SOMETIMES it takes an outsider to highlight the culinary delights of your own country, and sometimes it needs a local who has insider knowledge. Put them together and you get a pair who know Scotland and its larder inside out and are determined to spread the message far and wide.
That’s what you get with Cranachan and Crowdie, a one-stop foodie haven that aims to bring the pick of our food and drink to the heart of the capital. “She’s Crowdie and I’m Cranachan,” says Edinburgh-born Fiona McEwan, pointing to her partner Beth Edberg in their Royal Mile shop. It’s a haven of authenticity among the tartan tat on the city’s main tourist artery, where most of the seven million tourists who visit the capital every year find themselves at some point.
“She’s American and loves to chat and make a noise and I’m more, em, Scottish. Foreign customers think they’re our names, so we show them the crowdie and explain what cranachan is and they get the idea,” she says.
“I’m the incomer who doesn’t have the baggage,” says Edberg. What’s great about Scotland is tartan and whisky, Harris Tweed and shortbread, and people come here expecting that. But Scots often poo-poo it and don’t sell it very well. It’s good stuff, let’s celebrate it,” she says.
Speaking of poo, Puffin Poo is one of their big sellers, a confection of white Belgian chocolate, crisped rice and marshmallow hand-rolled in coconut by the Shetland Fudge company. Along with all of Cranachan and Crowdie’s other products, it qualifies for shelf space on account of it being 100 per cent Scottish-made.
Other delights include 19 varieties of oatcake, flavoured rape seed oils, cheeses, handmade chocolates flavoured with foraged ingredients like Scots pine and meadowsweet, cold-smoked salmon from Uig, honey and jam, chutneys and a country-wide pub crawl of Scottish ales that takes up one wall. Then there are quirky items such as Hot Scotch Bonnet Sauce (a version of Worcester sauce), mojito jelly, antler dog chews, gluten-free products and, of course, the ubiquitous Irn-Bru and Tunnock’s Teacakes, the latter going down a storm with Americans. “Our USP is everything in here is Scottish. You go into farm shops and they have products from other places too, but we want to showcase Scotland and its hidden gems,” says McEwan. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
The pair started the business this summer after guests staying at their self-catering holiday flat kept asking about Scottish food and drink and where to buy it. “We realised there was a niche in the market to celebrate Scottishness without being trite,” says McEwan. “I do the buying...”
“And I do the tasting,” shouts Edberg across the shop, where a gaggle of tourists have been tempted in by the cardboard cutout of Her Majesty that stands at the front door, and she swoops, shortbread and Bruichladdich samples at the ready. n
Cranachan and Crowdie, 263 Canongate, Edinburgh (0131-556 7194, www.cranachanandcrowdie.com)