Recipes: James Martin’s Islands to Highlands

james martin image

James Martin’s Great British Adventure brought him back to Scotland last year, and he rediscovered just how much he loved our country and our food

Here we are again, on a great follow-up trip to the Great British Adventure but this time going further, higher and deeper into the world of British food and the people who make it. I’ve always said that the only way to fully understand and appreciate food is to see it being made, grown and produced, and only then can you understand how much time and work it takes for the people involved.

We live in a world of convenience where food and drink are only a short visit or click away. It is so sad to see more and more food purveyors, from butchers and fishmongers to market stall holders, becoming visitors’ attractions rather than everyday necessities to community life. Food is increasingly mass-produced, tasteless and criminally cheap.

Having been on this amazing journey – and it really was eye-opening – I have learnt so much from the passionate people who work in the hills, on remote islands and out at sea, who make the beautiful food we can enjoy. There are so many highlights to tell you about. Scotland – wow, Scotland – you have so much to give, where the Highland cows stood majestically on a hillside as I wandered among them to feed them; the Isle of Skye where I walked up a glen and saw a herd of deer at the top staring back at me; and in the end, a fitting tribute to Shetland – what scenery, what wildlife – where we spotted seals, dolphins, whales and birds of prey within 20 minutes of getting in a boat.

The Shetland paella featured here was the last dish I cooked on the trip and it really summed up the amazing produce they have in this part of the world, featuring both local fish and shellfish. I want to thank all the fishermen that brave the seas around these parts to deliver our catch – particularly Rob, who managed to get all the produce for me. I hope he enjoyed the dish, as I gave him not just the meal, but also the pan, the table … in fact everything on the last day of filming on location!

That last day in Shetland was the icing on the cake for me, a cake in which every ingredient is special. If we don’t support it and understand it, it will crumble. We all have the power to keep it special. I urge you to open your eyes and look at how beautiful this place is that we call home.

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