Seafood at home

Sorry I’m going to begin with a rant… and get onto recipes in a sec

Nothing pains me more than going to a restaurant IN SCOTLAND that is serving seafood from overseas. We all know Europe to be a haven for seafood excellence, but what about us? Scotland has 16,500km (including the islands) of coast line, which is pretty outstanding for such a small country – teaming with marine life. It’s hard to believe that Scotland is often overlooked as a ‘foodie’ location. I’ve traveled a lot in the last 5 years and while on the topic of food I’ve been asked so many times if deep-fried mars bars and chippies are the local cuisine. WHAT! NO! Scotland has such a rich culture around food with seafood right at the top. It doesn’t get much better than whats being caught right on our doorstep – because no matter where you are in Scotland – you’re never too far from the sea.

I think on the whole, most fish and shellfish eaters in Scotland consume fish in their diet at least once a week. And there’s a reason local fishmongers are still alive and thriving – the quality and range of seafood available is fantastic. Maybe less so in cities where supermarkets supply such a big range – but if possible, supporting local businesses is something we can all agree is good.

So – a seafood feast at home? Not a problem (if you’ve got a pot big enough for langoustines). Seafood dinners like this are a big treat in our family, because shellfish can be a bit pricey – but by ‘compromising’ with a few veggie meals throughout the week (not really a compromise), it can become a more regular treat.

First up – ‘The Palate Cleanser’

Beetroot and goats cheese salad
  • 4 cooked beetroot
  • 100g goats cheese
  • A bag or 2 of greens and leafs
  • Oil & balsamic vinegar
  • Chuck in a few walnuts as well if you like them!

Toss together – easy peasy.

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Smoked Mackerel Pate
  • 400g smoked mackerel
  • 200g cream cheese (ish – taste as you go)
  • 70g butter (ish)
  • lemon juice
  • pepper

Whiz together in a blender – tasting as you go.

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Smoked trout and smoked salmon

Needs no fuss – not even a plate! I got this delivered from Murray Smoked Products – and its some of the best smoked fish I’ve ever tasted! Online they have a variety of different types – honey and pepper, Cajun spiced, long sliced, dill coated – i’ve tried many of them and they are all fantastic.

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Scallops with bacon & black pudding
  • Scallops (2 or 3 per person)
  • One large onion
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • 1 bacon rasher cooked
  • 1/2 sliced of black pud cooked

Soften onion and garlic in oil – fry scallops for 1min on each side – sprinkle with chives and serve with bacon or black pud – or both!

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Langoustines

Bring a large pod of salted water to the boil – and cook the langoustines for 3-4 minutes (careful not to overcook).

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CRAB!

Okay we cheated – we bought this pre cooked crab from the fishmonger… because cooking crab in your house is SO stinky. I’d probably only ever do it if I knew I could cook it outside.

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Yorkshire Puddings?

Not so Scottish – but Yorkshires taste amazing with mackerel pate. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

  • 140g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • sunflower oil

Drizzle oil into tin and put into oven to heat (230c) – beat eggs into flour and slowly add milk to make the batter – pour into heated tin and cook for 20 mins (until golden). Do this just before your about to eat so you can have them hot with the pate.

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We also had a loaf of homemade bread (made in a bread machine) and a last-minute pea puree made by blending garden peas with some lemon juice.

What a feast – and not ridiculously expensive. For the seafood alone we spent £23 – so adding the extras our whole meal cost less than £30.

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Thanks for reading

R x 
@ronamcmillan

 

Traveling Sardinia

Summer seems to have totally caught up with me this year, I feel like I’m still just getting into the swing of this sunshine and I am NOT ready for it to leave. Last minute frantic planning for our Sardinian adventure comes as no surprise, as most of our trips are spontaneous… or just unorganised. We booked flights to the island after a bit of googling research ‘where can I do lots of fun stuff in the sun, eat good food and not get ripped off?’ was the basis of my search. And after scrolling through breathtaking pictures of Sardinia on Lonely Planet, flights were bought and the decision was made. I make that sound a lot simpler than it was – Callum and I are both  faffers, and we totally faffed over where to go for a little longer than that! But a large mediterranean island, with spectacular mountains, cliffs and caves accompanied by crystal clear turquoise water for snorkelling and free diving? How could we say no…

IMG_7233So basically – post holiday I’ll cut to the chase and totally recommend Sardinia (especially the northern part of the island) as a place to visit… and double especially if you are outdoorsy and up for a bit of exploring.

