Life & style

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Round-up: Ayrshire’s best foods and producers

24 Mar 2015

Discover a taste of Ayrshire and Arran with our guide to best grown, reared, land, brewed and made

The importance of Scotland’s first potatoes each year to see sunlight is being backed up by a PGI application to have the Ayrshire ‘earlies’ name protected. Girvan Early Growers Ltd are a cooperative of farmers and companies, including the mighty Albert…

The Ayrshire ice cream trail

20 Mar 2015

Ayrshire brown and white cows help supply the region with fresh ice cream

For an area with such a rich history in dairy farming and production, it’s perhaps little wonder that ice cream making is booming in Ayrshire. You can sample scoops in common and exotic flavours galore up and down the region. In the north west…

Arran's joined-up thinking

19 Mar 2015

A quick island tour soon reveals how interconnected the food producers are

Arran's food producers are an interconnected lot. Arran Fine Foods, at the south edge of Lamlash, uses whisky from the distillery in its Arran Malt Whisky Marmalade [http://www.taste-of-arran.co.uk/item.asp?itemid=325]. At the wild north-east tip, Isle…

Arran’s water of life (and poetry)

19 Mar 2015

No Burns supper is complete without Scotland's national drink, and the island offers a perfect dram

It's no surprise that the land of Robert Burns remains synonymous with the love of good whisky. The area is home to one of the country's few remaining independent whisky distillers, Isle of Arran distillery, and the local connection makes it a popular…

Brewing in Ayrshire, then and now

18 Mar 2015

A look at Ayrshire’s brewing history and the award-winning micro-breweries in operation today

At its peak, Ayrshire boasted six private breweries but almost all fell into decline by the mid twentieth century in the face of increased competition from larger operators. Renewed interest was sparked by the Lugton Brewery in the 1980s, located near…

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Ayrshire’s heritage gardens

18 Mar 2015

Fruit and vegetables from some of the region’s ‘lost’ walled gardens are enjoyed by everyone

Whether it’s the visitor centre chefs looking to showcase a property’s delights, or nearby residents eager to learn about and practise sustainable eating, the demand for locally-grown, good quality produce has led to some interesting projects aimed at…

Best picnic spots in Ayrshire

18 Mar 2015

Where to head when the weather calls for blankets on the ground, and al fresco feasting

Around five miles down the Ayrshire coast from the town of Ayr and the same distance north of Culzean Castle, the coast around the village of Dunure offers some of the finest scenery in the area. This spot features the ruined but accessible Dunure…

Food for thought: courses and research in Ayrshire and Arran

18 Mar 2015

From opportunities in hospitality and agriculture to pioneering scientific studies

‘Hens can be clumsy fliers and tend to bump into things,which is why smart perch design can reduce any risk of injury,’ explains Vicky Sandilands, senior behaviour and welfare scientist at the Avian Science Research Centre. Whether it’s improving the…

How now brown and white cow

18 Mar 2015

Iconic Ayrshire cow helps supply region with dairy delicacies including ice cream, cheese and milk

The famous brown and white Ayrshire dairy cow isn’t anything like as ubiquitous a sight as it once was, dotted across rolling green Ayrshire pastureland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Progressively interbred with and usurped by the more…

Land of milk and honey, and square sausage

18 Mar 2015

Prospect of a breakfast of Ayrshire bacon, sausages, black pudding and haggis is another big draw

Ayrshire farmers have all the perfect ingredients for producing top quality, flavoursome meat. Mother nature provides the ideal conditions for farming; a mild climate, coupled with high rainfall ensures animals are grazing on lush pastures. With a rich…

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Haggis’s poster boy

18 Mar 2015

Robert Burns still lends a hand with food tourism, with attractions including express Burns Suppers

Few foods unite people in celebration, on the same night of the year, across the world, quite like the haggis [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haggis]. Loved and lauded, the haggis has transformed the annual celebration of the life of Robert Burns into a…

Sustainable shellfish

18 Mar 2015

Far more than just fish and chips awaits in Ayrshire, with sustainable local langoustines and lobste

When asked to think of seafood from Ayrshire, your mind would be forgiven for being transported to a bench beside the seaside, fish and chips in hand, the sweet, steamy waft of vinegar and newspaper filling your nostrils while seagulls squawk overhead…

Ayrshire early new potatoes thriving

18 Mar 2015

Ayrshire’s milder climate helps grow some of the UK’s finest new potatoes

Few things say spring quite like new potatoes, and Ayrshire ‘earlies’ – the first tatties to come in to season in Scotland every year – are widely considered to be among the finest in the UK, possessing a smooth, sweet, creamy taste and texture unlike…

Interview: Robin Gray, of Robin’s Herbs

18 Mar 2015

Meet Robin Gray, former chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant, now chief herb-grower on Arran

Robin Gray doesn’t have a website. He doesn’t need one. In fact, as he explains, checking on it would only take him away from his work. There is no sense of hard sell about him and a quick google confirm this: he’s hard to find. Buyers come to me, he…

Ayrshire’s best chip shops

18 Mar 2015

A handy round-up of the area’s best chippies in Ayrshire

Even though the local fishing industry has declined, Ayr’s long coastline lends itself to opportunities to enjoy the traditional fresh Scottish chippie by the water. All the big towns are well-served, for example Irvine with the well-established Enzo’s…

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Chef's Choice: Garry Noble on Glenkiln Spring lamb

17 Mar 2015

Garry Noble, head chef at Arran’s Drift Inn loves adding locally reared Glenkiln spring lamb to the

‘We try very hard here to produce food that’s of the highest standard and to do that it’s essential to have fantastic ingredients. I’ve tasted lamb from across Scotland and I have to say that I’ve never had better than Kenny Bone’s Blackface spring lamb…

Chef's Choice: Mark Davidson on Nethergate Larder

17 Mar 2015

Mark Davidson of Aye Love Real Food swears by Nethergate Larder’s ethically reared pork

‘Ayrshire is famous for the quality of the bacon and pork that it produces and in our opinion nobody does this better than Nethergate Larder. They breed and rear free range Tamworth pigs on their farm just outside Dunlop where all the animals are…

Chef's Choice: Tyron Ellul on creel fishing in southwest Scotland

17 Mar 2015

Tyron Ellul, head chef at Glenapp Castle, explains a little about the sustainable lobster fishing

‘In the early days of spring when the weather starts to settle down, the waters round our local shores start to get busy with small local fishing boats heading out to drop their creels, mainly for lobsters and crabs. Creel fishing, also known as potting…

Chef's Choice: Keith Braidwood on local lobster

17 Mar 2015

Chef at Braidwoods Michelin-starred restaurant is a fan of lobster, caught a few miles in Ardrossan

‘We recently discovered HQ Shellfish, literally on our doorstep selling lobster caught from Ardrossan to Portencross, which is 8 miles from Braidwoods. Two brothers with their dad’s boat started catching lobster in homemade creels then when one of…

Chef's Choice: Jacques Troquet on Scottish lobster and brown crab

17 Mar 2015

Jacques Troquet, head chef at Jacques' Table sources his seafood from Ayr fish market

‘Here in Ayrshire, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to sourcing from the area’s top quality food producers. It means I can source the freshest seasonal ingredients the area has to offer; meat, fish, poultry and seafood, are all readily…

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Food of Angus round-up

13 Mar 2015

Looking for a taste of Angus? Here's our guide to the region's best grown, reared, made and landed

Much of Angus is given over to fruit, cereal and potato fields, and much of the resulting produce makes its way into the supermarket chains, via conduits like the Abbey Fruit packing plant in Arbroath, which handles the produce from PJ Stirlings fruit…

Competition keeps Edzell buzzing

12 Mar 2015

A thriving food scene shines in a village described as the jewel in Angus Crown

It is testament to the quality of food and produce on offer, that the village of Edzell can boast three cafs and two hotels all situated along the main street and all doing a roaring trade. Sharon Greasley, owner of No.63 a caf, florist and gift…

Potato distilling not limited to vodka belt

12 Mar 2015

Arbikie Highland Estates distillery can claim to be first of a very distinctive brand of operation

With a family-run arable farm on site and its own sunken lake providing fresh water, the Arbikie distillery touts itself as the first hand-crafted farm-to-bottle operation seen in Scotland in centuries. Not just whisky either, but white and brown…

Micro-breweries thrive in Angus

11 Mar 2015

Two Angus ale-makers are giving a whole new meaning to the term 'homebrew'

'I don't watch a lot of telly, put it that way,' says Colin McIlraith, who spends much of his spare time in his garden shed instead. That might not seem an unusual way to while away an hour or two, but not many sheds can boast their own micro-brewery.

Highland Game making a name

11 Mar 2015

The unique habitat of the Angus glens is ideal territory for a variety of game

When Dundee-based Highland Game set out to supply venison in the late 1990s, many of their contemporaries in the food industry thought they were foolish to focus on what was then, in Britain, a very niche product. But almost 20 years on, venison has hit…