When Terroir Strikes!

IN

Central to my philosophy in all my cooking is an extreme focus on locality and seasonality.

The French refer to this approach as ‘ terroir ’ in their wine making; for me this means that ‘all things which are hunted, gathered, grown, foraged, farmed, fermented from the same place will have a natural affinity with each other.’

My own reasoning to this approach was down to two key things: the first and foremost being that if you follow this ethic, taking care of the ingredients and respecting the natural flavours you find, you will ultimately have to do very little to get an incredible dish.

Secondly, I believe you can only achieve a fresh, natural flavour from plants and animals that have been picked or killed the same day from your surrounding environment. This also eliminates the need to transport ingredients, which even though chilled, could diminish en route and would have to be purchased a few days prior to cooking. This would of course have been the easy option but it goes against everything I stand for.

Winter foragers

Affectionately our Gallic cousins called the Brits ‘Rosbif’  (Noun- Rosbif (plural – rosbifs) (humorous); a British person, as viewed by the French)

This general thought-process has been a natural part of the lives of our Mediterranean and mainland European brothers and sisters for as long back as can be recorded, to the point that us Brits are generally scoffed at by them for loosing our culinary way so badly.

Affectionately our Gallic cousins called the Brits ‘Rosbif’  (Noun- Rosbif (plural – rosbifs) (humorous); a British person, as viewed by the French). I assume in their minds this is in regards to the generally stagnate and minimal selection of food and regional dishes found in the UK.

As we all love the banter I can appreciate this, but if there’s one thing I have learnt from my travels around the continents, it is that the produce we have here in Scotland is second to none. There is one particular memory from my travels that sticks out…

Once during a trip to Tokyo, roaming around the sprawling Tsukiji Fish Market we stumbled across an incredible abundance of huge, live Scottish langoustines and scallops. Funnily enough it seems, I soon realised that these are the same langoustines and scallops that I could find off the coast of Islay. The fact that I have been presented with an opportunity where shellfish can be fished out of the water in the morning and be into the kitchen in the afternoon is gastronomical gold.

The more I visit Islay, the more I am discovering that this is only one example of the amazing fresh, wild and harvested produce available on the island. It therefore wasn’t long before I was meeting and getting to know the people and the stories behind Islay’s produce, finding myself at the beginning of another chapter of my own journey in support of a true Scottish culinary uprising.

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