The last 15 years have seen a steady growth in Hebridean produce. So, as a guide to visitors and local people alike, we have concocted a set of meals created almost entirely using what is produced here on the islands.
While it might prove impractical to accumulate all the ingredients in the course of a single real day, this exercise gives a taste of what is available locally, without recourse to a chain store.
Although suggested sources are provided, there are others: in the case of breakfast eggs, for instance, there are myriad suppliers dotted about the islands of various sorts, from quail to goose, often sold through locally-owned outlets, like garage shops, or butchers.
Full Scottish Cooked Breakfast: Free Range Eggs; Dry-cured Bacon; Sausages; Stornoway Black Pudding; Grilled Tomatoes; Toast; Marmalade
For eggs, you could try: Buna Eggs from North Harris (available at Lewis Crofters, Island Road, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis); or Air An Lot croft eggs from Ness (sold in W J MacDonald Butchers, Francis Street, Stornoway); An Gàrradh Mòr (Kilbride, South Uist); or, on the Isle of Barra, Bùth Bharraigh. That’s to name just a few!
Now, onto the meat! 40 North Foods (North Bragar, West Lewis) make dry-cured bacon from locally-reared pigs (and also have a plethora of other foodstuffs including ham, chorizo and smoked venison).
Next, perhaps your tastebuds will lead you to the shop-made sausages from Macleod & Macleod (Church Street, Stornoway), and W.J. Macdonald (Francis Street, Stornoway), which are often available gluten-free.
Stornoway black pudding could complete the protein package, and is produced by a number of butchers: Charles Macleod Butchers, aka Charley Barley’s, (Ropework Park, Stornoway); Macleod & Macleod (Church Street, Stornoway); W.J. Macdonald (Francis Street, Stornoway); and Alex France Butchers (Westview Terrace, Stornoway).
Locally grown tomatoes are available from market stalls in the summer. The Lewis & Harris Horticultural Producers Association run a stall in Perceval Square (Stornoway) on Fridays and Saturdays, 9am-2pm. A whole host of produce is also available on other islands, for instance, from An Gàrradh Mòr (Kilbride, South Uist), there is: soft fruit - gooseberries, rhubarb, blackcurrants (summer); vegetables and salads - tomatoes, courgettes, carrots, onions, peas in the pod, broad beans, lettuce (summer); and herbs - parsley, chives, fennel, dill, rosemary, sage, basil (summer).
For your toast, try bread from one of the local bakers – for example, there’s Macleans on Benbecula or Stag Bakeries in Stornoway. And nothing beats rich, chunky home-made marmalade. Get some Buna Green Grocery marmalade from the Tarbert market stall (North Harris), which runs on Wednesday afternoons from 2-4pm in the village centre (opposite the Bank of Scotland). Other local jams and preserves are sold by dozens of outlets across the islands – one major venue being the Claddach Kirkibost Centre in North Uist with the Hebridean Kitchen range.
If you don’t fancy a Full Scottish, go for kippers instead…such as those from Stornoway Fish Smokers (Shell Street, Stornoway), the last surviving traditional smokehouse in the islands.
Smoked Salmon Sandwiches with Lettuce and Herbs; Hard-boiled quail eggs; Fresh Peaches; Beer (optional)
You should never be at a loss for smoked salmon in the Outer Hebrides, and the choice of textures and flavours is wide. Uig Lodge smoked salmon won the Speciality Producer of the Year at the 2014 Great Taste Awards, and is available either direct from the lodge or from The Good Food Boutique (Cromwell Street, Stornoway).
Add lettuce and herbs from Brue Salads (10 Brue, West Lewis), or from An Gàrradh Mòr (Kilbride, South Uist); or various occasional market stalls.
Try a different bread this time: The Decca in Lionel (Ness, North Lewis) offers some truly wondrous artisan breads available in the local shop, or to order.
Get your fresh quail eggs from Cristina Morrison of Amhuinnsuidhe (North Harris). They are on sale in the little “honesty shop” at the castle, where you select what you want and pop your money in the box.
