Carrick contributes to Taste Ayrshire

CHANCE TO GROW: Gordon Caldwell of GC Growers will lead a tour on Saturday.
CHANCE TO GROW: Gordon Caldwell of GC Growers will lead a tour on Saturday.

FOODIE businesses in Carrick are cooking up interest in local produce this week as they take part in the first Taste Ayrshire Food Festival.

The week-long event, organised by Food Tourism Marketing Group, Taste Ayrshire, celebrates food and drink across the region, and producers, retailers, hotels, restaurants, markets and even schools have been involved in the line-up.

But Carrick businesses, including Alex and Carlyn Paton’s We Hae Meat butchery at Cairnhill Farm, Old Dailly, and Whisky Experience at Kirkoswald, feature prominently alongside Ayrshire and Arran contemporaries. And the businessmen and women behind them say they are happy to play a part in boosting Carrick’s appeal.

Cosses Country House’s gourmet delights Ayrshire menu formed part of the Taste Ayrshire programme at the weekend. Susan Crosthwaite, owner of the Ballantrae hotel, said: “All our food is local food and we give our guests the Taste Ayrshire experience every time they come to stay.

“We have some amazing produce in Ayrshire and we really need to be singing about it in a big way. Food is such an important aspect of this area and people need to be thinking of that when they think about visiting Ayrshire.”

Meanwhile, James McFadzean, who runs Dalduff Farm at Crosshill, near Maybole, is using the festival to try a new culinary venture.

The first of four restaurant at the ranch events, a cowboy-themed pop-up restaurant with live music in the farm’s barn, took place at the weekend and had around 80 guests. “Our first night went really well. We had a full barn,” Mr McFadzean said. “It is something that I had always wanted to do. It hasn’t really taken off in Ayrshire yet but it is quite a big thing in London.

“It is something we are strongly considering doing on a more regular basis.”

Veg grower Gordon Caldwell, who runs GC Growers at Dowhill Farm near Girvan, is running his event – a tour through the growing season including some tips of the trade – on Saturday, and hopes the Taste Ayrshire Food Festival will encourage people to seek out their local producers.

“When I heard about the festival I wanted to be involved because we do not promote ourselves well enough in Ayrshire,” he said.

“Food and farming are big employers in Carrick and the more customers we have for our produce the more employment that will be generated. I hope the festival allows people to discover what is happening in Carrick and literally taste what is being produced in Ayrshire.”

To find out more about the festival and see the programme of events, which concludes on Sunday, visit www.tasteayrshire.co.uk.