This weekend I completed my first joint travel blogger collaboration with #Scotlanders. For our launch campaign we took to the streets of Dundee to discover what this often overlooked Scottish city has to offer. Our aim was to showcase the many interesting faces of the city with each of us focusing on a particular theme.
While my fellow #Scotlanders enjoyed a diverse range of activities from archery to visiting a cruise ship, I was tasked with uncovering Dundee's developing culinary layers, which is very topical as this is the Year of Food and Drink in Scotland.
Best known for it's foodie contributions of cake and cow pie, the city has an ever expanding range of restaurants and cuisine to match the expanding building plans and predicted tourism growth. The new kids on the block sit happily beside the traditional offerings and this sums up Dundee itself, a city with grand modern design plans that will complement the industrial history and heritage.
If it's food heritage you're looking for then Dundee Cake and Mackays Marmalade are thriving examples of traditional fare with provenance.
I don't know of any other city in Scotland that has a cake named after it so I was feeling quite smug when I found out that I would not only get to sample one of these famous plump, fruity creations but I would also be involved in the baking process. I was also delighted that my lesson would take place at Clark's 24 hour Bakery, a legendary food takeaway in Dundee which I missed on my last visit.
Clark's Bakery has it's own historical roots in the city and is currently being run by the third generation of the same family. My Dundee cake baking session was with Alan Clark, whose father established the bakery in 1950.
For those that haven't tried it, Dundee cake is a rich, fruity cake containing sultanas, candied peel and topped with almonds. It's origins in the city are said to date back hundreds of years to the kitchens of marmalade inventor Janet Keiller and although still a local specialty of Dundee bakers it is now mass produced and sold widely by supermarkets who don't necessarily follow the accepted recipe.
There is currently a bid to give this local creation Protected Geographical Indicator Status (PGI). This means that only Dundee Cakes made in Dundee and following a traditional recipe can legally be called Dundee Cake and ensures that you are buying and eating an authentic product and local producers are being supported.
MACKAYS DUNDEE MARMALADE
Mackays are the only remaining producers of Dundee Orange Marmalade in the Dundee area, which also happens to be referred to as the home of marmalade. Mackays are proud of the heritage of their product and continue to make the marmalade in the traditional way in copper pans and sourcing the world’s best bitter oranges from Seville in Spain. Sticking to historic production methods seems to have paid off as Mackays are the largest producer of traditionally manufactured marmalades and preserves in the world!
The branding of their product with the city name and the logo 'Made The Authentic Way' have ensured this classic orange preserve remains a favourite on breakfast tables across the country and helps to promote the city and it's heritage far and wide.
A more recent edition to the Dundee food and drink scene is MòR Brewery, established in 2012 and based in the village of Kellas on the outskirts of the city, this microbrewery has brought it's unique Scottish ale with humour to the ever growing market of craft beers.
MòR means 'big' or 'great' in Gaelic and the big plans for this small brewery were brought to life by former Broughty Ferry lifeboat coxswain Jim Hughan and business partner Ross Niven. The word MòR (pronounced more) has enabled then to come up with a witty range of names for their ales such as 'MòR-ish' and 'MòR Tea, Vicar?' which are not only sold in an increasing number of pubs but also sold by the bottle in stores such as Aldi and Spar. It's good to see that Dundee businesses are not only great at preserving heritage but also competing in emerging food and drink markets and from my own personal point of view I'm glad that I have a something local to wash down my cake with! I'm sure I'm not the first person to say "Can I have some MòR Please?"
While we are on the subject of drink, BrewDog Dundee and Alchemy Brewing have collaborated to produce a beer which has been crafted using teak from the RRS Discovery. Burning wood from a local ship that made a historic voyage to the Antarctic is certainly a novel way to make beer but then being the pioneers that BrewDog are they have obviously found the perfect solution to creating a modern product that still celebrates the heritage of the city and perfectly represents the current direction the city itself is moving towards.
Where to Eat?
Restaurants seem to be one of the favourite talking points in the city at the moment as I was asked time and time again which ones I had tried and where I was going for dinner. It appears that a string of recent openings has caused a bit of excitement and I had no shortage of advice on places to eat.
Fantastic food, great customer service, unpretentious venues and reasonable prices were my experience of eating out in Dundee. I have personally tried all my recommendations which have also received consistently good feedback from the locals and let's be honest who is better placed to recommend an eating venue than them? I also paid full price for all my meals as a genuine customer so I have received absolutely no incentive to recommend them to you other than I want you to have a good food experience during your visit to the city.
Dundee may have struggled with image problems in recent times, however over my last couple of visits I have discovered a city that is in a state of transformation with cool independent shops, great museums, beautiful scenery and as you have hopefully seen from this blog, fantastic food. There is a quirkiness about this bijou city that makes it very different from Glasgow and Edinburgh and I hope that the modern developments manage to complement the old city character rather than overshadow it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, now is the time to discover Dundee!
Feel free to share your own food and drink recommendations that I can try on my next visit!
For 10 more reasons to visit this city check out my last blog post here
Read what my fellow #Scotlanders discovered about the city on their trip to Dundee
Dougie explored the past and future of the city, read his post here
Nicola enjoyed a family weekend, read her post here
Neil explores the nearby Angus Glens, read his post here
Kay tried out some outdoor activities, read her blog here
Kim found out why Dundee is the city of design, read his blog here
Follow me as I search for the best and most original travel experiences in Scotland.