In recent years, the want to replace artificial products from our day to day life has skyrocketed. People, more now than ever, are more health conscious and want to know what products they are washing into their hair, moisturising their face with and consuming in their food.
It’s becoming more and more common to find your conditioners, face creams and soaps filled with coconuts, almonds and aloe vera from the exotic corners of the world. Healthy snacks and drinks too are filled with colourful ingredients, full of vitamins and nutrients that are good for both internal and external health.
It may be a surprise to some that there is a good alternative right on your doorstep. Though not as glamorous, the use of seaweed in skincare products and in the kitchen is starting to show a certain popularity for the tremendous benefits it offers.
Seaweed in Skincare
Seaweed is also used frequently for many body wraps that are help eliminate toxins and body tension. Though a company based in Scotland, called Ishga, have developed a full range of products using seaweed which is ideal for all skin types.
The seaweed used in Ishga products comes from the Hebridean Islands of Scotland. They contain high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols which help provide protection against environmental damage and leaving your skin looking healthier as a result.
This month, our Spa are offering a special one hour Ishga facial, using seaweed products and light massage to tighten and tone skin as well as stimulate blood and lymph circulation, leaving you feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Seaweed in Food.
Though the very idea of eating seaweed may seem repulsive, you may be surprised to know that it is likely you have already eaten regularly in your lifetime. Carragheen gives a gelatinous substance when boiled, which is used in ice cream as well as vegetarian friendly jellies.
Though when we talk of the use of seaweed in food, we really do mean in its pure form! It is commonly used in Japan with Sushi and in miso soup, but with the western world becoming more adventurous with cuisine. Seaweeds such as Kelp are cropping up more and more, dried and powdered into a garnish that can be sprinkled over pizza, or used as a wrap for fish.
But it is the health benefits of eating seaweed that we really like to emphasise: while there are many different forms of seaweed that vary in mineral and vitamin content, all are high in dietary fibre, provides your daily dose of iodine and is almost as high in protein as other vegetables.
As well as the picturesque setting and rich historic significance, the West Coast of Scotland has always been a popular location for its Seafood.
Being mostly comprised of small fishing towns that border with the Atlantic, it has established itself as a worldwide supplier of great quality fish and shellfish and many would, therefore, pinpoint it as one of the best seafood locations in the UK.
With the privilege of having such an immense selection at our doorstep, our Head Chef Ross works closely with many local suppliers to bring the same level of freshness and quality through to our Fine Dining Restaurant.
The Isle of Mull is the second largest of the Scottish Isles on the West Coast of Scotland and in recent years it has become well established for wildlife spotting with many rare birds and animals (such as the white-tailed sea eagle) visiting their shores.
As well as their famous Isle of Mull Cheddar – which is a favourite choice from our Farm house Cheese Trolley – Ross also chooses Scallops from a company based near Tobermory, which was established as a fishing town in the 18th Century and labeled Scotland’s most “attractive harbor” due to its row of brightly painted buildings on the sea front.
South Shian is located about 1 mile from Eriska and is home to a branch of one of Scotland's leading aquaculture companies. Scottish Sea Farms have supplied Eriska with the finest quality salmon, farmed in nearby loch’s including Loch Creran which engulfs Eriska’s Eastern Coast and where we also happen to get our supply of Oysters.
Known by many as the destination of the Jacobite Train (or Hogwarts Express) from Fort William over the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct and through some of the most scenic parts of the Highlands, Mallaig is a well-defined fishing-town on Scotland’s West Coast.
For years Eriska have chosen the finest and freshest fish, crustaceans and clams from Mallaig’s docks and to this day still favour their local fisheries to supply the kitchen with most of their seafood including halibut, mussels and langoustine.
One of the largests appeals of Eriska to our guests is it's unique setting. A private escape from the worries of reality where civilisation doesn't have to exist outside our 300 acres if you don't want it to, and our team are always trying to find ways to add to that experience.
