A tale of two cheeses

My assignment for this year’s Crail Food Festival made me very happy, not only did it involve one of my favourite foods but also one of my favourite Fife producers, the wonderful St Andrews Cheese company – who make their unique selection of Anster Cheeses.

So what makes Jane Stewart’s cheese so special?

  1. The unpasteurised milk comes straight from her husband’s own herd of Holstein Friesian cows, meaning that they have complete control over the whole process – from cow to cheeseboard.
  2. They use special cultures developed using bacteria to help give Anster Cheese its complex flavours and aroma.
  3. Unlike many cheese producers Anster Cheese mill their curd through a traditional peg mill which contributes to the lovely crumbly texture.
  4. The use of traditional cast iron presses also helps achieve just the right texture for Jane and Robert’s cheeses.
  5. Finally, Anster Cheese is allowed to mature naturally.

Ordinarily when faced with a lovely block of Anster Cheese I will simply munch away with an oatcake or 10 and perhaps a wee bit of chutney here and there. However this assignment involved me getting my pinny on and doing a bit of actual cooking.

After visiting St Andrews Cheese farm and chatting to their fabulous chef I decided to buy a huge block of Anster Cheese and one of Red Anster which is flavoured with garlic and chives.

My original intention was to cook a trio of cheesy dishes including Cheese and Chive Scones, Cheese Straws and a Cheese Soufflé. But I am ashamed to say that I completely ducked out of attempting the soufflé as after just returning from eating my way round Belgium it seemed a bridge too far!

Red Anster Cheese Straws with Paprika

Cheese Straws are irresistible aren’t they? You always mean to have one or two with a glass of wine before dinner and boom they are gone before you know it. They are great favourites with kids as well, if you don’t mind being surrounded by a carpet of flaked cheese straw at all times.

I briefly considered making my own pastry but to be honest (apologies to all the great bakers out there) life just seems too short when a respectable puff pastry can be bought. The results were very pleasing. Red Anster gave the cheese straws a lovely rich colour and the cheese and chive added to the flavour burst of the paprika.

Ingredients

175g shop bought puff pastry, paprika to flavour, two generous handfuls of
Red Anster, some flour to scatter on your work surface

Method

  • Pre heat oven to 200 ˚C
  • Roll out the puff pastry and scatter over most of the cheese before folding in half.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin.
  • Cut into 1cm strips, then twist the strips 3-4 times.
  • Lay on a baking sheet, scatter over more cheese and paprika to taste and bake for 12 mins, or until golden.
  • Leave to cool, then keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days (but let’s be honest they will never last that long!)

 

anster cheese straws

Anster Cheese and Chive Scones

This is familiar territory for me, having recently gone through savoury scone frenzy. Cheese and Chive is a classic and traditional combination which seemed just right for the noble Anster Cheese. The result was a lovely light scone with fabulous tangy cheese undertones. This is my standard scone recipe to which I add all sorts. Anster cheese and pancetta would also be a fabulous combo to try out.

Ingredients

350g self-raising flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, 50g butter cut in pieces, 1 tbsp olive oil, two large handfuls of grated Anster Cheese, one small handful of chopped chives, 300ml full fat milk, 1 egg, beaten, to glaze.

Method

  • Pop the flour baking powder and salt in a bowl and combine
  • Add the butter and rub into the flour until you get a nice crumbly mixture.
  • Add the cheese and chives and combine.
  • Make a little well in the relatively dry mix and add the oil and milk.
  • Using a knife stir the mix into soft sticky dough. Don’t be tempted to add more flour as this soft stickiness makes the scones nice and light.
  • Flour your hands and a work surface and make a round from the dough which is around 3cm thick and cut into 8 pieces.
  • Pop onto a tray lined with baking paper and glaze with some beaten egg.
  • This goes into a preheated oven (200 ˚C) for around 20 minutes or until the scones have a lovely brown hue.

anster cheese scones

Anster Cheese represents everything that is great about local producers in the fabulously foodie Kingdom of Fife. They are fiercely passionate about their product and by adhering to traditional processes they make a stunning cheese for us to enjoy.

I like knowing the provenance of the food on my plate and it doesn’t get any better than this, a completely local process from cow to my cheeseboard.

Thank goodness for producers like Jane & Robert who are amongst a very merry band of wonderful people putting Fife firmly on the food map.

