A guide to the best food in Aberdeenshire
Looking for a taste of Aberdeenshire? This round-up introduces you to what’s grown, reared, made and landed in the region
Fruit & Veg
At various times of year, Aberdeenshire-grown vegetables, herbs and leaves can be found at most of the farm shops in the region listed from p.30 onwards. A number of organic farms, including Bridgefoot, J&M Fraser near Stonehaven, Glenview by Turriff , Lembas and Vital Veg (vitalveg.co.uk), offer box delivery schemes. Others offering veg-box deliveries are Fernieflatt Farm by Kineff and The Farm Garden at Dinnet. Many other farms and small market gardens supply local shops, and in season it’s worth looking out too for simple road-end stalls selling produce such as potatoes, asparagus and berries.
A number of the farms mentioned above grow berries, currants, plums, pears and apples. Castleton is well-known for its soft fruit, as are Cairntradlin Fruit in Kinellar, Croft Organics in Inverurie and Strawberry Grange in Peterculter. Barra Berries, based near Oldmeldrum, and Fetternear Fruit on the other side of Inverurie, supply strawberries and raspberries, while Berry Scrumptious freeze-dries their fruit grown at Rosehearty for inclusion in their range of chocolate and sweet treats.
Local fruit and vegetables are also well utilised in jams, chutneys and preserves made across the region by the likes of Letty’s Preserves , Kincardine Kitchen) and the widely admired Huntly Herbs (huntlyherbs.co.uk). Farm shops and markets occasionally sell local honey – Anderson’s, based in Turriff, is the most prominent.
Other crops with a profile on the local food scene are oil seed rape, turned into oils and dressings by Ola Oils and Mackintosh of Glendaveny near Peterhead , and oats, from which Tilquhillie Fine Foods make various products including muesli, biscuits and other items for coeliacs, while the Oatmeal of Alford, using their traditional mill at Montgarrie, produce different grades of oatmeal, rolled oats and muesli.
Beef, lamb, game and other meat
Aberdeen Angus beef is synonymous with the region, and locally reared meat of that breed and others is widely stocked by butchers, at farm shops, by online retailers and served in local restaurants. Farms including The Store, Cairnton, Craigenkerrie, McGregor Farm Deli, Bogton and Wynford are reliable sources – the latter two are organic certified. Wark Farm from near Alford is a regular at farmers’ markets with their organic traditional livestock breeds, Bogside by Banff specialise in Highland cattle, Castlehill Farm from Methlick also rear rare breeds including Belted Galloways and Soay sheep, while Caledonian Bison are relative newcomers. Finzean Estate Farm Shop sells beef, wild venison, game and rabbit from the estate; Mortlach Game are another farmers’ market regular. For bacon and other pork products Ingrams Homecure from Ellon is a well-known local name, and while plenty of chickens are reared in Aberdeenshire the majority are destined for supermarket shelves; Kirkford Chickens from Premnay, Insch sell slow-grown free range chickens at Huntly Farmers’ Market.
Vast quantities of the fish landed in Aberdeenshire is either shipped directly to all parts of the UK and Europe, or processed locally before heading elsewhere, but there are a few fishmongers and other seafood specialists in the region where you can pick up locally landed catch. Fish vans are still a feature in many towns and villages -- ask locally for information on these, while most local farmers’ markets have a seafood stall -- those by Granite City Fish are particularly impressive. Local smokehouses include Gourmet’s Choice from Portsoy; Ugie Salmon from Peterhead; and the more recently established The Smokehouse at Methlick.
Bread, cakes and chocolate
Aberdeenshire has an array of prominent bakers and, in particular, biscuit makers. Dean’s of Huntly are best known for shortbread, but also make oatcakes and other biscuits; Duncans of Deeside and the Kindness Bakery have similar specialities and are prominent in local stores. Artisan bread makers are few and far between, but Loaf Face from Collieston and Crannach, with its brick-kiln ovens and coffee shop at Cambus O’May near Ballater, are worth tracking down. Handmade chocolates are the speciality of innovative Cocoa Ooze from Peterculter, Ellon’s Chocolat Passions and The Little House of Chocolate at Insch , with Sarah’s Heavenly Fudge from Huntly and Rosehearty’s Berry Scrumptious offering alternative sweet treats made in the area.
The two principal Aberdeenshire cheesemakers are Cambus O’May, based near Ballater, and Devenick Dairy. Local ice-cream comes from Mackie’s, Rizza’s and Portsoy Ice Cream , while Mitchells are a prominent local dairy supplying milk, cream and ice-cream.
Whisky, beer and other drinks
The whisky distilleries of the area can be divided into those on the fringes of Speyside: Glendronach and Ardmore near Huntly along with Glenglassaugh and Macduff on the Moray Coast; while three more exist in relative isolation, with Glen Garioch by Oldmeldrum, Royal Lochnagar on Deeside and Fettercairn in the Grampian foothills. A whisky liqueur, The Cock o’the North, a mixture including malt whisky and blaeberries, has its home in Aboyne.