Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Port Charlotte Hotel & Bar, Islay, Scotland

The Port Charlotte Hotel and Bar, Islay, Scotland

The Port Charlotte Hotel and Bar, Islay, Scotland
I'm trying to focus, decide on which of the 149 different whiskies in front of me I want to try first.  But the seductive crackle of the fire and the lively tunes from the Scottish band playing to my left are vying for my attention.  My conclusion?  There are worse ways to conclude a day of learning about Whisky.

The Port Charlotte Hotel and Bar is located on an island known as "The Queen of the Hebrides" on the most Southern point of the Inner Hebrides, Islay.  Sitting prominently on Main Street overlooking Loch Indaal, it's hard not to be transported to a peaceful mindset.  The Port Charlotte Hotel may be small, housing a mere ten rooms inside its whitewashed stone walls, but it is steeped in beauty and local culture.  From the art that lines the walls of the cozy residents lounge, to the restaurant serving local seafood and game, to a bar that comes alive with music and spirits when the sun goes down, the atmosphere doesn't invite the word small - it invites the word welcoming.

Once you've stashed your bags in your room and locked the door using a good old-fashioned key, grab your camera and head out for your day that is sure to be filled with time spent marveling at the sheep, cows, and Highland cattle grazing everywhere from the grassy outcrops on the beach to the precarious ledges jutting out of the sloping hills.

Friday, September 28, 2012

On the Brain: Ballymaloe, Heather, Whisky, and Whiskey

Yes.  I said Whisky and Whiskey.  Do you know the difference?  Because after spending a week touring distilleries in Ireland and Scotland, I can say with confidence that I do.  But it's no secret.  And it's nothing complex.  The Scots spell it without an 'e', the Irish spell it with an 'e'.


And while I had an amazing time getting very familiar with Whisk(e)y, I was also fortunate enough to get a visit to Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, Ireland.  And not only did I get to visit, I actually met and spoke with both Darina Allen and Rachel Allen.
Ballymaloe is a magical place.  Welcoming, inviting, and beautiful.  That's all my brain can transfer to my fingers right now, but I have so much to tell.

Oh yeah, and another life-long dream realized - I (Heather) saw Heather (the plant) in Scotland.  It doesn't get much better than that.  Unless you count sitting in a bar on an island in the most Southern of the Hebridean Islands of the west coast of Scotland listening to a live rendition of Loch Lomond.  Yeah.  That was pretty stellar all in and of itself.
Also, seafood.  Seafood caught mere hours...maybe even moments...before making its way into my mouth and into my waiting belly.  It was glorious.  So tell me, have you ever drizzled a little smoky, peaty Scotch Whisky into your oyster before throwing it back?  If you haven't, you should remedy that.  Soon.

Okay all, I just wanted to put up a little update...a little let you know that even though I haven't posted anything in close to a week and a half (that's a long time for me), I'm still here.  My brain and my body are just otherwise occupies.  With thoughts of Ireland and Scotland.  Of Whisk(e)y and barley and pot stills.  Of oysters and lobster and crab and fish and mussels and salmon.  Of brown bread.  Of Heather and Highland Cattle.

And of how in the heck I'm going to wrangle all of those things up and make them into cohesive thoughts and sentences.  Because while it may sound like a vacation, I was working.  More updates to come...