Simple Dishes: Venison Casserole at the The Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh

2e1492_17bf78a1718849408c8fd187167d4fd2In an Edinburgh pub that traces its history back to 1680, you can get a meal that is worthy of the ages. Simple, delicious, rich and filling, the Venison Casserole at The Ensign Ewart on the Royal Mile is … well … almost indescribable in its deliciousness.

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The Venison Casserole looks humble, but wow, it eats like royalty at this pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile
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Another very popular dish at Ensign Ewart is the Cheesy Garlic Bread

On a chilly Thursday July evening (yes, you heard that right, the words “chilly” and “July” in the same sentence), three colleagues and I set out, rather wearily, to find dinner in Edinburgh. Just arrived from our first stop in Aberdeen, we were worn out and a teeny bit grumpy, still jet-lagged from our Monday-Tuesday international flight. We grumbled and stumbled down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and it started to rain, so we ducked into the first open doorway, the Ensign Ewart pub.

The four of us joined in a collective sigh of relief:  there was warmth, in a fireplace and the ambience, there was one table open for us, and we were out of the rain.

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And then the food was a bonus! Three of us ordered the Venison Casserole. It made us happy, happy, happy. Steaming hot, a rich and savory blend of mash and roasted chopped venison, this dish was total comfort food. Our fourth member chose the Cheesy Garlic Bread, another stellar option.

After our meal, we sat, satiated and comfortable, and then heard the wonderful sound of violins warming up.  A quick recon trip into the tiny pub’s front room revealed a trio of ladies who played and sang traditional Scottish music, and we were enchanted.

It’s the simple things: if you are in Edinburgh, go to the Ensign Ewart.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Aberdeen, A’m Gled Tae Meet Ye

The Granite City

After a quick trip to Aberdeen, I’m ready to go back!  It’s cool in a quirkly little way, and is nicknamed the “Granite City” for its ubiquitous gray buildings erected with stone from its quarry. The quarry was open for over 200 years and provided granite not only for Aberdeen, but for important buildings across Scotland and England.  Perched on the North Sea coast, Aberdeen has been a maritime hub for ages, and now is a major oil and gas center.

Color and Culture Abound in this Authentic City

With its concentration of gray granite buildings and overcast, misty skies, Aberdeen could seem dull and monochromatic, but the spirit of the people provide tons of color, both literally and figuratively.  There are flowers everywhere; Aberdeen has won the “Britain in Bloom” community gardening competition ten times since its inception in 1964, and it shows. And the colorful culture is evident in a plethora of public parks, museums, statues, festivals and live music in concert halls and barrooms. And here’s a statistic that is close to my heart: a study in The Scotsman found Aberdeen to have the lowest number of fast food joints per capita in the ten major Scottish cities reviewed.  In other words, Aberdeen is authentic.

It’s Doric, Not Gaelic

The local dialect is known as Doric, and if you’re lucky, you’ll hear a few words from an Aberdonian, or see signs that use the dialect. Some of the words are easily recognizable to English speakers.

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image courtesy of Scotsmagazine.com

So, in authentic Aberdonian Doric:

Aberdeen, a’m gled tae meet ye!

Digital Postcards

Here are a few picture postcards of my day and a half in Aberdeen.

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Statues and public art installations are everywhere; so are the flowers
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An elusive blue sky highlights the beautiful old architecture and gray granite
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Statue commemorating the Gordon Highlanders
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Buildings in Castlegate Square; see the tiny unicorn atop the Mercat (Market) cross? 
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Green spaces and public art abound
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Flower baskets are everywhere
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More flowers
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One of 11 anchors across Aberdeen is located at Aberdeen Beach; it will eventually be auctioned off to raise money for a world-class cancer research center in Aberdeen
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Gorgeous view of the evening sky from Aberdeen Beach
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The crude oil holding tanks in the middle of the photo speak to Aberdeen’s place in oil and gas

For another look at the Aberdeen night sky and the phenomenon called “nautical twilight”, click here.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Haiku: Open Window

an open window,
the soul outlasts the body:
eternal spirit

This single open window at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris inspired my haiku.  It is a very peaceful and comforting place.  Dad is not gone, just in a different form.

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Travel is so illuminating and inspiring.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Edinburgh’s Hipster Food Court and the Butcher Bad Boy Burger

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Foodie-worthy and hipster-appropriate.

That’s how I would characterize the outdoor food court at Waverly Mall in Edinburgh. Perched on the mall’s street-level “roof” above several floors of stores, the “Eats” area has a magnificent view of old-town Edinburgh. It feels like an upscale food truck park and bears no resemblance to the dismal dining areas you’ll find in most malls with their routine collection of fast-food chains.  Hipsters and tourists alike soak up the local color and atmosphere here at a collection of umbrella-topped tables with comfy chairs.

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Vendor booths at the food court are surrounded by centuries-old buildings

IMG_0246Lively vendors in small booths present a range of options, from coastal fare such as freshly-shucked oysters, lobster and fish ‘n chips paired with to hearty land-based selections like venison hot dogs, grilled portobellos and giant burgers. Drinks booths provide locally brewed craft beers, surprisingly inexpensive (and good) champagne and a variety of coffees and flavored teas in addition to the standard soft drinks. You can mix and match your sips and bites from the different booths to create the perfect casual al fresco meal.

