29 September 2009
After lunch, we drove through some really heavy rain to The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant in Port Appin where we were greeted with “You must be Mr and Mrs Ruscoe!” and the news that we’d been upgraded to a better room because we were on our honeymoon!
The view from our window at The Pierhouse Hotel
After dropping off our bags in the room, we both had a quiet pint of local beer in the residents-only lounge and were pleasantly surprised with a card from the staff congratulating us on our marriage. We then had a chat with the friendly owner, Nick, before getting ready for dinner.
When we went back downstairs, we were given a complimentary glass of champagne and led to the best table in the house, which had been sprinkled with heart-shaped confetti!
The food here was fantastic, using really good locally supplied ingredients which were perfectly prepared.
Suzy: Cajun Chicken & Crab Fritter with Garlic Mayonnaise Dip
Tony: West Coast Scallops – Seared Plump Local Scallops served with a Caponata of Aubergine, Pine Nuts & Pesto
Both: Pierhouse Platter – Outstanding Seafood Caught from Lismore, Loch Etive, Loch Linnhe, Mull & Inverawe. Langoustines, Scallop, Oyster, Mussels, Fresh & Smoked Salmon, Rollmop and Fresh Bread.
Suzy: [Sorry, can’t remember!]
Tony: Homemade Sorbets – Rosewater, Strawberry and Guava
After dinner, we retreated to the residents’ lounge for a coffee and a Scotch. Since I’m still learning about which whiskies I prefer, Nick recommended one for me based on some others I like, so I now know that I also like Macallan but unfortunately can’t remember which one I had!
For breakfast, we both had porridge made with Scottish oats and then Suzy had poached eggs while I had kippers before catching the small ferry to the Isle of Lismore.
Lismore is a small island with very few signs. After walking down the road for a little while, we gave up trying to find the café and followed a sign to Port Ramsay. After reaching the end of the road there, we turned around and made our way back to the ferry, where we then saw the signs for hiring bikes! (If you ever visit Lismore, I would recommend trying to book some bikes to hire in advance unless you’re seasoned ramblers who don’t mind walking without knowing where you’re going!)
Castle Stalker from Castle Stalker View
For lunch we went to Castle Stalker View to get a closer look at Castle Stalker. Then we visited Oban Distillery and had a taste of some cask-strength Scotch whisky during the tour before buying a bottle of the normal stuff to bring home. To give the alcohol a chance to work through my system, we took a look around Oban and McCaig’s Tower before heading back to the hotel.
The Oban Distillery
Although we were within walking distance of a couple more hotels and restaurants, we decided to eat at The Pierhouse again since we’d already spotted a few more things on the menu that we wanted to try.
Suzy: Smoked Halibut and Swordfish with Caper Berries and Salad
Tony: Pierhouse Oysters – Chilled and served with Spicy Chorizo, Raspberry & Shallot Vinaigrette
Suzy: Soy, Sesame, Garlic & Chilli Stir Fried Tiger Prawns served with Rice Noodles
Tony: Seaweed, Lemon & Pepper Crusted Fillet of Cod served with Sugar Snap Peas
Shared: Whisky Ice-Cream followed by a Selection of Cheeses
For breakfast, we both had cereal followed by a full Scottish breakfast, then left the friendly staff at the wonderful Pierhouse and jumped in the car to drive to our next destination...
Labels: food, personal, restaurants, travel
Since it was pretty much on our way to our destination, we stopped off in Edinburgh for a few hours to grab a sandwich and have a look around Edinburgh Castle.
Suzy and Tony at Edinburgh Castle
Then we battled with the city centre one-way system, with most of the roads still closed from the Edinburgh Festival and tram works, before finally getting out of Edinburgh, ditching the sat-nav, and taking a more relaxed scenic drive through the woodlands of The Trossachs heading for Balquhidder.
After driving for six miles down a single track road heading for nowhere, we eventually arrived at Monachyle Mhor Hotel and were shown to our exquisite room, complete with spa bath, with just enough time to relax for a moment before getting ready for dinner in their restaurant.
