There is a rather wonderful tearoom in Edinburgh called Eteaket.
I had been wanting to visit this place for ages and I finally got round to it a couple of weeks ago when I popped down to the city.
A chum and I were lunching there, and although I was looking forward to my grub I found it hard to give my attention to the food menu because the tea menu stole the show.
When the waitress came to take our order I think she mistook my delight for confusion when I told her that I was spoilt for choice and not sure which tea to go for.
She was keen to help and asked me what sort of tea I liked so that she could offer some suggestions, but my answer (‘I like all these teas’) probably didn’t assist her much. In any case, I had already whittled down my options to a handful and was simply trying to choose between these.
Under a little pressure from the helpful waitress (who was in fact providing a very useful service) I jumped to the quick conclusion that it was their Bollywood Dreams Chai I was after.
It was delivered to the table in a yellow teapot, while my chum’s choice of Awesome Assam came in a red one:
The little egg timer that came with the teas told us when a 3 minute steeping time was up. Being desirous of a strong cup, I left it a little longer and shoogled my tealeaves about a bit before pouring.
I’ve tried quite a few versions of what they call chai tea in the UK, i.e. a black tea with various spices such as cardamom, black pepper, cloves and ginger added to it, but I don’t think I’ve ever had such a full bodied and complex-flavoured one as Eteaket’s Bollywood Dreams.
Chai tea, as I first came to know it in Pakistan, was a thick, creamy and usually very sweet concotion. The whole caboodle was boiled up together: black tea, buffalo milk, sugar and all the spices that went into it. It was like the Guinness of teas, a veritable meal in itself.
I took the Bollywood Dreams chai black with no sugar to start off with, to see how I liked it. I liked it so much that way that I didn’t even try adding milk or sugar, and drank the whole pot black and invigorating.
To munch alongside my tea, I chose a cheese and tomato croissant.
I had in my mind a fluffy French pastry, puffed up with air, crisp on the outside and stretchy and delicious inside, with a nice bit of cheese and some tomato resting gently inside.
Much to my amusement, what arrived looked as if it had slipped onto the kitchen floor and been trodden on by a large boot:
This was infintely more exciting than what I had been anticipating. I’m extremely partial to a toastie, and a toasted croissant, no matter how flat, was an unexpected highlight.
I wish I had a photograph of the flattest toastie I’ve ever had, which was a sheer joy I experienced once at Dawyck Botanic Gardens. It made this croissant look like a balloon by comparison.
On tasting, I discovered that my squashed croissant was utterly delicious, and the salady items it was served up with were tip-top. I was particularly pleased with the couscous which came as plain little grains in a mound with nothing else in it.
My companion had a cheese and ham sandwich, which came untoasted but with the same sorts of salady accoutrements:
Having devoured a chocolate and almond scone before lunch and then filled up nicely with the flat croissant, I didn’t indulge in a sweet treat at Eteaket. My comrade did, however, succumb to a cream scone, which I wished I had room for. The cream and jam came in little jars packed to the gunwales:
The Devonshire method was employed: cream first, with jam on top:
Somehow or other I managed not to even taste this scone. Despite being offered a bite more than once, I persisted in declining the kind offer. I was told it was exceptionally good and looking at the photographs now I find myself questioning my decision. However, being of the general opinion that hanging onto regrets serves little purpose, I have been endeavouring to accept it and move on.
One thing I like to see in bathrooms is a spare loo roll or two, and I was delighted to note that the Ladies’ facility at Eteaket was very well equipped:
My chum wanted to pop into the Lyon & Turnbull auction rooms to have a look at a paperweight he was thinking of buying, and so we trotted down there after lunch, passing some of Edinburgh’s beautiful Georgian architecture on the way.
One of the items on display in the auction house was an enormous stuffed white dog in a glass case, and there were several media people there with a real live dog, trying to get the real dog to look at the stuffed one.
Try as they might, tempting the dog with treats, things suspended above the glass case, etc. the little dog seemed interested in looking everywhere but at the stuffed dog.
By sheer chance, I happened to lift my camera and snap a picture at the exact moment the small dog complied with their wishes. My picture was zoomed in from the other side of the room so it’s a bit fuzzy and not the best of compositions, but this appeared to be the only occasion on which the wee one looked at the big one. I trust the photographers were pressing their buttons at the vital moment.