Unique Scottish Cooking Class

Last week, a lovely American family – ‘mom’, ‘pop’ and their 12-year old son booked in for a Scottish cooking class and it was a great success.

chopping potatoes for soup at this Scottish cooking class
Unique Scottish cooking class with Edinburgh Food Safari

Family style cooking

I have run the cooking class with adults, but it worked really well with an enthusiast for slicing leeks, chopping potatoes, flaking fish and rolling up their sleeves and using their hands (clean) to mix sugar and butter together for shortbread.

Relax on the chaise longue before and after the Scottish cooking class
Elegant sitting room for eating and relaxing before and after Scottish cooking class

Oats Rule in Scottish Cooking 

The private cooking classes take place in my Georgian 200-year old flat and starts with a welcome drink and chat about Scottish cookery over Edinburgh Gin rhubarb and ginger gin liqueur over ice, plus an Irn Bru for junior – who was intrigued by Scotland’s other ‘national drink’ and my homemade cheese oatcakes. Oats and barley grow better than wheat in Scotland so  oats are still a staple of the Scottish diet.

Cheese oatcakes and Edinburgh gin liqueur
Scottish gin liqueur and homemade cheese oatcakes

Scottish cookery has always differed from England.  The Romans influenced English cooking but as they did not venture far into Scotland, historically Scottish cuisine developed slowly. Scottish cooking methods advanced through the influence of the French at the court of Mary Queen of Scots.

Scottish cooks have always been famous for their soups, haggis (a dish traditionally served on Burns Night) and their baking, especially scones, pancakes, fruit cakes, oatcakes and shortbread.

Ready to cook? aprons and recipes and ingredients
Recipes, apron and shortbread ingredients at the ready

To the kitchen for the Scottish cooking class…

Then into the kitchen – where guests (hands washed) are issued with Scottish aprons and a knife and chopping board to make the classic Cullen Skink. This lovely filling fish soup originates from the little fishing village of Cullen on the Moray Firth. It is a hearty soup and traditionally made with Finnan haddock (smoked haddock), potatoes, and onions or leeks.

Skink used to mean shin of beef – but as there was so much fish in this fishing town, smoked haddock is used. By poaching the fish in the milk, the fish cooks quickly and flavours the milk. Whilst the chopped potatoes and leeks were cooking, the guests start on shortbread

Shortbread was for high days and holidays

In Scotland, shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, it was a special treat reserved for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and New Year. The custom of eating shortbread at New Year (Hogmanay) has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule Cakes which symbolised the sun.  Shortbread has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who in the mid-16th century was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread. 

Hands on: mixing butter and sugar by hand for the shortbread
Junior making shortbread under Pa’s watchful eye

Good quality Scottish butter, flour and sugar and some elbow grease is all it takes and soon the shortbread is chilling in the fridge and the guests are in the sitting room tucking into their creamy Cullen Skink.  As they had been tasting as it cooked, I knew they couldn’t complain  re size of veggies or softness of the potato! They loved it.

The next course is haggis – no one in Scotland would make their own, unless they had access to a whole sheep or cow, so I serve MacSween haggis ( Veggie available – same spices and oatmeal content as the meaty one) with tatties (potato) and neeps (turnip) and a shot of whisky. I recite one stanza of Burns’ poem – Ode to a Haggis – we don’t want our haggis main meal to get cold!

Enjoying haggis, neeps and tatties and a glass of the orange stuff: Irn Bru
Enjoying haggis, neeps and tatties

By this time the chilled shortbread is out the oven and cooling down to the guests to enjoy with tea or coffee and whatever is left is boxed up take away.

Warm homemade shortbread, tea and coffee at the end of the Scottish cooking class
Happy guests with their own homemade shortbread to enjoy and take home

Cook with Nell 

I can see how the Scottish cooking classes work well for visitors to the city with easy to replicate recipes they can take recreate back home.

Edinburgh Food Safari Scottish cooking Classes are perfect for couples, friends and families of all ages. Minimum number is two guests and maximum is six guests.

Times are either over lunch 11am- 2pm or evening 6.30 – 8.30pm – entails some chopping, but no washing up !

Price is £75 per person

To arrange a time and day which suits your party just contact Nell 






Afternoon Tea in Leith at The Theatre

Beautiful Leith Theatre with art deco flourishes inside
Leith Theatre; a stunning 1930’s building

Afternoon Tea for Four on day out in Leith

A friend was given an afternoon Prosecco tea for four at the secret ladies’ bar of Leith Theatre as her Christmas present.  It was part of the Leith Theatre’s fund raising campaign and her husband obviously thought some good should come from his wife’s love of quaffing fizz and cake with her chums.

