Surprising Cider Country - A Herefordshire Culinary Tour
Herefordshire is not just packed with artisan food and drink producers. It has all the ingredients for a great holiday: there are some excellent places to stay, good pubs and restaurants, regular farmers’ markets and a variety of cultural attractions that you can easily build into your culinary itinerary. This is one of England’s most rural counties, as it escaped the mass industrialisation of the Victorian era. If you enjoy walking or cycling, visiting historic churches and exploring traditional English villages, you’ll enjoy a Herefordshire culinary tour at any time of year. However gourmets might want to come in October, when they can visit the annual
Herefordshire Food Festival
the culinary highlight of the year.
A few miles north-west of Hereford, Court Farm Shop at Tillington (usually open between May and Christmas) is a great place to include in your Herefordshire culinary tour. You can come here and pick your own produce (great fun for anyone with children). Depending on the season you’ll find English fruits such as plums and strawberries, and vegetables like asparagus, potatoes and broad beans. Then there’s the farm shop itself which is extremely well stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables, and all sorts of food and drink from Herefordshire: there’s local honey (the borage has a very delicate flavour), apple juice, scrumpy, Herefordshire beer and tasty cakes.
Herefordshire Culinary Cream - The Dairy House
From Court Farm it’s easy to reach Weobley (pronounced ‘Webley’), one of the so called ‘black and white’ villages of Herefordshire. These unspoilt villages, in the north-west corner of the county, are filled with traditional timber-framed buildings and make a picturesque stop on your culinary tour.
The Dairy House
is an organic dairy just outside Weobley. It’s an independent company set up by 4 local organic farmers: three of them keep Friesian cows, and one has a herd of soft-eyed Jersey cows. They use the milk to make their own crème fraiche (delicious!), yoghurt, clotted cream, curd cheese and indulgent cheesecakes. You’re welcome to visit the Dairy House and buy some of their produce to take home, though do telephone first and check it’s convenient (T 01544 318815). Their dairy products are delicious. The cows are grazed outside on pasture as much as possible, so you’ll find seasonal variations in the taste and colour of the crème fraiche and clotted cream.
You might not expect to include a visit to a potato farm on your culinary tour of Herefordshire. But
(T01568 720244) is a farm with a difference, for as soon as they harvest their potatoes they turn them into posh crisps. They use heritage varieties of potatoes, like Lady Rosetta and Lady Claire. You might take a while to find the farm, as it’s tucked away near Weobley, amongst Herefordshire’s country lanes – but as soon as you arrive you should be able to smell the delicious aroma of freshly made crisps. Call before you arrive, to check it’s convenient, and if it is then you might be able to take a tour of the factory. Watching golden crisps emerging from the small production line is a mouth-watering experience. The crisps they make at Tyrrells come in all sorts of unusual flavours, reflecting English culinary traditions whenever possible. They even produce seasonal varieties: who’s for Ale and Cheese, or Beef and Horseradish?
Former owner of Tyrrells Potato Chips, William Chase, has now turned his hand to making artisan vodka – from potatoes of course.
lies to the north-east of Hereford an area which was once famous for its hops. The distillery is in a converted hop kiln, surrounded by fields in which the company grow old varieties of potato. These are high in starch, which means they are ideal for making vodka. Jamie Baxter, a Scottish born distiller, is in charge of making the vodka. It’s a very professional but pleasantly low key operation – the corks are bashed in with a rubber hammer. However the vodka itself is extremely sophisticated: deliciously smooth and slightly sweet. Call Chase Distillery on T01432 820920 if you’d like to include the distillery on your Herefordshire culinary tour.
This county is the home of cider, so a visit to a cider maker is a must on your Herefordshire culinary tour. You can, of course, follow the
Herefordshire Cider Trail,
but if you’d just like to visit one specialist producer on your culinary tour, then we think
Once upon a Tree
(T01531 670263) is well worth a look. It’s situated in the apple growing corner of Herefordshire, at Dragon Orchard, Putley, to the south-west of Hereford. It’s a small, family-run orchard that makes award winning ciders. The cider maker is Simon Day. He’s an experienced winemaker, but decided to turn his hand to cider after admiring his neighbours’ orchards. They teamed up and created Once Upon a Tree, blending different apples to create ciders as varied and subtle as wine. They’re designed to be sipped – not knocked back in pints. As well as cider, they also produce specialist apple juices, made from apple varieties like James Grieve or Worcester Pearmain. Make an appointment if you’d to visit.
Surprisingly few people visit Herefordshire as it’s not as famous as other UK holiday destinations. Yet it’s only 135 miles from London, in the west of England, on the border with Wales. You can drive there in 3 hours from London and 1 ½ hours from Birmingham Airport. There’s a railway station in Hereford, where you can pick up a hire car (you’ll need one for your culinary tour as it will be difficult to explore the countryside by public transport.). There are also stations in Ledbury and Leominster (pronounced ‘Lemster’).
Places to Stay on your Herefordshire Culinary Tour
Hereford Food Trail
If you’ve had to travel a long way for your Herefordshire culinary tour, you might like to start your holiday in the city of Hereford, which has some good pubs and restaurants, as well as a stunning Cathedral.