HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 3 – The Isles Pub

For Foodie Friday we thought we’d share with you our first experience eating Haggis! And what’s more authentic than having your first go at it in its country of origin: Scotland!

In our last post, we had just left Northton Beach and were heading for our ferry in Tarbert, which would take us to Skye!

Once on Skye, we would be staying at the Portree Independent Hostel in Portree!

The hostel was clean, welcoming and had WIFI!!! We all had different rooms on different floors and there were plenty of washroom facilities to go around! This is always a bonus when staying in a hostel.

That night we decided to have dinner at the Isles Pub at the Isles Inn! Portree is not a very large town so it was easy enough for us to decide where to eat. And it was also recommended by Greg as a place to get a good plate of Haggis and enjoy some live music! The Isles Pub and Restaurant also uses locally sourced ingredients so we’d literally be getting an all around authentic Scottish meal!

The Isles Inn was just in the square close to our hostel so it was an easy walk over and easy walk back at the end of the night!

We had already decided what to eat even before we reached the restaurant. It’s important to note that they were quite busy when we got there. We were a group of 9, so we had to wait quite a while. But all was not lost, as we grabbed some drinks at the bar and had a nice chat about today’s adventures.

Since we both decided to get Haggis, the main difference would be that mine was traditional while Nat’s would be vegetarian!

Now, if you don’t know what Haggis is… then prepare to be enlightened. I am pretty sure it’s the type of food you either like or dislike.

“Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.” – Wikipedia

Now if you aren’t turned off by the above description, you’ll be delighted to find out that it was actually quite delicious! It’s rather filling and it really does have a nutty texture. I don’t know if it’s something I’d like to eat very often, but when in Scotland, we may as well do as the Scots do!

This is what Nat’s Vegetarian Haggis looked like. 

We’re not sure what was exactly in this vegetarian haggis, but our guess would be perhaps lentils, vegetables, oats and various spices. This dish was served with neeps and tatties – that is mashed turnips and potatoes. The whole dish is finished off with a red wine and onion gravy to pull it all together. I’m so happy to be able to try a vegetarian option of this Scottish dish. The Isles Pub also had a couple of other vegetarian meal options to cater to those who do not eat meat. It can sometimes get complicated when looking for vegetarian food options on the road. But luckily for me, I found that most restaurants and pubs in Scotland, and Ireland, had vegetarian options – which saves me from eating egg salad sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 😥

We decided that we would definitely be having Haggis again.

After dinner, we thought we deserved to try something sweet and the dessert menu was calling to us <3.

Our table of 5 decided to share two desserts one of which we didn’t seem to take any pictures of, so we can’t quite recall it… BUT we did manage to take a picture of the Apple Pie with Drambruie. It was an interesting take on Apple Pie. I can’t say that it would go into our books as one of our favourite desserts, but it was worth a shot to try something new!

After our dinner, we decided to have a beer and listen to some of the live music they had playing! It wasn’t long until we started getting sleepy and decided to head back.

The next day would hold many adventures including the much anticipated Faerie Pools!

Stay tuned!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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Edinburgh Eats!

After learning all about Scotch Whisky, we headed off to search for a late lunch. Being the indecisive people that we are, we figured we would be best off just picking the first place we were both interested in. Or else, we would probably be wandering Edinburgh until dinner time!

As we walked down the Royal Mile, we passed by the Real Mary King’s Close – where we had taken the tour a couple days ago. By the time we had finished our early evening tour, the attached Royal Exchange Coffee House – which had an enticing menu, was already closed. It was open for lunch now, so this was our chance to sample their menu! Decision making made simple 😅

The Royal Exchange Coffee House shares its space with the Real Mary King’s Close gift shop. The space is bright and airy, with plenty of tables to enjoy a cuppa or a meal.

Reading the menu, I was happy to see that they were supporters of the local and Scottish food movement.

Of course, at the counter there was a display case with tempting treats and cakes! But we already had plans for dessert (more on that later!), so we stuck to their food menu. There was a good selection of food choices at this little café. There was even an option to have vegetarian haggis in the “Tower of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.” I wasn’t feeling like a heavy lunch today so I decided to save my vegetarian haggis experience for another time!

Finally, I settled on their special of the day – a cheese quiche with a side salad and coleslaw. And Ioana had the soup and bread for her lunch.

