Taste The Island

The Isle of Wight has a growing reputation for its local produce, and a thriving food and drink scene.

August sees the annual Garlic Festival once again taking place on the Island over the weekend of August 20-21.  Crammed full of arts and crafts stalls and all of the local produce to tantalise the tatsebuds, its highlight is Britain’s best most pungent garlic, produced on the Isle of Wight, in Newchurch, by the multi-award winning Garlic Farm.

This year, there will even be the chance to sample the new Black Garlic Beer.

And if that gives you a taste to forage for some more flavours of the Island, then take time to seek-out some of these other mouth-wateringly local experiences…

The Tomato Stall – purveyors of delicious tomatoes grown with love on the sunny Isle of Wight – bring the freshest, ripest and tastiest tomatoes to a wide range of farmers’ markets, farm shops and restaurants around the UK as well as delivering direct to your door.  New for 2016 is a spiced tomato juice, ideal for lazy Sunday brunches or as a perfect serve mixer for Virgin or Bloody Marys.  Made using freshly picked, vine ripened Isle of Wight tomatoes, it has the unusual twist of being vegetarian unlike traditional Mary recipes.  Following months of testing, the full layered flavour was achieved with the inclusion of porcini mushroom for that deep umami taste which, combined with The Tomato Stall’s blend of spices, has already gained the seal of approval from mixologists.

The Butter Vikings is a small dairy from Sweden, which has recently relocated to the Isle of Wight.  Swedish duo Maria Hakansson and Patrik Johansson have set up production at the former Rew Valley Dairy, Ventnor.  The pair wanted to move production from their native Sweden to the Island, due to the quality of the local cream.  The dairy has been in operation for eight years in Sweden and has been selling their butter to restaurants in Sweden, Denmark, UK, Germany and France.  The Butter Vikings’ Virgin butter has been the table butter at restaurant Noma in Copenhagen for five years.

Living Larder is very much a family business, with a long established history of growing fresh produce at Galley Horne on the Isle of Wight.  The family first started growing on this site in 1922 and since then the business has spanned many generations.  In 2014 they piloted a vegetable box scheme supplying around 20 family and friends and have not looked back.  In 2015 they launched Living Larder aiming to grow and supply the best tasting, finest and most diverse fresh produce directly to your door.

The Cow Co Restaurant at Tapnell Farm opened its doors to the public in the summer of 2015.  Located near Yarmouth and Freshwater on the west of the Island, Tapnell Farm was once the home of the biggest dairy herd of cows on the Isle of Wight, so to continue that tradition it is now the home of the only “Art Herd” in the UK.  The goal is to make beef and dairy the stars of the show – with sumptuous steaks, brilliant burgers, delicious stews, pies, roasts, seasonal salads, along with the finest local ice creams and specialist cheeses.  They complement the beef inspired selection with a great selection of vegetarian dishes, and most items on our menu can be prepared gluten-free to order.  The restaurant is situated in what was an unused straw barn at the heart of the farm, with a mezzanine seating level opening up to stunning views across the West Wight, Solent and up to Tennyson Down.

Thompson’s Restaurant is one of the gems in the Island’s current food-and-drink crown.  An “original concept restaurant by Robert Thompson, it comprises a contemporary open kitchen restaurant offering a delicious modern British menu inspired by the flavours of the Island and Robert’s experiences.  Isle of Wight producers form the backbone of the menus and a fascinating A Day in the life of an Isle of Wight chef can  be found here.

The Taste Round the Island Route must be one of the tastiest cycle trails in Britain.  It gives cyclists the chance to discover the Isle of Wight’s culinary delights while burning off those extra calories at the same time. It follows the path of the Round the Island Cycle route, and is really designed to be taken at a leisurely pace.  Complete the entire course of 66 miles in a few days, or sample a section of the Island on a day trip.  To make it slightly easier, go electric on one of the new Red Squirrel Electric Bikes now available for hire on the Isle of Wight.

Island Producers – Gastronomic Weekend is the Royal Hotel’s celebration of the Island’s fantastic food scene.  Having already staged one successful weekend in April of 2016, it will now host a second over the weekend of September 30 to October 2.  As well as allowing guests to enjoy three course gourmet dining at The Royal Hotel, it also introduces them to some of its favourite suppliers, including The Garlic Farm and Goddards Brewery.  Cookery demonstrations in the hotel kitchens, and tasting sessions with The Tomato Stall and Isle of Wight Distillery are also included, along with the chance to meet fruit and vegetable growers from nearby family-run farm Living Larder.

And finally…let’s not forget The Isle of Wight Biscuit Company which – fittingly enough – makes biscuits in the shape of dinosaurs, red squirrels and the Isle of Wight itself!

For full details of all food and drink on the Isle of Wight, visithttp://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/food-and-drink.