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January 25-27

June 14, 2013

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.”

Viv with Food From Fife leaflets
Viv Collie from Fife Food Network – reproduced with kind permission

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 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).

Food From Fife collage

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.

Anster Cheese Risotto


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…

Panna Cotta

Find out more: 

Food from Fife website:
Like Food from Fife on Facebook
Follow on Twitter @FoodFromFife

This article has been submitted to Crail Food Festival by Edinburgh food blogger Caroline Rye. You can read more by visiting Lonely on a Sunday or send me a Tweet @the_elfherself




June 12, 2013

I first heard of the Fife Diet several years ago, when it was reported with incredulity in the local media that a group of friends had challenged themselves to eat food only from Fife for one year.
 As is often the case, the facts were slightly different to those reported and the group were actually attempting to eat as much local food as possible and to stop using air-freighted goods from supermarkets.  They were also being realistic and allowing themselves some things from outside Fife – a diet without salt and pepper would not appeal to many people!

The Fife Diet

The Fife Diet has since evolved into a much larger consumer network of people passionate about local food and is now the largest local food project in Europe.  It is free to join and their key aim is to help people move towards a healthier, tastier and more sustainable food system.  This creation of a more localised food system has become a focus for much more than just food, also now encompassing environment, health, community and boosting the local economy.

Being part of the Fife Diet doesn’t mean you must commit to 100% reliance on Fife foods but is more about each individual finding a balance that works for them.  The aim is to eat 80% or more of our food from local sources and up to 20% from elsewhere.  This is something we can strive towards no matter where in the world we live.  The simplest way to demonstrate this is using two recipes from Fife Diet’s own website.  The first recipe is:

Langoustines in Wild Garlic Butter

For me personally, langoustines are the most luxurious shellfish and I’ll take them over lobster any day.  Not that I can afford to eat them any day but, as an occasional luxury, they are really very special.  Langoustines are fished mostly by trawling, which can cause enormous damage and disturbance to the seafloor and the habitats that can be found there.  However langoustine in Fife is caught sustainably, often using the creel method, so is not only better for the environment but also tastes better.  Much of the catch is exported to Europe, where Scottish langoustine is a much sought-after delicacy.  So, how lucky are we to have them right on our doorstep?

Locally Caught Langoustines

They are such a delicate shellfish that they are best cooked quickly and served simply.  The most humane method of cooking is freezing, so they go to sleep, and immediately plunging into boiling water – for details see the Fife Diet website here.  Langoustine are in season April to November so, at the start of the season when wild garlic is also out, I like to go foraging for wild garlic and serve the langoustines with wild garlic butter.  Again the Fife Diet website provides a lovely simple recipe here – simply mix chopped wild garlic with butter.
 So, what could be more luxurious – langoustines in wild garlic butter – and all 100% sourced within Fife!

The next recipe also showcases locally-caught fish but demonstrates that sometimes it can be helpful to source some ingredients from elsewhere.  As they say at Fife Diet “we are not the diet police!”.  The aim is to source from elsewhere only those ingredients that it is simply just not possible to source locally, for example exotic spices.

Mackerel Escabeche

Mackerel has courted some controversy this year, firstly being downgraded by the Marine Conservation Society, with consumers being told it was too rare to eat regularly.  Then in May it was upgraded again but with the caveat that it must come from sustainable shoals and that Icelandic and Faroe mackerel was still to be avoided.  Once again in Fife, we are lucky to have a fishing fleet which strives to use sustainable fishing methods to fish sustainable sources of fish.  So mackerel is well and truly back on the local menu.


Escabeche is traditionally a Mediterranean dish and this lovely recipe by Fife Diet also has some Asian influences.  The mackerel (or sardine) are dusted with a powdered spice mix, fried gently and then pickled in a hot spicy wine vinegar mix.  They are delicious served at room temperature with flat breads.  This recipe demonstrates the 80/20% Fife Diet ethos very well – the main ingredients are still sourced locally and it is only the additional flavourings of the more exotic spices, which cannot be found locally, which are sourced elsewhere.

