This week, we embarked on a new life. It sounds like an exaggeration, but moving out of the city, it really feels as though something has fundamentally changed.
On Thursday afternoon, a local removals firm turned up at our flat in Edinburgh and packed the place into boxes. By the end of the day, the majority of our worldly possessions were neatly ensconced in paper and cardboard, and loaded onto their van in a giant game of packing-box Tetris.
I was working from home, and every now and then I’d look up from my computer to see that large parts of our life were suddenly missing. It’s an odd experience not to pack yourself, but one which I wholeheartedly recommend. If we had packed the flat up ourselves – with The Boy bum-shuffling between our legs, and throwing strops about eating anything but toast – we probably would have given up after the first few boxes.
We met some pals later on, at our favourite pizza place – Pizzeria 1926, on Dalry Rd – to bid farewell to the area that has been the backdrop to such mixed memories (our first home bought together, noisy neighbours*, PhD completed, crazy neighbours**, job promotion for Cat, awful neighbours***, some lovely neighbours, pitched battles between Hearts casuals and their rivals, dog shit – so much dog shit, and – making everything else feel insignificant – The Boy’s arrival).
At 1926 we shared Frito Misto to start – a stack of Italian street food classics, like calamari and octopus, fried whitebait, arancini (deep fried risotto balls), and deep fried courgette flowers. A litre of house wine (think rustic trattoria, rater than pretentious ristorante) loosened us up for the pizzas. At 1926, these are classically Neapolitan – albeit with more topping choices than many of the pizzerias we visited in Naples.
The slow-proved and well-seasoned dough is king, here. The secret to Neapolitan pizza dough is tipo 00 flour and a very small amount of yeast. Set off on a long prove – 24 hours is ideal – the dough produces plenty of gluten, which holds up to the stretch of a thin base. Perfectly crisp and charred from 1926’s big stone oven, easy on the eye, and with a satisfying chew, the crust encircles San Marzano tomato (the only way, in Naples) sparingly topped with fantastically fresh ingredients such as friarelli (bitter broccoli), Italian sausage, slivers of pork belly, octopus, or fior de latte.
The place is bustling, and even early on a Thursday the tables turn over quicker than a new leaf after Hogmanay. The staff here really know their business – shaking hands, cracking cheeky jokes, and slapping the backs of semi-regulars – making everyone else wish they were inside the circle, and keeping them coming back. There’s nothing fake or pretentious about this conviviality, though. A genuine sense of community suffuses this place, and you can’t help but leave smiling.
We will definitely miss the eating options in Dalry. French, Italian, and Caribbean rub shoulders with Spanish, South African, and Ukrainian, to make this little neighbourhood, easily one of the most interesting for eating in the city. Nonetheless, there’s plenty to explore in South Queensferry, and a new life – with all its excitements and surprises – awaits us.
*Greatest hits: ‘I don’t fucking care if she’s pregnant, nobody tells me what to do (at 1am)’ and ‘it’s not 10pm yet, so I don’t have to turn it down – anyway its a professional DJ speaker system’.
**Greatest hits: ‘I don’t care if you’re my brother, I’m telling everyone you’re a beast!’ and, watching one pulling the other up into a first floor window using a pair of cotton joggers.
***Greatest hit: ‘I know that I’ve flooded your box room and living room by leaving a tap on and going to the shops after a couple of joints, and I know it’s a day until your first open viewing to sell the place, but I’m doing nothing about it because my floor is fine, and actually, I’m feeling quite fighty.’