THE run-up to Christmas is the best time of year to think about food. We can all worry about the expanding waistlines after Hogmanay, but in the meantime let’s enjoy the cornucopia of delights available on our own doorstep.
East Lothian has rightly realised just how good its local food and drink businesses are. Now pitched as a top level “foodie” destination, this is an area that offers the very best in Scottish produce and service, “the crème de la crème” as Miss Jean Brodie might have said, with or without the whisky in your crème.
It was back in 2005 that Economic Development in East Lothian Council set out with a remit to support local food and drink businesses pro-actively. Since the initiative began, the East Lothian food and drink brand has become increasingly recognised through distribution of a food and drink directory and visits to high profile trade and consumer shows such as ScotHot, the Royal Highland Show and the BBC Good Food Show.
The seventh annual East Lothian Food and Drinks Awards dinner was held on Tuesday, 6 November at the Macdonald Marine Hotel and Spa in North Berwick. Some 160 representatives of the sector enjoyed the glittering occasion along with their guests.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, MSP, presented an impressive set of awards across the range of eight different categories.
Mr Lochhead said: “Scotland is home to a fantastic array of magnificent produce and talented producers, and East Lothian is up there with the best – as these awards have clearly demonstrated.
“The awards have showcased the very best that East Lothian has to offer, from fine dining and restaurants to bistros and cafes, as well as celebrating local producers and the chefs of tomorrow. These businesses are serving up a tasty treat to locals and visitors as well as making a significant contribution to both the local and national economy.”
East Lothian Economic Development spokesman, Cllr John McMillan, added: “During the current challenging economic conditions it’s clear that a successful business recognises the importance of quality products and quality customer service.
“The Food and Drink awards recognise these qualities and provide a showcase for local companies to promote their businesses. The East Lothian economy is heavily reliant on both tourism and food production, and this event will encourage both local residents and visitors to experience top fare in welcoming surroundings.”
Every prize reinforces the standard of East Lothian’s contribution to the food and drink sector. Whether you’re looking for the freshest seasonal produce available in your local farm shop or the best places to eat out over Christmas and New Year, you will find your answers in East Lothian.
The range of eateries is a microcosm of the whole of Scotland. Enjoy beautifully presented and executed food in traditional style at La Potinière in Gullane, owned by award-winning chefs Keith Marley and Mary Runciman. You’ll enjoy local produce of the highest standard, some of it grown in the restaurant’s own garden.
At the Macdonald Marine Hotel in North Berwick, you will have the special attention of executive chef, John Paul McLachlan, and the guarantee of seasonal, locally produced dishes that are uniquely special. John Paul trained with Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc, so he certainly knows his onions.
If more casual dining is your preference, then do drop into the Avenue Restaurant at the Victoria Inn on Court Street in Haddington. Award-winning chef, Craig Hunter, and his wife Kirsty have created a bright and lively contemporary bar and restaurant. There’s an abundance of local fish on the menu, including Eyemouth lobster, as well as locally supplied lamb, steak, chicken and duck. The vegetarian options are also excellent.
So, whether your delight is pub food or a grand hotel with a fine dining restaurant, the list of East Lothian’s food and drink awards winners offers up a great range of choices for every taste.
And if you’re thinking it might be nice not to have to cook on Christmas Day, now’s the time to get your festive booking in. Or, if you are going to prepare your own Christmas feast, then be sure to check out some of East Lothian’s exceptional local suppliers to guarantee top quality, locally produced ingredients.