thegrumblingtummy

"No love sincerer than the love of food"


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CAIO BELLA ITALIA

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I may be sitting here in chilly drizzly old Scotland but my heart is still meandering along the shores of beautiful Lake Garda.  I was again lucky enough this summer to spend just over 2 weeks based in Peschiera Del Garda – soaking up the sunshine, watching the beautiful people and eating like a king.

Yes this is the Italian edition of the Grumbling Tummy, packed with mouth watering highlights from my trip.

THE VECCHIO MULINO BEACH RESTAURANT

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Most restaurants in the pretty towns and villages in Lake Garda are quite traditional in their style so it was lovely to experience something a little different when we visited Vecchio Mulino Beach Bar and  Restaurant.  This is only a 20 minute walk along the lake from the town of Peschiera – a walk that takes you past stunning homes, paddling spots, pedalos, swans and a little harbour.  The lakeside location is stunning!  There is a real buzz about this cleverly designed restaurant – it is airy and stylish “beach chic”.

The menus come in the forms of hard backed books with stunning full page photographs of each and every dish – it was a real page turner.  This stylish take on a menu made everything look so lovely it was hard to choose – but choose we did. I opted for salmon with pancetta covered in corn meal and accompanied by roast vegetables in thyme oil.  B chose stuffed anchovies.

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The highlight of my main course was the veg.  Slices of courgette, peppers and aubergine standing to attention in a beautiful glass jar and generously doused in fresh tyme and good quality olive oil – the aroma was tantalizing and the taste was none too shabby either.  The salmon was perfectly cooked and altogether this was a lovely balanced healthy meal.  I am always delighted when abroad to see fruit appear so liberally in the dessert menu and not just atop a chocolate torte but with pride as the main performer.  It takes the guilt away from having a dessert and I do wish British restaurants would follow suit.  On this menu there were some simple yet stunning fruits doused in a little dark chocolate  …… you need no more than that to please me.  Delicious!  The meal seemed healthy until wee GT got her dessert in the form of a GIANT candy floss.  Wonderful gimmick for the kids and unfortunately parents find it hard to keep their greedy paws away from it too.

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We were so impressed with this restaurant we returned there for our last meal, and despite there being a family of  dogs (the size of small horses) in attendance (with their owners of course) it was just as lovely.

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GRANITA ICE STATIONS

This is what keeps you alive as a peely-wally Scot tottering around Italy in a mini heat wave.  To the common man this is really a Slushy – but oh they do them so well in Italy.  I have no idea if they are abound with sugar and chemicals but they taste much more natural than the specimens we have here.

The flavours are fantastic – cherry, mint, strawberry, mango, melon and then of course the obligatory bright blue one (definitely chemical) which wee GT seemed to gravitate towards.

On a hot day they are nectar and on the day we decided a 5 mile lakeside walk in 84 degrees  was a good idea they were a life saver.

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FRESH FRESH FRESH

The fabulous thing about food in Italy is the freshness and simplicity of everything.  Brian ordered Tuna on our final day and what arrived was a plate of very simply char grilled tuna topped with toasted sesame seeds.  The tuna was was so fresh it was almost jumping off the plate.  Having only ever cooked supermarket tuna (shameful but true) I believed that it was meant to be a brown gray colour – isn’t it?.  Turns out this is not true – it is indeed meaty pink and mouthwatering.

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Veal is something which I remember eating as a young girl but as you know it is a meat which fell seriously out of favour in the United Kingdom.  Not so in Italy where veal appears on just about every menu.  One of the most popular ways to serve veal is with a Marsala sauce accompanied by some simple roast vegetables.  If you have not tasted veal it is  pink and tender with a sublime taste all of  its own – somewhere between pork and beef –  It is quite subtle.  The sauces in every restaurant were so fresh and intense and entirely lacking the glutinous texture of so many  encountered here. I loved being reunited with veal.  I know that in the UK  we had an ‘ethical’comeback in the form of Rose Veal, but it is not really common place and people are generally still quite anti-veal.  We are missing out.

