The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Skye - the infinite

If you were afraid of suffering the heat in Italy during the Summer, you can be sure this won't happen in Scotland. Never. I left the laundry to dry outside on a sunny day and three hours later it was still wet. Scary.

But of one thing you can be sure. The breathtaking views. The complete quietness, almost stillness, that embraces you; and the simplicity of every day activity.

We had three days on the Isle of Skye before heading to our new "wee hoos" in Aberdeen. I do not think the temperature ever reached the twenties but it was only partially cloudy, even sunny at times. And when those few glimpses of sun do appear, everything looks so majestically glorious that you almost understand why it is given in small doses. You do seriously start to appreciate it.

I have never thought of myself as being a "landscape, countryside" person, but more a "city -girl" - people, buildings, markets, squares, shops, and streets are my real kind of thing. However, I changed my opinion when I hit Skye. Depth and intensity are the words that jump up to my mind.

It is a shame that the entire Britain is not recognized abroad for its culinary wonders. But I think a lot of it is due to the fact that Brits, English, Scottish, Welsh etc, are too modest. Strange, true, if you think they owned (at some point) half the globe. If you talk to them it seems they never have anything good. Everyone else has everything better - better food, better drinks, better landscapes, better weather, better men...and the list could go on.

I frankly think it is a bit of false modesty. Take Scotland for example: the number of good dishes and local food is reasonably high. Skye is perhaps an exception. They seem proud of what they have and they display it whenever possible.

Fish and seafood is the food par excellence on Skye. Hand-dived scallops, crabs, oysters, langoustines are the daily bread for the islanders. As I love scallops and I would devour them at any opportunity (and they were also considerably cheaper than here) we had them on a number of occasions.

The best were "with a hazelnut crust". But also with black pudding or seared with whisky were exceptionally good. Whisky gives them a slight smoky flavour. They were so big and fleshy that almost tasted of meat. Mind the spelling: whisky without the e is Scottish, with the e is Irish and American! English don't have their own spelling...

Scallops with hazelnut crust

12 scallops
2-3 tbsp butter
a glass of white wine
150ml double cream
1 handful of fresh thyme
75g chopped hazelnuts
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg

Melt the butter and then add the thyme and cream. Separately sear the scallops on high heat for only a minute until almost cooked. Add the wine and let it evaporate.

Toss the scallops in the mixture of chopped hazelnut and breadcrumbs. Move them to the pan with the cream and on high heat cook them for another minute.

Grate the nutmeg, and season with salt and paper.

This dish is also one of the special dishes that the "Three chimneys" serves. This restaurant has become such a landmark on the entire island (ok fair enough, the island is not that big!) that many other restaurants serve it.

Traditionally it was seared with whisky and served with samphire. If you like this is a very nice alternative. Also they come with tattie scones, flat potato cakes simply made with mash potatoes and flour and cooked in a pan with a bit of butter. (Effectively like gnocchi...).


  1. Nice post - beautiful pictures, you have such a great eye for details and really give the spirit of the place! Can't wait to go back to Skye; even in the rain it is a special place.
    Looking forward to the next post!

  2. Thank you!! I really appreciate your kind comments. Yes I agree, Skye is beautiful no matter what the weather looks like...

    Next post - Montpellier! Watch this space...

  3. Love the colours of your photos! From dark grey to light blue, off white and purple. The entire Scotland is probably an amazing source of inspiration I bet!

  4. Thank you for your kind words! Yes Scotland is truly amazing. And it doesn't even rain that much!

  5. Lovely pic! And lovely blog....