My ‘deluded gastronome‘ has an occasional penchant for testing the powers of curiosity bestowed on my species. Just the other day I was issued with a food-related challenge, and being perpetually tired of a bland rocks & water diet I thoughtlessly accepted the challenge. “It’s haggis shooting season at the start of each new year” I was dubiously informed, and ““they taste at their best when cooked freshly caught.” Anything to get away from the vet’s Science Plan products, so off I went on a clueless trail in search of the mythical haggi.
Cardiff doesn’t seem to be over-supplied with haggis emporia, and after a brief sniff around the market and Wally’s Delicatessen in the Royal Arcade I realised this was going to require a serious adventure. Stowing away in the baggage compartment of what I can only describe as a flying shed (that’s the plane, not Cardiff Airport, or is it both?) the next stop was…
At least I understood that these creatures were quintessentially Scottish, so let’s go search the capital… but were in Edinburgh do you start, the World Heritage architecture is everywhere:
Jenners department store and the Old Waverley Hotel provide an imposing backdrop to the Scott Memorial on Princes Street.
Historic buildings line the hillside from the castle at Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park all the way up to Edinburgh Castle.
If the castle is where the haggis hang out they seem to be well protected by gun emplacements. But all of these tourists ambling around would surely be aware if a gastronomic delicacy was hiding out in such a popular venue.
Then there are the myriads of old courtyards and alleyways to scurry about and hide away in:
To make things more difficult I spy one of those ubiquitous tourist buses on the Royal Mile… hopefully they are not all searching in packs for the same quarry as me?
One thing I am learning quick is that the haggis is difficult to catch; they are full of heart and lungs, and once sighted they are offal! I have to admit to being temporarily fooled by the sight of what I thought were haggis’s left out to dry, before sale along the Royal Mile:
But I quickly realised there is a plethora of bald Scotsmen graciously giving up their pelts for the benefit of the older American tourist trade. In fact this one had donated so much of himself to tourism that he now needed an external stomach complete with a feeding tube… serious sacrifice man!
I was beginning to lose heart in my quest… was the haggis really just an illusionary character from fiction established to taunt the unwitting newcomer to these parts? But then I had a significant tip-off as to where I might satisfy my mission, and appetite. The haggis had recently been seen on Cockburn Street:
Following the lead I was surely closing in on my prey. The signs were promising indeed:
The Arcade on close inspection resembled nothing like an arcade. At least Cardiff had one over on the Scottish capital when it came to real arcades! But in this context who cares… the sign says ‘Haggis and Whisky House‘; with any luck my prey might even be sozzled enough to make capture simple.
As I recline, stroking satisfied whiskers after consuming the melt-in-the-mouth feast, I have to admit that the haggis may be claiming a late victory, as I am now what can only be described being close to the Royal Mile as regally stuffed. I have a choice… for some strange reason The Arcade seem to have anticipated the effect of haggis overload on certain customers, so they advertise breakfast on the ceiling for those who find the horizontal to be the most comfortable pose in the hours after the haggis has been consumed:
Personally, I chose to look in on the famous Rose Street in the New Town part of the city… probably one of the most challenging pub crawls any cat could wish to attempt.
The Kenilworth offered a couple of Harviestoun Brewery’s finest… a ‘Blond Bombshell’ and the end of the seasonal ‘Sleigh Driver’. All that was left to say was bon voyage haggis, as it was carried away on a sea of fine lotion.
It was time for me to bid a fond farewell to the never less than dramatic city of Edinburgh and return to my ‘resident scribbler‘ to relate my triumphant response to the challenge… and to suggest a place where the old git could retire to:
Enough of the flying sheds, I think I have found an altogether more space crafty way of returning back to Cardiff. Well if Dr Who can do it!
Until we speak again I am Juno wishing you all an ‘och aye the noo’, and good luck in your haggis hunting.