Monday, 20 February 2012

Edinburgh: A Valvona & Crolla picnic up on Calton Hill

Yesterday was one of those lovely crisp winter days where, despite a slightly fuzzy head, I was desperate to get out and enjoy some fresh air. It may have been bloody freezing and mighty windy, but there's something about Edinburgh in the sunshine that lifts my little heart. And so, a walk up Calton Hill was proposed.
On the way, we passed Valvona & Crolla. The Italian deli is an Edinburgh institution, having been owned by the Conti family since 1934 and expanding beyond their Elm Row location to include a rather tasty (and reasonably priced Ristorante and Coffee Bar on Multrees Walk, and a specialist Emporium in fellow institution Jenners.

I love Valvona & Crolla, although it bemuses me like no other food shop I've found. Think of a price, and double it. Or think of another one and add a tenner. No - really. We're talking £4 jars of jam, £10 balls of mozzarella, and £6 jars of olives. I'm unconvinced about whether the prices are worth it, I've bought the same pasta in Sainsburys for £1.50 which is on sale in V & C for £2.50, but the wonderful range of tasty treats is somewhat of a museum. Admittedly, the wine and bakery sections are reasonably priced, and the assistant working in the wine area at the back was friendly and helpful when I asked whether the restaurant wine list was available in store.

The service in V & C is not great. Mr FS and I had the misfortune of arriving at the meat counter just after another lady- one of those "we'll have a single slice of everything" types who takes forever. The lady on the meat counter spent a good 5 minutes serving her, while her colleague re-stocked on the cheese counter. Another couple wandered up to the cheese counter and she served them, before they carried over to the meat counter and bypassed us. Astonishingly for a busy deli, they only have one meat slicer. Annoyingly, this was only told to us after we'd been served (with no apology for the according wait). Their meat range is small - a couple of types of cured ham, Pastrami, Parma, and a rather tasty Mortadella which we decided would be marvellous in a sandwich with one of their fresh bread rolls.But it's the olives, roast vegetables and fritatta which are really delicious.

After spending a small fortune on a picnic (detailed below) we marched our way up the hill and perched on a bench to enjoy the views.
Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags
Leith and over to the Kingdom of Fife
The New Town
The National Monument
Nelson's Monument

We found a bench, looking over the city down towards the shore, and enjoyed a picnic...
 Mortadella ham roll...
 ...with crusty bread and one of the most beautiful views of the city
 Spinach and Ricotta Fritatta
 Chocolate brioche bun...
...never enough chocolate!

Gorgeous views and tasty food. A pretty good alternative to Sunday lunch.

We ate...
Spinach and ricotta fritatta - £1.50
Chocolate brioche - 99p
Rosetta bread roll - 99p
San Pellegrino Aranciata can - £1.15
2 slices of Mortadella £2.59
Total: £6.73

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