Food Politics

Food has never been more political. Well, perhaps an exaggeration when I think of the Irish potato famine and the French revolution…but nevertheless food is definitely headlining right now. Brexit (remember that?) has raised its head with the Agriculture Bill and its amendment to ban imports of low standard food defeated. A blow below the belt for our producers if ever there was one. United we stand, divided we fall, and today it is more important than ever that we support each other.

Heron Farm Shop

Farm shops are pulling out all the stops in #lockdown and fishing boat owners are selling direct to nearby residents from the pier. With a good wind, hopefully many of these locals will remain loyal to their sourcing: meeting growers and harvesters and building relationships; reconnecting with seasonal produce; discovering local shellfish – and carrying all their messages home in baskets and bowls without a plastic bag in sight! For a cleaner greener Scotland that would certainly be a great start!

Many families are taking to making bread and baking cakes with flour and yeast in great demand. Others are embarking on sourdough recipes and for those of you looking for inspiration check out Andrew Whitley’s book Bread Matters and Zev Robinson’s film Real Bread Makers

And what about our wonderful chefs? Some are taking stock – not their usual sort simmering in a pan – whilst others are running food-to-go and all of us are considering this new world as we weigh up possible routes to market and the profit margins of the various options. Not everyone is able to erect a row of greenhouses as our European neighbours have accomplished in Amsterdam but we are lateral thinkers and born survivors so we shall get there in the end. As to how, will be a personal journey for every cook and chef but we need each other’s support – and indeed vouchers can be bought right now. 

Next week Bosse and I would have been heading for Galway to speak at Project BaaBaa, The European Congress for Sheep Farming & Associated Traditions. Like every other event, it is postponed so in the meantime the speakers were invited to give a short presentation. Here is ours…

Scotland is a magical place so rather than board a plane this year, let’s plan ahead and make this the year for staycations? Our temperate refreshing breezes, long hours of daylight and fabulous panoramas are just the ticket for deep breaths of unpolluted air and fresh healthy food after our enforced hibernation. 

Inchcolm Abbey

It’s a winning nation to explore and Scottish Food Guide can pilot your course, ensuring you enjoy the best produce cooked with passion by fabulous chefs all along the way. Somehow we shall navigate social distancing and we look forward to savouring platters of world-class grass fed beef and landed seafood, harvests of berries and that very special warmth of Scottish hospitality. 

If you enjoyed this there is also new post at Wendy’s Blog on Scottish Food Guide’s home page

Moose, Marmalade and other Musings….

Week 4 of #lockdown and where are we now? Some rushed off their feet through rapidly changing circumstances; others in impossible situations and trying to remain sane. We all have our different coping mechanisms: diving into activities or deep cleaning, gardening or baking…and of course many of you are home schooling too. Thankfully that is not on our personal list of pursuits. Above all else we need to look after our health and that of our families and the wider community. This virus is exhibiting some unpleasant characteristics and I believe one of our best defences is a healthy diet of fresh local food, supporting our producers and looking after ourselves.

We have a wonderful community here in Aberdour: local shops collaborating with a volunteer force of deliverers but it’s quite amusing when you read our shopping list over the phone: items you normally just pop out and buy without a thought – butter by the bagful and cream by the litre in particular seem to raise an eyebrow or two! Meats are not generally on our list so to be fair, these fabulous helpers don’t see the full picture. We generally buy sheep by the carcass, a box of beef or pork, and our fish van delivers so our two freezers have a way to go before we are eating the guga! 

Our farm shops, butchers and bakers have been making the headlines and so they should. Much hard work, dedication and flexibility is going on, helping local communities and reminding many of the importance of food security. I hope more folk continue to support them when this is all over. Chefs have been adapting to deliver local meals, act as hubs for local food networking and using their supplier databases for the benefit of their community. We find our ways: some that work in one place are not necessarily the way for others. We see great examples of our Scots’ humour and pragmatism seeing us through and thanks to the oft-slated social media we can reach out to our friends and family, in our case, Berlin and Sweden, Switzerland and Italy, Les Dames d’Escoffier International friends across the States, Ireland and even a couple of Scots living in Montevideo! We have a lot to be thankful for.

Paul Newman, Errichel

Our farmers are posting lambing videos, smallholders are planting, suburban dwellers are filming garden birds and many weans are arguably having a valuable education in many unforeseeable ways. Anyone in need of a calm zen moment can try slow TV online for free and follow the moose migration in rural central Sweden …

Diving into our larder to see what we may find we came across an unopened marmalade from my aunt…delicious with Isle of Mull cheese… that prompted me to call her to ask for the recipe, it was sooo good. We chat regularly anyway and my admiration for her has no bounds: at 96 she still sews her clothes, cooks delicious meals, grows vegetables…and makes preserves!! An inspiration to us all and I am hoping I possess a few of her great genes! Anyway, not one for internet, we received a letter from her in the post today. Handwritten in fountain pen was her marmalade recipe. I shall treasure it and look forward to the next Seville orange season. 

We received a second surprise in the post – much more fun than brown envelopes – from our friend Martin Ragnar in Sweden who has just published his book on turnips. Yes you heard me right! It is fascinating, well written and an eye opener: from ancient history through to current day renaissance, chefs’ recipes and its place in Nordic food culture. Originating in Sweden, kålrötter quickly become popular in Scotland, where some varieties were even developed and returned to Sweden so some really interesting links.

He kindly asked me to contribute a couple of Scottish recipes and the lovely Tommy and Mary Isbister from Shetland also make an appearance. It is written in Swedish so unless that’s in your skills set you’ll just have to trust me but it was fun to be involved in such a prestigious book.

And so…to all you wonderful Scottish Food Guide Members…

I continue to post your latest updates here and welcome your news. Please call or e mail if there is anything I can do to assist. I have been following the Scottish Food Guide statistics and this section is really rocketing in viewing numbers. 

Demijohn’s Wild Garlic Pesto

The other particularly popular section at this time is Recipes so I am currently adding more, using your produce, and will be promoting these too. With this in mind I welcome and invite Member producers and chefs to send in a recipe to highlight their business. I shall credit you in the titles and include a link to your website in the text. If you can send a photo that’s brilliant, if not I shall use a shot I have on file for you. Please do send in a recipe…if you would like to of course.

Last but by no means least, Scotland Food & Drink is really interested in your feedback and views, collating information to hopefully enable some good positive outcomes from this current dire situation. If you would like to get in touch with them with any information, positive and negative, they have assured me that it will be treated in confidence and anonymized when being used. Message from SF&D below….

Scotland Food & Drink

Industry leadership organisation, Scotland Food & Drink, together with its partners and government, is at the forefront of the sector’s response to coronavirus. It has launched the Covid-19 information hub, which provides the definitive guide to the latest developments, advice and support available for the sector

Businesses are encouraged to sign up for regular updates here plus, crucially, share any issues/problems they are experiencing, as a result of the outbreak, via

Take care of yourselves, our very best wishes, Wendy, Scottish Food Guide

If you enjoyed this newsletter, my latest blog is also live here

Let’s Stay in Touch

Dear friends, fellow foodies and all those in hospitality business, an extended and diverse family indeed. Words cannot express the situation that most of us are in right now – at least not repeatable words! And whilst we are naturally worried for friends and family, personal health and harsh economics, we are also overwhelmed by the magnitude and global reality of our situation that came like a curved ball out of nowhere. … well somewhere….something for continued investigation.

Piemonte, Italy
Barley Bree, Perthshire

Meanwhile some of you have had closures forced upon you, others are soldiering on, offering takeaways and even free soups to elderly locals, delivering and networking locally. Much modification to enterprises is going on daily and my heart goes out to you brave wonderful stoic friends. The music across the balconies of Italy is truly uplifting and such pockets of raw emotion and the strength of humanity help offset the low-lifes stealing toilet rolls from restaurants that are just trying to survive!! 

Some islands are in lockdown, Westminster’s in a state of flux and insurers are not forthcoming if social media is anything to go by. Nothing is fair in all this and we need to survive and emerge out the other side. Eleanor Roosevelt once said ‘women are like teabags, put them in hot water and they get stronger.’ Incidentally, when spellchecking her name I came across this wry one from 1870 in Dublin’s Shamrock newspaper, ‘men are like potatoes – they do not know how soon they may be in hot water!’ But please don’t take that to heart boys! Whatever the quote we are certainly all being tested to the limits and need to be there to support each other in what way we can.

Elisa Demicellis, Slow Food Italy

Little did we know when we attended the UK Slow Food Congress in London in January that this was ahead of us but it was well worth the journey to see Elisa Demicellis and Paolo di Croce from SFHQ in action. London was never on Bosse’s bucket list so it took those two to get him down there! Our thanks to Shane Holland for organising the event. If ever there was a time for supporting local food producers, cooks and chefs it is now. Not only are they there in your community where you are safe from large crowds but many are offering to deliver and/or online. They need your business and will give you great service in these troubled times; they know your name and benefit your local economy – none of which a supermarket or a restaurant chain does. In this dark hour we as a nation have a chance to show our appreciation of our local indy businesses, family farms and restaurants keen to reach out to you….at a safe distance of course as advised. 

Paul Newman, Errichel at Royal Highland Show

January and February were busy at Scottish Food Guide, attending meetings for future events, all of which are now postponed or cancelled of course. The Royal Highland Show took the inevitable decision and to all the wonderful cooks and chefs who would have been participating in Scotland’s Larder Live Theatre, I thank you, I’m thinking of you and I look forward to happier times. A few events are relocating to the autumn but we shall have to wait until 2021 for the Royal Highland. A sad state of affairs for Scottish food tourism but what choices do we have?

Before the virus swept in Kathy Biss from West Highland Dairy spent a lovely couple of days here in Fife where we co-hosted our Cheese Champion Course that was well attended with a lively bunch and a good day was had by all. Bosse and I also enjoyed the Strathmore Tattie Day in Coupar Angus with Andrew Skea of Skea Organics, the potato guru if ever there was one! Cloncaird Castle hosted The Best of Ayrshire Event, opening its doors to the public for the first time, showcasing their gorgeous cottages for holiday letting complete with online shopping of local goodies for your stay including Ballochmyle and Dunlop Dairy so look out for more events here when normal life resumes and in the meantime their cottages are on their website

Bosse and I are working at home for the time being and I miss you all so do keep in touch. We would love to hear from you – for a chat, a query, an update. Scottish Food Guide Members, if there is anything I can post to update your activities and promote you I shall be delighted to do so. We need to collaborate and look after each other. I can see much activity amongst the agonies of dealing with the present situation and one of your strengths is your flexibility and quick reactions to situations, something else chains and supermarkets cannot hope to achieve. Global food security is in meltdown and you have the answer with local produce and freshly cooked meals. Focussing on locals and their needs seems successful, collaborate and create bonds that will survive after this apocalypse and I am happy to post your delivery updates, takeaway menus and news. Whatever else, I wish you good health and if you feel isolated get in touch – let us stay connected.

Please note that the situation is so fluid always click through to Members’ websites or call them to check on latest updates.

For more of my News and Blogs do please visit & my Swedish one (in English!) about rare pigs

Looking back, and forward to 2020

With thanks to Hayley from Hawaii for this fun pic of ‘The Big Kahuna’ & me !!

Some of us are fortunate to take a wee pause just now, gather our thoughts and reflect with friends and family. Others are still on a rollercoaster of guests and hospitality, food orders, even milking! Our thoughts are with you all: those pausing now will no doubt be manic later and those in festive maelstrom? …well, you have our respect and empathy!

The year seems to have spun by at an alarming rate. There have been joyous moments I shall review and moments of extreme sadness as we bade farewell to dear friends who have contributed so much in their lives, were taken too soon and are missed by many.


Ron & Judith of Cairn O’Mhor Wines

Visiting SFG Members, established and new, all so very welcome, so interesting and with such wonderful produce and places, is always a privilege and pleasure. I enjoy writing regular features for Farming Scotland including fruit wines, heritage breeds of sheep, tweed, charcuterie, grains and potatoes…. and a good blether on Radio Scotland from time to time! Judging the Catering in Scotland Awards has been a joy and an honour, one I have been delighted to undertake for over a decade but for 2020 I have passed on the baton to others. The Edinburgh Bakers (Baxters) Trust, of which I am Chair, has bestowed its first traunch of grants and we are excited to see the progress of our recipients.

Members Sponsored Exhibition at Holyrood, with thanks to Annabelle Ewing MSP

The week in the Members’ Lobby at the Scottish Parliament hosting our exhibition on the Heritage Foods of Alba was a high point and as exhausting as it was exhilarating. I have great respect for the activity of politicians in Holyrood: the place is buzzing from morn till night. Most stopped to chat and study our showcase – relishing Campbell’s Selkirk Bannock whilst sipping Birken Tree Birchwater probably helped! We received a warm welcome and valuable insight into the workings of Holyrood whilst giving in return local knowledge of food heritage, production and hospitality in their regions.

Chef Steve, Carmichael Estate Bistro, Foraging Fortnight event – look out for another this May

We have travelled from Stranraer to Orkney this year, attending festival events in Ballantrae, Moray, Forth Valley, Lanark and Fife to name a few. Sadly we did not make it to the Hebrides this year other than a delightful wee trip over Clachan Bridge, aka the Bridge over the Atlantic, onwards to Luing. We hope to return…and head further westwards in 2020.

We took six super SFG Members with us to Gardening Scotland this year: Errichel & Thyme Restaurant, Carmichael Estate, Galloway Chillies, Cairn O’Mhor Winery, Scotland The Bread and Isle of Skye Sea Salt. Bosse and I thoroughly enjoyed their company and hopefully they found it worthwhile too. I am exploring other options for 2020 but we may return in 2021.

North Ronaldsay Presidium Sheep

2019 was the year of Scotland’s first ever Slow Food Presidium, The North Ronaldsay Sheep. Thanks to the efforts of island crofters, notably the indefatigable Billy Muir, this small sturdy lively sheep is flourishing on their breezy outpost in the far north of Scotland. It is a pleasure to work with this project and I commend you to taste these and other heritage breeds. The day of their Conference was one day prior to the Scottish Bread Championships at the Royal Highland Show so I was greatly relieved there were no storms and ferries were running!

