Salivation Army in Scottish borders

Julie Cartner at the Attention-Deficit Dinner

Julie Cartner at the Attention-Deficit Dinner

relief al fresco
relief al fresco

Today is my first day in Dumfries–home of Robert Burns– and trove of Scots culinary treasure.

Singlespeed sister Julie Cartner took me to Loch Arthur Farm, just outside of the town of BEESWING (attention Richard Thompson fans, this town is so fine you might miss it if you blink).

Up a hill and hesitantly through two farm gates–she’d never seen the place, but heard of the Farm for years–and we were in a farm courtyard.

Fresh green fava beans and tomatos heaped in humble boxes tempted me before I stepped through the hanging chains marking the entryway into the shop.

And oh, what a shop. The cheese cooler was full of local delicacies from nearby towns (Criffel, Crannog) as well as the prizewinning Loch Arthur farm cheese, both aged and fresh. This last one is a type of cheddar ( tangy, salty, buttery). The ewe’s milk cheese was ma-aa-aaarvelous.

Julie sank a week’s wages into a box full of fresh breads, jam, apple balsamic vinegar, cream cheese and all the aforementioned ones, plus a unique elderflower beverage and some staples so I can make Rosemary Shortbread (coals to Newcastle?)….then we roared off (oui, en voiture) to the Mabie Forest, one of the Seven Stanes (collect ’em all!).

Mabie is not vast. You can ride almost all of it in three hours if you are pretty fit and adept…but it’s the perfect forest for uncertain newbies as well. There is a corral with skills stations where you can READ about how to do the trick and then perform it. Whether someone will watch you is anyone’s guess.

I especially liked the dramatic meeting-hut and the charming grass-roofed out houses..what a splendid place to host a gathering of the Muddy Tribes.

There are also menacingly tall whoop-de-dos and when I ride them, I keep my wheels firmly on the ground.

We met Luke Webber, a freelance cycling writer who had ridden there (no car! Yay!) who managed to write and post stories about the race (Ft. William World Championships 07). I can’t imagine truly watching a race….I would want to be IN that race, not watching it.

But I digress. We raced home to prepare a vegetarian meal for Kenny Lamont our chocolate-designer friend (the Cocoa Bean Company).

It consisted of Attention Deficiet Disorder risotto –the kind where you toss the onions in the oil, turn on the stove and walk away to write a post…coming back to blackened onions and sadly browned arborio rice …(blame the electric range, not the fact that you try to write on the computer while cooking). Carefully scrape out the unburned risotto-pancake…(it WILL smell like it was salvaged from a burning pan).

There was also a platter of roasted vegetables, and a wicked tasty “rocket” salad (arugula). Cheeses (see above). Sweet potatoes, wine, we feasted…