Blog of an aspiring foodie

More from Scotland – dinner on Sunday

Posted by beer_chris on 20-March-2006

What an interesting day and evening. Spent the day touring various castles and ruins of castles in various points of Aberdeenshire (northeast Scotland). Had lunch at TGI Fridays (my gracious US expat host that drove me around all day had a hankering for some Jack Daniels menu items). Went to a great Real Ale pub called the Blackfriars right on Union street across from the center of Aberdeen where I had a few pints of real ale off of a cask (and what great training the pub servers receive twice now Ive had a barkeep take my pint back to top it off because he had not filled it to the Imperial line)., eavesdropped on a conversation about the Commonwealth Games (currently on in Melbourne, and involving all of the countries still part of the British Commonwealth actually pretty much the entire English speaking world save for the USA), and discussed the finer points of the Chevy Corvette and Ford Focus with a fellow sitting next to me.

I had a traditional late dinner, around 9 PM, and am just sitting down in the lobby of my hotel enjoying a dram of an Orkney 12 year single malt.

It has truly been a day and night in Scotland.

Dinner was at a newer restaurant (my hosts had not heard of it) around the corner from my hotel called Cinnamon. Apparently the place has another location somewhere in the UK (there were two phone numbers on the complimentary chocolates I was given after dinner). Im guessing the other locale is in London proper, as my waiter had a strong Cockney accent, and the others were clearly English (you quickly learn the distinction in Scotland, where the Englishmen stand out about as well as I do as soon as we open our mouths to speak).

Dinner was really good. I became interested in this place because every night when I walked past to head to the pub, a gentlemen in (what I would consider to be) classic Indian garb handed me a take away menu. The dishes sounded grand, primarily southern Indian cuisine (influenced to be sure by the locally fresh ingredients, mainly seafood), so I dropped in this evening.

Well, the menu is deep – at least 5 pages packed with items, and I ended up with a Scottish-farmed salmon masala with a side of tamarind/chili (or, as they spell it here, chilli) rice and a lentil and okra side dish. The rice turned out not to be especially spicy or sweet (the Chinese peppers were completely seeded), but the salmon was fantastic in a great, obviously homemade curry/masala. The sauce was clearly made fresh, as I could clearly taste all of the components cardamom, cumin, cinnamon. The peppering of coriander leaves on top really made the flavors meld together well.

Before the meal, I was served a crisp flatbread cracker with a selection of sauces in small bowls. One was a really great cucumber and mint sauce, thickened with what I would guess is yogurt. Additionally, a sweet and tangy red onion chutney was provided along with a mango sauce that tasted like honey, and best of all was what was called mixed pickle, basically three types of pickled items jalapeno, what I think was fennel root and some salted lentils.

Bottom line,a really great meal. However, my waiter was especially talkative, and of course what would come up but George Bush. It is amazing to me how often individuals will want to talk George Bush as soon as they find out you are American. Honestly, Ive not had it happen as much in Scotland as when we were traveling in continental Europe a few summers ago, but I think it is crazy. If I were to walk up to some normal Scottish fellow in a pub and ask him his feelings on his local MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) or Tony Blair, he would probably give me the crazy American look and walk away.

Stunning. But Ill probably go back to Cinnamon, political talk aside.

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