This year marks the 40th year since Eriska opened it's doors to the world and to celebrate the occassion we've brought a new lease of life to the Island by the revival of Eriska's Farm.
Having fallen into disuse for some years, our Garden Manager, Kenny, has revolutionised the gardens since joining us last month, sowing a large selection of vegetables, plants and herbs for both culinary and asthetic use and bringing the Island back to life.
Meet the newest addition to the Eriska family. Over the last month a dozen of these minute birds joined our ranks to provide our guests with fresh eggs for their meals.
Having only been with us for a couple of weeks, our feathery-friends have already begun to lay eggs, causing much excitments amoungst the Kitchen team.
The Vegetable Patch
Ross in the kitchen is a strong believer in the use of fresh local produce in his dishes, and where could be more local than on our own doorstep? Guests to Eriska can now see their food grow in the gardens before they are harvested for use at night.
Of course it will be a while yet before you'll be seeing these legumes on your plate, but the introduction of fast-maturing crops such as radish and lettuce will see the use of our homegrown vegetables in the kitchen within the next few weeks.
We asked Kenny his plans for the coming seasons and he explained "I've started some earlier crops for the kitchen such as radish and lettuce which will continue to be sown periodically for a continuous harvest. Most crops require a longer growing period and these have been started off too; such as aubergine, cabbage and french beans."
These are not the only vegetables Kenny's been sowing since joining the team; we also have beetroot, peas, onions, potatoes, courgette, leeks, turnips, swede and kolhrabi growing under the soil as well as many herbs like fennel, garlic, dill, parsley, corriander and sage.
The Flower Gardens
Wildflowers and shrubs grow all around Eriska, giving the Island a natural beauty that often leaves visitors in awe. There is also the Rose bushes and a flower patch by the stables that have provided us flowers to adorn in the main house for years.
However, Kenny has brought another dimension to the asthetics of the gardens, preparing the addition of some multi-purpose plants such as mariglods, nasturtiums and borage that will provide both a floral display and can also be used within the kitchens. He explains, "The petals are the only part of marigolds which are edible and can be used in many dishes, generally as a garnish but can also be a substitue for saffron. The young peppery leaves of nasturtiums will often be found in salads or used as a garnish. Borage is a personal favourite; the flowers are commonly blue and are used to garnish drinks such as pimms and can also be found in various desserts"
We're very excited about the coming progress of our little farm and will be watching eagerly for sproutings over the next month or two - some more impatiently than others! With unbeatable freshness in our Island-grown produce, a whole new layer of taste will be added to dining in our restaurant and will help create a true Eriska experience.
The Easter Holidays are upon us! There were times, I’m sure, that you felt this day would never come – after what seemed like an endless winter – and now that it’s here you can finally have that much needed break that you deserve! Though for those sitting at home waiting out the rain by catching up on TV in the hopes that the sun will shine once again; we implore you to resist the urge. With Spring in full swing there is ample opportunity to make the most of your break.
Believe it or not, Easter is about more than just gorging on chocolate eggs and rendering that “New Year Diet” obsolete! Here, at the bonnie West Coast, there is a whole range of activities and events to celebrate the season and so guests to the area will find themselves spoilt for choice.
Being largely unspoilt by modern metropolitan culture, the West Coast adorns several scenic nature walks with viewpoints looking out to the unbeatable landscapes that Scotland has become famous for.
The three-week Spring Festival, on the Isle of Colonsay, runs every year from the end of April and offers a variety of workshops, demonstrations and live music. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn new quirky skills, like Stone Carving, and revel in a more traditional culture.
Trips to the Isles
A trip to the Isle’s is always a nice day out: wither it’s just for a couple of hours to the Isle of Kerrera for a bite to eat at their popular Seafood restaurant; a few hours with a bike to the Isle of Lismore cycling it’s lengths down to the Lighthouse; or a day trip to Mull to stop by Tobermory, Duart Castle or hop over to some of the smaller Isles. For the Virtuoso’s amongst us, keep an ear out for the Mull Music Festival in Tobermory, at the end of April, celebrating the best of local music.