Author: Hazel Cameron
Website: www.the grumblingtummy.org
Twitter: @thegrumblingtum

Producer: St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company
Website: St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese
Read More: Visit to St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company
Read More: Risotto with Anster Cheese

 

Scottish winemakers – at home and abroad

It may not have made the headlines in the national newspapers, but did you know that The East Neuk of Fife is home to Scotland’s first commercial vineyard? Christopher Trotter has planted 200 vines in Upper Largo, just a few miles down the coast from Crail. This year he will bottle a wine made from the Solaris grape variety (specially bred to ripen in cooler climates) and if the success continues, he has said he will seek investment to plant vines on his entire 2.4-hectare site.

Scottish winemaker Christopher Trotter

Growing grapes to make quality wine in Scotland remains something of a pipe-dream (though who know what climate change might bring in 100 years?), but meanwhile there are plenty of Scots who have realised an ambition to own a vineyard and make wine in other parts of the world. In this year of ‘Homecoming’ it’s a nice time to consider those Scottish winemakers who are practising their craft in some seriously good wine estates around the globe.

A case in point is Gladstone Vineyards in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand’s North Island. Here, Glaswegian Christine Kernohan is MD and winemaker. She and her husband David emigrated from Scotland 30 years ago and took over Gladstone in 1996. She farms around 35 acres of vines, which are run on accredited ‘sustainable agriculture’ principles, and a new winery was built in 2005, complete with guest apartment accommodation. Gladstone’s wines are stocked by The St Andrews Wine Company.

Meanwhile, ‘El Escoces Volante’ is otherwise known as Norrel Robertson, one of the few Scottish Masters of Wine who makes wines in Spain under his own label, and under many other labels that can be found on supermarket shelves – you’ll find his Marquesa de la Cruz wines in Sainsbury’s for example. Like many others, Norrel trained as a winemaker in an English-speaking wine school, in his case in Lincoln in New Zealand.

Also based in Spain is Pamela Geddes. Pamela studied biochemistry at the University of Strathclyde before becoming a true flying winemaker. First, she touched down in Australia where she became sparkling wine maker for the giant Southcorp group, making their Seppelt sparkling range. Today, Pamela runs her own winery near Barcelona called Lobban Wines, and still makes some great fizz including the sparkling red wine, La Pamelita (available from Aitken Wines in Dundee).

wines at st andrews wine co

There are plenty of other Scots crushing and fermenting grapes around the world, and others who may not have been born here, but who celebrate their strong Scottish roots. A fascinating case in point is Glenguin Estate, one of Australia’s top wine producers. It is owned and run by Robin Tedder. His Scottish grandfather, Arthur William Tedder, had a distinguished military career which saw him became a Peer of the Realm, and adopt the title ‘Baron of Glenguin’, chosen because of his happy memories growing up in Glenguin, where his father had been the Customs & Excise officer at the local Distillery (now Glengoyne). Robin Tedder officially bears the title of 3rd Baron of Glenguin, and is fiercely proud of his Scottish roots. His wines are also available from The St Andrews Wine Company.

Article written by: Tom Cannavan
Website: wine-pages.com and thewinegang.com
Twitter: @winepages
Save the date for Wine Event: Wine Gang Live in Edinburgh on 29 November 2014

Fife Stockist: St Andrews Wine Company
Website: St Andrews Wine Company
Facebook: Follow St Andrews Wine Company
Twitter: @standrewswine

Fife Winegrower: Christopher Trotter
Website: Fife’s Food Ambassador
Twitter: @CTScotFood

Down on the farm – 10 reasons to visit Balgove Larder on your holiday

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!

Balgove Larder 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:

1. Farm-fresh

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.

balgove-butchers-500

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!

Balgove Farm Shop

Lobsters from the East Neuk of Fife

Fruit and Veg

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.

Balgove Steak Barn

Delights of the Balgove Steak Barn including burgers and local beer

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.

balgove-goodies-500

Goodies from Balgove, including salmon, ready meals, Cartmel sticky toffee pudding and Dip Nation houmous

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.

Highland Coo Balgove

Think someone needs their fringe cut! Highland cow, Balgove

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:

Website:  www.balgove.com
Facebook: Balgove Larder Farm Shop and Cafe
Twitter:@Balgove

By Sara Scott aka East Neuk Blogger at Rose Cottage
Website: http://rosecottageeastneuk.blogspot.co.uk
Twitter: @RoseCottageFife

 

2014 Crail Food Festival – we’re good to go!

It’s been a busy time behind the scenes since the 2013 Crail Food Festival welcomed so many visitors to the village on that lovely weekend in June.  Do you remember moments like these at our Indoor Food Market and Harbour Event?

