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

 

Rheign Clothing Review

I first stumbled upon Rheign on Instagram a few months ago when I saw a picture of someone wearing that incredible aqua blue half-zip top (which just happens to be my favourite colour). After checking out their website I realised Rheign is in fact a really small independent company run by designer, owner and model Hazel Whatley – and all of the products are designed in Scotland. Fast forward to now… and I’m dressed head to toe in Rheign with another 7 items in my online basket!

Technical Half Zip - Pale Aqua

Since this top arrived last week I’ve worn it on three separate occasions. I wore it alone on a hill walk, I wore it as a base layer (for extra warmth) out on rescue boat duties last Sunday and I’ve worn it out for coffee – because as well as being technically brilliant for outdoor activities, it just looks really good.

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Best features

  • Flexible fabric – the top has a four-way stretch system for maximum movement
  • The technical fabric is breathable and took moisture away from my skin which kept me cool while walking, and warm on the boat.
  • Quick dry formula – always handy
  • Sewn with flat-seams for anti-rub
  • Thumb holes to retain sleeve position during wear – I think this would be so handy for skiing
  • Long body and sleeves – which is such a saviour for 5ft10 me!

I ordered a size small (which would fit anyone who is a size 8-10 on top).

Also available in many other colours – Technical Half-Zips

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Leggings - Grey/Aqua

I generally find leggings are not that flattering on me – I keep them for the gym and usually wear shorts or walking trousers when I’m outdoors. My other issue with leggings for the outdoors is that they stick to you when your sweaty/damp and because they’re usually made with non breathable fabric they just rub away at your skin. My point is, these leggings are made in the same fabric as the half zip so they take away that moisture from your skin – keeping you cool, dry and comfortable. And not to blow my own trumpet, but I think these are actually flattering on me.

I also got these in a size small – and they fit perfectly around the waist. They’re maybe a tiny bit short on the leg for me, but I don’t mind that at all.

Also available in lots of other lovely colours Leggings

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Supersoft Crewneck - Aqua

And finally, the snuggest jumper to cosy up in post adventure. This crewneck is as it says on the tin, it really is SO soft. Fleecey inside, chunky and warm. It’s the perfect thing to put on after you’ve been out in the cold all day – you get back to the car, strip off all your damp kit and snuggle up in this. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Again I got mine in a size small – it fits perfectly and I’m thinking about ordering one in a larger size too for slouching around in. Does anyone else do this? Shop Crewnecks.

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The price point for Rheign is incredibly reasonable – for a quality product from a small company I generally expect to pay a bit more, and I wouldn’t say any of these products are overpriced. I am a strong believer in ‘getting what you pay for’ as well as ‘buy less for more’ and it will last longer. Overall I am really pleased with the design and quality of my Rheign items and after wearing them this week I feel they are robust enough to last me years.

Thanks for reading - 


Rona x

Keep up with my latest adventures at @ronamcmillan

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Discover Radisson RED Glasgow

Radisson RED is the latest hotel to pop up in Glasgow and it is located in my favourite/most trendy part of town. I was so intrigued by the way Radisson have designed and marketed this chain of hotels I was itching to take a look around… further than the skybar (which I have visited a few times). The idea around this revolutionary hotel is to demolish the rigid rules and stuffiness that we are all too familiar with when booking accommodation. Strict check out times? Rubbish wi-fi? Annoying key systems? Naff decor? Slow check in process? Well, after a night at Radisson RED I can confirm they have achieved to abolish ALL of that, and more. IMG_8297Radisson is really tapping into popular millennial culture here – they’ve focused purely on a concept to attract young adults and I think they have succeeded in creating something that is bold, creative and functional. Everything just works – there is no faffing, no fussing and I think that’s what we really expect from a contemporary brand promoting versatility. IMG_8591The most popular aspect of this hotel for locals has been the skybar, I’ve seen it popping up on Instagram stories each and everyday. Especially with recent glorious weather, the outdoor rooftop area has been a buzz of excitement for Glasgow – something we have needed for sometime. West facing, the skybar has incredible sunsets most evenings – overlooking the Clyde, the Finniston Cran and Glasgow’s most popular music venues, the Hydro and the SECC. So this hotel is also more than ideal if you’re visiting Glasgow for a concert or event at these venues. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetMy room was a corner suite located on the 6th floor, and if anyone was watching my Instagram on Thursday you probably experienced my sheer excitement over the skyline views from the MASSIVE dual aspect windows. There was so much space, it felt more like a studio flat than a hotel room. The decor was contemporary, functional and minimal… but bright and super comfortable and clean. I read online that Radisson RED have an ‘anti-beige’ policy, which made me laugh but it’s very true. You won’t find any brown or beige in this hotel, every corner is popping with colour and artwork. IMG_8279

