True Highlands Blog
Christmas approaches and as thoughts turn to shopping, we at True Highlands have decided to take a look at some alternatives to the mass produced and the impersonal. We truly believe that by shopping local and supporting local producers and retailers, we can not only help the environment but we can discover some of the most amazing and unusual gifts that Scotland has to offer.
For some families, Christmas dinner is the biggest meal of the year. For me, it is one of the few occasions my siblings and I are together, so it seems right to make a bit of an effort. Shopping local does not have to mean plain and old fashioned dinners like meat and potatoes as there is now an abundance of organic farms supplying fresh seasonal vegetables and poultry. Not a fan of turkey? Why not substitute a cut of venison, or some fresh scallops and lobster. Along with some Micro brewed ale, Orkney Wine, Benromach cocktails and Highland Cordials you could drink your way around Scotland without setting foot in a supermarket.
Our fantasy Christmas dinner then is a culinary tour of the Highlands and would be something like this, all local, all incredibly tasty.
Scallops and crabs claws wrapped in peat smoked salmon.
Traditional Scots Broth made with organic seasonal veg served with Stornoway seaweed oatcakes.
Wild Raspberry and Drambuie trifle served with traditional Isle of Arran ice cream.
If your tastes are a bit more adventurous (or French) then rest assured, help is now at hand. A company on the Isle of Barra, Barra Snails, now posts out live snails and has supplied some of the country’s top restaurants. We have to perfectly honest here, we are huge fans of Heston Blumenthal but we will not be in a hurry to prepare his snail porridge. Please send us photos if you are.
Some locally produced Water Buffalo to go with that? Why of course, look no further than Orkney.
The TrueHighlands ethos extends beyond food and drink. We believe that it is possible to do much of your Christmas shopping locally, benefiting local crafts makers and communities. We love the unique, the handmade and the quirky so here are a few ideas to get you started.
Harris Tweed is one of these things that is distinctly Scottish. Handmade in the Islands, it has an unsurpassed reputation for quality. Apart from traditional suits, the fabric can be used to make a wide range of modern gifts like iPad covers, cushions and door stops. Check out TC Designs for some inspiration.
For that really special someone, then it doesn’t get much better than bespoke Celtic jewellery made on the Isle of Skye. Garth Duncan has over 40 years’ experience and a huge range of designs to choose from.
The Isle of Eigg may be a bit far to go to pick up that ultimate Christmas gift, so it is fortunate that Jenny will post out her amazing creations for free. Unique hand knitted cobweb lace made from hand-spun yarn with the minimum environmental impact. Perfect.
We also love artisan soaps. For something distinctive, try handmade heather soap from the Isle of Mull. Again, they offer delivery.
Many shops and suppliers will post out if asked. So if it isn’t immediately apparent – just ask! Like Coupers Creek in Cromarty who have a superb selection of Made in Scotland gifts, and are more than happy to arrange postage.
Inverness holds one of the biggest Christmas markets for small and local producers (Check here for dates in the run up to Christmas: Inverness Markets) In addition there are some smaller markets and fayres around the country, which feature local knitwear, candles, soaps, prints and so much more. All made locally at: Lochinver, Skye, Oban, Shetland, Orkney, Thurso, Ullapool and Stornoway. This list is certainly not exhaustive and most areas have a Christmas Fayre of some sort. Try looking up the local web-sites and check out what’s happening.
Excited yet? In addition to the above mentioned, we here at True Highlands have sourced a small collection of high quality gifts that we think represent the best of Scotland. Watch out for our online shop coming soon with knitwear, babywear, Maureen Minchin cards and soft toys, to name just a few of the items we have chosen.
So whether you love the hustle and bustle of a city market, browsing local shops in a village or shopping from the comfort of our own home, we are sure you can do it all locally. Please support the small businesses who work hard to bring you a true taste of the Highlands (or wherever you live!).Tags: black pudding stuffing, Black-Isle turkey, culinary tour of the Highlands, fantasy Christmas dinner, Garth Duncan, Harris Tweed, Isle of Arran, Made in Scotland, Micro brewed ale, peat smoked salmon, seaweed oatcakes, shopping local, Strathdon Blue, supporting local, turkey substitute, unusual gifts