The food took a little while to come but it was well worth the wait. The quiche was lovely and the drizzle of (what I think was) balsamic reduction was a nice touch. I might have to try that the next time I make a quiche! The salad and coleslaw were fresh and it was so nice to get some fresh veggies in! It was also a pretty generous portion and perfect for refueling after a morning and afternoon of rambling around!

After our late lunch, we headed back out onto the Royal Mile and took in the sights and sounds of this iconic street. There was always something to see along this street!

And… there is usually always something to listen to as well!

After walking off our lunch, next up was dessert! 🍦

Even before we booked our trip to Scotland, there was a little place in Edinburgh that I wanted to try. A place called Mary’s Milk Bar had been making its rounds on social media, after being featured on Buzzfeed (more than once!). Mary’s Milk Bar is famous for its indulgent hot chocolate ice cream floats and its made-fresh-daily gelato in ever-changing and unique flavours! How could we not try it while we were in Edinburgh?!

Mary’s Milk Bar is tucked away in the Grassmarket. Despite it being well-known internationally, there are no neon signs or billboards outside. This milk bar is delightfully humble, has a vintage feel and evokes a comfortable and cozy atmosphere of decades past.

We picked a good time to come, as there were only a couple of people in line ahead of us. We hear during the summer and Festival season, there are lineups down the street and they often sell out of gelato before the end of the day!

We wanted to try their famous hot chocolate ice cream floats but we also wanted the gelato and… we also wanted to walk around Edinburgh some more… So in the end, we ended up going for the gelato – purely for portability reasons… We’ll come back another time for the hot chocolate ice cream floats!

We had the pleasure of meeting Mary, as she interacted with customers and scooped out their chosen flavours!

Mary makes all of the gelato in the morning before opening up shop. We were lucky to have visited in the early afternoon – as there were still plenty of flavours to choose from. I imagine if you came near closing time, you might be quite limited on the flavours that remained!

Speaking of flavours, these aren’t your typical vanila, chocolate and strawberry flavours! Not even gourmet vanilla, chocolate and strawberry! These flavours are very unique and make use of a variety of ingredients. They also change daily and according to the seasons. Where else can you get flavours like Tea and Biscuits or Saffon and Honey or Rose and Ginger?! We follow Mary’s Milk Bar on Instagram and sometimes I feel like asking if they would ship some of their goodies over to Vancouver for us! (Would you, pretty please???!)

Here’s today’s gelato selection! 😍

Ioana went for a scoop of Drunk Prunes in Amaretto and a scoop of Fresh Fig Sorbet. I went with my favourite – Peanut Butter and a scoop of something different – White Chocolate and Thyme. I had always associated thyme with savoury dishes, but it paired really nicely with the sweetness of white chocolate in this gelato. I almost think I liked the White Chocolate and Thyme better than the PB… But they were both delicious and hit the spot!

It doesn’t get any better than this – delicious gelato and Edinburgh Castle on a beautiful autumn day! 😋

With our Edinburgh food goal achieved and our gelato in hand, we walked around the Grassmarket. Besides discovering more views of Edinburgh Castle, we also came upon a cat café – Maison de Moggy! Yup, that’s right! A cat café – where you can have something to eat or drink in the company of cats! We didn’t go in but had a good long look through the window at all the shenanigans that the cats (and humans…) were getting up to! 😼

After some more walking and a spot of dinner, it was time to head back to our hostel. We had lots of packing to do before leaving on our Haggis Adventures 10-day tour the next day! Castle Rock Hostel has a long term luggage storage room and since we would be returning in 10 days, they were kind enough to let us store some of our stuff there. That means we didn’t have to haul our Guinness Glasses and our Glencairn glass all over Scotland! (Although we would then have very well-traveled glassware!)

Before falling asleep, I managed to poke my head out the sky light above my bunk and was mesmerized by this night scene…

George Heriot’s School – inspiration for Hogwarts!

Good night Edinburgh and hello to our Scotland adventures! Stay tuned for more!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if

Cheesy Goodness at Beecher’s 

We went down to Seattle a couple of weeks ago for a weekend trip. And whilst exploring the area around Pike Place Market, we came upon Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.

The first Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop opened here in Pike Place Market in 2003. A second location was added in New York City in 2011. Beecher’s prides itself in producing fine artisan cheese – by hand. Of course, with the help of healthy, well-fed and well treated cows!

Besides having a cafe and a cheese counter, there is even cheese production right on site! This Pike Place shop has fit a custom pasteurizing and cheesemaking facility into its 1,000 square foot glass-walled kitchen. If you stay a while, you can watch the cheesemakers stirring and working hard over this huge vat of dairy goodness, destined to become tasty cheese!

