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Fabulous foodie treats in Berkshire

PUBLISHED: 12:28 09 May 2014

Ready to make those delicious cheeses: the Village Maid team

Ready to make those delicious cheeses: the Village Maid team

MAUREEN MCLEAN

Yes, it’s more mouth-watering local produce, with all the details you need on where to buy some of the best Berkshire taste sensations

The freshest rhubarb and asparagus

From mid-April our Berkshire farms should be offering the first delicious rhubarb and asparagus. The weather could well play a part in the success of these crops and we may have to wait until May in some cases. Asparagus likes well-drained soil, sunshine and protection from the wind (we’re keeping our fingers crossed!); rhubarb has a sturdier constitution and also prefers moist but drained soil.

Cobbs Farm Shop & Kitchen at Hungerford stands in 55 acres where the asparagus is picked and bunched and delivered straight to the shop – you won’t find fresher than that. Get some cream to go with the rhubarb while in the farm shop: it comes from Berkeley Farm, where the cows listen to Classic FM wile being milked!

Asparagus and rhubarb are also the first crops available at Hildred’s pick your own farm at Goring on Thames.

Keep an eye on www.hildredspyo.co.uk, www.cobbsfarmshop.co.uk and farm shops such as www.fieldersfarmshop.co.uk for the first news that the treats are ready.

Three cheeses to savour

Anne and Andy Wigmore’s Village Maid Cheese started out over 25 years ago in a garden outbuilding in Spencers Wood. Today its Riseley operation produces three celebrated and award winning hand-made cheeses: Spenwood, Waterloo and Wigmore.

Spenwood is named after the village where it all started. A nutty, hard-pressed ewe’s milk cheese, it makes a good substitute for parmesan if you store it a while. Semi-soft and buttery Waterloo is produced from a herd of Guernsey cows near Henley. Wigmore, made from unpasteurised ewe’s milk, is a hand-made washed curd cheese.

Berkshire stockists include Wellington Farm Shop, Welsh Lane, Reading; Lockey Farm Shop, Arborfield; The Grumpy Goat, Harris Arcade, Reading; Picnic Cafe, Market Place, Reading; True Food Community Co-op, Grove Road, Emmer Green; La Gina, Broad St, Wokingham; Greys Cheese and Wine, Pangbourne; Fielders Farm Shop, Theale; and Cook and Butcher, High St, Thatcham.

See www.villagemaidcheese.co.uk.

Delicious soups with tang

For that ‘home made’ flavour, fresh soups are hard to beat and it’s been a recipe for success for Gerrards Cross-based The Mouthfull Food Company, founded just over five years ago John Fackrell.

Originally sold through farmers’ market, the products were so successful that you’ll now find them in farm shops as well as many local shops. These include Tastes Delicatessen in Eton High Street, Budgens in Ascot, Country Store in Cookham Rise, Hambleden Stores, and some farm shops. See www.mouthfullfood.co.uk.

Condiments that hit all the right spots

The story of Newbury’s Chilliqueen is a fascinating one – going back to a trip to the States in 1979 by Lee Everett Alkin, then the wife of DJ and comedian Kenny Everett. An accomplished cook, she came across a chilli pepper jelly there, and decided to make her own version at home.

Today the delicious brand has expanded to include sauces, ingredients and marinades, with ginger and lime versions added to a product list also featuring coriander and shallots. It’s popular with both meat eaters for glazes, barbecues and roasts, as well as with vegetarians who use the condiments in numerous recipes.

Find Chilliqueen in Hare Hatch Sheeplands; Hampstead Norreys Community Shop; Lockey Farm Shop, Arborfield;. Wellington Farmshop, Heckfield; Moss End Farmshop, Moss End Garden Centre, Warfield; Dopsons Butchers, Crowthorne; Fielders Farmshop, Pangbourne Road, Theale; Vicars Game, Casey Fields Farm, Ashampstead; and Cook & Butcher, Thatcham.

See www.chilliqueen.co.uk.

The versatile curry paste

Ascot’s Shemin Macgregor now presides over a family business that grew from childhood memories in Uganda as her mother combined fresh and fragrant herbs and spices into delicious treats for a host of recipes.

Using no additives, preservatives, sugar or colouring has led to a huge fanbase, also attracted, of course, by the award-winning products’ flavours. Shemin offers a free, recipe book at www.shemins.co.uk. You can buy online or find the products at Ascot or Mortimer Budgens; Londis stores in North Ascot, Crown Wood Bracknell, The Mead Great Shefford, Burghfield Common and Rushi Store of Reading; Hare Hatch Sheeplands; Moss End Farm Shop; and Tastes Delicatessen in Eton.

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