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January 25-27

April 26, 2013

LAST YEAR at the request of a friend, Robert Corrigan was asked to produce a vegetable pie for sampling at the Crail Food Festival.  The pies went down a storm and this year he’s keen to showcase his full range of award-winning pies.

Robert owns and runs the Fife-based Mr C’s Hand Crafted Pies and was keen to tell me how he got involved with this year’s festival:

‘Last year my good friend Christopher Trotter, Food Writer and Consultant (Fife Food Ambassador) phoned me and explained he was doing a platter at the festival but everything contained meat. He asked if I would I be able to make a vegetable pie for sampling, and of course, I said “yes”.’

Although the vegetable pie was a resounding success, Robert currently has no plans to add it to Mr. C’s range but is looking forward to giving visitors a proper taste of his products this year:

‘I would rather have people taste pies that they can actually buy, rather than one with my name on that they can’t and I really want to let the people of Fife try them; this year I’m delighted Mr. C’s will be at the festival.’

In 2006 Robert was looking for a new catering project and while representing the UK for Slow Food at Terra Madre in Turin, he attended a workshop where he learned of farmers’ frustration with chefs neglecting so called lesser cuts of meat in favour of prime cuts and not utilising the whole animal.

On his return to the UK, Robert came up with the idea of a high quality, hand-made pie similar to a Melton Mowbray one.

He spent time with some of the best pie producers in Britain, honing his skills by studying their techniques. Combining that knowledge with a trusty pork stuffing recipe, Robert now had a finished product.

Robert Corrigan's award-winning pies
Pies from Mr C

Robert tells me about the recipe for his Savoury Pork Pie:

‘The recipe is one I’ve used for about 27 years; in various hotels I worked in I instructed the chefs to use my recipe for the stuffing for Christmas. I just took out the breadcrumbs, egg and chestnuts and that became the Savoury Pork Pie mix.’

Robert’s pork, leek and pancetta pie gained the company award-winning status very early on in the life of the business and Mr C explained how that mix came to life:

‘The pork, leek and pancetta mix was actually a sausage mix from Crombie’s (of Edinburgh) that I using to make pies and selling back to them. I did not know Crombie’s had a UK producer’s number so I could not use this mix for other customers.

‘I knew Lord Hopetoun was a fan of these pies I made with that mix and decided to make up a mix of my own for a presentation pie to celebrate the opening of the Hopetoun Farm Shop.  I made the first batch myself and the rest went in the freezer for another day.’

‘The mix for Lord Hopetoun was the very first pork, leek and pancetta mix I had ever made and he was happy with it. I froze the other pies from that same batch the week before and sent one to the British Pie Awards where it won me gold! I hadn’t even tasted it!’

This is an incredible honour, especially for a business in its infancy; I wondered how Robert reacted when he found out:

‘I was actually making pies with a friend and an email came in (this was around three weeks after the awards) saying I could now order the gold sticker and I said to my friend, “What are they on about?”

‘So I phoned up the Melton Mowbray Pie Association and asked about the email and she replied “Oh, you won gold!” and that was how I found out I had won! So did I expect it? No, I didn’t even check the results; I was too busy making pies!’

pork and black pudding pie
The Piggy Black pie from Mr C’s

Despite stacking up a host of awards since and being championed by food broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli, Robert decided to rebrand the company. Originally known as Acanthus pies, he wanted to give the company a more personal touch and told me how this came about:

‘I wanted something personal to me but that’s also not hard to pronounce, as many people couldn’t pronounce Acanthus and didn’t know what it meant.

‘My surname is Corrigan which I didn’t want to use because in Glasgow there’s Bernard Corrigan’s, the fishmonger.’

‘You then have Richard Corrigan the chef, which was another potential mix up.  Then I remembered many of the staff in the numerous hotels I’ve worked in called me Mr. C.  At the end of February, we changed from Acanthus and launched Mr. C’s.’

Using the best produce is very important for any artisan producer and Robert is no different. He sources his produce from suppliers such as Ramsay’s of Carluke, who supply him with outdoor reared Scottish pork, Smoked Streaky bacon and black pudding, Shipton Mill for organic flour and Highland Game venison.

Asked if he was keen to add to his impressive tally of medals this year, Robert responded modestly:

‘Eh, who knows?  I’d rather say nothing and if I win something you’ll hear about it!’ (As we prepared this article Mr C found he’d won the Richard III award –  A Pie fit for a King – at the British Pie Awards).

Make sure you pop by and taste the Mr. C’s delicious pies at the Crail Food Festival – we should be proud of the artisan producers we have here in Fife!

Along with the celebrated Pork, Leek and Pancetta pie and Savoury Pork variety, you can also enjoy fillings such as Savoury Pork, Chicken and Ham (Bronze award, 2012) and the bronze award-winning Piggy Black (pork, leek and pancetta with black pudding) from various stockists.

