Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Edinburgh: cake and comedy

There are three loves in my life – cake, cats and comedy. I’ve spent the last five days and all my monies in Edinburgh indulging two of them (the cats didn’t want to come).

The Edinburgh Fringe is so jam-packed with comedy it’s like standing in front of a massive dessert trolley and being told you can only pick one thing. Ironically, it also has a huge number of cake shops. You need to choose carefully in order to avoid disappointment:
  • go to a venue that serves good quality stuff, like The Chocolate Tree or the Stand and you can’t really go wrong. I’d highly recommend the chocolate hazelnut tart or Tony Law
  • stick with something you already know you enjoy, like a chocolate brownie or Richard Herring. 
  • go with a classic, like fruit cake or Stewart Lee. Maybe not everybody's cup of tea but deeply satisfying if it's yours.
  • ask other people for recommendations, particularly other comedians who you like – without this I wouldn’t have found  the chocolate tiffin at Kilimanjaro Coffee Shop, or Markus Birdman, Celia Pacquola, Marek Larwood or Eddie Pepitone
  • if you simply can’t choose, go for one of those “three dessert” options or a sketch show like Pappys or The Three Englishmen
  • stick to your roots (Geordie in my case) and go for something local like a singing hinny or Seymour Mace, Gavin Webster or Simon Donald (OK I’ve made that up, I never saw hide nor hair of a singing hinny though there was Greggs, our proudest son)
  • remember that there are hundreds of Free Fringe shows, like Nick Doody or Trodd en Bratt. Picture that little biscuit that comes unbidden with a cup of coffee and remember to tip
  • there's also fun for all the family - everybody can enjoy a Victoria sponge, or Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and his Singing Tiger
  • avoid cupcakes.  A triumph of presentation over substance. The ridiculous hair topping does not compensate for the dull, slightly stale cake underneath
  • remain respectful – don’t shout on that your scone’s a bit dry or that you’re now so drunk you’ve lost your appetite for cake. You’ll be spoiling it for everyone else
  • don’t panic if what you want is sold out or padlocked, like the freezer full of Doddingtons ice cream at the Assembly Rooms or Daniel Kitson. They’ll make more
Clockwise from top left, going in a spiral like a game of Snake that’s about to end: Henderson’s vegetarian cafe on Hanover Street: also does vegan desserts; Bibi’s Bakery on Hanover Street: didn’t need a wedding cake but I liked their chocolate tray bake; Patisserie Valerie on North Bridge: there’s a reason they give you a knife & fork with the chocolate éclair - don’t try stuffing it in your face with your fingers; Kilimanjaro on Nicholson St: recommended by someone who knows his stuff as the best coffee in the city; The Square on the corner of York Place: if you see Tommy Sheppard in there, why not go up and tell him how happy you are The Stand has opened in Newcastle? I’m sure he’ll love that, Kate; The Elephant House: particularly good if you’re a fan of Harry Potter fans; Eteaket on Frederick St (the scone was a bit dry to be honest); The Chocolate Tree in Morningside: prepare to be dazzled.