Homegrown heroes

Round & About

We raise a toast to the many local producers, foodies and restaurateurs across our readership patch wowing the world with their food & drink offerings

“We understand all too well that snails are not your typical everyday dish. Perhaps we should have played it safe and reared pigs, cows, or chickens..? But we never do things by halves!” So say Victoria and Penelope Stibbs of their eco-friendly snail farm Chiltern L’Escargots. Their mission began in 2017 in a three-bed terraced house in south Bucks with just a handful of snails and an idea. “We’re beaming with pride at what we’ve already achieved in just 18 months,” says Victoria. “We truly believe there’s a gap in the food market for escargots. Don’t believe us? Just ask Heston Blumenthal, whose signature dish, Snail Porridge, at his multi-Michelin starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, is considered to be one of the most exquisite dishes in the world. People nowadays don’t just want food; they want their dish to have a great back story. We whole-heartedly encourage chefs, caterers, or inquisitive individuals to come and visit, and to see how we harvest and breed 250,000 snails. If you’ve never seen a snail farm, trust us, it is worth a visit!” Visit www.chilternescargots.com or call 07733 421499.

The future’s orange… if inspiring young baker Kitty Tait is anything to go by. The 15-year-old Watlington foodie is an Instagram sensation after launching The Real Orange Bakery with her dad, who are spreading foodie joy baking bread, pastries and the occasional cake or two. “Our goal is to get people enjoying authentic and genuine bread,” says Kitty, “which is why our loaves contain just four ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt.” Visit www.theorangebakery.org and follow @therealorangebakery

Do you love your ale local and your welcome warm? Check out KEG Craft Beer near Bourne End (SL8 5QN) which has a tasting bar and an ever-changing stock of beers to sup on. Follow @kegbythethames on Twitter for updates.

Using grapes lovingly grown on their chalky, flinty Marlow vineyard, the Harrow & Hope team are making waves, winning plaudits from wine experts. The family team offer tasting tours to sample the sparking wines produced using traditional methods and the precious fruit from these relatively young vines. Visit www.harrowandhope.com

Looking for inspiration? Feast your eyes on the gorgeous recipes and creations by Marlow foodie Louise Hurst. For Nordic Kitchen culinary adventures visit www.nordickitchenstories.co.uk and follow @nordickitchenstories on Instagram.

And we also raise a toast to the community heroes behind Rebellion Beer Company, based at Bencombe Farm in Marlow Bottom, SL7 3LT.

This area is also in good spirits thanks to Chalgrove Artisan Distillery which uses juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamon and black peppercorns, honed in an alembic copper still, to create their OX44 Gin; visit www.chalgroveartisandistillery.com. Local “gintrepreneurs” Camilla Brown and Liz Beswick’s Collagin; visit www.collagin.co.uk

A passion for beer, a respect for the community and a disregard for convention… no not just the values of the team here at Round & About but the mission statement of the team behind the founders of West Berkshire Brewery. Since 1995 the team have been working hard to produce sustainable beer and their taproom and kitchen in Yattendon (RG18 0XT) is well worth a visit or brewery tour. Their newest pub, The Grapes in Oxford’s George Street, is a cosy refit of an 1820 inn serving up ales from 13 keg taps and seven cask lines. Visit www.wbbrew.com and www.grapesoxford.co.uk

There’s always something going on in or around the Lovibonds tasting room in Henley’s Market Place. Pioneers in the UK craft beer movement, the team have been brewing award-winning American style craft beer since 2005. Visit www.lovibonds.com for more information and events.

Fellow foodies, are you looking for a different summer dining experience? Running since 2012 the Lavender Hen Supper Club in Virginia Water provides a unique experience. You can dine in the idyllic summerhouse and take your own wine (no corkage charge). For August dates onwards, visit www.thelavenderhen.co.uk

Woking’s Danielle Bekker is co-founder and head brewer for Good Living Brewing whose binary botanical ale has won plaudits from industry experts and is stocked by Ocado and local shops. “We set out to create a new style of beer to appeal to wine-lovers and people who think they don’t like beer,” she says. “After months of development we’ve crafted a sophisticated lighter beer which is perfect with food and a great low-alcohol cocktail mixer.” Most beers use hop cones, but binary botanical is infused with organic leaves from Sovereign and First Gold hop bines (the name for the hop plant’s stems). Binary botanical is lower in alcohol and calories than wine, and is vegan and gluten and sugar-free. To find out more, visit www.binarybotanical.com and follow @binarybotanical

Also flying the flag for local tipples of the highest quality, Distillers of Surrey is a Ripley-based distillery whose solstice and nautical edition gins, alongside the team’s award-winning aromatic edition, you can sample at Woking Food & Drink Festival this month. You can also try tipples from Vineyards of the Surrey Hills a new collaboration between Albury, Denbies, Greyfriars, High Clandon and Chilworth Manor. This group of picturesque vineyards produce outstanding wines including sparkling, still white, rosé and sumptuous sweet wine. www.distillersofsurrey.co.uk

Thanks to its gorgeous terroir on the Hog’s Back in Puttenham, the Greyfriars Vineyard team produce award-winning English sparkling wines. Want to try some? The team arrange tours and tastings; visit www.greyfriarsvineyard.co.uk

Drawn by a common passion for craft distilling, a group of friends came together to form Silent Pool, producing handcrafted, artisan spirits of uncompromising quality on the Albury Estate. For tours, tastings and products, visit www.silentpooldistillers.com .

