We’re Exploring: Home From Across the Pond

Edinburgh Castle

I am going to work backwards, as a portion of the photos from the beginning of my trip across the pond were mysteriously erased and I am desperately hoping that the magic camera shop in HIghland Park Village can recover them….so we will start the story of my trip at the end with the few days spent in Scotland….which may also be appropriate as it is my heritage and most fitting for the purpose of this story.

When I was a young girl my grandmother decided that my sister, cousin and I would participate in the First Annual McClelland Olympics.  This was also the year of the Los Angeles Olympics, so it only seemed fitting.  My favorite and best category, outside of poker (I do love wild cards) was the essay competition.  I actually did win this gold prize for my essay on our exciting trip to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where I didn’t discuss the mystique of the old Crescent Hotel, or the glory of The Passion Play, or the beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Thorncrown Chapel.  No, I described the town of Eureka through food and all the places my grandmother, Doris, had us stop along the way…..there may have been mention of a cave or two as well as Doris loved to throw us into a cave exploration while she sat in the car and read her book.

So, I will take the same route for my adventure in Edinburgh, with a slight twist, by highlighting the magnificent things to see in this great city…but more importantly instead of everywhere I ate along the way, this is everywhere I drank along the way as I embraced the “when in Rome” attitude.

After 7 days driving around the beautiful countryside of Ireland I was ready to have one place to explore for a few days, and what better than the hub of my heritage, Edinburgh, Scotland.

I am blessed to have Scottish roots on both sides with both the Hamilton from my father and the McClelland, or MacLellan, from my mother.  There is an air to Edinburgh that makes me feel at home instantly.  I get this on my next stop as well.  I check into the beautiful, Old World, Caledonian Hotel just across from St. John’s Church with a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle.

I had booked a modest, one person twin room…traveling by myself I didn’t need much.  To my delight my Scottish luck hit with a grand, king size suite with a view of the castle from all windows.  (It could have been my Hilton status that made this happen….but I am going to say it was my Scottish luck.)

St. John's Church
Usher Performance Hall
The terrace at Oloroso looking out at Edinburgh Castle

First stop, Oloroso…a hip roof top restaurant and bar that both our buddy Jay Liddell, The Macallan Scotch Ambassador and former Royal Chef, Darren McGrady, told me I had to go to and just 5 blocks away.

It is early, but foggy….in a matter of minutes a thick fog took over the city….so Scottish.  I pop in to Oloroso for a glass of white Rioja and step outside to their terrace overlooking the city to review my map to get a lay of the land.

I liked Oloroso, the view was simply amazing there was a great vibe in the air and a good after work crowd enjoying their creative cocktails….

But the staff was a bit overly confident and my bartender short-changed me on my tab then hurumped when I questioned.  I had planned on having dinner there but the bartender experience led me to just enjoy my wine and venture out to find my next spot.

As I walk down Rose Street from Oloroso I am inundated with ideas for dinner….an interesting “authentic” Mexican restaurant, lots of Indian options, a tasty looking Spanish tapas spot and pub after pub promoting great Scotch or beer specials with hearty pub fair, but I have just come from a week of drinking beer in Ireland and I  am focused on finding a good glass of wine to pair with a plate of Scottish smoked salmon.

After walking through the theater district I spy a wine bar down a flight of stairs, under what looks like a private home, Whighams Wine Cellars.

Adorable, especially the line of individual cubbies on either side of the bar down a few more steps inside, just large enough to fit a romantic couple sipping a glass and whispering sweet nothings.

The wine list was interesting.  (I am always fascinated by what kind of wine appears where across different parts of the world, and to see how prices may vary.  It was surprising to see a bottle of Yellow Tail in Dublin would have cost you about 13 Euro…that would translate to about $20.)

My  friends with Chateau St. Michelle would be happy with the list at Whighams because their Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were the only two American wines on the list, which was otherwise heavy in Chilean, South African and Australian wine….only a few French, Spanish or Italian selections by the glass.  Everything is served in either half pours (175 ml) or full pours (250 ml) also.

I order a half pour of a Sur Lie Muscadet from Loire, France, Domaine des Dorices.  Big melon flavors with a creamy texture from the Sur Lie aging.  Perfect paired with an appetizer of smoked salmon, with the smokey fish bringing out some of the mineral characteristics in the wine.  Over my next glass of Ill Faggio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo I really observe the room.  Lots of girlfriends sipping bottles of bubbly; pre-theater couples having a bite before their show; and friends gathering to share stories over a glass.  Needless to say, I felt right at home.

I retire to prepare for my next day of sight seeing….walking the Royal Mile to Holyrood House Castle.  Can’t Wait!!


    • Thanks for the childhood memories! And order me a glass of wine…you made me feel as if I were there with you.


  1. This was a wonderful walk down memory lane. It took me back to when I was in Edinburgh and Scotland in general. I too felt an instant connection with our homeland. Beautifully written.


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