Buccleuch Arms in full swing on stage at the Theatre

The Royal Highland plays a pivotal role in our year and my sincere thanks to all of you who participate and I hope to see many of you again in 2020: entering breads, ice creams, butter or cheeses to the Championships or joining me on stage in the main theatre – in its new central location and livery. I should take this opportunity to thank Bosse for his incredible support, patience and enthusiasm all year, and at the RHS they get a ‘buy one get one free’ and he is a real asset! He disappears very occasionally but we all know where to find him, admiring the heavy horses, and, but for me, he would have spent the last decade of Junes dancing round a Midsummer pole eating herring with dill potatoes (as they all do that weekend in Sweden!)

Foraging Fortnight brought a new dimension to my life this year but in a positive way! I have met many new folk and uncovered golden seams of knowledge in existing friends … so with something old, something new, something borrowed and some blewits (couldn’t resist) we foraged through September and will do so again come May (and September for Orkney).

Slow Food Scania on Orkney @ Sheila Fleet’s Kirk Gallery & Cafe

It was an absolute joy to welcome back some Hawaiian Les Dames d‘Escoffier with their friends before they tackled the West Highland Way this summer and we hope to see them again. Thanks to Instagram we can share experiences even when thousands of miles apart. We also hosted a group of foodies from Slow Food Scania this year and visited many members during the week they were here.

The Seasonal Offers web page on Scottish Food Guide has received great feedback from Members so do keep sending in your news. Your activities may tie in with other events so it’s always worth keeping in touch – even just to bounce ideas. Some of the best schemes start out as a cuppa round the kitchen table!

I created Scottish Food Guide and Scottish Cheese Trail in 2002 and it gives me great joy to think in some way I hopefully contribute to Scotland’s food scene but if I do it is thanks to readers and members, producers, cooks and chefs, hoteliers and farmers, consumers and diners…all supporting our best places to eat and best producers in Scotland and without whom it would be nothing. This Scottish Food Tourism network of connections in Scotland, read across the globe, supports and promotes many family and independent businesses yesterday, today and for many tomorrows to come. A very Happy New Year to you all.

If you enjoyed this, there are two other places you may like to bookmark with more of my periodic musings … newly posted, my thoughts on ethical eating trends at and some of the highlights from Sweden and Scotland culminating in a memorable stay at Wallby Säteri on

New Seasonal Offers Page on Scottish Food Guide & Slow Food in the UK Awards

Our latest addition to Scottish Food Guide is the Seasonal Offers link. Many Members offer wonderful seasonal offers and after Members’ feedback we thought what better way to highlight their seasonal news than on a home page link, refreshed weekly so always up to the minute to enjoy!

Check out festive dining, gift inspirations and, for Scottish Food Guide Members, a seriously good offer from Reservoir Digital with whom I have collaborated for a couple of years now and highly recommend.

This week the Scottish winners of the Slow Food in the UK Awards gathered in Edinburgh to celebrate at l’escargot blanc wine bar in the city’s West End. 

There is a super link on Scottish Field’s website here, written by Claire Daly, Scottish Field Magazine and filmed by Scottish Field senior photographer Angus Blackburn

Click this title above to read article & see the movie!

The full list of winners is below…
Photo images credit Albie Clark.
Slow Food in the UK
Slow Food Scotland

Scottish Slow in the UK Awards 2019

Best Restaurant/Food Eatery – L’Escargot Bleu

Champion Slow Food Product – North Ronaldsay Mutton

Best Deli or Grocer – Edinburgh Larder

Best Butcher – Peelham Farm

Person of the Year – Bryce Cunningham, Mossgiel Farm

Best Cheesemonger – Iain J. Mellis

Best Bakery – Riverside Bakery CIC, Stirling

Best Greengrocer – East Coast Organics

Best Fishmonger – Eddie’s Seafood Market

Best Market – Edinburgh Farmers’ Market

For further information on winners contact…

Edible Scotland with Slow Food Scania

Slow Food Scania with Sheila Fleet at her wonderful Kirk Gallery & Cafe

When asked to organise food travel for a group of Slow Food Swedes the challenge is always to compress the exceptional into a manageable and affordable format: a task we enjoy as we love sharing Scotland’s finest with folk who appreciate it. So with every train, boat and plane timetable checked and costed; menus discussed, and even the diminishing daylight of autumn evenings considered – all was in place when they duly arrived and a great time was had by all. Over 6 days, 13 Swedes experienced 27 of our wonderful Scottish Food Guide Members, including 12 on Slow Food Ark of Taste, either visiting or sampling! (see below for complete list)

Hardiesmill Native Aberdeen Angus, on Slow Food Ark of Taste
Out & about with Alison & Robin Tuke

After a welcome reception & dinner chez nous, our super bus driver collected us next morning from the Woodside in Aberdour for a trip to Border Country visiting Hardiesmill where Alison and Robin’s passion for their Aberdeen Angus had the desired effect – beef on a menu will never look the same again! Knowledge is power and every day a school day as they say!

Pave of Hardiesmill Beef, onion puree, wilted kale & oxtail marmalade

Having heard the background, politics and philosophy of Aberdeen Angus we experienced the superb flavours at Firebrick where David Haetzman cooked it to perfection. 

Henderson’s of Edinburgh

With a wee fling past Roslin for Da Vinci Code fans, we headed for Edinburgh where our travellers wished to stop to shop followed by an evening rendezvous at the famous Henderson’s for an excellent vegetarian feast. We had bade farewell to our lovely bus as what better way to head back to Fife than to experience the World Heritage Forth Railway Bridge?

Westray Wife Soufflé served at Lynnfield Hotel, Kirkwall

Next on our itinerary was the flight to Orkney, famed for its Neolithic archaeology, fine produce and nature. We stayed at the lovely Lynnfield Hotel where Malcolm and his team made us very welcome. Every evening menu was a wonderful and varied array of Orkney’s finest and our rooms were gorgeous. 

Jason & Nina

We visited Westray, home to Wilsons of Westray, Jason and Nina, with their exceptionally fine cheeses, Noltland Castle, awesome cliffs with diving gannets, and beautiful seafood platters served at the Groatie Buckie.

Seafood platter @ Groatie Buckie
Fika by the pier with Karin of Orkney Sourdough Co.
Seafood Sourdough Rolls & Cinnamon Buns par excellence!

Frustratingly all flights to North Ronaldsay were cancelled although a trip to South Ronaldsay’s Sea Eagles & Otter Tombs and The Skerries proved a fine consolation prize! North Ronaldsay will be next time. Before setting off to check out Kirkwall’s bonnie high street of independent shops we were treated to Fika by the pier from Karin of Orkney Sourdough Company – great fun and absolutely delicious! Later that day before dinner our Swedes met Graham who told them the story of his Orkney Ice Cream.

Bosse & Kenneth at Skara Brae
Jane Cooper with her Orkney Boreray, on Slow Food Ark of Taste
Jane explaining Boreray fleeces

Our Mainland Orkney day commenced in the west at Skara Brae and its Neolithic kitchen, meandering eastwards encompassing Barony Mill Beremeal, Jane with her fascinating Boreray Sheep, then wonderful Andrew, The Harray Potter.

Andrew Appleby, The Harray Potter

We paused for a world class lunch at Sheila Fleet’s, where Chef Neil’s North Ronaldsay Pie will be a food memory forever!

J Gow Rum

Collin of J. Gow organised a fascinating rum tasting for us at their super venue by the Italian Chapel.

Sergio , Highland Park Brand Ambassador holds them spellbound!

Later that evening, thanks to Sergio, Highland Park’s Brand Ambassador, we were treated to a malt whisky tasting at The Lynnfield

Scotland wishes to be top of the class in World Food Tourism and we are certainly blessed with some treasures across our Nation, many of whom I am delighted to say are to be found on Scottish Food Guide and there’s more to discover. Yet for every one recommended on SFG, there are those that do not make it and for Scotland to be ‘world class’ we need consistently high standards.

Scotland is on a journey and hopefully others will see the advantages in upping their game. When it comes to our adventures with Slow Food Scania, Orkney came up trumps and is a match for any world food tourism destination!

By the way, here is a clip on BBC Radio Orkney from my previous visit to this lovely isle. Sadly the link may not be available forever (about 12mins in).

SFG Members included on this trip…met/visited/sampled

  1. Woodside Hotel
  2. Hardiesmill
  3. Firebrick Brasserie
  4. Henderson’s
  5. Lynnfield Hotel
  6. Wilsons of Westray
  7. North Ronaldsay Sheep
  8. Orkney Sourdough Co
  9. Orkney Ice Cream
  10. Fursbreck Pottery The Harray Potter
  11. Orkney Boreray
  12. Sheila Fleet Kirk Café
  13. J Gow Rum
  14. Orkney Wine Co

…and Featured on the Menu @ Scottish Food Studio

  1. East Coast Cured Free Range Pork & Fennel Salami
  2. Inverawe Smoked Trout
  3. Shetland Kye cooked with
  4. Ovenstone 109 St Ayles Golden Ale
  5. Ramsay’s Haggis
  6. Ardoch Hebridean Leg of Lamb
  7. with Orkney Bere Mint Sauce (Orkney Craft Vinegar)
  8. Roast potatoes: Skea’s Highland Burgundy Red, Pink Fir & Shetland Black
  9. Prestonfield Rhubarb Fool
  10. Scotch Trifle with Fraiser Liqueur
  11. Campbell’s Selkirk Bannock
  12. Isle of Mull Cheese 
  13. Orkney Bere Bannocks & Oatcakes

Whilst not yet on Mailchimp and still a manual opt in, I have also posted a new blog on my Wendy Barrie website for you to enjoy about a different trip, this time with movies included!… VisitSweden visits Scotland!


I count myself lucky indeed that the interests and pursuits I am most passionate about happen also to be how I earn my living: Good food, where to find it and what to do with it is my stock in trade.

When this involves enthusing folk in the most essential of life skills, eating well, I am in my element and take great pleasure in spreading the word, whether it be on my courses and workshops here at our Studio or across Scotland over Foraging Fortnight just around the corner. There is so much on: from foraging on the shores to well being in the woods, cookery classes and an amazing opportunity to meet the marvellous Eva Gunnare (right) and hear her Essence of Lapland presentation  We have professional foragers, chefs and educators engaged across 5 regions from Orkney in the north to Lanarkshire in the south. Check out what’s on near you and reserve your tickets here

I am a firm believer in the old adage ‘you are what you eat’. I also believe it is important to convey this message as widely as possible, from awareness of environment and sustainable food issues through to the value of the convivial table – and above all the enjoyment of cooking! 

In addition to quality assuring places to eat and endorsing the best producers I decided to add a Centre for Competence in Traditional Food Culture to Scottish Food Guide. A hub where professionals could offer courses and experiences to broaden your horizons and hone your skills in the world of food and drink. 

But first a name. So on the assumption that one can’t go far wrong with an ‘ology’ Goodfoodology sprung to mind as fun, creative and a thought provoking way to study food, with just a hint of pizzazz that might appeal to eager minds even if it raises an eyebrow or two!There are bread making workshops and beer tours; authentic Indian cooking, my Cheese Lovers and Hygge courses and many more so why not treat yourself or gift an experience to a friend?

So let’s broaden our horizons to our native woodlands and shores, treat our bodies and minds well and appreciate the beauty of Scotland and those who have knowledge to share.

Happy Memories from Royal Highland Show 2019

Thanks to one and all!

Hard to believe it’s over for another year and what an amazing time we had – thanks to chefs, cooks, students and RHASS…plus a fabulous spouse or two lending a hand and of course all our wonderful audiences!

This year, had RHS still been travelling our Nation as in the past, it would have been Border Country’s turn, so with that in mind we featured more from Border Region this year. I’m sure RHASS are relieved chefs travelled north and they no longer had to be nomadic! 

Boyz are back in town with Outlander Bannocks!

Iain Campbell returned this year with a touch of Jamie & Claire at Lallybroch with delicious bannocks, ably helped by his son on stage for a great show! Learn for yourself at his bake classes

Border Lamb and Skye scallops, Buccleuch roe deer and North Sea halibut, Aberdeen landed smoked haddock and home reared old breed pork from Errichel all featured where The Produce is the Celebrity and the Cooks and Chefs the Legends!

Carina Contini RHET’s first Ambassador:

As Royal Highland Education Trust celebrates 20 years they have appointed Carina as their Ambassador. Her passion for food education and her dedication to local produce make her the ideal choice.

Billy Hamilton, Proprietor, with Gareth Gilder, Head Chef, Buccleuch Arms

& Blue Coo Bistrot, St Boswells gave a fascinating butchery and tasting of roe deer to a full house.

Welcome to The Batch Lady!

Suzanne Mulholland from The Borders, our food-for-freezer and multiplier guru, made her debut at RHS batch cooking and meal planning at a pace. She stormed through dishes inspiring everyone to get cooking.

Iain Gourlay, Head Chef, Cringletie

…cooked delicious Border lamb whilst Victoria Palmer rustled up fab cocktails on stage – shaken not stirred!

Co Creator of the Scottish Bread Championships Andrew Whitley …took the stage after the SBC Prize giving, and expanded our knowledge of heritage grains and breadmaking

Craig Wilson, The Kilted Chef 

…is so popular there is standing room only and I am always amazed he fits us in, this year between Vietnam and Tuscany, where he was cooking up a storm! This year he focused on reducing food waste with thrifty wonders, delicious and easy.

Neil Forbes of Café St Honore

…The BBC Kitchen Café and Borough Market fame created a stunning platter and dessert, making a welcome return to the Theatre.

Every chef and cook present is passionate about local produce and gives his/her time and energy to our Theatre for which we are delighted. The crowded audiences are proof that there is a real interest in our Good Food Nation.

On stage, their tales from the kitchen are entertaining and their knowledge outstanding…backstage there is a wonderful camaraderie and a super team of students led by Penny, ensuring dishes are cleaned and returned to their rightful owner – no mean feat!

Cheesemakers, butchers and fishmongers all get a mention and many of the stallholders in the Hall support the Theatre with their produce.

Visitors relish tasting the dishes and having the opportunity to ask questions of the presenters, who always take the time to greet, meet and answer!

Scottish Cheese Trail Kiosk: A popular addition to RHS and this year particularly buzzing, in no small part due to Maddy, our star of presenting cheeses!

From Perthshire came Paul Newman of Errichel & from Skye, Calum Montgomery of Edinbane Lodge

Two more award-winning chefs carrying in crates brimming with produce. In Paul’s case Shetland Sheep and heritage pork from their own farm, cooked in a giant pan and piled onto sharing platters…and devoured!

For Calum it was Skye produce from land and sea, with giant prawns that would give a lobster a run for its money still alive and kicking. Their skills were admired and I am sure, as with our other fabulous chefs, folk should be beating a path to their doors!

