Classics for British Food Fortnight

It’s British Food Fortnight! So what better time to celebrate some of the food we’re famous for? In this post I’m rounding up my favourite, traditionally British things to eat, along with the details of some great local producers too.

Scones…

Scones are definitely a delicious British classic, whether you enjoy a fruity one with cream and jam or warm cheese scone with butter, they’re a well known accompaniment to our national drink, a nice cup of tea. Scones are good fun to bake but if you don’t fancy re-enacting the Great British Bake Off, then there’s plenty of ready made scones around. Locally, my favourite scones are from The Baker Boys market stall in Winchester. Their hearty scones are a generous size with some lovely varieties including apple & date and blueberry & pear. The Baker Boys are in Winchester High Street in on Saturdays and I believe they also sell their deliciously baked wares in Romsey, Christchurch, Alton and Lymington too.

scones

Cheese…

We have some wonderful cheese in Britain, from Cheddar to Double Gloucester and Red Leicester…I could go on!  And at most farmers markets you’re spoilt for choice with lovely local cheeses. I certainly always come away from Hampshire Farmers Market with armfuls of locally made bread and cheese to scoff! From a cheeky bit of cheese on toast, to a ploughman’s lunch or a full on post dinner cheese course – it’s a fine food for any occasion! One of my local favourites is Lyburn Farm’s Old Winchester Cheese.

cheese

Toasted Tea Cake…

Back to the baked goods now and you can’t beat a toasted tea cake with a mug of tea. A tea cake means different things in different countries but in Britain it is of course a fruity, bread-like bun served toasted with butter and possibly jam too. Really the tea cake is like the less religious cousin of the good old hot cross bun and is perfectly acceptable to consumer all year round. Locally you can get a good toasted tea cake and a nice pot of loose leaf tea in Winchester’s Forte Tea Rooms.

half-toasted-teacake

Roast Dinner..

We definitely know how to do a roast dinner in Britain, whether it’s the traditional joint of beef or a roast pheasant (as was traditional in my household!), this is hearty British comfort food at its best. There are of course many local outlets serving up roast dinner on a Sunday but my two favourites are The Bugle Inn, Twyford and The Old Forge in Otterbourne.

Roast

Cheese Straws…

It must be an after affect of too much Great British Bake Off but I’m back on the British baked goods again! I absolutely adore cheese straws, which I believe were originally a British invention, although they’re apparently quite popular in the US too.  Cheese straws are comforting treat that remind me of childhood and Christmas time all at once. For me, the best ones locally are from Reeve the Baker in Winchester High Street.

cheese straws

The Cooked Breakfast…

We Brits are of course known for enjoying a cooked breakfast once in a while. You certainly can’t beat a good old fry-up when suffering the after affects of too much alcohol the night before! Personally I’m more of a scrambled eggs on toast kind of girl but I can be tempted by a well made fry-up with good quality ingredients. My top local recommendation is Bean Below, the tucked away cafe and restaurant underneath Twyford Stores – they always use plenty of locally sourced ingredients from the free range eggs to the British bacon and sausages.

cooked-breakfast

…So, who’s hungry? I’ll admit it’s not exactly the healthiest list but hey, it’s still the weekend and we’re half way through British Food Fortnight, a time to come together and celebrate all the great food we produce!

You can find out more about British Food Fortnight and how to take part on their website: http://lovebritishfood.co.uk/

Bean Below’s Brilliant Breakfast

When you’re trying to sell your house it can often lead to you having to leave the house for half an hour or so at awkward times, while random people come view your home…all part of the process, but not always entirely convenient.

House for Sale…

 

So with a viewing scheduled for fairly early on a Sunday morning, what were we to do but go out for breakfast? After pleading with Iago (our pet bird) to keep quiet and a frantic tidy up, we headed out to Bean Below – the local cafe and restaurant below Twyford Stores. I have to say that this place really is a testament to just what great produce we have locally and the scrummy delights that can be created from it. The majority of the food and drink served all is locally sourced, from the Ahmad loose leaf teas to the free range eggs.

Bean Below – the lovely little restaurant below Twyford Stores

 

I have been to Bean Below for lunch and dinner a fair few times, but never for breakfast (I’m not known for being up in time for breakfast!). Bean Below’s food is always good quality and the breakfast did not disappoint, with hearty serving of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for me and a classic Full English for Tom, it was just what two tired people unable to return home required. It hit the spot! Well done Bean Below – you never disappoint!

