Food, Travel
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The Three Chimneys and other stories

I woke up early and spent an hour or so nursing a cup of tea whilst staring out of the window at the view outside our cottage. This place is beyond tranquil – there’s something about being here that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Britain from 1,000 years ago. Not to make it sound like it’s backward here or anything as it isn’t. It’s just life feels more simple here – away from the hustle and bustle. Away from ambition, money and social ladders. I felt so glad to be spending a few days here away from everything.

Once Jake was up, we spent the day driving around the circuit of the Trotternish Peninsula (where our cottage is.) We did a couple of long walks, the second of which took us up to see what’s known as “The Old Man of Storr” on the east of the peninsula. It was quite a walk up, but once we got up there, the views were quite amazing.

Before this walk, however, we stopped for lunch at the very quaint Elishadder Art Café – we’d been recommended to go here by our friend Tom who is a huge Isle of Skye fan.

We weren’t disappointed. Jake ordered a rustic leek and potato soup, whilst I tucked into a roasted red pepper, pine nut and mint filo tart with a gorgeous mixed salad – including edible flowers from Maggie the owner’s garden. The staff were really friendly and everyone eating there seemed to know everyone else. A small bit of me wanted to be part of their community.

Red pepper filo tart

Red pepper filo tart – Elishadder Art Cafe

One of the main highlights of the day, however, was our evening meal at the much talked about The Three Chimneys on the western part of the island in a stunningly idyllic place called Colbost. I’d been looking forward to this meal for weeks (although it was a Tuesday we had to book about two months ago.)

Like most of the other buildings on Skye, The Three Chimneys is an unassuming but beautiful white cottage.

The Three Chimneys

The Three Chimneys. Isle of Skye

As you go inside you feel like you’re stepping into an 18th century home with the dark stone walls surrounding you and the candlelight creating a welcoming glow. We tucked into some small snacks whilst we decided what to eat, including small cheese scones, mackerel pate and cheese straws as well as deliciously soft wholemeal bread. Both of us decided – without much hesitation – to go for the Seven Courses of Skye tasting menu. Once we’d decided this, the waiter brought a mini version of our menu on a tiny piece of paper held together by a red seal. Such a thoughtful touch.

Seven courses of Skye

Seven courses of Skye, The Three Chimneys

Before our first course was served we were given an amuse bouche of fish soup – a rich powerful salty soup very similar to a bouillabaisse. I wanted more. Our first course was Loch Dunvegan langoustines with tattie scones. We were presented with three succulent (peeled) langoustines with small chunks of sweet apple and fresh salad. Each langoustine appeared to be curled on top of each little pile of salad.

Loch Dunvegan langoustines

Loch Dunvegan langoustines with tattie scones

Next up was the course I was most unsure of initially as it sounded a bit odd on the menu: Colbost skink, marag dubh (gaelic for black pudding) and Talisker crumb with egg yolk. It came to the table in a little lidded pot and as the waiter lifted the lid, smoke poured out of it – very Heston. I was surprised at how I enjoyed the combination of the smoked fish topped with the crunchy black pudding (marag dubh). They were very strong flavours but the egg yolk cut through it all very well. I also really enjoyed the surprising after taste of Talisker whiskey.

Colbost skink

Colbost skink, marag dubh and Talisker crumb with egg yolk

Next was Jake’s favourite – Vol au vent of Loch Bradale crab. The fresh crab was served cold on top of a soft vol au vont and apple jelly. I really enjoyed the crab as you could really taste how fresh it was. It was very palette cleansing after the strong smoky flavours of the previous course.

Vol au vent of Loch Bradale crab

Vol au vent of Loch Bradale crab

Next I went for the oysters served three ways – the first au natural with a squeeze of lemon, the second grilled with bacon and the final one was served fresh with cucumber. Surprisingly, the plain fresh one with lemon was my favourite.

Loch Harport oysters, served three ways

Loch Harport oysters, served three ways

By course five (not including the bread, soup and scones at the beginning) I was starting to get pretty full – but we were then served with the course I’d most been waiting for… Sconser king scallop with gingerbread crust, asparagus and rhubarb. The scallop came to the table in its shell on top of a bed of sand within a bowl – very different! It looked like someone had just scooped it up from the beach. The gingerbread crust on the scallop was sweet as well as slightly caramelised and the scallop itself was soft and juicy. Probably the most delicious scallop I’ve ever eaten.

Sconser king scallop

Sconser king scallop with gingerbread crust, asparagus and rhubarb

Stupidly I forgot to take a photo of the penultimate course, the saddle and haunch of venison with celeriac remoulade and mixed beets. That’s probably because I was so full I could barely lift the camera by this point. I managed to eat the saddle of the venison which was rich and juicy – slightly pink in the middle as it should be. But I couldn’t eat the haunch as I found it far too strong and ‘gamey’.

And finally (at last) we came to pudding! I tucked into the Hot Marmalade pudding soufflé with Drambuie syrup and mealie ice cream whilst Jake had a chocolate version. The soufflé was pillowy soft and gooey in the middle. The sharp tang of the marmalade flavour was toned down by the beautiful oatmeal and vanilla ice cream.

Hot Marmalade pudding soufflé

Hot Marmalade pudding soufflé with Drambuie syrup and mealie ice cream

We rolled home merrily.

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