The trick, it turns out is butter. What I hadn’t really accounted for was quite how much of it was used. Of all the lessons I learnt at Ardoe House’s Masterclass, it was the liberal use of butter that stuck out the most. I mean seriously we’re talking a lot of butter. Think you’ve got too much? Add some more and you’ll be somewhere in the sphere of how much butter was used. Somewhere. And it was god damn delicious.
I mean of course it’s not all butter. From the salt-baked vegetables to the locally sourced double-dived scallops, the former Aberdeen mansion made for the perfect setting to explore some of Scotland’s finest produce. Arriving to a picnic basket of goodies with a copy of the menu for the evening, there was one for certain. I was not going to go hungry.
The 3 course Scottish tasting menu sounded mouthwatering, hitting all my gastronomical keystones. Sweet, super fat glossy scallops? Slow cooked tender venison? And whisky anything? My mouth was watering which definitely made the process of watching it be prepared all the more difficult. Each course though, was designed as a journey through Scotland, highlighting some of the countries best produce and flavours.
We started off with a double dived scallop with pork belly slow cooked and braised in cider, presented with a trio of beetroot flavours. It was a gorgeous mix with the sweetness of the fish complimented perfectly by the earthiness of the beetroot. It’s a wonderful balancing act that works well here. The pork belly in itself is tasty, but feels a little bit excessive and didn’t really add anything. I’ve never really got pork belly and really the dish would have been perfectly fine without it.
The real crowning jewel of the meal however is the 24 hour braised shoulder of venison. I’ve got a soft spot for game and this dish ticked all the boxes for me. I have to confess I didn’t really taste much difference between salt baked vegetables and standard well seasoned veg (I know, I’m a philistine) but from the onion tart tatin (a favourite among our table) and the venison bon bon – this really was one treat after another.
Closing everything off was something sweet, light with a smoky rich kick. The crannachan souffle was moreish but the whisky sorbet was the highlight for me. Talk about an aperitif you can eat. After such heavy courses beforehand, you really wanted something like this to finish.
Ardoe House have placed an emphasis on sourcing the very best products, local where possible (and this isn’t hard with the wealth of Scottish produce in the area) and a classic menu playing to those strengths. There really hasn’t been a better time to eat Scottish.