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Highland Beef Balls

An invaluable book for any visitor to Scotland, indeed for home Scots as well, has just been republished. The 4th edition of 'The Hidden Places of Scotland' by James Gracie ( 10.99 Travel Publishing Ltd ) is printed in full colour providing the reader with more scenic and pleasurable views of our beautiful country. Scotland is rich in history and culture; its landscapes possess some of the most impressive views in the British Isles and finest coastlines in the world. Scotland as the book proves is full of 'Hidden Places', which can enrich the visitor's historical knowledge of Scottish heritage and has landscapes, which regardless of the weather, astound the eye with their sheer beauty. The book is packed with information on the secluded and little known venues for food, accommodation and places of interest as well as the more enduring attractions of Scotland. James Gracie is a full time writer living in Scotland and is to be congratulated on filling 400 pages full of extraordinary stories and interesting histories of the villages, towns and cities of fair Caledonia. The book is available at all good Book Shops and through other channels of distribution such as Garden Centres, Local Tourist Information Centres and Heritage Sites.
 
With the Scottish National Party Annual National Conference returning to Inverness this September, a dip into the section on the Capital of the Highlands seemed appropriate -
 
'The oldest secular building in the city is Abertaff House in Church Street ( National Trust for Scotland ), which dates from 1593. It was built as a town house for the Frasers of Lovat. It isn't open to the public. Dunbar's Hospital is also on Church Street, and dates from 1668. It was founded by Provost Alexander Dunbar as a hospital for the poor. It has now been divided into flats. Balnain House ( National Trust for Scotland ), on Huntly Street on the opposite bank of the River Ness, was built in 1726 and is now the Trust's regional HQ. it is not open to the public. Also on the opposite bank is Inverness Cathedral, a gem of a building designed by Alexander Ross and built between 1866 and 1869. It was supposed to have had two large spires, but these were never built.'
 
Inverness Cathedral is a familiar sight to all SNP delegates as it lies just along the River Ness from the Conference meeting place, the Eden Court Theatre. As Inverness was recognised as the Capital of the Highlands long before the award of city status, for a recipe this week we look to the Highlands - Highland Beef Balls accompanied by skirlie, bacon and tatties should provide capital fare for all.
 
Highland Beef Balls
 
Ingredients : 1lb ( 500 g ) mince; 2 oz ( 50 g ) suet, finely chopped; one onion, finely chopped ( optional but recommended ); 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper; 1 tsp mixed spice; 1 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp sugar; 1/2 tsp ginger; 1/4 tsp ground cloves
 
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly together in a mixing bowl. Shape into 4 large or 8 small patties. Fry for five minutes on both sides in a little hot fat. Serve with bacon, skirlie and tatties.

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