March 5, 2013
With its bustling harbour and busy port, Aberdeen is a prime spot for fish lovers looking for daily catch from the North Sea and first class shellfish from Scotland’s surrounding islands. Back on land, the city’s rolling Highland hills offer fertile ground for organic, grass-fed cattle, with a clutch of local chefs keen to push the culinary card and make the most of Scotland’s larder.
You are practically on the boat,” laughs Didier Dejean, proprietor and chef at Aberdeen’s Silver Darling. Set on the harbourside, Dejean’s up-market eatery sources 70-80% of its menu from the North Sea to create plates with French, Oriental and Mediterranean flavours. “We have scallops, tiger prawns and mussels coming from Shetland in the west coast and then local crabs, oysters, cod and more coming from the North Sea; in summer we have two boats going out to get fresh lobster. It’s about using local ingredients where possible to create dishes I know and love.” A similar ethos is at play across at Aberdeen’s Moonfish Cafe, run by cook and travel lover Christian Recomio, alongside head chef Brian McLeish. French fancy runs deeply here as simple cooking techniques create dishes out of diver-caught scallops and crayfish caught locally before hitting the plate with inspiration taken from Recomio’s travels around the globe.
On the outskirts of Aberdeen, a trio of chefs are conjuring up a feast for the more carnivorous diner. At 2012’s Gastropub of the Year The Cock & Bull, head chef Michael Middleton is committed to using Scotland’s finest wherever he can. Beef and pork come from the stock farms of Buchan and Kincardineshire, while the game comes from the Highlands. Over at Udny Green (Eat on the Green), twenty minutes outside the city centre, Craig Wilson – aka The Kilted Chef – has transformed a small village pub info a fine-dining restaurant, frequented by the likes of Sir Sean Connery, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Patrick Stewart. Scottish staples include Aberdeen Angus beef, Highland venison, Stornoway black pudding, and fruit and vegetables from Wilson’s back garden.
For more casual dining with inventive flair, Dave More at MUSA has become something of a local hero, garnering thousands of hits on YouTube for showcasing his simple but effective culinary set pieces. Set within a renovated 19th century church, this edgy arts venue owned by James Watt (co-founder of Brewdog, beer fans), boasts a menu celebrating Scottish produce with some quirky flair: haggis, apricot and coriander spring rolls for starter are a popular favourite. “It’s about having a bit of bravado,” explains head chef More. “You can make great things out of very simple ingredients. Scotland has the most amazing produce on its doorstep, so it’s about being creative and letting it do the hard work.”