Scones I have known – no.8

Yesterday afternoon, on our way home from Edinburgh, the delightful assistants and I called into Loch Leven’s Larder near Kinross for afternoon tea.

During the drive I had been considering the possible scone options that might greet us on arrival. They usually have four varieties to choose from: plain, fruit, cheese and a daily special. I nearly always go for the special, and I was curious to know what it might be.

We arrived a little before 15:00 to find that the fruit scones had sold out. That left plain, cheese and the special which, on this occasion, was billed as ‘plum drizzle’. Having had a ‘drizzle’ scone here before I knew that it came with icing on top. On the whole, I prefer my scones without icing, but I did like the sound of the plums.

When we put in our order (breakfast tea and slices of summer berry pie for the assistants; ginger chai tea for me along with the plum drizzle scone) I was informed by the waitress that the scone was, in fact, cherry and not plum. Delightful assistant no.2 had suggested as much when he’d gone up to the cake counter to investigate the options and seen the scones for himself.

Cherry scones tend to be sweeter than most other varieties and so I briefly wondered if the added icing was enough to put me off. ‘I’m not sure if it is cherry actually,’ said the waitress. ‘Not to worry,’ said I, boldly. ‘Whatever it is, I’ll have it.’

When the scone arrived at the table there was an extra element of excitement involved in the proceedings. Was it cherry, or was it in fact plum? Going by this picture, what would you think?

mystery scone

If you said plum, I can inform you that you’re 100% spot on. There wasn’t a single cherry in that scone, but there were plenty of pieces of moist fresh plum.

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The heaviest bit of the treat was the icing; the scone itself was light, fluffy and utterly delicious.

In case you’re interested in what the summer berry pie looked like, here it is without cream, as consumed by delightful assistant no.2 (who is very good about watching his cholesterol).

summer berry pie sans cream

And here’s the other piece, as consumed by delightful assistant no.1 (who, when it comes to cream, takes full advantage of her daily prescription of statins).

summer berry pie avec cream

East Neuk treasures

A few days ago, on a beautifully sunny morning, delightful assistant no.1 and I tootled off to the Fife coast.

We made first for Crail, a small fishing village in the East Neuk (‘neuk’ is a Scots word for ‘corner’, referring in this case to the north-east corner of the county of Fife).

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Crail harbour

Sitting on a bench watching people enjoying the small sandy bay next to the harbour, we felt as as if we were on our holidays.

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As with the village of Culross, which lies at the western end of the county, Crail is full of interesting buildings that have been very nicely restored by the National Trust for Scotland.

Crail house with flowers

Crail houses

Crail building near harbour

Quite a few of those near the harbour are holiday cottages available to rent, such as this one with the unusual name of ‘Peppers’.

Peppers

Across the road from Peppers is a small house squeezed in between two taller ones. Curiously, it appears to have two front doors, one above the other.

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The nameplate above the lower door reads ‘Lobster Cottage’. Very fittingly, above the topmost door, two lobsters cling to the panelling around a dormer window.

Lobsters

Like the other East Neuk villages, Crail is known for its seafood and there is a fish and chip shop in the main street that was doing a roaring trade when we went there for lunch.

Delightful assistant no.1 ordered a small portion of breaded haddock with chips and peas, and I ordered the battered version.

Shortly after we arrived, a group of foreigners sat down at the next table. When the waiter came to take their order they asked him to explain the difference between breaded and battered fish. He did his best, but because of the language barrier it was difficult for them to understand. We offered our plates to them for inspection, which appeared to assist them in their decision making.

breaded haddock

Breaded haddock: white fish coated in breadcrumbs and grilled.

battered haddock

Battered haddock: white fish coated in batter and fried.

After lunch we enjoyed a leisurely mooch around the village before heading for our next refreshment stop, a coffee shop called Simpatica in the village of Kingsbarns a few miles away. It had an attractive postbox outside it.

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The left hand side of the building contained a few tables, while the right hand side was given over to an antique shop.

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After resisting the temptation to buy a small bookcase in the shop, we sidled over to the coffee shop and inspected its wares.

Delightful assistant no.1 plumped for a pot of English Breakfast tea and a slice of fruit loaf.

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I chose a bit of nutty ginger chocolate traybake and a pot of Lady Grey tea.

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The china was of the mismatched vintage variety, and I was fortunate to get an abundantly floral teacup and saucer.

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Still feeling quite well filled after lunch, I had thought I might wrap up some of my cake to take home. Somehow or other, however, it completely vanished in the tearoom.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a tearoom on this blog, not because I haven’t been to any recently but because it’s been some time since I’ve been to a particularly good one. I’m delighted to say that Simpatica got a big thumbs up from me and my delightful assistant, and we’re looking forward to another visit.

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Intriguing sights no.10

I was walking along a street in the seaside town of Arbroath recently, when I passed a front door that had an unusual protuberance near the bottom of it.

