Being invited along to enjoy a ‘Feast of Fife’ has to be one of my blogging highlights for 2016! I’m always excited to try local produce, so I was intrigued to find out what delights Fife had to offer. I took the train from Edinburgh and the journey itself was a pleasure; crossing into Fife over the iconic Forth Bridge and along a coastal track, contemplating a day of gourmet treats ahead.
Starting the day with cheese
Jane Stewart from the St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company was an absolute pleasure to listen to. I loved hearing about how Jane and her farmer husband had branched out to start making cheese from their dairy herd in 2008. Myself and the other foodie bloggers got to sample four different cheeses produced on the farm; Anster, Red Anster, Smoked Anster and St Andrews Farmhouse Cheddar. They were all delicious but the smoked cheese really did it for me! The crumbly cheese is smoked nearby at St Monans using oak and beech chips. A great place to try St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese is at the purpose built coffee shop; it’s light, bright and has gorgeous views out to the Firth of Forth. If you visit on a cheese-making day (3 days out of 7) then you’ll be able to watch the action through the viewing gallery. I’m also definitely going to have a go at making the cheese scone recipe which is featured on their website http://www.standrewscheese.co.uk/our-cheese/recipes/
Lunch in a barn
Next up was a visit to The Balgove Steak Barn. I’d never seen a restaurant quite like this before! The rustic looking barn has walls made of potato crates and a shrubbery lined entrance. Inside there are long communal benches and a fire pit which adds to the cosy atmosphere. Along with my fellow food writers, we started by sampling a selection of the Steak Barn’s tasty starters including chicken skewers and battered prawns. Then it was time for the mains, which of course included fantastic 28 day aged steaks, as well as burgers and huuugee onion rings! The meat is all cooked on the wood fired barbeque which provides a focal point for the restaurant. Whilst I’m normally a red wine with steak kind of gal, I took the opportunity to sample three different beers from the St Andrews Brewing Company. The Crail Ale, a crisp pale ale was my pick of the bunch.
I really enjoyed looking around the Balgove Farm Shop too. It’s a proper foodie paradise with lots of locally produced gourmet ingredients. I couldn’t resist taking home a jar of Venison and Cognac Pate.
Gin and chocolate
What does everyone need after lunch on a Saturday? Definitely gin and chocolate. We headed to Eden Mill to sample the range of gins paired with chocolates from The Highland Chocolatier. What a treat! The Eden Mill range of gins are recognisable by their ceramic bottles and bold branding. I had the chance to sample four gins; the Original, Love Gin, Hop Gin and Oak Gin.
- The Original Gin is a London dry gin which was paired with a White Lime and Chilli Truffle. The chilli flavour was subtle and the lime worked really well with this classic style of gin.
- The dark chocolate Ginger Truffle was an excellent accompaniment to the Oak Gin. The caramel and vanilla flavours in the Oak Gin along with the ginger in the truffle made me think of cosy autumn nights by a log fire.
- The pale pink Love Gin was served with Rose Lemonade and this made it a little sweet for me, but I have tried it with tonic previously and it was delicious. The White Raspberry and Heather Honey Truffle was just beautiful with a thistle pattern on the outside. It tasted just as good as it looked!
- Last up was the Hop Gin with a Passionfruit and Mango Truffle. The Hop variety is definitely the Marmite of gin and there were some mixed reactions around the table. Eden Mill have a great range of craft beer and this gin is a bit of a cross-over product which features Australian galaxy hops. I found the smell of this one a bit overpowering but the flavour definitely grew on me.
Over the last year, I’ve developed a growing interest in foraging, mostly brought on by my experience with The Botanist Gin which you can read about here. I had mixed results at the beginning of the summer in my attempts to make elderflower cordial and champagne but that hasn’t put me off! A great way to finish my day in Fife was a guided foraging trip. Along the way we found lots of edible plants and berries and also learned what to be wary of. It’s amazing what you can find on a country walk. I’m now inspired to make some elder berry wine and sloe gin…. stay tuned!
This was an absolutely brilliant day out in Fife and I would definitely recommend checking out all the fantastic producers in this area! Throughout the day, I saw so much passion from the producers; theyare quite rightly extremely proud of the fantastic food and drink scene in Fife.