A cultural and creative celebration of all things wild and wonderful – the diverse flora and fauna, wild creatures, unique habitats, stunning landscapes, far flung islands, mountains and lochs – that make Scotland, well Scotland, is underway in 2013. And everyone is welcome. Best of all, guests are to be welcomed with a knife, fork and spoon, to tuck into Scotland’s abundant ‘Natural Larder’.
A reflection of Scottish hospitality and raucous, generous, ever-giving natural wilds, events and festivals, complementing regular farmers’ markets, are planned all year to have visitors discover tempting treats and hearty fare. Above all, the spotlight is on locally sourced, fresh and enviable produce, the like to find on Michelin starred menus and on homely wooden tables alike.
Seafood is a speciality in this land of breathtaking seascapes, harbours, fishing grounds and lonely isles. Don’t bother coming home until you’ve tasted Scottish smoked salmon, and also had it fresh. You’ll want to write home about Arbroath Smokies (haddock) long before then. Oyster bars and langoustines to bring tears to a foodie’s eyes complete the widest range of locally sourced sea produce you’re likely to find, brought in as they have been year on year by traditional fishing communities, revelling in the beauty of Scotland’s waters as they work.
Free range and tenderly farmed meat really takes on a meaning of its own with a backdrop of wild Scottish landscapes, there being no better example than perfectly turned haggis, served with nips and tatties, after a day’s adventuring among the habitats of wilder creatures, in the mountains or across the lochs flanked by sweeping deep greens of untamed wilds.
The excellent explorations afforded by food trails abound in this Year of Natural Scotland, with everything from dedicated ‘cheese trails’ to whisky-tasting tours. Foodies and cultural devotees will want to take in these delectable Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb paths, through national parks and over lochs, by paying particular attention to the whisky distilleries and ample opportunities they offer for sipping as you sup. Each whisky is inspired by its local surroundings, matured differently from the Glenlivet to Glenfiddich, the Strathisla to Cardhu. Each as delicious as the next, whether you prefer oak or smoky whiskies, the national nectar is drinking nicely in 2013!
Vegetarians will be revelling in Scotland’s natural bounty too, even in this land of second-to-none local meat and fish produce. The wilderness seems to seep into your carrots in Scotland, with rich, earthy character invested in each bite of fresh veggies. Tender loving care and close attention to environment, born of a cultural love for breathtaking nature, shows right the way through to Scotland’s top restaurants, and through every farmers’ market display.
Pride in natural heritage is no more evident than in Scotland’s natural larder. Wondrous country and celebratory culture you can taste is my kind of culture. What a treat of a feast awaits, as a fitting tribute to a national sensibility rooted in a love of nature and eating good, natural food.