Scotland’s Native Oyster Season Opens at Stranraer Oyster Festival

Scotland’s native oyster season opened yesterday, Sunday 1st September 2019, with the landing of the first Loch Ryan oysters of the season. Famously native oysters can only be harvested in months with an ‘R’ in them, avoiding the summer breeding season.

A two week race is now on to gather a tonne of native oysters, approx. 10,000, most of which will be enjoyed by the thousands of visitors travelling to Stranrarer Oyster Festival, taking place from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th September.  However, Scotland’s native oyster fishermen will return 95% of all the oysters they catch back to the sea to help Loch Ryan’s precious native oyster bed to grow.

Former footballer, Allan Jenkins, now Project Manager for Stranraer Development Trust, the community organisation that runs the oyster festival, landed the first catch of the season.  He commented:

“It was fantastic to be out on the Vital Spark oyster boat at the start of the native oyster season, and to get a personal oyster fishing lesson direct from Scotland’s native oyster experts. The story of these oysters is just fascinating, and it’s great to hear they’re in such high demand in some of the world’s top restaurants.


“Before Stranraer Oyster Festival started three years ago it was almost impossible to find these in Scotland. A big part of Stranraer Oyster Festival is about making our iconic local produce accessible to local people and visitors alike, and we are once again looking forward to introducing more people to native oysters in just over a week’s time.”


Romano Petrucci, Chair of Stranraer Development Trust, said:

“We are delighted to work closely with Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery who have supported Stranraer Oyster Festival from the very first spark of an idea into what has now become one of Scotland’s most exciting food festivals.


“It is a privilege for the festival team to be involved in landing the first native oysters of the season. As we put the finishing touches to this year’s remarkable oyster festival it’s a real honour to spend a few hours on the Vital Spark experiencing the beauty and the majesty of this loch and learning more about the precious oysters hidden beneath its waters. They truly are the jewels in Stranraer’s crown and we are looking forward to sharing them with visitors to Stranraer Oyster Festival.”


Stranraer Oyster Festival is a 3 day celebration of the town’s native oyster heritage, making Scottish native oysters accessible and available for local people and visitors to experience. The coastal food festival programme is headlined by Scotland’s spice king Tony Singh. The packed programme of events includes the #ShuckOff, where more than a dozen of Scotland’s top seafood chefs will compete to be named Scottish Oyster Shucking Champion. There’s also a host of cookery and cocktail demonstrations, live music, artisan produce and family activities; including the harbour-side Extreme Pond Dipping challenge, where children can explore creatures found at the bottom of Loch Ryan.


Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion, said:

“Dumfries and Galloway Council is delighted to support the third Oyster Festival. The Festival’s success over the last few years has been thanks to the Development Trust, many volunteers and the local community. This year’s Festival once again will celebrate Loch Ryan, our local food and drink industry and provide a huge economic boost for Stranraer and the wider Wigtownshire area.”


Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said:

“EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Stranraer Oyster Festival again through our National Events Programme, showcasing the town’s native oyster heritage. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and the festival will undoubtedly prove popular with visitors and locals alike who will get the chance to sample some of Scotland’s best seafood as well as enjoy a fantastic programme of cookery demonstrations, live music and children’s activities.”


Stranraer Oyster Festival is part of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, the two week promotion of Scottish produce which launched yesterday.  The festival includes a celebration of local and regional artisan produce, which has been supported by Connect Local’s Regional Food Fund.

Stranraer Oyster Festival takes place on 13-15th September 2019 and tickets are already selling fast.  The exclusive An Evening with Tony Singh event has already sold out, and only a few  tickets remain for the Big Oyster Bash. People wanting to attend Tony Singh’s cookery demos are advised to book early. The full programme can be downloaded from


About Scottish Native Oysters

The native oyster was once widespread around Scotland and much of the UK but has been harvested to near extinction.  Loch Ryan, next to Stranraer in south west Scotland, is home to Scotland’s last remaining native oyster fishery, protected from over-fishing by a Royal Charter granted in 1701 to the Wallace family, who still hold it to this day.

Native oysters are sometimes known as ecosystem engineers because they help maintain marine ecosystems by filtering water and providing habitat for coastal wildlife. However once a native oyster bed has been lost, it is incredibly difficult to re-establish. This is because the juvenile oysters need to ‘settle’ on mature oysters in order to grow.

Loch Ryan Oyster Fishery is a conservation project as much as it is a commercial oyster fishery, returning 95% of each catch to the water, gradually dispersing the oysters across the floor of the sea loch to encourage breeding and to support the growth of the oyster bed.