With the weather subsided to a reasonable mixture of sunshine, cloud and showers the locals are beginning to come out of hibernation and very soon the ever-popular farmer markets will once again become a frequent fixture in the area. This year our neighbours down at Kintaline Farm are hosting the “Lorn Community Producers Market – Spring Fayre” on 17th April which celebrates the local food and crafts, with community organisations and fun activities throughout.
Cadbury Easter Egg Trail
Well it just wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter egg hunt and this year Argyll council are hosting theirs in Arduaine Gardens, near Oban, between 18th - 21st April. A great day out for the whole family as you enjoy the stunning surroundings of the gardens on your hunt for the hidden chocolate treasure!
The West Coast of Scotland's unique location offers a breathtaking alternative to the larger cities and towns, allowing you to experience the true beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
With a variety of events being hosted by the community on a regular basis, there's always something different to do and see for everyone, adding to your holiday and creating a truly unbeatable experience
Last week Eriska hosted it's annual Spring Wine Weekend with guest Wine Connoisseur Philippe Larue of L'art du Vin. The event showcased a selection of French wines by 'Second Generation Winemakers' hand-picked by Philippe, who worked closely with Ross in the kitchen to pair the wines with appropriate dishes.
Wine Choice - Why Second Generation Wine?
When asked about his choice of Second Generation Winemakers, Philippe explained to us that it may have been possible to accuse the French winemakers of the 70s and 80s of complacency; their wines were selling well around the world because of their reputation. With the advent of a number of excellent New World wine styles (such as the Cabernet Sauvignons of the Napa Valley in California, or Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand) there was the need to return focus to quality in order to compete internationally!
With this in mind, Philippe selected some wines where there has been a marked improvement or development of style with the introduction of a winemaker from the next generation who understands the pressure of international competition.
Thienot was set up 25 years ago and is run by the youngest MD in Champagne, Stanislas, the son of the original Founder. The company (who also own Canard Duchene) originally sold 70% of their wine in France and exported 30% to the UK, but under Stanislas have added a further 25 countries to their export market. The brand is recieving excellent reviews and are well on the way to competing with the more famous 'Grande Marques'. We used their wonderful Vintage Brut as an aperitif with canapes of our own Smoked Salmon, and Salt Cod with Chicken Skin.
Run by the Pabiot family, son Jerome started with only 3 hectares, which he recieved as a birthday present. His first step was to convert the vineyard to be totally organic and biodynamic, and over the subsequent years has continued to espouse this philosophy to much critical acclaim. We paired his top Cuvee with hand-dived Scallops and Pork Belly so that the fresh acidity could counter the richness of the Pork, and the herbaceous and mineral character pair beautifully with the lightly cooked Scallop.
For the fish course we prepared some fresh Halibut from Mallaig with braised Leeks and a Toast Puree. Philippe had selected a beautiful Puligny Montrachet from Jean Chartron so the hints of bread and brioche from its Oak-Ageing would reinforce the flavour of the Toast Puree, and its lean mineral acidity would keep the palate refreshed without overpowering the fresh fish. Now run by the youngest member of the Chartron Family, the estate is maintaining its reputation as being among the finest producers in the Puligny-Montrachet appellation. In fact it was the Great Grandfather of Jean Chartron who campaigned for the hugely reputable suffix 'Montrachet' to be added to the Village name of Puligny, which had the effect of doubling the sale prices of the wines from the area almost overnight!
