Welcome to our Taste of Scotland Blog where you will find news and views on Scottish restaurants, food from Scotland, traditional and contemporary Scottish cuisine. Occasionally we will drop in some useless but entertaining snippets of foodie information as well as the odd restaurant offer or food promotion which we feel is worth passing on to our friends and web visitors.
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Scottish Beef is renowned the world over, and quite rightly so. But why should this be?
With the help of Donald Russell, the UK’s top online meat ordering company we find out why.
It seems to be that the climate, soil type and overall topography simply create the perfect conditions for beef cattle to thrive. In the same way as the ‘terroirs’ on which grapevines grow create vastly differing wines, the land on which cattle graze affects the final flavour and texture profile of the beef. In Scotland, grass grows lushly in the mild, often damp weather, and wild native herbs add a subtle tang to the flavour of cattle grazed on higher pasture. We’re just spectacularly lucky that our rolling green grassland and moderate (yes, really!) climate combine to produce what we firmly believe to be the world’s finest beef.
Anywhere in particular?
Most of Scotland has the potential to produce really great beef, but Aberdeenshire in particular has a reputation for raising the finest beef of all. The region (renowned also for its wild game, seafood and Speyside whisky) has long been regarded as the ‘the larder of Europe’, and is home to the world-famous ‘Aberdeen Angus’ breed, from which much of the global beef stock is descended.
So is ‘Aberdeen Angus’ the best beef? Continue Reading >>
Hebridean Sea Salt is Scotland’s first gourmet salt and it’s coming to a shop near you. The flakes of crunchy salt are produced to the highest of standards are have been used in top quality kitchens throughout Scotland including Gleneagles, The Three Chimneys and Edinburgh School of Food and Wine.
Sourced from the crystal clear waters of Loch Eriscort on the East Coast of Lewis, Hebridean Sea Salt is claimed to be the most pure, natural and unrefined sea salt. With over sixty naturally occurring trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc essential for good health and wellbeing.
Founded in 2012 by Natalie Crayton, Hebridean Sea Salt has enjoyed continued growth and food awards. This year the company introduced two new naturally flavoured salt ranges; Hebridean Sea Salt Peat and Hebridean Sea Salt Seaweed Infused. Both complement the original and rich taste of Hebridean Sea Salt but add an extra tasty hint to any dish. The salts have previously been stocked in over 300 independent stores throughout the UK and are also available through the online retailer Amazon.
Following excellent sales growth in 2013 Hebridean Sea Salt, the company are now looking forward to further growth as they launch their products in almost 400 Co-op and Scot Mid stores from June 16th.
Contact details: 01851 880 324 / 07787850009
Mara, a Scottish seaweed company, is on a mission to bring “the ancient food of seaweed to modern thinkers”. Mara produces an innovative product range of natural seaweed seasonings and is launching on March 11th in Harrods Branded Pantry.
The Mara seaweed range includes the “Truffle of the Sea”, (Pepper Dulse), the most unique and unusual flavour that has become a favourite of some of Britain’s fine dining chefs.
Mara grew out of the founders’ (Fiona Houston and Xa Milne) shared passion for Scotland’s natural larder and its forgotten tastes and traditions. Mara harvests seaweeds seasonally from the wild, pure waters of the British Isles. Their intense flavour, freshness and health benefits are captured in the natural drying process, then milled to a flake to use as a seasoning, a natural flavour enhancer, and a healthy salt alternative.
Some of the UK’s most inspiring chefs including Nick Nairn, Brett Graham and Nathan Outlaw use Mara seaweed in their cuisines. In his BBC show ‘Pies and Puds’ Paul Hollywood featured one of the Mara products – Shony ®, a Great Taste Award winning blend of three seaweeds: red, green and olive. He described it as most exciting ingredients he had come across.
There is a fascinating story behind Mara Seaweed – Seaweed is the most highly mineralised vegetable on earth – just one sprinkle a day has enormous health benefits containing important minerals such as vitamins ABCE, anti-oxidants, omega 3, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Mara is a Scottish company selling a range of seaweed products from native seasonal seaweeds of Scottish and Irish provenance. Based in Edinburgh, Mara (means ‘of the sea’) evolved from the founders’ desire to harness the potential of one of Scotland’s forgotten foods and natural resources – seaweed – bringing an elemental food to a modern audience.
The first phase of the new World Whisky Day website is now ‘live’ at: www.worldwhiskyday.com
World Whisky Day invites everyone to try a wee dram of whisky in celebration of Scotland’s national drink – the water of life. Events will be taking place all over the globe. If you can’t find an event happening near you then why not host your own World Whisky Day event? All you need is some whisky to share with your friends and a desire to find out more about this world famous spirit.
Look out for new sections to the web site including competitions and special features as the big day approaches.