Tom Lewis, Mhor

… owns the stage with his passion & missionary zeal! Always a pleasure to see him in action, this time with Scottish seafood at its best.

Ali & Bob from AliBob@CairnOMhor

… treated us to Ali’s legendary baking skills with scones par excellence

Andy Christie of Gleddoch House & Mark Heirs, Personal Chef

…both had a few tales to tell of life in the fast lane with banquets, feasts and, in the case of Mark, even precious pooches to feed! No names or beans spilled here! Their craft and conversation kept audiences fixed in their seats…until their food was ready to serve! &

Making her debut at RHS was Heather Byres, hot from her previous job as Chef Tutor at London School of Wok. Heather entertained us with highly creative Sunday Sundaes. Thanks too for her great work compering the Tastings & Talks! 

Rounding off, Wendy Barrie chose Food Tourism as her theme.  

A big thank you to you all for coming along & for the RHASS for making it happen; for students & set builders, farmers who grow, fishermen who catch & hubbies who help! Let’s keep Scotland cooking with our fine produce!

More Members News…..

The 2019 Skye Food & Drink Festival is over for another year however read all about it at

Macbeths have a range of delicious BBQ items from humble sausages and juicy burgers to impressive butterfly legs of lamb and my personal favourite, carvery rump steak.  So stock up now to make the most of the sun. Use the code SUMMER19 at the checkout for a 10% Discount Shop online here

Deans’ Head Chef will be creating a regular menu and vegetarian menu option specifically to compliment and enhance each dram as we celebrate the best of Scottish fare. You will also be given the opportunity to buy and sample Spey whiskies.

TURKEY DEPOSITS – yes you did hear me right!…£20 paid helps Whitmuir pay for feed and bedding and pay wages for staff to walk them out to pasture every day and walk them home at the end of the day.  This means they get our through the day and are safe from badgers and foxes at night.  Your deposit reserves your turkey and is refunded when you buy your bird.  Please buy one here.

FARM FRIDAYS – over the summer holidays Whitmuir Community Benefit Society run Farm Friday from 9.30am-12noon.  Young people from 5 to 12 can come walk out the turkeys, feed the pigs, plant some seeds, harvest some veg and generally have fun on a farm for a morning.  View the leaflet here.  All our farm events are listed here.  The fee of £15 includes a voucher towards lunch and places can be booked by emailing Elly on

Read Skara Summer Newsletter and seek out Andrew’s amazing pottery on his linked websites at for his ceramics and his novels. He is also playing a key role in Orkney’s Neolithic Dinner during their Science Festival & Foraging Fortnight the first two weeks in September…more about that soon.

For Summer Dining ideas to tempt you at Contini, check out their wonderful treats such as this one

John Davidson has excellent summer offers online such as these and BBQ packs for that heatwave that’s sure to come so click on the link to discover more…

Steve Brown, Head of Education at Edinburgh Food Social is delighted to announce… ‘we are now live with this here Whether it’s s £5 thank you, a £35 bottle of Spring Gin or a team away day for £1800, we would really appreciate your support in sharing this far and wide to make sure that we can share our love for local, seasonal food with youngsters, communities and those on our apprenticeship programme.

This Week is Showtime! See you there!

Carina Contini

…with Scotland’s Royal Highland Show starting on Thursday. 190K visitors can’t be wrong! For months June has been marked on calendars on fridge doors and desktops: cheesemakers and gelateria honing their skills for their Dairy Championships and bakers nurturing sourdough starters for the Scottish Bread Championships whilst elsewhere in the showground beekeepers polish their honey jars and skilled shearers compete in sheep shearing. Lumberjacks climb poles, heavy horses parade in the ring with immaculate wagons and every handicraft imaginable is on offer. 

Craig Wilson

You will find us in Scotland’s Larder Live with the cream of the crop! Every one an award-winner, every one walking the walk supporting local produce, buying from producers 365days a year.  The chefs and cooks demonstrating in our theatre justly deserve recognition for their passion and creativity with Scotland’s Larder.

With 7 shows daily and much to inspire you we look forward to welcoming you to our audience.  Borders Region features heavily this year, being the region of the year, with Buccleuch Arms, Firebrick Brasserie, Cringletie, The Batch Lady and Bread Matters Across the rest of Scotland we welcome Ian from Gleddoch House

Neil Forbes

Calum Montgomery from Edinbane Lodge, Craig Wilson from Eat On The Green, Tom Lewis from Monachyle Mhor, Paul Newman from Errichel, Ali from AliBob Café, Ian Campbell Master Baker, Mark Heirs and from our capital city Carina Contini and Neil Forbes from Cannonball and Café St Honore respectively.

Paul Newman

We are amazingly fortunate to have such shining stars and experts in their field. Entry to the Theatre is free with your RHS entry ticket so be prompt to catch a seat. 

Also in Scotland’s Larder Live Hall you will find the Dairy and Bread Championships results and displays, The Tastings Talks Theatre and the Scottish Cheese Trail Tasting among a multitude of exceptional food producers to tempt you.

Wendy Barrie

Scotland is indeed fortunate to have so many enthusiastic cooks and chefs willing to give up their time, and so many producers to experience under one roof.

My sincere thanks to them all and as we prepare for what I call the greatest food and farming show on earth. I think of us all as one big family and look forward to sharing our days with you. 

….Not only but also….several well-deserved latest congratulations are in order for…

Craig Wilson, Thistle Award Winner Best Eating Place in Scotland 2019.

Contini Cannonball Restaurant, CiS Excellence Award for Food Tourism & Carina’s appointment as RHET (Royal Highland Education Trust) Ambassador.

Edinbane Lodge, CiS Excellence Award for Restaurant Newcomer of the Year.

Fred Berkmiller, CiS Excellence Award Chef of the Year

Bread & Cheese – where would we be without them!

The yellowhammer has a characteristic song with an “A little bit of bread and no cheese” rhythm. I remain to be convinced however I am certain the world would be a poorer place without bread and cheese!

Errington ploughman’s

We hosted another of our popular Cheese Lovers courses at Scottish Food Studio the other day and had a grand day with lovely people. It so happened the previous weekend there was a Slow Food visit scheduled to the Errington family in Lanarkshire, home of Lanark Blue, Scotland’s Roquefort, and other amazing cheeses, so what better way to top up supplies for the day? It was lovely to be back and Selina produced wonderful ploughman’s platters for lunch.

We had reason to be in Dumfries and Galloway that week too, so naturally a visit to Loch Arthur at Beeswing beckoned. It was super to catch up with Barry and after a tasty treat in their café (right) we bought an amazing selection of cheeses from across Scotland – and their own superb Farmhouse, Crannog and Killywhan of course, plus an excellent loaf of organic rye bread. With a top up at Craigie’s and a postal delivery from Kedar we were all set and we had a cheese fest like no other! Warm thanks to those who came along and if you wish to join us our next course is on Sat 10thAugust book online here

Luing was also on our SFG travels this week. A beautiful island and birthplace of the Luing fold, robust russet cattle bred to survive highland weather and calf in extreme conditions. A Highland Shorthorn Cross, it was developed back in 1947 by the Cadzow family and was officially recognised as a new breed in 1965. We were on this green isle to visit the Luing Bakery where Mary (below) & Nigel, Winners of two Gold Awards in the Scottish Bread Championships, have their neat and sweet village bakery. All I can say is lucky Luing!


Tasty sourdoughs, plump pizza bases and weekend butteries sold at the Luing Stores where Birgit also sells her delectable home made quiches – spells life quality! Waking up in the morning there were starlings nesting and goldfinches at the feeder as the early sun sparkled on the water. Steeped in history with sweeping views, accessed by a diminutive five minute ferry it is a very special place and I look forward to our return.

Isle of Luing
Knipoch Hotel
Real Food Cafe

En route we popped in to Knipoch as delightfully gracious as ever, to arrange a future visit, and a light bite at the Real Food Café where energetic walkers mingle with more leisurely families, all enjoying the freshly cooked fare. Our favourite spot is by the window overlooking the bird tables – of which there are plenty! This time it was bustling with siskins, bluetits and chaffinch.

Back in the capital I had been invited to judge St George’s Lunchtime Challenge, a well established competition where 11-year-olds each cook two course lunches and impress me more each time – indeed this year fellow judge Chef James Ferguson and I awarded two winners as it was impossible to decide between them! Bravo to all the Finalists and the worthy winners.

This week is Gardening Scotland and Scottish Food Guide welcomes Paul Newman from Thyme at Errichel; Sheena of Galloway Chillies; Clan Carmichael with their Estate Venison; Andrew Whitley with Scotland The Bread, on Slow Food Ark of Taste; some of the gang from Cairn O Mhor Wines and Nanette with Isle of Skye Sea Salt, also on Ark of Taste all on our Stand. We are looking forward to a great weekend so do come and visit us.

The following weekend is Ballantrae Food Festival with a host of demonstrations, producers and activities, all listed on the link. In a gorgeous location on the Ayrshire coast it is also the launch of World Gin Day!

More Members’ News…

Ballintaggart Feasts

Enjoy the essence that is Ballintaggart…. Unique communal dining | Nature’s seasonal bounty | Spectacular locations 22.06.19 Summer Feast at Ballintaggart Farm, five fabulous courses, Team Ballintaggart’s warm hospitality £45/guest BYOB

29.06.19 Ballintaggart Loch side feast at The Paper Boat Loch Tay, five fabulous courses and welcome drink | BYOB| £55 /guest

25.08.19 Ballintaggart Moveable Feast on the Isle of Mull Sensational seafood showcase with foraged cocktail on arrival £75 | guest

Bank Holiday Monday lunch, four courses 26.08.19 £55 Call 01887 447000 or email to book

Edinbane Lodge

Edinbane Lodge is delighted to have been awarded 5 Star Gold by the AA for their rooms.There are four rooms available in their lodge and fabulous meals to savour when you are there. Check out Calum at Royal Highland Show Scotland’s Larder Live Cooker Theatre soon. Just awarded Restaurant Newcomer of the Year at CiS Excellence Awards

Visit 63 Tay Street and leave the choices to Graeme for a fabulous gourmet meal! Check out his website for lots of other delectable options too from this Slow Food Cooks Alliance Member 


Always lots happening at Craigie’s and I love the monthly blackboard they share with us! Also they have an exciting project underway with a planning application for a new “Farm Park” facility so look out for that too.

Connage (from Twitter)

Connage Cheese Pantry is now on its summer opening hours and our congratulation to them for winning Best Scottish Cheese at Artisan Cheese Awards

Cranachan & Crowdie had a wonderful evening of gin tasting introducing Jamie Shields of the Summerhall Drinks Lab to their guests. He is running the Juniper Festival on at Summerhall from May 31st– June 2nd. Their 3 main gins for the evening were Kinrara Scottish Highland Dry Gin from Aviemore, Seven Crofts from Ullapool and Kintyre Gin from Torrisdale Castle Estate just across from Arran. There is always so much happening and so many inspired ideas here check on the link to see the latest – or drop in!

Cranachan & Crowdie

Steak Nights Thursday and lots of other great offers at Deans Congratulations to Jamie Deans as Finalist in CiS Excellence Awards as Young Chef of the Year.

The Torridon is always a special place to dine, plus location, location. Location! Many activities and events on their website

Macbeths are are preparing for their biggest release yet of this amazing 42 day matured Highland Shorthorn beef from their own farm Edinvale. After a lot of requests, they have also increased the range of what is normally available to include Topside, Silverside and Minute Steak.

PUT THE YO HO HO BACK INTO YOUR DAD THIS FATHER’S DAY WITH A BOTTLE OF DELICIOUS DEMIJOHN RUM. It’s time to show your Dad the love this Father’s Day (16thJune) with a bottle of handmade artisan Spiced Rum or Chocolate Rum Liqueur from Demijohn, the liquid deli.

Love Nessie from Walkers – a great gift to take to friends and family

For a wonderful waterfront experience enjoy the famous Crinan Hotel – it is a very special year for them! Pub Excellence Award Finalist at CiS Awards last night.

Westering Home…and eating like Kings!

Claggain Bay, Islay

Home for us is Fife however in my line of work exploring Scotland is both a joy and a privilege. I am fortunate to be able to combine my love of geography, food and culture to explore our country’s nooks and crannies. And so it was we headed for Islay, known across the world for a whisky or eight (!!), too long since I had last visited and for Bosse it was the first time. Islay is blessed with the most outstanding place to stay, Glenegedale House and this is where we headed to be welcomed by our hosts Emma and Graeme.

Glenegedale is midway between Port Ellen and Bowmore, by the airport, and when I say ‘airport’ it is a dainty runway cutting a swathe through turf, where propeller planes not much bigger than model aircraft touch down infrequently! The views from Glenegedale are glorious, your eyes drawn to the glittering shore close by and the occasional activity of island life. Emma and Graeme took on Glenegedale and transformed it into a food destination, beautifully restored with incredible attention to detail. Not only are the furnishings, artwork and table appointments delightful, Emma and Graeme are incredibly service minded, assisting guests with their plans for the day, arranging chauffeurs (well you can hardly drive between multiple whisky tours!) and generally a goldmine of local information.

As the adjacent wing is their family home, Emma created a great strategy to offer a wonderful dinner to guests whilst juggling demands of family life: Dinner is served on dramatic curves of wood made from whisky barrels – what could be more appropriate here? There is a range of produce artistically adorning each whisky stave: from local seafood delicacies to aromatic charcuterie, artisan cheeses and fabulous pies, complete with chutneys and pickles, or whatever’s appropriate for the superb spread that evening. All are served with home baked breads and the meal is rounded off with one of Emma’s fine desserts, accompanied by their gifted son playing his fiddle.  This is a refreshing and enticing alternative way to dine, a wonderful island experience and, after coffee, we retired to one of the beautiful drawing rooms, full to the brim and wondering how we would ever manage breakfast…. we did of course!

Bosse & his whisky porridge!

‘Breakfast like a King’ is certainly the mantra at Glenegedale: from Ramsay’s bacon to their own eggs, porridge with a wee dram – Bosse got a wee tutorial on that one – and fresh baked warm marmalade muffins. I have long said breakfast is so important as it is oft-times the last meal our tourists taste on Scottish soil…. well Glenegedale certainly sets the bar high!

Elsewhere on Islay I must mention the fabulous Woollen Mill with its lovely woven plaids and celebrity wall of well-known faces wearing said cloth, and the idyllic Claggain Bay where, legend has it, if you take a pebble from the beach you are sure to return, so we did, and we shall. Such a beautiful spot to tarry awhile (main photo on news).


