Fresh from the sea
One of the highlights of going on holiday is the opportunity to sample the fresh local produce that you may struggle to find at home. Scotland is blessed with some of the finest seafood in the world and by buying direct from its source then you can ensure you get quality and freshness as well as helping the local economy.
The Oyster Shed on Skye hit the headlines this week due to its ambitious expansion plans for the summer. This is hardly surprising given its roaring success over the last few years. Its acclaim has been built on the simple principle of providing customers with the freshest local seafood from the shores surrounding the island. The farm shop and takeaway located in Carbost will sell you live oysters farmed in the waters just below the shed in addition to holiday classics such as lobster and chips. The idea of eating raw oysters may be off putting to some but when they have just been pulled from the unpolluted Hebridean waters and served up with a slice of lemon and a spot of tabasco it really is hard to resist. This is the opposite of posh city dining, a rustic farm shed with some wooden benches outside. Simple, unpretentious and with generous portions the back to basics approach has made the success of The Oyster Shed the talk of the island. With so much on offer here there is probably too much to consume in one sitting so grab some to take back to Saltwinds which is just a 10 minute drive away. The sea views from here will remind you just how lucky the locals are here to have such vast amounts of natural bounty on their doorstep.
Hand dived scallops are one of Scotland’s most sought after treats. Unlike large scale commercial dredging operations which can damage the environment hand dived scallops are sustainable and of the finest quality. The pier at Miavaig is one of the best spots in the country to acquire some. If you are lucky and time your visit right you can buy some that have been freshly caught direct from the fishermen when their boats come in. it’s a great feeling knowing that even the most expensive restaurants in the land are unable to get their hands on produce as fresh as this. The best thing is that cooking is easy. The kitchen at Miavaig House, just up the road is brilliantly equipped but fresh scallops benefit for being prepared simply. There is no need to drown out the fantastic natural flavours with rich sauces or accompaniments so fry them in butter and serve with lemon, salt and pepper for a true taste of the Hebrides.
The Fish Shop on Gairloch pier sells all manner of locally caught produce but prides itself most of all on its live langoustines. These have to be ordered at least a day in advance but it is definitely worth the wait. Creel caught lobsters, crab and whatever else is landed by the local fisherman is also available and can be picked up from Badachro which is really convenient if you are staying at Croft 23. You could walk to the beach from the house and have the most amazing picnic and if you are inspired to learn more then Shellfish Safaris can take you out on a boat to see a bit more of the areas amazing sea life and if you are lucky some dolphins.
There is an abundance of fresh seafood swimming around the pristine waters of the isle of Luing but increasingly now as well in the slate quarries that dot the landscape. Many are flooded with seawater so make the perfect environment to farm lobsters, in theory they could make their way from the sea to your plate in under an hour. Ardlarach Lodge has a large south facing terrace with a picnic table and views over to scarab, ideal for indulging in some local delicacies. With prior arrangement you can even have some live prawns delivered straight to your door. If you feel like going one step further then Luing Boat Trips offer fishing excursions where if you are lucky then you could catch your own supper. As well as guaranteeing your dinners freshness it would be a most satisfying experience.