Life in Orkney is far from sedentary. After nine years, Orkney continues to stimulate a sense of fascination with its vibrant and progressive culture set in a rural, idyllic landscape and a background revelling in the ecologically rich traditions of farming and fishing.
In Orkney the term ‘discovery’ more usually applies to the subterranean remains of Palaeolithic and Neolithic dwellers but today we reveal a thoroughly modern and worthwhile discovery in Kirkwall.
Opposite the Cathedral there lies an inconspicuous alleyway. Blink and you’ll miss it or maybe you’re paying more attention to the precariously placed advertisement easel on the pavement to notice the narrow entrance. A few steps along the stone-clad alleyway takes you to one of Scotland’s oldest established wine merchants Kirkness & Gorie whom have plied their trade Kirkwall since 1859.
A charming establishment with an intriguing selection of fine wines and high-spirited whiskeys and sake, neatly surrounding a surprisingly cultured selection of French and Italian cheese, delicatessen fancies, specialist olive oils and the produce of Orkney charcuterie. All of this adorned with fine dining accessories that might make the most useful souvenirs of anyone’s trip to Orkney.
Equally charming is the author, playwright, musician, blues singer, lover of all things nice but nonetheless diffident, proprietor Duncan Mclean. One of those somewhat rare characters who does not have to make an effort to be pleasant; it is his default persona.
His love of French wine brings us to the unexpected find of ‘Bourgueil’ (pronunciation Bourgaye) from the Loire Valley which Duncan exclusively imports into the UK.
Bourgueil is delightful, young and frisky, fresh red with a fruity and subtle taste. For lovers of the cheese and wine affair a platter of Chaource, Epoisses and le Grand Rustique would find Bourgueil to be a super partner to complement such good fromage with a slight degree of palate cleansing between various mouthfuls. Moreover, Bourgueil is perfectly Sunday suited for family dinner with chicken, turkey, goose or pork without the heaviness that we sometimes crave to accompany beef or venison.
And finally to expect even more of the unexpected, it is a mere £12.50 a bottle but currently in an introductory phase at £9.99.
So all you Sunday dinner cooks - go for it.
Kirkness and Gorie Website
Kirkness and Gorie Facebook
Yesterday our two cultural exchange students from Nagoya Japan were invited to join a Pure Orkney scheduled walking tour for birding, nature and history. In five hours and thirty minutes they covered nearly 16 km of coastal topology.
Masato Nakano (studying economics) and Satoshi Nakane (studying architecture) were impressed by the number of bird species and insightful knowledge about their habits provided by tour leader Stan Groundwater. Our students both agreed that they had lost a little weight and gained much knowledge!
Stan Groundwater issued the invitation upon hearing that the two young Japanese gentlemen were contributing their time to help Kirkwall Grammar School students learn Japanese.
Our thanks to Pure Orkney.
This month we host two final year students from Nagoya city, Japan on a cultural exchange mission. Masato Nakano (studying economics) and Satoshi Nakane (studying architecture) can improve their conversational and written English, explore a variety of authentic European cuisine and gain an experience of British family life. In addition, both of these young gentlemen have contributed each week to Japanese lessons for a study group at Kirkwall Grammar School. Next week they will be making sushi with the school pupils.
Today, Masato won the six mile Sports Relief charity run finishing some five minutes before the second-place runner. We congratulate him.
Rather unfortunately, the last-minute decision for Masato to run resulted in his fundraising page being produced only a short while before the event. So if any kind-hearted people wish to make a small donation please follow this link: https://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/satoshiandmasatochallenge/donate
Our family benefit too, from the additional exposure to goodly Japanese people and make a contribution to the cultural exchange mission. 11-year-old daughter Ayaka is firmly in the role of English teacher for the visiting students.
Wasabi is difficult to grow outside of its natural Asian environment of mountain streams sheltered by overhanging trees and foliage. Hence it is rare and expensive. Powder or tubes of paste commonly labelled as wasabi often contain either none or just minor traces of the real thing.
So when you get a rhizome it is worth looking after. Wrapped in moist paper can be kept in the chiller section of your fridge for approximately a month.
How to prepare wasabi - (be happy)
Firstly, thoroughly clean the top end (which has the most flavour) and gently break off any shoots (they can be finely chopped to make an interesting addition to a salad). Do not peel the skin of the wasabi stems because the most intense flavour is the outer part that is closest to the skin. Next, the wasabi is best prepared using an "Oroshi” which, rather than grating into lumps, pulverises the wasabi into a paste. The Oroshi pictured here is a traditional wooden paddle shape covered with sharkskin to form the abrasive surface against which the wasabi is gently rubbed in a continuous circular action. This results in a fine wasabi paste. Small round ceramic alternatives to the traditional "Oroshi" are widely available.
A commonly held belief in Japan is that one should be in our happy light-hearted frame of mind while rubbing wasabi which results in a fine paste that releases more of the uniquely pungent wasabi flavour. Rubbing aggressively creates lumpy paste which does not taste as good as a smoother emulsion. Science supports this, as it is the release of wasabi's glucosinolates and the enzyme myrosianse that create isothiocynates, which result in the most desirable flavours and creates the best nutritional advantage. So once more we find that traditional beliefs can be ratified by the evidence of scientific research. Maybe we should all listen to grandmother more often!
The process of preparing wasabi is often referred to as grating but using a traditional grater simply carves off lumps that will not achieve the stimulating flavours of wasabi.
As we have written about previously timing is important: it is best to prepare your fresh wasabi during the late stages of food preparation so that ideally it is served within ten minutes of being created. This link below explains why:
"This church had 134 years of weddings, blessings and Sunday school; it must be Inculcated with love, the walls must exude happiness and joy." Keiko Yamaga-White November 2007