On Edinburgh and Sausage Rolls
I was walking around Edinburgh on my birthday a couple of years ago with my friends Dan and Danielle Davis (a father/daughter comedy team if ever there was one). We had been up on Calton Hill as the sun went down, wandering about the monuments and pseudo-ruins, watching a rehearsal for the Beltane procession that would take place a week after we left (we and an enormous bunch of people were there on a school trip), trying to read inscriptions in the dying light. As night drew on, we were unwilling to return to the Cairn Hotel on Windsor Street (a distinctly odd sort of place–where I come from, cairns are raised on hiking trails to mark where people died–smelling of lilies, though Gordon the bartender was a very nice man). Instead we walked down to Princes Street, where Sir Walter Scott hangs out in perpetuity, to look across the gardens and up to the castle, looming darkly over the city. Then we wandered about, looking at things as people from away will do, turning up side streets, coming upon statues of men on horses, making ever larger circles with Calton Hill and the castle as our checkpoints. We had no idea where we were, but knew if we kept circling about, we’d always come back to something we recognized eventually. Just as long, Dan said, as we got back to the hotel bar before it closed.
I love going on these trips, not only because I get to see things I’d never get to otherwise, but because of, ironically, the sometimes weird, sometimes poky places we tend to stay. The hotels more often than not are rated two or fewer stars, and they’re cheap for large groups, which is why tour companies like EF Tours and Explorica do business with them. On this particular trip to Scotland, we had stayed in one place which obviously catered to business travelers: off the highway, far away from anything resembling a town. But we also stayed in a totally awesome place in the Highlands where stairs went up and down, hallways zigged and zagged, and the rooms were so small that two people could comfortably stay in them if one of them stood on a bed so the other could get around to the door (Dan showed me how he put the desk chair up on top of the wardrobe so he could get to the en suite bathroom in his room; so my roommate and I did the same). At the Cairn, the main hotel was on one side of Windsor Street, its Annex on the other. My room was, of course, in the Annex, which meant that I needed to have someone with a special key let me into the building; this part of the hotel was in desperate need of refurbishing, though the water was really hot in the shower. As there were no phones in the rooms on this side of the street for wake-up calls, Gordon the bartender did double duty, pounding on our doors before he went off desk duty in the morning.
Unfortunately, the food at some of these hotels could be hit-or-miss, and sadly, on this particular night, it had missed rather badly. Supposedly a fish and chips dinner, it was only made bearable by the fact that
the hotel gave me two tiny bottles of wine to go with it, on account of its being my birthday. For Dan and Danielle, the flat, tasteless, so-obviously frozen fish filet was unbearable. So as we wandered about in the Edinburgh darkness, it was no surprise that Dan was drawn to a chippy: brilliantly lit, the doorway packed, the edges a bit grimy. When he came back out, he had a couple of sausage rolls wrapped in greasy paper, dripping with some sort of sauce which was unidentifiable in the dark street. Though a silly man, he was incredibly generous, letting me try some of the roll. It was awesome. Needless to say, I’ve been trying to replicate it ever since here at home: sometimes I’ve thought I’ve come close, but it’s never quite the same.
I’ve hung on to that night in Edinburgh for a while now, and the sausage rolls are among the reasons why. Calton Hill and the castle in the dark are others. After a couple of hours walking, Dan and Danielle and I returned to the Cairn and ordered up drinks from Gordon. The hotel still smelled like a funeral parlor. Afterwards, I still had to have someone with a key take me across the street so I could get up to the fourth floor and my room. But those things don’t matter. They just make up the fabric of a good story, an adventure.
So. The sausage rolls. Even my son likes these, though he’s not a fan of sausage in general. He likes them with HP Sauce, because he also indulges in food fantasies like mine.
1 lb. uncased sausage, divided into 6 portions
6 full sheets puff pastry
HP Brown Sauce, or World Harbors Honey Mustard Sauce, or another sauce to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Shape each portion of sausage into a roll. Brush one piece of pastry lightly with sauce. Place sausage on one edge, and then roll up in pastry, tucking ends under. Brush pastry roll with melted butter. Do this for each sausage roll.
Place rolls on baking pan. (I like to line the pan with baking parchment).
Bake for 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffy and slightly browned.
Serve with additional sauce.
Extremely easy. Extremely yummy.
Dan and Danielle: want to go back?
I also got a castle for my birthday that year.