Some foods are just inextricably British. But increasingly our enterprising farmers and food producers are turning their hands to fare more associated with farther shores.
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You may think Brie is quintessentially French, but for something special, Fen Farm Dairy’s Baron Bigod cheese is the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux-style cheese produced in the UK. It’s also one of only a handful of its type in the world to be made by the farmer on the farm – making it a true farmhouse Brie.
This creamy, white bloomy-rind cheese is handmade by Jonny Crickmore, in Bungay, Suffolk, from his own herd of Montbeliarde cows’ raw milk, to a recipe passed on by a French cheesemaker.
It has a smooth, silky texture and a golden curd, with long-lasting earthy, farmyard and mushroom flavours.
It was third generation farmer Dan Miller’s idea to start marking yoghurt at Crib House Farm, Stalbridge, after his wife, Alexandra, introduced him to Greek yoghurt and used it in recipes.
Every litre of yoghurt requires over three litres of milk and, after carefully selected cultures are added, it’s then strained using traditional methods to create a thick, creamy texture packed with protein.
A surplus of ewe’s milk from his family’s flock of 150 British Friesland sheep led West Sussex farmer Mark Hardy to start looking at other ways to use it – and establishing his own cheese dairy.
The first High Weald Dairy cheese was a 100 per cent sheep milk Halloumi, followed by Medita – a version of a Greek feta and then came hard mature Duddleswell and Sussex Slipcote soft sheep milk cheese, available in three varieties.
It might be made a stone’s throw from the North Sea rather than the Mediterranean, but Shepherd’s Purse Yorkshire Fettle is every bit as tasty as its continental counterpart.
This award-winning Yorkshire version of the salad-style cheese has been made by Judy Bell and her team in Yorkshire since 1987, after she set out on a mission to create quality dairy alternatives for cow’s milk allergy sufferers.
Made with whole ewes’ milk, each cheese is handmade and hand-salted to encourage the piquant, lemony flavour and slightly crumbly texture. The cheese is matured over a minimum of two weeks, so the salt infuses the whole cheese, before each one is wrapped to lock in the fresh flavour and creamy texture.
The Weeks family has been making artisan butter at Netherend Farm, in Gloucestershire, since the mid-1930s – taking the freshest dairy cream and turning it into true natural butter within seven days of the milk leaving the cow.
Netherend’s produce was ‘discovered’ by a London-based dairy distributor during his holiday to the area and the farm began to supply him. Although production has increased, Netherend Farm butter is still traditionally churned to retain its unique creamy flavour. It is used in some of the UK’s top hotels and restaurants, and is also served on the Orient Express.
It’s 60 years since the first garlic bulbs were planted in the Boswell family’s garden on the Isle of Wight and, since then, they have spent decades exploring its history and origins, experimenting with varieties and creating their own range of garlic-infused products.
The Garlic Farm is now the largest UK grower and specialist and family members have written books on cooking with garlic and how to get the most of its amazing health benefits, and even developed their own Mersley Wight variety.
As well as numerous types of garlic from fresh, smoked and even black garlic, they also sell their own range of sweet garlic chutneys, jams, smooth garlic mayonnaise and anti pasti, which can be bought online and from their farm shop in Newchurch.
The Really Garlicky company was born near Nairn, in 2001, when the Allingham family was looking to diversify its traditional farm and recognised there was a market for premium garlic.
The garlic is grown, packed and distributed direct from the farm, while the family has also developed its own range of garlic products. A firm favourite in its range is Aioli – mayonnaise blended with the family’s Scottish garlic puree for a smooth and creamy accompaniment for salads, cold meats and a tasty dip for wedges and crisps.
Tomatoes have been growing in the rich fertile Arreton Valley on the Isle of Wight for more than 30 years.
The island’s unique maritime climate coupled with Isle of Wight Tomatoes’ southern location means it gets some of the best sunshine levels in the UK – helping it grow some of the country’s tastiest tomatoes.
