After checking into our hotel in Edinburgh, we were greeted by Julie of Eat Walk Edinburgh tours at reception of Hotel Du Vin. Eat Walk Edinburgh walking tours took us through the historical heart of the city while allowing us the time to sample food and drink from some of Edinburgh’s unique restaurants, shops and bars. Between premises our guide Julie also pointed out interesting sights of the city and gave us advice on other places to visit after our tour is over.
First stop was Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar which has a legendary story of a dog attached to it. The best-known version of the story is that Bobby belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman. When John Gray died he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby then became known locally, spending the rest of his life sitting on his master’s grave. After Bobby the dog died, Lady Burdett-Coutts had a statue and fountain erected at the southern end of the George IV Bridge to commemorate him. This is the location of the bar now and many tourists rub Bobby’s bronze statue’s nose for good luck!
Later we went to a unique liquid deli called Demijohn! Angus and Frances Ferguson founded Demijohn in 2004 in Edinburgh’s Old Town as the World’s first liquid deli. It started as a family business and still is very much that. The idea for Demijohn came originally from a wonderful experience Angus had while living and working in Naples, Southern Italy, in the early 1990’s as a Student. He would buy his wine for parties from a local Cantina, or winery. He was allowed to take along a container of his own, try the wines on offer and have his jerrycan filled up. It was a bit like filling up a car with fuel at a petrol pump, except a lot more fun! Having traveled widely and eaten adventurous food all their lives, Angus and Frances decided it was about time Britain enjoyed the full freedoms of taste experienced on the continent, but with a focus on locally sourced British produce.
While walking from new town to old town and back of Edinburgh, we couldn’t miss the Majestic Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its position on the Castle Rock. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite Rising of 1745. It has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully, on several occasions. In present times, the castle is in the care of Historic Scotland and is Scotland’s most-visited paid tourist attraction, with over 1.2 million visitors in 2011.
We stopped at Calistoga Restaurant for Napa valley wine tasting and food pairing. This restaurant has a Californian feel to it and has been recently awarded as the “Specialty Restaurant of the Year” in Scottish Restaurant Awards. We tried out premium Napa Valley Wine with slow-cooked Duck & Zucchini ragout with potato gnocchi and basil oil. It paired very well and we were also impressed by the unique choice of Californian Beers and Wines.
One of the highlights of the Eat Walk Edinburgh tour was the visit to the Scottish Malt Whisky Society on Queen street. Open to all, the society hosts a kaleidoscope of food and drink experiences with some of Scotland’s finest producers. This was the place to discover the world’s winest selection of single cask, rare whisky playfully linked with Scottish clans! Renowned for its unique pairing delights, The Dining Room at 28 queen street has long been showcasing the very best in modern Scottish cuisine. Wondering about the number 35.94 on the bottle? It means it’s from the bottle which is from the 94th cask acquired from distillery number 35. Society bottling are always referred to using this numerical code, rather than by the distillery name, as individual casks are unique and, therefore, may not be representative of the whisky produced by that distillery for ordinary retail.
Next stop was the Affogato gelato e caffe on Queensferry street in Edinburgh. Affogato means an Italian dessert consisting of vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso coffee. They have over 18 flavors of gelato, hot and cold drinks, handmade cakes and pastries, selection of savoury snacks and are dog friendly too!
Did you know that Gelato and ice Cream are quite different? Gelato is churned at a slower speed, less air is whipped into the mixture. Compared to ice cream which can be made with up to 50% air, Gelato contains only around 25%, creating a denser, creamier sensation. And whereas ice-cream usually contains over 10% fat, often even higher, gelato has less than 7% making the flavor more intense. Gelato is usually served at a warmer temperature too. Perfect for a Scottish summer!
Last stop on the Eat Walk Edinburgh tour was Ghillie Dhu Pub and Restaurant which is in an age old church, can you imagine that! It revels in its position as a tourist-friendly hangout that’s particularly popular on rugby weekends and during the Edinburgh Festival. The expansive ground-floor bar is open throughout the week, with big bunk-seated booths and slightly too-big tables which give it the feel of a medieval dining room, while the upstairs hall hosts ceilidhs, DJs and live music on Fridays and Saturdays. A robust, Scots-focused menu features starters of black pudding, haggis or smoked salmon, and pies, grilled steak and homely Marshall’s macaroni and ham bake on the mains slate.