Location

Located in Glasgow’s West End adjacent to the SSE Hydro, SEC Armadillo and SEC Centre and only a 15 minute walk from the city centre. The hotel is also a short 5 minute walk to Finnieston (Argyll st) where you can find some of Glasgow’s best restaurants. Some of my favourites on this street are, The Gannet, The Finnieston, Six by Nico, Rioja, and Alchemilla. Along with some great bars such as – Lebowskis, Kelvingrove Cafe, Rioja (also a lovely bar), and my favourite pubs – The Ben Nevis, The Islay Inn and The Park Bar! IMG_8293

Room

Simple, contemporary, spacious and extremely comfortable. The bed in my room was at least king size, and fitted with the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. I was blown away by the panoramic views and the laid back atmosphere this room created – somewhere I would actually like to hang out and have a few drinks with friends. I had a 55″ TV and Soundbar that streamed from my phone or laptop which meant I easily linked up my Netflix account. We had a BYOB fridge, which I absolutely loved – so I knew I didn’t have to sneakily smuggle a bottle of prosecco into my room. Bright and snazzy bathroom – everything was clean, everything worked, zero complaints! IMG_8103_Facetune_20-07-2018-16-52-17img_8581.jpgimg_8460_facetune_20-07-2018-16-53-13.jpgSide note – these gorgeous PJs were the cherry on top to my perfect night away. They are from Scottish luxury sleepwear brand feleil, and are made with the softest satin i’ve ever felt. Perfect for silking around your hotel room in! Topaz blue pyjama set

Facilities

RED fitness – we used the gym in the morning post breakfast – which was totally fine since check out wasn’t until midday. I usually expect hotel gyms to be basic, and although being a fairly small space the RED fitness gym was well equiped and had everything I needed for a quick hitt first thing.

IMG_8697IMG_8695RED skybar – As I said before, I’ve been to the skybar a handful of times and I love the space. There is an indoor and outdoor area, both with skyline and river views to watch the sunset at night. They have a great cocktail menu and snacks from the OUIbar, so an ideal place to come for pre drinks or nightcaps. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetEvents and games studio – we didn’t use these spaces, but they did look really inviting and comfortable. If only we had time for a few games of foosball!

OUIbar & KTCHN – this is a pretty relaxed space on the ground floor, they have a kind of canteen cafe vibe where you can drink cocktails and have a few games of pool. We didn’t eat here in the evening, but had breakfast the next day which had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee. IMG_8591IMG_8594

Special features

Radisson RED have developed an app to basically take care of you throughout your stay. It means your phone becomes your room key, you can request anything you like, food, drinks, an extra pillow… and read all the information about your stay via their app.

Cleanliness

Nothing to say other than the place was immaculate!

Service

Radisson RED pride themselves on being pretty chilled, and they absolutely are. Im sure most of us have experience the mad hotel rush to get to breakfast in time and then out the door before check out… Radisson RED are already on top of that with relaxed breakfast times, and a late (12pm) check out. We were even able to extent our check out time to 1pm without hesitation.

Any complaints?

My only criticism (and it’s a small one), is that the bar service at the Skybar that evening was exceptionally slow. I wanted to grab a cocktail before heading out to an event, but after 15 minutes I decided I would be better to leave it and have drinks later that night. With it being such a new hotel I assume that the speed of service will only improve every day.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Glasgow.

Thanks for reading

Rona x

 

Tasting Scotland – Seafood Special

What an incredible day, we are going home happy, sun-kissed and full up on seafood! We left Glasgow at 9am this morning for a one day gastro and cultural tour of the west coast, and we are blown away by everything we have experienced today. From food and scenery to drink and conversation we have thoroughly enjoyed our day with Tasting Scotland.

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Top 5 elements from my Tasting Scotland experience 

Brenda! This tour of the west coast really thrives from the master mind behind the brand. Brenda and her talented team have such incredible knowledge of food & drink heritage – specifically in Scotland but also worldwide. Throughout the day we had fantastic conversations with Brenda about food through the ages, local food history along with recipe tips and restaurant recommendations.

