I was driving through Chatsworth Estate the other day and happened to notice that their farm shop was hosting a food fair, so I returned the next day, armed with my appetite and camera to go and check it out.
Chatsworth Farm Shop is a celebration of locally sourced, British produce and food. You can find a variety of treasure that is reared, grown, baked and sold in the heart of Derbyshire and some further a-field. Today we went to check out what they have on offer at Chatsworth and speak to some of the suppliers themselves.
As we walked through the farm shop into the main room where the food fair was being held, even at just after opening, we notice how busy it is, and its 11am on a Sunday so that just goes to show how popular this event is. How did I not hear about this sooner?!
The first stall we stop at is Raw Gorilla, where we were lucky enough to meet the founder and CEO, Fraser Gregory. Raw Gorilla is a company who specialise in making raw, organic, dairy free, paleo, gluten free, keto and DELICIOUS breakfasts, granola, muesli and snacks. We stopped and tried out a few of their yummy granolas and I’ve got to say – the ‘Original Crispies’ are a taste sensation, bursting with coconut and cashew flavours! They have a “Mighty Muesli” that is the first, yes FIRST, keto breakfast option, and it’s pretty tasty too! They’re packaging is eye-catching and colourful and will make you want to grab the boxes off the shelf just to jazz up your cupboards a little bit more, and it was all designed by Fraser himself- a truly impressive and down to earth guy. If you want to go check Raw Gorilla out for yourself and get a hold of some no-nonsense good for your gut-grub head to www.rawgorilla.co.uk really excited to see what these guys get up to in the future and will definitely be keeping an eye out for their new products!
We make our way round to the Fentimans stand, who I’m sure need no introduction. Fentimans is a botanical brewery that’s been alive for over 100 years, so even my nan has heard of how good these drinks are! Now, as I am sure you have seen there name around too, you are probably aware of their ‘curiosity cola’ and other favourites that they keep stocked in local café’s and bars. But did you know they have expanded in to tonics? And I’m not just talking about your bog-standard tonic. PINK GRAPEFRUIT TONIC, HELLO! Flavours I wouldn’t have thought you could get in a tonic, all for pairing perfectly with a healthy measure of gin! If you don’t quite fancy the distracting flavours though, maybe you like to enjoy a classic G&T the good old fashioned way and taste it for what it is- well they have a tonic for that too, the “Connoisseurs tonic” and with spring just about here, and summer right around the corner, I couldn’t think of a better bevvy to sit in the sunshine with!
Next on our tour, CHEESE. We had the pleasure of meeting John Davies and Hannah Kinston, two young entrepreneurs making a dent in the dairy industry! Hannah’s family own a dairy farm and since 2016 they have been making their own fun and fantastic-tasting fromage! We got to sample their triple onion double Gloucester, and their smoked cheese with chilli. Okay we may have tried it twice… just to be sure. This was their first time at Chatsworth food fair, but I hope not their last. They explained that their business was started to fund University, and I can only admire two young people taking their futures in their own hands and making an honest way of funding it. And what better way than with the nations favourite food?! Well that may be just my opinion but these two are certainly killing it! Standing out above the crowd, they know what we want when it comes to cheese: great flavour, great texture, and great variety. I look forward to seeing them at other food festivals in the future, and I hope you get to meet them yourself, as these two are certainly ones to watch!
At this point, I am glad we skipped breakfast with all these samples around, and also really appreciative we stopped at Raw Gorilla first and had a more balanced start to the day, as the next stall we stopped at was the Yorkshire Crisp Company. Anyone who knows me, knows typically I prefer savoury over sweet, but when it comes to popcorn. Well. That’s just a whole new level. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see bowls of popcorn in all different flavours just waiting to be tried. We met with Dan Fawbert, who went through some of the flavours with us and told us a bit more about the brand I have seen in hampers and at Chatsworth farm shop before. Did you know they are based just down the road? In Sheffield! Where people refer to the brand “Hendersons” as relish. Now, I know a lot of Northerners might turn on me for saying this, but Dan agrees with me! IT IS NOT A RELISH, IT’S A SAUCE. There, I got it off my chest. This is the reason Yorkshire Crisp Company call that particular flavour of crisp “Henderson’s sauce flavour” as they didn’t want to brand it as a pickle flavour, which is what everyone, other than the people of Sheffield, would think. So, after sampling a few of their crisps, and having a good ‘Am I right?!’ back and forth with Dan, I popped a packet of coconut and toffee flavoured popcorn in my basket (it’s nothing short of delightful) and moved on.