Recent announcements include:
World Whisky Day celebrates all types of whisky / whiskey and encourages everyone to enjoy whisky responsibly.
Get in the spirit, mark the date in your diary and let’s raise a dram to World Whisky Day 2014.
Further details: www.worldwhiskyday.com
From Beijing to Brussels, New Delhi to New York, Scotland’s food and drink is going global
A new marketing initiative has been launched to help make Scottish food and drink as well known internationally as Scottish whisky.
The Scotland Food and Drink Export Plan aims to capitalise on Scotland’s Food Industry’s success by focusing on 15 key export markets. The key areas the campaign will target are North America, France, Germany, the Middle East, China and Hong Kong, Japan and South East Asia.
Experts from successful Scottish food companies will work with the Scottish government to maximise export potential for these markets. The strategy is encourages by news that previous food and drink export goals were met six years ahead of schedule. Scottish food and drink is one of the country’s strongest exports and enjoyed a 52% increase between 2007 and 2012. During the decade leading up to 2012 exports of Scotch whisky also increased by 87% to £4.3bn.
It’s great to see Scotland’s food and drink sector coming together as one to lay out a plan for the industry as a whole”
Mark Laing Nairn
Food and Drink Secretary Richard Lochhead backed the plan saying:
“From Beijing to Brussels, New Delhi to New York, Scotland’s food and drink is going global. The sector has experienced tremendous growth in recent years – in fact, if the current rate of growth continues then we will have an export rate similar to that of the North Sea oil and gas industry. That is remarkable.”
The Scotland Food and Drink Export Partnership is made up of the Scottish government, Scotland Food and Drink, Scottish Development International, Quality Meat Scotland, Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation, Scottish Bakers, Scotch Whisky Association and Dairy UK and Seafood Scotland.
The new scheme was backed by several high-profile Scottish food companies.
Mark Laing, chairman of Nairn’s in Edinburgh, said: “Exports are a key part of our business. We currently export to 30 countries around the world and have experienced the benefits from this, but we know there are many more potential opportunities out there.
“It’s great to see Scotland’s food and drink sector coming together as one to lay out a plan for the industry as a whole.”
The group has produced an online document outlining how the scheme aims to boost the profile of Scottish food and drink exports.
With the rise and rise of cookery classes, cook schools, bakery masterclasses and more, there’s never been a better time to get out your apron and learn some new skills. Whether it’s basic kitchen skills, classes for children, the art of foraging or a hundred other subjects, you’ll find a host of cookery classes and cook schools throughout Scotland. You will find a listing of Scottish Cookery Schools on our Taste-of-Scotland.com web site
One day courses or week long advanced classes for all levels can be found at Glasgow’s Cookery School. Located in new premises in The Jacobean Corsetry Building, Virginia Street in Glasgow, the Cookery School is renowned for a wide range of courses on cookery, wine tasting, malt whisky tasting, cocktail making, cupcake decorating, making hand-made chocolates, hen parties and cookery courses for children.
More info: http://www.thecookeryschool.org/
Cooking for Corporates – a great way to enjoy cooking within the workplace. What better way to reward achievers that with a culinary experience that mixes new skills, fun and gourmet food into one memorable day. The Cooks School at Stepwell offers a range of corporate options as well as childrens’ classes and vouchers – ideal for Mother’s Day!
More info: http://www.cookschools.co.uk/corporate/
Editors note: For those friends south of the border we can recommend a new venture in the South East called Emma’s Kitchen. Based in Frinton on the Essex Sunshine Coast this a small but exciting enterprise focused on local produce and easy cooking skills.
More info: http://www.emmaskitchencafe.co.uk/
This time the restaurant is located in leafy Stockbridge to the north of the city. Called Bistro Moderne by Mark Greenaway the restaurant will cater for 80 covers and combines classic French bistro style with imaginative combinations and locally produce to create a refreshingly new menu. The restaurant features several innovations including a dessert bar and a whisky matched grazing menu.
Mark Greenaway, is quoted as saying: “I’ve been looking for suitable opportunities for a second restaurant in Edinburgh for a while now. The Bistro will offer simpler versions of my restaurant dishes as well as introducing some new styles of food from my repertoire, all served in a friendly and relaxed setting. And because Bistro will be open on a Sunday we’ll be serving amazing roasts of Aberdeen Angus beef and chicken.”
Bistro Moderne – 15 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh, EH3 65X, 0131 225 6631
Open 7 days a week, serving lunch and dinner, with breakfasts served Friday to Sunday.
Although our focus at Taste-of-Scotland.com tends to be on Scotland’s restaurants and Scottish Food we couldn’t help sharing an intriguing encounter with a cocktail bar in the heart of Edinburgh called Junipers. With views out over Princes Street this stylish cocktail venue for younger revellers has some unique offerings including Full Scottish Breakfast – a cocktail comprising Glenmorangie and Ardbeg single malts shaken up with lemon juice, orange marmalade, orange bitters, smokey bacon foam and blow torch toast.
