‘Eat local, eat seasonal’ has long been the mantra for many chefs. Recently, the 5pm Dining blog said ‘Hello’ to summer with Scotty Brand and The Sisters restaurant in Kelvingrove.
The politics of eating both well and ethically can be complicated. Just witness the current battle being fought on Twitter between two hugely respected writers, Joanna Blythman and George Monbiot.
Now, we are not daft enough to get in the way of either. However, we would humbly suggest that eating well while keeping an eye on environmental issues need not be rocket science.
Put simply, we reckon that if you try to eat lots of local produce when it is in season then you have got off to a very good start.
Starting life in 1948, Scotty Brand relaunched in 2010 as a subsidiary of Albert Bartlett Ltd. A family-run firm, it specialises in selling ‘in-season food from Scotland’. Their products are both grown and packed in Scotland.
They invited us to The Sisters restaurant in Kelvingrove where Chef Jak O’Donnell made us lunch from the most recently released Scotty Brand products.
We started with asparagus in garlic butter with a pea shoot salad before a main course of smoked salmon on rosti with cumin-spiced pea purée and a soft boiled egg.
Dessert was a yoghurt with new season Scottish strawberries, Glasgow honey and crumbled pistachio.
Scotty Brand: sourced in Scotland
All of the main ingredients were from Scotty Brand.
While the short asparagus season in England is starting to wind down, it is only just beginning to get underway in Scotland.
Scotty Brand source theirs from the Brunton Farm in Angus. If you want to get really technical, their asparagus crop is grown on a South-facing field so it benefits as much as possible from the sun.
Scotty Brands strawberries are grown at Bruce Farms in Perthshire. Long summer days, mild nights and the area’s light, fertile soil is ideal for producing sweet fruit.
Their season runs from now until late August and early September.
Michael Jarvis, head of marketing for Scotty Brand says, ‘Our strawberries grow more slowly than those produced in, say, Spain so they are sweeter and more juicy.’
For Chef O’Donnell, there are a number of benefits from eating food that is seasonal and locally produced.
‘It has been a long winter and I have never been so happy to see the sun,’ says Jak. ‘With the sunshine comes the new season’s produce. Our farmers put in a lot of effort to grow or rear this wonderful produce. They have done all the work and that makes it very easy for us chefs.
‘I like to keep it simple with just three or four ingredients on a plate. That way, their natural flavours can shine. If a famer in Perthshire is putting all his love into growing these strawberries, why would I macerate them for two days to get a different flavour?’
We’re with Chef O’Donnell on this one.
Here are the recipes for the asparagus starter and the strawberry dessert. They are really simple to prep at home.
Alternatively, you can always book into The Sisters via 5pm Dining.
Serves 4 as a starter or a large salad
2 packs of Scotty Brand asparagus
1 tbsp Scottish butter
1 tbsp soft brown muscovado sugar
1 handful of rocket and pea shoots
Zest of 1/2 orange
Gently warm the butter and sugar in a pan.
Trim the asparagus and place in the pan until the butter is foaming and the sugar has started to dissolve.
Coat the asparagus with the caramelised butter.
Add the zest to asparagus.
Plate up rocket and pea shoots. Add asparagus mix over the top and serve.
Strawberry Yoghurt with Honey and Pistachio
500 g Greek yoghurt
2 punnets of Scotty Brand strawberries
4 tbsps chopped pistachios
2 tbsps Glasgow honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp rosewater
Mix the yoghurt with the salt and strain any excess liquid through muslin.
Mix the rose water and strawberries. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Blitz half the strawberries to a coulis.
Fold the yoghurt, honey and pistachios together and then fold in coulis for a marbled effect.
Serve in a glass dish, garnished with whole strawberries.