The seaside town of Arbroath is famous for many reasons:
- For the Declaration of Arbroath
- For its beautiful and incredibly history-riddled ye olde Abbey
- For being the home of the Arbroath Smokie, a tasty smoked fish that has Protected Designation of Origin status (just like Champagne, Parmesan and Newcastle Brown Ale) and its very own tartan!
- For being the toon where Mothership-in-law Mary is from!
When visiting Arbroath recently I found the above was the mere tip of the tourist iceberg. There was so much more to see, like the sandwich shop called Goodfillaz and the Macdougall Dentist Surgery:
We wandered round the town admiring the buildings, many of which were made from local red sandstone. Behind the Abbey was a bustling red sandstone bowling club.
"I cannae wait to be old," Gareth said almost wistfully as we peered through the fence, "I'm totally going to bowl. Grey trousers and everything."
I took a few photos of the Abbey itself but didn't go inside. It was £4.50 to get in and we only had a tenner on us. If we went into the Abbey we wouldn't have had any money for dinner. When choosing between stomach and brain there can only be one winner.
To me the jewel in the Arbroathian (?) crown was Peppo's fish shop. In my humble and gluttonous opinion it just may contain Scotland's deep-fried Holy Grail – the Best Fish Supper in the land! In my 4.5 years over here there have been two major contenders – the famous Anstruther Fish Bar (as graced by Tom Hanks and Prince William) and the fanbloodybrilliant Ben Ledi Cafe in Callander, but I think Peppo's has the edge. Long-term lurkers may recall I moonlighted as a fish and chip shop lass during university, so whenever we're in line at a chippie I can't help provide Gareth with annoying commentary and analysis on their business practices.
- There were good signs right from the start – a queue of pensioners halfway down the block waiting for the place to open, and a gang of seagulls loitering across the street. If anyone knows good chips, it's pensioners and seagulls.
- When the doors opened the two charming fellas behind the counter greeted customers by name (except us two strangers, of course)
- There were framed poems on the wall written by satisfied customers. Poems with a dozen stanzas! Now that's devotion.
- Everything was cooked to order. Big deal! you may say, but in sooo many places over here the goods sit in a warmer getting all soggy then get resuscitated in the fryer upon purchase.
- Most places cook chips by putting them into a basket, then lowering the basket into the oil. These chips were free range! The basket was tipped out into the fryer so they could swim about, instead of being squashed up in their metal cage. They splashed and dove then fished out once they'd floated back to the top, all crispy and perfect.
- Once the fish came out of the fryer they stood each piece up vertically for a couple of minutes to let the excess oil drain. Such innovation!
It was bloody delicious too. Clean light crispy batter on succulent fish and chips that seemed the marry the best of Australian and Scottish chips – crisp on the outside but tender in the middle. Hubba hubba!