Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Food heroes

The Fools Food Heroes – October

I’ve taken a break from this series for a couple of months due to our big adventure in New Zealand but it’s back this month with another trio of drool worthy food companies. If you have any suggestions for companies to include here I’d love to hear them.

Tea Pigs

For a nation that seems to live on tea we don’t half serve up some crap sometimes; weak, anaemic looking tea that appears to have had all the flavour removed. One option to avoid this is to use tea leaves but let’s be honest it is a bit of a faff which you don’t want to have to do every time you fancy a brew. Tea Pigs make tea bags, but not your bog standard Tetley tea ones, oh no they’re packed full of flavour and made from a much softer nicer material than normal (that’s the technical description in case you wondered). But I don’t really care about how they are made, it’s the flavour that matters and these deliver. I love the Earl Grey in particular, a deep aromatic flavour without being bitter or too strong as can be the case. So if you’re a tea drinker and want to try something different check these out, available mail order and in delis etc nationwide.

Wye valley growers

This is a new company to me and one I read about only this week and have yet to try, but I wanted to share nonetheless. I LOVE asparagus, I love that it’s such a seasonal thing here, I love that the British stuff tastes better than anything imported, I love that it makes your wee smell funny (if you’re one of the 50% of the population it does of course) and most of all I love eating it. But the season inevitably passes oh so quickly and then it’s another year before it’s available again. However I read in the Guardian newspaper that these guys have developed a variety that produces the goods right now, a second wind for the asparagus season.

The proof is in the tasting of course, but if it’s good then how amazing will it be to eat Asparagus with a roast chicken or hearty stew now that autumn is coming and the nights are drawing in? I shall valiantly lead the way and taste some on your behalf dear reader to save you the effort, a public service if you will. (P.S. I’ve since discovered that Marks and Spencer is the best place to source this late seasons asparagus)

White Row farm shop

My latest farm shop discovery in the area and definitely my favourite, amazing veg as you would expect, an impressive and well stocked butchery, bread from Hobb’s House bakery and the icing on the cake a cafe that makes an awesome bacon sandwich. What more could you ask for? Unlike many farm shops they make the vast majority of the cakes, pies etc on site rather than the mass produced made to look like homemade stuff you often find. Situated in Beckington just outside Frome in Somerset I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are in the area.

The Fools Food Heroes – July

Yes, yes I know, this is the post you have been all waiting for right? Screw the humorous musings and serious debate what you really want is posts about food, correct? Ok well true to form I have managed to do it just before the end of the month and I once again have 3 fabulous foodie firms for your reading pleasure

Thoughtful Bread Company

There is a little café called Troughs next to the canal near where we live, that just happens to be conveniently placed about half way around one of our favourite dog walks. For the princely sum of £2 this café offers unlimited toast. They simply have a couple of toasters on the side along with loaves of bread and you help yourself. So there we were eating our own body weight in bread which was amazing and it turns out that it’s made by the Thoughtful Bread company in Bath. A small company, but making bread of the finest quality. I’m not on a mission to get into Bath on one of the days they are at the market there so I can stock up the freezer.

Wiltshire Chilli farm

Now chillies aren’t really something you associate with the West of England are they? This local farm came to my attention recently as the producer of a quite staggering range of chillies. Now I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to hot food most of the time, but used correctly you have to love the almost fruity warmth of a good chilli. These guys have a great variety of chillies covering the entire Scoville scale and they can be bought either online or at a number of farmers markets. It’s quite amazing really the type of food that can be grown in England with a bit of effort and certainly a good way to cut down on food miles. They also sell chilli plants in case you fancied having a go at growing your own.

Quoins Organic Vineyard

English wine has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, potentially one of the positives of global warming, so when I discovered there was a vineyard close to me recently I was intrigued. Not only that but they have won awards from the UK Vineyards Association for the last 4 vintages. Sounds pretty impressive so I am on a mission to try some, they’ve just started opening on a Sunday for tours of the vineyard so I’m hoping to get up there this week and find out more. Wine buying in the UK has been increasing year on year, so if you have any interest in reducing food miles this is another great way to do. I shall report back later after the all important tasting.

Food Heroes – June

Yep folks it’s that time of the month again when I remember that I have this monthly post that I do and it’s almost the end of the month so really should do it. So here for your enjoyment are 3 more fab food companies to check out.

