Eden Project, Cornwall 05-2021

After a pasty lunch, it was time to wander through the giant geodomes of the Eden Project. The tropical humidity meant that the exit past the Eden extraordinary icecream store was tactically positioned.

Even though I didn't necessary want an icecream, the unusual flavour of Coconut, baobab and pineapple (top scoop in the photo, can't remember what the bottom one was) appealed to me and so it turned into a must. It had a very minimal (if any) coconut flavour, pineapple and what I assume was a sweet tartness from the baobab. It is difficult to remember specifically several months on but I do recall enjoying it and even considering purchasing a bag of baobab powder from their gift shop later. But as we were leaving the UK soon, it didn't seem like the best idea.

The Cornish Bakery, Tintagel 05-2021

What would a Cornwall visit be without a pasty? I adore pasties and the thick crusted Cornish versions are simply the best. I spent a good amount of time on Google researching where the best ones were to be found, and came up with names such as Over The Top, Ann's and Sarah's. Unfortunately with limited time and great distance across the region, it became more of a matter of finding what was nearby than dedicatedly seeking them out.

The first was upon arrival to Exeter and a little meander in town. It was the Cornish Bakehouse with it's "award winning" sign. And yes it was a good one to start the trip off. Next was at the Eden Project foodcourt and similarly was nice too. This last one was a welcome sign walking toward Tintagel Castle and making a mental note of the lovely location and the "Voted World's Best Cornish Pasty" notice at the front. I'm not sure who the votes were from, but it was enough to pique my Cornish pasty curiosity and hunger to have one more before driving back toward Exeter train station.

I couldn't go past the Award Winning Traditional and it was the best of the lot, with a crisp but also buttery case and a delicious meat and chunky vegetable core. If it wasn't for the queue forming outside, I would have been tempted to go for another. The scone with clotted cream was also a smooth soft delight. But all hail the pasty.

Lanivet Inn, Bodmin 05-2021

Given the reputation for The Mariner's being one of the best pubs in the UK, I really wanted to eat there. Unfortunately given it was the weekend that indoor dining started it had been fully booked well in advance. There were outdoor tables saved for walk-ins but I wouldn't expect it would be easy to get this under the circumstances, particularly with decent weather. And it was a reasonable drive from the accommodation so going there off the cuff wasn't likely to be fruitful.

Instead we somehow came up with Lanivet Inn, more from a Google search than anything else. And even though it's located on a busy looking road, it was still a quiet evening in Cornwall.

We were tucked at the back area in a nice little corner.

- Seafood jambalaya (traditional jambalaya with monkfish, salmon, cod, mussels, prawns) £14.95 - I didn't realise this would come with rice. It was a huge serving of warming broth and bits of seafood. I hoped for mussels as good as in St. Ives, but these were more standard;
- Baked crab au gratin (white crab meat, cheese sauce, baked in its shell, parmesan crust, served with salad and buttered new potatoes) £14.95 - not too bad but didn't have as strong a crab flavour as hoped;
- Chunky chips £3.7 - a tiny serve for the price but the chips themselves were really excellent, perfectly crisp and seasoned;
- Sticky toffee pudding - can't remember the price, but it was a warm sweet delicious thing.

A pleasant dinner enjoying some of Cornwall's seafood. I wouldn't specifically go back here but if in the area would be happy to stop again.

Caffe Pasta & Pizzeria, St. Ives 05-2021

In Cornwall's most famous, most expensive and possibly most beautiful town, it was a busy weekend and with restaurants only just opening from lockdown most places were full. It only left a few options of joining some short queues at these fine looking and oil smelling fish 'n' chipperies, or grabbing a lucky outside table along the windy but sunny scenic walkway. Views of the tucked away ocean alcove and people walking along the low tide beach made for a pleasant setting.

- Crab & prawn pasta bake (local crab, prawns, penne pasta, parmesan crust) £13.95 - tasty dish with little bits of crab meat, some prawns and a whole lot of cheese;
- Steamed mussels mariniere, St. Ives Bakery bread £9.5 - big juicy mussels that really filled the shell. Better than I expected.

A nice meal in a nice setting and lucky didn't have to wait for a table, albeit it 17.45pm on a Sunday.

Maki & Ramen, Edinburgh 05-2021

With very little time to spare between returning the rental car and taking the train back to London, the fastest/delicious recommended nearby food was ramen. Luckily it was a delicious one with nice thick pork broth that translated well into a takeaway train meal. Hell ramen (chilli broth, cha siu, soft boiled egg, greens) £12.5 and Tonkotsu (pork bone broth, cha siu, soft boiled egg, greens) £11.9 hit the spot nicely. It's also good to see a place in the UK that includes (half an) egg rather than always having to pay an extra £1-2 for it.

The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant, Aviemore 05-2021

With last orders at 19.30, it was fortunate that we were staying here, managed to score an outdoor table (since they didn't allow any indoor dining) and order directly from a waitress as their website didn't list the menu items we wanted. Despite it being a cold and intermittently heavily raining evening, the thrill of dining again and the outdoor heaters made it more pleasant.

