Off to the Edinburgh Festival last week for 3 days with my youngest daughter. Drove up the west coast, returned along the east coast ( UK that is, not US ).
Took in 5 shows, including Ruby Wax, only one show was totally puerile ( with a Jewish so-called comedienne ) and one by Steve Hall, a half-Jewish, ( I think) stand up comedian was really good.
Years ago in Scotland you could always rely on that great standby dish, grilled salmon, in Scottish pubs and restaurants. All gone now for some reason. Instead we had minestrone and spaghetti pomodoro at La Lanterna in Hanover Street, next to Bar Napoli which seems to have been in Edinburgh for centuries. It is also opposite Hendersons, the vegetarian restaurant, which has also been around for millenia. Horrible soup tasting of tins, all thickened up with cornflour, the tomato sauce for the pasta made up of the same rubbish. Awful . On to Ten Hill Place Cafe Bar for dinner, near the Pleasance Courtyard. Another awful place. My daughter had the fish goujons, I ordered a locally-sourced trout which came up as the smallest trout that I've ever seen. I'm sure that Scotland produces bigger trout than that. Festival time and fleece the customer. I had better meals in Scotland 30 years ago
On the return journey we drove along the Northumberland coast towards Newcastle, round a double bend in the road and came across the Masons Arms in Rennington near Alnwick. The weather had deteriorated and it was decidedly autumnal but it wasn't Hurricane Irene although similar. We had a warm reception from the pub owner, got a table straight away although it was Sunday lunchtime, and I had the cullen skink, a smoked fish soup with double cream added. My daughter had mushrooms glazed with cheese as the starter. Really good. Followed by lemon sole from the North Sea with tatties and veg. Nice lunch, not great, but all served with a friendly welcome .http://www.masonsarms.net/
After lunch we still had another 300 miles to go but stopped at nearby Alnwick Castle in the rain. Hogwarts. This was the setting for all the Harry Potter films. I now have my photo with Hogwarts in the background. Worth the trip.
A recipe for Cullen Skink can be found at http://www.scottishrecipes.co.uk/cullenskink.htm