Share the Local Chilterns Flavour - 10 Ways to Source Local Food & Drink for your Business
The Chilterns AONB is a living, working area of countryside whose character has been shaped by people for centuries. The historic market towns and pubs, farmland, chalky streams and ancient woods all hint at the growing, trading and of course, consuming, of good food and drink.
And yet what is truly ‘of the Chilterns’ isn’t immediately obvious to many. So to help local tourism businesses give their customers a local flavour of the Chilterns, we’ve created this guide as part of our Chilterns Food & Drink campaign.
1. Real ales and craft beers are enjoying a revival, and the Chilterns has plenty on tap. From the oldest and traditional of brewers, the Chiltern Brewery to modern Malt the Brewery (winner of Best Micro Brewery in the 2015 Buckinghamshire Food & Drink Awards), there is an award-winning line-up of classic cask and bottle-conditioned as well as speciality, seasonal brews to keep things interesting for your customers.
2. Rare breeds meat: the Chilterns countryside is home to family-run farms and smallholdings producing succulent, flavourful and sustainably-sourced meat for your dishes. Local specialities include woodland-reared Tamworth pork from Black Pig Chilterns, organic Oxford Sandy & Black pork from Drovers Hill Farm near Saunderton, grass-fed lamb and hogget (8 breeds!) from Chiltern Lamb in the Hambleden Valley, and free- range chicken and turkey from Potash Farm Foods near Tring.
3. Chilterns-cured Meat. Swap the old continental varieties for some local artisan-made cured meats for your deli-loving customers. These producers are taking locally-reared meat from Chilterns farms and turning it into the tastiest salami, chorizo, coppa, bresaola and more. The Merry Pig near Wendover goes from pig pen to plate, rearing their own Berkshire and Large Black pigs and making traditionally-flavoured salami and pancetta. For more unusual flavour combinations, check out the seasonal salami range from Curious Foods in Tring. Chiltern Charcuterie near High Wycombe hand-craft a wide range of cured beef, lamb, pork and venison, all sourced from local rare breed farms.
4. Chilterns Wines. Since Roman times, vines have been grown on the chalky slopes of the Chilterns and Thames Valley. Along with a surge of interest in English wine, today’s local winemakers are producing both classic styles and unique blends - bringing Chilterns terroir into the glass. Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery in the Hambleden Valley is one of the most established winemakers producing a range of white, rose, red and sparkling wines. Award-winning local bubbly is made in the traditional Champagne method at Dawes Hill Vineyard in Radnage.
5. Chilterns Larder. Fields of yellow, apple orchards and buzzing bees...a Chilterns larder wouldn’t be complete without these artisanal products that go straight from field to bottle or jar. Mead & Sons Farm near Tring produce the versatile and award-winning Chiltern Cold- Pressed Rapeseed Oil. Their crops are pollinated by local bees who produce delicious golden honey - try Parslow Apiaries in Bledlow and Berkhamsted.
6. Chilterns game. Make the most of game season and put this nutritious, sustainable and flavourful local food on the menu. With many well-managed estates in the Chilterns, there is a plentiful supply of game, normally between October and February. Wild Game Direct near Great Missenden is a game farm rearing pheasants in the spring and summer and supplying a range of game - pheasant, partridge, rabbit, venison as well as sausages and burgers - from their partner estates across the Chilterns during the hunting season. Chiltern Wild Game from Stockings Farm near Amersham also supplies a full range of local game as well as traditonally-reared pork and lamb.
7. Chilterns cheeses. The truth is that the Chilterns landscape doesn’t lend itself to a lot of dairy production. The good news is that there are a few gems that shouldn’t be missed. Wobbly Bottom Farm near Hitchin produce a beautiful range of goat’s cheese from their herd of Saanen, Alpine and Toggenburg goats. Formerly from St Albans, Childwickbury Goats Cheese is now produced a bit further north in Bedfordshire. Also check out the new Nettlebed Creamery producing organic cow’s milk cheese near Henley.
8. Foraging. Take a cue from some of the best chefs who forage for seasonal ingredients right in their backyard. Whilst many think of autumn berries and mushrooms, try some springtime foraging instead. The Chilterns’ shaded ancient woodlands provide the perfect conditions for fragrant wild garlic. You might also find young beech leaves, sorrel, chervil and definitely the versatile nettle!