Scotland is noted for its efforts to gain independence, its castles, the Highlands, sheep, wonderful landscapes and of course whisky. Everything at mealtimes revolves around haggis. This savory dish made of meat, oat flakes, salt and spices was formerly regarded as the food of the poor. Visually, haggis is reminiscent of black pudding, and classically it is eaten with turnips (neeps) and potatoes (tatties).
Nowadays this dish can be found on menus in numerous variations where fantasy has no limits: haggis with salad, with nachos, in pastry turnovers, in lasagna, as a filling in breast of chicken or on toast. However, since offal is not to everyone’s taste, visitors nowadays will also find vegetarian haggis in Edinburgh’s numerous restaurants.
Scotland’s capital itself is bustling with life. The city with its population of around 450,000 attracts crowds of tourists. It also has three internationally famous universities, Edinburgh Napier University, Heriot-Watt University with the Edinburgh Business School, and the University of Edinburgh. The economy is flourishing, and only 3.4% of the population is unemployed. Incidentally, the unemployment rate in Scotland as a whole is 5.9%.
This dynamism is also noticeable in the numerous catering businesses. Of course there are still the classical pubs with Scottish beer, fish & chips and homemade soups – but an exciting mix of organic, regional, international, traditional and adventurous has established itself in Edinburgh. There are many interesting concepts in Bruntsfield Place. Anyone who wants to see a tattooed artistic coffee barista offering a wide variety of specialist coffees and toast with avocado should visit Artisan Roast (http://www.artisanroast.co.uk/). Dark organic chocolate with bergamot is served for GBP 3.75 at Coco Chocolatier right next door (http://www.cocochocolate.co.uk/).
A hotel breakfast is rarely enjoyable, and certainly not if you look at the price/performance ratio. Therefore I have got into the habit of walking a few steps to try my luck in a bakery. That’s not at all easy in Warsaw since most bakeries simply don’t offer breakfast at all, nor have they yet discovered any other offer of catering and out-of-house consumption as an income source. You will have more of a chance in traditional confectioners like „Blikle“ on Nowy Świat Street or in the numerous bistros like the Vincent, which operates branches in both the Ulica Chmielna and Nowy Świat Street. The product range has a strong French influence, and a Bongard oven on the spot promises at least freshness – which actually materialized in my case. Otherwise Warsaw is also overflowing with the franchise brands that are found everywhere, such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Illy, Café Nero, Mc.D., Hard-Rock-Café, Vapiano etc., on the lines of the Buxtehude hedgehog’s motto: „I’m already there“.
A small elongated bread roll with a very fresh flavor and a touch of warmth still in it, filled with grilled paprika and a slice of zucchini that is neither oily nor soggy nor obtrusively spiced. Followed by a miniature milk-cream strudel, as delicious as they make at Demel. No, it really is from Demel, and served at the new Nespresso café in Mariahilfer Street, Vienna. The coffee garden in front of the building is not complete yet, but in any case I would prefer to move a meeting to one of the high interior rooms where the air is fresh and at a pleasant temperature, the noise stays outside and is replaced by very discreet jazz music.
The first Nespresso café is a joint venture by Do&Co, the all-round talent of the Austrian-Turkish restaurant scene. One of the sons is lead manager responsible for the new format, for which the next location is currently being sought in London. At the same time the café is an appointed dealer for Nespresso capsule coffee addicts. In a room at the back with a view of wall-high stocks is a terminal at which you enter your order and pay by card. Then you are given the capsules and a “bag” to carry them home.
„Enjoy“ – „geniessen“ in German – is Spar Austria ’s new line of snacks, which also includes topped rolls, cakes, cookies, wraps and of course sandwiches as well. These sandwiches here with Black Forest ham were also for sale on the shelf at the ‘Spar Pronto’ in Vienna Central Station. Maybe the ham was edible, but the bread around it was simply not properly baked. As soon as it was bitten into, the damp clammy crumb rolled up into an insoluble lump that also tasted quite horrible. The cost of the sandwich, which then ended up in the trash: EUR 2.99.
Although a trip to London can be strenuous and expensive, Britain’s capital city is still unbeatable as a source of inspiration. A walk through Soho with its countless cafés, bistros and small restaurants is a pleasure if only because quite clearly more importance is again placed there on the inner quality of the baked products on offer than on decorating them as elaborately as possible. Examples of good addresses are Crumbs & Doilies or the branches of Gail’s. Although our photo gallery originates from another of Gail’s branches in Salisbury Road near Queen’s Park, this one is on a par with the other branches scattered all over the city.
Incidentally, a visit to the various German bakeries that have set up shop in London is also well worthwhile. One of these is Konditor & Cook in “The Gherkin” or at 39 Goodge Street, among other places, www.konditorandcook.com. Their proprietor also writes in a blog in the British Baker which is highly respected in the UK and can also be found on his website. Other shops that stock German baked goods are Hansel & Pretzel, 71 Ham Street, Richmond upon Thames, or Bakehouse Bakery (in the Borough Market/175 Ashburnham Road, among other places) or Kipferl, an Austrian baker at 20 Camden Passage, N1 8ED. Of course Kamps und Ditsch are also represented in London.
Anyone with the time and inclination should also look around the farmers’ markets in London. Although at first glance some of them still look like organic produce markets from the nineteen-seventies, they are now an insider’s tip for people looking for good baked products. A list is available at: