Food, Glorious Food!

Aside from music, one of my main passions is food. I love cooking and trying out new recipes, I like to try my hand at growing herbs, fruits and vegetables and, of course, I love eating! Food is part of our everyday lives, and our attitude towards it has an enormous impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. Food should also be a pleasure - it should be properly appreciated and enjoyed.

Food should also never, NEVER be wasted or thrown away. Is it any wonder that while there are some countries where people regularly cook or buy more food than they need and throw away what's left, there are other countries where people struggle to find enough food to stay alive? We should all value what we eat properly, and never waste this valuable resource.

Local Farmers' Markets

Buying food from local producers gives you a great oppurtunity to find superb food, and to support more environmentally sound methods of food production. Buying this way also emphasises the importance of buying fruit and vegetables that are in season. Seasonal produce gives you fruit and vegetables that are at their peak in terms of ripeness and taste - surely that's what everybody wants?

From a purely selfish food-lovers point of view, you're likely to find some of the best tasting meats, cheeses and vegetables from local farmers markets. You can also chat to the stall-holders to find out more about how the food is produced.

For more information on farmers markets in the UK, or to find out if there is a market near you, visit

Rare breeds

Farmers' Markets and local producers are also one of the best ways to find meat from rare breeds of animals. When I discovered this rare breeds meat just a few years ago it was a revelation to me! The taste is wonderful, and the superb eating qualities of the meat are a direct consequence of the animal breeds and the way that they are raised.

The animals are chosen for the superior taste of their meat, and definitely not for their ability to grow rapidly when pumped full of antibiotics and growth promoters, which sadly has become the normal method of producing much of the meat in our shops.

The rare breed animals are slower to grow, resulting in a much better taste in the meat. You will also nearly always find that rare breed producers treat their animals with the respect they deserve, with a free-range outdoor lifestyle, and good-quality feed that is free of antibiotics and growth promoters. Again, the way the animals are reared is directly reflected in the quality and taste of the meat.

But don't take my word for it, try some rare breeds meat for yourself! Look out for it at Farmers' Markets and good butchers shops. For more information visit the Rare Breeds Survival Trust webpage.

... and remember, by buying rare breeds meat you are actually helping to conserve these animals.

Food and drink links

Here is some information and links on some of my favourite food (and drink!) producers from the UK

Happy Meats

Based in Worcestershire, Happy Meats produce some of the best-tasting lamb I have ever eaten! With a strong emphasis on animal welfare, they rear free-range, rare-breed animals (Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs, Wiltshire Horn and Suffolk Cross lambs, Dexter beef). They also cure their own bacon, and make their own sausages. Visit their website for more information. If you have a chance to visit them, I can't recommend their lamb rib chops strongly enough!

Look out for them at farmers markets and food festivals in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area.

Malvern Country Meals

Excellent butchers shop in Malvern, with free-range meat (organic and rare-breeds meat also sometimes available). Great beef and lamb, typically hung for 2 weeks. They make their own dry-cure bacon, which is superb. They also make many different kinds of sausages, many of which have won awards. Their classic pork sausage, pork & chestnut and citrus, pork & red wine varieties are all highly recommended.

I have to admit to a particular interest in their sausage making, as the citrus, pork and red wine sausage that won the UK Diamond Award in the year 2000 came about from a recipe entered by myself and my wife in a competition run by Malvern Country Meals!

G & R Tudge: rare breed and organic meat

Producers of delicous free range rare breed pork meat. They produce wonderful pork chops, dry-cure and oak-smoked bacon, all of which cook and taste how good pork is supposed to. They also sell excellent plain and smoked ham, sausages (only one kind, but very good) and organic chicken.

Their pigs are raised without the use of antibiotics and growth promoters, and enjoy a healthy outdoors lifestyle. The results of this are clear in the wonderful meat that they sell - some of the best pork I have ever tasted. Look out for them at farmers markets in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area.

Rochford Country Meats

Producers of beef, lamb, pork as well as bacon and sausages. Traditional breeds such as Hereford beef and Saddleback pigs used, giving a great-flavoured product. Lamb and beef is hung, as it should be, to allow the flavour to mature. Great rump steaks, lamb chops and pork belly, from time to time some excellent mutton available too. Bacon is also very good, and the rashers are on the thick side which I generally prefer. Find them at some of the farmers markets in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area (see their website for details).

Ian Mellis' Cheese Shop

No website for this wonderful place, but for any cheese-lovers who visit Edinburgh, you simply must pop in to one of these shops. They concentrate on cheeses from Britain and Ireland, although they have a number from further afield. It was here that I first encountered the wonderful Montgomery's cheddar, and other fine cheeses such as Bonnet and properly made Caerphilly. Try some then buy some!

Ian Mellis' Cheese Shops can be found at 30 Victoria Street in Edinburgh city centre, and also on Morningside Road.

Wensleydale Cheese

(from the Wensleydale creamery, Hawes, Yorkshire)

Makers of delicous Wensleydale cheese: their standard "fresh" Wensleydale is aged only for a short period of time, and has a fresh, slightly tangy taste and crumbly texture. The versions that are matured for longer (mature or special reserve) have a stronger, more savoury taste and are highly recommended. They also make a very nice ewes milk cheese, as well as a range of cheeses with added flavours such as garlic and chives, onions, blueberries etc.

Their visitor centre in Hawes is well worth a visit. You can see the cheese being made, and also taste samples from their complete range in the shop.

Staff of Life Bakery

The Staff of Life bakery is based in Kendal, Cumbria. They make the most amazing flapjacks as well as delicous bread, chocolate brownies that have to be tasted to believed and other goodies such as sticky gingerbread. It's becoming increasingly hard to find bakers that still make real bread - bread with good, simple ingredients that looks and tastes as bread should. This is one of those places, well worth seeking out if you are near Kendal.

Heather Ale (Fraoch)

Fraoch label Fraoch is a wonderful beer made using heather flowers. The brewing of heather ale in Scotland can be traced back for several thousand years, though the practice was forbidden by laws imposed in 1707 as Scotland became part of the United Kingdom. Thankfully, the tradition did not die out completely and this delicous beer is now being produced near Glasgow and can be found in off-licenses and supermarkets throughout the UK. A great balance of sweet, floral tastes with a rich, full bodied character. Try it!

Shropshire Lad

Shropshire Lad Shropshire Lad is a great-tasting, cask-conditioned beer made by The Wood Brewery using traditional methods. Look out for this one in pubs and shops around the UK, or visit The Plough Inn which is situated next door to the brewery!

Black Sheep Beer

Black Sheep Beer The Black Sheep brewery in Yorkshire produces a range of fine beers. Personal favourites are their Black Sheep Ale and "Emmerdale" beer. Their visitor centre in Masham is also well worth a visit, not only to see how the beer is made, but also for the superb food (and beer, of course) available from the bistro. You can also stock up on bottled beer, T-shirts etc from their "Sheepy Shop". See the Black Sheep website for more details.

Keswick Brewery

Keswick Brewery logo I recently discovered some of the truly superb beers made by the Keswick Brewery. Their beers are mainly available at pubs and shops in the Cumbria area, but for anyone living or visiting there I can strongly recommend they give them a go. The beers are truly amazing: well-balanced, generally lighter golden ales with a zesty/citrus/floral note. The "Thirst Rescue" beer was my particular favourite, an awesome product. See the excellent Keswick Brewery website for more details.

Last updated March 2011