Putting, Hammer, Caber, Tomatoes

Monday 27 August 2012
On Saturday we had the pleasure of attending the world famous Lonach Gathering at Strathdon.  Its probably got even more famous in recent years due to Big Yin Billy Connolly and some of his celebrity mates frequenting the event. We were there en famille courtesy of Subsea7.  I do love a bit of corporate hospitality.  The journey by luxury coach up Donside on winding roads took some time and we were all grateful for the mid morning sausage and bacon baps on arrival.
Both the itinerary and menu on offer looked amazing with the catering provided by Harry Fraser.  I am always on awe of those who manage to produce good food in challenging venues.  Boy and his amazing memory recalled that Masterchef used a Highland Games as the setting for one of their outdoor challenges. However on that occasion I think they were feeding the actual heavy competitors rather than a bunch of oil execs on a jolly.
We had time at leisure to explore the Games and take in the atmosphere.  The historic Parade of the Lonach Highlanders was a sight to behold.  They had been marching since 8am with six official stops for a dram  and goodness knows how many unofficial ones.  Events included Bagpipes, Highland Dancing, Tug O' War and Traditional Heavy and Light Games.  The Heavies were particularly impressive with Stones, Hammers, Weights and Caber.  The Lights no less so with Races, Long and High Jump, Hop Skip and Leap and my personal favourite - The Pillow Fight.  There were such a variety of competitions happening in the Ring at any one time that it was difficult to know where to look.  Boy compared it to the Olympics. 
A Champagne reception proceeded the buffet lunch and I made the decision to stick to the bubbles rather than move onto wine.  In hindsight I'm not sure this was the wisest choice.  Boy, Girl and Husband tucked in to the hot food on offer and I am reliably informed that the Steak and Ale Pie and Macaroni Cheese were top notch.  I couldn't see past the fantastic cold platters of seafood, meats and salady bits.  The white crab with lime crème fraîche was to die for.
But the real foodie revelation of the day for me were some amazingly tiny and sweet tomatoes about the size of blueberries. On questioning the chef I found out that they are called "Tomberries".  I've never seen them in supermarkets but he tipped me the wink that Costco could be a good place to try. ( I have future canapé plans for these little darlings.) Time for desert which included one of the most colourful and inviting fruit salads I have ever seen.  Certainly got my five a day in rainbow form and I even had room to sample the delights of the Cheeseboard.
The Retreat was duly Beat and it was time to head for home but not before we were all presented with a beautifully presented hamper of foodie goodies from Millers of Midmar containing Sinclair of Rhynie Shortbread, Dean's Oatcakes, Cairn o'Mohr wine, Kincardine Castle Kitchen jam, Cocoa Ooze chocolates, and Millers own Smiddy Loaf, tablet and white chocolate fudge.
A grand day oot.  Even if we never spotted the Big Yin himself.

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