Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2017

The spotlight shone on the north of Scotland’s best chefs, eating places, food companies, breweries and distilleries on Friday, October 20 at the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2017

 

“It’s been an amazing year for food and drink in the Highlands & Islands,” said Willie Cameron, Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards Ambassador 2016. “We are excelling ourselves with fantastic products from iconic areas – keep up the good work!”

And the good work was very much on show at the awards evening, which was held at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness. The event began with a drinks reception where a fabulous craft beer brewed by Lossiemouth’s Windswept Brewing Company, The Wolf of Glen Moray, was on offer alongside the more traditional fizz!

Our compere for the evening was none other than Jay Rayner, one of the UK’s most highly regarded restaurant critics – and he can’t fail to have been impressed by the dinner served by Kingsmills’ first class kitchen team. Tiny eggshells filled with spiced pumpkin crème brûlée, venison tartare and one of the best desserts I’ve ever scoffed – Green Apple and Mint Parfait with posh puff candy.

I’m still not convinced about the main course of grilled cod fillet and pork cheeks in gravy, however, with only a slither of mashed sweet potato keeping the two apart. Call me a philistine but I prefer my surf-and-turf to involve prawns and steak!

 

Awards For Excellence

 

The very slick awards ceremony concluded with two special awards – the Excellence Award and the Ambassador of the Year Award. Having already experienced the taste sensation of Tomatin 14-year-old chocolate-covered fudge, I was only too happy to join in with the cheering when Jay Rayner named Tomatin Distillery the “Hugely well-deserved winners” of the Excellence Award 2017 at the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2017.

Next – Ambassador of the Year Award 2017, a hugely prestigious accolade which was presented to John Scott of Fearn Farm in Easter Ross.

“As Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards Ambassador 2017, I want to promote the very best of the Highlands & Islands,” said John, whose family have been farming at Fearn for four generations. “Tourism is booming – we need to be ready.”

And with that, it was time for one of the most hotly-anticipated parts of the evening – the unveiling of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards’ legendary Cheese Table! Groaning with the finest of cheeses from Highland Fine Cheeses in Tain, oatcakes from Orkney oatcake specialists Stockans and after-dinner drams courtesy of Tomatin Distillery, what a fabulous way to end an evening celebrating the excellent food and drinks of the Highlands & Islands.

 

Special thanks my table partners The Windswept Brewing Company and Stacks Coffee House and Bistro from John O’Groats for their excellent company on a great night!

 

The team from Stacjs Coffee House and Bistro

 

The formidable kitchen team!

 

Pictures: Callum Mackay