Whilst I grant you many rightly come for the whisky and distillery tours, Islay is an enchanting island in many ways, easy to navigate with white sands, friendly folk and stunning skylines. For us the high points were visiting Finlaggan, The Centre of the Lordship of the Isles and a place of great historical importance in Scotland, where the inauguration of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles took place. The ruins, still visible, allow you to appreciate why they chose Finlaggan as their home: a calm place of natural beauty and shelter with a strong defence position. To visit is a truly moving experience.

We also loved watching Native Scottish Goats close up, vilified by some as alien species but arguably with more right to Scotland than us having inhabited our isles for eight thousand years! These goats are part of Scotland’s rich biodiversity and as such recognised on Slow Food International’s Ark of Taste…so a little respect please!

So on #WorldFoodTravelDaywherever you travel this Easter, our best wishes to you and do check out my recommendations on

More Members’ News….

The Easter Bunny is coming to Craigie’s Farm over the Easter Weekend. Easter Egg hunts, Easter afternoon tea and Easter breakfasts are all coming up. If you’ve not booked your tickets yet then all the links are below. There will be chicks and lambs on the farm during the Easter weekend too!

Whighams has Seafood, Music and More! Not just all about the wine – although they have a great Wine Club!  They have delicious seafood, weekly offers and live music too. Do you love seafood? Check out Moreish Moules Monday offer and The Famous Whighams Chilled Seafood Platter is back! Sounds great to me

Whether you just want to say a ‘wee’ thank you or give a more extravagant gift to someone you know, Walkers have just the thing with a range of NEW and EXCLUSIVE hamper varieties to theironline shop

MEET THE MAKER – A MANO at Eusebi Restaurant & Deli  

Puglian Wine Dinner Tuesday 14th of May . Meet and enjoy an Evening with Winemaker from The A Mano estate. The 5 course tasting menu with emphasis on  Puglian food created by our chefs , will be paired with exceptional wines from the family’s estate . 

  • Five Course Dinner with Puglian Winemaker £55
  • Save The Date : 6th of March 2019 
  • The evening commences at 7pm for 7.30pm 
  • Book early to avoid disappointment 
  • For Reservations , please email

Spring events and lots of lambs at Whitmuir so get along Easter Weekend for all the fun activities – Happy Easter!

Knockinaam Lodge Wedding by Marc Millar Wedding Photography

Have you thought about Dumfries & Galloway for your staycation this summer? Stay at Knockinaam for 2 or more nights until the end of September and enjoy all the wonders of this beautiful region and gracious living at Knockinaam. Easter offers include an Easter themed afternoon tea on arrival and a visit to Logan fish pond.  Staying with children?  All children under the age of 12 in their parents room go free and they provide high tea at 6pm and breakfast.  Prices start from £460 midweek or £520 weekend based on double occupancy.

Wonderful Easter ideas from Demijohn – you can always trust them to solve your gift conundrums!

Sheila Fleet’s stunning jewellery experience is now open in Princes Square Glasgow – it may not have the wonderful Kirk Gallery & Café you will find on Orkney but you will experience a feast of artwork in her inspired creations – an eye candy treat and a wonderful gift to treat yourself or someone dear.

Deans are launching their New Brunch Menu, available to between 12– 6pm  every Sunday, packed full of Brunch style dishes, Sunday cocktails and bubbly! KIDS EAT FREE is also available (terms & conditions apply). They have also launched “£9.50 Lunch Menu.”  For Menus and to Book:

New menus at Cannonball House bursting with fantastic spring vegetables from Contini’s own Kitchen Garden.  How about Afternoon Tea & High Tea? Easter Sundayhas a traditional Sunday Lunch roast for £17: Scottish roast leg of lamb, Carroll’s Heritage potatoes, rainbow chard, mint sauce and jus.Children’s size portion will be available for £10.00 to include milk, an apple and ice cream with chocolate mini egg topping. Sounds delicious.

What a Week it Was! Holyrood Insights.

When given the opportunity to have a Member Sponsored Exhibition, thanks to the support of Annabelle Ewing MSP, I enthusiastically accepted then the planning commenced! The Heritage Foods of Alba Exhibition at The Scottish Parliament ran from March 5th– 7thin the Members’ Lobby, the perfect place to be. This was to be the ideal opportunity to showcase Scotland’s rare heritage foods, to highlight why they are so special and to be valued. 

Annabelle Ewing MSP

I selected foods that would best express the range and quality of Scottish produce: breeds and varietals that have been accepted onto Slow Food’s Ark of Taste – alongside North Ronaldsay Sheep, now Scotland’s First Presidium. It was a wonderful opportunity to present photos I had taken over several years in pursuit of the rare and the fascinating in our food heritage. (For the record, we paid all expenses and printing of display boards from our own pocket so this was self-funded.)

Christine Grahame & Angus Macdonald MSPs

Currently Scotland has 59 entries on this international Ark, a virtual vessel of real foods on a website for all to see. Some so rare they are almost unobtainable whilst others are in the marketplace, albeit not in huge quantities. Some may surprise you such as the Original Fresh Blood Scots Black Pudding and the Native Bred Aberdeen Angus. Others like Guga from Lewis or Native Scottish Goat are intriguing and relatively unknown. Scotland has some beautiful varieties of heritage apples and a range of colourful and flavoursome potatoes too. We have traditional cheeses, are famed for baking and for the first time in over a century, heritage grains are growing in Scotland!

Fergus Ewing & Aileen Campbell MSPs
Bill Bowman MSP with St George’s Alumnae

Whilst entertaining and absorbing there is a very serious side to this as every day animals become extinct across the world. Scotland lost its only native pig, the Grice, in the 1930’s and it is vital for our health and that of our earth to support biodiversity. We cannot and must not trust our food system to a few multinationals, vast monocultures and mass production. For a Good Food Nation we need diversity and sustainable agriculture. For the Scottish Tourism Strategy we need great food stories such as these. Over the week there were serious discussions regarding the support of heritage breeds, curious smiles at pink and purple potatoes and valuable time spent on issues such as raw milk cheesemakers and local abattoirs.

Gail Ross MSP
Claire Baker MSP

Every product has a fascinating story to tell and every MSP knew of some of them but none knew all of them – there was always a surprise! It was a tremendous insight into the workings of our Parliament and we were given a warm welcome – with life full of Brexit I like to think we provided a pleasant, enriching – and nourishing – diversion, plus we had delicious tasty morsels thanks to the generosity of Campbell Bakery’s Ark of Taste Selkirk Bannocks https://www.campbellsbakery.comand sips of Birch sap (heading for the Ark) from Birken Tree Both went down a treat. Many had not tried birch water and were very pleasantly surprised – and ordered online that evening. The Bannocks were baby versions – incredibly endearing and very popular.

Rachel Hamilton & Ken Mackintosh MSPs
Linda Fabiani & Elaine Smith MSPs

I would like to sincerely thank Annabelle Ewing MSP once more and all the MSPs and staff who took the time to come by and chat to us, and last but by no means least, it was an honour to meet First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for the first time.

Margaret Mitchell MSP with Bosse & I
Jo & me
Mairi Gougeon MSP

Information on all the produce on display is at www.scottishfoodguide.scotalong with where to source it. We can even be spotted on the Parliament website, Members Lobby section on Ark produce from around the world can be seen at

Lights, camera, action!!

Many thanks to Bosse for taking most of the photographs!

Tattie Time Today!

Ark of Taste Shetland Black Potatoes

In a world of international cuisine, noodles and nachos, rice and cornmeal, it is refreshing to see a celebration of potatoes! Travel to Germany and their food markets have stalls solely specialising in potatoes. Switzerland and the Nordic countries also appreciate their tubers – indeed many of their seed potatoes originate from Scotland, such is the recognition of the quality of our varietals. For disease resistance and blight-free seed potatoes, those from northern Scotland are held in high esteem. One such potato is Kullen Favorit that is really Pentland Javelin in disguise!

So today we attended Strathmore Tattie Day. Strathmore is home to the Coupar Angus Growing Project that, in conjunction with Skea Organics, organized this inaugural event. This fertile valley is famed for its berries and tatties although the latter is arguably less well known – until now! There were probably a couple of hundred folk in the Coupar Angus Cycle Hub today including the BBC and The Courier, all of us treated to a talk, A Peruvian Tattie, by John Marshall and Q&A with Andrew Skea. What these two don’t know about spuds could probably fit on a postage stamp!

Bosse hanging our hay
Our friends’ Göinge goats, Smaland

Having been a regular delegate at Slow Food Terra Madre where I met Peruvians with their ancient varietals of potato it was fascinating to see John’s photos showing how they are grown and nurtured. Lama dung plays a key role in the soil fertility there. Back on our wee Swedish croft it is goat poo! Bosse scythes and hangs our meadow hay for our friends’ organic goats and in return they bring us sacks of dung. Fair trade! There we grow Highland Burgundy Red, Arran Victory and Shetland Blacks in abundance, all on Ark of Taste, from Andrew Skea’s

Today we purchased Pink Fir Potatoes so by autumn they will be ready for harvest too. Our raised beds in Fife also give a good yield of heritage potatoes although they have to make do with our veg compost unless anyone has a goat handy!?

Paul Newman, Thyme at Errichel

Now is a good time to get planting so this week I offered to drop off seed potatoes to fellow Slow Food Cook Alliance Members including…Errichel  

L’escargot Blanc


Andrew & Bosse talking potatoes!

It is fun to connect and talk food. It is also wonderful to think the growing season is underway. Both Fred at L’ecargot and Carina Contini have substantial kitchen gardens and the beautiful Errichel is located on their farm amidst ducks and geese, Shetland Kye and Sheep, old landrace pigs and free-ranging hens. Come August/September there will home grown potatoes featured on their menus. It is a joy to collaborate with cooks and chefs who follow the seasons as do I.

…and here are some more seasonal ideas for you from SFG Members…..

Slow down the pace this Spring with an Afternoon Tea at Prestonfield. If you book to stay in a luxury bedroom this April they will even treat you to a complimentary Afternoon Tea.

Enjoy Highland and Shorthorn Scotch Beef raised on grass from Macbeths of Forres…with an online shop for those not so handy.

New Member Thule Ventus is a producer of fine air dried salted seafish, produced the traditional way. His latest is  Known as ‘hard piltocks’ in Shetland and perfect for beautiful and delicious simple fishcakes, or the delight that is known in north-east Scotland as hairy potatoes.

Are you organising a business dinner, company anniversary or your very own family celebration? Contini is an award-winning family business celebrating 100 years since their families moved to Scotland from rural Italy. Contini has three iconic city centre restaurants: Cannonball Restaurant & Bar with breathtaking views of Edinburgh Castle, Scottish Cafe & Restaurant within the Scottish National Gallery & Contini George Street in New Town. Their events team love a challenge so if you have an event brief but haven’t found the perfect venue yet…

What could be more Spring than say it with Bluebells from Sheila Fleet? Celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday 31 March with Sheila’s Bluebell collection. A perfect chance to say thank you to mothers we’re lucky to have with us, and those whose memory we cherish. Order online or check out stockists but if you happen to be in the area their café is wonderful.

Easter at Walkers is very cute indeed!

Always an inspiration whatever the season check out Demijohn for great Mother’s Day gift ideas

Fabulous gift ideas for Mother’s Day, Easter and inspiring courses for cooks too at Ballintaggart

Heritage Foods of Alba

set up & ready for tomorrow

Wendy Barrie, Scottish Food Guide, will be presenting The Heritage Foods of Alba Exhibition at The Scottish Parliament on March 5th– 7th inclusive. This Member Sponsored Exhibition is thanks to the support of AnnabelleEwing MSP and will take place in the Members’ Lobby this week.

Scotland is blessed with a unique range of amazing and rare foods that many Scots are unaware of so Wendy is highlighting these in this inaugural exhibition of her photography, featuring a selection of Scottish rarities that have been awarded Slow Food International Ark of Taste status, part of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.

Ardoch Hebridean Sheep

Wendy says, The Ark of Taste was created by Slow Food to catalogue the existence of endangered foods and associated food culture lest they are lost or forgotten forever. Not only is this a valuable register providing fascinating insights, it may also be our saviour one day. As industrial farming methods and food processing continue to diminish our biodiversity, these fragile foods are recognized and boarded on the Ark, a record of our food heritage and a saving of old breeds, varietals and seeds.

This is a wonderful opportunity for MSP’s to familiarise themselves with Scotland’s rich food culture and the people who are dedicated to preserving and promoting it.  Thanks to the generosity of Campbell’s and Birken Tree there will be complimentary tastings of Ark of Taste Selkirk Bannock and Birchwater respectively. https://www.campbellsbakery.com

More Members’ News…

Macbeths make a great range of sausages using natural skins that are much less chewy and help keep retain flavour.  They also make a variety of burger as well as delicious black pudding and haggis. Also, with colder weather due this weekend, try their great olives to make a sumptuous stew

Knockinaam are extending their winter rates until the 28thof April (excluding 19,20,21,22) and for stays of two or more nights you will receive a choice of their usual garden visit or if you would like to do something a little different why not try a visit to Logan fish pond, just mention when booking which option you would prefer.

New season’s menus at Contini and charming Mother’s Day treats

Ballintaggart has an exciting new programme in The Cook School by Ballintaggart
(check out the preview of new dates here) and they are working with lots of guests to celebrate special occasions with The Feasts by Ballintaggart  including special birthdays, foodie hen dos, meetings and away days, our inaugural retreat and weddings too. Such a wonderful place – and check out their great midweek prices at Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart too.

A very cute offer from Walkers whilst stocks last

The Sap is Rising!

After last year’s beast from the east one can never be sure, but our crocus bulbs think spring is near and among Perthshire’s birch trees the sap will surely rise soon.  Taking a walk through beautiful woodland is one of the joys in life – and most definitely hygge. There are birch, oak, ash and pine trees: some still spindly, eagerly reaching skywards; others gnarled from age and full of character. Land of red squirrels, capercaillie and black grouse. Wrapped up against the elements, we breathed in fragrant forest notes that are good for the soul. 

Wendy & Bosse with Rob & Gabrielle from Birken Tree

As we walked with Rob and Gabrielle from Birken Tree we speculated how soon their birch water would be ready, natural tree sap folk have long believed has health-giving properties including rich in anti-oxidants and amino acids. This husband and wife team, forester and healer respectively, sustainably manage natural woodlands to bring us this delightful natural drink.

