Just returned from the Outer Isles - such incredible experiences! The catalyst was an invitation to take part in https://www.toradh.org Uist’s inaugural Festival of Food & Writing. I gladly accepted and promptly decided to arrive on Lewis and exit by Lochboisdale to savour every second of these beautiful isles. Over the week we met so many interesting folk – the midges were a little close for comfort at times but the sunshine and warm welcome we received more than compensated!
West Lewis is home to friends of ours who not only had us to stay but were happy to follow our foibles and introduce us to friends of the Men of Ness, the Guga Hunters, who every year bravely leave the northern tip of Lewis to set off 40 miles north to not much more than a skerry called Sulasgeir to harvest young gannets, following the ancient traditions and food heritage of their forefathers – the menfolk are there as we speak! I am currently researching the Guga for Slow Food’s Ark of Taste and will add the link when complete. The Ness Historical Society, along with our friends, were hugely helpful.
We took a stroll at Ness Harbour, with its stunning views, great breakers and crazy zig zag pier,
then off to chat to Sweeny, featured on BBC’s Crofter Air An Lot who has Hebridean Sheep, another future entry for the Ark (lots of homework to do!). Back home to a great local butcher’s steak pie with all the trimmings and a selection of black puddings to taste - this is a rite of passage here for a foodie as everyone has a favourite. Indeed when in the local bookshop I was actually asked, Had I tasted them all yet and which did I prefer? This is serious stuff!! Lunch the following day was a few miles down the road at 40 North, a lovely new addition to Scottish Food Guide.
Eastwards and a stroll through Stornoway unearthed not only an
excellent deli and fish smoker but also a Black Watch bow tie for Bosse to wear in France! That evening we dined on local smoked salmon roulé with superb homemade crowdie, and beautifully cooked goat with a delicious selection of vegetables, all expertly cooked by Dave and Jane of Isle of Lewis Cheese Company https://www.isleoflewischeese.co.uk Not only do they make an excellent range of cheeses but they also run a B&B on their croft so it is the perfect place to stay when exploring Lewis. In the morning the lovely ladies were peeping out, not wishing to get their hair wet in the drizzle!
We headed south over Harris, through more breath-taking scenery, via a lovely Hebscape
Gallery and Tearoom en route to the Distillery Canteen in Tarbert. I received a warm welcome at Scarista House then we headed for the ferry to the Uists. Over the next few days you will see further new additions and updates on Scottish Food Guide so do check out the Outer Hebrides sections.
…and I think I shall have to leave the fabulous https://www.toradh.org and tales from the crofts for my next blog as there is so much to tell!
...and I must take a moment to mention another few items….
My Shetland Times article on chicken is now online at http://www.shetlandtimes.co.uk/2017/08/29/opinion-can-rare-breed-chickens-take-factory-hens
Cate Devine interviewed us for her lovely article on the Ark of Taste Barra Snails. The unabridged version is at http://www.catedevinewriter.com/ark-of-taste-accepts-isle-of-barra-snails
Scottish Food Fortnight was launched on Thursday in Glasgow
with Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity; James Withers, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink; Graham Suttle, Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Award 2017 Food Pioneer winner; Jacqueline O’Donnell, Land of Food and Drink Ambassador Chef and Chef Patron, The Sisters http://thesisters.co.uk and Andrew Ramsay, Ramsay of Carluke https://www.ramsayofcarluke.co.uk . Every day has a different theme – tomorrow is picnics so let’s hope for sunny weather and have a good one!
Join Ardross Farm for a fun and informative day as they showcase the wonderful World of farming. Come along see behind the scenes, share the Ardross journey and sample some delicious products along the way! http://www.ardrossfarm.co.uk
Venison is back on the meat counter at Whitmuir who collaborate with
Glen Tress and the Forestry Commission – its not online so you have to go to get it! https://www.whitmuir.scot
Demijohn introduces their Pea and Mint Salad Recipe along with other great ideas and offers http://www.demijohn.co.uk
Macbeths have Wild Venison now available from estates through the
North West Highlands of Scotland where keepers are renowned for their skill and expertise. http://www.macbeths.com
Cringletie now are linked to the top Fishing provider in Scotland: Alba Game Fishing
Hogmanay is now fully booked but there are a few rooms left for Christmas, so be quick and come and enjoy the Cringletie Festive experience https://www.cringletie.com
63 Tay Street still hosts its popular Steak Weekends, along with other
menu offers so check out the link to see what’s on and Graeme’s Blog http://www.63taystreet.com
They are closed on Sundays but their Sister Restaurant at Parklands Hotel does a lovely Prosecco Sunday Lunch at £17.50 for two courses with a glass of fizz on arrival! http://www.theparklandshotel.com