Success all-round for smokehouse and shop

By Eilidh Whiteford

“Appear at the right time and visitors might just get a wee sample straight out of the oven – and that's a rare treat!” says Salar Smokehouse owner Iain MacRury.

Originally established in 1987, Salar Smokehouse was bought by former production manager Iain in 2015, when previous owners Loch Duart Ltd shut down the plant.

Last year saw the business reopen to great success, not only through its internationally recognised Salar Salmon products, but also the expansion of the Smokehouse shop to now house fine crafts and gift-wares by 27 local artisans, including exclusive Hebridean Jewellery ranges.

“The shop has been a success and everything we stock is unique to us,” said Iain. “We make sure we don't carry lines that the other island shops do as we don't want to compete, and it lets us offer something different.”

And this summer new product developments and fish flavours ensure even more mouth-watering treats in store, with the new 'Salar Smokie' – the Uist version of an Arbroath Smokie - and new salmon flavours of Lemon and Black Pepper, Lemon and Tarragon, and Chilli and Lime.

“We make our own rub for the chilli and lime, so you can't get quite the same anywhere else,” Iain said, adding: “And it's going down very well so far.”

Yet there is more, as during the summer a stop-off at Salar Smokehouse could see customers come away with just about anything, as Iain and his team will be smoking whatever fish and shellfish the local boats bring home on the day.

“We'll have smoked scallops in the summer and we'll be doing special smoking's on the day of whatever comes in from the local boats,” Iain said. “It'll be limited and a one-off each day, but it'll be as fresh and as local as it comes!”

For delicious fish, gifts, crafts and much more, a stop at Salar Smokehouse, situated at The Pier in Lochcarnan, is well worth it – especially after the fishing boats have landed! 

 

Scarista House…unforgettable charm by golden beach 

By Elly Welch 

I worry about the homogenization of our hospitality industry - the box ticking, star-ratings-led craze is knocking the quirky corners off everything.  Of course, standards should be good but the creeping absence of difference is cutting out the chance of happy surprises. 

Praise be, then, for Scarista House, sweet hotel and welcomer of souls.  There’s not a beige carpet, spa-bath or scatter pillow in sight at this Georgian Manse turned island-getaway in windswept west Harris.  The wifi is come and go, there’s no TV in the bedrooms and chips aren’t on the menu.  What there is, though, is unforgettable charm and personality.  

I get a skip of excitement approaching its steep, whitewashed walls set proud between the green Harris hills and the golden arc of Scarista beach.   

Read more: Scarista House…unforgettable charm by golden beach 

Fusing local ingredients with world flavours 

By Elly Welch 

It’s not often you find a Michelin-awarded chef cooking up nosh at the local Arts Centre.  But in Stornoway, it’s absolutely true.   

Kenny MacKay, new head chef at An Lanntair, is taking dining at Stornoway’s creative hub to new levels.  And his magic ingredient?  Keeping it local. 

“We have wonderful ingredients in the Islands ,” said Kenny, former head chef at Glasgow’s Michelin Bib Gourmand Awarded all-Scottish eatery , Stravaigin.  “I want to celebrate that with simple, fresh dishes full of flavour that are both memorable and affordable.”  

Kenny was born in London but visited island relatives during school holidays.  He didn’t train as a chef until his twenties when, after finishing a degree in Risk Management, he found that he was happiest cooking.  A decade later he was top of his game but, as a new dad, was finding the 80-hour weeks tough going.  He and his wife, also a chef, decided to change lifestyle and move to his ancestral home, Lewis.   

Read more: Fusing local ingredients with world flavours 

Tiny but power-packed…the Hebridean Tea Store 

By Elly Welch 

“Thanks for the lovely smells!” calls the gentleman just leaving.  He’s not being ironic.  It smells delicious in the Hebridean Tea Store.  Like Christmas, and candy, with a whiff of continental sophistication swirled in.   

“He was having a sniff of my new Machair tea,” explains owner Sabine Weiten, balancing precariously on a chair to replace it.  “Its my own blend, heather and cornflowers.”  She swirls the caddy under her own nose.  “Magical,” she breathes. 

It would be wrong to apply the ‘Tardis’ cliché to this tiny specialist tea emporium, for The Hebridean Tea Store, which raises a cup to three years trading this month, looks wee and really is.   

But big character Sabine, from near Cologne in Germany, has somehow turned its few square metres into a vortex of choice and flavours.  She’s even managed to fit in a table and chairs - part of the window display, nestled amongst the teapots. 

Read more: Tiny but power-packed…the Hebridean Tea Store 

Challengers in the black pudding race…

By Eilidh Whiteford

It may be Willie John's that takes your fancy...or is Charley Barley's the one for you?

Perhaps the Macleod & Macleod offering is what will tempt you the most...

Or you prefer to wander further afield to Cross Stores in the north or A.D. Munro's in the south...

What are we talking about? Black Pudding of course!

World famous, Stornoway Black Pudding hit the headlines around ten years ago when it came under threat of imposters – puddings labelled as Stornoway but made outside the Western Isles.

Coming together, Stornoway's long-standing family butchers – including W.J MacDonald, Charles MacLeod Ltd, and Macleod & Macleod – applied to the EU in 2009 in a bid to gain Protected Geographical Indicator of Origin (PGI) status for the traditional Stornoway product.

Read more: Challengers in the black pudding race…