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Guest Blog: A Week in the Life of La Barca Helensburgh

In this guest blog for Love Loch Lomond, owner Cara Nikolic, one half of the husband and wife team at Helensburgh Spanish tapas restaurant La Barca, describes some recent events where La Barca’s delicious paellas have proved popular, and offers us a recipe mixing some iconic Scottish and Spanish produce!

Who would have thought our giant paellas would become a bit of a local tradition? We were delighted to be asked to rustle up Spain's national dish for a very Scottish wedding reception last Saturday. The event was in Cove Burgh Hall where our 90cm paella pan also featured at a 40th wedding anniversary recently. This time newly-weds Siona and Trevor Bean teamed our chicken and chorizo paella with their very own hog roast.

Siona, who owns the Cafe at Kilcreggan, is well known for her amazing hog roasts and together they made for an excellent wedding feast.  But I did say it was a very Scottish wedding and to top it all off a surprise appearance by the Helensburgh Clan Colquhoun Pipe Band, with a rousing rendition of "Flower of Scotland," stirred the overwhelmed bride to tears of joy.

Fast forward 48 hours and the paella pan was rolled out again for a tourism event. Over 30 members of Love Loch Lomond gathered on Helensburgh's seafront to launch the revamped Clyde Sea Lochs Trail. One of nine new panels was unveiled by John and Anne Urquhart of Balmillig B&B in Helensburgh whose time and effort made the new panels happen. With funding from Love Loch Lomond the informative boards are sited at points of interest and viewpoints and help guide visitors from Dumbarton around the peninsula and on to Arrochar.

Hopefully the new Clyde Sea Lochs Trail will encourage tourists to come off the A82 to discover the beautiful Helensburgh area which can only be a boost for our towns and villages. It was a pretty chilly day so after the big reveal we were happy to retire to La Barca for paella and tapas.

Talking to Anne, I remembered she'd suggested quite some time ago that we do some "Scottish tapas" specials, and on a recent trip to Aviemore, the Hilton hotel where we stayed was doing just that - under the influence of the many Spanish staff who worked in the kitchen and front of house.

So this week’s recipe pays tribute to Scotland's national dish as our Scots friends have so eagerly embraced our Spanish dish. Yes, we're giving haggis tapas a go in the form of Haggis Bon Bons with crisp potato fritter, turnip purée and Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce.

Move over paella, and let the iconic haggis have centre stage, at least for this week.


Recipe for Haggis Bon Bons with Pedro Ximenez Sherry Sauce from La Barca Helensburgh

Haggis Bon Bons with Crisp potato fritter, turnip purée and Pedro Ximenez sherry sauce


-500g haggis

-2 large potatoes

-1 swede

-100g breadcrumbs

-100g flour

-1 egg

-250ml chicken stock

-50ml double cream

-25ml Pedro Ximenez sherry


Make haggis balls, roll them in flour, followed by the beaten egg then breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for half hour.

Peel and cut potatoes into big chunks. Place them on baking try and drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle chopped rosemary and thyme and season with sea salt. Bake in the oven at 180c till golden brown.

Cook the swede in boiling water till soft then blend in a food processor with a splash of double cream and season to taste. Bring the chicken stock to the boil, reduce by two quarters and add sherry.

Deep fry the haggis Bon Bons at 180c for approx 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Spoon the swede purée onto plate, place roasted potato in the middle, drizzle with sherry sauce and add haggis Bon Bons.

Buen provecho:  Enjoy your meal!

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