The introduction of Scotland’s Larder Live to the 2015 Royal Highland Show was the cherry on the top or a very large and delicious cake for OH! Taste. Chef demonstrations were held by Fraser Allan of The Pompadour by Galvin, David Haetzman of Kyloe Edinburgh, Neil Forbes of Café St Honore and many more, including Tom Lewis, of Monachyle Mhor.
Set in the Perthshire countryside, on the banks of Loch Voil, Tom Lewis heads up the restaurant of the family owned and multi-award winning, Monachyle Mhor Hotel. A staunch believer in making the most of the wonderful produce that is on our doorstep, Tom demonstrated a delicious dish of Aberdeen Angus steak, grilled asparagus and a parsley, radish and shallot salsa.
Tom used Aberdeen Angus beef in his dish, a sure sign of quality for this recipe, although we also know that Monachyle Mhor is a big supporter of Highland Wagyu, a producer of a particularly delicate and tender beef.
At the heart of Tom’s cooking is, of course, quality. He believes that “we should all eat a little bit less, but a little bit better.” This is certainly something that we agree with, in theory. However, when presented with such delicious food, that restraint certainly becomes a challenge.
Scotland is blessed with some of the finest produce in the world, from livestock to rapeseed oil, from seafood to whisky and Tom believes that it is important to put a value on this produce and treat it with the utmost respect.
“Basically, if you spend a little bit more, you get a better quality and you need less.”
For dessert, it’s sourdough bread made at Mhor Bread. Simplicity and flavour are key here, after all, the only ingredients in sourdough are flour, water and egg. However, the texture, flavour and a distinctive taste of the bread are something to be savoured. Unlike supermarket loaves (which take 45 minutes to an hour to be baked), Mhor Sourdough takes a day and a half. And it shows. To serve, simply smother with some Chocolate Tree Hazelnut or Salted Caramel spread or a good lashing of Scottish jam. (We recommend the wonderful jams at Perthshire Preserves).
Now, where would we be without a nip of Whisky? Scotland’s very own liquid gold. As a nation, we produce it, we market it, we sell it, but we sometimes forget what a wonderful product it is paired with food…and it’s on our doorstep.
Just like with a quality piece of meat or seafood, you don’t need a lot – the right dram will certainly do the trick when rewarding yourself for a hard day’s graft. (Although, after a few glasses, the need for a larger reward may increase.) Following a collaborative partnership formed in 2009 between Glengoyne and Monachyle Mhor, Tom uses a Glengoyne 15-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky that pairs beautifully with steak.
Asparagus is grilled in a heavy bottomed pan and the flavour is enhance using the addition of a few key, ingredients.
“Summer harvest rapeseed oil is wonderful – and rapeseed is a fantastic product that we are lucky enough to have in Scotland. The ground changes the flavours, some are slightly nuttier than others. Always have a taste first. We use this for our asparagus, together with a bit of salt and, of course, a bit of butter. Graham’s dairy is one of our most successful Scottish companies – and they are absolutely fantastic! I add a bit of Thyme to the dish, and that’s it. I can’t put enough value on fresh herbs.”
As with all of the dishes that come out of the Monachyle Mhor kitchen, seasonal ingredients are key. If it’s local and seasonal, then the produce can speak for itself and only slight additions should be made to enhance the flavour. Accompanying the Steak and the grilled Scottish asparagus, Tom serves a salsa, made simply from a few, fresh ingredients.
A couple of shallots (“not chopped, sliced!”), together with fresh tomatoes and a handful of radishes make up the salsa accompaniment. Blanched radishes add a peppery kick while a handful of parsley rounds the salsa off. A dash of rapeseed oil, a splash of white wine vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon add lovely freshness to the whole dish.
Once rested, the steak is sliced and served alongside the grilled asparagus and a dollop of the tangy salsa. We like ours with a piece of the Walnut Mhor bread to soak up all the juices. Thanks to Monachyle Mhor at Larder Live for such a fantastic afternoon.
If you would like to visit Monachyle Mhor Hotel or the beautiful restaurant there, Tom Lewis and his team will be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have. Contact them by telephone on 01877 384 622, by email or through their website.
The family also own Mhor 84 Motel, a charming boutique motel just a few minutes down the road. We would also recommend the food here, especially if you are looking for a more casual option. Hearty, honest food is served all day and is certain to satisfy your hunger after a long day walking in the Trossachs.
Mhor Bread (bakery) and Mhor Fish (chippy) can be found in Callander and are always lovely stops to make at the beginning and end of a day. It’s certainly worth a stop to pick up a loaf of Sourdough and Walnut bread! (Just try not to eat it on the car trip home…)