What a fantastic day out we had at the Scottish Crannog Centre Celtic Food and Drink Festival on Sunday. We have visited the Crannog a couple of times before but this was our first time as a family and first at an event. I really wasn't sure what to expect but the sheer range of Iron Age food on offer was astounding.
But "What's a Crannog?" I hear you cry. Its a pretty awesome Iron age dwelling found on lochs throughout Scotland and Ireland 2,500 years ago. The Scottish Crannog Centre features a unique reconstruction where you can experience first hand how these ancient people lived.
One of the first things we tasted at the festival was a savoury Nettle Dumpling. Nothing like jumping straight in at the deep end. This had been boiled for two hours like a clootie dumpling. Not the tastiest thing ever but not unpleasant.Boy and Girl couldn't get enough of the crepe style pancakes cooked over an open fire and were keen to taste all the toppings on offer. Honey, Nettle Jelly, Goats Cheese and Hazelnut Butter. I'm now really keen to make some of my own Nettle Jelly. Need to find me a nettle patch and some sturdy gloves.
Next up spit roasted lamb. Those Iron age folk really knew how to have a great BBQ. All washed down with lashings of Nettle Tea and Rosehip Cordial.
One of the highlights of the day for the kids was making their own bread rolls and butter. Bread first where they kneeded and shaped the dough before sprinkling with dried nettle leaves, poppy and flax seeds.
Whilst the bread cooked in the clay oven it was time to make butter. This was hard work and took the whole time that the bread cooked. Twizzling wooden spoons in wooden bowls of double cream until it thickened and finally split to butter and buttermilk. Could there be anything better than handmade bread and handmade butter?
Fantastic soup and stews were bubbling away all day on the open fires. Lamb Stew, Creamy Wild Garlic and Trout Soup and a delicious veggie Barley, Leek and Mushroom Stew. Rustic perfection. Desert was a Fruit Bread Pudding cooked in the clay ovens. Very fruity and super sticky due to lots of honey. Some iron age custard or ice cream to accompany would have been great.
The clay baked salmon was a real showstopper. A large fillet was stuffed with butter and wild garlic leaves before being tied up in string. It was then wrapped up in wet clay and sealed with water. The parcel was placed next to - not on top of - the fire to cook. When the clay was cracked open the resulting dish was tasty and very moist.
Plenty of foraged greens on offer with Wild Garlic being extensively used. Its something I've smelt in the local woods but embarrassingly never actually knew what it looked like or what could be done with it. Fingers crossed that Wild Garlic Pesto will be featuring on my menu very soon.
The final dish of the day was Pit Baked Pork. A cooking pit was dug and filled with fire and stones. The pork was wrapped in wild garlic leaves then encased in moss and grass prior to being lowered into the preheated pit and covered up with turf.
Tense moments as hours later the turf was removed and the pit cooked pig was unveiled in a cloud of steam. and unwrapped like pass the parcel. A perfect conclusion to a day of Iron Age feasting.
I even managed to pick up something foodie in the gift shop. There were lots of really interesting books but I opted for some Nettle Cordial and Hazelnut Butter. Better than a badge and a bookmark.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the Scottish Crannog Centre. They are now open daily until 31st October. The next event is a Festival of Nettles coming up on the 27th of May and there's a very tempting looking Iron Age Gourmet Day in July. Only last week they hosted an Iron Age Banquet for a Hen Doo. Think I might have to get married. Don't tell my husband.