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ICE CREAM and CREPES

You cannot write a blog on Italian food without writing about the nations favourite GELATO!  You don’t have to seek out ice cream in Italy, simply cast your eye down any street and you should be able to spot countless places to tempt you with their array of beautiful flavours.  I find it hard to get past creamy pistachio and wee GT opts for the disgusting blue number (what it is it about blue food and this child) every time but there is a serious number of tempting flavours to be had and as well as traditional ice cream there is frozen yogurt and an array of sorbets on offer. On a hot day to somebody with a sweet tooth there is nothing more pleasurable than wandering along the narrow streets of a charming Italian town happily licking an enormous ice cream.

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Uno Crepe con nutella is a much used phrase when in Italy.  Crepes are of course French , however the Italians seem to have embraced this sweet snack with gusto and there are crepes available on every street corner and on many menus.  The most popular filling by far is nutella and you know how I feel about nutella – yum.  The next best thing to wandering around a charming Italian town with an ice cream is wandering around a charming Italian town stuffing your face with warm crepe, gooey chocolate spread and a dusting of icing sugar.

I’M NOT GOING THERE

When your husband looks at you over a meal and delivers this line “this is so good it makes me want to cry” you know you are somewhere good.  Last year we stayed in a fairly awful airport hotel in Milan on the way  home.  The surrounding area of Milan’s Malpensa airport is not exactly ritzy and there is nothing much going on . On arrival we headed out to the only restaurant near the hotel and all I could say was thank the lord it was closed.  It looked less than appealing with its dirty white plastic chairs in the outside dining area. This shabby eatery looked more caff than restaurant.

Fast forward to this year when we were staying at a much better hotel and had done our restaurant research.  Trip Advisor praised a little restaurant called SARMANCANDA, awarding it many stars and rave reviews, and  so  the hungry travellers went on search of this oasis in a desert and lo what did we find – tatty restaurant from the year before.  This time it was very open and called SARMANCANDA.  We ventured in.  The place was absolutely buzzing with a mix of airport hotel folk and lots of locals. The interior was really pleasant and not overly traditional with a proper bar area and the kitchen in full view –  and let me tell you there was nothing manky about it.  It was actually a pretty romantic candlelit hideaway if it was not for the five year old at our table.

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We had a deluxe anti-pasto of meats and cheeses to start.  It was beyond fantastic  (I think this was where B delivered his killer line) There was pancetta which was edged in cinnamon, an array of other fantastic local meats and three or four stunning cheeses. We asked the waitress about the cheeses and she was amazingly knowledgeable but not having expected this level of fabulousness I wrote nothing down.  Sorry!  The platter was set off perfectly with honey and an intensely flavoured carmalised onion chutney as well as a mild mustard dip for the hams.

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Had I not wanted a pizza quite so much I might have tried some of their special meals,  which included rabbit, lamb and various amazing fish dishes.  But I had a pizza which was beautiful and Bs Calzone was the size of his head and tasted marvellous. However the star of the show as far as I was concerned was dessert.  In the more tourist orientated Lake Garda there is a standard fare of gateauxs, cheese cakes and ice cream sundaes in restaurants and I am not sure how much of these are actually made on the premises.  On this menu we found some beautiful home-made offerings including short crust pastry ravioli, filled with a ginger jam, delicately floating on a lake of vanilla, mint and thyme custard.  This dessert was nothing short of sublime and the decision to share one portion was a bad one.

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I would recommend this restaurant to everybody who finds themselves floating around the area of Malpensa airport in Milan – go seek it out.

EATING  WITH KIDS IN ITALY- A FINAL NOTE

The Italians are very child friendly –  forever ruffling their hair or tickling them under their chin whilst murmuring bella bambina.  Restaurants also welcome children with open arms but step away from the non tourist areas and you will not find a ‘children’s menu’. This is because in Italy children eat what their parents eat and don’t get the chance to opt for the dinosaur shaped nuggets and chips.  Now I am not being high and mighty about this as my child lived off  frankfurters, ,chips and air on holiday, I am in awe more than anything.  As well as not cow towing to fussy eaters in restaurants you will not find much in the way of kid branded food in supermarkets. No spaghetti in the shape of letters, animals or peppa pig characters (god knows we looked!).  Kids seem to eat …… real food.  They are also welcomed into restaurants for dinner when our pre-schoolers are entering the land of nod because they tend to eat with the family and if the family is going out to eat at 8 then hell so are they – and it is really nice.  They do have a siesta which helps them to stay up a lot later however I was more interested in the inclusion of kids in family meals.  All too often I rustle up something for the wee one that “she will like” before packing her off to bed so that I can have something devilishly hot and spicy to eat and some peace and quiet. Perhaps I can learn something from the Italian way. My little girl has serious eating issues due to a medical condition so we might not manage to steer her away from the sausage so easily but we will be eating out with her in the evening more at weekends and also making sure that we all sit down together at least a few times a week for a family meal. I am sure I am not the only one who could improve in this area.