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On closer inspection, it appeared to be a dispensary of medicinal liquid.

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I didn’t try it out but I felt reassured by its presence.

Tesco Finest Swiss dark chocolate with peppermint

Earlier this year I had the idea of trying at least 52 different chocolate treats, one for each week of the year. Somehow or other this fine aim has been overlooked and I’ve been very remiss when it comes to chocolate consumption.

I was thinking about this as I wandered along the confectionery aisle of my local Tesco supermarket this morning, when a special offer caught my eye. Their Tesco Finest Swiss dark chocolate with peppermint was reduced from £1.50 to £1, suggesting that the time was ripe for trying it out.

Tesco dark mint chocolate bar

Tesco do a range of Swiss chocolate bars, but I’ve always been slightly dubious about them. I think I assumed that the word ‘Swiss’ was included on the wrapper purely as an advertising gimmick, and I tend to think of Swiss chocolate as being too creamy and sweet for my taste. However, I do like the packaging on the range.

When I opened it up, the inside of the packet held two unexpected points of interest: the real reason for the bars being marketed as ‘Swiss’, and a little clock motif printed as a background.

Swiss bar inside

The bars are in fact made in Switzerland, which is about as good a reason as I can think of for calling them Swiss.

The outside of the packet told me that the bar contained 5 servings. Inside, there were ten slim chunks, making two such chunks one serving.

one servingI was slightly surprised by the blurb on the back of the pack, which included the word ‘sweet’ to describe the contents.

sweet

I don’t know if this conditioned me to expect a particularly sweet taste, but I did find it to be sweeter than expected for dark chocolate. I would certainly agree that it had a refreshingly minty flavour, and it undoubtedly had a chocolatey taste, but it seemed to me that the sweetness outweighed the taste of cocoa.

choc piecesTo get a second opinion, I asked Delightful Assistant no.2 for his assistance. I gave him a piece of the bar and asked him to describe his impressions as he ate it. He chomped through it with his eyes closed, deep in concentration, and came up with the following words:

“Flavoursome, mellow, satisfying, slightly minty, creamy. I really enjoyed it and it’s certainly not bitter.”

He didn’t use the word ‘sweet’ but he did use the word ‘creamy’, which struck me as an unusual adjective to employ when describing dark chocolate. Perhaps the relatively low 55% cocoa solids would account for it.

Next I tried it out on Delightful Assistant no.2, and these were her thoughts:

“Pepperminty, smooth, about the right kind of sweetness. I feel it sort of sticks to my mouth.”

Like her spouse, she didn’t find it overly sweet.

All in all, I don’t regret splashing out £1 for this chocolate bar, but I’m not sure I’d buy it again. Making the most of the special offer, I purchased two other bars in the Swiss range, which have yet to be investigated.

two more

Lorna’s Pics

I don’t know if there’s a medical term to describe the condition an individual develops when they feel compelled to keep starting new blogs, but if there is it should probably go on my medical notes.

My newest blog is called Lorna’s Pics. I aim to post a daily photograph with a paragraph of text (around 100 words, similar to the length of this post). So far I’ve managed to post every day (I only started it yesterday).

If you’re ever bored and needing something to look at and read for a few moments, please do pop by.

Thank you very much.

Scottish 2016 Calendars for sale

Roll up, roll up, get your 2016 Scottish calendars here (or, rather, on ebay).

Scotland 2016 calendar cover

A4 size, wire bound at the top with a hanging hook.

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13 bonnie Scottish scenes (one per month plus an extra one on the front) to brighten up your wall throughout the year.

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Big clear numbers for easy reading at a distance.

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£10* a pop (plus postage).

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*I’m sorry they’re so expensive for what is quite a small calendar. The larger the quantity I ordered from the printers the lower the price per item, but I was wary of making the same mistake I made with my tearoom book (ordering far too many), so I played it safe with a small order.

On the up side, each calendar is accompanied by a four page information document, giving a bit of background about the locations photographed.

calendar and notes

A free teabag is also included with every calendar. You can choose from Earl Grey (blended black tea flavoured with oil of bergamot and lemon) or Bold Kenyan (a bold and earthy black tea grown in Kenya), or leave it entirely up to chance and get a surprise when it arrives through the post.

teabags

Delivery worldwide by Royal Mail (1st or 2nd class within the UK; airmail or economy to the rest of the world).

Intriguing sights no.9

There are many uses for old British telephone boxes that no longer house public telephones.

One of my earlier intriguing sights (no.3) was a phonebox that had been turned into a lending library.

Today, as I was driving through the village of Spittalfield in Perthshire, I saw another box being used in quite a different way.

phonebox Spittalfield

As you can perhaps make out, it contained foliage of some sort.

When I opened the door I was greeted with the pleasing sight of burgeoning tomato plants in pots sitting on the floor of the phonebox.

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An old phonebox turned into a greenhouse.