Now I don't often advertise on this blog. But when it comes to food those roadside oases where weary travellers can stop and be refreshed by good food, hot drinks, pleasant service, - well, such places are hard to find. So when you find one, become evangelical about it. Witness to others about your experience. Share with other weary travellers the good news that there is indeed a place of quiet rest, of spread tables, where the body as well as the soul is restored.
Now let's be clear. I'm talking about the food, the people who make it and serve it, the price, and its convenience to the road. I'm not talking about ambience, plush surroundings, expense generating window dressing. I'm talking about "Ye May Gang Faur and Fare Waur"; translation You Could Go Further and Do Much Worse".
At the Stracathro Service Station, about 40 miles South of Aberdeen, this transport cafe is one of the best stopping places I know. Yes the tables are formica topped. The interior is about utility, hard wearing carpet, factory standard lighting. But the food. Honest, real, cooked on the premises and served by people absolutely confident that what you get to eat is substantial, not fast food, good value and no nonsense. Nonsense usually consists of high prices for low quality. This place reverses that - high quality low prices.
Take last night. travelling from Glasgow to Aberdeen, I had a light meal with friends before tackling the M8 and onwards. Two hours or thereabouts gets me to beyond Dundee and near Brechin. Time to stop. It shuts at 9.00. I get there by 8.30. What do I have? Forget the coffee and expensive pastry! Or the Coffee and fat laden muffin! Anyway they only serve home baking done in house or locally. No. I have a mug of tea. And a bowl of baked rice pudding!!! Probably the same calories as one of those soft, wet gooey muffin things - but different culinary cosmos. Nutmeg skin, warm and sweet - and by the way I declined the jug of cream that goes with it. I was looked upon by the smiling no nonsense rice pudding dispenser as someone who had flipped their lid.
"No cream? You want milk? Milk?? In my rice pudding???"
I quote exactly.
By the time I got back in the car and started the final leg home, the inner man was renewed, a kind of spiritual glow that had little to do with religious devotion - unless rice pudding can be considered sacramental......