Think of Scotland, and images of haggis, whisky, Irn-Bru and mince and tatties will come flooding into your head.
Whether it be deep-fried Mars bars or Michelin-starred cuisine, Scotland has a reputation the world over for its offerings to the culinary world. Now the country is coming together to celebrate our love affair with food and drink in a bid to capitalise on this thriving industry.
The Year of Food and Drink is giving restaurants, visitor attractions, bars and producers the chance to spotlight, celebrate and promote Scotland’s natural larder to both residents and tourists.
“Scotland’s reputation for quality food and drink is growing, and Edinburgh and the Lothians is playing a key part in that,” explains Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland.
“We are very lucky to boast an amazing array of authentic dining experiences to suit any taste, from Michelin-starred restaurants and bustling bars, to boutique cafes and farmers’ markets.”
With venues running events throughout the year, there will be something to suit all tastes – quite literally – so here are a few local offerings to whet your appetite.
Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith
From January 25-27, the Royal Deck Tea Room will be celebrating the life and poetry of Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns, with a special treat on the menu. Haggis, neeps and tatties with a delicious whisky and wholegrain mustard sauce will be prepared by the chefs in the Royal Galley and you can even treat yourself to a wee dram of Britannia whisky to accompany this national dish.
There will also be a ticketed Burns evening aboard Britannia on January 23. Guests will be welcomed aboard, to the sounds of Britannia’s piper for an evening of exquisite food wine and Scotch whisky. Entertainment will be provided by traditional Scottish musicians, who will perform throughout dinner.
Foodies Festival, August 8-10, Inverleith Park
Foodies Festival, the UK’s largest celebration of food and drink, returns to Inverleith Park. Each year the ever-growing festival sees tens of thousands of visitors flock from the surrounding areas to feast on a vast array of culinary activities, making Foodies Festival the social event of the summer.
Whisky Stramash, Surgeons’ Hall, Nicolson Street, May 23
The Whisky Stramash is an encounter of many elements and experiences. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample and purchase a huge array of amazing whiskies. The Stramash is an event of mystery, entertainment, comedy and madcap pioneering.
Edible Gardening, Royal Botanic Garden, Inverleith Row, February 21-22
Focusing on seasonal gardening information the team will be on hand with friendly tips and fun activities.
Gardening Scotland, Royal Highland Centre, May 29-31
Ask the experts about anything from growing vegetables to keeping bees, whilst visiting top chefs at the Cookery Theatre.
The Cellar Door Edinburgh, George IV Bridge
Each workshop begins with an introduction to chocolate-making and a demonstration of the skills involved. The instructors use only the finest Belgian chocolate and slabs of freshly made chocolate ganache. Participants get the opportunity to mould, shape, dip and decorate their chocolates. Options include lunch or dinner and a gift box to take the chocolates home. Minimum of six people per workshop.
Eat Walk Edinburgh, Ivy Terrace
An Edinburgh sightseeing tour with a difference. Visitors will walk through the historical heart of the city while taking the time to sample food and drink from some of Edinburgh’s unique restaurants, shops and bars. Between premises, the guide will point out interesting sights of the city and give advice on other places to visit. Two tours are available, one mid-morning and the other in the afternoon. Each tour takes about 3.5 hours over six of the city’s food and drink hotspots.
West Craigie Farm, Pick your own fruit, South Queensferry, June to August
Generations of kids and their parents have made a visit to West Craigie to pick their own fruit as part of their summer calendar. Visitors are provided with a basket and are directed to the best field. They pick the fruit, then weigh it and pay. The fruit season depends on the weather and it is recommended to check the website for what is ripe. Strawberries generally start at the end of June and into August. Raspberries start mid July till mid August. There are also have gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, Victoria plums, and big, beautiful sunflowers.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Leith
Whatever and wherever the tasting or event, the focus is to give members an informal, enjoyable and relaxed night out. Events range from step by step instruction in how to get the most from tasting single cask, single malt whisky to more adventurous couplings of whisky with food and song. There are two nights of celebrations this month. Both events include three courses on January 22 and 24.
On February 17 there will be a whisky and sausage sampling session – four whiskies and four craft beers accompanied by Crombies sausages.