A chat with The Torridon Hotel

A chat with Ross Stovold, head chef

The Torridon


Brief background about The Torridon and your role

A foodie destination like no other, The Torridon extends Scottish hospitality in abundance. Located at the edge of Loch Torridon, our luxury five-star hotel offers a sumptuous stay amongst breath-taking surroundings, in addition to the three AA Rosette restaurant, 1887; the relaxed Torridon Inn; the Whisky & Gin Bar with 365 malts and over 130 gins; the Torridon Farm, a tranquil self-catered Boat House and the two-acre Kitchen Garden and Gin Garden.

Alongside delivering a natural dining experience led by the seasons and local produce, my role as head chef at The Torridon involves developing new dishes, planning what we grow in the Kitchen Garden, training the team and inspiring them to come up with their own ideas too. It is so important to develop the team’s creative instinct to try out new ideas. You never know unless you try!


The hotel’s renowned for its exceptional local food and drink sourcing – can you tell us more about this and why it’s so important to the business?

Scottish produce is used all over the world, especially the seafood, so when we have access to these amazing products its key to know where they come from and what makes them so special that restaurants across the world want to use them. We make sure to not take it for granted, but rather treasure it, and remember that we can get the fish hours after its landed, rather than the days it takes to get to California or Hong Kong. We respect the produce and let the flavours speak for themselves.


We love to hear stories of food and drink producers – could you share some of yours with us?

In the remote areas of the Highlands, the local producers must support each other in order to get their produce to my back door. If a small artisan producer needs to use another’s transport to deliver to me, then that’s a wonderful thing to see!


With the launch of the national action plan last year, Scotland is on a mission to become a global food tourism destination. What do you think about this and what role do you believe you have to play in its success?

Every hotel and restaurant has a role to play to shout from the rooftops about how great the produce is and the suppliers behind it, as well to encourage people to experience it in its local and understand the stories behind the produce. If we don’t persist as an industry, then the export trade will dwarf tourism. So much of our food and drink leaves the country, which of course is extremely important to the economy too, but we are in danger of being priced out of the market because we can’t match the prices overseas buyers are willing to pay.


If you had to choose one Scottish dish on the menu what would it be and why?

My favourite Scottish dish is Partan Bree, which is basically a crab soup. We do a refined version at The Torridon, but not forgetting the most important thing, the flavour of the crab.


How will you be celebrating Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

Honestly I feel like we celebrate Scottish food and drink every day; we have our own farm with Highland cows and Tamworth pigs; we produce our own award-winning gin, Arcturus; we have the two-acre Kitchen Garden that dictates our menu development, alongside our newly-developed Gin Garden; we are surrounded by wild foods in the hills and forests; seafood comes from Loch Torridon and we have our own supply of spring water from the neighbouring Munros which we cook with and serve to the customers. If that’s not a celebration of Scotland, then I don’t know what is!

For the next two weeks, we’ll be promoting two of our cocktails that use locally-sourced and homegrown ingredients, in addition to speaking with some of our suppliers and team members to find out more about their love for Scottish produce. Everything will be shared across our social media channels including Kitchen Garden tours, supplier Q&A’s, and some tips from me on the art of curing.

Follow on twitter and Instagram @thetorridon

Seafood Scotland brings a festival focus to Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

  • Seafood Scotland supports festivals the length and breadth of the country.
  • Range of food and seafood festivals to be part of the 10th Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2019 (31 August – 15 September)
  • Over 40,000 consumers to enjoy, taste and learn about Scottish seafood, showcasing and supporting the companies, brands and people contributing to the success of the sector.

Seafood Scotland, the national trade and marketing body for the Scottish Seafood Industry, is getting behind the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight 2019 by supporting food festivals spread throughout Scotland, all the way from the west coast to the northeast. Reaching over 46,000 consumers and bringing people and businesses together to enjoy and celebrate local seafood from their local area.

The Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight is the country’s biggest food and drink celebration and is a focus for companies to encourage more people than ever to buy, eat and promote Scottish products. The Fortnight also importantly showcases and supports the companies, brands and people contributing to the success of the sector, from our fishermen, fish farmers, to producers, smokers, fishmongers and more.

Seafood Scotland’s sponsorship will ensure a range of cooking demonstrations and sampling activities are in place at each event to promote and educate visitors about local and national sustainable seafood.

The Deeside Local Food Festival, Peterhead Seafood Festival and the famous Stranraer Oyster Festival, all take place during the Fortnight and provide ideal platforms to spotlight Scotland’s high quality catch, the fantastic seafood companies, brands and people contributing to the success of the Scottish Seafood Sector.

