From field to fork via the pub
You’ll never go hungry or thirsty in Cheshire. From ice cream to sparkling wine, there’s plenty to tickle your tastebuds, writes David Atkinson.

Till the cows come home

Say Cheshire, think cheese because this is dairy-farming country. Start sampling at Chester’s The Cheese Shop, perhaps with a wedge of Smoked Cheshire made in Malpas from organic cows’ milk. This year they have been nominated as one of the finalists for the Farm Shop and Deli awards 2019 and are in the top 6 finalists for Cheesemongers nationally. There are also local cheeses and cured meats, plus regular wine tastings, at Whitmore & White, with branches in Chester, Frodsham and Heswall.
Some studies suggest raw milk can boost the immune system. Head to Chance Hall Farm near Congleton or Peckforton Farm Dairy near Tarporley (Manor Farm, Peckforton Hall Lane) to find vending machines selling unpasteurised milk. At Clotton Hall Dairy at Clotton they even make clotted cream.

More famous are Cheshire’s family-friendly ice-cream makers. At The Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall choose from 50-plus flavours of homemade Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, while your little ones run off steam in the theme park. Backford Belles near Backford uses milk from its herd of Jerseys. While Snugburys, which first started making ice cream in a farmhouse kitchen near Nantwich, where you’ll find its shop, has just opened Snugburys on the River in Chester.

Five a day

Winwick Farm Shop near Warrington is the place to pick up tasty Cheshire potatoes. Close by, Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden holds impromptu sales of surplus vegetables from its Victorian glasshouses. 

The Dunham Massey estate near Altrincham is ripe with orchards, the fruit from which creates the organic juices and cider made by Dunham Massey Apple Juice. Norton Priory Museum and Gardens near Runcorn, home of the national collection of quince, hosts regular days celebrating the fruit and apples, too, selling fresh produce left over from making delicious Norton Priory chutney. 

Whatever you’re after, the twin Hollies Farm Shops, in Little Budworth and Lower Stretton, sell goodies from 70 local producers – stock up for the ultimate Cheshire picnic.

Aprons on

Baking fans will find plenty to tempt them at Nantwich based Chatwins, which uses local milk and cheese for freshly baked treats at 20 branches across the county. Or go back to the source at Walk Mill in Waverton, for a tour of this traditional mill with its working waterwheel, then lunch at The Miller’s Kitchen (pick up a bag of stone-ground flour to take home).

Raise a glass

A Cheshire food odyssey can be a thirsty business. The Spitting Feathers Brewery near Waverton led Cheshire’s microbrewery revolution with its range of beers – mine’s a pint of Empire IPA. Join one of the Brewbarn Saturday sessions for tours, farm food and live music, or sup at its own The Brewery Tap in Chester. Other pubs across the county feature these ales, too. 

The unquenchable thirst for gin is provided for by artisan distillers such as The Wirral Distillery in Spital, which uses local botanicals in its Wirral Gin. Check out the menu of 366 gins, too, at The Cholmondeley Arms near Wrenbury. Finally, the vineyard at Carden Park Hotel is Cheshire’s only such commercial enterprise, producing 6,000 bottles of sparkling wine each year from the Pinot Noir grapes grown on site. Sip a glass with dinner at The Vines restaurant.

Tasty times

Keeping up with the times, Chester’s Jaunty Goat Coffee has launched a second branch dedicated to vegan food. Meanwhile, Hypha is the city’s first plant-based restaurant. 

Local markets are revamping as hubs for artisan producers. Stockport Market hosts Foodie Friday each month, with pop-up stalls, and the revitalised Chester Market is championing the rise of the city’s independent foodies, such as the bakery Crustum. 

The Royal Cheshire County Show celebrates the best of the region each summer with more than 25 Cheshire-based producers. And the new Deva Fest, coming to Dodleston in September, will include demonstrations by local chefs. The Taste Cheshire Food & Drink Festival is a major foodie celebration not to be missed each Easter at Chester Racecourse.

With such a wealth of diverse flavours, it’s official: there’s more to Cheshire than cheese.

Written by David Atkinson.

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