The Trossachs have long been a Glaswegian favourite for a night or week-end away but in these days of cheap flights abroad it's somewhere that should be re-discovered. We went along to the Forest Hills Hotel and Spa for what was described as a celebration of Scottish cheese, taking in the beauty of the Trossachs on the way. It's only an hour and a half drive from Glasgow with stunning countryside making it a pleasant drive, even in the rain!
We arrived to a warm welcome and after a quick and easy check-in had a peek at the scenery as the sun came back out. It didn't disappoint and actually reminded us of the view when we stayed at the cottages in Portmeirion a few years ago.
Some of the rooms have balconies for enjoying the sun (when it's here!) but we were happy enough with taking in the view from the comfort of the sofa!
After a quick wash and brush up, it was time to head down to the lounge to meet up with the other cheese fanatics!
A roaring fire, prosecco and oysters - now I really could get used to this! With glasses in hand, we sauntered into the Lomond Suite, a gorgeous room with the modern Scottish feel, glistening candelabra as well as soft seats for the night ahead.
We settled down for some serious chatting, eating and drinking. The drinking was guided by General Manager Jody, who chose some delicious South African wines. We met Jody while he was GM at Ballathie House Hotel (which offered a minimum of 13 cheeses on their dinner trolley!) and he converted us to Pinotage wines - so we trust his booze judgement!
Although this looks to be a simple affair, it was a winner. The roast pepper gel worked really well with the huge, meaty scallop. There were actually gasps of joy around the table. This dish would be perfect for a Christmas starter so we will have to find out how it's made...
A quick refresher with some refreshing Lime and Coriander sorbet. Not a mix we would normally think of but we certainly will now. It was like dipping into an exotic cocktail made from Thai ingredients. Delicious!
Melt-in-the-mouth local venison with spicy gnocchi to liven up something that is often bland. Venison is much ignored at home, it's not as heavy as you think it is, and with the fruity sauce, this made for an indulgent tasting dish.
We had been eyeing up the cheese board - or should I say cheese side-board all night. For a gaggle of cheese lovers this was heaven.
Fifteen cheeses from all over Scotland were on the board with some hand-delivered by producers who were in attendance, now that is service! It was also great to meet and speak to the cheese makers direct. Blessed Are the Cheesemakers!
Jody had taken the accolade of "Best cheeseboard in Scotland and the UK" while at Ballathie, and a year before that he picked up the same award when he was working at Summer Isles Hotel in Ross-shire. This is someone who takes cheese seriously!
But there was one person in the room who was perhaps even more obsessed with cheese, Juliet Harbutt, chief "cheese" and editor of a number of books on the subject who was on hand to provide facts and guidance. Juliet is keen to educate - we discovered that 99% of all cheeses fit into just 7 categories and cheese isn't as fatty as you might think, up to ⅓rd of cheddar is fat but gooey cheeses much less, the gooier the better! And fat isn't as bad as we once thought, in fact your body needs fat, especially delicious fat!
We love cheese and this banquet put our own selection at home to shame! We almost had no space left for dessert, but of course we had to!
Taking taste notes from a hot toddy, the creamy parfait with hints of smokey whisky went perfectly with the white balsamic and peach sorbet. I'm pinching so many ideas from this menu for chrimbo!
Sadly, after the port it was time for bed, or at least a nightcap in the bar. Where we drank until the wee hours and taught the night porter how to make a bloody Mary!
This was a fantastic night and we understand that Forest Hills Hotel intend to run more nights like this - watch this space.
For more info on the hotel and their special offers head to: