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The search for Scotland’s best-kept secret ingredient: Ayrshire, Arran and Argyll

July 25, 2014

I’m moving over to the west coast in this week’s blog. With over 80 miles of unspoiled coastline, as well as multiple sea lochs, hills and glens, this vast region offers a very long list of unique and distinctive produce.

 

The area is famed for haggis – and the ones from Barbreck Farm are amazing – probably due to their secret spice-mix ingredient. I wonder if Ronnie the butcher will share it with me? But it’s not just haggis you’ll find in their farm shop near Lochgilphead. You can also get your hands on a whole host of products from Argyll as well as their range of fresh meat, sausages and black pudding.

 

Staying with Scottish favourites, warm your cockles with some Real Mackay Stovies made from home-roasted blackface lambs, which are born and reared on Stronmagachan Farm in Argyll. You’ll find them all over the place selling their wares, including Glasgow Green during the Commonwealth Games. I’m not sure anyone ever completely agrees on the best way to make stovies though. If your way is the best way, you might be in with a chance of winning this!

 

This region is quite literally swimming with amazing seafood including langoustines, crabs, lobsters, hand-dived scallops, oysters and a range of white fish. I’m sure I could write several blog posts on my love for the seafood from this region. One of the most-recent and most-popular dishes on my menu has been this crab cannelloni dish made with crabs from Oban. It has a lovely sweet taste and a firm texture.

 

Mark Greenaway Crab Cannelloni

 

The clear waters and strong tidal currents of Scotland’s West coast also provide ideal conditions for farming high-quality salmon. And at the oak smokehouse at Inverawe, you’ll find some of the best smoked salmon, trout, fish and meat in the land. Real treats.

 

But my favourite fish from the region has to be the Gigha Halibut. For the dish below, I roasted it and served with an artichoke barigoule garnish. A few Ayrshire tatties wouldn’t go amiss alongside it as well. Or maybe you have your own secret ingredient to add?

 

I can’t be over on the west coast without mentioning Isle of Mull cheddar, which is superb. It’s quite moist with a fruity flavour, and I love how it changes colour depending on the season. In winter, when the cows are hay-fed, it turns almost white! It lends itself to so many recipes and can definitely be considered as a main ingredient in its own right.

 

For those of you who love a dram, the region’s islands offer some of the most picturesque spots in the world to enjoy a wee tot or two ‘al fresco’. I can testify to this. Not only did I sample a few drops of Bowmore Small Batch on the beach on Islay, I also made a matching pudding there too. It was quite simply the best place I have ever cooked. And will be hard to top!

 

There really is so much to talk about from this area that I’ve run out of space, so do explore the local produce from the region for yourself at the weekly farmers’ markets in Ayrshire and Argyll. Then wash down your discoveries with one of the great beers from Islay Ales. Or you could use one in your cooking. You decide.

 

Now it’s over to you! Let me know what amazing dish you make using a product from Scotland. Just tell me what the product is, and describe how you use it. It’s that easy. If you email me at secret@eatdrinkdiscoverscotland.co.uk before Friday 15th August 2014 you could be in with a chance of being selected to join me in a cook-off at Eat Drink Discover Scotland.

 

Visit www.eatdrinkdiscoverscotland.co.uk for terms and conditions.

 

Join me as I explore Greater Glasgow and the Clyde Valley next week.

 

Eat Drink Discover Scotland, which is taking place at the Royal Highland Centre between 12th and 14th September, will bring to life the rich diversity of Scotland’s brimming larder by featuring exhibitors from the length and breath of the country. One for the foodies, it will be offering something for every palate, plate and price range and with a regional focus, it will be providing opportunities for smaller rural food producers to share centre stage with more established brands. The weekend will also include demonstrations and masterclasses such as chocolate workshops, cocktail making, game butchery and craft bakery. 

 

Follow the search on Twitter @EatDrinkSco

 

 

 

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