Chatting to industry professionals – I found this a really special element of the trip. At each location we were introduced to local people working in the smokehouses, on the production line and in the restaurants and kitchens, which gave us an extra insight into Scottish seafood.

A tailored experience – as well as the Wednesday Weekly tour (that leaves from Glasgow every Wednesday morning), Brenda and her team are experts in creating tailored tasting experiences. Weather it’s whisky, craft beer or gin, seafood or curries they can create packages perfectly suited to your personal taste. Brenda was telling us about a 3 day tour she recently set up for a client that included hand selected accommodation, luxury transport as well as lunch, dinner and activities every day. What a way to experience Scotland at its best!

Luxury products and locations – Tasting Scotland tours are SO far from naff Scottish tat and the unfortunate reputation we have for deep-fried food! Brenda focuses solely on the luxury market and premium Scottish product which is incredibly beneficial in the support of local businesses while at the same time gives her clients a taste for what Scotland really has to offer.

For locals as well as visitors – having grown up on the west coast surrounded by stunning scenery and eating local seafood I was really intrigued by this tour and whether or not it would be worthwhile for me… and truthfully it was such a great day, I wouldn’t hesitate to book again. I learnt so much from Brenda; about food, cooking, drink pairing as well as local history that I had never picked up on before. I am already sending messages to my friends and family to recommend Tasting Scotland – a 5 star experience in every way.

So where did we go?

Brunch at Luss Seafood Bar and a look around Luss SmokehouseIMG_0716IMG_3644IMG_3634IMG_3651Champagne Lunch at Loch Fyne Oyster BarIMG_0724IMG_0726IMG_0733IMG_3664IMG_3672IMG_3769Guided tour of Inverary Castle and gardensIMG_3767IMG_3692IMG_3682IMG_3679

If you are interested in a Tasting Scotland tour feel free to contact Brenda Anderson by email at brenda@tastingscotland.com or on +44(0)7974212529 – she’s super friendly!

http://www.tastingscotland.com

Thank you to Tasting Scotland for inviting us along.

Thanks for reading 

R x

How to spend more time doing what you love with the people you love

Plan your days and weeks ahead – there’s nothing more exciting than having a calendar full of things to look forward to.

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Tiree Ultra Marathon – Vivian

Check the weather – getting organised to make the best use of good weather is a million times better than being stuck twiddling your thumbs on a sunny day because everyone else is already off up hills, on the water or in a beer garden… FOMO really starts to kick in.

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Surf wake improvisation – Callum

Stick to your word – there’s nothing worse than really needing an adventure, and plans get cancelled. Doh! Sometimes we really rely on other people to get us going, so a cancelled plan can be a real downer.

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Firewood mission – Ewan & Angus

Don’t be afraid to contact people… even when you’ve not seen them in a long time – more often than not they’re going to be delighted to get that message. Better still, give them a call.

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The outdoor beauty – Emily

Go the distance – what a bummer when one of your best friends or family members moves across the country… but how appreciated is it when they make the effort to visit?

My mum is a 5 hour drive from Glasgow – the trip is pretty tiresome, but always worth it because I love her company, and I know we will always get up to something fun together.

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Red Point – Mum

Do things, that aren’t ‘ya thang’ – what if someone suggests meeting up to do something that you don’t really fancy doing? If not for any other reason, do it because they’re going to enjoy it.

My family was really keen to go and explore caves last weekend; I totally didn’t see the appeal of climbing into dark, damp smelly caves… but I went with them and actually really enjoyed it.

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Old mining caves – Kishorn

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And we found a cute newt!

Being present – how often do you turn into a tech zombie and realise you’ve been staring at a screen for an hour. I do, all the time – but having no signal up north is helping this problem!

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Tiree – Emily and I

Silence is ok – this is something my mum and I were chatting about recently. We are both relatively quiet people and find it pretty tricky when it comes to small talk… not because we aren’t friendly and interested in other people… we are just fairly shy. But once we decided we didn’t need to try and make conversation ALL the time – silence didn’t feel awkward, it was actually pretty nice.

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Sunny Applecross – Ewan

Encourage other people in things they do – going along to be a support for someone is hopefully going to be helpful for them, and also inspiring for you.

Last weekend my brother ran up the Bealach; my mum and I drove half the way up to give him water, I took some snaps and we met him at the top when he finished. It was really great watching him achieve something – even though the run was no bother at all for him, it would be something I would find difficult and now I feel pretty egged on to do the same run.