So that’s it from Italy  ………………… next stop Dublin!

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SUMMER – SAY HELLO, WAVE GOODBYE

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Hello Summer we all cried just a week or so ago as we lolled around in sandals and packed our trusty jumpers away.  And then it seemed I had blinked and seven months had passed for we had snow ……. yes snow and hailstones.  Surely it must be December?

In the narrow chink of loveliness mini GT and I spent some lovely time in our garden.  We have a smallish paved noisy garden next to a big road but the nipper and I love it anyway.  First we had the “melty cheese” experiment which involved putting a piece of cheese on a plate and sitting it in the sun whilst looking at it intently to see what it would do (it didn’t really melt much to the disappointment of mini GT) Then there was playing with the hose – it makes me a bit ashamed as I know there are people with no water to drink  – but honestly 10 minutes of giving her free reign with a water hose is ten minutes of blissful peace!

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Then I decided to make home made ice lollies.  We had been told earlier in the week by the wee one’s  dieticians that we were not to worry a jot about a healthy diet but rather just get little miss to eat whatever she wants to get her weight up BUT I reckoned I could kill two birds with one stone in some home made lollies.

I picked up these cute lolly moulds from ASDA for the princely sum of £2.  Into the blender I added a handful each of strawberries and raspberries, a spoonful of honey, a little bit of gold top super creamy milk and lots of full fat Greek yogurt.  There are no real quantities, I just experimented till I had a smooth tasty mixture.  In the moulds it went and into the freezer for about 4 hours.  Now here is the trick – to get the lolly tray to actually give you your lolly you have to stick it in hot water for about a minute to loosen things off.

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The result was fantastic – I loved them as did my husband.  But what did little Miss think?

Well despite initial excitement (possibly because they were pink)  she handed a half eaten lolly back to me and gave this critique ;

“Its ok mummy I suppose but it would be better without all that fruit”

What are you gonna do?

My next trick with the lolly mould will be nutella and banana lollies (that will trick her) and also coconut milk lollies with mango.  You should give it a go as the possibilities are endless and lets face it they can keep in the freezer till the snow passes.


