They say every day is a school day. For NB Communication’s head of content marketing Adam Civico that meant joining a “learning journey” arranged by Shetland Food and Drink.
The North Isles of Shetland are certainly among Shetland’s gems.
Yell is a personal favourite, so it was great enthusiasm that I signed up for a Shetland Food and Drink trip that took in both Yell and Unst. Shetland Food and Drink is a long-standing NB client, so it was great to reconnect with the team, as well as network with some of its member organisations.
Like all good day trips it was all aboard the tour bus, with ours departing Lerwick’s Esplanade at 8.30am to make it to Toft for the ferry to Yell.
Once in “The Friendly Isle” we were bussed to Basta Voe and the Shetland Select mussel farm run by the Thomason brothers Christopher and Marvin Thomason.
It’s an idyllic location and after spending an hour on the water with them it was hard not to be impressed by the Thomasons’ respect for the location and the nature it is home to.
The only disappointment is that we didn’t see any of the otters that had been playing around the shore the day before.
Mussel growing is an inherently natural process, with the shellfish attaching themselves to the ropes where they grow as nature intended. The Basta Voe mussels are left for around 18 months to ensure the plumpest flesh, before they are harvested and packed by hand and shipped south.
Many of the mussels make it to the renowned Billingsgate Market in London, where they undoubtedly find their way on to menus at some of the best restaurants in the country.
It’s remarkable to consider that seafood produced in the North Isles is in such demand. But when you see the care and devotion that goes into the farming process, there really should be no surprise.
Shetland mussels really are the best.
Our whistle stop tour then headed to Victoria’s Vintage Tea Rooms in Unst for lunch – a tasty spread of soup and sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and biscuits.
Overlooking Haroldswick, the tearoom is in a fantastic location, and there was no way anyone was leaving hungry.
Having a bellyful of food was certainly handy ahead of our next stop at another of NB's long-standing digital marketing clients, the Shetland Reel distillery at Saxa Vord.
I’m no stranger to their gins, but it was fascinating to learn more about their range – including the new coffee-infused Gin Bean, one for the barista lovers, and my favourite Ocean Sent which is flavoured with bladderwrack seaweed.
After an hour’s tasting session it was time to head south again to Lerwick. It is fair to say we all left impressed by the fine produce grown, cooked and distilled in the North Isles.
To find out more about Shetland's local produce, see the Taste of Shetland website.