Birch water comes but once a year, as winter turns to spring, before the trees become green with foliage. With its cleansing, refreshing taste and a hint of natural sweetness it has long been popular in northern climes, dispensed to long distance runners at aid stations and even given to babies when mother’s milk was scarce! Delicious as a drink at table, you can also use it for cooking your porridge or poaching fish.

Sheena Horner,

Sheena Horner, who runs Galloway Chillies from her home near Wigtown, is putting down her apron and picking up her trowel to grow speciality chillies, alongside other herbs and spices. She says…Our new tag line is Propagate the Unusual. Instead of the preserves and chutneys we were developing and producing, we’re going back to where it all started with growing.

Sheena started growing chillies in 2010 when she couldn’t get enough spice locally to satisfy her own tastes and has been developing the business ever since, with the business growing over 120kg of chillies last season. There will also be micro herbs and micro greens available from next month. Sheena is already growing specific varieties of chillies for a few chefs this season. The support we’ve had since I started the business has been tremendous. We’ve got stockists as far north as Morayshire and I’m hoping that many of our existing customers will sample the new range.

Her herbs, spices and chillies will be available fresh, dried and frozen and the micro herbs and micro greens will be available all year round once things are fully up and running. The Galloway Chillies entry and website will be updated as new stockists join so keep an eye out for one near you. More info can be found at  and

The Edinburgh Bakers’ Trust launches the Veronica Burke Award 

Veronica Burke © Bread Matters

A new Scottish charity is inviting grant applications, with one recipient each year receiving The Veronica Burke Award, set up in memory of the co-founder of Bread Matters and Scotland the Bread, who died in April 2018. For full press release and details how to access funding

More Members News…..

Scotland The Bread moves into the real business of 2019 with good news of a growing STB community of heritage flour stockists and bakeriesReal Bread Week celebrations and the inaugural Veronica Burke Award, in memory of our much-missed co-founder.

Edinbane Lodge is now in the process of finishing the renovations to their four rooms and are pleased to announce that these can be booked for Spring 2019 onwards. Prices start from £199 per room, per night including breakfast. All rooms are en suite and decorated to showcase the beautiful colours of the island. Additionally, as overnight guests there is an exclusive Dinner rate for those who choose to dine in their restaurant.

Demijohn– a present for everyone over 18! Are they a foodie or a drinkie? See either Food Gift Sets or Alcohol Gift Sets for some quick ideas.

Are they fruity or tart, sweet or savoury? If fruity or sweet, choose a product with a berry, such as a raspberry, bramble or damson. These fruity cocktails recipes or our cakes and baking recipes could help with ideas. If you need something tart or savoury, then either head for our citrus based products used in these citrus cocktail recipes or try our quick and easy recipes to find an ingredient within a recipe that can be bottled as a present….check out their website for further inspiration!!

Sheila Fleet Seasons is the brand new collection from Sheila Fleet! This beautiful collection is a celebration of happy times and special moments. Sheila’s inspiration came from a walk through falling leaves with her late husband, Rick, on the paths of Inverewe Gardens in the Scottish Highlands. If visiting Orkney be sure to tarry at their very beautiful Kirk Café & Gallery where the best of Orkney fare is beautifully cooked and served in local ceramics.

There’s always lots on at Craigie’s such as AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE EASTER BUNNY on Friday 19th April at 3pm. Enjoy Afternoon Tea with sandwiches and a selection of sweet treats, diluting juice and tea or coffee for the adults. Children will then head out for an Easter Egg Hunt to find a variety of coloured Easter eggs. All children will receive an Easter gift from the Easter bunny. Check out their website for this and many more events.

Knockinaam Lodge Wedding by Marc Millar Wedding Photography

Knockinaam Lodge has an offer for two or more nights between the 19th and 22nd of April and receive an Easter themed afternoon tea on arrival and a visit to Logan fish pond.  Staying with children?  All children under the age of 12 in their parents room go free and we provide a high tea at 6pm and breakfast.  Prices start from £540 midweek or £600 weekend based on double occupancy.  Single occupancy tariffs also available.

Graeme Pallister

Head to Perth and 63 Tay Street for a wonderful Mothers Day Menu cooked for you by Slow Food Cooks Alliance Member Graeme Pallister (seen here cooking at Royal Highland Show) on Sunday 31st March 12 noon to 2pm (last orders) details here… 

Whitmuir has new menu launching Frid 1stMarch from 7pm when they will be inviting us all to sample the dishes for the new menu.  Put the date in your diary – the food is free but they will be raising funds for an environmental charity on the evening. Chef Alexander Escobar comes to Whitmuir from Devon via Belgium and the Canary Islands and has taken over the running of Whitmuir Café and we wish them every success.
Down on the farm the tunnels are in order and everything is getting fixed, repaired and sorted – including the gates the pigs have worked out how to open!

Goodfoodology – Our Learning Zone

I am a firm believer in you are what you eat: the importance of sustainable healthy food and the enjoyment of cooking. I have long been a supporter of education, education, education. Whether it is cooking in schools or adult learning, the reality is that every day’s a school day!

Paul Newman, Thyme @ Errichel

An increasing number of Scottish Food Guide Members are offering fabulous experiences and workshops to explore the world of food and drink so new for 2019 they are gathered together for your conveneince in Our Centre for Competence in Traditional Food Culture.

You may recall the comic genius Maureen Lipman once uttered that one can’t go far wrong with an ‘ology,’ … so Goodfoodology sprung to mind as a creative and thought-provoking way to study food, a term I used back in the day when I developed a unique course for a sixth form cookschool. When not cooking I took them to farm producers and restaurant kitchens, not only in Scotland but also on food learning journeys to Sweden. To this day many students stay in touch and it is an incredible pleasure to see them thrive: running cafés and ski chalets, contributing at Royal Highland Show Scotland’s Larder Live – one is now Chef Tutor at School of Wok, London – what a marvellous bunch. 

Learn to bake @ Campbell’s

So do click on Scottish Food Guide’s Goodfoodology to find the professionals offering courses and experiences in Scotland. Why not broaden your horizons and hone your skills in the world of food and drink: from Beer tours to Baking; Ark of Taste to Tutored Cheese Tasting; Seafood to Simple Suppers, there is something for everyone, vouchers available and more to follow…! Treat yourself or gift an experience to a friend. We look forward to seeing you. 

Members’ News….

The Pollock family and team Ardross are absolutely delighted to be Finalist in the prestigious Shop of the Year 2019 competition. It is recognition of the fantastic team they have that this small farm shop in the East Neuk of Fife is competing with larger farm shops across UK. This gives them all a well-deserved boost. The exciting finale is in March in Harrogate. Adross Farm Shop is such a fantastic place

Nick and Frances Ryan were married on the 21stFebruary 1970 and arrived to start work at the Crinan Hotelon the 27th. So from the 27thFebruary this year, Frances will be in her 50thyear at the hotel.  To celebrate, every 50thbooking to stay throughout the year will receive a special bonus – these guests will each be invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly during their stay at the hotel!   There are many other enticing offers on link plus their winter opening hours so make 2019 your year to visit or renew your acquantance with this very special place.

Valentine’s at Deans– this fine dining restaurant in Perth offers a mouth-watering Valentine’s Menu – be sure to book in advance.

As part of Edinbane’srenovations to their gorgeous 16thC lodge, they are adding accommodation. You can then dine and retreat afterwards to one of these luxurious bedrooms. To complete the works they will be closing for the month of February (from Monday 28thJanuary) and will reopen Friday 1stMarch.

With countless cosy corners, candlelit dining, romantic bedrooms and sumptuous suites to choose from, Prestonfieldis the antidote to cold winter months. Curl up with a book by the roaring log fire and hibernate. Take afternoon tea in the theatrical Tapestry Room and dine in their wickedly romantic Rhubarb

Heather with the piglets!

Whitmuir’s café reopens on Feb 1stand is delighted to welcome Alexander Escobar, who is looking to develop their farm-to-table concept and engage more deeply with local, seasonal, organic, slow food.  He brings his own brand of Scottish-European cuisine, inspired by his many travels. Alex and his team, Atlantiko Catering & Events, have dozens of ideas for menus and events, but most of all are looking forward to welcoming regular customers and newcomers,to hearing your views and wishes for Alex @ Whitmuir Kitchen

Spoil someone you love this Valentine’s with an overnight stay at Duck’s Inn at Aberladyand dine at Duck’s with JP. Duck’s cosy en-suite bedrooms are delightful, and you can arrange for a bottle of Fizz & Chocolates in your room on arrival. Click link to check details.

You can always rely on on Demijohn for beautiful gifts for Valentine’s. Their shops are absolute eye candy or shop online for all sorts of price ranges and inspiration.

Valentine’s – Sharing is Caring. Show the one you love you really care and enjoy your Valentine’s with a delicious romantic sharing dinner and a night in the fairy-tale castle of Cringletie. Dine with candlelight from the delicious menu, relax around the log fires and enjoy the magic moments. Simple and maybe traditional, but so is true love. Well said Cringletie! Available on February 10th13th& 14th

The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant is temporarily closedfrom 6thJan 2019 to allow for the National Galleries of Scotland Collection Project works. It will reopen in Spring 2019 with an even better and more exciting venue – still with your favourites but also with a refreshed interior and new menu additions.   Their self service new Espresso Caféin the foyer of the Scottish National Gallery will be open from February 2019, serving hot and cold drinks, delicious scones a wide selection of home baking and fresh savoury bagels. And of course Contini’s other venues are all in full swing.

Planning your holidays for the upcoming year?  Knockinaamthought you might like to know what is happening in Dumfries and Galloway throughout the year so they have helpfully displayed all events on their website for you to plan your trip – so much going on in such beautiful surroundings.

The Ethical Dairy’snew Bluebell Cheese won ‘Best Product Award’in the chilled and frozen category at Scotland’s Speciality Food Show. Held at the SEC in Glasgow, the event is Scotland’s largest fine food and drink trade show. Bluebell is the fifth cheese to be launched by The Ethical Dairy from their milk farmed by the pioneering cow with calf method on their family farm.  This means the calves stay with their mums to suckle rather than being separated from them shortly after birth, which is the norm in dairy farming. Bluebell is a semi-soft blue cheese sold in individual truckles, created by cheesemaker Steven Palmer, whose late uncle was famous blue cheese maker Ernie Wagstaff of Stichelton Dairy.  Bluebell sold out over Christmas however the company plan to release a Limited Edition Blueheart version of the cheese for Valentine’s Day

London Calling

Personally speaking, my travels to London are sufficiently infrequent to still be fun! My earliest memory is of going to ‘see the sights’ in the 60’s (when still in early primary years I hasten to add!) with my parents driving down in a lemon coloured mini. I believe we ‘did’ Tussauds et al but my ever-lasting memory was happening upon Sonny & Cher being filmed on the lions at Trafalgar Square when ‘Top of the Pops!’ To this day a stroll in London is incomplete without a wander down to that Square – sad to say I haven’t found a vintage clip on U tube (yet!).

Hurlford Primary

Fast forward to late November 2018 and I am in London for the annual meeting of the Soil Association Food For Life Served Here Standards Committee. Back in the pilot days of the formation of FFL, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Robin Gourlay and East Ayrshire Council for several years during the transformation of their school meals throughout the region. Thanks to his determination and belief, to this day East Ayrshire is the trail-blazer for all other school meals and have justly won awards and recognition throughout UK – and quite possibly beyond. In 2005 I had the honour of meeting HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall when they joined pupils for lunch at Hurlford Primary! It was a memorable day.

With so many highly processed foods pumped with unsustainable cheap ingredients, calorie reducing sweeteners that are capable of cocktails we have yet to discover and unhealthy snacking becoming the norm in some homes, we need to get back to family eating, natural ingredients and seasonal cooking with low food miles. FFLSH is about bringing unprocessed fresh foods back into schools and workplaces, local seasonal produce and organic where achievable. I am pleased to contribute and support this programme and a believer in ‘we are what we eat.’ Our industrialised food system has already created a multitude of diet related illnesses with, I believe, far worse to come: damaging our health, both physical and mental, our environment and our local economy. When will they ever learn…?

My meeting was not until later in the day so after my stroll down memory lane past Trafalgar Square I headed to the world-renowned cheese emporium on Jermyn Street, Paxton & Whitfield, where I had arranged to meet their Buyer to discuss what Scotland currently had to offer. What an awesome place! We had a prolonged conversation….two cheese devotees discussing a shared passion… and we agreed to catch up again in the New Year.

Close to Paxton & Whitfield is Fortnum & Mason of course, needing no further introduction. It was a beautiful time of year to explore its Food Halls, brimming with the flavours and scents, displays and colours of Christmas, with no expense spared. I was disappointed there was so little Scottish produce in evidence although it still had its magic.

2018 sadly marks the closure of some exceptional producers for a range of reasons, predominantly not of their making. We have a lot to do to ensure clear and accurate messages are shared on food and nutrition, food sovereignty and traceability; how we use our natural resources and the umpteen benefits of sustainable meat production. We need to value our independent producers and, above all, support them. Sometimes there are those that seek change by being militant and I see collateral damage in the process. I believe far more can be achieved through knowledge and debate, facts and unbiased research, diligence and determination.

Les Dame d’Escoffier at Craigadam, Dumfries & Galloway

As another year closes, with so many setbacks for independent producers and an unsure future for others, it is good to look fondly at some of the happier moments of 2018: Les Dame d’Escoffier Edible Scotland Tours; our congratulations to friends and colleagues who won Awards; the fabulous Food Festivals we collaborated with; our travel to Slow Food Terra Madre as Delegates; the re-designed Scottish Food Guide format and our SFG visits to beautiful regions across Scotland. For me the culmination has to be my Thistle Regional Ambassador Award and I fully intend to be worthy of the title and do my utmost to support independent local producers, chefs and restaurants. 

Congratulations to Hendersons

The final Award for the year was Green Family Business Award to Hendersons at The Herald Scottish Family Business Awards 2018, Founded in 1962 and now in its third generation, Hendersons has become an Edinburgh institution and UK’s longest running Vegetarian restaurant. 

More Members News….

We have a space left on our Scottish Food Guide Pavilion at Gardening Scotland. Please get I touch if you would like to join us. 

Churchill Venison

Churchill Venison would like to thank their team, stalking guests and last but not least their customers for supporting venison sales and enjoying their produce at the festivals and sporting events they attend – for anyone looking venison for healthy dishes for New Year please check out the shop

Contini & Cafe St Honore in action!

