The quality of the food we eat is critical to our health and wellbeing and supporting independent growers, farmers and producers is essential for sustainable living. This month I asked Gruffydd Rees, a beefarmer since 2010, why single-origin honey is so important, and what makes it taste so good.
Food fraud is big business. Generally, it’s the foods that we pay the most for that are most at risk of fraudulent practices. Foods such as coffee, olive oil, wine, and honey. While single-estate wines are not new there has also been a rise in independent specialist coffee roasters, offering beans from single-estate growers. Traceability is important, not only with regard to quality but to ensure fair prices and best practices, and blended products don’t offer that reassurance.
So when it comes to the honey you drizzle over your breakfast porridge, you want one that’s not only full of taste but is produced sustainably from a reputable source.
Continue reading “Interview: Honey Master Sommelier”
Is sin even a thing in today’s mad, mad world? Where the word ‘sorry’ is flung about with thoughtless abandon and the sense that it grants instant absolution, does a speck of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, or sloth still keep us awake at night?
A new exhibition opened this week exploring depictions of ‘sinful’ behaviour through religious and secular art. The small but beautifully curated show features eight historic works from the National Gallery, and two contemporary works on loan from artists Tracey Emin and Ron Mueck. The exhibition offers the chance to get up and close and personal with iconic works in an intimate setting.
Continue reading “Review: Sin at The Arc, Winchester”
In an attempt to focus on the positive and ‘forget about the worries and the strife’ of the world-at-large (apologies for paraphrasing Baloo, but you get the idea), I find there’s a lot to be grateful for. Okay, so there’s a lot of rubbish going on too but, hey, I’m trying here.
The bright summer days are metamorphosing into autumnal mellowness. The light is softening and early mornings have a slight chill in the air, with dramatic sunsets taking place and noticeably earlier each day. There is the unmistakable, tell-tale earthy smell in the air and on woodland walks the grounds are strewn with acorns and drying leaves. The simple bare necessities.
Continue reading “This week… books and Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
As the summer starts to wind down it’s time to start thinking about stocking up with those little items that will turn root vegetables and autumnal fruit into heartwarming dishes in the cooler months to come. A few jars of pesto and paste to enrich winter casseroles, a tin of quality sardines to whizz into a pate to accompany hot buttered toast, or a few venison sausages to tuck away in the freezer ready to be enjoyed with a rich gravy and mash.
One of the appeals of farm shops is the retro atmosphere of a visit to the individual butcher, baker, and greengrocer, in person. They offer a return to simpler times when the options were almost entrely seasonal, local and without so much plastic packaging.
And, here’s the thing. Each farm shop is individual and you are never sure exactly what you will find. It’s that sense of the unexpected that appeals to jaded palates used to everything being available 24/7 and year-round.
In the second of the hashtagtravelling series on farm shops, I visited the decidedly up-market Cowdray Farm Shop in search of interesting seasonal and store cupboard ingredients, as well as some late season Italian lemons.
Continue reading “The best farm shops: Cowdray Farm”
In recent years I have shopped less and less in supermarkets. Instead, I choose to seek out the farm shops, genuine produce markets and artisan makers for those authentic food experiences. Not all farm shops are created equal, however, with more and more becoming glorified delicatessens, offering products otherwise available at the supermarket or online. The Heckfield Home Farm, part of the larger Heckfield estate in Hampshire, hosts occasional markets offering seasonal produce grown on the farm, or made by local artisan makers.
This week I dropped in to the August market in my ongoing search for real food. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Continue reading “The Best Farm Shops: Heckfield Home Farm”
This week I’ve been enjoying many horticultural delights courtesy of the National Garden Scheme (NGS). The annual summer event provides the opportunity to mosey around private and public gardens in aid of charity.
The scheme is so quintessentially English, reminiscent of the beloved village fete an atmosphere fostered by the delicious homemade cakes available. Spoilt for choice at one garden, I indulged in a generous portion of walnut cake with a pot of cafetière coffee on a shady patio. Hosts were ultra friendly and there was some lively chat amongst the visitors. I met up with one couple at the next garden too, and we greeted each other like old friends. Gardening tips were swopped and recommendations for further gardens to visit. Aah, an English summer.
Continue reading “Discover a secret garden this summer”
Well, what did you think of 2021? It’s been a mixed bag with a slight improvement on the previous year (it’s all relative) although, generally and personally, not in the top ten.
But as I scroll through my photo archives and clippings’ folder for the past year, transferring key dates to the new year’s diary adding anything new (who am I kidding), I’m surprised at how much I’ve managed to cram in. Despite the restrictions we’ve all been experiencing in the past almost-two-years, as a freelance writer reliant on travel opportunities, I’ve managed to keep busy exploring my little corner of Britain, making new discoveries and sharing them with you. December [ dih-sem-ber ]. Proper Noun: a time to reflect.
Continue reading “Bye Bye 2021 (Waving)”
Welcome to the second in a new festive feature series where I invite Instagram pals from around the world to share their festive stories.
Now in the second week of November and the advertising campaigns on social media, TV, glossy magazines etc are in full swing. With over-spending developed to an unrealistic level of ‘normal’, it can be hard to resist feeling like the ‘odd-one-out’ if you’re not working up to a frenzy of shopping anxiety and party planning by mid-December.
But here’s the thing, Christmas is what you choose to make it. Push the boat out or spend the day in bed, your choice. There are no rules.
On with the storytelling. This week I ask Nina Tobin, who lives in New South Wales and likes to hang out with ‘Ma Nature’… How do you spend Christmas?
Continue reading “Christmas Around The World: NSW, Australia”
Another odd week in an age of odd times. In addition to the gods’ conspiracy to thwart travel writers with lockdowns, complicated travel guidelines and such-like, now there’s the fuel delivery shortage. After trying around eight stations (I lost count, and almost the will to live, after four) I queued for an hour to fill up. Having expected a wait of a couple of hours I thought that was reasonable (how mad can things get?).
Continue reading “This week… bread and circus”
There are a few basics in the kitchen that are really not worth stinting on. Single-estate coffee, honey and olive oil being in the top ten. The cost may be a little higher but a little goes a long way and quality over quantity is the rule. This week a common thread in my inbox has been olives, growing them and eating these delectable little fruits.
One of the first fascinating facts about olive trees is the remarkable age they are able to grow to and especially compared to mere human beings. It’s awesome.
Continue reading “This week… olives, growing, buying and cooking”
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