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West Highland Weather wc 22nd September

  
  
  

West Coast Weather - Isle of Eriska

 

The Equinox - days get shorter and nights get longer!

If only it was a simple as this but in reality it is the end of summer and the official start of Autumn. All the schools are back, the daily basket of apples from the orchard is regular and the leaves are starting to fall added to this the nights are closing in and Autumn is most definitely here. my mother would agree with this as he maintains no central heating for the summer and that Autumn is here when heating is needed- and to think 5 years ago central heating would have been a luxury only required when the snow was on the ground!

Anyway I always think of this weekend as being wet and windy due to the expected equinox gales and the rush in the boat yard to get all the boats out of the water for winter before the winds start to roar. At least this prediction was right yesterday as sitting by a roaring log fire enjoying the comforts of the library was very tempting but as usual today bucked the trend and calm tranquil weather purveyed leaving me a little foolish in my weather forecast but maybe I can do better for this week's west highland weather!

Today: Mainly dry with some clear intervals during this evening and overnight, but generally a good deal of cloud. Some light, patchy, rain with extensive hill fog. Some mist patches developing later in places. 

Monday: Mist patches clearing then bright and mainly dry with some sunny intervals developing. Cloudier with any early, light, rain dying out

Tuesday: After a dry start outbreaks of rain spreading south later on

Wednesday: A cloudy damp morning turning to heavy heavy rain for a time.

Thursday: Brighter weather today following yesterdays rain before rain returns northwards in the afternoon

Friday: Rain is likely to affect us at first on Friday but it should become mainly dry with some warm sunny spells in the afternoon.

Saturday: After a dry night rain or showers are likely to spread in from the south so deending on progress we should have a better morning although it will set in for the weekend.

 

 

Authentic local produce and food

  
  
  

Todays fads are not always tomorrows trends...

In a world of ever changing needs and skills it is often worth occasionally taking a step back and seeing what really matters - not short term trends but long term values. Eriska is now entering its fifth decade under the guise of a hotel. It was established simply back in the early seventies to offer a warmth and hospitality to those who chose to stay with us and today this core remains at our heart.

However we have over the years strived to achieve this in many ways-

Some well planned and programmed others chanced upon and cobbled together but always we have tried to blend our three ingredients- the place the people who visit and finally the team we work with- to create the best final product. We spend hours looking at the guest profiles, we spend every penny we earn to improve the place investing and finally we value our team but in this pursuit of success we sometimes both lose touch with our core and miss out on the simple fixes and most important opportunities.

Eriska Jersey herd resized 600So when we do gain the chance to simply walk out our back door and look around, stop and enjoy the environment, pause and soak up where we live it is not surprising that it keeps bringing us back to the basics and even more importantly the simple things upon which Eriska was established. To some when we come across these Eureka moments it seems like an obvious "No Brainer" - to others it is to simple to matter - and to others it may seem like a pointless crusade and time wasting concept- to the final category I would suggest Eriska is not for you!

When Eriska first started it was not only a country house hotel but more a working farm and its largest producer of its own raw material - we had dairy herd that produced- milk, butter cheese and cream, hens for eggs and gardens for vegetables. A very large Deep Freeze to benefit the heavy summer harvests and hold for a longer winter , and also to take account of the lack of regular summer supplies. Today we have had to give up the farm but the garden still produces herbs and salads along with the orchard looking after apples and pears for a couple of months of the year.

We can access world markets and get regular deliveries but are we really catering for our customers bringing products and ingredients from across the world - are we selling ourselves best showcasing the world to the world or would we be better showcasing Eriska and Scotland to the world.

