Celebrating World Food Travel Day in Scotland – What to eat in Whisky Lovers’ Speyside
It’s World Food Travel Day! Step on-board this virtual food and drink memory trip around Scotland. In Location No. 1, what food must you try when in Speyside, a region undoubtedly most famous for its whisky?
It’s Week 5 of Covid-19 lock-down. My usual Tasting Scotland food tours around Scotland are postponed. Like me you may already be planning your next day trip, short break or holiday/vacation away. Perhaps you were due to be in Scotland right now, perhaps gearing up for what would have been the 21st year of the big one, the annual Speyside Whisky Festival . Fear not with the help of my food and beverage loving Scottish friends we’re going to bring you a sample of what to look forward to once the travel ban is over and we can once again put on our travelling shoes.
Speyside is a small region, in the northeast corner of the Scottish Highlands. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in whisky weight. It has the largest concentration of whisky distilleries in Scotland, with over 60% situated in and around this geographically perfect location. The fertile, lush valley of the River Spey and the abundance and quality of its water is the key reason. Many of the famous whisky names are there and so too are many hidden gems.
I have many memories of Speyside. It was one of the first regions I explored as a child. Hailing from just east in Aberdeenshire, it was close enough to get to in a few short hours, but far enough away to be considered in the 1970’s a holiday! Studying hospitality at college, my first ever field trip was to the Macallan Whisky Distillery and Walkers Shortbread factory for tours and tastings. The next trip was to Baxters Soup. And I distinctly remember a particularly cold and wet early morning visit to the Aberdeen Fish Market! All in all, it was the start of a lifelong love of food travel that is the heart and soul of Tasting Scotland.
When up that way with clients we often stay at the Dowans Hotel and Restaurant in Aberlour. Led by Michael Murray, his wife Marie, and daughters Steph and Lauren, The Shawfern Group is a family owned and operated business in the heart of whisky Speyside and it is here we turn our attention to the food of the area.
“When in Speyside, you must try venison. Whether Red or Roe deer, it truly is a local speciality. Here at the Dowans Hotel, we benefit from a close relationship with Ballindalloch Estate where we source all of our deer – brought to us whole and then used not only in our famous Dowans Burger but also as a favourite dish in our 4 course tasting menu. Delicious!
We work closely with lots of local food suppliers but one of the ones that we love visiting during the warmer summer months is our Lobster and Langoustine supplier based out of Hopeman on the Moray Coast. A father and son team, they source some of the finest lobsters and langoustines from along the coast and bring them straight to our door – a great wee treat if you are visiting Speyside!”.
Thank you Speyside, thank you Steph and thanks to Erik Wolf of the World Food Travel Association for creating a day in which we can all celebrate food travel. Finally, if you are thinking of the 2021 Speyside Whisky Festival get in touch and join us. The dates are set 28th April – 3rd May. We’re here – like whisky maturing – patiently waiting.