Tag Archives: Abertay University Food and Drink Innovation

First shift

Just done my first stint as a tour guide at Lindores Abbey Distillery. It was brought forward because my colleague, John, cracked a hip immediately after delivering some training to me on Thursday afternoon. (I definitely did not push him!). Otherwise I’d have been starting next Saturday. There were to be six people on the tour today, but it was a busy morning and we ended up with seventeen.


There’s quite a lot to remember – significant points in the history, details of the barley, water and yeast, the equipment, the timescales, the temperatures, the ABV, what the codes on the barrels mean, where the toilets are … on the whole I think I did OK as a first-timer, but I’m looking forward to having a more fluent grasp of the story.

Above is a picture you won’t see very often – it’s the very first cask of new-make spirit, which was filled at the end of last year. Distilling started just before Christmas so there are just a few casks marked 2017, and as you can see, this is Cask 01, with the signatures of the Distillery Manager Gary, the owners Drew and Helen, and one or two others I haven’t identified yet.

The timing of this is both good and bad for me. Good, because my studies are about to end and I need some gainful employment; bad because I’m still writing up my dissertation and could have done with just another week or two of no extra duties. However it’s only a few tours before the magic dissertation hand-in date so I’ll manage. It’s been most timely that my research project is also about distilling – learning for each has reinforced learning for the other. Distillation is such a rich, fascinating field of enquiry however, that the more I learn, the more ignorant I feel! i.e. the more I know that I don’t know … Maybe that’s a good thing and it certainly keeps me on my toes. Here’s a picture of our low wines in the sensory lab at Abertay – after testing these five, we chose the best and gave it a second distillation and another testing. STV came and filmed us on the job last Tuesday; it’s been a week of brass-necking it.

FSCN0356.JPG That’s all for now; back to the chapter on ‘potential for commercialisation’. Only another week and a half and phew, phew, phew, it’ll all be over. And I’ll have time to learn more thoroughly the history, culture and provenance of my new place of work. And John, here’s wishing you a quick recovery!


How to eat a cricket

Yesterday I attended a focus group at Abertay on insect protein. The theme for the discussion was customer acceptability – as in, would we as consumers be able to get over any squeamishness about eating insects? If so, how?

We were asked if we’d ever eaten insects before and I was busily denying the charge when, halfway through the discussion, I remembered I’d eaten snails in France, more than once. They were good, or at least the garlic butter made them seem delicious. Another member of the group had eaten crickets in China, as street food. He said the only bit that he didn’t like was the legs – especially the little short ones. They got stuck in his mouth, a bit like getting a hair in your soup. That reminded me of trying to create recipes for dagaa, when I was in Zanzibar. Dagaa are tiny little needle-like fish which are caught and dried and sold in huge loose piles in the market. You had to soak them for ever to reconstitute them, and I remember that I couldn’t get used to the pointy needle-ends, which completely resisted softening in the soaking.

This whole discussion about insect protein is of interest to me because (a) I’ll be doing my own Masters research study before long, and it might be on the same theme. Abertay has an active presence in the worldwide debate on insects as a human food source, and it would be good to get immersed in it. Also (b) how on earth are we going to feed the world’s population if all we’ll eat is cows, pigs, sheep and chickens?

Here are two photos of what I ate yesterday: both contained insect protein.2017-07-11 13.29.05.jpg2017-07-11 13.12.24






Ha! Got you there! No they don’t – I lied! The photo on the left contains ‘cricket flour’ -three types of chocolate biscuit flavoured with nothing else; with mint; and with orange. I liked them all, probably the orange one the most. You couldn’t (in my opinion – others differed)┬áhave told they were made of crickets if you hadn’t been told. There was no apparent difference in flavour when mixed with chocolate etc, but the texture was a little coarser than wheat flour. Maybe more like cornmeal or oatmeal. The other biscuits around the edge of the photo were provided in case anyone couldn’t face the crickets!

The photo on the right is my delicious sandwich with coronation chicken at the McManus Gallery. I decided to treat myself after the focus group; all the moreso since we were interrupted by a fire alarm and had to hurriedly abandon ship. If you’re ever in Dundee, do visit the McManus.┬áThe social history exhibits are my favourite, they really bring an insight into the culture and history of Dundee. And if you’re ever visiting Abertay University, do call in and ask about the cricket biscuits; I’m sure there will be someone glad to talk.