Abel & Co specialise in home deliveries of organic produce
Best of all, it produces great-tasting food – but don’t just take our word for it. Celebrated UK chefs tell us about their region’s star ingredients and the local names you should add to your shopping list. Whether it’s succulent meat from the lush grasslands of Cumbria, flavour-packed British cheeses or yummy pickles for that Boxing Day spread, why not make your festive food Brilliantly British?
ABEL & COLE It pioneered organic home-delivery in the 1980s through the sale of potatoes door to door but Abel & Cole now sells everything from seasonal fruit and veg boxes to eco-friendly cleaning products using returnable, reusable and recyclable packaging.
Christmas is its busiest time of year as customers turn to trusted, experienced farmers who rear their animals with care.
There are organic turkeys and geese, and fish fillets carrying the Marine Conservation Society seal of approval.
In the pantry section, you will find extra special spreads and oils, Himalayan fine salt, kalamata olives, chestnut puree and mulled cider pouches.
The bakery has multi-seeded sourdoughs, while the plum and cranberry chutney makes the perfect turkey sandwich accompaniment.
All Christmas delivery slots from December 20 to 24 are fully booked but Abel & Cole managing director, Hannah Shipton, is encouraging new customers to think ahead.
“One of our vegetable boxes is perfect for those of us who are looking to start healthier eating habits in the new year and save a few trips to the shops,” she says.
“After working directly with British farmers for over 31 years, we continue to deliver its fruit, veg and other produce items to the nation’s homes in the efficient manner possible.”
Farmison & Co’s meat comes from a variety of livestock
FARMISON & CO John Pallagi, CEO and co-founder of online butcher Farmison & Co says that the pandemic has helped consumers to realise what is most important to them. “COVID-19 may have dramatically reduced our freedom but it hasn’t robbed us of our desire to eat delicious food,” he says.
“We’ve worked closely with our farmers throughout the north of England to keep up with the extraordinary demand for our mouth-watering grass-fed, free-range, heritage and rare breed meat up and down the country.”
Farmison & Co’s meat comes from livestock including Galloway, Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn, Dexter, Longhorn, Swaledale, Texel, Suffolk, Masham, Large Black, Yorkshire Pig, Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot.
The animals and birds are left to graze peacefully and grow slowly on the lush grasslands of Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire until the meat is ready, ensuring a succulent eat.
Its flavoursome cheeses and local butter are made using traditional recipes
YORKSHIRE CREAMERY The Yorkshire Creamery promises to take a “stand against the bland”. Its flavoursome cheeses and local butter are made using traditional recipes and high-quality, Yorkshire milk from specially selected farms.
The Extra Mature Yorkshire Cheddar, Double Yorkshire and Yorkshire Red all make tangy cheese toasties.
Emily-Jane Smith Cummins of The Yorkshire Creamery, says: “We are really proud of our surroundings and community. This, combined with the care and attention of our farmers for their herds, creates fantastic Yorkshire milk, which is at the heart of our delicious dairy products that really taste like they ought to.”
The brand was established in 2000 by Bob Pitchfork
MR PITCHFORK’S PICKLES Do you love chutneys, relishes, pickles, jams and curds? Then consider adding one of the award-winning products from Mr Pitchfork’s Pickles to your plate.
Caramelised Red Onion & Fig Relish with Amaretto, Caribbean Chutney and Strawberry & Champagne Conserve will go down nicely with those Boxing Day cold cuts.
The brand was established in 2000 by Bob Pitchfork after the full-time chef began experimenting with flavours and textures at his kitchen table.
Word quickly spread about his delectable creations and, two years later, production moved to industrial kitchens to cope with demand.
By 2004, Bob had quit his job to become a chutney maker. His traditional recipes are refined to perfection in small batches using excellent, local ingredients.
Bob says: “We make the tomato sauce for the award-winning Nottingham chip shop The Cod’s Scallops and have made a hot and spice rum sauce for a Cuban restaurant.”
The current British cheese scene has never been so vibrant
BUTLERS FARMHOUSE CHEESES Matthew Hall of Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses says the current British cheese scene has never been so vibrant. “Can you believe more than 700 varieties are made on our small island?” he says.
“They cover everything you need for the perfect British cheese board.”
The fourth-generation cheesemakers use traditional farmhouse recipes to make wedges perfect for the modern palate from the heart of rural Lancashire.
Founded in 1932 by husband-and-wife team Richard and Annie Butler, Matthew and his brother Daniel run their great-grandparents’ business with the same genuine passion and thirst for discovery.
The firm produces more than a dozen varieties of cheese across three categories – Blue, Soft and Hard.
