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Issue 106 - Raiding the Larder

Whisky Magazine Issue 106
September 2012


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Raiding the Larder

Martin Mitchell heads out to the Islay coastline to forage for food

Ulva intestinalis is hardly likely to stimulate the appetite if you were to come across those words on a menu. But once Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage team – head chef Gill Meller and top forager John Wright – get their hands on it, gutweed as it is better known and a variety of other seaweeds and sea-life that are plentiful on our islands' shorelines, become tasty accompaniments to a variety of dishes. Most surprisingly chocolate and seaweed panacotta with Bowmore shortbread!

To forage in what Gill calls the 'wild food larder' has now gone way beyond the best reported searches for mushrooms and truffles and has arguably reached its apotheosis in the form of the New Nordic Food Movement and its ultimate champion, the world's finest restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen.

The River Cottage team have been pioneers in bringing the wild food larder to the attention of the wider public. Whisky has now joined in the forage.


In what can truthfully be described as an inspired collaboration, Morrison Bowmore invited Gill and John to Islay to conduct a forage on the land and the seashore for food that would be prepared alfresco and paired with some high quality single malts. The results were extraordinary when you consider that the foraging team was composed of a handful of hacks who generally are better aware of the whereabouts of a good cocktail bar in Glasgow than a live mussel in Loch Gruinart.

The ebullient John Wright starts the forage from below the Bowm...

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