Wind, rain, food

Today is our last full day in Edinburgh before we go back to London before flying home to Vancouver. I’m very sad to be leaving, but I must say, I’m not going to miss the damn wind and torrential rain… (And I’m from Vancouver.  )Windblown

Yesterday, we were meant to go to Glasgow to visit my friend Kyle and watch a hockey game, but that was put on hold and then cancelled as there were gale force winds (102 miles/hour!) across the south of Scotland and Northern England. The trains were suspended and bus service was sporadic. So we stayed in windy Edinburgh and watched the fence nearly fall over and pieces of the neighbours’ greenhouses fly in and out of the yard. And then we went for dinner with Lesley and Stephen at this lovely oyster bar/seafood restaurant called Loch Fyne. (It’s a chain of restaurants, but you wouldn’t know it.) I had steamed mussels as my main course; with the broth, they were DIVINE. All in all, a good day.

The weather has been crap for most of our trip, but it’s winter in Scotland. What can you do? A few days before we got here they had had another red alert for gales force winds (that, as it turns out, were less than yesterday’s bluster) of what was dubbed “Hurricane Bawbag” in the media. I recently discovered what bawbag means and now understand why our friend Trish was so shocked that the papers printed that on the front page… But yeah, it’s been windy and I have given up on lip gloss while I am here because even if my hair is under my hood or my toque, I still get strands stuck to the gloss.

Aviemore

Aviemore is a lovely little ski village up north in the mid-Highlands. Lesley and Stephen have place there which they kindly lent to Sean and I last summer during our honeymoon. As previously stated, the weather has been crap, so that means that there was no snow at all until our last 24 hours up north. And when we drove up to the ski hill, there were so many people ready to ski the 3 inches (if that) that were there. I do hope that it snowed some more. I’m told that even though Aviemore is a ski village, it doesn’t necessarily rely on that. So that’s good.

Anyhow, off we went the day after Boxing Day, and it was just me and the boys. Lesley had to work, but despite being outnumbered, I still managed to get a few laps in House of Bruar. HOB started out as a small shop and food store selling all things Scottish. Over the years, it has become the outlet mall for all things Scottish. It’s pretty fantastic. If I were a rich girl (la-da-di-da-di-da-da-da-da-da-da), I would have bought every single thing that caught my fancy in the cashmere and fine wool section – so soft! But I was good and only bought a few gifts, and my mother’s requested wool beret. I didn’t even buy myself anything in the sale barn(!). I’ve been on the quest for wool socks and they didn’t have any that I liked. (I ended up buying socks at the Edinburgh Woolen Mill in nearby Pitlochry – they aren’t wool but they are super warm. At that point, I just needed socks.)

House of Bruar - only one section of!
House of Bruar – only one section of!

After visiting the food market (where I found spelt bread – so random) to collect for the evening’s tea (that is what they call dinner/supper; to confuse things, the word for lunch is dinner…) ingredients and competing for a table so we could eat spicy parsnip soup in the restaurant, we continued on to the Aviemore house where we discovered that Stephen had forgotten the keys… Luckily, there is an extra set and we didn’t have to drive back.

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Steak pie was on the menu for dinner (with mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, and a salad by moi), which followed a starter or tureen. I’m not sure how to describe a tureen. Perhaps it could be called a mixed sausage or pate. It had venison and a few other things in it, and it was good. Very Scottish. House of Bruar cherry pie was for dessert and it was delicious.

Steak pie and veggies. Yes, I need veggies!
Steak pie and veggies. Yes, I need veggies!
Venison tureen - oddly tasty
Venison tureen – oddly tasty

Much of this month away has involved food and so it continued that way the next day. When you stay in Aviemore, you have to visit the Mountain Café (111 Grampian Road, Aviemore) at least once. They make all their menu items and baked goods from scratch and cater to the gluten free/vegan/etc crowds with most of their items. That morning, we each ate or very own mountains of blueberry-banana (Sean), blueberry (me), and cranberry-apple-white chocolate pancakes. So delicious and much needed for our hike on the Rhothymurcus Estate.

Blueberry pancakes
Blueberry pancakes
Cranberry-apple-white chocolate pancakes
Cranberry-apple-white chocolate pancakes

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It was windy (surprise!) and rained a bit – thank goodness for my Hunter wellies and being bundled up in Lesley’s extra rain gear! – and on the last stretch of the hike (after no deer or sheep sightings –sigh), it began to pour. And off we went to have some hearty and healthy parsnip soup and homemade bread at the estate café. (Where the car keys were lost but not really.) We made a stop at the Cairngorm Brewery (http://www.cairngormbrewery.com/) (Dalfaber Industrial EstateAviemore) (a must visit and taste in Aviemore) to pick up some Black Gold and Blessed Thistle – among other flavours – beer. And then it was time to go back and rest before dinner at the much talked about Old Bridge Inn for some Cairngorm Santa’s Sledgehammer Ale and (for me) a half pint of Guiness before a really great dinner.

Old Bridge Inn

The Old Bridge Inn (http://www.oldbridgeinn.co.uk/) (23 Dalfaber Road, Aviemore) gets its own heading because it was that good of a place to eat. It is your traditional pub in décor (including two or three dogs – they let people bring dogs to the pub. I love it.) and beverage, but the food is not your typical pub food. It’s gourmet pub food (I feel bad even calling it pub food). I will let the photos (though not the best photography, it’s the best I can do in terms of descriptions, as the website is being revamped right now). Let’s just say it was delicious.

Goat cheese and yogurt mousse with greens, pears, and baguette type bread
Goat cheese and yogurt mousse with greens, pears, and baguette type bread
Smoked venison
Smoked venison
Wild hare with smoked mashed potatoes and carrots
Wild hare with smoked mashed potatoes and carrots
Cod with mussels and steams vegetables of some sort - my main. It was fab!
Cod with mussels and steams vegetables of some sort – my main. It was fab!
Chochlate fondant a.k.a. chocolate lava cake
Chochlate fondant a.k.a. chocolate lava cake
Stephen's custard with mulled fruit
Stephen’s custard with mulled fruit

All was served with a lovely bottle of Chilean pinot noir that was chosen to compliment all of our meals and (to my utter surprise, delight, and amusement) which with ervery sip, both Sean and Stephen waxed poetic about how well it went with the hare and the cherry notes of the wine. Oh, my, gosh. My little wine snobs.

We hoofed it over to a place called The Doo Below for a whiskey and then it was a windy (again) walk back to the house. Rather unfortunately, Stephen woke up with the stomach flu the next day (NOT food poisoning or a hangover, just so we’re clear) which kiboshed visiting a distillery that day but it just meant that we all got a good rest (and watched Harry Potter 6). It snowed that day which I was thrilled about – finally, snow.

Before we headed home the next day, we went to the rather quaint in the snow Edradour Distillery (Pitlochry PH16 5JP) – another place visited on our honeymoon last summer – in Pitlochry to buy some whisky. It is the smallest distillery in Scotland and they actually make whisky that I can stomach – generally, I am not a whisky girl. And here I am in Scotland… 🙂

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