Friday, 10 August 2012

Trews, Crab and Mackerel

Tartan trews are currently highly fashionable as a more convenient and less formal alternative to the kilt. Many kilt wearers now also have a pair of trews. The origins of trews go back into the mists of highland culture but they were certainly worn by the aristocracy confirmed in the above picture of Sir John Sinclair, painted by Raeburn in 1795. Tartan trews were however banned by the Dress Act of 1746 that outlawed the wearing of any kind of Highland dress following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745/6. It was not repealed until 1782.

Recently we helped two Wick friends, cousin Eric Farquhar (left) and Tom Allan (centre) to acquire tartan trews from a company in Yorkshire where I had mine made. The acquisition was celebrated at a dinner on the night of Friday 20th July in Wick. The menu was based on dishes that we tasted at the Creel Inn, St Margaret's Hope, Orkney, the previous week.
After smoked mackerel pate on small home made oat cakes, the starter was white and brown crab, accompanied by apple mayonnaise and avocado salsa on a bed of pickled cucumber (bottom photo). The crab was obtained at Lybster harbour the previous Sunday. Mackerel featured twice on the menu. I caught them off the rocks at Longberry in the shadow of the haunting ruins of the Castle of Old Wick, where generations of Wickers have cast flies into the sea to get the blue and silver beauties. As a boy I fished there with a long heavy bamboo cane and nylon string line attached to a heavy lead weight and a cast of six white flies. Nowadays we have more elegant spinning kit which does the job with much less effort.  Earlier in the week the fishing was easy as evidenced by the picture of mackerel being smoked by cousin Eric ( below left). By Friday when I needed really fresh fish, the going got tough and I had to spend about three hours getting the required four fresh fish. The fish were carefully filleted to remove the central line of pin bones then grilled for about five minutes. Two fillets were set on a bed of Tuscan salad over sourdough bread, accompanied by mustard mayonnaise potatoes. Yummy!
The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder, published by Willow Moon. E-Book and paperback all amazon sites. Reviews at

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