When I’m on a self-catering holiday an important and very enjoyable part of the whole experience is always to try out some local food and drink, whether I’m abroad or just in a different part of the UK. Fife, with its acres of farmland and proximity to the sea is fast becoming the Kingdom of quality local food producers. So for holidaymakers this equals foodie paradise!
Where could be more authentic for local food than a local farm shop? I suggest that if you want to sample the best of Fife and beyond then get yourself to the granddaddy of Fife farm shops, Balgove Larder just outside St Andrews. Here are 10 reasons why you should:
Since it opened in September 2010, Balgove Larder has grown phenomenally and is particularly famous for its huge meat counter, most of which comes from the farm itself. In particular I could not recommend the steak burgers to you enough, they are perfect for BBQs. Fruit and veg are also great with lots of choice – don’t miss the strawberries from the local Pittormie Fruit Farm and Tentsmuir in the summer. Balgove Larder is also starting to grow its own veg this year, so you can reduce your carbon footprint even more and buy veg fresh from the field.
2. The sheer scale of it
Following an expansion in May 2013, Balgove Larder is bigger than your average farm shop and it doesn’t do things by halves. It’s like a wonderful treasure trove of delicious goodies, a place where food shopping is a pleasure, not a chore. It really does have all the best local food and drink produce under one roof like nowhere else I know. Definitely not somewhere to go on an empty stomach, though: you have been warned!
3. The steak barn
Did I mention the steak burgers? (*Drools*) Well you can eat them as well as some real steak on site during the summer months (from Easter weekend until September) at the Balgove Larder steak barn. Just a short distance from the shop building, it’s a truly charming and (thankfully) covered place for a relaxed, outdoor lunch or dinner in the country, sitting at long benches tucking into some of Balgove Larder’s delights. Not to be missed.
What’s more the barn is also just about to become the venue for something new in the area: The Night Market. This is starting on Wednesday 14 May 2014 and will offer a different range from the Fife Farmer’s market with produce from Fife and beyond, freshly prepared food to snack on while you shop, a variety of drinks (maybe even a cocktail or two), live music and a big emphasis on fun. I can’t wait to check it out! (http://www.facebook.com/The NightmarketSA and @NightmarketSA on Twitter.)
Year round Balgove Larder also has its popular indoor cafe, just beside the shop. There is a new seasonal menu coming soon.
4. Hot smoked salmon
Balgove Larder stocks lovely fresh hot smoked salmon, which is my favourite type of Scottish salmon, from the nearby East Neuk fishing village of St Monans. The hot part describes the smoking process, not the salmon itself. It’s much meatier and less slimy than regular smoked salmon. Simply serve with a potato salad and some green leaves for a quick, healthy and extremely tasty holiday meal.
5. Ready meals
Too tired from all that sightseeing to cook tonight? Balgove Larder’s delicious ready meals are a cut above supermarket ones. They are made on site, using as much of the farm’s own produce as possible. Creamy macaroni cheese and hearty Beef Bourgignon are guaranteed to satisfy even the fussiest eaters in your group and there are lots of other meals to choose from.
6. Cartmel sticky toffee pudding
Admittedly not local (it comes from the village of Cartmel in the Lake District) but surely the best premium sticky toffee pudding in the UK is available at Balgove Larder. No fuss dessert heaven which is perfect for holidaymakers with a sweet tooth.
7. Dip Nation
Balgove Larder also stocks the amazing local Dip Nation dips. Combined with strips of either fresh carrot or toasted pitta bread, these are my first port of call for holiday snacks and new varieties seem to be appearing all the time. Dip Nation also do a great pesto for instant pasta perfection.
8. Craft beer and cider selection
Local beers from St Andrews Brewing Company and Eden Brewery’s local beers are winning loads of awards for good reason and Balgove Larder has a great selection of them. I love St Andrews Brewing Company’s Crail Ale and Eden Brewery’s Blonde. If you’re not a beer person try the Thistly Cross Real Ginger Cider, a ginger-flavoured premium farmhouse cider from East Lothian. It’s my favourite cider ever and is perfect over ice on a summer’s evening. Well you are on holiday!
9. King-sized sausage rolls
Only once has Mr ENB managed to leave Balgove Larder without buying and promptly scoffing on site one of their hot and luxuriously large and meaty sausage rolls and that was under severe duress, which I suspect will be complained about for years to come! (Especially good if you have ignored my advice in number 2 above not to go to Balgove Larder on an empty stomach!)
10. Highland coos!
Last but not definitely least the farm’s Highland coos (cows) have a lot of personality which adds to any visit to Balgove Larder. Many visitors can’t resist stopping their cars to take photos of them in the fields outside, myself included! Black and white photos of these peculiarly Scottish characters adorn the shop walls and there are also brightly-coloured, extremely cute pig paintings in the cafe.
So there you go – 10 reasons why you should make Balgove Larder part of your holiday in the East Neuk. Balgove Larder is on the A91 just outside St Andrews, on the way to Leuchars (just past the Old Course hotel) and is open 7 days a week. They will be offering a selection of their products at the Crail Food Festival 2014, including ready to eat homemade treats such as their popular scones and lots of things for you to sample.
Find out more about Balgove: