A bowl of big, fat buttery prawns undoubtedly taste best when they’re served up with a view of palm trees swaying in the breeze and fishing boats bobbing in the bay from which they’ve just been plucked. But when you’re presented with these things on the west coast of Scotland, you can’t help thinking that you’re hallucinating.
You don’t expect to see palm trees in a place called Plockton. But there are seven of them along the harbour front, just over the road from the string of fisherman’s cottages and the Plockton Hotel in which we were eating. The big, fat prawns came as a surprise, too, because we’d heard that they all got shipped off to Spain as soon as they hit the shore Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Messenger Bag – along with the lobsters, the mussels, the oysters, the scallops and every other treasure of the deep.
Things have changed. A few years ago you could drink in the limitless views, along with a dram or two, but for sustenance you had to take your chances with a battered fish supper. These days, the menus on the west coast of the Highlands look like they’ve been lifted from the oversubscribed beachfront restaurants of the Med.
Half-a-dozen oysters followed by lingoustines in garlic butter mopped up with a chunk of bread. To be eaten in the bar or the beer garden. Perfect. Simple, tasty and fresh, and exactly the sort of unfussy service you want when your table commands unrivalled views over the sea to Raasay and Skye.
The Applecross Inn is an unpretentious affair run by the aptly-named Judith Fish. The seafood is supplied by a local called Snoddy. The inn’s seven rooms with sea views are usually booked way in advance, and the bar is always busy of an evening. You would want to come back here for the food and the location. But what entices many people to this hidden gem in the first place is the way in – the Bealach-Na-Ba is the highest mountain pass in Britain, and one of the world’s great drives, offering a clean sweep of sea, mountains and sky from its summit.
As well as an excuse to scoff yourself silly, the Highlands and islands of Scotland also give you the chance to drive into some of the deepest scenery this side of New Zealand. The single-track roads force you to take All Prada Nylon Bags things more slowly as they carry you through an other-worldly landscape of jagged rock spires, sun-dappled domes and silvery lochs. Over on Skye, they take you to places with strange and magical names like the Trotternish peninsula, the Fairy Glen All Prada Nylon Bags of Uig, Snizort and the Quiraing. They also take you to one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. And that’s not just my stomach making big noises, but the verdict of a panel of chefs and food writers on Restaurant magazine in 2003.
If you’re in this part of the world, you’d be mad to miss out on a meal at The Three Chimneys in Cobolst. But we nearly Authentic Prada Bags Online Singapore did, as at one point we considered turning back on a road that appeared to be leading Agatha Ruiz Prada Online Shop nowhere. One critic said of The Three Chimneys ‘only a romantic with nerves of steel would ever have dreamt of opening a restaurant here’. With the Cuillin Ridge high above and Loch Dunvegan sitting below, the traditional white-washed cottage is a lonely-looking place. Your hope is that it’s cosy inside. The surprise is that it’s warm but not twee – smart metropolitan furnishings offset the age-roughened walls of the original cottage. Rooms in the adjoining house, where you can stay, have a Scandinavian feel. But the menu in the restaurant remains resolutely Scottish. Shirley Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Store Spears has made a point of that, having previously been ‘the butt of jokes about Haggis and deep-fried haddock’ when she lived in Croydon.
There was nothing funny about the seven courses of Skye menu, however, which progressed – give or take a few – from mussels in white wine broth through seared king scallops in honey and grainy mustard dressing, cheese from Achmore and fresh Skye strawberries with whisky and lemon syllabub. It was a seriously fine feast, and all sourced from the island’s ‘astonishing natural larder’. So much for the frozen north.
Our week-long Scottish food tour finished back on the mainland at the Glenelg Inn. Getting there was part of the joy: taking the six-car Kylerhea turntable ferry over, and watching seals play in the Sound of Sleat, before being deposited on the peninsula that was the setting for Gavin Maxwel’s Ring of Bright Water.
The Glenelg Inn exudes the charm and character of a Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Shoes Sale local pub but delivers something bigger and more stylish in its food and rooms. The bar has rightly been described as a Highlands institution, partly Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Shopping because of its Authentic Prada Handbags Online Australia ebullient owner Chris Main, but also because of its earthy warmth. There’s an open fire and Bergdorf Goodman Prada Mens Shoes you pull up old fish crates to sit on while you tuck into battered shrimps with spicy sauce. From there, it’s an easy stagger up to a bed with views over Glenelg Bay and Skye in the gloaming. A perfect ending. Simple, unfussy and fresh.
<b.Way to go:
Getting there: BMI (08706070555, flybmi.com) flies Heathrow-Inverness from £34 one way inc tax. Budget car rental (08701539170, budget.co.uk) offers a week’s car rental from £140. Where to stay and eat: Plockton Hotel (01599544274, plockton.bestloved.com), doubles from £80 a night. Applecross Inn (01520744262), seven rooms homepage, doubles from £50. The Three Chimneys (01470511258, threechimneys.co.uk), six rooms, from £215 per night. Dinner from £42. Glenelg Inn (01599522273, glenelg-inn.com), seven rooms from £89 pp, bar food from £8, dinner from £29. Further information: VisitScotland (08452255121, visitscotland.com).