IAD 2016

Say “Cheese”, yes please!

IAD 2016 Cheese: -why cheese? Well as I said in my July blog we have a strange bunch of bedfellows for this quarter and apples and cheese go so well, but my main reason for needing to have cheese somewhere in the Year of Innovation Architecture and Design is that I wanted  to celebrate this one particular business; The St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese Company.


Prior to 2008 I always used to say that Fife had everything from beef and lamb to shellfish and mackerel, vegetables and soft fruit, but we did not have a cheese maker until Jane Stewart came along. Jane is a farmer’s wife but that is like saying that Theresa May is an investment managers’ wife. Robert ( Jane’s husband, keep up now) is a dairy farmer and when the milk price dropped so low as to make it almost non profitable, he and Jane realised that so as not to lose the farm that had been in the family for several generations, they needed to do something. And here is the first element; not for Jane was the ice cream route or the creme fraiche and yogurt route, but she took herself off to Cheshire and worked with a cheese maker. Having perfected her skills she came home and took milk from Robert’s Holstein Fresian cross herd and ended up with what is now called Anster, Innovation staring you in the face. Unlike other lesser cheese makers Jane initially only produced this one cheese, she wanted it to be perfect every time, and worked hard to make sure it was.

Now onto the Design and Architecture bit of the story. Unlike many farms in Fife The Stewarts had no spare space, every barn and building was in use so in order to create her dairy Jane designed a purpose built space which although industrial does many things. She admits that if she had managed to create a dairy from current buildings she would never have had a coffee shop and cafe which she now does and her visitors share the view the cows had to themselves up until now, over the fields and across the sea to the isle of May and beyond. There is a kitchen, the dairy, the cafe and of course a store for the cheese all neatly contained in one building. It has no architectural beauty you might say but it certainly fulfils its purpose.

Jane never stands still,  if she is not cooking for her all male family she is constantly looking for new ideas and always looking at what she is doing. She takes particular pleasure in going to Cheese shows where she can meet and be geeky with other great cheese makers getting ideas and enjoying being one of a band of remarkable people. When she did finally produce another sort of cheese,  a cheddar style  simply called “St. Andrews farm house”, she applied her strict ideas of quality and consistency, and she is experimenting all the time with another one …. watch this space!  Currently so popular is the cheese she is increasing production and adding on storage space. A true innovator.


Innovation in action event – come along!


Welcome to my July posting, no recipe this month, but an invitation to join me and some wonderful Fife people to celebrate IAD 2016 please read on and join me at Lindores Abbey on Friday 26th August e mail with any questionsct@christophertrotter.co.uk or just book now!




Douglas Dunn Christopher Trotter

Brian Johnstone Drew Mckenzie Smith

John Sampson Gareth Roberts

This August, in the last days of summer, a group of artists and businesses in Fife combine their skills and innovations in celebration of the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design on the site of Fife’s newest distillery at Lindores Abbey.

Friar John Cor by order of the King, to make Aqua Vitae VIII bolls of malt.

Earliest written record of Scotch Whisky, 1494. https://www.lindoresabbey.com/

Douglas Dunn, winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and founder of St Andrews University creative writing courses, together with Brian Johnstone, a founder of the StAnza Poetry Festival and with his own acclaimed poetic voice, will perform their accessible and engaging poetry.

Among the finest of our poets – Melvyn Bragg


A Poetic master… a skilled builder – The Scotsman


Music will be provided by multi-instrumentalist John Sampson, well known as both an actor and the collaborator of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. John’s performance will range across many styles but will include tunes from the period when the Lindores monks were distilling the original whisky.

A bewildering array of recorders, crumhorns, pipes and

whistles…leaves audiences entranced – Sevenoaks Literary


Drew Mckenzie Smith is building on the legacy of whisky distilling at Lindores by creating a unique whisky, and will share the story of design and innovation in the new building as well as some of the Abbey’s history. He is joined by Gareth Roberts from Organic Architects in Hellensburgh, specialists in ecologically aware community buildings, who will discuss the design of the new distillery

Fife Food Ambassador Christopher Trotter will talk on the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016 and how it is being recognised in Fife. He will also provide a local food experience to bring all the evening’s themes together.

This unique collaboration is not to be missed by those interested in any aspect of the arts. Hosted by Drew & Helen Mckenzie Smith, the celebration will be held in the grounds of the ancient abbey but with provision for wet weather

The ticket price for the evening will include:

welcome drinks & nibbles

readings from two leading poets

eclectic musical performance

Local food & wine

short talk on the new distillery

short talk on the architectural design

Friday, 26 August 2016 from 19:00 to 22:00 Tickets: £25 all inclusive

Lindores Abbey Distillery, Abbey Road, Newburgh, Fife KY14 6HH

book here

Dragon Sprouts with Chilli and Rice Vinegar


 These sprouts appear in the spring but you can also use purple sprouting. The name  Dragon was given to me by Archie McDiarmid of Luvians Bottle shop who suggested a  great wine to go with it- Leitz Dragonstone Riesling; brilliant wine and who could resist  Dragon Sprouts with Dragonstone? Indeed!