I tried to resist temptation, I was heading towards the fruit, but I am only human. A weak, and hungry human. The smells and samples of the freshly baked, Chatsworth cakes, drew me in. On recommendation, I tried the brownie- and I was not disappointed, so moist and rich and full of post-Easter mini eggs! Theo tried both the carrot cake, and the Bakewell tart (I think he tried the tart twice) and it took all our strength not to pop some in the basket (we have a holiday coming up and waist lines to think about!) not only did we enjoy trying the delicious in-house bakes, but chatting to Chatsworth farm shop’s staff was incredibly informative and a real credit to the establishment to employ such proud employees who love the products they stock and the place they sell them! And it was lovely to have the chance to meet the Farm Shop Manager- Richard Foster, who came to personally introduce himself despite clearly being a very busy man.
If you’re in the Buxton area, just up from B&Q you will find TOMSON- suppliers of fresh produce, milk, cheese and bread all locally sourced and of high quality. And I got to look at their stand at Chatsworth farm shop’s food fair- and sample a couple of strawberries of course! If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably aware I prefer to use fresh and locally sourced produce than going to supermarkets. This is because, not only do I believe that supporting local businesses is better for our economy but the food you buy is better for you. Sure, you can buy strawberries all year round at Tesco, but they won’t taste as sweet as the ones you buy in Summer from your local green grocers. It may not be Summer but that still didn’t stop me buying a punnet of strawbs from Tomson’s stall today- sweet and delicious.
Our next sample came in the form of a kidney bean curry – perfect to fight away this cold I have! We got talking to the guys at Previns about their new and fun ways to serve up traditional Indian food. Their stall was certainly hard to get to, as you can imagine, the fresh and spicy aromas were pulling people in, and I am so glad we got to taste what all the fuss was about. Showing us exciting ways of eating the food we already have come to know, we were served a mixture of samosa, with mango and raita topped with a crunch- one of their own fresh spicy, savoury snacks. All their food is made in a nut free factory (perfect for peanut-free-me!) and vegetarian! Chatsworth stock Previns products so if you’re in the mood to cook Indian cuisine with an adventurous twist, get yourself down to the farm shop and pick up a packet, try something new and enjoy a traditional family recipe with a modern take on food! Cannot wait to see Previns at the next food festival I go to, from what I hear, they have some pretty-interesting food combinations coming our way, so keep your eyes peeled!
Unusually for us, and probably for the best, we’ve managed to avoid carbohydrates today, until now. We are lured in very quickly to Tenuta Marmorelle and stop and talk to Vincent Carlucci, The Director and Son of the founder to this wonderful Italian brand. We try out some of his lovely pesto, own recipe olive oil – and pasta, and that’s just about when we decided to throw all caution to the wind and forget about our upcoming holiday. The truffle oil especially was divine, I just had to bring some home with me! We were even offered a sample of prosecco to wash it all down with.
Dangerously close to being swept up in the foot-traffic- I made sure we didn’t miss the next stall, as I can spot a good pie a mile off! On display were samples of Bakewell’s finest puds! But – that’s not what got my attention. I have heard of Homity Pie, I have seen it in shops, I have read it on menus, but I have never eaten one. Well, if I’m going to try one, it may as well be from the best? Bloomers. These, Ladies and Gentlemen, have been around since 1889. Supplying the Peak District with honest, baked goods. Supporting other businesses, not only do they use locally sourced ingredients, but they also stock a range of local farm shops, tea houses and cafes, our good friends at Chatsworth being one of them. If you’re not fortunate enough to live close enough to come and try one of their famous Bakewell puddings, they offer a post-a-pudding service on their website, go check it out here. But – back to that Homity pie. A beautifully buttery pastry case filled with a mixture of potatoes, cheese and onion, flavoured with garlic and parsley. And that’s it. Simple right? Yet so, so satisfying. Over at Bloomers it’s clear to see they don’t over complicate classic flavours, they revel in the simplicity of all those beloved, basic ingredients and turn them in to something spectacular! And now I have tried Homity Pie, there is no going back!