If you love beer, check out Frensham Brewery’s taproom; a beer lover’s labour of love near Farnham; www.craftbrews.uk

Parents, do you ever wish your children, especially teenage ones, would take more of an interest in cooking? Well, if you go down to the woods today (on the Priory Farm estate in Nutfield, to be precise), you’re in for a big surprise… Surrounded by the crackle and pop of fires, teenagers and children enjoy a masterclass in outdoor cookery thanks to a partnership between The Salt Box and Surrey Art School. Throughout August & September you can book in to drop off your six-11-year-olds for a workshop to master the basic steps of fire lighting to learning how to manage your fires, at these hands-on classes guests will learn to make a collection of dishes in a relaxed and informative environment, surrounded by the crackle and pop of fires. All of the dishes covered are designed to be cooked over an open fire, but are equally as achievable as in a conventional kitchen at home. Visit www.wearethesaltbox.co.uk

Two Hoots Cheese is a small family business based in Barkham producing award-winning handmade blue cheese,
made in the traditional way with pasteurised cow and ewe milk. Husband-and-wife team Sandy and Andy Rose have been making cheese since 2003, recently been joined by their daughter Nia. Their most popular, Barkham Blue, has won many prizes. www.twohootscheese.co.uk

Reading-based Mortimer Chocolate Company produces award-winning chocolate and cocoa powders for drinks, cooking and fondues (mmmm!). There’s a café where you can indulge in their delicious products, made with the best raw ingredients, and great recipes too – visit www.mortimerchocolate.co.uk

 

The King Stone Dairy team, based in Little Rollright near Chipping Norton, produce two farmhouse cheeses using milk from 30 cows. Rollright is a washed rind soft cheese, banded in spruce bark, and Evenlode is a washed rind semi-soft cheese. You can try both and meet the team at The Big Feastival later this month. Visit www.kingstonedairy.com

Wallingford’s Brightwell Vineyard produces white, rosé, red and sparkling wines which frequently win medals in regional, national and international competitions as well as one of the first English brandies. Visit www.brightwellvineyard.co.uk

Oxfordshire is also in good spirits thanks to Chalgrove Artisan Distillery which uses juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, cardamon and black peppercorns, honed in an alembic copper still, to create their OX44 Gin; visit www.chalgroveartisandistillery.com. Local “gintrepreneurs” Camilla Brown and Liz Beswick’s Collagin; visit www.collagin.co.uk. Toad in Oxford craft artisan spirits from their “still on the hill” in Headington.  Book in for a behind-the-scenes tour to see the grain-to-glass process. Visit www.spiritoftoad.com

Developed to deliver a sophisticated taste “which allows the fruit to be the shining stars”, The Wiltshire Liqueur Company’s products are a joy to behold. This small, family-run Marlborough-based company concoct their stunning range right here in Wiltshire which are then enjoyed throughout the UK and as far away as Japan and the Arctic Circle. In March 2014 Theo Paphitis added his support by choosing the company for a Small Business Sunday Award. Visit www.wiltshireliqueur.com to find out more!

Marshalls Bakery in Pewsey was founded in about 1870 by Charles Marshall. Charles is believed to have started out making bread for himself but it soon became popular with friends and he decided to open a bakery. Today the bakery and is run by fourth generation baker Richard Marshall along with his dad John. Producing a wide range of bread, cakes and confectionery, try local favourites such as lardy cake or healthy products such as honey and spelt bread. Pop into the bakery at 36 North Street, SN9 5EX, or visit www.marshallsbakery.co.uk. A Wiltshire speciality worth trying, by the way, is the Marlborough Bun.

Want to unleash your creative side? Try a cookery course at Woodspeen Cookery School; offering a wide range of courses www.thewoodspeen.com

Hobbs House Bakery was established in the 1920s and is a true family business with five generations (the sixth is rising to the challenge now!) of baking experience. When Tom and Henry Herbert aren’t at the frontline of the bakery you may see these Fabulous Baker Brothers on television or at events, including The Big Feastival later this month. These brothers have been bringing the ultimate bread and meat combinations to you since 2012. “We believe handmade bread should be available to everyone,” they say. At their bakery in Chipping Sodbury the expert team produce an exceptional range of high quality breads, pastries and confectionery. Visit www.hobbshousebakery.co.uk to find out about courses, recipes and the Sourdough Nation!

