Yesterday, I decided to go to a few of my favourite local shops for a bit of a browse and some inspiration. The sun was out and it seemed like a great opportunity for a drive through the Northamptonshire countryside and purchase a few foodie treats for the weekend.
First stop was ‘The Lader’ in Castle Ashby. This is a great little delicatessen which is part of the rural shopping yard in the grounds of beautiful Castle Ashby.
The shops stocks a large selection of goods from daily freshly baked bread and pies to a large selection of cheeses, chilled desserts and upmarket cupboard staples. I tasted a few oils and balsamic vinegars and decided to purchase a bottle of the strawberry balsamic. The flavour was quite sweet but will work well with savoury dishes too. I hope to use it soon poured over vanilla ice cream with mint and blueberries or in a spinach, black pepper and strawberry salad….bring on the summer!!
I also purchased a bulb of smoked garlic; something I have been meaning to buy and experiment with for quite some time. My hands smelt wonderfully smokey for the rest of my time browsing around the shopping yard – the scent was so strong! Tonight, I cooked roast beef and decided to roast some potatoes with rosemary and the smoked garlic for an extra bit of flavour….they were absolutely delicious! Of course, I made the potatoes suitable for Slimming World by using spray oil but by incorporating the garlic and herbs proved that low-fat healthy food can be far from boring and really tasty!
After a short pit stop visiting my parents, it was time to pop into the craft and farm shop at Earls Barton on the Mears Ashby road. This shop holds craft days on the third Saturday of every month and is half craft shop, half farm shop. Craft shops aren’t really for me but they had a small but lovely selection of vegetables, herbs, both fresh and frozen meat (including partridge and pheasant) and locally made jams and chutneys which were proudly advertised as having won first, second and third prizes in the Earls Barton fair. Here we brought a few veggies, that all important rosemary (for the roast potatoes!) and locally produced honey.
Next it was on to Beckworth Emporium at Mears Ashby. This place is absolutely fantastic and I would urge you to go if you live anywhere nearby! It is not only full of lovely fresh, local produce…
It is also a garden centre…
And a cafe….but that photo and post will have to wait for another day! We had a great time browsing around and bought some lovely local produce.
We also got talking to Mark from the Gourmet Spice Company. The Gourmet Spice Company are based in Northamptonshire and make spice blends, oils, balsamic vingears, salts and sugars; we were fortunate enough that they were doing a taster day in Beckworth’s on Saturday. They use only the freshest ingredients and many of the spice blends had been produced only a few days before. I had a taste of a few of their vinegars and can testify that their ‘Chocolate and Vanilla Balsamic’ was delicious! So chocolatey! In fact, I am quite annoyed with myself for not buying any. Luckily, I did buy a pot of the ‘Fire Pit BBQ’ rub which is flavoured with bourbon and cacao. I am really looking forward to cooking with it!
Some wonderful treats from some fantastic local businesses….make sure to stop by at all three next time you are in Northamptonshire!