The Foragers – Our Menu

This week The Puffer welcomes the return to Easdale of ‘The Foragers’ from St Albans. George and Richard came to Easdale last year to work with Duncan from Slate Islands Seaweed, a local business offering Seashore forages, and a font of seaweed knowledge. Together they are offering a lucky few a Scottish Islands Adventure, a weekend of foraging and exploring our wonderful Island home.

Our Chef; Des has for many years foraged his own food for both a pastime with his family and within his restaurant menus. Many of Easdale’s plants, flowers, berries and more can be found featuring on our menus regularly. Des has created menu’s specifically showcasing foraged foods, and seaweeds too. Now the benefits of eating seaweed are becoming more widely known and talked about putting ‘pepper dulse’ on a menu sparks interest and excitement, rather than fear of the unknown!

Des has created a menu specifically for a group of forages Richard and George have bought to Easdale for them to enjoy, within the menu he has included some of the seaweed foraged by Duncan from Slate Islands Seaweed alongside some of our best and most popular local suppliers. Everything on this menu has been made by Des and we know it will be enjoyed!

A duo of canapés

Crab and Pepper Dulse Brulee with Seaweed Pesto Crusted Focaccia

Atlantic Braised Kilbride Farm Mutton Shank on Barley and Sea Spaghetti Risotto

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Scottish Gin Ice Cream and Easdale Bramble and Bitter Lemon Coulis

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Ridiculous Easdale Bake Off

The Ridiculous Easdale Bake Off

#REBO

Get your oven gloves out, and your aprons on! We challenge YOU to take part in the Ridiculous Easdale Bake Off at The Puffer #REBO

The Puffer Bar is hosting a series of baking challenges that will result in the best Easdale Baker being crowned.

Hosted by  Davie Cakes (Dave Gilroy), and judged anonymously by Mr Kripling (Des) and Bramble Berry  (Keren). So don’t show them your entries!

There are 5 challenges that will lead up to the final week where the bakers will present to the judges a technical challenge, and a show stopper. This competition is open to all. Between now and March the following challenges are set:

Round 1. Saturday 28th October – BISCUIT

12 Biscuits of your choice, sweet or savoury but must have a Halloween theme.

Round 2. Sunday 19th November – CAKE

No more than 3 tiers, a celebration cake for Des’ birthday.

Round 3. Sunday 17th December – FESTIVE TREAT

Open to your creativity – as long as the theme is festive/Christmas.

Round 4. Sunday 21st January – PASTRY

Sweet or Savoury

Round 5. Sunday 18th February – BREAD

A single loaf or 6 bread rolls. Sweet or Savoury.

Final – Sunday 25th March

TBC

The cakes/bakes will need to arrive at The Puffer at 3pm on the day of judging. Judging will be anonymous. Laura will be on hand to see you right!

The Rules:

£2 entry fee per person per week (All proceeds go to Argyll Animal Aid) Everyone welcome to come along and watch the judging, and have a taste once judging is over (donations to charity welcome!)

One entry per person per week

Enter at least 4 categories for a chance to go through to the final – your 4 highest scores will count if you enter all 5.

Top 4 Bakers will make the final

Each week you will be judged on – Appearance, Flavour, Texture and Innovation. 5 points are available for each.

One bonus point will be available each week for the hosts pick.

Judges word = Final

 

Overal Prize to be crowned the Rediculous Easdale Baker.

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Easdale Bramble Jam.

 

We’re lucky on our piece of wild Scotland, we’ve an abundance of wild brambles.  What better way to have a taste of Easdale all year round that with a jar of ‘Easdale’ Bramble jam, made with our juiciest blackberries. You’ll see us as soon as the brambles begin to appear collecting as many as we can to give us an annual stock of these delicious little berries. This year seems to be a bumper year: the right mixture of rain (there has been plenty) and sunshine – remember a few sunny days?! We’ve been collecting berries for a good few weeks now, and often see our friends and fellow islanders out collecting too – there are lots to go around.

