Shortly after I posted my Edinburgh Bucket List, Earthy Foods kindly got in touch over twitter offering to treat me to a plate of their amazing salads to help cross a visit to their café off my bucket list. I could not turn down such a lovely offer, so the following weekend Harry and I headed to their Market and Cafe on Ratcliffe Terrace for a delicious Sunday lunch.
It was quite serendipitous that Earthy's offer was for their Ratcliffe Terrace shop. When I first moved to Edinburgh I actually lived just a few doors down from Earthy in Edinburgh University postgraduate halls. I lived there for about 9 months and although I didn't love living there, one solace was that there was this great café and organic foods market next door. I went there a few times for a spot of tea or some soup for lunch while doing some reading, but as a poor student I unfortunately could not take full advantage of my proximity to the shop. I did not try their salads until I visited their Canonmills shop (when I was living pretty much across the street and fully employed) and returned many a time with friends and family to taste their incredible salad selections.
I was just as impressed with their selection when I returned to Ratcliffe Terrace last week. Although the layout of the café was completely different from my student days, the warm, welcoming and refreshing vibe still remained. Harry and I struggled to select four salads for our plate because they all looked so scrumptious, but finally settled on Puy Lentils with Chicory, Beetroot, Orange, Feta, Chard, Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds, Bulgar Wheat Salad with Pomegranate, Spinach, Red Onions and Walnuts, Roast Cauliflower with Dates, Capers, Red Onion & Parsley, and Chickpeas with Chilli, Coconut, Spring Onion & Herbs. We also decided to get a Ham and Brie Sandwich on Sourdough with Red Onion Marmalade for some extra substance as we would be sharing both dishes.
We settled in at the end of a long communal table and eagerly awaited the arrival of our lunch. Both dishes arrived beautifully plated and of course I had to do that obnoxious blogger thing where I take a thousand photos of our meal before we could tuck in.
I started on the salads diving straight in for a piece of beetroot from the puy lentil salad. Beetroot has to be one of my favourite vegatbles and seeing as Earthy had two beetroot offerings on that day it was extremely difficult to choose! As expected it was absolutely succulent and the flavours of the salad as a whole worked so well together. Working my way around the plate I then went for the roast cauliflower, which was perfectly cooked and very interesting with the capers and dates. I assume it was also seasoned with tumeric given the salad's golden hue.
I tucked in to the bulgar wheat next, which was definitely the safest option on the plate, though I always think a grain salad is essential to a good salad plate. I was a bit worried that the red onion, which was not cooked, might overpower the salad and with it my breath. However, I think the onions may have been "de-flamed" (or so the internet calls it), a process by which the bite is taken out of raw onions by soaking them in boiling water, also thereby slightly softening them but still maintaining their satisfying crunch. Now I am just guessing this was how they were prepared but if I am wrong now you have a fun new cooking tip at your disposal! Regardless, the salad was great and served as a great base for the salad plate.
Finally, the chickpeas. Oh, the chickpeas. This was the dish I was most interested in on the plate as I just love anything with a Thai flair to it. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The coconut was definitely present but it was not too overpowering at all. Complimented by the herbs (coriander and mint, I believe) and with a subtle bite from the spring onion and chilli, it was a very flavourful experience. This was Harry's favourite salad from the plate as well, I think because it just had an incredible depth to its flavour.
After gushing about the salads to Harry it was only fair that we trade, so I took a turn at the Ham and Brie sandwich. The sourdough bread was incredibly soft and the brie was wonderfully creamy, contrasting the saltiness of the ham and the sweet crunch of the onion marmalade. All in all it was a great sandwich, though I think it would have been perfect if it were on a ciabatta or a baguette as I felt the sandwich was a wee bit too soft and chewy on bread as fresh as that. As if I am complaining about fresh bread...#firstworldproblems, much? I just think fillings as rich (and delicious!) as that need a sturdy bread. Another highlight of this plate was the side salad (more salad!) which featured my other favourite vegetable, brussel sprouts! Anyone who puts raw brussel sprouts in a salad gets an A* in my books.
In the end I traded half of my half of the sandwich to get the salad plate back from Harry. After all, my favourite part of an Earthy salad is when you get near the end and the lines between each salad have entirely blurred and you are left with nothing but the most amazing combination of flavours that you can hardly believe is real because everything was so distinct when you began.
After thanking the staff at Earthy, we left feeling full and I, accomplished, having crossed yet another thing off my Edinburgh bucket list. Thanks again to everyone at Earthy Foods & Goods, especially Gill and Caitlin at Ratcliffe Terrace, for making it possible!