Our Blog

Seaweed: The New Skincare Superfood

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on Jun 5, 2014 9:47:00 PM

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

Ishga Seaweed

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.

Topics: spa treatments scotland, Food, Spa, Ross Stovold, Seaweed, Ishga Seaweed, spa facial, superfood, seaweed in food

National Vegetarian Week: Veggies Don't Have to be Boring!

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on May 21, 2014 2:52:00 PM

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.

collage veg resized 600

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?

Potato Mousse
Poached Duck Egg, Braised Leek, Hazelnut and Goats Curd

Ingredients (serves 4)

Potato Mousse resized 600

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

Preperation

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

Assembly

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.

Topics: Ross Stovold, vegetables, cooking masterclass, national vegetarian week

Seafood in Scotland's West Coast

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on May 7, 2014 3:53:00 PM

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.

Mull

Eriska Scallop

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

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.

Mallaig

Eriska LangoustineKnown 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.

Topics: Food, Ross Stovold, Fine Dining, Seafood, West Coast Seafood

The Eriska Farm: Going Back to Our Roots

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on Apr 16, 2014 6:48:00 PM

Eriska QuailsOne 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.

The Quails

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

Eriska 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.

Topics: Food, Ross Stovold, Healthy Eating, vegetables, Eriska Farm, Quails, Scottish Farm, Grow Your Own

Oban Bay Brewery Beer Bread

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on Mar 28, 2014 1:07:00 PM

beer bread resized 600 Eriska prides itself in the use of the very best local produce to provide our guests with fresh, high quality food and ensure the best dining experience possible. Ross works closely with neighbouring businesses, where possible, and has recently added the Oban Bay Brewery to his list of suppliers – ordering in some of their fine ales to use in our homemade Beer Bread (or so he tells managment!)

The use of the ales from Oban Bay Brewery was a natural choice for Ross who believes that it’s “important to use as local as possible”. With the Brewery located only 12 miles from the hotel it’s transport in better for the environment and boosts local economy.

Why Beer?

We asked the team in the kitchen about the use of beer in the bread. They explained to us that beer can be used to enhance the flavour of bread, giving it a richer taste. The alcohol is burned off in the baking process and leaves behind the flavours of the malts, which can make such an enjoyable difference.

Here on the Island bread is used every night as an accompaniment with dinner. We believe good bread and butter is an essential part to a good dining experience and should stand out as a key feature to any meal. Ross has devised a recipe which involves adding beer to a sourdough starter as well as oats to add to both flavour and texture.

Oban Bay Brewery

Oban Bay Brewery resized 600Obay Bay Brewery branched from the Mull Brewery, based in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, in 2009. They are committed to designing the best quality and tasting ales using 100% natural ingredients.

The beer used in beer bread makes a difference to the flavour; light ales will yield a lighter flavour than the darker varieties. With this in mind, Ross has picked the Oban Bay’s “Skelpt Lug” which he believes will produce the tastiest bread for our guests.

Skelpt Lug is the darkest ale available from Oban Bay. It has a reddish-brown tone and complex taste stemming from the use of both coloured and wheat malts which produces a refreshing, fruity flavour with a ‘hoppy’ finish.

Our beer bread is just one of many things that Ross has introduced to the kitchen since he joined us in the summer. With his passion  for food and creativite mind we don't doubt he'll be adding new recipes to his repetoire in the future. So next time you're with us why not give our beer bread a try and let us know what you think!!

 

 

Topics: isle of eriska, Ross Stovold, Fine Dining, Oban Bay Brewery, beer bread, Skelpt Lug Beer

Eriska's Spring Wine Event

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on Mar 24, 2014 7:52:00 AM

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?red 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.  

The Wines

  • Thienot Champagne

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.

  • Chartron

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!

  • Chateau le Grand Verdus

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.

  • Domaine Mann

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.  

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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-

  • Traditional

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.

  • 'Scientific'

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

Topics: isle of eriska, Isle of Eriska Hotel, Food, Ross Stovold, Wine, Fine Dining, Wine Weekend

Eriska New Year Resolution: 6 Steps to a Healthier You

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on Jan 5, 2014 5:00:00 PM

Ross StovoldHaving finally settled after a busy new year and adjusted to dating everything "2014" we're finally ready to get back to business and prepare for the months ahead.