- Cullen skink (traditional Scottish soup, creamed smoked haddock, potatoes, onions) £8.95
- Parmesan crusted chicken schnitzel (breaded parmesan crusted chicken breast served with side salad, herb butter, fries) £15.95 - it looked incredible and seeing other tables receive theirs is what made us order it. Just look at that crust, melted glistening butter and oil. It tasted good too which was naturally essential;
- Sunday roast beef with trimmings - given it was a Sunday I was torn between the schnitzel (managed to try someone else) and the Sunday roast. It was cooked through but still pretty tender with some lovely potatoes too.

The morning had a breakfast included, and their full breakfast( an egg, sausage, bacon, black pudding, haggis, smoked salmon, potato scone, tomato, mushroom, beans) certainly had everything you could possibly want (maybe other than tatties).

I can't imagine that I'd be in the area again as even if I returned to the Cairngoorms I'd probably try elsewhere. But if fate should deem it so, I'm coming back for the schnitzel.

Lochcarron Hotel 05-2021

Oddly enough it was very very difficult to find somewhere to eat for lunch along the drive from Torridon to Cairngorm. I suppose we had a late breakfast and checkout and so by the time we were hungry, places were closed (or not open during the quiet period even though it was a Bank Holiday Sunday). Parking next to the Lochcarron, we spotted this hotel which looked very closed from the outside. When we entered, we were the only 4 diners (at 4pm) and it appeared noone had been a guest there for a while...

They may even have fired up the kitchen just for us!

It was a simple pub menu including a decent steak & ale "pie" (a lovely stew with reasonably tender meat chunks with a pastry puff on top) and some local scampi.

Bo & Muc, Torridon 05-2021

Although not strictly in Torridon (it's in Achnasheen), it is located at The Torridon hotel where the stables are. They are the Gaellic words for pig and cow (vs. in Vietnamese where they are the words for beef and squid funnily enough) and the adorably fluffy Highland cattle can be seen right outside grazing away happily.

Given Scotland's newly opened travel, there weren't many options for dinner nearby but it was an available affordable place, that was happy to have us (even though we were supposed to leave by 8pm and were not allowed to drink alcohol inside). After the very long 7-8 hike up Beinn Alligin it was lovely to be able to sit inside and enjoy a meal.

- Sourdough, whipped butter, olives £4 - wouldn't normally have ordered this especially considering we had burgers but I think we were just so hungry. From memory it was nice spongy and seasoned;
- Highland beef burger (caramelised onion, gherkins, Isle of Mull cheddar, fries) £16 - it may seem counterintuitive to adore the cows and then eat one, but I wanted to try it just to know. It was served medium and was reasonable although I would have preferred a thicker patty. Honestly couldn't tell a difference between this and other beef, but I suppose that was unlikely to be the case with a patty;
- Aubergine burger (applewood smoked cheese, tomato sauce, parmesan, basil) £16 - a nice crumbed patty although would have been nice with a bit of salad in there;
- Sticky toffee pudding, vanilla icecream £8.5 - sweet, soft, hot, delicious.

Overall an adequate meal like a gastropub in a pleasant setting. The outdoor areas where people were drinking and watching the cows and scenery over the lake would be particularly lovely in normal times.

Lochinver Larder, Lochinver 04-2021

After a morning seeing the stunning (cold) blue waters of Achmelvich Bay, we passed back through Lochinver before the long scenic drive to Torridon (or Annat to be precise).

The eating options in Lochinver are sparse at the best of items I suspect and the larder's reviews for pies meant my eye was in well in advance. And after a series of convincing statements, encouraged the party to go there.

Because of the outdoor dining area close to the mouth of Loch Inver, we could get a socially distanced takeaway and still have a picnic-style table to enjoy our meals. Pies were cheap £5.95. I was a bit torn between steak & ale classic, venison cranberry, and savoury lamb.

In the end I chose the more mountainous venison & cranberry, which pleasantly had nice chunks of meat and a reasonably buttery pastry. A good pie, and even though not the best I've had, I could have had a second...

The Mustard Seed, Inverness 04-2021

We were making a very (very) long drive from Perth to Lochinver on a Thursday afternoon before the May bank holiday weekend and with the journey to take 7 hours, we needed a good break in between around dinner time. Although I was much less keen for a long sitdown (given our journey time and late arrival), I was overruled by the 3 passengers and we ended up in the little outskirts of Inverness along the River Ness.

The Mustard Seed has excellent Google ratings (4.5 from >1000), an available table booking, and also an early evening menu if you are there before 6.30pm. We sat down around 6.25pm or so and the waitress was only too happy to let us have the deal even though we didn't order for another 15mins. 2 courses for £14.95 is a really good price.

- Grilled local haggis with fig & caramelised onion relish, Arran mustard dressing & rocket salad - a fancy haggis in a black pudding form, finely spiced, crisp exterior and much nicer than the usual;
- Chicken, gammon & button mushroom pie topped with parmesan mash & served with braised leeks & cabbage - unconventional without the pastry, but the parmesn crusted top was full of flavour. The chunky meaty filling was good too.

Bellies full and onward to the sunset at Ullapool and then to sleep in Lochinver.