Continue reading “Afternoon Tea in Leith at The Theatre”


 Prosecco to Gelato on four-hour food tour in Rome

Drinking prosecco on first stop of our food tour in Rome
Drinking prosecco on first stop of Rome food tour

A Promising Start

“Tre prosecco “ I knew this food tour was going to go well: it was 10.30 am in the morning – and I had flown into Rome last night from Edinburgh to meet my friend Fran who had flown from Gatwick – and we were on a four-hour eating and drinking tour with Domenico of Eating Europe Food Tours 

Continue reading ” Prosecco to Gelato on four-hour food tour in Rome”


NEW Scottish Cooking Class – stay safe and cook your own!

Sip a ginger and rhubarb gin liqueur and enjoy a cheese oatcake
Edinburgh Safari cooking class

Roll up your sleeves and make traditional smoked haddock soup 

Delicious smoked haddock cream leek and potato soup

Then relax as haggis over some haggis neeps and tatties and enjoy some traditional Burns poetry 

Very traditional haggis mashed turnip and potato and of course a dram of whisky

And round off the evening with you own homemade shortbread

team effort!
Plenty of shortbread for your to enjoy later as a memento of your Scottish cooking class


Keep Eating and Carry On

Hello from Edinburgh Food Safari

I really want to show support for my brilliant team of bars, restaurants and shops during these uncertain times. Due to the nature of my food walking business; taking guests on a historical food and drink walking tour to high quality local independent suppliers isn’t really possible at the moment. My suppliers are really feeling the loss of business and I’m missing them too -and my guests!

We all need to eat and many small shops have adapted by offering home delivery service such as Armstrongs fishmongers, https://armstrongsofstockbridge.co.uk/ 80 Raeburn Place, Stockbridge, who are still open. Gary Huckle says there are literally’ plenty of fish in the sea’ – and in the shop and if you can’t get down to Stockbridge, they will deliver, just call 0131 315 2033.

IJ Mellis https://www.mellischeese.net/stores/three Edinburgh shop are still open with their fantastic range of cheeses and if you can’t get to the shops – then you can order online. George Mewes, https://www.georgemewescheese.co.uk/ Dean Park St, StockbridgeT: 0131 332 5900  is still open Wednesday to Sunday in the Edinburgh shop and its worth checking out their online delivery service.

Its Mother’s Day on Sunday 22 March. Casa Angelina 42 London Street is closing temporarily but is still open on Sunday for Mother’s Day. They will deliver afternoon tea to your house, or your mother’s house for £20 per person – you will get 4 savouries, 3 sweets and a scone, vegetation or vegan. If you are interested then please call 07790839501 and let them know by Saturday 21st March at 10am.

Nicole Roberts the Marshmallow Lady,https://www.themarshmallowlady.com/ 14 Rodney St is still open for takeaway only and is accepting orders online with free shipping all over the UK, And if things get worse the indomitable Nicole will  be doing takeaways with customers outside the shop.

The Pastry Section at 86 Raeburn Place https://www.pastrysection.com/with all their fantastic cakes is still open but will very soon be doing take-away – head down early or place an order for their fantastic cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing.

Its not easy going online if you are a bar – Victorian  Kays Bar 39 Jamaica Street https://www.kaysbar.co.uk/is still open – no hearty portions of haggis as they have stopped serving food side and they may have to close soon.

Stockbridge market http://www.stockbridgemarket.com/stockbridge.html in Saunders Street will be open this Sunday so if you feel uncomfortable about going out foraging outside, then think about going online and having a virtual forage and a real feast delivered . 


Gorgeous Scottish textiles all made in Scotland

It is rare to find genuine Scottish textiles on the Royal Mile, but anyone who is a fan of Scottish textiles such as lace, linen, tweed all made in Scotland will be thrilled by the treasure trove at The Scottish Textiles Showcase at the back of The Tron Kirk, 122 High Street, Royal Mile EH1 1QS .

I was shown the delights by owner,  Kitty Bruce-Gardyne who opened this first curated shop of Scottish textiles just last year.  As a maker herself Kitty has been a long term champion of Scotland’s rich textiles heritage and was keen to share her passion for a story which remains a best kept secret and physically off the beaten track.  From the Scottish Borders in the south to the far flung islands of the Outer Hebrides in the west and Shetland in the north the Scottish textiles story is rich and varied.  From tartan to tweed, and linen to lace Scotland’s textiles are in a class of their own and have gained a world wide reputation for excellence.



Kitty in a sea of Scottish tartan
Highland cows – blankets and soon to be scarves which I am eyeing up!


Celebrate Burns’ birthday with a Scottish Food Safari

An extra portion of haggis neeps and tatties for Nell


Celebrate the birth of Robert Burns with a Scottish Food Safari which includes haggis, Scottish ale and of course a single dram of single malt plus smoked salmon, fish n chips, marshmallows made on the premises and a Scottish cheese tasting. Still some places left  for this Saturday 25 January at 1pm. Book on www.edinburghfoodsafari.com