Scrumptious scrambled eggs and a whole heap of smoked salmon – yum!

Even when Bean Below won’t be walking distance for us any more we’ll still make the short journey from Winchester to enjoy it’s excellent food, it’s well worth the drive.

Hidden Gems Part One

There are lots of restaurants that you might call hidden gems nestled around Hampshire, some you drive past and always wonder about going in, some you’ve heard about and never been to, maybe you went once years ago and haven’t been back…whether they’re in a rural location or simply a tucked away part of town, it’s time to start thinking about our local hidden gems!

These restaurants usually have longevity, outlasting some of the more prominently positioned establishments – relying on reputations built over the years and loyal customers. I’m hoping to publish a series of posts celebrating some great local hidden gems (suggestions welcome!)…I’ll start with one of my favourites, Keats in Ampfield.

Keats is a wonderfully traditional Italian restaurant located between Wincheser and Romsey, so it probably falls into the ‘driven past it and always wondered…’ category of hidden gems – but it is most certainly worth a visit. Run by the same very friendly team for something like 20 plus years, I cannot praise this place enough, I’ve genuinely never had a bad meal there. The freshness of the food is always excellent, the fish and seafood in particular – the staff are only to happy to tell you what they’ve got in fresh that day and recommend a good wine to go with it too.

Bear in mind when I say Italian, I don’t mean Zizzi, Prezzo or Pizza Express. Keats is all about traditional Italian classic dishes done well. The specialities would certainly have to be the fish, but also the chateaubriand for two – a firm favourite of my boyfriend and his brother, who enjoy it every time. The desserts are excellent too, my favourite is the crepe suzettes, which are always prepared in front of you in the traditional way.

I’m hoping to update this post with some foodie photos when I next pay a visit to Keats, but for now I hope this short entry has served to whet your appetite for some good old fashioned Italian food…

Visit http://www.keatsrestaurant.co.uk for a flavour of the place and book a table if you haven’t been!

 

Lovely Local Finds…

Winchester and its surrounding villages have some wonderful places to eat. It’s full of interesting, tucked way little places, some are a little harder to find or a little less well known, hidden down side streets, underground or above shops. This week’s entry is dedicated to these places…here are a  few of my favourites…

The Forte Tea Rooms

Known as ‘Winchester’s best kept secret’…this is one of those places that you notice and always mean to pop into, then when finally you do it turns out to be an amazing little discovery (which plenty of people have already discovered). There’s some steep steps to climb to reach this place but it’s well worth the climb! If you’re a tea lover like me you’ll love this place, they have plenty of lovely loose leaf teas to choose from and a great menu of freshly prepared food, tasty soups and sandwiches, hot food, cooked breakfasts and cakes – what more you could want?!

Bean Below & Twyford Stores

This place gets a huge endorsement from me as a regular customer! Twyford stores is an excellent source of amazing local produce, whether it’s Lyburn Cheeses , the Oven Door Bakery, Judes Ice Cream or Hedge End Butchers.  The appropriately named Bean Below cafe is equally is a fantastic with great sandwiches, smoothies, teas (from local tea company Ahmad Tea) and a seasonally changing evening menu for the weekends. If you haven’t t ventured out to Bean Below – give it a try sometime soon!

Ginger Two

Okay, so this place is fairly well known but it is off the main high street and very easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s a truly fabulous tea-room, cafe and also a sort of homewares boutique. The cakes are absolutely divine and there’s a great selection of hot beverages to choose from (always a win with me!).

Leaf Bean

This cute little cafe in Stockbridge Road used to be my local point of call when I lived in the Fulflood area, it’s a charming cafe that does great food – as well as takeaway hot drinks (very handy in the days when I walked to work!). It’s really family friendly too – for all the yummy mummies out there!

The Bridge Patisserie

This place is right at the bottom of town and always makes me feel like I’ve found a lovely little secret place. Being a patisserie there’s plenty of indulgent sweet treats on offer (including handmade chocolates!), but they’ve also got a nice selection of baguettes and paninis on the savoury side of things, as well as a nice relaxed space to sit down and eat in.

Eighteen71

The cafe in the guildhall can sometimes be easy to miss, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Serving up tasty light bites made from locally sourced ingredients, the bright and spacious layout makes for a laid back atmosphere to sit and enjoy.

These are just a few of my favourites that I highly recommend a visit to. I’m  sure there’s plenty I’ve missed, maybe even some I don’t know about – do let me know your own local recommendations and Hampshire favourites…