Twenty tastes of Britain
Bacheldre Watermill, Montgomery
Speed and heat are the great enemies of the goodness in flour, and nothing grinds slower or cooler than a water-driven mill. To be strictly truthful, the mill at Bacheldre, a small, stocky, old-fashioned building of grey stone with a little, whitepainted brick addition to one side, doesn’t work on water all the time. There’s enough in the millpond to drive the mill wheel that drives the French burr mill stones for about 40 minutes. After that, an electrical motor takes over and that drives the mill stones at precisely the same speed as the water. It’s this go-slow approach to milling that has made Matt Scott’s Bacheldre flours the choice of a slew of first-division chefs and bakers, as well as the Ludlow Food Centre, where Anna, the master baker, uses them for her cakes and breads. Bacheldre Mill and its shop are open for visits on weekdays.
Rhug Estate organic farm, Denbighshire
There are 12,500 acres of the Rhug Estate, stretching from Gwyddelwern in the north, Carrog to the east, Cynwyd to the south and Maerdy to the west. The core of the estate is a 2,500-acre organic farm – one of the largest in Wales – around Rûg Mansion. Here, Lord Newborough has built up a herd of glorious Aberdeen Angus cattle. These are reared on a coastal farm near Caernafon and then moved to the lusher inland pastures of Rhug, where they can mature. There are organic lambs, pigs and chickens as well. Should you wish to look for more than animal husbandry, there’s also fishing, rally car driving, gorge walking, survival training, mountain biking, go-karting and canoeing to try your hand at.
Sillfield Farm, Cumbria
There are pigs galore at Sillfield Farm, in a handsome part of the Lake District. They’re special pigs, too – Gloucester Old Spot, saddleback, Middle White, Tamworth and wild boar – all old breeds with particular, delicious qualities. You can see the pigs ranging free in the farm’s 72 acres of fields and woodlands near Kendal in the Lake District. In the end, they all go into a range of porky products made on the farm, under the watchful eye of Peter Gott, a true food hero, who can count Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver among his admirers. Peter Gott is a stickler for doing things properly, and the Sillfield Farm pies – chicken and ham, Huntsman (pork, chicken and stuffing) and wild boar – are no exceptions.
Moore’s Traditional Curers, Isle of Man
“A red herring,” wrote Thomas Nashe in the 16th century, “is wholesome on a frosty morning.” Or any morning, some might say. Moore’s Traditional Curers wasn’t running in Nashe’s day, but they have been splitting, gutting, salting and smoking herrings on the Isle of Man in time-honoured fashion since 1884. Manx kippers tend to be smaller than those of the east coast, with a characteristic grey-brown top side and a silver belly dusted with gold. The flavour is delicate and mellow, with a touch more smoke than salt. The days have gone when 150 people worked in Moore’s factory, producing several tonnes of kippers a day. However, it’s still a family business, and they’re proud to show off the production process in kippering season, which runs from May through to September.