I’ve written before about the fabulous local produce of the North East of Scotland, particularly the Buchan area in Deveronvale is not McLaren Vale, and about the quaint, vertiginous fishing villages- Pennan, Gardenstown, Cullen, Portsoy, Macduff, the bountiful farmlands and rolling hills.
Additionally this part of Scotland has plentiful marine life- seals, dolphins, many types of seabird including puffins. Image the prettiest harbour town, inhale the pure tranquility, and space, and not a Costa or a Cafe Nero within forty miles? On a warm day you can have a (locally made) Portsoy Ice Cream, on a cold day the homemade local chowder- Cullen skink. Indeed there is no other way to taste Cullen skink. No one manufactures it or cans it or freezes it- although one local fish merchant has turned it into a pie! It is exclusively locally sourced and home made.
But, fresh fish and seafood, aside, the local cuisine has not always matched the produce. You’d have to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness for anything with a bit of culinary flair (although the Station Hotel in Portsoy is good). Until now, that is. We stumbled upon the Fife Arms Hotel in Turriff and were delighted to be offered venison carpaccio with Parmesan and rocket, grilled pigeon breast with black pudding, smoked haddock gnocchi, pheasant and pancetta meatballs in a Drambuie sauce and many more delightful renditions of local foods, with the suppliers listed and with a special market day menu of the freshest ingredients possible.
This is a beautiful but overlooked part of Scotland compared to Edinburgh or the Highlands and Islands, but if you want to escape the mechanised leisure and tourist crush of better known destinations, this could be the place.