Tag Archives: Scottish Rapeseed Oil

Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight

To find out more about this cute little creature which entered my kitchen yesterday, read on…

I haveP1020676 to confess I hadn’t realised we were having a Food and Drink Fortnight here in bonnie Scotland, till I read a thoughtful piece about it in the Scotsman the other day by Stephen Jardine. He was commenting that we ought to be more ‘out there’ in celebrating our produce: ‘Community halls should have communal suppers celebrating the last of the summer produce, chefs should be out on the streets offering tastings and demonstrations, and farmers should be marching through the streets urging us to buy Scottish produce’. I quite agree. The SF&DF website has a jerky thing going on which makes it quite difficult to read, but even so I’m finding it a bit disappointing – too many events which just seem like restaurateurs grabbing onto free publicity to do what they would be doing anyway. But perhaps I’m being harsh. If I were nearer Aberdeen I’d definitely go on the Breakfast Bus and find out more about breakfast traditions (it’s tomorrow morning so you’l have to be quick); and if I were less skint I’d go to the rapeseed oil tasting menu in Dundee. (Note to self: hurry up and organise the rapeseed oil blind tasting you’ve been promising yourself … It’ll be round the kitchen table and won’t cost a penny.)

Nevertheless, the Newburgh Plum Fair has kicked off as promised (just what Stephen Jardine would approve, I’m sure), with a fabulous crop of Victoria plums as the P1020657main event, and various other things to tickle the fancy. I bought a couple of kilos of plums and have made a small batch of plum sauce, and some jars of plums in brandy. I also bought some Pink Fir Apple potatoes, which looked like stem ginger apart from the colour, and tasted fresh and gardeny, with a great texture. I had to take a photo of the odd-shaped one – it was really begging for a Picasso or a Dali to come along and give it the treatment in oils but I just boiled it, buttered it, ate it. Mustn’t have the tatties getting above themselves … However I did elevate it to the top of the page.

My plum sauce was from a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe (parsnips with plum sauce) – far too fooP1020675tery for the small  amount it yields. Tastes lovely though, even though I made some substitutions in the ingredients list. Next time I’ll stone the plums before roasting them, so that I can just chuck the whole thing in the blender instead of sieving for hours. I can’t find a link online to the recipe but you’ll find it in his ‘Fruit’ book.

The plums in brandy barely merits being called a recipe – wash and prick the plums, put them in a jar, add some sugar, cover in (cheap) brandy, seal, shake regularly, and desist from opening for three months. I know they will be fabulous as I’ve done this sort of thing before. Yum yum yum, I can hardly wait. That’s the pudding course sorted for Christmas day.


Pa’amb Oli

Here we are in tP1020423he season of local tomatoes again. What a joy. A couple of years ago I had a lovely week in Majorca by the courtesy of good friends. We visited Robert Graves’ home in Deia – he lived there for a large part of his life and wrote most of his major works there (I Claudius for example – one of his best-known, and a great epic. You may remember the 1976 TV series, with the lead role played fabulously by Derek Jacobi. Makes current political scene seem positively benign).

Also while in Majorca I enjoyed the local version of breakfast (only I had it at lunProduct Detailschtime!) – Pa’amb oli – which means bread and oil, and is often also served with tomatoes.  When I got home I found a book written by one of Robert Graves’ sons, Tomas. As you can see, the subtitle is ‘A celebration of Majorcan culture’, and it’s a diverting read, with lots of stories and commentary on the differences, tensions and synergies between mainland Spanish culture, and that of Majorca.

I like to eat local but I also like to stretch my local traditions. The Scottish breakfast has lots of fans but I’m not really one of them. Too fatty for me nowadays; over-seasoned. So the easy morning toasting of a little bread, slicing of a delicious tomato or two, and glugging of fresh oil goes down beautifully with my mug of tea and eases me safely into the working day. In the interests of Scottish authenticity I will also try this with rapeseed oil, which has become a bit of a gourmet item here in recent years. But someone will need to write a vibrant celebration of emerging Scottish culture,  for Bread and Rapeseed Oil to have quite the same morning resonance as my Majorcan memory.