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The Cairngorms community groups are sowing the seeds of sustainability

2 Jul 2013

One Scottish village’s allotment scheme is on the cusp of fruition

After Kingussie’s folk museum closed a few years ago, many local shops suffered a worrying drop in custom. The community council stepped in to see what could be done for the 13,000-strong population and a survey revealed a need for allotments – as well…

Caorunn Gin is a small batch, handcrafted gin infused in Celtic botanicals

2 Jul 2013

A smooth gin made in a 19th century whisky distillery in Scotland

‘None of the single malt whisky I’ve made since production started again in March 1998 is bottled yet,’ explains Simon Buley, gin master at the Caorunn still, based at the early 19th-century Balmenach whisky distillery. ‘I was making a product for…

Chef's choice: Kirsten Gilmour on locally-sourced meat

2 Jul 2013

Mountain Café's owner and chef won't tolerate anything less than the best locally-sourced meats

My number one hate is poor-quality meat. I just won’t tolerate it – I puff my chest out like all grumpy chefs and say ‘No!’ We are so spoilt here in the Cairngorms that I find it inexcusable to buy low-grade produce. We source the best quality…

Chef's Choice: John Allan on Aberdeen Angus beef

2 Jul 2013

Aberdeenshire's pride... the Aberdeen Angus Beef as told by Alford Bistro's John Allan

There are over 800 different breeds of cattle worldwide, but standing tall amongst them is the Aberdeen Angus. Here in Alford, where the breed originated, we’re very proud of our heritage. We boast the magnificent statue of Jeremy Eric, a prize-winning…

Tea drinking culture in the north east of Scotland

2 Jul 2013

Elevenses in Aberdeenshire... what to expect?

Visit friends and relatives in the North East outside regular mealtimes, and you may well be welcomed with the question: ‘Would you like a fly cup?’ Don’t panic – the fly cup is the Aberdeenshire form of elevenses, or afternoon tea, but it’s also so…

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How fresh fish supplier Downies of Whitehills sell throughout Aberdeenshire and Scotland

2 Jul 2013

A family-run company which only deals with the pick of the local catch

The village of Whitehills between Banff and Portsoy on the Moray Firth was built up around its harbour. One of only a handful in the area to be owned by the village itself, rather than the local authority, the harbour that once thrived on fishing is now…

Chef's Choice: Chris Duckham on locally foraged leaves

2 Jul 2013

Cote du Nord's chef and local GP talks about wild plants he likes to cook with

I love foraging for leaves that will bring a twist to some of our dishes, something our customers might not be expecting. I pick the nettles that grow abundantly around the chicken shed in spring, when the leaves are still small, then simply douse…

Chef's choice: Chris McCall on mountain hare

2 Jul 2013

Old Bridge Inn's head chef talks about the native white mountain hare

The produce I associate most with the Cairngorms is our native white mountain hare, or blue hare – one of the most exciting and unique game I have ever come across. They are very hard to come by as most are exported to Europe, rarely making it on to…

Chef's Choice: Mikael Helies on Saladworx

2 Jul 2013

Dornoch Castle Hotel's head chef tells us why he likes their products so much

One of my favourite local suppliers is Saladworx. I’ve been buying produce from them since moving to the North Highlands some years ago, and it has been a pleasure to watch them grow. They produce an incredible variety of leaves and edible flowers all…

Chef's choice: Lesley Duff on ice-cream from Simpsons of Buckie

2 Jul 2013

Scottish chef on her favorite ice-cream shop in Aberdeenshire

It’s because of Simpson’s of Buckie that Aunty Betty’s even exists. I used to run a café next door to our current shop and ice-cream was always one of our biggest sellers. But it was only when we switched to Moira and Dougall’s creations that I decided…

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Next level porridge: The Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships

2 Jul 2013

Carrbridge village hosts the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships

Germans call it haferbrei, Americans just say ’oatmeal’ and in Swedish it’s charmingly known as gröt – but if porridge is most synonymous with any one country then it must be Scotland. It seems only appropriate then that a Highland village…

How the Rowett Institute has been shaping Scotland's diet

2 Jul 2013

Work focuses on healthier eating and the effects poverty, poor diet and ill-heath

Established in 1913 under the guidance of John Boyd Orr, the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, based in Aberdeen, has been researching and shaping the nation’s diet. Boyd Orr’s early work demonstrated the links between poverty, poor diet and…

Chef's Choice: Lesley Crosfield and Colin Craig on langoustines

2 Jul 2013

Albannach chef-proprietors value freshness and spontaneity when it comes to langoustines

