Corona survival: how to buy dry goods, bread and veg without going to a supermarketApril 19, 2020


Hi all, I hope you’re keeping well and maybe making the most of being at home to do a bit more cooking than usual. As you’ll have heard in the media, supermarkets are doing fantastically well out of corona. But sadly what the media don’t talk about are the small, independent food businesses who are having a very hard time indeed, and badly need our support. Luckily for us,  these businesses can deliver, so it’s easy to buy their goods – a lot easier, in fact, than queueing for hours outside the supermarkets. So it’s a win-win. Over the last few weeks, I covered cheese and meat producers, this week I’m connecting you to companies who produce everything from lentils to fudge, coffee, bread, veg or spuds. There’s even a tiny one-woman-band producing saffron in Norfolk. So please use the power of your pocket to support these guys and get ordering, and pass this on to any of your friends who might find it useful. Thank you.

Hodmedod’s are often nicknamed the Bean Boys as their thing is beans – from lentils to split peas, chickpeas and fava beans (two pictures above). They’re all grown in the UK. The Suffolk-based company also produces a wide and interesting range of flours, which has made it very popular in recent weeks (and are mostly sold out). Pulses like lentils and chickpeas can be a godsend if you’ve run out of veg, so are worth keeping in your storecupboard just in case. Order online, delivery £3.95 for orders under £40, FREE for orders £40 or more.

Origin Coffee Roasters, based in Cornwall, depend on restaurants, bars and delis for much of their trade, so need our business just now. As they supply the coffee at our Bristol feasts, I can vouch for their excellence, and given that you’re probably spending more time at home, you might as well be drinking something decent – such as their San Fermin, sourced direct from farmers in Colombia. They offer subscriptions too, and will deliver to your door. If  you order before the end of April, you can get a 20% discount.

Why not use your extra time at home to learn how to use British saffron? You can buy it from Norfolk Saffron , one of Britain’s main producers of saffron. Use it in risottos or paellas. Sally Francis, who grows the saffron crocuses herself, now also produces saffron flour – perfect for breads, cakes and biscuits.

Veronica Farm, on Bryher, one of the Isles of Scilly, is an essential stop on any tour of the island on account of its delicious fudge. It’s made with milk, cream and butter from Troytown Farm on neighbouring St Agnes, as well as salt from St Martin’s, and honey from Bryher when available. Kris Taylor, who makes the fudge, sells it from an honesty stall in front of the farm, but with lockdown there are obviously no visitors so online orders are crucial. Happily it’s very postable! Why not sweeten a friend’s quarantine with a packet of Kris’ fudge? The Scillonian Sea Salt gets my top vote, although it’s a close run thing with the Whisky and Stem Ginger.

Normally it’s only restaurants who can get hold of Natoora‘s top-class veg, but with eating places closed, now you too can get your hands on this veg and have it delivered to your door – provided you live in London (zones 1-4), Oxford or Cambridge. Natoora has also partnered with independent food and drink suppliers to provide things like beer, milk, bread, meat and spirits, which you can order in addition to your veg. Delivery is just £6 and to register, just press here.

It’s well worth a pilgrimage to Orford on the Suffolk coast to try the breads and cakes at Pump Street Bakery. Lockdown may make this impossible, but the good news is that you can make a virtual pilgrimage by ordering their bakery goods and chocolate online. Just visit their website and check out their Doorstep Friendly Packages – including, if you wish, their famous Eccles cakes.

Lucy and Anthony Carroll (Lucy pictured above) grow 13 amazing varieties of heritage potatoes on their Northumberland farm, and before corona you’d have spotted them on the plates of celebrity chefs such as Simon Rogan and Tom Kerridge. Happily they deliver to British homes too, so why not use lockdown as a fantastic opportunity to try some potato varieties you’ve never tasted before? Like the knobbly, waxy textured and delicately flavoured Pink Fir Apple 1850; the gloriously floury Mayan Gold with golden coloured flesh; or purple-skinned Shetland Black (pictured below) believed to have been salvaged from the Spanish Armada. Prices range from £3.99 for 1.5 kg and £24- £28 for 12.5 kg. Discount of 15% on orders over £47, next day delivery.

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