Fife Larder SECOND EDITION
THE GUIDE TO FIFE’S FOOD & DRINK
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House ad lies across the iconic bridges of the River Forth less than 20 minutes from Edinburgh International Airport. Famous for the Old Course in St Andrews, known worldwide as the home of golf, Fife is so much more. Offering year round attractions, events and a vibrant cultural scene, Fife sits amid rolling hills, lush countryside and a striking coastline. An essential part of Fife is its rich larder celebrating locally grown and produced food and drink. So why donâ€™t you indulge yourself in some of our culinary delights and enjoy a warm welcome to Fife.
www.welcometoĂ…fe.com The Fife Larder
Introduction The Fife Larder Part of The Larder series of food and drink publications. thelarder.net Editor Donald Reid Editorial assistance Sylvie Docherty, Hannah Ewan, Allan Radcliffe, Claire Ritchie Writing & research John Cooke, Hannah Ewan, Lynda Hamilton, Ian Hogg, Courtney Peyton, David Pollock, Donald Reid, Tracey Reilly, Keith Smith, Christopher Trotter Design & Production Simon Armin Map © Stirling Surveys/Fife Council 2012 Sales Juliet Tweedie Publishers Robin Hodge, Simon Dessain Larder Project Director Peter Brown ©2012 The List Ltd. First edition published 2010. This second edition 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of The List Ltd.
Published by The List Ltd with the support of SFQC – a foundation partner of The Larder 14 High Street Edinburgh EH1 1TE Tel: 0131 550 3050 Fax: 0131 557 8500 list.co.uk Extensive efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, however the publishers can accept no responsibility for any errors it may contain.
escribed by James VI as ‘a beggar’s mantle fringed with gold’, Fife has always been a place of hidden treasures. This is a guide to the edible gold of Fife’s larder. It tells you about the food grown, made, landed and created in the region of Fife, and just as importantly where to find it, from seasonal farm stalls to restaurants of international renown. The information in the Fife Larder is independently selected to reflect the contemporary food culture of Fife and to aid access to and appreciation of local food. Here you will find stories and profiles, history and innovation, everyday staples and indulgent treats, culinary insight and lots of inspiration. You’ll also find food to connect with, and no doubt a few hidden treasures to discover and enjoy.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This guide has been developed by The List working with Fife Council, Fife Tourism Partnership, Promoting Fife and the Fife Food Network. Fife’s Tourism Partnership, made up of a range of businesses within Fife’s tourism sector, exists to help visitors choose Fife as an ideal holiday destination and experience the very best the region has to offer by showcasing its natural assets, attractions, heritage and locally produced food and drink. The Fife Larder is supported by Fife Council and the European Regional Development Fund under the Lowlands and Uplands Scotland Programme 2007-2013 with the aim of raising the profile of Fife’s food and drink product. EDITOR’S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The editor would like to thank Toby Anstruther, Roger Brown, Vivien Collie, Jen Gordon, Mike Small, Barbara Wardlaw and Jimmy Wilson for their contributions and knowledgeable advice. FEEDBACK To correct or update any information contained in the Fife Larder, or to provide comments or feedback, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to the Editor, The Fife Larder, c/o The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE The Fife Larder is available as a page-turn version at welcometofife.com/fifelarder The Fife Larder 3
Whatâ€™s in the Fife Larder? Thereâ€™s a lot packed into these 48 pages. Here are a few of the highlights
Where to Buy
The Puddledub People
Our listings of the best delis, butchers, bakers, fishmongers, farm shops and food specialists. From page 26.
The story behind the Mitchell family and their success in making Puddledub a by-word in Fife for great pork, bacon, beef, buffalo and lamb. See page 6.
A comprehensive round-up of the food grown, farmed, made and landed in Fife. See page 21.
Did a Fife baker save the Scotch pie? Read about the rescue on page 13.
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Kitchen Gardens and Orchards
Fife’s top chefs select their best local produce. See panels from page 22.
How the National Trust for Scotland is protecting forgotten foods at its historic houses. See pages 14–15.
Fife’s Fisher Folk The East Neuk of Fife has always been wedded to the sea. Find out how fishing has influenced the county through the years. See page 13.
Where to Eat
An insight into the creation of a new local brewery for Fife. See page 16.
Restaurants and cafés all over Fife. From page 35.
