Oban for me is all about food and drink! As the Seafood Capital of Scotland the town boasts a plethora of fantastic restaurants. And even those who focus on fish and shellfish offer other local produce. The farmland in Argyll supports sheep and beef farming – and there are plentiful wild venison and game to keep carnivores happy whilst I tuck into juicy Langoustines swimming in garlic butter!
When I first arrived in Oban over 20 years ago, most of the local shellfish went straight into lorries to travel down to Spain. It took a while to change attitudes; in times gone by shellfish were regarded as famine food and folk would gather mussels when there was no meat to eat. The first Seafood Festival was held in Oban in 1995 and local hotels and restaurants gradually introduced more shellfish onto their menus. I did have one visitor stub out his cigar in a small bowl of cockles which I had put on the bar for folk to try, but most were easily converted to the taste and texture of shellfish – fresh from the sea.
These days, we have an entire Festival of the Sea as the town is about much more than just seafood and Oban does not have to persuade visitors to try our wonderful produce. Coordinated by the Scottish Association of Marine Science (part of the University of the Highlands) the bi-annual event now has a wee ‘Fringe Festival’ with music and performances in local pubs and restaurants.