Tag Archives: corona shopping

Holm is where the heart isDecember 10, 2021


Home, said Elvis, is where the heart is. I agree, I love my home – even if over the past 20 months, I’ve been getting to know the inside of my home a little too well.

Today I visited a different sort of home, but one just as heart-warming as my own. This one nestles in the elegant honey-stoned Somerset market town of South Petherton – and it also happens to be a restaurant. 

This home, though, is spelled Holm, rather than Home. A holm, I learn, means an islet of a river – an appropriate name for a spot that’s in the heart of the Somerset Levels. Holm the restaurant is the fourth opening from the talented team behind London’s Salon, Levan and Larry’s restaurants, all sharing an emphasis on seasonal and creative food in a casual setting.

As I’m a food writer, you might not be too astonished to hear that I’ve just eaten in a restaurant. But hang on a mo. You might also know that for this past year I’ve set myself the challenge of eating only British food. So eating out is now something I don’t do lightly, or without careful research beforehand. But having met co-owner Mark Gurney while volunteering at Melilot Farm in Cornwall this summer, I felt confident there’d be enough for me to eat.

I am not mistaken. Appetiser is a Westcombe Cheddar fry, a spin on the Comte fry that’s become a signature at Salon. An assembly of confit leek, Westcombe cheddar and flour, it’s topped with pickled walnut ketchup and finely grated Cheddar.  Of course it leaves me wanting more, and luckily more is there in the form of a plate of vegetable pickles and a chunk of homemade sourdough as big as my fist. I slather its pillowy dough with lashings of Longman’s butter, sprinkled with properly British sea salt. 

Ingredients are ridiculously local too – so much so that on a fine day you could probably see the fields where your veg is grown. I kick off my three-course lunchtime menu (£25) with a roasted beetroot risotto that happily shuns white rice in favour of Sharpham Park spelt grains which are beautifully nutty without being virtuous. A nice kick of acidicity is provided by the pickled fried onions on the top, that are crowned by that winter herbal beauty, chervil.  

The decor is equally honest and unpretentious – walls stripped down to bare plaster, custom-crafted round oak tables, and simple black and white prints. The grandiose building used to be a bank and its vaults have cunningly been transformed into storage for Mark’s selection of low-intervention wines, divided into Classics and Outliers. Any alarm I might feel at discovering that none are British is soon dispelled by the discovery that Holm stocks no fewer than five British ciders, including a single-variety Dabinett from the tiny Honey Pot Farm just down the road.

But it’s the main course that really hits the jackpot and has me planning my return visit after the first mouthful. It’s a ragu of local venison married with pappardelle that’s handmade from local Shipton Mill flour. Henry Osmond, the head chef, tells me it’s from a wild Sika deer that’s been shot locally, then butchered and cooked on site. The offal is nabbed to fill the Devils on Horseback on the evening tasting menu, but my ragu is a wonderous blend of confit shoulder, smoked ham hock, tomatoes and spices. What. A. Dish.  

Dessert is a choice between Chocolate mousse, spelt crumb, and miso ice cream. Or Blackcurrant sorbet with honeycomb. Chocolate and miso being out of bounds for another three weeks (on account of being dastardly foreign) I plump for the sorbet and am not disappointed. I hear squeals of delight from my neighbours as I watch Mark gently work the room to ensure we’re all happy. Such service is an unusual delight, but makes all the difference. 

I certainly haven’t gone hungry. I depart deeply grateful to have been able to eat not only British but almost exclusively Somerset. I feel gently thrilled by Holm’s honest, inventive food; and calmed by its friendly service and surroundings. You could say it’s Holm from Holm. But that’d be too much of a cliche.

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.

Corona survival: how to buy great meat without going to a supermarketApril 4, 2020


Hi all, I hope you’re surviving corona lockdown as best you can. Last week I listed a few of my favourite cheese producers who can deliver, and this week I’m looking at meat producers who will also deliver to your doorstep so that you don’t have to go into a supermarket. So if you’re self-isolating or sensibly just being cautious, get ordering!

If you have a local butcher who can deliver, please support them. If not, here are a few of my favourite farms and butchers who do national deliveries. Many of these normally supply restaurants, so by buying from them you are helping them survive some extremely difficult times. So it’s a win-win. We’re not talking ordinary or average meat here – this is the best. Pretty much all of it is pasture-fed, rather than grain-fed, which is better for both wildlife and your health.

Next week I’ll be listing bread, chocolate, pulses and any other dried goods – feel free to let me know your favourite online suppliers. Stay safe.

Online butchers Farmison & Co will deliver their top-class meats (two pics above) for FREE if you spend over £40. Order online or phone 01765 824050.

As the name suggests, Cabrito, set up by former River Cottage chef James Whetlor, specialises in goat. Normally James supplies restaurants, so now needs people like you and me to buy his gorgeous British kid goat meat (above). Free delivery on orders over £70, so why not club together with neighbours (at a safe distance of course) to buy a job lot?                                                         Pic: @her_dark_materials

The Pure Meat Company , based in Kent, is a first generation farm producing sustainable, slow-grown meat, from free-range Tamworth pork to Romney grass-fed lamb (pictured), hogget and mutton. Order meat boxes via info@puremeatcompany.co.uk  Delivery only to Kent and E Sussex – but it’s FREE, so if you live there, get ordering!

