Cider is the traditional drink in Wales and a new generation of artisan craft producers are reviving the old traditional methods of production.
Producers like Toloja Orchards additive-free range of traditional Welsh craft cider produced from handpicked and pressed apples from their orchards and small farm overlooking Cardigan Bay in West Wales.
They also produce a cider brandy, mead, apple and pear wine as well as cider vinegar which goes into the wide range of gourmet mustards.
Waterhouse Fayre homemade preserves, jams, pickles and chutney can found throughout the West Country; in farm shops, delicatessens, specialist cheese shops as well as tea rooms, restaurants and hotels.
A journey which started as a way to use those surplus home grown raspberries by turning them into jam in Ann Stallard’s kitchen.
A business which started on Saturday mornings at the South Molton Pannier Market which has grown over the years.
But it is still a family affair which runs from home. Still only producing small batches in their preserving pans.
Producing the award winning traditional handmade jams, preserves, pickles and chutneys for which they have built an enviable reputation.
One party request that led to another, the start of what has become Fee’s Food. Being asked to do something that makes people happy.
A simple beginning that has grown into a coffee shop, a catering service and online oven ready meals.
Situated in Rock everything is done by hand in small batches and by people who are passionate about what they do. Where the ready made meals are prepared with the same ingredients and care as one expects from a home run kitchen.
There are no shortcuts or compromises, just delicious, wholesome, homemade and unfussy food.
Such as Alfie’s home baked doughnuts. Handmade from scratch with a choice of vanilla custard, chocolate and raspberry jam or the Smoked Haddock Rarebit that is a firm favourite in the shop. Perfect quick lunch, light mid week supper or if spread on small pieces of toast, an incredibly moreish canapé.
“My best ever memory of true baking success was when I was about 3 or 4 years old & I made fairy cakes with my long suffering Mum. My Dad came home from work & I was so excited … Dad took a bite & rolled on his back with his arms & legs in the air to play dead – I just KNEW he loved them.”
As do so many of the customers who have found the Baking Bird, Lizzie Crow on her bun run. Homemade pies, savouries, quiches, tempting tarts, drizzled cakes and puff pastries.
The kitchen in her Dorset cottage is always busy. The walls lined with pots and pans, with herbs and ingredients in every nook and cranny and the wholesome heady aroma of freshly baked bread, cakes and pastry.
A regular at the Dorset Farmers Markets she can also be found at the Royal Standard in Upwey.
Emsworth is a quite coastal village in the south of England
Where you can find the Coal Exchange and one of the best home cooked pub lunches on the South Coast
They offer an extensive but simple menu which includes all the popular wholesome pub meals. Generous portions of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, a large beer battered cod fillet served with chips, baked ham egg and chips or steak and ale pie.
To be finished off with something sweet homemade and drowned in cream
One of the few outdoor markets I have been to, with a bit of character, is the Hampshire Farmers Market in Emsworth.
Held in the Village Square the stalls are interesting and imaginative.
Offering the best scotch eggs on the South Coast
Hand cut homemade pork pies
And artisan bread. Just some of the stalls to be browsed on a lazy Saturday morning.
I had an hour to kill in Midhurst. So I settled myself into a tearoom run by Neil and Theresa Cannings.
Tilly’s of Midhurst fronts onto Rumbolds Hill so you can’t miss it. But it is far enough away from everything else to make it a little different. They serve breakfast, light lunches and traditional afternoon teas.
I was tempted by the home cooked Gammon Platter but settled for a bowl of soup with a thick slice of bread as it was still a bit early for lunch.
As usual, I started ordering my Rock Shandy by explaining painstakingly how it all goes together.
Only to have the barkeep suggest that the next time I simply try ordering a Rock Shandy. This as he gave it a final swirl with the swizzle stick.
The building dates back to the 12th Century and was first licenced in the early 1400’s which might or might not make it one of the oldest pubs in the UK. A claim made by many a public house. But it matters not. This is where I go for a pub lunch whenever I am in Southampton.
A simple menu that includes traditional home cooked pub meals.
Well prepared, decent portions and reasonably priced.
And a dessert menu to round off a good meal