Indoor event at Crail Food Festival 2013

Saturday’s Indoor Food Market at Crail Community Hall attracted over 1,300 people and hosted a Food Market, Tastings and Demonstrations throughout the day.

crail-food-festival-harbour-day-2013

Sunday’s Harbour Event saw us welcome the crowds on a glorious day where there were options for all to enjoy the food being cooked and demonstrated as well as games on the beach for our younger visitors. We’re returning on the 14 and 15 June 2014.  We’ll be back with more to enjoy as we expand our programme with events being planned and staged in many more venues throughout the village. Our Event Manager, Graham Anderson has been working hard since last June, debriefing after the event, filling in many funding applications and meeting people far and wide to ensure we’ll have more to offer our visitors for 2014.  We are very grateful for the huge practical support we’ve been given to assist with this by the Festivals in Fife Development Manager, Annie Marrs.  With Annie’s help, and input from all the team, we’ve been granted funding from Events Scotland, Think Local Scotland and Fife Council’s Strategic Events Fund, all if which will serve to help us improve and enrich our 2014 Crail Food Festival. more children's events planned for the 2014 Crail Food Festival Over to Graham for some background on what’s being ‘cooked up’ for you!

For many Crail Food Festival 2014 will start on Saturday 14th June, with a chance to leave your car in our new festival parking area. From there it’s park-and-walk the few hundred yards to the first port of call to visit the Indoor Food Market where you can browse the stalls, taste and buy some delightful food and drink products. New to the market this year is the construction of a very informal Tasting Hall. A series of food and drink matching sessions will be held in very convivial surroundings giving all visitors a chance to chat directly with the producer whilst enjoying a taste of some of the best food and drink offerings available. After a quick informative tasting it would be a shame not to complete the visit without picking away at the Flavour Of Fife showcase sampling stall which again will be hosted by a local farm shop. Here there will be a chance to win much valued cooking courses, hampers and other Fife goodies.
Throughout the weekend a host of chefs will be sharpening their knives in our Chefs’ Theatrewhere you can sit and learn how to cook some rather special dishes.  If all that makes you hungry don’t worry – there is plenty mapped out on the Crail Food Festival Trail and Venue Map: from seafood with seafront views to freshly baked scones with afternoon tea; there’s something for everyone to enjoy!
Not just for adults, this year we’re encouraging the whole family to come to the seaside: from jam making to cake decorating a full Children’s Programme of fun, sticky events will be available throughout the weekend.
For more outdoors food and fun, on Sunday 15 June we’ll be back with our very popular Lunch at the Harbour event, with our venues open throughout the village too.
As we prepare for the 2014 Crail Food Festival, we’ll be publishing articles from our blog team who will be travelling all over Fife to bring you news of our producers and more. We’d love you to sign up to our newsletter for updates (just complete the box at the top of the page), or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+.  Photographers, add photos to our Flickr Group too.

2012 Harbour Day at Crail

If you’re one of the producers who’ll be attending Crail Food Festival 2014, then remember to join in with the #ScotFood chats on Twitter, bringing together foodies, chefs, hotels, restaurants, cafés from all over the country and the Twittersphere. Held regularly on the first Monday of the month at 9pm.  A great way to promote your own business while joining in the discussions.

Photo credits:

Douglas Baird – Great Travel Pictures
Paul Watt – Paul Watt Photography
Andrew Beveridge – Fife Council Photographer
Susan McNaughton – Sandcastle Cottage

 

Do you have what it takes to help Crail Food Festival?

The 2013 Crail Food Festival was notable for the number of visitors we welcomed to the village of Crail, and the enjoyment we all had over the weekend as we shared food, sun and fun experiences.  The Crail Food Festival committee continues to work hard behind the scenes to plan for 2014 and improve our Festival for next year.  However, the committee needs help to make this happen.

We are actively seeking enthusiastic volunteers to help us improve the quality of the events we offer, and to help us to provide our visitors with a greater range of events within the weekend of 14-15 June 2014.

The two roles we currently seek to fill are:

  • Finance and Fundraising Manager
  • Event Manager

Please click on the links below if you’re interested in helping out and becoming part of a fun team running an amazing wee festival in Crail next year!

CFF – Event Manager Role 2014 Finance Job Description

Finance Job Description

2012 Harbour Day at Crail

Help us improve Crail Food Festival