What’s Hot and New On The Magical Isle of Wight By Alison Jane Reid
The Divine Ritual of a Seasonal, Festive Afternoon Tea at The Royal Hotel, Ventnor
I never tire of finding an exciting new place for that most civilized of rituals, the taking of afternoon tea. A very good pot of bright, amber Darjeeling lifts the spirits and is definitely something to cherish and look forward to when chaos and uncertainty seems to reign in the world at large. So thank heavens for the twinkling beacon of calm and Britishness – The Royal Hotel in Ventnor, which takes teatime to a new level of pleasure and grown up indulgence with its Seasonal Afternoon Tea Experience. The hotel has just hired a new head pastry chef, Emily Harris, who worked for the King of culinary alchemists, Heston Blumenthal, at his restaurant Dinner, at The Mandarin Oriental. Emily has a promising sense of theatre and occasion, and her afternoon tea belongs to an age of bijou elegance, decadence and a first class imagination. Lewis Carroll would approve. I liked the darling, miniature rolled sandwiches filled with very tasty morsels of buttery chicken or melting smoked salmon, instead of the usual, rather insipid offerings. The cakes are equally good too. My favourites? A rich and moist aromatic fruit cake and a truly scrumptious ginger parkin. As for the extraordinarily good Jing tea – this hits the spot for this very particular tea connoisseur! What are you waiting for? Escape to the teatime hour at – www.royalhoteliow.co.uk, Tel 01983 852186
Rediscover your local greengrocer, and give the supermarket run a miss!
Give the supermarket a miss in January and discover the simple, stress-free pleasure of shopping in a proper, old-fashioned green grocer that champions the freshest local produce from our island farmers and producers. Jane, the very friendly owner of this Bembridge gem has just joined forces with deli come healthfood shop Does Contain Nuts – very clever. The shop is currently jam-packed with delicious and hard to find staples. Now I don’t need to make a separate trip to the healthfood shop and greengrocers, I can do it all in one shop. This is where I come for: amazing biodynamic green peppercorns by Barts spices, (less fiery than the black variety, and good for sensitive stomachs), fat, succulent Medjool dates, the most amazing varieties of local apples from the green-fingered nuns at St Cecilia’s, gorgeous, soothing and restorative Pukka teas and Ayurvedic supplements, Wessex flour and a wonderful array of local vegetables, nuts and seasonal fruits, many of them unsprayed, just ask.
The Farm Shop, 8 High Street, Bembridge, Isle of Wight. Tel 01983 874236
Wrap yourself in a precious, tactile, organic wool throw from an island farm
I really miss being able to buy the best filet steak on the island from visionary organic farmer Mark Domaille at Godshill Park Farm. This is why we need a mobile abattoir to make it viable for farmers like Mark to continue high quality beef production for islanders, not just mainland export. Now, at least there is some consolation. Spotted the other evening at The Taverners Dining Pub shop – a wonderfully soft and cocooning throw, and blankets too, in elegant, dreamy hues of Scandinavian grey-brown, the colour of the winter sky from my lofty window today. This precious, tactile wool is un-dyed, and comes from Mark and Kathy Domaille’s flock of Castlemilk Morrit sheep and llamas. Kathy hopes to have knitting yarn for early 2012.
For more info – www.godshillparkfarm.co.uk, Tel 01983 840781.
Alison Jane Reid Copyright December 2011