Cooking With Gas
When we’re not scaling Scotland, we sometimes have a normal home life. I mean its nowhere near normal, but it’s normal for us. And the most normal thing we do is eat. Whether it’s a takeaway or a home-cooked/burnt pile of mess, we eat together every night, whilst watching some form of food porn. Because there’s nothing better than eating food whilst watching more food. And there’s nothing better than Masterchef season. Or, if Masterchef is on the go-slow, Great British Menu.
In a world where the chicken in your TESCO sandwich has accrued more air miles than you, it’s pretty easy to get disconnected from where your actually food comes from. And Aberdeenshire is a foodies paradise.
Bothies & Bannocks: Aberdeenshire Foodie Tours
Bothies & Bannocks is a brand new Aberdeen Food Tour which chauffeur drives you from the city centre to a Shire food market and then back to the city to cook up a local food storm. Calum is the head-honcho, driver, tour guide, chef and food (and sometimes wine) consultant during the tour. Tours can accommodate 7.
We woke bright and early on Saturday morning (words that are rarely said in these here parts) and drove into Faberdeen for 9am. Our destination was CFINE, just round the corner from Union Square. We hopped into our mini-bus with Calum and set off for the Banchory Market.
A short and scenic drive later we were at the market sniffing fish and talking Brexit with Granite City Fish. Banchory Market proudly runs 12 months of the year. It is the local one-stop-shop for the bees-balls of local produce. The group decided that we were all itching for a good curry and Granite City Fish had the sexiest monkfish sitting waiting for a “how’s your father?” Take from that what you will. Monkfish curry is everything but more on that later…
With our main sorted, we continued to wander around the market. Our pals at SYMPOSIUM were on-hand keeping everyone caffeinated whilst we chatted to more local producers. We got an infamous local pie from Wark Farm. Victoria has actually heard of these pies on Instagram. I had a lamb pie, Victoria took beef and cheese (which pretty much sums her up in two words) and the others got vegan ones. Wark Farm and Louise’s Farm Kitchen do meat swapping to help each other out, and I would definitely swap the meat in my fridge for the stuff they are producing.
Ballsing Up Beetroot
The topic of conversation in the bus centred around how useless everyone is with beetroot, so Calum loaded up on beets to show us what to do with them later. They are seasonal, easy to grow, abundant and cheap and we weren’t the first lot of customers to be completely ignorant to the purple pelter. With the starter sorted, we headed back to the bus, bound for Aberdeen.
Making Pour Decisions
We stopped at Wine Racks on the way back to base to pick up a bottle of something special. While the others in the group were selecting wines to complement their upcoming curry, Victoria and I picked up cans of coke because we are classy before getting completely distracted by these epic bottles.
We kicked off our real-life Masterchef class by preparing a beetroot carpaccio with Aberdeenshire feta style cheese (brilliantly branded Fet-Like), rocket and caramelised walnuts. It was freshness on a plate, took no time at all to make and showed that beetroots are not just for Stovies. Carefully using a mandoline slicer, no fingers were lost in the making of this dish.
The dressing was made with Aberdeenshire’s own Mackintosh of Glendaveny Rapeseed oil, Deeside Blossom Honey and Dijon mustard and we finished of the dish with a fresh-baked loaf with farm butter. None of that Lurpak crap on this tour here.
Monkfish Curry, Pilau Rice & Nann Bread
As chef Rosie kindly prepped the Monkfish for us, we got the low down from Calum on taking a boring bag of rice and turning it into deliciousness. Bay leaves, SPICE, SPICE, SPICE and saffron later, we had a pot of pilau that could have come straight for a takeaway.
I had the job of taking one for the team by showing everyone how not to chop an onion. After my onions were butchered, we threw them in a pan and started pretending to know what we were doing. We added spices, coconut milk and chopped tomatoes. Boom = a curry.
It was then time to play with rolling pins and attempt to create naan bread. We rolled out our dough and tried our best to make it into the right shape with varying degrees of success.
While everyone was happy, content and comatose by the mountain of food, Chef Rosie shoved in our fondants. She added in a splash of coffee rum for good luck and they were served with fresh cream. I am not a pudding guy and I inhaled the damn thing. Gorgeous.
Bothies & Bannocks
We had a great day out with Calum and the crew. The best thing about this trip is you don’t know what you’re going to get until you get to the market, but with local produce on that scale, you just know it’s going to be good.
A Bothies & Bannocks tour is a great way to spend a Saturday. It is casual, relaxed and a wonderful opportunity to broaden your cooking skills whilst learning about the wonderful food that exists on your doorstep. Thanks, Calum!
Our Bothies & Bannocks tour was gifted but as usual, all opinions are our own.