FOOD & DRINK
No matter where you are within Worcestershire’s Vale & Spa, you will undoubtedly be greeted with references to why food – in particular local produce – is so important in the area. Having previously been known as Worcestershire’s Heritage Garden, it is no surprise that the land produces some of the best food and ingredients around.
Whether it’s the protected food name status of Vale of Evesham Asparagus, Pershore’s plums or Droitwich Spa’s Salt, each town has a culinary story to tell which can be evidenced in many of the local bars and restaurants.
Worcestershire as a whole hosts some exceptional restaurants, which is a reason why Visit Worcestershire’s Awards for Excellence has a ‘Best Eating Out’ category. Within the Vale & Spa, we were thrilled to have a highly commended entrant (Feli’s Bar & Restaurant) and a commended entrant (Eckington Manor). Another local business, Pershore College, also came highly commended in the ‘Best Drink Producer’ category. So don’t just take our word for it, experts are saying the same too!
Don’t think that the quality is a secret though – you too can learn how to cook fantastic dishes through cookery schools. Both Eckington Manor and Feli’s provide regular cookery classes and courses, so give them a call to potentially start your journey to the Masterchef final.
Alongside the local British produce, each town boasts a wonderful array of cuisine culture as Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian and plenty more can be found throughout the district. To get recommendations and suggestions that meet your palate desires, speak to a local TIC. They will also be able to advise on where you can quench your thirst. Whether
you fancy a riverside beer garden, a scenic view accompanying a coffee, or a soft drink whilst enjoying the parks and open spaces, Worcestershire’s Vale and Spa offers an abundance of opportunities.
Food and drink is certainly a passion in the area. There are plenty of examples where local micro-breweries stock their products in town centre businesses and where the district’s famous growing conditions produce gorgeous fruits to be put into juices. You can have a meal or a drink anywhere in the country, so we would strongly encourage you to unearth the culinary gems incorporating local produce whilst you are here. There’s not much more that needs to be said….the proof should be all in the taste!
Turning our attention back to the area’s most famous products, the key phrase you’ll hear about these parts is that of ‘local distinctiveness’. Yes, other places in the country and indeed the world produce asparagus, plums and salt, but few can claim some of the accolades that ours have achieved.
There is a saying in one of our towns – “think Pershore, think Purple, think plums”. No prizes for guessing the food or the town, but the colour may not be as familiar to all. Pershore has been the home to the creation of multiple variety of plums, with the Pershore Purple its signature edition. Together with other varieties including the Yellow Egg and Greengage, there is quite a history and a lot to celebrate about this fruit.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend in August, the town turns plum crazy for the annual Plum Festival – the largest event in the town an one which has won the county’s best festival and event award 4 times. Quirky is definitely the word to associate with this Pershore produce, but the celebration has generated significant interest and attracts tens of thousands of people to see just how the town embraces the fruit and makes it a delightful ingredient within many recipes.
If you visit Pershore throughout August you will find many restaurants and food establishments incorporating plums into limited-edition dishes. Experts say the Pershore varieties are fantastic cooking ingredients – don’t just take their word for it, come and try it for yourself.
European recognition for our spears
The Vale of Evesham delicacy received a supreme culinary status back at the end of 2016, putting it into an elite group of foods and drinks which include Champagne, Cognac, Roquefort, Parmesan and Jersey Royal Potatoes.
Asparagus grown in the Vale of Evesham has been awarded European (EU) protected food name status which specifically links it to a particular geographical area and indicates a certain level of quality.The flavour and texture of asparagus is primarily driven by the growing conditions and soil environment of the Vale of Evesham, as well as knowledge and experience of how best to grow the product. The area has a long history of asparagus growing, with much tradition surrounding the product and enjoys a reputation for producing asparagus of the highest quality.
The sandy soils of the Vale of Evesham asparagus fields provide ample depth of soil for crowns to establish deep root systems with which to store the sugars produced during summer. This promotes the health of the crown and gives an additional sweetness to the crop.
The unique combination of soil and microclimate produce the fast growing spears that are characteristic of the flavour and texture produced in the region. It is this combination of soil and climate that produces the high quality asparagus production that the region is known for.
Opportunity to shine from the brine
Droitwich Spa benefits from naturally occurring brine springs. When the brine is extracted and heated it produces a very pure salt. Salt has been made in this way in Droitwich since the Iron Age and is largely how the town came to make its money. Salt was sold on an industrial scale in the 19th century by John Corbett, who from his ‘salt wealth’ built the Chateau Impney for his wife costing an estimated £16 million in today’s money.
Droitwich Salt is believed to be the purest salt available as it has never been subject to any form of pollution, and is therefore inherently 100% natural. The salt was officially launched at Salt Fest and Ludlow Food Festival in September 2017 and almost sold out with over 3,000 bags bought over the weekend by those keen to try this amazing product. Foodies and locals alike were delighted by the delicious product.
The full Droitwich Salt range includes; Droitwich Salt, Salted Butter, Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Fudge. Droitwich Salt can be purchased at Churchfields Farm or online. With various other local stockists selling this recent recreation, it may not be too long before much of the country has some on their table too.