Founded in 1902, Bibury Trout Farm is one of England’s oldest working trout farms set in this historic village (GL7 5NL). Fresh trout is available to buy from the farm all year and the team can supply whole, filleted or smoked brown or rainbow trout. The catch-your-own fishery lets beginners and children catch their fishy supper or get hooked on a new hobby. The terrace cafe is open daily serving treats for all tastes, including vegetarian and gluten-free dishes available. Visit
www.biburytroutfarm.co.uk or call 01285 740215 or 01285 740212.

Set in the heart of the North Wiltshire Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, Ramsbury Estates are bisected by the River Kennet, a classic chalk stream which rises a few miles west of Marlborough and joins the Thames at Woolhampton. The spirit distillery and brewery are well worth a visit and the pub, The Bell, won AA pub of the year in 2017. Visit www.ramsburyestates.co.uk

Christian Alba’s Traditional Butchers in Hungerford High Street, RG17, 0DN, is a meat-lover’s dream (trust us, we’ve tried his homemade sausages). Christian is a proud believer of supporting the English farmer as well as the highest standards in animal welfare. He sells free-range pork and lamb, beef and chickens.” The butcher’s shop is open Tuesdays to Fridays, 8am to 5pm and Saturdays, 8am to 3pm. Call the shop on 01488 680970.

Upton Smokery Shop near Burford (OX18 4LY) is a foodie Mecca. Grab a free coffee while you browse the fine selection of smoked and cured meats, game, fish, seasonal vegetables, garlic and more, or shop online; www.uptonsmokery.co.uk

Made by Bob bistro & deli, in the heart of Cirencester, was established in 2008 and has won plaudits from customers and the Michelin Guide for its great food and service (it also won a Bib Gourmand). www.foodmadebybob.com

Beer fans are spoilt for choice here in the Cotswolds thanks to a wealth of refreshing local tipple producers. North Cotswold Brewery is a family-run craft brewery on the Fosseway a few miles outside Moreton in Marsh, established in 1999. For tours and more, visit www.northcotswoldbrewery.co.uk. For tours, tastings and hearty ales, also check out Wychwood Brewery (www.wychwood.co.uk), Cirencester’s Corinium Ales (www.coriniumales.co.uk) and Chipping Norton’s Hook Norton Brewerywww.hooky.co.uk

Distilling delicious blends since 2014, Cotswolds Distillery is the home of artisanal single malt whiskey, gins and liqueurs, and offers a tour to discover how these tasty local spirits are crafted. Visit www.cotswoldsdistillery.com

Learn about artisan bread making, nose-to-tail butchery and ferments to eat and drink by enrolling on a course at The Cookery School at Daylesford on its thoroughly idyllic 2,350-acre organic farm. www.daylesford.com

Working exclusively with local and independent producers, the team behind Lynwood & Co are great community ambassadors. They’ve won a loyal following, supplementing their original Lechlade café with two more in Fairford and Burford. Their breakfasts, by the way, are truly legendary! Visit www.lynwoodandco.com

Cake expectations

Just as Parisians often claim they’ve never climbed the Eiffel Tower and Londoners never seem to find the time to visit the Houses of Parliament, many of us just don’t get around to visiting Blenheim Palace as often as we’d like, despite it being so close. Well, foodies, this summer is the perfect opportunity! Not only are the gardens in full bloom, Searcys has launched a stunning new afternoon menu, with all the classics and a few curve balls. Within the wonderful settings of the palace, the Orangery by Searcys is the perfect spot to enjoy treats by much-loved chocolatier William Curley (the youngest pastry chef ever to work at The Savoy Hotel) has devised the menu.

Savouries include finger sandwiches with tasty fillings like smoked salmon and Coronation chicken, as well as a courgette and ricotta tart. These are followed by light and fluffy buttermilk scones, and then a glorious selection of individual afternoon teacakes. Highlights include pistachio and raspberry financiers, chocolate Sachertorte (inspired by the original Viennese recipe), lemon and earl grey macarons and a vintage revival black forest tart. The showstopper is the cake table, a Roald Dahl fantasy with a vast array of beautifully crafted cakes like chocolate & cherry, lemon drizzle and chestnut and rum. If you really want to feel like Marie Antoinette, you can pair your afternoon tea with Laurent-Perrier’s Harmony Champagne, chosen by William to match his creations.

While you’re there, have a wander around the 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and Formal Gardens, home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Visit www.searcys.co.uk

Summer is here:

As ever, we’re hungry for your recommendations of great places to eat and drink as well as tempting local titbits.

We’re always excited to bring you our food & drink special and celebrate the people who work in this unremitting industry… Our cover star Jodie Kidd confirms this: she’s found her previous jobs in the fast-paced modelling and sports worlds are nothing compared to being a pub landlady.. but she’s loving every minute and we applaud her!

So, does your local deserve a toast? Is there a restaurant or farm shop near you that deserves recognition? We want to help celebrate the best food & drink pioneers and grafters out there, fuelled by you.

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