It may be stating the obvious but food and drink make up an essential element of every holiday, writes Ian Gardner (Midlothian Tourism Forum).
Whether it is sampling full breakfast or dinner in a hotel, or someone on a self-catering holiday enjoying a local takeaway, it is no surprise that VisitScotland research puts ‘eating out’ at the top of everyone’s list of holiday activities.
Trying local food and drink is an integral part of the visitor experience, particularly for international visitors, who often show a strong desire to find out about local foods. Indeed, around half of all visitors to Scotland try local food and drink during their trip. Three-quarters of visitors seek information about eating out whilst in Scotland, mostly from local people, and many are happy to share their own experiences, with one in 10 visitors posting reviews about places they dined in Scotland.
To celebrate the range of local food and drink establishments, the Midlothian Tourism Forum is again supporting the Midlothian Food and Drink Awards, where local residents and visitors help to decide the cream of the area’s best food and drink businesses. There are six categories – best place for coffee, a pint, for café lunch, takeaway, restaurant lunch or dinner. And it is not just about the food on offer, as voters are encouraged to think of the whole experience each establishment offers – their use of local produce, seasonality of menu, the atmosphere, accessibility, customer service etc. Voters will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win two tickets to the Award Ceremony in June, when they can raise a glass to the winners.
So with better weather hopefully on the way, it’s a great time to explore Midlothian’s food and drink businesses as well as our open spaces, heritage sites and family venues. Whilst many are open all year round, some, like Crichton Castle, reopen at the beginning of April. Many have special events planned over Easter and you will find details on the Midlothian Touirism Forum website – www.visitmidlothian.org.uk – and keep in touch through Facebook and Twitter. You can also vote in the food and drink awards on the website. Sounds like a recipe for success.