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Reviews / A cornucopia of island cuisine at Clickimin

MC Davie Gardner watches nervously as celebrity chef tests the heat locally-grown chillies have given his spicy dahl. Photo Elizabeth Atia

THE SHETLAND Food Fair 2015 kicked off in style on Friday night with a fantastic food-filled event in the main hall of the Clickimin Leisure Centre, Lerwick. Food blogger Elizabeth Atia attended to sample the wares.

The launch of this annual celebration of all things wonderful about Shetland’s food and drink scene began with an inspiring speech by Elaine Jamieson of the Highlands and Islands food sector and a talk by Peter Hutchison, customer services representative of NorthLink Ferries, who, alongside Shetland Transport, are sponsoring this weekend long event.

Stalls showcasing the finest food and drinks available in Shetland have been located around the perimeter of the hall with a cookery stage run by Promote Shetland at the front.

There are plenty of tables and chairs available for relaxing and trying out new products, and staff from the Lerwick-based catering company Lodberri Deli are providing canapés and light lunch options made with local produce.

At Friday’s opening event Rhanna Turberville, chair of the Food Fair organising committee, said: “Visitors to the food fair this weekend will be amongst the first people to taste, and give feedback on, some fantastic new Shetland food and drink products.

Steve Carter from Saxa Vord deftly prepares canapes. Photo Elizabeth Atia

“The profile and impact of Shetland produce has really grown in the last 12 months and we hope that the ever-growing range of delicious products will give Shetland folk, and folk across the UK, even more reason to buy food and drink from Shetland.”

New products launched at the Shetland Food Fair this weekend include:

Frankie’s Finest – a dry fish and chip batter mix specially made for Frankie’s Fish & Chips by Middleton Food Products Ltd and sold in the shop for £1.99 for a 250g bag; it’s available at the Food Fair for a discounted price of £1.75.

Frankie’s manager Valerie Johnson said: “We’ve been using this new batter in the shop for about a month now and it went down really well while we were in Japan recently – leftovers went to the British Embassy!”

• Yell-based business Da Kitchen Bakery is launching two new products: the Cheese Scone – in collaboration with picklers Shetlandeli – using their Taing Onion Marmalade as a key ingredient, and a Shetland Dairy Cream Horn made with local milk.

Baker Stephen Thompson said: “We are a great advocate of using fresh local produce where we can and in the bakery we rely on Shetland Dairy to supply all our milk, cream and butter, so this collaboration with Shetlandeli is equally exciting.”

• Lerwick Brewery’s Lerwick IPA is the fourth addition to the company’s core range, promising a traditional style of beer brewed with modern techniques. Rich amber brown in colour, this new beer at five per cent ABV combines American cascade hops and caramel malty sweetness to produce a flavour sensation. It will be available shortly in local shops, pubs and hotels, and is available to try at the Food Fair.

• Shetlandeli’s Kishie is the fifth addition in the pickle maker’s award-winning range.

Robert Tonkinson of The Quernstone proudly displays some of his baking delights. Photo Elizabeth Atia

Shetlandeli founder Jill Franklin said: “Kishie is very different to any of our other products, but we hope that it’s going to attract as much interest. We infuse crispy carrot and turnip with ginger, orange and cardamom to make a lovely sticky relish.

“We’ve had incredible feedback from our taste panel and they think Kishie is perfect with poppadums and spicy food, cheese and cold meat, and even tuna and salad. We can’t wait to get feedback from visitors at the Fair.”

• The Shetland Distillery Company is launching Shetland Reel Ocean Sent Gin, made with seaweed harvested from the shoreline in Unst, home to the distillery.

Shetland Distillery Company director Stuart Nickerson said: “This is a very well balanced, dry London gin with the local bladder wrack giving a highly distinctive taste. It has a real depth of flavour and serves as a fabulous cocktail base as well as a superb gin in its own right. We’re delighted to be launching this exciting new product at the Shetland Food Fair.”

• Shetland Fudge is launching its new range of Luxury Drinking Chocolate made with Belgian chocolate flakes at the fair, and is looking forward to visitors tasting this new product.

Managing director Nicola Johnston said: “All you have to do is add three tablespoons – or more for that extra-rich taste – to hot milk and stir to get the perfect hot chocolate experience.”

Rhanna Turberville hopes as many people as possible will come along and sample the growing range of food and drink products being made in modern Shetland.

“Shetland food and drink producers are passionate about getting feedback from our customers at home, so we hope that as many Shetland folk as possible come to taste the new products.

“We look forward to hearing everyone’s feedback at the food fair.”

The Shetland Food Fair is in the Clickimin Leisure Centre’s main hall and runs from 11am on Saturday until 6pm, and from 11am until 5pm on Sunday.

Admission is £2 per adult with children free. Weekend passes will be available for the first time, either on the door or in advance from Scoop Wholefoods, priced £3.50.

Visitors to the launch on Friday night were treated to a cookery demonstration by celebrity chef Tony Singh, who delighted the audience with his down to earth cooking tips and techniques.

He prepared a spicy dahl recipe using local chillies with Shetland scallops, which went down very well with the audience taste testers, followed by a Q&A session.

There will be cookery demonstrations on throughout the whole weekend.