I have a soft spot for September. It marks the start of autumn – surprisingly, my favourite season. The weather in Scotland at this time of year can be glorious – if a little chilly – with clear skies producing a beautiful quality of light. And September also signals an abundance of great food. Many fruit and vegetables – brambles, apples, squash, leeks etc. – become ripe for the harvest, and game – such as pheasant – comes into season.
It’s appropriate then that September is the month when two weeks are given over to celebrating all that is great in terms of Scotland’s culinary produce, in the form of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight. First established in 2009, this year’s Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight runs until 22 September and features nearly 230 events across Scotland. It brings producers, retailers and the public together in a range of activities that explore some of our nation’s familiar – and less familiar – culinary traditions and success stories.
Although I’m writing about the fortnight as it draws to a close, there are still a plethora of events taking place between now and Sunday, and to find out what is happening near you there is a handy “Search for an Event” facility available on the initiative’s website:
I shall be doing my bit to support Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight by posting about the fantastic spicy chutney I made last week, using some amazingly tasty plums sourced from my friend’s garden (this should be on the blog before the weekend). I’m also planning to cook with some wonderful Scottish game over the weekend, and hopefully the results will good enough to warrant a write up here, too.
Scotland produces some brilliant food and drink. Our lamb and beef are world beating. We grow some incredible fruit and vegetables. Scottish produces superlative, award-winning cheeses. Our seas team with an abundance of wonderful seafood. And we are world renowned for our beer, whisky and gin, as well as some fine non-alcoholic beverages. With all this on offer, it’s only right to be celebrating Scotland’s bountiful larder.
There is an urban myth that the population of Edinburgh effectively doubles each August. The city is thronged with hundreds of thousands of people participating in the world’s largest arts festival, and associated fringe. Great as all this culture is, it’s also exciting that my home city will once again see a celebration of all things culinary, when the Foodies Festival Edinburgh returns to ‘Auld Reekie’ from 9-11 August.
As someone who loves food and drink – and writing about my passion for these – I’m very much looking forward to attending the Foodies Festival for the first time. The programme for the event certainly appears busy. As might be expected, a number of leading chefs from across Scotland – including Jeff Bland from Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, Mark Greenaway from Restaurant Mark Greenaway, Café St Honore’s Neil Forbes, and Paul Wedgwood of Wedgwood – will be demonstrating their signature dishes and how these can be prepared at home, in the Chefs’ Theatre.
For those with a sweet tooth, the festival also boasts a Cake and Chocolate Theatre, but anyone who prefer things a bit more savoury should fear not, as there will also be a “specially designed” BBQ Arena where visitors can learn how to achieve the perfect chargrill. To complement all this food, the event also boasts both a Wine Village and a Drinks Theatre, with the latter featuring demonstrations from some of the UK’s top sommeliers and drink experts. As someone with a passion for Spanish cuisine, I shall certainly be looking out for the class on matching sherry with food.
Two areas of the event I shall be making a beeline for are the Producers’ Market – where there will be an array of artisan Scottish produce on offer – and the Street Food Avenue. Not only am I a big supporter of locally-produced food and drink, but am also delighted that the UK finally seems to be embracing great quality snacks and meals served by mobile street vendors.
On paper, the Foodies Festival Edinburgh certainly does appear action packed, and I shall be reporting back on any enticing discoveries I make there, in the near future.
Foodies Festival Edinburgh takes place at Inverlieth Park on Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August 2013. For full event details and to obtain tickets, visit www.foodiesfestival.com.
So, after (what is probably) years of threatening to set up a blog as a means of sharing my passion about food and drink, I’ve finally got my metaphoric finger out and Scrumptious Scran is now live. But why establish a food blog?
Well, anyone who knows me will be aware that I love food and drink. It doesn’t necessarily have to be sophisticated fare. What, for example, can compare to an egg, bacon and mushroom sandwich on sourdough bread, accompanied by a decent cup of coffee, to kick off a Sunday morning? But it has to be flavoursome and put together with care, attention and – hopefully – some passion.
Ideally, I also like the food I cook and eat to be seasonal, and sourced as locally as possible. I’m realistic, however, and know that it isn’t always possible to do a complete weekly shop at the likes of the terrific Edinburgh Farmers’ Market (more about this Edinburgh foodie institution in a later post on the blog). But my ideas about food do share much in common with those of the Slow Food Movement.
So what can be expected from Scrumptious Scran over the coming weeks, months and (hopefully) years? Well, my intention is for the blog to be a mixture of updates on how I’ve been ‘engaging’ with food and drink, including:
- What I have been buying, and where from.
- The recipes I have tried at home.
- The restaurants, cafés and bars I have enjoyed (or even, not enjoyed).
- The books, magazines and other blogs that have influenced my culinary perspective.
And, given the fact that it is nigh on impossible for one person to keep abreast of all the latest gastronomic developments, I will certainly be welcoming suggestions of any restaurants or products that might be worthy of a feature in the blog, via [email protected].
And so my literary, culinary journey begins! I look forward to hearing from those of you who follow its progress.