Shaken Oak Mustard

These guys produce mustard grown in fields less than a mile from where I grew up, when I was a child my parents bought it from the local shop which at the time was one of the few outlets. Now they have grown and are selling through a number of farm shops and the Co-Op chain throughout Oxfordshire and for those not in the area they have an online shop. These mustards are as different from Colmans as you can get, they are coarse grain, packed with flavour, herbs and also local beer! They make an excellent addition to gravy (particularly with sausages) or simply in a cheese sandwich.

Hobbs House Bakers

My first experience of bread from these wonderful bakers was in the form of a giant sandwich from their shop in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. This soon became a regular stop off point on the trips between home in Oxford and university in Bristol. They now supply a large number of farm shops and small stores throughout the South West, plus you can buy online. I also noticed that they are running bread making courses if you want to brush up on your home baking skills. I’m a big fan of their light rye sourdough, great for dipping in oil and vinegar. Also conveniently wheat free for those with an intolerance.

Goose Island brewery

My final company this week isn’t remotely local but they do brew a beer with the best name in the world. You see this beer is called Matilda! A friend spotted a bottle at a food market and bought it for me and you know what? It was tasty! (but would you have expected anything less?) I’m trying to source some more of it so if anyone happens to have seen some in this country I’d love to know.

The Fools Food Heroes – May

Yes, it’s almost the end of the month and I have again almost forgotten to do this months post. No shortage of food heroes to mention though, just a lack of organisation on my part.  So here in all their glory are my food heroes for May:

Wychwood Brewery

This brewery is based in my home town of Witney in Oxfordshire, although quite a well known brand now and available in lots of supermarkets they still brew on their original premises. A friend of mine lives in a house overlooking the yard and on brewing days the smell is just incredible. Hobgoblin is their flagship beer, a dark malty affair perfect for a winter’s evening in the pub. For the summer they have Wychcraft, a much lighter, fresher ‘Blonde beer’ that is great with a summer BBQ and one of the Lady of the Manor’s favourites. You also have to check out their website, a very impressive beast with lots of goblins and dark woods to explore, there is also a tool to find your local pub serving their beer.

DJ Haggett

This is a butchers in Silverton near Exeter, I first visited this place when my older brother lived in Exeter and now make a detour to visit whenever in the area. Quite honestly it is some of the best meat you can buy, but that isn’t why I visit. I go for the pork pies! They’re handmade on site and are 10 times better than those little Melton Mowbray things in the supermarket. Last time I went in there the butcher was telling me how they were freshly made so could be frozen etc, he offered to seal wrap the pie if that was my intention. He was slightly surprised when I informed him I was going to tuck into it immediately. No point delaying these things is there? Unfortunately they don’t have a website, but if you’re interested in visiting you can call 01392 860226 or just visit the village. It’s not a big place and the butchers is right in the middle.

The Lounges

A bit of a different animal this one being a cafe/bar rather than a food producer, but hey it’s my food category so I’ll make up the rules as I go along. This is a small group of cafe bar’s dotted around Bristol, mainly in small neighbourhoods away from the city centre. We lived in many different locations in Bristol over the years we were there and were fortunate to be near 4 of their locations at one point or another. The ethos of this company is to find premises that are a little bit different (an old bank for example) and deck them out with a hotch potch of tables and old church pews and chairs. They serve a simple menu of meals and some tapas style dishes along with one of the best cooked breakfasts in the west. The atmosphere in them on a Sunday morning is just perfect, lots of people in their with their children drinking coffee and eating cooked breakfasts. One of the main things we miss about living in Bristol and unfortunately quite rare to find such a collection of independent cafe’s these days. (it turns out after looking at their website that they have now expanded to other cities, so their may be one near you!)

The Fools Food Heroes – February

So my new regular feature started in December has been so regular that I missed January! Oh well I’m sure no one noticed. So here is my February food heroes, 3 great companies who are firm favourites in this household. Please go and take a look and try something new, if you do try them I’d love to hear your feedback.

Godminster

The lady of the manor and I first tried cheddar from the lovely folk at Godminster when visiting the Soil Association Organic Food fair in Bristol. I often struggle to find a cheddar that isn’t so strong that it’s sour and tastes like vegetables, but also isn’t bland and lifeless. Their vintage cheddar fits the bill perfectly, it comes in beautiful purple wax and is aged for 12 months before being selected by Godminster. Plus if you have a cheese obsessed partner then they also do the cheese in a heart shape, perfect for the upcoming valentines day! Their website has lots more information about how the cheese’s are made if you’re interested and you can order online if there isn’t a stockist near you.