The Stranraer Oyster Festival which runs from 13th – 15th September is a celebration of the area’s unique coastal heritage, culture, people and its wealth of local produce. Now in its third year, the festival marks the start of the native oyster harvesting season and provides a late summer tourism highlight attracting over 14,000 visitors across the three days. In support of the Stranraer Oyster Festival, Seafood Scotland hosts the Scottish Shucking Championships at the event, which has now become a renowned event on the Seafood calendar and is hosted by World Champion Oyster Shucker; Patrick McMurray.

The Peterhead Festival, this year held on the 14th September, started in 2018 as a small scale pilot created to promote Peterhead as a centre for quality products and increase the town-centre footfall. Following the tremendous success of the pilot, this year’s festival’s organisers, Rediscover Peterhead, plan to roll out the festival on a larger scale and lay the foundations for a high-profile annual event.

Deeside Local Food Festival takes place on the 15 September at Cult Academy and is now in its fourth year. The festival brings together local suppliers, local businesses and the local community and attracts over 3,500 visitors.

Clare MacDougall, Trade Marketing Manager at Seafood Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to support the Stranraer Oyster Festival and to bring the Scottish Oyster Shucking Championships back for another year. I’m confident this year’s event will attract even more entrants, including chefs, oyster growers, producers, and fisherman and industry specialists from across the country.

Seafood Scotland’s sponsorship of the festival is via Connect Local, a Scottish initiative that aims to strengthen the local food and drink economy, including the seafood supply chain. It helps to support challenges around the distribution of seafood to rural destinations to enable local business growth and support the implementation of the Scottish Food Tourism Action Plan.

As part of this programme, festival support plays an integral part of Seafood Scotland’s delivery. This support is provided all year round and has also included support for festivals such as Taste of Grampian, Tarbert Seafood Festival and Glasgow Festival of the Seas.

Donna Fordyce, Industry Engagement Specialist at Seafood Scotland, said:

“Food and drink festivals play an important role in helping to promote the unique and diverse range of seafood Scotland has to offer. Sometimes they are the only places that bring producers and consumers together. They provide a cultural and critical context for our eating and help educate and inform us about how and what we eat.

Seafood Scotland is proud to support these festivals as part of this year’s Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight and beyond. The passion and commitment from Scotland’s seafood suppliers shine through at these events and provides the opportunity for businesses to tap into the growing demand from tourists as well as locals to eat local and support important rural economies.”

Elaine Whyte, Executive Secretary at Clyde Fishermen’s Association, said:

“Seafood Scotland’s support has been vital to the success of the Glasgow Festival of the Sea over the past few years, the cookery demonstration and tastings are always the highlights of the festival. To get consumers thinking about Scottish seafood, the important people behind the industry and children excited to eat it is so important. We cannot thank Seafood Scotland enough for the support to make this happen and look forward to another great event this September.”

Food tourism learning journey to Scotland

Rachel Rau, Visit Sweden, travelled to Scotland in March 2019 with a small group of industry professionals, including a forager, chef, restaurateur and hotelier, to discover the flourishing Scottish food tourism scene. Here, she tells Fiona Richmond, Scotland Food & Drink, about the experience.


Why did you choose Scotland for your learning journey earlier this year?

We chose Scotland for several reasons. Scotland and Sweden actually have a lot in common as food travel destinations, like the focus on the ‘national larder’ and finding food in nature, integrating different types of sustainability into the food travel experience, and long-held stereotypes about food traditions (haggis or Swedish meatballs, anyone?) that are being expanded upon in exciting ways – a combination of tradition and modernity. We were also inspired by Scotland’s ambitious strategic work with food travel and wanted to learn about the impact of national initiatives.


Tell us about some of the people and produce you experienced during the trip

The incredible people we met every day made our trip unforgettable. Every single person we met – restaurateurs, producers, chefs, guides, hoteliers, farmers and more – exuded enthusiasm and a true passion for their work, as well as incredible hospitality and curiosity about our group. It’s hard to single any one person out. Our lunch at Newton Walled Garden with Fred Berkmiller, prepared by his young apprentice Killian, was a meal we’ll all remember for a long time to come – the exquisite flavours were elevated exponentially by the stunning surroundings and hearing Fred’s story. Our guide (the word guide doesn’t do her role justice) Brenda Anderson, Tasting Scotland,  was also absolutely key to the success of our trip in every way: her expert knowledge about everything to do with food in Scotland and ability to actually get everyone into the van and  to where we needed to go were impressive and vital in equal measures. Just two small examples of how the people behind the food and the experience are what make the trip! On the food front, we ate our way through an ungodly amount of langoustines, Hebridean lamb, local mushrooms and greens and, of course, whisky – to name a few!


Was there anything that surprised you?