Ross Stovold at Isle of ERiskaIt seems a simple and logical step in our pursuit to be unique and individual that we take what we believe is best and showcase this, and even more logical would be that the best fresh produce would be that which has come out of the ground most recently and traveled fewest miles. So under the guidance of our New Head Chef Ross Stovold and his team we have set about changing our view from the kitchen. Luckily this is supported by a resurgence in foraging - although in our view forgaing is not only about trapsing round the island looking for produce but also about working with local businesses to help and encourge them to deliver products we want and where necessary it is up to us to support them as we persuade them to go do a different route to market.

Visit Scotland Taste our Best at Isle of EriskaSo it is probably no surprise to hear that Eriska was yesterday Awarded its latest award by Visit Scotland of "Taste our Best". This is a new scheme both supported and backed by the Scottish Government which highlights properties which showcase more than 40% of their menu from the locality. Although apparently the locality to the customer ranges greatly but for ease in this excersise- and I am sure nothing to do with the push for independence- Local means Scottish.!

However the scheme does not stop a simply awarding a plaque but also offers feedback to business about where they could make a difference and has been linked to the Food and Drink suppliers with a website to help identify other potential producers which may currently be anonymous and unknown.  We were delighted to not only be one of the first to be recognised but more imporantly that this recognition aligns so clearly with our principles. Hopefully the scheme will take off and be a great success and that will require the customers to grasp and support it too.

Eriska Chantarelle resized 600In the meantime it is out on the island between showers, to pick more Brambles and Chantarelle otherwise we will have some hungry guests tonight!

Guest Blog - Driac's journey back from Eriska to Milford Haven

  
  
  


Eriska with daisys  SMALLEarlier this summer we wrote about the Three Peaks Race - From Barmouth to Fort William via Isle of Eriska, and Mr Gayle and his crew had to seek shelter at Eriska at the end of June 2013 as a storm was building up and the race had to be aborted. Driac was left in Eriska's care until now. Mr Gayle has been so nice to write about Driac's beautiful journey back to its permanent home to Milford Haven:

As a Edinburgh resident, it is noticable that the Edinburgh festival is over, children are back at school, and in a few weeks time the autumn breeze will blow summer leaves.

On reflection 2013 proved to be a great summer to visit the west coast. We had an almost unprecedented long spell of sunny days and very little rain. My summer ended with a memorable sailing trip departing from Eriska.

It was starting to get dark and a greyish light began to bathe Lismore. We had finished our supper and the tide had begun to go south. Visitors to the Island earlier in the summer might have noticed Driac, a pre-War wooden yacht, on one of the hotel's moorings. I was tasked with skippering the delivery passage back to her permanent home in Milford Haven.

As we let go of the mooring a thought crossed my mind. There was a chance that I could become remembered as 'that fella who ran aground in that old wooden boat'. There are a line of rocks between the shore and Airds Point that are a submerged banana skin which I could easily slip on. I  knew that there was plenty of water underneath the yacht's keel and I kept a nervous eye on the depth sounder. What could possibly go wrong?

We motored out past the familiar outline of Glas Eilean. I breathed a sigh of relief that we had not gone aground, and then in a few moments we got the sails up and we were on our way. My plan was to get as far south in one chunk as possible. We had plenty of fuel and were relatively well victualled. Mrs B had kindly slipped us a parcel containing some homemade provisions (a large shepherd's pie, a tarte, a fruit cake, and a marmalade sponge). Aunts are definitely the Patron Saints of nephews!

Pier with boat smallWe gently passaged south, soon passing Oban and then Kerrera. Before too long we were down at Insh Island, and as we passed down the coast of Seil I went below to put the kettle on. Shortly after we could make out the profile of Easdale. I remembered having dinner at the hotel with dear old Mr B one December. The next day we took the wee ferry over to Easdale along with the islander's giant Christmas tree! I understand that Easdale was once owned by a former Chairman of the philately company Stanley Gibbons, and that they produced Easdale stamps.

