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Working The Perthshire Magic!

By 14th July 2015

I do love hearing about local businesses working together to create their own little #PerthLoveFest and so, after a very animated, hugely excited telephone conversation with Graeme Pallister of 63 Tay Street, I found myself sitting in Parklands lounge, chatting to him and Scott Brown of Harvest Magic. The story is everything a shop local / eat local groupie like me lives for and as the tale of Perthshire Eco System unfolded I was struck once again by how the simplest ideas are often the best.

Like me, Graeme loves when he discovers a wee hidden treasure right here in Perthshire and if he can fit it into what he’s doing at 63 Tay Street so much the better.  So, when Scott Brown got in touch to tell him about the work going on right under his nose in Bridge of Earn, just a few miles down the road from the 63 Tay Street, he became their number one fan and best customer! 

HM Scott Brown EggsHarvest Magic is a Sustainable Garden Eco System.  This may sound a bit ‘trendy’ and there are far too many buzz words in there but the truth is, Scott Brown has developed this amazing system that uses waste, worms and old fashioned elbow grease to produce some of the most stunning produce that goes through Graeme’s kitchen.

It all started back in 2008 when Scott broke his leg and had too much time on his usually busy hands! He was a semi-professional footballer in his heyday and moved into painting and decorating which remains his main job.   While attempting to occupy himself with a leg in a stookie he came across an article about worm compost and started to read up about this amazing method of producing natural, non-chemical based compost.

HM WormsAs the leg healed the idea grew and he installed his own worm farm into his garden down in Bridge of Earn. The idea is that you put all your food peelings and vegetable waste – including tea leaves, coffee granules and egg shells – in beside the worms and leave them to do the rest. The compost is called Black Gold and is actually made rich by the worm poo.

So far nothing to do with a Two Rosette Kitchen! However, Scott loved his worm compost so much he began to look around for other ways to develop his recycling and self-sufficiency and lo and behold, the answer was birds! Twenty quails to start with, quickly followed by a brood of hens.   This is when he contacted Graeme!

Graeme started to take quail eggs from Scott back in 2010 when Scott knocked on the door of 63 Tay Street and offered him a taste! Scott only supplies a small number of restaurants and 63 Tay Street is proud to be one of them. These little eggs are amazingly tasty, and Scott’s have a gorgeous brown speckled shell with a rich golden yolk. If you’ve never had quails eggs Graeme can thoroughly recommend them; they have a slightly stronger flavour than a hens egg and with Scott’s birds being fed real food waste and egg shells they are infinitely tastier then others that Graeme has ever tried before!

Graeme serves Quail Eggs at the restaurant with many different seasonal ingredients but if you fancy trying them at home, he suggests you start by boiling them until they’re soft and sprinkling them in celery salt atop some sourdough bread.   That sums up his mantra of #LocalHonestSimple perfectly!

HM Quails Close up

So, next up was bees – it was inevitable really. Scott completed a Bee Keeping evening course over a one year period and bought his first hive in 2010. Since then, he has expanded his numbers but there is still only a small batch of honey produced each year – thankfully Graeme is on Scott’s list for a jar or two and he loves his annual delivery of the clear, runny honey when it arrives at the restaurant.

The bees are local to Bridge of Earn so the pollen is collected from the oil seed rape and gardens along the valley.  Scott took his first batch to the Dundee Food and Flower Fayre back in 2011 and won third place overall that year. It is his young daughter though, who went one step further and has produced a line of beeswax candles that won first place at the same show!    

As you can probably tell, Graeme is completely hooked on Scott’s philosophy and the passion he has for this amazing eco-system he has produced.  The kitchen at 63 Tay Street started keeping their peelings, egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grinds for him to use in the Black Gold worm compost and Graeme has been itching to get out and see it all in practice. So, Graeme asked Scott if the 63 Tay Street team could all come out and have a visit and being a nice guy who loves to chat about his ideas to geeky chefs, he said yes!   

The chefs had an amazing day! Scott also has a huge veg patch which unfortunately is only big enough to sustain his family, and sitting in the kitchen are rows of jars with handmade Beetroot Chutney cooling in them.

Graeme made me suitably jealous with his chat; “This was a perfect day out of the kitchen. I firmly believe that seeing what goes into making produce as good as the quails’ eggs Scott supplies us makes a chef passionate about what he or she is doing.   The end result sings from the plate and a humble wee egg can become a thing of great delicacy.  To see Scott taking something as far as it can go is amazing.”

“And it’s not just that doing things as nature intended is better for the taste (although that is the over-riding factor!) it’s also that we’re addressing issues on waste and making ourselves greener.  He came in the other day with a bucket of compost for my roses and I knew that some of my kitchen scraps had gone into making it. Last week when he was dropping off eggs he asked if he could take the cardboard boxes we had perched up against a wall ready for the blue bin – turns out they make brilliant worm beds when shredded! AND, he’s also investigating an article he read about a bloke who grows mushrooms on cardboard box sides."

Of course he is!

If as a team, local businesses can help one another and develop these ideas into real, working systems then surely that’s a bonus for everyone. Scott can develop his system into a commercial enterprise, and Graeme can source everything from mushrooms to honey and the 63 Tay Street customers can enjoy tasty, local and sustainable ingredients from the Harvest Magic Man down the road.  Simple! 

Please do leave your comments for Graeme and Scott below, we'd love to hear what you think!

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