This was the weekend that Shetland Food Festival 2009 starts and what a great experience it has been! A culmination of the best quality local produce - lamb, pork, beef, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, red cabbage, neeps, leeks and a wide variety of fish and seafood - salmon, smoked mussels, trout, halibut, scallops were found at this weekend's Producers' market at the Clickmin Leisure Centre. Here we tasted some of the best smoked salmon we ever have thanks to Shetland Products, we had coffee from UK's most northerly café - the Café Consulate and sampled tarts and canapés prepared by chefs from UK's most northerly restaurant - the Saxa Vord Resort. There were various demonstrations throughout the two days from master chefs George McIvor, Andrew Wilkie, Shetland own chef Glynn Wright and many local experts.
Following the style of a popular TV programme - Ready Steady Cook, the organizers came up with Ready Steady Shetland with Shetland's local ingredients in the bag in which I had a chance to participate and cook with chefs Andrew Wilkie and George McIvor. With £15 budget I got some Shetland lamb, Shetland black tatties (potatoes), beetroot, some fresh herbs, garlic, lime, a can each of chickpeas and tomatoes for the green team. Chef Andrew created four amazing dishes with my ingredients in a span of 45 minutes - a potato "roastie" with beetroot salad, a chunky soup with lamb and chickpeas, chargrilled lamb with fried potatoes and a lamb steak seasoned with cumin and topped with a tomato and herb raita. It was a very enjoyable session with Paul, the anchor, asking varied questions while I kept peeling potatoes with great speed, friendly battle of words, some great on the spot recipe innovations by the professionals and lots of flavour and fun. The pink kitchen (with chef George McIvor and his Thermomix) had marginally more votes (the word "marginally" being crucial here), but at the end there was no win or loss I think - only learning great techniques and sampling wonderful recipes from the master chefs.
The demonstrations by master chefs and novices were very informative and fun, and the end product was always tasty and of the highest quality. The master class with local chef Glynn Wright and fisherman Dave Parham showcased 11 things you can do with "white fish" pollock in a span of 50 minutes after fisherman Dave showed us how to fillet it. It was simply superb. There was a great participation from a mesmerized Shetland audience and food enthusiasts from eight year olds to eighty had two enjoyable days of pure culinary bliss.