 

describe the imageThe lighthouse on Fladda and its slightly lower yeoman on Dubh Sgeir, stood like dutiful sentries guarding the entry to the Sound of Luing. With the lights behind us we passaged down the eastern coastlines of Lunga and Scarba, with Luing on our port side. Two flashes from the light on Reisa an t-Struith suddenly popped out over the dark horizon with the crystal clarity of a pair of diamond earrings. When the north end of Jura was on our beam we had the first thirty odd miles in the bag. I decided that it was time for me to go below and get my head down.

We were able to undertake the complete passage in three large chunks. The first leg ended when we put in at Rathlin Island (just off the Northern  Irish coast). After a night alongside we went a little way down the Irish coast before crossing over to Holyhead, where wesheltered from a southerly gale for twenty four hours. We then reached Milford Haven on the third and final push, having logged a total of 432 miles.

The autumn is a good time to start planning the next year's adventures and holidays. I hope to do a little more background reading, as what little I do always uncovers something interesting. For example I have only just discovered that Eriska is the Gaelic for water-nymph island. Here are some ideas for Eriska guests with yachting and outdoor tendencies.

Driac at Isle of EriskaThe Firth of Lorn is often overlooked as a cruising ground. I highly recommend visiting the Cuan Sound. The Loch Melfort area is definitely worthy of a visit, and both Loch Spelve on Mull and Loch Aline on the Morven peninsula provide picturesque anchorages. I frequently fantasise about undertaking a malt whisky cruise. After sampling the many delights of Islay, and the distilleries on Jura and Mull, the hotel and spa would make an ideal location for a spot of pampering and recovery. Ben More and the Paps of Jura provide possibilities for combining yachting and hillwalking and can easily be visited within a loop that includes a visit to the hotel. The more spiritually minded might like a trip to Iona, or even the more local site of the monastery on Lismore that was established in 564AD.

Some years ago I was on a sailing trip in the US, up in New England. A friendly group of locals told me that their buddy was planning a transatlantic trip from Portland Maine to Portland in England. Another of their friends had sailed from Yarmouth Maine to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. I knew that there are also towns called Belfast, Bangor and Portsmouth in Maine, but a quick look at my atlas revealed that there is also a coastal town called Port Clyde. They also have a North Berwick, but it is inland and therefore would be an impractical departure point. I wonder if a cacographic lager enthusiast might enjoy a passage starting in Tenants Harbour Maine, on a quest to get home for some Caledonian amber nectar?

These thoughts of transatlantic adventures aside, more realistically I fancy trying Eriskay to Eriska. I suspect that it would be about seventy miles, and in the prevailing south-westerly winds it would be ideal for an old boat like Driac that sails best with the wind on her beam.

My final idea for an adventure came to me during a vivid dream on that first night when I went below for a snooze. As I dozed I must have had a few things rumbling around my mind. The week before I had re-read  Roger Oliver's book on his voyage around Britain and Eire. In the dream we had sailed around Britain, starting and ending at Eriska. We picked up the hotel's mooring and then rowed ashore. Beppo was on the beach with Dibley, his trusty labrador. As we stepped ashore Beppo said "good evening Gentlemen, I have had your dinner jackets cleaned". That would have been a most stylish end to a great voyage!

Happy adventuring in 2014, Vernon Gayle

Read more about the Three Peaks Race here

 

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 15th September

  
  
  
West Coast Weather - Isle of Eriska A rather wet morning at Isle of Eriska today! This week's West Coast Weather took us a bit by surprise with some really nice and sunny days - it was actually quite warm at the start, however as you can see above the autumn weather was just around the corner! But as they say, the glass is half full, not half empty - we are enjoying the beautiful autumn colours!   

Today: a cloudy start with outbreaks of rain, these heavy and driven along on strong to gale force south-westerly winds. It may become brighter with frequent blustery showers later in the day. Winds will continue going west to north-westerly but staying strong to gale force. Tonight: showers will continue overnight and these most frequent over Argyll and Kintyre. 

