Wednesday, 11 August 2010

S. Luca, Morningside, Edinburgh and Musselburgh

Regular readers will know how much I miss living on the continent and visiting ice cream parlours on a regular basis. I love ice cream and I think there is a huge gap in the market in the UK for ice cream parlours to fill. Sure, we don't really have the perfect ice cream weather, but Germany's parlours thrive even in winter when it drops to -20 (yes, seriously. That cold.) The UK is so boringly bland when it comes to the creamy stuff, all I tend to get offered is vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, or if my restaurant of choice is feeling exotic, raspberry ripple! Wow. I have been on the hunt for the perfect ice cream in Edinburgh and have finally found it. Okay, it is technically not Edinburgh, but Musselburgh, however, the place I have found also has a branch in the city.

Step forward S. Luca, ice extraordinaire.

If, like myself, you are not a native, the name S. Luca would not mean much to you. The Edinburgers and Musselburgers get excited at the mention of its name. It conjures up childhood memories, sunny days and a reason to ditch the diet. A long established tradition in the city, Luca's has been around for the best part of a century, dishing up experimental taste explosions. Forget vanilla and its Neopolitan mates, try mango, banana and passion fruit. I sampled the banana ice cream, its rich flavour combining well with its sumptuous texture. The most imaginative flavour I saw had to be Irn-Bru, a testament to the company's Scottish success. This really was a thirstquencher.
The really indulgent should go for the Knickerbocker Glory or one of the other 'ice cream meals' as I call them. If you're in a rush, you can even get them to go!

If you need further proof that this place is popular, check out the queues snaking round the block. Even last Sunday, when the rain was lashing down, the loyal fans of the parlour were patiently queuing to get their fix.

The queue did indeed put me off and I ended just grabbing my gelato to go, determined to find the branch of Luca's close to where I live. Overjoyed, I found it was only 10 minutes away from me and with none of the long queues that Musselburgh has! I arrived a little after 8pm and the atmosphere was a lot more chilled than last week's Communist-style queuing, giving me time to peruse the menu and take in its offerings in greater detail. Luca's sells a wide range of savouries too like soup and burgers so why not make a meal of your ice cream parlour trip. Luca is really reminiscent of Germany where I could easily spend a whole afternoon and evening in a parlour- is the UK finally cottoning on to our hunger for ice cream and the fact that us British don't want just pubs and chippies?

After going up the spiral staircase, I was greeted warmly by the staff and shown to a table, the decor of the seating area a lovely lilac shade. According to the photo on the wall, Tony Blair sat at my very table. Now, I don't agree with his politics, but as this is a food blog, I can only say the man has taste in this instance! The menu offered some fabulous concoctions like Knickerbocker Glories and Banana Splits, but I fancied 3 assorted scoops at a bargainous £2.10. I opted for vimto sorbet, mint choc chip and banana with a topping of crushed nuts (50p extra). Heavenly. Each scoop was like an explosion of flavour and originality. A visit to an ice cream parlour is not complete without a cup of potent coffee either, so I downed a cup of Italy's finest brew. It passed my rigorous test.

Upon leaving, I spied Luca's other speciality, its chocolate. Perfect figurines of animals stand to attention in the display cabinet, so intricate they look like ornaments. However, they are made purely of chocolate. Too cute to eat, my favourites are the goldfish and the hedgehog. I would love to know where the chocolatier learnt his skills, I mean, the spines on the hedgehog and the fish's gills show such attention to detail!

After a night of Willy Wonka- style dreams, I was like a woman possessed. After my sumptuous meal at the nearby Scottish restaurant Howie's, I had to stop by Luca's for yet another fix. This time, I asked for a surprise sorbet medley, one of which was orange flavour...intensely summery.

I'd better quit while I'm ahead as I know if I carry on writing, I may become dangerous and let the Luca effect get the better of me again. Oh well, maybe I can pay a visit after work tomorrow. Or all weekend. Help, I am addicted....

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Hi Vindaloo Kings and Queens!