Destination Isle of Wight
The holiday vibe starts with the ferry crossing. The island itself is a retreat with expanses of beach, secret coves, quiet country lanes and stunning views. Best of all for those of us who think good food and drink is intrinsic to any getaway, this is an island for foodies. Discover delicious cafes and restaurants and an astonishing array of produce from irresistible ice creams to the sweetest tomatoes from The Tomato Stall – thanks to one of the sunniest climates in the country.
There’s a comforting sense of longevity and tradition. Paul Griffin of Briddlesford Farm explains that their award-winning Guernsey herd are descendants of the first 15 cows that his great-grandfather Charles Griffin walked over the hills to Briddlesford Lodge Farm in 1923. They produce rich, velvety milk and cream which is processed and bottled onsite and used to make an outstanding range of cheeses – including a halloumi style cheese that TV Chef James Martin cooked with recently on This Morning – creating quite a demand!
Paul comments: “Island life has a slower pace and it is that quality that allows us to really connect with the seasons. We see it in our milk - the colour, flavour and texture can shift with the weather patterns and seasonal changes.”
Farmer Andrew Hodgson is an award-winning beef and lamb producer with state-of-the-art dry-ageing and butchery facilities on the farm premises. He believes in raising livestock to the highest welfare standards with a slow, nose to tail approach This quality meat is sold through the Isle of Wight Meat Company.
Andrew says: “One of the most enjoyable aspects about living on the island is actually the process of returning. It begins the moment you hop on to the ferry (especially the Lymington route). Over the next 30 minutes or so you slowly detach from your 'North Island' mindset, then as you step from the ferry onto the island the process is complete. The warm, fuzzy feeling is present every time.”
Entrepreneurial sisters Louise Hart and Jenny Simmons run Calbourne Classics, the largest artisan cake and dessert producers on the island, including award-winning clotted cream ice creams and a delicious ‘free from’ range, all created at Three Gates Farm, near the sea. They both share the same love of the Island, saying: “It’s the sea and a different beach to visit every day of the week; even in winter the rugged coastline is superb for windy walks with the dogs!”
More ice cream makers include the Isle of Wight Ice Cream Company, gelato-style dairy ice cream using only Isle of Wight Milk (pictured above), and Minghella Ice Cream, authentic Italian ice cream using local double cream. This year Minghella Ice Cream celebrates its 70th birthday! The recipes were all designed by Eddie Minghella and still used today - with Eddie himself celebrating his 99th birthday in June this year.
Stop off at Caffe Isola in a restored iconic building in the centre of Newport for a cup of Wight Label tea or Island Roasted artisan coffee. The café, Wight Label and Island Roasted are family-owned and run, with the roastery sited on the banks of the River Medina. Here, coffee beans are roasted in small batches using drum roasters to allow the coffee to develop its true flavour. Only the highest quality, ethical and sustainable coffee beans are sourced with direct trade routes used where possible to ensure the producer gets the highest price. Island Roasted produces a range of high quality espresso blends and seasonal single origin coffees for retail customers using home-brewing methods.
Lin says: “The Isle of Wight is a great place for getting outdoors, whether that’s a bike ride with kids, surfing, paddle boarding or just a walk along the many coastal paths. The island also has a great appetite for buying local produce which has been even more evident during the recent lockdown!”
Every corner of the island reveals more flavours and memories. As souvenirs of your visit, take away a taste of the Isle of Wight. You could visit The Garlic Farm for bulbs of smoked garlic and jars of pungent chutneys, pickles and sauces. Look out for Wild Island for delicious dressings and fruit-infused vinegars such as cherry vinegar and blackberry balsamic, that lift summer salads and barbecue marinades several knotches.
The Isle of Wight also comes bottled! There's Mermaid Gin from the Isle of Wight Distillery - the pink version is particularly sippable on a summer evening with a hint of aromatic island strawberries. If you're a craft beer aficiando, Goddards Brewery brews with barley grown on the island and some hops from Ventnor Botanic Gardens. Their range includes Quarr Abbey Ale, a Benedictine style ale using coriander and sweet gale grown in the Abbey’s own gardens. Another is Island Brewery with s selection that includes Wight Gold, Wight Knight and Yachtsman’s Ale.
For something a little quirky, pick up one of the gently leaning bottles from Tipsy Wight. Described as countryside in a bottle, these feature natural ingredients, such as elderflower and damsons, grown on the farm (near Cowes) and steeped in vodka for ages. Wonderful used to make summer cocktails.
All in all, the Isle of Wight is simply packed with deliciousness.