Monday: looks to become bright with blustery showers these mainly over Argyll where they will be wintry on the mountains. Staying windy with gales in the isles. 

Tuesday: is projected to be a bright day with showers and continuing strong winds.

Wednesday: looks promising with more sunshine and just a few showers and much lighter winds.

Thursday: is projected to cloud over again, with patchy rain. 

Friday: looks to offer heavy clouds, however it looks as if it may stay dry, which continues over night. 

Saturday: is projected to stay cloudy, but with patches of rain and slightly warmer temperatures compared to the other days in the week. 

describe the imageAutumn colours and strong winds, leave the umbrella and pack your best water proofs to enjoy the island and the beautiful colours Eriska has to offer! Have you had a day of hiking there is no better way to relax than to spend it in our sauna or steam room at the Stables Spa. Sauna's and steam rooms are known for their relaxation, and research also tells us that sauna's can help muscle spasms, seasonal affective disorders, and high stress levels. Coming to Eriska soon? If you are going for treatments in the spa, our therapists recommend using the steam room and sauna beforehand to open up the pores and relax the muscles, an easy way of getting even more out of your pampering and relaxation. 

 

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 8th September

  
  
  
Isle of Eriska West Coast Weather

During this week's West Coast Weather we have definitely had a mix between seasons. Beautiful colours, heavy rain, sunshine, and 'strong' winds. The picture above was taken driving towards Eriska on Friday evening. Beautiful colours of orange and pink towards north west and ice blue in the south. Next week's West Coast Weather looks to become quite similar with some days staying dry, sunshine at the start of the week and outbreaks of rain.

Today: a bright day with sunny spells but also some showers. The showers will be much more isolated and Eriska looks like it may stay clear. We have our fingers crossed. Tonight: some mist patches may form particularly around the lochs. Light winds and colder temperatures. 

Monday: is projected to be a bright day with sunny spells developing despite a few showers continuing to affect the Ayrshire area at times with light winds. 

Tuesday: looks to be mainly dry and bright with moderate northerly winds.

Wednesday: a bright start but clouding over with outbreaks of rain

Thursday: looks to become quite cloudy wet and windy.

Friday: looks to become mainly dry and cloudy with moderate temperatures.

Saturday: although the Friday looks to stay dry, Saturday is projected to become cloudy and wet, with lighter showers throughout and slightly increasing winds. 

Isle of Eriska West Coast Weather SeptemberAnother week with unpredictable weather ahead, but we keep smiling as long as we have a few rays of sun! Last Thursday was sunny and quite a comfortable day spent outside on the island. If you are arriving to Eriska this week, bring light waterproofs, a jacket would be sufficient, umbrella's and wellies are as always available at the entrance of the hotel in all shapes and sizes if you religiously keep to the morning, afternoon or evening walk.  

Isle of Eriska - The ultimate wedding location....

  
  
  

eriska wedding

Today we went to a wedding photo exhibition, and earlier this week we were featured in the Luxury Travel Blog as one of the Top 5 intimate wedding venues in Scotland - which is not without reason! Therefore what better to write about than the luxury and romance of an island wedding?

Placed on our own 300 acre private island, it could not get more idyllic, the hotel was built by the Stewards of Appin over 100 years ago, set in the typical baronial style of the time, inspired by the great architect Hippolyte Blanc, which is also known for his drawings of St. Cuthbert’s Church in Edinburgh and most of the restoration work on Edinburgh Castle. We are licensed for civil ceremonies for up to 120 guests or as few as 30, in the main house and outside in the garden. For a larger wedding, a luxurious marquee can be placed on the front lawn, just outside the hotel with views towards the pond.

Each room in the hotel is uniquely designed, with a contemporary dining room and library bar, the drawing room offers a spacious and relaxing atmosphere and a large traditional main hall with a roaring log fire. We have 25 contemporary, luxurious and individually designed rooms, spa suites and cottages, to suit all types of guests. Some say it's sometimes a bit like travelling, they find out something new every time they visit or they wish they could visit to explore each room!

