Hidden Gems Food for thought Producing high quality food that is among the best in the world, Scotland is a haven for foodies. We guide you through what Edinburgh and the surrounding areas have to offer.

From its exquisite seafood and wild game, to its famed whisky and Aberdeen Angus beef, Scotland is blessed with a wonderful natural larder, which is in high demand across the globe. Boasting some of Scotland’s tastiest restaurants, farmers’ markets, festivals and cookery schools, Edinburgh and the Lothians is a popular region for foodies. We recommend five essential things to do that will have any food lover excited.

Farmers' market
Farmers' Market

Buy local produce fresh from the farm

Renowned for its high-quality produce, the Edinburgh Farmers Market is the country's largest of its kind, attracting crowds of locals and tourists alike. Every Saturday on Castle Terrace, beneath the looming presence of Edinburgh Castle, more than 55 producers gather to sell everything from boar to venison and homemade tablet to porridge bars. Much smaller, but equally as impressive, is the farmers market in Stockbridge. Independent traders sell a range of tempting goods, including chili jam, paella and cupcakes, to a busy crowd every Sunday.


Sample the 'Water of Life' at a distillery

Near Edinburgh Castle, the Scotch Whisky Experience traces the history of Scotland's national drink from its early roots to the global success it is today. The tour begins with a barrel ride through a replica distillery followed by a special tutored nosing and tasting of an assortment of regional whiskies. If you would prefer to have a wee dram in a working distillery, Glenkinchie Distillery and Visitors Centre is only a short drive from the city centre, located in the picturesque farmlands of East Lothian. Home of The Edinburgh Malt, the distillery was established in 1837, and visitors can enjoy a guided tour and comprehensive exhibition that is situated on the original malting floors.


Pick up tips at
a cooking class

If you are a budding amateur cook, or would simply like to brush-up your culinary skills, there is a selection of cookery schools to choose from in the capital. Edinburgh New Town Cookery School has a range of courses available for all abilities, and with spectacular views across the Firth of Forth, it is a beautiful place to cook. Once an 18th century coach house, Edinburgh School of Food and Wine also provides a spectacular setting in which to learn from the experts. There are evening classes, plus workshops including cocktail masterclasses and wine tastings. And last but not least is the Cook School by Martin Wishart, which is close to the historic port of Leith. You will learn new techniques and how to select the finest ingredients whilst cooking in small, informal classes that cater to all levels and interests.

Fine dining
Photo: Luighi Di Pasquale, 21212

Experience the very best in fine dining

Edinburgh is undoubtedly the star of Scotland when it comes Michelin-starred restaurants. It is home to five in total and holds more Michelin-stars than any other part of the UK outside of London. Martin Wishart's eponymously named restaurant kick-started it all and gave Edinburgh its first Michelin star in 2001. Close to Wishart's fine establishment is Tom Kitchin's restaurant, The Kitchin, which serves up seasonal produce drawing on Scotland's rich larder. Away from Leith, Number One in the city's eminent Balmoral Hotel serves innovative dishes with flair. Nearby, 21212, which is the brainchild of Paul Kitching, presents a simpler take on fine dining - diners choose from a set menu of five courses. The newest addition to Edinburgh's delicious repertoire is Castle Terrace, where Chef Dominic Jack cooks up modern British cuisine using French techniques.


Celebrate Scotland's natural larder at a food festival

Given its reputation for culinary delights, Edinburgh has become a magnet for food and drinks festivals. One of the UK's largest celebrations of epicureanism, the Foodies Festival returns to the capital from 9-11 August. Now in its seventh year, the Festival based in Inverleith Park features a wealth of artisan producers, live demonstrations by Michelin-starred chefs and a new chocolate theatre, where the audience can sample delectable treats. The Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, which takes place from the 7-22 September, is another opportunity for like-minded foodies to champion the country's natural larder. Participants last year included farm shops, restaurants and visitor attractions, who all held events such as tastings, foraging days, cooking classes and farm tours to celebrate the Fortnight. More than 210 events were held in 2012, and organisers are hoping for 2013 to be even bigger.