Edinburgh is a city with so much choice when it comes to eating out. You could go to the poshest of restaurants or have tasty food in the backstreets, whatever your budget, Edinburgh has you covered. We were seeking out two delicacies on our way around the city – Haggis and a Deep Fried Mars Bar.
Neither of these dishes sound very appealing at first glance. Let’s begin with the haggis. This is the national dish of Scotland, traditionally served with neeps and tatties. Or to translate into English – swede and potatoes. Properly done, haggis is actually very tasty. A world away from the horror stories of boiled sheep’s stomach.
I had been trying to research a decent place to find the dish in its entirety. With being at the Edinburgh Fringe and on the move, street food seemed like a good option. Yes that’s right, you can have haggis, neeps and tatties on the street and I’ll tell you exactly where. Just off Canongate at a tiny courtyard named Gladstone Court.
The rain was pouring as we dodged the flyering acts on Canongate. This is the bottom end of the Royal Mile so it’s not exactly unexpected. Luckily we made it into Gladstone Court where three street food vendors are set up to trade. One of which is the Haggis Box.
For £6 you can grab a portion of haggis, neeps and tatties and for an extra £1 you can top it off with a sauce – I chose the whisky and mustard cream sauce. You can also opt for red wine gravy as a gluten free option. The lady inside the box was really friendly and declared it the best haggis that I would ever eat, a strong statement.
Mounded up like Ben Nevis, this was a decent portion. Mashed potatoes on the bottom, swede in the middle and a huge scoop of haggis on the top, all doused in the whisky sauce. As the rain continued to pour down it occured to me that this was perfect weather for this kind of food.
This is a true taste of Scotland. Each and every part of the dish had great flavour. Haggis has the texture of very fine mince with pieces of pearl barley. It’s fantastic paired with neeps and tatties but the sauce really tops it all off. We were delighted to have stopped by and left full and satisfied.
Main course devoured, we headed to the bottom of Victoria Street, around 10 minutes walk away (downhill thankfully). At the bottom of the street sits Grassmarket, a popular place for street performers during the Fringe along with a small market selling food and antiques. We were here to visit Castle Rock chip shop.
Pride of place in the window is a sign declaring ‘Deep Fried Mars Bar Sold Here’ exactly what we were after. I must admit it does feel weird asking for deep fried chocolate but this is nothing new for the staff “How many do you sell of these?” I asked “Oooh boxes and boxes” replied the lady behind the counter. The service here is really friendly and good humoured.
After further discussion, the lady likened the product to a crepe which I could definitely see why. £2.50 later, I was the proud owner of a heart attack in bar form. Outside I went and it was instantly seen by passing tourists who went inside to grab themselves a bar of Scottish culinary heritage.
I have to admit, it was love at first bite. The lady in the shop was correct, it really does have the same qualities as a crepe. The chocolate was still intact, just slightly melted around the edges. The batter just adds that lovely crunch and from then on it’s just pure chocolate heaven. It looks so wrong but it could not be more right, in our view.
We had accomplished our mission of seeking out two notable delicacies of Scotland. We were really surprised that we actually enjoyed both of them to the point that we would happily have them again. Quick and convenient plus tasty equals satisfaction in our book.
The Haggis Box: 179a Canongate, Edinburgh
Castle Rock chip shop: 87, Grassmarket, Edinburgh