The nursery currently grows up to 200 different varieties some of which are then used to create their range of flavoursome products – including their delicious 100 per cent pure tomato passata.
Made in small batches, The Tomato Stall’s pure tomato passata is bursting with the flavour of hand-picked vine tomatoes and is the ideal base for pizza and pasta dishes.
The idea of growing quinoa – a grain indigenous to the Andes – on British soil was first considered by farmer Stephen Jones back in 2006. After much trial and error, a breakthrough was finally made with a variety bred for European climates and, together with his father Edward, he has worked to establish quinoa as a true British crop.
Sixth generation farmer Stephen says the mild climate around the farm and its fertile soils make it ideally situated to growing and developing a great crop.
In his specially-built production room, behind their shop on the Isle of Wight, Nick creates a lean, medium dry British beef biltong, using only natural ingredients, ready sliced and delicious to eat.
Greeff’s Biltong is specially air cured, which creates a tasty snack, high in protein and naturally nutritious. Nick’s award-winning product comes in a variety of flavours including garlic, black pepper and sweet chilli.
The Yorkshire Pasta Company was launched in 2019 to develop, produce and sell its own premium pasta. The team has refined traditional methods and make its own pasta slowly, authentically and with no compromise on flavour. Flour is sourced from a local mill and used it to create the perfect dough, which is pressed, before being slowly dried at low temperatures.
The Cornish Gouda Company produces beautifully handcrafted artisan cheeses on a small dairy farm in Cornwall.
His Cornish Gouda is produced by solely using milk from the family’s pedigree herd. Every stage of cheese production is powered by a biomass boiler fuelled by sustainable forestry where, on completion, each cheese is matured in an eco-friendly storage facility.
If you like your beer brewed with a Bavarian twist, West Norfolk farmhouse brewery Duration Brewing may have the thing to tickle your tastebuds.
Duration Brewing opened in late 2019 with a custom-designed Bavarian-made BrauKon brewhouse and produces a range of fresh beers and wild ales from field to glass, brewed from nature with a sense of time and place.
Tregothnan, in Cornwall, has pioneered botanical firsts since 1334 and sold Britain’s first homegrown tea in 2005, supplied by the plants and gardens thriving there, while its cold cure infusions were another world first.
After a few false starts, the world’s first true English tea was harvested in 2005 and heralded the ‘new Darjeeling’.
Today the Tregothnan range extends to many black teas – including its exclusive Single Estate – one green tea and a growing list of herbal infusions.
Back in the 1990s, head winemaker Sam Linter challenged herself to create a quality English Pinot Noir at a time when the industry and consumers considered this impossible.
Today, that wine has won multiple national and international awards and is described as vibrant and bright, with soft tannins and ripe strawberries, plums and red cherry on the palate.
Thanet Earth cucumbers are carefully cultivated to produce the freshest, most flavourful taste.
Based in the country’s largest glasshouse complex on the Isle of Thanet, Kent, Thanet Earth grows 30 million each year – equating to around one fifth of all those grown in the UK – in glasshouses the size of eight-and-a-half football pitches.
The site has the longest growing season in the country because it supplements natural light with artificial lighting during the winter months. This means its crop is ready earlier, and, in turn, means fewer cucumbers need to be imported from other winter-producing countries.
Fans of lederhosen and German-style sausages might like to try the gluten-free Bratwurst produced by Grasmere Farm, founded in south Lincolnshire by Stuart Stables.
The family farm’s Hampshire-cross pigs are at the heart of its business and are raised using traditional farming methods, to create flavoursome and tender pork.
The Wildman family have been involved in farming and butchery for more than five generations and producing cured and preserved meats in Yorkshire for a long time.
Today, with butcher and grazier Chris Wildman at the helm, the family breeds and rears a range of rare breed animals on their farm, where only the best cuts of pork are used to produce their delicious Yorkshire chorizo.
They make three varieties of the classic Spanish-style chorizo with smoked paprika, all cured for a minimum of five weeks.