The current managing director of Chateau le Grand Verdus, Thomas, took over from his father in 2008 after working as a wine consultant in France and Spain. With a degree in agricultural engineering and experience from apprenticeships in Malborough, New Zealand, he introduced a low yield philosophy focusing on the usage of carefully selected grapes and high quality oak for ageing to produce excellent modern Bordeaux. We paired the rich Grande Reserve Wine with Oven Roasted Beef Sirloin, which had been covered with Kohlrabi Ash before being roasted and carved into steaks. The smoky notes of the Bordeaux beautifully complemented the char on the outside of the meat, while the velvety texture and ripe plum flavours served to enhance the richness of the Onion Gravy and Kohlrabi accompaniments.
With 50% of vineyards in Alsace being owned by Cooperative producers, the wines outside of the top long-established producers can sometimes be a little disappointing. At Domaine Mann however, brothers Maurice and Jacky Barthelmé - sons-in-law to Albert Mann, are gaining quite a reputation. They were awarded winemakers of the year in 2012, and best Pinot Noir in Alsace 2013. We chose to serve their single vineyard Pinot with our cheese course of Isle of Mull cheddar on Sourdough with plum Ketchup. Here the intention was to have the acid profile of the wine counteracting the rich protein of the cheese, while the rich fruit and minimal tannin add another layer of complementary flavour.
The Sweet Wine to end the evening was also from Domaine Mann. We showed the Vendanges Tardives ('late harvest') Pinot Gris along with Slow-Grilled Pear and White Chocolate Curd. The Pinot Gris is a comparatively fresh and light style of sweet wine, and so the flavours are more in the spectrum of ripe pear and citrus purity than the rich and complex honey styles of Sauternes or Tokaji. The Pear dessert was a natural choice to accentuate this character, and the fact that Ross in the kitchen grilled the fruit slowly meant that the natural sugars caramelised and softened the flesh all the way through without introducing any 'burned' flavours.
Food and Wine Considerations
Matching wines to food can seem intimidating for those of little knowledge. When matching wines with food there can be said to be two very broad approaches-
The traditional approach to wine matching is picking wines and food from the same region. Matching food with wine from the same geographical location is a good fundamental rule because often the food and wines have evolved alongside one another and have a natural affinity. Goat's cheese from Chavignol in the Loire Valley with Loire Sauvignon Blancs such as Sancerre or Pouilly Fume is an excellent example of this, or fine Barolo with the truffle and oil-covered pasta of Piedmont in Northern Italy.
An alternative approach to wine matching is to look at the variety of factors that can affect flavour and trying to find qualities in both food and wine that might complement each other. Things to take into particular consideration would be the levels of acidity in the wine, intensity of flavour, fats and proteins and sauces and dressings, flavour profiles etc.
The fundamentals of this approach can be about reinforcing flavours - for example matching 'heavy' food with 'heavy' wines - or contrasting flavours - using acidic wines with cream or butter sauces to 'cut through' the richness and refresh the palate.
It is also definitely worth pointing out that there are no hard-and-fast rules to the practice of combining wine with food, and the whole thing should be a fun experiment. If you enjoy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc alongside your Roast Sunday Dinner then you shouldn't let anyone tell you it's wrong!
Co-written with F&B Manager Glen Montgomery
The essence of life is learning through enjoyment.
No place is this more prevalent than in our pursuit of further knowlege in the fields of wines and food - so what better way to combine these two fascinating topics than by arranging a weekend of education her at Eriska. Or so we though back in 1993 when we first organised a Winter Wine Weekend. Back in those days we all had so much more time - and it could be argued a far greater thirst for knowledge that we used to run a three day weekend. Guests arrived on the Thursday in preparation for a full day in the kitchen. On the Friday our kitchen team would be joined by experts in their field to help explain and educate. One that sprung to mind was a Seafood and Chardonnay weekend when Andy Race- our fish merchant arrived- late on Thursday because in those days the market on Thursday night physically took place in Mallaig and he had to be there in person to examine, bid and purchase the fish.