255g Dragon (kale) sprouts, trimmed

2 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil

1 jar of Chillilicious chilli “shot”

1 tsp white wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic sliced

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp honey


1 Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the chilli shot and allow to cook, stirring for a few minutes.

2 Carefully add the vinegar and immediately throw in the sprouts and garlic.  Stir-fry for a few minutes and then add the soy and honey. Check seasoning and serve.

Delicious on its own or with a pork dish.


Chilli-Innovation in food in Fife!


There is so much to see at the Chillilicious base in Ceres and so much which connects with our theme of Innovation Architecture and Design



trica and stacey outside farm shop

Tricia and Stacy are nothing if not Innovative, a chilli farm in Fife for a start! It’s the first in Scotland and they have been growing chillies since 2011. That’s not all, Their pest control is done not by chemicals and sprays but by natural means. If you visit the farm – it’s open every weekend from Friday –  Tricia will tell you that the farm was on the site of a former linen mill, whilst all the buildings from then have gone, the remains of the pond where the flax  was broken down to make linen is still there and every season frogs congregate and produce………  more frogs!  And these little chaps spend their days eating all the slugs which might damage the chillies!  A natural pest control. What next for these innovative girls – frogs legs? And if that isn’t enough they also buy in a mass of ladybirds which eat all the nasty bugs that might also damage the chillies, The word for a mass of ladybirds?  A loveliness!!!


Without going too deeply into the private lives of the Chillilicious owners, you have to look at their wonderful house as you drive into the farm. It’s on the right as you approach the little farm shop. The roof is based on a church roof and is one of the steepest in Fife!  And the window is a Norwegian based design so, when you are there just look around and image all the comings and goings in history, look to your left and the banks which now graze sheep were where the linen was dried after the soaking in the pond  and to the right of the house Tricia’s kitchen where all there condiments are made is a log cabin.


Stacy is an artist who has worked with Liz Rowley the well known stained glass artist and she brings her design skills not just to her glass kitchenware available in the shop but also to the designs for the labels of the condiments and her “take” on the Burns’ Selkirk grace is painted on the ceiling of the shop

Visit soon and the studio for open Studios the first week end in May

Some hae heat and canna eat

And some would eat that want it   

But we hae heat and we can eat

And sae the chilli be thankit


My “Places to visit in Fife” post for “Welcome to Fife”

About a month ago I was asked to put together a unique list for the website “Welcome to Fife” that encompasses many of the elements of my project with Fife Council linking Fife food with the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, for places to visit at this time of year.

This post was far from difficult to compose – a list of those places that I love to visit; businesses built by friends, through hard work and determination; and communities who appreciate the architectural development of their surroundings  influenced by food and lifestyles.  Admittedly, the hardest part was what to leave out, so have a read and then let me know what you would put on your list, and why.

10 Interesting Places to Visit in Fife this Easter

Continuing the theme of food connected to Innovation Architecture and Design, here are some interesting places to visit in Fife and most of which you’ll also be able to eat at!  Enjoy this blog by Fife Ambassador Christopher Trotter.

1 Falkland Pillars of Hercules – fantastic organic cafe and farm shop, but also worth a visit is the toilet block! Designed by a local architect in conjunction with Bruce Bennet, Pillars’ owner, using local timber and composting toilets and fused glass windows by a local artist.

2  St Andrews – the Byre Theatre in Abbey street is on the site of an original cow Byre which was on the edge of town in days gone by. The current building is the third theatre on the site.

3 Dunfermline – The Bruery, home of De Brus Brewery named after the family of Robert the (De) Bruce. Admire the classic Georgian Building in the heart of the town just along from the Alhambra theatre and the Abbey.

4 Glenrothes. The town of Glenrothes was built on farm land after the war, and today several buildings have already been listed . St Columba’s Church is very near the town centre and is worth a visit.

5 St Monans – the East Pier Smokehouse. This building was an old smokehouse and fish processing plant and current owner James Robb has reinstated the smokehouse and converted the rest into a cafe, which is now open for the season.

6  North Queensferry – The Wee Restaurant, owners Craig and Vicki Wood have recently renovated their interior its worth a visit, quite apart from stunning view of all three of the Forth bridges from the door!

7 Cupar – the sugar beet factory. It’s  not possible to get in just now, but this remarkable symbol of Scottish farming Innovation stands as a beacon on the way into the old market town of Cupar. The only one of its kind in Scotland!

