Unique food experiences can be found dotted among Skye’s single-track roads. Eat the finest shellfish served up by friendly locals at the foot of majestic mountains, catch mackerel and barbecue it on secluded seaweed beaches, and shop at small artisan food producers for delicacies such as smoked oysters, Stornoway black pudding and crowdie cheese.
Great British Menu chef Michael Smith recommends the best produce and restaurants on the largest island of Scotland's Inner Hebrides.
Go for freshly made café classics along with baked goods and homemade ice creams at Caledonian Cafe, Portree. During the summer it's full of hungry tourists, so to beat the throng get in early and sample the famous Stornoway black pudding in its Caledonian Grill breakfast, £6.25. (caledoniancafe.co.uk)
Either on your way to or from the island, stopping off at Kishorn Seafood Bar, Ross-shire, is a must. This roadside diner offers fresh local seafood at the head of the Loch with views over to Skye. Oysters, crab and lobsters are on show in a tank. Garlic scallops with a croissant is a house speciality, £7.50. (kishornseafoodbar.co.uk)
A stroll along any quayside is never complete without the awkward handling and consuming of fish and chips. At The Harbour Chip Shop, Portree, there's daily landed pollack (lythe) or rock salmon that make interesting alternatives to the standard haddock or cod, accompanied by fresh, hand-cut chips. Avoiding ravenous seagulls provides added entertainment. (01478 613612)
Located just before the famous Talisker distillery, The Old Inn, Carbost, is a great little pub with an eclectic and delicious menu. Helen's home-smoked oysters are a big hit, £9.95 for six. Good local ingredients and friendly service all contribute to a perfect pub atmosphere. Sit outside for views of Loch Harport. (carbost.f9.co.uk)
Stein village's picturesque seafront is the setting for Loch Bay Seafood Restaurant, where David and Alison Wilkinson serve accomplished and unfussy seafood cooking. Try dishes such as crab and Neist lobster risotto £7.25 and line-caught black bream £13.50. Open April-October for lunch & dinner, Tuesday-Friday only. Booking advisable. (lochbay-seafood-restaurant.co.uk)
Housed within the old village school in Dunvegan, family-run business The Old School Restaurant is in its 26th year and serves up Loch Dunvegan langoustines as either a starter, £8.50, or as a main, £20. They come straight from the pier just up the road. (oldschoolrestaurant.co.uk)
Sligachan is regarded as the spiritual home of Scottish and even British mountaineering. But you don't have to climb The Cuillin to feel you've earned the right to soak up the history and vibrant atmosphere while enjoying one of the 250 malts in Seumas' cabin bar at the Sligachan Hotel. But it does complete the experience. (sligachan.co.uk)
Cellar Bar, Dunvegan, is transformed into a cultural music mixing pot every Thursday night, when accomplished local and national folk musicians jam for and with regulars, tourists and anyone else who is lucky enough to stumble across what are locally known as 'The Sessions'. All the Cuillin Brewery's local ales are on tap here to keep your feet a 'tappin. (hoteldunvegan.co.uk)
John Gilbertson of Isle of Skye Smokehouse, Broadford, has been smoking locally caught seafood for more than 15 years. Award-winning hot and cold smoked salmon are always available along with more unusual items such as smoked haddock carpaccio. (skye-seafood.co.uk)
West Highland Dairy, Achmore, produces firstclass crème fraîche, award-winning cheeses and yoghurt and the creamiest dairy ice cream; all available in their shop or by mail order. The local highland crowdie cheese that they stock is the real thing, bearing no resemblance to the bland supermarket versions. (westhighlanddairy.co.uk)
George MacRae runs the excellent Lochalsh Butchers in Portree, Broadford and Kyle. He makes his own sausages, puddings and haggis, along with the best well-hung local meats such as Skye venison. (lochalshbutchers.com)
Taking the 40-minute visitor tour of Skye's one and only distillery, Talisker Distillery, Carbost, is highly recommended. A wee dram of this world-beating malt is included. Classic distillery tour, £5, Talisker tasting tour, £15. (discoveringdistilleries. com/talisker)
Bridgette Hagmanns' Glendale Salads, Upper Fasach, Glendale, are meticulously picked by hand. The sheer variety and quality of her products reflects a unique dedication, greatly appreciated by her exclusive clients. Given enough notice (at least a week), Bridgette will happily welcome any green-fingered enthusiasts and show them round this very special croft. (01470 511349)
Scottish Food Fortnight runs in the first two weeks of September (4-20 September). Look out for special menus and events listed on scottishfoodanddrinkfortnight.co.uk
Antony Hovey has been growing vegetables in the northwest corner of Skye for six years, supplying The Three Chimneys, among other local restaurants. The Sheiling, Totaig, is a purpose-built log cabin amid his various vegetable plots and is a perfect cosy retreat for two, with the freshest of produce literally on your doorstep, from £280 per week. Horticultural courses are also available, £75 for two people. (thesheilingskye.co.uk)
Just nine miles outside Portree, The Spoons, Skeabost Bridge, is a luxury b&b beside Loch Snizort that's a recent and beautifully finished addition to the island. Expect gorgeous antique furniture, homemade breads, jams and fresh, local ingredients in season. Doubles from £125. (thespoonsonskye.com)
Duisdale House, Sleat, is a recently refurbished boutique-style hotel towards the south of the island that has all the trappings of luxury. It even has a hot tub on the garden deck and 'Solus', the hotel's private yacht, is ready to sail most days on seal and whale watching trips. A competent kitchen and restaurant team provide excellent modern meals with a growing reputation. Doubles from £169. (duisdale.com)
About the author
Michael Smith was born in the Scottish Highlands and started his cooking career locally before moving to London to further his training in restaurants such as Le Pont de la Tour and Le Gavroche. He moved to The Three Chimneys on Skye in 2004 and soon became head chef. He has a passion for the island and its produce and continues to make the restaurant a must-visit for food lovers. The Seven Courses of Skye tasting menu, £80, includes prawns, crab, smoked fish, scallops, oysters and beef or lamb all from the island, finishing with a reworking of the restaurant's celebrated marmalade pudding. Doubles from £285. (three chimneys.co.uk)
The article 'Insider’s guide to Skye' was published in partnership with Olive magazine.