The pies are available at Donald Russell of InverurieCrombie’s of Edinburgh, Hopetoun Farm ShopPeelham FarmCornerstone Deli , Loch Leven’s Larder, and the Wee Pie Company, Campbells Prime Meats, Fortnum and Mason London, Forman and Field London, Inverawe Smokehouses, East Coast Deli – Ullapool, The Spey Larder Aberlour, Gloagburn Farm Shop, Lochbyre Rare Bread Meat – Newton Mearns and The Scottish Cafe, The Mound, Edinburgh.

Find out more:

Robert Corrigan of Mr C’s Pies on Twitter @AcanthusPies and Rachel Gillon’s Blog about Mr C’s Pies – Acanthus Handmade Award-Winning Pies

This article was submitted by Phil Cook, who writes his food blog Philly’s Food World, and can be contacted on Twitter @PhilsFoodWorld.

April 21, 2013 4

I was really pleased when I was asked by EdinburghBakers’ cake lady, Susan McNaughton, if I’d like to contribute a blog piece for the Crail Food Festival. When the list was sent out, I found that my ‘victim’ was a young artisan baker by the name of Murray Barnett. He runs a rather good wee bakery, G H Barnett & Sons, in the East Neuk – in Cellardyke near Anstruther to be precise. As it happens, it appears that we have a fair bit in common; we both adore Mary Berry, Doyenne of the Cake, and the King of Bread, Master Baker Paul Hollywood, has judged us both for our baking! Another thing that connects us is we’ve both been baking since we were very young, which is why I suggested to Murray that the theme for this article should be on our ‘Childhood Memories’.

When did you start baking and who taught you?

Murray: The first time I can remember baking was when one of guys couldn’t make it into work at the bakery one night and, as I was so young, I couldn’t be left in the house on my own. I was brought to the bakery and put on doughnut duty! My task was to flip doughnuts and sugar them! Heath and safety would blow a few gaskets these days if they caught a wee six-year-old laddie working with boiling oil! Fortunately, back then, there didn’t seem to be an issue and I loved every moment of it.

Most weekends throughout my childhood, you find me working in the bakery. It wasn’t until I left school that I started baking full time.

My father mostly taught me but I’ve spent time at our bakeries picking up some tips too. Some of my experience was through a lot of old fashioned trial and error, so part self-taught too. I think this is the best way to learn once you know the basics.

Lea: My earliest memories aren’t anywhere near as much fun or exciting. I remember going round to my grandmother’s (my dad’s mum) for Sunday lunch at about the age of three. Being a Yorkshire woman, her Yorkshires were amazing, huge and billowing. Always served before the meat and drowned with gravy made with the meat juices from the joint. The gravy was poured into the centre of the pud and as you cut through the wall, the gravy would flood the plate. To this day, I can’t make a Yorkshire like that. And her apple pie – no one has ever come close, not even me!

selection of breads from the East Neuk
East Neuk Baker – Murray Barnett

What was the first thing you made? 

Murray: As I said at the start, doughnuts were the first thing I ever made. I’d love to give you a recipe for them but all our recipes are closely guarded family secrets. We still hold a very traditional view for Scottish baking (even with our modern twists) and all I can say is our doughnuts are still a traditionally fired cake ring doughnut.

Lea: My mum was useless in the kitchen, it wasn’t until she got married that she found out that gravy wasn’t just an Oxo cube and hot water (my nan couldn’t cook either). Like Murray, my dad taught me to bake when I was four. I’d kneel on a chair at the kitchen table. He’d make the pastry and I’d be allowed to roll, cut then fill the pastry with jam. And, if he’d been baking a cake, every child’s earliest memory must be licking the spoon and bowl clean of cake mix.

Were there any particular books, people, chefs who inspired you when you were a kid?

Murray: To be honest, I don’t follow or look up to any celeb bakers. I do love Mary Berry, though, but who doesn’t? I guess if any, my biggest inspiration has to be Heston Blumenthal and his approach that anything is possible if you want it to be!

Lea: I have fond memories of watching Fanny Craddock with my mum back in the 1960s. I have no idea why she liked to watch cookery programs, as she didn’t like cooking. When I was a teenager in the 70’s, I watched the likes of Graham Kerr the Galloping Gourmet, Delia and Mary Berry.

Today my influences come in the guises of the likes of Dan Lepard, Yotam Ottelenghi, Pierre Herme and Clare Clark.

Murray can be found at the bakery:

GH Barnett & Son
35 Rodger Street,Cellardyke,Fife,KY10 3HU
Tel: 01333 310205
Opening times Mon/Tue & Thu/Fri 8am–5pm; Wed 8am–1.30pm; Sat 8am–1.30pm.