Well done to Carina Contini Neil Forbes braving the elements and giving their time at Edinburgh’s Farmers’ Market supporting Slow Food Chef Alliance when all around them must have been full on!!

Edinbane Lodge…still have some spaces left for their Hogmanay celebrations. If you would like to join them, you can book your table by calling on 01470 582 217. The menu looks delicious.

So may we wish you and yours a peaceful Christmas, a fabulous Hogmanay and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

From Offaly Good Pud in Scotland to Cracking Kidneys in Berlin!!

Black pudding has long been a staple of the full Scottish breakfast but did you know how it began? Back in the days before trains, cattle were brought from the hills down to market in Central Scotland, even as far as London, on the hoof. Those who guided the cattle en route were Drovers, many of whom emigrated during the Clearances to become the cowboys of North America. These drovers were experts in cattle handling and lived a hard life. One of their staple foods was to ‘let’ a little fresh blood from a cow – sufficient to sustain them but insufficient to harm the cow. To this bowl of blood they would stir in oatmeal and heat. Voila, the origins of black pudding. 

Over the years it has become industrialised and although still popular it is not what it once was due to mass production and dried blood imports. The key issue is the disappearance of small abattoirs across Scotland. The original method requires fresh blood from the animals at slaughter and this becomes impossible if the beasts are taken long distances from the butcher/charcuterie/curer. 

For a good black pudding, support your local butcher and pick your favourite one. There are a number of very tasty ones but if you are interested in trying the Original Fresh Blood Scots Pudding that has been recognised internationally on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, then get yourself along to West Lothian where John, Linda and their 3 sons John, Stuart and Graham run three local butcher shops and John’s brother Russell rears award-winning beef and lamb on Midseat Farm nearby. The flavour is distinctively delicious and different, with a hint of gingerbread and a melt-in-mouth texture.

Neil’s pudding delivery!

This month I decided it was time to share this with our Scottish Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance so I offered to deliver to those interested, resulting in a couple of trips criss-crossing Scotland….with a bowl of soup here, a yummy slice of cake there… the great craic and Scots hospitality was greatly appreciated! We definitely made black pudding the talk o’ the steamie that week and here are a few snaps with thanks to the following chefs for the warm welcome we received and their enthusiasm…

Next stop Firebrick…

Neil Forbes

David Haetzman

Carina Contini

Ali takes delivery…

Graeme Pallister

Alison Abercrombie

Paul getting the stores in…

Paul Newman

Cuppa at The Gannet before heading homewards.

Peter McKenna of The Gannet, Hector Macrae of First Coast, & Colin Hinds of The Kilted Lobster.

For those wishing a black pudding recipe do click on the Scottish Field link here

HIghlanders…working with nature

The Politics of meat and climate change are constantly in the news and whilst I thoroughly enjoy vegan and vegetarian dishes I am continually frustrated by the way in which the media lump together all meat when the spectrum is as wide as the Pacific.

Heritage breeds raised slowly and grazing as nature intended have nothing in common with commercial cattle, cross bred with continentals for bigger cuts, kept indoors or on feedlots on a diet of grain and supplements. In terms of flavour and texture, nutritional value and environmental impact, they cannot and should not be classified together – not on an ‘Eat Well’ guide nor on a BBC website as they were recently.

Hens at Whitmuir who also have organic free range pigs.

And while we are at it, the same can be said for industrialized chicken and mass-produced pork! We also need to pursue the need for more local abattoirs for respect to animals and the quality of the meat. I am pleased to see that debate is now being aired and hope it bears fruit.

After buzzing around with puddings we headed off for family time in Berlin, a truly fascinating and unique place that I am beginning to get to know. Cash is king, life is vibrant, markets are alive with people and produce and this climate of enterprise and enthusiasm extends to all aspects of the city.

Van Loon, Berlin

First we headed over to a favourite, Van Loon, a fabulous moored restaurant on the canal in the hipster district of Kreuzberg. Immaculately fitted out with an upper deck for sunny days. We enjoyed the snugness below deck, watching the birdlife and admiring the ship’s exquisite carpentry!

With a menu of seafood, interesting salads, the signature Van Loon fish soup, and steaks, we dined on herring that, we were informed by the delightfully chatty owner, was also supplied to the Queen of Holland! It was certainly delicious and we watched whilst they prepared our dish in the open plan kitchen. They also do gastronomic river trips on their sister ship however on this occasion we could not manage – we shall save that for another time.

A visit to Markthalle Neun is a must – an indoor market with street food and cheeses, potatoes and pastries, charcuterie and seafood, crafts and coffees. Somehow the magnet of cheese drew me towards two fine exemplars: one selling exceptional Demeter sheep cheese from one dairy, the other Alte Milch where only raw milk cheeses were on sale…among them Cora Linn from Errington

Herz & Niere

For my birthday treat my wonderful daughter treated us to a Slow Food Berlin special, Herz & Niere (Heart & Kidney) where there were three menu options: Near & Far (lake fish and wild game), Nose to Tail (all offal) or Root to Blossom (for vegetarians daring to dine!).  Between the four of us we sampled them all with great relish and I would highly recommend the experience. My 4 courses included liver and kidney, heart and brains, all masterfully cooked to perfection with local ingredients and served with a rosehip cocktail. It was an education and a gastonomic experience. Such is their respect for all the animal, the knowledge of the staff and the ambience of the dining it has a winning combo. The wild and vegetarian options were also a triumph in design and flavours.

Berlin is rightly famous for its beautiful Christmas Markets with the scent of gluhwein in the air but for us Berlin is about family time and it was certainly that…however we all appreciate good food, both the lovely warming soups we had cooked for us at home and the fine dining we experienced out with loved ones – surely Slow Food at its best….so before we leave Berlin until next time I must tell you I ate the best pizza ever in a place five minutes from their flat! Its puffed handmade toasted dough, cooked in a wood oven of course, with ethically sourced toppings was light years from the mass produced pancake of a pizza chain…similarly to my meat rant…you cannot compare the two!

With our love and thanks to our Berliners, all our families and our Christmas greetings to you,

Wendy & Bosse

More Members’ News…

Glorious gift vouchers are now available to add to your wish list or gift to your loved ones from Ballintaggart. Choose from £25 for afternoon tea, gift a Cook School experience £125 for a Saturday Masterclass. £170 for bed and breakfast at Ballintaggart Farm or £150 for bed and breakfast at The Grandtully Hotel

Picture Copyright Chris Watt Tel – 07887 554 193

For an Edinburgh Hogmanay how about seeing in the New Year at Contini George Street or Cannonball Restaurant & Bar. They have limited availability for 9pm sittings so make sure you book soon to avoid disappointment. Following the success of last years launch of Cannonball’s Fish & Fizz head for their bar for a relaxed informal night with award-winning lobster mac n’ cheese and Prosecco.

Crinan Hotel is hosting a Hogmanay House Party complete with a boat trip to the isles! Join their 3 day house party with champagne reception, splendid food and great fiddler bringing in the bells at Crinan!

Do you love a challenge? Well Walkers have a Shortbread Biscuit Jigsaw for you!! The first person to purchase and send in a photo of the completed jigsaw will win a hamper. Get cracking and follow the link

Prestonfield House Wedding photography by Marc Millar Photography

Prestonfield Gift Vouchers are still available online for Christmas: from a gracious afternoon tea to a stay in an opulent suite, there is an imaginative range to choose from.

Sheila Fleet’s Kirk Gallery & Café are open until Christmas so still time to eat local Orcadian goodies in their lovely café, shop for a stunning piece of jewellery and see their magical Christmas tree….or online gifts if you are not in the vicinity.

Whitmuir is open until lunchtime on Christmas Eve so there is still time to sort out last minute presents and ingredients – at time of posting there were a few turkeys left so you may be lucky! All deliveries and opening hours on their website

 63 Tay Street has exceptionally delicious Christmas menus and a small availability left so book quick. Although normally closed on Mondays, they will be open on Christmas Eve for lunch and dinner.

How about Hogmanay at Edinbane Lodge on Skye for an evening of food, drinks and entertainment?Their Tasting Menu for £80 per person has been designed by Head Chef, Calum Montgomery especially for Hogmanay. His inspiration is to create, “our take on Scottish classics“, to celebrate the best of Scotland during the festive season.

Get your winter orders in to John Davidsons– based in the heart of Aberdeenshire this is a family run multi-award-winning specialist butcher. You may be near one of their 3 stores otherwise you can shop online

Delightful Dumfries & Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway is a stunning part of Scotland and oft overlooked in favour of Nessie or Glen Coe. Yet for those in the know it has scenery, history, nature and great food in spades! The remarkably mild climate and moist breezes have created a landscape famous for its beef and dairy cattle, creating lush pastures for happy healthy grass fed cows – good for biodiversity I might add. No wolves or Yellowstone nonsense required here – Mother Nature at work with positive benefits to our ecosystem!

It is the land of Loch Arthur and Galloway Farmhouse Cheese, The Ethical Dairy and Craigadam, all wonderful places to visit, however this time we took an alternative route, visiting people and places I confess we hadn’t seen for awhile.

First stop Kedar Cheese. Here the Lochhead family have a herd of Swiss Brown Cows and produce fine mozzarella. They take a great pride in their deliciously creamy pillows of cheese, sold at farmers markets fresh and smoked. These pedigree cows supply a good yield of high quality milk, essential for great cheese. The autumn air was cool and the ladies strolled freely between grass that was still satisfying in the thin sunshine, and the shelter of their barn where they could munch forage laid out for them. A friendly bunch, we were warmly greeted – Gavin, Jane and Jonny were welcoming too!! Eldest son Jonny looks after their 150-strong herd and knows every one by name.

After putting the world to rights and sharing tasty soup we headed onwards with bottles of creamy milk in the chill bag. Kedar don’t have an on-site shop but are regulars at Edinburgh Farmers Market. Click for further information.

Keep off the main runs, take the winding lanes and you will be rewarded with birds of prey, farms well stocked with animals, geese in synchronised flight and bonnie hamlets. You may even spot a Native Scottish Goat as there is a wild herd in them there hills! Nowhere is that far away in Dumfries and Galloway and travel enhanced with views round every corner, such as the short drive to Sanquhar, home to multi award-winning Blackaddie House Hotel where Ian McAndrew has just won Best Loved Hotels Award for the Best Hotel in Scotland 2018/19. Blackaddie will now go forward to the UK Finals.

Such a gorgeous place with one of Scotland’s top chefs at the helm. He and his wife Jane have extensively restored this beautiful dwelling, recognising its potential and transforming it over the years, investing time and funds to create a top notch country House Hotel, reducing the number of bedrooms to create spacious luxury with immaculate en suites. A great hideaway for a romantic weekend or some serious battery charging!

Blackaddie’s dinner menu shows incredible attention to detail – relax and enjoy every morsel, skilfully cooked and exquisitely presented. From the amuse-bouche to mouth-watering butter poached halibut, the succulent partridge, the cooling – and intriguing – roast onion sorbet, the depth of flavour in the Trio of well-aged Scottish beef and the awesome warm spiced apple cake… life doesn’t get much better. Hats off to this couple for all their work. And they still find time to grow much of the produce in their kitchen garden!

We had two more stops on this trip – I must confess I do love my job! Over hills and through valleys until we reached the shoreline, from countryside to seaside where we could even catch a glimpse of Ireland…it could only be Knockinaam Lodge. Knockinaam is steeped in history as the secret place Churchill and Eisenhower are said to have planned the D-Day landings and the inspiration for the hideout in John Buchan’s thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps, one of my favourites.

It is also making its own history as Sian and David have owned Knockinaam since 2003 and Head Chef Tony Pierce, having achieved recognition in some star venues en route, has led the kitchen brigade here for over two decades with 3AA Rosettes. Nothing is too much trouble and their hand-painted menus form the perfect frame for their balanced and delectable meals. They too have a kitchen garden and as the waves crashed upon the shore we were treated to Grilled fillet of John Dory, Slow roasted breast of chicken with chicken & truffle boudin and caramelized onion potato. The hot marmalade soufflé was as light as a feather.

After a great chat around local produce with the chefs we said au revoir and headed eastwards and homewards to Fife, but not before a pause at Galloway Lodge Coffee Shop in Gatehouse of Fleet where a freshly brewed pot of tea was all we could manage although Bosse can vouch for the excellent cake! Galloway Lodge also do a fine range of jams, mustard, horseradish, marmalade and chutney, to be found in many a good farm shop.

We may have only managed four Members on this trip but what a trip! It’s time for you to treat yourselves to Dumfries and Galloway: coast and country, walks and castles…and above all unforgettable food. We met Glaswegians on our travels who recognised what a short hop Blackaddie is from Central belt – indeed the region is so unspoilt it should be on everyone’s list.

At Scottish Food Guide we aim to seek out the best and showcase them for you. Trust me when I say for every gem that collaborates with us on SFG there are many I turn away – if you don’t believe me ask Bosse who has experienced some meals he would rather forget!!

So let your mouse take you around my interactive map on Scottish Food Guide and discover the gems in Dumfries and Galloway for yourselves.

Before we move on to Members’ News, the company that aided me with SFG website design, tutored me with great patience and continue to mentor me is Organik Web. It can be stressful to embark on change however I am so pleased I embraced the challenge and wish I had taken the plunge sooner! Here are a few words of advice from him…

Merry Christmas from Organik Web.   And to help your Christmas go with a bang, here are three tips to make your website even more successful.

  1. Change your website – a static website is a big no no.  Make sure you’re continually adding to your site with new articles, blogs, recipes etc.   The reason is simple – if you’re web site is static, the search engines will not come and check you out as often and you may find yourself slipping down the search results.
  2. A blog is a great way to get yourself known.  If you don’t blog then think about doing something once a week.  Remember though, blogs are not about telling the world how great you are.  They’re all about helping your customers bake a better cake or roast the perfect turkey or make the finest cheese on toast.
  3. Make sure there are plenty ways for the website visitors to engage with you.  Put plenty calls to action, subscribe to the blog etc.  Customers love getting stuff that’s relevant and timely.  They hate getting stuff every day that is irrelevant or is just spam.

More Members’ News…

Enjoy a Festive Lunch at Edinbane Lodge, three courses for £32pp on Friday, Saturday & Sunday throughout December. For this and other offers click their link

Walkers will include a personalised message with your order this Christmas using their festive gift message cards. Enter your message when placing your order online and they will have it beautifully printed onto the card for delivery with your order!