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Ardross Farm Shop

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Fear not – I have not given up on the Grumbling Tummy.  It has just been a very busy time what with getting a new job with a fab charity and all. Into my second week at Kidney Kids Scotland so feel I can breathe now and get writing again. To get me back into the swing I am posting about my trip to Ardross Farm Shop today which some of you may have already seen on the Crail Food Festival website as it was an assignment for them.
So here you go …… get ready for your mouth to water.  Once you have read this you will be beating a hasty path to Ardross or at least your own local farm shop if you live further afield.
I was delighted to be asked to be part of the Crail Food Festival blogging team again this year and even more delighted to learn that my assignment would take me to Ardross Farm Shop in Elie. I had heard Ardross mentioned for quite some time in rather hallowed tones and had always wanted to pay it a visit – well you know how much I love a good farm shop!
The rain stayed away on the morning the Cameron family headed up to Elie and we were all in fine fettle.  N was fixated on the possibility of seeing a cow and having a go on a tractor.  I was just – well – hungry and B saw the farm outing as an excuse to don his hunter wellies.
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The Pollock family have been in the farming business for generations, having moved east from Ayrshire to this stunning part of Fife.  They have a herd of very happy and healthy Stabiliser cows,  which may little bit smaller than some other breeds but they virtually calf themselves and are great at suckling due to a pretty stress free birth.  The calves get all the good nutrients from their mother right away which bears future rewards in terms of a robust immune system.  The cows at Ardross live their lives in the great outdoors,  grazing on nutrient rich meadow pastures or crops which are being produced on the farm itself.
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This is the second farm I have visited in the last year and what has struck me with both has been the emphasis put on the welfare and happiness of the animals.  It really is of paramount importance to the Pollock family that the herd are raised in a traditional manner in as stress free an environment as possible. I was interested to learn that when cows are reared in this way there is little need for the use of antibiotics – this just makes good sense to me.  The meat from the cows I met is made into a mouth watering range of roasts, sausages, burgers, beef olives and more. I will get onto the taste test soon but I can let you know now that it is damn fine.
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Of course it is not just about the beef here at Ardross – they also grow more than 50 varieties of vegetables,  and apart from one of two compromises their shop is faithful to the seasons and the veg is picked fresh every morning.  I learned a little about how unique this is and how old some of my super market produce might be by the time it makes its way onto my plate.  You don’t want to know but what you probably want to do is get ye to your local farm shop.
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The shop is award winning for a reason.  As soon as you walk in you are greeted with a riot of colour from the freshest and most inviting vegetable display I have ever seen.  The last time I saw fresh produce that looked this good was in the outdoor market of France or Italy when I have been on holiday.  It is a million miles away from the display of plastic wrapped ‘same size’ offerings in the local supermarket.
Ardross sell both meat in the chiller and a large range of frozen meat.  This is so that they can keep things as fresh as possible for their customers. As it was a while before we were heading home we bought a fair abundance of meat from the chiller.  Beef Olives were first in the basket – a favourite from childhood when I called them Biffalows. Junior suggested sausages (of course).  Burgers for the boy and some  beef to create a hearty stew.  To accompany our array of meat we were gifted an amazing veggie box which included a carrot which was taller than a bottle of wine!  Other goodies included a swede, beetroot, kale, cabbage and onion.  As well as their own produce there is also an array of goodies from  artisan suppliers – in went fudge, cheesy straws and some gourmet crisps.
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For those of  you who are thinking that this farm shop malarkey is ok if you have the money can I just tell you that the meat and veg at Ardross is  keenly priced making it affordable for all of us to eat good food.
They have come along way from a painted shed with a bell which sounded in the farm-house signalling to the family that they had a customer. Ten years on and the family (for it is indeed a true family affair) have not only a successful farm but a thriving farm shop on their hands.  Nikki who is at the helm of the farm shop has grand plans for expansion but her dreams are kept in check by her sister who is an accountant turned farmer,  and indeed one of the most exciting and interesting young farmers I have ever come across.  Anyway watch this space with regards to what happens next.
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So how did the food actually taste?  Fantastic.  I have here a picture of the stew I made, which would have been nice with any meat ( I am a very good stew maker) but was absolutely stunning with the beef from Ardross.  It was melt in the mouth and tasted like stew my granny used to make before we all went to supermarkets.  I included the carrot, onion and kale in the stew and on the side I made a celeriac and carrot mash with lots of crème fraiche and pepper.  It was beautiful.
This blog could last forever but I must attempt to wrap things up a little with some final observations.  It never feels to leave me in awe when I meet people who have so much passion for what they do, and that passion never fails to shine through in what they produce.  Rob, Fiona, Nikki and Claire are the most passionate family I have met  – they live and breathe their business and you can’t help but be infected by their enthusiasm.
So this summer I suggest we all reconnect with our food and good first  step is paying a visit to Ardross Farm Shop.  I may live 45 minutes drive away but I know I will be back.


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How I made friends with food again

Goats cheese salad

Goats cheese salad

The title sounds a little odd for a food blogger, but to be honest I had fallen a little out of love with food of late. I just couldn’t seem to eat what I loved without suffering consequences and so food was lacking its usual lustre.

I have as you know been on every diet under the sun. Compared to your average bear  I am quite greedy, I am (was) completely addicted to sugar and I was gaining more poundage every month than I could lose.  Most importantly however I was unhappy with it all and dreading heading to Italy – home of the slim, the healthy and the glamorous – feeling less than splendid.

Salmon terrine

Salmon terrine

I stumbled across the Harcombe diet in Waterstones and I won’t bore you with all the details but essentially I decided Zoe Harcombe’s regimen may suit me as it promised to banish my dreadful cravings for sugar.  There are three phases to grapple with.