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Running up the Bealach – Angus

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Tiree Ultra – Angus and Gary

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Ultra running super Mum

And after all that – time alone seems to feel different. My itching restlessness is gone and I’m feeling content and pretty chilled. Being around other people who love doing what I love doing generally makes me a more productive and happier person.

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Beers, poems, hammock!

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Just a couple dudes I love – The Bros

Thanks for reading

R x @ronamcmillan

The Arrochar Alps in December

The Arrochar alps – sitting quietly in the midst of surrounding giants. Blue sky and views that stretch forever, glistening icicles, frozen burns and that iconic rock formation iced with heavy coats of white. The Cobbler in December!IMG_2190IMG_2198The best thing about winter hill walking in Scotland is unpredictability. The worst thing about winter hill walking in Scotland is also unpredictability! It is so hard to plan ahead, weather flickers by the second and so you either have to go super scout prepared with kit or take a risk with the elements.IMG_2197IMG_2195Without an abundance of waking kit this year, the plan was to stick to the wee hills only. 6 hour max routes, so we didn’t end up walking down icy ridges in darkness. Ben Arthur (The Cobbler) is one of my favourite hills, sitting at 2884 ft and with breathtaking views down Loch Long. We completed the hill up and down in 4 hours, and given our lacking kit of no crampons or poles it felt pretty speedy. IMG_2196We reached the summit at 2pm – the sun was low in the sky and cast incredible pink hues across the landscape. IMG_2194-5 at the top, and at least -10 with windchill meant our decent was slightly more challenging with frozen fingers and toes – IMG_2193But we weren’t as chilly as the ice climbers! IMG_2192IMG_2191Triple layers on the way down – and a teeny bit frosty/grumpy!WARM AGAIN! Thanks for a fantastic day Callum!

-and thanks for reading

R x

Bothy Culture

First Bothy adventure of the year - UAGS

Unless approached by sea, Uags Bothy is at the end of an extremely boggy scramble from Toscaig (south of Applecross). We (Callum, Ewan and I) did plan to paddle there in sea kayaks – launching from my mums front garden in Kishorn and exploring the coast line until we reached Uags. Typically the weather came in, and the wind would’ve made it impossible for my wee arms to manage the 10 mile paddle – Ewan and Callum would’ve been fine, but they kindly joined me for the walk instead!

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We left Kishorn in Ewan’s new van, excitedly arriving at Toscaig at 4pm – we expected to be over the hill and at the bothy for sunset.. which we almost made; if only the path didn’t keep disappearing from under our feet!

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Arriving at Uags, we saw the very last of the sun dip behind the Cuillin mountains on Skye – which the bothy looks straight out to. January adventure meant darkness at 5pm, so we set up camp inside the Bothy and began prepping dinner – steak, rocket, peppers, broccoli, camembert cheese? Possibly THE poshest bothy dinner ever, but so delicious! The rest of the evening was spent huddled round the small fireplace, listening to the flames crackle, we chatted and told stories – and once the Jura was finished we hunkered down for sleep.

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I can’t say it was the best sleep I’ve ever had; Callum convinced me the Bothy was ghost infested and the creaking of the building warming up with our presence totally spooked me… I think i’ll sleep in a tent next time! In the morning Ewan went beach scavenging for fire wood (to restock what we had used the night before) as Callum and I swept, and tidied up the inside of the Bothy.

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We walked back to Toscaig – following the correct path this time, and headed home for a bowl of mums soup! Great adventure with the best people!

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Bothy Etiquette
  • Leave the Bothy in as good (if not better) condition as you found it
  • Take ALL rubbish home
  • Don’t leave food – this encourage mice and other hungry rodents
  • Double check all the windows and doors are closed tight before leaving
  • Bring some extras to leave behind – maybe a lighter, some candles, fire lighters etc
  • Collect fire wood for the next visitor – and stack indoors to allow it to dry – but don’t cut live wood!
  • Respect and welcome other people visiting the Bothy at the same time as you!
Kit List
  • Roll mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Torch
  • Candles + matches/lighter
  • Firewood + firelighters
  • Pan + spork + sharp knife
  • Bin bag
  • Hip flak/whole bottle
  • FOOD + water
  • Waterproofs + boots + socks (with spares) + LOTS more warm stuff
  • MAP!

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Thanks for reading!

R x