We arrived in Edinburgh not knowing that fudge was such a big part of their food culture - if not for the joys of mobile internet, we probably would have missed the fudge altogether. The weather had been rather unkind to us all morning and the thought of possibly having to brave more rain to get to the fudge store was a little daunting. Still, we took deep breaths and went for it - the fudge was so good that we ended up going to not just one, but two different stores.
A Lesson at the Fudge Kitchen
The Royal Mile
30 High St
Edinburgh EH1 1TB
A batch of sweet fudge concoction was enjoying its last few moments of being stirred over a hot stove when we walked into the store. While the stove area seemed like a good place to be on a gloomy, rainy day, I'm pretty sure constantly having to stir the fudge is no easy feat.
The liquid fudge is transferred from the stove onto a table with a marble top to cool. We were told that relative temperature is key in the cooling process - as such the temperature at the store has to be kept very low in winter, so much so that even with the huge stove in the main area, the staff have to bundle up for work.
The fudge is allowed to set a little before any extra little bits, like nuts or raisins, get thrown in. The mixture seems to gain a little elasticity as it sets, which is interesting because the finished product is far from elastic.
After our little lesson, we moved on to where to the treasure trove of goodies, eager to sample the fudge. We paid for our fudge, a block of rum and raisin and a block of chocolate-orange, stepped out into the cool air, contemplated saving the fudge for the train ride back to Carlisle for all of three seconds and gleefully took our first bites.
It's difficult not to fall in love at first bite. Crumbly but incredibly smooth, it was the texture that completely blew me away. I always thought that fudge was a synonym for toffee or caramel, meaning that it would share that soft, sticky, pliable texture - I couldn't have been more misinformed. Both flavours were rich, creamy (but in a non-creamy way, if that makes sense) and very, very yummy. We couldn't believe what we'd been missing out on.
What's funny is that as we were strolling along the streets of Edinburgh, enjoying our chunks of fudge, the skies cleared and the day became a lot more pleasant. You may put it down to unpredictable weather but I say that there's just a tiny bit of magic in fudge.
We continued exploring the area after our first fudge-stop and stumbled upon another fudge store. A little fancier than the first one, this store had a display counter reminiscent of a French patisserie with the carefully arranged, smaller chunks of fudge sitting in long glass cabinets.
The Fudge House of Edinburgh
197 Canongate, Royal Mile,
Edinburgh EH8 8BN
We had a little more trouble deciding here as they had a sightly larger range of flavours and everything looked extremely attractive. I finally settled on the house special, coconut-chocolate and for easy comparison, the orange-chocolate.
The Final Verdict
Those huge blocks of fudge from the Fudge Kitchen won my heart. The ones we got at the Fudge House were pretty good but they just weren't quite up there with the ones from the Fudge Kitchen. The ones from the Kitchen also got some bonus points for surviving the journey back to Carlisle a lot better - the ones from the House were sticky, melty and looked a little worse for wear when we arrived.
You know how when you were 5 and your mum told you not to finish the whole bar of chocolate but you did anyway and felt sick after that? Well, fudge makes me feel like that kid again - it get's a little sickeningly sweet after awhile but you can't help yourself anyway. It probably also helps that all that sugar leaves you happy, giggly, and yes, feeling like a 5 year old.