Twitter: @murraythebaker

This article was contributed by @BakersBunny, Lea Harris, who can be found blogging at: “Off the Eaten Track

If you have childhood memories of learning to bake, please feel free to add your comments  below:

April 19, 2013

It’s not that long ago since Graham Anderson, owner of The Honeypot Guest House & Tearoom in Crail shared an impromptu pint with a couple of local business owners and discussed the possibility of a wine festival in Crail. That idea was short lived, but sparked a previous memory from a visit he made to a seafood festival at the pretty harbour of Johnshaven in Aberdeenshire the late 90s.

So it was a pleasure to catch up with Graham and learn more about his vision, enthusiasm and sheer energy for this Community Festival which is already attracting national media attention, yet is made up solely from a team of local folk and business owners.

They are the people who will host Crail Food Festival 2013, a two day festival where visitors will be treated to the delicious taste of Fife. Add in some noteworthy local musicians who will toast an evening supper with some of Fife’s newest breweries, a Sunday harbour festival with music, its not difficult to see why up to 2,500 visitors are expected to converge on the historic Royal Burgh Of Crail on 15th and 16th June.

I was talking to Graham during the Easter break and doing it in a packed café.  He kept leaving to clear another table or chat to a visitor. I didn’t mind though, we were in the sunny back garden and his wife’s scones are pretty special indeed.

2012 Harbour Day at Crail
Welcome to Crail Food Festival

So, 15th and 16th of June 2013 it is. What is actually happening at the festival?  – Clearly a lot for such a small event as up to 50 local food related outlets are represented.

Saturday kicks off at the Crail Community Hall at 10.30am with an indoor producers’ market where visitors will have the opportunity to sample local produce from the varied stallholders: from smoked meats to local cheeses; the most delectable cold cut pies; chutneys and preserves – it’s really a feast for everyone. I like the fact that of some local farm shops and food outlets will be on hand with tasting platters to keep everyone grazing throughout the day.

A specially constructed cookery and tasting theatre also sounds brilliant, from Scottish Breakfast with a Twist to an Afternoon Whisky nosing and gin tasting. I really am looking forward to learning so much more about the wonderful produce the region has to offer. Fortunately there is a cash machine around the corner! If it’s a nice day food lovers can take a break from shopping and tasting to visit one of Crail’s featured food businesses who will be offering special dishes throughout the weekend. That’s all going to be explained on a Crail Food Trail map which is being drawn up by a local artist and will be handed out to visitors.

I sneaked a look at the pre-festival poster design which says that Saturday seemingly doesn’t stop till late.  “What’s all that about?”, I ask. I’m told the indoor market space will be transformed for an evening of food, song & drink, starting at 19.00pm till late. “Later, With King Creosote and Friends” is a sort of musical feast, an enticing collection of eats and music including some of Fife’s newest brewers, a top class wine retailer and a hearty Fife supper prepared by local food businesses – a further great opportunity to celebrate fresh, local and seasonal produce.  Around 120 tickets are expected to sell pretty quickly, though I’m told that some will be held back for weekend visitors to Crail: a thoughtful gesture. Menu details and the entertainment line-up are to be released early May via the web site along with ticket sales and outlet information.

It’s finishing late so a local Bed and Breakfast might be needed before I head down to that lovely little harbour on Sunday 16th June. I do hope the weather is kind for these guys, they’ve worked so hard, there will be a little lobster shack, local freshly dressed crab, smoked fish, butchers burgers, venison pies, mussels. Real hot chocolate, waffles, ice cream… it goes on and on and the setting is truly adorable, even on the chilly day I visited it would have been a great afternoon. It starts at 11.00am, enough time to equip the kids with buckets and spades for the beach treasure dig. Parents can join in too, seemingly there will be great prizes in the sand!

Crail Food Festival 2013 - Smoothie Bike
Making delicious smoothies by Bike!

It should be quite an eye-catching event: from a convertible LandRover serving local delicacies to a bike that churns out smoothies, to a pizza oven in a horse box, street food is on sale! There is even a series of outdoor cookery demonstrations scheduled, food, fun, food.

It was inspirational visiting The Honeypot and meeting Graham and also to learn more about the wonderful produce available in Fife. I really understand how this Community Festival is capturing the imagination of local businesses and Fife producers.

Take one idea, one man, a community spirit and an amazing volunteer team that just want to say “ Welcome To Crail”, so that’s what’s happening at the 3rd Annual Crail Food Festival !

Submitted by Our guest blogger.

Ticket Sales and Information , From 1st May here on:

Honepot Guest House and Tearoom:

April 15, 2013

The temperature outside is still under three degrees. It’s sleeting, and I’ve forgotten what sunshine looks like, but as I sit in the warmth of Penny Turnbull’s kitchen, I am discovering that the poor weather of the last year or so has had at least some positive effects.

