It’s no surprise that Ayrshire, Arran and Argyll offer a vast amount of mouthwatering secrets – with over 80 miles of unspoiled coastline, glittering sea lochs, hills and glens to be explored. Divided into different areas, each has a distinctive character and unique treats to be experienced - from freshly caught seafood and succulent meats to mouth-watering cheeses, local beers and whiskies.
The public is being invited to reveal its favourite Scottish ‘secret ingredients’ by detailing what they are and where they’re purchased. The criteria range from herbs to condiments, alcohol to meats and even vegetables, providing they are either grown or produced in Scotland. Applicants are being encouraged to be as unpredictable, creative and unusual as possible. Mark and the Eat Drink Discover team will draw up a shortlist of the best entrants who will be invited to join him in a ‘cook off’ at the event, where the winner will be chosen. The producer or retailer who supplied the winner with their ‘secret ingredient’ will be given a free exhibition stand at next year’s event.
The Eat Drink Discover Scotland team discovered that this week's region is a highlight for traditional Scottish ingredients, such as Ayrshire Potatoes, which are currently applying for Protected Geographical Indication status (PGI). It is also famed for its haggis, which is always a popular addition to menus across the region. A firm favourite is haggis from Barbreck Farm, with their secret spice-mix ingredient!
With freshly caught langoustines, crabs, lobsters, hand-dived scallops, oysters and a range of white fish, perhaps seafood from this area is the perfect secret ingredient for a tasty fish pie?
The Island Cheese Company on Arran stocks award-winning cheeses due to the rich farmland and soft climate of the area. Taste of Arran stock a fantastic range of locally produced oatcakes, mustards, chocolate, and preserves. Alastair Dobson from the company said that its Arran Ice Cream is used by chefs all over the country and even as far afield as Dubai’s 7 star Burj Al Arab hotel, whose Executive Chef, Chef Maxime, commented that the last time he had tasted something similar was in Switzerland, comparing the subtle tastes of dairy and wild mountain flowers.
Eat Drink Discover Scotland, which is taking place at the Royal Highland Centre between 12th and 14th September, will bring to life the rich diversity of Scotland’s brimming larder by featuring exhibitors from the length and breadth of the country. One for the foodies, it will be offering something for every palate, plate and price range and, with a regional focus, it will be providing opportunities for smaller rural food producers to share centre stage with more established brands. The weekend will also include demonstrations and master classes such as chocolate workshops, cocktail making, game butchery and craft bakery.
Mark Greenaway said: "It’s all too easy to keep using the same ingredients for the same dishes, so this competition is all about discovering new ingredients and new ways of using them. I’ll be sharing my favourite products from the length and breadth of Scotland on my website’s blog, suggesting ways to make the most of them. But I want others to follow suit and share their favourites with me. This is what food and cooking should be about and, with Scotland’s truly amazing larder, I’m sure I’ll find it extremely difficult to choose a winner."
To read the Ayrshire, Arran and Argyll blog please visit www.markgreenaway.com/news
For more information on the competition visit www.eatdrinkdiscoverscotland.co.uk