I really wish I was back in Edinburgh, as MGG and I had an amazing time there last year. As well as incredible shows, from dance to circus, drama to Zombie science, we managed to fit in some great eating, food shopping and space for one or two kitchen mementos.
If you’re going to be there for any amount of time, then you might want to check out a few of these, or just need something to ponder on as you eat and dash between shows.
Whilst this was a Christmas post, in Buy Them Experiences Not Things I talk about the great food walking tour that we did. Definitely recommend this for getting to taste some great food and discover some places a little more off the beaten track.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably know that MGG and I have been in Edinburgh, enjoying lots of Fringe shows, a night at the Tattoo and some great food in great places. These were some of our favourites:
Peter’s Yard Cafe – I’ve written before about how much I like Peter’s Yard crispbreads. Well, now we can add that we love their cafe too. So much, we went twice. I loved my sweet potato hummus with roasted peppers on walnut bread the first time, and a cardamom bun and good coffee the next time. I’d move to Edinburgh just for this being my local caff!
Eat Walk Edinburgh – we did a great walking tour, combining food tastings and a bit of a history lesson of the lower part of the Royal Mile. MGG tried haggis for the first time, and liked it. I had Edinburgh Gin, but I knew already I liked that. We stopped in at Cranachan & Crowdie, which I thought was a great store. We came back to buy the venison chorizo that had been in the tasting, and added a few more things too. Very tempting store!
The Crafter’s Barn – we had a late but relaxed lunch here, as we were both a bit footsore and a bit tired from dashing between shows. We were both well revived by the beetroot, bacon and blue cheese pizza (now added to our Friday night make at home pizza repertoire). I was well revived by my first ever beer cocktail, a Tin Tin. Which also had more Edinburgh Gin in it. And arrived in a teapot. Which you drank it from. Looked dodgy, tasted great! (UPDATE: Sadly, this place has now changed hands, such a shame)
One final one that I don’t have any photos from but definitely deserves a mention is Social Bite on Rose Street. If I lived in Edinburgh I would have to split my coffee time between Peter’s Yard and here, because this is social enterprise at its best and serves darn good coffee, not to mention great porridge. Go, buy your breakfast, buy your lunch, and suspend a purchase or two for someone else.
We loved our time in Edinburgh, and certainly ate really well, with great variety. I’d go back tomorrow, but think my waistline and bank account need a few weeks off first!
You might think the answer to the question is “not much”, and I might have done too, apart from the insight from eavesdropping on a phone conversation! Well, not so much eavesdropping, this is an actor we are talking about, so each word beautifully enunciated from the table behind us.
This actor was from a two man show we’d seen earlier in the week, and from the biog this man has a “proper” job but is obviously looking to see if this might go full time. His comments to a mate back home made me laugh and reflect that plus ça change…well, see what you think!
Word of mouth hadn’t taken off – well, you know what? Sometimes it doesn’t. And quite often certainly not in two weeks, even at the biggest arts festival in the UK. I know when I’ve chatted to some producers at different shows it’s a bit the same, that there’s been no big order. Well, sometimes you have to do the graft. Which brings me to the next point.
It’s all down to the work we put in – when isn’t it? Even getting a lucky break is usually backed up by a lot of slog. Right time, right place maybe, but you have to have the right product, which probably means you’ve honed the product and its presentation over time.
It’s really tiring – when isn’t it? I am sure pitching their show every day to punters looking for tickets is knackering, but if they hadn’t done it we wouldn’t have gone to see the show, as it wasn’t on our radar. We’re not looking for you, whether you’re a show or a new food. You have to find us.
We’re living in a caravan – sometimes the Ritz (or, in Edinburgh’s case, perhaps the G&V) just has to wait. I can’t think of many food producers I know who are living it up in top hotels when they are out doing shows. It’s about where you put the investment, what’s really important to you.
There’s an agent coming tomorrow – maybe it’s a buyer from a big chain, maybe they’ll turn up, maybe they’ll order. Whatever, your product needs to be great every day, not just tomorrow. Because who says the big chain is the best thing? Who says that someone you have a conversation with today couldn’t just bring something really important to your business. Which brings me to the next point.
We have met some interesting people – a little more positive. Networking, sharing experience and skills, all of that can help build the business just as effectively, if not more sustainably, than one big break.
We’ve sold 85% of our tickets – I don’t know how you make money at Edinburgh, I can imagine it’s not a money spinner, in the same way I can see most of the big food shows may not be. There’s a lot of expense, but it’s about the exposure. And the networking. And maybe the lucky break. But 85% would seem like quite a good result to me, compared to a couple of shows we saw. Even Michael McIntyre had to begin somewhere, and that beginning is unlikely to be selling out Wembley. Likewise with food, you might start out at the East Midlands Food Festival, but you have to start somewhere.
I don’t know whether they will make the big time or not. Personally, I didn’t love the show, it was funny but not particularly clever. Or different. I certainly didn’t feel a need to see it again, and yet there are several shows that I would race back up for tonight (if you see Luke Kempner out on tour with The Only Way is Downton, that’s worth the ticket price, as is Beyond from Circa).
The same for me applies to food. I meet businesses all the time, sometimes with a really unique idea, though not so often. For the rest, there has to be a spark of something that makes them stand out. And then they have to deliver. And with food, as with theatre, you have to keep on delivering. You’re only as good as your last batch!