The delicious vinegars made by Penny of the Little Herb Farm, she tells me, were an accidental sideline of her herb nursery business, introduced last year because of the impact of the poor weather on plant sales. But they were a sideline that took off in a big way, and Little Herb Farm vinegars are now being sold through Ardross and Balgove farm shops, First Fruits in Crail and at the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem, as well as at farmers markets, galas and events throughout the region. They are also available online via the Little Herb Farm website.

After scaling back a successful professional career to start the Little Herb Farm, the first two years were not without their challenges, hit by a lack of sunshine, low temperatures and rain. “The poor weather meant that events like farmers markets and galas were poorly attended,” Penny says, “Car parks were full of mud and gardening was the last thing on peoples’ minds.” Not the best time to start a gardening business while continuing to juggle family and business commitments.

Little Herb Farm at 2012 Crail Food Festival
Little Herb Farm at 2012 Crail Food Festival

But Penny’s commitment to the quality of her products has paid off. What makes the Little Herb Farm’s vinegars different from other commercial vinegars is their high fruit content. “They are made by hand in small batches,” she says, “and with 46 per cent fruit content in the final products, a little goes a long way.”

Varieties range from Raspberry and Rosemary to Blackcurrant and Thyme, Tayberry and Sage, and the deliciously Christmassy Mulled Bramble. In our house they have become a storecupboard staple. A popular winter starter was goats cheese glazed with Mulled Bramble vinegar, and my 10 year old will no longer eat a salad without a small bottle of Little Herb Farm vinegar on the side. The combination of the best quality soft fruit from Fife, along with the variety of herb combinations makes them not only delicious but also more versatile in their uses. They can be added to sparkling water or wine as a cordial, to gravy to sweeten in the same way as redcurrant jelly, to meringues, to stewed fruit, and to cocktails. They can even be drunk straight as a tonic, which Penny does herself (this was a popular Victorian remedy to maintain good health).

Little Herb Farm Vinegars
Vinegars prepared by The Little Herb Farm

But of course there is another side to the Little Herb Farm, the herbs themselves, and the Herb Farm grows many varieties not easily available elsewhere, such as salad burnet, sorrel, sweet mace, and summery savory. Ornamental and medicinal herbs are grown alongside the culinary varieties, and brushing past the pots of lemon and rose scented geranium set out in the warmth of the polytunnel is a sensuous experience in itself.
Penny sells different types of herbs with different requirements, and can advise on the right type of herb for certain conditions. If they don’t have a dedicated vegetable patch and want to grow herbs amongst their flowers, she can advise on more ornamental versions. “Our herbs are born and raised in Pittenweem and grown without artificial heat,” she says, “so that they are more likely to survive than plants raised in artificial environments.” The garden is peat free and Penny uses organic gardening methods.

The Little Herb Farm flowers
Glorious colours at The Little Herb Farm

In future Penny hopes to expand the range of vinegars on offer, and plans more open days in her own garden. She is creating new herb beds and borders so people can see what their chosen plant will look like once it has grown up in its natural environment. With plans for herb flavoured salts, edible flowers and her ever popular Turkish delight, there is plenty to look forward to from the Little Herb Farm in coming months. And with all this talk of scented herbs, and temperature having risen to the lofty heights of eight degrees, I can almost taste the sunshine.

The Hungry Cygnet Tomato Salad

Two time winner of the Chef of the Future competition, my “hungry cygnet” likes her food. This is her perfect tomato salad recipe, which she says can’t be made without the Little Herb Farm’s raspberry and rosemary vinegar.

Tomatoes (we use a combination of big plum ones and cherry ones, the plumpest and freshest we can get, and home grown when we have them.)
Little Herb Farm Raspberry and Rosemary vinegar (or Tayberry and Sage)
Balsamic vinegar
Basil (sometimes parsley or mint)
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper
Slice the tomatoes, place in a sieve and salt. Leave for 20 minutes. This is very important. Leave out this stage and it just isn’t the same.
Place tomatoes and basil leaves on large plate. Mix two parts Little Herb Farm Vinegar with one part balsamic vinegar. Then add an equal quantity of olive oil and beat with a fork. Drizzle over tomatoes. Add black pepper to taste. Leave at room temperature for a further 20 minutes.
Taste and if necessary drizzle over either more vinegar or more oil to taste (the hungry cygnet likes hers pretty vinegary, and sometimes she has an extra bowl of vinegar on the side for dipping!)

There are more recipes and serving suggestions on the Little Herb Farm website.

Find out more:
Facebook page: The Little Herb Farm
Twitter page: @littleherbfarm
This article has been submitted to Crail Food Festival by Kirsten McKenzie. You can read more by visiting or, or join me on Facebook – Kirsten McKenzie or send me a Tweet @kirstenmckenzie