The reason for tripping to Edinburgh this weekend past was to go to The Kitchin on our wedding anniversary. My husband had fallen in love with Tom Kitchin’s cooking watching The Great British Menu years ago and had always longed to go and taste the real deal. So this year, as it was a big anniversary, we packed off the cats to mums and the puppy to my in-laws (my mum definitely got the better end of the deal). We had one unsettlingly quiet night at home without them before our flight making us realise how chaotic homelife has become since we began raising a zoo.
Our Scottish jaunt was put in slight jeopardy on the morning we left due to the worrying reports of torrential flooding and cancelled flights. Impending doom did not deter us and although the December winds chilled us to the bone when we finally got there we felt the first snowflakes of the year kiss our noses as we soldiered up the steep climb to Edinburgh Castle.
The food was every bit as wonderful as we had hoped. Kitchin resides by the water in Leith and was cosy respite from the weather. The delicately imagined food was served by a friendly and knowledgable team who made us feel so at home even though the food was from another world. Between us we had the game tasting menu and land and sea tasting menu, each were six courses.
I don’t like taking photographs in restaurants I’m afraid as I would never be able to do justice to the look and aroma of restaurant food thanks to dingy lighting which even the best filters on instagram couldn’t fix. Plus when I go to restaurants I like the surprise of not knowing exactly what I’m getting. That is also the joy of a tasting menu. I don’t have to bother with the pesky business of choosing what to eat. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a lazy orderer and the chef always knows better than me what I should be eating. Tom Kitchin was not wrong in this regard, roe deer carpaccio, pumpkin veloute with sautéed mallard heart and a jellied partridge consommé and Kitchin’s signature dish of razor clams were the stand out dishes. The service was impeccable, the wine divine and the evening one to savour.
We stayed in the Rutland Hotel for the three nights which has two restaurants attached to it. The Huxley which is an informal affair slinging a variety of hotdogs and small plates. The best dish I tasted there was the cauliflower and coriander fritter with beetroot houmous which greeted us an hour after our plane had touched down along with raspberry negronis. The Rutland also offers a fancier alternative, Kyloe, a self titled gourmet steak restaurant with half a cow sticking out of the front of the building to really hammer the point home. We had a wonderful lentil dip offered with our bread at the start of the meal, it was so nice to have something different than a bit of butter. A starter of mussels drowning in cream and garlic was worth the visit alone. Although the rib-eye steak was average, the thick cut beef dripping chips would knock the socks off any chip in the offering.
The other meal definitely worth a mention was a wind whippingly cold jaunt to the Saturday morning farmers market on Castle Terrace where wishes of pig in a poke were granted and then some. Oink served soft white rolls smeared with haggis and stuffed with the most tender melting pulled pork, salty crisp crackling and topped with a fresh apple sauce. Pulled pork rolls have become disappointing over the years but this has reawakened how indulgent they can be, the haggis adding real depth of flavour.
We rolled ourselves onto the plane on the way home laden with Edinburgh gin, haggis and tartan. I abstained from bringing the omnipresent shortbread home with me, instead all I wanted to do was bake a batch, so I did as soon as I got home and added a little something extra. These are like millionaire shortbreads but with the emphasis on the rich buttery biscuit rather than a thick caramel which can sometimes be a bit cloying. Plus, whisky! Lovely with a hot toddy. Go on dip it, I dare you, and dream of a snow capped Edinburgh Castle.
Scotch Whisky Caramel Shortbread Bars
For the shortbread bars:
225g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
A pinch of salt
For the whisky caramel:
125g caster sugar
150ml double cream
2 tbsp scotch whisky
50g dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180. Line and grease a 20cm square baking tin.
- Beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes until fully incorporated.
- Add the vanilla extract, stir to combine.
- Sift together the plain flour, cornflour and salt then add to the butter and sugar. Beat until it starts to come together, then tip into the baking tin and press the dough into the tin.
- Bake for 20-30 mins until the top is just starting to turn golden.
- Leave to cool for an hour in the tin before removing and cutting into bars.
- Tip the caster sugar into a small saucepan and heat on a medium temperature until the sugar melts. Do not touch with a spoon but you can encourage the melting by swirling the actual saucepan around occasionally if you like.
- Once melted, carefully stir in the double cream and butter, the caramel may harden slightly but just keep on stirring the bubbly mixture until the cream, butter and sugar are smooth. Then add the whisky, stir in quickly and remove from the heat.
- Leave to cool slightly before drizzling over the shortbread bars.
- Melt the chocolate then drizzle immediately over the shortbread bars.