Friday, 22 April 2011

Food Travel: Scotland

I was up in Scotland last week for an interview for an assistant cook position at Abernethy Ardeonaig.

I got the job and I'm delighted to be able to turn a hobby and interest into something that I'll enjoy working on day after day. So expect a few blogs covering the sort of thing I get up to in my new role - start in six weeks, can't wait!

Needless to say, I took the opportunity to start getting used to some of the food I used to love so much in Scotland that you just can't get in England. Nothing quite like home comforts...

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Dad and the rest of the family were driving up to Scotland to visit his cousins in Nethy Bridge, so I hitched a lift as far as Glasgow. I stayed with a couple of friends before setting off the next day for Killin. This would mean a train from Glasgow to Stirling, a bus from Stirling to Callander, and one final bus from Callander to Killin. Plenty of opportunities to stop for a bite to eat en route!

I had to get to Glasgow Central station from Uddingston first. Uddingston is a little suburb on the outskirts of Glasgow, but it does hide one of Scotland's most well known bakeries - Uddingston is the home of Tunnock's!

The main site where such delights as Tunnock's Tea Cakes (the little chocolate covered domes of melty soft mallow and biscuit) and Caramel Wafers are baked sits opposite a smaller Tunnock's bakery where freshly baked wares can be picked up, as well as lots of little themed trinkets and gifts. A lovely little shop to visit - and the staff are particularly friendly folk too! Having bought a pack of caramel wafers, it was time to head to the station and get into Glasgow.

I didn't leave myself much time in Glasgow due to needing to get through to Killin for the interview. My next stop was in Stirling where it was time for elevenses. That called for a quick stop at Greggs, not strictly a Scottish chain (indeed, originally founded in Newcastle), but it always reminds me of going into the city centre with mum and getting a Greggs for lunch in George Square. And so it was that I came to have a lorne sausage and bacon roll with brown sauce. Perfect.

And then to wait on the bus to Callander, which is a tiny wee place that is all high street and not much else. While it is a pretty town where the mountains meet the buildings at one end, it is fairly touristy and attracts the sort of buses full of the elderly who'd like to visit a wee tea shop before going on to somewhere more interesting - like Stirling or Glasgow - where there is a little more to see.

With an hour and a half to wait before the bus to Killin - and the final leg of the journey! - I found myself in one of the tea rooms which was notably empty. A scone and some Irn-Bru later, I had a last wander round to admire the tacky tourist shops.

And finally I got to Killin where I was picked up to go to Abernethy and spend a few days working with the team there and having my interview. As I've already said, I got the job and am looking forward to starting in a few weeks. I won't go into any detail on the stuff I got up to at the moment as I'm sure I'll write a couple of more detailed blogs on the new job in the near future.

Back down to Glasgow it was then to catch a plane back home. But first to take in a few home comforts before the flight. First up was to go to the chip shop for a Scotch Pie supper. Please note that a 'supper' is 'with chips'. There's some Scottish for you. A scotch pie is just a mince pie with a crunchy outer crust and soft top crust. It's another dish that reminds me of when I was a wee boy, going to the football with dad and getting a pie and bovril at half time. The scotch pie is widely sold at football grounds across Scotland, with few exceptions (perhaps the most notable being Forfar, where the pie tends to be substituted by the local favourite - the bridie. Sort of like a pasty, but better.).

And to follow, a quick wee trip to the Greggs on George Square for a pineapple cake. Which are just delicious - and one of mum's favourites. A pastry case filled with a pineapple jam, topped with whipped cream and then covered in a thick, brittle pineapple icing. Just stunning.

And last but not least, dinner in the airport - what else to finish a trip back home than the traditional and best - haggis, neeps and tatties!


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When I got home, I had been inspired by seeing one of my old favourites, the pizza crunch, in the chip shops in Glasgow. So I had to have a go...

It's very simple, so I won't take too long explaining it. You just buy a cheap pizza - the cheaper the better. And generally only cheese or pepperoni. Though if you wanted to be a wee bit exotic, I expect that ham and pineapple might work okay too.

Cook your pizza in the oven, then quarter it (or smaller slices if it's a large pizza), let it cool and then batter and deep fry the slices. Delicious. And highly nutritious of course.


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I assure you that my diet is not normally as terrible as this blog entry may make it seem - I'll try to get a few more reasonable blogs up soon!

Coming up:
- Looking into a bi-weekly feature by a remote contributor. Stay tuned for more details!
- Possibly a blog on the new job.
- Whatever else I'm cooking in the near future...

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