We are lucky to have a shellfish provider with his own boat who brings us langoustines just about every other day. You can’t get fresher than that. He’s so intrepid, and he seems to have this golden touch, in that the biggest, juiciest prawns always…

Salad from North Highlands of Scotland in growing demand

2 Jul 2013

Knockfarrel Produce and Natural Vegetable Company supply Highland schools and care homes with salad

Knockfarrel Produce is run by Jo Hunt and Lorna Walker from a 40-acre, certified organic croft on the western edge of the Black Isle. When a consortium of 17 small producers including Knockfarrel were unsuccessful in winning a Highland Council…

John O’Groats mill set to be fully renovated

2 Jul 2013

The Prince's Regeneration Trust and NIH hope to re-open the 18th century mill within three years

The North Highland Initiative and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust are working to to restore John o’Groats corn mill to working order and turn it into a tourist attraction. So far, they have secured a £230,000 building regeneration grant from Historic…

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Chef's Choice: Rebecca Ferrand on Caorunn Gin

2 Jul 2013

The juniper-flavored gin is a hit and used in Muckrach Lodge's menu

I love Caorunn Gin and its rich juniper flavour. It’s a talking point for guests who come to the Highlands expecting only whisky. Last year Caorunn’s Simon Buley asked me to create dishes to showcase his gin. Not many think of cooking with gin, but it…

Chef's choice: Ross Sutherland on Alvie Gardens’ soft fruit

2 Jul 2013

The Cross' head chef shares his love for locally-produced raspberries, blackberries and strawberries

We always look forward to June when Alvie Gardens by Aviemore, provide us with their soft fruit. Strawberries are large and juicy, Glen Ample raspberries delicious and blackberries are large and sweet. John Christie picks fruit to order and delivers…

The soft fruits produced in the harsh conditions of the Scottish Cairngorms

2 Jul 2013

Combatting unforgiving weather and lack of sunlight for our tastebuds' delight

Growing soft fruits in the oft unforgiving conditions of the Cairngorms is no easy task. The harsh weather and paucity of sunlight at crucial times means even the hardiest varieties struggle without intensive care. Alvie Gardens is a rarity in the…

Chef’s Choice: Jim Cowie on the importance of seasonality

2 Jul 2013

The Captain's Galley's head chef on eating seasonal foods in order to contribute to sustainabilility

These days, with so much focus on conservation and sustainability, the single biggest contribution anyone can make towards their own health and that of the fish stocks is eating our seafood when it’s in season. From heavier, slow braises in winter to…

Chef's choice: David Littlewood on rapeseed oil from Ola Oils

2 Jul 2013

Scottish chef on favorite cooking oil from Aberdeenshire

Although using produce from local suppliers is important to us, so too is the quality of that produce – we only buy local where local is best. Lucky then that here in Deeside we have such a varied natural larder right on our doorstep, whether it’s game…

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Why Mey Selections is a royal trading brand for quality produce

2 Jul 2013

Mey Selections: a trading brand promoting closing the gap between farmers, producers and consumers

Mey Selections was established as the trading brand of the North Highland Initiative (NHI), launched by The Duke of Rothesay, in 2005. One of the key aims of the Initiative is to foster closer connections between farmers, producers and consumers.

Chef's choice: Craig Wilson on Barra Berries

2 Jul 2013

Chef and owner at Eat on The Green on the best raspberries

I love Scottish raspberries when they’re in season, and we’re so lucky to get ours from Barra Berries just four miles down the road. When they are in season, I’m happy to use their raspberries in all parts of the menu, from champagne & crushed…

Chef's Choice: Andrew Manson on Caithness Beef

2 Jul 2013

Mackays Hotel's Murray Lamont, has been buying quality beasts from the local mart for twelve years

The owner of Mackays Hotel, Murray Lamont, has been buying champion beasts from the local mart for over twelve years. Our meat is butchered for us by Harrold Brothers in Wick and, under the Mey Selections brand, all of the animals are bred in…

Chef's choice: Nick Nairn on Mackintosh of Glendaveny rapeseed oil

2 Jul 2013

Chef shares his love for Gregor's family farm rapeseed oil

The Extra Virgin rapeseed oil, which is pressed and bottled on Gregor’s family farm at Glendaveny, contains half the saturated fat content and ten times more Omega 3 levels than olive oil and only six per cent saturated fat – the lowest level of any…

Chef's choice: Calum Richardson on Scottish fish

2 Jul 2013

Chef from The Bay fish & chip shop in Stonehaven talks about Scottish fish

All the fish that enters the shop is freshly caught, and it is bought using the MCS (Marine Conservation Society) guide Fish to Eat Fish to Avoid. The Bay were the first fish and chip shop to be granted MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) chain of custody…