Indaba (Edinburgh): Cross-Cultural Tapas

IndabaThis is how small the world is: A year ago, during my very first weekend in Scotland, I was sitting with friends in tiny Rosslyn Chapel (if you’ve seen “The Da Vinci Code,” you’ll know how famous it is) when I suddenly spied a face I knew.

It was a woman I hadn’t seen in some years — a food and fashion blogger in Atlanta whom I’d met at my “A Tiger in the Kitchen” book signing at the Decatur Book Festival in 2011. Lauren — or Lar — and her twin sister Cath, who write the Asian Cajuns blog, are just about the most effervescent, sweet and gorgeous bloggers (and people) I’ve met. And of all the churches in the world, Lar and I had somehow wound up in this little rural affair in Midlothian, Scotland, on the very same day.

Fast forward a year later and we’ve become fast friends — Lar lives in Edinburgh with her husband Matt, and I’ve learned in the past year that they are solid food gurus who won’t steer you wrong. So when I touched down this time, I asked Lar, “Where to?”

Which is how I found myself wending down a slender side street near downtown Edinburgh one bright evening, looking for Indaba …

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Fishers in Leith (Edinburgh): A Seaside Touch in the City

Fishers in LeithIt’s been beautifully sunny and warm here in Edinburgh this week — a shocker, I am told, this early in spring. (It’s been said to me more than once: “You’ve brought the weather from New York with you!”)

The gift of good weather always makes me crave the water — much more so these few days, as part of the enchantment of Edinburgh is the constant sound of seagulls in the backdrop. This may be a big city but its soundtrack is that of a charming seaside town — all the more reason to venture out to the water.

When I mentioned seeking water, Jill, the co-owner of the very lovely bed and breakfast 4 Morningside Place, had suggestions galore. Go to Leith, she said, telling me the tourist traps to avoid once I get there.

“My favorite place,” Jill noted, “is Fishers.” Now, Jill strikes me as a woman of very good taste, judging from her beautiful home, incredibly pretty garden and delicious breakfasts. So she didn’t need to tell me twice — as soon as I could get my shoes on, I hopped on a bus …

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Kim’s Mini Meals (Edinburgh): A Little Korean Gem

Soondubu JjigaeI’ve not been in Scotland long when I have to confess: “I’m craving something Asian, spicy.”

Now, Edinburgh is a sizable city, and a fairly cosmopolitan one at that. What it isn’t however, is terribly varied in its Asian cuisine offerings. Yes, there are Indian restaurants and cheap Chinese takeouts galore. But when it comes to cuisines or dishes that go beyond the basic 101 of Asian foods, there’s not a whole lot.

So it’s not entirely unexpected that Dorset Boy retorts: “Asian food? Where do you think you are?”

I know there must be something good here though — I just have to believe it. In fact, in our many car rides through the city, I’d spied a handful of promising places. A little blue storefront in particular always caught my eye because whenever we drove past, there was often a long line of people waiting outside.

The sign up top? Kim’s Mini Meals …

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Coltman’s Delicatessen & Kitchen (Scotland): The Pleasure of Peebles

IMG_0361There’s a charming story about a lord near the tiny town of Peebles, located in the rolling hills of Midlothian, Scotland, right by the beautiful River Tweed.

When the conversation turned to Paris once, this lord recounted how a local woman once sniffed: “I’ve been to Paris and I’ve been to Peebles — give me Peebles for pleasure anytime.”

Which may have been why Dorset Boy chose to take me to Peebles on our very first Sunday drive. I’ve been to Paris, after all. Peebles, on the other hand — now this was virgin territory.

What was in store? A cozy little cafe named Coltman’s

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Kampong Ah Lee (Edinburgh): A Malaysian “Village” in Scotland

photo 2 (5)Dorset Boy is a little particular about food, which I realize could be a problem.

As you may have guessed from this blog (and Tiger), I am a total food trollop. I will eat anything at least once — I constantly crave variety, the different, the new.

Potato – potahto, though. Plus, there seems to be some degree of curiosity about my food quirks. So when I learn that there is a Malaysian restaurant in Edinburgh — one that actually comes well-endorsed by the one Malaysian-Scot I’ve met in the city — he knows we have to go.

So one night, the ever-patient man allows me to drag him to Kampong Ah Lee …

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