Inspired by nature : Wild Gorse Edit

Inspired by nature : Wild Gorse Edit

We are lucky to live in such beautiful surroundings in the Highlands of Scotland and the colours of the countryside in bloom which are a great inspiration to us. At this time of year wild gorse has a tangy yellow glow in the spring sunshine. It also smells amazing. The vibrant yellow of the gorse bush has influenced our buying decisions hugely and here is our edit for 2020.

Shopping Local During Lockdown

Shopping Local During Lockdown

I was a regular Tesco Delivery shopper, booking in my flexible slot the night before and building up quite an easy lazy list of items that I had grown to know. With two kids under two and a business to run this has suited me well. I am lucky I can then walk out into Beauly and purchase my meat from the butcher and a few treats from the deli Corner on the Square and that was my shopping pretty much done.
 
Then CoronaVirus put us on lockdown and getting a major supermarket delivery slot was impossible. This has forced me to get back into shopping local for all my needs and it is something I hope to continue. We have found that the small community we live in has really adapted and embraced community life during this pandemic and we are lucky to be a part of it.
 
Here are some top local suppliers
 
THE BAKERY INVERNESS, 72 TOMNAHURICH STREET, INVERNESS
Hands down the best sourdough, world class and perfect texture. I like the the original, but they also do an excellent ‘porridge’ sourdough. Available to buy at Corner on the Square Deli.
 
A long standing favourite of mine, their products are available at markets and local shops, but to get the true section you need to visit their honesty shed where you can stumble across new creations like Chocolate Orange Jaffa, Amaretto or Berry Yoghurt flavour. Since lockdown we have visited much more often and with this good weather its an essential!
 
The foodie treat in Beauly. With their excellent wine selection, quinoa crisps, speciality products, the deli counter with prepared quiche, pork pies and scotch eggs (Johns favourites), you simply can’t leave without a full basket. During lockdown COTS have come into their own and provided the community with an extraordinary service. Jacqui and her team added all the fruit and veg and key products to their website and set up an order and collect/delivery system. The produce is notably higher quality so the fruit and veg not only taste better but last longer.
Last weekend we were able to order pizza takeaway which was exciting as take aways are few and far between up here.
The butcher has always been my go to for meat and eggs but during lockdown they have encouraged customers to place orders in advance. This has made me plan ahead with my food prep and get back into my slow cooker. It is marvellous, find a good recipe, order a kilo of mince, lamb shoulder, rolled pork or a whole chicken and whack in a load of spices and some liquid, 8 hours later and hey presto you have a scrummy meal and you have batch cooked a few freezer options for a later date.
 
The Storehouse of Foulis have also created a wonderful click and collect/delivery service. Quintin and Michelle have adapted their business model and helped many households in the wider community. We have very much enjoyed their prepared food range The Highland Cook House for evenings when it has been a busy day with kids and web orders. John offers to cook dinner and off he pops to the Storehouse to pick up a delicious dinner for two. My favourite is the Wester Ross Salmon Fillet.
 
I hope to continue this shopping pattern after COVID 19, it has made me look harder at the ingredients I buy and work my store cupboard….there were plenty of tins in there past their sell by date.. still taste OK but it has reminded me not be wasteful with food. I will always shop with our lovely local suppliers and I hope post Covid there will be a stronger support and commerical benefit for these small businesses who have adapted during this difficult time.
Gin o’clock – Our Top 3 Scottish Gins

Gin o’clock – Our Top 3 Scottish Gins

In this mini April heatwave we’re having, quite alien to us in the north, and given the circumstances, it’s important that time in the garden is time well spent! And how brilliantly British to sip away on what could be claimed to be almost a national drink – the venerable Gin & Tonic!

We’re blessed here in the Highlands to have ridden the gin boom wave over the last decade, and can boast in our opinion some of the most original and delicious gin’s on the market. Biased? Of course! If it’s from from the Highlands we love to sample it and we can buy it from our deli Corner on the Square!

Not forgetting the all important accompanyment – tonic. Walter Gregor’s is the Scottish go to premium tonic. Made in Aberdeenshire and highlighting mint tones, it adds a delightful and unique taste to your G&T.

An honorable mention also to our stag horn bottle opener maker Hugh (Instagram @p.i.c.a.d.a.e). Sustainable use of all all the bi products of one of Scotland’s much loved meats. We send Hugh the antler from some of the local estates we work with and he makes various handmade sticks and accessories for us. Thanks Hugh!

Below are Nic and John’s top three gins in no particular order.

KINRARA GIN

Family owned and set in the Cairngorm National Park, Kinrara gin is fruity and floral. Using water, foraged berrries and flora from the mountains above, it’s a lovely smooth gin, with a long subtle orange and juniper finish.
 
HARRIS GIN
 
From the western Isles comes one of their best summer exports in our opinion! Delicious distinctive taste, using sugar kelp as part of the recipe along with 8 carefully selected botanicals. It’s smooth, complex and refreshing and captures the maritime nature of the island.
 
ROCK ROSE GIN
 
From the rugged north coast comes this cracker. Privately owned and family run, Martin & Claire have come up with a much celebrated local recipe! The nose is delicate, the palate fruity, with a snotty but lingering lemon sherbet finish. I want one now!
 
 
Lego Technic Corona Virus Therapy

Lego Technic Corona Virus Therapy

John asked for a Defender for his 40th, and he got one – introducing the Lego Technic Defender!!

A fun and enjoyable project during lockdown. With a toddler desperate to ‘help’ build the Defender I think he did well not to lose any pieces or his temper.

We have Land Rover Defender cufflinks available to buy here.