Journalist and food writer Tom reveals his pick of the best foodie activities to enjoy in Shetland. They’re sure to intrigue and inspire!
Experience a Shetland Fishing Trip
Going on ‘da eela’ is going inshore sea fishing with a line or rod, usually for mackerel or ‘piltocks’ (coalfish), and it makes for a brilliant activity in Shetland. The traditional wooden boat, identified by its double-ended design, is perfect for this, either rowed or with an outboard motor, or we keep a couple of sit-ontop kayaks at the shore all year round so that, if the weather’s fine, we can nip out for a quick paddle and hopefully catch some fish. There really is nothing like fresh mackerel cooked over an open fire. Look for a sheltered voe (sea loch) with an incoming tide.
The reason I’d recommend the Scalloway Hotel, in Lerwick, Shetland’s biggest village and second largest community after the capital, is curation. Peter and Caroline, who own the place, have very high standards and great taste; it is the destination hotel of choice for visiting celebrities. The food has always been exceptional. The current team has two AA Rosettes – a first for Shetland, and the commitment to using fresh local
produce, particularly seafood, is absolute. scallowayhotel.com
There would need to be an ‘r’ in the month, obviously! But one of my favourite activities in the cooler months is collecting mussels. There are various beds in Shetland which you may be able to find with the help of the friendly locals. Or they may point you to the products of our sustainable Shetland mussel farms – they are sold everywhere and can be found locally, nationally and internationally. Ronas Voe in the north mainland is my hunting ground.
Frankie’s, The Fort and The Happy Haddock
Three fish and chip shops, all accessing some of the best and freshest fish you can imagine, landed locally. Frankie’s (frankiesfishandchips.com) is in the village of Brae and is a state of the art seafood joint offering giant pots of mussels, scallops, whatever the catch of the day might be and, of course, haddock. If you would like to eat inside then you may have to book. There is a decking area for those sunny days, should one ever arrive. The Fort and the Happy Haddock are in Lerwick. The Fort has a small seating area and both it and the Happy Haddock serve exceptional chips. There are local arguments over which of the three chippers has the best coating for frying fish, but that would be a tough decision.
Sunday Hall Teas
In summer and occasionally in the winter, Shetland’s community halls host feasts of home baking unlike anything else in the UK. Not only is there competition between communities to produce the most sumptuous quiches and glorious Victoria sponges, individual bakers keep each other’s standards incredibly high. There are also Soup and Pudding events where (Eshaness is a favourite) up to seven different soups will be served, with the same number of sweets. Reestit mutton (or tattie) soup is a local speciality, best served with bannocks and local Shetland butter. You can spend a happy Sunday taking in up to three. Any more is not recommended due to risk of bursting.
For more fantastic inspiration and recipes from Shetland, pick up a copy of Tom’s latest book, Sheltand, which he produced with his son and Great British Bake Off star James Morton. £25, Quadrille Publishing.