Bramble Jam is available to buy from The Puffer Tearoom, or for delivery if you’re not able to visit us.

There are lots of wild foods to be foraged on Easdale, and despite our precarious location on the edge of The Atlantic our allotments do very well too – apples, rhubarb, tomatoes, potatoes and more are grown here every year by us islanders. Des, our chef has been inundated with home grown foods this year which is great for his creative streak. He’s been gifted apples, fennel, parsley and tomato so next time you visit we might just have an Easdale grown product on our menu.

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Wee Isles Dairy

One of our new suppliers for this year is Wee Isles Dairy, we get milk and small tubs of ice-cream from them. A family business producing delicious creamy ice cream in a range of lovely Scottish inspired flavours from their dairy herd on the Isle of Gigha, also supplying us with the most delicious gold topped milk, reminding everyone who tries it of their childhood, when the milk man would deliver you a glass bottle of milk, and you’d fight over the cream! (Well we would anyway!)

It’s great to be able to use this product in our own Island kitchen, but also to be able to sell the milk to fellow islanders and friends. They simply return the glass bottle to us, and we return it to Gigha for it to be reused! A great ethos – especially since its Zero Waste Week! #zerowasteweek

One of our favourite, and most popular dishes to make using Wee Isles dairy milk is Des’ wonderful Fish pie, featuring on out menu this weekend for Scottish Food Fortnight! #scotfoodfort

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The ice creams, well, it was only right we sampled every flavour! We all had different favourites, Mocha, Raspberry, Bramble and Whisky and good old Vanilla were up there for us. One of the younger Island residents took a liking to the strawberry this summer, and came in as often as pocket money would enable him, and the chocolate went down well with our customers too.

Its great when you find a small, Scottish producer, who has the same ethos as you do, who you can support and promote. We’re really glad to be able to stock these products from one small island to another. We’re also really glad to have a coffee with Gigha milk, and an ice cream after a long day in a hot kitchen!!!

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C4r Fest for BBC Children in Need

We’re off to Laverstone Park Farm on the 25th to the 27th August with 100’s of jars of our best and favourite preserves. We’ve been preserving day and night to ensure we’re bringing the best quality jars full of jams and chutneys to Hampshire.

You’ll find a slice of Scotland in the Best Of British tent! We will have all the award winning products available at a special show price, and we will be launching our ‘Wee Three’. The Wee Three is a gift packet of our 3 favourite sweet preserves, Rhubarb Vanilla and Seabuckthorn Jam, Summer Berry Jam and Whisky Marmalade, presented in a bow wrapped bag.

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We will also have our Puffer gift bags, in sweet and savoury available. These are proving popular as gifts – so get thinking who you’ll need to buy a unique and tasty gift for!

Keren and Mike will be camping, so will be in search of a good coffee each morning, and a tasty lunch to keep them going! Any recommendations are greatly received!

http://www.carfest.org/welcome/welcome-to-carfest-south

Our Bespoke Furniture

This year the Puffers tea room and restaurant is having a re-vamp, to go alongside our new bench seating that was fitted at the beginning of the year we’re having bespoke, handmade tables and chairs made. You’ll see these tables and chairs creeping in and replacing our trusty old ones gradually throughout this year.

Mike MacKenzie, a craftsman living and working on Easdale Island is masterminding for us a completely unique range of tables and chairs, each chair is lovingly designed, crafted and created, and forms part of a set together with a beautiful table. Each table is made to lock into the next one, so that we can extend the functionality of them when we have large groups of people booking into the restaurant. Mike’s career has been in building houses, doors and windows, he’s been a successful MSP and his path has naturally graduated towards building furniture “Making furniture has kept me sane while I grappled with the ever increasing bureaucracy that appended itself to house building”

The restaurant now showcases 2 tables, and 6 chairs already in use in the tearoom, they grab the attention of locals and tourists alike, and have really begun to lift the atmosphere. The chunky, tactile and beautiful chairs provide conversation, a comfortable place to enjoy a coffee or dinner, and a wow factor when you walk into the small restaurant space.

