A week has gone by since I donned my wellies (just in case) and headed off to the Royal Highland Show, searching for a festoon of foodie delights.
Shamefully by-passing many of the wonderful things the show has to offer, we headed straight for the food hall. Only one stall stopped me in my tracks en route and that was the Rocpool restaurant from Inverness, who were serving scallops and Mediterranean cous cous. The aroma was divine and it was only the fear of peaking too early that stopped me from tucking in.
The Food Hall at the Highland show is busy, noisy and brilliant. Lovely husband agreed to take the mini grumbling tummy on an adventure for an hour to give me time to try & buy to my heart’s content. The timer was on and posh supermarket sweep began.
First stop was Great Glen Game http://www.greatglengame.co.uk/ Great Glen Game sustainably source wild venison from estates located in the Great Glen. I have tasted their products before and admit to being a bit of a fan. After trying out their venison chorizo, venison salami and a venison & pork mix salami, I settled on a packet of the latter and the beginnings of my Highland Show tasting dinner was born.
Sharing space with Great Glen Game was Grantown and Spey based company Essential Sauces http://www.essentialsauces.com who were flogging their spectacularly wonderful range of tomato based sauces. These guys blend the freshest tomatoes, chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and make them into a variety of spicy sauces ideal for dipping or marinading. Unable to choose I bought three bottles. Spicy Ketchup which has a wicked Scotch Bonnet kick, Special Ketchup which is similar but with a gingery warmth and finally the Saucy Chutney which is as it says a lovely date and apple chutney in a sauce form. Its been a week since the show and I have used the spicy ketchup as a dip on quite a few occasions – it went very well with my lamb koftas.
it wasn’t long before I was accosted by the smell of freshly cooked sausages. Heck sausages http://heckfood.co.uk/sausages/ are made by the Yorkshire based Keeble family and they are bloody tasty. They have eight products including ‘chicken Italia’, ‘Pork and Proud’ and ‘Smoky Chorizo Style’ and I had to try a few …. really quite a few before settling on smoky Chorizo. They are a sausage to be reckoned with and were devoured back at base with a bowl of hot buttery cous cous which complimented them perfectly. I am told that you can buy these in Tesco and even if you are not a Tesco shopper these sausages are worthy of a special trip.
Time for a bite to eat. This was easy! I headed straight for the stall selling hand dived Islay scallops on a black pudding roll. I don’t need to say anything about this. Check out the picture, it says it all.
I have a bit of a thing for flavoured oils for drizzling and dipping and was delighted to come across two stands which ticked all of the oily boxes . Mackintosh of Glendendaveny http://www.mackintoshofglendaveny.co.uk/ and Gusto http://www.gusto-catering.com/ who are based in Leith.
Extra Virgin “cold pressed” rapeseed oil from Mackintosh of Glendaveny is grown, pressed and bottled on their farm in Aberdeenshire. There are lots of health benefits to rape seed oil which is great but to be honest I would buy it even if it had the health properties of a doughnut – it is very tasty stuff. After spending far too long dipping wee bits of bread in a multitude of flavoured oils including chilli and ginger – I elected for a lemon infused oil. I often use olive oil and lemon juice as a simple salad dressing and this seemed like a sensible short cut. I used this oil a few days ago when hosting a girls lunch and it got the thumbs up all round – I do declare that it can bring any salad to life.
Gusto lovingly makes a selection of dressings, aromatic oils and specialist vinegars using local Scottish ingredients. I didn’t need another oil did I? Probably not but I couldn’t resist their chilli oil which had a real kick. So far I have drizzled it on hummus and dipped half a blooming loaf in it. It really is yummy and has a multitude of uses.
My Highland Show tasting dinner had lost focus – oils, sauces, venison salami – I needed bread to bring it back on track. Mhor Bread based in Callander was my next stop. Mhor http://mhor.net/bread/ makes “artisan bread at affordable prices”, I actually think they are a wee bit pricey but the bread is hand-made using flour milled from Scotland and besides that it tastes pretty good. There are so many varieties to choose from but I settled on a sour-dough which was used to dip into my various oily acquisitions later that evening.
Last but not least, one the stars of my Highland Show …. drum roll! The Organic Blending Company http://www.organicblending.com/. Their product is just so damned clever. The blends look like jars of dried herbs and spices which is pretty much what they are. You can use these blended herbs and spices for marinading, cooking and the like BUT that was not the clever part. The stand displayed small pots of mayonnaise which each had a teaspoon of blend mixed in to make a tasty dip. So simple, so clever and honestly so tasty. I ate my bodyweight in bread sticks dipped in a mix of mayo, yogurt and Italian Herbs and Spices Blend that night. I love this concept of an instant and easy dip.
So with a full tummy and an empty wallet we emerged from the food hall of the Royal Highland show and made our weary way home.
We love you Royal Highland Show – see you next year