Isle of Mull chef books her place as an author. Graeme Murray reports
CARLA Lamont rises at 6am and begins gathering ingredients from the croft for the Ninth Wave Restaurant’s menu.
It’s a typical day for the self-taught Canadian chef since arriving in Scotland in 1994 and meeting fisherman husband John.
She then starts planning and preparing dishes for the Isle of Mull restaurant’s evening meal ahead of John’s arrival home with the day’s catch.
The couple have operated the 18-cover eatery in Fhionnphort for the last seven summers, which has led to a cluster of restaurant accolades.
Lamont has now brought her recipes to life in a new book that tells colourful tales of her time in the island community.
“It’s not really a cookbook, but there are more than 40 recipes inside,” she told SLTN.
“There are chapters devoted to gathering ingredients and going foraging on the croft.
“It’s really a humourous slant about life on the island and running the restaurant.
“This will be our seventh season here, we’ve been running it for eight years.
“I think one of the things people love is that Johnny is a fisherman and I’m the chef in the restaurant.”
Ninth Wave Restaurant was last year Highly Commended in the Restaurant of the Year (fine dining) category at the SLTN Awards. It also recently won Restaurant of the Year in the Highlands and Islands Awards.
The menu features freshly caught seafood such as langoustines, crab, line-caught smoked mackerel, hand–dived scallops, lobster and red gunard, plus beef fillet and venison, which are all sourced locally.
They are complemented by old-fashioned herbs and vegetables such as burdock, salsify and foraged bog myrtle, thyme and wild meadowsweet gathered from the seven-acre croft.
Many of the items on the restaurant’s menu are “by-catches” of the fisherman’s lobster creels.
It means the eatery is able to offer dishes using sustainable ingredients on its daily-changing menu.
After arriving home with his bounty of fresh seafood, John then begins front of house duties where he explains the provenance of the day’s catch to customers.
“He loves fishing,” said Carla. “Most fishermen normally have some help because it’s not very nice weather some of the time. But he’s over 60 and he just loves it and loves talking to customers about his catch.”
In addition to fresh seafood the menu includes wines such as Gruner Veltliner Loiserberg, Albarino Aldegas Galegas and Vacqueyras Garrigues Montrius, a selection of malt whiskies and a new range of cocktails using small-batch gins produced at Scots distilleries.
They include the Croft Bramble Cocktail, which uses The Botanist; Gin Wave, which features in Hendricks; Highland Fling which has Caorunn as a main ingredient; and Wild Raspberry Cocktail made with The Botanist, pickled raspberries and fresh thyme.
Carla began her career as a pizza chef and went on to work at the Argyll Hotel in Iona for five seasons before opening Ninth Wave.
Having spent 36 years in the catering business, she said she prefers the European style of dining, where up to four courses can be enjoyed over a longer period.
After an extensive period of researching historic ingredients and quirky stories, Lamont, who is originally from Victoria, British Columbia, took three months to write the book.
Titled The Ninth Wave, Love and Food on the Isle of Mull, it is illustrated by award-winning photographer Sam Jones.
A spokesman for its Edinburgh publisher Birlinn said: “This sumptuously illustrated hardback book is packed full of recipes, photographs and ideas for seasonal cooking – a stunning visual treat which will be ideal for anyone interested in food, cookery, or the romance of island life.”