I love Italian food. I have done all my life which is why Valvona & Crolla in Edinburgh is like heaven on earth for me. I actually worked there when I was a student and I loved it. This stunning deli is an Edinburgh institution. Open since 1934, this is as close to food shopping in Italy as you’ll get in Scotland. It is a real Aladdin’s cave – floor to ceiling wonderfulness!

When I worked there I used to love watching people come through the door. Everyone’s face was the same – their eyes would widen and their mouths would drop open as they tried to take everything in. When you walk through the very unassuming front door, you are immediately transported to all that is good about Italy. The smell is intoxicating and the shelves are full to bursting from floor to ceiling. There are salamis and parma hams dangling above you, there are cheeses to the right of you and chocolate to the left. It really is a feast for the senses and you almost don’t know where to start.

My favourite counter to work on was the cheese counter. I took so much pride in it. I made sure I knew everything there was to know about each cheese then I’d tempt the customers who were queuing next to it to try the samples. It works every time. No-one could try the cheese then not buy any. The cheese is fantastic. The gorgonzola dolce would actually start running off the board when the weather was warm. We used to have to scoop it up with a spoon. Gorgonzola is definitely my favourite cheese.

The meats are fantastic, the pastas are incredible. They have everything from nettle ravioli to pumpkin tortellini. The coffee is excellent, as is their Italian wine section. They make all their own bread, pastries & cakes (all of which are amazing). I highly recommend their almond croissants. I have not yet found a better almond croissant than Valvona & Crollas.

If you are ever in Edinburgh, this has to be one of your first destinations.

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