Notes on chocolate: Edinburgh really is the sweetest city…


Edinburgh. The air is grey and thick with drizzle. From my knees down, beyond the protection of my waterproof coat, I am wet through. My trainers squirt water from their mesh uppers when I walk. If you love a city when it’s this wet, you know you really love it.

I am in the queue for Mary’s Milk Bar because everyone has told me I need to visit. It is almost opposite Petit Paris, a tiny French bistro and one of those discoveries you almost never find in cities unless someone tells you about it. Last night we feasted on mushroom soup, boeuf bourguignon and crême brûlée.

I don’t like queues for fashionable places, but the promise of fried bananas in butter ice-cream and lovely chocolate cements me to the pavement. Only one customer is allowed inside at a time and when my turn comes I find myself panicking at the choices (a syndrome I recognise from my own time working in the family ice-cream shop) and go for hazelnut, my ice-cream-maker father’s favourite, which is some of the best I’ve had.

Then the chocolate bars. I supermarket-sweep up a handful, sweetly wrapped in paper and tied with Aquafresh-striped string: dark chocolate salt and vinegar, milk chocolate bread and honey, dark cinnamon pretzel, and milk bergamot and lemon, at £4.50 (min 70g) each.

All are highly flavoured and lovely for eating back at the best B&B that we have ever stayed in, while I contemplate my move up north.