A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting Candia McKormack as she embarked on a whistle-stop foodie tour of Herefordshire.
Here is what she wrote…
I’m a Gloucestershire gal, through and through, but I could be tempted to jump borders.
It may sound a little rash, but Herefordshire really does have an awful lot going for it. Its world-famous ciders and world-class beef need no introduction, but my two-night break in our neighbouring county revealed so much more about its ample charms and gastronomic delights.
In just over an hour, driving through the Forest of Dean’s pretty villages and on into Herefordshire’s working farmland, I arrived at Bridge Farmhouse in Michaelchurch Escley, owned by Glyn and Gisela Bufton of nearby Bridge Inn, and home to Black Mountains Distillery. Blowed if I can think of a better base for a foodie break in this neck of the woods.
Breakfast of champions
Starting each day with a ‘farmer-sized’ portion of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, served on sourdough toast and washed down with Black Mountain coffee from the farm’s on-site roastery, I perused the day’s eating itinerary and could tell this trip was going to be a labour of love. A mid-repast calorie-burning walk was in order, so I explored the lanes and fields of Michaelchurch Escley, spending a very pleasant hour or so exploring the parish church of St Michael’s, with its squat tower and medieval wall paintings.
Michelin stars and local makers
It’s lunchtime, day two, and I’ve been looking forward to this one.
Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect to find a Michelin-starred restaurant in the depths of the Herefordshire countryside. Pensons is just such a place, and it has everything you’d expect from an eatery with those credentials, and absolutely oodles of goodies that you probably wouldn’t.
The restaurant is part of the 1,200-acre Netherwood Estate, privately owned by the Darnley family and dating back to before the Domesday Book. The ever-expanding kitchen gardens wrap around the glass-fronted agricultural building like a lover’s embrace, assisting head chef Chris Simpson with creating menus that reflect the changing seasons and fertility of the land. Other produce on the menu is sourced either directly from the Estate or within a stone’s throw of the kitchens, and a must-try for cider-lovers is a fine drink crafted by nearby Little Pomona using apples picked from the Estate’s trees.
Feeling replete and relaxed following my Pensons experience, I drove south to Hereford to explore its ancient lanes and buildings before dinner.
The Cathedral City of Hereford’s origins lie in the seventh century and, due to its strategic position on the River Wye, it was important to the Saxons and Normans for being on the borderland between England and Wales. Highlights of the city include the Mappa Mundi, housed in the 12th-century Cathedral; the Black and White House Museum; Buttermarket; Edward Elgar’s trail; the Museum of Cider; and full-sized bronze Hereford bull statue.
The last on that list set me up very nicely for dinner that evening, courtesy Beefy Boys – an award-winning restaurant established by ‘four backyard amateur cooks sharing a passion for local produce and dirty American-style burgers’. After a long afternoon walking around the city, my ‘Bacon Boy’ and local cider was just the ticket.
A taste of the Black Mountains
Day three, and time to head back to Gloucestershire… if she’ll still have me.
Before leaving the farmhouse, though, Glyn offered to show me the distillery he and friend Lloyd set up in a series of outbuildings on the farm. The dream of Black Mountains Distillery came into being nearly ten years ago when the pair met in the Bridge Inn at a New Year’s Eve party, and before you could say ‘mother’s ruin’ Lloyd had designed and made two stills – called ‘Twmpa’ and ‘Blorenge’ after his favourite mountains – and Hill Billy Gin was born (my tip: try their Toffee Apple Liquer… moreish!).
Photo and all credit Candia McKormack
For full article: https://www.greatbritishlife.co.uk/food-and-drink/establishments/herefordshire-foodie-tour-8397550