News & views
A few of my favourite food shops
I don’t know about you but I’ve massively changed the way I shop for food this year. I still go to my favourite food shops in my home town of Bristol (we have some fantastic bakeries and I must go to my local greengrocer Reg the Veg at least three times a week) but like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been shopping more online too
Partly that’s been a question of convenience - being able to get food delivered rather than having to trek round the not always socially distanced shops in a sweaty mask and partly because it’s a treat getting a food parcel. And now you may be thinking about ordering for Christmas either for yourself or for friends I thought I’d share some of my favourite online stores.
One of my best things to buy by mail order. My favourite shop is Courtyard Dairy near Settle, a shop we shortlisted when I was involved in judging the BBC Food & Farming awards a few years ago and whose Darling Blue has been one of my cheese discoveries of the year.
Many producers have also started selling direct like my friends at Trethowan Brothers whose new multi-award-winning Pitchfork cheddar is the cheese I now always want to have in my fridge. It’s really important to support our artisan cheesemakers at this difficult time as many of the restaurants they supply are closed
It’s terrific news for us carnivores that Northern Ireland butcher Pete Hannan aka meatpeter has started delivering meat hampers nationwide in the UK (one of you was lucky enough to win one the other day!) As you may know he specialises in Himalayan salt-aged Glenarm shorthorn beef which has the most incredible flavour. His sugar-pit ribs are off the scale too.
I’m also a big fan of Coombeshead Farm in Cornwall and it’s some consolation for not being able to visit or stay with them at the moment that I can at least order their wonderful mangalitza pork (and I’m hoping to try one of their ducks over Christmas!)
The other big discovery I’ve made, thanks to food writer Sabrina Ghayour’s insta feed, is Farmison in North Yorkshire which has a really wide range of cuts including from rare and heritage breeds. I’m working my way through my first order which included some deliciously fat flavourful pork chops, very tasty mutton which I made into a tagine and excellent collar bacon, a good compromise between lean and streaky.
My fault but I haven’t really got into ordering fish online - I tend to buy from my local restaurant Spiny Lobster when I need fish but friends I trust recommend Wing and Wright Brothers (the latter especially for shellfish)
Smoked salmon is another matter. The quality you get from specialists is incomparably better than that you find in supermarkets. My discovery this year has been Smokin’ Brothers who do the most amazing thick-cut salmon belly which may well be my New Year’s Eve treat. I’m also a big fan of Somerset-based Brown & Forrest, especially their smoked eel.
Two companies that do really attractively packaged products are Rooted Spices and the Tinned Fish Co. Rooted’s Explorer’s Spice Set which consists of nine small tins (£37 but out of stock at the time of writing) would make a good present for an adventurous cook, or you can put together your own selection. And I loved the Tinned Fish Market’s colourful tins - they have a range of boxes that are almost too beautiful to be opened. (Get round that by ordering a subscription from them so you constantly have new and lovely tins to look at!)
Many restaurants and restaurant suppliers are now selling direct to the consumer. Two I’ve been using are Bristol based Spanish food supplier Mevalco (particularly for olive oil and tomate frito which knocks spots off most passatas) and my lovely local (and sadly temporarily closed) tapas bar Bar 44 which is selling some enticing ‘experience boxes’. Also their new manzanilla sherry is ace.
I’m a bit of a coffee geek and although there are some great coffee roasters in Bristol I’m a huge fan of Hasbean especially their Ana Sora Ethiopian coffee which I must reorder as I’m almost out of beans!
That’s barely scratching the surface of course - there are many other brilliant artisan food businesses selling online at the moment. Do let's support them this Christmas - I’d love to know your favourites too!
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