14 Aug 2011

BBC Radio 4 Food Programme

Was delighted and chuffed to meet one my food heroes, Sheila Dillon, of Radio Four's iconic Food Programme. Lucky that Sheila, and producer Maggie Ayres, arrived on one of those idyllic, fresh but balmy days that only these Atlantic facing islands can muster.

The focus was on the Scottish Government's first ever National Food Policy, and how it had translated into action on the ground. Changing Scotland's diet is still a challenge, but the changes in government thinking have been enlightening to say the least. Scotland's food reputation is, to me, one of the key elements in changing our food culture. 

Five a day has its place, but I'm not sure it's all that inspiring. Better to take chilren to the seashore, and collect some mussels then cook them over a beach campfire; organise a school trip to a working farm and collect some freshly laid eggs; grow tomatoes on the window sill and smell the ripeness before biting into their sweet, bursting juiciness. Then, perhaps, allow yourself a treat of traditional handmade Scottish tablet from Isle of Skye Fudge!

Listen again at Radio Four Food Programme

31 Jul 2011

Different perspective of food culture

Having only ever visited Turkey as a tourist in 1990, it was with trepidation that I set off to South Eastern Anatolia in this captivating country of contrasts, from the cosmopolitan cities of Istanbul and Ankara in the north, to the Mediterranean beaches and pine forests of the west, and the south eastern borderlands of Syria, Iran and Iraq.

For me, food tourism consultant but also hands on chocolatier and traditional Scottish tablet maker, my life revolves around food, provenance and taste perceptions. It is the core of all our lives; it binds people together; it is the common denominator, and the ultimate life giver.

The best meals were often those set in the simplest settings, closest to the people who cooked and served them. There are still solid links between people and land in Gaziantep, unlike the UK, where it can be so far removed from everyday life that some children have never seen cattle grazing in a field, don’t live in a house where food is chopped or cooked.

To promote food tourism there needs to be a bringing together of the social, economic, environmental and health benefits of locally produced food. In Gaziantep, it happens as simply and assuredly as the rhythms of life itself, and we only touched the surface of its strong beating heart.

Read the full report
Gaziantep 2011

15 May 2011

Isle of Skye Chocolate

Gosh, hard to believe over a year has gone by without updating my blog! So much has happened, mainly taking over local chocolate company, Vanilla Skye, and rebranding as Isle of Skye Chocolate at the end of 2009. It was a classic case of 'just because you know one business inside out, doesn't mean you will know another'. And, even with my background in local food, marketing and economic development, it was a big leap of faith and a steep learning curve.

o many things to consider...how to temper chocolate, devising new recipes with a local/Scottish theme, ingredients lists (for twelve yummy chocolates), design labels, build new website, work out shelf life and tasting (that was at least a bonus!). So, we decided on sea-salted caramel in rich milk chocolate (my personal favourite), Scottish honey & toasted oatmeal in a smooth silky white chocolate, raspberry & balsamic in intense 70% dark chocolate, and nine more sublime tasting chocolates to tempt the taste buds.

Now up and running, the website
www.chocolateskye.co.uk is taking online orders - hope to see you there to find out what else is in the box!

8 May 2011

Being part of better

First ever time on the campaign trail...knocking on doors, answering questions and sharing a passionate belief in a better future for Scotland. A wet and windy Portree left me drookit, followed by an enjoyable afternoon in Dunvegan leafleting with Cllr. Renwick and Dave Thompson MSP, then a hilly circuit of Kyle of Lochalsh (that showed me how unfit I was!), and finally, a sunny evening before election day on my own homeground of Harlosh, Feorlig, Balmeanach, Caroy and Ose.

Spent polling day as an observer going around the villlage hall voting stations, collapsing exhausted but exhilirated, into bed at midnight. Woken up at three, with a call from my sons and friend needing a taxi home. The only thing that saved them from a bollocking were the amazing, historic election results filtering through on the car radio, and changing the map of Scotland to a gorse bloomed landscape. Never in my wildest dreams did I dare to imagine such a turnaround, from minority government to overall majority, with a referendum firmly on the agenda at last. But in my heart, I should have known that all we needed was a voice, and the people have spoken.


Music & Lyrics by Dougie MacLean.

For too long we’ve heard them laughing at our dreams
Ridicule our reasons and blind ignoring what it means
For too long we have believed the walls they made
But now we see a shining light and we are not afraid.

When the people speak it’s not with corporate lies
It’s not with indecision, no, or academic bows and ties
When the people speak it thunders through these hills
It’s not a thing that’s mild and meek,
when the people speak.

There’s a fear that’s made to keep us in our place
Pacify our anger and justify our fool disgrace
There’s a fear made to destroy and to degrade
But now we see a shining light and we are not afraid.

Published by Limetree Arts and Music.