Western Isles food and drink businesses were well-represented at a glittering event at the British Embassy in Paris on St Andrew’s Day (Thursday 30 November).
On the menu for ambassadors, diplomats and their guests were island treats such as Coquilles Saint Jacques (scallops), Hebridean day boat langoustines from Macduff shellfish, and ‘saumon fumé des Iles Harris et Lewis’ – smoked salmon from the Harris and Lewis Smokehouse.
The discerning palates of the French guests were also tempted by Stag Bakeries oatcakes and the Hebridean Baker’s shortbread and oaties, produced by Stag.
The companies were among half a dozen island foodie enterprises invited to showcase at a St Andrew’s Day evening reception at the British Ambassador’s residence on the Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré, just a few doors away from the Elysée Palace in Paris.
Hosted by the British Ambassador to France, Dame Menna Rawlings, and by Mairi Gougeon, Scottish Government cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands, the evening was co-organised by SDI France and the Scottish Government in France, bringing 350 guests to celebrate the wealth of Scottish island flavours in opulent surroundings.
Island fare was on a huge tasting menu, which paired scallops with ‘boudin noir de Stornoway’ from Charles Macleod – better known to us as Charlie Barley’s Stornoway Black Pudding – and apple chutney from Arran.
Cooked up by kilted chef Craig Wilson, that offering was one of the big draws of the night, with a side tipple of The Hearach or Harris Gin from the Isle of Harris Distillery.
Afterwards, the distinguished guests could enjoy ‘crème citron et gin’ marrying the distinctive flavour of North Uist’s Downpour Gin with the zest of lemon.
Among the islanders in attendance at the event were Isle of Harris Distillery’s Simon Erlanger and Eilidh Macdonald, Charlie Barley’s Shona Macleod and Rona Macdonald and Emma Guild from North Uist Distillery.
Alongside their premium products, the evening showcased the finest food, drink, fashion and textiles from the Scottish Islands, and was aimed at developing relationships and introducing new products to build Scotland’s reputation as a reliable producer of high quality produce.
The event comes just a few months after the British Embassy in Paris sent chefs on a Hebridean fact-finding tour, where they sampled Macduff Shellfish and Harris and Lewis Smokehouse fare – obviously to good effect.
The pictures show young chefs learning from the master, kilted chef Craig Wilson, as he prepares Stornoway black pudding with scallops and Arran chutney (Charles Macleod Butchers), the Downpour stand with Emma Guild (North Uist Distillery), a dram of the Hearach (Isle of Harris Distillery) and island representatives Rona Macdonald, Eilidh Macdonald, Shona Macleod and Simon Erlanger (Charles Macleod Butchers).