Love and Fyne oys­ters as Cairn­dow meets China

Argyllshire Advertiser - - NEWS - Colin Cameron ed­i­tor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­tiser.co.uk

All they knew of Scot­land was the block­buster – if not en­tirely his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate – movie Brave­heart. Oh... and Scot­tie dogs. Be­yond that, fashion blog­ger Qui Qui (ap­prox­i­mately pro­nounced ‘achoo’) and Ya Shu, who runs a pop­u­lar lifestyle blog, were com­pletely in the dark about this coun­try.

But it is fair to say that they were might­ily im­pressed with what they saw, smelled and tasted while in Ar­gyll re­cently.

As part of a trip or­gan­ised by Visit Bri­tain, the pair, ac­com­pa­nied by their pho­tog­ra­pher Wu Yu Lin and guided by Ed­in­burgh-based driver and in­ter­preter Daniel Ho, called on Loch Fyne Oys­ters at Cairn­dow to sam­ple its wares.

Show­ing the blog­gers round Loch Fyne Oys­ters was Richard Hunt-Smith, the com­pany’s e-com­merce and sales sup­port man­ager. The Shang­hai vis­i­tors were en­thralled by the salmon cut­ting, curing and smok­ing process, ev­ery step seem­ingly cap­tured on film – ex­cept, of course, the mix­ing of the com­pany’s se­cret salmon curing recipe. ‘It’s based on salt and sugar’ was as much as Richard would re­veal.

There was a lit­tle puz­zle­ment at the oys­ter sheds when it was ex­plained that the va­ri­ety cul­ti­vated are from the Pa­cific, but the sheer scale and em­pha­sis on qual­ity im­pressed them hugely. And the method of knock­ing oys­ter shells to­gether to check for fresh­ness is one that is cer­tain to be de­ployed in the Shang­hai fish mar­kets.

Lifestyle guru Ya Shu said: ‘The sys­tem here is in­cred­i­ble. I have never seen any­thing like it.’

It was back across to the res­tau­rant to sam­ple a mouth-wa­ter­ing se­lec­tion of seafood dishes pre­pared by a team led by Calum Hall, Loch Fyne Oys­ters’ head chef.

Be­fore any food could be sam­pled, it had to be pho­tographed. And filmed by mo­bile phone. And pho­tographed some more.

Plate af­ter plate of food was served – from lan­goustines to chilli and ched­dar oys­ters, and from scal­lops to whisky-in­fused smoked salmon.

The vis­i­tors thor­oughly en­joyed it. ‘The food is very dif­fer­ent from what we are used to,’ said Qui Qui. ‘But it is very good.’

Ya Shu went from oys­ter scep­tic in Shang­hai to Loch Fyne Oys­ter lover. ‘I had a plate full of oys­ters, which I never liked be­fore com­ing here,’ he said.

‘I also liked very much the smoked salmon, lan­goustines and scal­lops.’

Well fed and wa­tered, the group left Cairn­dow bound for Ed­in­burgh on the next leg

of their 10-day UK tour, six of which were spent in Scot­land and the rest in London.

Chi­nese fol­low­ers of fashion clearly like what Qui Qui does. A fol­low­ing of 566,000 peo­ple tes­ti­fies to her pop­u­lar­ity.

And with his words of wis­dom on ar­eas such as food, drink (he loves malt whisky) and world travel, Ya Shu at­tracts no fewer than three quar­ters of a mil­lion fol­low­ers to his blog.

If just a frac­tion of these 1.3 mil­lion blog fans are in­trigued enough to visit the UK, it will be money well spent for Visit Bri­tain.

These Chi­nese vis­i­tors fell in love with Scot­land – and not a blue-painted Aus­tralian in sight.

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Pic­tured on the Loch Fyne shore at the oys­ter farm are, from left, Wu Yu Lin, Ya Shu, Richard Hunt-Smith, Qui Qui and Daniel Ho.

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Qui Qui with a tempt­ing plat­ter of oys­ters.

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Richard Hunt-Smith, right, ex­plains the salmon curing process.

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Be­low left: The end re­sult - de­li­cious seafood from Loch Fyne Oys­ters.

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Watch­ing in­tently as the pu­ri­fied oys­ters are checked and packed for despatch.

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This is the lifestyle – Ya Shu en­joys his seafood se­lec­tion.

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Be­low right: Pho­tog­ra­pher Wu Yu Lin cap­tures the ac­tion as salmon are pre­pared for smok­ing.

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