Some summer foodie happenings.

I have finally returned from a mega-busy summer and I fully intend to tighten up my blogging discipline… starting by posting on the wrong day. Ach well, at least I’m getting something up eh? Since the last post I have been on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and in Thurso, as well as Foodies Festival in Edinburgh. It’s been a busy time and I haven’t always had access to internet. With a bit of time I will hopefully get a bit better at using the scheduled post function.

Anyway, I thought I’d try to condense all that into a single post about the last wee while told through food.

Tiree was phenomenal! The weather was amazing and we spent most days biking around the island and swimming in the sea (not to mention watching all the Olympics that we could get our eyes on!). Take my advice on this one and visit if you get a chance, if you like the outdoors you won’t be disappointed. We ate well with different teams cooking food each night and a mega BBQ to finish the week. I had such a good time that I forgot to take any photos of food and so unfortunately you’ll just have to use your imagination.

In between Tiree and Thurso we went to Foodies Festival in Inverleith park in Edinburgh. Following the standard food festival format of producers’ stands, chefs demonstrations and plenty opportunity to eat and drink everything from the best of Scottish cheese and fresh local bread to oysters and champagne. I achieved a long-awaited foodie first and knocked back a big ol’ oyster with a touch of Tabasco, fully expecting it to be foul. I couldn’t have been more wrong; the ozone freshness with the heat of the chilli was a delight and a few chews of the salty-sweet flesh later it was gone and I was converted. Also, luckily, the aphrodisiac effect didn’t seem to grab me and I was able to carry on enjoying the festival without any lascivious episodes.

It was great to see so many local producers showcasing the freshest quality ingredients. A personal highlight was fresh smoked kippers:

Upright smoke cabinet

Upright smoke cabinet

Pictured above is an upright cabinet but we ate kippers from an even more traditional smoker dug deep into the ground and covered with wet burlap sacks:

Traditional underground smoker

Traditional underground smoker

The fish was beautifully tender and naturally oily. Real smoked fish doesn’t have that acrid flavour or ungodly yellow colour that you get from the artificial rubbish so get your chops round the good stuff if you’ve got the option.

Whilst at the festival we did a Malasian cooking class for free which included two dishes and provided a tasty and thrifty lunch-time meal. I’m including the recipe here and I recommend it highly. We used a special piece of kit for the pancakes but if you move quickly enough in tight spirals you could probably use a piping bag on the thinnest nozzle you’ve got.

Malaysian chicken curry and crispy spiral pancakes

Malaysian chicken curry and crispy spiral pancakes

Here’s a pic of Norman Musa and me with his book Malaysian Food: A Selection of My Favourite Dishes and The Inspiration Behind Them: 

Norman Musa

Norman Musa

Finally we nipped up to Thurso to visit family. My auntie Ros has just opened a lovely wee tea room called Cups selling some of the best cakes and traybakes around! Cups is the culmination of a lifetime of amateur baking and the baked goods are a clear indication of this commitment. The ethos of the cafe is right up my street too: local produce, high quality ingredients and a bit of fun with flavours. The Haggis and cheddar toasted sandwich on fresh Orkney corn bread hits the spot and the homemade soups will warm the bones after a brisk stroll along the beach to the beautiful ex-chapel which houses Cups. The cake and traybake selection is vast and the variety means that there’s something for every palate from the sumptuously fruity paradise slice or the coconut and cherry sponge to brownies or scones with homemade jam and clotted cream.

Cups' cakes

Cups’ cakes

I was pleased to see that my great granny Isabella’s gingerbread had made it onto the menu and the malty treacly sponge was an absolute delight spread thick with butter on the 8 hour train back down. It even made Scotrail’s instant ‘coffee’ bearable. This is not (just) a shameless nepotistic plug, Cups is a real gem!

Now that I’m back I’ll try to keep to more regular posts and I promise to put up a proper recipe tomorrow for you to get cracking with. until then…