The Hartington Creamery was our next stop, and we were more than happy to sample some of their creamy cheeses! Strong flavours, and moreish textures, you can understand why they have been crowned the stilton of Kings – and Queens, as I have it on good authority that our Liz has sampled their Peakland Blue, and well, if its good enough for her majesty, its good enough for me. As they are one of only 7 stilton producers in the world, and the only producer in Derbyshire, they are quite a reputable name. And whilst they may be the smallest stilton dairy, they certainly mean big business, winning awards at local, national and international levels. For more info, head to www.hartingtoncreamery.co.uk
Okay, I’ll let you in on a secret, well its not really a secret, as secret would imply its something I would hide. And I want the world to know. I LOVE NOODLES. Yakisoba, ramen, udon, soba, vermicelli, egg- love them all. And unashamedly have noodles at least 3 or 4 times a week, so when we see someone dishing them up, we are faster than the speed of light at getting to the front of the queue. Yau’s all natural, nut, dairy and soy free sauces were on show today, served on a bed of noodles these, delicately spiced but by no means mild in flavour, sauces were what everyone was rushing to get their hands on. Side note: If you didn’t already know, I have a peanut allergy, quite a severe one too. I was 11 years old when I tried satay sauce for the first and only time and spent the rest of the night at Queens Medical Centre A&E, where they luckily managed to stop my throat from closing. So that was 13 years ago, and I can’t really remember what it tasted like but its always something I felt I was missing out on, I mean its everywhere right?! So, you can imagine my surprise when I am told that I can in fact try Yau’s satay sauce because its peanut-free. And WOW. Just WOW. I was right, I have been missing out. But not on satay sauce in general, no, Yau’s. Why don’t I have a cupboard full of these amazing sauces, and why don’t you? Marinades, stir fry’s and dips. They have it all. And soon, so will I. If like me you also want to try out the rest of their flavours, go to Chatsworth farm shop, or check them out here.
As I said previously, I am more of a savoury food eater than I am a sweet. Preserves and jams have always been something I have bought as a necessity rather than a pleasure. What a mistake this has been. We got to sample some of the Chatsworth estate farm shop’s very own rhubarb jam and sour cherry curd. Do you ever have those weird moments in your life where you are discussing a scenario that is seemingly trivial and random to then have it played out in front of you an hour, a day or a week later? I don’t know what the word or phrase for that is, but I am calling it, cherry curd. I was talking about my time in Paris with a friend the other day and saying how nice the lemon meringue pies we made were. And that’s when we went in to Eureka! Mode. Why has nobody made a different meringue-pie? Why is it only ever lemon? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love lemon meringue pie but, why not raspberry, or blackcurrant? We should make other curds?! And that was that, we moved on, forgot about it. A recipe idea I’ll save for another day… Cue Chatsworth farm shop. Slapping on a dollop of their sour cherry curd on to a piece of bread, I felt like I needed to meet the genius behind this creation (and figure out how they hacked into my brain) this stuff is delicious! And all of their jars are made in small batches with 70% fruit content I wish I picked up more than one jar, but I guess that gives me another reason to pop in to Chatsworth! After I’ve made a sour cherry meringue pie that is.
We have nearly completed our lap of the food fair, and we stop at Olives et al to try their lovely tapenades, habas fritas and of course, olives! I am a black olive lover – but this doesn’t stop me from trying both, and wow these have some serious flavour! Strong bursts of rosemary and garlic really make these olives pop! We tried some of their beautiful tapenade which we are told makes a great marinade for fish (making a note for spring/summer recipes…) and give their sun-dried tomatoes a go, which are no where near as sharp as I usually find tomatoes, just delicious.
I’m sure you have all heard of Pipers crisps before. If not, you will have definitely seen them, as these colourful crisps are hard to miss! These Lincolnshire locals took the food fair by storm with their crazy flavour combinations. My particular favourites: Rosemary and Thyme, and what seemed to be everyone else’s favourite, Jalapeno and Dill. Good luck trying to identify a crisp flavour by the colour packaging its in, because these days, there are no rules! You think cheese and onion is blue? Well in Pipers world, its yellow. And blue, is in fact, salted. Madness. Crazy packaging aside, I love this brand, and clearly so does everybody at Chatsworth, as these packets of innovatively flavoured snacks were flying off the shelves, make sure you swing by and grab yourself a pack of your fave flave!
I loved walking around Chatsworth Farm shop’s food fair and getting to sample the stock they sell! A good day made great by all the proud suppliers and staff, who were happy to inform me and boast their fantastic products! I also noticed that all the samples we were given, were in paper and card cups with wooden spoons and forks, a real nice touch and a great effort at going green! Something I hope to see a lot more of in the future at other food fairs and festivals. Can’t wait to go back next year and see what they have on offer, and hope to see some familiar faces again, particularly RAW Gorilla, Yau’s, Previns and Kinston Dairy Cheeses. But I will probably be back at Chatsworth a lot sooner – especially for some of those cakes.