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Welcome to Scotland

I live in a city with 5 Michelin starred restaurants. Our government has a minister with specific responsibility for food. Our food is exported in large quantities all over the world. Its ties could be closer to France than its nearest neighbour. Where do I live? Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

Over New Year (or Hogmanay as it is called here), the city hosted bloggers from all over the world to promote Edinburgh and Scotland. “Blogmanay” has been a huge success reaching an estimated audience of 80 million! The bloggers all fell in love. Whilst their remit was travel rather than food and drink, they were endlessly curious. “What is the best whisky?” asked a Korean blogger. If you’d asked me when I first moved here 15 years ago, I would probably have said none! Now I am a big fan and truly believe there is a malt for everyone. I answered, “Well, I could make some suggestions, but you need to taste malts from the different regions to see for yourself”.  A couple of days later she’d done that and decided Lowland whiskies were her favourite.

“Where can I eat the best haggis?” asked the blogger from Berlin. Now that’s a little more difficult than you think. Yes, we are coming up to the time of year when we celebrate   and haggis is very much to the fore. But, it’s rarely something you go out to eat specifically. It’s a dish more for the home. You might find it as a starter - one restaurant serves “haggis balls” with a lovely savoury dip, or as haggis pakora (very delicious). What particularly heartened me was that the blogger had no qualms about tasting this delicacy which contains sheep's pluck (heart, liver and lungs), onion, oatmeal, suet and spices and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach encased in a skin) He just wanted to know where he’d find it.

We have much to celebrate here. Our meat is traceable. All lamb and beef labelled as Scottish has to have been born and bred here. We products that have many products Protected Geographical status including Arbroath smokies (smoked haddock) Scottish salmon and Stornoway Black Pudding. More than 20 cheesemakers create fabulous cheeses from tangy blues to soft creamy Crowdie. And many small producers selling fabulous products such as Hebridean Sea Salt, fabulous chilli jams, juices from plants such as sea buckthorn and more. We have many artisan bakeries all over the country and even our own flour from wheat grown in East Lothian.

 

Many a chef has his or own forager and revels in including delicacies such as sea vegetables and fungi on the menu. The provenance of ingredients is paramount and producers name checked wherever possible.

 

Our fabulous whiskies are now joined with fine gins and our innovative bars create cocktail ingredients in house to make these drinks unique.

As for the bloggers? I left them savouring seafood at Ondine restaurant, sated, happy and ready to return. .

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