Phase one is the most harsh and lasts for only 5 days.  This involves eating meat, fish, eggs and veg along with one portion of brown rice a day and a portion of live yogurt each day.  The results were for me dramatic – I lost half a stone in that time and after 5 days without any sugar I felt a little more in control. I also felt a brand new sensation – hunger.  At first I thought I must be starving myself but as it turns out this is what balanced eaters feel coming up to meal times. Being a constant grazer real hunger has become rather alien to me and so it took a while to realize that this was normal.

Lamb filled peppers

Lamb filled peppers

 

Phase two is where you introduce the rest of the dairy family back into your life as well as wheat and fruit – whoop whoop.  I welcomed dairy with verve and loved the fact that full fat is king on this way of eating.  Lovely creamy full fat butter,  creamy cheeses and sinful full fat greek yogurt and indeed double cream made me very happy.  For some reason I did not reintroduce wheat – not quite sure why to be honest but I have still not eaten pasta or bread.  The main rule in this phase is not to mix fat with carbs.  This led to me eating a pretty low carb diet which I was surprised to be happy with.  It also made me triple my vegetable intake which can only be a good thing.  The other golden rule is to NEVER eat processed food which again is not really a bad thing although vaguely impractical at times.

Rice cereal with fruit

Rice cereal with fruit

Phase three is about maintaining your weight and this is where I am at the moment .  Phase three rules are simply –  don’t cheat too much and don’t cheat too often. So you basically stick to not mixing and not eating processed food most of the time but hey ho if there is a party or you are at a mates house then chill a little and go with the flow. The not mixing rule is easy at home but boy oh boy it is a royal pain in the ass when you are eating out so glad to be able to relax on that a bit –  I guess this is the old 80/20 rule.  I have genuinely loved eating this way as an average day can look like this, Porridge with banana, cinnamon and oat milk  (this is a carb breakfast) then a lovely goats cheese salad for lunch (a fat meal)  and in the evening I might eat something like lamb kofta with a huge salad and halloumi followed by berries and double cream (fat meal heaven).  And I lose weight on this!!!!

More berries and full fat yogurt

More berries and full fat yogurt

So anyway I am happy and eating well and feel hugely more energetic and healthy. It is the first diet that is sustainable for me yet like an alcoholic I still find sweet treats an issue and there is always an element of willpower going on.  Every diet says that it is not a diet but a lifestyle change but to be honest I think that is a pile of poop.  This is a diet of sorts, though not one that counts calories, points or any other odd measurement BUT it does take a certain amount of will power.  There has been the odd slip up but at last have found a diet that is enjoyable with good results so clambering back on the wagon has not been so onerous.  I have lost a stone in a month and am delighted with that and shocked at how little effort it took.

Low carb moussaka

Low carb moussaka

The pictures throughout the blog are a selection of the food I have been eating on this diet – not too shabby don’t you think.

I envy friends who just manage to eat healthily without a second though but that didn’t work out for me in the end and so this is my new way of eating and I hope that I can keep it up.

Italian delight

Italian delight

 


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Farm Shop Bliss in Dumfries and Galloway

LOCH ARTHUR CAMPHILL COMMUNITY AND FARM SHOP

Loch Arthur website

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To the passer by Loch Arthur Camphill Community is a beautifully designed farm shop and restaurant, full to bursting with delicious local produce and home baking,  but you need to look closer to get the essence of what this wonderful venture is all about.

Camphill is an international movement of communities designed to meet the needs of children or adults with developmental disabilities,  through a combination of communal living, the arts and work on the land. There are over 100 Camphill communities worldwide including this one in beautiful Dumfries & Galloway.

Chinese whispers were afoot when we visited Loch Arthur- turns out they were expecting some loggers rather than bloggers!  Still makes me smile.  We were not required to cut down any trees thankfully.  Instead we took the weight off our feet in the bakery and listened to the beautifully told story of this very worthy venture.

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The guys at Loch Arthur started making cheese in 1985 to feed their community from just four cows.  As it turned out they were rather good at it and as word spread they realised that there was a market for their produce.  Fast forward and here they are producing 6 award winning cheeses plus delicious creamy yogurt from their purpose built creamery.  It is fair to say that they have come a long way.  I (of course) bought some cheese.  I plumped for the tangy yet creamy CRIFFEL cheese which has a list of awards as long as your arm.  It is produced from unpasteurised, organic cow’s milk and it reminded me of a lovely feta.  When I got home I had it with a warm lentil and beetroot salad and it was absolutely delicious.  The rest of the cheese was inadvertently nibbled into obscurity – lush!

