Leading up to our camping holiday, I had slight trepidation about what we were going to eat while ‘roughing’ it. With no access to a fridge, a hob (for North Americans – a stove), an oven and all my kitchen toys, cooking primally would be difficult right? Even if hunters and gatherers did thousands of years ago… *confused face* Needless to say, I was very wrong.
You already know from my Primal Chili Con Carne post that I
cheated was smart and premade food before hand. What you didn’t know is that I premade two more things before we left: Caveman Keto Fat Bombs to keep in the freezer at Fidden Farm until it was time to eat one (because a girl can’t go without her fat bomb!), and Nom Nom Paleo Aji Verde Sauce – kept in our cooler – one of my absolute favourite sauces that makes eating primal amazing. It’s good to have a few staples to start off with, right?
Meg at BE Paleo recommended that Pat and I should gorge ourselves on seafood while we were in Mull. I had no problem complying with this, and took advantage of it the first opportunity I got by purchasing some steamed prawns and garlic butter in Oban for to eat as a snack during our ferry journey. They also came with some long life, poor quality, supermarket bread which I clearly declined, (if it was a say a homemade artisan loaf, I may have bent the rules. May have).
And yes, you should like seafood if you’re going to the west coast of Scotland, any coast really! But you don’t have to if you don’t want to: there is also an abundance of Scottish beef, pork and chicken available.
Each day started with a lot of fat and some protein, and always a bulletproof instant espresso, (yes, I took butter, coconut oil and a small packaged of xylitol). Some mornings we had bacon, eggs and avocado:
Other mornings, we had Alicia’s Paleo Pancakes topped with coconut cream and fresh fruit, and bacon on the side. It’s not hard to find bacon when you’re camping, it’s pretty much a camping staple.
And one special morning, we had fresh mackerel, caught off the shores of Mull, for breakfast!!!!! There’s an interesting story behind how we got that mackerel and it goes like this: there is a restaurant very close to Fionnphort called The Ninth Wave. It’s fine dining with the self-proclaimed description of ‘Hedonism on a plate;’ the restaurant is run by a Scottish fisherman and Canadian chef. I decided we had to eat at this restaurant because of these reasons, and as well, many of the dishes on their featured menu were within my primal template. Now, the downside to camping on Mull is that the island itself has little to no mobile phone reception if you are with Vodafone, which Pat and I are. We couldn’t simply call the restaurant to make a reservation – highly recommended by the way – so we literally drove to the restaurant to book a table. The bad news was a sign saying they weren’t accepting reservations until Friday, July 4th, by which time we’d be in Tobermory, and we weren’t going to drive two hours one way to this restaurant, no matter how hedonistic it was. The owners were apologetic about this, and asked us if we wanted some fresh mackerel to take with us as they weren’t going to use it. I declined because neither of us had taken a money with us on this particular car journey, and the Canadian chef, originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, said “You can have them, you don’t need to pay us.” Have them????!??!?! Okay! The only issue was that we’d already eaten our dinner by that point so we had to take advantage of the Fidden Farm freezer, (which by the way, the ownders highly recommended to eat the mackerel fresh, but it would be two days before that would happen and by then, the fish would’ve been rotten). We gladly accepted the fish, which had already been gutted.
A day later, we took the forzen mackerel out of the freezer, wrapped an extra plastic bag around it, and popped it into our cooler at the start of the day to keep the rest of the food chilled and to also thaw in time for dinner that night. This was the day of the fateful boat trip to Staffa, where we ended up eating dinner in the pub instead (chicken with lemon and herbs, salad with vinaigrette, and Dauphinoise Potatoes – all within the template!). Luckily, the mackerel were still partly frozen, so we decided to have them for breakfast the next morning instead. It was so simple! Pat melted butter in our frying pan, put the fish in one side, skin down, and sprinkled salt and pepper over top.
At first, I was concerned the fish would take forever to cook on our non-stick frying pan on our little gas stove heated to medium low, but I was wrong. Not only did it cook in good time, but it also had delicious, crispy and fatty skin!
It was then time to eat! We enjoyed the fish with sliced tomatoes and cucumber, and lemon wedges. This was my first time ever having mackerel: it was amazing! I definitely will be adding it to my repertoire of fish. There was clearly more than we could eat, so we saved the rest for our lunch later that day.
