mm- Glasgow

llappy llorrr at the Citz The Citizen‘s Theatre Bar is experimenting with happy hours - and you can too, by taking them up on the offer of most drinks for a £l. They are testing out happy hours at different times including the traditional early evening slot and later on. after 9pm. The Citz bar is now open to llpm who needs a better reason to visit?

Edinburgh 3 Portugese wine-tasting Peter Green, the wine merchant in Marchmont, Edinburgh is holding one of its regular wine-tasting sessions at the Queen‘s Hall. People will be introduced to the delights of Portugese table wines under the guidance of an expert, but no swallowing allowed! The session is at 7pm on 3 November and costs £5 or £12.50 with supper. Details on 229 5925.

Le Sept 7 Old F ishmarket Close Edinburgh

lunch and dinner Monda to Thursday all day Friday and aturday Sundays dinner only

telephone 081 225 5428

Making a mark

We’ve had the Citizen’s Charter, now there are plans to put a quality stamp on Scottish food. Catherine Fellows finds out who benefits.

There should be a single quality mark for Scottish food and drinks products, according to a report published by a Scottish Office-backed body this month. The Scottish Food Strategy Group, consisting of representatives of most of the major food sectors and headed by James Millar, chairman of William Low supermarkets, was established last January by agriculture minister Sir Hector Munro. The group’s remit is to examine opportunities for improving the performance of the Scottish food and drinks industry, and it believes that a quality mark represents the way forward.

As the report puts it, the main


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objective of the new quality mark would be to exploit existing positive perceptions of ‘Scottishness’ amongst consumers - positive perceptions that embrace ‘safety, health, integrity, authenticity, clean production environment and taste’. For the mark to fulfil its potential as a lucrative marketing tool, the report goes on, it would have to have a credible and independent process for checking quality, the standards set would have to be above average for each food sector, and its launch would have to be backed up with vigorous promotional campaigns and the full commitment of the industry.

One member of the industry who is currently waging an independent battle to raise the profile of Scottish produce in his case specifically shellfish - is Alastair MacPhail. He has been farming and catching shellfish in his native Skye for long enough to have witnessed a huge expansion in production equalled by demand, primarily from Spain and other continental European countries. MacPhail’s big concern is that, despite the prestige of Scottish seafood abroad, the Scots themselves remain, as he puts it, ‘a nation of fishfinger eaters’. Hence his recent attempt to redress the balance, Out of the Blue. a smokery and shellfish takeaway in the heart of Edinburgh.

Asked to comment on the idea of a government-backed quality label available to all sectors of the Scottish food and drink industry, MacPhail was enthusiastic: ‘l’m all for promoting


Scottish produce - anything to that end is fantastic. Our shellfish, for example, is miles ahead: Scottish waters are so clean we don’t even have to filter our fish, and not enough people know that.‘ He pointed to the fact that the French Label Rouge, awarded to Scottish salmon in 1991 when it was the first foreign foodstuff to have received the honour, was highly respected. MacPhail insisted though that if a Scottish label were to achieve similar status its standards would have to be very high.

The definition of quality is also the main reservation Ian Mellis has about the pr0posed label. He has been a cheesemaker for around twelve years and now runs a shop in Edinburgh's Victoria Street that stocks, exclusively, the finest farmhouse or handmade Scottish and British cheeses. In the past, Mellis has not agreed with the priorities of, for example, the Company of Scottish Cheesemakers‘ mark, which he considers put far more onus on things like shelf-life than it did on flavour. Mellis believes handmade cheeses require a totally different approach, and therefore set of standards, to that of mass producers like Scottish Pride, whose managing director Adam McCartney is a member

_of the group.

, It seems there is a real danger that the excellent reputation of the t0p end of Scottish food production the very reputation that a quality mark is reliant on - could be jeopardised by association, if the minds behind that mark are not absolutely scrupulous. Money may be the primary motive behind the idea. but if quality is compromised, the mark would surely be a long-tenn flop, marketing-wise anyway. We must hope that, in the coming months, when they chew over the many responses that their report will have elicited, the Scottish Food Strategy Group, and ultimately Sir Hector, will become convinced of this, and give us a Scottish Quality Mark that we can really be proud of.

The report is available from HMSO. Lothian Road, Edinburgh and comments should be made to the Scottish Food Strategy Group c/o Scottish Oflice.


bierar’toas L Chip





TEL: 041-334 5007

The List 22 October—4 November 1993 8.