Octane catches some of the world’s freshest* wild caught food: lobster, crab, muscle, scallop, trout, mackerel and some mighty lean venison. However, carbs aren’t found so easily on an island with no shops and dried pasta is therefore an expedition staple.
Octane‘s expedition bothy has no oven so bread making is out and, seeing as it doesn’t last long and is prone to getting squashed in the confines of a sea kayak, it was never really in. Couscous and rice travels and stores well in a boat but something locally sourced rather than shipped from Djibouti or further is preferred by Octane‘s expedition guests who like to know their food is locally sourced. Pasta, a food that dries, stores well, is full of slow releasing energy and uses ingredients bartered or bought locally, is a good food made from home.
The carbohydrates in pasta are a good source of slow release energy when paddling and pasta is also a great food to dry, store and transport in a sea kayak. The nearest food store is located on the Isle of Mull, a few hours away by kayak, so it is often easier to barter some fresh caught fish for eggs and milk with a local farm, the trade benefiting Octane, its guests and the farmer.
I am sure to become more adept at bartering with time but for a first attempt I get a dozen fresh eggs, a block of butter of unspecified weight (my guess is 500 grams) and two litres of milk for four well muscled mackerel and a modest sea trout.
Local carb requirements were traditionally met through crofting crop cultivation very much defined by the west coast’s wet climate , limited fertility and shorter hours sunlight. A crofter dug lazy beds for better drainage, used seaweed for manure and planted hardy crops to feed themselves and their livestock through the winter.
- Mix 200 grams flour (fine or ‘double O’, lots of gluten) with 2 eggs (beaten)
- Pour eggs onto flour + whisk until of a consistency that can be kneaded
- Knead until it forms a neat ball
- Wrap in cling film allowing it to rest for one hour
- Pass through the pasta roller until required thickness
- Dust with flour and cut shapes
- Turn shapes regularly to dry through
- Store in an airtight container
Dried pasta will last indefinitely when packed in airtight containers. However, when I pack pasta for a sea kayak expedition I do so with enough air to ensure the item is buoyant. I use a folding kayak without bulkheads or air bags so I must ensure each and every bag packed into the boat floats.
*The term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught, prepared, cooked and eaten same-day.
See ocean fresh in practice with the post ‘Drive through calamari’ – ocean fresh calamari caught, cooked and served in under an hour
Octane offers gastro wilderness expeditions and, employing Octane’s Eight** methods of sourcing wild food for the pot, we eat the world’s best food, ocean fresh*.
**Octane’s Eight is our philosophy. We believe our travelling guests, being closest to the world’s wildest fresh foods, might quite like to eat the world’s wildest fresh foods.
1. we line fish, 2. we lobster pot, 3. we spear fish, 4. we sea forage, 5. we land forage, 6. we stalk, 7. we seed the sea, 8. we seed the land. Why is it campers and ramblers feel obliged to consume biltong, baked beans and instant coffee?