Fishy first! Gigha Halibut runs pop-up tasting on Caledonian MacBrayne's MV Finlaggan
Passengers on Islay's MV Finlaggan have been treated to a rather tasty, fishy first - the opportunity to try delicious Smoked Gigha Halibut on board.
In Visit Scotland's Year of Food and Drink, CalMac has taken the opportunity to put together a programme of surprise tastings and invited Gigha Halibut to take part on the Islay run.
Also currently included in this programme is Arran Ales on the - you guessed it - Isle of Arran route from Ardrossan to Brodick, and more will be announced as the summer progresses.
The tasty smoked halibut morsels proved extremely popular with passengers, who also enjoyed hearing about this unique company on the Isle of Gigha.
"We had a great day on board MV Finlaggan and were really pleased to be invited by CalMac to host a pop-up," said Gigha Halibut's Amanda Anderson. "We've never done this before on the ferries and people seemed to enjoy it and have learnt more about our halibut.
"Everyone seemed to like the fish, which was great to hear, and staff were really helpful, too - we'd definitely give it another go in future."
Gigha Halibut's development began some 20 years ago and the fish is now much-sought after by top chefs including Raymond Blanc, Geoffrey Smeddle and Ollie Dabbous.
This year, nine out of 10 of Caledonian MacBrayne's major vessels became the first ferries to win Visit Scotland's Taste Our Best accreditation - only MV Clansman remains to be assessed, which will take the award recognition to 100 per cent.
The accreditation hinges on Scottish provenance ingredients in the menu and must meet 40 per cent minimum to be included in Taste Our Best. Caledonian MacBrayne's Mariners cafes have achieved more than 50 per cent Scottish and local provenance in their dishes, with this being extended all the time.
"It is really important for us to serve and promote good home-grown food when we can," said CalMac's Onboard Development Manager, Anne Mitchell. "And we are proud that our menu is reflecting this more and more. From Barra-landed haddock in our fish and chips to Stornoway black pudding in the breakfasts, we are major customers to many island businesses.
"Add to this the fact that our on-board shops also sell many products from the isles - the likes of biscuits, chocolate, tablet, cakes, local real ales and whiskies, cheese, mustard, honey and much more - and you'll get a picture of how much we are able to give our passengers a taste of Scotland and the isles.
"We absolutely love it and look forward to helping more businesses from within our communities by developing this still further with more tastings and other foodie treats."
Caledonian MacBrayne uses 67 retail suppliers on its ferries - of these 62 are Scottish and 44 are from the islands. The company's supplier spend for its retail sector was £5.18million last year.
Some 4.65 million people travelled with Caledonian MacBrayne in 2014, bringing with them 1.1 million cars, 93,000 commercial vehicles and 11,000 coaches on 130,000 separate sailings the length and breadth of the 200-mile long network, serving mainland destinations and 24 islands.
Gigha Halibut's Amanda Anderson with MV Finlaggan's Chief Officer Iain MacNeil
Notes to editors:
1) Further information about CalMac is available at www.calmac.co.uk
2) Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). Caledonian MacBrayne , CalMac and the lion rampant device are registered trademarks of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL)and are used under licence by CalMac Ferries Ltd.