So when a late July morning gives you the gift of sunshine and clear skies, the choice is clear — it’s time to get in the car and just go.
Where to? North of Edinburgh, to a little stretch of tranquil coast along the scenic Firth of Forth …
You have your pick of little waterfront spots along the Northern coast of Scotland, about 20 minutes from Edinburgh — there’s the working man’s port harbor of Seton, filled with mud-bound fishing boats during low-tide, little Aberlady, with a beautiful historic church and a smattering of pubs and cafes.
Much of the coast is craggy, with a sweeping view of Edinburgh, a wide gray smudge across the water. My favorite is Gullane beach — or bents, in localspeak — which is a laidback neighborhood beach filled with children and dogs. (If you walk toward the right, all the way to the end, there’s a neat, quiet spot dotted with black rocks — perfect for a little sit.)
After a stroll, there was an attempt to leave my mark. (I’m sure this lasted.)
But the other big draw of Gullane is a cozy corner cafe: Falko’s, a delightful German konditerei where you’ll find hearty breads, sandwiches, out-of-this-world ice-cream and a fetching selection of German-style cakes and pastries.
Falko, the founder of this bakery, is from Heilbronn, near Stuttgart, and is actually certified as a konditormeister (a master pastry chef in Germany). You can probably tell from this display that he has some serious baking chops.
First things first though — lunch.
The savory menu is slender — a few breakfast and after breakfast items, plus some extras on a board.
We started with a basic salami and cheese sandwich (4.90 pounds) — not bad. “Very fresh,” my lunch companion noted.
My favorite of the meal, however, was the fleishkase (4.90 pounds), a German-style meatloaf sandwich.
Now, this may seem super basic — just a bun with a slab of meat. No condiments, no extras. The fleishkase was packed with flavor, though — all you really need is the bread and a bite of that meat. (I tried bits with mustard and horseradish on it and it really wasn’t necessary — much better without.)
Dessert is a must here, naturally. This being the a summer day at the beach, ice-cream was in order.
This here is my favorite Scottish discovery so far — sea buckthorn ice-cream. It’s made from a tangy orange berry that grows along the coast here and the flavor is just perfect for summer — slightly tart (like gooseberry, but less tart), a little orangey and not too sweet.
Anything cherry at Falko’s is a wise option, I’ve learned. Amareno cherry ice-cream — terrific.
(And, if you’re still hungry, I highly recommend the cherry cake — it’s a custardy confection studded with beautifully tart cherries.)
Sun, surf, azure skies, meatloaf sandwich and a lovely scoop to finish … just the ingredients anyone needs for a perfect Scottish summer day.
Falko, 1 Stanley Street, Gullane, East Lothian; +44.01620.843168; http://www.falko.co.uk/visit-us/gullane-kaffeehaus-east-lothian