Matt and Cassidy taste cheese at Valvona & Crolla
After nearly 30 hours of travel, our team finally planted our tired feet on Carrbridge soil yesterday for the 17th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship. I will be the first to admit that the journey was a bit harrowing and not at all smooth once we took off from Portland, Oregon on Thursday morning.
Where to begin? The trip started with a luggage malfunction at the airport, which we topped off with a gut-wrenching, bumpy flight to Newark where we had a four-hour layover. Next we boarded for Edinburgh for another bumpy ride that I was just sure would bring up my less-than-stellar dinner. Fortunately, we landed safe and sound in Scotland first thing Friday morning.
Our first mission was to make it to Valvona and Crolla, a lovely specialty food store that had secured pancetta and pecorino for our Savory Oat Fritters. Did you know it’s nearly impossible to ship meat and cheese from the United States to the United Kingdom? Well, it is. The folks at V & C were incredibly nice and let us taste all the pecorino to find just the right one. I could have spent hours in that tiny little store.
All the traffic in Edinburgh delayed our arrival at V&C, which meant we missed our train to Carrbridge. We had another two hours to kill until a train to Inverness where we would find another two hour layover. By the time we made it to Carrbridge we were seriously road weary, but the welcome we received by Lindsay and Alison at the Fairwinds Hotel was so warm that our weariness fell away.
Today dawned early (oh so early!) to an amazing fall day that was warm and sunny, not at all like the wet Scotland you hear so much about. The fall colors are just coming on here and you really feel like you fell into a fairytale. After breakfast we started what we thought would be our easiest and fastest practice yet, but as Murphy’s Law proves far too often, if something can go wrong it will. And, my word, did it ever go wrong.
Frying pancetta and preparing our red sauce for the final practice.
I guess it could have been worse- our oats might not have made it or Matt might have broken his hand or… well, this was pretty bad. The timer was set and we were running through the full-blown dish, everything was going smoothly until we put our fritters in the deep-fryer basket and submerged them in the oil and heard… nothing. Not a crackle or a pop- not a sound. That is about the worst noise a deep fryer can make. Long story short- it wasn’t working and wouldn’t be working for the competition. Matt and I tried a few things and settled on a flattened fritter that will be pan-fried. It tastes the same, maybe not so pretty, but still tasty and that’s over half the battle right there.
We were beat after that, but finally feeling confident again by the time we met up with the rest of the competitors for a mixer and a bit of lively chatter at the town hall. The competition starts around 11:30 am tomorrow, so wish us luck and check back here to find out how we did. You can find more photos of our journey so far on Flikr, here.
I made friends with a highland cow, which put me back in the spirit for tomorrow.