Canapés at Monachyle Mhor
Chef Tom Lewis – who you may have seen in the Great British Menu series shown on BBC2 in 2006 – produces some really special food. Here’s what we had:
Both: Mackerel on toast, tomato and basil gaspacho and breaded balls of haggis
[Sorry, these weren’t on the printed menu we brought away, so those are my lame descriptions which don’t really do them justice!]
Both: A Ballotine of Truffled Confit Chicken with Red Wine Shallots
Suzy: Hand Dived Orkney Scallops with Brown Crab Risotto, Buttered Spinach and a Shellfish Velouté
Tony: Perthshire Lamb Fillet and Ratatouille Tart, Aubergine Purée, Fine Beans with Tomato and Olive Emulsion
Both: A Demitasse of Broccoli Soup with a Crispy Goat’s Cheese Topping
Suzy: Highland Beef Fillet and Cheek with Sautéed Spinach, Celeriac Purée, Ginger Carrots and Tarragon Jus
Tony: Scrabster Halibut Bourguignon Roasted Shallot and Garlic Purée, Samphire, Celery and Broad Beans
Suzy: Double Roasted Peach Cobbler with Pecan Biscotti and Spiced Peach Sorbet
Tony: Dark Chocolate and Tonka Bean Pavé with Salpicon of Pineapple, Glengoyne Whisky Ice Cream
The conservatory restaurant at the front of the building offers some relaxing views of The Trossachs looking out over Loch Voil. Our table was in one of the alcoves, so felt even more special and romantic. The good service and excellent food here got our honeymoon off to a great start. It was definitely worth that six-mile drive into the middle of nowhere!
Monachyle Mhor Hotel
Despite being pretty full from the previous night’s meal, we still managed to enjoy the wonderful breakfast. Suzy had yoghurt and fruit compote followed by scrambled egg with smoked salmon and I had homemade muesli followed by smoked haddock with poached egg.
After a mooch about their garden and shop, we had a quick chat with Tom, the owner, before continuing our drive through The Trossachs, stopping at several viewpoints to take some photos along the way before having lunch at The Bluebell Café.
Labels: food, personal, restaurants, travel
As you would probably expect, we went on honeymoon after we got married.
We decided on Scotland since we’d never been before and had heard great things about the food there, particularly the seafood, which we both love to eat. I guess it’s also the type of place where you wouldn’t usually want to spend a lot of money to live in luxury for the week, so it seemed like a good time to treat ourselves to something we might not get chance to do again.
Since it was one of the few things I had to organise for the wedding, I decided to put my feet up and delegate the responsibility to a company called McKinlay Kidd who specialise in planning short breaks in Scotland.
Given a brief of “a romantic break / seafood trail combination” McKinlay Kidd sent me a free, tailor-made proposal which described all the hotels, restaurants and routes we’d be taking. The proposal sounded ideal, so I booked it after doing a bit of research to find out which hotels we’d actually be staying at. (The proposal doesn’t actually name the hotels, presumably to try and discourage people from booking directly with the hotels after receiving the proposal, but it didn’t take much effort to work it out.)
McKinlay Kidd say they include a £7 per person per night service charge in their fees which they guarantee to refund if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd hasn’t met your expectations. I found that booking through them was only around £15-20 more expensive in total than it would have been had I booked with the hotels directly, so I’d definitely recommend booking through McKinlay Kidd if you’re planning a trip around Scotland to save yourself all the extra hassle of dealing with several different companies.
A week or two before the honeymoon, they sent me a pack containing a touring map of Scotland, some brochures, directions and our hotel accommodation vouchers, so we were all set for Scotland!
Since I’ve been trying to write this post for the past three weeks, I’ve decided to break it up into more manageable chunks. As each one becomes available, I’ll also link to it here:
And if you’d rather just look at the photos, they’re available in my Honeymoon set on Flickr.
Labels: food, personal, restaurants, travel
9 September 2009
After proposing to Suzy last year, we finally got married last month. Here’s a photo that Chris took:
You can view some more photos taken by our guests here, here and here.
We both had a fantastic day. I won’t bore you with all the details, but we wanted to give credit to the companies that helped to make our wedding day so special. In no particular order, thanks to:
And, of course, thanks to everyone who sent us congratulations and good luck messages via Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter, email, post and in person!