Have yourself a fabulous break in the idyllic Test Valley, Hampshire this year and indulge in a wide range of local, wonderful food and drink and related activities. The clear chalk streams of the River Test are excellent breeding grounds for its famous trout – a local favourite in many eateries. Chalk hills provide just the right environment for sparkling wine as well as mineral water. Gin, beer and cider producers are also a feature. Livestock farms abound raising rare breed pigs and cattle and even water buffalo. There are also lots of small-scale artisan producers selling everything from honey to cheeses. Not only can you buy produce, but you can sample it at many restaurants and pubs and during events throughout the year.
The Test Valley has many different vineyards and the local wines are sold in outlets from farm shops and markets to supermarkets up and down the Test Valley. You can even stay in a treehouse overlooking one vineyard – Black Chalk – and sip a glass of wine produced there whilst watching the sun go down! https://www.blackchalkwine.co.uk Wine’s not the only tipple produced in this part of the world. The River Test Distillery produce London Dry Gins with botanical infusions and blends https://rivertestdistillery.co.uk and at Test Valley Gin you can enjoy a tasting experience of their herb-infused gins. Local beers like those created at Flack Manor Brewery www.flackmanor.co.uk or Betteridge’s Brewery https://www.hampshirefare.co.uk/…/producer-profile-betteridges-brewery are very popular and microbars like the Andover Tap https://theandovertap.co.uk and the Cocky Anchor in Romsey with its sensational view of the Abbey are not to be missed. https://www.cockyanchor.co.uk
You’ll find plenty of local businesses selling delicious wares here in the Test Valley. Take 108 The Bakery, in Romsey, which specialises in sourdough, breads and pastries and offers seasonal demonstations and workshops Home (108thebakery.co.uk) Little Bee Bakery, Romsey, which produces cakes and biscuits www.littlebeebakery.co.uk Or Beckys Beezzzs, which sells delicious honey straight from the hive, honey-related gifts and runs courses in beekeeping and beekeeping equipment https://www.beckysbeezzzs.co.uk . Chalk Stream Foods sources and supplies a range of fresh and smoked artisan-farmed trout to eateries and events, fish counters and direct to your door. Deliveries include everything from fresh trout to picnic boxes with or without champagne! Chefs Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi as well as food writer Tom Parker Bowles are all fans of the company’s trout! https://www.chalkstreamfoods.co.uk Four Brothers Cheese is a family-run business making cheeses (including a brandy-washed soft cheese – Pippin – and a feta-style fresh cheese – Bryony) using their pedigree, pasture-fed Ayrshire herd https://www.fourbrotherscheese.com. Lyburn Farm makes a variety of different hand-made cheeses, all of which are made from the farm’s own cows’ milk. Although pressed, the artisan cheeses are softer than Cheddar and more continental except for Old Winchester. The farm also produces organic vegetables and pumpkins. Lyburn Cheese | Farmhouse Cheesemakers (lyburnfarm.co.uk) Lusso Leaf, grows fresh, nutritious microgreens and herbs from a farm breaking with convention, based entirely indoors and employing efficient vertical farming techniques, https://www.lussoleaf.com Red Fox Fine Foods creates moreish twice-baked cheese souffles suitable for vegetarian and gluten free diets. The Red Fox Cheese Soufflé is the centrepiece of the Red Fox brand. Made with flour from John Lewis’ Leckford Estate, local free-range eggs and a mature cheddar, Red Fox has perfected this product over 15 years to produce a daunting classic made easy for home cooking. https://www.redfoxfinefoods.co.uk/cheese-souffle Or you can take your own apples or pears to Kimpton Apple Press to be pressed into delicious juices, or Churchwarden’s, an apple liqueur, aged in oak barrels. https://www.kimptonapplepress.co.uk
Farms and suppliers of high-quality meat and other animal products abound in these unique rural surroundings. Take Harewood Forest Produce, a small local business producing wild venison sausages and burgers. They also have a range of butchered wild venison meat available. Their venison is reared in the wild in Harewood Forest, meaning the meat is 100% traceable from forest to table. https://www.hampshirefare.co.uk/member/harewood-forest-produce Broughton Water Buffalo describes its practice as ‘regenerative farming in the face of the climate and ecological emergency.’ It rears pasture-fed water buffalo and the meat can be bought in the on-site farm shop. The 250 – strong herd is managed not only to produce healthy meat but also to help improve soil and landscape through grazing management and the use of deep rooting plants. https://www.broughtonwaterbuffalo.co.uk And Clayton Eggs is a local wholesale free-range egg producer with over 5000 happy chickens running around on the farm, fed on feed free from artificial flavours, colourings and hormones. www.claytonseggshampshire.co.uk/ Gambledown Farm practices sustainable farming with a resident herd of over 30 Shorthorn cattle, arable crops and ancient woodland. Beef, pork, lamb and free-range eggs are available online and in the shop on site. https://www.gambledownfarm.co.uk
Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm first opened its doors as a Rare Breeds Farm with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and has since established its very own English Vineyard. The Farm Shop, Kitchen & Larder stocks farm eggs as well as its own top-quality pedigree Saddleback meat products too including Award Winning Sausages, roasting joints and more. You can also buy milk from their dispenser, rare breeds items pickles and jams, meat boxes as well as wine and ales https://choldertonrarebreedsfarm.com The Leckford Estate, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, is a LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) demonstration farm, believing in the importance of biodiversity and high-quality food production through sustainable farming techniques. Visitors to the Estate can browse in the Farm Shop for locally sourced meats, fresh vegetables and salads and much more besides. https://leckfordestate.co.uk
Why not try your hand at learning a new skill whilst on a short foodie break? Sarah Whittaker gives lessons and demonstrations using the Aga, Esse or cast iron – everything from casual dining to cookery from around the world. Well known for her relaxed style and effortless recipes, her career has been interesting and varied: cooking in staff canteens, wine bars, city dining rooms, feeding film crews, cabinet ministers and rock stars! https://www.sarahwhitaker.com The gin-clear waters of its chalk streams made the Test Valley the birthplace of fly fishing as we know it today. Why not spend some time fly fishing? Whinwhistle Fishery is set in 26 acres of beautiful woodland and water with 5 spring fed lakes in idyllic surroundings, stocked with different species of fish and expert tuition for all levels of ability. https://www.whinwhistlecoarsefishery.co.uk/ Fishing Breaks also offers fishing for everyone, from experts to novices. Choose from a Foundation course, Half Day Taster, private tuition, adult and child sessions, Family Days and Camps. http://www.fishingbreaks.co.uk/hampshire.html 108 The Bakery gives sourdough making workshops where you’ll learn the skills needed to confidently bake your own bread. Or you could try a Viennoiserie workshop to learn how to make croissants, pain au chocolat, Danish pastries and cruffins. Seasonal cooking demonstrations are also on offer, using the best of local produce. Home (108thebakery.co.uk) And if you’re interested in home curing, why not treat yourself or a loved one to an exciting half day’s introduction to charcuterie at The Charcuterie at Parsonage Farm near Andover. You’ll be taken on a journey from butchery to the processes needed to cure your own delicious meats and salami. Charcuterie | The Charcuterie at Parsonage Farm | Upton (parsonagefarmcharcuterie.com)
Buying local food and drink in the Test Valley couldn’t be easier – there are farmers markets, farm shops, village shops, independent food stores, bakeries and more. Or shows like the Romsey Show (11 Sept), a traditional country show, held on the magnificent and historic Broadlands Park, Romsey and with a wonderful turnout of animals of all kinds as well as a Food Zone, Food Courts showcasing locally and internationally sourced food and drink as well as a demonstration theatre with local chefs and businesses. https://romseyshow.co.uk
And you can stay or dine in a hotel or pub-with-rooms that has good local food at the heart of its menu. Places like The Grosvenor www.thegrosvenorstockbridge.com or The Greyhound on the Test thegreyhoundonthetest.co.uk– both in Stockbridge, The Bourne Valley Inn at St Mary Bourne www.bournevalleyinn.com and the Peat Spade Inn www.peatspadeinn.co.uk in Longstock or the Duke on the Test just outside Romsey. Or dine in Award-winning The Crown at Upton. And you can experience farm life at Gambledown Farm https://www.gambledownfarm.co.uk or Michelmersh Farm and for those wishing to stay in the treehouses at Black Chalk overlooking the vines, these are run by Wild Escapes https://wildescapes.com
For more information about visiting the area visit https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/communityandleisure/tourism/ You can also find out more about food and drink in the Test Valley by visiting https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/communityandleisure/tourism/taste-test-valley. Or try Hampshire Fare’s new guide to local produce in the area ‘The Chalk and the Cheese’ https://www.hampshirefare.co.uk /Hampshire Fare support local food, drink and craft producers – a not-for-profit organisation working closely with over 400 businesses involved in rearing, growing and making an array of produce including cheese, wine, beer, meat, charcuterie, pies, spirits, cider and more.
Notes to Editors:
The Test Valley: is West Hampshire. Named after Hampshire’s longest river with an international reputation for fly fishing the Test Valley is home to quintessential English villages, unspoilt meadows and chalk downlands which support a fantastic array of local food and drink producers. Come and explore! Enjoy all this plus a great range of fascinating attractions, historic houses and gardens and places to stay.http://www.testvalley.gov.uk/communityandleisure/tourism
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