Food in The Falkland Islands! Including Roast Wild Upland Goose… and a competition!

Four glorious weeks in the Falkland Islands!

We went for the wildlife (particularly the penguins and albatross) but, to our delight, we also received a wonderfully warm and hospitable welcome from the kelpers – as the islanders call themselves (after the kelp seaweed that grows in abundance around the shores and washes up in huge piles along all the beaches).

Unusually, given my foodie tendencies, this was a trip where food really didn’t come into it. We chose our destinations according to wildlife, available accommodation and cost. Our itinerary included a mix of full board (staying in the homes of the owners or managers of individual islands) and self-catering (where board was not available).

That’s not to say we didn’t eat well – we did. Kelper hospitality is renowned and hearty. Full board equalled generous cooked breakfasts, energising packed lunches and waistband-busting 3 course evening meals (or 4 at Carcass Island who added a cheese course at the end too!)

This post is in large part a thank you to those with whom we stayed.

Dishes that stood out (plus some wildlife photos thrown in):

Sheena at Darwin House served a huge roast lamb dinner. Her cauliflower cheese was particularly tasty! I’d say her breakfast sausages were also the finest we had on the island!



Carcass Island: flight in a FIGAS Islander, a striated caracara (known as a Johnny Rook), crested ducklings, magellenic penguin

Meals at Carcass Island Managers House are cooked by chef Roldan and his wife Eva. All delicious. But the one dish I’ll never forget is owner Lorraine’s home-made lemon meringue pie. Served with cream that was in the cow only hours before and is so thick you can stand a spoon up in it, I can understand why this was the dessert at Rob and Lorraine’s daughter’s wedding a few years back!


West Point Island: rockhopper penguin, long-tailed meadowlark, upland geese, black-browed albatross courtship, black-browed albatross and chick

We self-catered at West Point and our meal packs were provided by Heather Smith in Stanley. They were sent from Stanley on the same little FIGAS Islander plane we took from Darwin to Carcass Island (from where we took the boat across to West Point). We loved eating from our boxes of goodies and generally had simple egg and toast breakfasts, fried cheese sandwiches or soup and toast for lunch and the oven-ready meals in the evenings. All Heather’s meals were great but favourites were her mushroom soup and her chicken and wine casserole. And her chocolate sponge pudding hit the spot!



Pebble Island: rockhopper penguin and imperial shag colony, dolphin gull, imperial shag, young rockhoppers, gentoo penguins, gentoos approaching Kavey

We ate superbly well at Pebble Island Lodge too. Jacqui’s toothfish with a mushroom and wine sauce was so delicious; tender and perfectly cooked. And her lasagne another night was fantastic! Allan and Jacqui were wonderful hosts, so we particularly enjoyed our last evening where they dined with us.


Saunders Island, The Rookery: Pete with cabin in background, nearby beach




Saunders Island, The Neck: magellenic penguins in sand storm, our footprints, sunset from the cabin window, gentoo penguin, Pete with the rockhopper penguins, rockhoppers heading to sea, rockhoppers returning from sea, elephant seal, baby skua, Pete and king penguin, king penguin grooming

The meal packs for our self-catering stay at Saunders Island were provided by the Malvina House Hotel in Stanley. I have to say that, whilst the main meals were decent, these meal packs were disappointing and poorly planned out. Luckily, we were able to supplement them at the Saunders Island store. When I say “store”, don’t imagine a regular shop with pristine shelves and a regular till. What I’m talking about is a rural farmer’s food store shed with sturdy shelves of long-life food, a chest freezer of meat (much of it from their own sheep and beef cattle), boxed wines and piles of empty boxes and packaging. Suzan keeps track of one’s purchases in a simple ledger book and one settles up in cash before leaving. Fantastic!


Saunders Island: the self-catering cabin at The Neck

On our arrival, we chatted to Suzan as she transferred us from the airstrip to our first self-catering accommodtion at the Rookery. Discussion got onto food and Suzan asked if we’d tried much local food. Other than lamb/ mutton and beef from the herds on Carcass Island and Pebble Island, I replied that we hadn’t. Certainly we’d not tried any native species such as the wild geese.


