Whisky Magazine Issue 21
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Martine Nouet reminisces about a trip to Islay and the culinary delights she found there, in the surprising shape of the old kiln cafe and Ardbeg distillery
As I was driving to Ardbeg Distillery where I was to meet with Mary, the Old Kiln Café cook for an interview, on that clear May morning, I was far from imagining I would experience a new job. The Islay Whisky Festival had just started and since the first event had proved so successful, the second one was to welcome an even greater number of malt whisky lovers from all over the world.
When you are on Islay, you have to adjust your watch to a special time difference. Forget about the clinical punctuality of your business appointments, be ready to add ‘ish' – and a few drams – when you are meeting someone at a precise time. And keep in mind that ‘rush' is a four-letter word here.
I truly enjoyed, nay savoured, the drive on the winding and narrow Kildalton road that morning, stopping by Lagavulin Bay to glance at Dunyvaig ruins, slowing to admire light playing on silvery rocks and trying to spot the familiar sight of lazy seals basking in the sun. When I got to the distillery, it was close to midday. Judging from the dozens of cars parked in the yard, I was pretty sure the restaurant and shop would be busy.
They were indeed. In the kitchen, Head Cook Mary MacKechnie was promptly checking the yellow and red peppercorn soup seasoning. Head waitress Emma was placing an impressive list of orders while young waitress Patricia was inquiring about the cheese toasties for famished children. Great signs of agitation showed me it was quite clearly not the perfect time for a qu...