After Sylvia’s christening, we went along with Chris, Fergal and Dash, who were visiting from Ireland. We caught the bus to the Princes Gardens and Chris tried to stop Dash from grabbing at Sylvia (a natural reaction of an older cousin to the younger one – it is what Sylvia tries to do when playing with wee Florence, her younger cousin in Scotland).
It is eight years since we had last visited the markets and we were surprised at how they have grown. Last weekend was the first after the markets opened this year and they were heaving with crowds. I was surprised at all the fast food stalls that have sprung up at Christmas in this part of the Princes Gardens. The Big Wheel is still there as is the ice rink. I love the ferris wheel which gives wonderful views of Edinburgh, especially the nearby Walter Scott Memorial but I still shiver in horror at my memory of my one and only attempt at ice skating.
We found ourselves a spot to rest our drink and E went off with Fergal to order some mulled wine or gluhwein. The warm spicy drink is wonderful in cold weather (and there is a non-alcoholic version but I haven't tried it yet). Once you have finished your drink you can return your mug and get your deposit refunded or you can choose to take it home as a souvenir.
But there was no sign of the slice of stollen that had always accompanied the mulled wine. There were donuts and strudel, chips and gingerbread but no stolen. Finally I stopped at one of the stalls selling loaves of stollen and asked them to slice one up for me. I was determined to get my stollen and it was worth the effort. I love the marzipan centre in the yeasted fruit bread. It goes so well with mulled wine and seems so festive.
Once we had finished our wine, we browsed the market stalls, which have lots of interesting Christmas decorations. We particularly liked the little houses, which are so festive, especially when a candle is lit inside them. Nutcrackers, Christmas tree decorations and toys are also found alongside the German baked goods.
After browsing the stalls, we needed a cup of tea to warm us up. Chris and Fergal found the Scottish weather very cold and the babies needed feeding. We decided to stop at the nearby Scottish National Gallery café and restaurants. It seemed many others also had the idea to stop at the café which has one of the best views of the Christmas Winter Wonderland. We had to wait in queue for a seat. (Enough time for Fergal to run up the mound to take a look at the Witchery.) However the maitre d’ was most obliging, which made it more bearable.
E chose fish and chips which came with mushy peas but were done very nicely. Chris had one of the cheese plates. I can’t remember which one but she was most pleased with it so I am showing you this blurry picture above. I tasted a few samples and can vouch for the fine cheeses.
I chose the soup of the day and a cheese scone. They told me it was cauliflower and, although it was delicious, it tasted like lentil more than cauliflower but I never got a chance to check with the staff. I was glad to have my soft scone as the bread with the soup wasn't too flash. It was a simple but warming meal.
Chris and Fergal sat in seats overlooking the large windows and were most impressed with the view of the Christmas lights, glowing more brightly as the afternoon darkened. All too soon they had to go for their bus to the airport but it was a lovely afternoon with them and we look forward to seeing them in the warmer days of the Australian summer soon. Meanwhile, we headed home with some stollen, lebkuchen and a little house.
The Scottish Café and Restaurant
National Gallery of Scotland
The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
Telephone: 0131 226 6524