Something for everyone...

Capturing the Moment

Weddings at Isle of EriskaWe were at the Oyster Inn in Connel today to take part in Wee Beauty Photography's 2nd year celebration and photo exhibition. With stunning pictures, video collage and procecco, we were shown the most beautiful moment after the other. Each picture showed how special the wedding is to the people and families involved, the fun, the nerves and expectations, and the exhilaration. If you get a chance have a look at their pictures online - they have something for every bride and groom's taste. 

 

Isle of Eriska - Unique and Private - Yet Accessible

The Isle of Eriska is located only 20 minutes from Oban and 2 hours from Glasgow International Airport, connected to the mainland by a small bridge. You can also arrive in style via helicopter on our lawn or seaplane at our pier.

The preparations

We often provide the coming bride and groom with local contacts to ensure everything is done perfect for the occasion. We personally recommend Premier Wedding Planners Scotland who will take care of all your wedding needs!

The local registrar can also be contacted on gemma.cummins@argyll-bute.gov.uk to check availability for the special day.

We can tailor the romantic wedding package for you at Eriska and offer different rates for the glorious summer or the winter wonderland wedding. You can enquire more about our wedding packages by clicking on the button underneath. 

Weddings at Eriska

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 1st September

  
  
  

West Coast Weather at Eriska During the last week, our West Coast Weather have slowly changed we are getting ready to welcome September and autumn at Eriska. The picture above was taken from the bridge before sundown last Tuesday. 

Today: looks to be mainly cloudy, with a little light rain at times, though much of the time dry, with a few brighter spells. The rain looks to become more persistent and turning heavier later. A breezy day. Tonight it will stay cloudy with outbreaks of rain and breezy mild winds. 

Monday: rain will remain persistent over much of Mid and North Argyll including Mull, heaviest in the more mountainous areas. There may be a few bright spells.  

Tuesday: the rain over the majority of Argyll looks to be easing. Elsewhere looks to be dry bright and quite warm.

Wednesday: is projected to be mostly dry with rain reaching us later before spreading south overnight. 

Thursday: looks to become brighter with some sunshine and lighter showers. Cooler temperatures.

Friday: is projected to be dry with a few sunny spells despite it being quite cloudy and will stay dry overnight. 

Saturday: looks to continue with sunny spells and will stay mainly dry, staying overnight. 

Towards Conservatory at night SMALLSummer has definitely started leaving us it seems and we almost start looking forward to the days of sunshine once again. It does however not stop our guests from enjoying afternoon tea inside with our freshly made sandwiches, Eriska shortbread, freshly baked scones, and the surprise third cake, or their evenings and after dinner drinks in front of the log fire. Although we do not offer lunch for non residents, afternoon tea is available everyday subject to availability. 

 

Afternoon Tea

British Game Season - Ross Stovold Gives us his Recipe for Grouse!

  
  
  

Grouse Season scotlandAs the Glorious 12th kicked off this month, what better reason to talk about the Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica)? A little about hunting Grouse, where you would go in Scotland to find the famour moorland and a mouthwatering recipe from our Head Chef Ross!

The Glorious 12th marks the start of the shooting season for Red Grouse in the UK and many hunters head out for the busiest day of the hunting season! Although it is called the glorious 12th the season doesn't always start on the 12th August! UK law dictates that the start of the season cannot occur on a Sunday, and in that case the start of the season is delayed until the 13th.

Grouse shooting is renowned for being one of the most challenging sports especially when compared to the slower, purpose-reared pheasants. A season last from 12th August to 30th November. Grouse fly fast and low, at speeds of up to 80mph, changing direction at the very last moment. There are two ways of hunting grouse;

1.  Driven Grouse 

This is more formal with up to 10 guns shooting from butts and hoping for a 50-60 brace day (a brace is 2 birds) in some of the most spectacular scenery. Usually very little walking is required.

