Back in May, I gave myself a challenge: could I eat only food grown, reared, made in the Cotswolds for a week? I pitched the idea to the lovely folk at Crumbs Magazine, a terrific local food glossy, and they invited me to write a food diary about it.
– Everything had to be 100% Cotswolds. That it might be brewed, milled or distilled in the area was not enough, every ingredient had to be Cotswoldian.
– Cotswolds is defined as anywhere Cotswold Life would feature a property
Here’s how I got on:
Breakfast: plain yogurt courtesy of the beautiful British Friesians at Daylesford farmshop with some stewed rhubarb from the veg patch and Cotswolds honey which I stocked up on, along with many other goodies, at Toast the Cotswolds in Bourton-on-the-Water: a haven for local food fans.
Lunch: a quick hunk of Simon Weaver’s brie and a chunk of ham from Old Farm just outside Moreton in Marsh. I think I will do well for protein this week.
Supper is something of a feast: homemade pasta (made with durum wheat 00 flour grown by the ever useful Old Farm near Moreton in marsh) and eggs from my neighbour’s hens. I serve it with asparagus from Oxfordshire, fried chunks of bacon (from Old Farm) and a creamy herby sauce made with unctuous Jersey cow cream made at Holmleigh Dairy and herbs from the garden. I am bristling with smugness.
Breakfast: Homemade bread (from locally grown wheat and my very own sourdough starter – Cotswold yeast!) with honey.
By lunchtime, reality is setting in. Tea I can forgo for a week. Sugar I can substitute with honey. Even gin I can survive without (just). But for all its rich diversity, the Cotswolds can’t provide the one great ingredient no cook can live without – salt. Short of hot footing it to the Severn estuary, hoping for a strong tidal surge, collecting the waters and distilling them to salt crystals, I am stumped. I make a ham sandwich and consider my options.
Hope returns by the afternoon when It all feels slightly bucolic coming in from a hard day in the allotment to snack on homemade bread, bright yellow Holmleigh Dairy butter and Old Farm cider.
Supper and I’ve found fish! Trout from Donnington Trout Farm makes a delicious salad with radishes, baby leaves from the patch and a dressing of Cotswold Gold Rapeseed oil whisked up with a dish of Tewkesbury mustard and little honey.
Breakfast: the staple yogurt and rhubarb again. Other seasons would bring local strawberries, pears, plums and the like but this time of year isn’t so bountiful in its breakfast fruit harvest.
Lunch: a delicious combination of cold smoked trout from Donnington and Windrush Valley goats cheese make a perfect sandwich and keep me going until supper.
Supper: Cotswold Farmer sausages with leeks washed down with a really rather nice glass of wine (what?! Wine? From the ‘wolds? I hear you cry. Yup. Strawberry Hill vineyard, just west of Tewkesbury, make a mean merlot.)
Breakfast: Boiled eggs from my neighbour Rosie’s chooks.
Lunch is al deskco so a ham sandwich with cheddar cheese from Daylesford and homemade mayo (local eggs and Cotswold Gold rapeseed oil).
Dinner: I mix some Holmleigh butter with garden herbs and slather it over a whole Daylesford chicken. It’s roasted for 1 hour and served, with all its buttery juice on salad leaves and homemade pasta (saved again by the Old Farm 00 flour).
Breakfast sees me guzzling a huge glass of Guernsey cow milk from Nell’s Dairy. I’ve tasted nothing like it and there’s something nostalgic about a glass of milk and some bread and honey. Divine.
Lunch: I have made a delicious packed lunch of smoked trout and Windrush Valley goats cheese salad. Which I leave neatly packed on the worktop and head to work lunchless. I go hungry.
Supper: eggs are proving very useful. Rosie’s girls supply another box of eggs and I make a simple but perfect herby omelette with chives, parsley, sorrel and mint from the garden. More Strawberry Hill wine.
Breakfast: it’s the good old rhubarb and yogurt again. Can’t help noticing I’ve got through rather a lot of honey this week.
Lunch: the salad I forgot yesterday plus a few radishes for good measure.
Afternoon tea: Cotswold shortbread! Old Farm flour, Holmleigh butter and Cotswold honey instead of sugar. Works surprisingly well (can you tell my sweet tooth is suffering without refined sugar).
Supper: rump of Cotswold reared lamb which is seared in a hot pan then roasted in a high oven for 10 minutes. A terrific cut – cheap and tasty but only available from friendly local butchers. Served with the first of the garden’s mangetout.
Breakfast: a Cotswoldian eggs benedict made with eggs, Old Farm bacon, homemade bread and wilted chard.
Lunch: lunch? After that breakfast! Even I couldn’t manage that.
Dinner: the final feast of the week is cheesy leeks: soften the leeks in a little butter, add a tablespoon of flour and pour in some milk to make a thick sauce. Add a few handfuls of grated cheddar and allow it to bubble for a minute. Spread over thick slices of bread and toast until golden brown. A humble but heavenly way to finish a fascinating week.