WE ARE are justifiably proud that Yummleys is Scotland’s only Swiss coffee shop. Now we are about to add another unique string to our culinary bow. This week sees the official opening of what we are certain will be the country’s only Swiss-Spanish-Scottish bistro!
It’s set to be a tantalising gastronomic marriage of Spain’s Moorish and Mediterranean inspired foods made using the finest local Borders ingredients with perhaps a few Italian, German and French influences thrown in as a nod to my own Swiss roots.
For food lovers like me, it’s certainly a combination guaranteed to get the taste buds salivating.
We opened our bistro here at Yummleys in the summer at weekends to complement the coffee shop we launched last spring, and since then have built up an appreciative and loyal local and seasonal clientele.
But I have to admit that the bistro’s success took myself and my partner, Leya, completely by surprise, and even though it was only open Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime, it seemed to have taken on a life of its own.
Then Rodrigo Ramos walked into our lives just at the point when we had recognised we couldn’t do everything ourselves. A young chef from Avila, a couple of hours north of Madrid, he had been staying with his aunt and uncle on their farm at Granthouse, and had decided to look for work here in the UK. We received a speculative phone call and, intrigued, invited Rodrigo to cook us a meal. I am lucky enough to have eaten in many Michelin restaurants in my life, and without a lie Rodrigo’s cooking was among the best I have ever tasted.
We decided there and then to hire him and extend the bistro’s opening hours. But just as we were setting everything in motion, fate again intervened. Rodrigo’s brother-in-law, Stew-art Brown, also happens to be a chef, born in Berwick but working in Spain. He was visiting his family over here with wife Amanda, and they popped in to see her brother Rodrigo’s new workplace.
Stewart was so impressed that he immediately offered, in collaboration with Rodrigo, to take the pressure of running the bistro off our hands completely.
So within a matter of days our business was somewhat turned on its head. And we couldn’t be more pleased. Now renamed Bistro @ Yummleys, we are confident that Stewart and Rodrigo will rise to the challenge. Both have been toiling over the exciting new menu.
Stewart has worked in Michelin level restaurants in Spain, and during his previous life as a chef/soldier in Germany, Bosnia and Afghanistan, catered on occasions for up to 15,000 soldiers (obviously, not all on his own).
Stewart and Rodrigo are also as committed as Leya and myself to singing the praises of local food producers. Stewart is already fam-iliar with the Borders area and the many high quality ingredients it has, but Rodrigo has thrown himself with gusto into learning all he can. He has been to Eyemouth and St Abbs to meet the fishermen, spent time with our fruit and vegetable man, visited the local farms and meat suppliers and crossed the Border to see what makes Doddington Cheeses so special.
While British supermarkets are piled high with foods that have been shipped hundreds if not thousands of miles, Spanish cuisine both domestically and commercially still reflects local practices and ingredients.
Rodrigo has been captivated by what the Borders has to offer thus far and says in terms of scenery, the friendliness of the people and the high quality of the ingredients, it is very like his home region. One thing that is radically different, however, is the weather! But we are sure everyone will give Rodrigo and Stewart a very warm welcome as a new chapter opens in Yummleys’ continuing story.
And we very much hope you will pay us a visit for your own little slice of Spain in Scotland.
•Oli Hofer is the owner of Scotland’s only Swiss coffee shop. Stewart, Rodrigo and Amanda run Bistro @ Yummleys, Main Street, Reston, TD14 5JP, 01890 761 266, www.yummleys.co.uk, Twitter: @yummley_berwick