All the milk comes from within a 10-mile radius of the dairy and is mainly sourced from herds run by family members who have farmed the Lancashire countryside for more than 100 years.
Booja-Booja’s award-winning artisan chocolate truffles
BOOJA-BOOJA Booja-Booja’s award-winning artisan chocolate truffles are melt-in-the-mouth good as each recipe uses the highest quality, carefully-sourced ingredients.
Stockists include Waitrose, Ocado, Planet Organic, Wholefoods, Amazon and a wide range of independent health food stores – velvety smooth ice creams are also available in eight flavours.
Founder Colin Mace says: “We hand make and pack all of our products at our dedicated site in rural Norfolk. Multi award-winning, all our products are dairy, gluten and soya free, vegan and organic.”
FOODIE SECRETS OF THE CELEBRITY CHEFS
TOM KITCHIN, SCOTLAND Michelin-star chef Tom opened his restaurant, The Kitchin, on Edinburgh’s Leith Waterfront in 2006 and visits schools to talk about eating seasonally.
“There’s Welch’s fishmongers in Newhaven, who have done deliveries during lockdown, and David Lowrie Fish Merchants,” he says reeling off a list of local producers he rates.
“The Free Company, run by two brothers who took over their parents’ dairy farm, now has incredible vegetable boxes.
“They are picked, washed and sent to your home. It’s a beautiful way of living.”
While Tom says taste is key, he places a huge importance on knowing where food comes.
“Stews and broths to give you energy – root vegetables are perfect for that,” he says.
“People should also try pheasants and partridge, which are milder than grouse or wild duck, to help local farmers. It’s so much better for you than a battery-fed chicken and you can do the same dishes.
“This is the moment to push out of your comfort zone.”
Two great brands working together
MARK HIX, DORSET At the crack of dawn renowned restaurateur Mark Hix heads down to Lyme Regis in Dorset to see what catches the fishing boats have brought back.
“I don’t buy secondhand fish any more, only fish fresh out of the sea,” says Mark, who opened his new venture The Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis in July.
It was four months after losing his mainly London-based restaurant empire when the board put the company into administration against his wishes.
“It’s just great seeing the quality of the catches – crabs, sea bass, an abundance of riches and all from British waters.”
To get back on his feet Mark spent £8,000 on a converted Chevrolet ambulance from which he sells fresh fish outside Felicity’s Farm shop in Morcombelake off the A35 in Dorset from Thursdays to Saturdays.
“I lost everything but I’m delighted with the new business,” he says. “People have been very appreciative of what we have to offer, including lobster rolls, crab fries and Dorset clams.”
He’s teamed up with Sound Seafood to offer weekly fish boxes to customers with home delivery.
Mark opened his new venture The Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis in July
JIMMY DOHERTY, EAST ANGLIA Essex-raised TV food presenter Jimmy Doherty set up his free-range livestock farm, near Ipswich, Suffolk, in 2002, and is an expert on local foods.
“James Bond’s favourite jam is ‘Little Scarlet’ and it’s still made by Tiptree in Essex,” he says.
“We have Maldon Sea Salt and Kelly’s Turkeys. Then there is Traditional Norfolk Poultry in Shropham, Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses and Fen Farm Dairy on the Norfolk-Suffolk border for beautiful cheeses.”
The east of England is known for its open spaces, coastal regions, and large-scale farming and arable production.
“Marriage’s Millers produces all kinds of flours and is an excellent name for baking,” he says. “We grow asparagus and samphire on the estuaries, and along the River Deben in Suffolk there are huge oysters and mussel beds.”
He backs farmers markets over supermarkets every time.
“You see food before it is standardised and put into cellophane wrapping. You find cuts of meat at a butcher’s. Nothing beats speaking to the producer directly.”
Essex-raised TV food presenter Jimmy Doherty
ANGELA GRAY, WALES In ten years Angela Gray has turned her culinary classes at Llanerch Vineyard in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, into one of the UK’s best-rated cookery schools.
But then the celebrity chef, whose famous clients include Lord Lloyd-Webber, knows how to make the most of the excellent produce from the surrounding fertile lands.
The Vale of Glamorgan, a southern Welsh county bordering Cardiff, has a largely agricultural economy with vineyards throughout the region.
Prime veal and venison is reared in Llantrithyd Place, while farmers markets in Cowbridge and Penarth are filled with locally-sourced meats, cheeses, pickles and jams.
Despite the pandemic, Angela has safely managed to continue her cookery courses.
Upcoming January dates include masterclasses in seasonal meats, fish and vegetables, plus a guide on how to make curries.
Angela is also writing a book and runs a club helping novices to prepare a seasonal two-course lunch.
“Expect lots of fun, culinary chat, tips and recipe ideas,” she says.