A few weeks ago, I got some fantastic news; one of my best friends got engaged. In Vegas, no less! Very exciting! So what better way to celebrate than by getting the girls together for some delicious food and wine?
Of course we got the evening started with a customary glass of bubbles!
The lovely people at Castle MacLellan had sent me out five different pates from their range to sample and have my very own Pate Party. The pates we tried out were:
- Orkney Crab Terrine – enriched with crème fraiche, lemon juice and Galloway mustard.
- Chicken Liver Pate – smooth creamy chicken liver pate enhanced with Scottish heather honey.
- Oven Roasted Mushroom Pate – with full fat soft cheese, crème fraiche and a hint of garlic and thyme.
- Scottish Smoked Salmon Pate – a blend of smoked and poached salmon enriched with cream, lemon juice and horseradish.
- Rannoch Smoked Duck Pate – smooth duck liver pate with pieces of Rannoch smoked duck complemented by apple jelly and aromatic tarragon.
I served the pate with butter, oatcakes, fresh bread, red wine and a selection of other nibbles. The delicious selection of pates were definitely a welcome addition to our girly get together and made a change from the usual ‘crisps and dips’ cliche.
The pates had a lovely texture and the quality of the locally sourced ingredients really came through. Castle MacLellan have long term relationships with lots of their suppliers like John Mellis who produces the heather honey for the chicken liver pate.
My guests loved the variation in the selection from Scottish seafood to the creamy mushroom pate. What really surprised me was that each of the five girls picked a different favourite. Personally, I was torn between the smoked duck pate and the Orkney crab terrine. They were both so different but equally flavoursome.
I really like that there were recipes ideas on each pack, which you can also check out over on the Castle MacLellan website. I’m definitely going to have a go at making the Spiced Monkfish en Croute.
Oh and given that we were celebrating an engagement, it would be rude not to include a final photo including The Ring. So here we are… duck pate and diamonds!
I visited The Royal Highland Show for the first time last year and it was a fantastic day out! Now in its 176th year, the Royal Highland Show has the very best of food, farming and rural life. Maybe you think the show is only for farmers? I’ve put together some top reasons to visit the show regardless of who you are! The RHS is on this weekend 23rd – 26th June 2016.
- It’s easy to get there. There are special buses are running regularly from Edinburgh city centre. Check out the travel page for more info http://royalhighlandshow.org/travel-information Why not leave the car at home and enjoy no.5 below?
- There’s tonnes of fun activities for kids. Each area within the showground has attractions suitable for wee ones; don’t miss out on the animal parades and huge tractors. Youngsters can get close to creatures in the poultry tent and the bee marquee where they can learn the bee dance and make candles! The RHET Education Centre is open to the public all four days of the show, with school groups also booked into some of the activities on Thursday and Friday.
- There’s live music. Have a boogie to the UK’s top Abba tribute band; Abba Gold. If that’s not your thing, how about some toe-tapping ceilidh music with the Ian Muir Ceilidh Band or some traditional pipes and drums?
- The people. Visitors come from all over Scotland and further afield giving the show a buzzing, friendly atmosphere.
- The show includes three exciting new bars this year. The Botanical Garden will provide a gin lover’s sanctuary with artisan Scottish gins and expert mixologists. Alternatively, The Stetson is a lively, country music themed bar where you can show off your line dancing moves. Yeeha! Or why not take a break from shopping on the 13th Avenue Arcade and sip some bubbles at the new Prosecco Bar? Sounds right up my street!
- The livestock. Not just sheep. You can see highland cows, donkeys and tiny ponies to name a few. Be prepared for a whole lot of cuteness!
- You can be confident about grabbing a bite to eat. The food outlets throughout the show ground have signed up to the show’s food charter. So whether you fancy a buffalo burger or some fresh Scottish seafood, you can rest assured that wherever possible it has been produced using local and ethically sourced ingredients. #eatlocal
- Scotland’s Larder Live is foodie heaven, featuring over 100 producers and showcasing the very best produce from Scotland and further afield. If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the Fudge Kitchen and Equi’s ice cream stalls; yum!
- Be amazed by demonstrations of forestry skills like chainsaw carving and pole climbing. Do not try this at home!
- You can dance the night away! There are Show Dances with a different theme each night from Wednesday – Saturday. Tickets available here https://highlandshow.ticketsrv.co.uk/
- There’s plenty of opportunities for a spot of retail therapy at the relaunched 13th Avenue indoor shopping area. There’s 1,100 shopping outlets in total across the show including luxury country fashion brands like Barbour and Hunter.
- Gin! Lovely Scottish Gin. Strathearn, NB Gin, Pickerings and Edinburgh Gin all have stalls at the show. Have a wee sample and find out which is your favourite.
- Get some top tips from amazing chefs in The Cookery Theatre. You can see chefs such as David Haetzman, John Rutter and David Barnett. There are opportunities to ask questions and sample what the chefs have cooked up.
- You can watch talented sportsmen and women take part in activities like show jumping in the main arena. Over 2,200 riders are expected to compete in an impressive array of equine challenges.
- You could become an internet sensation – this year’s show is being streamed live online here http://royalhighlandshow.org/lives-streaming Last year the show was watch by thousands of viewers in 47 countries.
I was intrigued to find out that Gleann Mor Whisky Company had launched their own oaked gin in May this year. Oaked gin had been on my radar since I watched a clip about aging your own gin in a barrel on one of those weekend morning programmes. The DIY version seemed a bit of a faff to me, so I was super excited when a wee sample of Firkin Gin arrived in the post for me. Firkin Gin is aged in American oak casks giving it a lovely golden colour. And how gorgeous is the bottle?
When I tried the gin neat with ice, I found the oak a bit over-powering. It tasted somewhere between whisky and gin to me. Keeping the Scottish theme going, I chose to add Walter Gregor tonic water from Aberdeenshire. As soon as I added the tonic, the drink was transformed. The sweetness really started to come through.
The suggested serve is a wedge of orange or a vanilla pod. I happened to have a vanilla pod in my baking cupboard so I split it lengthways and added it to the G&T. The vanilla really brought out the caramel and toffee notes in the gin and the result was a sweet, but not sickly, flavour.
As I was feeling generous, I let Mr GvF have a sip too. The G&T, or perhaps it should be F&T, got a big thumbs up from the whisky-lover. Firkin Gin has been totally different from anything I’ve tried this year. Different in a good way!
Firkin Gin is released in limited batches of 100 bottles and costs £45 for a 70cl bottle and is available here..