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It has been long over due sharing details of this wonderful farm shop – perhaps a big statement to make, but I think St Kew Harvest Farm Shop could be my all time favourite farm shop.

On our last morning in Cornwall we decided to head to the farm shop to stock up on lovely items before we headed north to home.  When we arrived the shop was full of the fragrance of warm cakes straight from the oven.

Sat at a little table looking out to the fields beyond, we ate lemon drizzle cake for breakfast and I had a divine cup of hot chocolate.

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Now this is how I like my meat – slow cooked, full of moisture and soft enough you can pull it apart with a fork.  But up until now we haven’t really cooked meat like this, but after spotting a rather good-looking piece of pork belly at Davenports Farm Shop this was the moment.

We followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Pork Belly Roast and it didn’t let us down – not that any Jamie recipe ever has, I don’t think.  On top there was a layer of golden, crispy crackling, and beneath the meat was flavourful and soft.

We ate it drenched in gravy, with a pile of fluffy and super buttery mashed potato, and peas and broad beans.  De-lish!  Definitely one to make for friends.

As I mentioned previously last weekend we headed down south to Hereford for a friend’s wedding.  On our journey home we decided to take a leisurely trip stopping off at food place along the way.  We didn’t really have a plan, just to see what we found.

The first place we came across we whizzed past, which is funny because it’s such a huge blot on the landscape it’s hard to miss!  In the midst of countryside as you head out of Hereford you come across a HUGE ‘barn’, if it can be called that, which reads ‘Oakchurch – farm shop’.

We entered this building with some apprehension and were greeted by what I would describe a confused food-cum-home-cum-DIY-mega….something-or-other!  It’s identity to me was unclear, it was utterly bewildering.  Imagine a farm shop supermarket and that’s part of the way there. 

There was a huge meat section, cheeses and produce – all local the labels told us; there were wines, beers and a selection of local cider and perry; there was a whole section dedicated to homewares (china plates and mugs, jam jars, bread boards, baskets, and every baking item under the sun).

We came away with a small bottle of local perry and a couple of packets of greaseproof bags (ideal for wrapping up edible Christmas goodies).  After visiting a friend of mine we crossed the River Wyre at a toll where the lady collecting money looked like she should have sold us some eggs and home produced honey as well as our crossing! 

From there we travelled via Eardisley and pulled in at the last minute to a natural cider and perry producer called The Orgasmic Cider Company – who couldn’t resist but stop at somewhere with a name like that?!  A friendly man told us about their different types of cider’s and perry’s and we tried some before buying a bottle to take home.

Our next foodie stop was Monkland Cheese Dairy – here we found a small shop and cafe selling homemade cheese, and a selection of preserves, chutney, bread and other local goodies.  We tried some of their different cheese and settled on their Oak Smoked for Mr Rigg and their Garlic & Chive for me.

The last place we visited was the Ludlow Food Centre, the one place I had planned to visit in advance.  The food centre is a large red brick and black timber clad new build that is light and airy inside.  It was bustling with people and on entering we were greeted by buckets of gorgeous locally grown bouquets, and local fruits including Victoria plums.

There was lots of local produce to choose from with pumpkins and squashes, purple beans, and sweetcorn.  There were modest meat, cheese and deli counters.  There were some delicious looking breads (even bread shaped like a tiny teddy bear!) and all the normal store cupboard items. 

We bought some sourdough bread sprinkled with poppy seeds, sweetcorn, Victoria plums, a bunch of local flowers, the first of the Hereford apples, two types of sausage and streaky bacon (at least that’s all I can remember!).

For lunch we ate in their Conservatory Barn Cafe – cheese and chutney sandwiches and a sausage roll for Mr Rigg, and for me roasted red pepper soup.  It was nice if slightly uninspiring food, but it tasted good.  I was very tempted by their ‘award winning’ Victoria sponge cake, but I resisted knowing that we had a tupperware of homemade chocolate cake in the car.

I am so incredibly tired at the moment, tired but exciting and happy.  The past month just seems to have slipped past – I struggle even to remember what I did last weekend my week has been so busy.

I am a self-confessed ‘jack-of-all-trades’ at the moment.  I have two jobs, multiple voluntary jobs and a website to run.  This is why I have gone ‘quiet’ over the past few days…but I have some exciting news to share!

I have just got a voluntary job at the National Trust producing a sustainable food newsletter (among other things).  The National Trust is an organisation I’ve long aspired to work for, so it’s so exciting to be working with them and on food-related issues! 

