Tag Archives: Cupar Farmers’ market

First, catch your lobster …

Shirley Spear wrote a great piece in yesterday’s Sunday Herald about Scotland’s National2014-12-26 14.55.41.jpg Dish – the mighty fish supper. Spear makes a great case for the provenance and general superiority of this most popular of cairry-oots, despite its frequent greasy tastelessness. Her alternative is a bit posh for most of us but sounds delicious – and I applaud her for giving explicit instructions on how to cook, i.e. kill, the beast. Not for the faint-hearted.

Meantime my friend Marian and I have been down to North Berwick to visit Scotland’s first and only lobster hatchery. It seems that most lobster fisheries are all but fished-out, with newly-hatched lobsters having a 1 in 20,000 chance of surviving to adulthood. In their microscopic state, they are simply hoovered up as fish food; and as they grow, they are aggressively cannibalistic, and eat each other. So Jane McMinn and her fishing colleagues developed the idea of a nursery where lobster eggs (or ‘berries’) would be hatched out and kept in relatively safe conditions, protected from predators including 2017-05-16 14.12.59.jpgeach other, till they were big enough to be re-released into the sea – usually at about 12 weeks old. The signs are positive that this will make a huge impact on the sustainability of the lobster population in the Firth of Forth; although it will be many years before this can be fully established. Meantime the hatchery is largely dependent on charity to stay in business.

Local fishermen are committed to the programme, and are paid a fair price for bringing in a ‘berried hen’. This one on the left was brought in while we were listening to the process from a local volunteer. Obviously this is in their interest, with lobsters currently costing about £30 per kilo, or £21.95 for a whole cooked lobster (the Highland version). Lobsters have never achieved great popularity with the Scottish public, and over 90% of the catch is generally exported to France, Spain and Portugal.

I wonder how far a lobster can swim? Back at Cupar Farmer’s Market last weekend I came across this beastie on a stall run by another Firt2017-05-20 10.08.26.jpgh of Forth crustacean-catcher, but this time on the opposite (northern) coast of the Forth. Clement Boucherit is based near Pittenweem and has been running his business here for the last three years. I bought some langoustines and they were packed freshly into a box of crushed ice, very convenient.

Any project that enhances sustainability is a great thing; but I’m wondering at the likelihood of funding continuing for something which benefits so few people. Unless of course we can all be persuaded to extend our culinary comfort zones next time we feel like cooking something very special (and expensive) for supper. This Friday (2nd June) has been designated National Fish and Chip Day – no lobster for me, but I’ll certainly make a point of celebrating in an appropriate manner. With mushy peas of course.

 

 

Cupar Farmers Market

Had a good outing yesterday to the Cupar Farmers’ Market. Weather dry and brightish, just fine for mooching around the stalls. Maybe not quite fine if you were actually on duty behind the counter, I bet they all had multiple layers of thermal underwear and woolly socks. 2017-03-18 10.32.02I met some of the producers I’ve been reading about recently – like this producer of chilli jellies, who started off his business in the family kitchen in Abernethy – our next village – and is now turning out loads of different flavours. Who would have thought there was a whole business to be created from chilli jelly? 2017-03-18 10.35.04

Then there was the Real Hot Chocolate Company, giving out free samples which just go down a treat in a dry, brightish March. I bought a couple of packets, one in vanilla and the other with smok2017-03-18 10.42.47.jpged chilli. Bit of a chilli theme developing here. I do think free samples are a great sales aid. Surely nobody could walk away without buying something after such a tasty wee mouthful?

The longest queue, as always, was at Spinks’ smokie stall. Spinks are one of the main purveyors of Arbroath smokies, and at he farmers’ markets they always smoke the pairs of haddock in the middle of the road, so you can see and smell them from miles around, and it’s very enticing indeed. I bought myself a wee smokie, and also a piece of smoked mackerel which I had for my supper last night. The texture of a freshly smoked mackerel is so buttery and firm, the flavour so sharp and mellow2017-03-18 10.58.45.jpg at the same time. I think this might be my Death Row Dish, should I ever be unlucky enough to need such a  thing. The concentration needed to lick your fingers free of all that lovely oily fishiness would keep your mind firmly off the ordeal to come. More chillis with a mother-and-daughter business, selling all things chilli – I bought chocolate this time. And then a fantastic bready spread fr2017-03-18 10.48.11.jpgom this baker who had brought his wares all the way from the other side of Callander.

And finally, 2017-03-18 10.47.27.jpga great range of infused rapeseed oils from a farm just south of Edinburgh. I’ve written about rapeseed oil before. It’s really getting the artisan treatment these days, and is said to be just as nutritious as olive oil. My young  Italian colleagues at Uni scoff politely at the idea of rapeseed oil substituting for the mighty olive; but one of these days I’m going to organise a  little blind tasting and see how we come off. Furthermore, Supernature does tours at the farm where you can go and see how they press the seeds etc; so that’s a treat for after the exams. If anyone would like to accompany me I’d be pleased to organise a wee tour.