8 Pittenweem – the Walled Garden Kellie Castle. The National Trust properties will all be open again for Easter but the walled garden is open all year round, designed in the tradition of Medieval houses to provide both fruit vegetables and medicinal plants for the household, Kellie is still run on organic principles and has one of the oldest collections of Scottish apple trees

9  Auchtermuchty – Archibald Findlay’s packing factory. With a plaque going up on the wall of this building to commemorate the great potato breeder, Auchtermuchty is worth a visit not just for its musical output!

10 Ladybank  – Off the Rails exhibition.“People Eating”  The former station master’s house at Ladybank Station now houses an arts space and this is worth a visit any time but the exhibition is fascinating!




I have just bought my seed potatoes in readiness for planting shortly and it made me think about the all the Fife connections to potatoes and how the IAD theme fits in. Well, needless to say you don’t need to look hard. In Auchtermuchty, there is a bronze plaque to Archibald Findlay who developed many potato varieties and helped feed a hungry nation during the first world war. Such Innovation is typical of a Fife farmer, as a result of his pioneering spirit other businesses linked to his potatoes grew up in Auchtermuchty.

So when you are visiting Fife call into Auchtermuchty not just for Jimmy Shand and the Reid Brothers but to see the building Findlay used to store his seed potatoes.

You will see “tattie” boxes all over Fife with the names of the farm or grower on their side. The steak barn at Balgove Larder is built with them!

So here is a recipe for you to use with this most fabulous healthy ingredient;

Oven chips

I have used Mayan Gold potatoes for this recipe but why not Innovate yourself and use a different variety maybe even one that Archibald Findlay developed. Pentland Dell and Maris Piper were both developed from his breeding stock.


4 large potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

A little cold pressed rape seed oil

Sea salt such as Hebridean


Set the oven to the 250C gas 9

Cut the potatoes into chunks lengthwise

Wash in cold water and dry on a t towel

Coat lightly in the oil and spread over a roasting tin and cook for about 30 minutes shaking occasionally until crisp and browned.

The launch of IAD 16 in Fife

Launch event

Welcome to 2016 and to Fife Year of Food in Innovation Architecture and Design, in the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of launching this exciting new project, here is a little more about it.

This year has been deemed by our promotion bods at Visit Scotland and The Scottish government as the: – Scotland – year of Innovation Architecture and Design. In the same way as last year was Scotland- Year of Food and Drink. I have teamed up with Fife Council Tourism partnership team to ask you to bring your our own take on this. Lets promote our wonderful food and produce and celebrate our fantastic seasonal produce with a rolling calendar of events, festivals, open days, celebratory dinners based on Fife’s remarkable history of its people and its buildings. Just consider for a moment the enormous impact both food and Architecture, Design and Innovation has made on our landscape, culture and history.

Look at all the fishing villages, where fish have been landed, processed and distributed for hundreds of years, sustaining communities who have risked the lives of their men folk to go out to sea, building up traditions and connections over the years, and to the women who have sustained both the industry and their families.

Look at the conversions of buildings once created for a food related purpose and now re -used in a manner more suited to our times. The Byre Theatre in St. Andrews which in its original incarnation housed cattle on the edge of town and now it is a thriving arts centre under the auspices of the University where it has flourished since rising phoenix like from the ashes last year. It was there that as part of the St. Andrews festival last November I hosted a couple of “Food Conversations” with some notable food connected people, such as Geoffrey Smeddle Chef proprietor of the Peat Inn who has recently redesigned his premises to give it a more contemporary feel. Bruce Bennett at Pillars of Hercules, whose wonderful organic farmstead and shop has developed “organically” over the last 30 years. Through his Innovations making best use of up to date but environmentally friendly ideas, he has created a series of buildings which reflect his landscape. All the wood is taken from the estate, with an unheated area to display the organic vegetables for sale, through to the shop and cafe with wood everywhere. Not to mention the composting toilets. Innovation? Architecture? Design? Look no further. Another of my guests was Owen Hazel whose family own and run Janettas ice cream shop with a cafe next door. This has also recently undergone renovation, a new design, connecting shop and cafe.

Consider all the farm steadings in Fife, converted for residential use each one a unique reflection of an architects’ innovative use of unique features within a prescribed building. All based on an original need and now redesigned for a modern use. The town of Glenrothes was built as a new town on farm land. Designed as a brave new place to house the growing population, Areas such as Caskieberran and Cadham were all farms before the new town was built. Farmers themselves are Innovative in their methods. Look at the beet factory in Cupar, the only one in Scotland, it took Innovative Fife Farmers to build that and Broccoli was first farmed commercially in Fife as well as espalier grown cherries. When it comes to Innovation in agriculture Fife’s farmers lead the way.

This year we will be urging people in Fife be it through communities or businesses or museums and galleries, festivals or events, to celebrate Food in Fife through our great buildings and structures, through our innovative farming and our historical heritage. Join in, and welcome share these experiences with our visitors


Christopher Trotter – Chef, Writer, Food critic, Speaker