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Reviews / Food Fair: A mouth-watering event

Peter Sinclair demonstrating the art of bannock making - all photos: Elizabeth Atia

SHETLAND foodies were treated to a fantastic, mouth-watering event this weekend with the show-stopping Shetland Food Fair organised by the Shetland Food Producers Group, writes Elizabeth Atia.

After locating a free space in the overfilled car park, dodging the heavy rain and queuing to get in, I wasn’t at all prepared for what I was about to experience.

The closer you got to the multi-use room next to the bustling Shetland Craft Fair, the more I heard “Oooh that smells so good!” and I watched people divert to the source of those mouth-watering home-cooking scents.

Jay Hawkins of Shetland Cheese.

The room was packed. At the far end a very impressive cooking stage was set up, sponsored by A Taste of Shetland, and author of the newly launched Shetland Food and Cooking Marian Armitage was busy preparing her Valhalla Beef Casserole to a keen audience.

Samples of her tender, flavoursome casserole were served and this whet the appetite perfectly for the wide variety delicious Shetland produce on offer.

Cookery demonstrations were on for the whole event and included John Gold from Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop cooking mussels to Peter Sinclair making his very popular Shetland bannocks.

There was a palpable excitement in the air as people tasted samples and filled their shopping bags.

In addition to the superb cookery demonstration stage, the multi-use room exhibitors included the award winning Frankie’s Fish and Chips (with Blueshell Mussels), Sandwick Pork, Gateside Pork and Produce and the Lodberries Deli.

Shetland Reel Gin - a new spirit from up north.

Tables were set up for people to sit and eat the home bakes, pies and pastries on offer at the Lodberries Deli (I had the carrot cake with a coffee) while Blueshell Mussels were serving samples of their gorgeous Shetland cumin cheese and smoked bacon mussels.

I made a mental note to pick up a bag of this trial product before I left. If all goes well customers will be able to buy their new range of mussels in sauces in local shops soon. Watch this space!
Along the corridor between the bowls hall and the squash courts, Shetland Cheese, Liz’s Homebakes and Preserves, Vidlin Pies, Shaw Marketing, the Lodberries Deli (with a grab and go stall), Shetland Fudge and the Lerwick Abattoir (on Sunday) were all displaying their wares and chatting with visitors.

In the squash court, new on the foodie scene Shetlandeli launched the fourth in their range of chutneys and preserves: Spiggie – a sharp and tangy courgette pickle (very yum, but I opted for a jar of their Taing onion marmalade), while Katja’s German Bakes served up a great selection of home bakes (I bought their last pack of jam filled heart shaped shortbread biscuits).

Da Kitchen Bakery, visiting for the first time all the way down from the island of Yell, had a wide range of home bakes and pies on offer, while Transition Turriefield were selling their fabulous organic produce (including their ring of fire chillies) and offering advice on sustainable home growing.

Three drinks producers also had stalls: the Lerwick Brewery, winner of the ‘Highly Commended’ award in the best drink category at this year’s prestigious Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, Valhalla Brewery with their range of high quality craft ales and another new-on-the-scene company: Shetland Reel Gin from Unst with the last of their limited edition first production run bottles of gin neatly packaged up in a Shetland tweed bag. I might have bought myself an early birthday present at their stall.

The Shetland Times had a stall with Marian Armitage signing copies of her new cookery book, and Brigg’s Shetland Lamb, Scoop Wholefoods, Artisan Island Cheese, the Island Oven and Skibhoul Bakery from with their oceanic oatcakes from Unst were all chatting with visitors to their stalls in between busy sales.