Blog by Fife Ambassador Christopher Trotter as he explores the region and takes a look at seasonal food on offer.
One of the many great reasons for living in Fife or for visiting the area is that here in this small region bounded on three sides by water, the North Sea to the east and the great rivers of the Forth to the south and the Tay to the north, we have a microcosm of Scotland as a whole. This doesn’t just include food and produce, more on that later, but our environment and landscape has it all. The Fife Coastal Path which runs from Culross in the south west all the way round to Balmerino in the North West provides over 100 miles of magical walking country whatever the time of year. It's an ideal place for young families as there are regular sandy beaches on the path from Leven to Guardbridge, and if you are so inclined, there are suitable places to camp so that you could do the whole route in a few days, with plenty of hostelries and food shops on the way. Have a look on line or download the 'Welcome to Fife' App.
And so to the food and produce; from the seas to the east, to the hills of the west and the great rift valley in the middle, there are fresh foods available just now with the promise of more, as the year progresses. I bought my first purple sprouting broccoli (or PSB as it’s know in the trade!) in Ardross farm shop near Elie earlier in February. Cauliflowers and kale are both still being harvested and provide a great base for all sorts of dishes. Hake is great at this time of year, it is part of the cod family with a more subtle flavour and is fished from the North Sea, both crab and fresh mackerel will make a return in March. April will bring rhubarb, the Victorians used to “hot house” it to bring it on earlier as the pink stalks refreshed the jaded winter table. Whilst feathered game is now out of season, roe deer is always available and Steve Wade who runs a business in Collessie deer stalking in the hills in Fife, stretching from west to east provides meat, as does Andrew Souter of Brick House venison near Upper Largo.
In this Year of Young people it’s great to be able to celebrate Steve Wade’s 21 year old son Guy Wade who has made a business out of his father’s by-products! The Screaming Peacock is a burger van which will travel to your event or festival or even a wedding, providing superb burgers made from venison. Never mind the “field to fork” expression of some foodies, Guy has coined the expression “hill to hand”. The meat comes off the hill and he hands you the burger! It is a great sustainable business, which uses parts of the animal which is often not sold through conventional markets. The estates in Fife need to cull the wild deer in order to protect the land for growing other crops but also to ensure the health of the herds.
We can see that Fife is a great place for young people to set up a business but it is also great to come and visit, there are not just the fantastic coastal walks available year round, but businesses catering for young people right across the region. I will be exploring more of these as the year progresses.
Let me finish with a tour of the farmers markets and food events in this quarter. Every Saturday there is a farmers market and you can go on line to see when they are but suffice to say St Andrews is the first Saturday of the month in the Argyle street car park just west of Market Street. The Dunfermline one is held on the second Saturday of the month in Dobbies car park. The Cupar market is on the third Saturday in Crossgate right in the centre of town and on the last Saturday There is one in town square in Kirkcaldy.
SPICED KALE WITH COCONUT MILK AND SMOKED HAKE
The smokiness of the fish goes well with the coconut milk and the colours are great too. Try using some as seaweed seasoning from Mara, a Fife based seaweed producer, instead of salt to enhance the smoke.
4 cloves garlic peeled
2 whole red chillies seeded
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
2 tblsp vegetable oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
4 fillets of smoked hake
1 tsp sea salt
4 tblsp coconut milk