In May of ’09 my girlfriend and I found ourselves in Edinburgh. Not that we got lost on the way to the supermarket and woke up in Scotland, but we turned a weekend visit for a wedding in England into a week long trip of the UK. Our adventure brought us to sample 47 different UK libations, many of them new to us, and the mince pie. Oh, the mince pie.
One of our days consisted of hotel breakfast (with a pint of Boddington’s), a trip to Rosslyn Chapel (and pints of Tennant’s and Blackthorn), a late lunch (probably with some more Boddington’s), finishing up with the European Rugby Championship final, aka the Heineken Cup, final match at a pub in the Haymarket section of Edinburgh. The Irish side defeated the English side yet all sides toasted each other on a well-played tournament. Contrary to popular belief, the Guinness was not flowing like water. The good people of Ireland that we met loved Heineken. Who knew?
Minor highlight of the night #1; chatting with a guy at the bar who we thought was a local, but was actually Welsh, and telling him, “I’m so glad we ran into a Welshman or else we’d be the butt of all the jokes around here.” He walked out the door.
Sadly, we looked at the clock and realized we were coming down to last call for the buses that went back to our hotel. Walking out of the pub we were greeted by this scent of spiced and cooked meat, and…..pizza? Across from the bus stop was this little hole of a place that had “PIZZA/CRISPS/PIES” neon sign in the window. Julie said the last bus can wait and that I must try a mince pie. The mince pie is a small, sorta-bread/sorta-pastry shell filled with a mix of beef and lamb, some spices, some onion, and a whole lot of awesome. Not to be confused with the British Christmas sweet mince pie, this is a savory meal in and of itself. It was a revelation, not just because we had been watching rugby in a pub for three hours, and I was hooked.
Minor highlight of the night #2; getting back to the bus stop, a small Irish “gentleman” and his newly acquired lady friend passed by on their way to Haymarket Train Station, when he slurred loudly “YOU LOOK KIWI! ARE YOU FROM NEW ZEALAND?” The girl, who had been propping him up the whole walk, flagged a cab and left him on a bench. She told us they never even exchanged names.
It’s cold, we need our bed. Here comes the bus! Tickets out, we go to enter the bus when the driver politely (no joke) informs us that hot foods are not allowed on city buses. We thank him for his courtesy and say we’ll take the next bus in a few minutes. He was flabbergasted. Cold, slight drizzle, near midnight, and they pass up a bus for mince pies? If you had just found the greatest post-bar food on earth, and you know there’s one more bus, wouldn’t you hold on to it until the last crumb? Damn right you would. The next bus passed and we hopped aboard, full and satisfied. The next day was our last day in Edinburgh before moving on to London, so what was our last stop before the airport? You guessed it, Haymarket for a mince pie. Cheers to that.