On the Friday monring he simply brought in a huge box of mixed fish and with 20 guests sitting round, dressed in aprons and armed with knives he tallked through the box demonstrated how to identify, pick and select the best fish ( a lesson I still utilise) and how to prpeare it for the the kicthen with ease. This, as then, followed by working demonstrations and then the kitchen team took his work and helped show how it could be transformed. All sounded so simple but by the end of the day we had a great lunch and had some wonderful produce ready for dinner.
Then we are joined by some partners who could not escape for all three days and had a wonderful dinner focussing on the proiduce that had been prepared and with an introduction to wines of the world all featuring the Chardonnay Grape.
On Saturday we had anther practical; day with a demonstartion and talk from Inverawe Smokehouse highlighting the skill involved in curing and smoking fish- a skill we then took even further when we opened our own smoker- and then after lunch it was out on the water- some went out with a prawn creeler, some went to a local Oyster Hatchery and farm and some simply wantered on the beach as part of a guided foraging tour.
This was all simply to build up an appetite for dinner which was proceeded by a tasting of Chardonnay wines from around the world highlighting the huge range of grapes and abilities to create a diverse yet wonderful product. Then for dinner, the kitchen having been slightly freer and less invaded by fishmongers and guests- created a wonderful gastronomic dinner which was matched by a variety of wines which complemented the palate.
A greta fun weeknd and everybody learnt something- some more than others but all had left their cares of the world behind and ultimately relaxed.
However those days have slightly slipped away.
Time has become even more valuable but our thirst for knowledge has not waned so we are delighted to be able to announce that we will be joined by Mark O'Bryen, Master of Wine and Taittinger Ambassador to the Uk for our Winter Wine weekend which takes place over the weekend of the 16th November. In order to offer complete flexibility we have restricted the main event to a Champagne Masterclass on the Saturday Afternoon - for those not intersted in the rugby internationals!- and havearranged a tutored tasting to accompany Rosses wonderful dinner. It will allow Mark to Showcase the rangeform tis great champagne house and really introduce it to novices whilst evolving experts palates to appreciate the finer details. Clearly it will give teh opportunity to showcse the range but I am certain that we wil eb able to slip in a glass of still wine to help tittivate the taste buds styill further.
Join us in the 'celebration' of Scotland’s traditional national dish! Today on the 10th October it is the World Porridge Day! We spoke to Ross in the kitchen about his relationship to the simple and nutritious cereal and the will look at the use of oats in the Scottish diet!
The History of Porridge Oats
The humble oat has been a staple of the Scottish diet since medieval times. It is used to make porridge, of course, as well as such other traditional favourites as oatcakes, bannocks, skirlie, haggis, mealy pudding and for frying fish. Every croft once had its own girnel, an oatmeal barrel, as well as a porridge drawer.
A batch of porridge would be made at the beginning of the week and kept cold in the drawer so that members of the family could slice off chunks as they were needed, perhaps for a snack while working out on the fields.
Oats were always popular in Scotland as they are a hardy cereal, able to grow in harsh climates and poor soil. Scotch oats, also referred to as 'pinhead', are chopped rather than rolled into smaller pieces and therefore tend to be chewier and take longer to cook. The finer the oatmeal, the quicker it takes to prepare and the smoother the consistency.
In its simplest form, oats were eaten as brose with hot water, but porridge is more popular, though how it is made differs from household to household. The traditional Scots way is to soak the oats overnight, then boil them in the morning, stirring the mixture as it thickens with a wooden spirtle to avoid lumps!
Porridge purists may reject adding any modern-day luxuries such as 'heaven forbid, sugar, milk, syrup or cream ' instead sticking to the time-honoured tradition of oats, water and salt (which was also Ross' first introduction to the cereal - see below). Yet if you don't have the time or patience to stand lovingly over the hot stove while the porridge comes to the boil, then making it in the microwave offers an easier and much quicker alternative today. You simply just have to find your favourite amongst the many ways of cooking and types of combinations, whether they are sweet or savoury! Even just as a cereal added to your yoghurt or smoothie makes your meal all that much more filling!
