Beetroot, sphagnum moss and carrot chutney

Yesterday morning I felt rebellious.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been limiting my tearoom visits to the areas round where I live, because of the guide book I’m writing (luckily for me, this area has a wide variety of interesting tearooms). Yesterday, I don’t know what it was, maybe the sunshine and the hope of spring in the air, but the urge to venture beyond the confines of Perthshire, Angus and Dundee was too strong to resist.

Thanks to a staunch puritanical upbringing, however, morning refreshments were taken in Perthshire, so that I could at least compromise with my inner dissident (it doesn’t do for one to become entirely nonconformist, after all).

I had a yearning, as I often do, for chocolate, and so my glamorous assistant and I stopped in the small town of Auchterarder at a chocolaterie and cafe. Last time I was here I had a decadent hot chocolate in a little earthenware cup (see Chocolate post) but this time I fancied biting into some chocolate rather than drinking it. There were many tempting foodstuffs, but in order to get the right mix of chocolate and cakiness I was craving, I opted for this rather delicious looking morsel:

You may be surprised to learn that this is a chocolate and beetroot cake. Being both intrigued and delighted by such a combination, but not wishing to fill up too much, we ordered one slice between us. It was moist, dense and, oddly enough, tasted more of ginger than anything else. It was, altogether, quite a surprise of a cake, but being partial to gingery things I found it very pleasant and decidedly edible.

I wanted to sloosh it down with a cappuccino but at the last minute ordered a decaf latte. I don’t know why I keep doing this, but although I often like the idea of a cappuccino, I somehow feel more secure with a latte. I think it’s all that milk, it makes me feel loved and protected. Perhaps I was a cow in a previous life.

The weather forecast promised better weather towards the west of Scotland, so we drove off in a westerly direction and ended up in Stirlingshire at the lovely Flanders Moss, a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) wildlife reserve. In the words of SNH: “Flanders Moss is a vast expanse of all things damp and wonderful”. Quite true, it is damp, and it is wonderful. Near the entrance to the reserve is a very solidly built viewing platform (tiny mother in pink for scale):

There are  a lot of steps to get up to the top (I counted them, and then promptly forgot how many there were):

The reserve is largely peat bog and is apparently the largest raised bog in the UK to remain in a predominantly near-natural state. A series of boardwalks enables visitors to get out on the bog:

The area is a haven for sphagnum moss. It’s everywhere, loads of it, and yesterday quite a bit of it was under ice:

There aren’t many trees here because SNH are trying to preserve the boggy habitat. Trees take up a lot of moisture, drying out the bog, but this birch had somehow survived the cull:

Wandering round the bog worked up an appetite for lunch, and after a short drive (not having a clue where we were going to eat but hoping for something magical to pop up out of the heather) we stumbled across this promising looking place:

It was a bit nippy for dining al fresco, but I would imagine on a sunny summer’s day it would be lovely to sit outside:

We had to wait for a table inside because it was very busy, but after a few minutes we were seated in the conservatory and both went for soup of the day, which was carrot and coriander, and came with either crusty brown bread or sandwiches. My delightful assistant stuck with the bread, while I opted for the sandwiches, choosing egg and cress on granary bread, with their special carrot chutney as an added extra. I must say, I was jolly glad I’d added the carrot chutney because it transformed the egg and cress sandwiches into something spectacular!

Having filled up on sandwiches, I didn’t have room for a sweet treat, but my assistant had a slice of coffee cake, which I’m assured was very good:

Replete and happy we wended our way back north and east, but on the journey I felt very thirsty and extremely keen for a cup of tea, so we stopped in a road-side cafe not far from Auchterarder. By this time a small space had appeared in my stomach, just about the size of a melting moment:

All in all, a grand day out, and a nice change of scenery and location. I’m looking forward to more food forays in Stirlingshire, and I have the excellent carrot chutney cafe at the top of my list.

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Categories: Cake, Chocolate, Food, Photography, Scotland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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26 thoughts on “Beetroot, sphagnum moss and carrot chutney

  1. You get to explore the most wonderful places!

  2. A delightful concoction of cakes and countryside. I like your approach to research and your choice of project.

    • Thank you very much! Cakes and the countryside are two of my favourite things, and there’s so much of both in Scotland, and indeed throughout the UK. It’s a grand place to be! :)

  3. Another winner! Do all tea shops have food that looks that good, or do you just pick the best?

    • You’re too kind, but I must say there is an amazing array of wonderful food in tearooms. I never cease to be amazed by them. People who run good tearooms are the salt of the earth.

  4. Gret post! I loved the look of your soup and sandwiches! especially the egg sandwiches with the carrot chutney! How very fortunate you had a hole approx the size of a melting moment too, definitely one of my other faves!

    It looks absolutely freezing, especially where the ice appers with the sphagnum moss. I keep forgetting its winter elsewhere!

  5. Hello! Thanks for finding my blog :) I love yours!

    What beautiful photos – I always mean to photograph the lovely meals and lunches I enjoy whne out and about…but some how when the food is placed in front of me it all goes out of my mind, I haven’t remember to do it once yet! Your pictures have inspired me to try and remember next time though! Those sandwiches with the carrot chutney look delish!

  6. Thank you, the sandwiches were excellent, I didn’t think I’d eat all four of them at lunch but they were so tasty I couldn’t resist.

    Whereabouts in the world do you live?

  7. Dienna

    Cakes, sandwiches, coffee drinks…I’m getting hungry looking at those photos! They look delicious.

    • I know what you mean, nearly always when I’m doing a new post I have to dash off to get something to eat because the pictures are torturing me!

  8. BoJo Photo

    My that coffee cake looks amazing! And the morsel as well. Nice photos.

  9. You are fortunate to have access to so many tearooms! I love your descriptions and photos.

  10. what the world really needs right now is a well-written guide to tearooms. All the better if it is about Scotland :-)

  11. I love chocolate beet cake! And I love, as I usually do, everything in this post.

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