Before you go

How to get around – 100% you’ve got to rent a car, the island is large, everything is spread out… and there isn’t really much going on with public transport – I didn’t see a single bus or train the whole time we were there. But we found this such a great way to get around. (Just double-check your accommodation has parking).

Best time to go – June & September, we read a lot online about prices surging in July/August and all the lovely quiet areas we visited would most likely be hoaching during these months.

How to get there – unfortunately there are no direct flights from Scotland, so we had to get a connection via London (but that was actually straight forward and not too much hassle). We flew into Olbia which is ideal for exploring the northern part of the island.

Where to stay

Cala Gonone – is where the limestone peaked mountains meet the sea via sheer cliffs with incredible caves and white beaches. We absolutely loved staying in Cala Gonone, it had a very low-key friendly vibe and was ideal for exploring both mountains and sea.

Processed with VSCO with c8 presetGPTempDownloadIMG_1736Alghero – is one of Sardinia’s most loved medieval cities. We stayed in the old town which was a beautiful section of the city with traditional old buildings, no cars and was bursting with culture and incredible restaurants. Parking was a bit of an issue since there was no cars allowed in the old town – but we managed to find free parking at the marina (I know shock – marinas are usually extortionate).

Costa Smeralda – we didn’t actually stay here, although I’ve heard it’s a favourite for anyone looking for a bit of glam. We visited the area for a day, and it is very beautiful. Although if looking at other people’s super yachts and cars is off-putting, I’d stay clear!

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Where to visit (day trips)

Olbia – despite its industrial outskirts, Olbia has a beautiful historic centre. We stopped here for lunch on our way north to Costa Smeralda and were pleasantly surprised by how authentic and affordable it was. Lots of lovely boutiques, cafes and wine bars.

Dorgali – looking for a tourist free zone? Dorgali is small and nestled within the limestone mountains (not far from Cala Gonone). Ideal for hikers and climbers.

Porto Cervo – sooo, not exactly our kind of play ground but if you’re looking to pop champagne and wander round super yachts for an afternoon… Porto Cervo is your place. Lots of designer shops, swanky restaurants and all kinds of other fancy stuff.

Stintino – home to Sardinia’s most recognisable beach Spiaggia della Pelosa, and at the islands most northwestern tip the small village has beautiful views and unspoilt scenery. We had a really chilled day here, the beach was busy (so we didn’t last long) but we walked into the village and had the best meal of our holiday at La Darsena.

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Things to do

Explore mountain tracks – there are heaps of incredible mountain ‘tracks’ online, the ones we found were really scrambley so I’d recommend sturdy trainers for the hills.

Beach hopping – there are dozens upon dozens of beautiful white beaches all along the coast line (I imagine all the way around the island) – and most have paths between each one ranging from 1 hour to 5 hour walks. Also very scrambley with lots of loose rock, so not one for the flip-flops!

IMG_3758Rent a boat – we did this in both Cala Gonone and Alghero. Cala Gonone was probably the favoured location due to the incredible cliffs, caves and swimming spots. Alghero was almost as equally nice, but not quite as breathtaking as Cala Gonone.

IMG_4601Snorkel/free dive/scuba dive – we brought our own kit bags from home, but there are heaps of dive schools, centres and rental shops in every town and village.

Image 22GPTempDownload 2Processed with VSCO with 1 presetKayak/SUP board – again you can find places to rent boards and kayaks everywhere – Cala Gonone seemed to be the best location for this to paddle into the incredible caves.

Cook with produce from local markets – even if you miss the markets, the small local shops sell the most incredible produce. We only ate in one evening, but had breakfast and lunch in our apartments quite often… the most simple food tastes so good!

Eat out – do your research or ask your apartment/b&b owner to recommend the best local restaurants. We got pointed in the right direction and it really paid off, the food was honestly incredible.

IMG_5197IMG_5249Wine tasting – I’d save this for the west coast, which is teaming with farm land and vineyards… from large businesses running tours, to smaller independent family run sites – whatever tickles your taste buds!

Overall, we had an incredible time in Italy. If anyone fancies a Sardinian adventure and wants to ask some questions, slide on into my DMs on Instagram and I’ll be happy to chat! @ronamcmillan

Thanks for reading

R x