UK Nacho Review - The Auld Hoose

Auld Hoose Nachos

Arthur's Seat is the name given to towering slab of volcanic rock that dominates the Edinburgh skyline. Similarly, the nachos at The Auld Hoose certainly dominate your table when you first see them and, unfortunately also like Arthur's Seat, they hold a hardened volcanic core from which no taste can escape. First, the good - lots of guacamole (not fresh, however), and plenty, I mean PLENTY, of nachos. the Auld Hoose is a heavy-metal, student friendly pub that's located near the University of Edinburgh. This plate of nachos is geared towards students looking to soak up their beer and not expatriate Texans looking for a taste of home.

The problem arises when you get past the first layer of toppings - there's nothing underneath, so you're basically digging through a pile of dry tortilla chips. The other major issue with the Auld Hoose nachos is the structural integrity. Sure, it looks like an impressive pile of nachos, and it is, but once you start digging into the structure it starts wriggling like the Tay Bridge in 1879.

The other problem are the beans - or peas shall we say. Although I know that black eyed peas are technically beans.....technically they shouldn't be anywhere near nachos. And I like black eyed peas.

Overall, Auld Hoose nachos are good if you're looking for a mountain of chips to fill your gullet, but not if you're looking for nacho authenticity. Go for the beer, not the nachos.

Glasgow Nachos!

Weegee nachos. Mmmm. Aye! 

Weegee nachos. Mmmm. Aye! 

A little over a month ago I made the short rail journey to Glasgow to....well....uh...partake of Glaswegian culture.

And to ride their world famous tiny subway.

And, of course, to sample the famous Glaswegian nachos.

But first, I had to partake in some of the sights. Like the fine example of WeeGee (as the Glaswegians are called here) Early Modernist Brutalist Architecture like the example that you see there to the right.

Watch out for Neds. 

Watch out for Neds. 

I think that was a police station or something like that at one point. This kind of early-to-mid 60s style was a HUGE hit over in the UK. You can see these types of buildings all over the place.

The first thought being when you see one of these monstrosities is, naturally, "What the hell were these people thinking?" I think this is, believe it or not, a police station.

I think I'm lost. 

I think I'm lost. 

Glasgow's subway is equally as charming. Dubbed "The Clockwork Orange" because it only goes around in a circle, the line features really tiny subway cars and some creepy stations.

In all fairness, the subway is in the midst of a major overhaul and rebranding right now, so perhaps I just stopped at the wrong stations.

The other strange thing about the subway is that they're using what looks like the same font as Facebook for all their signage. Many of the entrances for the subway are on streets with normal shops, so when you enter the station it kind of feels like you're entering some kind of Facebook Outlet Shop.

But there were plenty of cool parts of Glasgow, too. 

The Kelvingrove museum (there to the right, can you tell I got Hipstamatic?) is one of those cool old timey UK museums that they used to have during the days of empire, with plenty of exhibits about "the colonies."

Kelvingrove all fancied up. 

Kelvingrove all fancied up. 

Didn't linger too long on the artsy-fartsy part but did manage to see Dali's Christ of Saint John of the Cross. That was pretty cool and fairly painless as artsy things go.

But you're not here to read about art, are you? No, it's a UK nacho review that you're here for and a UK nacho review that you will get.

This day in Glasgow I managed to have fairly decent Tex-Mex food not once, but TWICE! My first meal was at Taco Mazama in the West End and I later dined at Pinto Mexican Kitchen in the City Center. The nachos that you see pictured above were purchased at Taco Mazama.

As to the nachos, overall a fairly decent basket. To their favor, Taco Mazama didn't try to dress the nachos up for you, they simply gave you a basket of chips with melted cheese. The RIGHT melted cheese, mind you, white and not some type of off color cheddar (although Gloucester cheese on Tex-Mex over here seems to work pretty well). The salsa had plenty of chunks of red onion in it, which was a welcome suprise. Taco Mazama is a chain and, luckily enough, there's one directly across the street from my office in Edinburgh so I can visit whenever I like.