Something that surprised the group was another thing we have in common: Swedes and Scots are not great self-promoters! There’s a lot of modesty and humility ingrained in our cultures that leads to all (well, most) of us having a hard time boasting about the quality of our food scene. “We need to shout about it!” was a refrain that came up repeatedly through the week, and something we constantly discuss here in Sweden.


What do you think about Scotland’s ambition to become a global food tourism destination?

In my eyes, it’s not just an ambition – Scotland IS a global food tourism destination! Of course, it’s both fantastic and important to prioritise destination development at the national level. But we were also truly blown away by what’s already on offer; not only the various businesses doing an incredible job, but also how easy it was to find information and plan the trip. We were also impressed by the number of destinations working together to create regional food tourism products. Overall, I think Scotland has so many assets and the focus on local producers and sustainability is in line with what today’s travellers are looking for – it’s just a matter of continuing to develop and spread the word.



What one thing will you change back home in Sweden as a result of the trip?

The aim of our trip was to create a small film series that we’ll share with Swedish businesses in the food travel sector; the four business owners who joined us on the trip will act as the eyes and ears of those who weren’t along for the ride. As such, we hope that anyone and everyone who has the chance to see one or all of the films will be inspired in some way, be it to adapt an existing offering or develop something completely new.



What can we in Scotland learn from Sweden about developing food tourism?

Something we’ve realised is the importance of, and what we’ve priorirised in Sweden over the past decade, is taking a holistic approach to developing food travel - we can’t isolate tourism from broader societal and commercial questions in the food sector. Rather, there’s much to be gained from incorporating as many perspectives and actors as possible to the national discussion. On a more micro-level, we warmly welcome Scots to come visit Sweden and see for themselves what inspiration, ideas and collaborations develop!


Visit Sweden visited a wide range of businesses including:



A Taste of Scotland’s Islands

A Taste of Scotland’s Islands by Sue Lawrence

What makes the food and drink of Scottish islands so fascinating to explore?

The islands are fascinating to explore in so many different ways – obviously their stunning beauty – but also the quality of their produce is incomparable. There are so many traditions associated with the simple everyday dishes - and wonderful anecdotes about them throughout the islands, though sadly often from older islanders. Also, though there is a similarity of ingredients on all the islands, there are so many regional variations.


To what extent do you think local food and drink traditions are still being upheld around our islands?

There are some traditions that are sacrosanct. Guga on Lewis is one prime example and though it is not easy to get our hands on a Guga, it is not impossible and much easier to speak to someone (usually from Ness in the north of Lewis), who count it as their favourite meal.

Sadly, with the demise of local abattoirs (at the time of writing there are only seven island abattoirs), common dishes such as black pudding can seldom be made with fresh blood. Compromises must be made if we are to maintain these ancient traditions.


Was there anything that particularly surprised you on your travels from a food and drink point of view?

I was surprised – and delighted! – to find more and more artisan producers all over the islands, from the bakery in Walls, Shetland to all the island gin producers now emerging.

But, it is not easy for artisan cheese makers, given all the legislation. Indeed, the Isle of Lewis Cheese company, that I had visited for the book and tasted their delicious goats cheeses - now sadly no longer produces commercially. But they still make for themselves; lucky them!


Scotland aspires to become a global food tourism destination.  What role do our islands play in realising that ambition?

There are so many iconic ingredients and dishes on the islands that they play a major part in Scotland’s role in becoming a global food destination. There are so many fabulous restaurants all over now, from the seafood bistro on Scalpay and Chef Chris Loye’s pop-up restaurant on the west of Harris, to ‘old-timers’ like the Scalloway Hotel in Shetland whose lobster dishes are worth the long journey north every time.

Also, with specifics such as Shetland Lamb and Luing beef and Isle of Mull Cheddar being so unique, we have our USP’s without having to try very hard!


Tell us about some of the most interesting dishes in the book

Interesting dishes in my book include Stewed Olick (young ling) from Out Skerries; Ardbeg Smoked haddock chowder from Islay; Seville and dulse marmalade from South Uist; Tiree lobster baguette ; Mull haggis pastilla ; Venison scotch egg from Jura ; Beremeal shortbread from Orkney ; Isle of Skye gin tablet ; Colonsay gin and tonic cake.


Sue Lawrence’s A Taste of Scotland’s Islands is published by Birlinn during Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight 2019 (£20, hardback)

Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2019 testimonials

Winning an Excellence Award is more than simply having a well-written award entry – it’s testament to the commitment and dedication of our producers to creating truly exceptional products and business practices.

The passion of the farmers, fishermen and food and drink producers within the industry is inspiring. The pursuit of perfection, combined with a genuine appetite for innovating, means we have some of the best businesses and products in the world and these awards give us the opportunity to celebrate that.

To shine a light on these amazing producers we asked them what winning an Excellence Award meant to them and how it has helped them as a business.


