Castle Douglas is tagged a 'food town' by Dumfries and Galloway and so Andy and I couldn't resist a visit. Particularly as we had heard that Ballard's the butcher was a particular pleasure to visit. But first we took a walk to work up an appetite and take in the beautiful countryside around the village.
We followed the Carlingwark Loch trail which takes you around the loch, over marshlands [see Andy on the board pathways across the marsh below] and past Threave Castle.
The castle was closed for the winter but it was fun to point out where my parents would take us on trips when we were little.
The Mausoleum at Threave
It was a sunny day and we got to really appreciate the softer landscape of the area - quite different to what we are used to in Dundee or Stirling.
Andy stole my hat...
We then headed into town and had lunch at 'designs' art gallery and cafe [see top of post for pic]. The cafe is excellent - Andy had a chicken and avacadoe wrap and I had croque monsieur. The salads that were served alongside were very good - actual salads - not just lettuce, tomatoe and cucumber. There was a bean salad, coleslaw, carrot salad and your usual lettices and tomatoes. The dressing was good to - mustardy and with the right balane of lemon juice and olive oil.
The gallery itself was also lovely - a large airy room at the back had an exhibition inspired by the charity Shelter, this led on to a room selling a small but well chosen selection of books and then through to the front where there was a gift area. In fact, we picked up two beautiful masks for the Diabetes UK Scotland masked ball at the end of October.
We then took in the food town - the shops are small but well stocked and with several bakers, butchers and delis there is a good choice on offer. We visited Deli 173, which also has a branch in Dumfries, and picked up some amazing blueberry jam. We then hit Ballard's which was as good as we had been told. A really good selection of cuts but one of the things I really liked was the prepared meat available. When you are cooking for one or two it is always good to get prepared meat choices at the butcher and we tried the chicken wrapped in bacon and stuffed with haggis. We decided to come back later on in the week to pick up more tasty morsels.
We then bought vegetables to go with the chicken from the local greengrocer - including some yellow courgettes which we had not tasted before.
When we got back home, I made the chicken with sweet potatoes, peppers and courgettes roasted in olive oil and black pepper. Despite the fact I had no foil to cover the chicken with, and compounded this by over cooking by 5 minutes because I wasn't sure of the cooker and chicken is not something you want undercooked, the meat was tender, juicy and fell apart as we dug into it. The haggis was good - spicy but while creamy it wasn't too heavy. The bacon wrap wasn't a wee mean strip but instead was a thickly sliced piece of meat, very lean. We enjoyed it very much and cemented our plans to go back for more.