Last month I set off from the Ayrshire coast bound for Arran. After a wonderful (if slightly choppy) hour on the ferry, the island appears standing majestic and strong, looking like a location from Lord of the Rings with its snow-capped peaks welcoming us. What a spectacular sight it is!
Stepping onto the jetty at Brodick, we’re met by Kim Ryan who will be our guide for the day, along with Gordon Kinniburgh from Arran Cheese. After a quick bag drop at the Douglas Hotel, a splendid Edwardian hotel with grand rooms and a great restaurant, we’re ready for the tour.
I'm here with a few others as a guest of Taste of Arran, to learn about the fabulous produce on this beautiful island. After a short drive through the pretty countryside, our first stop is to see how the famous Arran Mist and Arran Blue are made. These cheeses are only made in small batches and only ever released when they’re in perfect eating condition. I like this approach, and it's inspiring to see true artisans at work. Callum the cheese-maker is very knowledgeable and answers all our questions.
Next stop is The Arran Butcher Shop, a family-run business that’s been operating for decades and is still going strong. They make their own black puddings and haggis, as well as selling many cuts of meat including ‘coos tail’ (or oxtail), which I love.
Time is precious, so next we head off to see the production of oatcakes at Wooleys of Arran, a traditional family bakery. It’s a relatively small operation and it’s great to see the staff working together to create a very distinct-tasting oatcake.
Finally, we just have time to make a brief tour of the distillery (a bottle was bought!) where we meet Taste of Arran’s founder Alastair Dobson, who does a wonderful job making ice-cream at Arran Dairies as well as spreading the word about this unique Island. I must thank our guide Kim who was brilliant. Let’s show our support - when you see the name Arran - buy it!
How to describe this pudding? Iced, smooth, oaty, rich, with bright egg yolks and that distinct whisky. I’ve used a 10-year-old Arran Malt with notes of citrus and honey followed by vanilla and butterscotch on the palate. It makes a wonderful parfait. I’ve only recently started to appreciate whisky properly and am better at distinguishing all those complex flavours. I know some people don't really get it, but go on, give it a try!
4 organic egg yolks
125g caster sugar
500mls double cream
A good splosh of 10-year-old Arran whiskyA handful of pinhead oats, lightly toasted
A handful of porridge oats, fried in butter and sugar until golden
A few Scottish strawberries
Sweet cicely for a garnish
Add the water and the sugar to a pan and gently bring to the boil. It must reach soft-ball texture, so it looks like a clear syrup. Whisk the egg yolks and trickle in the sugar solution a little at a time - you can use a Kenwood for this - until the mix is full of volume. Allow this mix to cool for about 10 minutes.
In a clean bowl, semi-whip the cream until it reaches ribbon stage. Then gently fold it into the egg yolk and sugar mix, using a cutting/folding action.
Add the whisky to taste, then the toasted pinhead oats and combine. Pour into a terrine mould double-lined with cling film and freeze overnight.
To serve remove from the freezer, tip the parfait out of the mould and remove cling film. Then cut into slices and place on cool plates and serve with a few berries, some sweet cicely and some of those buttery sugary oats. Now eat!