Superb outlets for culinary gems in the North-East

FROM organic vegetables and fruit to home-cooked cuisine, the North-East is full of culinary gems.

FROM organic vegetables and fruit to home-cooked cuisine, the North-East is full of culinary gems. And with so much in the Press about GM foods and the buying power of supermarkets, more people are turning to farm shops, organic food outlets, farmers’ markets and high-quality food shops.

“Low on mileage but high on taste” has always been the ethos at Blagdon Farm shop, off the A1 north of Newcastle. The shop is committed to bringing fresh and tasty food to the plates of local people and to top restaurants.

Here you’ll find free-range and rare-breed meat including pork, chicken, guinea fowl and duck plus fresh seasonal vegetables. It recently scooped the Gold award at the Smithfield Awards, the national meat Oscars, for its Blagdon Special sausage.

The Country Barn Farm Shop and Coffee Shop, at Widdrington Farm, Widdrington Village, Northumberland, has recently been nominated for the second year running as Best Rural Retailer – quite an accolade considering the business only opened its doors in August 2006. The farm shop is home to an extensive butchery department that includes succulent and tender beef and lamb from Widdrington Farm itself. The rare breed pork and corn fed, free range, award-winning chickens are sourced locally as well as eggs, honey, ice cream, milk, bread and vegetables. Over in the coffee shop, with its breathtaking views of Druridge Bay, all the produce is home made.

Brocksbushes Farm Shop and Tea Rooms is in picturesque Northumberland surroundings, just 30 minutes’ drive from the centre of Newcastle on the A69. The fundamental policy of Brocksbushes is to provide freshness, quality and choice in every department and to give customers a pleasurable day out whether they are selecting their groceries from the varied and delicious selection in the shop, treating themselves in the Tea Room, picking their fresh fruit and vegetables in the fields, or choosing the plants for their gardens. It’s the ideal place to buy your Christmas trees, hampers and poultry, all of which have been reared “Welfare Friendly.”

North Country Organics, at the Airport Industrial Estate in Kenton, Newcastle, aims to provide customers with best-quality organic fruit and vegetables at affordable prices.

It works closely with The North-East Organic Programme to stock as much local produce as possible.

It uses prominent suppliers, such as Northumbrian Quality Meats, Acorn Dairy, TPF Organics and Nafferton Farm.

Most of the produce on sale at the Routier-listed family-run North Acomb Farm Shop, near Stocksfield, Northumberland, is either grown or made on the spot. Ham and bacon are cured on the premises and own-recipe sausages are sold alongside milk, homemade butter from the farm’s Friesian herd, British cheeses and free-range eggs.

Chirton Fisheries specialises in fresh fish and shellfish caught locally and off Scotland.

The family business, run by Paul Robinson, recently moved from the Greenmarket, after 31 years, to the Grainger Market.

Donald Gilberts Butchers in Gosforth Shopping Centre has over 100 years’ experience and is gearing up for the festive season with the finest of food fit to grace any table. Here you’ll find local free range corn fed birds supplied by Thornbeck Farm, which is featured in TV chef Rick Stein’s book Food Heroes of Britain. As well as three bird roasts, there are bronze turkeys, ducks, geese and pheasants. Local dry cured gammons and bacon are also available from Broom Mill farm as well as local Northumberland lamb. You may also like to try the carvery rib of beef hung on the bone for 28 days for that extra tenderness and fuller flavour.

Hexham farmers’ market, which was named best in the country by the National Farmers Union, is held every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9am until 1.30pm in the Market Place. All stallholders come from within a 50-mile radius of Hexham. There are no middlemen or retailers, just good farmers and local producers. All produce is reared, grown, baked, pickled, preserved or handmade, in a more traditional way, with emphasis on care, quality and flavour.

Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler-distributor. Specialising in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products, it has its own successful brand of food and non-food products. As a radical workers’ co-operative, Suma has dedicated the last 30 years to providing quality products and unparalleled customer service backed up with a passion for ethical trading. For information on your local stockist contact customer services on (01422) 313845 or email info@suma.coop.

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