… the land of plenty

Cookery Courses & Gourmet Breaks In Scotland

Written by Linda Jackson

With over 5,000 years of history to recall, the Year of Natural Scotland 2013  presents  a great opportunity to showcase the natural world of Scotland… and get people outdoors to enjoy it.

Regularly tantalising taste buds is not so easy, but introducing them to the fantastic flavours of Scotland on a gourmet break is… try Scotland’s cookery courses, culinary demonstrations, and Chef’s table dinners, they’re mouth-wateringly good.

Scotland is not just about haggis and neeps. There are more sumptuous offerings in Scotland than I’ve had hot dinners, colloquially speaking that is. There are foodie festivals and trails, bustling farmers’ markets with delectable fresh produce, vats oozing with amber nectar, and the best beef in the world.  

To be honest you haven’t lived if you’ve not tasted Scottish Cullen Skink, Finnan Haddie and Arbroath Smokies – simple but so scrumptious. But, if you consider yourself a gourmand and prefer cuisine a little more complex, beware… you’ll be starry-eyed when you look at the number of restaurants in Scotland with the prized Michelin star attached to them. Yes indeed, Scotland’s larder is full.

Boath House in Nairn

It’s amazing what you can discover if you go foraging in Scotland...

Wendy Matheson of Boath House in Nairn knows only too well as her chef Charlie prepares some delectable dishes with his foraged goodies found within the hotel’s grounds. There’s certainly no better time than The Year of Natural Scotland to go food foraging in the Scottish Highlands: Boath House, holder of a Michelin Star and four AA Rosettes, sits in 20 acres of beautiful grounds and offers ‘Foraging for Food’ breaks as well as ‘Kitchen Garden Courses’.

Boath House Gardens

These relaxing breaks are not structured, and tailor-made to suit the weather conditions. Guests spend time with Chef Charlie in the kitchen and foraging with him in the garden (he’s very much involved with the Slow Food movement in Scotland), usually accompanied by Wendy (a garden designer) or the head gardener. You’ll discover their flowers are grown to taste, rather than look at, such as violas, fennel, carrot and parsnip flowers, and root vegetables for their flowers and seeds; what you might regard as weeds are foraged to eat, and there’s a different take on how food can be used from the kitchen garden.

Boath House bread making

A demonstration on how to incorporate the food you’ve foraged into the evening meal is held in the kitchen and, depending whether you are on a two or three day ‘experience’, visits to local suppliers (including a cheese maker) are organised. Taste buds are treated to a six course daily changing dinner each evening on the food foraging experience.

Another cooking experience Charlie is happy to build an itinerary around is bread making, with kitchen garden and foraging demo, and a visit to a local cheese maker.  Fresh baked bread, local cheese, and a glass or two of wine? My taste buds are agitated at the thought.

MORE >> www.boath-house.com

Be amongst the action at The Pass at One Square - at the Edinburgh Sheraton Grand.

The Pass at One Square, Edinburgh

If you are looking for a truly unique dining experience, or if you want to treat that special someone to a meal to remember forever, then there is always the option of dining at The Pass – at One Square in The Edinburgh Sheraton Grand, where you can watch the chefs apply the finishing touches to dishes just before they are served.

Situated in the high-octane heart of the One Square Kitchen, this is an exclusive chance to interact with the chefs as they work, learn some insider foodie tips, and - best of all - tuck into a delicious assortment of dishes at the pass!

To find out more about Dining at The Pass please call the Events team on +44(0)131 229 9131

Residential three-day cookery courses are held at the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews.

Old Course Hotel

Apart from generally relaxing in this luxury hotel you will enjoy a cookery experience which includes a dinner menu demonstration given by the chef (then you dine on the menu), an educational wine tasting, and a Scotch whisky tasting.

A taster of a past menu, to give an idea of the type of cuisine involved, is: scallop and crab cake with cucumber and lime salad and oriental dressing, roast rack and braised neck fillet of lamb with fondant potatoes, buttered kale and red wine jus.

MORE >> www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk

Full of fresh Scottish produce, tempting aromas and a unique experience for 2013 - Deseo at Gleneagles

Airds Hotel

 At Deseo in Gleneagles diners can choose from quiet corner booths or big tables for groups where you can get up close to the chefs as they prepare your dishes before your very eyes. Designed like a bustling food emporium, Deseo is full of fresh Scottish produce and tempting aromas.

