Scotland, the home of the buttery shortbread cookie, Scotch whiskey, rolling hills and some of the freshest seafood I have ever eaten! My life motto is: Will travel for food. So when President’s Choice invited me to discover Scotland with them, a group of foodies, you know I was on board! Coming to Scotland, I had no idea what to expect and completely fell in love with this beautiful country! Over the course of the four days, we visit so many charming towns, saw the most beautiful sights and drank and ate everything in sight. The highlight of the trip was going behind-the-scenes to see where President’s Choice makes the shortbread cookies and fish products that we enjoy here in Canada! I can’t wait to share that in Part Two of Discovering Scotland with President’s Choice!
We flew into Edinburgh and drove through the countryside, taking in breathtaking view after breathtaking view. We visited beautiful distilleries, learned about their rich history, smoked fish over an open fire in Lunan Bay Beach, went fishing in the rocky waters of the North Sea and experienced a tremendous amount of delicious, authentic Scottish fare!
President’s Choice is always cooking up something new and creative, so I was excited to see what innovative products and recipes they were coming up next! I’ve been partnering with PC for the past year to share all of their amazing PC Black Label products and created some recipes for them if you guys want to check them out! Find the recipes here!
St. Andrews, a charming little town that’s home to the famous Old Golf Course and the university where Will and Kate met! It’s located about an hour northeast of Edinburgh where we flew into and we stayed at the Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, that had the most beautiful view of the water and golf course.
Eden Mill Distillery: Blendworks
If you ever get a chance to customize blend your own gin, I would highly recommend it! We spent the afternoon at Eden Mill Distillery to learn how the beloved spirit, Gin, is made. Did you know that gin is technically a flavoured vodka?! We started with a juniper-based spirit, added our own botanicals and other flavour notes depending on what appealed to our palate! I’m partial to fruity and floral notes so I made a lovely blend with cherries, cranberry, strawberry, orange peel, hibiscus and rose petal.. and I have to say, it’s pretty tasty!
The distillery is located on the same property as our hotel, Macdonald Rusacks Hotel, St. Andrews, which overlooked the gorgeous St. Andrews Golf Course.
Lunan Bay Beach
Lunan Bay Beach is a magical place, it’s just outside of Arbroath. With Scotland experiencing low tide, we were able to walk pretty far down the beach to the shore. You can see the cliffs and sand ripples where the water would reach during high tide. We met with a fisherman who took us razor clam digging and set up an open fire right on the beach where we gutted and smoked fresh mackerel. It was such a cool experience, I will never forget this morning.
Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery
Arbikie Highland Estate is a family-owned distillery and a single-site operation. They plant, grow and harvest their barley, potatoes, spices and botanicals to manufacture their “Farm to Bottle” whiskey, gin and vodkas. They are highly focused on minimizing any negative impact on the environment and producing as little waste as possible. They even have cattle on the farm to reduce any “waste” produced from distilling.
We sailed into the open (and extremely rocky) waters of the North Sea for a fishing excursion on an actual fishing boat! I have a fear of being in open water but it was such a beautiful sight sailing away from the coast. The air is so fresh and while the ride was pretty wet, it was a blast, even though our boat didn’t manage to catch any mackerel (the fish of the season).
It’s okay, because I found a pink building! 🙂
The Craigellachie Hotel
The Craigellachie Hotel was built in 1893 (yes, very old) but so charming with it’s 26 rooms. It was one of my favourite hotels, mainly because of the food! (Oh, and this pink room!) We were spoiled with the most delicious Scottish dinner, starting with President’s Choice peat-smoked and oak-smoked Scottish Atlantic Salmon! It was smokey and delicious. (You can find these products at Loblaws)
I’m actually drooling as I share the menu with you!
Pinhead skirlie, chargrilled broccoli, foraged chantrelles, peashoot and pumpkin seeds.
Cullen Skink, a thick Scottish soup made with smoked Haddock, potatoes and onion. Very similar to a clam chowder, just a little thinner.
Whole rainbow trout, smoked garlic and lemon butter with pickled fennel and samphire.
Scottish Highland cheeseboard, oatcakes (MY FAVE) and quince.
Last but not least, the best sticky toffee pudding I have ever eaten.. with salted caramel and a scoop of whiskey ice cream.
The Macallan Distillery
The Macallan Distillery is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and has a reputation for producing the world’s best single-malt whiskies. They recently opened their new distillery just a few months ago (June 2nd 2018) and it is absolutely breathtaking. With their state of the art facility, attention to detail, quality and their rich history, it’s no wonder they’re one of the leading distilleries in Scotland.
The Macallan was the first to introduce the Sherry Seasoned Cask which is a classic Macallan flavour! You can book tours and tasting right at the distillery while enjoying the beautiful view.
Our last nights were spent at the Meldrum House, a beautiful hotel and golf course dating back to the 13th century!! This hotel is rich in history and character and is a mix of old and new and they continue to expand the property. We stayed in the old stable, a building now converted into beautiful rooms with the original structure.
Our farewell dinner was nothing short of spectacular, we started the night off with Patrick McMurray, a fellow Torontonian, who currently holds the Guinness World Record for most oysters shucked in one minute! He ‘s one of the first to experiment with whiskey and oyster pairings and let me tell you, they are delicious together!
Next was our three course dinner, which was so thoughtfully design and deliciously paired with cider and beer pairings.
Left: Seared North Sea Cod and Sutherland’s Langoustine served with foraged sea vegetables and a bisque sauce. Paired with a delicious apple and pear cider from Gordon Castle.
Right: Lone Wolf Cured Portsoy Salmon (gin-cured) with fresh and caramelized grapefruit. Paired with Elvis Juice, a citrusy beer.
Left: Duo of Aberdeenshire Scotch Beef, filet and cheek, served with pearl barley and Glen Garioch jus. Paired with Brewdog Jet Black beer, almost like a stout.
Right: Scottish Cheese Board; Lochnagar Cheddar, Cambus O’May, Auld Reekie (my fave), Ardmore, Clava Brie, Connage Dunlop, Smoked Dunlop (another fave) and Whisky Dunlop. Paired with Glendronach 12 yer Sherry Cask.
I am so grateful for this incredible opportunity. It was such a memorable experience discovering and eating my way through Scotland with the President’s Choice team! If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught a glimpse of some of the Behind the Scenes of how President’s Choice makes their shortbread, the early mornings at Peterhead Fish Market and following the fish to the facility where they create PC’s Scottish Haddock!
Stay tuned for Part TWO of this Scottish food adventure for ALL the Behind the Scenes!