Sheese and Tartex and Nairn’s Oat Cakes
When I booked the Scotland stop into our trip, I imagined a whole two weeks of pigging out on Sheese, trying every flavour, sheese pizza, sheese on toast, sheese on everything!
Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way. It turns out Sheese is harder to find in the country of its origin than it is on the other side of the world. I did nab one packet at a tiny itty bitty health food store in Edinburgh, along with one huge tube of Tartex (the Tartex cost less than 2 pounds – crazy cheap) and a packet of Nairn’s Oatcakes.
I wasn’t sure about the concept of oatcakes at first and I bought them only because we needed lunch and couldn’t find any vegan bread. I’m glad I got them in the end – they were fab. Nairn’s Oatcakes are officially my new favourite dry biscuit.
Alpro soy stuff
Here’s a question for you, soy purveyors of Oz: why does very single soy yoghurt in Australia suck almost completely, when there is such good soy yoghurt everywhere else in the world?
In the US we tasted some pretty good soy yoghurts, and a passable coconut yoghurt, but the best one we’ve had by far is the Alpro raspberry flavoured soy yoghurt that we found in Tesco and Morrison’s and C0-ops all over Scotland. If you’re a vegan who has never been overseas, you can’t even imagine how good this stuff is. I may have cried a little on the inside when we left for Copenhagen.
Another hit from the Alpro brand was their chocolate and caramel puddings. These are like Yogo in Australia, but you don’t need to keep them in the fridge, so they’re perfect for travel. We kept a stash of them with us the whole time we were in Scotland.
Linda McCartney frozen stuff
We didn’t see any tofu anywhere in Scotland, but one vegan product that was ubiquitous was Linda McCartney brand frozen sausages. We baked ours from frozen, and they were fab, though a little salty for me. You can have too much of a good thing bethought, and as we ate these more often than any other food while we were there, I can’t say I want to see another one for a very long time.
In one supermarket we also found Linda McCartney pies and sausage rolls. The pies were excellent – the best vegan pie I have ever tasted, in fact – but the sausage rolls were nothing to write home about (but I suppose this could have been because we were eating them cold, without sauce, in the car at about 6.30 in the morning).
Haggis with neeps and tatties
The haggis came in a tower, topped with mashed potato (and turnips, I think), and a pot of thin gravy on the side. The mash was creamy and delicious and the haggis tasted very peppery, and had a strong but pleasant juniper berry flavour, which I liked, because I think juniper is a very underused spice. The gravy wasn’t great – sweet and flat-flavoured – but it didn’t matter because the haggis and mash was tasty enough on its own.
We also ordered a mezze plate which came with olives, grilled veg, toasts and dips, including an apricot and red lentil dip which I can’t wait to try my hand at making.
The dessert on the specials board caught my attention, so we shared a slice of warm chocolate and nut cake. The cake was fabulous, all warmed up and gooey and covered in melty ganache.
If we had been in Edinburgh longer, we definitely would have visited Henderson’s again, because the rest of their menu looked great too.
In the end, Scotland was an easy place to be vegan, because we were lucky enough to be staying in people’s houses via AirBnB, and in youth hostels with kitchens. The supermarket provided us with all the essentials – soy milk, margarine, bread, sausages, and veg – although we did miss tofu, tempeh, and tomatoes (there are only sucky tomatoes in the UK).
If we had to rely on restaurants alone it would have been a different question. Menus seemed to consist mainly of meat and potatoes, with the veg option always being cheesey lasagne or eggy quiche. The variety got worse as we went further North, so my advice to vegos is to make sure you have access to a kitchen, or a vast store of UHT hommus if you plan to head outside of Edinburgh!