Introduction Features Where to Buy Where to Eat Food Festivals Farmers’ Markets Index
3 6 26 35 45 46 47
A Place Called Puddledub The name Puddledub has been prominent in the shaping of Fife’s food identity in the past decade, yet there may be no such place. Lynda Hamilton sets out to find it.
ollow the long and winding road about half a mile outside Auchtertool, halfway between Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, and you’ll come across what might be known as Fife’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’, because no matter how hard you look, you will never find the village of Puddledub. Despite the road signs, just over a mile apart and pointing in opposite directions, dir there is no sign of the elusive spot. Yet it’s this seemingly mythical my place which inspired Tom To and Camilla Mitchell of C Clentrie Farm, just one and a half mile miles down the road, to brand their home home-grown produce ‘Puddledub Pork’, and ttheir coveted bacon, gammon and sausag sausages have gone on to become a mainstay at farmers’ markets, also winning aacclaim from the likes of chef Nick N Nairn and the former Prime
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Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown. The Mitchell family has been farming the cusp of this mysterious location since about 1904, but their ancestors’ agricultural history in Fife dates back to the 18th century – something which came as a pleasant surprise as the Mitchells researched their family tree. Learning about his family’s deeprooted heritage in the area was a defining moment for Tom, who says it helped cement his connection with the surrounding land and reaffirm his sense of purpose as a farmer – as if confirming what he already knew in his heart. Tom has since become a major player in championing Fife’s food movement over the past decade and has continued to diversify while times have been tough. Tom’s farm might only be one hundred hectares, but he has grown the business from a two-man team to a complete farming and processing outfit
employing 25 people. He’s also bucked the trend by keeping animals indoors during winter to avoid the water-logged land, which is steep and exposed, while preserving the grass until spring. He’s even been doing his bit to drive home the message that ‘farmers are the good guys’ and that, when it comes to the future of Fife’s food culture, education is the key. ‘When I started out in 1999, farming was a much sullied industry,’ says Tom. ‘Farmers were perceived to be destroyers of the environment and people didn’t trust us but, thankfully, things are changing. ‘The pressure to produce low-cost food is enormous but people are slowly beginning to realise that the farmers are the good guys. We’re enthusiastic, motivated and care about our animals – we’d just like to make more money! ‘But people’s perceptions are based on lack of knowledge and some have never been exposed to farms. That’s why we’ve been working with local high schools and inviting groups of pupils along for the Clentrie tour. Food education needs to be on the curriculum and will ultimately improve the health of the population.’ But Tom’s focus on the next generation doesn’t end there. Of course, he’s already paved the way for nephew Steven, who operates a distinctly different business on the same farm. Steven, 29, specialises in beef and water buffalo – with as many as 400 cows on site at any one time. He, too, feels farming in his blood and has a distinct
connection to the land surrounding Puddledub. But mainstream agriculture is not for him. ‘My main passion is cattle,’ he says. ‘I’ve been fascinated by them since I was a child. But, unlike us and farming, it’s so difficult to get the right bloodlines. ‘I wanted to do something unique so I branched out into buffalo, which contains only half the fat of beef and is lower in cholesterol. I think it’s great to have something on your plate with a story. ‘Buffalo also sells really well at events and I’m hoping to do T in the Park again this year. You can’t beat the instant feedback from a thumbs-up, wink or a smile.’ But Steven isn’t just a familiar face at festivals and farmers’ markets; he runs his own shop in Kennoway and has butchery counters at Craigie Farm and Blacketyside. In fact, he’s the largest supplier of buffalo meat in Scotland, being the only farmer to specialise in them as his core product. He’s now keen to follow in his uncle’s footsteps and help to educate the next generation by taking on a further apprentice this year. And as for Puddledub? ‘There’s no such place,’ he laughs. ‘But legend has it that there’s a dip in the road at the back of nearby Templehall, which fills up with water. Maybe that’s it?’ Qpuddledub.co.uk Qpuddledubbuffalo.co.uk
> THE FLYING FLOCK
