We are just home after spending a fantastic weekend attending the “48hrs Feast of Fife” conference, exclusive to food bloggers, a two day event organised and run by Fife Council through welcometoFife.com. The Council played host to food bloggers from around Scotland and Northern Ireland at the event held at Eden Mansion and various other venues throughout the region. We spent a fun packed two days meeting other bloggers and like-minded foodies, sampling everything good that the County of Fife had to offer in terms of food and drink.
On arrival at Eden Mansion we were welcomed by Christopher Trotter, Chef and Fife Food Ambassador who said “Here in Fife we are blessed with a rich larder of produce covering all aspects of food from vegetables and fruits to seafood and both wild and farmed animals. Above all, we can eat a calendar of Fife and enjoy new foods as the season’s progress”. There then followed a series of talks from Fife born William Curley MCA, Patissier Chocolatier, sharing his passion for all things chocolate along with providing a delicious sampling of chocolates telling the story of his success. Pinning down our favourite chocolate proving to be a rather difficult task! Stephen Whitelaw entertained the group with his fast pace, witty delivery; a digital guru who shared his top tips on blogging and getting us all thinking about the digital age and its fast pace of change.
After a brief rest and an award winning ice-cream from Jannettas Gelateria it was back indoors for a talk from Drew and Helen McKenzie-Smith who shared their ambitious plans for their development of a distillery and visitor centre at Lindores Abbey. The afternoon wound down with afternoon tea at Eden Mansion.
The highlight of Friday night, and the entire conference, was the drinks reception and 5-course Kingdom of Fife tasting menu held at The Newport Restaurant, run by Jamie Scott, 2014 winner of Masterchef: The Professionals. The Newport Restaurant boasts an art gallery on the ground floor where we could wander round looking at the galleries current art displays, whilst also sampling rather tasty cocktails from both Eden Mill and Kingsbarns Distillery.
After this, the bloggers were treated to a cookery demonstration with Jamie himself. Jamie held and question and answering session, generous with his time, he was more than happy to talk with us about foraging and we’ve come away with a few ideas for preserving some of the foods we have access to locally. Then for us came the absolute highlight of the two days, The Newport’s 5 course tasting menu! Jamie focuses on top quality local seasonal produce, using the best of what the county has to offer to great effect. We scraped clean every plate, Michelle even ate fresh mackerel which would not be her first choice, and polished off every mouthful, a woman converted! What appeared to be simple food constructed with such cleverness and lightness of touch. The stand out course for many there was the Autumn salad – yes a salad – with complexity of flavour and texture it is one of the most interesting, delicious and surprising plates of food I’ve ever eaten. We cannot recommend enough that you visit his restaurant. Aside from the wonderful food, the restaurant is located on the banks of the River Tay and boasts stunning views across the river, with bi-fold doors opening onto a balcony, we felt like we were on holiday. A wonderful and highly memorable end to a fantastic day.
Saturday morning saw us visiting St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company to sample their award winning cheese, which we did in abundance, particularly as the cheese was served with their own homemade cheese scones, cheese biscuits, oatcakes and chutney (so good in fact that we returned the following day to purchase some cheese for taking home with us).
The group then headed back to St Andrews for lunch at the popular Balgrove Larder Steak Barn, where as well as sampling what their grill had to offer, we also met with a number of other small local food producers, offering everything from vinegars, marmalade and chutneys to locally brewed beer.
The large group was then split for the afternoon with one group heading to Eden Mill for a tour of their gin distillery and more chocolate sampling with the Highland Chocolatier, Iain Burnett; followed by an afternoons foraging in the woods with Jamie Scott’s team. With the promise of lobster, we decided to opt instead for a tour and whisky tasting at Kingsbarns Distillery, before visiting Riley’s Lobster Shack at picturesque Crail Harbour for a sample of their lobster and crab, where the two-day event came to a close.
What impressed us most was most was the enthusiasm everyone had for their home region and what it produces in terms of good local food and drink. We met a number of Fife Food Ambassadors, both chefs and food producers alike, who all talked with great passion about the area and what it had to offer. We spent 2 days celebrating what is good about the region of Fife.
We would love to see something like this brought to Aberdeenshire, sponsored by Aberdeenshire Council, encouraging tourism further north than the Central Belt. Aberdeenshire has so much to offer the foodie, to see something like this put on celebrating and promoting what is good and great about our region wouldn’t that be fantastic? We will always promote what is local first and foremost, support local, buy local. We have some of the best soft fruits; vegetables; meat and poultry; game; not to mention the beautiful seafood; too much of which we ship South or export overseas rather than celebrate locally. We have whisky on our doorstep; gin distillers and craft breweries, so much to talk about and to take pride in.
We would emphasise that we did pay a nominal booking fee of £25 to Fife Council to attend this event, along with our own travel and accommodation costs. Fife Council sponsored the remainder of the event through welcometoFife.com. However the views expressed within this blog are entirely our own and based on our experiences.4