A Wee Taste of Edinburgh Food Tour
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
This week, I took part in an original little concept called A Wee Taste of Edinburgh Food Tour. It is run by current history teacher Karly Zagorac who felt the tours on offer just didn't quite hit their full potential.
With that in mind, she set about creating an Edinburgh food tour with a difference; the first port of call would be to think of a location.
A Wee Taste of Edinburgh is predominantly tailored to tourists and the current tours were very much located in the centre of town; Karly wanted to show them a side of the city that many non-locals just don't see.
Bruntsfield provided what A Wee Taste of Edinburgh needs in terms of location, amazing venues and a stunning walk. There is also a strong community feel, with locations buying into the tour not just because it was unique, but because they feel passionate about supporting each other.
The venues on the tour include:
I will start off by telling you a bit about Karly, the host, herself. She was very much on her way to living the life of a teacher but felt her history degree and love for meeting people was pulling her in a different direction. Don't get me wrong - I get the impression Karly is brilliant with her pupils, but her dynamic personality means she feels like your best friend instantly.
We started our tour at...
Just round the corner from Montpelier's lives 181 Delicatessen and what a lovely first stop for our Edinburgh food tour. The shop is a hub for both locals and tourists alike, providing a huge selection of delicious, artisanal and downright unique products ranging from honey to handmade chocolate.
A Wee Taste of Edinburgh had a scotch egg tasting set up whilst the owner discussed how, and why, they choose the producers they do. Most will not be big players; either setting up their business or not wanting the pressure that comes with extreme growth. Instead, they give worthy businesses a helping hand - matching the hungry Morningside audience with the very finest in food and drink.
Next up was the infamous I.J. Mellis shop and cheese bar, recently opened in Morningside - a must on any Edinburgh food tour. For those of you familiar with their Stockbridge and Victoria Street branches, you will know what magic lies inside, but what you won't see is a gorgeous French cafe offering the very best of food and wine. This is where we spent an hour; eating, drinking and learning about I.J. Mellis.
Jamie let us sample some of their Cinsault natural wine - a red with no sulphates meaning no hangover! This was coupled with Hebridean Blue, Mull Cheddar, Auld Reekie and more, coupled with chutney and quince. The dream!
Of course I couldn't leave without a peek at their shop; the Burrata was calling my name!
A La Carte
We very much needed to walk off the cheese and wine and so took a leisurely stroll to A La Carte at the North of Bruntsfield. For those of you who read this and think you don't fancy the walk, it is super easy going and it flies by as Karly passes on her wealth of history knowledge of the area.
A La Carte is a slightly more unusual bakery than most. Not only do they have a stunning variety of cakes and pastries, they found a gap in the market and expanded to create delicious home made meals for locals. These meals are frozen and portioned for one, so older people, busy people (or tired people) can grab their nutritious dinner and be properly fed. There are loads of great options including duck, chicken, fish and more; all expertly prepared.
But of course, I was there to sample some food. On offer was the smoothest tablet I have ever had. Whilst munching away, I was able to explore their unusual range of honey, chutney and jam... and blether away to Gavin. He is also part of the charm. I can see why people come back weekly - even just to chat to him.
The award winning Cuckoos Bakery was next on our list. You may know it well from their Dundas Street branch. Bruntsfield is just as lovely, with a quirky little feel to it. I was offered two gorgeous cupcakes from their range which includes Oreo and Chocolate, Vanilla, Raspberry and White Chocolate, Apple and Raspberry and more. I have to point out that while I got a taste of the Apple and Raspberry, the other was hunted out and devoured by Phil. I did get his review though, "Aw aye - lovely!!".
Now if cupcakes aren't your thing, don't worry. Cuckoos Bakery offer everything you need; from teas to soups to wraps. The decor alone is worth a visit on your next Bruntsfield trip.
Absolutely stuffed, it was time to relax and enjoy a tipple or two at Cafe Grande. I have passed this bar and restaurant so many times but am ashamed to say I have never been in. A waste, because proprietor Robbie is worth a visit. Not only is his knowledge of drink second to none, he is one of the nicest people I have ever met - albeit briefly.
It was really interesting to see the dynamic between Robbie and Karly, Robbie knows his distilleries and the origin of alcohol types and that coupled with Karly's historical knowledge of Scotland meant I learned more in half an hour there than in most distillery tours.
Cafe Grande are also proud to champion local breweries, distilleries and their produce. They work hard to shop local and it pays off. Although they are directly opposite another bar, you would go for a completely different reason; to appreciate quality drink sourced lovingly.
We sampled beer, gin and whisky and the measures were NOT small. Robbie helped me to understand the flavours and history of the brands we talked about including Daffy's Gin and Stewart Brewing. A real highlight of the tour.
The Golf Tavern
The final stop of A Wee Taste of Edinburgh tour sees you end up at the Golf Tavern sampling some Haggis Bon Bons. I sadly had to end our tour early due to another event, however having been to the Tavern before it shows you an amazing side to the city. Situated with a gorgeous vantage point over the Bruntsfield Links it was established in 1456 - can you believe that? It's name summarises what it was associated with in the past and still is, being right on top of one of Scotland's only free golf courses. It is steeped in history but the food is as fresh as anything.
And finally, the tour was at an end. I say an end, but with Karly she often ends up carrying on the night with her tour guests - she is that much fun! And that is the real selling point of this tour - Karly herself. She has built fantastic relationships with all venues on the tour but is just a fun, friendly, knowledgeable and all round cracking lass.
What better way to represent our city?