Last orders for Craigie’s festive food must be made by the 15th December, after which they will still be processed but only available for pick up on the 24th. Dalmeny Christmas Trees have arrived and Santa will be visiting for Santa breakfasts and outside on the Rotary sledge too!

Andrew Appleby, The Harray Potter, is not only a gifted ceramist but also a novelist with a Trilogy of books set in ancient times. ‘Skara, The Third Wave’ is OUT NOW! You can go to his website to order. Check out his beautiful pots too – creative and practical, with many of his designs inspired by the prehistoric artefacts discovered on Orkney. Such unique and appealing ceramics.



Ensure January is anything but dull with a Prestonfield‘ Just for January’ Limited Edition Gift Voucher for a friend or loved one, with vouchers for dining experience, afternoon tea or overnight stay to enjoy in the New Year. Click for details Having just attended the Thistle Regional Awards here I can personally vouch for a memorable experience.

Contini new season menus launch this week and as the weather has got colder they are feeling super festive. Join them for classics such as smoked salmon and roast turkey at The Scottish Cafe and Cannonball House and for the non-traditional festive diner; Mozzarella di Bufala DOP and risotto at Contini George Street.

Demijohn’s new Walnut Liqueur is now on tap! Their Walnut Liqueur 38% for you to try. Smooth with a hint of spice and walnuts is a good description of its taste, it is unique! Always great ideas from Demijohn so check out their website for more updates.

Time is marching on for ordering your fantastic Kelly Bronze Turkeys from Macbeths.  These are hugely popular and have magnificent flavour and texture.  They are extensively reared and game hung to enhance the flavour.  They do only have a limited amount of them so please order soon if you would like one – and don’t forget the trimmings!

Ballintaggart has a wonderful selection of Feasts, Cook School Masterclasses and now also delicious menus and tasteful rooms at The Grandtully Hotel too. For details check out the link as they are booking up fast










Wendy Barrie wins Thistle Regional Ambassador Award, Central, Fife & Tayside 2018/19

The Scottish Thistle Awards Regional Finals for the Central, Fife  & Tayside, and Lothian & Borders took place at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh on Thursday. These are recognised as Scotland’s top awards for the tourism industry and offer the opportunity to recognise those people who have made valuable contributions to the sector across the country. Prestonfield was the perfect venue and my thanks to all the staff who made it such a memorable event.

Out of more than 640 entries submitted across the categories, The Johnstons
of Elgin Regional Ambassador 
Award went to Wendy Barrie of Scottish Food Guide. Wendy was commended for the passion that she shows in her job and for using her business to sell Scotland. Director of Scottish Food Guide and Scottish Cheese Trail, Wendy is a chef and food writer specializing in food tourism, events, education and promotional activities highlighting artisan produce. She is a respected campaigner, Leader in Scotland for Slow Food Ark of Taste and Slow Food Chef Alliance Member.

“I am overwhelmed and delighted to have received this award in recognition of my efforts. I strive to offer a bespoke collaboration and love every minute of my job: the folk I meet and the produce I am lucky enough to taste! Scotland is a beautiful place to live and work with a bounty of produce, skilled chefs and stunning natural landscapes.

Thanks to everyone for their support and congratulations to all Thistle Winners”

Thistle Winners for Central, Fife & Tayside also included Thyme at Errichel Restaurant for CalMac Best Eating Experience  (Paul & Becky pictured left with us)

Winners for Lothian & Borders included Café St Honore for Caledonian MacBrayne Best Eating Experience

Congratulations to Tourism and Hospitality Hero Emma Clark, Glenegedale House, Islay at Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and a Nominee in the Scottish Rural Awards 2019

Congratulations to Blackaddie Hotel for their Best Loved Hotels Award for the Best Hotel in Scotland 2018/19. Blackaddie will now go forward to the UK Finals.

Sarah Heward, founder and owner of Real Food Café is an amazing person, and we’re delighted that her achievements have been recognised in the Woman & Home Magazine Amazing Women Awards

Wilma Finlay of The Ethical Dairy won Dumfries & Galloway Life Awards Producer of the Year 2018

Slow Food UK Awards were published this week with notable Scottish Winners…UK Person of Year – Selina Cairns of Errington’s Cheese.

Best Deli or Grocer –Eusebi
Best Market – Edinburgh Farmer’s Market
Best Restaurant/Food Eatery– Cafe St Honore
Champion Slow Food Product – Lanark Blue Cheese

Scottish Food Guide will be hosting a Pavilion again at Gardening Scotland 2019. For Members wishing further information, please get in touch.

Members’ News….

The Demijohn News – Hands up for a Christmas Hamper? Demijohn has created a new selection of about 30 hampers for Christmas. From traditional wicker baskets and beautifully simple wooden tantalus gift sets to much-loved Goody Bags contained within Demijohn Fair Trade Jute Shopping Bags.There is something for everyone, starting from about £20.

Celebrate in Style at Cringletie – Whatever the occasion, any event is always made by having a cake! Book your celebration at Cringletie and they will arrange (for parties of 10 or more) a complimentary delicious cake from the one and only Cocoa Black.

At 63 Tay Street the festive menus start on 13th December and already filling with groups of friends and colleagues who have chosen great food over party poppers for their Christmas night / day out!   Do please book quickly as certain dates are already full.

Sheila Fleet is celebrating the start of the festive season with 10% off jewellery and rings until midnight on 26th November. Just enter WINTER10 during checkout at When visiting the Orkneys her restored Kirk Gallery & Café is absolutely wonderful.

Burts & The Townhouse Hotel Melrose is introducing Thistledo, their new 3 bedroom detached holiday property in Melrose Town Centre in a peaceful and tranquil location. Set in its own gardens at the rear of Burt’s Hotel it is only 2 mins walk to the picturesque Market Square with its abundance of interesting wonderful independent shops.

Café St Honore gets into the festive spirit with Neil’s canapé recipe, perfect for seasonal entertaining. Find out what’s happening at Café over the festive period, including how to order their delicious Christmas puddings.

Whitmuir Christmas cakes are curing, puddings are waiting, turkeys are enjoying themselves despite the cold and the Christmas database is taking shape!  The Christmas Food order form is here and the link to the online form is here – please take aminute to browse and imagine what you might want to order.

Winter opening times at The Torridon Resort. To view full opening times throughout the winter season please visit the opening times information on our website.

Contini will save you the hassle of hosting a party at home and look after you. With three award-winning Edinburgh city centre restaurants there is something for all occasions. Great food and a warm welcome are what their reputation is based on and they pride ourselves on their relationship with their suppliers.  “Buying direct from as many of Scotland’s small producers as we can allows us to showcase Scotland at its best throughout the seasons. We are delighted to be able to offer some fantastic seasonal private dining for parties of 10 to 165 guests.”

As Edinburgh sparkles with over a month of festivities, Prestonfield has much to tempt you from late November through to Hogmanay and beyond. With 18 large luxury rooms, 5 sumptuous suites, beds piled high with cushions, and all rooms with every modern convenience hidden behind silk and velvet upholstered walls! So Prestonfield!

Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree with Walkers Wobbly’s – a cute & tasty treat!

Crinan Hotel– Throughout December 2018 and January & February 2019, a Classic room for bed & breakfast for 2 people costs £110 per night.The Seafood Bar will be open for lunches and dinner throughout most of December, January and February. The Winter Menu will be available from the beginning of January and this will include warming comfort food like steak and kidney pie and apple crumble.  Check website for details and booking


A Vote for Good Food!

Food is emotive. Food is political. Food is convivial. Food brings back fond memories of holidays, family, celebrations. Yet sadly food can also have negative connotations: horsemeat scandal, factory chickens, intensively reared pigs, cattle feedlots and a general malaise in terms of a fractured food system. As folk become increasingly distanced from the rural economy, knowledge decreases along with an awareness of the sheer effort that goes into good food production.

This year alone Scotland has three less cheesemakers in an already small community and there are other producers I know of who are imminently closing too. We all wish for a Smart Successful Scotland and I for one am devoted to our nation, yet as we strive for that Good Food Nation we have supermarket logos in education in schools, restaurant chains whose profits go straight down south and, I am sorry to say, I see a fair bit of ‘embroidery’ on some menus! Artisan, hand made, freshly baked and seasonal put bums on seats and sell products off shelves yet the genuine article – producers, farmers and chefs – such as ones you see vetted and endorsed on Scottish Food Guide, have to charge more as their costs are higher, have no opportunity for bulk discounting and good food takes time to prepare.  Yes the authorities could learn to use a lighter touch on small producers when the rules that apply to small and giant seem so at odds at times. Hopefully this will improve. But it is more than that.

Mainland Europe is not wealthier than us but they are prepared to spend a larger % of their income on good food for themselves and their families. This is a sad indictment of a culinary snapshot of Scotland. We say it is getting better. We say we now have a café culture and thriving artisan food and hot chefs. But this is still not the norm and it is in danger of diminishing again as some tighten belts and cut corners, reformulate and develop foods to find cheaper versions and treat our true artisan producers with disdain. Sadly there are well known chefs out there who demand precious free samples of fabulous products then do not even bother to respond with feedback let alone place orders. I could name names! Thankfully they are not Scottish Food Guide members, nor would they be!

Scottish Food Guide will not be infallible nor is it comprehensive. It is a journey, always being reviewed, always finding places – sometimes deleting places too. I try harder every day and believe in my endeavors and hope you do too. It is a joy when I see Food Tourism working in some amazing places across Scotland: farm shops and cook schools, hunting estates and rural cafés, dairies and berry picking. I welcome new Members and recommendations and passionately believe in our food and farming sector. We have such wonderful raw materials to work with, such skills and fabulous family farms doing great work. We have great potential to do so much more: take a step back to move forward; switch from larger operations to smaller traditional sustainable models; feed grass, traditional silage or hay to our herbivores and consider the breeds we rear. We should eat less highly processed foods and create simpler healthy meals with seasonal produce in schools where they learn of their local food production and how to cook…I could go on…and on….!

November is Thank a Farmer Month says Slow Food. The true heroes are the small scale producers and farmers who produce food in a way that respects people, animals and our planet.

 I have said it umpteen times at meetings and on radio and shall say it again. Eating locally and sustainably is not expensive however you do need to know how to cook, use everything to maximize your efforts, reduce your waste and follow the seasons. Slow Food says good, clean and fair: good quality; clean for our planet and fair price for producers. As co-producers/ consumers, you would do well to follow these principles so I urge you to support your local food producers in your community, keep the money in your community and thrive in good health and well being. Thank you.

Members’ News….

Free Delivery Offer with Demijohn until Sunday. They are offering free* UK Mainland delivery right now on any order over £20, saving you £5.95. So if you need to stock up for a Halloween party or are ready to order some early Christmas presents, please make the best use of this offer and place your order now. *This offer ends Sun 4 Nov 2018, normal delivery terms apply.

Craigie’s festive shop is now open and full to the brim of fantastic decorations! Online ordering is open plus a Christmas brochure to pick one up next time you’re in. I shall get one tomorrow when shopping at their ace cheese counter!

Whitmuir has gone onto winter opening to chime with the change of the clocks and darker evenings – one hour earlier on weekdays. Café hours will be 10-4pm on Mon- Frid, but 10-5 on Sat and Sun.  Shop will be open everyday from 10-5pm as normal. Lots of events and festive news so check out their link. You fabulous local organic farmshop and so much more.

Macbeths are taking pre-orders for Six Week Hung Beef for Christmas.  It has been growing in popularity over the years and makes for an ideal Christmas Treat. The Rib Roast is especially popular!

At this time of year Walkers really does bring their customers the best festive shortbread range around… there is no better time to enjoy delicious pure butter shortbread, festive pies and other Scottish delicacies.

Knockinaam Lodge Wedding by Marc Millar Wedding Photography

Spend a traditional Christmas at Knockinaam Lodge with open fires, fantastic food and great company. Take time to unwind and discover the magic of Christmases gone by. Looking forward to visiting here soon.







The Wonders of Shetland

It was a pleasure and delight to visit Shetland again for their Taste of Shetland celebrations. OK so you need sea legs or a flight to get there but what an adventure and a warm welcome awaits you. Our journey was compliments of Northlink for which we thank them most sincerely. The service aboard was exceptional and they make a good effort on the food too with local suppliers where possible such as Rora Dairy yoghurts and Orkney Ice Cream

First up off the overnight ferry was an early visit to the Lerwick Fishmarket with Chef Patron Fred Berkmiller and Chef Bertrand, L’Escargot Bleu & Blanc and Richard Briggs of Native Shetland Lamb PDO fame. Shetland is responsible for landing more fish than the sum of every English harbour and second only to Peterhead in UK. We watched the online auctions with fascination and learnt a thing or two: boats out for three days sell their fish according to the number of days from harvest; Shetland boats are highly sought after as they are generally the shortest time out so landing even fresher fish, and the speed at which these buyers bid is awesome! Transport times to the continent are incredibly short and fish from both Shetland markets held in high esteem. Scalloway is a smaller market but uses the same online system ‘live’ from Kirkwall. On the ‘shop floor’ folk are busy dragging heavy fish boxes to collection points as bids come in – you have to keep you wits about you lest you end up in the catch! With cod, luing, monkfish, whiting, haddock and plaice to name a few it is a pity more Scots don’t value our world class seafood. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the odd fish’n’chips we could do with being more adventurous in regard to both species and flavours as there is a whole world of healthy eating out there to be had, sustainably.

Next stop Burland Croft, home to the Isbisters where they welcome thousands of visitors every summer to see Shetland crofting in action. We have visited Tommy and Mary before and always love catching up and seeing their ducks, geese, hens, Kye and sheep, all on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, not forgetting their Shetland Cabbage and Bere Barley. They are a gifted pair and whilst the wind howled and rain lashed we sat around the log fire munching Mary’s fabulous bere biscuits and tasty neep cake whilst we talked about biodiversity and working with nature. When the sun reappeared we took a walk round the croft – if all farmers cared as much as the Isbisters the world would certainly be a better place. Thanks to the Isbisters and a few other dedicated folk there are more Ark of Taste products and species on Shetland than anywhere else in UK…and perhaps elsewhere?

Later that day we visited Richard’s own farm, stretching from the valley over the ridge with Ark of Taste Native Shetland Sheep doing what they do naturally, grazing the landscape and growing slowly, in good health, as native breeds do. Cross breeding is rife in UK and such a shame when there are such fine native breeds however we were told the hybrids don’t fare well on Shetland where the climate takes no prisoners – animals are either fit for purpose or not! These landrace breeds are a hardy bunch!

