Sunday 10 April 2016

In My Kitchen April 2016: Edinburgh, Paris, Melbourne

The last month has been quite overwhelming with a trip to Edinburgh following the death of my father in law, a holiday in Paris and home to Melbourne just a few days back.  While I loved the daffodils and budding trees of a Northern springtime, I am happy to be home for the mellow weather and apple season of a Southern autumn.

Firstly let us start with one of the quirkier items I purchased in Edinburgh: Marmite's Very Peculiar chocolate.  I was excited to see a large block in the shape of a Marmite jar on the sale table at Debenhams.  After trying our Aussie Vegemite with chocolate I was curious, though I am not very familiar with the British counterpart, Marmite.  The chocolate was strangely pleasing.  The ingredients included celery seed and it tasted weird with chocolate and yet the sweet milk chocolate was a little easier to eat with a slight salty even vegetable flavour.

Being in Scotland meant that our groceries looked quite different to the our usual load.  I found a lovely tomato, onion and ginger chutney in Lakeland (where I really wanted to by the gingham bunting).  I loved the bread from the Wee Boulangerie in Clerk St.  E was v pleased to be able to buy Walkers Worcestershire crisps and Nairns oatcakes in the supermarket.  And I loved the Orkney Smoked Cheddar from Cranachan and Crowdie on the Royal Mile.

There was one kitchen item I really really missed while overseas: good hot cross buns.  I bought some from Sainsburys and some from Marks and Spencers but it was not the same as the ones that I make or not my mum's.

I was amazed to see that Haggis flavouring seemed to be a thing in Edinburgh.  I saw Haggis flavoured oatcakes, chocolate and crisps.  Unfortunately there was only so much I could eat in a month so I only tried the Haggis and Cracked Pepper crisps from Mackies of Scotland.  I liked them but found them to have a disturbingly slightly meaty taste.  Apparently the herbs are a great part of the seasoning that creates the haggis flavour so these crisps contain no sheep stomachs and are surprisingly vegan.

In one of our holiday flats, we had a Sainsburys Local close by.  This scaled down version of the supermarket offers a much limited selection of groceries.  (I assume it is intended to muscle into the territory of the traditional off license).  So I was surprised to find these chocolate edamame in the snack section.  They are actually American and the packaging (with this unnecessary photo) suggests them as a lower fat alternative to chocolate covered peanuts..  I quite liked the crispy coated beans as a snack but they did not go down well with Sylvia.

While I resisted the haggis oatcakes, I was quite interested in the Stag seaweed crackers.  They were lovely with some cheese or dipped in hummus.  Then I saw that Stag also made seaweed shortbread.  Another curiosity purchase.  This time I was less certain about the umami seaweed with the sweet biscuit.  E determinedly ate his way through the packet and quite enjoyed them.

The shortbread that really wowed me was this Shortbread House version that we bought at Cranachan and Crowdie.  They were so nice in that shop and encouraged us to taste the shortbread.  Sylvia was so taken with it that when I returned there, she said I must buy a tin of the shortbread or she would go every day and have the free samples.  When I told the people behind the counter, they said she was welcome to come every day and sample it.  As we did not have time to go back there again, I was pleased to have this wonderful shortbread and to be able to bring the tin home as a souvenir.

One of my favourite things to eat when I return to the UK is always Mueller Corners.  We don't have the same sort of yoghurt and snack add-ins in Australia.  My favourites are the peach and apricot, the toffee hoops and the banana chocolate flakes.  Sylvia loved the chocolate ones so I thought I would try the pack of Cherry Bakewell and Eton Mess yoghurts.  They were so sweet that the chocolate ones seemed preferable.  Sylvia and I will miss the toffee hoops yoghurts!  They are toffee yoghurts with crunchy chocolate covered hoops to mix in.

I was pleased to make some purchases at Holland and Barrett health food stores.  I bought nut roast in a box that I will talk about another time, a "vegetarian" rocky road slice (that actually looked to have gelatine in the marshmallows and I wasn't so keen on) and these sausages.  I really really loved these sausages.  They came in links with the sausage skins and tasted amazing.  The only downside was that they were quite small.

I bought this Easter pasta on a whim at Lakeland because it was so adorable.  Can you see that the pasta is shaped like Easter eggs and chicks.  When we invited my in-laws over for Easter Sunday this seemed the perfect easy Easter meal with a tub of pasta sauce.  Sadly because I wasn't feeling well on the day I never tasted it.

I had planned a holiday in Paris because while I love visiting Edinburgh, having family there makes it a different sort of break.  And I love Paris so any excuse would do.  On our first day we bought food home for tea.  It was amazing to eat such delicious baguette with cheese and vegies.  We also read more in Paris which was just lovely.  And I needed to finish the Rebus novel to give it back to my brother in law before going home.

Sylvia and I enjoyed browsing Le BHV department store.  The food section had so many temptations.  The different shaped sugar cubes were adorable.  I think this was the only place we saw vegemite on all our travels.  And we purchased a block of this dark raspberry chocolate.  It was delicious.