A bowl of hot porridge served on frosty mornings with a little milk is by all accounts extremely good for you. Oats contain more fibre than many other cereal grains and they are a good source of essential fatty acids and vitamins. Furthermore, it staves off hunger for longer as the carbohydrates in oats are absorbed by the body slowly. According to the NHS, findings support existing evidence that whole grains in the diet are important for cardiovascular health. They are recommended as part of a healthy, balanced diet and, along with recommended levels of physical activity, may help to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Ross' first introduction to porridge & his use of the hardy cereal
"My earliest memory of porridge is of my granddads serving us it cooked in water with a healthy pinch of salt! It wasn't pleasant, but the trick was to eat it as quickly as possible to avoid it setting in the bowl, which made it very child unfriendly!
I have grown to really appreciate oats and their many uses, my preferred method for porridge is to soak the oats in milk overnight (about 3 x milk to oats), then cook the porridge with this milk in the morning. Cook it slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally - this will yield a creamy finish to your breakfast.
It lends itself to savoury dishes as well! Try braising some oxtail and adding some of the stock after the meats cooked to some toasted oats - you won't need much stock. Stir in some diced butter from the fridge, some chopped chives and cooked chopped smoked bacon. Serve it underneath the oxtail for a change to mashed potato. You'll be surprised how good it is!"
Do you have any recipes for porridge you want to share? Why not put your favourite combination in a comment below? Or even better, if you are coming to stay with us in November, try out our own Eriska porridge! There is definitely something about spending a cold autumn morning in the luxurious country house style hotel with a bowl of porridge surrounded by the crisp colourful autumn forest, relaxing views over the gardens or by the roaring log fire...
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.
So 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.
It 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.
So 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.
In the meantime it is out on the island between showers, to pick more Brambles and Chantarelle otherwise we will have some hungry guests tonight!
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!
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
As 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.
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
- The ancient Egyptians saw mushrooms as a plant of immortality and a food that was only fit for Royalty
- Roman soldiers ate them before going into battle because they believed mushrooms would increase their strength
- A portabella mushroom usually contains more potassium than a banana
- The ancient Greeks believed that mushrooms had magical healing powers
- Mushrooms are 90% water
- They were first cultivated commercially in France in the late 19th century
- Some scientists believe that mushrooms spores, which are made of chitin, the hardest naturally-made substance on Earth, could be capable of space travel
- The largest living organism found was a honey mushroom, which covered 3.4 square miles of land in the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon
- People in mid 15th century Europe believed mushrooms were grown by evil spirits
- 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!
We are very excited to welcome Ross Stovold to Isle of Eriska this week!
Ross Stovold previously held the position as head chef at Alimentum in Cambridge. Alimentum is a 50 cover restaurant which currently holds 3 AA Rosettes and a Michelin Star. He also has a range of good quality businesses on his list of achievements, most recently Sat Bains in Nottingham and the New Angel in Devon. Ross' focus is on bringing a training and development ethos to the kitchen at Eriska.
Part of Ross' concept is to employ four apprentices in his team alongside a strong top level, leaving him time to train and work with the juniors in an endeavour to grow our own chefs of the future.
Our kitchen team focuses on the use of the freshest, local produce in a way which develops and enhances the flavours and taste of our through manipulating as little as possible. Ross will continue to work closely with local suppliers to ensure the best of Scottish produce is presented on our Menu.
Our dinner menu changes on a daily basis and offers a choice of starters and a choice of main courses, one a fish from the surrounding waters another a meat dish from the hills surrounding the island and a final vegetarian alternative inspired by one of the gardens or larders close at hand. But what is excellent food without wine...
Our comprehensive wine list accompanies the best of Scottish produce and 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. Our wine list provides personal recommendations that are favourites of Eriska's Owner, Senior Hotel Manager and Sommelier, and we believe that you are likely to find some interesting options here that may even become one of your own favourites!