Valentines Day - Arran style!
Valentines Day has come around again and we are all desperately looking for inspiration on how to treat the lucky man or woman in our life. A delicious meal for two in a restaurant is always a good choice, however we thought that this year we would provide you with some inspiration for a romantic candle-lit soiree-a-deux at home! We all know that on such a romantic evening, the last thing you want to do is spend hours on end in the kitchen, so we have come up with a simple menu which is quick and easy to prepare - and full of Arran flavour!
We are very lucky on the Isle of Arran - the island is known as foodie heaven and we have a rich supply of wonderful food producers. From seafood to cheese, to artisan meats and delicious chutneys and salads, there is everything on the island to create a delicious meal for two. We have taken some of the best ingredients that our island has to offer, and with some help from our friends at we've 'Taste of Arran' created a three-course menu with matching whiskies.
First of all, we do not need to tell you that you must set the scene perfectly for your beloved. How about treating them to a delicious, zesty single malt cocktail as an aperitif, to whet their appetite?
APERITIF - The Burnito
You will need:
50ml Burns Malt Whisky
25ml Fresh Lime Juice
15ml Sugar Syrup
6 Mint Leaves
Shake everything (except ginger beer) over ice and strain into ice filled highball glass.
Top up with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge and a mint sprig
STARTER - Smoked Salmon and lemon creme fraiche
Next up, you will need a starter, and we have the perfect light starter which will follow the Burnito perfectly.
All you need is:
1 pack of smoked salmon. We like Creelers of Arran.
1 pot of creme fraiche
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Lay salmon out on a plate
2. Using a peeler, peel long ribbons of cucumber and similarly arrange on the plate.
3. Grate lemon zest. In a bowl mix Creme Fraiche, half the juice of a lemon, zest, salt and pepper.
4. Drizzle dressing all over Salmon and cucumber.
It couldn't be easier, and if you roll the salmon into little parcels and secure with a cocktail stick it makes them a lot simpler to eat!
Whisky pairing: We would suggest the Robert Burns Malt as the ideal accompaniment to this starter. You have just enjoyed this whisky in your cocktail aperitif, now it's time to try it neat or with a little water to accompany this light citrusy starter. It will be the perfect partner with the salty tang of the salmon perfectly balanced by the fresh acidity of the Burns Malt.
MAIN COURSE - Arran Steak & Ale Pie
Our favourite main course packs a punch and is perfect for taking the flavour sensations up a notch. So easy to prepare, this dish can even be ready in advance so all you have to do is bake the pastry in the oven when you're ready to go:
All you need is:
1 kg Diced Shin of Beef
1 large onion, diced
1 large Carrot, diced
2 field mushrooms, chopped
½ small Turnip, diced
Pinch of thyme, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 litre beef stock
1 bottle Arran Ale
Fry off the beef in oil in a large pan. Add the vegetables, salt, pepper and herbs cook down for 5 mins then add the beer and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Reduce by half then add the stock. Cook for 2-3 hours or until the beef is soft. Serve with some mash and root vegetables and a pastry top if desired. We share this recipe thanks to Taste of Arran.
Whisky pairing: Our Arran 14 year-old would make a perfect partner for this rich beef dish. The rich layer of spice in the whisky will balance beautifully with the sweetness of the root vegetables in this delicious pie.
DESSERT - ARRAN GOLD CREME BRULEE
For dessert, we are going to go all-out and suggest a dish that incorporates our own delicious Arran Gold Cream Liqueur. The quantities here make 6 portions.
You will need:
600ml double cream
200ml semi-skimmed milk
6 medium free range egg yolks
30g caster sugar
4 tbsp Arran Gold
3 tbsp demerara sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC, gas mark 2. Pour the cream and milk
into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Remove from the
heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together with a balloon whisk until combined. Stir in the cream mixture and Arran Gold and pour into 6 small ramekins.
3. Put the ramekins in a roasting tin and add enough cold water to the tin to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully put the roasting tin in the oven and cook for 30–40 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the tin and leave to cool, then chill for 2 hours.
4. Preheat the grill to hot. Sprinkle the demerara sugar in an even layer over the brûlées and grill until the sugar has melted, about 2 minutes. Leave to cool until the sugar has set, then serve straight away. Raspberries make a delicious garnish with this.
Whisky pairing: Our Arran Gold is the obvious choice to have with this dessert - you really can't go wrong with this decadent pairing.
To finish, we would suggest that you pour a dram of your favourite Arran to kick back, relax and enjoy the rest of your evening. For us, the Arran 18 year-old or the Arran Port Finish would be the perfect choice to wind down a delicious meal. A just reward for all your efforts!
Happy Valentines Day with your beloved. And if you don't really believe in love, we challenge you to feel the same way after reading this - click here to read a truly wonderful whisky love-story...