As well as original, there’s garlic and a spicy picante, which has added cayenne pepper for a warm finish. All are available from Wildman Charcuterie, based in Malhamdale’s Town End Farm Shop and can be ordered online.
Whisper it quietly, but British bubbly is rapidly gaining a global reputation. Chapel Down, boasts a range of delicious sparkling wines including its Brut NV – made from grapes sourced from vineyards in Kent, East Sussex and Dorset.
Chapel Down also produces still wines, beers, spirits and cider and is an official supplier to The Royal Opera House and No 10 Downing Street.
Other brands to look out for include Hattingley Valley, Hampshire, Oxney Organic Estate, Sussex and White Castle Vineyard, Monmouthshire.
Move over olive, Britain’s fields of gold have just the thing for cooking and drizzling. Grown, harvested, pressed and bottled in the Cotswolds, Cotswold Gold extra virgin rapeseed oil has numerous health benefits and is extremely versatile.
It’s made using traditional cold pressing methods, which preserves the natural health benefits of the seed, in turn creating an oil naturally high in vitamin E, rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9, and low in cholesterol.
Combining innovation with traditional artisan methods and the finest quality ingredients, Trealy Farm Charcuterie, in Monmouthshire, began producing its own range of charcuterie in 2004.
Owner James Swift and his team pioneered the production of dried, fermented, hot-smoked and cured meat in the UK and now has a range of more than 40 delicious products, all allergen- and nitrate-free.
It uses ethically-sourced British meats – including free-range pork, lamb, beef, duck, wild venison and wild boar – to make its traditional recipes, as well as more distinctive ones rarely seen in the UK.
Danish bacon may be famous, but there’s no comparison when it comes to British bacon and the award-winning fare from Redhill Farm Free Range Pork is definitely among the best.
Terry and Jane Tomlinson breed their own Duroc-cross-Landrace pigs on their small 180-acre family-owned farm in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, and put their success down to being genuine, honest, ethical, keeping things simple and with proven quality.
Although tomatoes may seem like the most Mediterranean crop, the UK actually has a rich history of growing them – in a multitude of their forms. The Green House Sussex is a family-run business that has been growing succulent British tomatoes since 1977.
Focusing on quality and flavour, the farm grows six varieties under 10.5 hectares of glass.
Cyprus may be the birthplace of halloumi, but it’s been taken to heart by an island closer to home as Briddlesford Lodge Farm, on the Isle of Wight, is using milk from a 140-strong herd of Guernsey cows to produce a range of dairy products – including a Halloumi-style cheese.
Usually made from sheep and goats’ milk in Cyprus, Briddlesford Halloumi is buttery, golden in colour and creamy.
If you think only the Italians can make fabulous mozzarella – think again.
Jody Scheckter uses the milk from his herd of buffalo at Laverstoke Park Farm, in Hampshire, to create a creamy white, smooth and delicate cheese with a subtle tang.
Jody says the flavoursome cheese is all down to the especially sweet and fragrant grass the herd grazes, which contains 31 herbs, grasses and clovers.
After several generations of milking Friesians in Napton, Warwickshire, Roger, along with son Stuart and nephew James Hill decided to diversify into milking water buffalo.
They started with 20 cows and a bull and have built their herd to around 300, milking around 100 cows twice a day, using their milk to make buffalo mozzarella cheese and ice-cream.
Buffalo meat is described as similar in taste to old-fashioned mature beef, but 40 per cent lower in fat and at Napton it’s made into a range of artisan meat products including steaks, buffalo burgers, sausages, roasting joints, plus 10 flavours of ice-cream.
Meanwhile, further north, the Buffalo Farm has Scotland’s largest herd of water buffalo, which roam the hills at Clentrie Farm, Fife. With Scotland having such a wealth of quality beef producers already on the market, Steven said it had to be something different and so the Buffalo Farm was born.
His objective is to produce superior quality meat to market direct to the public through farm shops, local and national deliveries as well as supplying local restaurant’s and eateries.
Buffalo products available to buy direct online and in the farm’s shops and butchery include steaks, sausages, burgers, pies.