Aldomak, Glasgow

Winner of Young Talent, Jordan Russell

Aldomak is a Scottish confectionery business established in 1932 in Glasgow, supplying the ice cream trade.  Today, Aldomak makes Scottish Tablet, Fudge and Macaroon for a wide array of independents, supermarkets and the tourist trade.  The business has also branched out into making Handmade Meringues on a large scale, supplying farm shops, delis, hotels and cafes across Scotland.

Dario Riccomini, managing director, said:

 “2019 has been a good year for us in raising the profile of the business and our abilities and as a result we are gaining new customers, sales and the opportunity to investigate new NPD.  We were delighted with our Category award win at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards for Jordan Russell, Young Talent, as I am convinced this played a role in that”

Aldomak is proud of its handmade artisanal credentials and over the years the company has spent time reimaging traditional recipes and scaling these recipes into large batches, whereby the confectioners pour and cut these by hand, to retain rustic products customers love.  Aldomak was recently awarded two 1 stars in the Great Taste Awards for their Bonnie Glen Vanilla Fudge and Butter Tablet which hopefully validates our quality too.

Why do we exist? To make life sweeter for everyone!

Find out more


East Coast Cured

Winner of Artisanal Product – Porcini & Truffle Salami

Winner of Meat category – Whisky Oak Smoked Nduja

Susie Anderson of East Coast Cured said;

“To win three Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards in our first two years of business has given our small team a significant confidence boost, and a chance to reflect and celebrate all of our hard work - something that can be difficult as a small start-up! Winning two awards in 2019 has led to more exposure, helping to increase sales, assuring customers that they're buying a quality product”


Brewing Product of the Year

Harviestoun Brewery

“ We were delighted to win the Brewing Product of the Year award at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards, and we have taken the opportunity to include the award within all our customer propositions for Ola Dubh and Harviestoun Brewery, endorsing our dedication to craft beer. The award brought particular attention from Asia and London where awards and heritage are major endorsement to Harviestoun Breweries consistency and quality. We’ve been making craft beer for over 36 years and winning this award is great recognition to our consistency and dedication to quality”

Peter Sandstrom, Chief Executive, Harviestoun Brewery


Export Business of the Year

Scottish Sea Farms

“Scottish produce is revered the world over, as is the work of Scotland Food & Drink. So to win the 2019 Excellence Award for Export Business of the Year was more than simply great news for our own team – it was also cause for celebration throughout our customer base, further underlining our ongoing commitment to, and investment in, the quality of our product and the personal service that supports it”

Celine Kimpflin, Export Sales Manager, Scottish Sea Farms


Confectionery, Drinks & Snacking Product of the Year
The Drinks Bakery

Successes over the past year

  • 5 Great Taste stars - announced August 2019
  • 2 Great Taste Stars (top 10% of all products) – Lancashire Cheese & Spring Onion Drinks Biscuits (Winner of SF&D Excellence Award 2019)
  • 1 Great Taste Star – Pecorino, Rosemary & Scottish Seaweed Drinks Biscuits
  • 1 Great Taste Star – Parmesan, Toasted Pinenut & Basil Drinks Biscuits
  • 1 Great Taste Star – Mature Cheddar, Chilli & Almond Drinks Biscuits
  • Launched new ‘Luxury Sharing packs’ into Selfridges July 2019 and these larger format packs have been warmly welcomed into the premium independent retail sector by outlets such as IJ Mellis Cheesemongers, Isle of Harris Gin Distillery, Glengoyne Distillery, The Conran Shop and many more
  • Launched Drinks Biscuits into 3 amazing 5-star hotels: The Fife Arms Scotland; The Standard Hotel London; LifeHouse Spa & Hotel England. Transforming the bar mini-bar offer. More exciting news to be announced very soon.
  • Despite the current European economic climate, sent first large export to a premium online food platform in Germany – July 2019
  • Secured listing with Ocado online supermarket – September 2019
  • Secured listing with Fenwicks – September 2019
  • Selected to be a 2019 Seedfund Academy business as one of the top 15 Food & Drink start-ups in the UK
  • Launched online in July 2019
  • Won Best Product at the ‘Made in Scotland’ Awards 2019

Enjoy the last bursts of summer with a little ‘spirit and spice’ created by Ghillie Basan

Enjoy the last bursts of summer with a little ‘spirit and spice’ created by Ghillie Basan who combines world flavours with a good dram.

