This Monday marked the beginning of National Vegetarian Week – seven full days of living meat free while exploring the vivacious vegetarian lifestyle.
Though to some this may sound like their worst nightmare, Nation Vegetarian Week allows for the discovery of new styles and flavours that will delight your palette, as well as promote the use of vegetarian products and a healthy lifestyle.
Our chef, Ross Stovold, is known for his fondness of fresh local produce and having recently aided in the reintroduction of use of the garden, Eriska is now growing a selection of vegetables and herbs that are used daily in our fine-dining restaurant.
Vegetarian dishes can be found on our menu each evening and are always a popular choice with our guests. Though their great taste and impressive presentation would suggest otherwise, the dishes are quite simple to make! Why not try to cook one of our favourite of Ross's Veggie dishes for yourself?
Poached Duck Egg, Braised Leek, Hazelnut and Goats Curd
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 Large Maris Piper Potatoes
125ml Double Cream
30ml Good Quality Rapeseed Oil
4 Duck Eggs
2 Large Leeks
100g Unsalted Butter
50g While Hazelnut
1 Tub Goat’s Curd or good quality Goat's Cheese
1. Bake the potatoes at 200°C for 1.5 hours until tender in the middle.
2. Scoop out the flesh of the potatoes and pass through a potato ricer into a clean pan over medium heat. Stir continuously, gradually adding the cream and rapeseed oil until fully mixed. Season to taste and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Toast the hazelnuts at 170°C for 10 minutes. Roughly chop leaving pieces of varying size for a nice texture.
4. Slice the leeks into 1cm rounds and wash
5. In a flat pan, bring 150ml water and 100g butter to a boil. Lightly season and add sliced leeks. Braise for 8 minutes or until tender.
6. Strain the leeks, keeping half the cooking liquor
1. Poach the duck eggs for 4 minutes.
2. Warm up the potato mousse, stirring occasionally
3. Warm up the leeks in retained cooking liquor
4. Spoon the mousse into the middle of the plates and arrange the leeks on top of the mousse.
5. Sprinkle hazelnut over the top before adding the duck egg in the middle
6. Spoon the goat's curd evenly around the dish and serve!
Chef's Tip: Wild Garlic will compliment this dish perfectly if you're lucky enough to find some. Simply chop in roughly and fold through the potato mousse.
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.