The Scottish town that developed a 'signature menu' based on local food and eating customs
The town of Huntly, aided by food specialist Simon Preston, develop a Signature Menu
A market town with its roots in agriculture, food should be an important part of life in Huntly. In autumn 2012 I was invited to take up a position as artist-in-resident by local contemporary arts organisation Deveron Arts to help reinvigorate Huntly’s food identity. During the project – entitled ‘The Town is the Menu’ – I uncovered what makes the place unique by travelling around Huntly with a specially designed dining table, offering tea and cake in exchange for stories about food and everything else.
The culmination of the residency was the launch of a Signature Menu inspired by these stories. Eight local businesses adopted dishes from the menu, with local chefs stepping into the light to reaffirm that people care about what they cook. The bakery wants to produce artisan loaves; the supermarkets want to sell ingredients for the Signature Menu dishes and Deveron Arts are helping to disseminate the recipes. Here’s an introduction to a few of them:
Deveron Cure Trout with beetroot, dill and rapeseed oil mayonnaise
Local trout lightly cured with beetroot and dill, bringing a Nordic taste to the dish as the Nordic Ski Centre does to the banks of the fish-rich River Deveron. Garnished with a drizzle of herb rapeseed oil or mayonnaise in the ‘7’ shape made by the Deveron and Bogie rivers as they merge to the north east of the town.
Hairst Steak and Ale Pie with neeps and a treacle scone crust
This pie was served at Huntly’s annual Hairst food festival and starts with a layer of Angus steak from butchers Scott’s or Forbes Raeburn, slow-cooked in local ale (such as BrewDog) and stout. A top layer of mashed neeps is added, which are grown locally for humans and farm animals. The pie is topped with a treacle scone just like the Halloween ones that were historically spread with treacle and tied with string to the washing pulley for children to jump up to and bite.
Tap o’ Noth Bun
Known elsewhere as a cinnamon bun, the Huntly version has become a staple of cultural events held in the town. Made to Daisy Williamson’s recipe, they resemble the Hill of Noth, a low and rounded hill with an ancient fort near Rhynie village where Daisy lives, a few miles from Huntly.
See deveron-arts.com for full recipes or celebrate Aberdeenshire’s food and culture at bepartofthepicture.com
Other dishes on the menu include:
Classic Huntly Tattie Soup with Diane Ingram’s oatcakes
Strathbogie Haggis Circle with dipping sauce
Gordon Highlander Kedgeree
Clashmach Venison Carpaccio
Aberdeen Angus Steak optionally with Huntly whisky smoked butter
Harry Potter’s Huntly Mess
Sticky Toffee Pudding with tablet ice cream
Dishes from Huntly’s Signature Menu are available at hotels, cafés and eateries throughout the town including the Huntly Hotel, Gordon Arms Hotel, The Castle Hotel, Park Lane Café, Dean’s Cafe & Bistro, The Larder, The Merry Kettle, Destiny Café, Tesco Huntly and more.