The clever people at Loch Arthur didn’t stop at cheese.  They also have a bakery producing everything from a basic wholemeal to rye bread with caraway, a butchery which prepares meat from their own an neighbouring Biodynamic farms and they also sell their home grown fruit and vegetables. Not forgetting their own chutneys and home baking for the shop and cafe.

What started as a very small and rather inaccessible shop has morphed into a large, beautiful and well thought out space which enables you to see the community at work.  They sell a huge range of products and I was like a kid in a sweet shop.  I bought some Roc juice which is so lovely and makes the effort of drinking water much more pleasant, some beautiful organic set honey (banned for the moment due to the diet – grrr), two bars of Montezuma dark chocolate with lime and sea-salt (OMG!) and some chutney made by the folk at Loch Arthur.  Some fudge may also have sneaked into my shopping (no self control).

Next stop  …….

KILNFORD BARNS FARM, SHOP AND RESTAURANT

Kilnford Barns website

 

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This is possibly the foodie highlight of the bloggers weekend for my grumbling tummy.  There is something very special about this place which has been run by the Rome family for 200 years. The naturally raised Galloway cattle, pigs and sheep have the freedom to explore the open fields and like the coos at Cream O’ Galloway, their welfare is paramount.

I am just going to cut to the chase here and focus on  a truly memorable meal.  On our fabulous  itinerary it stated that we would enjoy soup and sarnies at this venue which I was looking forward to BUT having looked at the menu I did have pangs of longing for some of the other offerings on the menu.  So I was grinning from ear to ear when the waitress told us we had free reign on the menu. The world was my oxter!

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The spacious wooden restaurant has a specialist grill menu which showcases their own meat. To me “Outdoor Reared Pork with Apple Slaw and a Bundle of Neep Scratching” sounded simply irresistible.  What the hell was a neep scratching?  I had to find out.

This is one of these elegant yet rustically simple meals that I just adore.  A homemade creamy slaw topped with the most exquisite piece of marinaded char-grilled pork with crispy shavings of turnip nestled on top.  The meat was amazing.  Smokey with another ‘secret’ flavour coming through. The slaw added lots of texture and the sweetness of the apple complimented the pork delightfully.  I was in heaven! When meat is this good there is no need for it to be hiding in a sauce it needs to just be.

I was told that due to recent laws the guys at Kilnford would have to tell me what was in their  secret marinade (although not how it was put together).  Some things are better off remaining secret … don’t you think!

After lunch, a quick tour and a wee shop I found myself enquiring just how long it would take to drive from Dunfermline to Kilnford Barns, and have decided that for a meal like that it is well worth a bit of travelling.  Just need to persuade the Chauffeur.

Taste Our Best is a new quality assurance scheme from Visit Scotland which ensures that you will eat quality ingredients of Scottish provenance and the freshest seasonal produce.  Taste Our Best establishments strive for sustainability, sourcing food locally to insure they keep food miles to a minimum.  From field to fork – you will know where your food came from.  To find out more visitwww.visitscotland.com/tasteourbest

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Coos and Ice Cream in Dumfries and Galloway

 

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Last weekend I was privileged to take part in a bloggers trip to celebrate all that is good about food and drink in Dumfries & Galloway.  As well as being able to spend some child free time with my best friend, I got the chance to meet some truly lovely fellow bloggers and a whole bunch of inspiring businesses across the region.  There are great things happening in Dumfries & Galloway people.  It is impossible to cram all of my discoveries into one blog,  therefore I am going to feed you in bite sized chunks over the coming days and weeks.

First of all let me tell you about one of my favourite parts of the grand trip – the Cream O’ Galloway farm tour and tasting.  The visitor centre is not open until Valentines Day but they opened up especially for us (felt like a VIP) to tell us all about their business.  Wilma Finlay and her marketing guru Helen led the tour with an awe-inspiring passion for their business.

