So I was recently in Dublin, Edinburgh, and the Highlands of Scotland on a get away (combined with World Con 2019). It was a great trip, mostly because the Isles have finally discovered the rest of Europe is there and stolen their food. Finally. There were Italian and Greek and Spanish places all over, even in small towns. Hooray!
WorldCon 2019: Dublin
I went a few days early before WorldCon and did much of the stuff one is supposed to do in Dublin. Lots of museums and walking and, of course, visiting the Trinity Library.
The convention itself was a blast, full of great panels and old friends. I even drank a gin-based cocktail (blame Mur Lafferty) which normally I’d avoid at all costs. (I really do not like gin.)
Speaking of booze, the Hugo After party involved Black Velvets (Champagne + Guinness) a favorite drink of mine and I was startled to find so few of my friends had ever heard of it.
This is what happens to Gail after two of them…
Fringe 2019 in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a town of all day breakfast (that end at 3:30pm) and amazing sweets, cobbled streets and quirky bathrooms, good drinking water and inclement weather, great tea and indifferent coffee, vintage clothing shops and plenty of bookstores.
Also it has a ruddy big castle in the middle of it…
In other words, I want to move there immediately.
My favorite comics at Fringe were (in no particular order):
- David O’Doherty
- Mary Bourke
- Andy Zaltzman (I’ve been a Bugle Podcast listener since well before John Oliver left the show but never seen his stand up)
This was my favorite part of trip. We drove from Edinburgh to Pitlochry (stopping off to see castles along the way) and used this lovely town as a base for a ton of hiking and wandering around the area. (I will say if I had it to do over I would go by train, not drive.)
I got a ton of walking in and the weather mostly behaved. It was lovely, the food was great, and I finally really got a chance to relax.
Don’t know what it says about me that I tend to like small villages in foreign countries frequented by retirees on holiday. Am I old before my time or just lazy?
Things I Stuck in My Maw
Lots of breakfasts. Yes, I like such things and when I’m hiking all day they make for a great start.
Shall I get personal about breakfast foods? Here we go, I’m about to piss everyone off.
UK & Ireland have better sausages than most other places, but there is no excuse for back bacon (I’ll take crispy US stomach-cut bacon any day of the year). Baked beans are a travesty, tomatoes should always come with breakfast, black pudding is fine but not worth the calories, white pudding is gross, fried mushrooms are okay but canned are disgusting, and the bread should always be brown and fried.
Nevertheless THIS IS BREAKFAST.
I will fight your waffle/pancake/french toast nonsense until I die. That’s not breakfast, that’s dessert. This is how we start our day.
I should add, I had a vegetarian version of the above with veggie sausage and spinach at one point that rocked my world. So yeah I think I’ll be doing mostly that next time.
The isles have upped their food game in the five or so years since I have been back. We will not discuss the pathetic excuse for Mexican food that has popped up anywhere (no, I said pathetic and I meant it). Mexican is a SERIOUS business, that was not it. Also, guac on toast does not equal avocado on toast. And while we are at it can we talk about the quality and sanctity of guac? Why would you put mayo in it? WHY?
What’s improved is the apparent realization that Italy exists, and that they have yummy food, and they are RIGHT THERE, so hey! Shall we consider the complex delicate flavors of a lightly grilled vegetable, the gently treated (not fried) fish, the appropriate amount of acid, the addition of herbs beyond parsley? Why yes we shall! Thank heavens. I also ate a lot of Greek pastries from this FANTASTIC place in Edinburgh that we walked by most days on the way to Fringe. True authentic bougatsa. So yummy.
I also ate a ton on Portuguese custard tarts, ice cream & yogurt with passion fruit. Apart from the bougatsa, my favorite sweet bite was an elevated sticky toffee pudding from a place in Pitlochry called Fern Cottage. It was truly magical…
My favorite savory bite? A lamb burger with stilton and cranberry compote from a pub, The Pheasant, near Heathrow in London. I didn’t get a pic because, frankly, it looks just like any old burger but it was MAGICAL.
The other thing I did was try every weird crisp flavor I could get my mitts on. You can check out my Twitter and Instagram for what I thought of the different flavors but here they are…
The duck and the burger were my favorites.
A Quick Word on Scotch
I am not a whiskey drinker.
But we went to a number of distilleries in the Highlands, and I did find out what my whiskey is, AKA the one that I enjoy. Naturally, I like the fancy stuff.
By fancy I mean:
Single malt, highland style scotch, sherry barrel, no smoke, no bog, no peat, aged 20+ years. (The one I liked was Blair Athol 23 years.) Lots of honey notes and the front, gentle burn. I found this quite drinkable, but I likely still don’t enjoy it enough to be worth the price tag. Better I let true aficionados drink such things.
I also went to a ton of museums, but bah, why talk artifacts when you can eat?
Yours, still jet lagged,
- Coop de Book for September 2019 is Still Waters by Alex Gabriel.
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