In Edinburgh, if there’s one thing you’ll need as much as a reliable cagoule, it’s a strong pair of pins. There are hills and there are cobbles and for most journeys, it makes sense to walk. And oh, do you walk. Some days there isn’t time to stop.
But what about eating?!? I hear you howl. No matter. Edinburgh is packed with exceptional and exciting things to hoover on the go. Here are some of the highs and lows of this year’s ‘taking away.’
The Buffalo Farm Stall (St Andrew’s Square)
Set amid salad bars and pizza stands, this sizzling meat-shack stands out. It’s the middle-class equivalent of a roadside burger shack. These are all over the festival in their various guises and they can be seriously hit and miss.
I went for a £6 Burns Burger. Enormous, but packed with really well made deliciousness, it was beauty and the beast all in one. The giant soft bap (grow up) was filled to the edges with excellent things. I chose to have a hearty slab of beefsteak tomato and a healthy dollop of sweet, slow-fried onions. Then there was a generous clump of mature, reassuringly orange Scottish cheddar.
Next was the giant, lean, juicy fresh burger. Simply seasoned and perfectly done so that it wasn’t rare but wasn’t dry. Then, for the Burns bit, a glorious spicy slice of whole-grainy haggis. That, along with a splash of luminous burger mustard, made for the perfect moisturisers. It was utterly gorgeous. All the meat also comes from their own farms, so it even tasted less of guilt than normal burgers. It was the best burger from a stall I’ve ever had.
A hit. No doubt a-flipping-bout it.
This popped out of nowhere. I’ve never seen it before or since. One night mid-Fringe my beloved and I were scurrying across South Bridge to get to my gig down on Canon’s Gait. At the northern end of the bridge a team of kind sorts had set up some tables covered in huge vats of curry and rice. “Free Curry,” they chimed, handing out Styrofoam boxes willy nilly.
Free curry! Well, we got a free box of cold rice with four lava-coated chickpeas and two nuclear peas each but who cares? It was free!
Mikey’s not a spice-lord. Most Nik Naks flavours make him sweat, so he fast surrendered. The rice was plain but fluffy and considering they must have made it in bulk, it was perfectly done. The curry was only a tiny dollop but holy fuck-bats was it hot. Virtually invisible but it was like licking the sun.
Edinburgh is awash with beautiful curry houses. Most notably the mosque: not the restaurant, the one that’s in the actual mosque, just in the day. Also Mother India, a sort of delightful Indian tapas empire. It’s no wonder Nanak wanted to try and stand out with this public show of kindness/fire-branding. What can I say? I won’t forget it.
I’d heard great things about the falafel wraps, so that’s what I went for after my last gig one night. Cor, it was astounding. Five pounds for a large one, and it was properly large. A whole forearm full of loveliness.
Light, nutty and moist falafel with lovely parsley packed out the enormous wrap. Along with salad and lovely, runny, potent garlic sauce. There were tasty, tangy pickles and big chunks of fresh tomato. There was too much to hoover in one late-night sitting, I ended up having to bin some of the excess wrap. I know, me.
It was scrumptious, fresh and beyond filling.
I passed this place every day for a month. In the window is a fresh hog roast, being shredded for hot rolls and wraps. I’m pregnant so some days this turned my tum and others it sang, “COME AND GET MY LOVELY APPLES AND PROTEIN PLEASE.” So on one day, I did.
The staff are delightful and there’s an exciting range of sauces. I went for a small wrap with hot sauce. In the end, it wasn’t all that. The meat had clearly sat there all day and was quite dry, sat in a wrap with nothing else but a few splashes of sauce. I would have loved some other accompanying options to bring it to life. Maybe some herbs or even fruit to whack in there too? At around a fiver a go there are much better things on offer.