I enjoyed the food shopping in Paris and wished to buy more to bring home if only my wallet and customs would allow.  Here is a sample of purchases:
  • A pistachio and chocolate scroll.  Green pistachio bakes seemed popular.  Displayed on my plate from Le BHV.  
  • The red cat tea bag holder is to hang on the side of the mug.  
  • We bought orangettes at Le Comptoir de Mathilde by the Pompidou Centre.  
  • I visited the Marché des Enfants Rouges (market) and bought raspberries and vegies, then I had a lovely time chatting in the Fromagerie to help me decide what cheeses to buy.  
  • The little round goats cheese was gloriously creamy and showed me just why goats cheese is so popular.  
  • I stopped at the Bien l'Epicerie and really wanted to buy so much.  Instead I bought delicious lemonade, a wonderful dense cranberry bun and this tofu and herb tartinables.  
  • We had cherry tomatoes with a few meals at home.

When we returned to Edinburgh for the last couple of days, I was really touched to receive a parcel from Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen blog.  She always has the most interesting things in her kitchen and I was delighted to receive this gorgeous Welsh dragon cookie cutter, the cutest little red jar of Halen Môn (Anglesey) sea salt, a box of laverbread and a card.  You can see the laverbread and salt below.

I love buying interesting local food products when travelling but it is challenging overseas because the Australians customs are so stern about what can be brought into the country.  And our suitcases were quite full.  So I was very restrained.  When we came through customs, we were asked what was in the case and they were satisfied with my answer and didn't even look at at the cases.  I kicked myself black and blue at not buying more.  It is always the way.  They did let through the truffle oil, the truffle salt, the vegan pepperoni, the mulled wine spices, the black lava salt, and the earl grey tea.

I really wanted to buy lots of crockery while travelling.  Unfortunately it is not very practical for taking in suitcases that are thrown around by baggage handlers.  We didn't have lots of room either in our cases or in my kitchen.  Every time I looked at something longingly I thought of this tartan casserole dish that I bought early in the trip.  It is something that will be a lovely reminder of our trip.  Bought from the wonderful Cranachan and Crowdie who packaged it well in bubble wrap.

As we have so little room in our kitchen I thought that these paper napkins were a nice souvenir.  And when I saw this pack with the giraffe, the green and the Eiffel Tower, I knew it was for me.

Lastly I wish I had bought more in Paris.  It is a favourite city of mine and I am not sure we will be back soon if ever.  One thing I really wanted was a tote bag and I was delighted to find that my favourite bookshop, Shakespeare and Company sold bags.  It is one of those precious purchases that I want to use every day and I don't want to wear out.  I am sure I will enjoy using it.

And that is it for this month.  We are still dealing with jetlag and finding our feet back home.  There is not a lot of cooking going on in my kitchen.  The days are getting shorter and we are back to school and work tomorrow.  But I am pleased to be back in my own kitchen and will be aiming to eat more healthy food after all our holiday indulgences.  Meanwhile I still have quite a few travel posts I would like to write.

I am sending this post to Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef for In My Kitchen.  It is an event where bloggers around the world share what is happening in their kitchens.  Please head over to Maureen's blog and visit some other bloggers or even join in (by 10th of each month).


  1. a fabulous In My Kitchen with so many wonderful things! I love that Welsh dragon cookie cutter and it would have been criminal of you not to buy those paper napkins. Interesting about the haggis flavoured everything and I can well see myself having gone overboard with shopping if I was there. Customs can be so difficult but other times not bother looking in bags which is so annoying when you don't buy stuff because you think they won't allow it through.

  2. We made a couple of the same purchases. I bought a few packets of the shortbread from Cranachan and Crowdie and I also bought some Haggis chips! And yes I agree, the herbs and spices add much to the flavour of haggis.

  3. Somehow you managed to taste and bring home an incredible array of foods on your travels! I always come back wishing I had brought more with me, just as you say.

    best... mae at

  4. I always think that about travelling - I wish I'd filled my bags with exciting products from wherever I've been. I'm very parsimonious with the ones I do bring back, because they make me think of my holiday, and when they're gone, they're gone. The cat tea bag holder is the cutest!

  5. Welcome home! What an amazing time you've had - and so much deliciousness too!

  6. Very interesting eats! I'm not sure what I think of all of the haggis-flavoured foods ;) Definitely not something I would want to try. The chocolate covered edamame sounds really good! What strange packaging though.
    Welcome home!!!!

  7. wow i am gobsmacked with all your goodies. i adore that tartan bowl! and just everything really. the tote bag is lovely. the marmite chocolate took me by surprise - i wasn't sure what it was for a minute there. and what about the photo of the bikini girl? a bit superfluous isn't it?:)

  8. my comment about the bikini girl photo refers to the packagers not you:=) just in case i was a bit unclear ..

  9. You found some great items on your trip!! It's funny reflecting on the things we now take for granted - Nairns oat cakes, in my case, and Walkers crisps in Mr Bite's - but I haven't seen those seaweed crackers nor the Marmite chocolate. I'm intrigued by both!

  10. Trying new stuff and bringing it home is always one of the most exciting things when I go away..... Looks like you managed to get through quite a lot and so pleased you managed to get it through customs. It is quite funny when you live in a country where people are intrigued by food we buy every day though...... I love a 'foreigner's' take on it all...... It makes me look at it again in a new light!
    Glad you got home safely and hope the jet-lag eases soon x

  11. Glad your home safe and sound, and look forward to you getting your kitchen mojo back. I always, always enjoy peeking into your kitchen. I love the Paris napkins. And agree with the other the bikini pic on the food package is quite ridiculous really, what are they thinking. I am rather curious about your Ghost Lava or is it the black salt - pls do tell us more.

  12. Very late with my comment this month! You've found some beautiful things in your travels. I find it so interesting to grocery shop when abroad. Love everything you found, especially that lovely tartan dish. Glad you're home safe.


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