So perhaps I've developed a bit of an obsession. Our recent trip to Scotland - our last trip of our European sojourn - only solidified my love for the UK when I met Sticky Toffee Pudding.
The name alone sounds delicious. The actuality is simply rich, caramely, sticky, and incredible. It is quite basic in a way - a cake, usually made with dates, covered with toffee sauce, and typically served with vanilla ice cream. Toffee sauce is the stuff of dreams, and all I can really say is that when our server walked by our table approximately 2 minutes after placing the sticky toffee pudding in front of us, the plate was empty. She even exclaimed, "Didn't I just put that down?" Slightly embarrassed, we stuttered over several statements of "It was so good...we were sharing...it was so good...".
Naturally, I also found Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream at the well-regarded B. Janettas in St. Andrews. Scotland has fantastic ice cream, and while sticky toffee pudding is better in its regular form, the ice cream was not too shabby.
Scotland is the second country we have visited in the past few years that made us both feel, almost immediately, like we want to come back. The first was Portugal, and we still talk about wanting to go back to Lisbon and head north towards Porto. But without hesitation we both agreed that five days in Scotland was simply not enough to do justice to this incredible place.
The country is absolutely gorgeous. When have you ever seen a cliff like this in a public park in a major city? Holyrood Park in Edinburgh is the only one I know of.
On a picture perfect day like we had, I better understood why golfers trek from around the world to places like St Andrews, Scotland to golf on the oldest golf course in the world.
The fishing villages of East Neuk were quaint and charming, everything a fishing village should be, with the added bonus of Scottish accents, the occasional kilt, and a wide selection of Scotch at the local pub.
Every Scot we encountered was genuinely friendly, from the girl at the Scotch Whisky Experience who gave us a list of places she loved to visit in Edinburgh as a child to the jovial, large-bellied man making flirtatious jokes with me when we asked for directions to a gas station near the airport. Of course, this was after we mildly traumatized Baby Oil by taking him on the barrel ride at the Scotch Whisky Experience - like an amusement park ride, you sit in a "barrel" and are escorted through a virtual distillery. The problem was that your "host" for the trip was a ghost. And it turns out that 2-year-olds are not big fans of ghosts, no matter how friendly and Scottish they may be. Furthermore, try as I might, I have to admit that I just don't like Scotch. The only exception is when that whisky comes in the form of fudge.
|The traumatized toddler|
I wouldn't want you think our trip was all royalty and whisky. We also toured Scotland's Secret Bunker (or as Baby Oil would say, "Scotland's Secret Plunker"). For 40 years, this was a top-secret location that housed all of the equipment and supplies necessary to serve as a headquarters for Scotland's government in the case of nuclear war. When you approach it, it looks like a typical Scottish farmhouse. Except for this:
|I'm going to go out on a limb and say this wasn't here when it was a secret|
Conveniently, we happened to stay in a town boasting a restaurant that has been named the UK's best fish and chips. We may have eaten there two nights in a row. It was really that good.
Scotland, I love you, and I'm not just using you for your sticky toffee pudding. After all, look how happy you make my kids:
My 2.5 year old has visited 8 countries in the past 2 years (France, US, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, UK (England and Scotland), Belgium, and Spain). My 5 month old has hit four countries already (France, Belgium, Spain, and UK). I hope they're okay with being stuck in the US for a while...