Fresh peaches? In the Outer Hebrides? Well, of course! There is only a short season, naturally, but Donald Hope of South Dell (North Lewis) will have glasshouse-grown peaches for you from mid-July. Buy them from his stall in Perceval Square (Stornoway) on a Saturday morning (7.30am-1pm) where you might also get some grapes (at the end of August) and tomatoes, as well as hen’s eggs.
The Hebridean Brewing Company (Stornoway) makes a range of thirst-quenching beers, on sale widely at licensed outlets.
Scones and Jam; Assorted Cakes; Shortbread
The Outer Hebrides are pretty much the baking capital of Britain, with a deeply embedded tradition of home-made bread, cakes and biscuits, which has been transferred into the marketplace without any loss of quality. MacKinnon’s Bakery (Plasterfield, Stornoway) makes a huge range of baked goodies, which you can buy at the bakery or in shops around the islands.
For something a little more homely, take a trip to Tarbert, where on a Wednesday afternoon from 2-4pm the local market stall has scones, teacake, shortbread and biscuits baked by Kathleen MacLeod of Luskentyre (South Harris). If you miss the stall then pop into John Morrison’s Store (AKA Brownie’s) in Tarbert, where he sells Kathleen’s full range, as well as Harris fruit, veg and salad, when available.
For a real treat, try one of the special occasion cakes from Iced Gems of Ness (North Lewis) or some of the dinky little cupcakes made by Karina Murray of Stornoway, which can be purchased in Tong Shop (East Lewis).
And there are other locally-produced ranges available from Claddach Kirkibost Centre in North Uist, and from Bùth Bharraigh in Castlebay.
Moules Marinière; Crusty Bread; Lemon & Garlic Lamb Steaks; New Potatoes; French Beans; Strawberries and Cream; Cheese; Seaweed Biscuits; Whisky; Coffee; Fudge
A feast to finish. You can see mussels growing on their ropes in many seawater lochs around the islands, and they can be bought from several outlets, but try the Stornoway Fisherman’s Coop on King Edward Wharf, where they are available most of the year. For the crusty bread, pick up something scrumptious from 40 North Foods, or a Maclean’s product in Uist.
Island sheep feed on pristine moorland and machair, nibbling wild thyme and sorrel, the odd sprig of heather, wild garlic and angelica, a mix of meadow flowers and even seaweed. As a result, the meat comes richly-seasoned and unequalled in flavour. Buy local lamb from August onwards in many butcher’s shops.
Garlic, onions and lemon are sold fresh by The Veggie Box, at their stall in Perceval Square (Stornoway) every Friday from 8am-3pm and Saturdays from 8am-1pm. There is also a full range of vegetables and fruit available at the ultra-modern Maclennan’s Supermarket in Balivanich. For seasoning, choose Lewis-made Hebridean Sea Salt, available at The Good Food Boutique (Stornoway), and many other outlets.
New potatoes, of several varieties, and French beans are regulars on the local market stalls, where you will find plenty of alternatives if they have sold out. Or you could try the Horshader Community Growing Project in Shawbost and Dalmore (West Lewis), on the west side of Lewis.
Fresh, locally-grown strawberries aren’t as rare as you might imagine on the islands. Get some from The Veggie Box’s stall (Perceval Square, Stornoway) from the middle of June onwards – or from various grocery and garage shops throughout the Islands – as well as An Gàrradh Mòr (South Uist).
For cheese connoisseurs, there is a real treat in store. The Isle of Lewis Cheese Company (Vatisker, Back, East Lewis) is the island’s only artisan cheese-making micro-dairy, and it produces a selection of cheeses, including a new goat’s milk soft variety and a blue cheese. Enjoy them with some Stag Bakery Seaweed Water Biscuits (widely available), made with seaweed harvested from the local shoreline - the perfect partner for such outstanding cheese.
As you settle down after the meal, try one of the whiskies from the Abhainn Dearg distillery (Carnish, Uig, West Lewis). If you have a sweet tooth, try a little Hebridean Toffee from Castlebay, or some Lewis Larder fudge tablet, and finish the evening with a rich cup of peat-smoked coffee from the Hebridean Coffee Company (available to buy from Bùth an Rubha in Point, Tong Community Shop, both in eastern Lewis, and Delights in Stornoway, amongst others).
What a delicious day – and (almost) all of it local.