4 Morningside Place (Edinburgh): Tasty Beginnings

4 Morningside Place

I’m not generally a big breakfast person in New Yorkon the road, however, that’s an entirely different matter.

If I am to face a new, strange city, a good start to the day is a must. In Edinburgh, a city that’s become less unfamiliar to me in the past year, I recently found a delightful place that offers delicious, healthy breakfasts and much much more.

Now, you know I don’t usually write about places where I’ve stayed on this blog — rather, I tend to do that for places like the Travel section of the New York Times. I’ll make an exception here though for a charming bed and breakfast I just discovered in Edinburgh’s leafy yet fashionable Morningside neighborhood — 4 Morningside Place …

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Spoon (Edinburgh): Haggis and Harry Potter

Jams

J.K. Rowling, as you might imagine, is big in Edinburgh.

The Elephant House, with its sweeping picture window views of Edinburgh Castle, is constantly packed with camera-toting tourists, as Rowling wrote bits of Harry Potter there — back when she could still wander the world incognito, of course.

Besides this cafe, however, there is one other spot that is something of a Rowling shrine — though one that’s considerably less mobbed, as it’s morphed into something else since its Rowling years: Spoon, a bright and cheery first floor restaurant that used to be Nicolson’s Cafe, otherwise known as the place where Rowling wrote some of the early chapters of Harry Potter.

As much of a fan as I am of the series, I’ve never wanted to get in the perennially long line at the Elephant House. Spoon, on the other hand, not only doesn’t have the lines but is also a restaurant whose food I’d heard good things about.

So on a drizzly Sunday, D.B. and I set off for a little look-see …

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The Zulu Lounge (Edinburgh): Finding Bacon Butty

Bacon buttyIt could be said that I’m something of a bacon butty obsessive.

I’m fairly new to this, mind you — in fact, I was a bacon butty virgin for many years. I’d been hearing and reading about British bacon sandwiches, a little frisson of excitement popping up whenever some hungry D.I. mentioned one in the British cop shows I adore. And yet in all that time, I’d never come across a place in New York or Singapore where I could find one. Sure, I could whip out some bacon and bread and make one — but what’s the fun in that?

One day, I thought, a bacon butty will cross my lips. (A girl can dream.)

Finally, on a sunny morning in Edinburgh, it happened …

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German Pancakes: Comforting Kummerspeck, or "Grief Bacon"

A few months ago, I came across a term that intrigued me: Kummerspeck.

The German word means “grief bacon” (and we all know how much I love bacon). Despite its bacon reference though, the word has a rather negative connotation — it refers to weight put on due to emotional overeating.

Nonetheless, the word fascinated me — and the Let’s Lunch crew, as it turned out. So off we went, dreaming up ideas for the perfect kummerspeck …

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Bacon Grease Cake: Resuscitating an Oldie

The same problem arises in my kitchen just a little too often: After a few days of intense bacon activity, what to do with the cup or so of grease sitting on the counter?

For years, my go-to use for this grease has been Swedish ginger cookies — a recipe from New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn that is fool-proof. (If this sounds insane to you, bacon grease actually works very well in spicy sweets — the smokiness of the fat is a nice foil for the tastes of cinnamon, cloves etc. Just ask Modern Woman magazine, which listed it as one of 10 ways to use bacon fat in 1943.)

One can only eat so many bacon-fat ginger cookies, however. And when I started itching for something else, a little poking around online unearthed an old recipe for an intriguing blackberry jam cake …

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