A Fife food round up
Whether you're looking for venison, chocolate or whisky, Fife's got it - start the search here
Looking to discover a taste of Fife? This round-up by Donald Reid and Hannah Ewan introduces you to what’s grown, reared, made and landed in the region
Fruit & Veg
Plenty of fruit and veg is grown in Fife, with large areas of farmland given over to potatoes and root vegetables in particular. A good deal of this heads directly into nationwide distribution, so can’t always be identified as coming from Fife.
To find Fife fruit and veg grown at source, the farm shops at places such as Blacketyside, Muddy Boots, Ardross and Balgove are good places to pick it up. Pillars of Hercules at Falkland is exclusively organic; they sell from the farm and can deliver a box of local organic fruit and veg, as will Bellfield Organics. Many of these smaller-scale operations will have fresh herbs grown on the farm for sale; The Little Herb Farm near Pittenween specialises in them.
Various fruit farms open up during the summer months, including Pittormie, Cairnie, Blacketyside, and Allanhill; pick-your-own is available at all but Allanhill. Newburgh Orchard Group was formed to preserve, maintain and develop Newburgh’s heritage as an historic fruit growing area. They hold plum, apple and pear markets of fruit picked from local orchards in August and September each year. Other apple pressing days are held in September and October at Fife’s National Trust for Scotland properties.
One way to eat local fruit and veg all year round is to take advantage of the region’s jam, chutney and preserve makers. Many of the fruit farms and farm shops mentioned above will make their own varieties, and many will also stock jars from small local producers including Chillilicious and Trotter’s Independent Condiments, Days Gone Bye, who mostly make jams and chutneys to order from a kitchen in Leuchars (they can be bought from the Leuchars Butcher), Knowehead Products from Newburgh and Wren Cottage Preserves of Letham. A number of these producers can be found at Fife farmers’ markets.
Cheese & Dairy
Fife has only one farm making its own cheese. The St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company’s signature Anster is hand-made from unpasteurised milk using traditional processes. Anster is also available smoked and their newer farmhouse cheddar became available in 2012.
Nineteenth-century Italian immigrants to Fife began a tradition of making ice-cream for the seaside holiday resorts. You can still find ice-cream traditionally hand-made inhouse at a number of shops and cafés, including Luvians, with branches in Cupar and St Andrews, B Jannettas, also in St Andrews, and Divito’s in Crossgates. A trip to Italy also inspired Nelson’s of Culross to diversify at their dairy farm in 1999. Look out for their ice cream at farmers’ markets and in local restaurants.
Bread, Cakes & Chocolate
Oats are one of Fife’s staple crops, and such is the quantity and quality of local supplies that Pepsico-owned Quaker Oats, producer of well-known brand Scott’s Porage Oats, have a large operation near Cupar. A business that dates back to Victorian times, Adamson’s Pittenweem bakery has only one product, its thick, crumbly triangular oatcakes that some like with cheese and others regard as almost a meal in themselves. The comparatively much younger but widely stocked Your Piece Baking Company uses Fife oats and artisan Fife bakers to snazz up oatcakes, shortbread and biscuits.
Famous family bakers Fisher & Donaldson are the first port of call for keeping Scotland’s traditional pies and confectionery on everyone’s lips – it’s all made, along with hand-crafted chocolate, in their eco-conscious bakery in Cupar. For meat pies 155-year-old Stuart’s of Buckhaven were founders of the World Scotch Pie Championships.
Never say Fife’s stuck in the past, however – Bibi’s Bakery, specialising in the trendy cupcake, opened the first of their three stores in St Andrews. You’ll see branches of Dunfermline-based craft bakers Stephens around Fife, along with GH Barnett of Cellardyke, who have recently expanded into artisan bread baking, a specialist skill also performed by the tiny Steamie Bakehouse in Dunfermline. They bake naturally leavened, slowly fermented loaves made with stone-ground wholegrain flour in a wood-fired oven. Steamie supply some local shops and cafés and run a bread club with weekly drop-offs in the local community.