One of the joys of this way of eating is the need to explore a bit more to find your food.  This can range from taking lovely walks in pretty and green areas to forage some of your own food, to seeking out new suppliers from farm shops to farmers markets to roadside stalls.  It can be an exciting adventure and the sensational tastes you will discover from eating local, seasonal food will reward your efforts time and again.

For a Fife foodie adventure this weekend, come along to the Crail Food Festival (15th and 16th June), where you will be able to taste a wide variety of food from all over Fife.  The Sunday will be a harbour special where you can taste for yourself the spectacular seafood I have been drooling over.  A great group of people from the Fife Diet will be on hand to tell you more about themselves and they will even have their infamous smoothie bike.   Do you have the pedal power to blitz your own smoothie?


Fife Diet with the Smoothie Bike

Find out more about The Fife Diet from their website or on Facebook or follow Mike on Twitter.  All photos for this article were sourced from The Fife Diet website.

This article has been submitted to Crail Food Festival by Vohn McGuinness.  You can read more about my love of food and cooking at my blog Vohn’s Vittles or send me a Tweet @vohnmcg

And remember, wherever you are, try to aim for the Fife Diet ethos – eat 80% or more of your food from local sources and up to 20% from elsewhere

June 10, 2013

Although the street food scene has exploded in London, it has taken a little longer for Scotland to play catch-up. But with Wild Rover Food on the scene, you can be rest assured that Scotland will soon boast the same reputation. I spoke to Cat, co-founder of Wild Rover Food, who told me about her journey so far.

Can you tell me a little about Wild Rover Food?

It’s a sustainable food business specialising in healthy and tasty food options for festivals, markets, private parties, weddings and events. We travel around Scotland in our 1961 Land Rover and pop-up ex-army field kitchen, using the best in naturally grown and local produce to deliver delicious wild food catering. We really care about food provenance and contributing to a local, sustainable economy, so we work directly with the people who hunt, fish, grow and forage – as the food seasons change, so does our menu.

Wild Rover Food

What moved you to set up the company?

We met three years ago and found that we shared an ambition to do something different with our lives. We both took redundancy and with Rob’s passion for growing and my interests in sustainable development, we decided to take a few months out to volunteer on organic farms. As a result Wild Rover was born.

 What’s Wild Rover Food’s ethos?

Good food, sourced locally, cooked simply and enjoyed by all!

 How did you become involved in the Crail Food Festival?

We met Graham (the Event Manager) last year and shared his passion for bringing people together via food. We couldn’t help but get involved.

Can you tell me more about the current street food trend? How is the scene in Scotland compared to elsewhere?

There is no doubt that trading in Scotland brings its challenges – not least the weather. Last year we were finalists in the British Street Food Awards in London and that provided a real insight into how street food can take off in a city environment. In Scotland’s cities, it is notoriously difficult to obtain a licence/pitch and with the economic downturn, it hasn’t always been easy to stand alongside a traditional burger van and persuade people to spend 50p-£1 more on a food option, even though it may be tastier and healthier. But we are making good progress and I’m always encouraged to see how many young people queue up at our field kitchen at music festivals, with an appetite for something different. There is definitely an education of food provenance and food interest happening here in Scotland.

How do you approach sustainability in your business and what advice would you give to other businesses on this front?

We really have to drill down our figures while trying to stick to our principles. This isn’t always easy, but offering a full menu range certainly helps. We try to make our food reflect a sensible approach to sustainable eating: a little less meat, a little more veg and perhaps a fish option. We don’t eat meat 7 days a week so it wouldn’t sit right to only ever offer meat options, which are more expensive for our customers and less sustainable than a varied diet.

We are aware that we drive an old vehicle that is heavy on petrol, but we try to offset this with other commitments: we recycle as much as we can, we use Vegware for all our food options, we have very few food miles and we promote all of our producers. Our wild game is inherently of the highest welfare standards – this is something that interests us in all the farms that we use.

What advice would you give someone looking to set up business in the food industry?

Be prepared for a very tough journey, but a journey that will be made less challenging and more satisfying by knowing and believing in your product, defining your brand and understanding how others perceive it, and, of course, by being brave!

Find out more about Wild Rover Food on their website, Cat and Rob are also on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks to our guest blogger, Chiara, whose Wine and Olives blog is a treat to read.