We asked Mike a few questions about his work, and inspiration. Mike refers me to the book he is currently in the process of writing, a book about a passion of boat building (although he points out he is yet to build this dream – But he will, no doubt with determination and knowledge)

Q. Where does your love for woodwork and craft come from?

An extract from Mike’s book: “When I was young, joiners cut roofs, made windows and doors and staircases, built partitions, laid floors…They were competent across the whole range of joinery tasks required in house building…Many of them were craftsmen, with mind and body…men with magical hands…The true craftsman benefits greatly from his work.”

Q. Tell us about your inspiration and making pieces for individuals?

“Who knows where the inspiration for individual pieces comes from – Life I expect. Ideas and experiences are absorbed and then pop out of my subconscious. If I am making a piece for someone I like to know a little bit about them…Almost always some idea pops into my mind, I wish I understood this more.”

Q. How can people get in touch to order from you?

“People can get in touch via my email address – coalree@zoho.com

Once I’ve finished the work for the puffer I’ll work on a website.”

Mike’s workshop is situated in the heart of Easdale Island, the old Coalree building, built in the 19th century to house an engineering workshop and stables. The Coalree still houses the bell that would have called the Quarry workers to let them know it was 5 minutes until the start or end of the day. Mike is often there, and enjoys a chat to locals and tourists alike. Mike’s bespoke furniture comes highly recommended from The Puffer!

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Championing Crab, Lobster, Squats and Squid

The fifth in it’s series of championing local supplier events was Crab, Lobster, Squat Lobster and Squid with local fisherman Neil MacQueen. Neil fishes locally in The Firth of Lorn, which is a special area of conservation, where dredging is not permitted. As a result of this promotion of sustainable fishing the waters are clean, clear and full of life. Neil spoke about how the business of fishing has changed, and how he runs his boat. He explained the demand for the shelfish he catches is great, and that it’s fantastic to be able to supply local restaurants with his catch. He went on to tell us that squid and squat lobster are a by catch, but to be able to sell them to the puffer means that everything he catches has a value and helps keep local fishermen fishing.

The canape’s were tempura squid, and squat lobster sesame toasts, both of which were little delights to start the meal, everyone was left wanting more, and looking forward to the next course. The menu followed:

Starter – Easdale Crab ‘Cake’ with foraged flowers & rapeseed oil dressing
Intermediate – Lobster, Asparagus & Squat Lobster Tail Terrine with a cold Atlantic Broth with seaweed & watercress puree
Main – Baked Seafood Paella with an Argyll Free Range Egg Yolk and Great Glen Charcuterie Venison & Chilli Chorizo.
Dessert – Shipwrecked Brandy Snap Lobster Pot
Coffee/Tea and petit fours

The menu was perfect, each course creating a festival for the tastebuds! We were left wanting more, but anticipating the next course too! The evening was relaxed, and flowed well, creating an unstrained atmosphere allowing the 22 diners to really enjoy each course.

Highlights included the crab cake, which was not what anyone was expecting! It was a delicious savoury sponge, with a delicate crab flavour, and the seafood paella with free range egg yolk, well the room went quiet as we popped the generous yolk and tucked into the best paella I’ve ever eaten!

All of the guests were full of kind words, and compliments for the evening, and booking up for meals and seafood buffets. The Puffer plan on continuing these evenings after their busy summer season, as there is so much more local produce to showcase – so watch this space and keep in touch.

 

What its like to live and work on Easdale Island

We  always get asked what its like to live and work on Easdale Island!