Our enthusiasm was not restricted to the cocktails but also the ‘street food menu’ which features Rannoch Venison & Juniper Scotch Egg, Juniper Smoked Salmon Croquettes with beetroot jam and Scottish Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. We have yet to sample the dishes but just the idea of these innovative morsels made us include in this months newsletter. We will keep you posted and do share your comments if you happen to visit Junipers over the festive period.
The 6500 sportsmen and women and officials gather in the 2014 Athletes’ Village will be able to choose from a range of healthy Scottish produce. All caterers appointed by Glasgow 2014 will have to sign up to the Commonwealth Games Food Charter, which highlights the importance of where food is from and how it has been produced.
The Food Charter has been developed by a range of partners, including Scotland Food and Drink, the Glasgow Restaurant Association and Glasgow City Council. It outlines a commitment to ethical, safe and healthy-living standards for all foods served at the Games.
As well as showcasing the Scottish larder, the charter includes a sustainable procurement policy, which highlights the importance of sourcing sustainable and ethical goods, services and sponsorship. Organisers hope it will act as a blueprint for major sporting and cultural events held in Scotland.
Scotland’s Food Minister, Richard Lochhead, said the Games were an opportunity to showcase the country’s best food. He is quoted as saying: “This Food Charter will allow athletes and spectators alike to enjoy the very best of Scotland’s superb food and drink during Glasgow 2014, when the eyes of the world are on our nation. I look forward to seeing the principles and standards set out in the Commonwealth Games Food Charter used as a basis for a wider Food and Drink Charter for Events in Scotland. This will present a great opportunity for Scottish food and drink businesses to supply good quality, healthy, authentic food and drink at local, national and international events across the country starting in our second Year of Food and Drink in 2015.”
Further details: http://bit.ly/18CODG2
Andrew Fairlie and Martin Wishart retained their prestigious positions in this years Sunday Times Food List published on 3rd November. Listed as #2 and #5 respectively, they continue to fly the flag for Scottish cuisine in Hardens UK Restaurant Guide. Tom Kitchen at #11 was so close in getting included in the top ten and mention must go to the other seven Scottish restaurants featured in this weeks Sunday Times 100 Top UK Restaurants – The Peat Inn, Castle Terrace, The Honours, Ondine, Ubiquitous Chip, Mother India (Edinburgh) and The Witchery.
The finest talent in the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink industry gathered in Inverness on Friday 25th October to celebrate this year’s Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards. A nail-biting finale saw over forty businesses nervously awaiting the announcement of the winners. Twelve awards are given to the victorious businesses ranging from breweries, bakeries, restaurants and retailers to producers of premium Scottish seafood, salt and cheese.
Gilpin Bradley of Wester Ross Salmon received the top honour of the evening – the Ambassador of the Year Award for his contribution to the Scottish fisheries industry. Gigha Seafood walked away with the Excellence Award for demonstrating outstanding achievement.
Other winners of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2013 included Caithness-based business Berry Good’s Vodka and Gin Infusions for Best Drink Award; Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for Best Marketing Initiative Award; Island Bakery Organics from the Isle of Mull for the Environment Award; Alness-based Aquascot for Entrepreneur Business 2013 and the Healthier Food & Drink Award; 40 North won Independent Food & Drink Retailer Award and Hebridean Sea Salt won the New Business Award, both based on the Isle of Lewis; Gigha Seafood’s Smoked Gigha Halibut for New Product Award; Restaurant of the Year was Ninth Wave Restaurant on the Isle of Mull and Eilean Dubh in Fortrose picked up the Best Eatery Award.
The judges comments on the winning restaurant Ninth Wave were self-explanatory: “It’s not the easiest place in the world to get to but the bumpy drive up the dirt track is well worth the effort when you discover the gem that is Ninth Wave waiting for you. Inside, this small restaurant is contemporary but cosy with a kilted John Lamont doing the meeting, greeting and waiting. Amazing menus change daily depending on what fisherman John’s caught that day! Combined with the freshest, seasonal produce grown outside on the couple’s croft, the food is beautifully presented – an absolute treat for the taste buds.”
Nearly 300 representatives from the Highlands and Islands’ food and drink industry packed out the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness. The dinner featured a mouth-watering menu including food from top regional producers and suppliers: Gordon & MacPhail, Gigha Seafood, Highland Fine Cheeses, Isle of Mull Cheese, Reids of Caithness, Maclean’s Highland Bakery, Strathconon Highland Organix and Swansons Fruit Company. And with music provided by the Cairn String Quartet who performed a variety of genres of music on classical instruments, the event combined all the necessary ingredients for an inspiring and memorable evening’s entertainment.
For more information about the Awards and winners visit www.hifoodanddrinkawards.co.uk.