Inky black water slowly changes colour to dark cobalt, then lighter blue as we finish loading the fishing boat with our supplies. Motoring gently out of the harbour in San Sebastián de La Gomera, we pass the 35 rowing boats, silently waiting for their crews. Out of the harbour, salt spray and thick sweet coffee bring us fully awake and out of that pre-dawn zombie state that exists somewhere between full sleep and wide awake. Leaning our backs against the hull and bracing against the swell, we soak up the heat.
Bird calls break our reverie. We search the cliff faces to our right, hoping a glimpse of tiny forms diving in search of fish. Rounding our first headland we come across an oasis, nestled in a small cove and bursting with colours of chartreuse green, sunburst yellow and damask rose. It is a stark contrast to the grey, black and sandy hues of the surrounding landscape. All too soon this unexpected gem is hidden once more behind another fold in the cliffs.
But luck is with us, for the next headland falls away to reveal another spectacle. On this deserted rocky beach is a wilderness bar, seemingly constructed in a Robinson Crusoe fashion. Its bones of wood and stone have been bleached pale from years of tropical sun. This impression of a long and organic construction is a beautiful artifice. Within days, this bar and wild food experience will be removed from the landscape, leaving nothing behind but memories.
For now, we have the interesting challenge of landing on the shore. A floating pontoon rises and falls, pulsing with the waves. Timing our moves, we step lightly onto the pontoon. A few steps later we’re greeted with a signature cocktail, created from wild edibles and Talisker Whisky. Notes of salt, citrus and spice give the drink an unexpected depth. The salt taste marries perfectly with fresh oyster served unadorned. Simple, rustic and elegant.
A shift in the wind direction carries sounds of revelry. A second bar, seating area and a fire table are thronged with a medley of people. Athletes and adventures, writers and sailors. All on this remote beach to enjoy tales of challenge and exploration. We’re here to celebrate and toast the forthcoming start of an epic and daunting journey. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. More than one hundred brave souls will soon drop below our horizon, heading west in search of a finishing line over five thousand kilometres away in Antigua. For now, it’s time to sample various iterations of Talisker Whisky used as an integral element for cocktails and wild cooking.
Replete and relaxed we’re joined together, flooded with light and laughter. Good food, drink and company together in a home or restaurant can bring us together. The same experience, enjoyed in the wild adds a much deeper element. Connecting us to shared ancestral memories; that of communities joined as one, sharing adventures, hopes and fears, risk and reward. And most importantly pulling together as a team as we venture towards the horizon and into the unknown.
Kieran Creevy is an expedition and private chef and International Mountain Leader. With more than 20 years’ experience in the field, he's done it all - from cooking a six-course tasting dinner with matched wines in a basecamp tent, to preparing homemade pumpkin and sage gnocchi with wild boar râgu in a snowhole camp in the Italian Alps.
Comments will be approved before showing up.