The Finlay family have been farming in this beautiful spot since the 1920’s.  In the 40s they produced  farmhouse cheeses to help feed a hungry population.  However the mass production of cheddar in the 70s put a stop to that and they moved their focus onto milk.  Fast forward a decade or so when the Finlay family became passionate about organic farming and since the early 90s have been producing food in a more ethical and sustainable way.  Using their milk they have become one of the leading artisan ice cream makers in the UK.

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One thing that strikes you when you hear Wilma and Helen speak is their passion for the welfare of the herd and how that affects the quality of their produce.  I will admit that the vasectomised bull wandering around ‘having his wicked way’ with the cows on our visit was somewhat distracting but I still managed to learn a hell of a lot. I know you are keen to hear about the tasting but bear with ……  I need to share just how amazing Cream O’ Galloway is and it is incredibly important to find out a bit about where your food comes from.

They have a small herd and boy do they care about the welfare of these wee coos.  They are staging a quiet revolution in dairy-farming by trying their damnedest to keep the calves with their mums so that they can wean naturally whilst still milking the cows.  Cows normally are removed from their mothers after just one day and most conventional dairy farms think they are down right bonkers.  I think they are brave and fabulous!  They went all out with this theory on a 6 month trial and although it cost them dearly due to the massive amounts of milk the hungry wee buggers drank, it did convince them that a modified version of the model had to come to fruition.   The herd were happy, confident and less aggressive.  Their determination to make this happen in the future is brilliant and I can’t wait to find out how it goes.

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OK on to the tasting.  I was as happy as the proverbial pig in …. to be able to taste a whole range of Cream O’ Galloway ice creams.  The selection we were tasting all had a Scottish theme, celebrating the best of our food heritage. On offer in more than generous tasting pots were Raspberry, Cranachan, Sticky Toffee pudding, Salted caramel, whisky honey & oatmeal and of course vanilla.  I was in heaven, it is just the creamiest most gorgeous ice cream and is wholly responsible for putting my plans to ditch sugar on the back burner.  As one of my fellow bloggers commented “this is how ice cream should taste”. Every new flavour seemed to beat the last and in the end I was confused in the most pleasurable way.  I think however looking back that I may like to take a large pot of the whisky honey and oatmeal into a room armed with only a spoon and polish off the lot – sugar be damned!

There are absolutely no nasties lurking in this ice cream, only high quality natural ingredients – no artificial flavourings or colourings.  Their pasturised organic milk simply creates the creamiest ice cream I have ever tasted.

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Ice cream was expected, cheese was a wee bit of a bonus.  Cream O’ Galloway have gone back to their roots and have started to produce cheese again.  There were three of their 6 delicious cheeses on offer for tasting –  Rainton Round, Laganory and Carrick.  Laganory won the day for me and there is a big block of it in my fridge at the moment.  It is medium strength but with a lovely clean tang to it.  Rainton Round was a beautiful creamy cheese but perhaps a little bit too delicate for my palate – lovely all the same.  The Carrick was also a winner – bursting with sweet flavour.  It is lovely to see Cream O’ Galloway go back to their roots.

I think the reason that this business impressed me the most was the amount I have learned.  I have never really thought about the welfare of dairy cows before and just take my milk and indeed ice cream at face value. But most of all I was inspired by the sheer passion of Wilma Finlay and her team – and of course it tasted bloody marvellous too.

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Next up on the Dumfries and Galloway food extravaganza is the trip to Loch Arthur Camphill Community and the wonderful Kilnford Barns Farm Shop.

By the way you will find more on Dumfries and Galloway from the other bloggers on the trip.  Read their blogs on .  www.laretour.co.uk and www.thecosytraveller.co.uk.

Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015 is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland and Scotland Food & Drink.


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WHAT’S UP JANUARY?

Have you got the January blues?  Over here at Grumbling Tummy HQ I am feeling pretty chipper.  Despite being ‘under consultation’  (a cute new word for redundancy)  and being a few pounds heavier than I am comfortable with, all is pretty good.  As my granny said – the world is your oxter (its not a spelling mistake clever clogs – my granny was just a bit quirky)

So today I have decided to ramble on a bit about what is exciting me this January on the food front.

