Sunday, December 28, 2014

Scottish Cuisine: Much More Than Haggis And Oats!

Connoisseurs Scotland Member Hotels Offer Innovative Dining Experiences and Upscale Cuisine

As VisitScotland, the national tourism office for the country, prepares to celebrate the “Year of Food and Drink” in 2015, Scottish cuisine is hitting new heights. Gone is the notion that dining in Scotland equals bland—and potentially unappetizing—meals of haggis, oats and puddings of questionable origins. Instead, chefs across the country—including those at several of Connoisseurs Scotland’s family of luxury properties—are gaining notoriety for using the bounty of the country’s produce, seafood and meats to create innovative, complex and –most importantly –delicious food that’s elevating the very idea of Scottish cuisine.

    The recent “locavore” food trend—cooking and eating food that is locally sourced rather than flowngreat distances to a grocer—isn’t just booming in the United States. At theTorridon Hotel, located in the Scottish Highlands, head chef David Barnett creates sophisticated dishes from almost exclusively local produce and meats. In fact, Barnett cites Scotland’s natural produce as one of his greatest inspirations, and it shows … his seasonal menus, updated daily, are always filled with the best ingredients from this verdant area. “There’s something special about personally knowing the producers, gardeners, hunters, farmers, and fishermen that supply the ingredients to my kitchen door,” says Chef Barnett. “Knowing how much passion and effort they put into what they do helps me translate my passion onto the plate for our guests.” The restaurant’s kitchen garden offers a superb crop of apples, blackberries, raspberries, potatoes and carrots most of the year as well as a wide selection of herbs. Much of the meat used in Barnett’s kitchen comes from Torridon Farm, located on the estate, which raises Highland cattle and Tamworth pigs.

    A highly interactive dining experience is on the menu at One Square in the Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in downtown Edinburgh. “Dining at the Pass” puts guests in the heart of One Square’s busy kitchenand offers an exclusive opportunity to watch the chefs apply the finishing touches to the dishes just before they are served. This special table, which accommodates up to four guests, is set adjacent to the “Pass”—the main point of communication between front of house and the kitchen, manned by Executive Chef Craig Hart—so dinner takes place behind the scenes, rather than in the main restaurant. Diners have the opportunity to interact with the chefs as they work, learn insider foodie tips, ask questions about the dishes and enjoy the buzz of a vibrant kitchen. Five- and seven-course chef’s menus are available at the Pass, giving diners a taste of authentic Scottish dishes like marinated highland venison with pickled baby vegetables and warm chocolate pudding with marinated cherries, clotted cream ice cream and chocolate “soil.” The full a la carte menu is also available at the Pass.

    Dining at Chez Roux at the Cromlix, a luxury hotel in Perthshire owned by tennis superstar Andy Murray, is a grand culinary experience that is not necessarily confined to the dining room. Guests canalso opt to dine in the intimate study, which seats up to 10; the elegant snooker room, which can accommodate 20; and the lovely garden room for parties up to 28. The restaurant, overseen by the legendary French chef Albert Roux and run by award-winning executive head chef Darin Campbell, is housed in a glass-walled conservatory overlooking the grounds, offering diners a ringside view of the chefs at work in the extensive open kitchen. With a focus on local and seasonal ingredients, the menu at Chez Roux offers an interesting interplay between traditional Scottish and decidedly international flavors. The Latin inspiration seen in the treacle cured Loch Duart salmon with compressed melon and tequila and the Asian flair of the hot Gressingham duck pancake with pickled carrots, broad beans and spiced orange dressing allow guests to enjoy the best of global and local flavors.

    Connoisseurs Scotland's collection of 28 luxury accommodations includes city-center properties; country house hotels; exclusive-use properties; the ultimate luxury train, The Royal Scotsman; and the only cruise ship in the world with a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen, The Hebridean Princess. Six of the members boast Michelin-starred restaurants, including the only two-starred restaurant in Scotland, which is found at Gleneagles. 

    Information on Connoisseurs Scotland, its member resorts, partners and special offers can be found at In addition travelers can download the Luxury Scotland app, which provides news and offers from members, onto their iPhones or Droids.

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