Dumfries and Galloway is a stunning part of Scotland and oft overlooked in favour of Nessie or Glen Coe. Yet for those in the know it has scenery, history, nature and great food in spades! The remarkably mild climate and moist breezes have created a landscape famous for its beef and dairy cattle, creating lush pastures for happy healthy grass fed cows – good for biodiversity I might add. No wolves or Yellowstone nonsense required here – Mother Nature at work with positive benefits to our ecosystem!
It is the land of Loch Arthur and Galloway Farmhouse Cheese, The Ethical Dairy and Craigadam, all wonderful places to visit, however this time we took an alternative route, visiting people and places I confess we hadn’t seen for awhile.
First stop Kedar Cheese. Here the Lochhead family have a herd of Swiss Brown Cows and produce fine mozzarella. They take a great pride in their deliciously creamy pillows of cheese, sold at farmers markets fresh and smoked. These pedigree cows supply a good yield of high quality milk, essential for great cheese. The autumn air was cool and the ladies strolled freely between grass that was still satisfying in the thin sunshine, and the shelter of their barn where they could munch forage laid out for them. A friendly bunch, we were warmly greeted – Gavin, Jane and Jonny were welcoming too!! Eldest son Jonny looks after their 150-strong herd and knows every one by name.
After putting the world to rights and sharing tasty soup we headed onwards with bottles of creamy milk in the chill bag. Kedar don’t have an on-site shop but are regulars at Edinburgh Farmers Market. Click for further information. http://www.kedarcheese.co.uk
Keep off the main runs, take the winding lanes and you will be rewarded with birds of prey, farms well stocked with animals, geese in synchronised flight and bonnie hamlets. You may even spot a Native Scottish Goat as there is a wild herd in them there hills! Nowhere is that far away in Dumfries and Galloway and travel enhanced with views round every corner, such as the short drive to Sanquhar, home to multi award-winning Blackaddie House Hotel where Ian McAndrew has just won Best Loved Hotels Award for the Best Hotel in Scotland 2018/19. Blackaddie will now go forward to the UK Finals.
Such a gorgeous place with one of Scotland’s top chefs at the helm. He and his wife Jane have extensively restored this beautiful dwelling, recognising its potential and transforming it over the years, investing time and funds to create a top notch country House Hotel, reducing the number of bedrooms to create spacious luxury with immaculate en suites. A great hideaway for a romantic weekend or some serious battery charging!
Blackaddie’s dinner menu shows incredible attention to detail – relax and enjoy every morsel, skilfully cooked and exquisitely presented. From the amuse-bouche to mouth-watering butter poached halibut, the succulent partridge, the cooling – and intriguing – roast onion sorbet, the depth of flavour in the Trio of well-aged Scottish beef and the awesome warm spiced apple cake… life doesn’t get much better. Hats off to this couple for all their work. And they still find time to grow much of the produce in their kitchen garden! https://www.blackaddiehotel.co.uk
We had two more stops on this trip – I must confess I do love my job! Over hills and through valleys until we reached the shoreline, from countryside to seaside where we could even catch a glimpse of Ireland…it could only be Knockinaam Lodge. https://www.knockinaamlodge.com Knockinaam is steeped in history as the secret place Churchill and Eisenhower are said to have planned the D-Day landings and the inspiration for the hideout in John Buchan’s thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps, one of my favourites.
It is also making its own history as Sian and David have owned Knockinaam since 2003 and Head Chef Tony Pierce, having achieved recognition in some star venues en route, has led the kitchen brigade here for over two decades with 3AA Rosettes. Nothing is too much trouble and their hand-painted menus form the perfect frame for their balanced and delectable meals. They too have a kitchen garden and as the waves crashed upon the shore we were treated to Grilled fillet of John Dory, Slow roasted breast of chicken with chicken & truffle boudin and caramelized onion potato. The hot marmalade soufflé was as light as a feather.
After a great chat around local produce with the chefs we said au revoir and headed eastwards and homewards to Fife, but not before a pause at Galloway Lodge Coffee Shop in Gatehouse of Fleet where a freshly brewed pot of tea was all we could manage although Bosse can vouch for the excellent cake! Galloway Lodge also do a fine range of jams, mustard, horseradish, marmalade and chutney, to be found in many a good farm shop. https://www.gallowaylodge.co.uk
We may have only managed four Members on this trip but what a trip! It’s time for you to treat yourselves to Dumfries and Galloway: coast and country, walks and castles…and above all unforgettable food. We met Glaswegians on our travels who recognised what a short hop Blackaddie is from Central belt – indeed the region is so unspoilt it should be on everyone’s list.
At Scottish Food Guide we aim to seek out the best and showcase them for you. Trust me when I say for every gem that collaborates with us on SFG there are many I turn away – if you don’t believe me ask Bosse who has experienced some meals he would rather forget!!
So let your mouse take you around my interactive map on Scottish Food Guide and discover the gems in Dumfries and Galloway for yourselves.
Before we move on to Members’ News, the company that aided me with SFG website design, tutored me with great patience and continue to mentor me is Organik Web. It can be stressful to embark on change however I am so pleased I embraced the challenge and wish I had taken the plunge sooner! Here are a few words of advice from him…
Merry Christmas from Organik Web. And to help your Christmas go with a bang, here are three tips to make your website even more successful.
- Change your website – a static website is a big no no. Make sure you’re continually adding to your site with new articles, blogs, recipes etc. The reason is simple – if you’re web site is static, the search engines will not come and check you out as often and you may find yourself slipping down the search results.
- A blog is a great way to get yourself known. If you don’t blog then think about doing something once a week. Remember though, blogs are not about telling the world how great you are. They’re all about helping your customers bake a better cake or roast the perfect turkey or make the finest cheese on toast.
- Make sure there are plenty ways for the website visitors to engage with you. Put plenty calls to action, subscribe to the blog etc. Customers love getting stuff that’s relevant and timely. They hate getting stuff every day that is irrelevant or is just spam.
More Members’ News…
Enjoy a Festive Lunch at Edinbane Lodge, three courses for £32pp on Friday, Saturday & Sunday throughout December. For this and other offers click their link https://www.edinbanelodge.com
Walkers will include a personalised message with your order this Christmas using their festive gift message cards. Enter your message when placing your order online and they will have it beautifully printed onto the card for delivery with your order! https://www.walkersshortbread.com/uk/
Last orders for Craigie’s festive food must be made by the 15th December, after which they will still be processed but only available for pick up on the 24th. Dalmeny Christmas Trees have arrived and Santa will be visiting for Santa breakfasts and outside on the Rotary sledge too! https://craigies.co.uk
Andrew Appleby, The Harray Potter, is not only a gifted ceramist but also a novelist with a Trilogy of books set in ancient times. ‘Skara, The Third Wave’ is OUT NOW! You can go to his website www.skarabooks.com to order. Check out his beautiful pots too – creative and practical, with many of his designs inspired by the prehistoric artefacts discovered on Orkney. Such unique and appealing ceramics. http://orkneypottery.co.uk
Ensure January is anything but dull with a Prestonfield‘ Just for January’ Limited Edition Gift Voucher for a friend or loved one, with vouchers for dining experience, afternoon tea or overnight stay to enjoy in the New Year. Click for details https://www.prestonfield.com Having just attended the Thistle Regional Awards here I can personally vouch for a memorable experience.
Contini new season menus launch this week and as the weather has got colder they are feeling super festive. Join them for classics such as smoked salmon and roast turkey at The Scottish Cafe and Cannonball House and for the non-traditional festive diner; Mozzarella di Bufala DOP and risotto at Contini George Street. https://www.contini.com
Demijohn’s new Walnut Liqueur is now on tap! Their Walnut Liqueur 38% for you to try. Smooth with a hint of spice and walnuts is a good description of its taste, it is unique! Always great ideas from Demijohn so check out their website for more updates. https://www.demijohn.co.uk
Time is marching on for ordering your fantastic Kelly Bronze Turkeys from Macbeths. These are hugely popular and have magnificent flavour and texture. They are extensively reared and game hung to enhance the flavour. They do only have a limited amount of them so please order soon if you would like one – and don’t forget the trimmings! https://www.macbeths.com
Ballintaggart has a wonderful selection of Feasts, Cook School Masterclasses and now also delicious menus and tasteful rooms at The Grandtully Hotel too. For details check out the link as they are booking up fast https://ballintaggart.com