BIG BURNS SUPPER FESTIVAL IN DUMFRIES

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I am beyond excited to be heading off this weekend on my first ever ever bloggers trip,  visiting Dumfries for a weekend of food and tourism.  It is eagerly anticipated by both myself and my trusty assistant for the weekend (Miss P T who is along for the ride).  I actually can’t think of anything I would rather do than be away with my bestie tasting lovely food, seeing beautiful sights and meeting other bloggers .  The only thing jeopordising my happiness  is the snottery coughing husband and daughter at home.  I am trying to outrun the cold by dosing myself up on echinacia and vitamin C as well as generally trying to avoid my family where I can.  So far so good!

You may be aware that In 2015, Scotland will be celebrating the ‘The Year of Food and Drink’, showcasing the wonderful local produce and gastronomy we have to offer, from the land to the larder.  This trip celebrates all that is wonderful about Scottish food as well as well as marking the birth of the Bard at the Dumfries Big Burns Supper Festival. There is lots going on in Dumfries on Rabbie’s birthday weekend.  For more information on both the Big Burns Supper and Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink click here.  Big Burns Supper 2015 and here  Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink 2015.  There will of course be lots of blogging and tweeting galore around this trip – so more to follow.

CURRY NIGHT IN 

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January also marks the grand ‘curry night in’ at the De Vries household.  V who is a truly wonderful cook has been travelling back and forth to Dubai for a while and has accumulated an array of wonderful spices.  Whilst teasing me with talk of these powdery delights I announced a curry night round at their gaff.  Nothing like inviting ourselves.  I expect great things, especially as Santa gifted V the wonderful Persiana cook book for Christmas.

LET THEM EAT CAKE

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The best bit about my cakes is licking the spoon before anything hits the oven.  They always taste OK but a light and fluffy texture eludes me, besides I just don’t have the patience to get it spot on.  With that in mind I depend on the wonderful work of www.scottishperfections.com to create special occasion cakes for me. They are based in Fife and made this wonderful cake for my Dad’s 80th birthday lunch.  I have commissioned a Tinkerbell cake for my gals 5th birthday and can’t wait to see it.  B tuts a lot and would just as happily buy a cake from Asda,  but I can’t quite explain the pleasure I get from these works of wonder – and besides they taste so much better.

ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER DIET

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Despite claiming that all diets suck and that I am never every going on another diet ever ever again.  I am going on a diet.  I know, I know.  This time it is the turn of the GI diet.  A bit retro these days but it is pretty much sensible eating (which I have a bit of an issue with).  Clearly beginning this in earnest will be after the weekend detailed above.  I did this diet before and did quite well but that was back in the day when willpower seemed to be part of my mental make up.

For those of you who live under a stone and have not heard about the low GI diet, this is what expert Patrick Holford has to say about it.

“The secret to successful weight loss isn’t starving yourself; nor is it limiting your food choices or following a rigid pattern of eating. It is simply keeping your blood sugar balanced and your food choices healthy. This will not only help you to lose weight, but will also give you more energy and plenty of welcome side effects, such as better skin, improved digestion and enhanced mood.”

Here are the 5 commandments I need to try to follow

1. Eat plenty of fiber-rich vegetables , beans  and fruit
2. Limit potatoes to small side dishes.
3. Choose grains in their least processed states. For example, replace refined and white breads with stone-ground whole wheat, sourdough, or pumpernickel. Swap jasmine and arborio rice for basmati, brown, or long grain. Instead of processed cereals like cornflakes and instant oatmeal, stick with old-fashioned oats .
4. Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, and drink no more than one cup of 100 percent fruit juice daily.
5. Consume protein and fat at most meals and snacks.

CLEAN EATING

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Dumfries marks a haitus in my attempts to eat clean, however after I have had my fill on that trip I will be back on the wagon and will aim to bring you some cleanish recipes.  This will kick off with a warming butter bean stew brought to us by the wonderful chef at Energise Body & Soul.  These guys run a luxury retreat in beautiful Northumberland and spend their time getting lucky residents into shape through healthy and nutritious meals,  bespoke fitness plans,  heaps of fresh air and hot tub relaxation. I hope to try a retreat myself in the coming months  …………  but for now I will cook!

 

In the mean time if you know of anybody who wants to hire an enthusiastic part time marketeer then you know where to find me!!  Happy rest of January guys.