Should you be passing The Scottish World project at Kelty and spy a flock of sheep grazing on Charles Jencks’ grassy spirals, resist the urge to call the authorities. You’ve spotted the Flying Flock, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s answer to conservation grasscutting. For ten years 180 sheep have rotated around Fife’s wildlife reserves, as well as council and private wildflower meadows. ‘Sheep graze the dominant, coarser plants, allowing rarer plants to flourish,’ explains shepherdess Laura Cunningham. The originally Shetlanders have been crossed with Cheviot and Texel tups, breeding sheep relaxed about constant travelling. They also taste good: Flying Flock lamb has graced Tom Kitchin’s Michelin-starred table in Edinburgh, and is available through Puddledub’s outlets. Qswtflyingflock. wordpress.com
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> SKILLED ARTISANS
A Cure for Local Food Christopher Trotter sets out to find why the ancient arts of curing and smoking food are still relevant today moking, curing and preserving are all part of the Scottish food story, and while the onset of refrigeration and improved transport made a lot of preserving methods redundant, smoking has remained one of the few traditional practices with prominence in today’s food production. Smoked salmon – regarded as a typical Scottish product – and Arbroath smokies are evidence of the wider recognition of the role smoking takes in creating unique local foods. In Fife there are a number of small businesses who smoke fish, mainly around the east coastal fishing villages. Ru an Fhodar, one of the more traditional smokehouses, is based in St Monans. Along with traditional smoked haddock fillets, they also hot and cold smoke farmed salmon from Shetland, and west coast mussels make an unusual addition. Also in St Monans is James Robb, who initially began smoking food for his catering operation in Edinburgh. His East Pier Smokehouse sources salmon from RSPCA monitored farms in Loch Duart. ‘It’s the freshness and quality that are important,’ he says, ‘and getting the right
S Elmwood College, established as a learning centre for land-based and golf industry related skills, has ambitious plans for its Cupar Muir site in the Howe of Fife. Under the leadership of principal Jim Crooks, the proposed Artisan Food Centre would be the first of its type in Scotland, creating a facility available to both students and small-scale local producers. Building on Elmwood’s existing school in Production Horticulture, initial plans are to focus on cheesemaking, breadmaking, charcuterie and juicing, with partners including established local producers already employing these skills but looking for better practical facilities. As well as food-related skills, students would learn about product development, business management and supply chain issues for quality food production. Q elmwood.ac.uk
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balance of salt and smoke.’ He has three styles: a robust three-day smoke, a lighter lox style and one cured imaginatively with beetroot providing a beautiful rich colour. Inland two businesses have used the preserving style to develop their product in imaginative ways. Seriously Good Venison proprietor Vikki Banks extends her product range by curing haunches of their venison farmed at Fletchers of Auchtermuchty. The meat is cured with salt, sugar and light spices, and thinly sliced. It is delicious served with a little grated Parmesan and olive oil. At Woodmill near Collessie, Steve Wade is new to the curing scene. As a game dealer Steve became disillusioned with the fact that, compared to European countries, British people didn’t eat much game, and frustrated with the fact that often the pheasants and deer from the estates he manages were not being put to full use. Spurred on by a Spanish holiday, he experimented with making salamis from the two meats using a curing process taking anything from 6 to 10 weeks. He hopes to have the salamis on the market in 2012.
Oat So Successful
Fife is regarded as one of Scotland’s premier oat-growing areas. Hannah Ewan spoke to one farmer making the local connection riorletham Farm has provided John Picken’s family with a livelihood for 90 years. In contrast to his grandfather’s day when livestock played a big role, the emphasis is now on the ingredients of Scotland’s most iconic victuals: wheat for whisky and oats for porridge. As farming hits the news for a variety of gloomy reasons, from dairy farming difficulties to the ethics of intensive piggeries, Picken is upbeat. ‘Oats are a natural success story for Scotland,’ he says. ‘Fife has a lovely climate for them, and they fit well with modern farming methods – they enhance the land they’re grown in, breaking the cycle of disease. Modern varieties are bred to reduce the straw length so there’s more grain per acre, which has had a big influence in making harvesting less problematic.’ Five-hundred-acre Priorletham, located just to the south of St Andrews, supplies Quaker Oats and Fife family bakers Fisher & Donaldson. That relationship began during a conversation with Sandy Milne, a director of the bakery, about the importance of localism.
