The wide, wild world of chutney according to Alison McQuade

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 1.35.31 PMWe discovered Alison McQuade and her amazing chutneys about a year ago and have been hooked every since. I don’t know about you, but I grew up thinking chutney was an accompaniment to Indian cuisine. Turns out, I had a very narrow vision of what is a very versatile condiment. In fact, when I explored the McQuade Celtic Chutneys website (follow link to find where to purchase at a local food purveryor or on-line), I found the pen of a poet (not surprising for a Scotswoman) and the ladle of a great chef, I am sure you’ll agree reading the following:

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 1.39.02 PM“How do we distill the ripe rosy flavour of summer tomatoes

bring a deep hit of eastern spicing to an autumnal table

or embrace the bitter sharp bite of earthly rhubarb?

Here at McQuade’s, the answer is always

“make chutney.

ANDREA: What is chutney? How do you make it?

ALISON:  Chutney is a condiment made from fruit and or vegetables, vinegar, spices and sugar, allowed to mature the flavours all come together and if done right balance each other out…..

 in big vats for a few hours and then let them mature till flavours meld.  Each different flavour is a different process.

ANDREA:  How did you start your business and what drew you to specializing in this condiment?

ALISON:  I come from Scotland where my grandmothers used to make chutney, as well as my mother, in turn and now I do.  The British occupation of India brought chutney to our shores , also,  Glasgow being a port city , meant we had access to spices and fruit that we normally wouldn’t.

I started making chutney years ago while still working in a law firm.  I would make chutney as gifts for Christmas and at some point a friend asked me to bring some for her friend to try – her friend was none other than Peggy Smith from Cowgirl Creamery  Artisanal Organic Cheeses! They were about to open up in the Ferry Building Marketplace… Peggy tried my chutney and, as they say, the rest is history. She placed what was my first wholesale order and from there came other orders…..

ANDREA:  Most people associate chutney with Indian food; is it appropriate with other cuisines?

ALISON:  Yes, most people  do associate chutney with Indian food, however I, being raised in Scotland, associate it with a Ploughman’s Platter or a grilled cheese sandwich. “an English cold meal which consists of cheesechutney, and bread.[1] Additional items such as boiled eggs, ham, and pickled onions may be added. As its name suggests, it is more commonly consumed as a midday snack.

Beer, bread, and cheese have been paired in the English diet since antiquity. However, the specific term “ploughman’s lunch” is believed to date no further back than the 1950s, when the Cheese Bureau began promoting the meal in pubs as a way to increase the sales of cheese, which had recently ceased to be rationed. Its popularity increased as the Milk Marketing Board promoted the meal nationally throughout the 1960s”.

ANDREA:  How did and do you select and develop the flavors your offer in your line of chutneys?

Can you provide a pairing list for your chutneys? (So recommended uses… with what proteins, matching flavor profiles, etc).

ALISON:  New flavours come from my Scottish “heid” (author’s note: variant for “head”), or sometimes I ‘m inspired by cocktails.

Our habanero chutney goes very well with scrambled eggs or pork tenderloin and the apple ‘n ale with macaroni cheese (see below)…..there are so many ways to complement meals with chutney…..

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 1.34.15 PM


(We rotate the flavours so usually only 5-6 available at one time….)

Fig ‘n Ginger (author’s note: as a private chef, I serve this with my Brazil-nut Crusted Goat Cheese Pelotitas filled with Black Mission Fig, see photo below)
Goat cheese Amuse Bouche.jpg
Mandarin Apricot
Rhubarb Tangerine
Apple Ale
Plum and Black pepper
Whisky Peach
Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 1.33.44 PM
Apple Red Chili
Cranberry Tangerine
Melon Peach
Mango Date
Spiced Strawberry
Curried Banana
Citrus Cherry
Basically the citrus and lighter fruit (i.e. Melon, mandarin apricot ) pair well with seafood as well as with goat ‘s cheese)
Fig and Ginger with pork tenderloin and with blue cheese
Apple n Ale extremely versatile and pairs with cheddar, chicken , pork
Spiced Strawberry with Barbecue Chicken
Whiskey Peach with Steak….
Citrus cherry with Duck






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