Roast dinner: the Upland goose as it arrived, the feather shafts I pulled out, my stuffing, my makeshift spaghetti sutures, the roasted goose and potatoes

Suzan immediately offered to get a goose for us; plucked and gutted, ready for the oven! We made a plan for a roast dinner at the cabin at The Neck (a self-catering unit made from a one and a half shipping containers!) and Suzan also provided potatoes and a large onion (from which I made a basic bread and onion stuffing). I did have to pull out a lot of feather shafts that had remained in the skin – I just focused on those that felt solid, like thin plastic, and left in those that were teeny tiny soft. For the stuffing I simply mixed moistened brown bread with chopped white onion and lots and lots of black pepper and stuffed it into the enormous cavity. A futile search through the kitchen saw me fasten the cavity with raw dried spaghetti sticks – yes, I broke a few during the process! Whilst I knew the wild bird would be less fatty, I probably should have rubbed some butter over the skin for added moisture. Following Suzan’s advice I roasted the goose for 3 hours at gas mark 3. Whilst it wasn’t as tender as a domesticated goose bred for the table it wasn’t tough either – the meat was dense but really good. Our two cabin mates shared the meal with us and also enjoyed it. And the thin crispy skin was popular. The roasties, cooked long and slow, were unbelievably gorgeous! And the stuffing, so simple, was really good. Meaty juices had obviously imparted their flavour – yum!

Suzan also provided us regular deliveries of fresh cream from their cows – much like the cream at Carcass Island this was far thicker and fresher than anything I’ve ever been able to buy in England – truly fresh from the source! We had tinned fruit and fresh cream for dessert every single one of our 8 nights on Saunders Island and it was utterly delicious!

That eighth night was unplanned- FIGAS were unable to operate any flights (due to the weather) on the day we were due to transfer to Volunteer Point so we had an extra day on Saunders instead. We shared two houses down in the settlement with 16 crazy girl guides from the UK and a Canadian traveller who’d been with us up at The Neck. As none of us had food for the extra day, Suzan and David kindly provided two enormous joints of beef for roasting (which they even came across to carve for us, and Suzan made the gravy). For all the hype about longer hanging times for beef here in the UK, I found this beef wonderfully flavoursome and tender, and yet the cow was killed just 2 days previously!

And as if that wasn’t enough, Suzan made us an immense pile of dough-fries which we slit and stuffed with fresh cream, drizzled with the golden syrup she also provided and served with tinned fruit. Oh my, they were decadent and I must make some myself soon!

Photos to be added later

At Volunteer Point we stayed with wardens Derek and Trudi in the Warden’s Cottage. We loved watching Derek toast bread over the peat-fire in the range cooker. And the roast mutton and braised gammon dinners were both wonderful. Trudi also introduced me to the lethal combination of rum and port, which I had better not drink too often!

We were also able to try a fried penguin egg for breakfast (gentoo for those who were wondering!) which locals are permitted to harvest at certain times of year, to a strict license. Derek and Trudi preserve theirs in some strange gluey fluid they told me about, which allows them to preserve the eggs raw. Penguin eggs are an acquired taste, that’s for sure. I could probably get used to the strange-tasting orange yolk but the oily, translucent albumen (egg “white”) was just… let’s keep it polite and say unpleasant!

We spent the last couple of nights of our trip in Lafone House where Arlette served wonderfully generous breakfasts. That fresh fruit salad with plumb blackberries, strawberries, melon, kiwitfruit, bananas and more was more of a treat than you can imagine – fresh fruit is expensive in the Falklands and, given the way most food reaches the islands by boat, the range they get is limited!


Competition!

The Diddle Dee Berry (empetrum rubrum) is a bittersweet species of crowberry that resembles a small redcurrant in appearance, though it has it’s own unique flavour. Found in Chile, Argentina and the Falkland Islands, it is the fruit of a small shrub that covers vast swathes of the Falklands. The Islanders commonly make it into jam and I bought back a couple of freshly made miniature jars.


Win this little jar of jam!

One little jar (approximately 50 grams) of Diddle Dee Jam is up for grabs!

For once, I’m running a competition open to readers both inside and outside the UK! Leave a comment on this post before midnight on 31st March to enter!

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
23 Comments to "Food in The Falkland Islands! Including Roast Wild Upland Goose… and a competition!"

  1. Marina

    What a fabulous post – you have piqued my interest in the Falklands! I've been to the Galapagos but clearly need to go here has well – wildlife looks stunning (and food sounds delicious as well).

    Reply
  2. Kit

    Fantastic photos and very interesting insights into the life and kitchen of the Kelpers …not your usual holiday destination. You can just taste and smell those meaty juices … mmm

    Reply
  3. meemalee

    Stonking photos! Almost worth you disappearing off the face of the earth for (almost, not quite).

    I would like some Diddle Dee Jam, yes I would.

    Reply
  4. Debs @ DKC

    Wow, what a fabulous post. I just love the penguin photos, especially the one by itself wondering towards the water looking particularly grumpy!! LOL.

