By Janice Hopper

If you tend to lead with your stomach when it comes to booking a short break, then you’re not alone. Excellent food, a renowned larder, and menus that inspire, can make the difference between a good break and an excellent escape.

For foodie fervour head to Fife. An unbeatable starting point is The Peat Inn. Its roadside location may not compete scenically with restaurants in the picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk, but The Peat Inn is a destination for its food alone.

Owners Geoffrey and Katherine Smeddle, obtained their Michelin star in 2010. The restaurant is renowned for quality, but The Peat Inn is relaxed, welcoming, and unpretentious. Take a seat in the lounge and savour an aperitif as you digest a menu that would warm the coldest food critic. A tasting menu is available - six courses including braised pork cheek, St Andrews farmhouse cheddar and Allanhill Farm strawberries. Accompany the meal with a classic or prestige wine pairing for added indulgence and inspiration. A daily menu offers fresh, seasonal options, or head straight for the à la carte menu for dishes such as soft poached Baldinnie quail eggs to start, wild turbot with globe artichokes to follow, and rum baba as a grand finale.

The Peat Inn is classed as a five-star restaurant with rooms. The quietly understated split-level suites allow guests to dine as indulgently as they wish, then gracefully waddle mere metres to bed. Breakfast is served in your own room, so ease into the day before exploring Fife further.

Fife has a renowned larder, known for its fruit and livestock as well as the rich harvest from the sea. Where the region excels is getting produce straight from the field direct to potential consumers. Two particular sites are worth a foodie browse. Bowhouse by Anstruther is notable because its monthly Food Weekends bring around fifty food stall holders onsite. It’s also the permanent home to eight food producers, such as The Cakery, East Neuk Market Garden, Keeping the Plot, Scotland the Bread, Langoustine the Box, Minick Butchers, East Neuk Organic Brewing and Distilling, and The Millhouse.

Closer to St Andrews is Balgove Larder. Its farm shop is stocked high with Scottish goodies, such as Pittenweem Preserves, Heather Hills Honey, and a generous butchers, that many modern high streets are now lacking. And, whilst Balgove’s café is perennially popular, the Steak Barn is gathering its own following, dishing up hearty burgers, steaks and kebabs. Look out for the monthly Night Market coloured with drink and live music — a grown-up, nocturnal approach to food markets.

Another destination where visitors can see artisans at work, is St Andrews Farmhouse Cheese. Here, the Stewart family started creating cheese in 2008 from their herd of Holstein Friesians. Dip into the coffee shop to watch the cheese being made through viewing gallery windows, and tuck into their red, mature or smoked Anster, or their St Andrews Farmhouse Cheddar.

For a laid-back option, equally renowned for quality, grab fish and chips from the famous chipper at Anstruther harbour. There’s little more authentic than sitting on the sea wall, with the tang of salt in the air and the seagulls hovering precariously nearby. Another timeless classic is an ice cream from Jannetta’s of St Andrews. This ice cream parlour and café began life in 1908 as a soda parlour and tobacconist - four generations of Jannetta’s have run this popular and busy establishment. Or head to Cairnie Fruit Farm during the summer months to pick your own berries. Can food taste any fresher?

Equally chilled, and remarkably picturesque, is the Ship Inn in Elie. This family-friendly and dog-friendly venue is metres from the beach, and it’s a real crowd pleaser.

The sea views from the restaurant are an added bonus. Dine on a rabbit starter with potato dumplings, peas and chestnuts, and a main of braised beef cheeks with mash, green beans, mushrooms and carrots. Food follows the seasons here, in terms of ingredients and lifestyle.

During the summer, bacon and sausage rolls are served al fresco in the morning, and the bar-b-q lights up the afternoon and evenings. With a lively bar and a popular beer garden, the Ship Inn brings out the sociable side of food. Fresh and simple rooms are available, and it turns out that the owner is the captain of the local cricket club so expect beach cricket matches over the summer months.

The offering at the Ship Inn works because it feels friendly and traditional, but for something ahead of the curve drive to the Fairmont, St Andrews, to discover Scotland’s first Vegan/Vegetarian Sports Bar, the ‘Zephyr’. The Fairmont appears to have recognised that vegan food is no longer an alternative option but it’s now pretty mainstream. By placing a vegan food menu in potentially the most mainstream dining offering - a Sports Bar - the Fairmont is trying something new.

Menu options tick all the boxes of informal bar dishes — think burgers, nachos, chilli dogs and shepherd’s pie, but every dish is vegan or vegetarian. Add in a mix of craft beers, cocktails, sharing platters and loaded fries, and you’ve got a fresh vegan option that veers away from predictable stereotypes, opting for something lively, new and sporty.

The Fairmont hotel has plenty of meat and dairy rich options too. This five-star resort hotel offers an excellent grill house with sweeping panoramic sea views, a cosy, colourful Italian restaurant, and a popular Savoy Afternoon Tea served up under the renowned, shimmering light installation that illuminates the vast atrium.

Few Scottish short breaks are complete without raising a glass, or a dram, to celebrate the venture, and Fife has several options to explore. The Macdonalds Rusacks hotel has an interior bedecked with paintings and portraits celebrating the world of golf. It also has some of the best views of the Old Course from its new Surf & Turf restaurant.

But for a spirited experience, head downstairs to the Eden Mill Gin Blending Experience to blend, bottle and brand your very own unique craft gin. It’s something a little different compared to a usual distillery tour. Guests learn, hands on, how to select botanicals and handcraft their own tipple, and you walk away with a very personal bottle of gin.

For whisky, undergo a spiritual experience at Lindores Abbey. Lindores has been a site of whisky production from at least the 15th century, but in late 2017 the casks were filled once more after over 500 years of rest. Whilst the whisky slowly matures, enjoy a tour, or try Lindores’ ‘Aqua Vitae’, a botanical spirit featuring spices, dried fruit and locally grown green herbs.

Alternatively, visit Kingsbarn Distillery where the Wemyss family transformed a historic farm steading into a distillery. Today, they take Fife grown barley and water to create a light, fruity and floral whisky. Three distillery tours are available or, for a quick visit, order a flight of whiskies in the café. Sláinte.

From Michelin star quality to chips and ice cream, follow your gut instincts to Fife for a mix of flavours and foodie experiences.