I had the veggie burrito at Pinto's which was fairly tasty. One cool menu item that I noticed while dining there was that Austin, Texas favorite, breakfast tacos!

That'll probably need it's own post.

Killin' Time - Part 1

(Author's note: there's probably going to be a lot of puns on the fact that the name of the town I eventually visited during this drive was "Killin". Be forewarned.) This whole trip was pretty much a spur of the moment idea. I'd heard the area around Loch Tay was pretty beautiful, so I figured I'd check it out. It was about a two or three hour drive out there, so I figured I'd head out to Loch Tay and, if I couldn't find anyplace else, make it back to Fundee in time to get a beer at the casino (which is a bit of a -joke - there's ALWAYS time to get a beer at the casino, since they're open 24 hours).

Whisky galore!!

Whisky galore!!

I hopped into the trusty Fritzmobile and made my way out to the open road. The first dilemma you face when leaving Dundee, other than asking why you were in Dundee in the first place, is whether to take the Perth road or not to get to the A9,which is the main highway that runs through the Highlands and up to Inverness. The Dunkeld way is nicer, but the roads aren't as good as going through Perth.

This time, I decided to pursue the Dunkeld option because I wanted to stop and have a beer at the "Best Beer Garden in Scotland" (as determined by yours truly). I'm not going to elaborate on the garden since that will be given a post all of its own.

Falls of Dochart. 

Falls of Dochart. 

After the Dunkeld stop, the drive was just a few short miles down the A9 to the Aberfeldy turn off. At this point, the A9 is really wide and has two lanes on each side (a "dual carriageway" as they say over there) and was a pleasure to drive. I took the Aberfeldy exit and continued along a winding road next to the silv'ry Tay.

I stopped when I saw the falls in the picture. Little did I know HOW MANY falls I was going to be seeing over the course of the next twenty four hours.

The Birks of Aberfeldy. 

The Birks of Aberfeldy. 

The falls look beautiful, don't they? Makes you want to grab a cold one and sit right in the middle of a refreshing stream of water straight down from the Highlands, doesn't it? Go right ahead and jump in! And then you'll be dead from pneumonia in about 5 minutes. That water is COOOOOLD. That's the problem with Scotland - so many beautiful lochs, streams and waterfalls, but YOU CAN'T GO IN because you'll freeze your nuts off. Alas.  I stopped for a quick bite to eat in Aberfeldy, home of the famous Birks of Aberfeldy, as immortalized by Scotland's second greatest poet, Robert Burns (Here's the greatest, in case you couldn't figure it out).

As you can see, I took a picture of another waterfall. I was still excited by seeing gentle mountain streams. How naive I was.

Now, here I have to make a confession, because I didn't actually get to the famous spot where Robert Burns sat and wrote "The Birks of Aberfeldy." Come on - it was like a mile hike away! Not that I minded walking a mile, but I didn't want to lose any more daylight by killin' time going to see a bunch of trees!

The other ongoing feature of this trip, other than the waterfalls, was castles. Immediately after I left Aberfeldy, I saw a sign for a castle and pulled over for a photo op.

Car and castle. 

Car and castle. 

There was a wedding about to take place at the castle, so it was closed. But, just to make sure, I went up and knocked on the comically large doorknobs.

But that's another thing about Scotland, you'll just be driving around and run into a 500 year old castle.

But the biggest surprise was waiting for me just around the bend.

For you see, I was about to discover something that many had heard about but few had experienced, yes, my friends, I stumbled upon a town so lifeless, so boring, and just downright unexciting that it was given the name, "Dull."

The opportunity was too good to pass up, so I steered off the road and went to experience everything that Dull had to offer.

Which, in fact, wasn't that much. I don't know if I ever even drove through Dull, since there wasn't a sign for the village proper.

Which way to boredom? 

Which way to boredom? 

So, if I drove through Dull, it was a pretty forgettable collection of farmhouses.

In other words, pretty dull.

(The Guardian ran a story about Dull just a few weeks after I was here. I think I might have to sue.)

The trip to Killin will continue with the next post!