19th December 2022
Our popular Thrings Eats articles have seen us interview a wealth of food producers and farmers around Hampshire. From cheese to chocolate, trout to tipples, there’s more than enough local produce in the county to create a perfect festive feast.
Here are our tips – click on the link to see the full Thrings Eats article for each producer we mention.
Mouthwatering main courses
Whether you’re a fan of traditional turkey or are looking for something more unusual, Thrings Eats has you covered. On our visit to Newlyns Farm Shop, we found a family-run butcher, baker and greengrocer in one stop. Every chop, sausage and steak on sale comes from the animals on the farm in North Warnborough, which has been in Emma Higgins’ family for more than half a century.
If beef or lamb are your choice, then visit Bere Mill Farm and Butchery on the banks of the River Test. This small business is big on traditional farming and environmental responsibility and keeps a flock of 400 sheep and a herd of around 150 rare breed cattle, including Belted Galloway.
For fish-lovers there’s Chalkstream Trout, which has an online shop offering fillets and whole fish alongside treats such as fish cakes, cold smoked trout, potted trout, pate and terrines.
Blessed are the cheesemakers... and we found some spectacular examples when we visited Four Brothers Cheese at Biddesden, Andover. This small operation run by Sam Guinness and his siblings produces an award-winning brandy-washed soft cheese and a feta-like treat which impressed judges at the Artisan Cheese Awards.
For an unusual alternative, former Formula One champ Jody Scheckter’s Laverstoke Park Farm produces buffalo mozzarella from an all-natural operation near Overton. The farm also supplies Fuller’s pubs with buffalo milk ice cream and sells at retail through Ocado, Waitrose and a host of other outlets.
Snacks and treats
An after-dinner mint rounds off a big meal perfectly, and a refreshing option comes from Summerdown Mint on the Hampshire Downs at Malshanger. Its products, including chocolate thins, are made from Black Mitcham mint, brought back to England from the US in 1995 by Sir Michael Colman whose grandson Jo now runs the farm.
Sticking with chocolate, delicious treats come from chocolatier Miss Witt – full name Kerry Witt – who handcrafts all her products in her workshop at Sway, near Lymington. The key is her hand tempering process which produces chocolate with the perfect “snap”.
If you’d prefer something with a little more crunch, there are sweet and savoury options from Great British Biscotti, based near Andover, which has grown from small beginnings in 2016 to supply supermarkets and farm shops across the country. These twice-baked Italian-style biscuits come in a range of flavours from savoury cheddar with chorizo, wild garlic and rosemary, and sun-dried tomato and olives, to the sweet chocolate, cranberry an orange options – and of course, a traditional almond variety.
Time for a tipple!
When it comes to festive after (or before) dinner drinks, Thrings Eats has you spoilt for choice. Simon Robinson and his team produce world-class English fizz at Hattingley Valley Wines, taking on the French at their own game by producing up to half a million bottles a year that rival Champagne for taste and quality.
Gin lovers can toast the season with ward-winning London Dry, Chalkstream Gold and Sunset Citrus varieties from the Test Valley Distillery. Here, former teachers Jonathan and Sarah Nelson use water drawn from a nearby borehole and herbs on their doorstep to produce a unique product in distinctive bottles whose eye-catching design catches the light and mimics the flow of the river. Or you could opt for gin, vodka, rum or coffee liqueur from Gorilla Spirits, whose founder Andy Daniels swapped a career in corporate IT for a venture which now supplies bars, restaurants and supermarkets throughout the UK.
Real ale fans can have their thirst-quenched thanks to a huge variety of Hampshire breweries – we loved a recent visit to Winchester’s Alfred’s Brewery, which focuses on sustainability and produces a small but perfectly formed range of traditional beers. Watch out for our Alfred’s article in the New Year.
Finally, for non-drinkers and those looking for a refreshing alternative, Hill Farm Juice at Swanmore converts 500 tons of fruit a year into “lovingly squished” apple juices.
Cheers... and whatever’s in your glass and on your plate, Merry Christmas from the team at Thrings!