An overview of the food and drink of Angus
Get an introduction to the region's menu with our round-up
A summary of what's grown, reared, made and landed in the region, by Hannah Ewan and Donald Reid
Fruit & Veg
Much of Angus is given over to fruit, cereal and potato fields, and much of the resulting produce makes its way into the supermarket chains, via conduits like the Abbey Fruit packing plant in Arbroath. However, farm shops and farmers’ markets across the region are the best way to find the most local of fruit and veg, fresh from the field. Milton Haugh Farm Shop stock their own seasonal produce, while Peel Farm, Lunan Farm Shop and Braes of Coul showcase good local products, while Myreside Organics brings organic salad leaves, beans, peas and other vegetables and plants to the Forfar and Montrose farmers’ markets between March and October.
You can pick your own berries at Charleton Fruit Farm in July and August. Charleton are also a good source of asparagus, as is the more famous Eassie Farm which specialises in it (sold from the farm shop, generally open from late April or early May to June) as well as sea kale, harvested January to March.
Thanks to the Angus Orchards Project, fruit trees are blossoming across Angus. Look out for apples in season and opportunities to volunteer all year round at Monikie Country Park, Forfar Country Park or Fairlie House (all angus.gov.uk), as well as HOPE garden trust. HOPE’s new organic shop is an outlet for the fruit and veg their social enterprise garden produces.
Angus Soft Fruits play a prominent role in soft fruit production – the harvest from their group of growers supplies the Good Natured Fruit supermarket range. Angus’ fruit is also vital to preservers throughout the region, from the mighty Mackays and Mrs Bridges in Arbroath, found on shelves across the UK and abroad, to farm shops and delis stocked with Aberfeldy Oatmeal’s new jam range and Isabella’s Preserves. Don’t forget home-made jams by the likes of Norma’s Homemade Preserves, found at farmers’ markets.
Beef, lamb, game and other meat
As the name suggests, there’s no excuse for anything but the finest Aberdeen Angus beef in Angus. Kingston Farm is the home of the Dunlouise pure breed Aberdeen Angus herd. Angus has a good number of impressive high street butchers who can offer full local traceability, as with Milton Haugh Farm Shop’s shorthorn beef, Lunan Farm’s free-range pork and chicken and Peel Farm’s lamb, raised on site.
Visit South Powrie Farm just north of Dundee at Christmas for their KellyBronze turkeys. If you like your meat a little wilder, Glenogil Estate harbours roe deer, grouse, partridge and pheasant, shot in season and used by the Drovers Inn in Memus.
As the first Angus seafood brought to mind, Arbroath smokies are as good a place as any to start when exploring the local produce. Smokers around the town are many, but thankfully not wildly varied: although recipes are passed down through generations, quality is consistently high. Some of the most well known are M & M Smith, Arbroath Fisheries, Alex Spink, Arbroath Smokies Direct, D Spink and Iain Spink, all of which use the traditional methods that have won the smokie Protected Geographical Indication status. Usan Salmon Fisheries, based in Montrose, is one of the last companies in Scotland to ‘bag’ wild salmon and sea trout in nets. This is then sold mostly to trade, although Usan smoked salmon is also available from their online shop.
Bread, cakes and chocolate
Well-known bakers Saddler’s and James McLaren in Forfar are where you’ll find the famous bridie. JM Bakery multitasks as high street baker and special occasion cake-maker, while Silla Keyser specialises in made-to-order, often theatrically elaborate cake extravaganzas. Take a course with Cakes by Grace, who specialise in custom-made celebration cakes, cupcakes and cookies, from imaginative Halloween cupcakes to artistic hand-painted creations. For traditionally home-baked bread, cakes and traybakes, Storm Cakes’ Irene Gow takes a stall at both farmers’ markets in Angus.
Aberfeldy Oatmeal has a range of biscuits and shortbread made from their own Scottish oats and flour, stocked in farm shops and delis. Arbroath-based Mrs Bridges also has a biscuit range, as well as ‘old fashioned’ hard-boiled sweets. For more confectionery than you could shake a stick at, Sugar and Spice’s range takes in hard-boiled classics, home-made fudge, gluten, dairy and even sugar-free treats. If you’re in Forfar, pop into Springers to try Damien Bailey’s hand-made chocolates, something Johanna Woodhead of 88 Degrees also specialises in – the full range of fresh cream truffles is available from her Kirriemuir shop, with hand-made chocolate bars from the Forfar branch.
If you’re looking to buy local, the North Street Dairy in Forfar is the first and only port of call for distinctive Angus dairy. Using milk from farms within a ten mile radius, you can buy it from the dairy, as well as home-made cream and butter, or sign up to the local delivery service. Part ice-cream parlour, part coffee shop, Visocchi’s ice-cream is a popular Kirriemuir treat.
Whisky, beer and other drinks
Joining the Scottish micro-brewing revolution is MòR Brewing, a new outfit based in Kellas near Broughty Ferry, whose ales are just starting to flow into local drinking houses. They join still-youthful Angus Ales, started in 2009 in Carnoustie. From the fledgling to the deeply rooted and historic, Brechin’s Glencadam Distillery has been transforming water into non chill-filtered, colour-free whisky for over 185 years. It’s not all about the alcoholic, though. Ella Drinks, also in Brechin, produce Bouvrage, a range of fruit drinks containing a uniquely high percentage of berry juice. As with the majority of local, artisan products, look for it at farmers’ markets, farm shops and delis, or take the mail order route via their website.