As a vast majority of our produce goes to other Scottish islands too, and we get orders from Coll, Colonsay, Iona and Gigha to name a few. So what is it like running and working for our businesses on these wonderful Scottish Islands. (Something we occasional, on a sunny summers day take for granted)
Living and working on a small island can throw up it’s challenges, and we often get asked ‘what’s it like, and is it worth it? Sometimes on a wet, windy wild day we have to remind ourselves the rewards completely outweigh these kind of days.
Easdale is a magical place to live and work, we can walk outside our door and see all of the wonderful images you would see on a montage of Scotland! Mountains, islands, the ocean, wildlife – flora and fauna and among all of this history too, ruins, hill forts and memories of the industrial past. (It’s a wonder we get any work done!)

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A selection of our favourites.

We use some of the very best Scottish produce in the tearoom and restaurant, its one of our passions, and one of the reasons we became a producer ourselves. We’ve been awarded the ‘best use of local food and drink’ award by The Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards, and are proud to continue in this vain. Here’s a bit of info about some of our current favourites:
Great Glen Charcuterie, this wonderful supplier provides us with charcuterie made from wild Scottish Venison, and other game produce. Its perfect to cook with and adds a wonderful flavour, but we also showcase it on our Quarryman’s slate with our own Puffer Piccalilli, home-made bread and salad!
Walter Gregor Tonic, Scotland’s very own tonic water – perfect with the wonderful selection of Scottish Gin stocked in our bar.
Our wonderful Fishermen, provide us with such an array of shellfish, langoustines, lobsters and crabs, but also hand dived scallops, fresh fish, muscles and oysters! How lucky are we!
Kilbride Farm Mutton, you’ll drive past Kilbride Farm before arriving for the ferry to Easdale, its great to be able to use meat that has not travelled a million miles before it lands in our kitchen. This way as well we get to use so many great cuts, and even sausages and burgers too!
These are just a few of our Scottish suppliers, there are many more, and we pride ourselves on being one too. We love that our preserves help to highlight how great our suppliers are, Chilli Jam goes wonderfully with the shellfish, and Red Onion Marmalade helps make a perfect sauce to serve with the Mutton, and of course the Piccalilli with the charcuterie too!

Locally landed lobster, home cut chips, lemon mayo and Ardfern Organic salad.

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Addition to gift range

New gift range, available all year round:

Displayed beautifully in a hessian bag, 3 jars of luxury Puffer Food Company preserves makes the perfect gift. A lovely way of taking a little piece of Easdale home with you, and sharing this special place with your loved ones.

Sweet – Summer Berry Jam, Whisky Marmalade and Award Winning Rhubarb, Vanilla and Seabuckthron jam. £20 including postage.

Savoury – Award Winning Red Onion Marmalade and Chilli jam, with our newest product Curried Parsnip Piccalilli. £20 including postage.

Why choose our products?
Quality is ensured. All of our products are made in small batches which allows us to produce a consistently great flavour, texture and overall product.
Our products are created by chefs, this means the flavours have been thought about, and balanced perfectly to accompany dishes.
The Puffer Food Company has won many Great Taste Awards, it’s products are made in the kitchen of The Puffer Bar and Restaurant which has won awards for Use of Local Produce and various Food and Drink tourism awards too. Achieving our best is a priority for us.
The products are made on Easdale Island, a car free Island of the Inner Hebredies, all our ingredients arrive on the passenger ferry, and all our final products go off the same way! They’ve probably been transported in a wheelbarrow between the ferry slip and the kitchen too!
As a small business we are able to communicate really well with all our suppliers, and those we supply which helps us build relationships, and give you exactly what you require/desire!
Consistent branding so you can identify our product easily and with confidence.
100% Vegetarian
We always have a Gluten Free option, and all our preserves and jams (exception Date and Ale Chutney) are Gluten Free.

Where to buy:

Direct from The Puffer Bar and Restaurant
Via Telephone order 01852 300 022
Available here: http://www.pufferbar.com/hampers.php

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