2.  Walked up Grouse 

Hoping for a bag of 10 – 15 brace, 4 to 8 guns walk in line and flush the birds themselves as they walk along. Gun dogs will also work the line fairly close to the guns flushing out any birds sitting very tight. Travelling light is key on a walked up day!  


The Red Grouse

The red grouse is a medium-sized game bird. It has a plump body, a short tail and a lightly hook-tipped bill. It is reddish-brown, with its legs and feet covered in pale feathers. They live as part of a flock on the ground and eats fruit. Birds breed in the UK in the uplands of the north and west and are resident all year round, travelling very little in their lives. The population is declining, perhaps linked to diseases and the loss of heather moorland. 

The Red Grouse Season is a heavily discussed topic, as the red grouse population is declining, however many argue that without the money spent on the hunting activities the moorland, the habitat would struggle as well. Teams of grouse shooters spend on average of £10,000 to £15,000 for a day’s driven grouse shooting on Scotland’s estates.

Travel to Rannoch Moor from Eriska

The Habitat

Moorland nowadays generally means uncultivated hill land. Rannoch Moor is Scotland's boggy moorland to the west of Loch Rannoch, lying at an average height of 1000 feet / 305 metres above sea level, the moor has many lochans, peat bogs, streams and rocky outcrops. Despite a distinctly damp and peaty appearance, the floor of the moor is made of granite with a upper peat layer reaching depths of up to 20 feet in some places, it is is one of the last remaining wildernesses in Europe.


If you come to stay at Eriska, why not plan a day trip to Rannoch moor? Rannoch Moor Hill Walks & Cycling

The best way to get a feel for this unique area is to take a train journey on the famous West Highland Railway as the railway line crosses the moorland for 23 miles and rises to over 1,300 ft. There is plenty of challenging and exhilarating walks in the remote hills and cycling routes.

High mountains are also a feature of the moor although these are best left to experienced hill walkers with excellent navigation skills. Lower level paths from the Rannoch Station area include a 9 mile linear tramp through to Corrour and Loch Ossian and also a 7 mile circuit of Loch Ossain. All walkers should be aware of the character of the moor - beautiful but very challenging in bad weather or in winter.

There is also a visitor centre at Rannoch Moor which showcases the beauty and interest of the moor - its evolution, early historical developments, flora and fauna and the importance of the railway to the area

Ross Stovold's Grouse

Ross Stovold, Isle of Eriska, EriskaRoss has had a busy start at Eriska this summer, however he does have time to share a secret or two with you when it comes to cooking Grouse.

"Grouse is one of my favourite birds and I look forward to the season as much as any. Personally I prefer an older bird as it has a more intense flavour, it is almost like liver with an iron like taste.

Grouse can be paired with strong flavours and is incredibly versatile. At home I roast it simply. To prepare your bird remove the legs by pulling them forwards where they meet the breasts. You will hear a snap, cut through where you have snapped them. The legs yield very little meat, I use them to make sauce. 

First slowly 9be patient) caramelise shallots then cut into large chunks, with a small amount of oil (it is important not to cut the chunks too small as they need a reasonable surface area to caramelise not burn!!!)

While the shallotts are cooking, roast the legs in a hot overn to achieve a good golden colour, to the pan add 200ml of red wine vinegar, the best you can afford and reduce until it's sticky. 

Now add the roasted legs, 100g of smoked bacon. 750ml chicken stock, a small bunch of thymeand reduce by half. Strain through a fine sieve and season to taste.

You are now left with what is called the crown. Heat a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and a knob of butter in a pan. Colour the skin of the grouse and place in a pre-heated oven on 190C for 4 minutes, takeout of the oven and rest for at least 5 minutes with the breast face down. 