Body-warming, midge-busting dhal

 This spicy, nourishing dhal is a great dish for camping in Scotland – food to fill the belly, spices to warm you inside and out, and garlic to drive off the midges!  Cooked for breakfast, lunch, or supper, it is tasty and nourishing anywhere and any time of year. Lentils are easy to carry and easy to cook and it is up to you how firm or mushy and how spicy and garlicky you want your dhal to be. To make life easy when camping use a spice mix like garam masala or ras-el-hanout for the main flavour as both have strong cardamom, cumin, clove and black pepper overtones which warm you up from inside. Add chillies for extra heat if you like and use coconut milk as the cooking liquid for a creamier dhal, otherwise just use water from the nearest burn. At home, we often enjoy dhal as a dish on its own with yogurt, or a raita, lots of fresh coriander, and fruit chutney, such as my Raspberry Chaat Chutney.using fresh Scottish raspberries. With the spice in the dhal, the creaminess of the yogurt, and the fruit in the chutney, there is a lot going on in this dish, so you could enjoy it with the rich fruit flavour of Longmorn or the balanced oak and spice of Glenfiddich but it would be worth experimenting with some of the complex blends.


Serves 2 hungry campers, or 4 with all the trimmings at home

  • 1-2 tablespoons ghee, or vegetable oil with a little butter
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • a large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped, or 1-2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons jaggery, muscavado sugar, or honey
  • 1 generous tablespoon garam masala or ras el hanout
  • 225g/8oz brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 800ml coconut milk, or a mixture of the two
  • sea salt


To serve

  • 4 tablespoons thick creamy yogurt
  • Raspberry chaat chutney (recipe below)
  • Fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Heat the ghee in a heavy-based pan. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, cumin seeds and cloves with the jaggery and cook until fragrant and beginning to colour.


Stir in the garam masala, taking care not to burn the spices, then toss in the lentils making sure they are coated in the spices and ghee. Pour in enough water to only just cover the lentils and bring it to the boil. Stir in the coconut milk, bring it to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, until almost all the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender (if you like your dhal soupy or mushy, add more water or coconut milk and cook the lentils for longer). Season the dhal with salt – if you add the salt too early, you prevent the lentils from cooking properly.


Spoon the dhal into bowls, add a dollop of creamy yogurt, or rhaita, and top with the raspberry chaat chutney and a sprinkling of coriander.



Raspberry Chaat Chutney

 In Hindu, the word  ‘chaat’ refers to special vegetarian snack food with a hot-sour seasoning and ‘chaat masala’ is the blend of spices that provides those particular hot-sour flavour notes. With the pungent, sulphurous aroma of kala namak (black rock salt from north India), the sour notes of amchoor (dried green mango powder), and the warming flavour of roasted cumin, chaat masala is a delightful hot and sour spice. This chutney combines some of the chaat spice notes with fresh Scottish raspberries, or wild ones if you enjoy foraging for your food, to make a unique chutney that goes well with curries, dhal, rice and spicy barbecues.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ajowan seeds
  • 250g/9oz fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey, jaggery, or muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kala namak (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pul biber, Aleppo pepper, finely chopped dried chillies

Dry roast the cumin, mustard and ajowan seeds in a heavy-based pan, until they are fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop up and down.

Add the raspberries to the pan, lightly crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the ground spices and chilli and cook gently for about 10 minutes until thick and almost jam-like.  Adjust the hot, sweet and sour to your taste, depending on the sweetness of the raspberries, and leave to cool. If you are not using this immediately, you can spoon it into a sterilized jar and keep it in the refrigerator for four to six weeks.


The recipes are taken from her new book

Spirit & Spice (Kitchen Press: £25)

insta @ghilliebasan

We talk to the top team at Montpeliers of Edinburgh about local sourcing and the latest trends

You’re an independent, family business that’s been a fixture on the Edinburgh restaurant scene for many years. What’s the secret to that success?

We’ve always believed that to compete with an ever evolving and improving industry such as hospitality, we must highly invest in our people and crucially in their training and development.

It is our belief that this, combined with great product quality and innovation, could and will keep us up there with the best of them.

Training has been so critical to Montpeliers that David and Ruth Wither (owners) eventually started our sister company FLOW hospitality training, an online training provider over ten years ago.  They now provide training solutions around the globe to some of the biggest names in our industry.

But even with the best tools and people it’s not been easy! We’ve tried to keep our senior management team small and very much in touch with the business on a day-to-day basis so that we don’t become divorced from the business’s issues and, most importantly, our customers!

This allows us to react quickly to the changing and challenging needs of the business which, in this ever fast- paced world of choice and information, is of great importance.

Having said that, I also believe that equally large measures of passion and determination are crucial if you are to grow and succeed.

 David Johnston, Development Director


What role does Scottish sourcing play in your business? Can you give some examples of the suppliers you work with and what this means to you?

