Over the past few days Head Chef Michael has been out and about meeting local suppliers and seeing first-hand the passion, skill and dedication that goes in to delivering high quality produce for him to use in his dishes.
For Michael, it's a joy to use produce that is in season,available locally, with known quality and provenance, sourced where ever possible from within 50 miles of the hotel. On these trips Michael spent time with langoustine fisherman Hughie Macleod, Lochnell Oysters, Inverawe Smokehouses and Caledonian Oysters. Fantastic suppliers well and truly on our doorstep with the closest just 10 miles ‘down the road’ and the furthest away being 26 miles.
At Inverawe Smokehouses, Michael met Patrick Campbell-Preston, son of the company’s founders. Michael was shown the old-style brick smokeboxes which use the time-honoured method of allowing the salmon to gently take up the gorgeous smoky aroma of the British oak used to keep the fires going 24 hours a day. The smoking process can take up to 72 hours – the hot smoked salmon Michael uses in his dishes is smoked in the hot smokebox immediately above the fire while the smoke intake for cold smoked salmon is closely controlled so that the temperature never goes above 30C.
The Caledonian Oyster Company on Loch Creran is another family run business headed up by Judith Vajk. The company farms the Pacific oyster or Crassostrea Gigas, which does not breed naturally in Scottish waters.Once out of the hatchery, the seed oysters are put in to mesh bags and fastened to trestle tables which are set on the seabed in Loch Creran. On average it takes 3 years before these oysters are the right grade to appear on our shellfish menu.
Pierhouse aficionados will recognise the name Hughie Macleod who has supplied The Pierhouse with creel-caught langoustines for many a year.Michael spent an enjoyable trip with Hughie to see exactly what’s involved in bringing the delicious langoustine to the restaurant. Hughie’s creels are dotted about in Loch Linnhe and Loch Etive which he hand baits and regularly hauls on to his boat Novar Star.
Michael popped over to near Benderloch to visit Lochnell Oysters, a family run business which operates on the shores of Loch Linnhe. Michael was so impressed with the mud oysters that he's added them to our shellfish menu served with lemon, tabasco, shallot & red wine viengar, seaweed, or soya chilli & ginger.
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