So that’s what we did. Our group of four was captivated by one of the burgers from Butcher Boy, the aptly-titled purveyor of grilled-onsite meats. The burger was called the Butcher Bad Boy. It was, indeed, a Baaaaad Boy.  See for yourself from their description:

Candied bacon, cheddar cheese, sandwiched between two handmade patties, fried onions, and more cheese!!!!

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Well, wouldn’t you?  We did.  The Butcher Bad Boy was a good burger, indeed.  All four of us chose it, without consultation.  It wasn’t necessary – we instinctively knew that this was the burger for us.

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The Butcher Bad Boy, full frontal – check out that gooey white cheddar and the candied bacon
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My colleague does her best to tackle the Butcher Bad Boy

But back to that mixing and matching thing…we had a smoked salmon appetizer from one booth, our Bad Boy burgers from another, and our drinks from still another.

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The Butcher Bad Boy was great with cheap champagne, and also paired well with Diet Coke

Burgers consumed, we turned to the view.  The sun came out for a few minutes in cold and misty Edinburgh.  Awesome blue sky!

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The buildings were highlighted by the golden evening sunlight.

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Doesn’t it look like a golden filter was wiped across the buildings and the big rock in the background?

Foodie-worthy, hipster-appropriate, and with gorgeous views, too: I can highly recommend the Waverly Mall food court in Edinburgh.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

~ with thanks to my colleagues for their marvelous company, their input on this post and their pictures ~

 

 

Awesome Support After a Loss

When you lose someone you love, you go through changes that you cannot control. Some part of you goes away for a while, trying to process it.  Some other part tries to maintain the status quo, to “be strong”.  You hold some of yourself in reserve, just in case, because the world is not the same and you might need those reserves.  It doesn’t feel safe to be vulnerable in any way.  And while you tiptoe through this dichotomous-quicksand-complex bog of feeling and numbness, all of your people reach out to support you, each in their own way.

Some people say things you will always remember and hold dear.  After my brother died a few years ago, my cousin the minister said:UntitledIndeed.  That was just what I needed to hear that day.

A customer of my Dad’s who had become a friend (because that’s how my Dad did business; he was always a trusted friend and never a salesman), a man who I had never met, sent me a card after we lost my brother that said:

he waits for youI can’t express how meaningful those words are to me.

And now, after my father’s unexpected death, the people around me, the stars in my sphere of being, are reaching out in their own ways to support me and my family. It is a beautiful and overwhelming humbling experience.  So many kind and thoughtful gestures, so many meaningful words and messages of support, so many gifts and acts of kindness and service; too many to name.

But a couple I will highlight; this beautiful gift of wind chimes, personalized with my Dad’s name and dates of life.  He was a woodworker by hobby and made me several sets of wind chimes, so it was really special that my colleagues at work gave me this gift. I brought them to Little House in the Rockies, our tiny cabin, and every time I hear them I think of Dad. Click the short video to hear the chimes.

 

Another “gift” was the sharing of this video made by son of a colleague. It is a lovely two-minute animation about the stages of grief, and is very comforting and peaceful.

More to come as this processing continues.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (except the Stages of Grief video)

My Room with a View: Nautical Twilight in Aberdeen

If you ask a Scottish person what time the sun goes down, they’ll say “Ach, not late, aroun’ aboot half-ten in the summer.”  DON’T BELIEVE IT.

The sun never stops giving a wee bit of its glow to the summer night sky in Scotland.  It sinks beneath the horizon in what is called “nautical twilight”, and never lets the sky get completely dark.  Not that I’m complaining – it is beautiful.

I was reminded of the nautical twilight phenomenon during a brief stay in Aberdeen this week.   Aberdeen is a coastal city perched on the east side of Scotland right on the North Sea.  I had a room with a view and snapped these pics to capture that ever-changing but never-dark sky while enjoying the cool night air and familiar cries of the seagulls.  (This lass grew up amid sand and seagulls in a wee coastal town in southeast Texas, albeit with warm nights and actual darkness after twilight.)

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An afternoon shot of the church across the road from the hotel
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At 8 p.m. from my hotel window; the church is mostly behind the tree on the right, but there’s a beautiful bell tower being restored
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At 10:00 p.m.
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At 2:00 a.m. – can you believe it?
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At 4:00 a.m.
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At 6:00 a.m.; check out one of the many seagulls in the top left

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Visual Haiku: California Dreams

The concept of a “visual haiku” was contributed by a Glover Gardens Cookbook follower via a comment on one of my posts, a photo of three things.  I love that idea!  Here’s another: an arch, some morning glories and the California horizon, taken during a recent Wine for No Reason trek to the Temecula Valley.  We were at the Frangipani Winery, a very warm and welcoming place.

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The view from Frangipani Winery

arch framing blue sky
morning glories glorious
California dreams

Interested?  Here’s more:

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook