Relish Scotland – Second Helping. A gourmet travel guide to the best chefs and restaurants

relish scotland image

Taking pride of place on my kitchen bookshelf is Relish Scotland,  an attractive selection of original recipes from leading chefs and restaurants around the country.  Now, a second edition has been published, cleverly entitled “Relish Scotland, Second Helping”, with an introduction by one of the celebrated superstars of British cuisine, Tom Kitchin.

Tom Kitchin

Tom Kitchin

As well as a busy life in Edinburgh, in charge of three restaurants, he is often seen cooking or judging events on BBC TV – Masterchef and Saturday Kitchen.

Scotland’s natural larder – Aberdeen Angus beef, venison, grouse, salmon, smoked fish, farmhouse cheeses, summer berries, wild herbs, organic vegetables, oats and barley creates a “Gastronomic heaven.”   Shellfish in particular has an international reputation for quality: hand-dived west coast scallops and langoustine, Loch Fyne oysters as well as the lucrative European lobster market – Scotland is recognised as leading the way through its sustainable fishing methods.

Jean-Christophe Novelli proves the point,  “ I’m particularly impressed by the quality of the mussels grown in the clean waters around Shetland. These mussels are in my opinion the best in the world.”

The provenance of fresh, seasonal produce is a source of inspiration for our enterprising chefs – the number of Michelin and Award winning restaurants has increased dramatically in recent years.  Good Food tourism is a fast growing business where over 70% of visitors say they are keen to taste Scottish regional specialities and its exceptional world class cuisine.

Resish Scotland chefs

Relish Scotland Chefs

Relish Scotland takes you on a delicious journey from city restaurants and Highland hotels to Country Pubs and Inns.  The diverse list includes Airds, Argyll, Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Craig Millar @ West End, St Monans, Seafood Restaurant, St. Andrews and Wedgewood, Edinburgh – it’s both a perfect travel guide to plan a Foodie’s itinerary, and as a speciality Cookbook to create some appetising dishes yourself at home. 

Stunning images accompany the recipes which are clearly laid out in easy, step by step stages. Aimed at the amateur or accomplished cook the instructions are straightforward  with a glossary at the back to explain classic French cookery terms.  Handy tips too as well as suggestions for ideal wines, and a list of the best suppliers, fishmongers, bakers, dairies, smoke-houses, and Cookery schools.

Airds hotel

Airds hotel

Airds is a charming white-washed old Coaching Inn in the N.W Highlands,  a few miles north of Oban at Port Appin a stone’s throw from Loch Linnhe.   For 27 years it has been listed in the Good Food Guide and described in Sawday’s Special Places to Stay  as “Flawless  service, ambrosial food”. 

Airds -  fresh lobster and locally caught seafood

Airds – locally caught lobster and fine seafood

The selected dish from their menu is Roasted Loin of Venison with tortellini beetroot and apple and bramble jus.  The photograph to illustrate the recipe shows it off well – pink, tender meat well complemented by the sweet blackberry fruit. 

Ballathie, traditional comfort and fine food

Ballathie, traditional comfort and fine food

Another classic Country House is Ballathie, Perthshire on the banks of the River Tay.  The cuisine is based on local Tay salmon, Estate beef and produce from the kitchen garden.  At home, you can make Scott Scorer’s speciality dish, “Roast Turbot, with Celeriac fondant and herb crusted potatoes”.

Ballathie House -  Log fires, whisky bar, fine Scottish cuisine

Ballathie House –
Log fires, whisky bar, fine Scottish cuisine

Spend a few days at Ballathie House Hotel, just a few miles north of Perth, to sample fine cuisine boasting locally sourced meat, game and fish.  Go walking, cycling or motoring in the area (Castles, Gardens, Forests, Lochs), then enjoy traditional Afternoon tea in the cosy lounge, followed later by a single malt whisky or two in the bar, and of course, a superb dinner.

Paul Kitching and his team

Paul Kitching and his team

Paul Kitching opened his restaurant 21212 in Edinburgh in 2009, quickly gaining a Michelin star for his imaginative, quirky and artistic dishes.   The speciality menu with selected choices for each course explains the numbered 21212 name.  Relax in the plush drawing room styled dining room for a gourmet meal – and you can also stay over with luxury bedrooms upstairs.

21212 plush design

21212 plush design

In this book,  you can read how to make Kitching’s Fish Platter of Smoked fish, crab, caviar and warm sliced cucumber, created with precision and passionate flair.  

Cucina at Hotel Missoni

Cucina at Hotel Missoni

The fabulous, art-filled  Hotel Missoni is fashionably Italian from the décor and design to Chef Camorani and his superlative food.  I have eaten here many times and love his delicious Octopus and Potato Salad.  

Chef Mattia Camorani

Chef Mattia Camorani

One of his recipes is for the dreamy, creamy custard Dessert,  “Zabaglione with white Truffle”.   The ingredients and method look rather easy to prepare and serve in a Martini glass. Taste it slowly along with a glass of elegant, floral Soave Garganega wine.

Sean Canning, Chef, with Colin Church and Martin Luney @ Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen

Head Chef Sean Canning with owners, Colin Church and Martin Luney @ Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen

Living nearby I often visit Hamilton’s Bar & Kitchen in Stockbridge, Edinburgh  (and also Treacle, its sister Bar on Broughton Street, and Blackbird, Tollcross): Popular, friendly, cosy and casual,  where you can expect genuine, freshly prepared, homely, hearty dishes.   Hamilton’s Big House White and Red Wine are well chosen (and very gluggable!),  or why not  try  a couple of cool cocktails. 

Pork Belly at Hamilton's Bar and Kitchen.

Assiette of Pork at Hamilton’s Bar and Kitchen.

“Roast Pork Belly with Crispy pig’s cheek, Stornoway black pudding and garlic mash” is the selected main course – it may sound complex but follow the recipe with its good advice from Chef Canning on preparing perfect Crackling.    Hamilton’s is warmly recommended for a superlative breakfast,  lunch and supper.  (Love the fat hand cut chips served in a wee bucket!).   

Tom Kitchin at The Kitchin was the youngest chef to be presented with a Michelin Star aged 29, in 2007.  Since then he has branched out to open a second fine dining restaurant, Castle Terrace (under  Michelin starred Head Chef, Dominic Jack),  and recently the Scran and Scallie Pub and Dining room.    Food Critic,  A.A Gill of the Sunday Times is already a great fan claiming it’s one of  the best places to eat in the UK. 

Rockpool - seafood by Tom Kitchin

Rockpool – seafood delights by Tom Kitchin

“From Nature to Plate” is Tom Kitchin’s motto, which is very well illustrated in his speciality fish dish, Rockpool – razor clams, lobster tails, oysters, squid, samphire and seaweed in a tomato consommé – which looks like an inventive Scottish  Bouillabaisse with the taste of the sea.

Another Chef who has proved without doubt to have an exceptional culinary talent is Mark Greenaway.  In just a few years he has moved from being Head Chef at Dryburgh Abbey hotel,  (where he was noticed as Rising Star Chef of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards 2011) to creating his own eponymous Restaurant on Picardy Place, Edinburgh. Mark represented Scotland on the BBC Great British Menu series, 2012 and 2013. 

Mark Greenaway

Mark Greenaway

The Mark Greenaway Restaurant moved last year to a prime address on North Castle Street in the Capital’s New Town.  His style of cooking is always imaginative, ironic (with a touch of Blumenthal magic),  and quite simply unique where classic dishes are often deconstructed in a fresh, modern manner.  His Gourmet Tasting menus are exquisitely presented.

In Relish Scotland are his recipes for Cullen Skink and Eton Mess.  The famous fish soup is re-created with Smoked Haddock and Maris Piper potatoes.  You just have to see the image to see his inventive style of cuisine.

Cullen Skink by Mark Greenaway

Cullen Skink by Mark Greenaway

Just outside Peebles is the Baronial, redstone, turreted Country House Hotel, Cringletie, where Patrick Bardoulet took over as head chef in 2011, accompanied by his wife Vivienne as the Manager.   His starter, Trilogy of Scallops sounds and looks absolutely divine: Tartare, Souffle and Seared,  attractively presented on a long, slender plate.   It may be ultra-fashionable and fun to serve selected ingredients 3 or 4 different ways, but it’s a brilliant way to compare taste and texture.

Cringletie House hotel, near Peebles

Cringletie House Hotel, near Peebles

Having visited Cringletie a few times over recent years, it’s a fine destination for a getaway break amidst the tranquil Borders countryside.  Renowned for Afternoon tea and Sunday lunch too,  as well as Bardoulet’s A la carte, Tasting and Tempting Dinner menus.  Enjoy an aperitif in the cosy bar first, and then wander upstairs to the grand decorative Dining Room – the perfect ambience for a romantic meal.  Charming, contemporary bedrooms ensure a relaxing stay.

Cringletie - grand dining room

Cringletie – a grand dining room

As a reader wrote on the Amazon website, Relish Scotland – Second Helping is not just a Cookbook, it’s a Food lover’s gourmet guide to Scotland’s finest places to stay and eat.

“Excellent range and variety of new and creative dishes with interesting information on the restaurant and chef.  Brilliant to read before visiting Scotland if you enjoy fine dining.”

Relish Scotland, Second Helping.   £20. – Regional guides to the best UK restaurants and other celebrity Chef’s cook books.


About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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