Thursday, June 24, 2010

Delicious Scotland - Part II

Welcome to part two of my Scottish food adventure. Here are some more of my favourite meals enjoyed in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the picturesque Highlands. There was just so much beautiful food out there to experience and I manged to sample some fantastic dishes. Here are some more of my highlights.

I enjoyed this beautiful rich seafood chowder at a small inn on the shores of Loch Ness. Full of leeks, herbs, cream and a selection of succulent local seafood it was indulgent and delicious. They served hunks of straight- from- the- oven, house made bread on the side which was perfect for capturing all that delicious liquid. I haven't made chowder for ages and this really inspired me to do just that very soon.

This next dish was just so simple, but it proved yet again that if you use quality ingredients you don't have to fuss around with them too much. This perfectly prepared local smoked salmon was served with a drizzle of parsley oil and fresh herbs, and that was all that was needed for a luscious starter. The salmon had an almost buttery texture that was irresistable against the freshness of the parsley oil. Yum!!

You already know how I feel about meringues *swoon* - and this gorgeous looking specimen that I enjoyed in Edinburgh was pretty much meringue perfection for me. The sweet crunch of the meringue, served with tangy raspberries and marscapone cheese were a knockout. And my goodness, doesn't it look beautiful on the plate?! Like garnet red jewels on a snowdrift. *sigh*

Scottish seafood knocks my socks off again with these fabulous oysters. Freshly shucked, briny, plump and glistening in their shells, they needed nothing but a touch of lemon and a dash of pepper. I just love that pure explosion of sea taste that a very fresh oyster delivers - and these oysters were simply outstanding.

My experience of the following dish was no doubt enhanced by the fact that I ate it whilst sitting out in the gardens of the historic Dornoch Castle Hotel on a crisp highland spring day, overlooking the 12th Century Dornoch Cathedral. But setting aside, I really loved this dish of pork loin and celeriac mash served with a superior black pudding and a creamy mustard and cress sauce. Rich flavours, juicy pork and a beautifully spiced black pudding made this dish so satisfying. 

Visiting old friends in Edinburgh, we had planned to have lunch together and then go off for an afternoon of strolling around the gorgeous city. Unfortunately the strolling never eventuated - lunch kind of stretched out to a four hour, twelve course extravaganza at a fantastic Spanish restaurant my friends Tancred and Evelyn recommended. The afternoon was wonderful - lots of laughter, invigorating discussions and Spanish wine of course! The tapas dishes we enjoyed were outstanding. Each one so full of flavour and perfect for sharing.

So, we started with scallops cooked with leek and crispy jamon, marinated white anchovies and a confit of duck leg served with a sauce of calvados (with duck meat so tender that you literally touched it, and it fell from the bone)

Next on the menu we chose a spicy chorizo stew in a garlicky, chilli tomato gravy - then moist, juicy almond and herbed beef meatballs - and waiter.... please bring us more duck.......oh...the duck......

Evelyn and I are both black pudding fans, so we couldn't resist the black pudding with apples - which was for me one of the standout dishes of the afternoon. The best black pudding I have ever tasted. And it worked so beautifuly with the sweet, caramelised apples. We also enjoyed a selection of spanish cured meats and cheeses, and completely addictive chicken croquettes - we loved them so much we ordered a second batch! Crunchy and crisp on the outside, creamy and rich and decadent on the inside.

As well as a second batch of croquettes, we savoured a whole hot baked goat's cheese with seville oranges (what an inspired combination - rich and sticky and delectable) and fried, spiced chicken with lemon and mustard - the chicken inside the crisp coating was meltingly moist, sweet and tender. Just delicious. Lunch was four hours of complete gastronomic heaven, made all the sweeter by sharing time with dear friends.

My last night in Scotland - and this beautiful, perfectly cooked lamb shoulder was a fitting end to what was a suprising and satisfying culinary journey. The lamb had been slow cooked and was so tender it just fell apart on the fork. Served simply with a reduction of pan juices and a touch of wine and juniper, it was as comforting and cosy as a bunny rug. It went beautifully with the amazing, peaty, velvety, buttery tasting whisky that I drank with it. Outside, the wind blows over the black, icy loch. Comfort food? Yes - very comfortable thankyou......

If you ever have the opportunity to visit beautiful Scotland, then make sure you sample the spectacular seafood that they have on offer, as well as the wonderful game. I think it is the clean air and water and the wild open spaces that make the produce so special. I absolutely fell in love with the food as well as the countryside that seemed to teem with wild pheasants, rabbit and deer. And I'm sticking to my guns on the whole haggis issue - forget about being squeamish about what it is made of - it is a delicious expression of head to tail eating. The Scots knew what they were doing with that one. It's good to occasionally eat something that scares you a little. Well, they aren't Scotland the brave for nothing!


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