Picken says: ‘I asked him why he didn’t buy his oats in Fife and that was that, we now supply them with 100 tons a year. I keep telling Sandy he has the best oats in the country!’ Picken advocates that, for global success, modern farming can, should and must encourage localism, something that relatively new organisations like SFQC (Scottish Food Quality Certification) aid. ‘The consumer nowadays wants to know it’s local,’ he points out. ‘The worldwide oat market is caused by good marketing, good products and professionalism. We no longer just rely on planting something; we’re trying to satisfy a market. ‘The customer wants more than just an oat. They want to know what’s happened to that oat, the process of storing and drying it, and our Scottish Quality Crops accreditation can give them that. It’s like buying anything with a stamp of approval: you know what you’re buying. We’re trying to tell people we’re a modern industry now. I think Scottish oats are in a good place.’
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Food & Activities in Fife
All-action Food There are plenty of ways to get active in Fife. David Pollock works up an appetite lthough Fife’s home-grown food industry is receiving evergreater attention across the country, a typical foodie family day out in the Kingdom isn’t just about eating in nice cafés and digging through baskets of dirty vegetables. For ma many businesses here the food fo goes hand in hand with the experience of Fife’s green and leafy Fi countryside, and a co visit is sold as a chance vi to get out in the clear, fresh rural air as much as it’s an opportunity to fill your ba basket. Pillars of Hercules farm shop and café near ne Falkland is one such place place, with a farm trail designed to get visitors not just walking but experiencing. ‘It’s a wander around, really,’ says Pillars’ Judy Bennett, ‘so people can watch our crops grow or walk amidst our hens, or just climb a few stiles and get a little bit muddy if they want. I think it’s important that people see where their food comes from, because there’s the sense that people are quite disconnected from it these days; they buy it in shops ready-wrapped and don’t think that it was ever grown in a field.’ For those who want to get even closer to the process, one of Fife’s longstanding rural occupations is that of fruit picker, a job which attracts many casual labourers in the summer months. Should you wish to have a go on a casual basis and then take home what you’ve pulled from the ground or off a vine, the Cairnie Fruit Farm near Cupar grows a range of berries and currants; or for those who fancy the full summer’s worth, Allanhill Fruit Farm near St Andrews takes on 350 casual staff to pick strawberries every
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summer, most of them students. Every year Cairnie also grow a ‘Maize Maze’, a challenging children’s puzzle created out of the crops themselves (2012’s shape is Olympic-themed), and they’re not the only ones to have thought of the kids. Both Allanhill’s café and Blacketyside Farm Shop near Leven also feature outdoor play areas, while Muddy Boots farm shop and café at Balmalcolm near Cupar offers a dazzling range of outdoor and indoor activities including grass sledging, body zorbing, a giant sandpit and pedal tractors. ‘I think each part of what we do is as important as the next,’ says Treina Hartell of Muddy Boots. ‘That means when people visit us they can have a full day out.’ There are plans to expand their business further, with a new education room intended to emphasise the farming and countryside aspect of what they do. As Hartell points out, Fife is within easy driving distance of Edinburgh, Dundee and Perth, and you have to give city families as much reason to visit as possible. Those on an adults-only holiday, on the other hand, might be interested in something a little more intensive – for example the Fife Coastal Path (fifecoastalpath.co.uk), a 150-kilometre walking route around the dog-shaped coast of the Kingdom from the Forth to the Tay, which can be broken up into easy day-trip chunks. One attraction of this for a Fife food-lover is the series of ‘welcome points’ along the way, a collection of more than fifty local businesses which will either feed you or point you in the direction of good food in their area. Alternatively, Fife Cycleways (fife-cycleways.co.uk) provide a network of routes on quieter back roads for those looking to explore by bike.
Enjoy Food from Fife In many areas the wish to buy local and eat local would be difficult to pull off, but not in Fife. Itâ€™s blessed with some of the best seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables in the world. The area boasts some of Scotlandâ€™s best farm shops, a fantastic range of soft fruit, and beautiful orchards in historic settings. Fresh prawns, crabs and lobsters are caught off the coast of the East Neuk and landed in its picturesque harbours. Along with high quality artisan bakeries and award winning locally made cheese; these products find their way into cafĂŠs, pubs, hotels and Michelin starred restaurants throughout Fife. As part of the Fife Tourism Partnership, Fife Food Network and Promoting Fife have produced Food from Fife postcards which offer a guide to the region and its many culinary delights. Buy local, eat local Food From Fife and celebrate Fifeâ€™s farmers and fishermen, wholesalers and retailers, craftsmen and chefs who bring you the fruits of their labour.
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