Twenty tastes of Britain
Apple Juice, cider and perry
Day’s Cottage, Gloucestershire
Ashmead’s Kernel, Berkley Pippin, and Transparent Codlin: there’s a kind of poetry about the names of apples, whether for eating or cooking – or as with Foxwhelp, Hagloe Crab and Upright French, for turning into cider. And you’ll find them growing in the orchards of Dave Kaspar and Helen Brent-Smith, the two-person workforce behind Day’s Cottage. You can buy the cider, perry and bottles of apple juice, each graded by sweetness and frequently with the names of the particular apples making the juice, in Stroud and Bristol markets, or visit the cheerfully ramshackle Day’s Cottage and its orchard on a quiet back lane leading out of the village of Brookethorpe. Dave and Helen also run various courses on fruit tree management.
Madgett’s Farm, Gloucestershire
Madgett’s Farm has been there, in the rolling, wooded landscape where England meets Wales, for a very, very long time – it’s even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Daryn and Elaine Williams have only been raising poultry there since 2001, but they have won a reputation for the quality of their chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. This may be because they’re all allowed to wander over the surrounding pasture for grubs and grit, and they grow at their own pace, with no growth promoters to hurry them unnaturally along to an optimum weight. The result? The birds have proper texture and a deep rich flavour, as you can judge yourself by visiting the farm, buying one and taking it home to cook and eat.
Llanover Skirrid Honey Farm, Monmouthshire
There’s a season for honey. It lasts, according to Les and Jill Chirnside of the Llanover Skirrid Honey Farm near Abergavenny (01873 880625), from about March until the end of October, or even into November. During this period, it’s all go for beekeepers, keeping an eye on the even busier bees, making sure they’re in good health, collecting the results of their labours, removing the honey from the combs and getting it into jars. And all that’s before you can start selling it. Les and Jill are happy to talk honey with anybody – the do’s, the don’ts, the how-to-get-started, the what-to-look-out-for. Just call first to make sure they’re not out tending to their bees.
Trethowan’s Dairy, Gorwydd Farm, Ceredigion
It’s a family business, making Gorwydd Caerphilly (pronounced Gor-with), with its stone-coloured rind, its inside the colour of primroses and its fresh, creamy flavour with a distinct lemony tang at the end of it. The same Gorwydd Caerphilly that has won a hatful of awards, including 2001 Best Welsh Cheese (World Cheese Awards). It was first made by Todd Trethowan on Gorwydd, the family farm in Ceredigion, an exquisite region of woods and streams and steep-sided hills. Now Maugan Trethowan is in charge of the cheesemaking, with his wife, Kim, taking care of the ageing process – the cheese is matured on the farm for two months. They also run a cheese school in collaboration with food writer Fiona Beckett, to teach the finer points of artisan cheese appreciation.