I am the chair of the Levenmouth Tourism Association, and we try to keep communication open with all “customer facing” enterprises in the region. As chair I also attend the regular meetings of the chairs of all of the regions within Fife, of which there are six. Cupar and North Fife, St Andrews, East Neuk, Kirkcaldy, my own region of Levenmouth and Dunfermline and west. I try to keep in touch with what other groups are doing so that I might learn from them and incorporate ideas here. Recently I got in touch with Jack Pryde who is in the Dunfermline region and in normal circumstances runs “Discover Dunfermline tours” and we agreed to meet up for a walk through his region. “This is the first tour I have done since January 2020!” he told me. But his enthusiasm for his home town was undiminished, and even though we did not go very far, there were stories on every corner. From Margaret’s cave to her grave by the Abbey and the pub where Dunfermline Athletic football club was founded. One of his stories concerned the building of the city chambers and the carved faces on the walls, one such can be interpreted in several ways. A local councillor nursing a hang over ( surely not) or the architect groaning as he sees said councillor approaching. Once we are allowed out again I plan to do another walk with Jack and would thoroughly recommend them to any visitor. I think that having such a tour through Levenmouth would also be hugely popular as there is history and stories galore. We need to create some such offering for when the train finally comes to town.
At the beginning of November I held my pop up dinner which promptly sold out, hurray!!
But it did mean a few missed out, so I said at the time that I would be able to squeeze in a few private dining experiences before the big day – (a month tomorrow by the way).
For bespoke dining experiences at a similar cost to a good restaurant meal, in the comfort of a venue of your choice I will prepare and serve a meal based on your tastes.
Here is the Autumnal menu I had from my pop –up…
Nibbles with a glass of sparkling wine
Beetroot humous and dips
East Neuk Fish soup with crab, lobster and monkfish
Kale bubble and squeak with spinach and Kingsbarns poached egg
Loin of Isle of Mull Venison
Red cabbage and sultanas
Buckthorns Apple pie
Salted caramel chocolate torte
If you’re not sure if it’s for you, just give me a call and find out, I look forward to a good foodie chat.
I really enjoy writing these little veg books because of the research I have to do and the discoveries I make about the vegetables. For instance Kale, my latest book really is the quintessential Scottish vegetable. Church bells in Edinburgh were named after it, as when they chimed at noon it was the signal for working people to go for their midday meal – probably of kale! The mothers of the children in Glasgow and Edinburgh tenements would call out to their bairns “ Come in for your Kale” meaning their meal and of course inevitably it would contain Kail or cabbage of some sort in a hearty broth, You got meat if you were lucky! Kale is the great vegetable which in the middle of January, in a snow drift and all else has failed in the garden it will be sticking up above the white carpet, its green black or red leaves glinting in the watery winter sun. Kale is obviously ubiquitous across Europe as the same plant has so many names; for instance the marketing boys got on the Cavolo Nero bandwagon pretty quick and this lovely almost black leaved kale sells for a premium in London delis Or try Lacianto or even Dinosaur its all the same, simply Black kale!
Since the first book Beetroot the process has simplified, I choose a vegetable usually after much discussion with friends and then in the winter early spring set to on the research and writing. Then comes the photographs and I am so lucky having Caroline as my wife as her food images just bring my simple food alive. People say that the picture makes you want to reach in to the books and pick up a piece of what ever it is. Others say it just makes them want to go straight into the kitchen and have a go. We try to do 4 or 5 in a shoot and Caroline uses only natural light and we are lucky where we are as her studio has large south facing windows and on good days we even go outside! The variety of back drop is important but the main ingredient is her skill at capturing the right angle and composition. It’s a lot of fun!
Whatever your reaction I am just delighted that more people are being a bit more adventurous with their vegetables. The recipes are not designed to be closed but to open up your imaginations to remembered flavours and to experiment. Once you have a technique or two then you can go ahead and experiment, what’s the worst that can happen? You make soup!! The important thing is to understand the seasons buy fresh and locally and get into that kitchen, and share some good food. I don’t really have a favourite but here is a seasonal idea – with pheasant! Here is the recipe!
BRAISED PHEASANT BREAST WITH KALE AND PUY LENTILS
Kale is really good with big flavours and provides colour in what might otherwise be a dull-looking dish.
200g puy lentils
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 pheasant breasts
2 tsp butter
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
2 sticks celery, cut to a small dice
2 medium carrots, cut to a small dice
200g kale roughly chopped
½ tsp Hebridean salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Rinse the lentils in cold water and then place in a pan and cover with water bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
2 Take a liddable pan and set it over a medium heat and add the oil. Dry the pheasant breasts on kitchen paper and brown on both sides, raising the heat as needed; remove and set aside.
3 Lower the heat, add the butter and the chopped onion, sweat gently to colour a little and then stir in the garlic, celery and carrots, add the lentils and water, enough to cover. Place the pheasant on top and cover. Cook gently until the water almost evaporates.
4 Take out the pheasant; stir in the kale to wilt, and cook for a few minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper. Serve with the pheasant on top.
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My wife, Caroline Trotter, is a Fife-based photographer who specialises in weddings, landscapes, still life and portraits. Here’s a selection of images from her photo of the month series.