A Cook’s Tour of Scotland – Sue Lawrence
A Book Review by Franz Scheurer
Sue Lawrence is definitely the most captivating of Scottish food writers and I always look forward to her next book. A Cook’s Tour of Scotland is, simply put, another masterpiece. It portrays Scotland, the country and the people, Sue loves, and it gives us an insight into her own life and her family history. The recipes are hearty and heartfelt and will bring a little Scotland into your dining room.
You can learn how a puffin enhances the flavour of porridge, why they grow an amazing selection of salad herbs on the Hebridean island of Tiree, an island of unmatched beauty, or why some people enjoy the local oysters on Islay with a drop of Single Malt. Naturally quite a few of the recipes in a Cook’s Tour of Scotland work very well with whisky. I love the Whisky Cake (page 176), inspired by Asher Bakers in Nairn, and a perfect foil for a glass of venerable Macallan. Glass & Thompson in Edinburgh inspired Sue to come up with a fabulous Honey and Pine Nut Tart (page 198), which comes to life with a glass of Amber Liqueur. I love Sue’s passion when she talks about the venison, butchered, to Rannoch specifications at Highland Game, brined for 48 hours and then cold-smoked for up to 80 hours over wood chips from whisky barrels from the Craigellachie cooperage. On Islay Jockie Smith-the-Pig-Man’s ‘girls’ roam wild, foraging on anything they can root out thus clearing the land and putting on desirable layers of fat at the same time. Sue tells us that, although pork has never been a traditional Scottish meat, it has always been found in crofting communities such as Islay, where crofters would keep a pig for family consumption.
Cloutie dumplings are one of my favourite indulgences and I can’t get enough of them when I’m in Scotland. Now Sue has come up with a recipe for Cloutie Dumpling Ice Cream, which is achievable even in the New World. And, according to Sue: ‘Once you have tasted Cheat’s Bere Blinis made with beremeal (a local, earthy, dark and wonderful stone-ground barley flour) instead of buckwheat flour you will never want to revert to the classic recipe again’. I have caviar and sour cream… bring it on, Sue!
In short, it’s a fabulous book. It’s terrific if you like hearty food, it’s great if you like to read about Scottish traditions and the people who produce and harvest the ingredients. It’s a stunning book for anyone with a sweet tooth! You will be in cookie, cake and desert heaven.
ISBN 0 7553 1417 4
Published by Headline Book Publishing