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The Simple Pleasures Of Summer

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Late evening beach cook-outs, and bring a bottle of Isle of Harris Gin.

Summer in the Isle of Harris mean the days are long and the sun barely sets beyond the horizon.

White wisps of brightly burst bog cotton are seen scattered across the moor, and the air is alive with birdlife, thrumming to the sound of snipe while the rare corncrake crexes long into the small hours.

And, while the rest of the world takes tentative steps towards the normality of nights out in bars and restaurants, socialising here in summer often remains firmly fixed in the great outdoors.

The Outer Hebrides are blessed with many sandy beaches, the ideal destination for a some spontaneous al fresco dining...

Soft summer bog cotton, bobbing in the breeze.

A short walk from most local doors will lead somewhere great to gather in the open air.

A small, safe fire on the sands (not the land), a blanket to keep the chill of a late evening breeze at bay, and of course, a bottle of something special to share are all that's required to make a night of it.

Seafood is rarely in short supply at this time of year either, and a well-timed visit to one of the handfuls of busy local harbours can result in a deliciously impromptu dinner to go with your favourite coastal cocktails.

An achingly fresh catch, straight from the creel, can usually be bought in cash from any kind fishing crew.

Langoustines, known more commonly here as prawns.

Simple seafood, simple pleasures.

At this time of year, the delights of lobster, langoustine, and newly landed brown crab definitely make for the perfect summer supper, cooked without too much fuss or fanfare.

Just try grilling over open coals for maximum flavour, or steam and boil in a pot of crystal-clear seawater. Here's one of our favourite recipes to try for two, indoors or outdoors...

Pan-fried Langoustine

75g butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs wild thyme
16 freshly landed langoustines

Fill a large pot with clean sea (or heavily salted) water, bring to a rapid boil and add your langoustines. Cook from 4-5 minutes depending on their size. If the tail breaks away easily and the meat is white then you're good to go. Set aside the langos and add the butter, garlic, and thyme to a hot pan until sizzling. Pop in the cooked langos in batches, season, and toss well in the hot garlicky butter.

Fresh langoustines, creel-caught by local fishermen Like Donald and Finlay Ewen Macleod of Scalpay Shellfish.

Fresh lobster from the Sound of Harris.

Then, all that is required is some warm, crusty bread, a wedge of lemon, and maybe a little homemade mayonnaise, and you have a feast fit for even the most demanding food lover.

And, don't forget the cloth napkins. This is real finger food and is always wonderfully messy work to really make a meal of.

As always, be sure to have your favourite Isle of Harris Gin serve to hand, with a good splash our Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water to complete the offering.

Always look out for the friendly fishermen.

Keep our pristine places as clean and clear as you found them.

Finally, when it's time to call it a night and head home, be sure to properly put out your fire, pack up any litter, and ensure those special places are kept as pristine as when you found them.

Always remember to leave no trace, and ensure there's no sign of your time well spent at nature's table. For more great advice on keeping the islands a special place, please visit this page.

At this time of year outdoor eating and drinking is wonderful way to celebrate the good things in life, so we'll be sharing more recipes with you over the coming weeks.

Meantime, let's raise a glass of Isle of Harris Gin to the simple pleasures of summer! 

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