I get all sorts of enquiries for all sorts of different jobs, but one I had recently was just wonderful. As a member of the Guild of Food WritersGuild of Food writers the Covid pandemic has actually had its benefits. Being a London centric organisation most of the events are based in or near London so as a Scot it is not easy to attend, but the committee has organised lots of events on Zoom and whilst the talks and break out rooms are good to a point, you never actually have a proper contact. So when the guild offered a master class in cheese tasting with real cheese I jumped at the idea. Our experts had teamed up with the amazing Courtyard dairy who sent each attendee a little box of 6 cheeses all at perfect ripeness and with wine suggestions. Everyone on screen had the same cheese. The sounds of appreciation of really underlined the shared event, the actual act of sharing a physical entity and talking about it was brilliant. Some time later I had an e mail from Rotary International who were organising a meeting of their main representatives around the country and of course it had to be on Zoom. My contact had been told about me by a colleague on St Andrews business club Heather Stewart who heads up Fife Cultural TrustFife Cultural Trust, I had done a zoom food and wine tasting for the St Andrews Business ClubSTABC where I had sent out a recipe and people had either gone out and bought the materials and prepared the dish or bought something similar Heather had obviously enjoyed it and remembered the event. So the idea was out there. I suggested a cheese workshop in which I organised the Courtyard dairy to send a variety of cheese covering the UK and all in perfect condition . Again they came up trumps with Scottish, English, Welsh and Northern Irish cheese. We had a great evening I had suggested wines and we went through them all with a bit of history and detail of the cheeses themselves. We are so fortunate that we do have some superb cheese makers and Cheese suppliers. The only near fly in the ointment was when Courtyard couldn’t send cheese to a member in Eire due to Brexit and the incompetent beaurocrats involved, so they suggested an Irish company and apart form a slight glitch, Sherridans came up trumps with an all Irish selection for our member in Dublin, what a lot of fun it was and I hope started them off on an enjoyable and productive evening.
Cheese is a living product. It has seasons and they mature at different times. Your cheesemonger will know what is good at any given time. So next time you shop for cheese don’t ask for a specific ask instead, what is good just now. You will put a smile on the cheese mongers face and you will get a superb cheese.
What a great summer we have had, and even now in November it is still very mild,
FOOD TOURS AND COOKING WORKSHOPS
I have had a busy year developing my food tours and classes, with some wonderful trips across Scotland showing visitors this beautiful country that is Scotland. I have been lucky enough to have worked with some other businesses to provide these trips and cooking workshops and also with “Welcome to Fife” at Fife Council, a small but perfectly formed team that make up the tourism arm of the council, They work tirelessly to help those of us like me to promote this amazing region.
I have made a short video which is available on you tube to promote them please do share.
VEGETABLE COOK BOOKS
As most of my readers will know I have embarked on a project of writing small cook books to promote single vegetables, the idea for these came from the many people who, during my cooking demos and workshops asked for ideas on cooking vegetables as they only had three or four. I always publish them about now in time for the Christmas market, yes unashamed promotion. I suppose I should bring each one out in its season but as the books are available year round and in lots of book shops people can buy them when the vegetable is actually available, My latest one is called Tomato and like the the others has 30 recipes, I was about to add, “for the vegetable” but of course a tomato is a fruit! Suffice to say I have treated it as a vegetable in this book (as we do most of the time!) although there is one sweet dish with green tomatoes. There are now 6 books in the series Beetroot, Kale, Courgette, Carrot, and Cauliflower and I have decided to package them altogether to produce a boxed set which will make a very fine Christmas gift. The pack is sturdy and easy to wipe clean as it will live next to the cooker!
The books are on sale now on my website at Waterstones and at many good shops across Fife, Perthshire and Angus
I will also be selling them and The Hairy Bakers cook book at
Eden court fair Inverness November 16th 17th and 18th
Easterbrook Hall Dumfries November 19th 20th
Strathmiglo fair Saturday November 24th
Scone Palace Christmas fair
St Andrews Farmers market 1st December
Dumfermline Farmers market 8th December
And a book signing at Waterstones St. Andrews late opening November 29th
Last week I had the great pleasure of hosting a group from Dubai – guiding them around a few distilleries to show them just a flavour of what we can offer here in Scotland for the food and drink connoisseur.
Find the full story in my next blog – but here’s a glimpse for now!
Day 1 – www.auchentoshan.com followed by Deanston & Gleggoyne then great food at www.theoldmillpitlochry.co.uk, Balquidder and an evening at Monachyle Mhor Hotel.
Day 2 – Edradour & Dalwhinnie, lunch at www.auld-alliance.com in Kingussie, then Glenfarclass and dinner with John Grant the owner.
Day 3 – Glenglassaugh & Strathisla, with a surprise overnight stay at Glentruim and my own culinary delights.
Day 4 – Fort William to see Neptune’s Steps, Ben Nevis Distillery then on to Oban for lunch at Coast; www.coastoban.co.uk
Day 5 – Full day tour at Springbank
Our final evening – tired but happy!