Mandy’s been on location this week, not behind the camera this time but in front. Yes, she’s going to be on the telly. She’ll be blogging about it when she gets back. Meantime I’ve been having a damp old time in the Scottish Highlands.
The high roads and the low roads were awash. Lashed by rain that went on for days. Streams turned into torrents and torrents into waterfalls. It was a week of darkening skies, rain, sunshine and rainbows – beautiful and gothic.
Serious walking was out so we ate like kings – what else was there do in that sort of weather? We tucked into herrings in oatmeal and just-caught langoustine at the Plockton Hotel. There was simple but superb grilled halibut and new potatoes at the one-room Loch Bay restaurant at Stein on the Isle of Skye, followed up by almond cake with citrus syrup. Just the job when the wind is ripping off the roof tiles.
But our meal of the week, possibly of the year was at the famous Three Chimneys a lovely whitewashed old croft at the very top end of Skye, all low key, laid back style with rough walls and seagrass floors, but with a sharp professional edge. It’s run by Eddie and Shirley Spear, an exiled Scot, who came here 25 years ago from Croydon and with no restaurant experience, just the ambition to offer exceptional Scottish hospitality which they have been doing ever since.
The food is sophisticated with Scottish sensibilities. You’ll find upmarket haggis and neeps (turnip or swede, they’re still arguing) and lots of lovely local meat and fish on the menu cooked by chef Michael Smith now that Shirley Spears has stepped back from the stove.
We ate splendidly off the £37 three course lunch menu. Dinner comes in at £60 and the Scottish showcase menu a whacking £85 but when you’ve travelled six hours from Glasgow, twelve hours from London, well, what the hell.
We had a ‘what the hell’ moment when it came to the £10 supplement for the seafood platter. It was, a stunning plate of Scottish seafood: oysters, langoustines, marinated mussels, scallops, potted crab and a little shot glass of Dunvegan winkles. We followed it with Skye lamb and miniature neeps, haggis, tattie (potato) scones and good gravy and to finish a comforting warm marmalade pudding with Drambuie custard.
Worth it? Of course it was. The food, the wine the service were spot on, the rain held off and even the sun came out. Through the window we could watch the gannets wheeling and diving over a glistening loch and it was easy to believe we were in the loveliest spot in the world.