Eating Islay


For a week this summer, we had the company of some exciting talents in wild food and drink.

They brought with them their experience from establishments such as Noma, Maemo, L’Enclume, White Lyan and The Ledbury. Also their own businesses promoting progrssive cuisine, Buck and Birch, and Fallachan dining.

These chefs, with our friend and forager Mark Williams, collaborated on a memorable meal that articulated the time of year and the offerings of this place. This is what we ate.

Starter, cured meat platters to share.

Antipasti alla Islay, an Islay charcuterie – haggis salami, Greylag goose ham, Serrano roe deer ham, pickled dandelion capers from Buck and Birch stocks, and fermented cherry blossom.

Octomore sourdough, a natural ferment of super-heavily peated Octomore malts. To creator, chef Craig Grozier, ‘The Octomore bread is, I think, basically, the smell of the distillery. The smell of Octomore malts is amazing eaten warm with pollock butter. Basically, smoked pollock caught on Wednesday off Port Ellen, smashed into butter.’

Drink, served on a shell

A palette cleanser before the fish course, created by Ally Kelsey, venue manager at White Lyan, Hoxton, and his sometime colleague there (our lady in London) Abi Clephane.

A mixture of The Botanist and fig leaf cordial, pineapple weed, and sea succulents coriander grass and scurvey grass, plus apple cider for a bit of sharpness. With pepper dulse and sea salt sprinkles.

By way of introduction to the original serve, Abi comments, ‘It’s just down in one like an oyster but you’re gonna spill it down yourself because that’s what scallops are all about.’

Rockpool Soup

By James Forrest and Mark Williams

Hand-dived scallops, five seaweeds (including sea noodles, sea lettuce, sea spaghetti, pepper dulse), Dashi broth (from funghi, pollock, seaweeds), sea sandwort and sea campion flowers to garnish. You can choose to eat the scallops raw, or to submerge them in the broth to lightly poach.

According to Mark, ‘It’s a celebration of a celebration of the plants of Islay and the scallops of Islay. After the trip on the fishing boat yesterday where we caught the scallops, and some fish, we’d gone across a headland and there were some amazing coastal succulent plants growing out of cliffs…’


(Craig Grozier) Wild garlic and tansy focaccia. ‘Wild garlic that’s been fermenting for about a year.’


foraged cocktail 'Islay Green'

It’s fresh, it’s green, it’s floral.

Salad plate and ‘Islay Green’ cocktail

By Rupert Waites, forager and supplier, creator of Aelder, and co-owner Buck and Birch.

Smoked courgettes, samples of Islay House Community Garden flowers and wild plants, goats cheese, buttermilk and tarragon yoghurt.

Rupert introduced it, ‘Can I just explain a little bit about this dish, to tell everybody, that half the credit lies with Tom here.  And the incredible garden you discover when you open that door. It’s fresh, it’s green, it’s floral. We’ve got some courgettes which are pretty early really for this far north, we’ve roasted them with peat and done them with sorrel from The Academy garden. And it’s just fresh and palate cleansing and incredibly good for you.’

‘Green’ is a coastal twist on the lettuce-based cocktail on the White Lyan drinks menu. Made with equal parts The Botanist (infused with sea sandwort, lemon balm, and coastal succulents) and seasonal shrub (with sweet cicely and bronze fennel). Mixed with soda and an egg white in a thermomix, garnished with sea aster and sea campion flowers.

Drink, Beeswax Old Fashioned

Abi Clephane: ‘This is an Old Fashioned, made with Bruichladdich. We’ve used a burnt butter syrup then we’ve stored it in beeswax lined bottles which gives it an extra texture. It gives a velvety texture in the inside of your mouth and a waxy finish. So it’s just an Old Fashioned with a different texture.’


By Leo Pereira. Seared roe deer, with peated barley, dead man’s fingers (seaweed), Scots lovage.


Homemade pineapple weed ice cream with malted flour, rye flour and brown liquor crumb, milk foam with some sea lettuce, lavender and mint.

Says creator Philippa Marsden, ‘It’s partly weeds that we weeded out of the garden!’

With special thanks to Craig at Fallachan Dining for bringing together such a group for this flavour adventure with us. Watch a short film of the week here [link]

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