Speaking of lunch, what delicious meals we made! Pat isn’t so strick primal as I am: he still eats grains in the form of dense and grainy German pumpernickle bread, so stuck to his usual work lunch of that plus an avocado, a tomato, a tin of fish, a hard boiled egg, and a piece of fruit. My lunches varied. I used the Nom Nom Paleo Aji Verde sauce and mixed it with canned and drained tuna and avocado. I would then have sliced veg or salad made with greens grown on the island. I also added more fat through either a dollop of full fat Philadelphia cream cheese (is there any other?) on the side, or combining it with the tuna.
The day we went to Staffa, we had lunch on Iona first. This consisted of mussels steamed in white wine and garlic, served with bread. I did have some of the bread because it looked really good, but unfortunately wasn’t worth it as I think it was at least a day old. The mussels also looked better than they were. This was the most disappointing lunch of the trip.
Moving on to dinner. You know we had Primal Chili con Carne our first few nights, always served with half an avocado, and a fat bomb for dessert. By the way, the best part about eating so much fat and it being the macronutrient you eat the most of? You get to eat a fat bomb everyday. Yep, everyday.
We also had fresh Stone Crab claws for a meal! The story behind them was also in relation to the Ninth Wave restaurant. After they’d given us the delicious mackerel, and knowing that a Scottish and local fisherman owned the restaurant, we inquired about how to buy fresh caught seafood from the fisherman when they come into port, as we were told this was a possibility on Mull. The fisherman, who had been enjoying a beer on his patio, said (paraphrased) “I go out often, I could get you some. I’m going out tomorrow, what do you want?”
“Well…. what can you get?” we asked.
“Anything, anything you want: stone crab, lobster, langoustines… just not fish. We catch crustaceans instead,” he replied.
“Ooooh! Lobster please!” I exclaimed. “How much is it though?”
“The minimum size lobster, a generous serving for one person, is about £5. You’d want two, so £10 altogether.”
“What?!!?!?!” we were both stunned. “Go for it!”
So we arranged for our small lobster to be caught the following day, and to meet this fisherman at the pub in Fionnphort at 5 pm to collect our lobster. We showed up at the pub at 5 pm and waited until 6:30 pm, but there was no sign of him. We asked the locals in the pub if they’d seen him, and they replied no they hadn’t, but he does come in everyday so he will be in. We then drove to the Ninth Wave to see if he was there, and were told by the Canadian chef that he always stops in there first after leaving the boat, then heads to the pub, and he hadn’t been in yet. She said we could stay there or meet him at the pub. We chose to go back to the pub, and soon after, the fisherman showed up, sans lobster. The extremely apologetic fisherman said he had completely forgotten about specially catching our lobster, and hoped that the bag of fresh Stone Crab claws he handed to us would be an acceptable alternative. He also told us he was giving the crab to us. Of course this was okay!
We headed straight back to our campsite and immediately cooked up the ten claws and ate them looking out to the ocean. We did have to use some creative ways to crack the shell though: the back of a spoon (in your hand, not a metal camping plate), a hammer, a wrench. And the meal took a lot longer to eat, but it was so worth it. Again, we enjoyed this feast with salad.
While it was disappointing to not have my lobster then, and to not be able to experience the hedonism on a plate that was the Ninth Wave, the Scottish fisherman and Canadian chef provided us with free mackerel, free crab claws, and a very good restaurant suggestion in Tobermory. I made a reservation at Café Fishfor out last night on Mull.
It did not disappoint! A small restaurant on the end of the harbour in Tobermory, Café Fish is one of those faraway restaurants you could visit over and over again. It had a very bustling yet casual atmosphere, with jeans-and-tshirt clad servers. We had a very difficult time choosing a meal to order because everything just looked so good! I wanted my Mull lobster, so I got half of one with garlic butter, a large side salad, and instead of bread, steamed veg and and a few boiled potatoes.
Pat had seared tuna with a side of rice.
The food we had, and bought, on Mull was amazing! This post just shows that you don’t have to settle for canned, easy foods when camping, you just need to make a few things ahead of time, plan wisely and use your food knowledge to come up with some pretty amazing delights. As if I couldn’t get enough, I also bought fresh Tobermory scallops and salmon, along with sausages made of pork reared on the island, which we had enjoyed for breakfast and dinner as well.
What’s your favourite faraway restaurant?
What’s your go-to camping meal?
Stay tuned for my next post: another recipe used for our camping holiday, by my favourite food blogger Nom Nom Paleo!