In addition to that I have recently starting working in one of my local farm shops, which is also a lovely addition to my week. 

But for today (or at least yesterday – I’m now into tomorrow…) I am done and off to bed.  Too many hours have been spent looking at a laptop screen.  Next week Mr Rigg and I are on holiday at home, so hopefully I can get some rest and catch up on life.

polesdenlacey

Last weekend N and I had a lovely weekend down South, visiting some friends in Surrey and doing a bit of wedding planning (how exciting!) – we went to view these stunning giant tipis as a possibility for our wedding reception…

tipitents

But back to food.  We visited a National Trust property called Polesden Lacey (a beautiful house, gardens and stunning view – well worth a visit if you’re in the area) which also has a recently opened farmshop. 

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Always on the hunt for delicious local food, we chose a couple of local cheeses, a sausage roll and a pork pie.  The sheep cheese we bought called Lord of the Hundreds is so tasty I could eat the whole thing in one sitting.

farmshopcheeses

On Sunday night we cashed in a voucher for a free night’s stay at a hotel called the Bishop’s Table in Farnham.  It’s a pretty old building painted sky blue, which has recently been refurbished downstairs combining modern and old very nicely.  Upstairs hasn’t been updated, but we had a large room with a big bathroom with delightful old shutters – the only thing offense about the bedroom was the garish flowery wallpaper and matching curtains.

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Breakfast, however, was going to cost £12.50 for each of us, which I think sounds quite a lot!  I wasn’t convinced the breakfast would live up to its price tag, so before we left for our weekend away I had a search on the internet for an alternative option for a tasty Monday morning breakfast.

I discovered Farnham Pottery farmshop and coffee shop, which is located just outside Farnham in a place called Wrecclesham.  Originally a Victorian pottery the buildings have been sympathetically converted into a small farmshop and coffee shop.  With only four tables in the tiny coffee shop, it felt cosy but light and airy with a lovely atmosphere.

breakfastmuffin

From the breakfast menu, N chose a bacon breakfast bap accompanied by a pot of Earl Grey, and I went for the English muffin with scrambled eggs (it did come with smoked salmon but I was far too full after a weekend of good company and good food) and a Delightful Detox smoothie (yoghurt, raspberry and pineapple).

The food was delicious.  My English muffin was toasted to perfection and the scrambled egg full of flavour and moist, N’s bacon bap disappeared without a murmur, and the smoothie was scrumptious.  And the cost – £12.60 – just 10p more than it would have cost for one of to have breakfast at the hotel, and it was just what we were after.

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The Organic Farm Shop near Cirencester in Gloucestershire was one of my first experiences of a farm shop.  It is my ‘local’ farm shop when visiting my family, and stopping off here on the journey is a sign that we’re nearly there. 

As you turn off the road and down the long tree-lined drive to the farm shop, you pass piggies in a field and a market garden sized field of fruit buses and pollytunnels, before you reach the farm shop nestled amongst a grove of trees.  There is something lovely about seeing the produce growing in the fields before you enter the farm shop, something reassuring – and a great reminder about where a lot of the produce you buy in the shop comes from. 

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In addition to the farm shop (which is stocked with fantastic goodies) there is a cafe serving delicious, home-cooked vegetarian food.  Meat-eaters do not be detered by the veggie menu, it is scrumptious food and you won’t sit there wondering where you steak is.  If N can cope, anyone can.

As it was my birthday weekend, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in the cafe.  It serves daily specials and have a standard menu which comprises of a variety of baked potatoes and omelettes.  Most meals are served with a selection of salads, which are displayed on the counter. 

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You can pick and choose which salads you want – N and I turned down the mung bean, red cabbage and cauliflower salad, but were really surprised by salad of celery, cucumber, fennel and sunflower seeds.  I was also converted to the true potential of polenta – an ingredient that I have had disastrous-throw-in-the-bin results with – these were crisp, cheesy ‘croutons’ that topped off our salad.  Yum yum.

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So N opted for a selection of salads topped with melt-in-the-mouth goats cheese (he had eaten his before I had a chance to take a snap).  I chose from the specials board and tasted my first asparagus of the season – an asparagus and cheese tart with salads.  This tart was so good and would really like to recreate, or at least try to!

