Sunday, 22 August 2010
Caffe Salvo, Edinburgh
A taste of Italy with a retro kick
Since I have been back in the UK (my anniversary was 1 year yesterday-woohoo!), I have been missing many things from my other home country, Germany. Many of these things are culinary of course; I miss the fact that the UK is severely lacking in bakeries; I miss the smell of fresh bread of a morning and these melting pots on every street corner. I miss the ability to go out and get a decent vegetarian kebab and last but not least, I miss the authentic Italian ice cream parlours.
Ice cream parlours are ubiquitous in Germany and together with kebab shops and bakeries, are part of the Berliners' eating habits. Every single shopping centre has its own ice cream parlour and in summer, parlours spring up like mushrooms on every street. The choice of flavours are overwhelming and imaginative eg After Eight, Tangerine, White Chocolate ...mmmm.. heaven. So you can imagine my disappointment when I arrived back in Blighty and all I saw was boring vanilla, chocolate and strawberry if I was lucky. I seriously do not understand how the British can call Mr Whippy ice cream, to me it is just mush.
Browsing around Edinburgh this sunny Saturday,I craved a Berlin-style trip to an 'Eisdiele' (as they are called in Germany) and Salvo's struck me as a place where I had to check out. It's not a run-of-the-mill chain, but a one-off, Sicilian ice cream parlour that also does meals and good strong coffee. I went in and stepped back in time to the 1950s and gasped at the surroundings. The place seemed to be a shrine of past Hollywood legends! Pictures of Monroe, Sinatra and other greats adorned the walls, a bit like my bedroom when I was a 12 yr old Take That fan! This was done in a way that it didn't look tacky (unlike my Take That gallery), but gave atmosphere to the place and added to the experience. It was almost like the stars were dining with you, their eyes watching you as you eat, guiding you towards the ice cream counter...
As I had a massive lunch that day, I couldn't face an ice cream but I checked out the selection for future reference. 10 flavours. Fantastic. Instead, I just opted for a beautifully strong cup of coffee. It met my high rigourous coffee standards. In fact, it exceeded them. This cafe is the perfect place to relax with a good book and is so charming, it finds a way into your heart. My only complaint is the opening hours are a bit restricted for me, as most days they shut at 3pm.
As I left, the film stars on the walls looked at me, willing me to return, which I did. I managed to grab some wholesome food,a steaming plate of Rigatoni Arrabiatta (pictured) and it was just the way I like it- spicy and with an added chili kick! In my previous life, I worked in Italy for 3 months and fell in love with the cuisine, it's a shame so many Italian restaurants in the UK cannot replicate these standards. However, the Sicilian Caffe Salvo doesn't fail to deliver the goods; a taste of sunshine in grey Edinburgh. Bellissima! Every inch of the restaurant oozes retro kitsch, from the window display of Marilyn Monroe down to the toilet doors emblazoned with Audrey Hepburn. Heartwarming and belly-filling.
And for those people wanting the taste of great Britain, you're not forgotten. Salvatore shows his allegiance to his new home country by offering Full Scottishes, all day breakfasts, beans on toast and fish and chips!
Edited August 2010