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The best traditional food in Scotland

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Eating in Scotland: Where to find the best traditional produce

Forget about deep-fried mars bars (except as an occasional guilty pleasure, of course). Scotland has long been a treasure chest of superb natural produce, now served by some of the best restaurants in the UK.

So, what are the greatest Scottish foods and where can you find the best?

Porridge, kippers, shortbread and potato scones made our longlist – not to mention a fabulous range of cheeses – but we’ve picked the four we think are most representative of Scottish cuisine and culture:

Haggis

Let’s start with a predictable one. Love it or hate it, it’s important to recognise there’s an art to producing great haggis – and it isn’t just something that dodgy chain pubs sell once a year on Burn’s Night. The real stuff is carefully made with minced sheep offal, onion, oatmeal, suet and seasoning. Many butchers claim to make the best, but Mearns T McCaskie in Wemyss Bay was named the 2015-2016 Scottish Champion in the Scottish Craft Butchers Awards. If you’d rather someone else did the cooking for you, Hadrian’s Brasserie at The Balmoral in Edinburgh offers a five-star experience with surprisingly reasonable prices – haggis with neeps’n’tatties and a whisky cream sauce for just £10. And plenty more great Scottish food besides.

MORE ABOUT HADRIAN’S BRASSERIE >

Salmon

Well-loved whether smoked, poached or pan-fried, salmon is Scotland’s number-one food export and the most popular fish among UK shoppers. The country boasts five big salmon rivers, one of which is the River Tay – also the longest river in Scotland, at 119 miles. It begins at the Firth of Tay in Perth and meanders up to the Highlands, where it joins Loch Tay. The latter is a beautiful body of water, surrounded by remote, tranquil villages and towns such as Aberfeldy (also known for its whisky), Kenmore and Killin – and many of the area’s pubs and hotels serve Tay salmon. You can also fish it yourself.

MORE ABOUT TAY SALMON FISHING >

Venison

In Scotland, the four wild deer species are roe, red, sika and fallow. The red is the largest native land mammal in the UK and is also bred through farms. Most farmed venison sold in Scotland is free-range and field-shot, so is often viewed as more ethical than meat from animals killed at an abattoir. Right, now we’ve dealt with that issue… where’s best to eat venison? Michelin-starred restaurant The Kitchin in Edinburgh does a fine roasted loin, while the Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow serves grilled haunch of Carsphairn roe deer with a chocolate crumb. Meanwhile, in a more rural setting, The Clachaig Inn in Glencoe offers a venison casserole with redcurrant sauce and whisky.

MORE ABOUT THE KITCHIN >

Whisky

Wherever you wander in Scotland, you won’t struggle to find a good selection of the golden stuff. There are four main whisky regions of Scotland (though some claim as many as six): The Islands (Inner Hebrides), which produce single malts with a smoky edge, in a wide spectrum of strengths; Speyside, which is known for its fruity, nutty range of flavours; The Highlands, where whisky tends to be more floral and honeyed; and The Lowlands, which produce lighter, grassier styles. Though part of The Islands, Islay is often singled out for special praise as it has eight distilleries, producing much-celebrated whiskies such as Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Kilchoman, Bowmore, Ardbeg and Caol IIa.

MORE ABOUT ISLAY WHISKY >

Save your money for feasting at your destination

The MegabusGold sleeper service is ideal if you’re seeking a cost-effective way to get to Scotland. It runs from London and offers you an overnight journey, cosy bunks, free wi-fi and friendly staff.

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