It’s very important to use Scottish and local suppliers; we’re very pleased to be working with some fantastic suppliers that source the very best for our business. All our haddock comes fresh daily from day boats to Peterhead; cheese from I.J. Mellis of Edinburgh; smoked salmon, haggis and black pudding are all produced by Campbells Prime Meat in Linlithgow, and our Scottish free range eggs come from Broxburn Browns. This means that we can support or local businesses, ensure the best quality with the minimum impact of carbon footprint.

Tony Sarton, Group Development Chef


What main food or drink trends are you noticing in the restaurant world these days?

Gin is still the major player, but it is moving slightly away from just your regular G&T, with more and more of our customers looking to trade up their experience with by mixing with craft sodas/tonics such as Bon Accord or Cushidoos.

Highball cocktails are continuing to grow in popularity, with guests looking for lighter, more refreshing serves over the stirred down ‘Mad Men’- inspired classic cocktail resurgence of a few years ago. I feel our guests are more conscious of the amount of alcohol they are consuming. While the ‘low & no’ trend that is steadily growing in London is yet to fully kick off in Scotland, we are seeing more and more space on menus dedicated to low ABV cocktails.

Joey Medrington, Group Bar Development


What challenges do you face when sourcing local/Scottish produce, and what do you think that industry should/could do to tackle those?

A lot of the best Scottish products, especially our seafood/shellfish gets exported to France & Spain, driving prices out of the reach of many small operators in Scotland. I think a firmer commitment from the supply-side to tackle this would help restaurants support their fantastic produce locally.

Tony Sarton, Group Development Chef


How will you be marking Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight?

We’ll be telling our customers across our venues about the Fortnight!  We’re using social media platforms to promote our dishes which feature Scottish produce, ingredients and suppliers.

Across our venues we’ll incorporate Scottish themes daily, whether that’s through drinks, food or events. We love working alongside local Scottish beer companies such as Loch Leven Brewery or introducing Crabbie’s new gin created in their Leith distillery in partnership with Scottish Rugby.

We love to incorporate Scottish elements into our venues as we think it brings a personal and local feel to the business while offering exciting Scottish drinks and dishes.

Georgia Noble, Social Media & Marketing Assistant

Insta @montpeliersedinburgh

Twitter @MontpeliersEdin

An insight into NorthLink Ferries procurement team and on-board offering

Since the beginning of the current contract in 2012, NorthLink Ferries have worked tirelessly to introduce as many local suppliers as possible; their local procurement mantra is for suppliers to be based within a 50-mile radius of operating areas. Here’s what they have to say about their commitment to locally sourced food and drink…


Logistics of sourcing local produce

Annual ‘meet the buyer events held in Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Aberdeen City & Shire, allow us to see and sample new products and offerings from across our local area. We also receive emails from producers directly with new product ideas. Food networking events, such as those organised by Scotland Food & Drink, offer an avenue to meet local producers too.


Wholesalers J.W Gray & Co, based in Shetland, as well as Peterhead-based Strachans, are our main suppliers and often get in touch with new product suggestions which they think will fit our offering. Personal approaches are welcomed and encouraged, so if you ever see a member of the NorthLink Ferries team out and about and want to pass a product by us then please do! We also work alongside local organisations such as Opportunity North East which allow us to network in the local food and drink sector.


Appreciation of Local Produce by Passengers

With the growth of food tourism, people are now actively looking for locally and ethically sourced produce and we feel our efforts are appreciated by our passengers. For the past 5 years, we’ve held VisitScotland’s the Taste our Best award, recognising our conscious efforts to enhance the on-board experience with our local sourcing. However, paying attention to where our products come from isn’t unique to NorthLink Ferries; many organisations across Scotland are committed to quality Scottish sourcing and we hope many others do too. We’re proud to offer our passengers a taste of the Isles, North East and the Highlands on their journey to Orkney and Shetland. We’re also proud to have been shortlisted in the finals of the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2018 in the ‘Local Sourcing’ category.


NorthLink Ferries’ commitment to locally-sourced food and drink

Local food and drink is key to our commitment to support the communities in which we serve. It’s not solely about the food sourcing, but about supporting the local area, making those connections with island residents and engaging with them. We’re consistently striving to take it one step further; for example, we’re proud members of both Orkney Food and Drink and Shetland Food and Drink. This year will once again see us sponsor the bi-annual Orkney Master Chef competition which always attracts a large audience. Last year, we sponsored the ‘Peerie Bites’ competition in Shetland which saw young, budding chefs take to the stage in a live cook-off which then resulted in two dishes (one from each age group) being available on board our vessels.