We were fortunate to stay at the very best hotel on the isles, The Scalloway Hotel thanks to the generosity of Peter and Caroline. It was lovely to return – the rooms are beautiful and the meals delicious. Needless to say we both chose the Shetland Lamb from their menu and it was really tasty as was my bisque starter whilst the gentlemen wired into mouth-watering desserts too!

Day 2 of the Festival in full swing. There was a great selection of produce to see from Viking Mead to Thule Ventus Shetland Dried Cod, Katja’s Cakes, The French Café, and The Shetland Deli now run by Cope, employing and training adults with learning disabilities with great success, producing a delicious range of chutneys and pickles. We met up with Ronnie
and Jakob of Uradale Farm, organic farmers of Shetland Kye and Native Shetland Lamb, both on Ark of Taste. The latest addition to Scotland’s Ark is Kye Sassermaet so we made sure we bought some for our freezer back in Fife! Meanwhile two cookery theatres were in progress, one with chefs from far and wide including Fred Berkmiller and Gary McLean, the other hosting a competition for youngsters and some great presenters on Shetland’s Food Heritage. Both were a great success and the public enjoyed seeing everyone in action! There was also a large display of seafood including wonderful Shetland Mussels – did you know that 82% of the mussels on sale in UK will be from the deep, clear, fast current waters of Shetland

Elsewhere on Shetland we discovered Fjarå and The String, new on the food scene, both in Lerwick and well worth a visit. We had delicious dried salt luing pie with Mary and Tommy before we departed these beautiful isles and as the sun set on their Shetland Kye we looked forward to our return.

Sincere thanks to Northlink, The Scalloway Hotel, Marian Armitage, The Isbisters and Richard Briggs, Lerwick Fishmarket and VisitScotland for their support and generosity.




Members’ News & Offers….

Firebrick Brasserie is hosting a Game Tasting Dinner on Wed 7th Nov, with a Dessert Night & Demonstration on Wed 5th Dec. David & Amanda are a phenomenal team so don’t miss these super events and get to know the place. They have recently launched their new Autumn menu so click on the link to check it out

Hooray for hogget!! It is that time of the year when Macbeths have their very popular Hebridean Hogget on the go.  This is a rare breed sheep and is known for its superior flavour typical of slow maturing breeds.

Trick or Treat with Walkers goodies! So many to choose from all year round.

Scottish liquid deli Demijohn bucks the trend for retail start-ups with its popup shop in Buchanan Galleries. Always a go-ahead and optimistic retailer, Demijohn wants to offer Glasgow shoppers the chance to sample a whole new way of retailing by coming in and tasting before buying and choosing their own bottle and personal message.

Ballintaggart announce their new is live. From a huge renovation project and many months of planning and building, The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart has been transformed into a vibrant 8 bedroom hotel with a 30 cover restaurant, bar, outdoor terrace and private dining room. Ballintaggart still has Feast Nights and CookSchool, stylish accommodation and wonderful produce but now they have more accommodation and dining options too.

Sheila Fleet’s Rowan collection symbolises strength, endurance and hope. Delicate leaves in yellow gold with gemstones glittering like tiny drops of dew in a glowing, golden sunrise. Treat your loved one – or yourself – and if you are shopping in person allow time to dine in their beautifully converted Kirk Gallery & Café on Orkney.

As autumn approaches and the colours of the Borders change from green to golden, what better place to relax and recover than in front of a roaring log fire at Cringletie. This year they are offering an extra incentive to come and explore the surrounding area and sample the new menu. Check out details on

63 Tay Street is in full autumnal mood celebrating the best of the season’s ingredients throughout their menu and specials board. Go on – pick up the phone and book now before the orchard season is over! The 4-course ‘Just Feed us Graeme’ menu, served at lunch and pre-theatre, continues to grow in popularity and at £22 for four delicious courses, it’s well worth a visit for a mid-week treat.  63 recently made the Scotsman’s 9 best non-Michelin tasting menus in Scotland.

Contini George Street – new season autumn menu launched today and reintroducing their old Centotre classic Lasagne – BUT not as you know it. They have switched it up and are serving it in the form of AGNOLOTTI  – Homemade agnolotti stuffed with Peelham Farm veal ragu, bechamel, sugo and Mozzarella Di Bufala. Mmmmmm…..

Photograph: Times staff photographer James Glossop
Traditional Burns Supper at the Scottish Cafe & Restaurant in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Café is launching its first ever St Andrew’s Night Ceilidh. Join and celebrate all things Scottish with a Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky dram, delicious traditional Scottish fayre, then dance your socks off to the in house ceilidh band. The evening will be hosted by Mark Thomson, Glenfiddich Brand Ambassador to Scotland. All Contini details on…


No matter the celebration Prestonfield is the perfect place to mark your special occasion this autumn. Feel utterly spoilt in their award-winning Rhubarb Restaurant – Les Dames d’Escoffier from North America are still raving about their meal here – or indulge in afternoon tea. An overnight stay is a night to remember in their luxuriously unique bedrooms. We are dining here soon and can hardly wait!

There will be ducking for apples soon at Whitmuir They are celebrating their great harvest and have a great range of produce, pumpkins and home bred pork too! On Wed 31st Oct there will be scary story telling by the fire after the pumpkin parade – tickets can be booked direct with the Eastgate here

Melrose breaks at Burts and Townhouse. Autumn into Winter has to be one of the most spectacular times to enjoy the Borders with wonderful scenery and activities on the door step for all.  There are some of the finest independent shops in the country in Melrose, Burts’s features in the Good Pub Guides as well as their reputations for fine food.

Stargazing Package with more rooms added so stay at Torridon in November and discover the wonders of the night sky with local astrologist Stephen Mackintosh. On Nov 9th& 10th Stephen will share a wealth of knowledge during a stargazing lecture in The Torridon Hotel, two stargazing excursions in the surrounding highlands, post-excursion Q&As back at the hotel, as well as a complimentary selection of photographs taken by Stephen during your trips out.

This month Craigie’s will be adorned with pumpkins! There will be a bumper crop of pumpkins with pumpkin specials in the cafe and delicious pumpkin chutney in our shop. Lots and lots of Halloween goodies at


Christmas bookings at Deans so time to click on the link and get your friends and colleagues organised!



Taste of Shetland

Whether it is its proximity to Scandinavia or the friendly folk; the breathtaking views or the abundance of amazing produce, both Orkney and Shetland are fantastic places to visit and now our sights turn to Shetland as it is time for Taste of Shetland, the annual celebration of their produce. Not that one needs an excuse to take the NorthLink Ferries northwards as Shetland has a natural wildness whatever the time of year.

Taste of Shetland Festival runs from 5th-7thOctober 2018 at Clickimin Centre, Lerwick, Shetland, where there will be producers from across all the isles in one place for you to meet and greet. There are chefs presenting cookery demonstrations and heritage talks too. Scotland’s national chef Gary Maclean leads this event celebrating everything that’s great about Shetland’s food and drink.

For the place to stay they don’t come better than the Scalloway Hotel where the hospitality is second to none and the food on the plate is all local: shellfish and seafood; heritage breeds and locally laid eggs.

The en suite bedrooms are also very beautifully appointed and the views of the harbour where fishing boats come in to market make Scalloway a very special place.

Shetland boasts more Slow Food Ark of Taste produce than on any other part of the British Isles and whether you are visiting Shetland or buying mail order from their websites you can source Uradale Native Shetland Lamb and Shetland Kye from and Briggs Native Shetland Lamb all fabulous heritage breeds, reared naturally as they should be and on the Ark of Taste. For more information on Slow Food Ark of Taste on Shetland click here

Look out for Jakob Eunson too, Ronnie’s son, who farms at Uradale and is one of the Year of Young People Pioneers. If you see him ask for his fab Sassermaet, soon to be boarding Slow Food Ark of Taste and a real treat!

Orkney Adventures – Part 2

The Lynnfield Hotel is a wonderful place for foodies to hang their hat whilst visiting all these fabulous islands and produce. Not many folks can boast a distillery for a neighbour but The Lynnfield can with Highland Park on its doorstep! Elements of distilling, Orkney craftsmanship and heritage food production are reflected in the dining room décor whilst the house is charmingly furnished with fine carpentry, both historic and by current Orcadian artists. The owners are very passionate about their Orcadian roots and menus reflect this with Westray Cheese (our soufflé), North Ronaldsay Mutton and Orkney Ice Cream to name but three. Our dinner was a real treat – with dishes expertly cooked, making the most of the superb local flavours, and the menu so well balanced it was very hard to choose! The breakfasts are also of an exceptionally high standard – something I always make a point of mentioning – breakfasts are so important to the traveller and often the meal they will remember when they head off home.

Although not open to the public, Crantit Dairy’s Orkney Ice Cream is well known across the isles and beyond in good delis. They have a range of flavours including Original, Vanilla, Raspberry, Lemon Curd, Orkney Fudge and Toffee and most recently won 2** Gold Great Taste Awards for their fantastic J Gow Rum and Raisin flavour, made with the local rum, and their Orkney Original.

Another more recent addition to Orkney’s food scene and already making its mark on the mainland market is Orkney Craft Vinegar that is increasingly seen on Orkney and in superior delis and farm shops across Scotland. This artisan family business has created a fine choice of vinegars using the Slow Food Ark of Taste Bere Barley, grown and milled on Orkney at Birsay Mill, and locally foraged meadowsweet, naturally dried and used to infuse his Meadowsweet Vinegar. With other variations in development stage this is a fascinating company and an excellent ingredient for your salads and cooking.

With gourmet cheese from Wilson’s of Westray and other tasty toppings, you need a lovely oatcake, Stockans, the name associated with Orkney Oatcakes for more than a century! Based in Stromness where every oatcake is created, their products can be purchased in many places on the mainland too. A regular visitor at major food events on the Orkney stand, they have a delicious range including fine thin ones to rustic thick ones, with also Beremeal and bite size!

Those who know me know I adore local ceramics so a visit to Orkney would not be complete without a treat from the
Harray Potter. Andrew has been throwing pots in Harray at Fursbreck Pottery for many a year – always cheery and a gifted novelist too! I love the way he uses shapes and artwork inspired by archaeological finds in his creations. Orkney is so rich in Neolithic sites and often the ancient designs were both practical and beautiful as is certainly the case with Andrew’s. He has a great range in all shapes, hues and sizes and you can shop online. His novels also reflect these ancient times as they depict adventures and sagas of these ancient folks.

The Orcadians are a wonderful blend of Nordic and Scots, welcoming and full of life. We look forward to our next visit.

Since I wrote Part 1 of our trip I have continued researching the North Ronaldsay Mutton, on Slow Food Ark of Taste. There should be another batch for those wishing to try it sometime in November however there are challenges with local abattoirs closing that you may be aware of so if you wish to know more do click on the links below…

Radio Orkney:

My Twitter feed:

The petition:

More Members’ News…..

Bhaile pancakes Sunday 16th Sept – sounds wonderful so check it out!

With Demijohn you never know what they will come up with next! Introducing the Burghley Bounder Cocktail….Something new and fun to shake off any Autumnal blues. While exhibiting at Burghley Horse Trials a week or so ago, they came up with a fabulous new gin and citrus cocktail recipe.  Burghley Bounder CocktailFor this and other inspirations check them out!

Treat your loved one (as mine did!) to some Sheila Fleet Jewellery and whilst you are there savour the flavours in their fabulous café at The Kirk Gallery & Café. This design in Sheila’s Skara Spiral collection was inspired by carvings on Neolithic stone slabs and fragments of pottery discovered at the ancient village of Skara Brae in Orkney. Carved over 5,000 years ago by our ancestors, these decorative artworks have survived millennia.

Whitmuir The Organic Place is so much more than a place to shop and eat. They grow much of their produce and are a voice of reason in Scotland’s oft broken food system so it is worth signing up for their newsletter too! Celebrating the harvest here with some great very local produce – still lots of broccoli, cauliflowers, all the kales, apples, courgettes, salad leaves – come and visit and buy some great good food or order online at Don’t just campaign for a better food system – eat one today!  They work their socks off to grow and cook real food and value your support.

Enjoy a luxurious soak in a Jacuzzi bath followed by an amazing dinner by award-winning chef proprietor Ian McAndrew, a restful and quiet night’s sleep followed by a sumptuous breakfast at Blackaddie. It’s a wonderful way to set yourself up for the Christmas mayhem or recover from a busy summer. Such a lovely part of Scotland to explore.

Special autumn offer at Prestonfield – a wonderful opportunity Prestonfield has glamour and style with incredible service so take the chance and savour the moment in this beautiful place.

Whether you are organizing an office outing or a family get-together the Contini team is delighted to look after you and your guests. All their prices include crackers, fantastic ambiance, award winning food and plenty of festive cheer. Please book via Choose between George Street, Scottish Café at the Mound and Cannonball.

Knockinaam Lodge Wedding by Marc Millar Wedding Photography




Late availability and other offers at Knockinaam Lodge with 20% OFF stays between 17 – 28 SeptemberAvailable on all length of stays in East, West or Hannay and includes DBB. For your special rate click the link below or call reception on 01776 810471. Such a stunning location with fine food and fascinating history.

Escape to glorious Crinan where they still have had sunshine with clear blue skies and sparkling seas.  The hills are turning purple with heather now, there are red berries on the rowan trees and you can collect your own brambles from the hedgerows to make jelly or just eat them straight from the bush!  The days are getting shorter which means that you may be lucky enough to be treated to a spectacular sunset while you enjoy your dinner in the Westward Restaurant

Explore The Torridon night sky with their brand new Stargazing package. The Torridon Hotel has launched a luxurious two-night astronomy experience in the highlands with local astronomer Stephen Mackintosh. On November 9th and 10th, guests will enjoy a luxury stay combined with two stargazing excursions where Stephen will talk you through observing the night sky in the magnificent surroundings.

With Scottish Food Fortnight still in full swing for another few days and it is apple season with Craigie’s harvesting, baking, and juicing as fast as they can! They are huge supporters of the campaign whose aim is to celebrate the amazing produce we have on our doorstep!


You can book your dinner online at the delightful shooting lodge, East Haugh Country House on the edge of Pitlochry. For shooting, fishing or just relaxing. Seafood and game specialities and a great roast onSunday – better book as it is very popular!

If you can fit in a trip to Italy this month, experience Salone del Gusto & Terra Madre for yourself from 20thSeptember until 24thSeptember in Turino.