Fish & Shellfish
Bordered by coastline on three sides, it’s to be expected that seafood is a Fife speciality. Although the Fife ports historically landed catches of herring, mackerel and white fish, the majority of landings these days are of creel-caught lobster and crab, along with trawled langoustine. Some of these make their way to local fishmongers; in Crail harbour the Reilly family’s Lobster Store boils up the crustaceans and dresses crab for sale in the summer months.
Smoked fish products are the speciality of the East Pier and Ru An Fhodar smokehouses. While not a Fife resident, Iain Spink’s famous Arbroath smokies are freshly cooked in traditional style in half barrels set up at all of Fife’s farmers’ markets and are well worth seeking out.
Beef, Lamb, Game & Other Meat
Your first stop for sourcing Fife meat is likely to be either Fife farmers’ markets, a local butcher or one of the local farm shops. Of the latter, Balgove Larder by St Andrews and Ardross Farm by Elie are the most prominent, with beef from the respective farms their main line. At the farmers’ market you’ll find Aberdeen Angus and lamb from Balhelvie on the Tay coast and Dalachy from near Aberdour. Highland cattle are raised at Craigluscar Farm near Dunfermline. Puddledub’s pork, bacon and sausages are widely found in local shops and at the farmers’ markets, as are neighbouring farm S. Mitchell’s Puddledub water buffalo, Jacob sheep and Auchtertool Angus. Organic Aberdeen Angus beef and pork can occasionally be obtained from Falkland Estate.
Fletchers of Auchtermuchty is Scotland’s oldest deer farm, with a wide variety of venison cuts and products sold under the Seriously Good Venison name, while small game is occasionally available at farm shops and local butchers. Steven Wade provides a plucking and preparation service for pheasants and other game birds at his Game Cart near Lindores; he’s also intending to produce salamis using the meat. Many of Fife's traditional butchers will stock meat from local farms, and a number make their own sausages, puddings and pies.
The Canny Cook is a new business based in Dunfermline making small batches of ready meals with traditional recipes using local ingredients – not just with meat but also fish and vegetables. Local eggs, often from small free-range flocks of hens, are normally easy to pick up at farm shops, butchers and other outlets. Kilduncan Eggs at Kingsbarns are a specialist producer of duck, hen and quail eggs.
Whisky, Beer & Other Drinks
One of the largest distilleries in Scotland is at Cameronbridge by Levenmouth. Capable of producing 30 million litres of spirits per year, it’s a central part of Diagio’s UK operation, with the spirits for brands such as Gordon’s Gin, Smirnoff vodka and Pimm’s distilled on site, as well as the grain whisky components of brands such as Johnnie Walker and J&B.
Much smaller in scale, Fife’s whisky brands The Spencerfield Spirit Company and Wemyss Malts (wemyssmalts.com) have an entrepreneurial attitude to drink that focuses on sourcing, blending and bottling select whisky from different Scottish distilleries – though none yet based in Fife. Both also produce distinctive gins, Edinburgh and Darnley’s View respectively.
Daftmill Distillery in the Howe of Fife is aiming to create a Fife whisky using barley from the surrounding farm and water from an adjacent artesian well, while another farm distillery is in the planning at Kingsbarns by St Andrews (kingsbarnsdistillery.com). Neither has a product available yet for sale.
Fife beer is available from Luckie Ales, a single-barrel craft brewery in Cupar, and also from the St Andrews Brewing Company, currently operating out of Glenrothes with plans to move into St Andrews when possible. Beer from new micro-brewery The Eden Brewery hit the market in June 2012 - they're currently working from the Williams Bros plant in Alloa, with their own brewery scheduled for completion towards the end of summer. Another newcomer, Fife Fruit Merchants, are in the business of selling pure fruit juice mixes.