Saturday 7th June saw the 15th annual Taste of Grampian festival at Thainstone, Inverurie. Last year saw 12,000 people attending the one day event and I’m pretty sure this year they smashed this figure and then some!
Last year was my first time attending and I made the mistake of arriving mid-morning…… NEVER AGAIN!!! I queued for forty minutes and raced round stalls in between going to watch a couple of cookery demonstrations. This year was going to be different! Despite Wee Food Adventurer having horrendous chickenpox all week and me having tonsillitis I was going to plan my day. I have to admit to being quite geeky in planning these kind of things, just ask Mr Food Adventurer about my planning before New York & Disney World and he’ll tell you that I spend HOURS reading & re-reading to work out what & where’s best….
Anyway, upon arrival I was lucky to discover that Claire from Summerhouse Drinks had her stall right at the entrance. I was excited to meet her and claim my free bottles of lemonade. Earlier this year I had pledged money towards their Lemonade Summerhouse on Wheels which is travelling around different events during the summer. I was delighted to receive two bottles of Misty Lemonade and a bottle each of Scottish Raspberry and Hint o’ Mint. They are currently chilling in the fridge for later although I told Claire I had something special planned for the Scottish Raspberry one…
I went on my merry way and along the vast array of stalls. It was fantastic to see so much local produce on display and such enthusiastic people happy to talk about their wares. As it was already getting warm I headed for one of the tents before it got too hot and discovered some amazing stands. I wanted to try as many different products as I could handle before 10am but I was very much up for the challenge!
The first stand to catch my eye was Great Glen Charcuterie. Now, even as a vegetarian, I could appreciate how fantastic their products were, wild venison charcuterie. I bought Mr Food Adventurer one of the offers they had which was venison pepperoni, salami and chilli chorizo which he was delighted with!
Onwards I went and was delighted to discover that Edinburgh Gin was just a few steps away. I first discovered their gin while I was at BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow last year. In fact it’s responsible for my lovely friend Heather and I to have first met! I’m rather proud to say we met over gin! I had a bottle of their Raspberry Gin in a bag on a table when Heather came over to ask me where their stand was as she had been looking for it…. the rest, as they say, is history! I had a wee taster of their Elderflower and Spiced Orange gins and decided to buy a bottle of the Elderflower, which I was told, was perfect, poured over champagne *note to self*
Across from my heavenly gin was the Scottish Handmade Oatcake Company offering a fabulous range of oatcakes ranging from traditional and cheese to chilli. I went for another bargain and snapped up packets of Chilli, Cheese, Cracked Black Pepper (very popular I’m told) and Maw Broon’s Kitchen Malted.
My big shopper bag was straining by now so I headed to the car to drop my goodies off. A good idea if you’re going to one of these festivals is to take a cool bag with ice packs and keep it in the boot. That way you can pop the items that need to be kept cold in there throughout the day.
Back to the stalls and I discovered Cambus O’May Cheese…. gorgeous handmade artisanal cheeses from Royal Deeside. They had loads of samples to try so I’m glad I got there fairly early before it got a little crazy! I tried a few but decided on Lochnagar, A Gold Medal winning cheese which is matured for four months and beautifully creamy. I also bought Auld Reekie which was beyond flavoursome! The cheese is lightly smoked using whisky barrel shavings in their smokehouse. If you ever get the chance to try some, grab it!!
At this point a wee sit down was in order so I headed for the outdoor arena where a demonstration was about to get underway. The very talented Liz Ashworth of Hamlyns Premium Scottish Oats . Liz is also a food product development consultant & a successful cookery writer. Today she was making macaroni cheese… but with a difference. She made the white sauce from a mixture of oats, something I’d never heard of but it smelt amazing as the aroma wafted over to where the audience sat. Liz then made a skirlie style topping. Anyone who isn’t familiar with skirlie might like to know it’s traditionally made from oatmeal fried with onions and seasoning. Liz went on to explain that the word came from the sound the oatmeal made when being fried was like the skirl of the bagpipes…. who knew?? I was very lucky to get a wee taste of it and although I don’t like to mess with the original macaroni cheese recipe I would definitely give this a bash!
Pudding was lemon strawberries with dark chocolate from Cocoa Ooze… I was lucky enough to try some of that too! (Don’t judge me!)
Well, I think that’s plenty to tell you about in part one. I’ll leave you to browse the links to all these lovely companies while I get on with eating my way through all the goodies I purchased. I will post part two tomorrow where I’ll be heading inside the festival and enjoying the cooking skills of Nick Nairn and Paul Rankin. Enjoy the rest of your day!
Melanie, Food Adventurer