On Saturday Ness Walk in Inverness was packed with people. Not just because the sun finally came out for the first time in ages, but people flocked to the area in support of the Highland Food and Drink Trail.
Taking place from noon to 7pm, the monthly event was back for its biggest (and only second) event to date.
Having spent the previous evening in Dornoch, I figured it would be a good idea to drop in by and try out some of the dishes on offer with my boyfriend.
We arrived at the event just shortly after noon and were surprised to see around a hundred plus individuals congregating in front of the five different street food and drink vendors.
I was taken aback how quickly the space along the river front filled with hungry locals and tourists all looking to get a bite of the action.
The queues were beginning to get long, so we had a quick look at the menus and committed to one each. He was in the Seasonal Flavor queue while I committed to Ollie’s Pops.
There were five vendors at the event including seafood fanatics and local firm, Redshank Catering, Highland Hog Roasts who specialize in tasty pork rolls filled with the meat of their home-reared pigs, and smoothie and juice bar, Juicy Ness.
We both placed our orders at the trucks and I was told the Cantonese fried noodles (£ 7) and smoked pork tacos (£ 8.50) would be a 20-minute wait, while Seasonal Flavor didn’t have as long a wait.
The Seasonal Flavor homemade twice cooked fries cooked in beef dripping with truffle salt, fresh chives and Mull cheddar (£ 4.50) were ready first so we tucked into them at the side of the river.
The fries were topped with plenty of the flavorsome cheese and you could smell the truffle as soon as we popped open the container. Although the cheese wasn’t melted, it actually made the dish much easier to eat, and it meant there was minimal cheese left as it was easy to hoover up.
It didn’t take us too long to polish the portion off and a mere 10 minutes or so later, my order was called from Ollie’s Pops.
When we opened both boxes we were delighted to see what was inside. The tacos were phenomenal and my top dish of the day. A soft shell taco was topped with lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and had the most succulent smoked pork and tart pickled red cabbage on top.
I didn’t want it to end.
The egg noodles were great, too, and packed with flavor. They were lathered in a sesame, garlic and soy sauce and featured a whole heap of vegetables including beansprouts, peppers, shredded carrot,
It was topped with sesame seeds and chilli flakes for a wee hint of spice, but it was more mild than anything.
We decided to try one more dish each, seeing as we had shared all of the others.
I fancied seafood while my other half wanted something meaty so it made sense for us to split up again and head to the separate sides of the trail for Redshank and Highland Hog Roasts.
His monster hog roll was packed with roast pork, crackling, bacon, black pudding and a lot of cheese.
The pork was incredibly tender and the bacon crisp. He said the crackling was lacking a bit and he didn’t get that crunch from it that he’d hoped he would have, however, the black pudding was rich and herby and brought different flavors into the fold.
The roll held everything well together and he added tomato ketchup just to loosen it up a little as it was mainly just the pork that was juicy.
My hot smoked salmon poke bowl (£ 6.50) was delicious. The container was packed with sushi rise, pickled vegetables (which were beautiful) and soy and honey.
I loved the smokiness of the fish and it broke up so easily that it meant I could really mix it into the dish.
I wasn’t as big a fan of the tomatoes hidden at the bottom of the poke bowl, purely because I much prefer as much crunchy picked veg as possible but the dish all in all was incredibly good. I especially liked the seaweed and black and white sesame seeds on top.
In the end the only vendor we didn’t manage to make it to was Juicy Ness for their smoothies or juices.
For those who love street food, a trip to the Highland Food and Drink trail, in my opinion, is a no brainer.
Not only can you sample an array of different cuisines, but each vendor has a whole heap of dishes for you to sample, with most having six or more options available.
One of the team at Redshank Catering said that they hadn’t been as busy since Belladrum which is a huge compliment to the event.
What I will say though is be prepared to wait. And if there is more than one of you visiting, be sure to stand in different queues so that you’re food is ready at around the same time.
We were at the event for around two hours and had to queue for around 10 to 20 minutes for most of the dishes minus the fries and the pork roll which was around five minutes.
Keep an eye on the queues and when they begin to die down be sure to pounce.
And go hungry so that you can sample lots.
Keep an eye on the Highland Food and Drink Trail Facebook page for the next event date.
Address: Ness Walk, Inverness, IV3 5SQ
Price: £ 35
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