Sounds Great, Tastes Better

24 August 2017

rumbledthumps cropped

Rumbledthumps via CC

Scotland is blessed with some of the finest fresh produce and well regarded restaurants in Europe. Whether it is venison, fresh smoked salmon, lobster or beef then it’s possible to source all over the country an organic and fresh taste of the country. Scotland is also home to some of the most bizarrely named and all but forgotten regional specialties. Believe us when we say that these taste even better than they sound.

A ‘buttery’ has been described as a bit like a Scottish croissant. Still popular today, in Aberdeenshire and Moray, these owe their origins to the fishing communities that used to dot the coast. Their high fat content means they don’t go stale, so fishermen’s wives would traditionally bake them for husbands to take on long sea trips. They can be eaten on their own at any time, but surely taste best heated under the grill with some jam and a cup of tea for a mid-morning snack. For hikers they also make a great energy food for a long day on the hill. Stock up before you arrive at Newseat, a 19th century Aberdeenshire farmhouse surrounded by great walking routes including the Tap o’ Noth straight out the back door.

‘Clapshot’ is an accompaniment to Scotland’s national dish, haggis, but can be served alongside almost anything. In its simplest form it is just mashed turnip and potatoes but more sophisticated versions can also feature chives, cream, butter and onions. It is best enjoyed at a traditional Burn’s Supper and where better to celebrate than somewhere like Inver Lodge. Here you can hire a chef for your stay and get up to 20 people dining in comfort together, before retiring to take advantage of the fully operational in-house bar.

The charmingly named ‘rumbledethumps’ is a traditional recipe from the Borders and bears some similarities to the English, dish bubble and squeak. More accompaniment than main meal, it consists of onion, cabbage and potato, baked with cheese, but may also contain any kitchen leftovers the chef happens to have at their disposal. It is wholesome, soul food that is easy to prepare at home but unlikely to be found on any restaurant menu. Westerkirk Mains sits right in the heart of the Borders, a great place for exploring the unique culinary heritage and the natural history of this fascinating part of the country.

Feeling brave? ‘Powsowdie’ is not for the faint hearted. It harks back to the days when no part of an animal could afford to be wasted and has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance of late due to it being mentioned in the Outlander books. A soup would be made using the least appealing parts of a sheep and would include its head and its trotters as well as peas and barley. If that’s a bit much then you can approximate the experience with a good Scotch broth recipe and some stock cubes. This hearty winter classic is best served in winter to warm you up after a day outside. The perfect end to a day on the piste would be returning back to Thyme Cottage, a roaring fire and a steaming bowl of broth. It’s the closest you can get to Scottish après-ski.

On Pancake Day in Scotland it used to be traditional to eat ‘festy cock’. This Scottish version of a pancake has similarities to an oatcake and is baked rather than fried. The name originates from the Festern's E'en, the day before Shrove Tuesday, when cock fighting would take place, supposedly to drive out evil and violence before Lent. Simple and easy to prepare, they would make a fun project for the kids on holiday. The kitchen at Croft 23 is modern and well equipped, perfect for preparing big family meals for special occasions or something as simple as pancakes.

‘Crappit Heid’ is another dish that originated in a more austere era. Fishermen would sell the best parts of the fish they caught and would subsist on whatever was left over. Fish heads would be stuffed with a mixture of oatmeal, suet and liver and boiled in seawater. The off-putting name and the effort involved in preparation means that for all its romantic history it is extremely rare to find on any menus these days. Instead of being exported, much of the Scottish catch is now available to buy locally, meaning that if you did want to try for yourself, to conjure up a true taste of the Highlands past then it is easier than ever. If you buy something from the fish shop on the pier at Gairloch then you can prepare it at Big Sand just up the road and enjoy it on the decking outside with stunning views over where it was caught.