Hope you are well and had a fun and fabulous weekend! Although I adore my weekends (David time!), there is just something extra special about the weekends in the run up to Christmas. That ‘festive feeling’ surrounds the air, everyone is cheerful, the weather gets that wee bit colder and as a result we all have that rosy glow on our cheeks and noses as red as Rudolph! Nothing a good ‘red cup’ won’t fix though!
Today I thought I would share with you some of the foodie delights I was able to sample while David and I were away on our mini break last week. The local produce in Dumfries and Galloway is incredible and varied. From fruit and vegetables to meat, seafood and dairy, the variation and availability of this seasons offering was fantastic. It was so nice to see that these treats were kept in the county itself for its people to purchase. I used to get so sad in the Highlands to see our local produce shipped away with no opportunity to buy. Let’s treasure what is on our doorstep people!
Some of what is below was bought beforehand and brought with us, others while in the area. But our main focus, as always, was good honest local produce, whether that be Glasgow or Dumfries and Galloway. I have a funny feeling writing this post is going to make me feel very hungry!
The day before we left we made a trip to our local Whole Foods and supermarket to pick up supplies. It looks like quite a lot (and there was more in the fridge!), but it was all essential, tasty good foods and, believe it or not, we didn’t end up taking much home!
When we arrived at the cottage we chilled out and then began making our dinner, roast chicken with ratatouille and salad. Our chicken was from Whole Foods and was simply divine! The trick is to roast the chicken over the ratatouille ingredients in the oven, that way all the juices and flavours from the chicken go into the sauce. It was yummy and provided us with leftovers for later on in the week too, score!
Monday began with a chilled out breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and lots of coffee! Whole Foods have delicious organic coffee which you can grind fresh in store and it certainly picks you up for the rest of the day! Our pumpkin pancakes were so good, made with local eggs and lots of love!
While we were out and about on Monday, we made a stop to the Loch Arthur Creamery. The creamery (local dairy) have a beautiful, purpose built farm shop which doubles up as a coffee shop and organic/ fair trade food and other goods store. We spent ages looking around and enjoying viewing all the local fruit and veg, meat, dairy products and other local produce. It was also great to see a lot of items normally only found in ‘health food’ stores or Whole Foods.
The stars of the show, and rightly so, were its dairy products. The cheeses were all unpasteurised (yay!) and David and I stocked up on some mature cheddar and criffel. I think I am going to have to ration the criffel, it’s so good I don’t want it to run out! We also picked up some natural yogurt which was so fresh and tart. Would be perfect for cooking. In terms of the fruit and veg, I wanted everything! However we restrained ourselves and went for some British apples (still on my quest to try as many varieties as possible!) and found two we hadn’t tried before – the red pippin and limelight. Both so good! Other items purchased was some 100% pear juice and a small bottle of Frobisher’s Bumbleberry– a yummy drink combining strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blackcurrant puree with water and fruit extract. Great British product, fab ingredients, amazing flavour! Can’t wait to try and locate these juices back in Glasgow.
The day was rounded off with some slow cooking in the kitchen. We made slow braised beef cheeks – following a recipe by Gordon Ramsay. Oh boy was it delicious. I have never had beef so tender before, a combination of the slow cook and the fantastic produce itself – beef cheeks purchased from Whole Foods. We served ours over a bed of sautéed red cabbage and added carrots to the sauce (our only adaptations to the recipe), it was perfect. We savoured every mouthful. It was that good, we are hoping to make it again on Boxing Day for my parents. I know they will love it. Never tried beef cheeks before? Give it a go, I promise you will not be disappointed!
The following day we made another foodie pit stop at the Galloway Smokehouse.
I love smoked foods and this particular smokehouse had everything I could possibly imagine and want! In fact I wanted to buy it all! We were very impressed with what we did purchase though. The smoked mackerel made the perfect dinner that evening, served with roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. We also picked up a smoked chicken leg which had the most incredible flavour to it and combined with the Loch Arthur mature cheddar made an amazing omelette for breakfast. The final item we picked up was a couple of smoked hard boiled eggs, unusual but again tasted great! Would travel miles and miles to shop here! Next time I will bring a cool bag and stock up!
There were other delights along the way during this trip. Local stores and coffee shops in Kircudbright and Castle Douglas had everything we could have wanted and more in terms of local, fresh, foodie delights. Castle Douglas has even been named the ‘Food Town’ of Dumfries and Galloway and it certainly lived up to its reputation. But then again, the whole county did! Will be back to explore more very soon I am sure!