Serve it with creamy mashed potato, infused with yeast for a difference - The yeast and potato combination works really well! You need:

  • 120g milk
  • 40g of butter
  • Yeast
  • 500g mashed potato (Maris Piper)

Poach the peeled potato in salted water, drain when tender, and pass through your preferred mashing equipment. Warm the milk and butter until it melts and add some fresh or dried yeast to your taste. 

Place your mashed potatoes in a pan and beating your milk mixture until you have a creamy potato mixture. If you are looking to impress, you can pass it again to make it ultra smooth.

It is important to do all of this while the potatoes and milk are warm. it they are cold, you have to work them too much and they become sticky.

Saute some kale in butter, warm your sauce, carve the breasts from your crown and season the exposed meat. Gently warm your yeast mash and serve with lots of the smokey sauce!!!"

For a taste of Ross' menu, why not book a table in our Restaurant? Or even better; stay with us the weekend starting 15th November to take part in our Wine Weekend? Ross will be working side by side with Mark O'Bryan to combine the best from the French vineyards and cellars with the best form the gardens and hills of Scotland!



West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 25th August

  
  
  

West Coast Weather - Isle of Eriska

Last week's West Coast Weather didn't offer much opportunity to enjoy recreational activities outdoors at Eriska, with grey and heavy clouds lurking around the coast. That did however not stop eager guests from playing a game of croquet - as a matter of fact it was busy in the patchy rain! The picture above was taken on Thursday (22nd August), it went slightly dark as I was fiddling with some settings on my camera, but I think is shows the little sunshine we had that day! Next week's weather does however look to be dry with some more sunny spells!

Today: a chilly start in places, then a dry bright day with some good sunny spells and it looks to be quite warm in the sunshine, winds will remaining light. Tonight: the sunshine will continue throughout the evening followed by a dry night with some long clear spells. There may be mist or fog patches forming. 

Monday: looks to be mainly dry and bright, with some sunny spells and quite warm again. Some rain looks to be spreading from the northwest overnight.

Tuesday: is projected to start with some patchy rain, but becoming drier and brighter from the west.

Wednesday: is projected to be staying dry and bright.

Thursday: looks to be starting out dry start but occasional rain may appear, spreading east.

Friday: although the temperatures looks to stay with us, Friday will become wet and grey. It does however look to be dry overnight. 

Saturday: drying overnight, Saturday continues to be dry and cloudy, however the temperatures looks to be staying relatively stable. 

Isle of KerreraWith the weather staying relatively dry, why not make the most out of it? If you are staying on the island a trip to the Spa before trying out the many trails Isle of Eriska, or take a trip to Kerrera to hike around the circular 6 mile route cutting across to the other side of the island to enjoy views of Mull and Lismore. If you are out for the day, Kerrera Tea Garden offer traditional and home cooked foods, including their own baked bread and cakes - the perfect place for a treat after a walk. The Kerrera Ferry Time Table can be found here or you can get the shuttle from Oban to Kerrera.

Mushroom Season (so far) at Isle of Eriska Hotel!

  
  
  

Mushrooms at Eriska

Recently mushrooms have been popping up everywhere at Isle of Eriska! Although the pictures are not of edible mushrooms, I thought I would share them with you as well as giving you some fun facts and guidelines! 

Scotland's Fungi

Fungi or mushrooms have been around for millions of years and are not plants or animals so have a kingdom of their own! Fungi come in all shapes, sizes and colours (and smells!) and can be found all over the world throughout the year living on wood, roots, soil, leaves and many more places. Scotland's woodland, grassland, mountains and coasts provide special habitats for over 12,000 species. Scotland is internationally important for the brightly coloured waxcap species which live on undisturbed grassland. Scottish woodland provide homes for fungi protected by UK biodiversity action plans, including the Hazel Glove Fungus and a group of tooth fungi, while some species of puffball have only been recorded in Scotland. More information on Scottish Fungi can be found here 

Mushrooms at Isle of EriskaAs well as collecting fungi to eat, many species can only be named by detailed inspection, supplemented by microscopic examination. Collecting is thus essential for identification. The first step is to determine the spore colour by placing the mushroom on paper or glass and waiting a few hours. Beautiful shapes are formed as the ‘rain’ of spores reflects the patterns of the gills or pores. As the spores accumulate, their colour can be seen.

