So, we’d been neglecting the blog for the past few months. I can blame it on the wedding planning, honeymoon planning and whatnot, but it really boils down to laziness.
However, since we are back from the honeymoon and I can no longer use that excuse for not updating (and the weather is not conducive to being outdoors), it’s time to get back on track.
First, I want to talk about the food we experienced in Scotland. There are a few recipes we want to try and imitate. Matt had an awesome porridge* in Edinburgh that he will experiment with. We’ve already started working on a roasted parsnip soup that we ate at a vegetarian restaurant (needs more tweaking before we’re happy with it). And at some point we want to try and make a proper steak and ale pie.
We were also impressed with the fish and chips. The fish had a nice, light seasoned breadcrumb coating instead of a heavy, deep-fried batter. Oh, and everywhere had good chips. Not once did we have stringy, tasteless fries. While we were expecting good Indian food, we were thoroughly blown away by this (literal) hole in the wall restaurant that had an underground seating area. We ordered honey lemongrass lamb and garlic chile chicken. The lamb was amazingly sweet and tender and chicken had enough kick somewhat mellowed by the garlic. Ah-maz-ing!!
The only Scottish food that we (well, Matt) wanted to try and never did was haggis. Not the regular haggis, but the vegetarian kind. It’s filled with nuts and fruits instead of organ meat and apparently quite good for breakfast.
Speaking of breakfast, we had quite a few full English breakfasts…never to our liking. Mushrooms are overcooked, and eggs are not cooked enough. Matt likes runny yolks, but runny whites? Blech. And I don’t like runny anything for eggs, which is why I usually have scrambled eggs. They somehow manage to make those runny too. We also found that we enjoyed the vegetarian sausages (Quorn) more than the regular ones.
The Scots have a local soft drink called Irn-Bru (pronounced Iron-Brew). Eventually, we HAD to try it. It’s… interesting. The first taste is kind of like cream soda, but then it changes flavours a few more times to ginger ale, root beer and something else we couldn’t quite figure out. Oh, and if you ever happen to see Belhaven Stout in the LCBO, pick some up – awesome Scottish, dark beer. Smooth and not very bitter.
Now onto France. Every morning we had coffee and freshly baked croissants or pain au chocolats (sometimes both). Lunch usually ended up being takeout of some variety – pizza, paninis or other sandwiches. Lesson learned here with the sandwiches – Steak (sometimes spelled steack) means ground beef in France.
We had a couple of really good pastas here. Homemade cheese ravioli and the most heavenly gnocci we’d ever had. I’ve attempted to make gnocci in the past and while Matt loved it, I declared it not worth the effort to make. This may change my mind to trying it again (maybe).
We were on the coast so a huge amount of the restaurants had seafood as their main meals. Matt had a dinner of moules frites (which some places hilariously translated it to fried mussels instead of mussels and fries). At first unimpressed with his mussels, he changed his mind when he tried one without any sauce on it and declared that to be the best way to eat it.
One last thing about France – we vowed to stop buying cheap block cheese as much as possible. Half the amount of GOOD cheese provides better flavor than a ton of cheap cheese. And that’s better for the expanded waistline from 2 weeks of eating out in Europe. At one point, in Marseille I was desperate to eat just a salad for dinner. I had to settle for a salad with some fried fish and potatoes in it.
*Matt’s Note: I think the trick to the porridge was not only that it was slow cooked on the stove for 20 minutes, but that it contained honey, raisins, and an obscene amount of cream. It kept me happily full for a long morning of hiking.