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Harris cafe set in old stone temple to release non-alcoholic drink using the island’s natural larder

Wild Eve.
Wild Eve.

Wild Eve is made from ingredients such as roses, oat tops, sugar kelp and honeysuckle, and is made by the owner of The Temple cafe on the Isle of Harris.

The Temple cafe and bakery on the Isle of Harris has many notches to its belt. Not only is it a historical building set in an old stone temple with stunning views across Harris, but it is also a deli, bakery, cafe, drink producer, apothecary, smokehouse and a soon-to-be coffee roastery coming in October.

Based in Northton, on the west coast of Harris, the building was designed by Stuart Bagshaw in 1999 to replicate an old Blackhouse as a nod to William MacGillivray, an ornithologist from Harris.

Since being built it’s taken the top spot on many bucket lists of tourists to the islands and its newest reincarnation, by Amanda Saurin, who bought it in April 2019, sees it taking on a whole new lease of life.

Amanda foraging for local botanicals.

Everything available is made by hand using locally-sourced botanicals, including their range of baked goods, jams, teas, chutneys and even some beauty products.

Amanda said: “We bought The Temple two and a bit years ago and then Covid came along and I thought more about what I actually wanted to do. The Temple is really nice and the previous owners had done a really nice job with it but it just wasn’t what I did.

“We very quickly started running out of space in the cafe, so I started looking around for another building and found one in Leverburgh that had been empty for four years. It’s quite a big building and is a lot bigger than I thought it was now that I’m starting to fit stuff into it. But this additional building is about 10 minutes away from the bakery in Northton.”

Wild Eve

The new building will become the extra space she needs to launch the roastery and non-alcoholic drink range she has planned, called Wild Eve, which has been proving popular with customers in the Northton bakery.

“One section of the new building will be for the bakery and another will be for our non-alcoholic drink we’re about to launch called Wild Eve. We’ve had a soft launch of the drink in The Temple and it is already on the shelves and is so popular – anyone who tries it ends up buying it.

Wild Eve.

“Wild Eve is made from roses, which we harvest on our croft, as well as honeysuckle, oat tops, chamomile, which we also grow on our croft, and some sugar kelp seaweed, which is the same type of seaweed they use in Isle of Harris gin. There are a range of other things in it, too.

“The problem I’ve found with a lot of non-alcoholic drinks that I’ve tasted is that they have a short hit of flavour and then there’s nothing. But I’ve built Wild Eve up in the same way you’d build a perfume.

“It actually took me several years to make, as I started working on it even before I bought The Temple, but I’ve finally cracked it.

“I also thought wouldn’t it be great if you make a drink where it has herbs in it that make you feel relaxed.”

Treasure trove

Surrounded by Harris’ abundance of natural bounty, Amanda felt inspired to make Wild Eve though because of the raw nature of the ingredients, it can’t be mass produced, meaning she will handmake every batch.

“I moved to Harris from Sussex and when I got here I found I really had the time to look at the botanicals that were here and what it could offer in terms of flavour, but also the effect of the drink,” she continued.

The outdoor seating area at The Temple.

“Harris is like a treasure trove for us. There’s so much here if you’re into plants and botanicals. Once I moved here I felt spurred on to go back to developing it and play around with it until I got it exactly how I wanted it.

“Anyone can order the drink online when it’s released in mid-August. I’d like to have it stocked in a few places but I’m still working on the list of who I would like to give it to.

“Virtually every other drink on the market uses essences or extract, and that’s because if you need to make lots and lots of the drink, that’s the most straightforward way of doing it. But because we are using only plants, it means we will never be able to supply a supermarket. We can only produce what we can grow or pick.

The Temple cafe.

“It will be made in small batches and each batch will be slightly different because each plant will be slightly different when we pick them.”

Wild Eve will be launched in mid-August on The Temple website. It will be priced at £30 for 500ml or can be bought in The Temple itself.

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