 

Tree Fungi at Isle of EriskaMushroom Season

Most naturalists begin foraying with the main flush of fruit bodies in August and carry on until mid-October. Several fungi continue to fruit into November or even December, unaffected by frost, and possibly have a second fruiting. Fungi growing on wood may be at their best in winter, even when there have been flurries of snow. Many fungi start fruiting before August, e.g. May for chanterelles in the Borders. Other species are found only in the spring, e.g. lorel. If one really wishes to get to know more fungi, collecting all year round is necessary. The Scottish Wild Mushroom Code can be found here. 

 

Ten things you didn't know about mushrooms

  1. The ancient Egyptians saw mushrooms as a plant of immortality and a food that was only fit for Royalty
  2. Roman soldiers ate them before going into battle because they believed mushrooms would increase their strength
  3. A portabella mushroom usually contains more potassium than a banana
  4. The ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms had magical healing powers
  5. Mushrooms are 90% water
  6. They were first cultivated commercially in France in the late 19th century
  7. Some scientists believe that mushrooms spores, which are made of chitin, the hardest naturally-made substance on Earth, could be capable of space travel
  8. The largest living organism found was a honey mushroom, which covered 3.4 square miles of land in the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon
  9. People in mid 15th century Europe believed mushrooms were grown by evil spirits
  10. The fairy rings at Stonehenge are some of the world’s oldest living mushroom colonies and can be seen from the air.

Mushrooms on the menu - Choosing the right wine

Mushrooms don't have a singular flavour profile. They range from the mildest of button mushrooms to flavoursome porcini. Each which suggests a different wine pairing, from lighter-bodied and more delicate for the former to fuller-bodied and more powerful for the latter. The following might help you make the right choice when dining;

Earthy mushrooms, such as black trumpets, chanterelles and shiitakes go best with earthy reds such as Burgundy, nebbiolo and pinot noir.

Meaty mushrooms, such as morels, cremini, porchini and portobello's go better with meaty wines such as pinot noir (sometimes), syrah/shiraz and sagniovese. 

We asked our somelier to recommend some of our wines to go with mushrooms. We chose to give you a value for money option and 'the special treat' option, and we came up with the following; 

For the light and more delicate flavours, a Burgundy, a more matuderd and aged wine;

1. ALOXE-CORTON “LES CHAILLOTS”1er CRU  Domaine Louis Latour 2005 (£50.00)

2. CHÂTEAU CORTON GRANCEY Domaine Louis Latour 2002 (£90.00)

For the more meaty mushrooms, a Barolo,  the older the better;

1. BAROLO PIEMONTE Massolino, Piemonte 2008 (£120.00)

2. BARBARESCO Gaja Piemonte 2007 (£140.00)

Barolo is one of the most complex, aromatic and delicious red wines in the world, and they are something different, you would be treating yourself buying both these bottles! 

Somelier's dream wine; 

CHAPELLE CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU Domaine Trapet 2000 - a wine to come in very small batches, in other words not the everyday wine, and a bottle to be enjoyed! 

P.S. when you encounter milder mushrooms in butter or cream sauces, a full-bodied white can be the way to go!

Eriska's entire wine list offers outstanding value for money to diners, particularly when you compare our wine pricing with other top restaurants. Our comprehensive wine list runs to 40 pages and provides extensive options both geographically and in terms of price. You can click on the button below check availability in the restaurant or on the Eriska Wine Weekend to experience a matched wine and dine event with our Head Chef Ross Stovold and Master of Wine, Mark O'Bryen in November!

  
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