Neighbourhood Food Tours with Youth Food Movement Academy

Some of the YFM Academy enjoying some sax on Kings Stables Road after their neighbourhood tours. Photo by Jelmur Jeuring.

As part of the Youth Food Movement’s itinerary in their visit to Scotland, a few volunteers from SFYN and Slow Food Edinburgh co-ordinated an afternoon of food tours to different parts of the city in order to give our visitors access to some of the local businesses involved in producing and supplying sustainable food and drink within Edinburgh. We hoped to  give a real sense of what Scottish food is like outside the tartan laden tourist zone of The Royal Mile.  We split the group of 35 into five separate groups and went on little tours of Central Edinburgh, Leith, Stockbridge , Gorgie/Dalry and Bruntsfield.

Sammi and Gillian speak about their afternoons exploring  both Stockbridge and Central Edinburgh and hearing from some local food businesses who were happy to share their stories. Blog posts about the afternoon in Leith, Bruntsfield and Gorgie to follow!

Stockbridge Neighbourhood Tour with Sammi and Viv.

Sammi: ‘We started our tour at I J Mellis Cheesemongers.  Iain Mellis himself gave us a cheese tasting featuring some delicious Scottish cheeses.  Iain spoke about his experience in the food industry and the challenges faced in the cheese business, from farm to shop.



Tasting Scottish cheese at Iain Mellis.

We then went to the Kilted Lobster, where we spoke with Chef Colin. He told us about his background in the chef world for many years and their exciting project, Cooking up a Storm.  Profits from the restaurant support projects such as training for young people, dining for families with financial hardship, and cookery classes for single parent families & people diagnosed with food related health conditions.


Colin at The Kilted Lobster

Our next stop was to Scran & Scallie, Tom Kitchin’s family-friendly gastro pub  from where we spoke with head chef James about local sourcing and a relaxed pub dining experience.

We popped into Mr Eion Coffee, where we spoke with lovely Meave about sourcing ethical and delicious coffee and the roasting process. We also got to taste some really tasty filter coffee!

A visit to Mr Eion


We ended the day with a walk through Inverleith Park & stopped by the allotments on our way to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. We strolled around the Edible Gardening Project and marvelled at the early spring veg already starting to come up.’

Allotments at Inverleith Park
The Edible Gardening Project at Royal Botanic Gardens

Central Edinburgh Tour with Gillian.

Gillian: ‘For the central neighbourhood tour we were keen to ensure the group visited a variety of places in the heavily built up world heritage area of the city which demonstrated the range of food and drink businesses, restaurants and initiatives that have and currently share the oldest part of the city.

First we visited Lowdown Coffee, newly opened on highly competitive George Street. The team discussed their passion for producing the best filtered coffee and provided us with two of their samples including an exceptionally fragrant Panama blend. It’s clear the coffee shop trend is as rife in Amsterdam as here, as there was soon an exchange of contacts and favourite coffee shops around the world! 

Tastings and the story behind the new Lowdown Coffee

We then had a short hop over to the Museum of Edinburgh to visit the ‘Raise your Glass’ exhibition with exhibition organiser John. John informed the group about the major brewing industry that once existed in Edinburgh and the types of ingredients that were commonly used. It was a shock to all, including myself, to realise just how little of this brewing culture has survived!

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Raise your Glass exhibition at Museum of Edinburgh

Next up was a well earned visit to try some Scottish charcuterie and cheeses at Cranachan & Crowdie to hear about the ethos behind this truly ‘authentic’ Scottish tourist shop. Beth first introduced their producer map which demonstrates their dedication to stocking the small Scottish food, drink and craft producers – unsurprisingly there were a few purchases to be had! 

Beth from Cranachan and Crowdie who supply authentic Scottish produce.

After that, we visited the university start up Shrub which runs various activities out of its hub which is located just off the Cowgate. Of particular focus for our visit was the ‘foodshare’ initiative that Hassan, an early SFYNScot supporter, spoke about with the group. The group were soon exchanging stories about the challenges of achieving successful ‘food waste’ campaigns in both countries.

Hassan from Shrub Hub shares ideas with the group.

Finally we visited the Scottish restaurant Contini Cannonball to speak with Slow Food Chef Alliance members Carina Contini. After a brief introduction to the history of the Contini’s restaurants within Edinburgh,  conversation moved to the challenges of sourcing and growing seasonal produce in Scotland and the role of female head chefs in Scotland and abroad. 

We rounded up the trip with a tour of the restaurant and said hello to the predominantly female kitchen staff before venturing for a quick visit to the Castle esplanade to view the city.’

Ladies in the kitchen at Contini’s Cannonball.
Carina from Contini talking about the history of their restaurants in Edinburgh.

SFYN Scotland would like to give a massive thanks to all the businesses who opened their doors and gave us their time to allow the Youth Food Movement to hear about their stories, and their role within the vibrant food community in Edinburgh as well as our volunteers who gave their time on the Friday afternoon to lead these tours.

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