2013 saw big changes for Eriska with our new head chef, Ross Stovold, taking over the kitchen and promoting the use of the best of the local produce to create healthy and delicious dishes for our fine-dining restaurant.

With his passion for food and healthy living, we thought we'd take this opportunity to pick his brain for those of you who are making the change for a healthier 2014! 

 

1. Buy a Juicer

Fruit and vegetable juices are a great way of getting vitamins into your body. Removing the pulp allows your cells to absorb the nutrients in fruit more readily and provide you with a quick energy boost.

It also provides you with a fun way to experiement with new flavours,  by allowing you to be creative and inventive in mixing your own juice blends.

2. Choose Wholegrain Over the White Alternative.

Wholegrain bread, pasta and rice are higher in dietary fibre than the white counterparts. Fibre is important in a balanced diet and can help prevent heart disease, diabeties and can help improve digestive health.

Furthermore, fibre can help prevent weight gain as it is not broken down in your digestive system and keeps you feeling full for longer. 

3. Snack on Raw Vegetables

Unhealthy snacking can be the kill-all end-all of any new diet. Though tasty, an abundance of crisps, chocolate and other sugary goodies are not good for you and can be costly!

Carrots, cucumber, bell pepers, celery, asparagus and cauliflower are just some of the vegetables that can be enjoyed raw, either on their own or with a nice low-fat dip.

4. If You Need Chocolate, Choose Dark Over Milk.

Starving yourself of your favourite treats makes diets incredibly difficult to maintain. If you feel you need a little chocolate on occassion, Ross recommends eating a small square of rich dark chocolate over a bar of milk. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa which is high in an antioxidant compound called flavonoids, this is believed to help prevent heart disease.

An alternative to satisfying your sweet-tooth with chocolate would be picking foods with natural sugars. Fruit is a quick and tasty way to treat yourself without feeling too guilty and can be enjoyed raw, lightly cooked or as a sorbet!

5. Avoid All Pre-Packaged and Take-Away Foods

It may seem like we're stating the obvious now, but even the so-called "healthy, low-fat"

Healthy Eating, Vegetarian ready meals are no substitute for the real thing. Devoid of most natural nutrients, these pre-packaged 5-mintute meals are filled with synthetic vitamins that are harder for your body to break down.

We understand that it's dark, cold, you've just had a long day at work and the last thing you want to think about it arranging a meal for the family. But if we take a practical look at it: in the 25 minutes it takes to place your order and await your deep-fried and greasy food to be delivered to your door, you could have already prepared a fresh and simple dish in the comfort of your own kitchen.

 

6. Use Walnut Oil Instead of Butter

Though butter is not bad for you in moderation, using it frequently throughout the day may run the risk of high cholesterol. The replacement of butter with walnut oil on your toast and sandwiches provides a nice nutty alternative and a good source of Omega-3.

Walnut oil also makes a nice salad dressing and good accompaniment for many meats and fish.

 

So there you have it; six small and subtle changes to make to your diet, which along with the general guidelines to nutritional health will have you feeling great in no time!


Topics: Eriska, Ross Stovold, New Year Resolution, Healthy Eating, Weight Loss

World Porridge Day at Isle of Eriska - 10th October 2013

Posted by Christina Jacobsen on Oct 10, 2013 1:28:00 PM

 

 

World Porridge Day

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.

The Porridge 


porridge 4In 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!

 

Health Benefits? 

World Porridge DayA 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 StovoldRoss' 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...

Topics: isle of eriska, Isle of Eriska Hotel, Eriska, Food, Ross Stovold

Authentic local produce and food

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith on Sep 21, 2013 10:12:00 AM

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!

Topics: isle of eriska, Isle of Eriska Hotel, Eriska, Food, Drink, Ross Stovold, foraging

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

Posted by Deborah Jaconelli on Aug 28, 2013 2:02:00 PM

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!



Topics: isle of eriska, Isle of Eriska Hotel, Eriska, wildlife, Ross Stovold