An overview of the food and drink of Lanarkshire
- Jay Thundercliffe
- 9 September 2013
A round-up of what’s grown, reared, made and brewed in the Scottish region
Looking to discover a taste of Lanarkshire? This round-up by Jay Thundercliffe introduces you to what’s grown, reared, made and brewed in the region
Fruit & Veg
Lanarkshire’s fruit cultivation may be a shadow of what it once was, but there are encouraging signs of the shoots of a new generation. David Craig is showing the way for young growers, taking over J&M Craig and selling his Clyde Valley Tomatoes locally and further afield, as well as supplying some of Scotland’s top restaurants. John Hannah Growers, now the only commercial strawberry grower in the area, produces tons of berries a year from their 20,000 plants. Both these red fruits find their way to numerous local shops and farmers’ markets.
From humble beginnings boiling beetroot, Airdrie’s Albert Bartlett now supplies one in five of the potatoes eaten in the UK so there’s a good chance most people have tried lots of them already, including their popular Rooster variety. Bartlett is also home to the Scotty Brand, whose range of fresh Scottish produce is quickly finding its way onto high street shelves. On a much smaller scale, Caroline Baillie’s achingly healthy Mollinsburn Organics is an expansive online ordering service for organic fruit and veg as well as other deli items, also available from the farm shop in Mollinsburn. Also offering a box scheme for the area is The Whole Shebag, with fresh fruit and veg from the farm which straddles the north-east boundary of South Lanarkshire.
R&W Scott still produce jams in Carluke, though no longer with fruit from the founding brothers’ own farm. Others in the area have taken up small-batch preserving including Kim Adams at her animal welfare trust Feufield, as well as various offerings from Overton Farm from their extensive operation. Of course, there would be little of anything without plenty of bees. Plan Bee are urban beekeepers who move bees from job to job and produce ethical, pure, unfiltered and cold-pressed honey.
Beef, lamb, game and other meat
The fertile pastures covering much of Lanarkshire have helped create outstanding meat, including the animals born, bred and slaughtered on the Carmichael Estate, with lamb, venison (from both red and roe deer) and beef offering total traceability, similarly with the top-quality meat from Overton Farm Shop & Butchery. Long-standing family businesses such as Ramsay of Carluke have perfected not just renowned cured bacon but also black pudding capable of casting a shadow over any in the country, even from Stornoway. The meat from Damn Delicious is exactly that – from cattles reared on Michael Shannon’s farm at Thankerton and sold in his shop in Lanark and online, while beef from the pedigree herd of Dunsyre Shorthorns is available in supermarkets. Near Strathaven, relative newcomers St Brides Poultry have quickly won favour with Michelin-starred restaurants – find their excellent free-range, slow-reared birds at the farmers’ markets that they help run.
Bread, Cakes & Chocolate
It’s hard to imagine that anyone in the Western world wouldn’t recognise a teacake from Tunnock’s, such is the prevalence of this treat throughout Scotland and beyond. Border Biscuits, founded in 1984, have become so recognisable a sight in shops that the chance to taste their famous dark chocolate gingers is never too far away. Shotts-based Bells Food Group manufacture an array of pies and cakes, available across the UK, including scotch and steak pies and their headline Kirriemuir gingerbread. Another large-scale cake manufacturer is Lightbody, part of the Finsbury Food Group and based in Hamilton; it is the UK’s largest supplier of celebration cake to major retailers. On a much smaller scale, Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies says it all about these quality pastry products. Those wanting traditional bread will be well served by Alexander Taylor from their bustling Waterside Bakery in Strathaven – or grab a loaf from their farmers’ market stall. Lanarkshire’s sweet tooth was once frustrating for those with intolerances, until Lazy Day Foods began their range of free-from products, produced in Chapelhall.
Good grazing country means milk – sheep’s milk in the case of the famous unpasteurised Lanark Blue made by HJ Errington & Co using milk from their own flock. They also make Dunsyre Blue using cow’s milk from the neighbouring farm, Biggar Blue using goat’s milk and a new ewe’s milk hard cheese, Cora Linn. Production doesn’t get much bigger than at Wiseman Dairies, now part of Müller, who supply about a third of the UK’s milk – easily recognisable in their cow-pattern livery. Rather than cheese, much more milk in Lanarkshire goes into the making of the many ice-cream offerings, including popular varieties by Soave’s and Equi’s available at a number of outlets across the region. Taylors of Biggar are a long-standing churner, selling their ice-cream from Cones and Candies in the town. Close to East Kilbride is Thorntonhall Farmhouse Ice Cream, often to be found selling their creamy concoctions at farmers’ markets, or have a lick courtesy of the Chocolate Box Ice Cream Co, recently taken over by the New Lanark Heritage Trust and available at the World Heritage Site.
Whisky, beer & other drinks
Though no distilling occurs in Lanarkshire, there is still plenty of whisky around. Inver House Distillers have warehousing and blending facilities in Airdrie, where they can handle half a million barrels from their five distilleries in Scotland. East Kilbride is bottling home to Burn Stewart Distillers for their brands including Black Bottle and Tobermory single malt. For a taste of local beer, try Strathaven Ales and their range of beers made at historic Craigmill Brewery. North Lanarkshire is the home to that most iconic of Scottish products: Irn-Bru. Made by AG Barr, it’s bright ginger and invigorating, with a sugary content that can be worked off by the promise of 30p for the empty glass bottle if taken back to the shop – environmentally if not tooth friendly.