Crail Food Festival 15-16 June is all about celebrating the best local produce in this beautiful part of the world. Whether it’s an artisan cheese nurtured like a newborn, fresh seafood from the icy North Sea, microbreweries that know their stuff or simply a decent piece of home baking in a local cafe, the Kingdom of Fife has much to offer. Bringing together the many producers, chefs, businesses and organisations in the area is the Fife Food Network, an initiative set up three years ago to promote and develop the region’s food and drink. Under the Food from Fife banner the network aims to establish and strengthen connections between all those involved and give them a platform to tell as many people as possible about the fantastic produce that can be found here in the east.
Viv Collie, one of the directors of Fife Food Network explains, “Fife’s a relatively small area, but we have an abundance of quality food and drink producers. These vary from top restaurants to small cafes, large scale producers to cottage industries, but what they have in common is a shared belief that the food and drink we produce here is some of the best in the world.”
Fife Food Network seeks to champion all that’s good about the region’s local produce and develop the local food economy for the benefit of individuals, businesses and communities. Through a collaborative working approach, businesses and organisations have come together to build on Fife’s reputation as a producer of fabulous food and drink, including a focus on training and development to create an ongoing legacy for the future.
Key to this has been promoting Fife’s food identity and heritage as an attraction for those visiting the region. Whether you’ve travelled here from Edinburgh or Edmonton, there’s a food and drink experience for everyone to enjoy. Something Food from Fife has been instrumental in is helping businesses to develop and promote local produce as part of the overall visitor experience. The Fife Food network organises training courses to help small businesses such as B&Bs develop their foodie offerings, such as breakfast workshops, making preserves and how to make the most of all that wonderful local food.
“It’s something that visitors to Fife and Scotland in general want and look forward to as part of their experience ” says Viv. “Scottish food and drink is now recognised worldwide for its quality and we’re helping local businesses to make the most of that by showing their customers what Fife has to offer. The taste of free range eggs and bacon for breakfast from the farm down the road is second to none and that’s something visitors remember and talk about when they return home, encouraging more people to visit in the future. We have all this quality produce on our doorstep so it’s important to show it off to the outside world and help make Fife a destination on the culinary map.”
All this is fantastic for the local food economy and especially local businesses in Fife; it’s great that a small producer of soft fruit or sausages or chocolates can network with a local restaurant or guest house and get their products out there. Or that talented chefs are passing on their knowledge and enthusiasm for local produce onto the next generation through training at local colleges. But what about your average glutton (myself included) who wants to get their hands on some quality produce and find out where it came from and what to do with it? Or perhaps you’re planning a weekend away and want to know where to go in Fife to explore and find fabulous farm shops, famers’ markets, specialist delis or romantic restaurants?
As well as promoting training, alliances and networks, Food from Fife has developed information and resources for anyone wanting to know more about where to access good food and drink in the area. There’s an informative website www.foodfromfife.co.uk with news and events, a calendar of what’s in season, an interactive map of producers and recipes from local chefs showing how to cook with these ingredients once you’ve got them home. Produced in association with The List Guides Scotland, Fife Council and the Fife Tourism Partnership, the Fife Larder Food Map includes a comprehensive listing of markets, shops and restaurants, perfect for planning your foodie journey around the Kingdom. Accompanying the map is the Fife Larder Guide to Fife’s Food & Drink. This acclaimed publication including the stories behind the people producing the finest food and drink in the region and more information on what to buy and where to eat. Both are now in their second edition and can be picked up at tourist information centres.
A Fife Food booklet has also been produced including recipes using local ingredients to encourage visitors to cook with some of these during their stay. This beautifully photographed publication highlights some of the many great places and people that are really making a difference in raising Fife’s food and drink profile and has lots of tasty ideas to try (see link and the dishes I’ve cooked from it below).
Reproduced by kind permission from Food From Fife
Food festivals such as the Crail Food Festival are growing in number in Scotland every year and they’re an ideal way for more people to enjoy the cornucopia of food and drink available north of the border. Food from Fife has been involved with several festivals in recent years, celebrating food and drink within communities and continuing to engage with them to promote access to local food. On Saturday 15 June at this year’s Crail Food Festival Food from Fife will have Jenny Thomson from Courses for Cooks doing a cookery demonstration. She’ll be talking about the Fife Breakfast initiative and the work Food from Fife have been doing with B&Bs and guesthouses to promote the use of local ingredients. On Sunday 16 June they will have Jim Knox – a local shellfish supplier – doing crab dressing demos and talking about local shellfish. He is working with Marie Clare James (from the Federation of Chefs Scotland and Seafood Scotland) who will be demonstrating simple, healthy fish dishes and talking about sourcing and using sustainable seafood.
This is all really informative, accessible stuff and at the heart of Fife Food Network’s aims to develop a strategy to improve supply, distribution, quality and communication of food and drink in the region. With so much current debate around food sovereignty and the whole issue of where our food comes from it’s heartening to hear more about those making a difference to reconnect us with our food. If you’re thinking of heading to Crail Food Festival this year pick up a copy of the Food from Fife map and make a weekend of it. Good food has always been connected, indeed rooted, to the place and region from which it came. With so much to explore in Fife you won’t be disappointed.
Recipes from Fife Food booklet
As part of the Crail Food Festival Blogging Project, I’ve had the opportunity to try out two recipes from the Fife Food booklet mentioned above. These recipes and many more can be found in the pdf version here:
Risotto with Anster Cheese
Anster cheese from St Andrew’s Farmhouse Cheese Company is a tangy, crumbly semi-hard cheese produced using unpasteurised milk from the Stewart Family’s own herd of Holstein Friesian cows. This risotto recipe calls for only 25g but because it has quite a strong flavour you don’t need too much (I did sprinkle extra over the top though, down to greed more than anything!). The recipe uses 200g seasonal vegetables – I used asparagus and young leeks which were a perfect match for the earthy, pungent taste of the cheese. Sautéing the veg keeps their colour and makes this risotto very vibrant and green – a real taste of spring and early summer. In the unlikely event you have any left over this is wonderful reheated for lunch the next day.
See fellow blogger The Grumbling Tummy’s visit to St Andrew’s Farmhouse Cheese Company.
Pannacotta Recipe from Ostlers Close Restaurant, Cupar
This recipe is included in the Fife Food booklet alongside an autumnal seasonal fruit compote of cinnamon, cranberries, plums and damson gin. Because it’s (nearly!) summer I served the Pannacotta wth fresh Fife strawberries and raspberries instead. This pannacotta is a wobbly delight. It looks impressive with its freckles of vanilla seeds but is easier to make than you’d think. It’s rich and creamy but the acidity of the fruit cuts through this and the berries also provide a balance of textures. I could probably eat it all on it’s own though! Any small ramekin or mould will do to set the pannacottas in but make room in the fridge first – not fun reassembling your fridge in one hand balancing a tray of them in the other…
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