Fife is fast becoming known for it’s superb food, it’s talented chefs, delicious local produce and first class restaurants and cafes. My fellow Scotlanders joined me in Fife recently to explore the Kingdom of Fife as part of a campaign with Welcome to Fife. Using the hashtag #LoveFife we each had different itineraries and I had the opportunity to try out some of the food I’d been hearing so much about.
We met up for tea and scones at Kingsbarns Distillery and Douglas Clement, the founder of the Distillery, gave us a tour. He has a fantastic story of how the business started, from being a golf Caddie on the courses of St Andrews, spotting a gap in the market, finding the perfect building which he had had an eye on for many years hoping someone would snap it up, to finding investment and renovating the old doocot and barns. The whisky distillery is nestled in the hills just outside St Andrews and is an excellent way to spend the afternoon.
After our tour we all ventured off to explore. St Andrews Farmers Market was my first stop where I treated myself to a venison and black pudding pie from The Wee Pie Company, a fab little company specializing in artisan wild game pies. I also bought a pretty funky little cucumber from Bellfield Organics who grow a massive selection of organic veg and deliver them to your door. I will be trying this out shortly…The market was very busy which I was pleased to see. I’m glad the locals support their independent food businesses and feel if everyone did that these food companies would thrive and we could perhaps stop the supermarkets from popping up everywhere. These markets are a brilliant opportunity for you to buy locally produced fruit, veg, breads, cheeses, meats and fish that you know hasn’t been shipped half way across the world. They have been lovingly grown or made right on your doorstep! They are also good if you are visiting on holiday and staying in Fife. How nice to be able to visit a market and buy some local produce to cook at home? Fife Farmers Markets hold four markets per month, one on each Saturday. They are held in St Andrews, Cupar, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.
I had lunch at the recently opened British Golf Museum Café, which overlooks the Old Course and West Sands Beach. This open, airy and modern cafe has floor to ceiling windows so you can enjoy the stunning views, which I did, with a blue cheese and red onion tart. My daughter loved her haggis, neeps and tatties and it set us up nicely for the afternoon in Pittenweem.
We had a lovely afternoon at Pittenweem Arts Festival where we met up with Ellen Colingsworth from Wild at Art, a gem of a company who organize art holidays all over Scotland. Ellen moved from the US to Scotland in 1990 and along with business partner Ute (who moved to Scotland from Germany in 1997) combined a love of their new homeland and a love of the arts to create a business which would allow visitors to experience just what made them fall in love with Scotland, in a fun and creative way. Talented artists from around Scotland tutor groups from around the world in places such as the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Cambo Estate in Fife and the western isles.
Sunday mornings for me warrant a full Scottish so luckily for me my first stop that day was the 100% organic café at Pillars of Hercules. Situated near Falkland this funky farm shop, café, and organic farm is hidden away in the woodland and has a lovely relaxed vibe. I sat myself outside and was treated to a gorgeous, and healthy breakfast. How good does this look? It was washed down by a coconut green tea, also yummy. I could have easily have sat there for another hour, watching the happy campers coming down from the campsite and watching the dogs play but my next wee visit was calling so after a nosy around their amazing farm shop and a quick purchase of their organic baked beans (finally found organic beans!) I headed off to Freuchie.
When I first heard of East Neuk Cooks I imagined an industrial stainless steel kitchen in a shop somewhere, what I didn’t expect was lunch in the cutest little house with two of the loveliest women I could hope to meet. They do actually hire a kitchen but do smaller orders in their kitchen at home and this is where we met to chat, while they cooked! (My kind of deal). Founded last year Stacey and Catherine create meals using local produce in their kitchen so you don’t have to! They deliver their meals, which have been freshly produced, to people in self catering accommodation and holiday homes, functions and events or to folk who just want a night off from the cooking. Kind of like a healthy, home cooked takeaway! Both ladies have a wealth of experience having worked for a prestigious ladies club in St Andrews, catered for two Opens, worked at Skibo Castle and the Malmaison. The meals themselves include soups, lasagne, stews, quiches, and meals such as Pork cheeks with ginger broth, mushroom cobbler (with scones on the top!) and the dish I was lucky enough to try – Smoked Haddock, Spinach and Saffron Pot-au-feu. Hands down, the best fish I have ever tasted, so good that I had seconds. I was also thrilled to find out they were “dunkers” so I felt comfortable enough to mop up the creamy sauce with some slabs of chunky Barnetts bread. Already I knew what brilliant cooks these ladies were but the proof is in the pudding as they say, and boy, what a pudding, soft gooey salted caramel chocolate brownie with Jannettas Vanilla ice cream. What a treat. I was impressed with how passionate Stacey and Catherine were about their business and the whole idea is a stroke of genius. Who wouldn’t enjoy a home cooked meal that you don’t have to cook at home? Especially one as delicious as these.
With all those calories taking their toll I headed to my final stop for the day in Cupar and had a walk through the town to burn them off. I had heard good things about Coffee and Kilts and it would be rude not to have slice of the home-baked cakes! Sean opened his coffee shop in March this year in the historic town of Cupar, his hometown. Welcoming dogs as well as their owners this café has proved popular with the locals for Sean’s delicious home baking as well as his barista skills. For me, after a busy day, the big comfy sofas were perfect to sink into with a steaming hot cup to tea (I know, tea in a coffee shop!), a slice of lemon tart and a read of the papers. I can see this café really taking off, not only is it perfectly situated just off the main street, but Sean himself is the perfect host and clearly enjoys every minute.