Sunday, 21 August 2011

Eating at the Edinburgh Fringe

Once when I went to Bangladesh one of the many books I'd taken with me was a spy novel called Good News/Bad News. I didn't really understand the relevance of the title. They did often analyse situations by saying 'so the good news is...' but I don't remember it being a particularly big feature of the book. That being said, I don't really remember the book very well. Anyway, I have good/bad news relating to katsu curry. Good news: all the others I had were actually good and involved skill to make. Bad news: the one I had on Edinburgh on Saturday night. Eating this katsu made me so sad. I was so hungry because all I'd had to eat was a sandwich on the train up. It was the worst sandwich I've ever eaten. I often say things were the 'x thing ever' but I think this time I really mean it. The packaging described it as 'succulent chicken, sweet tomato, crisp lettuce, seasoned mayo' and NONE OF THESE THINGS WERE TRUE. I wasn't expecting it to be good, it was train food. But it begged the question: WHY is it so bad?

Anyway, I was pleased to see my friend was staying 10 seconds away from a Japanese place called Izzi. It looked quite nice. So I went there and got a pork katsu even though I felt as though I should've ordered something more adventurous. But I was really hungry and for once knew exactly what I wanted to eat and was in the vicinity of somewhere which could provide it. Way way waaay too much soy sauce in the curry sauce. My friend remarked that the overall effect was indistinguishable from Worcestershire sauce. She's never had katsu before so I had to convince her that katsu does not usually taste like this and that she should definitely order it at some point soon. It wasn't just the sauce that was bad though - the pork was dry and the breadcrumbs too heavy.

But Edinburgh wasn't all bad. I tried a scotch pie with mash and gravy. I'm not that sold on it - it didn't really taste of much. But maybe it's like a Cornish pasty in that a bad one still tastes OK in an indiscriminate stodge kind of way but a good one tastes really, really good. This one was from Auld Jocks Pie Shoppe.
We also took a quick visit to Forest Fringe Cafe, a 'veggie hipster' cafe (not my words). I'd highly recommend checking it out. As well as excellent food and drink, it has a 'take anything you want sale' with the only rule being 'take what you want, leave what you can.' Ace.
They only have five things on the menu and apparently this is because all the waiting staff are volunteers. They're all very good cooks. The burrito was nice and well balanced and filling but not too filling. It's the sides that deserve a special mention though. There was a red cabbage and grain (I don't know what type of grain) salsa type thing with raisins. Not what you usually find with burritos but it was very good. The texture of the cabbage and the soft grain went really well. The raisins were interesting although I'd probably have preferred less of them. It's the salad that's the standout though. It was very, very simple. Just lettuce, tomato and cucumber. But it wasn't a couple of pieces of each left on the side of the plate like an after thought. The proportions of each and the size they were cut to were perfect. I didn't think that would make a difference but it did, this salad was definitely more enjoyable than most and I think that had a lot to do with it. It just tasted so fresh! And it had none of that awful bitterness that non-considered iceberg often does.
My last boring Edinburgh story relates to bubble tea. I had never heard of this concept before. It's very milky tea with bits of tapioca in the bottom. My friend suggested we try it. She was aware that she didn't like bubble tea but is struck with an urge to have it every year. It's an interesting experience but not a pleasant one. I won't be doing it again any time soon.

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