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As you can see it didn’t take us long to finish it all off.  I am also coming to the realisation that I am a bit obsessed by taking photographs of empty plates (those that are empty because the food that previously was on them has all been gobbled up).  I was so tempted to take a photo of the table next to us after the family had left, there was something fascinating about the empty plates, cutlery, cups and crumpled napkins strewn across the table.  N gave me such a look at the suggestion that I quickly put the camera away.

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I think I am getting a cold, which feels miserable, so to cheer myself up I thought I’d write about my favourite local farm shop – Little Heath Farm.

Little Heath Farm embodies the essence of a really good farm shop for me.  Although it wouldn’t matter where they were based, they are situated in a beautiful little village in Dunham Massey.  Just down the road is Dunham Massey National Trust which has a deer park, and my favourite place to walk – brilliant for families. 

Their farm is hidden away down the aptly named Cow Lane, past a picturesque orchard with white geese.  The farm shop is in an old barn off their courtyard.  There are three rabbits who seem very well fed on left over veg, one called Munch who always seems a bit to keen to go for your fingers should you feel overcome by how cute he is and stick your fingers through the wire to rub his nose.  Then there is Trevor the turkey and ‘his girls’ who he protects every time a car pulls in by turning bright blue and making a lot of noise.

Inside the farm shop is simple, baskets of locally grown vegetables, a couple of shelves of honey and jams, trays of local free range eggs, and cabinets of their free range pork, lamb and beef products.  For this is what they do best, lovingly produce fantastic meat products.  All of the farm shop’s signs are a distinctive black with white writing, like a blackboard, which I hope they will never alter as for me this is unique to them, and something I instantly associate with them.

Sue and her young shop assistants are friendly, knowledgeable and really helpful.  One weekend when I was hosting lunch for my partners parents and granny, I decided on pork – not that I’d ever cooked it.   The morning before I turned up at the shop and was presented with a choice of three cuts that Sue had carefully chosen and set aside for me, she also gave me a detailed recipe for how she cooks pork, which I was guaranteed would be perfect and I couldn’t mess up – it was, and went down a treat with everyone. 

I think if I ever had a blue day, popping into Little Heath would cheer me up.  Visiting the farm shop, although it is just food shopping, reminds me why life is so great, it’s one of those moments when you stop and think, “I’m happy to be alive.” 

So if you are in the Manchester/Cheshire area, call in to visit Sue and treat yourself to something delicious for tea.  This is a true, rustic, real farm shop, not one of those super posh deli’s on a farm where the person producing the food is nowhere to be found. 

Little Heath Farm, Cow Lane, Dunham Massey, WA14 4SE.

:: Little Heath Farm - Dunham Massey ::

The fantastic weather over the weekend meant a perfect opportunity to enjoy the English countryside.  On Saturday we went for a walk along the canal, and picked a meagre amount of blackberries that are currently in the freezer as I can’t dedice what to make with them yet – blackberry junket or hedgerow crumble?

Sunday heralded a local food festival, held in a nearby town (Altrincham) in their covered market – which with the sun blazing down was more like a greenhouse.  It was great to see so many people out and about, enjoying locally made and produced food, and sampling dishes from local restaurants.  We bought our festival currency and scoffed down a vegetarian curry, a chicken tikka wrap, a glass of Spanish beer and two slices of pizza for lunch on Monday.  Sadly, I forgot my camera and haven’t any pictures to show for the fantastic food on offer.

Our favourite local farmers were there – Sue from Little Heath Farm – a table laden with delicious cuts of beef and pork, and a hamper displaying the local veg they sell in their modest farm shop.  The ‘pie man’ as he’s affectionately known in our house – Neil from The Great North Pie Company – a new addition to the local food scene, hadn as usual sold out an hour into the festival and by the time we arrived all that was left was his empty pie stands and a handful of leaflets.

We sampled some freshly squeezed apple juice from a stand celebrating local allotments, fought over the last few crumbs of one of the best Victoria sponge cakes I’ve ever had – from Hulabaloo Cafe – and went home carrying a treasured bottle of local ‘Discover’ apple juice an an ‘escargot chocolat’ – a French breakfast pastry like a cross between a Danish pastry and a pan au chocolat.  De-lish!

As I haven’t any pictures to show of all this loveliness, I shall post a shot of the weekends harvest from the garden – freshly dug potatoes and a variety of tomatoes.

freshly dug potatoes and homegrown tomatoes

freshly dug potatoes and homegrown tomatoes

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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