For 2013 Deseo has developed an exciting new way of offering its guests the chance to taste premium Scotch Beef, with the creation of a unique ‘breed book’ featuring four native and two continental breeds and was created in conjunction with local butcher Simon Howie. This concept aims to give restaurant diners the chance to choose beef in the same way they might select fine wines and whiskies. Every week will see a different ‘guest breed’, to showcase the different characteristics and natural flavours of Scottish cattle.

Knockinaam Lodge

Michelin starred Knockinaam Lodge in Dumfries and Galloway has had the same chef, Tony Pierce, for 22 years.

Proprietor David Ibbotson tells me, every March and November, the hotel has been running two gourmet weekends a year for the last six years.

The gourmet weekends are very popular and get booked well in advance: weekends are very light-hearted, generally with 15/16 people, starting on a Friday. There are is a 1½ hour cookery demo on two afternoons.

Knockinaam Lodge

If Knockinaam Lodge guests have anything they want to be shown, have problems with fish, pasta, or whatever, it is tied into the weekend.

There’s a cookery quiz, “A bit of fun and an ice-breaker” says David, when Chef will bring in strange looking vegetables, cheese and fish for identification, and a six-course set tasting menu on the first night with Sommelier-chosen wine. Saturday morning there is a tutored wine tasting with one of Knockinaam’s suppliers who is aware of the Saturday night dinner menu. He advises guests what to look for to match food and wine, then a consensus is taken as to what wine will be served with the eight or nine course tasting menu that night.

MORE>> www.knockinaamlodge.com

Cookery demonstrations with Albert Roux are held at Greywalls Hotel and Chez Roux Restaurant in Muirfield, North Berwick.

Here, the inaugural winner of ‘BBC Masterchef: the Professionals’, Derek Johnstone, is Head Chef.

Greywalls Hotel

The cookery demonstrations take around 1½ hours; the head chef prepares and cooks the menus; Mr Roux is in the room and talks through what Chef is doing, with questions and answers flowing, and then joins participants for lunch.

Albert Roux

Starting at 11 am and wrapping up around 3.30 makes the day a good value cookery demonstration (not a cookery class or school).

With a maximum number of 40, it is good fun, light-hearted, and participants get detailed recipe cards to take home on everything that is cooked.

Culinary Weekends at Airds Hotel on Scotland’s west coast always prove very popular.

Airds Hotel

 Held twice a year and hosted by Head Chef David Barnett in the Airds kitchen, groups are kept small with a maximum of eight guests so as to ensure a very personal experience and one from which everyone comes out having learned new techniques.

The course is aimed at providing you with the know how to create wonderful dishes with a degree of professionalism. 

Guests will learn how to prepare for the perfect dinner party, including canapés, bread making, preparing fish and shellfish, wonderful dessert and Petit Fours.

Last, but by no means least, there’s Michelin starred Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye.

Kinloch Lodge is the Highland home of Lord Macdonald (the eighth chief of the Clan Donald) and his wife Lady Claire Macdonald – the award winning cook and food writer.

Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye

Part of the hotel’s recent big refurbishment created a new Chef’s Table (destined to be sought after so book soon!) and Private Dining Room.

Three-day informal residential cookery courses are held at Kinloch Lodge with Claire Macdonald, best-selling cookery writer, at the helm; she is amusing, witty, and willing to share her kitchen secrets and time-saving tips. The head chef, Marcello Tully, can also be seen in action and you’ll learn interesting titbits about the ins and outs of professional restaurant kitchens, the equipment he uses, and how he creates his Michelin star menus.

Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye

MORE >> www.kinloch-lodge.co.uk

You won’t want to leave the warmth and aromas of Kinloch’s kitchens, but you must drag yourself away from this foodie retreat to explore the wild natural beauty of Skye, to walk off the calories you had extreme pleasure putting on, and to reflect how blessed Scotland is having such fantastic flavours and such fresh produce.

After all, this is what Scotland is all about… this is Natural Scotland on a plate.

Editors Note:
Seven members of Luxury Scotland boast eight Michelin stars, including Gleneagles which has the only two Michelin starred restaurant in Scotland.

Luxury Scotland
Tel: +44(0)1786 821 860 
Fax: +44 (0)1383 825 700
E: dorothy@luxuryscotland.co.uk

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