Sue Hitchen visited Kinloch Lodge on Skye, the Misty Isle, for a weekend’s foraging, otter spotting, gin making and fine dining
Set at the foot of Kinloch Hill and at the head of Loch na Dal on the Isle of Skye, Kinloch Lodge was the family home of food writer and cook Lady Claire Macdonald, and is now run by her daughter Isabella and her friendly, welcoming team. Interiors are Scottish country-cosy – walls lined with family portraits, roaring fires and comfy sofas.
Marcello Tully’s restaurant is the focal point, offering a 5- or 7-course dinner menu that embraces the island’s bounty. Wonderfully sweet, aromatic parsnip soup full of the aniseed flavours of Pernod was a great start, served with Isle of Mull Cheddar and cracked pepper bread and homemade butters.
Crispy Black Isle lamb shoulder came deep fried and piping hot – the shredded lamb wonderfully tender with subtle flavours of mint jus and pureed peas, while Marcello’s version of surf n’ turf was a delight, with melting Mallaig monkfish, slow-roasted Moray pork, tangy apple gel and madeira jus.
Marcello’s special seared West Coast scallops were delightfully sweet, delicate and tender, with heightened flavours and a kick of spice from a rich and creamy peanut sauce. The stars of the show, though, were langoustines served on a warm crab mousse, bursting with crabmeat and the delicious surprise of claws stuffed with scallop mousse.
No Scottish trip in autumn is complete without game, and the Fort August venison fillet was delightful, accompanied by sweet parsnip, carrots and baked apple. Then it was time for the cheese course, and the burst of flavours in the caramelised fig relish really worked with the local goats cheese and crisp Parmesan biscuit.
Savoury taste buds thoroughly satisfied, it was on to pudding. Biting into the white chocolate bombe revealed a wonderfully sweet vanilla panna cotta, and we delighted in the tart flavours of the accompanying mango sorbet. Petits four and coffee in the drawing room in front of the open fire was a perfect end to the evening.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast that included Marcello’s award winning porridge, we set out with our guide Ben Yoxon for an otterspotting expedition to a beach that had reported recent activity, and were delighted, after a patient wait, to see a wild otter feeding and basking in the sunlight.
Then it was off to Isle of Skye Distillers, where, with botanicals foraged with Mitch from Kinloch including hogweed seeds, bog myrtle, wild raspberries and meadowsweet, we spent the afternoon concocting our own gin using a miniature copper pot still. Guided by expert gin maker Alistair, we produced our own personalised bottle of gin.
Back at the hotel, masseuse Anita Myatt treated me to a wonderful, holistic massage with her own blend of essential oils. Time to relax in the bathtub in my room, which had wonderful views over the loch and the setting sun.
HOW TO BOOK
Kinloch Lodge’s three-day foraging package includes:
DAY 1 Arrival, welcome drinks, five-course dinner
DAY 2 Morning foraging with Skye Ghillie including foraged cocktails, five-course dinner
DAY 3 3-hour group gin making class with Isle of Skye Distillers including a 500ml bottle of your own hand-made gin, seven-course dinner.
The package price starts at £620 per person.