VALVONA AND CROLLA
19 Elm Row, Edinburgh
Upon entering the Tardis-esque confines of Valvona & Crolla in Elm Row, we wandered past the exotic items of Italian cooking* where if price is no object then you are more than welcome. At the back of this corridor of delights was the famed café of which I, Cake Bot and my inventor were stopping in for lunch.
The place was empty so we had our choice of station (table) where Cake Bot was quick to dock at the one nearest to the radiator. The attentive and polite waiting-staff were quick to supply us with our menus and alert us to the soup of the day, onion. Once I had studied the menu in question I decided to order the panatella ‘Paesano Salciccie e Mostarda di Frutta’ with a cup of said soup, before that though we decided to have a selection of the freshly made bread which was delicious enough to short circuit Cake Bot’s prevention of carbs file.
This was nothing compared the salivation caused by my “sausage sandwich”**, the mustard fruit chutney further complemented the sweetness of the panatella, and the sausage was able to ensure that the sugariness didn’t take over the dish. The side salad ensured that all this depravity didn’t rust the insides too much*** and brought a nice freshness to the whole dish. The soup itself complemented it all superbly, again sweet but not overpoweringly so as well as a nice sharpness, and heated up my tin plated insides for the cold Sunday afternoon.
The debauchery carried on though, with a cake of the day and nice cup of black coffee. The cake was of the chocolate variety with a dollop of crème freche on the side. Now normally I am not one for chocolate cake but this was rather light, not too bitter and, dare I say, felt pretty guilt free****.
Thus we found it was time to take off contentedly in the freezing cold, bodies filled with Italian joy, and very much looking forward to visiting again.
*I nearly made the error of purchasing a bottle of sherry vinegar when my scanners identified it as a bottle of beer. I am getting them serviced as soon as…
**That’s what she said!
***At least that is what I tell myself.
****If you enjoy the guilt then this isn’t for you; I would argue some people only eat chocolate cake for the guilt – sick bastards!
Oh wow. I love this place. An Italian delicatessen stocked to the ceiling with some of the finest foods known to mankind. As a recovering non-eater, often living in extreme fear of food, Valvona and Crolla should strike terror into the heart and have me running for the door. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It encourages me to discover new things and look at eating in a different way. The food on the shelves, and the dishes served in the hidden café at the back are all about the pleasure and enjoyment gained from using quality produce. From expensive oils, aged vinegars and marinated olives to top of the range chocolate, speciality meats, cheese galore, vegetables that look how vegetables should look and beautiful freshly baked breads, the deli area is a delight for the senses. Pair that with the smell of roasting coffee beans wafting through the gift shop and it’s not long before caution is thrown to the wind, the call of the pastries on the counter becomes too much to handle, and my shiny metal pincers are flailing with wild abandon.
On this visit I opted for the Pollo Panatella. Which wasn’t – as my dubious translation device initially thought it may turn out to be – a chicken cigar. The dish actually consisted of smoked chicken, creamy mayonnaise and fresh rocket sandwiched between toasted bread that was crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside…accompanied by a sweetly seductive onion soup and some damn fine coffee.
All this tasty goodness combined with a hefty amount of running the previous day, led to finishing with a gorgeous slice of chocolate cake. Sorry, did I say cake? Really it was more akin to a large slice of exceptionally light and delicious truffle. Not overly sweet, dark and decadent – served with crème fraiche, fresh berries and a cute little physalis. Oh ye gods. I never wanted it to end. Every moment was fantastic. I’m still thinking about it now. And Googling recipes like an android possessed. This, from a Cake Bot who says she doesn’t care that much about chocolate. Bullshit, eh? Obsessed.
Finest Hour: The chocolate cake. THE CHOCOLATE CAKE. Pleasure sensors on fire.
Downsides: They had to ask us to leave. We’re not mentalists or anything. Really. They were just closing early.
There was a wine sale. A WINE SALE! Also, there was a ridiculous array of our favourite Wilkin and Sons jams, pictures of happy pigs, and friendly young male staff. Let’s come back every week. No, really. There’s a massive huff on the horizon if we can’t.
NOTE: HEDONISM BOT was again absent, lying under a pile of empty Gin bottles round the back of Tesco. He apologises for nothing, as usual.