If you’re interested, they have some information boards on the process of cheesemaking inside the shop. Very interesting and not something that you see everyday when grabbing some lunch! (I especially liked that there were a couple of children who were very interested and engrossed in watching what was going on. I think it’s good for kids to see that cheese, and food in general, doesn’t just magically appear in the fridge or on supermarket shelves!)

Speaking of lunch! It was just about time for lunch and we were getting hungry! The cafe menu contain a number of cheesy sandwiches, soups and…

One particular item on the menu jumped out at us – the ‘World’s Best’ Mac and Cheese! It was a little bit windy and chilly that morning, so it seemed fitting to have some comfort food for lunch!

Although it was really busy in the shop and cafe, it was a quick and efficient process to order your food then move down the line, pay and pick up your food.

Here it is – The “World’s Best” Mac and Cheese.

“Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese is made with an incomparable combination of our signature Flagship and Just Jack cheeses. A hint of spice and penne pasta, versus the standard macaroni, make for a creamy mac that’s not just for kids.”

What did we think of it?

It was definitely all sorts of cheesy goodness! The cheese sauce wasn’t just poured on top or mixed in haphazardly. The cheese coated each penne pasta, so that each mouthful was a delicious mix of gooey, smooth cheese and pasta. It was, as expected, very rich and creamy. But not overly so and it didn’t make us feel overly full or gross afterwards. (Getting the small size probably helped with this!) This certainly isn’t your “typical” scoop of cafeteria Mac and Cheese or a box of microwaved KD!!

It made for a perfect walking-lunch, as we continued to explore Pike Place Market!

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Has anyone else been to Beecher’s, or tried their cheeses? What did you think?

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

Ladurée – Vancouver

About 2 months ago, we stumbled upon a Ladurée while we were in Dublin. We just had to stop by for some French macarons in Ireland! 😝

Now that we are back home in Vancouver, we had to try the Ladurée here! Ladurée opened in Vancouver on March 24, 2016, to huge lineups! With that kind of hype and the tasty macarons that we had in Dublin, how could we not stop by the Vancouver Ladurée for a treat!

The shop is decorated like all the other Ladurée boutiques in the world, with the iconic pale green and gold colours throughout the shop and the display windows. It was all very whimsical, elegant and pretty! (And tempting!)

In the front part of the boutique is the pastry counter – cakes, sweet treats, chocolates and, of course, the world famous macarons placed neatly in colourful rows.

There were lots of tasty treats to choose from, but we were there for the macarons this time! With 15 different macarons flavours to choose from, it was difficult to choose! Here is the ‘menu’. Each macaron is priced at $3.15.

After some careful discussion ( 😉 ), we decided on 4 macarons to share.

The first two macarons were the Melon and the Cherry Blossom.

  • The Melon was a really light and refreshing treat – being the perfect macaron for a hot summer’s day!
  • The Cherry Blossom was really tasty as well – it had a floral flavour that was delicate but very distinctive!

Next we went for the Rum Vanilla and… the macaron that we loved in Ladurée Dublin – the Strawberry Candy Guimauve. Unfortunately we were a bit disappointed with these two. 😦

  • The Rum Vanilla almost tasted like rubbing alcohol to us. We couldn’t taste the rum or the vanilla, since the rubbing alcohol taste was so overwhelming.
  • We really liked the Strawberry Candy Guimauve macaron that we had in Dublin, but not so today. The guimauve filling (marshmallow) was actually really tough and chewy. Of course, the texture of a marshmallow filling will be different and not as smooth as a ganache, buttercream or jam filling. But this one was almost hard to bite through. Since the macarons are flown in from Paris and we are an ocean and an entire continent away, I wonder if that had anything to do with this macaron?! The taste of the meringue shell was still good though.

Behind the pastry counter, is the tea room. We didn’t sit in the tea room today but it looked to be very pretty, posh, prim and proper.

With our macarons in hand, we headed out of the pretty boutique and took one last peek at the window display.

And being the silly person that I am, I couldn’t help stopping for a photograph! I did forget my tutu and my pointe shoes at home though… Next time, I’ll come prepared with my ballet gear and stop for another photograph! I’m also missing a huge box of Ladurée goodies to hold over my head! So I’ll have to pick that up too!

Happy Foodie Friday!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!