One of the very best things about living in the Borders of Scotland is the availability of incredible fresh produce.
We are incredibly lucky but sometimes we all get so bogged down in the daily grind that we forget to look up beyond the supermarket shelves to what lies beyond. It can take a big food rumpus like the horsemeat scandal to shake us out of our habitual, weekly trolley dash.
Recently our faith in supermarkets has been well and truly rattled so maybe this is the ideal time to remind ourselves of the good stuff on our doorstep. It’s not as hard as you think to incorporate shopping independently into your routine and now that a lot small producers sell online, there’s no need to trade taste and quality for convenience, it truly is a field to fork experience.
Chain Bridge Honey
Just across the border in Berwickshire, Chain Bridge – or rather their bees – produce the beautiful mixed flower honey, Tweedside and later in the season a gorgeous rich heather honey from the hives on the border moors. Available online and at local delis.
Good to know: Chain Bridge also sell a selection of natural honey products, their honey soap selection makes a lovely gift.
Eschewing a peaceful retirement Annie and Jim Shanks set up Standhill Cheesery a few years back, since then they’ve established a name for their six quirky, artisan cheeses. Our faves are the Mellow Minto Cheddar, the Crowdie and the Fatlips Castle Blue.
Good to know: The Standhill Cheesery website is under construction meanwhile you can source Standhill cheeses at Pharlanne Deli in Kelso.
Restore your faith in meat by sampling the delicious organic lamb, veal and pork from Peelham Farm. Committed to compassionate, organic farming since 1990 Peelham sell a huge range of cuts, joints, sausages and charcuteries all handled in-house by their own craft butchers. Online and in farm shops: astonishingly inexpensive relative to the care and quality of the meat.
Good to know: You can own your Tamworth pig, have it raised by Peelham, visit your pig and learn more about animal husbandry on special farm days and have it processed to your own specification. Perfect for would-be smallholders trapped in the rat race.
Trading since 1992, Kezie offer exceptionally high quality exotic meats; such as Springbok and Bison and seafood; Blue Shark, Nile Perch and Tilapia, they also sell high end ready meals like North Indian Reindeer Curry. Their produce is sourced from all over the world and whilst this might seem at odds with a shop local, low air miles food philosophy Kezie maintain they follow high ethical and welfare standards, and only support ranchers and suppliers who are committed to maintaining natural wildlife populations.
Good to know: Buy online for home delivery, special offers and selection boxes available.
Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies
If you’re expecting a house full of guests and you’d rather enjoy their company than slave over a hot stove, or you’d like to give a gift to someone out of hospital or under the weather, then Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies are the business. They might be simple but they are simply delicious; rich pastry brimming with fillings like venison, beetroot and red cabbage (Great Taste Award Winner), or veggie pie with butter beans and brie.
Good to know: Available online for home delivery and at delis throughout the UK; new menu of country casseroles also available. Fill your big muddy boots and your freezer.
The Orchard and Biggar Flavour
Old school green grocer, fishmonger, baker, jam makers and deli, The Orchard and Biggar Flavour prove that there is a growing market for locally sourced fresh food, sold seasonally.
Good to know: Free local delivery service – now you don’t get that at from the major supermarkets.
Without a doubt Pharlanne is the best source of treatish nibbles in the Borders; homebaked Beer and Oatmeal Bloomer, slathered in piquant Mull Cheddar, topped with Henshelwoods chutney, or home spun anti-pasti of 18 month PDO Parma Ham, and other deli counter classics. Or, buy some plump Beluga Lentils and cook them up with bay, rosemary, red wine and thyme, then serve with big juicy Peelham sausages. Just walk in the door of Pharlanne and inspiration will follow.
Good to know: If inspiration strikes but inclination doesn’t, then head for the fab in-house Pharlanne deli & bistro and let someone else do all the hard work.
N.B. The producers named above are by no means a comprehensive list of all that’s out there, more of gentle reminder that might inspire you to incorporate one or two new shopping habits.
If anyone out there wants to add their favourite foodie hotspot please add a comment, or suggestion to the post.