Friday, 15 July 2011

Over the Rainbow: a round up of food and drink on Skye

Mark and I had a lovely holiday recently - a week on Skye, where we ate, drank, walked and generally pottered in the sunshine (I know, I was shocked too).

I thought I'd do a bit of a round up as we ate so well, we had chosen to self cater so breakfasts, packed lunches and a couple of suppers were down to me (bacon and eggs, sandwiches or salad, courgetti spaghetti and chilli since you ask). Outside of that we picked where to eat purely on the basis of somehwere that looked nice, or that caught our eyes as we passed.

Our first stop for morning coffee was at the Glencoe visitor centre, this is a very family friendly venue, offerring 'Explorer backpacks' with quizzes, binoculars and magnifying glasses to entertain their smaller visitors. To say I was disappointed that 5 foot 4 doesn't count as a smaller visitor is an understatement. Us big people made do with tea and coffee. My first hint I was going to love Scotland? Proper milk, none of this UHT stuff that everywhere seems obsessed with that makes tea taste foul. The visitor centre is tucked away, and we made the most of the weather, sitting outside and watching the birds flit, and fleetly fly around our heads. Treats here included a new discovery for me - one which was going to be repeated a few times during our trip. Homemade versions of shop biscuits! I know! So pick something you like, but (like me) don't eat because of the transfats, general rubbish within, then imagine it made out of shortbread, filled with homemade jam and a list of 4 ingredients. Butter, sugar, flour, jam. That's it. God they were good. Here I had a Vienese Whirl.

Goodness, now I'm wracking my brains... our second stop was for an afternoon tea (are you seeing a pattern here?) Not on the same day I might add. We stopped at the Blue Shed Cafe on our way back from Ergol. Slightly sunburned, and squeeish with delight having seen a multitude of seals as well as enjoyed a lovely walk and clamber around the loch, we were definitely in need of refreshment. The blue shed, is just that - a blue shed. Inside, an eclectic mix of tables and chairs, artwork, postcards, and homemade cakes were to be found. Two pots of tea, an enormous slice of Victoria sandwich (you know when you can tell it's homemade. Yep, that good) and some rocky road. Also blatantly homemade, no vegetable oily mouths here. Again, proper milk, tea in a pot and tasty coffee.

Other places we stopped for snacks and coffee were Jan's Cakes in Dunvegan. This tiny shop come tea room (that also sold chocolates, of which I sadly did not partake) was amazing. The confections were truly breathtaking and truth be told a little overwhelming. There is no denying the artistry that had gone into the making of them. I'm afraid to say that it being elevenses, we opted for a simpler accompaniment to our tea, lavender and heather honey shortbread. These seemingly simple biscuits were a revelation, honey, instead of sugar used to sweeten was a beautiful floral flavour, in the short crumbly biscuit, with a more, earthy undertone from the lavender. It illustrates my ignorance that I had expected these to be the other way around. I had a really personal interest in this as I made lavender sugar a while back for my sister's birthday present to go with her copy of Vanessa Kimbell's Prepped (I don't think she reads this blog so hopefully the surprise isn't spoiled).

We were staying close to Armdale and in our eternal quest to find an otter we went on the otterly delightful (see what I did there!) woodland trail that takes you up through the woods and to the hide by the seashore. Sadly once again we saw no otters, but did manage to get another delightful cup of tea and some cake at The Shed - possibly the tiniest cafe I have ever eaten in. Oh and from the gift shop nearby, an owl suncatcher for me! It's a guiding thing - you become a Snowy Owl and all of a sudden owls are amazing, plus I could hear them at night from our bedroom. Once again, good tea, and coffee, but the highlight has to be the slice of peanut butter and chocolate cake I had. Best described as a light sponge, topped with a peanut butter and chocolate fudge. The combination of sweet and salty is one I am pretty much gaga for at the moment, and it seriously worked here. Much like my peanut butter and jam bars I made for the Cherry working day and Guide camp in May actually. I am thinking of recreating this with a digestive biscuit cheesecake type base, but am still looking for a decent fudge recipe. Recomendations welcome.

 One of our happy accidents was to go to Columba 1400 - I had read about it, and being the misplaced youth worker I am at heart was keen to go. I had however completely forgotten about this until we were passing, when I demanded we "Stop! In the name of goodness..." Mark totally doesn't get my Wicked references, but they do make me happy. Once again, tea, coffee and homemade shortbread were the order of the day and owing to a chaotic attempt at ordering as part of a tourist group (that we weren't a part of) we were so thoughtfully given an amazing slice of an apple and cinammon cake that I have to say, albeit sadly - was better than mine. Organisations like Columba 1400 do amazing work within communities and I think their cafe and enterprise are an amazing example of what youth integration and engagement can do when there is access to external support.

Well that's my rundown on places to go for tea, coffee and cake on Skye, still to come in parts two and three of Over the Rainbow... are Red Skye (the only place we went back to) and ice cream at Minchella's in South Shields.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely blog post Penny! And a big woop woop for the Minchella's and for the not so Sunny South Shields


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