I used to spend a lot of my childhood holidays in and around Aviemore but I’ve not been to the town in about twenty five years. I think that might need to change in the near future with a visit to The Mountain Cafe, where Kirsten Gilmour, after an interesting personal and culinary journey seems to have captured her Kiwi heritage, along the feel good food you want after a day in the Cairngorms, all wrapped up in wonderful Scottish produce.
Breakfasts, soups, salads and mains are accompanied by breads and bakes, and all washed down with smoothies, coffee, and the odd boozy tipple. The breakfasts are really simple, hearty but subtle, with porridge and french toast accompanied by earl grey poached stone fruits and cardamom infused oranges.
The soup chapter is fantastic; it would be unthinkable to have a cafe in the Scottish highlands and not offer soup, but the combinations of flavours I find really exciting; smoked fish, cider and celeriac sounds like my kind of combination, and chestnut mushroom and tarragon has the mouth watering. There’s a fair sprinkling of ‘super sexy’ in the salads which demonstrate a broad range of flavour influences from North Africa to the Middle East, and South East Asia to the Mediterranean, while the mains are comforting and homely. Two recipes in the chapter stand out, cider and sage BBQ chicken, simple yet you just know it packs so much flavour, along with butternut, peanut, chilli and coconut fritters, this flavour combination is one that I’ll be trying just as soon as it stops raining….
I’m not much of a baker, but the baking chapter has me reaching for the kitchen scales. Ranging from classics like Anzacs and millionaires shortbread, to chocolate and cardamom muffins, and whisky fruit cake, as well as breads and tray bakes there truly is something for all tastes and all talents. The book closes with ‘Bits and Bobs’ before the aforementioned drinks and this is the chapter I often enjoy the most as it’s where the little things that hold everything together find a home. Apple oil, and lemon, garlic and dill butter are both crying out to be tried, but for a berry fiend like me the ‘Easy-peasy Balsamic Berry Pud’ is most interesting.
However my first port of call is likely to be ‘Old School Kiwi Salad Dressing’, a salad dressing made from condensed milk sounds mind blowing, however I may be overruled as Chocolate Melting Moments are being demanded as I type! Aviemore is en route home from holiday, The Mountain Cafe may just be one of the scheduled stops.