    I'd love the diddle dee jam. Quite often I have marmalade on toast for breakfast, but diddle dee jam would make a refreshing change.

    Ummmm, now I'm already planning other ways to incorporate into some fabulous new dishes too.

    Sounds like you & Pete had a wonderful time, not that I'm jealous or anything!!!!!

    Reply
  5. Mamta

    Vow! You saw so many birds and you sat with King Penguins, I am so jealous! Lovely pictures too. It brings back memories of our visit there years ago, but we didn't get to do the all little island that you visited. Even the Stanley beaches were out of bounds then, because they hadn't yet cleared out the land mines from the invasion.
    You obviously had very interesting and nice food too, we ate on our ship. It must have been great to stay in these little huts, almost giving you a taste of what the early explorers saw from their very basic huts every morning.
    Isn't it funny, you arrive in this remote island and you find that it looks so much like old England, in its people, customs and shops, especially the Post Office!
    Mamta

    Reply
  6. Nic

    Another place to put on the list to visit. Great photos and the penguins make me all warm and fuzzy inside!

    Reply
  7. theundergroundrestaurant

    How interesting Kavey. I've been to Argentina and Tierra del fuego but not the Falklands. I didn't know you were wildlife freaks.
    A penguin egg…wow.
    I've had ostrich egg in south Africa. Didn't like that much. Weirdly oily.

    Reply
  8. Jenny

    It was great to read this and see all the pictures. I went to the Falklands 6 years ago, although I was only there for a week so I didn't manage to get around as much as you! I did make it to the penguin colonies at Volunteer point though, absolutely amazing. I don't really remember much of the food, I stayed in someone's house so I had a lot of homecooked dinners. The hospitality and close knittedness of the population there was something I'd never experienced before. Reassuring but also a bit weird when someone you've never met has already heard all about you on the island grapevine!

    Reply
  9. Louise

    fabulous photos Kavey, looks like you had an amazing time. I've always wanted to head to Tierra del Fuego for the wildlife but it seems the Falklands are a great destination too.

    Reply
  10. Andrew

    Hi Kavey, I am in the very first stages of planning a hike around East Falkland: Stanley- Fitzroy- Mt Pleasant- Goose Green- San Carlos- Teal Inlet- Estancia- Stanley. I anticipate that this will be about 170 miles and that it will take 12 days. After reading your blog, I would like to ask whether you think it is possible to find places to stock up on food and water easily enough (shops for everything, ideally)throughout the route? Cheers, Andrew

    Reply
  11. Kavey

    Andrew, drop me an email via the contact link to the top left and I'll try and help but your best bet is probably to contact a local tour operator who knows each destination better. I'm not familiar with many of those so can't really help. If there aren't stores in some places, you may be able to advance arrange for supplies to be flown in and saved for you by locals at each stop.

    Reply
  12. Kavey

    Mostly traditional meat and veg-based British food… roasts, stews, shepherds and cottage pies and so on. Plus, of course, more international dishes too.

    Reply
  13. Polly Dolly

    Love your post, Ive visited the island 3 times now in 19 years and loved it each time. The fresh meat is so good nad Darwin House was one of my favourite overnight stays. Did you have the afternoon tea and cakes its a real treat for somewhere quite remote. Clarex

    Reply
  14. Kavey

    We didn't on this trip, but during our first Antarctic cruise, in 2004, we stopped at West Point and Carcass Island and had afternoon teas at both, which were superb!

    Reply
  15. benson hewitt

    Spent a half day in the Falklands aboutbten years ago as part of a cruise. Thought that pretty special. Your experiences: Wow!

    Reply
  16. John R. Broomfield

    Excellent story and photographs from a fondly remembered place and people.

    My wife and lived in Port Stanley 1974 to 1977. I was on the engineering team building the first Falkland Islands Airport on Cape Pembroke east of Port Stanley while my wife taught in the school.

    As a newly married couple we were lucky enough to live in one of the project’s five newly built prefabricated aluminum homes overlooking the harbour just north of the road out of town (the city!) towards our airport project.

    We loved our two and half years living with the Kelpers visiting each other’s homes as was the custom in those days. My wife had our first child in the local hospital and the community rallied around to ensure we had all we needed. Idyllic in many ways.

    First day of the fishing season was epic with six hours of driving our Land Rovers over and through the boggy camp for less than an hour fishing for trout in the Murray. And catching an adolescent goose just before it could fly made a change from eating mutton.

    I’ll email some photos to you.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    So lovely to hear from you and I so enjoyed your photos, and have replied via email. Delighted that my post brought back happy memories for you.

    Reply

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *