Looks good doesn’t it? This was the sight that greeted me as I stepped into the conference room at Eden Mansion – this was the start of 48 hours in Fife, and it was a pretty good indication of how the two days were going to pan out!
I had been invited by the Fife Tourism Partnership to spend 48 hours in Fife with other foodie and tourism bloggers, taking in the very best (or rather scratching the surface) of a huge food and drink scene that exists in the Kingdom of Fife! Readers that have been with the blog since the beginning of my blogging journey will know that my blog was actually born in Fife, shortly after I, a newlywed moved from London to Kinghorn – a village of about 4000 people, just across the firth from Edinburgh – we lived there for a year and a half before we moved northwards to Inverness. Almost all of the experiences that I enjoyed last weekend had either been developed in the last 5 years, or I was simply unaware of them when we lived there! Many of our days off were spent walking parts of the Fife Coastal Path, or around St Andrews, and I wasn’t as much the foodie blogger that I am now. So returning to Fife was a very exciting experience for me, because although in some sense the places were familiar, it felt like a completely new place to explore!
For my trip I had booked Seggie Farm -a great value B&B with a friendly host, right next door to Eden Mansion which was our conference venue for the first day of the conference, so I was well placed to have a relaxing morning before it was time to walk along the driveway to the stunning mansion. Christopher Trotter, Fife Ambassador opened the proceedings with the claim of “We’ve got everything in Fife” which we well and truly put to the test over the 48 hours. Did you know that Fife was the first place in the UK to commercially grow broccoli? No, me neither.
The conference programme had been put together – having a really good blend of foodie speakers, opportunity to mingle and chat with other bloggers, and of course ample chance to eat some of Fife’s best food and drink!
We started off with Methil boy William Curley transporting us on an autobiographical journey of his life training to be a Patissier and Chocolatier, interspersed with tasting chocolates that reminded him of key points along his life so far. I was actually familiar with William Curley as his very shop was in Richmond where I lived before moving to Fife! Working around the chocolates like a clock starting at 12 o’clock, these were:
MILLIONAIRES SHORTBREAD – Crisp all butter shortbread topped with slated caramel and coated in dark chocolate
BOUNTY BAR – White chocolate and toasted coconut ganache in dark chocolate
PIEDMONT HAZELNUT – Crisp praline feuillantine topped with gianduja ganache
JUNIPER AND CASSIS – Blackcurrant pate de fruit topped with juniper infused dark chocolate ganache
JAPANESE BLACK VINEGAR – A rich dark ganache with a hint of vinegar
MUSCAVADO CARAMEL – A salted caramel made with dark sugar
JAFFA CAKE – Genoise sponge, with dark chocolate orange ganache centred with marmalade and coated in dark chocolate
They all tasted amazing – but my favourite was probably the Juniper and Cassis. The smooth blackcurrant pate de fruit was smooth and sharp, a great contrast with the dark chocolate ganache.
As we tasted the chocolates, I was struck that quiet often fell across the room. William Curley Chocolates are obviously a key tool to stun food bloggers into silence!
After William stunned us with his creations, it was time to think about the reach of the web, and how the blogging world is part and parcel of embracing the digital age. Stephen Whitelaw was the man to inform us, and definitely gave us lots of information to digest. Some of it was plain disturbing as we considered ways in which technological advances have made us obsessed with technology and our online connection to the world around us, as well as the ways that blogging can bring people together and be a source of community and engagement with foodies all around the world.
Drew and Helen Mackenzie Smith were next up on the programme, and their story was fascinating. Drew’s family has owned the site of Lindores Abbey since 1913, and the abbey is the original site where the first drops of Scotch whisky were produced back in 1494. Their dream of building a new whisky distillery (Fife’s third) will soon be a reality as the site will open in 2017, with the first batch of whisky produced ready for sale in 2022. Whilst not a whisky drinker myself, I was completely in awe of Drew and Helen’s ambition to bring together such a vision combining Scottish history, the local landscape of the Abbey site, and whisky!
After all this, it was time to get some fresh air, and an icecream pick me up from Jannettas Gelateria who had pitched up to deliver us some samples of their fantastic gelato which rivals any Italian ice-cream, hand-made right in the heart of St Andrews.
I chose the Pear and Blackberry sorbet, which was refreshing and sharp! Very tasty indeed.
After our break, it was time to grill the panel with a Q&A session.
Conference sessions over for the day, it was time for tea…. afternoon tea, Eden Mansion style! This 5* events venue and hotel certainly catered for us excellently, in some opulent surroundings!
After that total feast, we had some free time for the rest of the afternoon and a couple of us did a good circuit of St Andrews, taking in the harbour, East Sands, and Cathedral ruins!
Come back next week (Tuesday and Thursday) to see the rest of the adventures I had during my 48 hours in Fife!
Disclaimer: I was invited to take part in Feast of Fife tourism weekend. I paid £25 to attend the event and covered my own travel and accommodation expenses. All opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of what I enjoyed over the weekend.