The Marvellous Wind in The Willows Local Larder Farm Shop Beside The Thames
STOP PRESS – Celebrate shop local and independent retailers on July 4th and make a beeline for The Local Larder’s bar-be-que beside the Thames. I can’t think of anything quite so heavenly on a high summer eve… I am sure Ratty and Co would love it! See end of story to book with Alison.
I will never give up my delight at uncovering slow, delicious food – grown, harvested or created with – love, passion and a deep respect and understanding for the rhythms of the seasons, and for the remarkable bounty and inventiveness of mother nature.
Most supermarkets make me very angry. Despite our gorgeous summer, the shelves are stacked with anaemic looking fruits and vegetables shipped from the other ends of the earth (anyone for Peruvian asparagus?) and industrial, grey, over-processed food of questionable nutritional value. The only one I quite like for good quality artisan and organic basics – is Sainsbury’s, the one supermarket that didn’t cynically ditch all its organic and quirky artisan lines during the recession. Unlike a certain posh supermarket that did!
The only answer is to be super discerning about what you buy at the supermarket, go local and rediscover the absolute joy of buying really good seasonal ingredients and cook or prepare them with minimal fuss. Cooking or throwing together a vibrant seasonal salad or simply grilled meat or panfried fish is quick and easy. We are in the midst of a local food revolution. Tantalise your taste buds and seek out your local farm shop, fishmonger and family butcher and improve your health, happiness and wellbeing all in one go.
I grew up in Berkshire, not far from Henley, and when my friend Alison Hussey, a semi- retired rock chick turned champion of local food told me she was opening a farm shop beside the Thames at Wargrave, I knew it would be worth a pilgrimage.
The Local Larder is the kind of shop worth moving counties for. Walk through the doors of this former wooden boating hut , right on the water’s edge, and your eyes and your stomach will want everything in sight. Alison tells me she set out to source all the produce from a 25- mile radius of the shop – and the good news is that she has been thoroughly spoilt for choice. There is wonderful game and rare-breed meats from animals grazed on the Chiltern Hills, small batches of the most extraordinary local, seasonal honey that tastes of citrus and sherbet (buy some quick before it is all snapped up), the best white chocolate by Cherish Chocolates I have ever tasted, with a reduced sugar content. Whilst I think I have discovered the holy grail of pitstop snacks – a cheese tart by The Sugar Eccentric baker extraordinaire. I like to make my own savoury tarts, but I admit defeat after sampling this sublime offering, with melting, sweet, crumbly filo pastry. Now, all I can think about is a return visit to gorge on the honey and watch people larking around on the river, while I enjoy an al fresco lunch, feasting on the Alison’s remarkable seasonal foodie jewels. Good food equals happiness… wouldn’t you agree?
We live in very interesting times. As so many of us feel increasingly stressed, and burnt out, isn’t it time to slow down, smell the honey, and re-discover the pleasure of wandering around a little cathedral to food, crammed to the rafters with produce of exceptional taste, quality and local provenance. Allow yourself to switch off for a while and shop for nutritious, slow food and discover that there is a thriving community of tiny artisans who still want to – farm, bake, fish, cure and create truly marvellous food. Let’s give them our support.
Of course, the speciality treats may cost a little bit more than a supermarket, but the meat and everyday essentials are cheaper than that the once posh supermarket down the road in Henley – and it is entirely possible to do your whole local shop here from spring to autumn – with multi-coloured local eggs, artisan bread and even lovely, aromatic goodies to go in the bath, while you congratulate yourself on your rather lovely local life! Enjoy it, and write and tell me about your own extraordinary local farm shop. We will feature the best of them and some more local food heroes on Ethical Hedonist.
News of this local culinary jewel has spread fast. Alison tells me that the shop is very proud to announce that alongside supplying exclusive HRR 175 celebration gift hampers, they are also the official suppliers of local foods to The Upper Thames Rowing Club for both the Henley Royal Regatta and Henley Masters #SupportLocal – so what are you waiting for? Wake up and smell the roses, and start to eat, shop and live a local life.
Alison can make up a hamper for a safari on the Thames, source gluten free artisan bread, satisfy your craving for a special treat or provide your weekly shop. For more info – call Alison Hussey on – 07876 430983 or email your enquiry –