Huntsham Farm, in Herefordshire, produces rare breed meats, from Longhorn beef to Middle White pork and Ryeland lamb (above). It normally supplies Britain’s top chefs (such as Michel Roux, and James Martin whom you may have been cooking Huntsham meat on Saturday Kitchen) but with corona it’s having to rely on us. Delivery is free on orders over £53.75; this is the cost of 5kg of sausages or mince, so why not order these and freeze them, to keep you and your family going over the coming weeks?  You’ve never tasted meat like this before!

Eversfield Organic sells organic meat from its own Devon farm, including beef from its Aberdeen Angus herd that’s fed on a 100 percent pasture diet. For a simple lockdown supper, when you’ve run out of ideas of what to cook, the beef steak and ale pies (above) are a godsend. Eversfield also sells organic dairy, fish, fruit and veg, so you can pretty much do your weekly shop through them. Mainland delivery is £3.95 on a minimum order of £40, free if over £80.

Coombe Farm, in Somerset, produces outstanding organic meat and if you’re not sure what to buy, I recommend an Organic Meat Box (above) which offers a bit of everything. Alternatively, just order your favourite cut, like the organic lamb neck fillet below. Minimum spend is £40, and delivery just £5. Pics: Neil White

Also try: Todenham Manor Farm in the Cotswolds, Walter Rose & Son traditional butchers based in Wiltshire, and Gloucester-based Native Breeds

Corona survival: how to stock up on good cheese without going to a shopMarch 28, 2020


These are difficult times, to say the least. I hope you’re keeping well. I know many of you are, like me, self-isolating so cannot get to shops. Even if you’re not self-isolating, shopping is still a risk. So I’m collecting details of small food independent companies that will deliver to your door, so you don’t have to go out. I’ll be listing them sector by sector, starting with cheese and butter, moving to meat, then bread and dried goods, and so on.

The good news is that this will help independent food companies, which are extremely vulnerable at a time like this. Farms with cattle producing milk need to continue selling it or they won’t survive. Many family butchers and businesses making high-quality artisan bread, cheese or charcuterie won’t get through this crisis unless we support them. So shopping from them is a win-win. As we’ve seen, the big supermarkets cannot cope, so being small and flexible is actually proving an advantage. Get ordering – and please pass on this info to anyone you know!

The places listed below deliver nationally. But if you live in Bristol, you can order fabulous (mostly British) cheeses from Two Belly, who will deliver cheese (and butter, bread, eggs, and booze) to your door FOR FREE if you live in central Bristol. The Bristol Cheesemonger  will deliver for a charge of £3 to postcodes BS1 to BS8, or for free anywhere in the UK if your order is over £50.

If you’re a small food company who is delivering and should be included here, please get in touch.

Keep safe.

Devon-based Clothbound Cheddar producer, Quicke’s, can deliver its fabulous artisan cheeses (two pics above) nationwide, tel 01392 851000. It’s offering free delivery to NHS staff and all vulnerable groups (including those in self-isolation) affected by COVID-19. These people can use code ‘CHEESE25’ to get free delivery on orders above £25. Pics: Matt Austin

The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company  is the only business still making cheddar (above) in the village of Cheddar, Somerset. Place your order before 9am Monday – Thursday for next day delivery. £4.95 delivery for up to 20kg.

Fen Farm Dairy, in Suffolk, makes Baron Bigod cheese (above) from the raw milk of its own Monbeliarde cows. If you’re not already acquainted with the baron, it’s the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux-style cheese made in the UK, and so gorgeous that even the French are envious! As they rely on the restaurant trade for much of their business, they have a lot of cheese to shift, so are offering their Baron Bigod at HALF PRICE, with FREE delivery nationwide. Round cheeses cost £20 a kilo, or can you buy wedges, which freeze well, for £45 for eight wedges. Order their raw-milk butter too.

Cheesemakers of Canterbury have become famous in the cheese world for their cheddar-style Ashmore (above) which comes in various stage of maturity. I love their Ancient Ashmore, aged for at least 12 months. They also make other cheeses, such as a Canterbury Cobble and Kelly’s Goats (see their range pictured below). The cheesmaker normally sells much of its cheese at The Goods Shed, a magnificent farmer’s market/foodhall/restaurant inside an old station goods shed in central Canterbury, Kent. The Goods Shed is now offering to deliver any goods from the market (including Cheesemakers of Canterbury cheeses) for £10 if you live outside Canterbury, or £5 if you live in Canterbury. Visit the website to see what’s available, then email your shopping list to susanna@thegoodsshed.co.uk   Independent businesses like The Goods Shed urgently need our support at this difficult time, so please get ordering.

Another Kent business that needs supporting, and that is offering FREE delivery, is Kingcott Dairy  , a small family dairy farm that makes blue cheeses from the milk of their own dairy cows.  They’re also offering their Blues Boxes at discount prices.

Finally, Somerset’s Westcombe Dairy will deliver their hand-crafted traditional cheddar anywhere in England and Wales for just a tenner. Order by noon Mon-Thurs and you’ll get it next day.

Cheesemakers of Canterbury cheeseboard