How long have you been in business?
We’ve been in the Charcuterie business since 2014. Before that we ran a hotel – hitting the ground running- neither of us had any experience! (Richard worked in front of house, Isabelle the cook). Imagine suddenly having to cook for 20 to 30 people every night but I still found time to make Charcuterie – and the guests loved it.
The hotel was closed during the winter, so we started selling the Charcuterie at local Christmas Fairs. In 2014, we decided to sell the hotel and have a more relaxing life concentrating on producing Charcuterie…..Well, that was the idea.
Where did you learn to make Charcuterie?
I’m a French woman and missed Charcuterie – there wasn’t much up here in Scotland’s northwest, so I just set about making it. I’m self-taught, started with making Rillettes and Pâtés and then smoked salmon. So, I combined Charcuterie-making with smoking and my style has evolved. A range of Smoked Charcuterie.
How would you describe your Style of Charcuterie?
Traditional but with a Scottish twist. There’s our Wild Venison Salami with Bog Myrtle & Blackcurrants or Highland Walking Sticks, a snack salami made with free-range pork & pepper dulse seaweed, also known as the truffle of the sea and lightly smoked over beech.
We forage locally for ingredients – for example, Bog Myrtle. It’s a favourite with red deer with its mild bitterness. Over the years its fruits or leaves have been used to flavour food or for a light tea. We add it to a salami.
Are Locally sourced ingredients an important part of your business?
Sourcing locally is the most important part. For us, it’s knowing where the ingredients come from and how they complement each other so we can make Charcuterie that has the flavours of our area. We forage as we want to make unique Scottish Charcuterie.
What about the Livestock – from where do you source it?
We don’t raise our own livestock. Over the years of living in the Highlands, we’ve found through trial and error a small local crofter Tessa Dorian who rears free-range pigs. The Wild Venison we buy from a game dealer based in Ardgay in the Highlands – he purchases his deer and pheasant from the local estates. We know several of the stalkers and have been on hunts with them so we understand the whole cycle of wild deer and how they are treated and culled. The aim, as ever, is for products that reflect the flavours of this area.
What is your Favourite Product?
We love all our Charcuterie! We use seasonal products all the time and we’re constantly adding to the range. Our latest is a free-range beef & pork Salami with chanterelles that we foraged.
What about winning Awards?
A couple of years ago, after we’d been making for years, we decided to see how our Charcuterie compared to the rest of the UK. We’ve been delighted to win awards—three last year from British Charcuterie Live Awards and one from the Great Taste Awards in 2018.
Our two smoked Highland Sticks – Walking and Shooting, flavoured this time with cumin and mustard seed, both won Best New Products in the Highland & Islands Food and Drink Awards 2019.
Winning awards, for us, is very important. It’s the recognition from your peers and gives us confirmation of the quality of our products.
Thank you to Isabelle & Richard