbing Calton Hill, and beautiful pearl barley and winter vegetable soup in Peter’s Yard café in Stockbridge, which is worth making the trip to if you’re in the city.
In fact, I would advise taking a half-day’s diversion to Stockbridge anyway, as it’s the most pleasantly gentrified area I’ve ever been to. It’s unashamedly posh (Farrell & Ball shop in prominent position, old-style cheesemonger selling raw cheeses, oak chopping board store and three artisan bakeries, all in a row) and extremely elegant, but the people also seemed really nice. Unsurprisingly enough, the food in Stockbridge was lovely too (nice people do tend to eat nice food in nice places, after all). We walked through Stockbridge’s almost laughably inviting Sunday market, with its craft beers, buggies, cupcakes, fancy coffee cart, spaniels, homemade pasta stations, paella pans and multicoloured pheasants slung into a crate. We looked at demonstration vegetable plots and neat rows of pupil-grown Swiss chard in the nearby Botanic gardens. We had soup and bread and the most delicious hazelnut & Italian meringue confection at Peter’s Yard café, a Swedish-inspired bakery on Deanhaugh St. We elbowed our way into a table at Edinburgh’s gastro-pub du jour (Tom Kitchin’s Scran & Scallie) two nights in a row for Scottish beers and smoked salmon paté and cloudy apple juice cocktails and more comfort food of the posh pub grub variety. It was all pretty wonderful, and even more so in January, a month that’s just begging for soup.