Food of Scotland

Yeah, I’ve heard just about all the lines; “Scottish food-ridiculed by gourmets, feared by doctors,” “haggis- a boiled pair of bagpipes” and with his pronouncement that “only the Finnish have worse food,” Jaques Chirac was able to demonstrate a unique ability to infuriate several nationalities at once. While Scotland is not generally considered to be one of the great cheese producing nations, I fell in love with a little known Scottish creation.

Drawing its inspiration from a cheese originating in the16th century West Highlands, our Argyle is quickly becoming one of our most popular cheeses. This gently pressed double cream cheese is rolled into a log, then coated with toasted pinhead oatmeal. As the story goes, the cheese was first discovered when a shepherd placed his cheese in a lunch box, along with his oatcakes. The best oatcakes I’ve ever had, have the unfortunate characteristic of shattering into small bits very easily. So it was with the shepherd, who opened his lunch, only to find that his cheese was covered with oatcake crumbs, and a new cheese was born.

The cheese was first served to me in thin slices and drizzled with Drambuie. I was near the Isle of Skye (the home of Drambuie) so just about everything I was served had some element of the liquor.

I love this cheese for breakfast, thinly sliced and topped with honey or jam. But for a real brunch treat, freeze the Argyle, then dredge it in a beaten egg, roll it in pinhead oatmeal (breadcrumbs will also work) then quickly fry it and brown the coating on all sides. This has to be done quickly before the cheese melts. Then remove it to a plate and pour honey (or maple syrup) over the top and serve with bread crisps.

Jaques Chirac’s opinion notwithstanding, I enjoy the rich, albeit heavy foods of Scotland. It may well have been the company or the ambiance of a remote pub in the northwest of Scotland, but the Haggis and beer dinner we had there was one of my favorite.