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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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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Mile End Delicatessen (Brooklyn, N.Y.): Poutine Paradise

PoutineAs you might imagine, I have a gigantic soft spot for fries, gravy, meat and cheese.

Separately, each of these rocks my world. Faced with them together? I get instantly weak-kneed.

Recently, I’ve had the extremely good fortune of living near Mile End Delicatessen, a little New York City mini chain that specializes in poutine, that scrumptious Canadian dish that combines fries with cheese curds and meat gravy.

And so, on a recent Sunday, I just happened to wander over …

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Anna Blume (Berlin): A Towering Brunch

Brunch,” I was told my first day in town, “is big in Berlin.”

Having just come from New York, a city where weekend brunch is practically a religion, I almost snorted, wondering how different or striking this meal could possibly be in Berlin.

As my host led me down the cobblestoned streets of the city’s fashionable Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, however, I quickly realized my folly …

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The Wharf (Rockaway Beach, N.Y.): A View — With Food on the Side

Remember how I mentioned that people love to tell me where I must eat when I travel?

Well, The Wharf in New York‘s Rockaway Beach is certainly not one of those places.

Check it out, yes — I definitely heard that. With its outdoor dining deck with sweeping views of the water and Manhattan’s skyline in the distance, The Wharf’s vista for a sunset cocktail can’t be beat. But eat? We had read and heard enough about the food to know there were probably better restaurants in Rockaway Beach.

Even so, on a recent evening, as our cocktails on that famous deck were disappearing, the vaunted view was nudging us to stay.

How bad could the food truly be? We decided to find out …

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