Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 8-11, 2008: St Andrews

After more than a week of walking and eating and discovering, I was obliged to fulfill my work commitments. First up, I was attending a conference at Scotland's oldest university in St Andrews. This glimpse of the town from the bus station was all I saw of the outside world for a couple of days. I merely oscillated between two of the newer buildings on campus, sleeping and listening, note-taking and occasionally talking, subsisting on catered food. The one break in my temporary routine was watching the rabbits - when I opened the window in my room in the mornings I could usually see a dozen of them, and there were many more on the lawns between our accommodation and meeting rooms.

On the second night I had a chance to wander around town with a colleague I hadn't seen in years. The chilly breeze and grey skies were the perfect setting for the castle and cathedral ruins.

But this is a food blog, isn't it? While the catering was adequate it was nothing to write home about. I did, however, have a lovely meal at the local Bangladeshi and Indian restaurant, Balaka. Their vegetarian thali plate, though outrageously expensive, was delightful. The dahl was one of the best I've eaten, and the spinach curry was studded with the sweetest, softest segments of onion. Though the serving of raita was overly large, I needed a good portion of it to counteract the heat of the third curry!

The Brits are incorrigble - it seems a crime to me that a restaurant like this should be obliged to offer chips as a staple carbohydrate as well as rice.

I didn't have an opportunity to visit St Andrews' most famous landmark, but the town left a pleasant impression on me nonetheless. Though I'm incredibly grateful for the travelling opportunities my job provides, there's always a twinge of regret that I've not been able to get to know these places better.


  1. wow - you wouldn't know it was meant to be summer to look at these pics! But St Andrews is lovely esp the cathedral ruins - can't say I remember any of the food I have ever had there! chips with curry does sound odd!

  2. At a college dinner in Oxford I was offered chips with my egg-noodle stir fry. I refused!

  3. Nostalgic sigh...

    Was there for 4 days in 2001.

    In fact, if you go to the bar at The Scores hotel, they have a drink names after me!!

    (Invented in honour of me drinking the house clean out of Drambuie!!)

    In other other news.. Furry is going to see if he can get you a shaker shaker thingy.. they were all sold out last week, but he's on the case.

  4. Johanna, though the skies were grey I was happy just to be somewhere warmer than Melbourne!

    Excellent choice, CH. That's the worst "... & chips" story I've heard yet. :-D

    PG, that is fantastic! A lady like you should indeed leave a mark wherever she visits. :-) Thanks for persevering with the shaker, I'll not be too distraught if it doesn't work out!