Working closely with each of our suppliers to ensure their needs are being met, as well as our own, is vital. In the past few years we’ve offered discounted travel to those who attend trade shows, for example The Island Smokery (Orkney) and Shetland Reel Gin (Shetland) attended the biggest one day food fair in Scotland; Taste of Grampian. Aware of the costs of attending these shows, we’re delighted to be able to help.


#ScotFoodFort involvement

We’ve been involved in quite a number of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight campaigns now,  and are always keen to get on board (pun, intended) and even won Gold for the best business engagement in the 2017 edition of the Fortnight.

The campaign has seen us committing to taking on new, niche products such as Buffalo Burgers and Shetland Mussels. Last year, we pledged to run a supplier showcase which entailed promoting different supplier every day of the Fortnight. This year, we’re taking that one step further and delving deeper into our suppliers, conducting interviews and publishing them across our social media sites and website. Also, for the first year ever, we’re running a fantastic competition to win a hamper filled with food and drink goodies, all sourced from within 50 miles of our ports and available to purchase on board our vessels! #ScotFoodFort is certainly embedded in our calendar.


What’s next

We’ll continue with our philosophy of sourcing within 50 miles of our operating ports, keeping up to date with Scotland Food & Drink’s strategies and enhancing our on- board offering. We have a large percentage of our produce currently being sourced locally but we are eager to increase it further in the years to come.

Twitter @NLFerries

Seven new food and drink products from East Lothian that you must try during Sottish Food & Drink Fortnight

East Lothian, Scotland’s Food and Drink County, is home to many of Scotland’s finest food and drink producers. In celebration of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, here’s a list of seven exciting new products from the region that you should try over the next two weeks. Whether you fancy mouth-watering savoury snacks, delicious sweet treats, or a celebratory drink, there’s something on this list for everyone!


S Luca- Conino Cone -

Luca’s Ice Cream are proud to present their all-new Conino dairy ice cream cones.  Made with quality Scottish milk and cream and topped with a crown of luxury Italian sauces and toppings, the Conino shines above the rest.  Available with Luca’s Toffee Fudgy, Raspberry Ripple and Mint Chocolate Chip dairy ice cream.


Buck and Birch- Amarosa -

Amarosa is an aromatic rosehip rum liqueur, handcrafted in Scotland and inspired by nature. It’s a delicious infusion of sweet rosehip, wild harvested Scottish herbs and a touch of exotic spirit. Whether dipped over ice, topped with a favourite mixer or blended in a cocktail, the smooth complexity and fresh aromatics of Amarosa make this unique liqueur a perfect serve.


Real Food Source- Smoosh -

Real Food Source is family run real food business based in East Lothian. Their versatile Smoosh no- bake cake mixes are made with their best real food ingredients with no added sweeteners, preservatives or nasties. Smoosh into bliss balls, energy bars, cheesecake, add to smoothies, porridge, ice cream, pancakes or anything you fancy for a great tasting nutritional boost. Smoosh is available in a range of flavours including Strawberries ‘n’ Cream, Raw Banana Bread, Matcha Goji, Cashew Coconut, Cookie Dough and Raw Salted Brownie.


Chocolate Tree – 40g bars

Chocolate Tree, who are based near Dunbar, East Lothian, use the finest ingredients to produce a range of ethically sourced, award winning chocolates. They recently released 40g bars of their popular bean to bar selection. These pocket-sized chocolate bars are available in twelve delicious flavours, including Rum Pineapple Coconut; Pisco Sour and Whisky.


Hurly Burly Brewery - BLimey-

BLimey is a light and gentle sour ale with citrus and spice aromas and a slight salty tartness.  As with all Hurly Burly Brewery’s beers, it’s vegan- friendly and, as well as malt and hops, the recipe includes lime, coriander, white peppercorns and a dash of salt.  With an ABV of 3.0% BLimey makes a sparkling, thirst quenching summer special.


Spice Pots  - Gift Tins-

Spice Pots was launched from Melanie Auld’s home kitchen in East Lothian in 2014 as a shortcut to make simple, delicious and healthy Indian-inspired food. Melanie’s passion for Indian food was ignited after a life changing trip to India but after her 3 sons were born, she no longer had the time to cook curries from scratch.  Spice Pots now produce 5 fantastic spice blends that can be used to create consistently tasty curries. Their new gift box is the perfect present for the foodies you know - which includes all 5 spice blends and a chef's candle.


Edinburgh Distillers

Edinburgh Distillers is the sister company to Edinburgh Preserves. They produce a range of spirits and fusions, including a colour changing gin called 'Big Blue Cocktail Gin'. All of Edinburgh Distillers products are named after butterflies, as a tribute to naturist John Muir who was from East Lothian.


For more info about the fabulous produce of Scotland’s Food and Drink County, visit


By Rebecca Muir, Scotland’s Food and Drink County