I would hate being a tour guide.
I’m not very good at wrangling ferrets, aka people, and my voice is too quiet.
They’d be sure to ask me questions, and I’d get the sudden blankness, which is one of the many unfortunate symptoms of being me.
I don’t like telling folk what to do, so they’d all be chatting, getting lost and drunk. I’d end up walking off and abandoning them in the roughest part of the city. Lawsuits would ensue.
Despite this, I would like to walk around holding a little flag. Just because.
Karly Zagorac obviously has the skills, possibly partly because she used to work as a high-school teacher. If she can control teens, she can command tourists. She runs A Wee Taste of Edinburgh, which launched in 2019, and does food tours of the capital.
Back in the summer, she also opened this restaurant, which could always expand to become a cafe, A Wee Cup of Tea (“you will, you will, you will”, as Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle would say); a furniture shop, A Wee Sit Down; a counselling service, A Wee Blether, or even public toilets (I don’t need to tell you what they’d be called).
It’s in a handy Tollcross spot, for those visiting The King’s Theatre, and they serve grazing boards.
In the times of stratospheric energy price rises, minimal cooking seems like a good business plan, though they will bake a camembert.
We visited for lunch, and were the only diners apart from another table for two, though I suppose it’s customary for cheese o’clock to be later, and this place does stay open until 10pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
As well as extras, like a Scotch egg, choose from Cheese, Vegan, Meat or Brunch boards, available as single helpings or to share for two to three people.
We went for the shared Meat and Cheese version (£37, or £18.50 for an individual). We’re quite good at sharing, like Jack Sprat and his wife, except for the fact that he’s fussy about cheese. I prefer the feral and blue stuff, he’s phobic when it comes to anything too stinky. Thus, we had to have a confab with Karly about the fromage. Usually, the trio she chooses is a surprise, but we got a preview.
There was a little bit of Elrick Log, from Errington, for me, and the other two were ones that he wouldn’t squirm at - a slice of St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company Cheddar, and a bit of Connage Gouda.
They were presented as part of a cornucopia. We did wonder why it took a while for the food to come, but they must have been assembling this creation, which looked like a Dutch still life painting from the 19th century. There were pink edible flowers, olives, strawberries, mixed nuts, eight octagonal crackers, bits of orange for half time, Aye Pickled Beetroot Slaw and some of their mango and chilli chutney, gherkins, grapes, blackberries, blueberries, Miller’s Cranberry and Raisin Toasts, and three types of sliced meat - a couple of leaves of speck, half a dozen pieces of a tissue thin musky venison salami and a fennel-seed-flecked one. On the side, was a basket of sourdough slices from La Barantine, which is just across the road, and a blob of Edinburgh Butter Company’s wares.
This was a well curated nibble fest, and we felt like two mice that had been allowed free reign of the pantry. However, as some of the additions were wet and everything was heaped together, there was the occasional soggy cracker. Also, we’d have preferred fewer black olives and more cheese, but such is life. You can’t have all the cheese, or your arteries would be running like a claggy orange river.
For pudding there’s The Desserts One (£7.75 for one, £15.50 to share), which features traybakes, brownies and blondies from West Lothian based business, Baked by Pippa, and fresh fruit. We got it to take-away. It turns out that the non-sitting-in version isn't such a beautiful assemblage. There wasn’t any fruit (or flowers) - just the traybakes, in two metal dishes. They were great though, especially a magnificent rocky road, which isn’t usually my favourite genre, as well as a gummy Nutella brownie, a peanut butter and jelly blondie, and dark chocolate millionaire’s shortbread with a lavishly thick caramel layer.
We rationed these cakes out over a few days, and they kept us nicely productive at work. I hope that the word factory foreman will read this.
If I was a tour guide, I’d say this is the place to go for an introductory showcase of Scottish goodies.
It’s a great wee idea.
36 Leven Street
(0131 228 2734, www.aweetaste.co.uk)