A one-stop-shop is something I have grown to love over the past 12 months.
The phrase ‘support local’ has been drilled into my head – especially since the coronavirus outbreak – mainly by myself rather than by others. And I have been urging those around me to share this mindset as well.
Before then, I am not afraid to admit that I would have often opted for larger, global brands when galavanting around city and shire stores, or shopping online. Now, the reality could not be further from that.
I have discovered an extensive line-up of businesses that I would never have given a second look before 2020. Whether this was down to my age or ignorance, I’ll never know. But ever since living by that phrase, it’s fair to say that my outlook on local firms has changed completely.
While, as already highlighted, I love supporting local, I could not stop grinning from ear to ear after stumbling across Aberdeenshire Larder’s website. It was after I spotted one of the business’ Facebook posts promoting their Easter offering that I knew I had to take a look at it for myself.
For those who have not visited the website before, there are products on offer produced by multiple north-east brands. From Amity Fish Company, Rennie’s Eggs, Fudge Like and From Bakery Lane to Symposium Coffee House and Porter’s Gin, there is a fantastic variety of food and drink items on offer to fill an entire pantry. Already, you can tell how excited I was.
With that said, I knew from the get-go that I had to place an order with the family-run firm. This took some time, but after a long discussion with my mum, we were able to narrow down our choices.
After a few clicks – which involved adding the items to my basket, placing the order and making a payment – we were ready to wait for our goods to be dispatched.
It was a mere three days wait for the pair of us. I expected this to be far longer given where my family resides, but my mum and I were pleasantly surprised.
We unboxed each item to make sure everything had been delivered and started to prepare our two-course feast.
Not only did we decide on two main dishes and two puddings, but also some sides and a luxurious-looking cocktail. The pair of us were keen to dine to style.
We allowed our main dishes, which included macaroni cheese with bacon and fish cakes, to defrost slightly. They had evidently been chilled for some time, so we thought it wise. Following this, it was time for them to be placed into the oven.
Unsurprisingly, it was my mum that opted for the pasta main. And she couldn’t wait to dive into the cheesy mixture from the moment we removed it from its box.
While the mains were sizzling away, we worked as a team to prepare our sides – homemade chips and green vegetables.
I ordered potatoes and broccoli from the business’ website, so it was in our own hands to make sure they tasted divine. The potatoes were cut into thick chunks (with the skin on) and drizzled in oil ahead of being cooked, while the broccoli was boiled along with some green beans and a light sprinkling of salt.
I’m sure many people would skip this step and opt for sides that are pre-prepared, like our mains, but my mum and I enjoy the process of cooking and wanted to have some input (no matter how small). We couldn’t help ourselves.
It took around 20-25 minutes for everything to be cooked to perfection. It was finally time to plate, starting off with my fish cakes from Peterhead-based Amity Fish Company.
First thing’s first, my knife slid right through the fish cakes with ease. Coated with a golden, crispy breadcrumb shell that crunched as you bit into it, the cake interior was succulent and juicy. There were four included in the pack, so I was delighted that I could enjoy the remaining two the following evening.
Despite not ordering a dipping sauce to accompany them, the fish was so delicate and flakey that I was glad about that choice in the end.
My mum enjoyed her macaroni straight from the oven. Even me, not being the biggest pasta lover, could not take my eyes off of it – given that there was a layer of crispy cheese over the top sealing the heat in.
My dining companion mentioned the cheese was stringy and the chunks of bacon added a nice salty element to the pasta. There was also plenty of bacon too, which she was pleased about.
Rich, smooth and creamy, she said it was one of the finer macaroni cheese dishes she’s tasted.
Of course, nestled alongside our mains were our homemade chips and greens, adding a little vibrancy. Both cooked to our liking, the chips were fluffy and the vegetables boasted a slight crunch.
With the mains ticked off, we decided to take a cocktail making break – is there any better kind of break?
I removed the ingredients required to make our two pornstar martinis. The majority of the concoction was pre-made, all we had to do was shake it in a cocktail shaker with ice and fresh orange juice. This was also included in the delivery.
Once poured into our coupe glasses, the drinks sure did look the part. A thin covering of foam sat across the top of the cocktail – the sign of a fantastic pornstar martini in my eyes. I only wish there were a pair of halved passion fruits to place in them ahead of serving.
Sharp, tart flavours were evident from the get-go, but the aftertaste was pleasantly sweet (not enough to make the drink sickly by any means).
Sipping away at the drinks, we shifted our focus to the second and final course, dessert.
My bread and butter pudding was given 15 minutes to heat up in the oven ahead of tucking in, so it was piping hot. By the time the treat was ready to be consumed, our kitchen was filled with the enticing aromas of a bakery.
The bread had been cut into thick slices, with raisins scattered throughout that provided a chewy, slightly toasted texture to the dish. It melted in the mouth and boasted a subtle sharpness, coming from the hints of spice and cinnamon. As the portion size of the buttery confection was for two, the other half was left for my dad to sample alongside us – like me, he savoured every mouthful. He may or may not have added a touch of custard to his pudding (and I followed suit).
My mum was in the same boat with her sticky toffee pudding. Again, it was packed full of raisins and tasted delightful. Fluffy and gooey, she adored the sponge. But the star of the show had to be the butterscotch sauce.
The pair of us ordered an extra portion of this on the side. However I will say, this is not required.
Plates clean and stomachs full, we enjoyed the meal from start to finish.
The countdown is on until we can once again return to eateries to enjoy a sit-in dining experience. But one thing’s for sure, I’ll certainly be ordering from Aberdeenshire Larder for the special occasions I intend on staying at home for in the future. Whether that be a birthday, night in with the family, and so on.
The options available on the website are countless, so you’re sure to find a line-up of dishes that tickle your fancy. And not only that, but the food sent my way was nothing other than high quality and delicious.
A huge thank you to the team for making what was just another Friday night in lockdown special for my mum and I – nights like that have been more than welcome over the past year.
Address: Unit Balmacassie Industrial Estate, Unit 3 Broomiesburn Road, Ellon, AB41 9RD