St. Peter’s Brewery

My brother introduced me to this beer, the wine merchants he worked for were one of the first places to stock it, although you can now find it in most supermarkets. I love the unusual shape of the bottles, nothing else is like this and the contents certainly match expectations. My personal favourite is the golden ale, a perfect light beer for a summer’s evening, especially when combined with barbequed pork steaks! The beer is brewed using British malt and hops and water drawn from chalk below the brewery in Suffolk. I buy mixed cases from Majestic Wine whenever I visit which is good way to get a variety to try and they often have deals on as a bonus.

The Bath Pig

Chorizo? From England? Surely not?! But yes, fabulous chorizo at that, love the spicy one, a few chunks gently fried and added to a tomato sauce and pasta is just yummy! The Bath Pig sell a few different flavours of chorizo, in both cured and semi cured depending on your preference and desired use. The chorizo is of course made with 100% British pork and the finest natural ingredients. I have seen it for a sale in farm shops and the like but check out their website for more info on stockists.

The fools food heroes – December

Drum roll please, I am pleased to announce the first ever regular topic on this ere blog! In a change to the usual wordy (ranty) posts that my blog seems to have evolved towards, I’m going to intersperse the heavy topics with something a little more light hearted.

A confession

As you may or may not know I LOVE FOOD, that’s right, I’m a foodie (perhaps even a food snob?). I don’t eat fast food, I spent my student years mainly at home so I could spend money on food and not beer and I buy all my meat from a butcher. I’ll preach to anyone that listens how good a free range chicken is or how much better a homemade cake is vs. one from a supermarket. I’m also pretty passionate about finding local, specialist producers who are making top quality and often unusual foods.

The new regular feature!

So I’d thought I’d start a regular (at least monthly) post to share a few of these producers in the hope of spreading the joy of eating the fabulous food that we make in this little country. There will inevitably be a South West England bias here as that’s where I live, but I make no apologies for that the region is pretty blessed. But I will endeavor to include at least some from other parts of the UK and if you know a producer who sells something amazing then let me know, always on the look out for recommendations. I may well stretch the definition of food to include pubs/restaurants at some point.

December’s selection

Until a year ago I lived in Bristol and had done for the previous 8 years, Bristol is a great city and has a rich food culture. The lady of the manor and I often frequented the Sunday farmers market at the tobacco factory where the first 2 companies always had a stall. Even since moving away from Bristol I still buy products from them and would definitely rate them ‘best in class’!

Pieminster pies

No doubt some of you will have heard of these lovely people, they make the BEST pies ever. Fact. The vast majority of the ingredients are sourced local to Bristol, they use a different kind of pastry for the top and the bottom to ensure the perfect pie and every pie is hand made. The pies even have great names; Moo Pie, PM Pie, Chicken of Aragon, mr porky pie. The fillings are chunky, full or flavour and have something for everyone.  They have outlets in Bristol of course, but also Oxford, Stoke on Trent and London, you can even get them on the Deli counter at Sainsbury’s. So if you get a chance check them out! Oh and they’re also on Twitter

Extract coffee

 My second recommendation and another market regular is Extract Coffee, they sell coffee sourced by themselves and roasted in small batches in Bristol. This means you get the freshest possible coffee; compare a bag from them to one from the supermarket and you will be amazed. The smell of fresh coffee fills the room and has a taste to match. You can order coffee mail order which is what I do now for little more than the cost in the supermarket and it arrives in a couple of days fresh from the roaster. My personal favourites are the pacific espresso and the after dinner blend. Many of the coffees carry fair trade or rain forest alliance certification also.

Walter Rose and Son

Finally I’d like to give a massive recommendation for my local butcher here in Trowbridge. Walter Rose and Son have shops in Trowbridge and Devizes, they sell not only meet but also fresh fish and have a deli counter. These days it’s often hard to find a good butcher, but these guys provide a great service and some excellent meat. It may not be all organic etc, but the quality is excellent. If I had to recommend one thing it would be their homemade sausages, particularly the venison and red currants. Yum! So if you ever in the area pop in and take a look.

I’d love to hear who your food heroes are, whose produce to you buy whenever you get chance?